Italy, Tunisia vow to fight illegal immigration

Special Italy, Tunisia vow to fight illegal immigration
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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied meets with Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy)
Special Italy, Tunisia vow to fight illegal immigration
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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied meets with Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy)
Special Italy, Tunisia vow to fight illegal immigration
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Tunisia’s President Kais Saied meets with the Italian delegation. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy)
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Updated 18 January 2023

Italy, Tunisia vow to fight illegal immigration

Italy, Tunisia vow to fight illegal immigration
  • Solutions need to involve Libya, say officials
  • Poverty, terrorism, climate change need action

ROME: Italy and Tunisia have pledged to work together to fight illegal immigration, which should include help for Libya which is the top departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe.

This pledge was made during a meeting in Tunis on Wednesday between Antonio Tajani and Matteo Piantedosi, Italy’s ministers of foreign affairs and interior respectively, with their counterparts Othman Jerandi and Taoufik Charfeddine, and Tunisia’s President Kais Saied.

According to Tajani, Saied agreed that “immigration is not only a matter of security but needs a comprehensive answer from the governments.”

“To solve the problem, we need to intervene at the root, with political actions (on) poverty, terrorism and climate change,” Tajani said during an online press conference attended remotely by Arab News.

A source in the Italian Interior Ministry told Arab News later that Tajani and Piantedosi confirmed to their Tunisian counterparts that Italy “wants to play a primary role in this strategy so that the scourge of immigration, as President Saied called it during the meeting, can be defeated.”

“Only by working together will we be able achieve goals. As Tunisia is committed to do its best to solve any problems, we will do our best because this collaboration at every level can be strengthened and can contribute to the solution of the immigration problem (in the) short, medium and long term,” Tajani added.

According to figures released on Wednesday by the Italian Coast Guard in a hearing in the Chamber of Deputies, in 2022 a total of 32,000 migrants reached Italy from Tunisia, more than 60 percent compared to 2021.

Last year, Tunisia counted as the second port of departure, after Libya, for migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa. There were almost 105,000 migrants who arrived on Italy’s shores by crossing the Channel of Sicily in 2022.

Tajani added that the stability of Libya was on the meeting’s agenda.

“It is a very important issue for us, and we will always work together with Tunisia for border security, to solve the immigration problem, also through political agreements in order to reduce the migratory flows from Libya to Tunisia.”

“Even on Libya, Italy and Tunisia are in harmony. We will work together, improving and making even more efforts to solve all the problems we are facing,” Tajani said.

Tajani confirmed Italy’s commitment to continue increasing investments in Tunisia. A business forum will be held on this issue in the next few months.

A further bilateral cooperation in energy, which has benefited from the recent launch of the ELMED strategic infrastructure — a maritime electricity interconnection project between the two shores of the Mediterranean — was also discussed.


Abu Dhabi University advances in World University Rankings by Subject

Abu Dhabi University advances in World University Rankings by Subject
Updated 20 sec ago

Abu Dhabi University advances in World University Rankings by Subject

Abu Dhabi University advances in World University Rankings by Subject
  • The university’s business and management studies department climbed at least 250 places, ranking between 251 and 300 globally and second in the UAE
  • Chancellor Ghassan Aouad said the university takes pride in its distinguished position as a leading academic institution that helps generations develop through academic excellence

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi University has advanced in the Quacquarelli Symonds World Rankings by Subject 2023 across a number of disciplines.
The improvement in its ranking for business and management studies was particularly impressive, as it climbed at least 250 places to be placed between 251 and 300 globally and second in the UAE, reflecting its academic excellence, the Emirates News Agency reported on Thursday.
The university earned a place on the social sciences and management list for the first time, ranking between 451 and 500 globally and third nationally. It also ranked between 451 and 500 globally and fifth in the UAE on the engineering — mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing list, which was described as a significant achievement.
The rankings are compiled annually to help prospective students identify the leading universities in particular subjects. They are based on research citations and the results of global surveys of employers and academics.
The university’s chancellor, Prof. Ghassan Aouad, said that staff take pride in the university’s distinguished position as a leading academic institution that continuously upskills and grows generations through academic excellence.
“We are thrilled to witness the rapid advancement in the QS World Rankings by Subject year after year, reflecting the tireless efforts by every member of our workforce, including faculty and staff, to grow and develop our curricula,” said Aouad.
“We remain dedicated to providing our students and faculty with competitive opportunities that foster innovation and spur distinguished research to upskill their talent across various disciplines.”
The improved rankings were described as a testament to the university’s commitment to providing students with a world-class educational experience and diverse skills that align with job market requirements.
In 2022, the university achieved a five-star rating in the prestigious Quacquarelli Symonds Stars Rating, receiving the highest possible rating across the categories of teaching, employability, internationalization, research, online learning, facilities and inclusiveness.
The QS World University Rankings is one of the two international ratings that have received International Ranking Expert Group approval and is considered one of the most widely referenced indices of its kind.


Palestinians commemorate Land Day, remember sacrifices

Palestinians commemorate Land Day, remember sacrifices
Updated 30 March 2023

Palestinians commemorate Land Day, remember sacrifices

Palestinians commemorate Land Day, remember sacrifices
  • Young men, carrying Palestinian flags, approached the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel
  • Land Day is a day of commemoration for Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians of the events of March 30, 1976 in Israel

GAZA CITY: Thousands of Palestinians commemorated Land Day on the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip and beyond, as political leaders urged unity and unswerving support for the right of return of refugees.
A main sit-in and festival was held on the border on Thursday, while other activities took place within the enclave, in the Palestinian territories and in Arab towns in Israel.
Young men, carrying Palestinian flags, approached the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel, while representatives of the factions delivered speeches. The Israeli army fired tear gas canisters at the demonstrators.
Land Day is a day of commemoration for Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians of the events of March 30, 1976 in Israel. A general strike and marches were organized in Arab towns in response to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of dunams of land.
Six unarmed Arab citizens were killed, 100 were wounded and hundreds of others were arrested during clashes with Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, the 2018–2019 Gaza border protests, dubbed the Great March of Return, were a series of demonstrations held each Friday near the Gaza-Israel border from 30 March 2018 to Dec. 27, 2019, during which at least 217 people including 48 children were killed.
The demonstrators demanded that Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to ancestral land in what is now Israel. They also protested against Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Khaled Al-Batsh of Islamic Jihad’s political bureau said: “We have no choice but to have unity in the face of confrontation, for a path to liberation that passes through the barrels of rifles.”
Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said: “We affirm our adherence to the right of return, and we call for the pilgrimage to Al-Aqsa Mosque and the escalation at all points of contact with the occupation.”
Mustafa Ibrahim, a political analyst, said that this year’s Land Day protests were not expected to take a violent turn.
“It is not expected that we will return to daily or weekly protests on the border, but the factions always like to put pressure on the occupation and remind it of what could happen on the Gaza border again.
“The protests were within a certain period and they achieved their goals, according to the factions. I do not think that we will return to that model again in the current period, and we cannot deny that the Palestinian losses were great.”
Delivering a speech at the Gaza border, Mohsen Abu Ramadan, head of the National Committee, said: “Land Day carries a lot of meaning. The anniversary of Land Day comes this year under a fascist right-wing government, which constitutes an opportunity to raise the Palestinian issue in the international arena.
“The most important lesson of the immortal Land Day is national unity around a national strategy to advance our cause.”
 


Turkiye and Iraq to thrash out oil deal after arbitration ruling ends Kurdish exports

Turkiye and Iraq to thrash out oil deal after arbitration ruling ends Kurdish exports
Updated 30 March 2023

Turkiye and Iraq to thrash out oil deal after arbitration ruling ends Kurdish exports

Turkiye and Iraq to thrash out oil deal after arbitration ruling ends Kurdish exports
  • Arbitration ruling ordered Ankara to pay $1.4 billion to Baghdad for violating contracts by buying directly from the Kurdistan Regional Government
  • Officials from Iraq’s Oil Ministry are expected to travel to Turkiye to negotiate a new method for exporting northern Iraq’s oil

ANKARA: Turkiye is being urged to thrash out a new oil deal with Iraq after a landmark arbitration ruling ordered Ankara to pay $1.4 billion to Baghdad for violating contracts by buying directly from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Officials from Iraq’s Oil Ministry are expected to travel to Turkiye to negotiate a new method for exporting northern Iraq’s oil after the International Court of Arbitration’s ruling last week in a case stretching back almost a decade. 

The ruling has stopped Iraqi Kurdistan’s 450,000 bpd exports, and raised fears of instability and economic crisis in the semi-autonomous region. Exports must now have the consent of Baghdad and both sides in Iraq must strike a larger agreement before oil production can fully resume. 

Iraq sued Turkiye in 2014 over direct sales from the KRG and asked for $33 billion in compensation. It has maintained that the KRG cannot use national pipelines to sell oil and that Turkey’s deal with the region violated a 1973 pipeline-transit agreement between the two countries. 

Bilgay Duman, coordinator of Iraq studies at the Ankara-based think-tank ORSAM, said that the case reflected the longstanding disagreement between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional administration. 

“Turkiye, which will respect the international arbitration ruling, showed its readiness to fulfill its obligations deriving from the international law and to contribute to the de-escalation of the disagreement between its two regional partners,” he told Arab News. 

He said that Turkiye’s deal with the KRG from 2013 had an indemnity clause that required any compensation to be paid by Irbil. However, he added: “To what extent the compensation that Ankara will pay to Iraq will be indemnified by the Kurdistan Regional Government is still unknown.”

According to Duman, the disagreement also arose from legal loopholes in Iraq about the control of newly discovered oil fields that were being exploited by the KRG.

Experts say that the ruling will hurt the KRG economy, which made $5.7 billion from oil last year.

“Baghdad appears to be ready to accept financial losses to gain sovereignty over oil,” said Yerevan Saeed, a research associate at the Arab Gulf Institute in Washington. “This has real-life consequences for Kurds in the Kurdistan region. The Kurdistan economy is heavily dependent on oil.” 

He said the suspension of oil sales raised both financial and security issues for the KRG. 

“The best way forward is for Ankara to play a constructive role by mediating between Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.

“If Turkiye and Baghdad are going to try to bypass the KRG to reach a state-to-state agreement, this could lead to a resurgence of Kurdish nationalism that will stir instability in the region,” he added.

Turkiye meanwhile would need to look to oil from Russia and Iran to fill the hole left by the loss of KRG oil.  

Rich Outzen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said the effects of the arbitration ruling would be felt most keenly in the KRG but also Iraq. “It will hurt Iraq too as long as oil is not flowing. Turkiye and Iraq will work a deal that will involve less than the full penalty in my view,” he told Arab News. 

Outzen said that the US, which provides budget support to Baghdad, should press for a quick deal with Ankara and resumption of trade. “Oil costs are affected as world oil prices increase. The latest ruling affects the Iraqi Turkish Pipeline, not trucks, so some may still move by truck,” he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani recently paid an official visit to Turkiye, where he discussed a project to build a land and rail corridor from Basra to the Turkish border.


Lebanon scraps controversial airport expansion: minister

Lebanon scraps controversial airport expansion: minister
Updated 30 March 2023

Lebanon scraps controversial airport expansion: minister

Lebanon scraps controversial airport expansion: minister
  • Some had questioned how a caretaker government with limited powers could announce major infrastructure project
  • Civil society organizations and lawmakers noted the absence of tender process

BEIRUT: Cash-strapped Lebanon has scrapped a deal for a second terminal at Beirut’s international airport, the transport minister said Thursday, after critics raised transparency concerns in the $122 million project.
Lebanon “will not proceed with the contract,” Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamieh said on Twitter, adding that the decision came “following legal controversy.”
Some had questioned how a caretaker government with limited powers could announce such a major infrastructure project, in a country where entrenched political barons are accused of systemic corruption.
Civil society organizations and lawmakers noted the absence of a tender process and a lack of involvement of the Public Procurement Authority.
Jean Ellieh, head of the authority, said “the contract did not pass through” the regulatory body as required under a 2021 law.
Last week 10 civil society groups, including Transparency International Lebanon, warned of “serious abuses” in the procurement law’s application which “open the door to corruption and nepotism.”
The government, which has been operating in a caretaker capacity since legislative elections last May, announced the second terminal project last week, to be carried out by private company Lebanese Air Transport and Irish firm daa International.
Hamieh had said the private sector would fund project, which would have created “around 2,500 jobs,” with the firms to operate the terminal for 25 years.
Lebanon plunged into an economic crisis in 2019, that the World Bank has dubbed one of the planet’s worst in modern times.
The meltdown has pushed most of the population into poverty while the political elite, widely blamed for the country’s financial collapse, has failed to take action.
The International Monetary Fund last week warned the country was “at a very dangerous moment,” criticizing slow progress on reforms needed to unlock billions in emergency loans.
Along with a caretaker government, the country has also been without a president for almost five months amid political deadlock.


Syria says Israeli strikes near Damascus wound 2 soldiers

Syria says Israeli strikes near Damascus wound 2 soldiers
Updated 30 March 2023

Syria says Israeli strikes near Damascus wound 2 soldiers

Syria says Israeli strikes near Damascus wound 2 soldiers
  • Explosions heard in the Syrian capital early Thursday
  • Syria’s air defense intercepted several missiles, says defense ministry

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Israel staged airstrikes in the Damascus area early Thursday, wounding two soldiers and causing material damage.
Loud explosions were heard over the Syrian capital around 1:30 a.m., and the SANA state news agency said Syrian air defenses were “confronting hostile targets.” SANA, quoting an unidentified military official, said some missiles were shot down by the air defenses.
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, including attacks on the Damascus and Aleppo airports, but it rarely acknowledges specific operations.
Israel says it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.
An Israeli airstrike last week targeting the airport at the northern city of Aleppo put it out of commission for two days.
Along with airports, Israel has also targeted seaports in government-held areas in an apparent attempt to prevent Iranian arms shipments to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Hezbollah.