Grand Imam of Al-Azhar: Tampering with water rights is forbidden

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar: Tampering with water rights is forbidden
Egypt's Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 06 June 2021

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar: Tampering with water rights is forbidden

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar: Tampering with water rights is forbidden
  • Egypt fears the GERD will threaten its water supply from the Nile, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and its own water flow

CAIRO: The claim of ownership of some natural resources and disposing of them in a way that harms other countries is dangerous, according to Egypt’s Islamic scholar Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar.
During his virtual speech on Friday at the UN celebration of World Environment Day, Al-Tayeb said that religion is for those who believe in it and respect its laws, explicitly ruling that the ownership of people’s essential resources is public property.
It is not right under any circumstances, said Al-Tayeb, to consider these resources as the property of an individual, individuals or state that can use them or dispose of them without taking into consideration the states that rely on these public resources.
He said that water comes at the forefront of essential resources, and the laws of religions stipulate that its ownership should be collective and that it is forbidden that an individual, group or country usurp it without the consent of other.
This comes amid the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) involving Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

FASTFACT

It is not right under any circumstances, said Al-Tayeb, to consider these resources as the property of an individual, individuals or state that can use them without taking into consideration the states that rely on these public resources.

Ethiopia began work on the dam in 2011. Egypt fears the GERD will threaten its water supply from the Nile, while Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and its own water flow.
Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip on Friday received engineering equipment from Egypt to begin the reconstruction process following the 11-day Israeli war.
The equipment will help to remove rubble from buildings destroyed as a result of Israeli airstrikes. It was received by flag-waving Palestinians and came after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s commitment to rapidly improve the living conditions of Gazans.
Official sources said the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt would remain open on Fridays as an exception to receive medical emergency cases and for the transfer of aid and reconstruction material to the strip, based on the approval of Egyptian authorities.


Sudan pro-civilian rule faction warns of ‘creeping coup’

Sudan pro-civilian rule faction warns of ‘creeping coup’
Updated 5 sec ago

Sudan pro-civilian rule faction warns of ‘creeping coup’

Sudan pro-civilian rule faction warns of ‘creeping coup’
KHARTOUM: A Sudanese faction calling for a transfer of power to civilian rule warned Saturday of a “creeping coup,” during a press conference that an unidentified mob attack sought to prevent.
Sudan has been undergoing a precarious transition marred by political divisions and power struggles since the April 2019 ouster of president Omar Al-Bashir.
Since August 2019, the country has been led by civilian-military administration tasked with overseeing the transition to full civilian rule.
The main civilian bloc — the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) — which led anti-Bashir protests, has splintered into two opposing factions.
“The crisis at hand is engineered — and is in the shape of a creeping coup,” mainstream FFC leader Yasser Arman, said in a press conference in the capital Khartoum.
“We renew our confidence in the government, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and reforming transitional institutions — but without dictations or imposition,” Arman added.
The press conference at the official SUNA news agency premises was delayed when an unidentified mob tried to stop it going ahead.
The FFC’s mainstream faction backs a transition to civilian rule, but supporters of the breakaway faction have ratcheted up calls for “military rule.”
On Thursday, tens of thousands of protesters rallied across Sudan to counter a week-long encampment supporting pro-military rule in central Khartoum.
Critics have charged that the rival sit-in has been orchestrated by senior figures in the security forces, Bashir sympathizers and other “counter-revolutionaries.”
Tensions between the two sides have long simmered, but divisions ratcheted up after a failed coup on September 21.
Hamdok has previously described the splits as the “worst and most dangerous crisis” facing the transition.
On Saturday, Hamdok denied rumors he had agreed to a cabinet reshuffle, calling them “not accurate.”
The premier also “emphasised that he does not monopolize the right to decide the fate of transitional institutions.”
SUNA reported that Jeffrey Feltman, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, is expected in Khartoum for meetings.

Arab coalition destroys four explosive-laden boats in Yemeni province

Arab coalition destroys four explosive-laden boats in Yemeni province
Updated 23 min 37 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys four explosive-laden boats in Yemeni province

Arab coalition destroys four explosive-laden boats in Yemeni province
  • Houthis target international ships in Red Sea, says official
  • Coalition’s air raids on Houthi targets in Hodeidah came days after it destroyed similar locations in Sanaa

AL-MUKALLA: The Arab coalition on Saturday said it had destroyed four explosive-laden Houthi boats in Yemen’s western province of Hodeidah.

A coalition statement said warplanes targeted Al-Jabanah coastal base, east of Hodeidah city, where the vessels had been prepared to attack international ships sailing through the Red Sea.

“The coalition efforts have contributed to protecting shipping lanes and international trade in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait and south of (the) Red Sea,” it said.

The coalition’s air raids on Houthi targets in Hodeidah came days after it destroyed similar locations in Sanaa, where explosive-laden drones and ballistic missiles had been prepared to attack locations in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The coalition recently vowed to launch heavier aerial bombardments in Yemen if the Houthis did not stop attacking civilians inside and outside Yemen.

A pro-government officer from Hodeidah said on Saturday that Al-Jabanah had three military sites and was known to Yemeni military officials as a place for making explosive-laden boats and drones.

“The Houthis usually target international ships in the Red Sea from Al-Jabanah since it is the closest area in Hodeidah to international waters,” the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, told Arab News.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government has accused the Houthis of breaching the Stockholm Agreement by turning coastal areas in Hodeidah under their control into bases for launching attacks against the administration, the coalition, and international maritime navigation in the Red Sea.

The airstrikes in Hodeidah are the first to have taken place in the last few months as most of the coalition’s efforts are focused on supporting government troops battling the militia in the central province of Marib.

Dozens of Houthi fighters and government troops were killed in fighting outside Marib city as the militia pressed ahead with its offensive to capture it along with its gas and oil fields.

Residents and local officials said on Saturday that fierce clashes had erupted in Jabal Murad after hundreds of Houthis attacked troops and allied tribesmen in a bid to make fresh territorial gains that would put them closer to their target.


Egypt, Qatar discuss trade and investment future 

Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Nevin Gamea meeting Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo, Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi. (Supplied)
Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Nevin Gamea meeting Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo, Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi. (Supplied)
Updated 57 min 25 sec ago

Egypt, Qatar discuss trade and investment future 

Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Nevin Gamea meeting Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo, Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi. (Supplied)
  • Minister urged the importance of an Egyptian-Qatari trade committee to follow up on all bilateral cooperation projects.

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Industry and Trade Nevin Gamea met Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo, Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi, on Friday to discuss ways to further develop economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries after a four-year hiatus ended earlier this year.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Gamea said that both countries are intensifying efforts achieve further rapprochement at a political and economic level. She noted the importance of translating goodwill into concrete cooperation.

She pointed to the importance of building on the “solid ground” laid by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani by enhancing trade and developing joint investment.

The minister urged the importance of an Egyptian-Qatari trade committee to follow up on all bilateral cooperation projects.

Gamea also stressed the importance of the two countries working at a ministerial level, and invited the Qatari minister of trade to visit Cairo.

Al-Shafi said that Egypt offers “strategic depth” to the region, noting the desire of both countries to begin a new phase of bilateral cooperation.

He urged the importance of enhancing intra-regional trade and joint investment between Egypt and Qatar to “reflect the great potential of both countries.” He said that there is consensus between the two governments on a large number of joint cooperation files.

Al-Shafi praised the economic reforms and urban developments implemented by Egypt, and said that Qatari investment has remained strong in the Egyptian market, especially in finance and real estate.


Libya FM: Security, stability necessary to usher in new govt

Libya FM: Security, stability necessary to usher in new govt
Updated 23 October 2021

Libya FM: Security, stability necessary to usher in new govt

Libya FM: Security, stability necessary to usher in new govt
  • The Libyan government hosted a high-level conference aimed at resolving the country’s thorniest issues ahead of elections scheduled for late December
  • Libya still faces a number of obstacles before its people can go to the polls, including unresolved issues over the country's elections laws

TRIPOLI, Libya: Libya’s chief diplomat says the transitional government is working to hold long-awaited elections later this year, but security and political and economic stability are necessary for a peaceful transition to a new government.
Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush’s comments came in an interview with AP late Friday in the capital of Tripoli. She spoke a day after the Libyan government hosted a high-level conference aimed at resolving the country’s thorniest issues ahead of elections scheduled for late December.
“To reach a peaceful transition, attention must be paid to the security and military affairs and to push the wheel of the economy in Libya,” she said.
Libya still faces a number of obstacles before its people can go to the polls, including unresolved issues over the country’s elections laws, occasional infighting among armed groups serving the government, and the deep rift that remains between the country’s east and west, separated for nearly 10 years by civil war.
Hopefuls for the presidential election, slated for Dec. 24, are set to declare their candidacies in the coming days and there are signs that some figures who rose to prominence during the war could take part. Mangoush said she hopes Libyans would accept the results of the vote which, if held, would be the country’s first election since 2014.
Parliament elections have been rescheduled by lawmakers for early next year.
Mangoush said the conference Thursday attended by Western, regional and United Nations representatives was a push to implement the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces from the oil-rich country before holding the presidential and parliamentary votes.
“The conference has a great and very deep symbolism for all Libyans,” she said, adding it was “the biggest indication that Libya is recovering.”
Libya has been engulfed in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. He was captured and killed by an armed group two months later. The oil-rich country was for years split between rival governments, one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country. Each side was backed by different foreign powers and militias.
After months of UN-backed negotiations, an interim government was appointed in February to lead the country to elections. As the countdown to the vote begins, differences are re-emerging between Libyan rivals — putting the entire reconciliation process at risk.
In September, Libya’s powerful, east-based commander Khalifa Haftar announced he was suspending his role as leader of a self-styled Libyan army for the next three months — the clearest indication yet that he may be contemplating a run for president in December elections. Should he run, he would be one of the frontrunners but his candidacy would likely stir controversy in western Libya and Tripoli, the stronghold of his opponents, many of them Islamists.
Thousands of mercenaries, foreign fighters and other foreign forces are still in Libya a year after a cease-fire deal included an agreement that they would depart within three months, which hasn’t happened.
A 10-member joint military commission with five representatives from each side of the conflict in Libya reached an initial agreement earlier this month on the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries. The UN has also started to deploy monitors to observe the cease-fire.
The UN special envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, warned last month that failure to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24 could renew division and conflict and thwart efforts to unite the oil-rich country.
Mangoush said Libya is marching toward a “peaceful path and safe path,” but she warned that achieving a peaceful transition requires “security, political and economic stability.”
She said the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah backs holding a “fair and comprehensive” vote at the end of the year, although “there is diligent and very serious work to be done toward the elections.”
“We are all waiting for it to take place on time, God willing, and that Libyans accept its results,” she said.


Two years after protests, Lebanon activists set sights on vote

Two years after protests, Lebanon activists set sights on vote
Updated 23 October 2021

Two years after protests, Lebanon activists set sights on vote

Two years after protests, Lebanon activists set sights on vote
  • Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets from October 17, 2019 in an unprecedented countrywide and cross-sectarian uprising
  • Activist Firas Hamdan is one of many to say that the elections, set for next year, will be a new opportunity for people to raise their voices against the authorities

BEIRUT: Two years after a now-defunct protest movement shook Lebanon, opposition activists are hoping parliamentary polls will challenge the ruling elite’s stranglehold on the country.
Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets from October 17, 2019 in an unprecedented countrywide and cross-sectarian uprising.
Their demands were for basic services and the wholesale removal of a political class they accused of mismanagement and corruption since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
But as the country sank further into economic turmoil, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, what demonstrators called their “revolution” petered out.
Many then saw a probe into the cataclysmic 2020 Beirut port blast as the best chance to bring down Lebanon’s hereditary political barons, but even intense international pressure in the explosion’s aftermath failed to make them change their ways.
Last week, feuding parties turned Beirut into a war zone, with heavy exchanges of fire killing seven people in a flare-up sparked by a rally against the main investigating judge.
Lawyer and activist Firas Hamdan is one of many to say that the elections, set for next year, will be a new opportunity for people to raise their voices against the authorities.
“We tried everything — protests in a single location and across regions, demonstrations outside the central bank and near the homes of officials, following lawmakers and officials into restaurants and coffee shops, and blocking roads — but all to no avail,” he said.
Instead now “the parliamentary elections will be a pivotal moment in confronting the system — even if not the final battle,” he added.
Hamdan said the polls would allow people to choose between those who want to actually “build a state,” and a tired ruling class “that only knows the language of arms, destruction and blood.”
It will be a “face-off between thieves and murderers, and citizens who deserve a chance at state building,” said the lawyer, who was hit in the heart by a lead pellet at a demonstration last year demanding justice over the port blast.
The protest movement has given birth to a clutch of new political parties, as well as attracting support from more traditional ones such as the Christian Kataeb party.
Each has its own vision of how to achieve change, but all largely agree on the importance of the upcoming elections.
Zeina El-Helou, a member of new political party “Lana” (For Us), said it was time to “move on from the nostalgia of throngs of people in the streets chanting” for change.
Activists needed instead to work on “managing frustrations and expectations” for the future, she said.
The political battle would be tough, as it opposed two sides of “unequal means,” she said, referring to her side’s limited financing or access to the traditional media for campaigning, and to gerrymandering giving establishment parties the advantage.
The various opposition groups have yet to decide how they will take part in the upcoming polls, and some observers have criticized them for failing to coordinate their efforts effectively.
Voters, meanwhile, are busy battling to get by on deeply diminished incomes, amid endless power cuts, price hikes and shortages of everything from medicine to petrol.
Maher Abu Chakra, from the new grouping “Li Haqqi” (For My Right), said the polls would likely not change a thing but it was “important to take part.”
“It’s a first step on the path to lasting change.”
But he too acknowledged the challenges.
“When people’s priority becomes making sure they can provide basic needs, they’re less ready for confrontation” in politics, he said.
Tens of thousands have been laid off or have taken pay cuts since the start of the crisis, and many people have been deprived of their own life savings, which have become trapped in the banks.
In some cases, traditional parties have managed to wheedle their way back into voters’ homes by giving them food, fuel or medication, or even paying their electricity or water bills.
Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut (AUB), said the old political system was “still alive and well.”
The people, however, were suffering from “social fatigue” and had “understood change wouldn’t be so easy,” he said.
Rima Majed, assistant professor of sociology at AUB, said people were leaving the country because they had lost hope in any political change.
Fed up with constant blackouts and shortages, thousands of fresh graduates and better-off families have packed their bags and quit Lebanon in recent months in search of a better life abroad.
“It’s deluded to believe that elections can change the system,” she said.