Eight murders in a month in Syria camp: Kurds

Eight murders in a month in Syria camp: Kurds
A member of Kurdish securiy forces stands guard as Syrian Kurdish authorities set out to hand over Russian orphans born to parents linked to Daesh to a Russian delegation for repatriation in Qamishli. (AFP)
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Updated 07 July 2021

Eight murders in a month in Syria camp: Kurds

Eight murders in a month in Syria camp: Kurds
  • Kurdish forces have struggled to maintain security inside the sprawling tent city of Al-Hol
  • UN has warned of radicalisation inside the camp housing Syrians, Iraqis and foreign women and children linked to Daesh in a separate annex

BEIRUT: A camp in northeast Syria housing Daesh group relatives saw at least eight murders last month, Kurdish forces said Tuesday, the latest of dozens of such killings since January.
Kurdish forces have struggled to maintain security inside the sprawling tent city of Al-Hol, which is home to some 62,000 people, mostly women and children.
The United Nations has warned of radicalization inside the camp, which houses Syrians, Iraqis and some 10,000 foreign women and children linked to Daesh in a separate annex.
In June, Daesh cells inside Al-Hol “carried out more killings of residents distancing themselves from the extremist ideas of the group,” the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said.
It said eight people of Syrian and Iraqi nationality were shot dead, among them a 16-year-old Iraqi refugee and two Syrian sisters aged 17 and 23. A Russian woman was wounded.
The SDF also added that 42 women and men and 43 children, of different nationalities, were caught trying to smuggle themselves out of the camp in June.
In early April, the SDF said they had captured 125 suspected Daesh members in a security sweep in Al-Hol, which is in Hasakah province.
At the time, the group said 47 killings had taken place in the three months since the start of the year.
Syria’s Kurds hold custody of thousands of suspected Daesh fighters in jails, and their relatives in camps, after expelling the extremists in 2019 from the last patch of territory they controlled.
The Kurdish authorities have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate their nationals, but most countries have so far taken back only some of the children.
Beyond the camps, the International Committee of the Red Cross last week sounded the alarm over the Kurdish authorities holding “hundreds of children” in adult prisons.
The Kurds responded by urging international help to set up more rehabilitation centers for minors linked to the extremists.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, before several military offensives led to their territorial defeat in eastern Syria in March 2019.
However, extremist sleeper cells continue to launch regular attacks in both countries.


Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 24 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 24 new infections
Updated 7 min 14 sec ago

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 24 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 2 COVID-19 deaths, 24 new infections
  • The health ministry says 27 patients have recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed two new COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,839.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 24 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 549,810 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 42 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with seven, followed by Jeddah with four, Madinah confirmed three, and Makkah recorded two cases.


The health ministry also announced that 27 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 538,966.
Over 47.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 22.4 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 264 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 5.24 million.


Lebanese info min Kordahi to resign on Friday: Reuters

Lebanese info min Kordahi to resign on Friday: Reuters
Updated 49 min 22 sec ago

Lebanese info min Kordahi to resign on Friday: Reuters

Lebanese info min Kordahi to resign on Friday: Reuters

LONDON: Unconfirmed media reports suggested that Lebanese Information Minister George Kordahi is set to resign on Friday, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Kordahi’s resignation announcement was made following his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday.
Kordahi’s party, Al-Marada, is looking into who will replace him, and has appointed Minister of Education Abbas Al-Halabi as the acting information minister until then, Lebanese Al-Jadeed TV reported.
Several Gulf countries severed diplomatic ties with Lebanon in protest made by Kordahi that were critical to the war in Yemen.


Experts warn upcoming Libyan elections unlikely to heal rifts

Experts warn upcoming Libyan elections unlikely to heal rifts
Updated 02 December 2021

Experts warn upcoming Libyan elections unlikely to heal rifts

Experts warn upcoming Libyan elections unlikely to heal rifts
  • Armed groups have reportedly already strongarmed voters at polling stations and the full list of candidates has still not been finalized

LONDON: The political situation in Libya will remain unstable whether or not planned elections go ahead later this month, experts have warned, pointing to legal, political, and security failings that endanger stability in the near future.

In an event hosted Thursday by London think-tank Chatham House and attended by Arab News, a panel of speakers outlined their grim predictions for the future of Libya’s political roadmap.

Wolfram Lacher, senior associate at the German Institute for International Affairs, warned that the political situation is even worse than in the lead-up to the 2014 election, which ultimately saw the eruption of conflict between Tripoli and Benghazi-based parties.

“The current situation is immensely more problematic than it was in 2014. It’s not comparable at all,” said Lacher.

Parliamentary and presidential elections are planned for Dec. 24 for the first time since the cessation of hostilities in a civil war between the Government of National Unity’s Tripoli-based forces, the Government of National Accordand Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, based in Benghazi.

Lacher explained that the years of division that ensued during that civil war have led to a more divided country than in pre-2014.

The creation of rival administrations, Lacher said, “essentially led to the whole constitutional architecture of Libya breaking down. There is no basis anymore than anyone agrees on.”

He continued: “We’ve had two civil wars in Libya since (2014) that have inflicted deep rifts on the social fabric. The militias have grown incredibly powerful since 2014, and much more politically involved.”

But Lacher warned that the legal process convened to run this month’s elections actually threatens to enflame these divisions, not heal them — as the election was intended to do.

Libyan authorities are currently embroiled in a dispute over the legal basis upon which certain candidates, such as former Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, could run. Some candidates have argued that Dbeibeh should be barred from running for President because he did not comply with laws that force officials to resign a minimum of three months before an election takes place.

But these ostensibly legal technical issues — that appear administrative in nature — have an important role in deciding the outcome of the vote itself, as well as the political reality and intra-Libyan dynamics in the days following the vote.

Experts warned that militias and armed factions could refuse to accept the vote if it does not go their way, and use legal issues, such as certain candidates being allowed to run, as grounds to delegitimize the entire process. It is not clear what would happen if losing candidates choose to do this.

Zahraa Langhi, member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, told participants that both the LNA and GNA are currently benefitting from a political stalemate in Libya, and so they have no true interest in seeing a free and fair election carried out.

“The current political stalemate, the political fragmentation — all these forces are benefitting from it,” Langhi said, explaining that any delay in the election could “reward” those who spoil the election’s integrity.

She also said that interim governments, convened as part of international multilateral measures, “failed miserably” to rectify Libya’s political fragmentation — despite that objective being a “major, basic milestone in the roadmap to creating national unity.”

Langhi lamented a failure by the UN to engage effectively with actors on the ground in Libya.

“The (UN) special envoy is leaving (his post) in a couple of days, leaving the whole process without oversight.”

She said that the UN has left the issue of vetting candidates — fundamentally important to a safe and secure election — to Libya’s judiciary, which she believes has “failed to address the issue.”

Now Libyans are left with a series of candidates that Langhi said do not provide any real choice for Libyans, the most prominent of which are former Prime Minister Dbeibeh, former warlord Haftar, and possibly even Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi — son of late dictator Muammar Qaddafi. “This cannot continue,” she said.

But Otman Gajiji, former chairman of the Libyan High National Election Commission, cast doubt on the possibility that Libyans will manage to vote freely and fairly at all.

Not only do Libyans not have enough time to familiarize themselves with the dozens of candidates currently in the running for election, he said, but a series of attacks on polling stations are a grim omen for voting day.

“There are new unofficial reports that four polling stations were attacked by armed groups in Aziziya, and one was in Tripoli — all voter cards, or most of the voter cards, were taken by these armed groups. For me that is a very bad sign,” Gajiji said.

He added: “We are 22 days, three weeks, ahead of the elections. Such events are not a good indicator for the near future, or for the future of the elections.”


Plight of Palestinians still a key focus of Saudi foreign policy, says envoy

Plight of Palestinians still a key focus of Saudi foreign policy, says envoy
Updated 02 December 2021

Plight of Palestinians still a key focus of Saudi foreign policy, says envoy

Plight of Palestinians still a key focus of Saudi foreign policy, says envoy
  • Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, was addressing a General Assembly meeting on the Palestinian question
  • ‘Israel’s unilateral measures will lead to a disruption of security and stability, particularly in Palestine but also in the wider Middle East,’ he said

NEW YORK: The Palestinian issue will remain a major focus of Saudi Arabian foreign policy until Palestinians regain their rights and succeed in establishing a state of their own with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN said.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi also reiterated Riyadh’s rejection and denunciation of the continuing confiscation of Palestinian homes and land by Israel, along with its violation of the sanctity of the Temple Mount and attempts to obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity.

“These aggressive Israeli measures will undermine the chances of peace,” Al-Mouallimi told the UN General Assembly in New York late on Wednesday, during a plenary meeting to discuss the Palestinian question and the situation in the wider Middle East.

“The policy of settlement building and colonial expansion carried out by the occupying Israeli authorities on Palestinian land is liable to destroy the possibility of peaceful coexistence,” he said.

“Israel’s unilateral measures will lead to a disruption of security and stability, particularly in Palestine but also in the wider Middle East.”

The plenary session took place days after the 74th anniversary of resolution 181, which was passed by the General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947. It called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem a separate entity to be governed by an international regime.

“More than 75 years have passed since the establishment of the United Nations in 1945,” and for more than 70 years the issue of Palestine has been on its agenda, Al-Mouallimi said. Saudi Arabia’s historical position of support for “the inalienable and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including (their) right to establish their independent state, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, (in line with) the relevant Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative” remains unchanged, he added.

The Saudi envoy once again stressed the need for the international community to live up to its responsibilities and call on Israel to end its occupation of Arab land in Palestine, the Golan and Lebanon.

“It is unfortunate that the Israeli occupation authorities continue to violate the rights of the Palestinian people, and practice the most heinous forms of crimes, (including the use of) excessive force against a defenseless people,” Al-Mouallimi said.

He described Israel’s settlement expansions as “a clear violation and disregard for the international community” and called on that global community to protect the Palestinian people.

Al-Mouallimi thanked the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for its work, which he said is conducted “despite the dangers and difficult conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a result of the stifling measures by the occupation authorities.”

He urged UN member states to work together and provide the necessary support for the agency “to carry out its humanitarian work in the occupied territory.”

The Saudi envoy also thanked Ambassador Cheikh Niang, the Senegalese chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, for its latest report on Palestine.

He assured him of the Kingdom’s backing for the report and called on member states to support and adopt a resolution drafted by Dakar, titled “Peaceful Settlement of the Question of Palestine.”


Global advertising market grows 23.8% in 2021

Global advertising market grows 23.8% in 2021
Updated 02 December 2021

Global advertising market grows 23.8% in 2021

Global advertising market grows 23.8% in 2021
  • WARC data reveals the advertising market grew to $771 billion

DUBAI: New advertising spend forecasts for 100 markets worldwide show that the global ad market grew 23.8 percent in 2021 to reach $771 billion and is on course to reach a value of $1 trillion in 2025, according to marketing intelligence firm WARC.

This year marks the strongest growth in the last four decades, with advertising investment forecasted to rise 12.5 percent in 2022 and 8.3 percent in 2023.

Data reveals that more than half of advertising spend is going to just three companies: Alphabet, Meta, and Amazon. According to a recent WARC survey, two out of three marketers who have already committed budgets to Amazon are intending to increase that spend.

Social media platforms are also forecasted to see increased advertising investment with advertising professionals planning to increase spending on TikTok (66 percent), YouTube (61 percent), Instagram (60 percent), and Google (57 percent) next year.

“Despite potential headwinds, market data show that we are currently witnessing a boom in advertising trade like none seen before, led by increased demand for retail media and ancillary publishers such as Google and Instagram, which is now the world’s largest social platform,” said James McDonald, director of data, intelligence and forecasting at WARC. 

When it comes to digital media, e-commerce is expected to lead the growth with Amazon on course to amass over $57 billion in advertising revenue by 2023 — a massive 72 percent increase from this year.

Social media was the fastest-growing online sector in 2021 with advertising spend rising by 41.9 percent. Instagram grew to become the largest social media platform in 2021 after overtaking the core Facebook platform for the first time and is forecasted to control over one-third of the global social media market in the next two years. TikTok’s ad revenue increased 51.5 percent this year and is expected to record growth of 75.4 percent in 2022.

Premium online video platforms YouTube and Amazon Prime Video were worth a combined $63.7 billion to advertisers in 2021, up 41.6 percent from a year earlier.

Search advertising continues to grow, making Alphabet the world’s largest media owner and Google the largest individual platform. Google’s advertising revenue rose by 40.6 percent to $146.3 billion this year — taking 79.7 percent of all search spend and 19 percent of all advertising spend worldwide. Google’s growth is set to ease to 14.8 percent in 2022.

With podcasts and music streaming increasing in popularity, advertising spend on online audio rose by one-third to $5.4 billion in 2021, with podcast spend up 50.9 percent and streaming up 28.4 percent. Both formats are expected to continue to grow with the online audio sector’s worth increasing to $8.3 billion by 2023.

With regards to traditional media, advertiser spend on TV grew 5.5 percent this year and is projected to grow by 3.3 percent next year. Linear TV is set to remain larger than premium video services such as YouTube and Amazon Prime Video, though its share of global ad spend will dip below a fifth as broadcaster’s video-on-demand services attract incremental spend.

The out-of-home market recorded a recovery of 21.8 percent this year, but it was not enough to offset the 28.2 percent decline recorded in 2020 as the COVID-19 outbreak first brought the world to a standstill. 

The pandemic’s impact was also evident in the cinema advertising sector, as spend heavily declined in 2020 by 71.2 percent. However, this year, spending rebounded to record a rise of 149.9 percent as cinemas opened back up and big movie releases hit the theaters.

Investment in broadcast radio ads rose by 8.4 percent this year and is set to grow by 3.5 percent in 2022 and 1.5 percent in 2023, by when the market will be worth $34.3 billion. This makes it the only legacy medium set to record continuous growth over the forecast period.

Advertising spend on print and online news brands dipped by 4 percent this year, while the magazines market was down 6.6 percent.

“New coronavirus variants, such as omicron, may have a negative impact on our current outlook, and while our base scenario assumes that impact is muted, we will continue to review that position each quarter,” said McDonald.

That said, some companies will remain immune to the effects COVID-19. “Amazon is expected to finish the year with an ad business worth $12 billion more than the start of the outbreak, the newly anointed Meta will be $31 billion wealthier, and Alphabet drew an additional $59 billion from brands before costs,” he added.