Dam discussion deadlock requires coordination, say Egyptian and Sudanese leaders

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi amd Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan holding a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, on March. 6, 2021. (Presidency of Sudan via AP)
1 / 3
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi amd Sudanese leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan holding a press conference in Khartoum, Sudan, on March. 6, 2021. (Presidency of Sudan via AP)
Dam discussion deadlock requires coordination, say Egyptian and Sudanese leaders
2 / 3
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, left, meets with Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, at the presidential palace in Sudan. Sudan Sovereign Council via Reuters)
Dam discussion deadlock requires coordination, say Egyptian and Sudanese leaders
3 / 3
Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan walks with President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, during a welcome ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan March 6, 2021. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 07 March 2021

Dam discussion deadlock requires coordination, say Egyptian and Sudanese leaders

Dam discussion deadlock requires coordination, say Egyptian and Sudanese leaders
  • El-Sisi discussed Sudan’s border dispute with Ethiopia and security in the Red Sea region
  • The visit came amid a rapprochement between the two governments

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi visited Sudan on Saturday for the first time since the overthrow of former President Omar Bashir, as the neighbors push to break a deadlock over a multi-billion dollar dam being built by Ethiopia.

During his meeting in Khartoum with Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, El-Sisi said it was his firm belief that the security and stability of Sudan was an integral part of the security and stability of Egypt.

A statement from the Egyptian presidency reflected an agreement between El-Sisi and Al-Burhan that the current stage of the dam discussions required the highest levels of coordination between the two countries.

It said that Egypt supported the Sudanese proposal to form an international quartet, including the presidency of the African Union, the US, the EU and the UN, to mediate in the dam issue.

El-Sisi and Al-Burhan agreed to reject any unilateral measures aimed at monopolizing the resources of the Blue Nile.

Both leaders discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations at all levels, as well as several regional and international issues of common interest, especially developments in the situation in the Sudanese-Ethiopian border region, and the recent Sudanese moves to extend state sovereignty over its eastern borders bordering Ethiopia.

They also discussed developments in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. The discussions, according to the Egyptian presidency, reflected a mutual understanding about ways to deal with issues in a way that ensured the enhancement of African capabilities to face the challenges facing the continent as a whole.

Al-Burhan appreciated Egypt’s stance in support of Sudan to face the repercussions of various crises, as well as to contribute to removing Sudan's name from the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

He affirmed Sudan's aspiration and keenness to activate joint projects between Egypt and Sudan and to enhance the prospects for cooperation, especially at the political, economic, security and military levels.

El-Sisi confirmed Egypt's continued support for the government and people of Sudan, and interest in upgrading bilateral relations in a way that enhanced the strategic partnership based on mutual respect and cooperation for the benefit of the two countries.

There has been high-level diplomatic and military activity between the two countries in recent days. 

The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Maryam Al-Mahdi met El-Sisi and her Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in Cairo on Tuesday.

The Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Mohamed Farid concluded a two-day visit to Khartoum, during which an agreement was signed for cooperation in the fields of military training and coordination.

On Friday, the UN offered to help move forward the negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over the GERD that Ethiopia is building 15 kilometers from the Sudanese border, at an estimated cost of $5 billion.

In a phone call with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday, Shoukry “stressed the need to launch a serious and effective negotiation process” over the dam before a second round of filling expected this summer, Reuters news agency reported.

Ethiopia, which says it has every right to use Nile waters, started filling the reservoir behind the dam last summer after Egypt and Sudan failed to secure a legally binding agreement over the hydropower dam's operation.

Sudan fears the dam could increase the risk of flooding and affect the safe operation of its own Nile dams, while water-scarce Egypt fears its supplies from the Nile could be hit.

Years of diplomatic talks over the project have repeatedly stalled.


Greek, Turkish ministers clash at press conference

Greek, Turkish ministers clash at press conference
Updated 30 sec ago

Greek, Turkish ministers clash at press conference

Greek, Turkish ministers clash at press conference
  • Dendias used his opening remarks to rattle off a series of longstanding complaints about Turkey
  • “If you heavily accuse my country and people before the press, I have to be in a position to respond to that,” Cavusoglu said

ANKARA: The foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey on Wednesday exchanged accusations on a wide range of issues during a volatile press conference at the end of their first meeting in over a year.
The meeting between Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias was ostensibly designed to show the two uneasy NATO neighbours trying to put aside their differences after a year of complex disputes.
The two countries teetered on the edge of all-out war when their gunboats collided while shadowing each other during a Turkish push into disputed eastern Mediterranean waters last August.
The press conference opened with conciliatory remarks from Cavusoglu in which he praised "the very positive dialogue" they just held in the Turkish capital.
But Dendias used his opening remarks to rattle off a series of longstanding complaints about Turkey - from its search from natural gas in contested waters to its treatment of the Greek Orthodox minority and the sides' ongoing dispute about migrants.
"Greece's position is clear and this is not the first time you have heard it," Dendias told Cavusoglu during a particularly heated moment in the 35-minute press conference.
"If you heavily accuse my country and people before the press, I have to be in a position to respond to that," Cavusoglu replied.
"If you want to continue our tensions, we can," Cavusoglu said.


Yemeni teachers’ union slams Houthi curriculum takeover

Yemeni teachers’ union slams Houthi curriculum takeover
Yemeni children of all ages are exposed to violent imagery in Houthi educational materials. (Reuters/File)
Updated 16 sec ago

Yemeni teachers’ union slams Houthi curriculum takeover

Yemeni teachers’ union slams Houthi curriculum takeover
  • Teachers syndicate accuses Iran of ‘policy of cultural colonialism’ in Yemen via Houthi proxies
  • ‘Houthis far more interested in radicalizing than homogeneous education,’ expert tells Arab News

LONDON: Yemen’s union of teachers has denounced the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s takeover of the country’s schools and curriculum, and accused Tehran of using the education system to pursue a “policy of cultural colonialism.” 

Yahya Al-Yinai, head of media at the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate, told the Daily Telegraph that the Houthis have made hundreds of changes to the teaching curriculum since they seized power in a violent 2014 coup. He also said they have replaced nearly 90 percent of school principals with pro-Houthi allies.

Al-Yinai accused Iran of overseeing the changes, saying it is pursuing a “policy of cultural colonialism” by trying to introduce the “ideology of the Khomeinist revolution in Yemen through public education.”

With military and economic assistance from Iran, the Houthis control roughly two-thirds of the Yemeni population.

A report by education watchdog IMPACT-se found that they have been using this position of power to foster hostility to the US, Saudi Arabia and other adversaries of Iran.

Around 3 million young Yemenis currently receive their education in Houthi-controlled parts of the country.

IMPACT-se found that the materials used to educate them are “rife with violence and imagery of death, irrespective of the age of the target audience.”

These images, which include pictures of dead children, are used “to portray the Houthis’ enemies as monstrous and inhumane.”

The organization found that through their signature magazine Jihad, the Houthis aim to indoctrinate Yemen’s next generation toward violence and extremism.

“The Houthi materials grossly violate the ideal of peacemaking, entirely dismissing peace as an option in international conflict resolution, and condemning those who advocate for it as cowardly, foolish or traitorous,” IMPACT-se found. 

“Instead, violent jihad, sacrifice in battle, and supporting the war effort in any way possible is held up as an ideal and a central virtue.” 

Marcus Sheff, IMPACT-se’s CEO, told Arab News: “Despite lip service to Yemeni nationhood, the Houthis are far more interested in radicalizing than in homogeneous education.”

He said the violent and graphic Houthi education materials could have a lasting impact on children exposed to them.

“Any changes that radicalize — and traumatize — young children are significant,” he added. “These changes fly in the face of those in the region who are trying to moderate curricula, not to incite violence and hate, as are the Houthis.”

Arik Agrissi, chief operating officer at IMPACT-se, said: “Textbooks can act as either a barrier or blueprint to radicalization. In the Houthis’ case, it’s explicitly the latter.”


World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker

World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker
Updated 15 April 2021

World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker

World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker
  • The decaying FSO Safer tanker has been under the control of the Iran backed militia since 2015
  • The ship could spill more than a million barrels of oil into the Red Sea

NEW YORK: World powers at the UN warned the Houthis Thursday that they would be responsible for an environmental disaster if an oil tanker moored off Yemen’s coast breaks up.
The decaying FSO Safer tanker has been under the control of the Iran backed militia since 2015. The ship could spill more than a million barrels of oil into the Red Sea, yet the Houthis have repeatedly blocked the UN from sending a team of expert to the vessel.
“The Houthis have not yet agreed to facilitate a UN assessment mission,” the UK’s permanent representative to the UN Barbara Woodward told the Security Council. “The vessel is under Houthi control and the responsibility for this matter rests on Houthi shoulders.”
She said if the Houthis fail to act then the UK would discuss further steps at the Security Council.
Last month, one of the militia’s leaders Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi angered officials at the world body when he said the UN would be responsible if the tanker, which has been described as a ticking time bomb, broke apart.
The UN responded saying it was doing everything possible to get the Houthis to allow experts access to the tanker.
Woodward’s warning was echoed by France’s envoy to the UN Nicolas de Rivière who said the Houthis would be responsible for the imminent environmental, economic and humanitarian threat posed by the Safer if they don’t “immediately” allow access to the UN’s assessment team.
The US ambassador to the UN said the Houthis must allow the assessment of the tanker to proceed “without further delays.”
“The Houthis also continue their dereliction of duty with the Safer oil tanker delaying UN assessment and initial repair of the vessel. This needs to end,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. 
“For nearly two years the Houthis have continued to move the goalpost. And we call on them to allow the assessment to proceed without further delays and urge other nations to press the Houthis to allow the assessment immediately.”
Meanwhile, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said he was alarmed at “multiple drone and ballistic missile attacks carried out by Ansar Allah (the Houthis) against Saudi territory during the past week, including against civilian facilities.”
“We know this must stop,” he added.
The Arab coalition announced on Thursday it had destroyed five ballistic missiles and four explosive-laden drones launched by the Houthis toward Saudi Arabia. 
The UK, France, US and the UN called on the Houthis to stop their offensive in Marib, the capital of an oil-rich region controlled by the government.
The militia has been trying to seize the city since February.
“Marib ... remains the major center of gravity in this conflict. The fighting in the area is showing dangerous signs of escalating once again. Internally displaced people, along with local communities, have been in the line of fire,” Griffiths said.

Saudi Arabia launched a wide-ranging initiative in March to bring peace to Yemen, deliver aid to its people and end the country’s six-year war.

The plan called for a nationwide cease-fire supervised by the UN, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and new talks to reach a political resolution to the conflict.


Egyptian architects win UNESCO competition to rebuild Mosul’s Al-Nouri Mosque

The winning design, which is called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy. (Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)
The winning design, which is called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy. (Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)
Updated 15 April 2021

Egyptian architects win UNESCO competition to rebuild Mosul’s Al-Nouri Mosque

The winning design, which is called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy. (Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)

LONDON: UNESCO announced on Thursday the winner of its architectural design competition to rebuild the historic Al-Nouri mosque complex destroyed by Daesh in Mosul, Iraq.

A team of eight Egyptian architects, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy, beat out more than 120 other entries to win the contest with their “Courtyards Dialogue” design.

The mosque was mostly destroyed by Daesh in 2017 as Iraqi forces fought to recapture the city. Its reconstruction is a central part of UNESCO’s “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” project, which aims to rehabilitate the ancient city, which was heavily damaged in the recent conflict.

(Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)

“The reconstruction of Al-Nouri Mosque complex, a historical site that is part of Mosul’s fabric and history, will be a landmark in the process of advancing the war-torn city’s reconciliation and social cohesion,” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general said in a statement. ”Heritage sites and historical monuments are powerful catalysts for people’s sense of belonging, of community, and identity. They are key to reviving the spirit of Mosul and of Iraq as a whole.”

The UAE has been heavily involved with the reconstruction of the mosque and the ”Revive the Spirit of Mosul” project overall, and the country’s minister of culture and knowledge development said the announcement was a ”significant milestone.”

“In 2018, the UAE took the lead and joined UNESCO on this historic endeavor, inspired by the history and legacy of Mosul and the resilience and strength of its people,” Noura bint Mohammed Al-Kaabi said in the UNESCO statement. 

“Reaching this important milestone has brought us closer to the realization of a shared commitment to restore social cohesion and a spirit of fraternity and tolerance in Mosul once again,” she added.

The mosque, like much of the city of Mosul, was mostly destroyed by the extremist group Daesh in 2017 as Iraqi forces fought to recapture the city. (AFP/File Photo)

The winning team issued a statement welcoming the results of the competition, saying: “Our team worked with high passion to submit a project that primarily addresses the need for social cohesion and revival of souls. We are looking forward to completing the design and to helping the revival of the Old City of Mosul.”

The group of architects have previously worked on other heritage-rehabilitation projects, as well as urban planning and climate-based architecture. They will now produce a more detailed design for the project, with a view to starting work in late fall 2021.


Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe

Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe
Updated 15 April 2021

Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe

Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe
  • Rejection of investigation ‘marks low point’ in bilateral ties: Diplomatic mission
  • UK stance ‘farcical and hypocritical,’ Palestine Solidarity Campaign tells Arab News

LONDON: Palestine has said its relations with Britain have reached a “new low” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his opposition to an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged war crimes in the Israeli-occupied territories.

In a letter to the lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel, Johnson said his government had “respect (for) the independence” of the ICC but opposed the inquiry.

“This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s,” he wrote.

In a statement posted on its website, the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Britain said Johnson’s letter was “deeply regrettable” and “marks a low point in UK-Palestine relations and undermines the UK’s credibility on the international stage.”

The letter contradicts both international law and Britain’s own policy on Palestine, the mission said, stressing the need to respect international law for the good of all parties.

“We sincerely hope the UK will reconsider its position and that in the cold light of day understand that the best option for everyone, including Israel, is a firm commitment to international law and the basic principle of equality for all,” it added.

A panel of judges at the ICC ruled in February that the court has jurisdiction in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

The court is expected to look at possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during and after the 2014 Gaza war, as well as Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem. 

“Shamefully, Johnson has made clear that the government’s opposition to the ICC’s investigation is rooted in the fact that it’s being initiated against ‘a friend and ally of the UK’s’,” Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told Arab News.

“It also renders farcical and hypocritical the prime minister’s simultaneous assertion that the UK is ‘a strong supporter’ of the court,” Jamal added.

“We call upon the UK government to adopt a more consistent position supporting the court but not exempting Israeli officials from proper investigation.”
A joint letter penned by several charities and aid groups accused Johnson of “political interference” in the ICC’s work.

The UK government “could be a bastion of international law and human rights — but instead it is undermining international criminal proceedings and standing in the way of justice,” said the signatories, which include Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Council for Arab-British Understanding.

The government “should respect the impartiality and independence of the court, and should support — rather than substantially undermine — international legal frameworks and judicial mechanisms,” they added.