How a Courier’s Phone Call Led to the Killing of Osama bin Ladin
Slow-paced Normalization between Egypt and Turkey
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1851- May- 07/05/2021
Nadine Njeim: A Lebanese-Tunisian Actress, Model and Beauty Pageant Titleholder A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1851- May- 07/05/2021
The Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Tensions Deescalate, For Now www.majalla.com
A Weekly Political News Magazine
www.majalla.com/eng During his visit to Kiev last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Russia to stop its “reckless and aggressive actions”. Blinken’s meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky aimed at reaffirming “U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” against Russian aggression. Last month, Russia began a significant military buildup in Crimea and at the border with Ukraine, but later in the month, Russian Defense Ministry ordered its troops to return to bases and wrapped up the exercises. In this week’s cover story, Maia Otarashvili writes about Moscow’s involvement in the war as one of the major instruments of influence over Ukraine and the Black Sea region, and as a significant tool for power play in its competition with Europe and NATO. For more than seven years, Turkish-Egyptian relations were severed due to Ankara’s stances against Cairo over the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood. The Turkish government welcomed the ousted group leaders and offered them citizenship, while allowing the group’s media in Turkey to attack the Egyptian President and government. All this changed recently as Ankara is reaching out to Cairo in a recent attempt to break Turkey’s regional isolation and mend ties with major Middle Eastern powers. Jiwan Soz addresses the reasons behind this rapprochement, the Egyptian response to it, and its expected consequences and pace. Although prostitution is on the rise in Iran, the Mullah’s regime is denying that fact in an attempt to whitewash their society’s image instead of tackling the issue at its roots. At a time of widespread world pandemic, Iranian sex workers seems invisible to their government, with poverty and lack of health services at the core of their problems. Fayrouz Ramadan Zada explores the world of sex workers and the official cover given to some of them under the name of temporary marriages, as well as the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases that still lack governmental action. Read these articles and more on our website eng.majalla. com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website.
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A Weekly Political News Magazine
A Weekly Political News Magazine
42 A Book Announces the Death of
Issue 1851- May- 07/05/2021
18 Europe’s Critical Position in
38 In Wake of Covid, Employers Step
up Automation and Use of Robots
52 Stuck in a “Limbo“
46 Historic Jeddah Recovers
Slowly from Covid - 19
Should Egypt’s Ramadan TV Dramas Better Reflect Reality ? 5
56 Protect Your Heart
Reopening of Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan Visitors look at exhibits at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, 04 May 2021. The Pinacoteca di Brera reopened to the public after it was closed because of the restrictions and lockdown measures imposed to fight the spreading of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic -Milan- Italy )EPA Photos(
SpaceX Crew-1 splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is helped out of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship after he, NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, U.S. May 2, 2021, United States )Reuters Photos(
A WEEK IN THE MIDDLE EAST SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia will lift its suspension on citizens travelling abroad and open land, sea and air borders on Monday May 17, the interior ministry said in a statement this week, according to Reuters. Saudi citizens who have received two vaccination shots, or one shot at least two weeks prior to travel, those who have recovered from coronavirus within the last six months and those who are under 18 years old will be allowed to travel, the ministry said. Saudi citizens have largely been barred from travel since March 2020, when the kingdom first banned all travel in and out of the country as COVID-19 began spreading worldwide. Its borders reopened in July 2020 but citizens were still not allowed to travel. In January, authorities postponed the end of the travel ban for the public and the full reopening of entry points to May 17.
EGYPT Egypt and Turkey this week held talks on the conflict in Libya, where they back competing factions, on Syria and the security situation in the eastern Mediterranean, in a push to rebuild their fractured relations. The discussions, held over two days and led by deputy foreign ministers, were the first high-level public talks for years between the two powers, who fell out over issues including opposing positions on political Islam and maritime borders.
LEBANON France's foreign minister carried a message to Lebanese leaders on Thursday that Paris was losing patience with a deadlock in cabinet talks that has worsened the country's economic
YEMEN A bipartisan group of U.S. senators pressed the State Department on Tuesday to push international donors to address a $2.5 billion shortfall in assistance to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Their move underscored continuing concern in Congress about the effects of Arabian Peninsula country's civil war. "Today, nearly 50,000 people in Yemen are living in famine-like conditions with 5 million more just a step away. Unlike in 2018, the international community has so far mostly failed to rise to the challenge and provide the robust funding needed to stave off this catastrophe," the senators wrote in a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and seen by Reuters.
collapse. Paris, which has led aid efforts to its former colony, has sought to ramp up pressure on Lebanon's squabbling politicians, after failed attempts to rally them to agree a new government and launch reforms to unlock foreign cash. Last month, France said it was taking measures to restrict entry for some Lebanese officials for blocking efforts to tackle the unprecedented crisis, which is rooted in decades of state corruption and debt.
JORDAN Jordan detected three cases of the Indian COVID-19 variant in people who had not traveled, the health minister told state-owned Al Mamlaka TV. "Two cases were recorded in Amman and one in Zarqa in people who did not travel, which confirms that the emergence of mutated cases does not necessarily have to come from outside, but rather as a result of specific reproduction," Minister Firas Al-Hawari told Al Mamlaka TV. Jordan recorded on Saturday 704 cases of COVID-19 with 35 deaths, bringing the total cases detected in the kingdom to 712,077 with 8,871 deaths, according to the health ministry.
The United Arab Emirates has extended a ban on entry from travellers coming from India, the foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi said in a statement on its website this week, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Reuters. The statement did not specify a date to lift the suspension, which was first announced on April 22. ”Flights between the two countries will continue to allow the transport of passengers from the UAE to India,” it said.
OMAN Oman will ban the movement of people and vehicles from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. from May 8 until May 15, the state news agency said this week, citing the Supreme Committee for Combating Coronavirus. Oman will also ban commercial activity all day during the same period, except for food stores, gas stations, health institutions, and pharmacies. Delivery services for all goods were also exempt.
ISRAEL France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain urged Israel this week to halt its decision to further building of new settlements in the West Bank, according to Reuters. "We urge the government of Israel to reverse its decision to advance the construction of 540 settlement units in the Har Homa E area of the West Bank, and to cease its policy of settlement expansion across the Occupied Palestinian Territories," the European nations said in a joint statement. "If implemented, the decision to advance settlements in Har Homa, between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, will cause further damage to the prospects for a viable Palestinian State, with Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian State," they said.
A WEEK ACROSS THE WORLD
Facebook Inc’s oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company’s s President Donald Trump but said the company was wrong to make th gave it six months to determine a “proportionate response.” Trump called the decision and his banning across tech platforms "a to companies would "pay a political price." The board’s much-awaited verdict has been watched for signals on ho media company will treat rule-breaking political leaders in the future, for online platforms. The board, created by Facebook to rule on a small slice of its content was right to ban Trump following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capito
INDIA A top scientific adviser to the Indian government warned this week the country would inevitably face further waves of the coronavirus pandemic, as almost 4,000 people died in the space of a day. Reuters reported. With hospitals scrabbling for beds and oxygen in response to a deadly second surge in infections, the World Health Organization said in a weekly report that India accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and a quarter of the deaths. Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for a bed or oxygen, while morgues and crematoriums struggle to deal with a seemingly unstoppable flow of bodies. The government's principal scientific adviser, K.VijayRaghavan, warned that even after infection rates subside the country should be ready for a third wave. "Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus," he told a news briefing. "But it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur... We should prepare for new waves."
IRAN While big gaps remain between Washington and Tehran, there could be an agreement within weeks for both to resume compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if Iranian authorities decide to do so, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday. "Is it possible that we'll see a mutual return to compliance in the next few weeks, or an understanding of a mutual compliance? It's possible yes," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity during a telephone briefing. "Is it likely? Only time will tell, because as I said, this is ultimately a matter of a political decision that needs to be made in Iran," he added. U.S. officials return to Vienna this week for a fourth round of indirect talks with Iran on how to resume compliance with the deal, which former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, prompting Iran to begin violating its terms about a year later.
AFGHANISTAN Afghan security forces fought back a major Taliban offensive in southern Helmand province in the last 24 hours, officials and residents said this week, as militants launched assaults around the country after a missed U.S. deadline to withdraw troops. Although the United States did not meet the May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed in talks with the Taliban last year, its pull-out has begun, with President Joe Biden announcing all troops will be out by Sept. 11. Critics of the decision to withdraw say the Islamist militants will try to sweep back into power. "There was a thunderstorm of heavy weapons and blasts in the city and the sound of small arms was like someone was making popcorn," Mulah Jan, a resident of a suburb of the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah, told Reuters.
Egypt has signed a contract with F said in a statement early on Tuesda Monday was worth 3.75 billion eu President Emmanuel Macron said i to Egypt conditional on human rig to counter terrorism in the region Egypt's defense ministry said the d over at least 10 years, but did not Citing confidential documents, Dis of April and a deal could be sealed Paris.
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MEXICO Mexico will punish those responsible for an overpass collapse that killed at least 24 people on Mexico City's newest metro line plunged onto a busy road below, the government said this week, according to Reuters. Accompanied by officials involved in the construction and maintenance of the elevated metro line that collapsed on Monday night, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the investigation should be done quickly and that nothing should be hidden from the public. "There's no impunity for anyone," he told a news conference.
France to buy 30 Rafale fighter jets, its defence ministry ay, in a deal that investigative website Disclose said on uro ($4.5 billion). in December he would not make the sale of weapons ghts because he did not want to weaken Cairo's ability n, a comment that drew the ire of critics. deal would be financed through a loan to be re-paid disclose the value of the deal or further details. sclose said an agreement had been concluded at the end d on Tuesday when an Egyptian delegation arrives in
CHAD France on Monday welcomed the formation of a new transitional government in Chad by the African country's military rulers following the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby but said it should only last a limited amount of time. "France reaffirms its attachment to the stability and the territorial integrity of the country," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "France also reiterates that it is paramount the transition should be for a limited amount of time," it added. Chad's leading opposition figures rejected the government appointments as a continuation of an old order they hoped to erase. The opposition and rebels dismissed the takeover as a coup and said the military must relinquish power to a civilian-led government.
MYANMAR Myanmar's National Unity Government (NUG), set up by opponents of army rule, said on Wednesday it had formed a "people's defence force" to protect its supporters from military attacks and violence instigated by the junta. Since the military seized power and ousted an elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, Myanmar has seen daily protests and a surge of violence with security forces killing hundreds of civilians. The NUG said the new force was a precursor to a Federal Union Army and that it had a responsibility to end decades-old civil wars and deal with "military attacks and violence" by the ruling State Administration Council (SAC) against its people. The unity government, established last month by an array of groups opposed to the junta, among them
ALGERIA Algeria has detected its first cases of the coronavirus variant first discovered in India, state research centre Pasteur Institute said on Monday. Six cases of the variant have been confirmed in the coastal province of Tipaza, some 70 km (43.75 miles) west of the capital, Algiers, it said in a statement.
The Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Tensions De-escalate, For Now
Zelenskyy Calls for a Revamp of the Minsk Agreements, Seeks West Support by Maia Otarashvili April marked seven years since the Russia-backed separatist conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine. Despite countless ceasefire attempts and much international
outrage the conflict remains unresolved, the kinetic warfare is actively ongoing, and Russia continues to support the separatist forces economically and militarily. CFRs Global Conflict Tracker estimates that the war in Donbas has already produced
more than 10,000 civilian casualties and 1.5 million displaced people. The total number of casualties, so far, is estimated to be over 14,000. This conflict, coupled with the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, has made Ukraine more fractured and vulnerable than ever. The country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations remain on hold, while it struggles to find stability amid countless economic and political crises. For over seven years Moscow has used its involvement in the war as one of the major instruments of influence over Ukraine and the Black Sea region, and as a significant tool for powerplay in its competition with Europe and NATO. While the war is typically at a stalemate, Moscow tends to dial up the heat at the Russia-Ukraine border during strategically convenient times, helping escalate the conflict and create further tension which will merit the west’s reaction and involvement. This in turn drives up Russia’s self-perception as an important global player, and helps cement its place at the top of strategic adversaries’ list for the transatlantic community. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (5th L) inspects at the southern frontline positions near the border of Crimea which was illegally annexed by Russia, in Ukraine on April 27, 2021. (Getty)
In April Russia began a significant military buildup in Crimea and at the border with Ukraine, placing an estimated 100,000 soldiers and carrying out massive military exercises. This move alarmed Ukraine and gave way to speculations that a Russian invasion was imminent. The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, renewed his efforts to bring international attention to the conflict. He even invited President Putin to meet with him one-on-one at the frontlines of the war. Putin declined the request, but said he’d be happy to meet with Zelenskyy in Moscow. Zelenskyy has insisted that the Biden administration most do more to support Ukraine. In his recent plea for more U.S. involvement Zelenskyy explained: “There is a persistent threat, because we are having a war, especially in the Donbas area, and
For over seven years Moscow has used its involvement in the war as one of the major instruments of influence over Ukraine and the Black Sea region, and as a significant tool for power play in its competition with Europe and NATO the Russian army, we all know it, is a very powerful force. So, we have it continuously at our borders. And this particular case is a case of psychological pressure. We are ready here for some unpleasant surprises. We’ll try to avoid them. Our military is very strong, and we are prepared to deter any kind of threat of aggression.” The Ukrainian president, who ran on the platform of ending the war in Donbas, back in 2019, has had some success in negotiating with the Russia-backed separatists and even managed to exchange hundreds of prisoners with them a year ago. However, when it comes to actually resolving the conflict, he needs Putin’s attention, but Putin has made it clear he will not negotiate with Zelenskyy directly. Moscow has done its best to use the conflict in Ukraine as a way to demonstrate its strength and importance to the west, and to “deter” the aggression it perceives from NATO. The conflict with Ukraine is an incredibly valuable tool for forcing the West to come to the negotiating table with Russia and treat Moscow as its equal. Putin is not going to throw away this powerful instrument just because Zelenskyy is looking to build peace in Ukraine. This latest buildup of tensions was, in part, meant to send a message to
the Biden administration, which has only recently wrapped up its first one hundred days in office. The message was supposed to be a reminder that Russia is committed to being taken seriously as a great power and it enjoys enormous, tangible influence over the spaces of U.S. and NATO strategic interests – like Ukraine and the greater Black Sea basin. Thus, exactly as planned, Mr. Putin’s message was clearly seen by the White House and even earned him a call from Mr. Biden. According to the White House, during the call “President Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions. President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with U.S. interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia.” But the Biden administration, so far, appears to be interested in conducting its foreign policy in partnership with its NATO and E.U. allies, and via the international
The message was supposed to be a reminder that Russia is committed to being taken seriously as a great power and it enjoys enormous, tangible influence over the spaces of U.S. and NATO strategic interests.
institutions like the G7-. This is why in response to the buildup of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, flew to Brussells on April 14th to rally the NATO members states to come out in support of Ukraine. As a result, the NATO allies issued a strict statement condemning Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine: “Allies will continue to work in close consultation to address Russia’s actions, which constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security. We call on Russia to cease immediately its destabilizing behavior, and to uphold its international
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and European Council President Charles Michel (L) give a joint news conference following talks on Crimean Platform summit and calling on the European Union to impose sanctions on those who violate human rights in Crimea, in Kiev, Ukraine on March 03, 2021. (Getty)
obligations, as Allies do theirs, including existing arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation agreements and commitments. We also call on Russia to cease its provocations and to immediately de-escalate tensions on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea.» After a month of tensions and anxiety, at the end of April, Russia’s defense ministry ordered its troops to return to base and wrapped up the exercises. This comes as positive news for Ukraine and the Zelenskyy administration. Reduced tensions could give way to renewed peace
talks, which is what Mr. Zelenskyy hopes. He has called for a revamp of the Minsk agreements – a peace process that began and has failed to deliver even a 2015 in lasting ceasefire agreement, so far. But Zelenskyy insists on an increased role for the United States, Great Britain, and Canada in the peace talks. Conveniently, secretary Blinken was set to fly by end of this week to Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Kuleba, other officials, and representatives of Ukrainian civil society “to reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression. He will also encourage continued progress on Ukraine’s institutional reform agenda, particularly anti-corruption action, which is key to securing Ukraine’s democratic institutions, economic prosperity, and Euro-Atlantic future.” Conveniently, secretary Blinken flew to Ukraine, where he held meetings with 6-5 on May President Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Kuleba, other officials, and representatives of Ukrainian civil society. As the State Department announcement explained, Mr. Blinken aimed “to reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression. He will also encourage continued progress on Ukraine’s institutional reform agenda, particularly anti-corruption action, which is key to securing Ukraine’s democratic institutions, economic prosperity, and ”.Euro-Atlantic future Moscow, on the other hand, has insisted that Zelenskyy first conduct talks with the leaders of the breakaway Donestsk and Luhansk regions. But Zelenskyy has refused, claiming: “I have no intention of talking to terrorists and it is just impossible for me in my position”. For Zelenskyy it is very clear that there is only one way to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine – with Moscow’s consent and the west’s unwavering support.
Europe’s Critical Position in Vienna Talks European Trio Unable to Revive the JCPOA By: Jassim Mohamad- Bonn The Vienna talks began in early April 2021 and have included several rounds of high-level discussions. Expert groups also have been working on proposals on how to resolve the issues around American sanctions and Iranian compliance, as well as the “possible sequencing” of the U.S. return. High-ranking diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and Britain re-
sumed talks to bring the United States back into the nuclear deal with Iran. The EU is trying to broker an agreement between the United States and Iran for each side’s return to the deal. There is no doubt that Europe today is weaker than in 2015, because of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. Since the United States left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the Europeans
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action meeting held to discuss the full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and the return of the United States to the deal in Vienna, Austria on April ,15 2021. (Getty)
have been unable to keep the deal alive beyond its vital functions. What the Europeans need is to create an understanding among themselves, coordinate with China, Russia and Iran, and then take the proposals to the U.S. delegation. The United States has returned to the negotiations table after nearly three years of tensions following Donald Trump’s dramatic decision to withdraw from the landmark agreement. Diplomatic envoys from the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and Iran, in addition to EU officials, met in the Austrian capital in search of a breakthrough to convince the US to lift its Trump-era sanctions on Iran. A diplomatic source for the trio of European nations at the talks, namely the UK, Germany and France, said that on the 1st May discussions took place amid a “serious and focused atmosphere despite outside turbulence…We have yet to come to an understanding on the most critical points.” The European source concluded that “success is by no means guaranteed, but not impossible.” It is clear that all parties worked seriously to agree on the steps that would be necessary if the agreement is to be refreshed. The European source said that after a round of talks those participants “took stock of progress” made in the talks, but also said on the 27th April, 2021, that much more work was needed. France was expected to be the main interlocutor for both sides, a Western diplomat told Reuters. While the US Republican party continues to call for climate envoy John Kerry to resign or be investigated over allegations of improper interaction with Zarif, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani claimed that Iran’s enemies had been responsible for the leak of the audio recording at the center of controversy. Khamenei has said Iran will immediately scale back its enrichment of uranium and deployment of advanced centrifuges after the country can verify that US sanctions are lifted, but is “in no hurry” as it is also trying to “nullify” sanctions through local production. The International Atomic Energy Agency held talks with Iran in mid-April 2021, with the hope that Tehran would provide explanations about the origin of the uranium traces found in sites. An agreement reached to hold these talks helped persuade Europe to postpone attempts to get a resolution critical of Iran at a meeting of the Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors in March 2021.
It appears that Europeans are in a very difficult position, as they are trying to maintain a nuclear agreement which keeps Iran inside the nuclear arena as well as play the current mediating role by managing the indirect negotiations that have been ongoing in Vienna. This avoided an escalation between Iran and the West that may have badly affected efforts to bring Washington and Tehran to the JCPOA agreement. The Europeans, France, Britain and Germany, may be trying to push for a resolution with the support of the United States at the next meeting of the Board of Governors in June 2021. On May 1, 2021, a European diplomatic source said, according to the Al-Hurrah website, that the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran had not made as much progress as hoped after three weeks of negotiations, and “there is still no understanding on the most difficult issues.” “We have a lot of work and a little time ahead of us,” the source added and continued that “We were hoping for more progress this week, but we have not yet reached an understanding on the most important points,” noting that success “is still possible, although not guaranteed.”
LEAKED RECORDING Zarif said in the “leaked recording” that “Russia was determined not to reach the nuclear agreement,” adding that “the Russians did not expect that the nuclear agreement would be reached, and in the last weeks of negotiations, when it seemed that they would reach a conclusion, the Russians began to present new proposals” to block the path to agreement.
IRAN SETS TRIAL DATES FOR BRITISH AND GERMAN NATIONALS While talks were going on in Vienna, Iran set trial dates for two dual nationals, one British-Iranian and
the other German-Iranian, as an attempt to put more pressure on Europe. As the lead Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, said at a Clubhouse event, the trials are scheduled because Iran wants a big “all for all” prisoner exchange. The British-Iranian facing trial is Mahran Maroof, who has been detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison since October 2020. Amnesty International has described him as a labor activist. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on April 9, 2021, that there are negotiations with the Iranians through private channels for the release of American detainees in Iran. She added that the efforts to release the American detainees will be led by “our diplomats and negotiators from the State Department,” explaining that these discussions are often raised through various backchannels with the Iranians because there are no direct channels with Iran in the nuclear talks. Informed sources revealed to the media “that negotiations between Tehran and Washington regarding a prisoner exchange had started in February, 2021, with Swiss mediation, explaining that they had made “great progress during the month of April,” but have not yet reached the point of completing a deal. The sources revealed that “the negotiations on the prisoner exchange deal were carried out far from the indirect Vienna talks” between the two parties and were mediated by the parties to the nuclear agreement. How- ever, they clarified that the atmosphere of optimism that had prevailed over the Vienna negotiations during recent times “contributed” to pushing forward the exchange deal negotiations. But the two matters are completely separate. The sources added that the Iranian side, which is conducting negotiations with the U.S. side, “is not the Iranian government, but the Revolutionary Guard Intelligence Organization,” stating that the negotiations were organized in Tehran and that currently taking place “is the second round.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed his intention to intensify consultations with his European counterparts to create a common European position on stopping escalation with Tehran and to prevent a major fire in the Middle East.
THE REASONS FOR EUROPE’S ADHERENCE TO THE JCPOA - Maintaining the security of Europe and the Middle East – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed his intention to intensify consultations with his European counterparts to create a common European
Richard Ratcliffe’s daughter Gabriella (6) takes part in a protest outside the Embassy of Iran in London for an immediate release of her mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, on 08 March, 2021 in London, England. (Getty)
position on stopping escalation with Tehran and to prevent a major fire in the Middle East, according to “DW” on January 7, 2020. - European fears of disrupting navigation in the Gulf. - Fears of terrorist activities in Europe, and increasing evidence that Iran has secret intelligence networks in Europe. - Ensuring the continuity of the existing trade between Europe and Iran Conclusion It appears that Europeans are in a very difficult position, as they are trying to maintain a nuclear agreement which keeps Iran inside the nuclear arena as well as play the current mediating role by managing the indirect negotiations that have been ongoing in Vienna since April 2, 2021. Europeans are trying to pressure the Biden administration with regard to Iran’s regional policies and its ballistic missile program, meaning that European
The Europeans, France, Britain and Germany, may be trying to push for a resolution with the support of the United States at the next meeting of the Board of Governors in June 2021. countries have their own demands regarding negotiations which constitute a major concern for them at a time when the Biden administration does not give great importance to these issues. There is no doubt that the Europe of today is weaker than it was in 2015 for reviving the JCPOA.
How a Courier’s Phone Call Led to the Killing of Osama bin Ladin Inside Story of the Efforts to Track Al Qaeda Leader By Dr Mujahed al Somaidai - London On 2 May 2011 President Obama gave permission to the operation lead to the killing of Osama bin Laden, one of the most wanted people in American history. “Tonight I can report to the American people and the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men,
women, and children.” (PHILIPS, 01/05/2011) Neptune Spear Operation was the operation lead to killing of Osama bin Laden in a city 40 miles north of Islamabad called Abbottabad. It was one of the options that had been discussed by the American National Security Council. The way to find Abbottabad started with a fake name. A phone call which lasted a few minutes ended years of patience, intelligence efforts and frustrations. A lot of lives were lost, a lot of mistakes were made and billions of dollars
A Pakistani man reads a newspaper with the front page displaying news of the death of Osama bin Laden at a stall in Lahore on May 2011 ,3. (Getty)
were spent tracking Osama bin Laden hideout. Since 2001, the CIA made a lot of effort to track Osama bin Laden and they used a lot of HUMINT sources IMGINT, SIGNT. Also, they kept a lot of websites under observation to find clues or evidence about the place where he was hiding. In 2007, the CIA agents came up with a new idea about following Osama bin Laden. They asked themselves: if the AQ leaders did not use mobile phones and did not hold face-to-face or internet meetings, how did they communicate with each other? The CIA agents came up with the idea of following the couriers and observing the way they were moving around and behaving. They wanted to find out how the couriers transferred information between the AQ leaders. They thought that if the CIA agents could infiltrate in the couriers’ system, one of the couriers might lead them to bin Laden. The courier system was one of the main information systems used to feed Al Qaeda leaders with information. Also, it was used to transfer the information and the data between all the AQ members all over the world. The couriers were trustworthy people who were moving around constantly, transferring the information between the AQ leaders, taking the instructions from BL and delivering them to the AQ leaders. They were transferring information between the leaders and the fighters. Also, they were responsible for delivering the messages wherever there was an AQ operation or active group. Usually, the information they transferred was related to the attacking operations or contained targeting plans. Also, they transferred information containing instructions for the future strategy of the AQ. Certain criteria were necessary for anyone wishing to qualify to be an AQ courier. For example, they had to speak more than one language such as Arabic, Pashtun or Urdu. It had to be a minimum of two languages. Also, he had to have good telecommunication skills such as being able to use mobile phones and change sim cards every time he made a phone call. In addition, he had to know how to use the internet in a savvy way such as signing in to emails with shared passwords and saving messages in draft box without sending or receiving any emails. Some of the couriers who transferred messages between the AQ leaders used cut-out to cut-out systems. This meant that someone met another person to deliver a message without knowing each other or who the message was for. This happened until the message reached bin Laden without any of the couriers knowing who the message was going to. Only the messenger of Bin Laden knew that the message was for bin Laden. An example of cut-out to cut-out techniques was the exchange of information in a safe house, for example by using letters. This happened in a certain safe house used temporarily by AQ. The other courier would come in following day and receive the letter from the people in the house without knowing who lived in the house and
The intelligence was able to follow Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti and track him to the compound where he lived by listening to a small phone call and in particular one phrase which Al Kuwaiti said on the phone: “I am back with the same old friend”. who dropped the letter. Usually, these letters ended up in Osama bin Laden’s hand. It was very hard to track their numbers as they were always one step ahead of the intelligence collection. After a long surveillance, the only mistake the CIA found regarding the couriers’ behavior was that they still had their own phone numbers and used their own numbers to make phone calls. In 2007, the Pakistan Intelligence Service provided the CIA with hundreds of mobiles numbers of the AQ members. Many of these numbers belonged to the couriers who worked for AQ. One of these numbers belonged to someone so called Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti. If we look at the surname of Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti, it would seem he is from Kuwait as most of jihadists use their own countries as a surname for them. However, Al Kuwaiti was not from Kuwait, he was from Pakistan and his original name was Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed. His ethnicity was Pashtun and his nationality was Pakistani. His parents lived in Kuwait and he grew up there with his brother Abrar. Since his childhood, Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti started speaking Pashtun and Arabic fluently as he was brought up in Kuwait. The first time Al Kuwaiti was mentioned to the CIA was 15 December 2001 when Mohamed Al Qahtani was arrested. This happened as he was trying to cross the border coming from Tora Bora where Bin Laden was last seen in 2001. Al Qahtani was handed over to the American custody, then he was sent to Guantanamo. Al Qahtani was among the missing 20 people of 9/11 events. He received full training from Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) who was the operational commander of 9/11 events. Afterwards he went to Saudi Arabia to get a new passport and then flew to California. Mohammed Atta (one of the 9/11 terrorists) was waiting for him at the car park in Orlando Airport. His duty was to be one of the “muscle” hijackers supposed to participate in the control of the passengers. He travelled
on a one-way flight and spoke no English. This caused the immigration officer to be suspicious of the real reason of the travel and refused the entry of Al Qahtani into the US. During the investigation, Al Qahtani confessed that in July 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohamed introduced him to Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti who started teaching him how to communicate covertly inside AL Qaeda. Also, he took him to an internet cafe in Karachi to teach him the methods of using the emails to communicate with AQ members. In addition, Al Kuwaiti gave Al Qahtani training in operational security and this was first time that the CIA officers knew that Al Kuwaiti was playing a role in AQ and that he was a trustworthy person of KSM. KSM (9/11 mastermind) was arrested on 1 March 2003. KSM told the interrogator that Osama bin Laden might be in Kunar Province in Afghanistan and the last letter he received was by courier. Also, he said that Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti and another man called Amin Al Haq helped bin Laden to leave Tora Bora. KSM did not say that Al Kuwaiti played a key role in AQ. Instead he said that Al Kuwaiti retired in 2003. KSM did not give any valuable information about Al Kuwaiti. The other prisoner who gave information about Al Kuwaiti was Abu Faraj Al Libi, bin Laden’s courier from 2003 till the time been captured in 2005. He was arrested in Peshawar inside Pakistan and handed to the Americans. He tried to deny Al Kuwaiti’s position inside AQ. He said Al Kuwaiti did not exist inside AQ anymore and he had nothing to do with AQ. The courier Hassan Ghul was arrested in the north of Iraq in January 2004 as he was on his way to Afghanistan. During the investigation, he mentioned that Al Kuwaiti was
Osama bin Laden had to stick to whoever was able to stay alive and was trustworthy. Al Kuwaiti managed to stay alive and was a close old friend of bin Laden, so bin Laden did not have a lot of options.
bin Laden’s courier and he was the one who travelled with bin Laden all the time. Also, he said that Al Kuwaiti was a very trusted person for KSM and Abu Faraj Al Libi. Hambali from Thailand was arrested in Thailand in 2003 and he was the AQ leader in the Southeast Asian affiliation. He was hosted by Al Kuwaiti in a safe house in Karachi in 2001. Mohamedou Ould Salahi, a Mauritanian, was arrested in Mauritania in 2002 and handed to the Americans. He was an AQ operator and facilitator. He said that Al Kuwaiti was an AQ operator and he was very important inside AQ. During the investigations, Al Kuwaiti name been mentioned by 6 people who were captured. The Americans knew that two of them were the top two leaders in AQ after OBL and AL Zawahiri: Khalid Sheikh Mohamed (KSM) and Abu Faraj Al Libi. The other four were AQ fighters and operators. The top two leaders confessed that Al Kuwaiti was not important person inside AQ and they tried to
Illustration of AQ courier system. (Supplied)
reduce his level inside AQ. This was despite the fact that one of these two leaders, Abu Faraj Al Libi, was working as a courier for bin Laden. The other four people confessed that AL Kuwaiti had big responsibilities inside AQ. One of these four was Hassan Ghul (AQ courier) and he described AL Kuwaiti as bin Laden’s courier. This was supposed to be a very important confession as the person who said it was captured as a courier transferring messages between AQ in Iraq and the AQ leader in Afghanistan. This meant that he was part of the courier system and knew the main things inside this system. This is because he was responsible for the delivery of messages for the AQ leaders. The CIA investigator concluded that Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti was a very trustworthy person for bin Laden and he played a big role inside AQ. He worked as a courier for Osama bin Laden and used his experience in telecommunications in his job as a courier for bin Laden. In August 2010, a phone call been intercepted by American National Security Agency (NSA), was made from a city in the north of Pakistan from Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti, to someone who was in Kuwait, and he was asked Al Kuwaiti insistently what he was doing. Al Kuwaiti informed him he was back to work with the same person. They passed the information to CIA straight away. The call was only a few minutes long and the person was asking for money. Also, it informed the person in Kuwait that the person in Pakistan was back to work with the same person. NSA and CIA tracked the call and found out that the mobile number which generated the call belonged to Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti. They tracked him to the place where he was living – it was a big compound in Abbottabad, 40 miles north of Islamabad and only 300 hundred meters away from The Pakistan Military Academy in Waziristan province. CIA established a collection plan to collect the information about the compound. They made a surveillance plan around the house. They started using safe houses near the compound as there was only one dirty road leading to the compound. Also, they started using drones connected to 24/7 satellites in order to watch any people living inside the house. They asked the signal intelligence to observe if any phone calls were made from the house or if the internet had been used inside the house. These three main things were used to watch the house and the people who lived inside it. They found out that Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti lived in the compound with his wife, his kids, his brother Abrar (who also lived with his wife and kids). The compound had 3500 m sq., it contained three floors and was secured by a wall around 5 meters high topped with 2 foot barbed wire. It had two security gates and there were 20 meters between each gate. The second gate was the only access to
The courier system was one of the main information systems used to feed Al Qaeda leaders with information. The couriers were trustworthy people who were moving around constantly, transferring the information between the AQ leaders, taking the instructions from BL and delivering them to the AQ leaders. the house. There was no security technology at the compound, no internet or TV antenna. No technologies were set up around the house and no mobile phones used inside the house. Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti drove for around 160 miles just to make a phone call and came all the way back. When he intended to use the internet he drove to another city to use the internet. When he finished, he cleaned all the computers, left the internet café and drove all the way back. From the IMGINT, they found out that there is person walk every day inside the compound and never left for any reason. Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti used the pseudonym Arshad Khan in Abbottabad and his brother Abrar used the pseudonym Tariq Khan. They used these names as a cover to live in Abbottabad. Al Kuwaiti used one of the neighbors. His name was Zain Baba, he was 84 years old and his son Shamrez Khan worked as a night watchman for Abu Ahmed AL Kuwaiti. They had been inside some parts of the house many times, but they said they did not see any one only Al Kuwaiti and his brother or children inside the house. After the ride, these two people were arrested by Pakistani intelligence for two months and then released. Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti bought the land in 2004 for the amount of $50,000 which was paid in four instalments until 2005. Al Kuwaiti mentioned to the land lord that he bought the land for his uncle. Al Kuwaiti used a local architect called Junaid Younes to design the house and obtained the planning permission from the local authority for a two-story house with four bedrooms on each floor. The third floor was added later on without the permission from the local planning board and it was supposedly designed by Osama bin Laden himself. Al Kuwaiti lived separately
in a one floor house inside the compound with his wife Maryam and his kids. Al Kuwait wife did not know that the person who lived in the big house was Osama bin Laden. For six years, she was not allowed to go to the big house unless she had to clean. Once she heard someone speaking in Arabic and then she realized that an Arabic person lived in the big house. However, she did not know it was bin Laden. Al Kuwaiti and his brother received their salary from bin Laden- it was 12,000 Pakistani rub which is a little more than $100 a month each. This made them sell some gold to Abrar’s wife in Rawalpindi for the amount of $1500 to live till the end of the month. Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti came from a very big tribe in Pakistan and his family was very poor. They worked in Kuwait where Al Kuwaiti grew up. Al Kuwaiti could not afford to live in a very expensive compound worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the same time if he was hiding inside his tribe it will be very difficult chase him as he got support from his own community. This led the CIA analysts to believe Al Kuwaiti was covering someone in the compound and this person could very likely be Osama bin Laden. The surveillance showed there were no social relationships with the neighbors. The children inside the compound did not attend school and did not play with the neighbor’s children. When the children played football and the football fell into the compound by mistake, they knocked on the door for about 20 minutes till someone opened the door for them. Usually, they did not get the football back, but
they received money instead. The people living in the compound did not put the rubbish outside the house, but they burnt it inside the compound instead. This was a very unusual thing to do. They slaughtered two goats a week and the cows inside the compound were used for milk. Also, they kept hundreds of chickens for egg. They had honey from bees in the hive and an olive carton of Quaker oats bought locally was found.
Some of the couriers who transferred messages between the AQ leaders used cut-out to cut-out systems. This meant that someone met another person to deliver a message without knowing each other or who the message was for.
There was one person who the CIA called the Pacer, as he was suspected by CIA to be Osama bin Laden. They could not prove he was OBL as they could not have a clear picture of him. The CIA used the best drone at that time which they called Qandahar Monster – they used it to observe the house 24/7. This person did daily walks inside the compound. The CIA tried to measure his height by measuring the shadow of the pacer and compared it with Osama bin Laden, but they could not get the actual reading of the shadow. Osama bin Laden was 1.90 cm tall. There was another young man who was about 23 years old. He lived in bin Laden’s compound. It was his son, Khalid Bin Laden, and was killed in the American raid on the compound later on, along with the three wives of Osama Bin Laden and his other sons.
Illustration of Osama bin Laden’s hiding place in Abbottabad, )Pakistan. (Supplied
There was one person who the CIA called the Pacer, as he was suspected by CIA to be Osama bin Laden. They could not prove he was OBL as they could not have a clear picture of him. The CIA used the best drone at that time which they called Qandahar Monster – they used it to observe the house 7/24. either in jail or had been killed in American raids. Osama bin Laden had to stick to whoever was able to stay alive and was trustworthy. Al Kuwaiti managed to stay alive and was a close old friend of bin Laden, so bin Laden did not have a lot of options.
Osama bin Laden was not happy with the way Al Kuwaiti worked for him. He explained that in a three-page letter sent to his wife Khairiah, his first Syrian wife. He mentioned they started to be lazy. He was thinking of changing his place and leaving Al Kuwaiti and his brother behind. The reason for this was because they were exhausted of living with him and managing his security. Many times He asked them to do a certain thing to him, but they did not do it. There was the duty of a group of CIA officers to track bin Laden on a day to day basis. They studied many successful manhunt operations such hunting Eichman, the Nazi officer hunted by Israel Mossad in Argentina. Also, they studied the hunting of Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug dealer, and tried to find common mistakes or common ideas about how they managed to hide for so many years. In addition, they studied what sort of mistakes were made in their cases and tried to compare this with bin Laden’s case. They learned that successful manhunts were possible because of the mistakes that family members made – that led to the target. All the evidence around the Abbottabad compound showed that Osama bin Laden was alive and living there. The CIA analysts believed that Osama bin Laden could not make new friends, and all his old friends were
CIA was briefing the President Obama on a daily basis about the situation in Abbottabad compound. The CIA analysts started to believe that Osama bin Laden lived in the house in Abbottabad, but they did not know for sure as no one was able to see OSB in the compound despite the 24/7 surveillance around the house. It was still not confirmed that OBL lived there. The CIA decided to use a private intelligence analyst to get another opinion and despite all the information and evidence, the private intelligence analyst concluded that it was 30-40 % that OBL lived in Abbottabad. President Obama believed it was a 50% chance that OBL lived in the compound. The White House had to make a decision based on chances varying from 30 to 60 %. At the same time, they had to decide what type of attack should be launched on the compound. In January, the director of CIA, Panetta, and the main intelligence analyst met with President Obama and requested strong recommendations about taking action regarding the compound in Abbottabad. They said that the intelligence would not get any better from what they had at the time and Al Kuwaiti and the Pacer might not still be there in the next months, so they had to act straight away. DCI Panetta insisted that they had to make a move or the intelligence effort might dissipate. President Obama requested different options from the DCI and Vice Admiral Mc Raven – they were instructed to give military options to the president. Vice Admiral Mc Raven had to think of a fast
and effective operation which could carry out the job without any mistakes. There were a lot of political issues The White House had to deal with after the operation. On 14 March 2011, President Obama chaired a meeting of the National Security Council, and they briefed the president about the four available options. First option: Bombing the compound and killing everybody. However, this could affect the people living around the compound and many civilians living in the area would be killed. Also, bombing the compound could cause the loss of very important evidence and information which was in the house. Most of the National Security Council did not support the option of bombing the house. Second option: A bomb launched from a drone in order to hit the Pacer as he was walking inside the compound. This operation was risky as well. If they made mistakes, they could lose bin Laden and it might be take another 10 years to get the same opportunity. Third Option: A helicopter assault using a US special operation unit. This would attack the compound and kill or arrest the people in the compound. Fourth Option: A joint operation with the Pakistani forces which would involve attacking the house. This operation could cause a leak of information. This could lead to Osama bin Laden’s escape from the compound before the raid. These four options were discussed during the meeting. Vice Admiral Mc Raven offered to bring to the next meeting (which took place three weeks later) the feasibility assessment of the third option. This involved having a US special operation raid on the compound. He needed three weeks for training and thought that launching the raid on
The first time Al Kuwaiti was mentioned to the CIA was 15 December 2001 when Mohamed Al Qahtani was arrested. This happened as he was trying to cross the border coming from Tora Bora where Bin Laden was last seen in 2001.
the compound would not be difficult. On 29 March 2011, during the main meeting, President Obama realized that many of the NAC members supported Neptune Spear Operation. He then asked Vice Admiral Mc Raven four questions in regards to the decision they had to make. The first two questions were about the operation timeline: how long it would take them to get in there and how quickly could they move. The other two questions were about what they could do in case there was a safe room. What would they do if Osama Bin Laden was not there? How would they get Osama bin Laden out of there? The president expected Vice Admiral Mc Raven to answer these questions. During the April meeting, all the NSC members agreed to go ahead with the Neptune Spear Operation as it was the most convenient and the least dangerous. The operation team, Seal Team 6, started training on compound models in North Carolina and Nevada. Mc Raven briefed the president about the Neptune Spear Operation and assured him it was similar to the operations launched many times in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only challenge this time would be navigating through the Pakistani borders and the issues of penetrating the Pakistani sovereignty.
In this handout image provided by The White House, the then President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and members of the national security team receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House May 1, 2011 in Washington, DC )Getty(
Al Kuwaiti was not from Kuwait, he was from Pakistan and his original name was Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed. His ethnicity was Pashtun and his nationality was Pakistani. His parents lived in Kuwait and he grew up there with his brother Abrar. announced the launch of the Neptune Spear Operation.
On 25 April 2011, CIA decided to contact the red team to have the final assessment. The red team generated three hypotheses. The first one was that Osama bin Laden lived in the compound and Al Kuwaiti was staying with him. The second hypothesis was that the compound belonged to one of the AQ leaders and bin Laden was not in the compound. The third hypothesis was that the compound did not belong to AQ and Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti was working for one of the criminal associations that had nothing to do with AQ. The third team concluded that the first hypothesis was the most convenient one and they all decided to go for it. On 28 April 2011, President Obama chaired the last meeting for NSC. Vice Admiral Mc Raven briefed the president about the latest update of the attack options and about the result of the red team hypothesis. President Obama was convinced 50% that bin Laden was living in the compound. At the end of the meeting, President Obama wanted some more time to take the decision and requested Vice Admiral Mc Raven to meet him that afternoon. During the afternoon meeting, Mc Raven assured the president that the operation would be successful and that it had been done many times in Afghanistan and Iraq. On 29 April 2011, President Obama chaired a meeting with NSC and
Neptune Spears Operation was launched in the early morning of 01 May 2011 Pakistan time, 3pm Washington time. The NSC held a meeting inside the White House to watch the operation through a drone on top of the compound. The black hawk crossed the Pakistani border from Jalalabad into Afghanistan towards the Abbottabad compound. The team arrived at the compound 30 minutes after crossing the border. The whole operation took 40 minutes inside the compound to complete. One of the Seal team 6 announced that while they were inside the compound, Geronimo K-IA, meaning Osama Bin Laden, was killed in action. At 11:35pm the President Obama made an announcement stating that the Neptune Spear Operation was successful and Osama bin Laden was killed. Neptune Spear Operation was one of the most successful intelligence collection plans ever carried out in the US intelligence history. It was ideal from the point of view of the intelligence analyst in terms of handling the information and the intelligence requirements. The source analysis provided information about Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti since the first evidence against him and the evidence was evaluated on a regular basis. The intelligence used surveillance around the house 24/7 and the same on the ground. Also, the intelligence used drones, IMGINT and the signal intelligence to intercept any phone calls generated by Al Kuwaiti. The intelligence was able to follow Abu Ahmed Al Kuwaiti and track him to the compound where he lived by listening to a small phone call and in particular one phrase which Al Kuwaiti said on the phone: “I am back with the same old friend”. This is a very simple example of how very small information should not be ignored because it might lead to historical hunting. This is what happened in Neptune Spear Operation: little information and accurate source analysis lead to Geronimo being killed.
Slow-paced Normalization between Egypt and Turkey Ankara Wants to Break Its Regional Isolation Jiwan Soz – Istanbul Ankara is apparently doing its best to improve its political and diplomatic ties with Egypt after the years of deterioration since 2013, due to Turkish support of the Muslim Brotherhood that moved all its activities to Turkey following the collapse
of former president Mohamed Morsi’s regime and Turkey’s embracing most of the MB leaders escaping from Egypt. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formed a parliamentary friendship group with Egypt last April with the aim of ap-
proaching Cairo. Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesperson and special adviser to the Turkish President, revealed that the official delegation which visited Egypt recently included the Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister. Turkish media reported that another meeting potentially would be held between Turkish and Egyptian intelligence chiefs.
Egypt’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdi Sanad Loza (background) meets with his Turkish counterpart Sedat Onal (foreground) in the Foreign Ministry headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on May 5, 2021. (Getty)
Turkish semi-official sources told Majalla that, “Right now, there is no fear for the MB leaders who fled their country to Turkey, but MB members would face deportation to Egypt if relations between Ankara and Cairo are mended.” «The Erdogan government is aware that given the significant disagreements on a long list of issues between Ankara and Cairo, there can be only limited progress in mending diplomatic relations with Egypt. Since Turkey is diplomatically isolated to an unprecedented degree regionally and globally, any small sign of improvement in bilateral relations with Egypt would be perceived as a win for Ankara,” said Dr. Aykan Erdemir, former CHP member of the Turkish Parliament and senior director of FDD›s Turkey program. Dr. Erdemir told Majalla, “Erdogan is keen on signaling to the Biden administration as well as to Western investors that Turkey is a constructive actor. When it comes to Biden, the Turkish president would like to improve his tarnished image by presenting himself as a partner who can be part of the solution in the Middle East and beyond. When it comes to Western investors, Erdogan would like to remedy Turkey’s image as a country with a high level of political risk that is in conflict with almost all of its neighbors.” «Overall, since Erdogan’s ongoing patronage of Islamist politics is at the core of Ankara’s disagreements with Cairo as well as many other capitals in the Middle East, any Turkish attempt to improve bilateral relations can only be limited in scope. Neither can Erdogan commit to ending his Islamist policies nor would his counterparts trust him even if he pledges to do so,” Dr. Erdemir added. For the past few years, Turkish authorities offered Turkish citizenship to thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members, but Cairo is demanding the extradition of those who were involved in
“Since Turkey is diplomatically isolated to an unprecedented degree regionally and globally, any small sign of improvement in bilateral relations with Egypt would be perceived as a win for Ankara.” violence eight years ago. This condition is terrifying for MB members and is forcing them to search for alternative places to relocate in case Turkey and Egypt’s diplomatic relations are rectified. Prominent political analyst Omran Salman said, “the Turkish delegation’s visit to Egypt is a practical interpretation of the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s statement last month, when he announced that his Ministry’s relations with Egypt will be resumed. It is supposed to be followed by a meeting between both countries’ foreign ministers, which implies a breakthrough in the normalization of Turkish-Egyptian ties.” Salman added to Majalla, “the overall context for this development comes in line with Turkey’s decision to reposition itself regionally, after the Turkish President found himself isolated in a narrow corner due to bad relations with US President Joe Biden, as well as with European and Arab countries. Thus, he decided to change his previous strategy, which proved damaging and failing, by mending relations with the largest Arab countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in addition to Israel and maybe later UAE. This comes in hopes of alleviating American and European pressures and reclaiming Turkey’s traditional role.” Egypt demands that Ankara shut down three MB Arabic-speaking satellite channels, which are used to attack Egypt and its incumbent President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. Egypt is also requesting
the extradition of some MB leaders and thousands of the group’s members as a condition to restore diplomatic relations with Turkey, in addition to Cairo’s repeated calls to end Turkish presence in Libya.
authorities will extradite some wanted figures to Egypt. It will likely ask them either to freeze their activities in order to stay in Turkey or to find a third country. It is also clear that MB leadership understands the new Turkish stance.”
In this regard, Salman said, “I believe that, at this stage, Egypt will be satisfied with Turkish promises to put MB and other dissenters’ activities in Turkey in check and to prevent them from damaging Egypt’s interests, particularly in the media and politics. Ankara has already begun fulfilling this promise.” “However,” he added, “I don’t think Turkish
According to Salman, Ankara’s rapprochement with Cairo aims at breaking its regional isolation and mending ties with Egypt and Gulf countries, especially on the economic side which was hugely affected by the deteriorating relations.
“Mending relations between Ankara and Cairo will enable Turkey to alleviate the impact of Western pressure and restore its role in the regional equation.”
He also said that “mending relations between Ankara and Cairo will enable Turkey to alleviate the impact of Western pressure and restore its role in the regional equation. Let us not forget the new context in the Middle East represented by Arab normalization agreements with Israel, which will add increasing political and economic pressures on a number of major countries in the region, particularly Turkey, Iran and maybe Egypt.” The political analyst added that restoring Turkish-Egyptian ties will take some time and it is currently in an initial phase. He went on to say, “Now we see a mutual will-
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during a joint press conference after the trilateral summit with the leaders of Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus at the presidential palace in Cyprus› capital Nicosia on October 2020 ,21. (Getty)
of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives to give a press conference after a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey, on September 2020 ,21. (Getty)
ingness between Turkey and Egypt to have a kind of normalization, but the rates of progress will differ. Despite Turkey’s great enthusiasm, the Egyptians seem more cautious.” Speaking of the potential impact on regional issues shared by Ankara and Cairo, Salman explained that “mending relations will positively affect the east Mediterranean crisis, whether it is about Libya, oil, gas and territorial waters, the Cyprus problem, or other disputed issues between the two countries.” Eight years ago relations between Ankara and Cairo were severed. More deterioration ensued over Turkey’s direct intervention in Libya, especially after Ankara sent hundreds of soldiers to Libya along with more than 15,000 Syrian militants in early 2020. Moreover, Ankara held two agreements with the Libyan National Accord Government which obviously enraged Egypt, especially that one of the two deals which was a maritime boundary treaty. However, since US President Joe Biden came to power a few months ago, Turkey has changed its
“This development comes in line with Turkey’s decision to reposition itself regionally, after the Turkish President found himself isolated in a narrow corner due to bad relations with US President Joe Biden, as well as with European and Arab countries.” usual tone with Egypt. It moved soon to restore relations and formed a parliamentary friendship group in late April, following contacts between Turkish and Egyptian intelligence officials. It is also noteworthy that Turkish opposition parties blame Erdogan’s AKP party for the deteriorating relations and demand that he abandons the MB group to turn a new page with Egypt.
Sex workers in Iran The Regime’s Denial Means They Have Little Access to Support By Fayrouz Ramadan Zada Prostitution and extramarital sex are on the rise in the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, in their effort to whitewash their country through the lens of religious-social perspective, Iranian officials deny the existence of sex workers and do not pay any attention to such group of people. There are no accurate statistics even, of women who are involved in this activity in the country. Statistics released by non-governmental organizations indicates that the minimum age of sex workers has recently decreased from 30-20 years to around 13- 18 years in 2011, and to as young as 12 years in 2016. Farahnaz Salimi, head of Aaftaab Society, an NGO which focuses
on combating addiction and the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, said once in 2016, “The age of sex workers has decreased to 12 years, and there are nearly 10,000 women involved in this work in the province of Tehran and %35 of them are married.” Three years later, Dr. Amir Mahmoud Harirchi, an associate professor at the Tehran University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, said that “Twenty thousand women work in prostitution.”
CRUSHING ECONOMIC CRISIS PUSHING PROSTITUTION An increasing number of women below poverty line was forced to work in prostitution due to the crushing economic crisis, gender
discrimination and lack of adequate job opportunities in Iran. Majalla spoke to M. Y. who is a Tehran-based social counselor. She preferred to use her initials as she offers consulting services and assistance to some sex workers. “Studies which I conducted with my colleagues in a number of NGOs have revealed that anal sex and group sex, which involves one woman and a group of men, are increasing in Iran. Sex workers who are engaged in such practices received higher pay. As a part of my job, I talk with these women. One of them told me she was once with a group of men, but they beat her afterwards and she received no money. Of course, she couldn’t file a complaint against them because her activity is considered illegal.” The social worker told Majalla that there are rising number of sex workers who are married. “A large number of married women work in prostitution due to poverty and difficult living conditions. During my work with some married sex workers, they told me their husbands approved of their work. One of them told me her husband knows about her work, but he doesn’t comment, because of their deteriorating economic problems and their inability to secure livelihood,” she said.
1- Certificates of temporary marriage (Sigheh or Nikah mut›ah) filed in a registry office run by a clergyman in Tehran, October 2000. (Getty)
M. Y. added, “Prostitution is not limited to poor women, as there are some examples who simply want more money via this means. I know two nurses who are working and receiving good pay but want to expand their financial resources. I asked one of them once, why is she doing this, weakening her body and risking contracting serious diseases? She answered: How much do you get paid?! After just 8 months as a sex worker I could buy a SUV!” The social counselor added that there are no statistics about the number of female sex workers in Iran, but “if you go out one night and wander the streets of Tehran in areas such as Stari Highway and Kaj Square, or the streets north of Tehran, you can clearly see the sex workers who are looking for customers. I saw a lot of them discussing the price with customers,” she said.
GIVING OFFICIAL COVER THROUGH TEMPORARY MARRIAGE After the revolution in 1979, the Shiite clerics, headed by Former Supreme Leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, executed a number of female sex workers, closed brothels and replaced them with the so-called temporary marriage contracts, claiming that it is the Sunnah of the Prophet. But what the Shiite clerics really did in Iran was to give a legal and official cover to prostitution as sexual services have been provided in the form of temporary marriage contracts for decades in religious cities such as Mashhad, northeastern Iran and Qom, south of Tehran.
In Iran, sex workers are invisible, because of the regime’s denial, and highly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. This is regardless of the fact that sex workers were among the groups most at risk even before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. This is confirmed by Masoud Faridi, former Director General of the Injured Department of the Welfare Organization of Iran in June 2012. He said that “the cities of Mashhad and Tehran are hosting the largest number of sex workers in the country.» In October 2017, many videos and reports were circulated about the widespread availability of sex tourism for Iraqi visitors in the city of Mashhad, and this prompted Iranian Interior Ministry officials to deny the reports, demanding strict judicial dealing with the publishers of reports and videos. Part of the «legal» sexual services in Iran was converted to the virtual space, which is done online. «Many websites provide temporary marriage contract services,» M.Y said. The cleric receives part of the money as his wages, to complete the temporary marriage contract. The clerics enjoy complete freedom to complete temporary marriage contracts, because they claim it is «Islamic» and «conforms to Sharia», but what they do is «brokerage». One can find many homes for temporary marriage in the Nawab neighborhood and other neighborhoods in Tehran today. Clients give a cleric a sum of money for sexual services, and then the cleric gives a fraction of that amount to the sex worker.
SEXUAL DISEASE OUTBREAKS The spread of the coronavirus and lockdown measures have dealt a severe blow to the economies of countries and that includes the business in sex and prostitution. Prostitution is considered a legal practice in a number of countries of the world, such as the Netherlands and Japan and sex workers
in these countries have been provided with economic stimulus and support packages during the coronavirus period. In Iran, sex workers are invisible because of the regime’s denial and highly vulnerable to violence and exploitation. This is regardless of the fact that sex workers were among the groups most at risk even before the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
like to have sex using a condom,” she said. M. D, a doctor working in a clinic for behavioral disorders in southern Tehran, who did not want to publish her name, said in an interview with Majalla that genital herpes and genital warts are among the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases and are widespread in Iran.
«I used to work for a non-governmental organization that provides counseling services to sex workers,» M.Z said. “I started working in this field by cooperating with the organizers of the AIDS Patients Support Program of the Center for AIDS Studies in Iran in 2015. The aim of the program was to carry out tests for hepatitis and AIDS for street women and “cardboard” dwellers (homeless people).”
She said: «The Genital herpes virus and genital warts virus have become the most common sexually transmitted disease in Iran for all age groups, especially secondary school girls, as the human papillomavirus that causes warts remains in the body and is transmitted mainly through skin contact, high-risk sexual practices and multiple sexual partners.»
The program has been stopped 3 years after its launch under the pretext of promoting unethical practices. She added: “We were implementing the program by running buses that stopped one day or two days a week in one of the poor and deprived neighborhoods in Tehran. The buses carried a number of experts and social counselors, and sex workers were identified in each of the neighborhoods.” “Attempts and discussions were also being made to persuade them to get tested for AIDS, hepatitis and cervical cancer. These buses were operating from the afternoon until dawn the next day. The results of the examinations for a large number of them were positive.
In December 2017, in statements about studies conducted by the Ministry of Health on the «most vulnerable» women, Dr. Parvin Afsar Kazerouni, CDC Manager of Fars Health Province, warned of the increasing rise in HPV (Human papillomavirus) cases. He said, “Evidence, results of investigations and reports received from medical sources of sexually transmitted diseases indicate an increase in cases of gonorrhea, genital herpes and genital warts.” Kazerouni›s statements were preceded by another warning that came from Mostafa Eghlima, the head of Academic Association of Social Workers in Iran (2013), regarding the rapid spread of genital warts in Iran, saying: “The number of infections has reached about one million people so far, and there is no effective treatment for the virus.”
“At that time, we encouraged them to visit specialized medical clinics and talk with them about ways to prevent transmission and provided them with condoms for free, but the number of those who accepted this was very few and argued that customers did not
«The age of engaging in risky sexual behaviors has decreased due to the spread of precocious puberty, and risky sexual behaviors are gaining in popularity among adolescents who are resorting to sex,» M. A said. “Also, discussing issues and sexual education is taboo in schools and the media, and no sexual education takes place,” she added.
An increasing number of women below poverty line was forced to work in prostitution due to the crushing economic crisis, gender discrimination and lack of adequate job opportunities in Iran.
She also said, “When I and a number of my colleagues visited a girls’ high school in western Tehran last year, many of the students were inquiring about genital warts. Unfortunately, the students do not know that anal sex leads to an increase in the risk of AIDS, and thus many high school students practice anal intercourse to preserve the hymen, which may increase the likelihood of contracting AIDS.” «Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is the most common cause of HIV infection in Iran,» she said. In addition, many married couples have sex with AIDS-infected sex workers in brothels, thus contracting the disease. Then, when these people have sexual intercourses with their wife, they transmit the infection to them,” she added.
Dr. Masoud Mardani, Secretary of National Congress of HIV/ AIDS in Tehran said in statements to the Student News Agency in November 2018 that the cases of HIV infection exceeded 66,000 people in Iran, adding: “More than a third of those infected do not know about their disease and if they know about it, they are hiding the truth about it.” Iranian officials say the country is currently going through the third wave of HIV outbreak through sexual practices, and that street women and sex workers are most afflicted by the virus. In June 2018, AIDS and Infectious disease specialist Minoo Mohraz referred to a study of sex workers in a neighborhood in the capital, Tehran, saying that 31 percent of sex workers in that neighborhood had HPV. M. Z said: “We, as non-governmental organizations, search for street women, homeless women and if they become pregnant, we transfer them to hospitals.” “Many of them deliver their baby by the roadside or if they are taken to the hospital. They flee the hospital after childbirth fearing arrest for illicit relations with the father of the child, whose identity is unknown or on grounds of the mother abandoning her child while he is in the hospital. There is a high probability that these newborns are infected with HIV.” «I have faced, many times, the scene of mothers accompanying
Iranian officials say the country is currently going through the third wave of HIV outbreak through sexual practices, and that street women and sex workers are most afflicted by the virus. their teenage daughters in prostitution, and we see that the vicious circle of sex workers’ lives is expanding in the country, «she added. Most countries of the world support the rights of sex workers within an organizational and institutional framework. However, the Iranian regime does not care about this vulnerable group. Rather, it faces warnings and statistics issued by non-governmental organizations regarding the increase in women in prostitution and the widespread spread of dangerous sexual practices with outright denial, saying that these reports are not based on reality.
In Wake of Covid, Employers Step up Automation and Use of Robots Tech Transformation Poses a New Challenge for Less-skilled Workers Don Lee As the U.S. economy rebounds from the Covid19pandemic, employers are turning to greater use of automation, including robots, rather than calling back workers or hiring new ones in many cases. The trend is affecting almost every sector,
including manufacturing, distribution, transportation, retail, restaurants and many kinds of personal and government services. Airports have begun been using mobile robots to spray disinfecting chemicals on their facilities — work that janitors had initially done wearing moon suits and other personal protection
Scenes from the Grand Food Depot on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. Once an order is complete, the restaurant places the order inside one of the robots where it›s brought to the front of the main facility where a staff member retrieves the order for the awaiting party. (TNS)
equipment. The Pennsylvania Turnpike eliminated toll collection by hand and switched to a cashless electronic system. Procter & Gamble, the maker of detergents, diapers, toilet paper and a cornucopia of other household goods, found that strategically adding robots to its assembly lines made it possible to keep more workers on the job — and produce more goods — while complying with social distancing guidelines. Orders for robots in North America, mostly the U.S., surged %20 in the first quarter compared with a year earlier and was up %16 from the same three-month period in 2019, well before the pandemic, according to the Assn. for Advancing Automation. Nearly 10,000 robots were ordered in last year›s fourth quarter, the second-best quarter ever, statistics show. Although increasing automation has long been a trend, the pandemic — as well as recent trade wars and supply bottlenecks — drove home for managers the high cost of unforeseen disruptions in production. The World Economic Forum said last fall that %50 of employers plan to step up automation at their firms. While car and car parts makers have been the dominant users of industrial robots, many more industries today also are buying smaller mobile robots. The biggest percentage growth in robot purchases is coming from the food and consumer goods sector — a reflection of the boom in online shopping over the past year. «Covid just highlighted that some of this may accelerate because there are potential interruptions to your businesses that you need to be prepared for,» said Mark Lewandowski, P&G›s director of robotics innovation. What the new push for automation will mean for millions of Americans still idled because of Covid19- is not so clear. Nyika Allen, director of aviation for Albuquerque, N.M., doesn›t foresee the five robots she bought last year eliminating the 50 custodial staff at the city›s two airports. But she suggested that overall airport employment could be smaller. Airport merchants are automating, too, with selfcheck stations and other touchless technology. And Albuquerque recently converted to a
While car and car parts makers have been the dominant users of industrial robots, many more industries today also are buying smaller mobile robots. The biggest percentage growth in robot purchases is coming from the food and consumer goods sector. mechanized screening system for checked bags, rather than manual screens by workers. «There›s less manpower behind the scenes,» Allen said. Mike Kelly, a -58year-old native of Pittsburgh with a wife and three children, made about 25$ an hour, plus health insurance and a pension plan, as a toll collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Even before the pandemic, the state had intended to install a high-tech, no-cash system in 2022. But when Covid19- shutdowns reduced both traffic on the turnpike and the revenue it yielded, the state moved up its plans by 18 months, laying off some 500 toll collectors and support staff last June. Kelly reacted quickly. Using his own money, he enrolled in a training course to learn how to operate big trucks and other heavy motorized equipment. Today, he›s working for the turnpike again, this time driving maintenance trucks, snowplows and other vehicles. He was reimbursed for the training. And his pay and benefits are at least equal to those from his toll booth days. Not all of his colleagues from the toll booths have bounced back like that. Kelly Armour, 53, was angry and bitter about the layoffs. «We gave a warm, human aspect to the job, and we were replaced by technology,» she said. «I was only essential when it suited them.» In January, Armour, who is single and also lives in the Pittsburgh area, went down to Florida to stay with her elderly father. She keeps herself busy gardening and baking. Once she exhausts her unemployment benefits, Armour said she will
use what severance she had from the turnpike. After that, she›s not sure. «When you›re 50 years old, to start something new is troublesome,» she said. As in past decades when mechanization and offshoring erased countless jobs, those most threatened by the latest push in automation are people with less skills and in tasks that are routine and repetitive. Researchers at the International Monetary Fund, in a recent paper, reported that past pandemics, including SARS in 2003 and Ebola in 2014, not only accelerated robot adoption but tended to increase inequality by displacing low-skilled workers. COVID19- presents a similar risk, they warned. The demand for more automated equipment is likely to grow further as a result of more companies bringing back production to the U.S. Factories in Asian countries such as China and South Korea tend to make more use of robots than the U.S., giving them a competitive advantage that goes beyond labor rates. The effect of automation on workers, as the experiences of the two toll booth collectors suggest, is uneven. For those who can get themselves the right
As in past decades when mechanization and offshoring erased countless jobs, those most threatened by the latest push in automation are people with less skills and in tasks that are routine and repetitive.
training, automation can open up new opportunities. «It creates a whole other career path for some folks,» said Matt Tyler, chief executive of Vickers Engineering, a New Troy, Mich., precisionmachining company that supplies parts for the auto industry and employs about 200 people. «We have additional engineering staff on our payroll, well-compensated folks, that are directly correlated with automation, that didn›t exist in our building 15 years ago,» he said. Tyler is gearing up for what he foresees as a boom in production, once bottlenecks in shipping and the global chip shortage ease. He›s already spent about 2$ million this year for robots from Japan-based FANUC to make products for the Toyota Tundra and other vehicles. In some ways Tyler said he had no
A worker wearing a protective mask cleans an automated check-in kiosk at an Alaska Airlines Inc. check-in area at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (Getty)
That has given a bigger share of the market to larger firms, which can afford more automation and historically pay a smaller percentage of earnings to workers in favor of shareholders and owners. «may suffer significant hardship as they seek new work, potentially in occupations where they have no experience or training,» MIT scholars David Autor and Elisabeth Reynolds said in a Brookings Institution paper. «Paradoxically, having too few low-wage, economically insecure jobs is actually worse than having too many,» they said, because reducing demand for less-skilled people in low-paid jobs won›t «ultimately raise demand for these same workers in middle-paid jobs.»
choice but to automate because fewer and fewer people want to work on the assembly line for 15$ an hour, which is what he pays to start. «Had we done it manually, without automation, I›m convinced we would not have been able to find enough employees anyway,» he said. Tyler›s company relies heavily on highly skilled workers. For those with fewer skills, analysts see a darker future, partly because the United States has never put as much emphasis on job retraining and retention as countries such as Germany has. In the U.S., said Susanne Bieller, general secretary of the Germany-based International Federation of Robotics, there›s more of «a hire and fire way of doing things.» That means less-skilled workers in this country
Contributing to the problem for less-skilled workers is that the pandemic has wiped out countless small businesses. That has given a bigger share of the market to larger firms, which can afford more automation and historically pay a smaller percentage of earnings to workers in favor of shareholders and owners. «We can expect leaner staffing in retail stores, restaurants, auto dealerships, and meat-packing facilities, among many other places,» according to Autor and Reynolds. Melonee Wise, chief executive of San Jose-based Fetch Robotics, a leading U.S. maker of mobile robots, said: «We have to come up with other solutions. There needs to be social protections for people who are experiencing challenges due to technology transformation.» She added: «The fact of the matter is that we›re not going to stop using technology in general because it displaces certain parts of our work.» This article was originally published on the Los Angeles Times.
A Book Announces the Death of Two-State Solution
Palestinian-American Author Proposes “One State of Equality” Mohammad Ali Salih – Washington Last week, Jonathan Kuttab, a Palestinian-American lawyer and a leader among Palestinian activists, now residing in Virginia, spoke at a conference sponsored by overseas supporters of the Israeli Labor Party, and elaborated on his recently-published book, “Beyond the Two-State Solution,” asking: “How about a state where any Jew, any time, no questions asked, can go and live where he doesn’t need to defend himself?” Kuttab was born in Amman, Jordan, in 1952, after his family fled Palestine in 1948, then returned to Jerusalem when he was a twoyear old. After the Six-Day War of 1967, his family moved to the United States. He grew up to become a lawyer, after studying law from the University of Virginia, and a license to practice law in Palestine, Israel, and New York He is the co-founder of the human rights organizations Al Haq, the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists; of the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners, a Palestinian human rights organization focusing on the plight of political prisoners; and of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence. In this interview, he spoke to Majalla about his book and controversial views. Q: You were criticized by some Palestinians for being an American more than a Palestinian because you declared the death of the two-states solution. How do you respond to that? A: I do not know how a one-state solution is more “American” than Palestinian? On the contrary, it is the US policy that has been pushing for a two-state solution, at least verbally, and it is the US that never accepted remotely the one -state solution. Q: Aren’t you now living in the US, because you don’t feel safe if you return to Palestine, particularly because of the opposition to your opinions about the two-state solution? A: I am curious about who are the ones who you claim are criticizing me, and making assumptions as to my intentions, which are so far from reality. I suggest that they read my book, “Be-
yond the Two-State Solution” -- it is free on the Internet. Anyway, I am presently in the US because of Corona, but I will be returning there soon, as my office is in East Jerusalem. And no, I don’t feel unsafe because of my views. To the contrary, I feel my views are closer to what people really want than to the two-state solution, which I championed for many years. but which was forced on us as a compromise, because the attainment of a one-state solution was considered too radical. Q: You didn’t directly call for a one-state solution, but referred to it as “Beyond the Two-State Solution.” Why not specify how the one state is going to be?
A: If you read my book, you would clearly see the outlines of a one-state solution, and what it would look like, including security, constitution, right of return, nature of the state, and other related subjects. Q: The one-state solution brings to mind “Jordan is Palestine.” What do you think of that? Another alternative to “Two-States Solution”? A: The one-state has zero to do with “Jordan is Palestine”. That slogan belongs to those who think that all that the Palestinians want is a state, and, so, why not take Jordan. My thesis is the opposite: What the Palestinians want is freedom, equality, and empowerment. At first, they thought a mini-state in the 22% of historic Palestine, the West Bank/Gaza, gave them that. But then the settlements proved that even that mini-state is not available. My solution is for a genuinely democratic state of “Equality” in all of Palestine. It has nothing to do with Jordan whatsoever, and does not diminish Palestinian rights, but enhances them. Q: You were criticized for resorting to “irreversible fact” about the settlements and the highways. Why did you give up hope? A: I did speak of the irreversible fact of 700,000 settlers, not to mention 7 million Jews in the rest of historic Palestine. I did not give up hope, but I saw the need to come to terms with it, not by giving up 78% of historic Palestine and sharing the occupied territories with the settlers, but in thinking in new terms, out of the box, where we share all of Palestine, in a new formula that bring in the diaspora, the refugees, through the Right of Return, as well as the Palestinians of the Inside, who are marginalized within the Israeli society, as well as the Gazans, into one unified state shared by all Palestinians as well as Jewish Israelis. I feel this is a more radical and audacious vision of hope, rather than despair and abandonment of ideals. Q: Do you really expect this to happen (You said it in 2016, at a New York City synagogue in 2016: “Those who want a Jewish state and a place of safety and security, as well as the Palestinian Arabs who want a place where they can live in security and
dignity.”) A: I do not expect this to happen easily or quickly. It is a vision to fight and struggle towards, but with new and courageous thinking. As I said in my book, the powerful and privileged do not easily accept “Equality”, or abandon their privileges -- unless they are forced by internal and external forces to do so. Q: If the one-state solution became a fact, don’t you think the Israelis won’t be satisfied, and would go to the next stage: “Min Al-forat ila Al-Neel” (from the Euphrates to the Nile)? A: The Israeli Zionist maximalist demands have been limited geographically. I doubt they can expand beyond their present borders. If my vision of “Equality” in the one-state solution ever becomes a defining feature of the reality on the ground, they will wish they had limited themselves to the 1967 borders. That is because “Equality” would further dilute and endanger their quest for a dominant Jewish state in any part of the Middle East. Q: You are not the only one who changed his mind; “J Street,” the powerful liberal Washington Jewish lobbying group, also did. Is that good or bad? A: “J street” changed its mind, not because it favors “Equality,” but because the current situation is no longer tenable. A two- state solution can only exist if the settlements are limited or rolled back. When that became impossible, they had to contend with the reality that a new solution is necessary. Q: Also, Henry Siegman, former director of the American Jewish Congress, and an advocate of a two-state solution, has changed his mind. Is that good or bad? A: I will not comment on Henry Siegman’s views. My point is that the Israelis, at the present time, fully control all of historic Palestine. And while pretending to favor a two-state solution, they have actively undermined it. They have used the Palestinian Authority and the false hope, actually deception, of a Palestinian state about to be created, to avoid their responsibilities while effectively staying in power in all of Palestine. One of the best examples of this is their behavior during the current Coronavirus epidemic. They continue to control all of historic Palestine, and legislate, through military orders, over 50 laws in the West Bank and Gaza. But, when they vaccinated themselves against Covid 19, they claimed that the Oslo Agreement and the mirage of the two-state solution exonerates them from responsibility to vaccinate or treat the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It is this facade that I wish to attack when I called for a one-state reality. I am calling for all the residents, Israelis and Palestinians, to have the same and equal rights. If you think the Americans, or Israelis, are eager to see this happen, you are mistaken. That is why they need a two-state language, while the reality on the ground is a one-state Apartheid regime. I am calling for a one-state of “Equality”.
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1851- May- 07/05/2021
Nadine Njeim: A Lebanese-Tunisian Actress, Model and Beauty Pageant Titleholder www.majalla.com
Historic Jeddah Recovers Slowly from Covid - 19 Huge Restorations Underway Motasem Al Felou- Jeddah “In India, over 350,000 Covid-19 cases are recorded daily. Its healthcare system is falling
apart. A year ago, I was here in Jeddah during Ramadan 2020. We all had fears and some had lost hope. Nobody was here, it was a ghost city. Yeah… the historic part of Jeddah was empty.
This Ramadan is better by far. Look... there are some traffic jams and more shoppers. More shops are re-opening after a hard closure due to the lockdown,” said Nazrul Islam, an Indian taxi driver in Jeddah, when speaking to Majalla. Celebrations of the Holy Month of Ramadan have always been brighter and happier in the historic area of Jeddah. However, last year was an exception. Covid-19 was sweeping across the Kingdom and the world at large. A quick visit to the old heart of the Jeddah shows how the pandemic has affected the most multicultural spot in a city that plays in harmony with Red Sea vibes.
Last year was an exception. Covid- 19 was sweeping across the Kingdom and the world at large. A quick visit to the old heart of the Jeddah shows how the pandemic has affected the most multicultural spot in a city that plays in harmony with Red Sea vibes.
QABEL STREET It is the beating heart of the commercial district in the old city. Qabel Street is over a hundred years old. It has the special vibes that exist in old downtowns in Arab World. A whiff of oud, the woody scent derived from the agarwood tree, will give you a warm welcome upon entering the area.
A traditional restaurant that serves stir-fried liver in Qabel street in Old Jeddah )Supplied(
“It is getting better. Anything is better than last year. More customers are coming. However, we have not reached the pre-Covid-19 levels. I think it will take time. People are afraid to leave home and mingle with others but prefer to shop online. We count on people who are loyal to the shopping experience here in the middle of Old Jeddah,” said Mohammed, a salesperson at a kiosk. Chocolates and other sweets in their colorful packages increase the appetite for shopping. Strict health precautions are taken with each customer. All shops are provided with digital thermometers, hand gel, gloves and masks. The second part of the street is full of money exchange shops. Electronic boards show the prices of international currencies. Due to travel restrictions, those shops seemed to have fewer customers. When people do not travel, the demand for international currencies hits a low. The number of shops that were forced to shut down, permanently or temporarily, or to relocate is readily apparent.
LIVER EATING Having stir-fried liver is one of most popular activities in Old Jeddah. It is the favorite street food during the nights of Ramadan. Small kiosk owners used to get together at specific spots to serve stir-fried liver. Balila (boiled chickpeas with special seasonings), French fries and fresh fruit juices used to be served in the same area. “I miss the liver-eating activity. I used to bring my family here to enjoy Ramadan evenings. Unfortunately, there are no kiosks this year despite lifting the lockdown a long time ago,” said Abu Abdullah, a frequent visitor to the Old Downtown. There are only a handful of restaurants that serve stir-fried liver. The social distance rules have forced restaurants to minimize the number of tables and this means fewer customers. That is why restaurant prices are much higher than those of the kiosks that used to exist in the preCovid-19 era.
EGYPTIAN CAFES Near the Saudi Foreign Ministry building is an area famous for its Egyptian cafes. This area is deserted now. Those cafes used to serve the traditional hot and cold Egyptian drinks as well as the tobacco water pipe (shisha). The prohibition of hookahs in the Kingdom together with the
One of Jeddah’s historic mosques which receive special attention by the Saudi Minis� try of Culture. Some of Jeddah’s mosques date back to seven centuries ago )Supplied(
lockdown have pushed those cafes into bankruptcy. “In the old times, I used to come here twice a day for shisha. My friends and I have stopped
The Saudi government took the opportunity of the lockdown to rehabilitate around 100 traditional buildings, preserving their identity and existence. The whole Historic Jeddah will be transformed into a hub for culture, arts and festivals.
A traditional building in Old Jeddah which is under restoration by the Saudi Ministry of Culture )Supplied(
coming. Cafes that serve shisha were hit hardest,” said Rami, a 33-year-old Egyptian expat based in Jeddah.
RESTORATION WORKS The Old Downtown looks like a big restoration workshop. The Saudi Ministry of Culture is restoring old mosques, buildings and traditional markets, most of which are inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Last year, the Saudi government took the opportunity of the lockdown to rehabilitate around 100 traditional buildings, preserving their identity and existence. The whole Historic Jeddah will be transformed into a hub for culture, arts and festivals. “We are excited to witness the transformation of the Old City. Restoring the beauty of the old buildings will help this part of the city become a touristic hub. I can’t wait” told to Majalla by Sarah, a Saudi graphic designer.
Should Egypt’s Ramadan TV Dramas Better Reflect Reality? Art Critics Speak to Majalla about Their Viewpoints on Ramadan Drama Menna A. Farouk Violence, murder, bullying and swear words have been the highlights of Egyptian TV drama series for years now. That prompted the state authorities to set a code of ethics for TV dramas to preserve “the identity and cohesiveness of the Egyptian society.” This approach has drawn mixed reactions as some say that this kind of violence and bullying defames the image of the Egyptian society while others say that the dramas should reflect a part of reality. This year the Drama Committee of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation followed up and monitored the series shown on Egyptian television channels and
Egyptian satellite screens, confirming that surveillance takes place in light of the media codes issued. The Council set a number of rules, including the requirement to eliminate any images that distort the family, women and childhood, as well as images depicting violence, whether verbal or physical. Earlier, journalist Karam Jabr, head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, said that the Council would activate the penalties list against all violators without exception. The list stipulates penalties for violating the standards and codes set by the Council, which begin with a notice and warning but increase to the imposition of a fine and shutting down broadcasting for continued violations.
REFLECTING PART OF REALITY
A still from Khali Balak Mn Zizi (Take Care of Zizi) TV series.
Art critic Magda Kheirallah said that TV drama should convey a part of reality as it does in all international TV series. “Is the violence and bullying in US dramas defaming the image of US society?” Khairallah told Majalla. Khairallah said that there is a huge difference between art and reality because art includes imagination. “This is a very narrow perspective on art,” she said. Meanwhile, Khairallah said that this year’s Ramadan dramas offer a diverse and new approach as they address key issues, including those related to national security, education, harassment, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and oral divorce in Islam. While three TV series are tackling issues related to national security, namely El-Ekhteyar 2 (The Choice 2), Cairo Kabul and Hagma Mortada (Counterattack), there are also other TV series like Al-Tawoos (Peacock), Khali Balak Min Zizi (Take Care of Zizi) and Lebet Newton (Newton’s Cradle) dealing with sexual harassment, ADHD and oral divorce, respectively. Al-Tawoos discusses rape and violations against women especially when they are done by wealthy and influential people. El-Ekhtiyar 2 tells the stories of Egyptian officers who are sacrificing their lives for the sake of their homeland. Cairo Kabul, meanwhile, presents three exciting
Poster of El-Ekhtayar 2 )The Choice 2) TV series
“Art should include imagination and fantasy and should be a rest from reality. When watching artistic works, the viewers want to be immersed in adventures and new experiences. They do not want to see what they are already experiencing in reality,” said Zakaryia. stories about the plots being hatched against the Arab region, especially Egypt recently, highlighting the terrorist acts that take place in this region. Counterattack, which is inspired by one of the files of the Egyptian General Intelligence, is a drama about a young Egyptian man whom foreign parties are seeking to recruit in order to implement a scheme threatening the national security of Egypt.
REALITY’S SHADOW Essam Zakaryia, an art critic and president of the Ismailia International Film Festival, said that the TV drama should not reflect reality but it should be reality’s shadow. “Art should include imagination and fantasy and should be a rest from reality. When watching artistic works, the viewers want to be immersed in adventures and new experiences. They do not want to see what they are already experiencing in reality,” he told Majalla. Zakaryia added that even in a historical TV series there has to be imagination and not merely sticking to the book. The art critic mentioned the TV series “The Crown” which follows the life and the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. “The TV series is not showing the exact events of the life of Queen Elizabeth II but it includes a lot of imagination. The English people are not angry about that and they do not care that it is not true. They know that this is art and art is fiction and imagination,” he said. “We should overcome this perception about whether drama is defaming the image of the society or not because everything is possible in drama,” he added.
Stuck in a ‘Limbo’ A Disarming Syrian Refugee Story with a Scottish Burr Michael Phillips The phone booth sits in the middle of nowhere, beside a thin, forlorn stretch of road, somewhere on an unnamed island off Scotland. The landscape, gorgeous and forbidding, suggests dystopia, but it’s not the future. In the rig-
orously maintained style of the disarming seriocomedy “Limbo,” now out in theaters, it’s a piece of the here and now, just not a here and now most would recognize. That phone booth becomes one of many visual motifs in writer-director Ben Sharrock’s film, a tale of displacement and discovery seen through the eyes of asylum-seekers from various coun-
From left) Amir El-( Masry as “Omar”, Ola Orebiyi as “Wasef”, Kwabena Ansah as “Abedi” and Vikash Bhai as “Farhad” in director Ben Sharrock’s “Limbo “ )TNS(
tries. These men, all single, await word on their refugee work status, wondering if they did the right thing to leave home, dreaming of a way out of the title’s state of being. The main character is Omar, played with a winning, carefully inflected touch by Amir El-Masry. His long-distance calls to his Syrian parents, now living in Istanbul, fill Omar with memories of meals and spices he cannot find in his temporary quarters. Omar’s brother has returned, we learn, to Syria to fight in his homeland’s ongoing war. The brothers parted on profoundly uneasy terms and haven’t spoken since Omar took off, carrying his grandfather’s cherished and gorgeously engraved stringed instrument, an oud. The oud goes everywhere Omar goes in “Limbo.” “It doesn’t sound right,” Omar says at one point, rationalizing why he hasn’t played since he left home. On the fictional Scottish island — “Limbo” was filmed largely on North and South Uist in the Outer Hebrides — the forlorn young man attends eccentric cultural orientation lessons and barebones seminars in job-hunting or Western social norms. His Afghan friend and fellow refugee Farhad (Vikash Bhai, a deadpan ace) nudges Omar toward picking up his instrument, in part so he can become his “agent-slash-manager.” Much of their banter, like their interaction with the initially belligerent locals as well as refugees from Ghana, Libya and elsewhere, reveals Sharrock’s particular comic approach. It’s built on fixed camera perspectives, witty arrangements of mute, skeptical faces reacting in unison to one thing or another. The heightened oddness may, in theme and setting, recall the widely loved Bill Forsyth comedy “Local Hero” (1983), which made crucial and rewarding use of a phone booth as well. But Sharrock’s aesthetics owe more to the visual precision of Aki Kaurismaki, especially the refugee folktale “Le Havre.” At times, “Limbo” can feel confining in ways that exceed the confining circumstances of its characters. But the story of Omar deepens and amplifies the film’s second half, maintaining its droll amusements but playing the circumstances for just enough bittersweet honesty to make it stick. Also, there’s one sight gag in particular, involving Farhad’s beloved (stolen) chicken and a suddenly
There’s one sight gag in particular, involving Farhad’s beloved (stolen) chicken and a suddenly awakened Omar, that’s so beautifully shot and edited, it’s basically a seven-second calling card for sophomore feature director Sharrock’s entire filmmaking future. awakened Omar, that’s so beautifully shot and edited, it’s basically a seven-second calling card for sophomore feature director Sharrock’s entire filmmaking future. ’LIMBO‘
3 stars (out of 4) Rating: R (for language) Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes Playing: Now in theaters This article was originally published on the Chicago Tribune.
(From left) Kenneth Collard as “Boris”, Sidse Babett Knudsen as “Helga” and Kwabena Ansah as “Abedi” in director Ben Sharrock’s “Limbo.” (TNS)
We Can 3d Print Wood Now A Pioneering Company is Printing Furniture out of Wood Wastes By Adele Peters
ment at San Jose State University and one of the founders of Forust, a startup that is now launchThe most trafficked wild product in the world ing as part of Desktop Metal, a larger 3D printing isn’t ivory or rhino horn, but rosewood, an en- company. The new process can print wood with dangered tree verging on extinction as demand a grain that mimics any type of tree, from ash to for rosewood furniture in China clears out for- mahogany. ests in places like Madagascar. But what if an identical material could be 3D printed from The technology uses two byproducts from the wood industry. “A tree is made of lignin and celwood waste? lulose,” says Ric Fulop, CEO of Desktop Metal. Two years ago, pioneers in the 3D printing in- “When you make things out of trees, whether it’s dustry started exploring new materials. “We real- furniture or paper, you’re essentially dematerialized really quickly that wood waste is a material izing the tree – what we’re trying to do is put that that could be transformed for 3D printing,” says back together.” The process spreads thin layers of Virginia San Fratello, chair of the design depart- sawdust, and inkjets a nontoxic binder (including
lignin, the part of natural wood that helps hold it together) to recreate the grain of wood layer by layer. Unlike particle board or laminate, the grain goes fully through the material, so it can be sanded and refinished like wood. A product like a chair or bowl can also be printed in its finished form, without waste. It’s also possible to easily print detailed shapes. “We can make incredibly complex geometries that would probably take a craftsman weeks or a month,” says San Fratello. “That kind of complexity is free with additive manufacturing.” Over time, designers might use the process to make materials that go beyond the qualities of natural wood – a guitar or a speaker, for example, could potentially look like wood but have characteristics in the grain that help improve the sound of the product.
“A tree is made of lignin and cellulose. When you make things out of trees, whether it’s furniture or paper, you’re essentially dematerializing the tree – what we’re trying to do is put that back together.”
ed into something new. For companies that are aiming for circularity, such as Ikea, it could conceivably be one way to change how furniEach year, an estimated 15 billion trees are cut ture is made. “This is the first time you have a down (at the same time that companies and coun- circular process for wood manufacturing,” says tries are spending billions to try to protect for- Fulop. ests for their climate benefits). Only some of that wood is logged sustainably. And much of each This article was originally published on Fast tree still ends up as waste. There’s a huge supply Company. of the sawdust and lignin needed for 3D printed wood. “They pay you to pick it up,” says Fulop. “It’s going into landfill right now. Hundreds of millions of metric tons of waste is generated every year just in the U.S. alone,” The process could also make use of small branches that wouldn’t be used for lumber, but that need to be cleared out of forests in places like California to help prevent forest fires. The company plans to work with companies and designers to make furniture, architectural accents, and home goods (but not, Fulop says, something like two-by-four lumber). The cost of the final product is competitive with wood, and with complex or large designs, may be less expensive. It can be mass-produced quickly at a large scale, but the company envisions one of the benefits being the fact that it can be printed locally on demand, so products don’t have to be shipped long distances. If a product eventually breaks or wears out, it could be potentially be ground out and reprint-
Protect Your Heart Ways to Fight Chronic Inflammation and Cholesterol Harvard Health Letter It takes a one-two punch to lower these risks for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. High cholesterol has long been known as a bad actor in heart health. Too much LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood can lead to fatty deposits in your arteries and the formation of artery-narrowing plaque (atherosclerosis), heart attacks, and strokes. But LDL doesn›t act alone. Chronic inflammation
-- a persistent activation of the immune system -also fuels heart attack and stroke risks. That means you must address both high LDL levels and chronic inflammation to protect your health.
DOUBLE DEFENSES Many approaches fight high LDL and chronic inflammation at the same time. Eat a healthy diet. What you eat can contribute to
both chronic inflammation and high LDL levels. Offenders include saturated fat (the kind in red meat, foods fried in animal fat, or cheese), sugary foods and drinks (like soda and baked goods), and processed foods (like chicken nuggets, frozen dinners, or hot dogs). A heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory diet -- such as a Mediterranean-style diet -- includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins (fish and poultry), low-fat dairy foods, and olive oil. «It›s not a specific nutrient that confers benefits, but a pattern of eating including fresh, leafy vegetables with antioxidants; fiber that may help lower cholesterol; and olive oil that may have an antioxidant function, lower triglycerides and thereby fight inflammation, and reduce cardiovascular problems,» says Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women›s Hospital. Control your weight. Being overweight increases the risks for high LDL levels, heart attack, and stroke. One reason why: «Fat tissue is teeming with cells that trigger chronic inflammation,» Dr. Libby notes. «We have incontrovertible evidence that abdominal obesity is bad for heart health.» To control weight, Dr. Libby suggests thinking about how much you eat, not just what you eat, and reducing your portion sizes if necessary. «Even a %5 reduction in body weight will increase your heart health,» he says. Increase physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle has many risks, including higher levels of chronic inflammation and lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol that helps remove LDL from your arteries). This is true even if you are a healthy weight. On the flip side, an active lifestyle helps reduce LDL, high blood pressure, stress, and body weight, and improves triglyceride levels, blood vessel function, and the body›s use of insulin (which shepherds blood sugar into cells). Physical activity may also be involved in taming white blood cells. «If you take mice and exercise them in a laboratory, it can quiet the overproduction of inflammatory cells in the bone marrow, while preserving the ability to fight infection,» Dr. Libby says. How much should you exercise? Don›t think of it that way, Dr. Libby advises. «Just start doing more,» he says. «Can you increase walking from once a week to twice a week? You›ll make a difference in cardiovascular health with incremental change.»
A heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory diet -- such as a Mediterranean-style diet -- includes vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean proteins (fish and poultry), lowfat dairy foods, and olive oil. Address sleep and stress issues. Interrupted sleep and high stress levels may contribute to obesity, physical inactivity, and poor food choices -- which can lead to high LDL levels. Dr. Libby says poor sleep and high stress may also send signals to bone marrow to increase production of white blood cells, fueling chronic inflammation. That makes it crucial for heart health to reduce stress (yoga or meditation can help) and see a doctor if you suspect you have sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep) or any other kind of sleep difficulty.
PARTNERS IN CRIME As cholesterol deposits damage artery walls, the immune system sends in a cavalry of white blood cells and other inflammatory cells in a vain attempt to remove the deposits. A fibrous cap grows over the mess, enabling plaques to grow larger. «It›s a chronic inflammatory response that›s slow and happens over months, years, or decades,» says Dr. Peter Libby, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women›s Hospital.
WHEN LIFESTYLE CHANGE ISN’T ENOUGH A number of medications can treat high LDL and chronic inflammation. The first line of defense: statins, which substantially lower heart attack and stroke risk. «The ability of statins to lower LDL and to quiet inflammation are equally important in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke,» Dr. Libby says. And now we know that some medications that treat only inflammation may also help reduce heart attack risk.
Nadine Njeim: A Lebanese-Tunisian Actress, Model and Beauty Pageant Titleholder
By Majalla Illustration by Ali Mandalawi
Nadine Njeim was elected Miss Lebanon 2004 and represented her home country in the Miss Universe 2005 pageant in Lebanon. This brought her fame in Lebanon and the Arab world, which facilitated her mission to enter the field of art 14 years ago. In 2007, Nadine was given a role in the series “Step of Love.” when the writer Anis Fakhoury nominated her for the role. As of 2021, she became the most followed Lebanese actress on Instagram with more than 12 million followers. Born on 7 February 1984 in Beirut in the Ashrafieh area, to a Lebanese Christian father, who used to work as a male tailor, and a Tunisian Muslim mother, Nadine’s roots go back to the Bekaa Valley, specifically the town of Doris, the family’s ancestral hometown. She started modeling at the age of sixteen and participated in the Miss Lebanon competition in 2004 which was part of reality television on the Lebanese television for the first time in the history of the competition. A graduate from the College of Business Administration in Lebanon, she married Hady Asmar in 2013 and went on to have two children, a daughter and a son with him but they divorced in September 2019. Since passing on her title Miss Lebanon, Njeim has pursued a career in acting and has been cast in various lead roles for a multitude of television shows such as Law and Cello, Samra, 3eshk El Nesa, Nos Yawm, Al Hayba, Tareeq and Khamse w Noss. She
was the first Arab actress nominated at the Seoul International Film Festival for Best Actress for her performance in Samra. Njeim collaborated with several stars in the Arab world, most notably Tim Hassan, Qusay Al-Khouli, Abed Fahd, Youssef Al Khal, and was able to grab many awards, including the title of best Lebanese actress for the years 2014, 2015, 2017, including the Murex Award. In 2016, Njeim’s views on premarital sex and gender equality, expressed in a 2012 interview on Future TV, rose to relevancy since many found them to be controversial. She said, “I want women to stay women. If they equate me with a man, I’d feel like a man. I don’t want to. I want to stay a woman.” In response to the backlash she received, Njeim stated in another interview that she believes the content of the resurfaced clip had been purposely edited to discredit her. She said she supported women’s rights and that her message promoted gender equality. Njeim starred in Season One of Al Hayba, but not in Seasons 2 and 3 because her role as a woman on the show conformed to gender stereotypes and she wanted her character to be more physically active. On August 4, 2020, the Lebanese actress was severely injured in the Beirut explosion, severely injured in the face, and underwent an operation that lasted about 6 hours. On March 8, 2021(Women’s Day), Nadine tweeted on her Twitter account, saying “Greetings to the Lebanese woman for her determination and persistence in the shadow of all that is happening in Lebanon and greeting to Arab women in general. I saw her in the first rows, and she was like the leader
to those around her and I saw her in the last rows, so she was like the guardian of her family, and I saw her in the middle where the balance between her mind and her heart was achieved.” The women of Lebanon and the Arab world saluted Nadine by publishing several photos and comments reflecting her strength in her recent crisis after the Beirut Port explosion, and they confirmed that she is one of the symbols of power among the stars in the artistic field. This Ramadan, she plays the role of Sama in a “2020” series written by Nadine Jaber and directed by Philip Asmar. It is about a drug dealer who falls in love with Sama, the security officer who is following up the leaders of Case Number 2020. The series is also starring Qusay Khouli. It presents sensitive social issues, and its events proceed at an accelerated pace, in a dramatic line that mixes romance and action, and its characters live between two contradictory worlds, and they engage in conflicts in which they use all their tools to achieve their ambitions, the past pursues them and casts a shadow over their future. The hashtag “2020” was trending on Twitter in Lebanon before the first episode was shown on MTV and MBC. After the first episodes, a large number of the audience interacted with the hashtag and expressed their great enthusiasm to continue the series. Njeim is a woman who loves life and beauty. It takes a rare courage and optimism to say as she did after the Beirut crisis, “Thank you God for everything, I am full of positivity and still in love with life.”