Head of Arab League Aboul Gheit condemns Israeli settlement expansion in Golan Heights

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the pan-Arab organisation, has condemned Israeli settlement expansion in the Golan Heights. (Reuters/File Photo)
Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the pan-Arab organisation, has condemned Israeli settlement expansion in the Golan Heights. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 28 December 2021

Head of Arab League Aboul Gheit condemns Israeli settlement expansion in Golan Heights

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the pan-Arab organisation, has condemned Israeli settlement expansion in the Golan Heights. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Israeli plans to expand its settlements were a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law

CAIRO: The head of the Arab League has criticized Israel's announcement to expand its settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the pan-Arab organisation, said the Israeli plans to expand its settlements were a “flagrant violation” of international law, which recognises the Golan Heights as Syrian territory that fell under Israeli occupation in the 1967 war.

Aboul Gheit also said that the fact that some countries would recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian plateau did not change the “reality” that it is an occupied territory.

He highlighted that Syria's territorial integrity is not subject to compromise irrespective of the current developments in Syria and its status in the Arab League.

Israel's cabinet approved a blueprint on Sunday to build some 7,300 additional housing units on the strategic plateau in a move that could tighten its hold on the territory.

Syria on Monday also condemned Israeli plans in the Golan Heights as a “dangerous and unprecedented escalation,” Syrian state media reported.

“Syria strongly condemns the dangerous and unprecedented escalation by the Israeli occupation authorities” in the Golan, the state-run SANA news agency said, adding Damascus would seek to use all legally available means to retake the territory.

Speaking to Syrian TV station Al-Ekhbariya, foreign minister Faisal Mekdad called Israel's actions against Syria “criminal” and said they violated the 1981 UN Resolution 497 declaring Israel's effective annexation of the Golan as “null and void.”

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it describes as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon's Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's war.

Israel annexed the 1,200-square-kilometer Golan Heights in 1981, an action not recognised by the international community.

* With Reuters


Egypt, UK to cooperate in renewable energy

Egypt, UK to cooperate in renewable energy
Updated 5 sec ago

Egypt, UK to cooperate in renewable energy

Egypt, UK to cooperate in renewable energy
  • Britain ‘commends Egypt’s leadership and efforts on renewable energy generation’

LONDON: Egypt and the UK have signed a statement of intent to cooperate in reforming renewable energy regulations.

The signing took place in London during a meeting between Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Liz Truss, the UK’s secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs.

The UK said it “commends Egypt’s leadership and efforts on renewable energy generation and opportunities for British investors and firms within the energy sector.”

Alongside the plans to cooperate on energy, there was news of a joint $325 million investment for the launch of the Lekela wind farm, located in northern Egypt, boasting 252-megawatt capacity and expected to boost the country’s wind output by 18 percent.

The ministers also explored opportunities for economic cooperation between the two countries, and agreed on a need to work on growing bilateral trade and investment.

The meeting also witnessed the finalization of British Investment International’s $100 million acquisition of Egypt’s Alfa Medical Group.


Egypt FM meets with UK business community

Egypt FM meets with UK business community
Updated 07 July 2022

Egypt FM meets with UK business community

Egypt FM meets with UK business community

CAIRO: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has met with representatives of the British business community as part of his visit to London.

During the meeting, he reviewed the economic reforms that Egypt has embarked on since 2014, and the challenges they are facing due to international developments. 

He also reviewed his government’s steps to restructure Egypt’s economy, especially in terms of attracting more foreign investments and providing opportunities for private sector companies to enter various sectors.

Shoukry expressed his aspiration to enhance British investments in Egypt in general, and in the green economy in particular.

He also expressed his confidence in the Egyptian economy’s ability to overcome the negative repercussions of the war in Ukraine, as it did with the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting also discussed Egypt’s hosting of the 27th session of the UN Climate Change Conference in November.


UN Security Council to vote on extending Syria cross-border aid

UN Security Council to vote on extending Syria cross-border aid
Updated 07 July 2022

UN Security Council to vote on extending Syria cross-border aid

UN Security Council to vote on extending Syria cross-border aid
  • The UN resolution permitting aid deliveries across the Syrian-Turkish border at Bab Al-Hawa has been in effect since 2014
  • Nearly 10,000 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid passed through Bab Al-Hawa last year

UNITED NATIONS, US: The United Nations Security Council votes Thursday on extending its authorization of aid transfers across Syria’s border without approval from Damascus, with Russia seeking a six-month prolongation while Western nations want a full year.
The UN resolution permitting aid deliveries across the Syrian-Turkish border at Bab Al-Hawa has been in effect since 2014, but is set to expire on Sunday.
Norway and Ireland, two non-permanent members of the 15-country Security Council, have drafted a resolution that would extend the authorization until July 10, 2023.
Nearly 10,000 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid passed through Bab Al-Hawa last year, bound for the rebel-held Idlib region in northwestern Syria. It is the only crossing through which aid can be brought into Idlib without navigating areas controlled by Syrian government forces.
The resolution, which was obtained by AFP, calls on “all parties to ensure full, safe and unhindered access by all modalities, including cross-line, for deliveries of humanitarian assistance to all parts of Syria.”
Russia, a veto-holding Security Council member and ally of Damascus, has hinted in recent months that it would oppose an extension, having already forced a reduction in the number of allowed border crossings on the grounds that it violates Syria’s sovereignty.
According to diplomats, Russia ultimately put its own draft resolution on the table, which includes an extension of six months.
In an attempt to persuade Moscow, Norway and Ireland have inserted several amendments touching on the transparency of humanitarian shipments, possible contributions to Syria’s reconstruction, and on the need to develop aid deliveries via government-controlled territory.
Russia has long called for the West to participate in Syria’s reconstruction, but some council members, most vocally France, have refused until political reforms have been enacted.
However, during a Security Council meeting in June, a majority of countries — including the United States — offered support for financing so-called “early recovery projects” in Syria.
In this vein, the resolution by Norway and Ireland calls for “further international initiatives to broaden the humanitarian activities in Syria, including water, sanitation, health, education, and shelter early recovery projects.”
By Wednesday evening, few diplomats dared to predict whether the additions would be enough to convince Russia to agree to a full-year extension.
But some told AFP that a last-minute compromise was possible, by making the six-month extension renewable for an additional six months practically by default.


Sudan protesters take to the barricades again

Sudan protesters take to the barricades again
Updated 07 July 2022

Sudan protesters take to the barricades again

Sudan protesters take to the barricades again

JEDDAH: Protesters in Sudan took to makeshift street barricades of rocks and tires for a seventh day on Wednesday as military leader Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan fired the last civilian members of the country’s ruling council.

Burhan, who seized power in a coup last October, has vowed to “make room” for civilian groups to form a new transitional government after he disbanded the ruling Sovereign Council, which he chairs. The council’s members said they had received no formal notification and were surprised to discover that their official vehicles had been taken away.

Protesters have demanded a restoration of the transition to civilian rule despite repeated crackdowns by the security forces, who have in recent days fired live bullets, launched barrages of tear gas canisters and deployed water cannons. At least 114 people have been killed in the crackdown since October.

The transitional government uprooted by Burhan last year had been forged between the military and civilian factions in 2019, following mass protests that prompted the army to oust dictator Omar Bashir.

Sudan’s main civilian alliance, the Forces for Freedom and Change, said Burhan’s latest move was a “giant ruse” and “tactical retreat.” They also called for “continued public pressure,” and protesters returned to the streets of Khartoum on Wednesday.

Democracy campaigners say the army chief has made such moves before. In November, a month after the coup, Burhan signed a deal with Abdalla Hamdok, the prime minister he had ousted in the power grab and put under house arrest, returning him to power.

But many people rejected that pact and took to the streets again, and Hamdok resigned in January warning that Sudan was “crossing a dangerous turning point that threatens its whole survival.”


Jordanian teen receives ‘spine made of rope’, the first-of-its kind in MENA region

Jordanian teen receives ‘spine made of rope’, the first-of-its kind in MENA region
Updated 06 July 2022

Jordanian teen receives ‘spine made of rope’, the first-of-its kind in MENA region

Jordanian teen receives ‘spine made of rope’, the first-of-its kind in MENA region
  • Salma Naser Nawayseh is already making a remarkable recovery following her operation

LONDON: A Jordanian teen received a new spine made of rope in a pioneering operation in Dubai, making her the first recipient of the surgery in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Salma Naser Nawayseh, 13, underwent vertebral body tethering (VBT) surgery last week, in which a piece of rope was run down the entire length of her spine.

Screws are then inserted into each section of the spine to assist in producing the proper tension on the rope and correcting the curve.

VBT is currently practiced in only a few countries, including the US, France, and Germany, but this is the first time the surgery has been carried out in the MENA region.

Salma is already making a remarkable recovery following her operation at Dubai’s Burjeel Hospital. She is not only back to walking, but she also plans to return to tennis soon.

In April 2022, Salma’s parents first noticed the curve in her spine, and she was later diagnosed with scoliosis — a spine condition characterized by an abnormal lateral curve.

Although it can appear in infancy or early childhood, the primary age of onset for scoliosis is between the ages of 10-15 years.

While most cases are mild and do not require invasive treatment, untreated moderate to severe scoliosis can cause pain, increased deformity, and potential heart and lung problems.

Salma presented to Dr. Firas Husban, a consultant orthopedic surgeon at Burjeel Hospital, with a thoracolumbar curve of 65 degrees.Her condition caused back deformity with trunk shortening, a lower back hump, an unleveled pelvis, and back pain.

“Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type and is usually diagnosed during puberty” Dr. Husban said.

“The three treatment options for such patients are observation, bracing, or surgery. While bracing is an option in patients with mild forms of scoliosis, in Salma’s case, she required surgery to correct the deformity.” he added.

In 2019, the USFDA approved VBT; a minimally invasive technique that allows for continued growth without fusion while preserving motion and flexibility.

The new treatment allows for fusionless spine correction, allowing the patient to regain full range of motion and grow further. Other benefits include less visible incisions, less trauma, fewer complications, and faster healing.Despite being a newer treatment, the cost of VBT is comparable to other scoliosis treatments.

Not every patient with scoliosis is a candidate for VBT. It would ideally be performed on children over the age of nine and who are still growing.

Furthermore, the procedure is most effective in patients with a 45 to 65 degree curve.

Doctors said Salma was the “perfect candidate” for the procedure because she had not yet reached full skeletal maturity.

Dr. Husban said: “As opposed to spinal surgeries that involve cutting into the back and manipulating the spinal cord and nerve roots, in this surgery, we make discreet incisions in the abdomen through the endoscope.

“Because VBT is minimally invasive, there is little trauma to the delicate tissues of your back. As a result, there is less blood loss, less postoperative pain and speedier recovery time compared to the spinal fusion surgery.” Dr. Husban said Salma’s spinal curve will continue to improve, and the tether will guide the growth of the spine as the body grows.

“The patient is recovering well after the surgery. After two weeks, Salma can go back to school. Four weeks later she can return to full activity with no restrictions and can start playing sports,” he also said.

Salma’s parents are thrilled at the outcome.

“She started walking the second day after surgery. We are happy that our daughter was eligible for this surgery. We look forward to our daughter holding the racket again and resuming tennis.” they said in a statement released by the hospital.