Jordan, Egypt could join Quartet’s Mideast peace drive

Jordan, Egypt could join Quartet’s Mideast peace drive
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Ayman Safadi (L), French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and German Foreign Heiko Maas (R), attend a meeting in the Capital Cairo on January 11, 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 January 2021

Jordan, Egypt could join Quartet’s Mideast peace drive

Jordan, Egypt could join Quartet’s Mideast peace drive
  • The Quartet consisting of the UN, the EU, the US and Russia was set up in 2002 to help mediate Middle East peace negotiations

AMMAN: Jordan and Egypt are emerging as potential new members of the international Quartet for Mideast peace after the foreign ministers of both countries joined a meeting of the multilateral forum in Cairo on Monday.

The Quartet consisting of the UN, the EU, the US and Russia was set up in 2002 to help mediate Middle East peace negotiations.

Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki were invited by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to attend the meeting, which included French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, according to a statement by Jordan’s Foreign Ministry.

Oraib Rantawi, director of the Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, told Arab News that the idea of adding Jordan and Egypt to the Quartet had been discussed by the Obama-Biden administration.

“Although the issue was discussed in the last days of the Obama administration, I don’t think that it will be decided until the Biden administration takes over and begins to make its position public,” he said.

Rantawi said that Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also may be invited to participate.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the UN, welcomed the potential expansion of the Quartet.

“If the nucleus of the international community’s approach to resolving the Middle East conflict is the Quartet, we would like to talk about its enlargement,” he said.

Mansour said that Egypt and Jordan could be the first additions, with other countries to follow later.

He told the Al-Monitor news website that when the 2007 Middle East peace talks were planned for Annapolis in the US, few countries signed up. “But within a short period of time, everyone wanted to attend. Fifty countries ended up joining the talks.” 

Ahmad Deek, director-general at the office of the Palestinian foreign minister, told Arab News that Palestinians are hoping for the return of a “sane international order” following the Trump era.

“We are looking forward to a period in which international law and the concept of collective multilateral efforts become the norm again in foreign policy conflict resolution,” he said.

Najeeb Qadoumi, a member of the Palestinian National Council, said there is optimism that current efforts will yield positive results.

“There is no doubt that the Palestinian cause will return to the center of attention when Trump is no longer around,” Qadoumi said.

“Jordan, which has suffered from the absence of a resolution of the Palestinian conflict and especially the status of refugees, will contribute to any efforts.”


Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia
Updated 51 min 11 sec ago

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia
  • Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic
  • The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14

TUNIS: Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tunisian cities on Saturday to protest police repression, corruption and poverty, following several nights of unrest marked by clashes and arrests.
Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the economy and threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
Over 6,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Tunisia, with a record 103 deaths reported on Thursday.
The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14.
But protesters took to the streets in several parts of the country, including the capital Tunis and the marginalized interior region of Gafsa, to demand the release of hundreds of young people detained during several nights of unrest since January 14.
“Neither police nor Islamists, the people want revolution,” chanted demonstrators in a crowd of several hundred in Tunis, where one person was wounded in brief clashes amid a heavy police presence.
Protests were also held in the coastal city of Sfax on Friday.
Much of the unrest has been in working class neighborhoods, where anger is boiling over soaring unemployment and a political class accused of having failed to deliver good governance, a decade after the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Economic misery exacerbated by novel coronavirus restrictions in the tourism-reliant nation have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to try to leave the country.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said Omar Jawadi, 33, a hotel sales manager, who has been paid only half his salary for months.
“The politicians are corrupt, we want to change the government and the system.”
The police have said more than 700 people were arrested over several nights of unrest earlier this week that saw young people hurl rocks and petrol bombs at security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Human rights groups on Thursday said at least 1,000 people had been detained.
“Youth live from day to day, we no longer have hope, neither to work nor to study — and they call us troublemakers!” said call center worker Amine, who has a degree in aerospace engineering.
“We must listen to young people, not send police in by the thousands. The whole system is corrupt, a few families and their supporters control Tunisia’s wealth.”
Tunisia last week marked one decade since Ben Ali fled the country amid mass protests, ending 23 years in power.
Tunisia’s political leadership is divided, with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi waiting for parliament to confirm a major cabinet reshuffle announced last Saturday.