120 Fatah leaders return to Gaza soon

120 Fatah leaders return to Gaza soon

PM Haniyeh said his government would allow 120 members of the rival Fatah movement to return to Gaza.

Gaza Strip Premier Ismail Haniyeh on Monday said his government would allow 120 members of the rival Fatah movement to return to the embattled Palestinian enclave.

In an interview with the local Al-Kitab television channel, Haniyeh said the decision was aimed at expediting Palestinian reconciliation.

More than 400 Fatah members and leaders left Gaza in 2007 after violence erupted between the movement, to which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas belongs, and Hamas, which won Palestinian legislative elections in early 2006.

Hamas forces eventually routed troops loyal to Fatah and seized control of the coastal strip.

On Monday, Haniyeh said his government would forge ahead with reconciliation efforts, adding that all the measures recently adopted by his government served to confirm this.

He stressed that reconciliation must be based on consensus regarding the need to support resistance against Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian land.

Earlier this month, Haniyeh declared that 2014 would be “the year of Palestinian reconciliation,” adding that all Fatah members who fled the strip in 2007 were welcome to return – with the exception of those charged with wrongdoing.

The prime minister also said that Gaza’s Interior Ministry would release Fatah members arrested earlier on political charges, while stressing that the number of such prisoners was minimal.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Palestinian civil society to Oxfam: “match words with action”, break ties with Scarlett Johansson

Occupied Palestine, January 27 – The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, including trade unions, political parties, popular committees and NGOs, calls on Oxfam to immediately sever ties with Hollywood actor Scarlett Johansson over her vocal support for illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

SodaStream markets itself as environmentally friendly, but this hides an ugly truth: the company is a colonial enterprise with its main production facility located in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a war crime.

Johansson’s defense of her public relations role with occupation profiteer SodaStream undermines Oxfam’s stated opposition to economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements. Oxfam cannot credibly oppose illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT, describing them as a root cause for poverty among Palestinians, while maintaining as an ambassador somebody who has deemed it appropriate to describe the establishment of an Israeli settlement factory on land from which Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed as a form of “economic cooperation”.

Oxfam has said in a statement that it is in “dialogue” with Johansson over her SodaStream promotion deal. However it has become increasingly clear that this “dialogue” has not yielded positive results and Johansson’s position has been made crystal clear.

We rebuke Johansson’s condescending remarks that SodaStream is “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine”. This position seems to come directly from the company’s propaganda textbook and has been consistently refuted by Palestinians. It is not for Johansson to lecture Palestinians on what is good for them. Palestinians are not employed in Israeli settlements as a matter of freewill; they are subjects to a captive economy, which settlements have been a key component in decimating, and they have largely lost their lands and sources of income due to Israel’s occupation and colonization.

Palestinian trade unions and civil society organisations have consistently rejected any suggestion that the oppressive reality of living under a brutal occupation — sometimes leaving Palestinians with no choice but to export fresh produce through complicit Israeli companies or work in illegal settlements — is a reason not to take action to end international complicity in human rights violations. Moreover, Palestinian workers employed by SodaStream have explained that they face systematic discrimination and are “treated like slaves”.

SodaStream is a key beneficiary of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and of the denial of self-determination to Palestinians. The company benefits from government subsidies and tax-breaks established to encourage businesses to operate in Israeli settlements, allowing them to become viable and flourish.

The land on which SodaStream’s factory operates was forcefully taken from Palestinians. According to Oxfam, the Israeli army forcefully expelled 200 Palestinian families from their homes to make space for the construction of Maale Adumim in the early 1990s. Israel has recently announced a plan to expel another 2,300 Palestinians to make way for the settlement’s growth, stealing more Palestinian land. SodaStream and other companies that operate in illegal Israeli settlements are very much part and parcel of this system of oppression.

In recent days this issue attracted an enormous amount of controversy in the international press as well as in social media with Oxfam being a focus of attention. As a coalition that includes many of Oxfam’s longstanding partners, we contend that there is a clear choice to be made between celebrity and principle. A refusal to part ways with Johansson will tarnish the charity’s credibility among Palestinians and many people of conscience around the world. Oxfam has consistently opposed illegal Israeli settlements and recently made a call to the European Union to “match words with action”. Oxfam must now heed its own advice and do the same.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Egyptian Repression and the Gaza Strip

The Egyptian military regime’s quashing of opposition ought to be of concern on several counts. It is, first and most obviously, a setback for democracy. Michele Dunne and Thomas Carothers aptly note that it is misnomer to talk about “Egypt’s transition to democracy” because there is no such transition taking place right now.

Then there is the upsurge in extremist violence that naturally results whenever peaceful channels for pursuing political interests are closed. It was easy to predict that the opposition-quashing policies of the Egyptian junta would mean a subsequent increase in terrorism. We have been seeing lately not just an increase in terrorism but what would qualify as a wave of it. Such terrorism has implications beyond Egypt’s borders. We should recall that the current leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, won his terrorist spurs as a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad attempting to overthrow the government of Hosni Mubarak.

There is another, more specific, respect in which internal repression in Egypt is having malevolent effects outside Egypt. Within Egypt the generals are clearly obsessed with attempting to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood as a political force, however unsuccessful that attempt may ultimately prove to be. Next door in the Gaza Strip the dominant political element is Hamas. Hamas began as the Palestinian version of the Muslim Brotherhood. As such, it has also become a target of the Egyptian generals’ wrath. The result has been Egypt’s closing of its border with Gaza, including the underground tunnels that have been an economic lifeline for the Strip. This means returning to more stringent implementation of the Israeli-instigated policy of trying to strangle Hamas by turning the Gaza Strip into a blockaded open-air prison.

That is a bad development in several respects. It is, first of all, simply wrong to subject an entire population to hardship in order to try to undermine a particular party or movement. It is doubly wrong when, as years of experience with the Israeli policy (tacitly supported for a long time by the Mubarak government) demonstrate, the attempt to strangle Hamas to death is unlikely to succeed.

There also is, again, an encouragement of extremist violence. A Hamas under pressure is less, not more, likely to contain such violence. Hamas still evidently sees advantages in maintaining a cease fire between itself and Israel, but it apparently it is now making less effort than before to check the activities of more extreme groups such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. That in turn has implications for Israelis suffering casualties, the danger of a bigger eruption of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, and further diminution of the chances of success for the U.S.-sponsored peace effort.

Democratization is sometimes thought of as being in tension with other interests that require cooperation with an existing undemocratic regime. Egypt has often been thought of this way, with reference to such interests as military access and preferred passage through the Suez Canal. But that is the wrong way to look at what is going on today in Egypt. Damage to democracy there is also damaging other U.S. equities. As Dunne and Carothers observe, “Unlike in some countries where U.S. interests pull in conflicting directions, the achievement of democracy in Egypt would advance the critical U.S. security interest in longer-term stability as well as peace with Israel and would help to contain violent extremism.”

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Israel demolishes 4 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem

A woman from the Idriss family is comforted by a relative as they watch Israeli diggers demolish their house in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of east Jerusalem, Jan. 27.
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli authorities on Monday demolished four Palestinian homes in annexed East Jerusalem that had been built without construction permits, police and residents said.

A total of 20 people lived in the four buildings, two of them located in the al-Isawiya neighborhood and two in Beit Hanina, occupants told AFP.

They had been served demolition orders because they did not have the necessary construction permits, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

She added the demolitions went ahead without incident.

Earlier, a local committee official told Ma’an that Israeli forces escorted bulldozers to the al-Isawiya neighborhood at around 6 a.m. and demolished a three-floor building belonging to Abdul-Hayy Dari.

In 2013, Israel destroyed 99 buildings in annexed East Jerusalem, leaving 298 people homeless, according to United Nations humanitarian affairs agency OCHA.

Palestinians and human rights groups in the city say Israel rarely grants the permits, forcing residents to build homes without them.

A man looks for salvageable items amid the rubble of a house demolished by Israeli authorities in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of east Jerusalem, on January 27, 2014.
(Source / 27.01.2014)

Bahrain: Death of young detainee shot in head must be investigated


Fadel Abbas was shot by security forces as he tried to visit a recently released prisoner in the village of Markh.Fadel Abbas was shot by security forces as he tried to visit a recently released prisoner in the village of Markh.

Bahrain’s authorities must come clean and open a full, independent investigation to establish the truth about the death of Fadel Abbas. Those responsible for his death must be held to account.

Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

The Bahraini authorities must immediately investigate the death in custody of a 19-year-old boy who was shot in the head by security forces, said Amnesty International.

“Bahrain’s authorities must come clean and open a full, independent investigation to establish the truth about the death of Fadel Abbas. Those responsible for his death must be held to account,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“The conflicting information that has emerged over the version of events that led to his death makes such an investigation even more urgent.”

Fadel Abbas was wounded when security forces tried to arrest him and others as they went to visit a recently released prisoner in the village of Markh.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement on 26 January that Fadel Abbas had died of his wounds after he was shot on 8 January when he “purposefully” drove a car into members of the security forces as he attempted to escape arrest for smuggling arms and explosives. The Ministry said its forces had acted in self-defence.

Human rights activists, who published pictures of the body of Fadel Abbas, said that he sustained bullet injuries in the head and wounds to the leg during a violent altercation with the security forces.

Fadel Abbas’s family were also not told he had been arrested when they asked police about him after he went missing.

Fadel Abbas’s mother said that the Criminal Investigation Directorate had contacted her on 26 January to inform her of her son’s death. Prior to this the family said they were not given any information about his whereabouts or medical condition and were not allowed to visit him in hospital. The Interior Ministry has stated that Fadel Abbas’s family were allowed access to him on 13 January.

The killing of Fadel Abbas has triggered protests in the village of Diraz, west of the capital Manama where his funeral was held. Police fired tear gas and gunshots as they clashed with protesters after the funeral.

“The latest protests show that there remains a deep lack of trust in information issued by the authorities. Such mistrust is largely due to the authorities’ unwillingness and abject failure so far to adequately address abuses by its security forces and provide justice for those who have died,” said Said Boumedouha.

Since anti-government protests erupted in Bahrain on 14 February 2011, a number of low ranking police officers have been tried over the deadly crackdown on protester. However they have either been acquitted or given sentences that do not match the seriousness of their alleged offences.

The authorities have yet to implement a number of key recommendations made in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report, including carrying out investigations into killings by the security force during the uprising.

Demonstrations have continued to take place regularly outside of Manama calling for human rights and political reform.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Will the Taliban take over in Afghanistan?

John Simpson’s report for The Editors: “Whenever the outside world has ignored Afghanistan, disaster has invariably followed”

Later this year, the last remaining British and American troops will pull out of Afghanistan. Will the Afghans be able to cope or will the Taliban take over? For The Editors, a programme which sets out to ask challenging questions, I decided to find out.

From the end of this year Afghanistan will be on its own. No matter how bad things get, no American or British government will come back to help.

So once the Afghan national forces are left largely to their own devices, will they be able to cope with the challenge? Or will the Taliban win the war, and control Afghanistan as they did from 1996 to 2001?

Most experts think the chances of an outright Taliban victory are slight.

Nowadays the Afghan army and police are an impressive body of men (and to a relatively small extent, of women), who have been thoroughly trained and show a real pride in themselves.

Their equipment is first class and their commanders are selected on the basis of ability.

They are as different from the feeble, unwilling Afghan soldiers and policemen I used to report on 20 years ago as it is possible to imagine.

The Taliban found it relatively easy to beat the mujahideen government and they managed to convince sizeable numbers of uncommitted warlords they were going to win, and won them over to their side.

Today Afghanistan is a different country: there is much more money around, and it seems altogether more advanced.

Corruption is everywhere, especially in government, but no-one who remembers the disastrous years of Taliban rule, when corruption reached new heights, is likely to believe the Taliban will be any better.

Danger of whistling

You only have to be in your 20s to remember what life under the Taliban was like.

If you whistled a tune, or allowed your shalwar kameez to ride up above your ankle, or flew a kite, or played chess, or owned a picture of any living creature, you could be arrested, beaten, or even executed.

The Taliban raided houses, confiscating television sets and video-tapes, and hung them from the lamp-posts as a warning.

It was the most extreme society I have ever seen, anywhere in the world. Iran at its revolutionary height seemed liberal by comparison.

Before they captured Kabul, no one gave the Taliban a serious chance of winning.

The first time I realised they might win was in the early months of 1996, when I was in Kandahar and watched their leader, Mullah Omar, lift the Prophet’s cloak out of a container where it had been kept for more than 1,000 years, and hold it up to show to the huge, adoring crowd.

This time, the Taliban do not show the same kind of intensity.

But they are better organised than they used to be, and they are battle-hardened from fighting the British and Americans. Both armies have real respect for their fighting qualities.

A memorial at the La Taverna du Liban restaurantEarlier this month, 14 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Kabul restaurant

I interviewed their spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahed, over the phone while I was in Afghanistan this time. It was the first full interview he had done for well over a year.

The Americans maintain that Mujahed is not one person, but several; but the man I spoke to remembered that I had interviewed him four years ago, and that an American aircraft had flown over him menacingly while our interview was going on.

Mujahed defended the record of the Taliban when they were in power.

“If you speak to the ordinary people of Afghanistan, if you ask the real representatives of the Afghan people, especially those who are in the villages and remote areas, they will tell you that in Afghanistan there was a sound Islamic emirate government. This system contains guidance for individuals and for society collectively, and it brought positive development,” he told me.

Civil war?

Might there, I asked, be all-out civil war when the British and Americans leave?

“It is not the responsibility of the West to bring peace to Afghanistan and to be concerned about us. They should withdraw their forces from Afghanistan because their presence is the cause of catastrophe… They should put an end to their aggression, and after that the Afghans themselves will know what to do,” he replied.

And what would that be?

It seems to me that if the new president, who will be voted in at the elections in April, is skilful, then he may be able to do a deal with at least some parts of the Taliban.

Those who reject it will continue fighting, but there will be fewer of them.

Muslim women in KabulThese women may be devout Muslims but they do not want the Taliban back in power

As part of the price for the deal, the new president will have to introduce more Islamic practices.

But whether the West likes it or not, the Taliban represent an important element in the make-up of Afghanistan.

If there is to be any kind of peace, it will be impossible to exclude them altogether.

As the withdrawal of British, American and other forces from Afghanistan draws closer, the Taliban and their allies are raising the number of their attacks.

Their aim is clearly to give the impression that they have driven the foreign troops out.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

The misuse of terminology in the Palestinian narrative is a failing coping mechanism

As is typical with the narratives of many indigenous oppressed peoples, the Palestinian narrative is largely orally transmitted. Throughout history, the terminology used by Palestinians in describing the downfalls that were inflicted upon them is reflective of a lack of a full grasping of the actual happenings that were inflicted. Conversely, the expressions used to describe minor victories of the Palestinian resistance, such as a prisoner swap, are usually overly-praised in the context of liberation. The utilization of undermining or glorifying words to record events is an indication that the Palestinian narrative is reported under false pretenses of reality.

I believe the most important example to tackle is the use of the word Nakba to describe the horrific events that befell Palestine in 1948. Nakba is an Arabic word that means ‘catastrophe’, mainly one that is out of human control. The Sumatra earthquake and tsunami would aptly be considered anakba. However, considering that we decided to name the ethnic cleansing, bloodbaths, exile, and all around disorientation that befell us in 1948 a “disaster that was out of human control” suggests that we as Palestinians look for a means to assure us that this calamity was committed not necessarily by ruthless Zionist gangs, but moreso by a supernatural force. This indicates a desire for endurance as well as a general failure to accept our defeats in the name of an ideological power struggle.

The same analysis can be applied to the usage of the term Naksa in describing the downfall that befell Palestine in 1967. A Naksa means ‘setback’, usually used when describing sports players’ injuries. Three Arab armies failing to triumph over the Israeli military resulting in Israel expanding its colonization of territory from Palestine, Egypt, and Syria by a threefold and the seizure of Jerusalem was a much more brutal event to be described merely as a “setback”. The language usage in reporting these disasters inherently undermines these events.

Minor achievements by Palestinian resistance groups are also prone to exploit language to bring about a delusion of victory. This is done by verbally over-exaggerating and glorifying their achievements, a tool typical of political factions to gain the support and recognition of the masses instead of being the means to achieve liberation for the masses. If one were to listen to the propaganda spread by Palestinian political factions expressing their successes, one would be confused as to why Palestine is not yet liberated. This type of exaggeration is dangerous as it wrongly gives the impression that the political situation in Palestine is fine and that all committed fronts are actively working to dissolve the Israeli regime once and for all. The opposite is true. With the expansion of Jewish-only colonies across the West Bank, the continued besiegement of the Gaza Strip, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the mistreatment of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, and the farcical attempt at neoliberal state-building institutions and negotiations being the only response to all this instead of continuous armed resistance, it could safely be said that the situation in Palestine is very far from being fine.

Moreover, the use of the word harb, or war, to describe a retaliation of rockets from the resistance’s side reveals the impression of a two-sided aggression, with both sides equally equipped in combat. Yet the positions of colonizer and colonialist can never be placed on an equivalent spectrum. The language usage tends to glorify combat to make up for all the past defeats, but, as with anything, amplifying such factors has a tendency to reach the point of becoming almost deceitful.

The misuse of terminology in the Palestinian narrative is a collective coping mechanism to withstand the oppressor’s hostility, but it is futile except in perpetuating a delusion of normality. What is needed is to learn to step outside the realm of coping and acknowledge issues head on if we are to strategize an effective way to reach liberation once and for all.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Egypt army cracks down against Sinai militants after helicopter downed

CAIRO (Ma’an) – In response to downing an Egyptian military helicopter by gunmen affiliated to the al-Qaeda inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group in Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, the Egyptian army started new military campaigns using new tactics, according to army sources.

A source told Ma’an in North Sinai that “the army will response toughly to this qualitative development Takfiri groups have made.”

The source highlighted that it’s believed that militant groups in Sinai have recently possessed heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles which can gun down helicopters flying at low altitudes.

These missiles are manufactured in Russia, China and Egypt.

As part of the campaigns, Egyptian forces demolished on Sunday afternoon dozens of hideouts, houses, motorcycles and other vehicles believed to be used by armed groups in Sinai.

The Egyptian army, said the military sources, is trying to target militants who have heat-seeking missiles in Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid cities in North Sinai district.

A missile fired from al-Tuma village near Sheikh Zuweid on Sunday downed an Egyptian military helicopter. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack.

In response, Egyptian forces stormed the village killing one militant and injuring several others. Five injured militants were arrested after they were evacuated secretly to a public hospital in el-Arish.

During the campaign, which started Sunday, Egyptian border guards discovered and demolished six smuggling tunnels under the borders between Rafah city in southern Gaza Strip and the Egyptian Rafah on the other side of the border.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Dardari: Syria crisis taking toll on Lebanon’s economy

A general view shows a shipping container area at the port of Beirut, Nov. 20, 2012. Civil war in Syria is taking its toll on several sectors of the economy of neighboring Lebanon, where exports have tumbled

The economic growth rate in Lebanon would not have exceeded 1% in 2013, “even if a single Syrian refugee had not been displaced to Lebanon, because of the strong economic correlation between the two countries.”

Abdullah Dardari, a senior economist and the director of the Economic Development and Globalization Division (EDGD) at the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), explained to As-Safir, “The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon does not reside in the increasing number of displaced Syrians but rather in the successive losses inflicted on tourism, economic transactions, investments and exports.” Dardari called to mind that the “drop of the economic growth rate at the beginning of 2011 — when the Syrian crisis erupted — came in tandem with a slump in tourism and commercial traffic. In addition, there were decisions prohibiting Gulf citizens from coming to Lebanon. This all took place prior to the flow of large numbers of displaced Syrians into Lebanon.”

The Syrian crisis is taking a toll on Lebanon. The majority of economic indexes are dropping, coupled with negative expectations for 2014-15, according to a UN report issued last week titled “World Economic Situations and Prospects 2014.” On Jan. 24, during a seminar held at the UN House in Beirut, Dardari and Sandra al-Saghir Senno, a consultant for economic affairs at ESCWA, discussed the report with foreign economists.

Given the crisis of displaced Syrians, the decline in the operating ratio, unemployment growing to 29% and the fall in economic growth to 1% in 2013, Dardari does not expect economic growth to exceed 2.1% in 2014-15. …

“This increase in economic growth is considered good under normal circumstances. But is this level sufficient, with the increase of the population in Lebanon by 25% due to the Syrian displacement?” Dardari asked.

Required steps

Despite the fact that the report touches on the economic situation of countries without proposing solutions, Dardari spoke to As-Safir about the steps the new Lebanese government needs to take to try to limit the repercussions of the Syrian crisis as much as possible. These steps include:

  • Adopting policies that reinforce Lebanon’s economic resilience, through enhancing investment in infrastructure.
  • Creating employment opportunities.
  • Launching fiscal and monetary economic stimulus packages, to encourage Lebanese companies to hire Lebanese people.
  • Encouraging Syrian investors to invest in Lebanon, to take advantage of capital as Jordan did. In one economic complex [in Jordan] there are 370 factories funded by Syrian capital.

When it comes to the Syrian workforce flowing into Lebanon, Dardari said, “A comprehensive policy should be set up to take into consideration the needs of the Lebanese labor market and the impact of the Syrian workforce on salaries and prices. Lebanon is in desperate need of a clear vision that works in favor of its economy.”

It did not slip Dardar’s mind to mention that “at some point, the process of rebuilding Syria will be launched. At that time, there will not be any Syrian worker left in Lebanon or Jordan.” He reiterated the “necessity of taking this into consideration, given its impact on the labor market, production costs, exports and the competitiveness of both the Lebanese and Jordanian markets.”

“According to ESCWA studies, Syria will face a workforce shortage when the reconstruction process begins,” Dardari added.

Eight years back

During the seminar, Senno said that as each day of the Syrian crisis passes, the Syrian state’s losses increase by $103 million. The growth rate is pushed eight years back in time with each year the crisis continues, and as every minute of the crisis passes, Syria loses 10 million Syrian pounds ($70,000). Moreover, every minute, 300 people leave their homes, 9,000 people find themselves below the poverty line and 2,500 people are unable to buy their daily bread; 10,000 people lose their jobs every week. A 1% decrease in Syria’s growth rate is reflected in a 0.22% decrease in Lebanon’s growth rate and a 0.32% decrease in Jordan’s [growth rate]. So, if we consider that there is a 31% decrease in the growth rate in Syria, subsequently there will be a decrease of at least 7.5% in Lebanon’s growth rate.

Regarding the Syrian foreign workers and their impact on the Lebanese economy and Lebanese workers, Senno draws attention to the illegal work of these foreign workers, “whose number is hard to count, yet they significantly influence the Lebanese economy in general.”

“The effects of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon cannot be limited to one sector. In fact, all sectors are in the grip of an inevitable crisis, whether it is the tourist or trade sectors, declining investment, the banks and the financial sector, which has been able to protect itself more than any other sector,” Senno added.

In addition to unemployment, which is one of the major results of the Syrian crisis, Dardari draws attention to how dangerous the rising inflation rate is, accompanied by low growth rates. Based on the report, he expected “growth rates in Arab countries to reach more than 4.3% in 2014-15, while growth rates in West Asian countries remain less than 4%, due to the Syrian crisis. These rates are low, because a 3% growth rate is required to keep unemployment rates unchanged, before even considering other economic problems.”

In parallel, he expected “global inflation rates to reach 2.7%, with 6.1% in the Arab world and 5.7% in West Asian countries in 2014-15.”

Halted positive effect

As oil prices are expected to stay at $100 a barrel over the next two years, Gulf countries are predicted to achieve additional economic growth rates, stability and fiscal expansion, especially since the real estate market is improving in the Gulf region. “The middle-income countries used to be positively and negatively affected by the increase of oil prices. The negative effect was the high energy bill and the positive one is the increase of Gulf aid, the rise of investment and increased tourism. Yet, with the Syrian crisis today, high oil prices only generate negative results, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan, where investments are declining,” Dardari explained

In contrast, Dardari noted that the global economic situation has witnessed a significant improvement following years of declining growth rates, especially in the United States, Japan and the eurozone — which overcame a recession — as well as in India and China, which have maintained good economic indicators. Thus, the global economy is expected to grow by 3%-3.3% in 2014-15.

(Source / 27.01.2014)

Palestinian seriously injured by Israeli sniper in Gaza

Gaza, ALRAY – Israeli occupation forces shot and injured a Palestinian citizen at the border line, near Abu Al-Ajeen town in to the east-north of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza Dr. Ashraf al-Qdera told ALRAY, the victim,34, sustained serious injuries in the chest.

He pointed out that the ambulance crew moved the injured to Shohadaa al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah

The Israeli soldiers reinforced their presence at the eastern border of Khanyounis after an explosive device exploded in the morning  between Kissufime and al-Sarig gates , 50 meters to the east of al-Qarara town.

(Source / 27.01.2014)