Bahrain king tells Kushner Gulf stability relies on Saudi Arabia

Bahrain’s King Hamad meets US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner at Safriya Palace in the capital Manama. (File/US Embassy in Bahrain)
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Updated 01 September 2020

Bahrain king tells Kushner Gulf stability relies on Saudi Arabia

  • King Hamad praised the UAE in defending the issues and interests of the Arab and Islamic nation
  • The talks also focused on bilateral cooperation.

DUBAI: The king of Bahrain told White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday that stability in the Gulf region relies on Saudi Arabia “in all situations,” state news agency BNA said.
Kushner is visiting Gulf countries following an Aug. 13 accord between the UAE and Israel to normalize relations and has said he hopes more countries will also cement ties with Israel.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain’s close ally, has said its price for normalizing relations with Israel is the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
During the meeting, King Hamad also praised the “steadfast historical positions of the United Arab Emirates in defending the issues and interests of the Arab and Islamic nation, and its tireless efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution that would guarantee the Palestinian people gaining their legitimate rights and achieve lasting peace in the region.”
The talks also focused on bilateral cooperation, which is based on a history of distinguished relations spanning more than 120 years and military cooperation for more than 75 years.
King Hamad affirmed the historical strategic relations with the US, expressing his thanks for the continuous efforts made by the Trump administration aimed at establishing security, peace and stability in the Middle East region.

Earlier on Tuesday, Kushner said he hopes another Arab country normalizes ties with Israel within months.
No other Arab state has said so far it is considering following the UAE. Several have ruled out normalization under current conditions.
Israel’s neighbors Egypt and Jordan reached peace deals with it decades ago, but other Arab states have long held the position that Israel must agree to give more land to the Palestinians for a state before ties can be normalized.
Israel and the United States have said they are pushing more Arab countries to follow the UAE’s path. Israel’s intelligence minister has mentioned Bahrain and Oman. Kushner will next visit Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on his Gulf tour.
Asked by UAE state news agency WAM when the next Arab state could normalize ties, Kushner, son-in-law to President Donald Trump, was quoted as saying: “Let’s hope it’s months.”
The UAE-Israel deal was welcomed by some Gulf countries but has been met by overwhelming Palestinian opposition.

(With Reuters)


Turkey’s new coronavirus figures confirm experts’ worst fears

Updated 24 min 5 sec ago

Turkey’s new coronavirus figures confirm experts’ worst fears

  • Turkish Medical Association has been warning for months that the government’s previous figures were concealing the graveness of the spread

ANKARA, Turkey: When Turkey changed the way it reports daily COVID-19 infections, it confirmed what medical groups and opposition parties have long suspected – that the country is faced with an alarming surge of cases that is fast exhausting the Turkish health system.
In an about-face, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government this week resumed reporting all positive coronavirus tests – not just the number of patients being treated for symptoms – pushing the number of daily cases to above 30,000. With the new data, the country jumped from being one of the least-affected countries in Europe to one of the worst-hit.
That came as no surprise to the Turkish Medical Association, which has been warning for months that the government’s previous figures were concealing the graveness of the spread and that the lack of transparency was contributing to the surge. The group maintains, however, that the ministry’s figures are still low compared with its estimate of at least 50,000 new infections per day.
No country can report exact numbers on the spread of the disease since many asymptomatic cases go undetected, but the previous way of counting made Turkey look relatively well-off in international comparisons, with daily new cases far below those reported in European countries including Italy, Britain and France.
That changed Wednesday as Turkey’s daily caseload almost quadrupled from about 7,400 to 28,300.
The country’s hospitals are overstretched, medical staff are burned out and contract tracers, who were once credited for keeping the outbreak under check, are struggling to track transmissions, Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who heads the association, told The Associated Press.
“It’s the perfect storm,” said Fincanci, whose group has come under attack from Erdogan and his nationalist allies for questioning the government’s figures and its response to the outbreak.
Even though the health minister has put the ICU bed occupancy rate at 70 percent, Ebru Kiraner, who heads the Istanbul-based Intensive Care Nurses’ Association, says intensive care unit beds in Istanbul’s hospitals are almost full, with doctors scrambling to find room for critically ill patients.
There is a shortage of nurses and the existing nursing staff is exhausted, she added.
“ICU nurses have not been able to return to their normal lives since March,” she told the AP. “Their children have not seen their mask-less faces in months.”
Erdogan said, however, there was “no problem” concerning the hospitals’ capacities. He blamed the surge on the public’s failure to wear masks, which is mandatory, and to abide by social distancing rules.
Demonstrating the seriousness of the outbreak, Turkey last month suspended leave for health care workers and temporarily banned resignations and early retirements during the pandemic. Similar bans were also put in place for three months in March.
The official daily COVID-19 deaths have also steadily risen to record numbers, reaching 13,373 on Saturday with 182 new deaths, in a reversal of fortune for the country that had been praised for managing to keep fatalities low. But those record numbers remain disputed too.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said 186 people had died of infectious diseases in the city on Nov. 22 – a day on which the government announced just 139 COVID-19 deaths for the whole of the country. The mayor also said around 450 burials are taking place daily in the city of 15 million compared with the average 180-200 recorded in November the previous year.
“We can only beat the outbreak through a process that is transparent,” said Imamoglu, who is from Turkey’s main opposition party. “Russia and Germany have announced a high death toll. Did Germany lose its shine? Did Russia collapse?”
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has rejected Imamoglu’s claims, saying: “I want to underline that all of the figures I am providing are accurate.”
Last week, Erdogan announced a series of restrictions in a bid to contain the contagion without impacting the already weakened economy or business activity. Opposition parties denounced them as “half-baked.” He introduced curfews for the first time since June, but limited them to weekend evenings, closed down restaurants and cafes except for takeout services and restricted the opening hours of malls, shops and hairdressers.
Both Fincanci and Kiraner said the measures don’t go far enough to contain transmissions.
“We need a total lockdown of at least two weeks, if not four weeks which science considers to be the most ideal amount,” Fincanci said.
Koca has said that the number of seriously ill patients and fatalities is on the rise and said some cities including Istanbul and Izmir are experiencing their “third peak.”
Turkey would wait, however, for two weeks to see the results of the weekend curfews and other restrictions before considering stricter lockdowns, he said.