The Middle East grapples with a knowledge and skills gap

The Middle East grapples with a knowledge and skills gap
The World Economic Forum’s latest competitiveness report highlighted the talent gap blighting the prospects of MENA graduates. Education experts say that traditional methods of education are holding back the region’s graduates. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 04 March 2020

The Middle East grapples with a knowledge and skills gap

The Middle East grapples with a knowledge and skills gap
  • Mismatch between available expertise and in-demand roles limits job creation in Arab region
  • Technological progress seen as the biggest contributor to skills gap in most industrial sectors

DUBAI: At a time of intense debate worldwide about the social impact of automation and global integration, many companies are facing a problem of a very different kind. The gap between the skills of available workers and those demanded by the market is hitting their bottom line.

The “knowledge and skills gap” is a growing challenge in almost every part of the world. For business communities and recruitment companies in the Middle East, it is a stark fact of life.

Research has shown that technological progress is the largest contributor to the skills gap in most industrial sectors. Studies also show that the root of the mismatch between available expertise and in-demand jobs lies in education systems that have not kept pace with the times.

A recent report by Korn Ferry, the US management consulting firm, predicts that the demand for skilled workers will outstrip supply, resulting in a global talent shortage of more than 85.2 million people by 2030.

The skills gap could get a lot worse before it gets better, if at all. A report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) says that the global youth unemployment rate has risen between 1991 (9.3 percent) and 2018 (12.8 percent). In the Middle East, the rate has stood stubbornly at 26.1 percent — double that of the global average.

According to Nancy W. Gleason, director of the Hilary Ballon Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at NYU Abu Dhabi, “there is a gap between academia and the job market” in the Arab region.

“The fourth industrial revolution is pushing a skill shift in the workplace that higher education has not entirely responded to yet,” she told Arab News.

Consequently, “disruptive technologies such as additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence and blockchain” continue to collectively change what is needed in the workplace, resulting in an incompatibility between the skills demanded and those supplied.

Gleason says that while hard skills remain in high demand across the Arab region and the world, soft skills such as “reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation” are growing in importance in the workplace.


• Economic returns from different skills and education levels are changing rapidly.

• Opportunities are now concentrated in relatively high-skill, high-wage jobs and low-skill, low-wage jobs.

• Automation and AI is replacing workers and may also limit job creation in growing sectors.

• Middle classes have been hollowed out by the disappearance of routine occupations.

• Income gaps between the generations have widened significantly in many countries.

• Increase in temporary contracts has decreased job stability, particularly for the young.

She said that non-technical skills are “habits of mind” — the tools needed to enable employees to adjust to new forms of work and to overcome any complications that could arise with the job.

“Firms are starting to hire based on an individual’s ability to learn,” Gleason told Arab News.

A startup called Qureos is aiming to bridge the gulf between the academic world and the corporate workplace in the Arab region by helping young men and women to develop “job-relevant skills.”

The startup provides students with a platform that allows them to build an “experiential portfolio” and engage in projects with mentorship from industry experts.

According to Mehrad Yaghmai, chief operating officer of Qureos, research of the market revealed a rise in the requirement for “data science and analytical skills,” a consistent demand for software-development skills in engineering, and a focus on machine learning in most industries.

“Beyond technical skills, there is a need for critical thinking, data-computer literacy and the skill to adapt and learn on the job,” he said.

Qureos, which currently has 2,000 registered students, hopes to do its bit for the region by partnering with 50 companies by the summer of 2020.

The talent gap blighting the job prospects of university graduates in the Middle East was underscored by the findings of the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report.

One executive opinion survey question asked: “In your country, to what extent do university graduates possess the skills needed by businesses?” The answers ranged between 1-7, with 7 indicating “to a great extent.”

As automation outmodes pattern-based hard skills, the ability to adapt and learn new things will be a valued skill in and of itself.

Nancy W. Gleason, Director of the Hilary Ballon Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at NYU Abu Dhabi

Among countries in the Middle East, the UAE and Qatar reported 5.3, followed by Lebanon at 5.2, Saudi Arabia at 5.1 and Oman at 4.8.

The Global Competitiveness Report rankings, which measures the overall national competitiveness of 141 economies, placed the UAE (25) ahead of Qatar (29), Saudi Arabia (36), Bahrain (45) and Kuwait (46.)

“The global context of these numbers is important to consider,” said Gleason, adding that education is only one piece of the puzzle.

“As automation outmodes pattern-based hard skills, the ability to adapt and learn new things will be a valued skill in and of itself.”

She says educational institutions need to go beyond transferring content knowledge and help students to articulate cognitive skills.

Work is “task-based and fluid” and “learning in the classroom should be too, regardless of what content you choose to focus on in your education.”

For their part, higher education institutions need to do more to develop “future-ready graduates,” Gleason told Arab News, adding that they need to “emphasize the competencies that are demonstrated though pre-professional and technical educational degrees.”

According to Gleason, graduates can apply what they learned to other contexts through a mix of interdisciplinary education, implementation of internship schemes and experimental learning.

“It is when the content knowledge is applied that real learning happens,” she told Arab News.

“Many education instructions across the MENA region are acting to create opportunities in this space.”

Mohammad Ayish, head of the department of mass communication at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), does not mince words when discussing “the gap between academia and the market.”

It is a “huge one,” he told Arab News, adding that universities have underestimated the reality of a fast-changing job market.

“Their program learning outcomes have little relevance for emerging market needs,” he said.

“When their graduates start hunting for jobs, they find themselves too detached from the competencies required in the workplace.”

That said, changes in university curricula are being made in response to demands by higher-education regulators, according to Ayish.

The majority of universities in the Middle East are “highly keen” on equipping students with the appropriate knowledge for meeting shifting market demands, he said.

However, some institutions continue to follow traditional approaches, Ayish said, although with accelerating transitions in the market, they will have no choice but to adapt.

In an era when technology reigns supreme, he said, universities should “promote values of entrepreneurship and innovation and bolster enduring ties with market players to ensure their students find relevance in the workplace.”

Ayish’s argument, however, begs the question of whether higher education institutions are capable of addressing the “knowledge and skills gap” challenge on their own.

According to NYU’s Gleason, coordination among government, industry and education establishments is essential for “impactful development of employees of all ages.”

For instance, computer science and mathematics are among the fields that struggle to attract specialists who possess the needed skills in combination with “emotional intelligence and creativity.”

At the same time, she says, new areas of employment such as space-related industries are hard pressed to find employees with computation thinking skills and digital literacy.

Gleason says that educational institutions should focus on assembling a faculty capable of understanding the market’s major shifts and implementing non-traditional methods of teaching.

Jerusalem conflict stokes fears of civil war in Israel

Jerusalem conflict stokes fears of civil war in Israel
Updated 9 min 56 sec ago

Jerusalem conflict stokes fears of civil war in Israel

Jerusalem conflict stokes fears of civil war in Israel
  • Discriminatory system based on a supremacist ideology ‘will not hold forever’

AMMAN: The fight over the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, clashes in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police,  and the exchange of rockets, shelling and airstrikes between Hamas and the Israel Defense Force could turn into a civil war between Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel, experts fear.

Palestinians, living in mixed Arab and Jewish towns like Lydda, Ramleh, Bat Yam, Haifa and Yaffo, have come under repeated attack in the past few days, with much of it motivated by racism.

Right-wing Jewish mobs yelling “death to Arabs” have beaten up individuals, vandalized homes and targeted shops belonging to Arabs — who make up 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry.

Wadie Abu Nassar, an honorary Spanish consul based in Haifa and a political analyst, said his daughters, as well as their cars and home in Haifa, were targeted by an anti-Arab Jewish mob.

Speaking to a local radio station, Abu Nassar said while his daughters were shocked at what happened, the deeper wounds are not physical. “While my daughters suffered some physical injuries, the much deeper wounds are the emotional ones caused by the revelation of this racism, that had been hidden for years,” he said.

Abu Nassar, an advisor to Catholic bishops in Israel, Palestine and Jordan, added that what happened has been truly revealing. “I am a firm believer in nonviolence, but it is clear that the Israeli public is now seeing the depth of racism, and that has happened only due to the fact that they were forced to deal with something that Palestinians have been dealing with for years.”

Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, former president of Al-Quds University, told Arab News that he sees two faces to the sudden Palestinian public revolt in Israel; one expressing a dormant, if not often visible, disaffection with the state of Israel, and the other an identification with the Palestinian national struggle and religious affiliations.

“The breakdown of the ‘civil state’ into mutual distrust, lynching, and disorder should be a clear sign for Israel that a discriminatory system based on a supremacist ideology will not hold forever and must be rectified if a day of reckoning is to be avoided,” he said.

“In the meantime, the rockets from Gaza, however inferior to Israel’s nuclear and military might, should forewarn Israel that the Palestinian national struggle will not go away, and will continue to pose a mortal threat to Israeli lives, and a political challenge to Israel’s image in the world,” he added. “Israel is obligated to look into the mirror and come to terms with the fact that until justice is realized it will never achieve peace.”

Dan Shanit, a retired Israeli physician and former head of the medical program at the Peres Center for Peace, told Arab News that he is disappointed with corrupt politicians. “The responsibility lies with the corrupt wish to hang on to power at all costs while others are exploiting religious and nationalistic sentiments in order to gain the support of the street following failed elections. The mob seems to have an upper hand while civilian blood is being spilled,” he said.

The Haifa-based Mossawa organization called on the international community to work toward achieving an immediate ceasefire and stop strikes against Gaza.

In a statement, it demanded the preservation of the right to freedom of worship for all, the right to freedom of movement, protection of the right to express an opinion and demonstrate without being subjected to security oppression or persecutions, and the rejection of any attempts to seize the property of Palestinian citizens.

The statement added that settlers had organized themselves throughout Arab localities and mixed cities with the intent of inciting clashes with Arab protesters.

“Screenshots of right-wing settler group conversations via (the) Telegram application were leaked showing the intent to kill and physically harm Arabs, as well as video evidence of settlers using live ammunition to shoot at Palestinian protesters. Many clashes were provoked and police arrests were discriminatory toward one side,” it said.

Botrus Mansour, a Nazareth-based lawyer, told Arab News that while the last few days have been very painful to see, it could have a positive result in the long term.

“For years we have been talking about the problems in the Arab community — the increase in violence — and we have also been expressing our worries that the anti-Arab racism condoned by senior officials will one day show its result on the ground,” he said. “What we are seeing now is the proof of the argument that for too long the successive Israeli governments have ignored both internal Arab violence and the incitement against Arabs by right-wing extremists. Now the country has seen the results of that wrong policy.”

Jamal Dajani, a Jerusalemite and former head of communications to the Palestinian prime minister, told Arab News that the situation in Israel is very volatile and could easily escalate quickly “because it is encouraged by Kahanists (an extremist Jewish faction) in the Israeli Knesset and (the) government. 

“What we saw in the past 24 hours, with Jewish mobs lynching 48 Palestinians and attacking their businesses, is something to be very worried about, especially if the war on Gaza continues,” he added.

Former Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi, meanwhile, said the events of the past few days have had a galvanizing effect, uniting Palestinians in the West Bank including Jerusalem, in Gaza and across the diaspora.

Israeli army says troops have entered Gaza Strip

Israeli army says troops have entered Gaza Strip
Updated 14 May 2021

Israeli army says troops have entered Gaza Strip

Israeli army says troops have entered Gaza Strip
  • Israeli army spokesman John Conricus confirmed the escalation 
  • At least 103 people have been killed since Monday, and more than 580 wounded

JERUSALEM: Israel said Friday it sent ground forces into action and pounded Gaza in response to a new barrage of rocket fire from the Hamas-run enclave in a conflict that has now claimed over 100 Palestinian lives.
“Israeli planes and troops on the ground are carrying out an attack in the Gaza Strip,” the Israeli army said in a brief message.
The escalation was confirmed by army spokesman John Conricus, although he did not specify the scale of the operation.
As the violence intensified, Israel security forces scrambled to contain deadly riots between Jews and Arabs, with projectiles also fired on Israel from Lebanon.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was “deeply concerned about the violence in the streets of Israel,” voicing support for a United Nations Security Council meeting “early next week” on the crisis.
“We believe that Israelis and Palestinians deserve equal measures of freedom, security, dignity and prosperity,” Blinken said.
There were intense artillery exchanges Thursday night, and AFP reporters saw Israeli troops assembling at the security barrier.
Balls of flames rose high into the sky after strikes smashed into densely packed Gaza.
Dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza toward the southern Israeli coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, and in the vicinity of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.
“We are prepared, and continue to prepare for various scenarios,” Conricus said, describing a ground offensive as “one scenario.”
In Gaza, AFP photographers said people were evacuating their homes in the northeastern part of the enclave ahead of possible Israeli attacks, with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, warning of a “heavy response” to a possible ground incursion

With the conflict showing no signs of easing, Israel has been rocked by an unprecedented wave of mob violence, in which both Arabs and Jews have been savagely beaten and police stations attacked.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered a “massive reinforcement” to suppress the internal unrest.
The heavy bombardments coincided with the start of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, and saw the faithful pray at mosques and amid the rubble of Gaza’s collapsed buildings.
Israel’s air force launched multiple air strikes, targeting locations linked to Hamas, with the air force saying jets had struck a “military compound” of the group’s “intelligence headquarters.”
At least 103 people have been killed since Monday, including 27 children, and more than 580 wounded, the health ministry in Gaza said.
Heavy bombardments have brought down entire tower blocks.
Inside Israel, seven people have been killed since Monday, including one six-year-old, after a rocket struck a family home

The Israeli military said earlier it had hit targets in Gaza more than 600 times while 1,750 rockets were fired from the enclave.
Hundreds of rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.
Three rockets were also fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel, landing in the Mediterranean Sea, Israel’s army said.
A source close to Israel’s arch-enemy Hezbollah said the Lebanese Shiite group had no link to the incident.
The military escalation was triggered by weekend unrest at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
The disturbances, in which riot police had repeatedly clashed with Palestinians, has been driven by anger over the looming evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
The surging tensions sparked clashes in many of Israel’s mixed towns where Jews live alongside Arabs, who make up about 20 percent of the country’s population.
Nearly 1,000 border police were called in to quell the violence, and over 400 people were arrested.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said inter-communal violence in multiple towns was at a nadir not seen for decades, and that police were “literally preventing pogroms.”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said police were increasing their use of force, warning of the “option” of deploying soldiers in towns.
Israeli far-right groups have clashed with security forces and Arab Israelis, with television footage Wednesday airing footage of a far-right mob beating a man they considered an Arab in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, leaving him with serious injuries.
In Lod, which has become a flashpoint of Arab-Jewish clashes this week with an Arab resident shot dead and a synagogue torched, a gunman opened fire Thursday at a group of Jews, wounding one.
Netanyahu said the violence was “unacceptable.”
“Nothing justifies the lynching of Arabs by Jews, and nothing justifies the lynching of Jews by Arabs,” he said, adding Israel was fighting a battle “on two fronts.”
Amid the rocket fire, Israel’s civil aviation authority said it had diverted all incoming passenger flights headed for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to Ramon airport in the south.
Hamas announced it had also fired a rocket at Ramon, in a bid to stop all air traffic to Israel.
Israeli media said the rocket missed its target, but a number of international airlines canceled flights amid the aerial onslaught.

Turkey’s notorious mafia leader claims close state ties

Turkey’s notorious mafia leader claims close state ties
Updated 14 May 2021

Turkey’s notorious mafia leader claims close state ties

Turkey’s notorious mafia leader claims close state ties
  • Concern over criminalization of politics as opposition calls for parliamentary inquiry

JEDDAH: Turkish government officials entered into a war of words with the country’s well-known mafia leader, Sedat Peker, who released a series of videos about schemes within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) involving some of its deputies.

The claims pushed opposition politicians to call for the truth behind the claims in order to fight against the criminalization of politics.

Ultranationalist convict Peker alleged that former interior minister, Mehmet Agar, and his son, Tolga Agar, who is currently a deputy for the AKP, were involved in the suspicious death of a 21-year-old Kazakh journalist, Yeldana Kaharman, two years ago, a day after she interviewed Tolga Agar.

Kaharman allegedly committed suicide, but it is claimed that the autopsy report shows otherwise. However, the case was quickly closed by the local prosecutors at the time.

Peker claimed that Agar was “the head of deep state” in Turkey.

Former justice minister of the ruling government and current member of the presidency’s higher advisory board, Cemil Cicek, urged the judiciary to investigate Peker’s claims about the Agar family.

“If even one-thousandth of these claims are true, this is a disaster and very problematic ... Turkey has had enough experience in the past concerning similar issues,” Cicek said on May 12.

“We should learn the necessary lessons. The relevant prosecutor needs to take action and do what is necessary,” Cicek said.

Mehmet Agar claims that the state can examine him whenever required.

The claims pushed opposition parties to try to make the government accountable for its ties with the mafia leader.

Last year, the Turkish government passed a controversial amnesty law that freed up to 90,000 inmates from Turkish prisons for nonpolitical crimes, but excluded dissident journalists and politicians.

The law resulted in the mass release of organized gang leaders, including Alaattin Cakici, a notorious mafia kingpin closely connected to the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). During the time that Cakici was behind bars, his rival Peker consolidated his grip on the Turkish underworld.

The group deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Ozgur Ozel, said that Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu was the connection point between the AKP, its ally MHP and the mafia.

Ozel also claimed that the interior minister was closely tied to mafia leader Peker and that the government turned a blind eye to Peker’s previous actions in the northern city of Rize, where he threatened the dissident academics of the country, saying: “I will shower them with their own blood.”

In the latest video he released, Peker confessed that he had played a role in the support shown for Interior Minister Soylu when the minister decided to resign from his post in April 2020. Peker allegedly organized a Twitter campaign to object to Soylu’s resignation.

Since 2019, Peker has lived in Balkan countries where he regularly met Bosniak political leaders. He claimed that he had to leave Turkey because of a personal hostility with the Turkish president’s son-in-law and former finance minister, Berat Albayrak.

After being arrested earlier this year in North Macedonia with a fake ID and passport, he was deported to Kosovo where he had a business residence permit. He is currently believed to live in Dubai.

Peker, with a strong network in Istanbul’s underworld, was previously blamed by some politicians, such as Baris Atay of the Workers’ Party of Turkey, for using gangs to attack dissidents in the streets. Atay was seriously beaten up in a busy street of Istanbul after he was verbally targeted by Soylu.

The opposition now urges the government to form a parliamentary inquiry commission and inform the public about these allegations.

Ayhan Sefer Ustun, former head of the parliamentary Human Rights Commission and founding member of the breakaway Future Party that is led by the country’s former prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said the allegations should spark a serious campaign against “deep state” in Turkey.

“Turkey should launch a countrywide campaign against deep state and a widespread mafia structure that reached out to the inner circles of the state,” he told Arab News.

“A parliamentary commission should be established where each party at the parliament will be represented equally to investigate Peker’s claims,” he said.

“Any connection between the politics and public security should be put under broad daylight,” Ustun added, referring to the 1996 Susurluk scandal in Turkey where close ties between the state and the mafia were revealed after strong popular insistence.

Interior Minister Soylu will file a lawsuit against the allegations made by Peker, and he called on the mafia leader to surrender to Turkish justice.

Peker has been tried several times by Turkish courts over his involvement in criminal gangs.

He was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2007 for establishing and leading a criminal organization, and for forgery.

His sentence, however, was later reduced to 10 years and he was released from jail in 2014.

The number of Peker’s damaging video releases are expected to reach 12 in total.

Eid prayers return to Mosul mosque ruined in Daesh war

Eid prayers return to Mosul mosque ruined in Daesh war
Updated 14 May 2021

Eid prayers return to Mosul mosque ruined in Daesh war

Eid prayers return to Mosul mosque ruined in Daesh war
  • Groups of men entered silently and sat down to listen to religious recitals in the building

MOSUL: As dawn broke over Mosul on Thursday, worshippers knelt between piles of rubble while Eid Al-Fitr prayers took place in the city’s oldest mosque for the first time since Daesh was driven out of the area in 2017.

Groups of men entered silently and sat down to listen to religious recitals in the building, which dates back to the Umayyad period in the 7th century and remains largely in ruins following heavy fighting in Mosul’s Old City.

“The message is clear. The Al-Masfi Mosque is the Islamic epicenter and symbol of the area. It is not only Islamic, but also a symbol of the city,” said Ahmed Najem, a local academic, after prayers.

The mosque was partially destroyed during the brutal occupation by Daesh, which proclaimed Mosul the capital of its self-styled caliphate, and an intense campaign of airstrikes to liberate the city from the militants.

Like many other heritage and religious buildings in the Old City, it has been left in disrepair, with collapsed walls and mounds of rubble. Local campaigners say this is due to insufficient public funding allocated to reconstruction in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province.

“We need to accelerate its reconstruction,” said Najem.

Volunteers from a local group campaigning for the renovation of the Old City swept the floor and put down rugs ahead of the prayers for Eid, a holiday which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

“We are happy about Eid and other celebrations, but there is also heartbreak because of great destruction in Mosul until this day,” said Ayyub Dhanun, one of the volunteers.

Volunteer groups have sprung up in Mosul since its liberation, with many campaigning for funds to rebuild the city’s architectural heritage and identity.

They have organized events at mosques, churches and recently Mosul’s Spring Theatre, cleaning and tidying damaged buildings as best they can, often with no financial or other support.

“This is an invitation to rebuild this monument and to compensate Mosul residents by rebuilding their houses in old Mosul,” said Dhanun after prayers at the Al-Masfi Mosque.

Canada slams ‘unconscionable’ Iran conduct since airliner shootdown

People hold placards in January with images of the victims of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which was shot down near Tehran by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. (Reuters/File Photo)
People hold placards in January with images of the victims of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which was shot down near Tehran by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 14 May 2021

Canada slams ‘unconscionable’ Iran conduct since airliner shootdown

People hold placards in January with images of the victims of the downing of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, which was shot down near Tehran by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Tehran Airport
  • Canada is compiling its own forensic report into the disaster and will be releasing it in the coming weeks

OTTAWA: Canada on Thursday condemned Tehran’s “unconscionable” conduct since Iranian forces shot down an airliner last year, killing 176 people, including dozens of Canadians, and vowed to keep pressing for answers as to what really happened.

The comments by Foreign Minister Marc Garneau were among the strongest Ottawa has made about the January 2020 disaster.

“The behavior of the Iranian government has been frankly unconscionable in this past 15 months and we are going to continue to pursue them so we have accountability,” Garneau told a committee of legislators examining what occurred.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight shortly after it took off from Tehran Airport. Iran said its forces had been on high alert during a regional confrontation with the United States.

Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing US forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a US missile strike at Baghdad airport.

Garneau complained it had taken months of pressure for Iran, with which Canada does not have diplomatic relations, to hand over the flight recorders for independent analysis and said Tehran had still not explained why the airspace had not been closed at the time.

In March, Iran’s civil aviation body blamed the crash on a misaligned radar and an error by an air defense operator. Iran has indicted 10 officials.

At the time, Ukraine and Canada criticized the report as insufficient. But Garneau went further on Thursday, saying it was “totally unacceptable ... they are laying the blame on some low-level people who operated a missile battery and not providing the accountability within the chain of command.”

Canada is compiling its own forensic report into the disaster and will be releasing it in the coming weeks, he said.