Brazil president still insists forest fire reports hyped up

Updated 30 October 2019

Brazil president still insists forest fire reports hyped up

  • Bolsonaro claims fake news, agendas targeting his country
  • Fires in Brazil’s rainforest were said to be at their peak in August

RIYADH: President Jair M. Bolsonaro is sticking to his guns, and his controversial comments surrounding the widely reported forest fires in his country, claiming they were blown out of proportion.

“At times, certain countries use an environmental agenda or human rights agenda, which is precisely what happened against Brazil,” he said during a discussion panel at the Future Investments Initiative (FII) in Riyadh.

The fires in Brazil’s rainforest were said to be at their peak in August, when the BBC reported 30,901 separate fires.

The same report from October said there were still many fires across parts of the Amazon, although fewer than before.

In September, National Geographic reported that the “unusually severe fires” were presenting a real risk to river life.

And in August, the Hindustan Times presented video footage from NASA showing satellite images of thick plumes of smoke rising from the forest below.

But despite the apparent evidence of the fires and the damage they were causing, Bolsonaro still says the reports were an agenda against his country and fake news.

“It’s a tropical rainforest. It can’t catch on fire,” he said during the panel session with  Lubna Al-Olayan, chairman of the Olayan Financing Company.

“Official data was monitored by satellite and managed. The armed forces immediately cleaned up the forests in order for the number of tourists to not be reduced,” he added. “We’re doing our homework and we’re opening our arms to all of you,” he told the audience.

Bolsonaro urged investors to “give Brazil a chance,” telling them: “We have a huge deal to offer all of you.”

He added: “As part of our ongoing reform efforts, we’ll be spending less than the revenue we’re collecting in taxes. That’s our main and most important guarantee.”

He said he wants his legacy to be a “much better Brazil,” and he wants to “reduce bureaucracy and establish a rational environment for investors.”

He added: “A speech from a head of state won’t convince investors, but facts and figures will. We’ve never had such a low interest rate — around 5.5 percent — and our inflation rate is lower than our target of around 3 percent.”

Bolsonaro met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday. He said the crown prince had pledged to invest $10 billion in Brazil. “These funds will be used in Agra bay, off Rio de Janeiro state, for touristic uses,” Bolsonaro said.

UAE position on Palestine in line with Arab consensus, says diplomat

Ali Abdullah Al-Ahmed. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 49 sec ago

UAE position on Palestine in line with Arab consensus, says diplomat

  • Emirati envoy: Israel deal ‘puts two-state solution back on the table’

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron hailed in a tweet the “courageous decision” of the United Arab Emirates to sign a peace treaty with Israel, and expressed his wishes that it will contribute to a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ali Abdullah Al-Ahmed, the Emirati ambassador to France, told Arab News-French edition that the decision of the Israeli government to annex Palestinian territory had already been taken and had preoccupied the international community since the signing of the Oslo agreement, and until a few years ago this problem was the keystone of the two-state solution.

Al-Ahmed said: “If the Israeli government executes its plans to annex the Palestinian territories then this means that the two-state solution should be forgotten and that we will be back to the situation that prevailed 30 years ago.”

However, he added that “we are convinced that this trilateral agreement between the UAE, Israel and the US as a principal actor, especially with the strengthening of the US presence in our region, will contribute in enhancing peace, security and stability in the region.”

Regarding Israeli declarations that annexation will only be suspended and not canceled, Al-Ahmed said: “There are no relations that begin in an ideal way, yet a step was made today when the Israeli government agreed to freeze annexation. It is definitely not a final solution, we will see what will comes next.”

However, the Emirati diplomat said: “The kick off of relations between the UAE and Israel opens the gates, and what will follow will not be confined to the political level but will equally cover the economic, technological and academic levels. It is highly possible that the tempo of the development of these relations will be faster. We will see.”

For Al-Ahmed, the return of the two-state solution to the negotiating table is undoubtedly an accomplishment. With regards to the rejection by the Palestinian authority of this agreement, the ambassador said: “It would have been more feasible for the Palestinian authority to thank the Emirati diplomacy, after all the decision of the UAE is a sovereign one that was already preceded by Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians themselves.

We are convinced that this trilateral agreement between the UAE, Israel and the US as a principal actor … will contribute in enhancing peace, security and stability in the region.

Ali Abdullah Al-Ahmed, Emirati ambassador to France

“We do not negotiate in the name of the Palestinians and it is not up to us to do so. However, our position regarding the Palestinian cause is in line with the Arab consensus regarding Jerusalem and other parameters of Arab unanimity, we adhere to them and we do not relinquish them,” the Emirati ambassador added.

On whether the Emirati embassy in Israel would be located in Jerusalem. Al-Ahmed said: “We are in the beginning of establishing diplomatic relations, however, we will see how all this will progress in the coming days. We are still in the phase of telephone contacts through which the kick off of diplomatic relations that will determine all the details depends. The UAE has put conditions on this agreement and the US has accepted to put the two-state solution back to the table of negotiations.”

On whether the agreement between the UAE and Israel means that the Arab peace plan or peace initiative of late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is no longer valid, Al-Ahmed said: “Surely not, as the King Abdullah initiative is based on the two-state solution, which is the essence of the initiative.”

On whether the Emirati-Israeli agreement aims at enhancing US President Donald Trump’s re-election chances, Al-Ahmed said that US voters are unconcerned with foreign politics, and this is well known, and that had the US not been the guarantor of this agreement, it would have never been achieved.

If the agreement was aimed at confronting Iran and Turkey in the region, Al-Ahmed said that diplomatic relations between the two countries have many factors, including social, political, and cultural ones, and that the UAE is convinced that Israel can benefit a lot from Arab countries, for the UAE can benefit from relations with Israel.

“We have already cooperated on the medical scientific level regarding the coronavirus pandemic, especially between Emirati and Israeli companies in matters of pharmaceutical research.”

Regarding the Arab country that will come next, the Emirati ambassador believes that if Israel wants to live in peace in the Arab region, and if the Arab states want a prosperous economy, then there should be agreements with other Arab states which serves the interests of both parties.