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Northern Africa

Tunisia – World Bank Earmarks $100 Million To Protect Environment And Promote Development In Poorest Regions

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The World Bank announced today a US$100 million project to support better management of forests, rangelands and agricultural landscapes for more jobs and increased incomes in the North-West and Center-West regions of Tunisia, where almost half of the poorest segment of the population are concentrated. While addressing the impacts of climate change and preserving the landscape’s natural resources, which are essential for protecting local livelihoods that are heavily dependent on agriculture, forests and rangelands, integrated management of the region’s forests and rangelands alone has the potential of raising the value of their output from the current US$16 million to US$75 million, and creating around 25,000 jobs.

The Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Regions Project will finance the key ingredients of improved management of natural resources; including more accurate data for well informed decisions, laws that promote better and integrated management, and strengthening the technical and managerial skills of the many stakeholders in agriculture at the national, regional and local levels. The project will also support the introduction of climate-smart agriculture, while fostering economic growth through productive alliances and value chain development at the community level.

“Sustainable and integrated management of landscapes has an important role to play in improving the lives of people in rural regions that have been left behind,” said Eileen Murray, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia, “there is significant potential for growth if local communities are provided the support to reorient towards higher value added products and growing global markets. This would especially benefit women, who make up over half of the rural labor force and up to 80 percent in the North-West and Center-West.”

The combination of overgrazing, deforestation and climate change poses a significant threat to Tunisia’s natural resources and agriculture, and the wellbeing of rural communities who rely on them. The cost of deforestation and forest degradation is estimated at US$14 million per year, and the cost of rangeland degradation and clearing is estimated at US$36 million. In countering this threat, the project aligns with the national strategy of promoting sustainable management of natural resources and support for a green economy, as well as shifting from a top-down to a bottom-up approach to decision making that empowers local communities. The project will also have a specific focus on creating more and better opportunities for women, who make up the majority of the rural labor force in the two regions, and young people.

“Centralized decision making has limited the ability of local communities to manage and protect their environment,” said Taoufiq Bennouna, World Bank Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist, “that is now changing and this project aims to support the process. Local communities working with national and regional institutions, and linked to global markets, will be key for coordinated strategies that not only preserve the landscape for future generations but also promote opportunities and growth in underdeveloped regions.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources, and Fisheries will implement the project, guided by a cross ministerial steering committee and regional councils in each governorate, as well as local development councils that will lead the consultative process to identify the sub-projects that will be funded by the project. The local development councils will be broadly representative of the local population, offering women and young people in particular the chance to participate in local decision making.
Via Tunis Daily News!

Libya

Libyan Al-Ahli Benghazi defender signs for Egypt’s Ittihad of Alexandria

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Libyan Al-Ahli Benghazi defender signs for Ittihad of Alexandria. [Photo: Internet]

Egypt’s Premier League side Ittihad of Alexandria have officially confirmed the signing of Libyan defender Ahmed Shalaby on a three-year deal as part of their summer transfer market campaign.

Shalaby has joined Ittihad on a permanent transfer coming from Libya’s Al-Ahli Benghazi.

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Al-Ahli Benghazi was coached by current coach of the Alexandria-based team Talaat Youssef.

Shalaby has a handful amount of games with the Libyan national team and is expected to be a beneficial addition to the team.

The 25-year-old is the latest addition to the Ittihad team who had an important campaign of reinforcements for the team.

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Libya

Libya’s GNA forces seize strategic district from Haftar’s forces in south Tripoli

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Fighting rages on in Tripoli. [Photo: Internet]

The Libyan Army’s Burkan Al-Ghadab Operation  (Volcano of Rage Operation) forces have seized full control of the district of Sebea in southern Tripoli after a day-long deadly fighting with Khalifa Haftar’s forces. 

The forces under the command of the Government of National Accord (GNA) started their attack on Haftar’s forces in Sebea on early Wednesday, clashing with them for over 10 hours before they had control over the district.

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Local media reported the GNA forces as they paraded their presence at the roundabout of Sebea, its neighborhoods, hospital and aviation institute.

The media also said that the fighting saw airstrikes carried out by both sides leading to tens of casualties.

Sebea is very strategic for Haftar’s forces positioned in southern Tripoli, like Qasir Benghashir district, and with the GNA forces seizing it, Haftar’s forces have lost another main supply line of arms, fuel and ammunition just like that of Gharyan over a month ago.

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Egypt

Photo shoot of Colleen Darnell pays tribute to Zelda Fitzgerald – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">As time goes on, out lifestyle pace gets faster while modern clothes and technology prevail; yet, it freezes for Egyptologist Colleen Darnell as she decided to stay still in vintage serenity of early 20</span><span class="s3"><sup>th</sup></span><span class="s1"> century. The passion of the epoch queen was recently captured by the lens of the photographer Menna Hossam, to bring the world a photo shoot reviving the authenticity charm of the last century. </span></p>

“Ode to Zelda” is the second photo session Darnell has this year in Egypt. The US Fashion aficionada is known for her passion of dressing in vintage clothes of 1920s to 1940s, which captivates number of photographs to document her beauty and unique style.

The well-known fine art and fashion photographer shares Darnell the same vintage passion as classics own her heart out of the belief, they hold a magical secret. Driven by the history frenzy, Hossam reached out to Darnell to have her second photo shoot in Egypt.

The Yale graduate, is currently teaching Egyptian art history at Naugatuck Valley Community College. She has spotlighted a number of Egyptian discoveries in her researches, and published a number of papers about Ancient Egypt’s various eras.

“I’m all about vintage style, and Darnell is all about vintage! Her looks are extremely unique, and she provokes any photographer into capturing her photo,” Hossam told Daily News Egypt.

Inspired by the first American Flapper, Hossam dedicated her session to the veteran American novelist, Zelda Fitzgerald.

Unlike the expected plot of an Egyptologist photo shoot taken by an Egyptian photographer, the project was not captured by the Pyramids, nor at any of the Ancient Egyptian historical spots.

“I thought it wold be so expected and repetitive to have the regular photo session over viewing the Sphinx or the Pyramids behind her. Away from the hassle it would take to have the permits, I mainly wanted to focus on her style, look, and photogenic face,” Hossam explained.

For one and a half months, Hossam has been preparing for the project, intensively looking for an appropriate location, before her eyes laid on a downtown apartment owned by Dakhli West El Balad, a specialised locations platform.

“It was too old, yet magical!” she enthusiastically said.

According to Hossam, from the moment she stepped inside the timeworn apartment, she visualised the whole shoot in her mind. “I already knew about the two outfits, she would wear, and with the old timeworn décor, and the fading colours, I made my mind up into choosing this location,” she added.

Hossam added that Darnell gave the ultimate happiness any photographer can ever have while capturing a celebrity, which is “trust.”

“She gave me the full trust to direct her into whatever I want, which gives any photographer the ultimate happiness,” she concluded.

   

All photos taken by Menna Hossam

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                Nada Deyaa’
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            Culture reporter, passionate reader and writer, Animals lover and Arts follower.


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Researchers monitor CO2 leakage sites on ocean floor – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Injecting carbon dioxide (CO</span><span class="s2"><sup>2</sup></span><span class="s1">) deep below the seabed can be an important strategy for easing climate change, according to experts in the field. However, scientists need a reliable way to monitor such sites for leakage of the greenhouse gas. </span></p>

Now, researchers reporting in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology have studied natural sources of CO2 release off the coast of Italy, using what they learned to develop models that could be applied to future storage sites.

The multinational energy company Equinor operates a CO2 capture and storage facility that injects about 1 megaton per year of the greenhouse gas into an offshore sandstone aquifer deep below Norwegian waters. Undersea storage of the gas presents less risk for humans in case of accidental leakage compared with storage on land because the vast ocean acts as a buffer for the released CO2.

However, the leaked gas can dissolve in ocean water, decreasing the pH and potentially harming the local marine ecosystem. Currently, scientists lack an established method to identify and quantify multiple CO2 leaks spread across a region of the ocean floor. Therefore, Jonas Gros and colleagues investigated pH changes near natural CO2 seeps in the vicinity of Panarea, a small island off the coast of northern Sicily.

The researchers used scuba divers and ship-based instrument deployments to collect gas and water samples from undersea CO2 plumes. The team used these data to validate a computer model that they developed to predict pH changes to water resulting from leakage of the gas. This simulation indicated that over 79% of the CO2 dissolved within 4 metres of the seafloor.

The team found that the model could predict a pattern of pH variation in waters surrounding the leakage site that was similar to actual data collected by sensors towed underwater. The new model could be used to guide sampling strategies during routine monitoring of storage sites and to estimate impacts of CO2 releases to the local marine environment.

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New study links neuropsychiatric disorders to pollution – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Researchers are increasingly studying the effects of environmental insults on psychiatric and neurological conditions, motivated by emerging evidence from environmental events like the record-breaking smog that has choked New Delhi two years ago. </span></p>

In a new study published recently in the PLOS Biology journal, an international group of researchers from the US and Denmark used large data sets to suggest a possible link between exposure to environmental pollution and an increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders.

The team found that poor air quality was associated with higher rates of bipolar disorder and major depression in both US and Danish populations. The trend appeared even stronger in Denmark, where exposure to polluted air during the first ten years of a person’s life also predicted a more than two-fold increase in schizophrenia and personality disorders.

Computational biologist Atif Khan, the study’s first author, said the study shows that living in polluted areas, especially early in life, is predictive of mental disorders in both the US and Denmark. He added that “the physical environment – in particular air quality – warrants more research to better understand how our environment is contributing to neurological and psychiatric disorders.”

Although mental illnesses like schizophrenia develop due to a complex interplay of genetic predispositions and life experiences or exposures, genetics alone do not account entirely for variations in mental health and disease. Researchers have long suspected that genetic, neurochemical, and environmental factors interact at different levels to affect the onset, severity, and progression of these illnesses.

Growing evidence is beginning to provide insight into how components of air pollution can be toxic to the brain. Recent studies on rodents suggest that environmental agents like ambient small particulate matter (fine dust) travel to the brain through the nose and lungs, while animals exposed to pollution have also shown signs of cognitive impairment and depression-like behavioural symptoms. 

Andrey Rzhetsky, the lead author of the new study, said, “We hypothesised that pollutants might affect our brains through neuroinflammatory pathways that have also been shown to cause depression-like signs in animal studies.”

To quantify air pollution exposure among individuals in the US, the University of Chicago team relied on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s measurements of 87 air quality measurements. For individuals in Denmark, they used a national pollution register that tracked a smaller number of pollutants with much higher spatial resolution.

The researchers then examined two population data sets, the first being a US health insurance claims database that included 11 years of claims for 151 million individuals. The second dataset consisted of all 1.4 million individuals born in Denmark from 1979 through 2002 who were alive and residing in Denmark at their tenth birthday. 

Because Danes are assigned unique identification numbers that can link information from various national registries, the researchers were able to estimate exposure to air pollution at the individual level during the first 10 years of their life. In the US study, exposure measurements were limited to the county level. “We strived to provide validation of association results in independent large datasets,” said Rzhetsky.

Rzhetsky also cautioned that the significant associations between air pollution and psychiatric disorders discovered in the study do not necessarily mean causation, and said that further research is needed to assess whether any neuroinflammatory impacts of air pollution share common pathways with other stress-induced conditions.

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Aswan High Dam ready for new flood in 2019/20 water year: Irrigation Ministry – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel-Aty, led a meeting of the Permanent Regulatory Committee of the Nile Flow and the ministry’s executive bodies on Tuesday to discuss preparations for the flood season. </span></p>

A report by the committee stressed that the Aswan High Dam is ready to receive the new flood of 2019/20 water year. The water year begins in August as the water levels start to rise due to a flood from the Abyssinian plateau, passing through Khartoum before reaching the Nasser Lake. 

Egypt took all necessary measures and completed maintenance works of the dam in preparation for the flood, the ministry’s spokesperson Mohamed Sebaei said.

 

During the meeting, Eman El Sayed, head of the ministry’s planning sector, said the flood forecasting centre has been following rain forecast maps of the Nile River’s headwaters since the beginning of August. She added that the rainfall situation on the Blue Nile Basin is still around the average so far.

Ahmed Bahaa, head of the ministry’s Nile sector, said rains on northern Sudan is not an indicator of the river flow, noting that the current flows are still less than those of the same period last year, and it is too early to predict the volume of the new flood and it is better to wait until the end of September for a more clear vision.

Egypt is depending on the annual Nile flow (55.5bn cubic meters) to secure about 97% of its present water needs with only 660 cubic metres per capita, one of the world’s lowest annual per capita water shares. Meanwhile, Ethiopia continues constructing its Grand Renaissance Dam, which is believed to threaten Egypt’s water security.

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“Phantom of the Opera” normalises violence in society – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Violence is the biggest threat to peace and security in today’s world. According to statistics, each year, over 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. </span></p>

Almost every day we read hundreds of reports of violence triggered by ethnic, religious or cultural hatred all over the world. It was dreadful to hear about the recent massacre at Walmart in Texas, in which the shooter targeted Mexicans only and let both whites and African Americans live.  Most seriously, we started to discuss the prevalence of violence perpetrated by police officers against unarmed people in established democracies such as France, Spain and Italy. Earlier in August, a local man lost his life in the western French city of Nantes following a violent clash between police and people attending a music festival. These horrific events indicate only one truth that people today, in all cultures and countries, use violence to get their arguments and points across.                      

  

Marwa El- Shinawy

Certainly, violence is not intrinsic to human nature as much as it is a man-made phenomenon. In many ways, violence has been normalised through the pop culture we consume. Arts and drama are among the most effective ways that create a cultural acceptance of violence, promoting a social tolerance of violent behaviour in society. Dramatized violence has been a feature of entertainment throughout history. The realistic portrayal of violence is considered as one of the distinguishing marks of great artists like for example Edward Bond, who legitimised the depiction of violence in drama on the pretext of presenting a realistic image of society. In many dramatic works of high artistic value and massive popularity, brutality appears to be justified, and terrorist acts go unpunished. The history of drama is replete with works that propagate violence that it has become normal for us to see it as a means of gaining power and authority.

   The world’s most famous musical The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrates this year its 31st anniversary on Broadway, and its 33 record-breaking years at the Majestic Theatre in London, is a living example of the great classics that romanticize violence and spread it in society.   

Based on the novel written by Gaston Leroux in 1910, The Phantom of the Opera musical has become one of the world’s most commercially successful theatrical productions that the BBC characterized it as the “most successful entertainment venture of all time.”

The show has travelled the world and entertained millions of people. Most importantly, the play is incredibly popular with both school and college groups. However, The Phantom of the Opera is the story of a disfigured, angry man who lives beneath a Paris opera house and terrorises its cast and crew so that his beloved, Christine, can have a chance to sing the lead part. The play represents gratuitous violence in a romantic mode. The lover- phantom is nothing but a cold-blooded assassin, who does not hesitate to harm other people to assert his authority. The narrative of the play is driven by violence and the desire to dominate over others.      

    Doubtless, this critique does not underestimate this great, timeless play with its high-octane music composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his most inspired mode and the brilliant dramatic staging of Harold Prince, who passed away a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, it is necessary to condemn violence in drama, especially the widespread classical works that normalize and romanticize violence and we study them in schools and colleges. In light of the current political and cultural climate, banning violence in the drama is no less important than criminalizing it in constitutions and laws. Violence in media, dramatic arts, and popular culture should be moved onto the public health agenda as the prevention of violence have become the subject of urgent social debate.

Marwa El- Shinawy holds a PhD in American theatre, and is a member of the Higher Committee for the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre

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Libya

UN envoy says only political solution can end Libya’s crisis

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Ghassan Salame. [Photo: Libyan Express]

The Head of the UN support mission in Libya, Ghassan Salame, has praised Malta’s efforts in bringing to light the Libyan crisis in the EU.

Salame who was addressing a press conference with Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela, insisted that the Libyan crisis can only be resolved through a political process, Malta Today reported.

Asked what role General Khalifa Haftar should play in a solution to the Libyan crisis, Salame reiterated that only once a political course has been initiated that the question could be answered, it added.

Salame also said that the first step towards a situation of peace in Libya lies in having the current UN-backed truce turned into a permanent ceasefire.

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The UN representative also said that in order for Libya to move forward, the solutions must be spearheaded by Libyans themselves.

“It is Libyans that must decide, no one should force anyone to sit down by force, but past experience in our work has shown that this can be achieved,” he stated.

Salame also called upon the international community to refrain from being passive.

“We must have an international community which properly enforces laws and regulations, when dealing with Libya,” he said.

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Egypt

Egypt faces an enviable economic opportunity but needs to up its game – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p4"><span class="s2">In the face of sluggish global growth, increased economic nationalism, trade wars, high debt levels and a roll-back in globalisation, investors could be forgiven for being bearish on Egypt. But they shouldn’t be, for three good reasons.</span></p>

First: Egypt’s near neighbours and allies in the Gulf are changing the models of their economies. The old model of exporting oil and living on the income is over. Saudi particularly is restructuring and rebalancing to create a more sustainable combination of industry, finance and services. So, to one extent or another, are all the Gulf countries. As these economies move towards normalisation, they will understand the vital importance of regional trade and investment. MENA regional trade has the lowest economic share of any region – with no logistical or geographic reason. There is huge potential for growth now the political will is there.

Second: global trade and investment is yesterday’s game. The three decades from 1990 will be seen as the highpoint of globalisation as an economic trend. The rise of China and capital flow and trade liberalisation created a one-off opportunity for companies and financial institutions to globalise. The financial crisis put paid to the global ambitions of many financial institutions and the political turmoil, driven in part by offshoring and production relocation made the continuation of that trend unacceptable to policy-makers in the West (it never really was acceptable elsewhere). Now the focus is on adding value in the domestic economy and very selectively operating businesses in other markets where the profit opportunity of that market is clear. Producing to export is still important – but the trend is towards localisation. This further supports Egypt’s opportunity in regional trade. Tariffs and quotas internationally will reduce competition in some of Egypt’s export markets and it can take advantage of its preferential and politically neutral agreements with major economies everywhere. So far Egypt has managed to maintain good relations with all trading blocs: US, China, EU and Russia. It should continue to do so.

Third: the diversified nature of Egypt’s economy, its size and its population make it uniquely attractive as a destination for FDI in an FDI-challenged world. We’re seeing daily news of new FDI into Egypt, new support and financing from multilateral and regional institutions and the announcement of new initiatives. Whilst Egypt needs to maintain its strategic relationships with its allies and partners – it can be pleased that its structural characteristics make it fundamentally an attractive destination compared with its peers.

However, a note of caution. Egypt can be, to foreign investors, a challenging place to do business. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report lists Egypt at number 120 out of 190 countries. Any foreigner who has done or is trying to do business in Egypt knows this. The policies may be encouraging but the implementation needs to be streamlined. Large companies supported by multilateral in capital-intensive sectors can manage this task. SME investors in employment producing sectors such as services and technology – will find this a bit more difficult. Egypt understands that, to capitalise on the unique opportunity it faces, it needs to step up its game. The rewards will be worth it.

Richard Banks is consulting editor to Euromoney Conferences, the opinions in this article are his own.

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                Richard Banks
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            Richard M Banks is Consulting Editor forEuromoney Conferences and CEO of RMBanks& Co, a global investment communications consultancy.


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Yemen conflict: mosaic of power struggle – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p3"><span class="s1">Fighters belonging to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), seeking secession from the rest of Yemen, managed to capture most of Aden’s important installations and government buildings last week.</span></p>

The STC took advantage of the failure of the Yemeni interim government, which is supported by Saudi Arabia.

The conquest of Aden added further complexity to the already intricate Yemen conflict, but the STC didn’t just appear from thin air, as the conflict dates back for more than half-century.

“We do not intend to leave Aden,” said Aidroos Al-Zubaidi, the leader of Yemen’s STC, whose forces have taken over the southern port city.

The STC, founded in 2017 following a dispute with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, sees capturing Aden as a step toward its goal of setting up an independent state in southern Yemen.

The latest infighting has fractured the Saudi-led military coalition fight against Iran-backed Houthi group, which controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Last Thursday, the STC supporters took to the streets of Aden which has served as the Hadi government’s base since the Houthi rebels took over Sanaa in 2014.

People holding flags of the former South Yemen can be seen all over the city, which were also installed on top of public institutions and hung from multi-storey buildings.

United Yemen? It was never the norm!

Unified Yemen is only 29 years old, the unity came into force in 1990, after more than a century apart, Marxist South Yemen and conservative North Yemen were unified as the Republic of Yemen.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was the president of North Yemen at the time, became the new country’s president, and Ali Salem Al-Beidh, leader of the South Yemeni Socialist Party, became vice president.

The unrest in Yemen is not an individual conflict but a mosaic of multifaceted local, regional, and international power struggles, that are connected to both recent and long-past events.

Even after unity, the cultural rifts between the two regions didn’t cease to exist, accentuated by their divergent histories. Southern Yemen heavily influenced by a century of British influence, since the mid-19th century.

Situated at southern Arabian Peninsula, the country was divided between the British and the Ottoman empires in this period.

During the British occupation, the strategic port of Aden was run directly as a colony. Britain established itself in the port’s hinterlands and other areas of the south through financial and military aid.

To solidify their presence, British occupation struck deals with the heads of the various sultanates, sheikhdoms, and emirates that constituted the Federation of South Arabia and the neighbouring Protectorate of South Arabia.

In 1967, following the establishment of the Arab world’s first and only Marxist state, the People’s Republic of South Yemen, rifts between north and south only deepened.

Who’s Who

STC

The call for South Yemen’s split to be an independent country isn’t new. The country’s unification in 1990 was not a smooth transition. Afterwards, the 1991 economic crises in Yemen brought the country to the brink of collapse. It was followed by a small-scale civil war and erupted between southern secessionists and Yemen’s northern-based government in 1994, temporarily dissolving the new union.

Since its founding, the bulk of the south Yemen separatist movement’s more powerful components have coalesced in the STC, a grouping of politicians, tribal leaders, and military figures largely allied to the United Arab Emirates.

The STC has said its forces will hold Aden until the Islamist Al-Islah party, a key component of Hadi’s government, and northerners are removed from power positions in the south.

The UAE regards Al-Islah as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, banned by Egypt and UAE, on the other hand, Saudi Arabia tolerates it because it has helped to prop up Hadi.

Houthis

In the north, the Houthis emerged out of Yemen’s mountainous areas in 2004 from Believing Youth, a revivalist Zaidi Shi’a movement fuelled by local fears of encroachment by Sunni ideologies.

In their first days, fighting was largely limited to the Houthi strongholds in mountainous areas in Saada, it soon spread to northern areas of Amran and western areas of al-Jawf.

During the 2011 uprising, the Iran-aligned Houthis gained control of Saada province during the unrest in Yemen inspired by the Arab uprisings. In September 2014, they seized Sanaa and swiftly expanded their control south to Ibb province and west to Al-Hudaydah.

Following President Hadi’s forced resignation in January 2015, the Houthis advanced southward to Abyan, Aden, and Lahj. In July and August 2015, they were pushed back by militia fighters supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

Al-Qaeda

Moving back to the south, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has a strong presence in southern Yemen provinces. It has been considered the terrorist group’s most dangerous branch. The Islamic State group has also been active in central and southern Yemen, though its growth was curbed by the strong Al-Qaeda presence.

The US military has been conducting drone strikes over Yemen, targeting AQAP since 2010. But the scale and frequency of attacks have intensified since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

Famine, diseases, and rotting economy

According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Yemen remains the most complex and challenging humanitarian crisis in the world. The four-year conflict has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine. Some indicators have started to improve in several hard-hit areas as WFP has boosted support for them. The overall situation remains precarious and the humanitarian community cannot slow the pace of assistance now.

According to UN estimates, the conflict has left 13 million Yemeni civilians without food, labelling it as one of the largest man-made famines in history.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Yemen experienced the world’s worst cholera outbreak in 2017, with more than one million suspected cholera cases reported.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation, coupled with the lack of a functioning health system and limited access to safe water and hygiene facilities, has made it difficult to control the spread of the disease systematically. Since February 2019, the number of suspected cholera cases reported each week started to increase, peaking at over 29,500 cases at the beginning of April and stabilising in early July.

“A total of 451,895 suspected cholera cases were reported in the first six months of 2019, compared to 380,000 cases in the whole of 2018. So far this year, 705 deaths associated with cholera have been reported, including 200 children. Under-5 children represented 23.4% of total suspected cases during the first half of 2019,” WHO stated in a July report.

Achim Steiner, UN Development Programme administrator, said last month that Yemen was already the Arab world’s poorest country before the war, now Yemen’s four-year war has set back the country’s economic development by 20 years.

Yemen’s civil war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with nearly 80% of the population, 24.1 million people, requiring some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.

“People are hungry and suffering as their institutions, schools, and local administrations have collapsed, and for many of them, life as they knew it simply has ceased to exist,” Steiner said.

However, economic analysis firm FocusEconomics said in a July report that the Yemeni economy is expected to return to growth this year for the first time in six years on the back of donor support and greater macroeconomic stability.

FocusEconomics panellists project the economy to expand by 0.7% in 2019, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast, and 6.5% in 2020.

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                Mohamed Samir
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            Mohamed Samir is an economic and political journalist, and analyst specialising in the Middle East. Over the past decade, he covered Egypt’s and the MENA region’s financial, business, and geopolitical updates. He is currently the Deputy Executive Editor of the Daily News Egypt.


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Morocco

Spanish Ports Expect 1 Million Passengers From Morocco in September

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Rabat – With the end of summer vacation around the corner, one million passengers are expected to leave Morocco for Spain before September 15.

Spanish news outlet Diario de Sevilla reported on August 20 that Spanish ports, will see the vast majority of travelers crossing into Spain. Spanish police have reinforced checkpoints in Algeciras and Tarifa in preparation for the inflix.

Lucrecio Fernandez, Government delegate in Andalusia   isited the Algeciras port, its the civil protection service center , and health services. A delegation from Morocco’s Mohammed V Foundation for solidarity is ready at the port to help passengers. 

Fernandez called the port’s preparation to receive travelers “a well oiled machine.”

Read Also: Marhaba 2019: Tangier-Med Port Records New Diaspora Arrival Peak

As of Monday, August 20, 589,262 people in 133,228 vehicles have already returned to Europe via Spain, Fernandez said. She explained that 70% have arrived in Algeciras from Ceuta and Tanger-Med or in Tarifa from Tanger-Ville.

Diario de Sevilla said that the number of passenger arrivals this year is higher than the same period in 2018, representing an increase of 8.2 % of passengers and 9.8 % of vehicles.

The news outlet added that with the end of theEid Al Adha holiday,  Spanish ports are expected to see the peak of passenger arrivals from August 20 to September 2.

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Morocco

Bank Al Maghrib Releases Commemorative Banknote for 20th Anniversary of Throne Day

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Rabat – On Wednesday, August 21, Morocco’s Bank Al Maghrib announced the release of a commemorative banknote  of MAD 20. The banknote’s release celebrates the 20th anniversary of the King Mohammed VI accession to the throne.

Morocco celebrated Throne Day on July 31.

The central bank said that the new banknote is “characterized by a vertical design, which carries a photo of King Mohammed VI.”

The back of the notebank includes drawings of some of the major projects completed under the leadership of the King, such as the “Mohammed VI” bridge, the solar power plant Noor II in Ouarzazate, the Mohammed VI satellite, and the high speed train, Al Buraq.

The achievements, according to the statement,  represent “different aspects of a contemporary Morocco committed to taking the path of progress.”

“At least 10 robust security elements were included on both interfaces, most notably microscopic texts and anti-scanning patterns that were inserted in different parts of the paper,” the bank said. Bank Al Maghrib said that the security elements aim to protect the banknote from counterfeiting.

The bank said that it will issue a limited number of the MAD 20 commemorative banknotes in September 2019.

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Morocco

The ‘Green Morocco’ Plan Strengthens Localized Irrigation

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Rabat – The “Green Morocco” Plan (PMV), the infrastructure program for Morocco’s primary sector, agriculture, has already reached the majority of the objectives set by the government for completion before 2020.

In 2016, the plan exceeded a million hectares of land planted with olive trees. By the end of 2018, it achieved several other objectives such as the production of cereals and fruit trees.

The summer of 2019 marked a new achievement, the strengthening of localized irrigation. 

This objective is one of the three major components of the Irrigation Strategy developed in the framework of the PMV, alongside the promotion of public-private partnerships and the extension of irrigated areas.

Irrigation Strategy 

The National Program of Water Economy in Irrigation (PNEEI) is part of the PMV. Its objective is to equip, in localized irrigation, nearly 50% of the total agricultural area across Morocco.

It aims to reduce water stress, considered as the main limiting factor to the improvement of agricultural productivity.

The PNEEI program consists of a massive shift from surface and sprinkler irrigation to localized irrigation, over an area of nearly 550,000 hectares for a period of 10 years. 

This means an average equipment rate of nearly 55,000 ha/year.

The strategy’s development witnessed a period of stagnation in 2018 when fewer than 10,000 hectares were newly equipped, while the annual average between 2008 and 2017 was 40,000 hectares.

At the beginning of 2019, however, the total area equipped with localized irrigation increased, exceeding 550,000 hectares, the initial objective of the strategy.

“Green Morocco” Plan

Moroccan agriculture developed considerably thanks to the “Green Morocco” plan, inaugurated by King Mohammed VI in April 2008.

The PMV project aims to make agriculture one of the first sectors of productive development and to modernize it. It also intends to promote agricultural investment, ensure food security, stimulate exports of agricultural products, and promote local products.

The PMV aims to transform agriculture “into a modern, value-added, high-productivity agriculture that meets the demands of the market,” says the State’s department of communication.

The plan encourages private investment and development of  Moroccan agricultural exports and industrial activities.

It also focuses on improving the living conditions of small farmers and fighting against poverty in rural areas. For this purpose, the plan relies on increasing agricultural incomes in the most vulnerable areas and promoting solidarity farming through farmers’ cooperatives throughout Morocco.

Since its creation, the PMV  has largely contributed to the creation of agricultural cooperatives in various branches of agriculture.

It has also developed cooperation between the State and the professionals of agriculture through livestock improvement projects, intensifying agricultural mechanization, and managing the water economy.

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Paleontologists Discover Oldest Ever Stegosaur Bones in Morocco

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Rabat – Paleontologists from the UK’s National History Museum, in collaboration with their Moroccan counterparts, have discovered a new species of stegosaurian dinosaur.

Not only is it the oldest definite stegosaur ever found, estimated to be 168 million years old, but it is also the first stegosaur to be found in North Africa. Previously, stegosaurs have been found in North America, Asia, and Europe.

The species has been named Adratiklit boulahfa, a tribute to Morocco. The name is derived from the Berber words for mountain (Adras) and lizard (tiklit). Boulahfa refers to the mountain where the specimen was found, in Morocco’s Middle Atlas.

The study was led by Dr. Susannah Maidment, a dinosaur expert at the museum. “The discovery of A. boulahfa is particularly exciting as we have dated it to the Middle Jurassic,” said Dr. Maidment in a statement from the museum.

“Most known stegosaurus date from later in the Jurassic Period, making this the oldest definite stegosaur described and helping to increase our understanding of the evolution of this group of dinosaurs.”

The landmark discovery could possibly lead to even further revelations for paleontologists, as more dinosaurs bones could be uncovered.

“What is exciting about this is that there could be many more armored dinosaurs to find in places that until now have not been excavated,” added Dr. Maidment.

Read also: Ministry of Culture Continues Excavation on Dar El Baroud Site in Sale

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Morocco

Western Sahara and Alhurra TV’s Affront to the Moroccan People

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Washington D.C. – The timing of the interview was a shock for viewers. That the video was aired on the day that Moroccans were celebrating the 66th anniversary of the King and the People’s Revolution, was an affront to Morocco and its people.

August 20, 1953, holds a special importance in the hearts of the Moroccan people.  It signaled a major shift in Moroccans’ struggle against the French protectorate, and by extension against the Spanish in northern and southern Morocco, including in Western Sahara.

The current territorial dispute would not have existed had not France and Spain signed a secret accord in October 1904.  By virtue of the agreement, Spain was given full possession and sovereignty over a large swath of southern Morocco, including Western Sahara. This historical fact has been systematically overlooked in the traditional narrative about the conflict. 

By airing an interview with the leader of a separatist movement- which has been used for four decades as a proxy by Algeria to stymie Morocco’s ambitions to complete its territorial integrity- Alhurra TV has shown clear bias in its reporting about the conflict, and a total disregard for the feelings of millions of Moroccans. 

What raises even more questions about the rationale behind such an interview is that it comes during a period of stagnation. There have been no major developments in the conflict in recent months. Since the Security Council adopted Resolution 2468, there has been zero progress in the political process. More still, the chances of seeing significant progress in the foreseeable future are very slim, following the resignation of now former UN envoy to the Western Sahara, Horst Kohler, in May. 

The only developments to take place in the region in recent months are the series of arrests that the Polisario has made against its political opponents and the hunger strikes that many political prisoners in the Tindouf camps have been observing over the past three months. 

Read Also: Solution to Western Sahara Requires More Than American Political Will

Casting Morocco as the villain

Against this backdrop, the intention and the agenda of the interview was clear-cut. It was a thinly veiled opportunity for  Ghali to appear as a respectable leader and the head of genuine liberation movement. Speaking to the journalist, he styled himself as the advocate of a people who have been victimized by a country intent on perpetuating their suffering in the Tindouf camps. It was, then, not surprising to see a one-sided interview where the interlocutor was given free rein to lash out at,  and demonize its adversary . 

Ghali could not have dreamed of a better opportunity, especially in the regional and international context in which the interview was aired. The Polisario  has been losing steam in recent years and has suffered a number of setbacks. Among them, the recent report of the UN Secretary General and subsequent resolution of the Security Council, which ended the myth of “liberated territories,” long propagated by the Polisario. In the same vein, the Security Council is progressively moving towards considering Algeria fully-fledged party  to the conflict. 

Meanwhile, many countries that previously recognized the self-styled Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), have either suspended or withdrawn their recognition. Malawai, Panama, Haiti, Paraguay, Mauritius, Barbados, El Salvador,  Zambia, and Suriname are among a long of list of countries that have withdrawn their recognition of the self-proclaimed SADR. 

In addition, the Polisario has been beset by a growing protest movement in the Tindouf camps, with an ever increasing number of Saharawis questioning its leadership. To top it all, there have been a number of reports, such as the recent report in the Wall Street Journal, suggesting that the US opposes the establishment of a new state in southern Morocco. The former Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ouled Abdel Aziz spoke along the same lines earlier this year when he told Palestinian journalist Abdelbari Atwane that neither the US nor the EU are in favor of the creation of a state between Morocco and Mauritania.

Soft-ball journalism

It was appalling to see the journalists asking the Polisario leader easy questions to which he responded in the same way as Polisario leaders have always done: that the Saharawis have been the victims of Morocco’s expansionist agenda. He argued that the Saharawis have nothing to do with Morocco and would never accept the option of autonomy, because they are not Moroccans. He gave the predictable answer that Morocco is the main party to blame for the deadlock in the political process because it has persisted in its attempts to prevent the holding of a referendum of self-determination to allow the Saharawis to decide their fate.

Simply put, the Polisario leader was given a golden opportunity to question Morocco’s commitment to the UN political process and to dismiss Morocco as a “regime” that has been lying to its population and the international community “to the point that it starts believing its lies.” Ghali, who took on the mantle of a head of state, went as far as describing Morocco as an “undisciplined” member of the African Union, who seeks to create problems, instead of working towards advancing the AU development, security and prosperity agenda. 

Had the Polisario leader been in front of an impartial, professional and truth-seeking journalist who sought to provide the audience with even-handed views about the matter at hand, the journalist would have challenged Ghali. For example, he would have told him that, contrary to his allegations, Morocco plays a leading role in the development agenda in the AU by being one of the leading foreign investors on the continent. 

A true, impartial journalist would also have told Ghali that Morocco plays a prominent role in guaranteeing food security in Africa. This role was lauded only last week by Nigerian Muhamady Bouhari who tweeted his praise for Morocco’s role in bringing Nigerian agriculture to a higher level.

Morocco’s goal in ensuring food security across the continent is poised to grow in the future through the many agreements it has signed with African countries, including Nigeria and Ethiopia, where Office Cherifien of Phosphate will build multi-billion-dollar fertilizer plants. 

Read Also: David Keene: Influential Lobbyist & Faux Humanitarian

Had the journalist’s main aim, and the interview’s main goal been to enlighten the audience about the multifaceted aspects of the conflict, and Morocco’s growing role as heavyweight in Africa, he would have mentioned the leading role Morocco has played over the past six years in speaking about migration on behalf of Africa in international forums, and calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility in helping Sub-Saharan Africa cope with the issue of undocumented immigration. 

While Algeria has been accused of dumping thousands of African immigrants in the desert, and an Algerian minister even accused the immigrants of causing the transmission of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, Morocco has launched two campaigns to regularize the situation of undocumented immigrants. More than 50,000 Sub-Saharan immigrants benefited from these two campaigns, turning Morocco into the first north African country to take such a measure.

At the regional and global level, Morocco has also been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism. Morocco’s anti-extremism initiatives include the  spread of the noble values of Islam through education. For example, over the past four years, Morocco has trained more than 3,000 imams from several African countries

All these facts refute the allegations that Ghali made against Morocco, but the interviewing journalist was not interested in providing an honest and impartial report to Alhurra’s viewers.   

Additionally, at no point did the journalist try to interrupt Ghali or challenge him with hard or embarrassing questions, or even facts that contradict his allegations. No questions were asked about the reasons behind the Polisario and Algeria’s refusal to allow the UNHCR to conduct a census of the population in the Tindouf camps. Neither did the journalist try to challenge Ghali’s claim that the Saharawis are not Moroccans by pointing out that many founding members of the Polisario, such as Bashir Dkhil, Brahim Khalil, Omar Hadrami, defected and returned to Morocco over a decade ago, and have since denounced Algeria’s hijacking of the Polisario. 

No questions were posed either about the series of human rights abuses the Polisario has committed in recent months against political opponents, nor its heavy-handed policy to stifle dissent in the Tindouf camps. Human Rights Watch denounced these violations in a report it released last month. 

In the report, HRW called on the Polisario to free three detainees, who were arrested and jailed without due process. Polisario detained the three activists for simply denouncing “absence of dialogue” and the “lack of alternatives to repression”. They also also said Polisario’s “corrupt leadership” was “trembling [in reaction] to what is happening to their masters in Algeria” and demanded that the Polisario show more willingness to engage with Morocco to find a solution to the conflict. 

Brushing evidence under the carpet

No questions were asked about Ghali’s views on the protests taking place in Algeria, and whether he fears that a democratically elected president would stop providing diplomatic political, financial, and military support to the Polisario movement. Instead the journalist chose to ask a trivial question about whether the political situation in Algeria would have any impact on the latter’s support for the Polisario. 

When the journalist asked Ghali about the reports documenting the systematic embezzlement of humanitarian aid devoted to the Tindouf camps, the Polisario leader dismissed them as mere lies “invented and propagated” by Morocco. while Ghali engaged in a tirade against Morocco, the journalist failed to interrupt him or challenge his claims by citing the report conducted by the European Union Anti-Fraud Committee, known as OLAF. 

The report was conducted between 2003 and 2005 but was only released in 2015. It documented, with irrefutable evidence, how Polisario and Algerian leaders have been misappropriating the humanitarian aid destined for the camps for the past four decades. 

The heavily redacted report gives damning and troubling details on how Algerian and Polisario officials have resorted to all sorts of schemes to enrich themselves to the detriment of the very people they claim to defend and represent. The report documents how the Polisario takes high quality donations, such as milk, to sell on the black market in Mauritania and Mali. The high quality produce, intended for the Tindouf camp’s inhabitants, is then replaced with lower quality goods. The profits of the enterprise go straight into the pockets of the Polisario leadership. 

In addition to the embezzlement schemes, the Polisario used Moroccan prisoners to build several administrative facilities and then billed international donors for the construction of the infrastructure, as if the manpower was provided by the Saharawis themselves.

Alhurra’s links with the UAE

Many Moroccans must be wondering why Alhurra TV has all of a sudden decided to shift its editorial line on the Western Sahara and give the Polisario a platform to demonize Morocco and market itself as a genuine liberation movement that has been engaged in a struggle to recover its territory. 

The interview is reminiscent of the report aired by the Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV last January, in which there was a clear pro-Polisario narrative. The common denominator of the two reports is the hidden hand of the UAE and its determination to retaliate against Morocco for not siding with the Saudi-led coalition against Qatar. 

It has become an open secret in recent months that Alhurra TV has come under the grip of the UAE through an alleged, undisclosed link between the channel’s original owners and the Middle Eastern country. For almost a year, readers and viewers of Alhurra have noticed a marked and substantial shift in the channel’s reporting about the Middle East, with the spotlight being shined on countries that don’t align with the UAE agenda. 

The vice-President of Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN), which owns Alhurra, Alhurra Iraq, Radio Sawa, Alhurra.com; RadioSawa.com; Irfaasawtak.com; MaghrebVoices.com; ElSaha.com, is none other than Jordanian Nart Bouran. Bouran previously worked for seven years as the head of the Abu-Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia. 

Immediately after his resignation from Sky News over a year ago, he set out to establish his new work team in Alhurra headquarters in Springfield, Virginia, bringing with him many of his former colleagues form Abu-Dhabi. 

That Alhurra’s editorial line shifted immediately after it was taken over by Bouran is very telling. Viewers can be left in no doubt about which country is calling the shots at Alhurra, and the agenda it is now pursuing.

With the airing of yesterday’s interview,  the new direction of Alhurra and its perspective on the Western Sahara issue were drawn into sharp focus for Morocco. This ultimate provocation to the Moroccan people is evidence that Morocco can no longer rely on the lip service that some Arab countries have paid to the kingdom’s position on Western Sahara. 

The Al Arabiya and Alhurra’s episodes demonstrate that countries which, until very recently, were thought to be indefectible Moroccan allies, are ready to strong-arm Morocco and stab it in the back if it does not follow their diktats and aligns with their agendas. The Moroccan government should take note and act accordingly to prevent any party from undermining its strategic interests, its national security, and stability.


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Potential Egypt-China EV factory to bring back El Nasr Automotive – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Egypt’s Minister of Public Enterprises Sector, Hesham Tawfik, announced during a meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli that coordination with the second largest electric vehicle (EV) company in China is underway as an Egyptian delegation is scheduled to visit the company’s headquarters in China soon.</span></p>

During the visit, the two sides are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to establish an EV factory in partnership with El Nasr Automotive company, with the aim of localising the industry in Egypt.

The Ministry Public Enterprises Sector is trying to revive El Nasr Automotive and has recently cooperated with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to reach an agreement with an international company to bring back the state-owned automobile company.

Over the last few months, the government has been contacting the largest auto makers around the world and the ministry received some responses from international companies showing an interest in investing in Egypt.

The past period has seen government representatives negotiating with about six international companies, while delegations from those companies have visited El Nasr’s factory.

Tawfik told Daily News Egypt that the main objective of the planned factory is the localisation of the automotive industry in Egypt to export 50,000 cars annually, with a local component of up to 46%, to follow the Moroccan experience, which will restore the Egyptian automotive sector’s leading position in the international market.

Tawfik earlier said the Egyptian market has 12 car producers, but their work is limited to assembly only. He noted that the local component ratio in these products is only 17%, which is modest and does not commensurate with the Egyptian history in the car making industry. 

The minister pointed out that the local factories import their production inputs to assemble in Egypt and brand them as Egyptian, but, in reality, they are not because an Egyptian-made vehicle must include parts made in Egypt.

He believes that whoever invests in El Nasr Automotive will get many incentives from the government, explaining that the investor, to be selected, will be an assembler too, but will ensure 46% local components. 

Tawfik also stressed that any attempt to inaugurate a car factory on the same level of quality and efficiency of El Nasr Automotive will not come in useful because the plant is on an area of 900,000 sqm and with huge potential and equipment, starting from buildings, paint workshops, and production lines that are all there and would not need any funds to be built.

Tawfik ruled out branding the vehicles with El Nasr logo, since the main objective will be exporting, but if accepted by the foreign investor; the brand could be used to market the products locally. 

El Nasr had ceased production in 2009 and officials began to liquidate it, but that liquidation ceased altogether in 2015. Thoughts of reviving the factory emerged in the middle of last year.

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Women in Morocco : An Appraisal of their Current Status

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Rabat –  These changes include the ratification of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women) in 1993,

the reformation of the Moudawwana in 2004, constitutional changes for gender equality in 2011, and as well as countless others.

While women are guaranteed more rights in a legal sense, there has arguablybeen minimal progress within their day-to-day lives. Reasons for this disconnect are active resistance, lack of awareness, and the patriarchal stronghold within the country.

This work will explore the positive aspects and limitations of a few of the legal changes in Morocco that shape the status of women within the country.

Changes to the family law, Moudouwwana

The changes to the Moudawwana in 2004 were extensive and progressive. Among the most significant were: raising the minimum age for marriage to 18, permitting a wife to divorce her husband for domestic violence, abandonment, abstinence, or not following a condition in their marriage contract. The changes also allowed spouses to inherit from each other.

The reforms also changed the laws relating to men taking multiple wives, a husband can now only marry a second wife with approval from a judge (Human Rights Education Associates). The Moudawwana did not abolish the institution of polygamy but instead implemented a strict set of guidelines.

A judge is able to grant permission to those who want to marry another wife only after they present detailed documentation of their finances, valid,signed consent from their first wife or wives, and proof that all their wives will receive equal treatment.

The reform has successfully reduced the number of polygamous marriages in Morocco. The abolishment of repudiation is an equally important change to the family code. A husband is no longer entitled to divorce his wife through repudiation and women are able to file for divorce for the reasons listed above.

The changes in 2011 to the constitution include Article 19 stating, “men and women have equal civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights and freedoms” and “the state shall work towards the establishment of parity between men and women. »

Morocco’s parliament recently reealed a penal code that allowed rapists to escape prosecution by marrying their victims. The change came two years after sixteen-year-old Amina al-Filali committed suicide after being forced, by her parents and a judge, to marry her rapist. Subsequently, Article 475 of the penal code became the subject of international debate and placed Morocco under intense scrutiny, forcing the country to make a change, albeit a particularly slow one.

These changes are all significant strides for women’s rights in Morocco, but still leave much to be desired in terms of their implementation and reforms that were not made.

Inheritance law dilemma

The laws of inheritance have been a growing, contentious issue in the Muslim world.

The traditional laws derived from the Qur’an were preserved in the most recent Moudawwana of Morocco.

Changes to the inheritance laws have faced fierce resistance because of their specificity in the Qur’an.

Read Also: Ivanka Trump Praises Moroccan Efforts in Ensuring Equality in Inheritance

The sacredness of the words make them nearly impossible to question, but this has not stopped Moroccan feminists from trying to create a dialogue and implement change. Saida Kouzzi argues : “This law of inheritance was based on the fact that men were the head of the households, which is not the case anymore as many women are the ones who provide for the family or at least contribute in a significant manner.”

Moroccan society does not function exactly as Islam dictates. Men do not always provide for the women in their families, as they should; more frequently, women have no relations with men and/or have an independent source of income. Families have been working around the law by leaving their property in the name of their children, especially the girls.

Ultimately, if any changes to the inheritance laws are to be made, the religious and conservative sides of Morocco must be appealed to.

Aida Alami asserts that the argument for change needs to include the fact that Islam is based on the concept of justice and thus there must be room to reinterpret the texts to be in line with the idea of justice.

While many feminists, amongst other citizens, strongly desire, or are open to, consider changes to laws of inheritance, many Muslims reject the reform because of a desire to preserve tradition and follow the Qur’an’s clear orders.

Muslims in the country opposed to the reform most certainly include women, even when the current laws have detrimental effects on them.

This kind of understanding can also be applied when considering the legality of marital rape.

It is not illegal or recognized as a crime in Morocco. Fatima Mernissi outlines the Islamic understanding that the only legitimate sexual intercourse occurs between married people, that marriage guarantees sexual satisfaction for both husband and wife, and that men and women are penalized for failing to provide sexual services to each other.

This framework dictating the nature of sexual relationships within marriages exists to prevent zina or illicit sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

Those who are most likely to engage in zina are sexually frustrated individuals, who are considered dangerous to members of the Muslim community (Fatima Mernissi). With this in mind, it may be hard for some individuals to understand a woman’s refusal to engage in sexual intercourse with her husband to the extent that they would consider sex, while she refuses, as rape.

There is in fact an understanding that the man is entitled to withhold  material goods from his wife if she refuses his sexual advances (Fatima Mernissi).

In an ideal world, husband and wife would happily engage in a sexual relationship with each other, but unfortunately, this is not always the case and the law must reflect this inconsistency. There is a long road ahead in Morocco for changing social attitudes and creating an atmosphere of open mindedness for reinterpretation of holy Islamic texts in order to legally guarantee women’s rights.

Resistance to reforms

To further understand resistance to reforms in the name of women’s rights, one must

consider the history of the feminist movement in Morocco. Moroccan feminism grew out of the wealthy and urban ranks of women from Fez. These women all had fathers who were members of the Istiqlal party, which viewed women’s progression as a way to progress society at large.

The advancement of women thus became a necessary stepping-stone towards modernization. For example, Hassan Ouazzani called for equitable inheritance laws because he viewed them as a necessary step towards establishing a “modern egalitarian society” not because the current laws are harmful to women.

This notion of women’s rights for the sake of progress became problematic in the imaginary of many Moroccans, especially when considering their relatively newfound independence from various colonial powers.

During and after the French protectorate period in Morocco, there was a rejection of western influence and change. This resistance to western ideals is one of the motivating factors, which delayed and prevents necessary changes in Morocco.

Preservation of the patriarchal society

Preservation of the patriarchal society is often enforced, not only by the average citizens

of Morocco, but also by those in power. According to a data report from 2010 by the Justice

Ministry, in 90% of cases, judges have granted permission for the marriage of minors. This is six years after the changes in the Moudawwana. Some may find a way around the law while others  may genuinely not be aware of the amendments.

This issue extends to various other legal changes that the judges and people either refuse to enforce or remain ignorant of. According to Noureddin ELKhayaty, implementing the reforms throughout Morocco has proven to be a difficult challenge.

Leadership Féminin conducted a study which revealed that 87% of women in six different rural areas of Morocco were unaware of the changes to the Moudawwana (Fatima Mernissi).

Rural areas where men’s, and especially women’s, illiteracy rates are high are less likely to be aware of the changes. As a side note, even women who are aware of the changes in the law may still refrain from invoking their rights or reporting crimes against them for fear of various social consequences or lack of resources.

Read Also: The Moroccan Family Law: Is Equality a Privilege or Priority?

Depending on one’s location and literacy level, some citizens, especially those that live in rural communities, may not be aware of the new laws and their new rights. Laws specific to marriage in the Moudawwana are particularly questionable in their effectiveness because rural communities do not always have access to court systems and legal contracts.

Final word

The most recent legal changes in Morocco in the Moudawwana and constitution are helping build a framework for protecting women’s rights, but more steps should be taken in order for the changes to be effective in everyday life.

While changes to laws are extremely important, implementation and awareness of these changes is vital to their success. While women’s rights in Morocco have made significant gains in a legal sense, there is still work to do to achieve justice for women in everyday life.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial views.

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Egypt

Experts believe Egypt can localise freight transport trucks, railway carriages industries – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">Egypt’s automotive sector has been going through a massive transformation recently, as the government started various initiatives aiming to boost the local industry. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi also recommended continuing efforts to shift from assembly to manufacturing and to localise the freight transport and trucking manufacturing in Egypt in cooperation with major international companies.</span></p>

Deputy Head of the Chamber of Engineering Industries (CEI) affiliated to the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), Abdel Moneim El-Kady, said that domestic manufacturing of trucks in Egypt is not a hard task, given that Egypt is fully qualified to manufacture trucks instead of assembling them.

He added that the railway carriage industry is also similar to the manufacture of passenger cars and trucks, because of the similar components used such as glass, seats, brakes and other components.

El-Kady explained that the percentage of the local component within the trucks may reach 45%, due to the decisions of Amr Nassar, Minister of Industry and Trade, up from the 40% local components currently.

Furthermore, he said that car manufacturing could save Egypt a lot of foreign currency and increase the labour force.

He expressed optimism about the development of feeder industries in Egypt once these incentives are implemented, with the support of the political leadership and its orientation to the localisation of the car, trucks and railway carriages industries, which may attract many investors to start manufacturing operations in Egypt.

Initiatives recently launched by some global auto manufacturers to assemble their car locally, such as Mercedes Benz, MG, BMW and SEAT, is an indicator of the success of President Abdel Fattah’s Al-Sisi plan to localise the industry.

For his part, Chairperson of the Egyptian Auto Feeders Association (EAFA), Ali Tawfik, divided the freight vehicles into four categories starting with small vehicles that can carry weights ranging from 0.5 tonnes to 1 tonne.

The second category freight vehicles that can transport loads of 1.5 tonnes to 4 tonnes such as semi-trucks, and pickups. These two categories are easy to manufacture inside Egypt, due to the availability of feeder industries, which include seats, chassis, fenders and doors by up to 70%. This is mainly driven by their lack of luxury equipment, unlike passenger cars.

The third category has a capacity of 4 tonnes to 10 tonnes. This category is scarce in Egypt, as they are not in high demand, thus their local manufacturing would be largely useless. However,  specialised trucks are still manufactured in Egypt, such as concrete mixers, buses, and petrol trucks, and they have added value.

Tawfik pointed out that the fourth category includes electric trucks, where the state is in talks with a German company to manufacture an electric tram, besides, there several discussions with Asian companies to help them manufacture electric vehicles in Egypt.

He added that military production plants also aim to produce electric buses, as there is already a company affiliated to the Arab Organization for Industrialization called “Semat” working in the manufacture of rail carriages.

However, Tawfik said it is difficult to manufacture the locomotive itself in Egypt because it requires a large amount of steel, electricity and equipment that is not available.

Moreover, Omar Balbaa, the head of the automotive division of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, agreed that Egypt has a strong infrastructure, that would allow the country to establish freight transport trucks, railway carriages.

He added that manufacturing volume in the near term would only be limited to the domestic market until the industry matures. He explained that the localisation of the auto industry would also create new jobs, and attract investors.

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Morocco

Ministry of Health Refutes Numbeo’s Ranking on Morocco’s Health Care System

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Rabat – The Ministry of Health has refuted the findings of a report issued by database website numbeo. The online ranking lists Morocco’s healthcare system last on a list of 89 countries.

The ministry issued a  statement  on Wednesday, August 21, emphasizing that the report lacks “scientific accuracy and the standards adopted by international organizations and competent authorities in the preparation of such reports.”

“The data on which the countries were classified, including Morocco, lack scientific and objective accuracy and cannot be scientifically adopted to assess the level of health care at the national level,” added the ministry.

The Ministry emphasized that the methodology used in the report also lacks credibility and does not meet the standards of organizations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report, according to the ministry, is based on incorrect data and “not statistically represented to assess the national health system.”

The Ministry also advised Moroccan news outlets against “inaccurate data and false reports “ by Numbeo. The ministry added that Numbeo is not affiliated with any international accredited institution for health statistics.

The ministry concluded its statement by emphasizing the important “progress of health care, despite some constraints.” 

The ministry added that the progress enabled Morocco to achieve important results in several areas, including the reduction of maternal mortality by 35% and children under five by 28 % between 2011 and 2018.

Numbeo’s findings are based on a survey made through the contribution of  only 125 people. The narrow test group calls the survey’s reliability and accuracy into question.

While Morocco acknowledges challenges in the health sector, several reports listed Morocco higher than a number of Arab and African countries, including the Health Assessment Questionnaire without Disability Index in 2018. The index ranked Morocco in 112th place ahead of Paraguay, Nigeria and South Africa.

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Egypt

Will octane 87 replace octane 80 in Egyptian petrol stations in November? – Daily News Egypt

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                            <p class="p1"><span class="s1">News regarding a study to introduce octane 87 petrol in the Egyptian market as an alternative for octane 80 petrol stirred controversy. Some experts believe that if the octane 87 petrol came with a high price tag, it will reflect on the transportation costs in Egypt, including taxis and mass transit vehicles such as minibuses. </span></p>

Moreover, the possible hike in transpiration costs could also impact the prices of goods and products, since some freight transport vehicles also use octane 80 petrol, which ultimately will raise the prices of products reaching the end consumer.

Daily News Egypt dug into the matter, to find out the views, and opinions of automotive experts to find out how would the introduction of octane 87 petrol affect the Egyptian market, and whether this would happen in November. 

Hossam Arafat, head of the General Division of Petroleum Products at the Chambers of Commerce, denied what has been recently circulating regarding the Ministry of Petroleum plans to launch the octane 87 petrol in November. He explained that the Ministry of Petroleum has put forward that decision two years ago, but it is still under discussion.

In terms of benefits, Arafat explained that there are several advantages to the octane 87 petrol, for example, it reduces the rates of air pollution and reducing the percentage of lead oxides in the air.

Although octane 80 petrol is cheaper, it is also less efficient for car engines, and octane 87 petrol would significantly raise engine efficiency, he added. “For example, 20 litres of the octane 80 petrol would be consumed in 200 kilometres distance, while 20 litres of octane 87 petrol allows the car to move for 250 kilometres,” Arafat elaborated.

He ruled out the possibility of damage if cars used octane 87 instead of octane 92, as the difference between the two categories is only five degrees, which does not cause any damage. Arafat said that it is likely that the octane 87 would attract a large segment of car users who drive 2010 models due to the economic saving that would result from switching to it instead of octane 92.

On the other hand, Gamal Askar, a vehicles and roadway systems expert, said that octane 87petrol is an ideal alternative to octane 80, as the latter has some additives to improve its properties to reduce chemical reactions that occur inside car engines, which causes exhausts that result in severe air pollution, and negatively impact engine structure. He said that he hopes that the new petrol segment would be suitable for low-income customers to ensure its full benefits.

Askar added that octane 87 petrol would be an ideal alternative for small cars because it will preserve the components of the engine. However, he advised against using it in cars that use octane 92 petrol, as it would cause damage to the internal engine parts.

According to Askar, the fuel consumption of the car is reduced by a very small rate with the use of octane 87 petrol instead of octane 80 petrol.

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