UK sanctions former Iraqi governor for embezzling funds

UK sanctions former Iraqi governor for embezzling funds
ICRC President Peter Maurer (L) and Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan (R). (File/@ICRC_IQ)
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Updated 22 July 2021

UK sanctions former Iraqi governor for embezzling funds

UK sanctions former Iraqi governor for embezzling funds
  • Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan was jailed for embezzling $3.4 million when he ran Niveneh Province
  • UK also sanctions four other individuals in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and Venezuela

DUBAI: The United Kingdom imposed sanctions on Thursday against the former governor of the Iraqi province of Nineveh, Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan, as part of its global anti-corruption regime.

The announcement said that Al-Sultan was "involved in serious corruption in his role as Governor of Nineveh province, Iraq, where he misappropriated public funds intended for reconstruction efforts to provide support for civilians, and improperly awarded contracts and other state property."

Al-Sultan is currently serving a combined five-year prison sentence in Iraq for corruption offences, including squandering 5 billion Iraqi dinars (approximately $3.4 million) through bogus public works.

The US welcomed the UK’s announcement. “We commend the UK’s actions today against four corrupt individuals already designated by the United States and a fifth whose US-based assets purchased with corrupt proceeds were successfully forfeited in US courts,” the State Department said.

“Corruption has a corrosive effect on society: it undermines democratic institutions, hinders economic development, drains the wealth of nations, and keeps people in poverty,” the department's spokesperson added.

Iraq’s parliament removed Al-Sultan from office after a ferry accident in March 2019 in Nineveh province’s capital Mosul.

Almost 100 people were killed when the ferry, loaded to five times its capacity, sank as it carried families to an island on the Tigris River.

In a letter to members of parliament after the ferry accident, the then Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi accused Al-Sultan of negligence and dereliction of duty.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said new sanctions were also being imposed against four other individuals involved in serious corruption in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
“One of those designated spent millions of misappropriated funds on mansions, private jets and a $275,000 glove that Michael Jackson wore on his “Bad” tour, another ruthlessly exploited public food programs in Venezuela,” Britain's Foreign Secretary said. 

The UK will impose asset freezes and travel bans against the five individuals to ensure they will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country.

Nineveh province suffered devastation during the time it was occupied by Daesh and the fight to liberate it from the terrorist organisation in 2017.

Incomplete reconstruction of the province and its capital Mosul continues to undermine stability in these areas and is hindering the recovery of vulnerable populations affected by Daesh’s occupation.


Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say
Updated 13 sec ago

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say

Lebanon, Syria and Jordan reach final deal to transfer electricity, ministers say

LONDON: Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan have reached a final deal to transfer electricity, ministers said on Thursday.

Developing 


Turkey’s Lake Tuz dries up due to climate change, farming

Turkey’s Lake Tuz dries up due to climate change, farming
Updated 28 October 2021

Turkey’s Lake Tuz dries up due to climate change, farming

Turkey’s Lake Tuz dries up due to climate change, farming
KONYA, Turkey: For centuries, Lake Tuz in central Turkey has hosted huge colonies of flamingos that migrate and breed there when the weather is warm, feeding on algae in the lake’s shallow waters.
This summer, however, a heart-wrenching scene replaced the usual splendid sunset images of the birds captured by wildlife photographer Fahri Tunc. Carcasses of flamingo hatchlings and adults scattered across the cracked, dried-up lake bed.
The 1,665 square kilometer (643 square mile) lake — Turkey’s second-largest lake and home to several bird species — has entirely receded this year. Experts say Lake Tuz (Salt Lake in Turkish) is a victim of climate change-induced drought, which has hit the region hard, and decades of harmful agricultural policies that exhausted the underground water supply.
“There were about 5,000 young flamingos. They all perished because there was no water,” said Tunc, who also heads the regional branch of the Turkish environmental group Doga Dernegi. “It was an incredibly bad scene. It’s not something I can erase from my life. I hope I do not come across such a scene again.”
Several other lakes across Turkey have similarly dried up or have receded to alarming levels, affected by low precipitation and unsustainable irrigation practices. Climate experts warn that the entire Mediterranean basin, which includes Turkey, is particularly at risk of severe drought and desertification.
In Lake Van, Turkey’s largest lake, located in the country’s east, fishing boats no longer could approach a dock last week after the water fell to unusual levels, HaberTurk television reported.
”(We have) rising temperatures and decreasing rain, and on the other side, the water needs for irrigation in agriculture,” said Levent Kurnaz, a scientist at Bogazici University’s Center for Climate Change and Policy Studies. “It’s a bad situation all over Turkey at the moment.”
A study based on satellite imagery conducted by Turkey’s Ege University shows that water levels at Lake Tuz started to drop beginning in 2000, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. The lake completely receded this year due to rising temperatures, intensified evaporation and insufficient rain, according to the study.
The study also noted a sharp decline in underground water levels around Lake Tuz, a hypersaline lake that straddles the Turkish provinces of Ankara, Konya and Aksaray.
The Konya basin in central Anatolia, which includes Lake Tuz, was once known as Turkey’s breadbasket. Farms in the region have turned to growing profitable but water-intensive crops such as corn, sugar-beet and alfalfa, which have drained groundwater supplies, photographer Tunc said. Farmers have dug thousands of unlicensed wells while streams feeding the lake have dried up or been diverted, he said.
Environmental groups say poor government agricultural policies play a significant role in the deterioration of Turkey’s lakes.
“If you don’t pay them enough money, the farmers, they will plant whatever is water intensive and will make money for them. And if you just tell them it’s not allowed, then they won’t vote for you in the next election,” Kurnaz said.
The overuse of groundwater is also making the region more susceptible to the formation of sinkholes. Dozens of such depressions have been discovered around Konya’s Karapinar district, including one that Associated Press journalists saw next to a newly harvested alfalfa field.
Tunc, 46, a native of Aksaray, is saddened by the thought that he won’t be able to enjoy the flamingos with his 7-month-old son like he did with his 21-year-old son. He remains hopeful, however, that Lake Tuz may replenish itself, if the government stops the water-intensive agriculture.
Kurnaz, the climate scientist, is less optimistic.
“They keep telling people that they shouldn’t use groundwater for this agriculture and people are not listening. There are about 120,000 unlicensed wells in the region, and everybody is pumping out water as if that water will last forever,” Kurnaz said.
“But if you are on a flat place, it can rain as much as you want and it won’t replenish the groundwater in a short time. It takes maybe thousands of years in central Anatolia to replenish the underground water table,” he added.
The drought and flamingo deaths at Lake Tuz were just one of a series of ecological disasters to strike Turkey this summer, believed to be partly due to climate change.
In July, wildfires devastated swaths of forests along Turkey’s southern coast, killing eight people and forcing thousands to flee. Parts of the country’s northern Black Sea coast were struck by floods that killed 82 people. Earlier, a layer of sea mucilage, blamed on soaring temperatures and poor waste management, covered the Sea of Marmara, threatening marine life.
Although Turkey was among the first countries to sign the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the country held off ratifying it until this month as it sought to be reclassified as a developing country instead of a developed one to avoid harsher emission reduction targets. Turkish lawmakers issued a declaration rejecting the status of developed country at the same time they ratified the climate agreement.
In the town of Eskil, near the shores of Lake Tuz, farmer Cengiz Erkol, 54, checked the irrigation system on his field growing animal feed.
“The waters aren’t running as strong and abundant as they used to,” he said. “I have four children. The future doesn’t look good. Each year is worse than the previous year.”

EgyptAir resumes flights between Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh after 6-year hiatus

EgyptAir resumes flights between Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh after 6-year hiatus
Updated 27 min 26 sec ago

EgyptAir resumes flights between Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh after 6-year hiatus

EgyptAir resumes flights between Luxor, Sharm El-Sheikh after 6-year hiatus
  • The decision came after the ministers of aviation and tourism met to discuss ways to promote tourism in Egypt
  • In April, Egypt and Russia agreed to resume full air traffic between the two countries’ airports after a six-year hiatus

CAIRO: After a six-year hiatus, EgyptAir has resumed flights between the cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Luxor to encourage domestic tourism.

The decision came after the ministers of aviation and tourism met to discuss ways to promote tourism in Egypt.

Flights between the two cities were halted in 2015 after incoming tourism declined due to the downing of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, which killed 224 people on board.

In April, Egypt and Russia agreed to resume full air traffic between the two countries’ airports after a six-year hiatus.

The flight between Sharm El-Sheikh and Luxor is scheduled to operate once a week, and its frequency could increase if there is appropriate supply and demand.

The flight was restarted at the request of the private tourism sector, the Egyptian Federation of Tourist Chambers, and the Chamber of Travel and Tourism Companies and Agencies.

 


Lebanese parliament confirms holding parliamentary elections on March 27

Lebanese parliament confirms holding parliamentary elections on March 27
Updated 28 October 2021

Lebanese parliament confirms holding parliamentary elections on March 27

Lebanese parliament confirms holding parliamentary elections on March 27
  • The vote passed on Thursday by 77 MPs
  • Gebran Bassil, FPM leader and son-in-law of Aoun, withdrew alongside his alliance from the session on the back of the dispute

BEIRUT: The Lebanese parliament voted on Thursday to hold legislative elections on March 27, confirming an earlier vote last week that had been challenged by President Michel Aoun.
The body originally voted on Oct. 19 to hold the election at that time but President Aoun sent the law back for reconsideration on Friday.
The vote passed on Thursday by 77 MPs but some, including members of Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), who have been against the earlier date, expressed concern around whether quorum was achieved for a second vote regarding the voting of Lebanese living abroad.
The elections were originally expected in May.
Gebran Bassil, FPM leader and son-in-law of Aoun, withdrew alongside his alliance from the session on the back of the dispute, ending the session for the day.
“We withdrew from the session because of a major constitutional violation,” he said after leaving.
The March 27 election date would give Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government only a few months to try to secure an IMF recovery plan amid a deepening economic meltdown.


Egypt’s supply minister says new price for bread ‘will take time’

Egypt’s supply minister says new price for bread ‘will take time’
Updated 28 October 2021

Egypt’s supply minister says new price for bread ‘will take time’

Egypt’s supply minister says new price for bread ‘will take time’
  • Subsidized loaf has been sold since for 5 Egyptian piasters

CAIRO: Egypt’s supply minister Ali Moselhy said on Thursday deciding a new price for subsidized bread “will take time.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in August said it was time to increase the price of the country’s subsidized bread, revisiting the issue for the first time since 1977 when then president Anwar Sadat reversed a price rise in the face of riots.

The subsidized loaf has been sold since then for 5 Egyptian piasters ($0.0032).

“The prices of commodities have been increasing since January, across vegetable oils markets, sugar and lately wheat,” Moselhy told a news conference in Cairo.

“The wheat price set by suppliers will take into account inflation,” he said, adding that the country’s strategic reserves of wheat were sufficient for five months and those of sugar until mid-February.