Crown prince’s Jordan visit ‘to bolster economic, political cooperation, Arab unity’

Crown prince’s Jordan visit ‘to bolster economic, political cooperation, Arab unity’
Jordan's King Abdullah II (C) and his son Crown Prince Hussein (2nd-R) receiving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Queen Alia International Airport on the southern outskirts of Jordan's capital Amman on June 21, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 22 June 2022

Crown prince’s Jordan visit ‘to bolster economic, political cooperation, Arab unity’

Crown prince’s Jordan visit ‘to bolster economic, political cooperation, Arab unity’
  • An EU-style common market, talks on Palestine, Israel and Iran, vital for regional growth and security, say officials
  • ‘Saudi leader’s tour critical ahead of Jeddah summit meeting with US President Joe Biden’

AMMAN: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Jordan trip will bolster economic and political cooperation vital to Arab unity, and is particularly important ahead of the regional meeting with US President Joe Biden, according to former Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Mamdouh Al-Abadi.

“This is the first round of visits by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which will be followed up with meetings with leaders in the Jeddah summit with US President Biden,” he told Arab News.

Al-Abadi’s remarks came during the crown prince’s foreign tour. Prince Mohammed landed in Amman on Tuesday evening after visiting Egypt and before heading to Turkey. The tour is aimed at coordinating regional issues prior to the summit in Jeddah between regional Arab leaders and Biden.

 

 

Al-Abadi, who served as one of the most popular and effective members of parliament and as the mayor of Amman, was the deputy prime minister in the Hani Mulki government, and is credited with carrying out important reforms in Jordan. As a veteran politician, he understands the value of face-to-face meetings.

“When leaders meet face to face without filters and others intervening, it allows for a more direct opportunity to agree on priorities of mutual interest,” he explained.

Economic issues are the current priority for Jordan, according to Al-Abadi. “Our relations with Gulf countries are usually focused on economic cooperation, with political issues playing a lower role,” he said.

Infrastructure projects such as railroads are critically in need of support, Al-Abadi remarked. “Transport is a big problem around the world but in Jordan, our problem is that the population … has increased quickly because of the Syrian crisis.” Of the 10 million people living in the country, only 6.5 million are Jordanians, he said.

“The increase happened at a much quicker pace than we were able to deal with,” said Al-Abadi. “We had an effective railroad system during the Ottoman period, and now we need to revisit this important means of transportation both for local and regional cooperation and the ability of easily moving people and goods.”

Politically, Al-Abadi predicted that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be a priority in the current round of talks. Al-Abadi calls himself a pan-Arabist, adding that Palestine is a unifying issue for Arabs. “For me Palestine is the key. I support everyone who supports Palestine.”

 

 

According to Al-Abadi, it is not clear “whether they will agree on having Israel be part of the coalition against Iran, or whether the emphasis will be solely on helping US President Biden in his domestic problems, especially the need to increase production of oil in order to stem the results of the rise in gasoline prices in the United States.”

Al-Abadi spoke candidly to Arab News about the strengths and weaknesses of Jordan. “Our balanced foreign policy is effective and efficient, but we need help in having similar success in our domestic issues, especially in terms of our economy.”

On the subject of inter-Arab trade, Abadi explained that “we buy less than 10 percent from each other. We should all be buying more Saudi and Egyptian and Jordanian and Palestinian … products. We need a common market. Why is Europe which had world wars and has different languages and cultures able to have a common market, while we talk but do nothing to make it happen?”




Former Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Mamdouh Al-Abadi. (Supplied)

Jordan, similar to its Saudi neighbor, is in the process of implementing new modernizing reforms. As the country begins to apply recommendations of the Royal Commission on Political Modernization, which will see the country run by a government consisting of elected parties, Al-Abadi is concerned that “no restrictions will be placed on the choices that the elected government will decide on.”

Al-Abadi, though, is certain that Arab unity is a vital goal. “A vacuum invites outside parties to intervene in our affairs; if we unite, our individual countries will be stronger and collectively we can be stronger.”

He remains confident Jordan and Saudi Arabia would be able to forge ahead after the crown prince’s visit to Jordan. “It is important that this ice-breaking visit is followed up by more visits in both directions. Our unity as Arabs is the most important weapon we have, and we need to strengthen our home front as Arabs to defend ourselves from external forces.”

Jordanian Senator Mohammad Momani also sees the bilateral and regional significance of the crown prince’s visit. “On the bilateral level, different files are due to be discussed, including investment, transportation energy, and other bilateral issues. All of them will be discussed directly and frankly by officials from both countries,” he told Arab News.

Momani, who served as the Jordanian minister of media affairs in successive past governments, highlighted the depth of the two countries’ relationship. “Needless to say, the relationship is very deep. Jordan sees eye to eye with Saudi Arabia and the Saudis see the importance of Jordan in regional and international issues,” he explained.




Senator Mohammad Momani. (Supplied)

“We have the same positions on the importance of a strategic alliance,” he continued, adding that “our common history in the area and our friendly brotherly relationship are the cornerstones of the discussions on the bilateral level.”

On the regional level, Momani believes that the discussions will include talks about the Palestinian issue, and the need for a significant push for the peace process which is crucial for regional stability and security. He added that “the issue of Iran will certainly be discussed and opinions will be honestly exchanged.”

He said it was important to have talks on critical issues because of the upcoming regional gathering with Biden, “and so it is extremely significant to have that discussion ahead of the summit to coordinate positions beforehand.”

“Jordan is committed to peace and security and is committed to using its status to defend Arab positions; we have done that before and we will continue to do that. His Majesty King Abdullah will use his ability and contacts to support our closest allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”


UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan
Updated 02 July 2022

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan

UAE sends three planes of medical aid to Afghanistan
  • The dispatched field hospital includes 75 beds and two operating rooms

The UAE has sent three planes of medical supplies, including a 1,000 square-meter-field hospital, to aid the injured of Afghanistan's earthquake that killed over 1,000 people and wounded scores more, Emirates new agency (WAM) reported on Saturday.
The dispatched hospital includes 75 beds and two operating rooms equipped with medical supplies and devices, the WAM statement read.
The planes also carried 16 metric tonnes of equipment and a medical team to operate the hospital and provide urgent medical services.
The UAE earlier established an air bridge to transport aid in the wake of the disaster.
The relief efforts come as Afghan authorities reported a shortage of food, shelter and medical supplies for the victims of the country’s deadliest earthquake in decades.

Last week, the country dispatched a plane carrying 30 tons of urgent food supplies to Afghanistan as aid continued to pour in from different parts of the world.


Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists
Updated 02 July 2022

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists

Egypt seeks to attract more Italian tourists
  • Minister holds talks with tourism chief during visit to Rome

CAIRO: Khaled El-Anany, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, has held talks with Ivana Jelinic, president of the Federation of Italian Tourism Companies, as part of efforts to attract more Italian tourists to Egypt.

The meeting was held at the Egyptian Embassy in Rome during El-Anany’s visit to the Italian capital.

Egypt’s plans to attract more tourists from various markets, including Italy, were reviewed at the meeting, which also discussed organizing a number of introductory visits for leading Italian tour operators and media representatives.

These visits will include Sharm El-Sheikh and other tourist cities in South Sinai in preparation for the coming winter season.

Joint advertising campaigns in Italy were also discussed, amid a growing interest among Italians in Egyptian cities and tourist destinations.

 


Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran
Updated 02 July 2022

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran

Shiite cleric shot, wounded in central Iran
  • Mohsen Akhavan was targeted in the city of Isfahan
  • He was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred

TEHRAN: A Shiite cleric in central Iran was injured on Saturday morning after an assailant on a motorcycle shot at him, Iranian state media said.
Mohsen Akhavan, who holds the clerical rank of hojatoleslam, was targeted in the city of Isfahan, according to the website of state broadcaster IRIB.
Akhavan, who was the imam of a mosque in the city, was returning home after leading the morning prayer when the attack occurred, IRIB reported.
The report added that the cleric, who had earlier been working at the Isfahan Islamic seminary, was “not seriously injured” and was being treated in hospital.
In early April, a Sunni extremist of Uzbek origin stabbed two Shiite clerics to death and injured a third in the courtyard of the main shrine of the northeastern holy city of Mashhad.
Abdolatif Moradi, 21, was hanged on June 20 in the same city after being convicted over the attack, according to the judicial authority.
Moradi “was accused of moharebeh (’war against God’, in Persian) using a weapon to terrorize the population in the shrine and even outside it,” judicial authorities said.
The attack in Mashhad came days after two Sunni clerics were shot dead outside a seminary in the northern Iranian town of Gonbad-e Kavus.
The three suspects in that case, also Sunnis, were arrested in late April but were said to have “no connection with terrorist groups,” state media reported at the time.


Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
Updated 02 July 2022

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port

Iranian-flagged tanker in Greece tugged to Piraeus port
  • For over two months Iranian-flagged Lana has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia

ATHENS: An Iranian-flagged tanker seized by Greece in April, part of whose cargo was confiscated by the United States, was being towed to the port of Piraeus on Saturday, Greek coast guard officials said, after Greek authorities approved its release.
For over two months the Iranian-flagged Lana, formerly Pegas, has been anchored off the Greek island of Evia in a diplomatic impasse which has strained Athens’ relations with Tehran amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States.
“It left Karystos at 0630 am (0330 GMT) and is expected to reach Piraeus around 1000 pm,” one official said.
Greek authorities in April impounded Lana and its oil cargo with 19 Russian crew members on board near the coast of Evia, due to sanctions following a legal action by the United States.
The ship was later released due to complications regarding its ownership, but part of the Iranian oil cargo had already been transferred to another ship, Ice Energy, which was hired by the United States and is moored off Piraeus port.
The removal of oil from the Lana prompted Iranian forces last month to seize two Greek tankers in the Arabian Gulf and sail them back to Iran after Tehran warned it would take “punitive action” against Athens.
Following an appeal by an Iranian company on June 7, a Greek judicial panel overturned the initial court order that allowed the confiscation of the cargo on behalf of the United States.
That decision has cleared the way for Lana to retrieve the cargo that was transferred to Ice Energy.
Until last week however Lana, which still has engine problems, was being detained by another company due to debts owed for towing services. It was officially released after the amount owed was paid off, legal sources told Reuters.


Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
Updated 02 July 2022

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry

Israeli strike on Syria wounds two civilians: ministry
  • Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the 2011 civil war
  • Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks

An Israeli strike on Syria’s western coast wounded two civilians on Saturday, the Syrian defense ministry said.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air strike” at about 6:30 am near the town of Al-Hamidiyah, the ministry said in a statement, identifying the locations hit as poultry farms, without elaborating.
The strike was conducted from the Mediterranean Sea, west of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, and “led to the injury of two civilians, including a woman,” the statement said.
Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbor.
The raids have targeted Syrian government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Last month Israeli strikes on Damascus International Airport rendered its runways unusable for weeks.
Besides the extensive damage caused to civilian and military runways, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes had targeted nearby warehouses used as weapons depots by Iran and Hezbollah.
The Syrian war has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.