Saudi, regional and international support voiced for Jordan’s King Abdullah II

Jordan's King Abdullah II (left) is seen with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during a recent visit to Riyadh. (SPA photo)
Jordan's King Abdullah II (left) is seen with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman during a recent visit to Riyadh. (SPA photo)
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Updated 05 April 2021

Saudi, regional and international support voiced for Jordan’s King Abdullah II

Saudi, regional and international support voiced for Jordan’s King Abdullah II

RIYADH/AMMAN: The Saudi royal court voiced its support for Jordan’s King Abdullah on Saturday, the Kingdom’s Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

“The kingdom affirms its full support, with all its capabilities, to all decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah and His Highness Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, the Crown Prince, to maintain security and stability,” said a statement from the Saudi royal court.

The statement comes after wide-ranging arrests have been made last night in Amman. Detained reportedly include former Jordanian head of royal court Bassem Awadallah. Prince Hamza bin Al Hussain, former Jordanian Crown Prince, has posted a video where he claims to be under house arrest too. 

Meanwhile, the US State Department said on Saturday that King Abdullah is a "key partner" of the United States and "has our full support" amid reports that his half-brother Prince Hamza had been questioned — possibly in relation to an alleged plot to destabilize the country.

In an email, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, "We are closely following the reports and in touch with Jordanian officials. King Abdullah is a key partner of the United States, and he has our full support."

The Jordanian military said on Saturday that Hamza bin Hussein, former crown prince, was asked to halt actions used to target the country's "security and stability."

People familiar with the affair told Reuters it could have been related to a plot to destabilise the country. 

The European Union said it was closely following events in the kingdom and that the bloc shared a strong and solid partnership with Jordan.
“We will continue supporting Jordan and its people,” said Nabila Massrali, spokeswoman for the EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, adding: “The EU fully supports King Abdullah II and his moderating role in the region.”

International and regional countries, as well as organizations, also expressed solidarity with Jordan's king.

• Britain: “We are following closely the events in Jordan....Jordan is a greatly valued partner for the UK. King Abdullah has our full support,” James Cleverly, a junior Foreign Office minister, on Twitter.

• Israel: "This is an internal Jordanian matter. Jordan is a neighbour with which we are at peace, and a strategic ally of ours, and we should do everything to preserve this alliance," Defence Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement. "A prosperous and strong Jordan is in our national-security and economic interest.”
• Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi also made a phone call to King Abdullah, in which he assured him of country’s full solidarity with the Jordanian government and people, and its support for all decisions made by the king “for the sake of preserving the security and stability of the Kingdom.”
During the call, the president was briefed on the stability of the situation in Jordan, the Egyptian Presidency said in a statement.
King Abdullah expressed his sincere appreciation for “the president’s support, which embodies the depth and strength of the historical ties between the two countries.”

• Bahrain state news agency BNA reported: “His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa affirmed full support to the decisions and measures taken by HM King Abdulla II Ibn Al Hussein of Jordan to maintain his country’s security and stability and defuse all disruptive attempts.”

• Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Nayef Falah Mubarak al-Hajraf, in a statement, “affirmed the full support of the Cooperation Council for all decisions and measures taken by His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein, to preserve the security and stability of brotherly Jordan, wishing brotherly Jordan continued security and stability under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II and His Highness, the faithful Crown Prince.” 

• Lebanon: “Jordan’s security and safety is a fundamental basis for the security and safety of the Arab world,” Lebanese Prime Minister designate Saad al-Hariri said on Twitter. “All the solidarity with the Jordanian leadership and King Abdullah in defending the gains of the Jordanian people, protecting their stability, and refusing interference in their affairs.”

• Kuwait’s foreign ministry expressed “its support to all the measures taken by Jordan’s King Abdullah and his Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, to maintain the security and stability of the kingdom,” adding that “the security and stability of the kingdom are that of Kuwait.”

• Iraq: “The Iraqi government affirms that it stands with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, in any steps taken to preserve the security and stability of the country and take care of the interests of the brotherly people of Jordan, in a way that boosts their presence, by relying on measures that aims to extend the respect of the state,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

• Qatar's state news agency QNA reported: “Qatar expressed its full solidarity with the sisterly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and its full support to the decisions and measures issued by His Majesty King Abdullah to preserve the security, stability, and boost the process of progress and prosperity in the country.” 

“Qatar affirmed that the security and stability of Jordan is an integral part of its security and stability, and stressed that the developed strategic relations between the two brotherly countries will remain an honest and strong guard against any attempts to undermine the security and stability in the two countries and the region.”

• Yemen’s internationally recognized government “affirms its absolute support and its complete stand with all measures aimed at preserving Jordan’s security,” state news agency Saba reported.

“Yemen affirms its absolute support and totally stands with all decisions and measures taken by His Majesty King Abdullah aimed at maintaining security and ending any attempts to destabilize the sisterly Kingdom of Jordan,” it added.

• Palestine: “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that we stand by the sisterly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the king, the government, and the people,” official Palestinian news agency WAFA said in a statement.

“We support the decisions taken by King Abdullah II to preserve Jordan’s security and ensure its stability and unity.”

“We support the steps taken by King Abdullah to maintain Jordanian national security, stressing that Jordan’s security and stability is a supreme Palestinian interest,” he added.

• Arab League: “The secretary-general of the Arab League expressed full solidarity with the measures taken by the Jordanian leadership to maintain the security of the kingdom and maintain the stability,” the Arab League said in a statement on its Facebook page, citing Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

“He also stressed his confidence in the leadership’s wisdom and its keenness to secure the country’s stability in parallel with the respect for the constitution and the law.”

“Ahmed Aboul Gheit added that King Abdullah II has a high and appreciated position, whether among the Jordanian people or on the Arab level in general, and that everyone knows his sincerity and his great role in serving Arab causes,” it added.

• United Arab Emirates: “UAE affirms its total support to the sisterly Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. UAE affirms that it stands with and totally supports all the decisions and measures taken by King Abdullah II and his Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II to maintain the security and stability of Jordan, and defuse every attempt to influence them,” state news agency WAM reported. “UAE affirms that the security and stability of Jordan is an integral part of its security.”

• Oman: Oman affirms its complete stand by Jordan and supports what guarantees its security, sovereignty and stability

With wire reports

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Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international

Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international
Updated 25 sec ago

Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international

Dubai’s local campaign to provide food goes international
  • The program is an expansion of last year’s local ‘10 Million Meals’
  • Donations can be made across the globe to the campaign through www.100millionmeals.ae

DUBAI: The ‘100 Million Meals’ campaign, launched by Dubai’s ruler, will provide food parcels for the needy across 20 countries during Ramadan.
The program is an expansion of last year’s local ‘10 Million Meals,’ which distributed food in communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic across the country.
Individuals and companies across the globe can make donations to the campaign through www.100millionmeals.ae, which will then distribute food in countries such as Sudan, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Angola, Uganda and Egypt.
“Providing food during the holy month of Ramadan is the best we can give from the UAE to humanity,” Dubai’s Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) will work with the UN World Food Program, Food Banking Regional Network and local humanitarian organizations in receiving countries to distribute food for those in need.
“We will work with humanitarian organizations, companies, entities and humanitarians to join us in securing 100 million meals to bring a sense of safety to underserved homes across the world,” Al-Maktoum said.  
The campaign also supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end hunger by 2030.


‘Green Paradise’ brings hydroponics to Libya

‘Green Paradise’ brings hydroponics to Libya
Agriculture remains a marginal sector in Libya, where the economy is dominated by hydrocarbons, the country boasting the most abundant oil reserves in Africa. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2021

‘Green Paradise’ brings hydroponics to Libya

‘Green Paradise’ brings hydroponics to Libya

TRIPOLI: Under a yellow tarpaulin stretched over an arched metal frame, Siraj Bechiya and his partner inspect their hydroponically grown lettuce, pioneers of the method in mostly desert Libya where conventional agriculture struggles.
Zip ties, punctured plastic cups as pots and PVC tubing bought in DIY shops hold the precious crops at “Green Paradise” — so dubbed by the two young Libyan entrepreneurs spearheading the project.
But the ad hoc nature of the materials hasn’t stopped the plants from thriving, their long white roots nourished by water rich with nutrients and oxygen.
Bechiya and his partner, Mounir, have been working tirelessly on their project for months in the small town of Qouwea, 40 km east of the capital Tripoli, erecting a tunnel-shaped greenhouse surrounded by breeze-block walls on a semi-arid site.
Their hope is to demystify hydroponic farming, which “guarantees a good yield in small spaces,” uses little water and doesn’t need pesticides, 20-year-old Bechiya told AFP.
Soilless farming has gained ground in many countries but is still in its infancy in Libya.
But in a country whose territory is 90 percent arid desert, the method could offer a path toward more food self-sufficiency, Bechiya believes.
Agriculture remains a marginal sector in Libya, where the economy is dominated by hydrocarbons, the country boasting the most abundant oil reserves in Africa.
Arable land barely makes up three percent of Libya’s territory and is under threat, as rapid urbanization eats up the fertile strip along the Mediterranean coast.
Another major challenge to farming in Libya is the lack of water where agriculture needs it most.
The Great Man-Made River — a pharaonic project realized by former ruler Muammar Qaddafi more than 30 years ago — carries drinking water pumped from groundwater tables in the south to the northern cities where most Libyans live.
But this resource is not infinite, and the GMMR’s network has been heavily damaged in the decade of conflict that has ravaged Libya since Qaddafi’s ouster in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising.
In the face of these challenges, Bechiya and Mounir set out to train in hydroponics two years ago in neighboring Tunisia.
“When we came back, it was imperative that we move from theory to practice,” Bechiya said.
“We started with some vegetables in the house and we were surprised by people’s enthusiasm.”
In theory, hydroponics can guarantee higher yields and profits than conventional farming, which is at risk from weather, water shortages and pollution from unregulated pesticide use.
“With more space in the greenhouse, the idea was able to take off. We will continue to develop it ... and improve quality,” said Bechiya, as he measured the acidity of the water feeding his young lettuce.
“Libyan consumers don’t want produce full of pesticides anymore, but organic produce,” he added.


US secretary of defense aims to deescalate Israel-Iran tensions

US secretary of defense aims to deescalate Israel-Iran tensions
Experts believe that US defense secretary’s visit to Israel aims to facilitate Washington’s eventual rejoining of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. (Reuters/File)
Updated 52 min 45 sec ago

US secretary of defense aims to deescalate Israel-Iran tensions

US secretary of defense aims to deescalate Israel-Iran tensions
  • Experts claim Tel Aviv will seek to play up the threat of Iran, with US return to JCPOA looming
  • The visit is aimed at reassuring Israel by bolstering US-Israeli and Gulf-Israeli defense relations while dispelling Iranian perceptions of US complicity in recent Israeli attacks on Iranian targets

AMMAN: Middle East experts believe that the visit of the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Israel is largely aimed at deescalating Israeli-Iranian tensions, and facilitating Washington’s eventual rejoining of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

Austin said the US is committed to “Israeli military edge” and advancing “strategic partnership” efforts with Tel Aviv.
Lamis Andoni, a veteran analyst based in Amman, told Arab News that the visit is ultimately aimed at helping the US return to the JCPOA. “President Joe Biden is worried that (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu would like to escalate the situation in the Gulf, with the aim of torpedoing the eventual return to the Iran nuclear deal,” she said.
Andoni added that Netanyahu was only concerned about his own future, and would therefore focus on exaggerating Iranian threats to ensure Gulf states remained united against Iran.
Ali Jarbawi, a professor at Bir Zeit University, told Arab News that Austin’s visit was nothing more than an attempt to placate Israel.
“They want Israel to be reassured on the fact that the new administration will be returning to the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.
Retired Jordanian air force general, Maamoun Abu Nawwar, said that the goal of the visit is to ensure that Israeli does not escalate the situation in the Gulf. “The fact that the first senior official from the Biden administration to visit Israel is a military man is a clear sign that they are hoping he will address the potential of a dangerous escalation … between Israel and Iran,” he told Arab News.
Ofer Zalzberg, Middle East Program director at the Herbert Kelman Institute for Conflict Transformation, said that the visit will be characterized by an internal contradiction in US objectives: “It aims at reassuring Israel by bolstering US-Israeli and Gulf-Israeli defense relations while dispelling Iranian perceptions of US complicity in recent Israeli attacks on Iranian targets, which harm establishing the trust required for successful nuclear negotiations,” he said.
Musa Shteiwi, former head of the University of Jordan’s Center of Strategic Studies, said that the visit would seek to resolve the Iran issue at a time that Israel is going in the opposite direction. “They will talk about pursuing the partnership issue in order to facilitate the return to the Iran deal,” he said. Barak Ravid, a Tel Aviv-based reporter for Axios, argued that both Austin’s position and the timing of the visit were important.

“This is the first trip of a senior Biden administration official to Israel. Austin will try to make sure that there is a no surprises policy between Israel and the US when it comes to Iran, and will try to reassure the Israelis about the nuclear talks with Iran. The Biden administration wants to make sure tensions in the region will not escalate in a way that sabotages the nuclear talks,” he said.
Regardless of the worries about military escalation, it is clear to observers that the real issue is the political one. Abu Nawwar believes that the Iran nuclear deal, initially signed by the administration of former President Barack Obama, will eventually prevail. “It is the only game in town,” he added.

On Monday, Iran said it blames Israel for Sunday's incident at the Natanz nuclear site and will take its revenge, state TV quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.
Iranian authorities described the incident a day earlier as an act of "nuclear terrorism" and said Tehran reserves the right to take action against the perpetrators.


Suez Canal shipping course could be expanded

Suez Canal shipping course could be expanded
A Hapag Lloyd container ship sails across the Gulf of Suez towards the Red Sea before entering the Suez Canal, in El Ain El Sokhna in Suez, east of Cairo, Egypt April 24, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 April 2021

Suez Canal shipping course could be expanded

Suez Canal shipping course could be expanded
  • Dry bulk carriers and containers made up the largest percentage of traffic in the Suez Canal

CAIRO: The shipping course of the Suez Canal could be expanded under plans being considered by the waterway’s authority. 
A shipping course of a vessel is the direction in which it is to be steered.
Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said that the canal’s continuous development operations had helped it to maintain its position as the first choice for major shipping lines.
Rabie also said that in 2021 the canal would attract shipping lines that had not previously crossed it, including LNG tankers from the US East Coast that were bound for Asia, thanks to the flexible marketing policies pursued by the authority.
He reviewed recent developments at the authority, saying there had been 4,581 vessel crossings during the first quarter of 2021 with a total net tonnage of 291 million.

FASTFACT

Eighty-five percent of the oil from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait was transported to the East but did not pass through the canal, while 61 percent of the world’s oil carriers passed through the waterway, says official.

He said 85 percent of the oil from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait was transported to the East but did not pass through the canal, while 61 percent of the world’s oil carriers passed through the waterway.
Dry bulk carriers and containers made up the largest percentage of traffic in the Suez Canal, he added and stressed there was no alternative way to the canal that was not being studied.
The incentives provided last year led to an 8 percent increase in ship traffic despite the pandemic, he said.


Expert reveals details of astonishing archaeological find

Expert reveals details of astonishing archaeological find
Large quantities of items, including semi-precious stones, were found at the site and it is expected that the discoveries in the city will cover an area of more than 3 kilometers. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2021

Expert reveals details of astonishing archaeological find

Expert reveals details of astonishing archaeological find
  • Large quantities of semi-precious stones were found and it is expected that the discoveries in the city will cover an area of more than 3 km

CAIRO: Zahi Hawass, the former Egyptian minister of antiquities, said that the discovery of a lost city in Luxor is the most important and greatest archaeological discovery for him.
Hawass believes that the extension of the city belongs to Tutankhamun, and said that the recent discovery shook the world.
The Egyptian archaeological mission, headed by Hawass, discovered the lost city under the sands of Luxor, called Ascension of Aton, which dates back to the reign of King Amenhotep III. The city continued to be used by Tutankhamun 3,000 years ago, and it may even pre-date pharaonic history and add to the archaeological discoveries that Egypt has discovered during recent years.
Hawass said during televised statements that many industrial places were discovered in the lost city, including places for the manufacture of clothes, linen and fishing rods, and 100 molds were discovered for the manufacture of amulets used in the palace.
Large quantities of semi-precious stones were also found and it is expected that the discoveries in the city will cover an area of more than 3 km.
“We found three main areas — one for management, one for workers to sleep (in) and a third for industry — as well as an area for dried meat,” Hawass said.

HIGHLIGHT

Expert believes that the extension of the city belongs to Tutankhamun, and says that the recent discovery shook the world.

He explained that it is the largest ancient city found so far, noting that the discovery was carried out by an Egyptian team.
Hawass said that Betsy Bryan, an archaeologist specializing in the golden age, had praised the discovery of the lost city, describing it as the second most important discovery after the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Hawass said that the process of restoring the city will begin next month. The pottery found in the city dates back 3,000 years, confirming that the discovered pots were used for storing meat.
He said that they had also discovered three kilos of dried meat as well as other significant finds.
“A cemetery dating back to the 26th dynasty, 500 BC, was discovered, and these graves are complete and untouched and are supported because they are made of mud bricks,” Hawass said.
He said that work to discover the lost city began in September 2020.
Hawass said that he had not expected to discover the city. Archaeologists believed that it had disappeared, so the discovery of the first house in the city had astonished scientists, he said.