Day: September 4, 2015

Dear Donald Trump, Here's The Difference Between Hamas and Hezbollah (Newsweek)

September 4, 2015

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump found himself fumbling questions over his knowledge of Middle Eastern militant groups and their leaders when quizzed on foreign policy in an interview on Thursday, accusing the interviewer of asking him a “gotcha question.”

The interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt saw the magnate fail to identify the commanders-in-chief of a number of militant groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The billionaire presidential contender displayed a lack of knowledge about the Middle East that a leader of the most powerful nation in the world may be expected to deal with in their tenure in the Oval Office but he assured Hewitt that he would know the difference between the two groups “when it’s appropriate.”

“I will know more about it than you know,” he added, in typical Trump fashion. “And believe me, it won’t take me long. Of course I don’t know them. I’ve never met them. I haven’t been, you know, in a position to meet them. If, if they’re still there, which is unlikely in many cases, but if they’re still there, I will know them better than I know you.”

Trump attempted to brush aside his lack of knowledge about the leadership of some of the world’s most notorious terror organizations by claiming that the leaders would not be in their positions when he ascends to the U.S. presidency.

“I’ll tell you honestly, I think by the time we get to office, they’ll all be changed. They’ll be all gone,” he told Hewitt. “I mean, you know, when you’re asking me about who’s running this, this this, that’s not, that is not… I will be so good at the military, your head will spin.”

So what should the real-estate mogul know about these different militant groups if he was to become president, and who are their leaders?

Hamas

A Palestinian Sunni Islamist militant group, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S., EU and Britain, that operates both inside and outside of the Gaza Strip, which it has controlled since 2007 after winning elections in the territory a year before. The movement was founded in 1987 at the onset of the first Palestinian intifada (uprising). Khaled Meshaal is the exiled leader of the group, running its politburo out of the Gulf State of Qatar, which supports Hamas financially. He has led the group since 2004.

Hamas’s political leader within the Gaza Strip is Ismail Haniyeh and the leader of the group’s military wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, is Mohammed Deif, the notorious strategist behind Gaza’s extensive tunnel network who has eluded at least five Israeli assassination attempts since 2002.

Hamas’s worldview is that it is fighting a “resistance” against the state of Israel, its occupation of Palestinian land after the 1967 Six-Day War and its current blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has been imposed on the coastal enclave’s land, sea and air since 2007. The group has fought three conflicts with Israel in the last six years—in 2009, 2012 and 2014.

Israel, however, views the group’s founding principles differently. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year compared the group to ISIS, saying they were both part of the “same poisonous tree” of radical Islam.

Hezbollah

A Lebanese Shiite Islamist militant group and political party which operates in Lebanon but also maintains a presence in Syria. Its military wing is known as the Jihad Council. The group is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its operatives have been present in the Syrian section of the Golan Heights, which borders Israel. This is in stark contrast to Hamas, which opposes Assad’s war against Sunni rebels.

The group’s leader, or secretary-general, is Hassan Nasrallah, who has acted as its leader since 1992. The group’s founding was predominantly influenced by Iran and the Islamic Republic’s Ayatollah Khomeini and was a reaction to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Its focus shifted from ending the Israeli occupation of a strip of territory in southern Lebanon, which it eventually did when Israel withdrew in 2000, to the political arena. While Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah operates as a parliamentary party in Lebanon, with its own radio and TV station. It now holds 12 seats out of 128 in the Lebanese parliament and two ministerial seats in the Lebanese cabinet.

However, the group fought Israel in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which took place in southern Lebanon, northern Israel and the Golan Heights for 33 days until a ceasefire was brokered. The group continues to carry out sporadic attacks against Israel and the Israeli military has also conducted operations to strike southern Lebanon and assassinate key Hezbollah leaders, such as Imad Mugniyah in the Syrian capital, Damascus, in 2009.

Hezbollah is primarily funded by Tehran, who had previously acted as a key backer of Hamas until a split over their positions on the Syrian civil war. Hamas is now seeking a closer relationship with Sunni heavyweight Saudi Arabia.

While both Hamas and Hezbollah hold political and military wings and find themselves in a constant state of conflict with Israel, the nuanced differences between the groups outlined here should assist Trump with his knowledge of Middle Eastern militant groups when the time is “appropriate.”

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hahaشركة الاتصالات الأفغانية أفغان وايرلس تطلق خدمات 3 جي العالية السرعة في إقليم هلمند

September 4, 2015

إطلاق خدمات الإنترنت العالية السرعة في هلمند يمثل أحدث نجاحات أفغان وايرلس لتقديم خدمات اتصالات لاسلكية عالمية المستوى لجميع المدن الأفغانية الرئيسية بحلول نهاية 2015 كابول، أفغانستان، 4 أيلول/سبتمبر، 2015 / — أعلنت شركة الاتصالات الأفغانية اللاسلكية (www.afghan-wireless.com)، وهي أول شركات اتصالات لاسلكية في البلاد ومؤسسة سوق الاتصالات الجوالة الأفغاني والموفرة الرائدة لخدمات الصوت والبيانات […]

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The lost forests of the Middle East (Al Jazeera)

September 4, 2015

September 4, 2015

By John Bell  

Environmental problems across the Middle East contrast harshly with a forgotten past.

With thousands of tonnes of rubbish piling up on the streets and no place to go, Beirut has become a place for political confrontation.

The rubbish created a suffocating stink in the summer heat, resulting in a serious health hazard for millions of residents. When the crisis became insufferable, many Lebanese poured into the streets to demand a better government.

The need for improved politics in Lebanon and the Middle East is an understatement. When a society is unable to take care of such basic necessities as rubbish disposal, its government is either absent or in deep rot.

If the manifold conflicts and widespread poverty aren’t evidence enough that Middle East politics are unconcerned with the common good, the deteriorated state of its environment is.

Regional degradation

Environmental problems, not just in Lebanon but also across the Middle East have become significant, even dire. And it is a harsh contrast with a forgotten past.

Though known today for its vast stretches of desert, the region was home to verdant ecosystems in ancient times.

Few people know that pine and cedar forests once carpeted wide sections of the region, and that the area teemed with large wildlife. It is little known that in the Lebanese port city of Sidon, for example,

hippos and lions

once thrived in green areas long surrendered to a modern urban sprawl now typical in the region.

Other cities have inherited blights stemming from a kind of unmitigated tunnel vision – from Cairo and its epic air pollution, to the labyrinthine concrete edifice of Beirut with its sewage tainted river, to Kuwait City on whose outskirts lies the Boschian desert wasteland where the largest oil spill in history was deliberately set in motion by Saddam Hussein.

Travel further afield, beyond the cities, and you will find evidence of despoiled wilderness.

The denuded coastal mountains of the Levant, once blanketed by mighty cedars, are now mostly eroded slopes, the victims of a blind and ignorant deforestation.

Behind Alexandria, in Egypt, lies Lake Mariout – a formerly idyllic wetland where ancient Egyptians once fished or met in romantic trysts.

That lake is now a chemical dump with an unearthly mercurial pinkish glow that screams toxicity. Yet, today, millions live near its poisoned waters.

The consequences of this environmental neglect are significant.

Respiratory and other chronic ailments run rampant. The region’s cities, where nature has been stripped bare, have contributed to fashioning a human being who is tense, nervous, and aggressive.

Living in a modern Middle Eastern city, one is subject to a kind of cabin fever – especially in the extreme heat of summer.

High population densities combined with anxiety and a lack of good sleep due to the heat, encourage aggression and conflict – the propensity for wars in the Middle East over summer months is often attributed to the good weather needed to wage military campaigns, but the increased tensions of summer city life may also be implicated.


RELATED: Protests in Lebanon reflect the disease not the cure


Extreme summer heat in Baghdad, combined with a lack of sufficient electricity, has triggered political demonstrations demanding an end to corruption.

The quality of life in cities in the Arab world stands in stark contrast with another way of life, one more grounded and respectful of nature.

Indigenous examples

For as long as Middle Eastern cities have stood, the indigenous First Nations living on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, in Canada, have existed in close symbiosis with nature – the great temperate rainforest and the ocean that adjoins it. A healthy ecosystem was, and still is, considered crucial to their cultural identity and physical survival.

There, indigenous groups like the Haida, Gitga’at and Kitasoo-Xai’xais are making a concerted effort to remain in tune with nature – and resist the predations of the modern economy that can threaten it.

For most of them, unlike corporations, the environment is not something to be traded off wholesale for material gain.

The Lax Kw’alaams band, living near the city of Prince Rupert, have rejected over $750m in return for allowing the construction of a natural gas export terminal on ecologically sensitive ancestral lands.

Other groups, armed with traditional ecological knowledge, are acting independently of the governments and the industrial interests in their midst, to determine their own policies.

The Heiltsuk First Nation is working to protect its waters from overfishing – safeguarding culturally important food sources also deemed crucial to the livelihood of the ecosystem.

Every summer, young people in the community are taught ecology and stewardship practises, including harvesting medicinal plants.


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The Heiltsuk and their neighbours, in partnership with scientists, are also doing their own wildlife surveys – independent of the government whose work is marred by bureaucracy and politics.

However, First Nations and their allies in British Columbia still face challenges. Controversial plans are afoot to build lengthy pipelines to the coast where fossil fuels will be shipped in supertankers to Asia through the narrow, rocky and often turbulent channels of the rainforest.

The care for nature shown by British Columbia’s Coastal First Nations is something seemingly foreign in the urbanised, global capitalist culture that has taken root in the last few centuries.

Although heir to a powerful cultural heritage, the Middle East has slid thoughtlessly into the current of exploitative capitalism and rampant consumption, often without the mitigating trends now present in the West. The region’s environment and quality of life are the inevitable victims.

Learning from others

Although its terrain and nature is vastly different than that of British Columbia, the principles of respect for nature, and priority for sustainability that First Nations practise, are relevant to the people of the Middle East.

From those principles can come many solutions to the ill rivers and urban congestion of the region.

We can’t start over, but we can try to learn how to better formulate urban and economic policy with nature and the environment directly in mind.

This is already happening in some places. But as we infringe on the last of the truly wild places, Canada – and the wider world – would also do well to learn from the Middle East’s long history of resource depletion and environmental degradation.

The Middle East, in turn, can learn from the first peoples of the British Columbia who practise a way of life that is sustainable and respectful of the environment – because they know their culture and livelihoods depend upon it.

Hippos and lions will not return to Sidon, but a deeper appreciation of nature, and the calmer, healthier and more content life that comes with it, may.

John Bell is director of the Middle East programme at the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Madrid. He is a former UN and Canadian diplomat and served as political adviser to the personal representative of the UN secretary-general for southern Lebanon and adviser to the Canadian government.

John Zada is a freelance journalist based in Toronto.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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Will Boeing, Airbus Get Grounded By Emerging Markets? (Investor's Business Daily)

September 4, 2015

September 4, 2015

By VANCE CARIAGA  
INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY

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Exposure to emerging markets that don’t include China and the Middle East could pose big risks to aircraft manufacturers Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Airbus (OTCPK: EADSY), as both companies face the prospect of fewer orders somewhere down the road.

RBC Capital Markets analysts Steven Cahall and Robert Stallard estimate that 17% of Boeing’s backlog is exposed to non-Chinese or Middle East emerging markets, including airlines based in Indonesia, Africa and Turkey. This figure excludes additional exposure via leasing firms or in the form of orders from undisclosed customers.

RBC calculates that 36% of Airbus’ backlog is exposed to non-Chinese or Middle East emerging markets, including airlines based in Indonesia, Columbia, Malaysia and Turkey. This figure also excludes additional exposure via leasing companies or orders from undisclosed customers.

The analysts note that fallout from China’s economic slowdown “continues to ripple around the globe,” with a “particularly negative impact” in emerging markets that benefited from the China boom.

The “double whammy” of negative economic developments and foreign exchange pressures increases the chance that both Boeing and Airbus “will see an increase in deferrals and cancellations from emerging market airlines,” Cahall and Stallard wrote in a report.

This in turn “calls into question” the two plane manufacturers’ plans for further rate increases, they added.

The impact might be awhile coming, however. RBC notes that “even if we start to see deferrals picking up into the year end, we see limited if any impact” on the 2016 delivery outlook for both Boeing and Airbus.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Thursday that Boeing’s net orders for the 747 jumbo jet “have fallen to zero” after Nippon Cargo Airlines dumped its $1.5 billion order for four freighters.

Boeing’s stock price closed down 1% on the stock market today after finishing the previous two sessions in positive territory. The company has an IBD Composite Rating of 80. Airbus shares lost 2.7%.

Other big stocks in IBD’s Aerospace/Defense group include Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) and Raytheon (NYSE: RTN).

Lockheed Martin’s stock price ended down 1.3% Friday. General Dynamics and Raytheon both lost 1.6%.

Follow Vance Cariaga on Twitter: @IBD_VCariaga.

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