Kurdish Iraqi farmer sprouts online advice, green awareness

Kurdish Iraqi farmer sprouts online advice, green awareness
Azad Mohamad also uses his popular online platform to raise awareness about protecting the environment and the need to support local farmers. (AFP)
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Updated 09 August 2022

Kurdish Iraqi farmer sprouts online advice, green awareness

Kurdish Iraqi farmer sprouts online advice, green awareness
  • With almost half a million Facebook followers, Azad Mohamad posts weekly videos on topics such as protecting fruit trees, dealing with insects and helping people get more from their farms and gardens

HALABJA: Kurdish Iraqi farmer Azad Mohamad has become a social media star by sharing tips on growing fresh fruit and vegetables in the sun-parched country that is highly vulnerable to climate change.

The moustachioed 50-year-old with almost half a million Facebook followers posts weekly videos on topics such as protecting fruit trees, dealing with insects and helping people get more from their farms and gardens.

“They should make you agriculture minister,” one of his fans, Ahmed Hassan, commented on a recent video.

Mohamad also uses his popular online platform to raise awareness about protecting the environment and the need to support local farmers, in his native Kurdistan region and beyond.

“Developed-country farmers have government support and harvesting machines,” said Mohamad.

“Our farmers do everything themselves with their own sweat — and when they lose money at the end of the year, they start over with the same passion and energy.”

He also has a message for authorities in Iraq, which the UN classifies as the world’s fifth most vulnerable country to climate change and where many are mired in poverty despite Iraq’s oil wealth.

“Our land is fertile, and our earth is like gold,” Mohamad said.

Therefore, he said, the government should “focus on agriculture rather than oil, for a sustainable economy.”

From his farm near Halabja, Mohamad squats among grape vines and other plants, wearing traditional Kurdish clothing as a friend uses a mobile phone to film him.

Many of his followers, he said, are not farmers but people who “have transformed their roof into gardens — and that’s a way to better preserve the environment.”

He invites his Facebook followers to post their questions, and says some farmers have sent him videos of their crops, thanking him for his help.

“That makes me very happy,” he said.

In one video, he advises farmers to space their trees out by just two meters instead of four to keep the soil shady and damp, protecting it from the scorching summer heat.

“With desertification, and low rainfall, we must change how we plant trees,” he said.

“Look at these tomatoes,” he added, gesturing at a group of plants. “Because they are in the shade, they are juicy and perfect — whereas these that are in the direct sun have been burned.”

Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region has been spared the worst effects of desertification, water scarcity and drought that have ravaged other parts of the country.

“The region has high rainfall precipitation compared to the rest of Iraq,” said a 2019 study involving UN agencies and the autonomous Kurdistan regional government.

But the report warned that “local agricultural production is in severe competition with foreign goods with largely lower prices” ... “mainly from Turkey and Iran, whose products have flooded Iraqi markets.”

It urged “more investments” to improve irrigation, along with water management to promote sustainability, to ensure the efficient use of resources and “mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Hamid Ismail Abdulrahman, a fellow farmer in Halabja, said low water levels in wells had impacted agricultural development.

Twice a week, the 47-year-old opens his farm to families who can buy “fresh and organic products,” from tomatoes to corn and eggplant.

He said climate change had greatly affected agriculture all over Iraq, though “southern Iraq has the lion’s share of this impact, while in the north the effect is less.”

With Iraq already witnessing record low rainfall and high temperatures in recent years, Mohamad warned that “if the government doesn’t act now and present a concrete plan ... the damage will be done.”

Mohamad has recently opened a small educational area on his farm, and now also receives visits from university students.

He says he hopes his initiatives will have a longer-term impact.


Israel dismantles Daesh cell

Israel dismantles Daesh cell
Updated 8 sec ago

Israel dismantles Daesh cell

Israel dismantles Daesh cell
  • Israeli security said the individuals had “met to prepare attacks”

JERUSALEM: Israel’s internal security agency said Sunday it dismantled in the north of the country a cell linked to the Daesh, whose alleged sympathizers staged deadly attacks earlier this year.
“Six residents of Nazareth were arrested several weeks ago and interrogated by the Shin Bet on suspicion of seeking to carry out terrorist activities on behalf of (Daesh) inside Israel,” the agency said in a statement.
It added that the individuals had “met to prepare attacks.”
The Shin Bet agency said the probe “highlights the influence of Daesh in Israel.”
In March, four people were killed when a convicted Daesh sympathizer went on a stabbing and car-ramming rampage in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
Days later, two policemen were shot dead and several others wounded in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, in an attack that was later claimed by the jihadist group.
The Beersheba and Hadera attacks renewed long-standing concern in Israel about Daesh efforts to recruit Arab citizens, who account for roughly a fifth of the Israeli population.


Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation
Updated 02 October 2022

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

DUBAI: A Kuwaiti Emiri decree accepted the government’s resignation, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Sunday. 

The Emir has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity, the statement on KUNA added. 

Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation on Sunday, state news agency (KUNA) reported, following a parliamentary election in the country.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah received the government’s letter of resignation from Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah, KUNA reported.


Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
Updated 02 October 2022

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
  • Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad
  • Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in several countries since US imposed sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran is awaiting the release of about $7 billion in funds frozen abroad, state media said Sunday, after it allowed an Iranian-American to leave the country and released his son from detention.
Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, was released from detention in Tehran, the United Nations said on Saturday.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed biting sanctions on the Islamic republic in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran has accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of its funds “hostage,” repeatedly calling on South Korean authorities to release it.
IRNA on Sunday said that “Washington is pursuing at the same time the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds in South Korea.”
The development comes as on-off talks have been underway since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly called for the lifting of sanctions, as well as guarantees that the United States will not again pull out of a revived deal.
Baquer Namazi is a former UNICEF official who was detained in February 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The father was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.


Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds
Updated 02 October 2022

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds
  • Egypt witnessed 4,525 newborns every day over seven months and 11 days
  • Egyptian authorities have intensified efforts to raise awareness on the risks of overpopulation

CAIRO: Egypt’s population has reached 104 million after an increase by one million people in 221 days, revealed the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Over seven months and 11 days, the country recorded a newborn every 19 seconds, with the population increasing by 4,525 people per day. Meanwhile, 1,566 deaths were recorded.
Earlier in February, the domestic population reached 103 million with an increase of one million people over seven months and 22 days, recording an average of 1,858 deaths daily.

A previous study by CAPMAS ranked Egypt as the most populous country in the Arab world and the third in Africa after Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Egyptian authorities have intensified efforts to raise awareness, especially in rural areas, on the challenges that overpopulation pose on the economy and development.

In an earlier statement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said population growth is one of the biggest threats facing the country, which has been reeling from major economic challenges.


Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 
Updated 02 October 2022

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone on Friday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa discussing bilateral relations between their two countries, state news agency BNA reported. 

The two leaders discussed efforts to achieve lasting peace “that would guarantee the interests and national security of all countries”, the report said. 

The King and the Russian President underlined the importance of continued coordination and adherence to the OPEC+ Group’s decisions.

King Hamad emphasized the importance of activating channels of dialogue, negotiations and peaceful solutions to reach peace and development for all.