Phil Leech


Source: Middle East Monitor

Climate change could become a “catastrophic” threat to global security, as people lose their livelihoods, fall ill and battle over scarce water and food, a host of US security, military and intelligence experts warned on Monday, Reuters reports.

Pressures from global warming could intensify political tensions, unrest and conflict, fuel violent extremism and break down government security systems, the experts said in a report by the Center of Climate and Security, a nonpartisan policy institute.

War-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East were cited as most at risk, but industrialized regions are vulnerable, it said.

“Even at scenarios of low warming, each region of the world will face severe risks to national and global security in the next three decades,” the report said.

“Higher levels of warming will pose catastrophic, and likely irreversible, global security risks over the course of the 21st century.”

Concerns over the impact of climate change have led to calls to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of global warming amid instances of climate-related extreme weather such as wildfires and floods.

A United Nations report last year warned of dire consequences as well.

The research released on Monday warned of displaced populations driven from

Source: Middle East Monitor

Israel has closed the Erez crossing located in the north of the besieged Gaza Strip, local media reported yesterday.

“The Erez crossing will be closed until a further announcement,” the Coordinator of Israeli Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Kamil Abu Rukun, was quoted by local media as saying. He added that the

He added that the fishing area in Gaza would be reduced by “6 nautical miles.”

The Israeli move came in following a recent missile attack that was reported to have been fired from the occupied strip into Israel.

Read: Iraq confirms first case of coronavirus

The head of Gaza’s fishermen union, Nizar Ayyash, told Anadolu Agency that the Israeli authorities had ordered a “reduction in the enclave’s fishing area from 15 nautical miles to 6 miles.”

On Sunday, the Israeli army said it had detected fired rockets from Gaza infiltrating the borders.

The Al-Quds Brigades – the armed wing of Islamic Jihad – later claimed responsibility for the firings. It said the missile attacks were in retaliation to recent attacks by Israel on the Gaza Strip and Syria, both of which left 3 of its members dead.

Source: Middle East Monitor

Egyptian intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, yesterday kicked off a tour around the Arab North African countries, including the eastern region in Libya, led by the rebel general Khalifa Haftar, to discuss “limiting the Turkish role in the region.”

Local sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Kamel’s tour was aiming at discussing “intelligence cooperation among North African government” and ways “to confront terrorism in the region.”

Relations with Turkey have strained recently after Ankara has said it would establish a military base to support the Tripoli-based UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez Al-Sarraj.

Read: Saudi, Egypt, Bahrain to resume Qatar post services despite dispute

On 7 November, Ankara and the GNA reached two separate memorandums of understanding (MoU), one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Since last April, GNA has been fighting against the Haftar-led eastern-based commander army.


Source: Middle East Monitor

Today, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) revealed that the two parties to the Joint 5+5 Military Committee will present a draft permanent ceasefire agreement to Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord, and retired Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, noting that a new meeting will be held between the next month at the headquarters of the international organization in Geneva.

In a statement, the UNSMIL indicated that “the two parties agreed that a draft agreement will be presented for further consultation before the resumption of talks and the accomplishment of the terms of reference and tasks of the sub-committees necessary to implement the desired agreement”, renewing its call for both parties to fully comply with the current truce and stressing the need to protect civilians and their property and vital facilities.

The UN mission noted that the second round of negotiations between the two sides ended yesterday, Sunday, in light of the United Nations efforts to reach a sustainable ceasefire agreement and restore security and stability to the Libyan civilian areas, noting that the work of this committee represents one of the three files that the mission is working on, aside from the economic

Source: Middle East Monitor

Chairman of the Libyan High Council of State, Khaled Al-Mishri has expressed his readiness to participate in the Geneva talks scheduled for 26 February, provided that the forces of retired Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar stop their attacks on the capital, Tripoli.

Al-Mishri added in a press conference, held in Tripoli, on Monday, that the Libyan authorities have called for the suspension of political talks, pending the progress of the United Nations in the military talks on Libya.

He pointed to the lack of any progress in the discussions of the 5 + 5 Military Committee in Geneva, noting that “Haftar continued his attacks on Tripoli even after he announced his adherence to a cease-fire in Moscow, and he even escalated the intensity of the offensive afterwards.”

He continued: “We have a positive view towards the calls to participate in the Geneva talks, but before that the aggressors must withdraw their armed forces. We will not start the talks as long as no progress has been made regarding the ceasefire.”

On Saturday, the High Council of State announced in a statement, the suspension of its participation in the Geneva political talks scheduled for 26 February.

Read: Italy arrests ship’s captain over alleged Libya arms trafficking

According to the statement, “the Council members voted unanimously not to participate in the Geneva talks until several factors were available.”

The statement indicated that the most important of these factors is “achieving progress on the 5 + 5 military track, and taking into consideration the opinion of the five officers’ delegation, appointed by the Presidential Council to participate in the deliberations of the Military Committee.”

The statement also said that the concerned parties must “commit to the political agreement, as a fundamental and basic reference for any agreement.”

On 3 February, the first round of meetings of the Military Commission in Geneva, which included five members of the government and five others delegated by Haftar forces, started and ended on the eighth of the same month.

The work of this committee is one of the three files that the United Nations is working on, along with the economic and political tracks, to solve the Libyan crisis.

Since 4 April 2019, Haftar forces have launched an offensive to seize Tripoli (West), where the headquarters of the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) is located, amid a dispute between Haftar and Al-Sarraj fights for legitimacy and power.

Source: Middle East Monitor

Syrian regime’s leadership has threatened to respond to any breach on the Syrian airspace, local media reported yesterday.

“The Syrian forces would respond to any infiltration of the country’s airspace and would treat it as external military aggression,” official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted a military source as saying.

On recent remarks by the United States (US) that criticised the return of flights at the Aleppo airport, the Syrian leadership described the statements as “rude.”

The source pointed out that the Syrian air force was ordered: “to respond to any air breaches by the means available.”

On Monday, a Russian airstrike has led to shutting down two hospitals in Aleppo’s countryside. The Russian planes were reported to have launched raids on the cities of Kafr Nabl in the Idlib Governorate and Darat Izza, the villages of Bsanqul, Mseibin, Al-Arbaeen, Al-Rami, Takad and Hass, and the town of Atarib.

Read: UN suggests Turkey border crossing to deliver aid to Syria’s northeast

Backed by heavy Russian airstrikes and aided by pro-Iranian militias, Syrian forces have intensified since the start of the year their campaign to recapture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighbouring Idlib province in the far northwest of Syria where anti-Assad

Source: Middle East Monitor

Egyptian parliament is mulling a bill that aims at granting the country’s president the right to appoint Grand Mufti, local media reported yesterday.

The parliament’s religious and endowment affairs committee head, Osama Al-Abd, along with 60 other lawmakers recently submitted a draft law on the country’s “Al-Azhar Fatwa Global Centre,” which aimed at “granting the President of the Republic of Egypt to choose the country’s Grand Mufti among from three pre-nominated by the Al-Azhar’s senior scholars two months ahead.” The Egyptian Grand Mufti is usually being internally elected in a ballot during a meeting by the Al-Azhar Council of Senior Scholars.

Read: Egypt renews detention of Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath

“The Fatwa house is a religious entity, with a legal personality, affiliated with the Ministry of Justice, and represented in virtue of the Grand Mufti, and it is based on the Islamic Shari’a. The centre must have a high-ranking secretary-general appointed by the current Mufti,” the bill stipulated, according to local media.

“The mufti position could be replaced after reaching the legal age for retirement,” the draft law added, noting that the mufti was being treated “as ministers.”

Source: Middle East Monitor

The English-speaking Emirati Khaleej Times newspaper reported that in the third quarter of 2019, the merger of two local banks caused licensed commercial banks to drop to 59, including 21 national banks and 38 foreign banks.

ADCB merged with Union National Bank in May 2019, as the combined entity took over Al Hilal Bank. The merger left hundreds of employees redundant.

Hundreds of employees from various departments have also percent off in several banks as a way to reduce costs due to slow economic growth.

Read: Bollywood’s first gay romantic comedy banned in UAE

In November 2019, HSBC bank laid off 40 employees in the United Arab Emirates.

Commercial International Bank said last September that it would provide voluntary retirement to employees, and the newspaper reported that this had resulted in the dismissal of 100 employees.

On the other hand, Abu Dhabi Bank laid off hundreds of employees earlier this month, while Emirates NBD, the largest bank in Dubai, cut about 100 jobs.

The newspaper quoted the UAE Central Bank as saying on Saturday that it is closely following up these developments and that it “is continuing its efforts towards settlement in the banking sector and obliging banks in the

Source: Middle East Monitor

An official Israeli channel reported, on Sunday 23 February 2020, that the office of the outgoing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Ministry of Construction and Housing are about to announce in a couple of days bids to build about 1,000 settlement units in Givat Hamatos area (outpost), south of occupied Jerusalem.

Kan channel added that the Jerusalem municipality will issue bids within days, approved by Netanyahu’s office and the Ministry of Housing, to build around 1,000 settlement units in Givat Hamatos.

The channel explained that there is talk about bids that will be implemented in the region in which settlement construction was frozen in 2014, due to the American and German opposition at the time to settlement.

Read: Israeli police kills Palestinian man in Jerusalem

For his part, a senior official in the Jerusalem municipality has confirmed this information, adding to the channel that the difference between the approval of the construction that was frozen in the year 2014, and the approval this time, is that there are bids that will be publicly carried out in the coming days.

Last Thursday, Netanyahu took a tour around the Givat Hamatos area, saying that construction restrictions in the area no longer

Source: Middle East Monitor

Fears mounted on Monday that the coronavirus outbreak in China will grow into a pandemic with disruptive and deadly consequences for countries around the world, after sharp rises in infections in South Korea, Italy and Iran, Reuters reports.

A surge of infections outside mainland China triggered steep falls in Asian share markets and Wall Street stock futures as investors fled to safe havens such as gold. Oil prices tumbled and the Korean won fell to its lowest since August.

“The news flow from the weekend has changed the game somewhat, where the focus is much more on the threat of an outbreak outside of China,” said Chris Weston, head of research at broker Pepperstone.

South Korea’s fourth-largest city Daegu grew increasingly isolated as the number of infections there increased rapidly, with Asiana Airlines and Korean Air suspending flights to the city until March 9 and March 28 respectively.

In Europe, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said he would talk with his European counterparts soon to discuss how best to cope with a possible epidemic in Europe, after Italy reported a third death from the flu-like virus and 150 infections, from just three before Friday.

“Tonight there is no epidemic in France.