Biden Contends with Congress
Egypt’s Train Collision Brings Up Railway Woes
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Issue 1846- April- 02/04/2021
Zahi Hawass: Egypt’s Indiana Jones A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1846- April- 02/04/2021
A Deterrent Force Still Absent www.majalla.com
A Weekly Political News Magazine
www.majalla.com/eng The U.S. administration and European countries are still reluctant to take any action against Iran in spite of its ongoing defiance of nuclear restrictions and repeated harassment of countries in the region. In this week’s cover story, Jassim Mohamad gives us more insights on the Mullahs’ drones and ballistic missile arsenal, and the threats they pose to the region in the absence of deterrence, while referring to Tehran’s state-sponsored terrorism which requires urgent global action. Last week Egypt witnessed one of its deadliest train collision, killing 19 passengers and injuring 185 others. It was the latest in a long series of railway accidents that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Egyptians over the years and invited attention to the dangerous nature of using the trains in this populous country. Amr Emam tracks the roots of the crisis while interviewing experts who show that the Egyptian railway network is in dire need of a comprehensive overhaul, and that safety standards should be raised to avoid such fatal incidents. The oldest synagogue in the GCC, ‘The House of Ten Commandments’, is located in the heart of old Manama Souq in Bahrain. Marking the recent renovation of the synagogue, Meera Ravi writes about the feelings and the insights of the Bahraini Jewish community who attended last week’s Passover, while highlighting the important role the synagogue will play in the renewal of the Jewish community’s identity and the cultural significance it carries for the future generations. 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
Major Behavior Change Towards Food Waste
Issue 1846- April- 02/04/2021
18 What’s in the China-Iran Strategic
Cooperation Agreement ?
China Is Evolving a Distinct
30 Space Culture
38 Vaccinated Arabs Speak Out
46 The Season of Flowers
Anti-racism Initiative by 42 Syrian-Kurdish Artist 5
52 Take a Mental Break
Easing the lockdown in London
A goup of women exercise in a park following the easing of England›s Coronavirus lockdown to allow far greater freedom outdoors in London, Monday, March 29, 2021. England is embarking on a major easing of its latest coronavirus lockdown that came into force at the start of the year, with families and friends able to meet up in outdoor spaces and many sports permitted once again )AF Photos(
ISSF World Cup 2021
Mariya Dmitriyenko of Kazakhstan competes in the women’s trap team final of the ISSF World Cup 2021, at the Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi on March 28, 2021. New Delhi, , India )AFP Photos(
A WEEK IN THE MIDDLE EAST LEBANON
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun said this week the country could face chaos before it can recover from a financial meltdown, Reuters reported. Crushed under a mountain of debt and decades of graft, Lebanon has plunged into its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war. Aoun, a former army commander, and Saad al-Hariri, a three-time premier who was designated prime minister in October, have been locked in a standoff over the makeup of a new cabinet as the crisis
worsens. Scenes of shoppers brawling over goods, protesters blocking roads, and shuttered businesses are now commonplace. "I will hand over the country better than when it was handed to me ... but I fear the cost will be very high, ) there ( may be chaos before that," Aoun said in comments published by Lebanese television channel al-Jadeed. Aoun's term expires in 2022.
KUWAIT Kuwait’s Oil Minister Oil Mohammad Abdulatif al-Fares expressed “cautious optimism” this week that the global oil demand will improve as COVID-19 vaccination programs gather pace and industrial output recovers, Reuters reported. Speaking ahead of a joint meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major oil producers, he said the market supply/demand balance has largely improved as result of output cuts implemented by the group known as OPEC+, according to state news agency KUNA. He called on the group to the fully comply with these cuts.
EGYPT Formal investigations into how the giant container ship Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal, shutting down shipping in the major global waterway for almost a week, began on Wednesday, a canal official told Reuters. The six-day blockage threw global supply chains into disarray after the 400-metre-long (430-yard) ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia. Egypt's Leth Agencies said on Wednesday that a total of 163 ships had transited the Suez Canal since its reopening and that a total of 292 ships were currently waiting. Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie has suggested weather conditions, including high winds, and human error could have played a role in the grounding on March 23.
YEMEN Independent U.N. sanctions monitors have withdrawn accusations against Yemen’s government of money-laundering and corruption that they said “adversely affected” access to food supplies in a country on the brink of famine, a document showed, according to a Reuters report. The experts had said in an annual report to the U.N. Security Council that Yemen’s central bank broke its foreign exchange rules, manipulated the foreign exchange market and “laundered a substantial part of a $2 billion Saudi deposit in a sophisticated money-laundering scheme”. In a March 26 document seen by Reuters, and whose authenticity was confirmed by a diplomat, the experts provided an update to a Security Council committee saying a preliminary review showed no evidence of corruption or money laundering and that indications show “food prices were stabilised in 2019”.
SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia said this week it would allow people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend sporting events at stadiums at a capacity of 40% starting May 17 as the kingdom pushes its immunisation campaign, Reuters reported. The sports ministry said in a statement on state media that as an exception, vaccinated fans would be allowed to attend an Asia World Cup qualifiers match between the Saudi and Palestinian teams on Tuesday in the capital Riyadh. Admittance will be allowed for people with “immune” status on the Tawakkalna mobile phone app launched by Saudi authorities last year to help track coronavirus cases. Face masks and physical distancing would be required. Saudi Arabia last week expanded COVID-19 vaccinations to all citizens and residents aged 16 and above.
PALESTINIANS Palestinians this week received 100,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by China to help broaden an initial campaign to vaccinate medical staff, the elderly and the chronically ill, Reuters reported. Palestinian health authorities have been mounting a limited vaccination drive among the 5.2 million people living in the Israel-occupied West Bank and Gaza, using vaccines provided by Israel, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and the global COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative. So far, more than 69,000 Palestinians have received their first dose of the vaccine, and around 7,600 people have had both shots, according to a health ministry statement.
UAE A firm based in the United Arab Emirates will start commercial production of China’s Sinopharm vaccines in April, under a deal announced this week, Reuters reported. Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries PSC, based in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, signed the deal with Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence and cloud computing company Group 42 (G42), which handled Phase III late-stage clinical trials of a Sinopharm vaccine in the UAE and the wider region. The announcement is an expansion of Chinese diplomacy in the Gulf region and helps the UAE’s quest to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon production. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has just completed a two-day official visit to the UAE, saying Beijing wanted to work with the UAE on producing affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
OMAN Oman, a mediator in ceasefire talks between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Houthi group, said this week it hoped an agreement between the warring parties would be reached “very soon”, Reuters reported. Yemen’s six-year-old conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, and pushed the country to the verge of starvation. Muscat has been working closely with Riyadh, Washington and the United Nations to reach a comprehensive political solution to the crisis. “The sultanate hopes that these contacts will achieve the desired result very soon, in order to restore security and stability to brotherly Yemen and preserve the security and interests of the countries in the region,” a statement carried by the Omani state news agency ONA said.
A WEEK ACROSS THE WORLD
Forces in Zawiya in western Libya this w captives taken from Khalifa Haftar's easte (LNA) to solidify a months-long ceasefire unity, Reuters reported. The men had been held since April 2019 assault to seize control of the capital, Trip northwest, ending with his retreat last su Libya's warring sides agreed a ceasefire in political talks led this month to agreemen to replace the two rival administrations t west.The process, seen as Libya's best chance in years to end the decade of chaos NATO-backed rising against Muammar Gaddafi, remains fragile with myriad armed the ground.
SUDAN The Sudanese government and a major rebel group from its southern Nuba Mountains this week signed a document which paves the way for a final peace agreement by guaranteeing freedom of worship to all while separating religion and the state, Reuters reported. The signing is viewed as a crucial step in efforts by the power-sharing government headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to reach accords with rebel groups across the country and end decades of conflicts that left millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead. Last year Sudan signed a peace agreement with many groups, including from the Western region of Darfur. But a key faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu, did not join in last year's agreement because it stuck to its demand that Sudan dispenses with sharia law and becomes a secular, democratic state.
U.S. Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE said this week that their COVID-19 vaccine was safe and effective and produced robust antibody responses in 12- to 15-year olds, paving the way for them to seek U.S. emergency use authorization in weeks, Reuters reforged. Pfizer hopes that vaccinations of the group could begin before the next school year, Albert Bourla, Pfizer's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. Pfizer's vaccine is already authorized for use in people starting at age 16. The new study offers the first evidence of how the vaccine will also work in school-age adolescents. In the trial of 2,260 adolescents aged 12 to 15, there were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the group that got a placebo shot and none in the group that got the vaccine, resulting in 100% efficacy in preventing COVID-19, the companies said in a statement.
AFGHANISTAN Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan this week replied to a letter written by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, and said Islamabad desires peaceful relations with New Delhi, an official source told Reuters. Modi had written to Khan on the occasion of Pakistan's Republic Day on March 23, also calling for peaceful relations between the two nuclear-armed rivals. Dated March 29, the letter wasn't officially released by either side but the official, speaking on anonymity, confirmed its contents which were shared widely on social media. "The people of Pakistan also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours, including India," Khan said in his reply, adding, "I thank you for your letter conveying greetings on Pakistan Day." Neither the Indian or Pakistani foreign ministries responded to requests for comment.
China and Iran, both subject to U.S. sanc week to strengthen their long-standing e report. "Relations between the two countries h China seeks to comprehensively improv was quoted by Iran's state media as telli "Our relations with Iran will not be affec strategic," Wang said ahead of the televi Wang also met Ali Larijani, a senior advi independently on its relations with other countries and is no one phone call."
week released more than 100 ern-based Libyan National Army e and moves towards national
when Haftar launched an poli, and other areas in the ummer. n October in Geneva, and nt on a new unity government that had ruled in east and s and violence since the 2011 d groups still wielding control on
RUSSIA Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week he had experienced minor side effects from the coronavirus vaccine after receiving the first shot on Tuesday, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a TV interview, according to a Reuters report. “I woke up the next morning after the vaccination and it seemed to me I felt slight pain in muscles. I took a thermometer... my temperature was normal,” he told the state Rossiya 1 TV channel. He said he also had an uncomfortable feeling on the site of the injection. Putin did not reveal which of three Russian vaccines he had taken, saying only the doctor who inoculated him knows that.
ctions, signed a 25-year cooperation agreement this economic and political alliance, according to a Reuters
have now reached the level of strategic partnership and ve relations with Iran," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi ing his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif. cted by the current situation, but will be permanent and ised signing ceremony. iser to Iran's supreme leader, who said: "Iran decides
ot like some countries that change their position with
SWITZERLAND A robot armed with virus-killing ultraviolet light is being tested on Swiss airplanes, yet another idea aiming to restore passenger confidence and spare the travel industry more pandemic pain. UVeya, a Swiss start-up, is conducting the trials of the robots with Dubai-based airport services company Dnata inside Embraer jets from Helvetic Airways, a charter airline owned by Swiss billionaire Martin Ebner. Aircraft makers still must certify the devices and are studying the impact their UV light may have on interior upholstery, which could fade after many disinfections, UVeya co-founder Jodoc Elmiger said. Still, he’s hopeful robot cleaners could reduce people’s fear of flying, even as COVID-19 circulates. “This is a proven technology, it’s been used for over 50 years in hospitals and laboratories, it’s very efficient,” Elmiger said on Wednesday. “It doesn’t leave any trace or residue.”
MYANMAR Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in good health this week in her first video meeting with one of her lawyers since she was detained in a coup, as the United States ordered non-essential embassy staff to leave the country, Reuters reported. The Nobel laureate, who has been held in custody since the military seized power on Feb. 1, had wanted to meet lawyers in person but ended up being allowed a video conference in the presence of police, lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters by telephone. “Amay looks healthy, her complexion is good,” Min Min Soe said, using an affectionate term meaning “mother” to refer to Suu Kyi.
BRAZIL Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday signed an executive order to disburse 5.3 billion reais ($918.08 million) in new loans to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country hit a record tally of 3,780 deaths per day, Reuters reported. Brazil currently accounts for about a quarter of COVID-19 daily deaths worldwide, more than any other country, and its vaccination efforts have been hampered by a lack of shots. Bolsonaro has been widely condemned for his handling of the pandemic, from playing down the severity of the disease, to criticizing early efforts to secure vaccines and opposing social distancing measures. The new loans will be used to prop up Brazil’s health system, the finance ministry said. The health ministry will receive the funding and said it will use it at over 2,600 public health clinics, as well as to build more hospital beds.
A WEEK ACROSS THE WORLD
RUSSIA Forces in Zawiya in western Libya this week released more than 100 captives taken from Khalifa Haftar's eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) to solidify a months-long ceasefire and moves towards national unity, Reuters reported. The men had been held since April 2019 when Haftar launched an assault to seize control of the capital, Tripoli, and other areas in the northwest, ending with his retreat last summer.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week had experienced minor side effects from the coronavirus vaccine after receiving the first sh Tuesday, the Interfax news agency reported, ci TV interview, according to a Reuters report. “I woke up the next morning after the vaccina
A Deterrent Force Still Absent How Essential is it to Combat Iranian Threats? By Jassim Mohamad - Bonn The standoff between the United States and Iran has become a routine one. However, the present American appeasement of the rulers of Tehran shows the White House’s limited approach on a diplomatic or military level. We can see this in the Biden administration’s unwillingness to escalate the confrontation with Iran. Who should take the first step to resume compli-
ance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is not a concern for the United States, a U.S. official said last week, suggesting greater flexibility on the part of Washington. «That›s not the issue, who goes first,» the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, seeking to dispel what he said was the erroneous view that the United States insists on Iran›s full compliance before Washington would take any steps to resume its own commitments. The political system in Iran is characterized by
a multitude of loosely connected and generally fiercely competitive power centers, both formal and informal. The former is grounded in the constitution and in governmental regulations and takes the form of state institutions and offices. The latter includes religious-political associations, revolutionary foundations, and paramilitary organizations aligned with various factions of Iran›s clerical leadership. In the first of a series of Transition 2021 memos examining policy challenges across the Middle East, esteemed diplomat and policymaker Dennis Ross provides an innovative approach to reengaging Iran in nuclear diplomacy. His ideas make it possible to extend Iran’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen U.S. alliances in Europe and across the Middle East.
LONG-RANGE DRONE SYSTEMS
Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conduct a military drill with ballistic missiles and unmanned air vehicles at Great Salt Desert, in the middle of the Iranian Plateau, on January 15, 2021 in Iran. (Getty)
Iran boasts a family of long-range drone systems with sufficient range to reach Riyadh with lightweight explosive or sensor payloads, whether launched from its own territory, Yemen, or Iraq. Iran-backed militias have twice assisted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in launching small explosive-laden delta-wing drones from Iraq into Saudi Arabia at ranges of 600-700 kilometers. Houthi-held territory in Yemen has also been used to launch long-range Sammad-2 and Sammad-3 explosive-laden drones against Riyadh. Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East. (Israel has more capable ballistic missiles, but fewer in number and type.) Most were acquired from foreign sources, notably North Korea. The Islamic Republic is the only country to develop a 2,000-km missile without first having a nuclear weapons capability.
NUCLEAR PROGRAM However, the missile program is a complex and sophisticated response to Iran’s unique security challenges which should be analyzed on its own. The signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCOPA) in July 2015 has made this task more urgent. With the nuclear program rolled back, the missiles have become a new target of
It is expected that Iran will continue to target maritime navigation in the Gulf waters, and continue to target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Yemen, in parallel with its refusal to negotiate with the United States over the nuclear issue. international attention. The ballistic program is run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), commonly known as the Revolutionary Guards, which has been subject to numerous sanctions because of its alleged terror activities and other infractions.
REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS The Persian country has more than 500,000 active-duty personnel, including 125,000 members of its elite Revolutionary Guards, according to a report last year by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. But international sanctions and restrictions on arms imports have made it hard for Iran to develop or buy more sophisticated weaponry. To compensate for the imbalance, Iran has developed “asymmetrical” responses - ballistic missiles, deadly drones and a web of militia allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, among other things - with the aim of being able to inflict pain while avoiding the traditional battlefield.
DRONES THREAT Iran has used drones to harass the US naval presence around the Arabian Gulf, augment its influence in Syria and Iraq, and attack or threaten the critical infrastructure of US allies in the region. To neutralize the Iranian drone threat, the US should pursue a strategy based on raising the costs of further attacks, investing in counter-drone technologies, and extending the UN arms embargo.
“Iran is poised to blow through additional nuclear deal restrictions in the next few weeks. This is the crucial time to avoid an escalation of the situation,” said Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, an organization that has closely tracked nuclear negotiations involving Iran. One reason for a sense of urgency among some U.S. officials as well as those outside the American government is that Iran holds presidential elections in June, with the campaign season kicking off in May. The politics surrounding the 2015 nuclear agreement are very sensitive in Iran, so the mullahs’ regime is unlikely to allow any major moves on it amid a campaign.
IRAN - CHINA For Iran, China is its most important potential savior in midst of the US embargo as it is Tehran’s first trading partner. Beijing was the first destination for Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal. This highlights the importance of China to Iran at present and reflects the possibility of China-Iran trade and investment cooperation continuing conditioned upon developing a secure financial transaction mechanism between the two countries. According to Khamenei, there are two potential ways to confront the sanctions – either «begging
To neutralize the Iranian drone threat, the US should pursue a strategy based on raising the costs of further attacks, investing in counter-drone technologies, and extending the UN arms embargo.
sanctioners to lift sanctions» which would prompt them to roll out «a few arrogant demands» or «using domestic sources to produce sanctioned products.» Iran’s Defense Ministry unveiled a mass of new drones over the weekend for the Islamic Republic’s army and air force. According to Tehran, the drones have advanced capabilities and can fly more than 1,000 km., which means they could reach Israel from Iran. “This would rival the best drones that the US and other countries are now using. These drones have a range of up to 1,500 km, and can fly for several hours. It is a message to Israel, the US and their allies – We can reach you.” wrote Seth J. Frantzman, the Middle East affairs analyst at
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) drill held by Iranian army in Semnan, Iran on January 5, 2021 (Getty)
al-time targeting using unscrewed aerial vehicles and drones. Radical terrorism in its many forms remains the It is expected that Iran will continue to target marmost immediate global threat. The Lebanon-based itime navigation in the Gulf waters, and continue Hezbollah has a long history of executing terror- to target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Yemist attacks against American targets in the Mid- en, in parallel with its refusal to negotiate with the dle East at Iran’s direction. Such state-sponsored United States over the nuclear issue. Iran wants terrorist attacks pose the Iran’s greatest potential to obtain greater privileges and raise the ceiling threats to the U.S. homeland, at least until Iran of its demands with the U.S., as well as to reach develops a long-range ballistic missile capable of a direct agreement with the U.S. and put aside the Europeans. The Iranian escalation comes due to targeting the United States. Iran will likely continue to enhance the precision the lack of a deterrent force or the inability of the and increase the range of its solid-fuel, Fateh- U.S. and Europe to document Iran›s violations family of ballistic missiles, while also seeking which can be attributed to American and Euroto improve pre-launch survivability. In parallel, pean avoidance of any security escalation in the Tehran is likely to build a capacity to develop re- Strait of Hormuz for economic reasons. The Jerusalem Post.
What’s in the China-Iran Strategic Cooperation Agreement? Sino-Iranian Deal Lags Behind Beijing’s Engagement in the Region Shannon Tiezzi On March 27, Iran and China signed a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement addressing economic issues amid crippling U.S. sanctions on Iran, state TV reported. The agreement, dubbed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, covers a variety of economic activity from oil and mining to promoting industrial activity in Iran, as well as transportation and agricultural collaborations, according to the report. The deal also supports tourism and cultural exchanges. It comes on the 50th anniversary of the establish-
ment of diplomatic relations between China and Iran. No additional details of the agreement were revealed as Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi took part in a ceremony marking the event. Wang was in Iran as part of a broader six-country tour of the Middle East, which also included stops in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman. The deal marked the first time Iran has signed such a lengthy agreement with a major world power. In 2001, Iran and Russia singed a 10-year cooperation agreement, mainly
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi (R), in the capital Tehran, on March ,27 2021. (Getty)
in the nuclear field, that was lengthened to 20 years through two five-year extensions. Before the ceremony last week, Wang met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and special Iranian envoy in charge of the deal Ali Larijani. “No matter how the world situation changes, China’s willingness to develop China-Iran relations will not change,” Wang told Rouhani, according to a summary from China’s Foreign Ministry. He added, “… The comprehensive cooperation plan signed today will make an overall plan for promoting the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership.” Wang also made pointed comments about “unreasonable unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran” and “the evil consequences of external interference on the regional situation,” clear references to the United States’ policy toward Iran. Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, called the agreement “deep, multi-layered, and fullfledged” the day before the signing. The deal was first discussed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Tehran in 2016, when he met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. But the planned agreement came under intense scrutiny last summer, when a supposed draft of the deal leaked. The documents claimed China was prepared to invest $400 million in Iran over the deal’s 25year term, in exchange for unprecedented access to Iranian ports and islands. That, in turn, sparked fears of lost sovereignty among Iranians, where Chinese investment is a sensitive issue. Importantly, the reported $400 million figure was not actually featured in the official announcements of the deal signed on Saturday, though it appeared in several foreign media reports. In fact, when Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was pressed on the total amount of Chinese investment he refused to answer. “The plan focuses on tapping the potentials in economic and cultural cooperation and charting course for long-term cooperation,” Zhao said. “It neither includes any quantitative, specific contracts and goals nor targets any third party, and will provide a general framework for China-Iran cooperation going forward.” In other words, there may be less than meets the eye in the agreement, at least in its current form. Bill Figueroa, a researcher specializing in China-Iran relations, argued in a Twitter thread that the agreement was “not a big deal.” Instead, it’s “an aspirational document” that “provides no methods for enforcement, measurable goals, or specific programs.” On the defense side in particular, the specific areas for cooperation “are all things that already exist,” he noted, and are well inside the norm of China’s engagement with other regional powers.
“In short, this agreement represents an attempt to bring Sino-Iranian relations back in line with the rest of the Middle East, rather than expansion of beyond the norm for China’s engagement with the region.” China’s investment in Iran tells a similar story. According to the China Global Investment Tracker, China’s investment in Iran from 2010 to 2020 amounted to $18.2 billion. During the same period, China invested $30.6 billion in Saudi Arabia and $29.5 billion in the UAE. While Beijing and Tehran find political benefits in touting their relationship, the actual results lag behind Chinese engagement with Iran’s Gulf rivals. “In short, this agreement represents an attempt to bring Sino-Iranian relations back in line with the rest of the Middle East, rather than expansion of beyond the norm for China’s engagement with the region,” Figueroa concluded. The devil, as always, is in the details, and those apparently remained to be ironed out, in the form of specific contracts and plans for cooperation. Despite the fanfare surrounding the agreement, something is still holding China-Iran relations back – whether that’s Chinese reluctance to tangle with Iran’s sanctions-ridden economy, Iranian fears of lost sovereignty, the complex geopolitics of the Middle East, or a combination of all three. Reportedly, Iran and China have done some $20 billion in trade annually in recent years. That’s down from nearly $52 billion in 2014, however, because of a decline in oil prices and U.S. sanctions imposed in 2018 after then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. unilaterally out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, saying it needed to be renegotiated. Iran has pulled away from restrictions imposed under the deal under those sanctions in order to put pressure on the other signatories — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — to provide new economic incentives to offset U.S. sanctions. This article was originally published in The Diplomat.
Egypt’s Train Collision Brings Up Railway Woes Railways in Dire Need of Massive Upgrade By Amr Emam – Cairo A March 26 train collision near the central province of Sohag was a grim reminder of Egypt’s responsibility to act urgently to save lives and prevent the nation’s railways from becoming death traps for ordinary people, specialists said.
A passenger train was travelling from the southern ancient city of Luxor to the northern coastal city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean on Friday, when it suddenly screeched to a halt. The Ministry of Transport said the train stopped because some unknown passengers pulled the emergency brake.
A few minutes later, however, a speeding train on the same line rammed into the train that had just stopped, destroying about three carriages at the end of the train and killing 19 passengers. Around 185 other passengers were injured, the Ministry of Health and Population said. It added that aid responders dealing with the accident had brought to the hospital three bags full of human remains, which means that the number of dead victims could be higher. “The railways are in urgent in need of upgrade,” independent railway transport expert Hamdi Barghout told Majalla. “In their current condition, the trains pose danger to the lives of the passengers.”
ONLY THE LATEST
People gather around the wreckage of two trains that collided in the Tahta district of Sohag province, some 460 kilometres (285 miles) south of the Egyptian capital Cairo, reportedly killing at least 19 people and injuring scores of others, on March ,26 2021. (Getty)
Egypt’s railways, the oldest and the longest in Africa, have already become an imperilment for millions of ordinary people using the trains in travelling between different parts in this country. DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS
A deep study of the conditions of the Egyptian railway network can show that the problems this Friday’s crash was the latest in a long series of network suffers from are far bigger than reckrailway accidents that claimed the lives of hun- less driving by a bunch of uncaring or untrained dreds of Egyptians over the years and invited at- drives and workers, specialists said. tention to the dangerous nature of using the trains The trains are antiquated, the operation systems in this populous country. of the railways are outdated and safety standards Egypt’s railways, the oldest and the longest in are almost non-existent in the operations of the Africa, have already become an imperilment for railways, the same specialists added. millions of ordinary people using the trains in “We are badly in need of raising the safety standtravelling between different parts in this country. ards in the operation of the trains to avoid acciThe national railways network, which is operated dents and fatalities,” Barghout said. by the Egyptian government, covers 10,000 kil- Following Friday’s accident, Egyptian President ometers. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for the “radical modernization” of the nation’s trains, including by HUMAN ELEMENT raising safety standards for the passengers. The Egyptian president also ordered an investiHowever, so much blood has been spilt on these gation into the accident, vowing to bring those rails over the years, turning them into a pain in responsible for it to account. the head for successive governments. “The operation conditions of the trains are be- UPGRADE coming so difficult with their upgrade not having come to an end so far,” Hassan al-Mahdi, a Egypt started an upgrade of the railways in 2018, professor of railway engineering at Ain Shams to which it allocated $14.5 billion. University, told Majalla. “Most of the accidents Minister of Transport Kamel al-Wazir, who took have human faults behind them and this adds a over the transport portfolio in 2017 following a new dimension to the railway crisis.” train accident at the central train station in downA staggering 12,000 accidents happened on the town Cairo that killed 22 people, said the upnation’s railways between 2006 and 2016, ac- grade would be completed by 2024. cording to the Central Agency for Public Mobi- “This upgrade will be the only way for the raillization and Statistics, the official Egyptian sta- way accidents to be prevented,” the minister said tistics body. at a press briefing on March 27. Most of the accidents that took place in the past He said the first phase of the upgrade had already years were blamed on recklessness by the drivers. been completed and it included the moderniza-
tion of train carriages and locomotives, the upgrade of train signals and the overhaul of train stations and crossing points. The upgrade of the railway network has also included the purchase of hundreds of new train carriages. However, the minister did not rule out the possibility of accidents in the coming period until the upgrade comes to an end. “There will be accidents so long as the trains are operating while the upgrade is being done,” Minister al-Wazir said.
A staggering 12,000 accidents happened on the nation’s railways between 2006 and 2016, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, the official Egyptian statistics body.
AWKWARD SITUATION In a way, specialists said, this throws light on Egypt’s dilemma at present. To conduct a comprehensive overhaul of the railways – supposing the needed funds are available – Egypt needs to suspend the trains. “The authorities cannot stop the operation of the trains to conduct the upgrade,” al-Mahdi said. “If they do this, hundreds of thousands of people will not find transport to and from their work every day.” According to the Transport Ministry, around 1 million Egyptians use the trains to travel between different parts of Egypt every day. Nonetheless, the continued operation of the trains means that some more accidents can happen in the coming period and some more lives can be lost until the modernization is completed, specialists said.
LACK OF SAFETY This is especially true in the absence of proper safety standards in the operation of the trains, the same specialists added.
This picture taken on March 12, 2020 shows a view of the scene of a railroad collision in the Egyptian capital Cairo, where a train crashed into another which was stationary. (Getty)
The automatic control system of the trains has reportedly been suspended since 2017 because of repeated objections by the passengers against delays in the arrival of the trains to the stations across the network. The Ministry of Transport decided to re-operate the system, following Friday’s collision. “The authorities are doing their best to reform the network and protect the passengers, but most of the accidents are caused by human faults and the conduct of some of the passengers,” Mahmud al-Dabaa, a member of the
To conduct a comprehensive overhaul of the railways – supposing the needed funds are available – Egypt needs to suspend the trains. parliamentary committee on transport, told Majalla. “Mistakes and recklessness should never be tolerated.”
Biden Contends with Congress Defense Budget, War Authorization Overshadow US Foreign Policy
Joseph Braude Struggles now underway in the U.S. Congress will affect the Biden’s administration’s foreign policy for years to come. On one front, Democrats and Republicans are arrayed across familiar lines in a dispute over the Defense budget. On another, factions within the Democratic party are debating
whether to circumscribe or remove President Biden’s war-making powers altogether.
THE DEFENSE BUDGET AT A CROSSROADS As the administration drafts a series of major spending proposals over Covid relief and stalled
infrastructure projects, a quiet confrontation is brewing over defense spending. Factions within the Democratic party, primarily but not exclusively affiliated with the progressive wing, are calling for marked cuts in defense spending to finance other legislative priorities. In a letter released on March 16, a group of 50 Democratic representatives in the House called on President Biden to “significantly” slash the Department of Defense’s budget, which presently stands at roughly 700$ billion. “While we are heartened that your administration is not contemplating expanding the Pentagon’s already inflated budget, our new Democratic majorities in Congress along with your administration should go further,” the lawmakers wrote to Biden. “Rather than requesting a flat Pentagon budget, we urge you to seek a significantly reduced Pentagon top line.” At the same time, Senate Republican leadership is signaling to the administration that an increase in the defense budget would yield GOP support for other elements of the White House’s agenda. “If the administration is up to the task, they’ll find strong partners in this Republican conference,” McConnell, of Kentucky, said on the Senate floor. “Here’s one big test: Are they willing to keep investing in our own defense?”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a hearing before Senate Rules and Administration Committee at Russell Senate Office Building March 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
McConnell’s remarks hold particular sway as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other senior Democrats are crafting legislation designed to erode Chinese economic advantages by supporting the American tech sector and pushing back against intellectual property theft. “If any issue is ripe for a regular-order bipartisan process, it is this one,” McConnell said, highlighting the wide consensus that has formed in recent months over resisting Chinese encroachment. “Defense spending is the crucial first step,” he stressed.
WAR POWERS DEBATE STIRS If spending is one crucial area of looming factional strife, renewed Congressional interest in limiting the White House’s latitude for the use of military force abroad is another. Recent
If spending is one crucial area of looming factional strife, renewed Congressional interest in limiting the White House’s latitude for the use of military force abroad is another. reports indicate that key members of Congress are mulling initiatives aimed at rescinding three previous authorizations for the use of military force (colloquially known in Washington as AUMFs): the 1991 measure which authorized the first Persian Gulf War, the 2001 bill which passed days after the 11/9 terrorist attacks, and the 2002 legislation which authorized the second Iraq War. As Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware put it, “I think we’re overdue. ... We are so far past the scope of what any member serving in ‹01 or ‹02 imagined… I think it’s important that we take this up, debate it, and pass something.” Other prominent Democrats agree. As Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a newly minted member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, put it, “On war powers, there’s blame on both sides the last ten years. We need to have a robust debate on something that fundamental. We just haven’t had it.” Other opponents of the war authorizations struck a different note. Senator Kaine of Virginia, formerly the Party’s 2016 VicePresidential nominee, has pushed to repeal the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations on constitutional grounds. Biden’s February airstrikes in Syria lent new impetus to this push. “Congress is supposed to be the decisionmaker here on the initiation” of strikes, Kaine recently said. “I shouldn’t have to hypothesize it — [the Biden administration] should come and lay out the rationale… Let’s have a debate in front of the American public on what the stakes are.”
Region’s Oldest Synagogue Represents New Hope for Bahrain’s Jews
Community Role Envisaged to Nurture International Understanding By Meera Ravi It was a solemn yet joyful Passover last Sunday for Bahrain’s tiny (just about 35 members) Jewish community which gathered at the newly renovated
synagogue in the heart of old Manama Souq to offer prayers. The synagogue, called ‘The House of Ten Commandments’ has been lovingly restored with careful attention to the original architectural details. A rectangular off-white one-storeyed building
with wooden arches and traditional mashrabiya facing the exterior and with a serene interior with the palm-thatch effect ceiling typical of early 20th century Bahraini buildings, it symbolises a renewal for Bahrain’s Jews.
SYMBOL OF NEW BEGINNING
It is also the oldest synagogue in the GCC and, with the Jewish cemetery in the Kingdom, it represents a continuum for the Gulf’s only indigenous Jewish community. Built in the 1930s by Iranian Jewish merchant Shimon Cohen and financed by an American jeweller whose name is recorded only as Rosenthal and who came to Bahrain to buy the Kingdom’s famed pearls, it was at the centre of the Jewish business quarter, a thriving market for textiles, pearls and money exchange. Today, that area, Sasa›ah Avenue, is part of the textile market still but much of the bustle has faded. Its history echoes not only the ebb and flow of the community’s presence in the mosaic of faiths in Bahraini society but also, more recently, it has become symbolic of the new friendship between Bahrain and Israel. Ransacked in 1947 by mobs protesting the U.N. Partition Plan that recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and then twice renovated, once in 1997 and again in 2006, this third and most recent renovation has seen the synagogue once again take its central place in the heart of the community.
EMOTIONAL MOMENT Houda Nonoo, the first Jewish Arab Ambassador to America (20082013). (Supplied)
In June 2019, on the sidelines of the US administration’s economic peace workshop held in Manama, Ambassador Houda Nonoo, who holds the distinction of being the first Jewish Arab Ambassador to America (2013-2008), helped to arrange for a prayer meeting at the synagogue, led by Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and attended by worshipers like Jason Greenblatt, thenUS President Donald Trump’s special adviser for Middle East peace; interfaith activist Rabbi Marc Schneier; Middle East scholar David Makovsky; New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief David Halbfinger and a handful of Israeli businessmen and reporters attending the conference. “It was an emotional moment for us all and one that many had not expected to see in our lifetime,” Houda Nonoo told Majalla, “Indeed, the normalization of ties with Israel through the Abraham Accords, one of the most profound ways that this Passover was different from all others is when we say during the Seder, “L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” or
“Many people from our community have moved on and settled all around the world. I know that children of former Bahrain residents would want to come back here and visit to see where their parents and grandparents lived.” “Next year in Jerusalem” - Because of the signing of the Abraham Accords, that dream is now a reality and many of us will spend time next year in Jerusalem.”
INTEGRATING FOR DEVELOPMENT
Ebrahim Daoud Nonoo, the Jewish community’s unofficial leader and President of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC) which has been formed in the aftermath of the Abraham Accords which normalized relations between the Gulf Arab countries and Israel, says that although the Bahraini Jews are not a large number, they have always been a part of the Kingdom’s mainstream and entrusted with economic, political and diplomatic roles. “My father was the first Bahraini Jew to hold political office as a member of the municipal council in 1934,” he told Majalla, “The King of Bahrain, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has always acted on his vision for inclusive development and in 2001, he appointed me the first Jewish member of the Upper House of Bahrain’s Parliament, the Shura Council. “Since then, there has always been a member of the Jewish community in the political process – my cousin Houda followed me and later, when she became the first Jewish Arab Ambassador to USA, Nancy Khedouri became Shura Member and she still is one.”
Ebrahim Nonoo says integrating Jews into the political process of the country was a matter of huge significance for the community. “The broad-minded vision of inclusiveness of
Bahrain’s leaders predates the present development of the Abraham Accords and speaks of the essence of inter-faith harmony that the Kingdom practices,” he says, “For instance, at one point, the Jewish community wanted to convert the unused synagogue for another use or give it to charity. However, the government would not allow it. They insisted it remained as a synagogue and Bahrain›s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, HRH Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa even offered to pay for the construction of a new synagogue on the same site
“The broad-minded vision of inclusiveness of Bahrain’s leaders predates the present development of the Abraham Accords and speaks of the essence of inter-faith harmony that the Kingdom practices,” Ebrahem Nonoo says.
or give the community a piece of land to rebuild the old synagogue. This attitude has always been is nurtured by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.”
Going forward, the synagogue is expected to play an important role in the renewal of the community’s identity. Houda Nonoo says the open-ness with which Bahrain’s leadership embraced the Abraham Accords is a gift for the future generations. “We are a very small group – the youngest Bahraini Jews are 10 and 8 respectively and then the next age group is in the thirties,” she pointed out to Majalla, “Now with new climate of Arab-Israeli friendship, we want to get our children who are abroad to come back to Bahrain and once again make their lives in this lovely Kingdom. Moreover, it sets the stage for future generations to understand each other – when our Jewish children learn about Islam and the Arab children about Jewish traditions, it lays the foundation for a better understanding between the people.” The synagogue will also function as an information and cultural centre to educate the public about the tiny Jewish community in Bahrain. “We plan to have someone full-time present at the synagogue to interact with visitors,” added Ebrahim Nonoo. Once the Jewish cultural centre is operational later
Ebrahim Nonoo, head of Bahrain Jewish community. (Getty)
The renovated synagogue in Manama – oldest in the GCC. (Supplied)
this year, the community could also get a full-time Rabbi. Bahrain was once home to around 2,000 Jewish families, many having migrated here from Iraq and other countries. As we go to press, Bahrain has also announced the establishment of fullfledged diplomatic relations with Israel and Khalid
Yousif Al-Jalahama has been named the Bahraini Ambassador-designate to Israel. Al-Jalahama has been Director of Operations in the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as Bahrain’s Deputy Ambassador to America between 2009 and 2013 (co-incidentally when Houda Nonoo was Ambassador) “We cannot emphasize enough the historic significance of the synagogue – and amazingly, it seems to have taken centre-stage ever since talks began to normalize relations between Arab countries and Israel,” said Shura Council member Nancy Khedouri. Ebrahim Nonoo told Majalla that already the synagogue has started attracting international attention. “Many people from our community have moved on and settled all around the world. I know that children of former Bahrain residents would want to come back here and visit to see where their parents and grandparents lived. In addition, we will see tourism from Israel and Jewish groups from all over the world coming here in the months ahead – hotels here are already working on kosher menus and I believe that the synagogue and our cemetery, both of which are the oldest in the GCC, will be part of the tapestry of Jewish life in Bahrain.”
Shura Council member Nancy Khedouri. (Supplied)
China Is Evolving a Distinct Space Culture Will It Challenge NASA Monopoly? Molly Silk China’s achievements in the arena of outer space continue to make headlines across the globe. The nation’s most recent successes include their Chang’e
lunar mission series, which saw the first landing on the far side of the moon in 2019, and returned lunar soil samples at the end of 2020. In February of this year, China’s first Mars mission, Tianwen1-, entered the orbit of the Red Planet, and in March
Little boys watch the space suit of a Chinese astronaut (or taikonaut) in Shanghai’s Science and Technology Museum on August 5, 2010 in Shanghai, China )Getty(
an agreement to construct a lunar research station with Russia was officially announced. Alongside these large-scale national undertakings, China’s private space industry has grown exponentially, seeing hundreds of commercial space enterprises established over the last five years. With all eyes on the development of China’s space technologies, one vital area that has been overlooked is the swelling wave of a unique Chinese “space culture.” While not widely known or discussed outside of China, this culture has been growing parallel to the country’s space industry. Ideologies surrounding Chinese space exploration are being steadily cultivated by state actors, and commercial products and media related to China’s space program have exploded onto the domestic market. According to China’s main space actors, there are three key “spirits” or historical influences that make this emerging space culture quintessentially Chinese: the traditional spirit, the “two bombs one satellite” spirit, and the crewed space spirit. These spirits all relate to key historical periods in China’s development and are the foundations on which the successes of the space program have been achieved. The traditional spirit refers to traditional Chinese civilization, the culture and values of which constitute the bedrock of contemporary China. Traditional tropes have been widely used to name national space missions, from naming the lunar crafts after the moon goddess Chang’e and her accompanying Jade Rabbit, to naming the Mars mission after a poem on Heavenly Questions by ancient poet Qu Yuan. The “two bombs one satellite” spirit refers to the late 1960s, when China first achieved its successful atomic bomb and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, as well as the launch of its first artificial satellite. This period is considered to be the birth of the Chinese space program, and is symbolic of the hard work and perseverance of the people to achieve these feats under such tumultuous national circumstances. The crewed spirit refers to China’s taikonaut program, particularly the launch of China’s first taikonaut in 2003, which cemented China as a member of the prestigious crewed spaceflight club alongside the United States and Russia. As cornerstones of the development of China’s contemporary space program, motifs of these
CASCI’s aim is to propagate China’s space program to the youth through educational activities, cultural products, and even tourism, with the company announcing that a Chinese space theme park is currently in the early stages of development. periods have become manifest in space-themed products, solidifying these features as part of China’s collective space culture. Even just a few years ago, the landscape of China’s cultural space artifacts was nowhere near as expansive as it is today. It’s now common to see Chinese brands partnering with the nation’s state-run space organizations to create a number of unique space-themed products “with Chinese characteristics.” In October 2019, leading Chinese designer brand Cabbeen staged a space-themed show during the Shanghai Fashion Week to display a clothing line inspired by China’s efforts in space. The show utilized imagery from traditional Chinese culture, particularly the legendary Moon Rabbit, to create a distinctly Chinese lunar city runway setting. According to Cabbeen, the company was the first to incorporate both traditional Chinese and contemporary space themes into their clothing designs. The fashion line and the show were created to promote Chinese space culture and to pay tribute to China’s space endeavors, specifically the feat of landing on the far side of the moon. The show was also intended to allow audience members to envisage the possibility of a future Chinese settlement on the moon. But Cabbeen is not the only brand to have incorporated the Chinese space themed into their apparel. This year, Chinese sports company Anta teamed up with the country’s main space contractor China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) to release a line of Beidou-
themed apparel, which incorporates the insignia of China’s satellite navigation system onto T-shirts, sweatshirts, and shoes. CASC has also recently collaborated with other domestic enterprises to create products affiliated with the Chinese space “brand,” from planet-themed eyeshadow pallets and Martian skin cream to jewellery and the incorporation of Chinese spacecrafts and taikonaut skins into existing games. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launch of China’s first satellite, CASC collaborated with KFC on a promotional deal. The advertising celebrated how far the space program had come since the “two bombs one satellite” period, to become the pride of the nation. Toys and collectable figurines have also become a common sight. Last year, China Rocket, the commercial arm of state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), released figurines to commemorate China’s annual Space Day, an event held every April 24 since 2016. According to China Rocket, their “Towards Success” series was born of a necessity to provide aerospace fans with more cultural space products. These products serve to enhance China’s space brand awareness and to provide manifestations of China’s space spirits. This year, Chinese Lego alternative Sembo Block
According to China’s main space actors, there are three key “spirits” or historical influences that make this emerging space culture quintessentially Chinese: the traditional spirit, the “two bombs one satellite” spirit, and the crewed space spirit.
released a line of models of China’s Long March rockets, satellites, lunar rovers, and taikonauts, celebrating China’s age of crewed space missions. This line was released in conjunction with the China Aerospace Science and Cultural Innovation Center (CASCI), established in 2018 and a subsidiary of the state-owned spacecraft manufacturer China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd (CASIC). CASCI’s aim is to propagate China’s space program to the youth through educational activities, cultural products, and even tourism, with the company announcing that a Chinese space theme park is currently in the early stages of development. China’s space organs have frequently encouraged both adults and children to create artwork commemorating the Chinese space program. Every year, a poster competition is held to find artwork to represent Space Day. The previous two years’ winning posters were selected for their inclusion of all three Chinese space “spirits,” utilizing imagery from traditional Chinese civilization and culture, the country’s first satellite Dong Fang Hong I, and the activities of the taikonauts. During the opening ceremony of the 2019 China/U.N. Forum
Designer Mr. Cabbeen and models showcase designs on runway of Cabbeen collection show on day nine of Shanghai Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 on October ,17 2019 in Shanghai, China. (Getty)
Just as NASA has become a continuation of U.S. frontier culture and its national thirst for exploration, Chinese products that incorporate its past serve to strengthen the narrative that China’s space program is also a natural continuation of its civilization – that China also belongs in space.
on Space Solutions, space-themed artwork from schoolchildren was showcased to delegates, many of which included traditional elements of Chinese culture, such as dragon-shaped rockets or lunar bases made in the style of traditional architecture. This new wave of space activities and commercial products that sit upon patriotic themes and ideologies is becoming increasingly stronger with each passing year, solidifying the national space program as a continuation of Chinese culture and civilization. While these products remain primarily domestic, media that places China at the forefront of space exploration has begun to trickle into the international consciousness, such as the translated “The Three Body Problem” book trilogy and “The Wandering Earth” film that is available to view on Netflix. Such products help to normalize the idea of China as a key actor in space. Just as NASA has become a continuation of U.S. frontier culture and its national thirst for exploration, Chinese products that incorporate its past serve to strengthen the narrative that China’s space program is also a natural continuation of its civilization – that China also belongs in space.
It is important not to underestimate the importance of space exploration as a cultural arm of the nation. It is already evident that these distinctive spacethemed phenomena instill patriotic sentiment among its citizens. Yet a further and more understated significance of China’s space culture is its potential to expand outside of national borders and attract international audiences. For decades, NASA has maintained a monopoly on global space culture, with the space agency being almost synonymous with space exploration and its brand reaching far beyond national borders. NASA’s “meatball” insignia is one of the most recognized symbols in the world, plastered on merchandise that is purchased by people of all ages and nationalities. Combined with the United States’ role as the creator and protagonist in the world’s most popular sci fi media, this cultural hegemony shapes how the world conceptualizes space exploration, which in turn fosters both an attraction and positive reactions toward U.S. space endeavors. Being surrounded since childhood with NASA imagery, it has become the dream of thousands to work at the agency and contribute to U.S. space aims. While still in the early stages of international proliferation, we must anticipate the potential challenges that China’s space culture may pose to the United States’ long-standing supremacy on how the world perceives space exploration and leadership in space. This was originally published in The Diplomat.=
Decoupling Won’t Kill a Green Future U.S. Climate Policy, Protective Trade Agenda Need Joint Revamp By Valerie J. Karplus The COVID19- pandemic has thrown the debate over U.S. economic “decoupling” from China into stark relief. Former President Donald Trump made the curtailment of
economic ties with China a cornerstone of his trade policy, citing concerns about China’s handling of intellectual property rights, currency manipulation, and other unfair trade practices. Then came the pandemic, which found U.S. manufacturers at the mercy of
distant and overstretched supply chains. Now, President Joe Biden has made clear he will maintain aspects of his predecessor’s tough China policy, suggesting that some form of economic partition between the world’s two largest economies is likely inevitable. But decoupling will come at a cost. Among the biggest losers, some experts argue, will be the global effort to combat climate change. The technologies behind such green innovations as solar panels, nuclear power, and electric vehicles draw from expertise and production that is distributed across the globe. China, for instance, is the world’s biggest manufacturer of electric vehicles. Europe is a pioneer in industrial energy efficiency and a leader in renewable infrastructure. Decoupling could interrupt the global spread of these innovations, potentially crippling any attempt to address climate change.
This photo taken on March 12, 2021 shows workers at a factory for Xinwangda Electric Vehicle Battery Co. Ltd, which makes lithium batteries for electric cars and other uses, in Nanjing in China›s eastern Jiangsu province. (Getty)
But decoupling doesn’t have to be a blunt instrument, and its effect on climate change needn’t be all bad. Washington could use the impetus behind decoupling to create green industries and domestic jobs. The United States would then produce at home some components of its clean energy industry that it had once imported from China, while leaving other parts of the supply chain intact. Such selective decoupling would give domestic industry a boost, help American workers, address supply chain vulnerabilities, and assist efforts to combat climate change. The initial costs may be high, but the security and environmental benefits may largely end up outweighing them.
SELECTIVE ONSHORING The United States develops and produces clean energy within a highly integrated global market. Many advanced technologies— so-called smart electric grid management systems, batteries and fuel cells for energy storage, renewable electricity generation, and nuclear power facilities—consist in large part of components that are cheaper to import
An approach to decoupling that creates a thriving domestic clean energy industry could help overcome that resistance by generating jobs and industrial leadership. than to purchase domestically. The complex supply chains that go into producing these technologies are vulnerable to disruption, but they keep costs down. There is little reason to think that the lowcarbon technologies of the future will not also benefit from global supply chains and the collaboration among governments that supports them. Carbon capture and storage, for example—a process that involves removing and sequestering carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere—could become far more affordable if nations coordinated and pooled funds. Other innovations, such as those that might reduce the carbon footprint of steelmaking and other industrial processes, are expensive, and the sectors that need them have only slim profit margins from which to pay for them. Overcoming these obstacles requires collaboration and the free flow of knowledge and capital, both within sectors and across national boundaries. Should the United States and China succeed in decoupling their economies, green technologies might be set back. Today, the United States imports solar panels and electric-vehicle batteries relatively inexpensively from China; after decoupling, such goods could become more expensive, leading buyers to turn to cheaper, dirtier sources of energy and in turn slowing growth and innovation. Building support for the transition away from fossil fuels was already difficult. American workers fear the loss of well-paying jobs in the energy industry, and many will reject a transition that cuts them
out of a new low-carbon economy, regardless of how much good it does for the planet. An approach to decoupling that creates a thriving domestic clean energy industry could help overcome that resistance by generating jobs and industrial leadership. To get there, the U.S. government will need to focus on onshoring the elements of the energy supply chain that are essential to production but that current domestic resources cannot quickly replace. Biden has already begun this process with an executive order on supply chain security that focuses on electric-vehicle batteries, among other items. His administration will need to evaluate a wide range of clean energy supply chains and identify the risks of relying on foreign suppliers. In general, the risks will be higher when a technology can be easily compromised, co-opted, or infiltrated by external actors once installed or if it relies on opaque supply chains with questionable environmental and labor practices. When the assessment is complete, the Biden administration should invest in developing domestically the products it has deemed both critical and high risk and leaving the rest of their supply chains in place. The United States could also subsidize research into substitute technologies—electric-vehicle batteries that don’t rely on cobalt, lithium,
The United States would then produce at home some components of its clean energy industry that it had once imported from China, while leaving other parts of the supply chain intact.
or rare earth metals, for instance—that might be necessary in the event of a prolonged supply chain disruption. When possible, the administration should direct the funds for these efforts to the parts of the country that will bear the costs of an ambitious climate policy—states where fossil fuel production remains important, such as Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Wyoming, for example. In the short term, U.S. manufacturers of green energy products may end up paying more for some of their parts. After all, the reason they looked abroad for components in the first place was in order to source from nations with lower production costs. But to focus narrowly on the downsides of decoupling is to overlook the hidden, hardto-price risks that current sourcing patterns entail—such as vulnerability to disruption
An industrial port zone is seen by the Delaware river near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 16, 2021. (Getty)
Washington should invest not only in researching and developing green technologies but also in retraining workers, again aiming to benefit the communities that stand to lose the most from a transition away from fossil fuels. again aiming to benefit the communities that stand to lose the most from a transition away from fossil fuels. The Biden administration will need to strike a delicate balance—simultaneously striving to bring some essential production back to domestic shores, investing in domestic clean technology leadership, and pushing to allow trade and international collaboration to proceed in other areas. Biden should encourage the United States to collaborate with other countries on developing important new technologies to help arrest climate change, such as carbon capture and storage and green steel.
during a pandemic.
A STARTING POINT A nuanced approach to decoupling can allow Biden to kick-start domestic clean energy industries. To seize that opportunity, however, the president needs a strong climate policy that encourages innovation and investment. He could start by setting binding targets for carbon reduction and charging fees for emissions. Washington could then direct the revenue from those fees toward domestic clean energy development. The administration should also direct public funds toward low-carbon infrastructure, such as electric-vehicle charging stations and new grids. Washington should invest not only in researching and developing green technologies but also in retraining workers,
Successfully addressing climate change will require the goodwill and hard work of both government and private industry. For the United States, this means adopting a climate policy that can work in tandem with a more protective trade agenda, if neither is to provoke a political backlash. A smart approach to decoupling that focuses on the ends rather than the means will foster a strong domestic clean energy industry that creates jobs and, as a result, becomes politically self-sustaining. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
Vaccinated Arabs Speak Out Symptoms from Vaccines Differ from One Person to Another By Hatem Khedr The World’s countries are pinning their hopes on vaccines in order to eradicate the coronavirus (Covid19-) that has engulfed the globe claiming the lives of more than 2.7 million people and infecting over 126 million others. Since the various announcements authorizing the use of some vaccines after conducting clinical trials, several countries across the globe have accelerated their steps to obtain sufficient quantities to vaccinate their people so as to return to normal life and resume activities.
Many scientific experiments have proved that most of the vaccines available have a high percentage of efficacy and safety, despite the reluctance of some people and the fears of others.
RELUCTANCE AND CONCERN “I registered twice to receive the jab, but I didn’t get it. I have concerns about complications from these vaccines. We read about some side-effects related to such jabs. I trust Kuwait’s Ministry of Health but have doubts about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine in general,” Khaled Al-Mohammed, a Kuwaiti
national, told Majalla. “Some of my relatives and friends have similar views on the vaccines. If I have a strong immune system, why should I have a vaccination,” he argued. The Ministry has previously declared a goal to vaccinate about 65 percent of people by the end of September, but I doubt if this will be possible due to people’s reluctance, he added, also clarifying that he may receive the inoculation as soon as he overcomes his fears.
People queue as they wait their turn to receive a dose of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine at the make-shift vaccination centre at the Kuwait International Fairground in the Mishref suburb south of Kuwait City on March 21, 2021. (Getty)
Hani Abdullah, another Kuwaiti national, told Majalla that he received the inoculation and suffered some light symptoms. “I received the first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca. Some hours after the injection, I had headache and fatigue but was fine after a short time. On the second day, I barely had any negative signs,” he said, comparing this to his father’s Pfizer vaccination without any side-effects. Vaccination is Necessary Mohamed Allam, an Egyptian physician, said he received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and felt some mild symptoms such as pain at the injection site as well as headache. “I had some minor side effects on the day of the injection. I felt tired and had mild body pain. I took a Panadol and slept,” Allam wrote on his Facebook page. “By the second day, the symptoms disappeared except for slight pain at the place of injection when touching it. No fever, no pain,” he elaborated. Allam stressed that the appearance of symptoms differs from one person to another according to th immune system, noting that some people have severe symptoms while others have no symptoms at all. He urged people to receive the inoculation, indicating that surviving a virus infection doesn’t necessarily provide immunity against reinfection. Vaccination is necessary, he affirmed.
Scientific studies say that the more people who receive a vaccine, the more persons will be safe and protected. They noted that this will lead to what is called a “herd immunity.” MODERATE SIDE EFFECTS Mahmoud Hendawi, who lives in the UAE, said he was vaccinated with Sinopharm nearly three months ago and had few adverse reactions. “I had no symptoms on the day of the injection, no fever, no tiredness. But on the second day, I had mild nausea as well as a loss of appetite for a maximum of three hours,” Hendawi told Majalla. “But the second shot was painful. I suffered moderate pain at the site of the injection. The pain was not severe and did not last long, only for a few hours. On the second day, I had no aches,” he added. He recommended that people get the vaccination to be protected from the infection. However, he noted that a few people in the UAE still got infected with the coronavirus after they received an inoculation. The Arab countries tried to vaccinate their peoples in the short run with the UAE as the leader in terms of numbers of vaccinations given to its people. As it had planned, the UAE administered over seven million doses of vaccine.
TIREDNESS AND HEADACHE Hoda El-Sayed told Majalla that she obtained the first shot of AstraZeneca on March 23 and has an appointment to get the second on June 16. “I registered for the vaccine during the experimental operation of the website launched by the Egyptian Ministry of Health. They sent a message giving me the time and place to receive the jab,” El-Sayed, an Egyptian pharmacist, told Majalla. “Eight hours after the injection, some mild symptoms appeared. I suffered some tiredness and headache but I took one tablet of Paracetamol and the situation improved. I had no other symptoms,” she noted. Although the elderly and medical teams are prioritized, the vaccine is available for all and free of charge, she stated, declaring that AstraZeneca is mostly safe and efficacious according to scientific data.
Scientific studies say that the more people who receive a vaccine, the more persons will be safe and protected. They noted that this will lead to what is called a “herd immunity.” Doctors and researchers have indicated that vaccination protects most people from the danger of an infection or a coronavirus-related death. On this basis, governments have increased the number of people immunized against the virus. According to new clinical trials, AstraZeneca acknowledged that its efficacy is about 76 percent, not 79 percent, in preventing Covid19-. After a number of EU states, including Italy, Germany, Spain and France, suspended the use of AstraZeneca over reports of blood clots in some people who received it, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) declared that the vaccine is safe and effective.
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1846- April- 02/04/2021
Zahi Hawass: Egypt’s Indiana Jones www.majalla.com
Anti-racism Initiative by Syrian-Kurdish Artist A Diversity-rich Community Should Maintain its Intertwining Ethnic and Religious Identities By Jiwan Soz – Qamishli
The most recent initiative announced last week was launched by a young photographer from the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in the north-eastern Syria, close to the Turkish borders. The city is home to a mixture of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians.
Having lasted for more than a decade, the Syrian war has torn the country’s society apart, but individual and group initiatives never ceased to try to overcome the social impact of the bloody conflict that erupted after Syrian people took to streets in protest on Rudy Tahlo, the Syrian Kurdish photographer, launched the first-of-its-kind project March 11, 2011.
under the title “Faces of Rojava”. Rojava is the Kurdish name of the region in which Syrian Kurds live, and which is currently controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces. But Ankara seized three primary cities in the region: Afrin, Tell Abiad, and Serê Kaniyê, in two separate attacks by the Turkish army in January 2018 and October 2019. Tahlo told Majalla that “‘Faces of Rojava’ is an artistic project against ethnic and religious discrimination. It presents a collection of photos which I took for residents of my neighborhood, where Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians live together.” The 31-years-old artist added, “My photos are not tagged with the people’s names. They are just unnamed people who came from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. However, they mostly belong to three faiths: Islam, Christianity and Yazidism.” He also said, “The main aim of my initiative is to promote the culture of coexistence, and maintain domestic peace in a region plagued
Syrian Kurdish Photographer Rudy Tahlo
by conflicts for years.” Tahlo admitted that the project’s idea came to his mind in 2016, but personal issues delayed the implementation. Just a couple of weeks ago, he started by taking photographs of people from various cultures. The artist usually reveals their identity
“Faces of Rojava” Taken by
indirectly, as he apparently focuses on their clothes. Then, he posts the photos on his social media pages. “Some media outlets published false news during the war years. They said that Kurds forced displacement of Arabs and others from their homes, which is not true. Through the photos that I take every day, I concentrate on the commonalities among
Tahlo said, “The main aim of my initiative is to promote the culture of coexistence, and maintain domestic peace in a region plagued by conflicts for years.”
the people and fight any discrimination,” explained Tahlo. The artist found his subjects when walking around public markets, and visiting some mosques and churches, “I aspire to spread love and tolerance among people, that is why I take photos of faces exhausted by war.” he said, “Rojava is rich with diversity, and we should preserve this intertwining of ethnic and religious identities.” A student of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in Homs University in Syria when the war broke out, Tahlo is now a dedicated photographer working for a number of media outlets. “Before war, I thought of travelling abroad to study genetic engineering. But after all that happened, my life has largely changed. Now I am keen on staying in Rojava, Thousands sacrificed their lives for its sake, so I’m not leaving it.”
y Rudy Tahlo, Qamishli, March 2021.
The Season of Flowers Where Garden Lovers Find a Haven
By Amira El-Noshokaty Now in its 88th season, Egypt’s annual flower exhibition opens its gates to the public from 13 March to 13 April 2021. Located for decades in the historic Orman Garden facing Cairo University in Giza, this 28 acres of flowers and greenery is a great opportunity for nature lovers to enjoy the enchanting green effect and the flower power. From the three entrances to the garden, you are greeted by ancient trees, and by ancient we mean over 100 years old at least. As you walk the small paths that coil between the colorful plants, the route unfolds into a central park with a low green fence and lots of picnic spots for the visitors. At one end of that area lies a wooden bridge, where many heroes of classic Egyptian movies once walked. Perhaps the most popular scene in the collective memory of Egyptians is the finale song of the 1972 Egyptian film “Khali Balak Men Zouzou,“(Beware of Zuzu) di-
rected by Hassan El Imam staring the iconic Soad Hosney and Hussien Fahmy. Al- Orman (meaning “the forest” in Turkish) garden was created in 1875 during the reign of Khedive Ismail in order to provide the royal palace with fruits and greens. He had the orchard planted with 100,000 lemon, orange and tangerine seedlings imported from Sicily. According to the online excerpt of the book titled “Orman Botanical Garden,” a joint publication of CULTNAT and Bibliotheca Alexandrina, “Originally the gardens were part of the Khedive’s palace, until the Khedive decided to bring the Bolonia forest to Egypt. It was set as a big park in its own right to which he brought trees from all over the world and engaged French landscape architects to design the park. On a scale of 28 feddans, greenery and trees frame your horizon. Among the many spots that showcase dozens of colorful flowers there is a white sign which reads “Need air? Adopt a tree.”
Mr Tamer Said, the general manager of the Egyptian Association for Wood Trees and Environmental Protection, displays the veneers, branches and wood products to show off the Paulownia tree in the pavilion of the association during the exhibition. (By Amira El-Noshokaty)
Part of the Annual Flower Exhibition in Al-Orman garden, Giza, Egypt )By Amira El-Noshokaty(
“We have been working in gardening business for almost 18 years,” explained Tarek Ahmed, the technical director of Breathe project. As part of the Hassan Baraka plantation, Breathe has been exhibiting its work for the past eight consecutive years in Al-Orman. “This year is prosperous in contrast to last year,” he notes, adding that some forgotten authentic trees are now trending. “The qeshta plant and the Ficus Lyrata are back in demand,” he concluded. At the other end of the garden, and near to a big tree trunk lying peacefully in the sun, is the pavilion of the Egyptian Association for Wood Trees and Environmental Protection. Here the Association has various veneers and branches on display to show off the Paulownia tree which it has propagated in Egypt. First established in 2016, the Association’s main focus is to raise awareness and promote the cultivation of Paulownia trees, explained Tamer Said, the general manager of the Association. “The Paulownia tree is the most versatile fastest growing and best producer of wood which is very light, durable, water resistant and highly flame retardant. It is originally Chinese but is now cultivated all over the world. Germany, Australia and Japan named it the “Princess of Trees” owing to its great value. Since 2007, we have been trying to grow it in Egypt. However, in 2015 Ashraf Oraby, our CEO, succeeded after several years of research to develop the “Paulownia Oraby,” a tree that could
Al- Orman (meaning “the forest” in Turkish) garden was created in 1875 during the reign of Khedive Ismail in order to provide the royal palace with fruits and greens. He had the orchard planted with 100,000 lemon, orange and tangerine seedlings imported from Sicily. endure in the Egyptian climate with a temperature range of -10 to +50,” added Said. Since 2015, he managed to plant the first Paulownia forest in Egypt and the Middle East with 125,000 trees on 5 sq. kms. of land on al Koraymat road, near Helwan. This comes as a great breakthrough for the wood industry as Egypt imports USD$5 billion of lumber annually, he notes. “For the first time in Egypt and the Arab world, a wooden plank is being grown and manufactured in Egypt,” he boasted.
Driven to Succeed
Sarah Diab Breaks into Male Bastion of Auto Mechanics By: Salma Adham Sarah Diab, 23, a daughter of the village of Abu Nabhan, the Mit Ghamr district in the Dakahlia governorate, Egypt, has become well-known for a unique reason - she decided to choose a profession that is considered a male bastion and excelled in it: auto mechanics. As a child, Sarah, who was the oldest daughter of her father Ahmed Diab, an
auto mechanic with his own workshop, used to accompany her father on his work rounds and became familiar with his skills. She also grew to love the work he did and although she enrolled for a course in commerce, she did many short courses in auto mechanics too. Encouraged by her family, Sarah soon developed enough confidence to start her own
workshop with her brother Muhammed, a little distance from her father’s. «My father has worked in this profession for more than 35 years, and he is the one who made me love this job and wanted to break into it,» Sara told Majalla. «It was also my hobby and I decided to make it my career three years ago.”
STARTING TROUBLE Although the sister and brother do seek their experienced father’s help for complex problems, they have now made a name for themselves – especially Sarah, who is seen as a girl who has proven herself as a top car mechanic. According to her, the job itself is not difficult for a woman but breaking the stereotype that women cannot be good car mechanics is the challenge. «The most difficult thing I faced when starting out is how to deal with people because it is considered a male profession. I used to be so serious and formal while talking with anyone to let people know that I am not frivolous but earnest about my work. I insisted to prove myself,» Sarah told Majalla. Sarah Diab standing in front of her car mechanic workshop in Mit Ghamr, Mansoura, Dakahlia, Egypt. By Salma Adham.
At first, people did not accept Sarah working in the workshop seeing her as not professional enough, but afterward, she said that the whole thing became normal and they even trusted her to work on their cars and knew her by name which is a great success for her. Not only that, but she also started her workshop. «When I started organizing for my separate workshop, I felt like I had succeeded. There is something big happening in my life, I am achieving and building my entity and career, and I should have all the responsibility alone for that,» Sarah said to Majalla.
DRIVING PASSION Like most people who love what they are doing, Sarah too seeks to perfect her vocation and has a passion to achieve more.
Success gained with hard work is always sweeter and the journey to such achievement teaches us to handle challenges, patience, and helps to builds trust in ourselves. Unfazed by people’s initial reaction of disbelief, she persisted and shared her story on social media and got huge feedback and support from the public. What’s more, she even got clients seeking her services after reading about her on social media. Sara said that even the odd negative comments give her the power to continue and not to stop. «Many people knew me from my pages on social media and I am so happy they are sending me support all the time. Some people also came to my workshop because they saw my story on Facebook,» she said.
THE RISKS As is the case with most professional women, Sarah says she has to focus twice as deeply, work twice as hard and deliver twice as much success as male mechanics in order to win the trust of her clients. Moreover, the work itself is physically demanding and requires concentration. «I want my work to be %100 right to gain the client›s trust. There should be no mistakes in repair in order to build my reputation. If I do not give my work my full attention at all times, I can very well hurt myself,” she says, “Something may fall on me and hurt me, it can fall on my leg or hands. For example, while I am lifting the engine of the car or the «coric», I must concentrate to avoid its falling on me.”
LONG JOURNEY Success gained with hard work is always
sweeter and the journey to such achievement teaches us to handle challenges, patience, and helps to builds trust in ourselves. «My family and friends at first supposed that this is a passing fancy and I will leave
«The most difficult thing I faced when starting out is how to deal with people because it is considered a male profession. I used to be so serious and formal while talking with anyone to let people know that I am not frivolous but earnest about my work. I insisted to prove myself,» Sarah told Majalla.
it because I cannot face its difficulty, but after a while, they supported me and were proud of everything I achieved,» Sarah said. Recently, Ayman Mokhtar, the Governor of Dakahlia, handed Sarah a certificate of thanks and appreciation to encourage her, and in appreciation of her distinction and insistence on breaking into this field of work and excelling in it despite it being considered a difficult profession for women. He said Sarah Diab is a role model for the Egyptian girl. And the awards keep coming. «I was honored by Nevin Jameh, Minister of Industry, Nabila Makram, the Minister of Immigration, the Minister of Social Solidarity, the Egyptian Businesswomen Association, and the educational institution for the woman of the countryside,» Sarah told Majalla.
Sara Diab working on repairing a car in her car mechanic workshop in Mit Ghamr, Mansoura, Dakahlia, Egypt. By Salma Adham.
Take a Mental Break Mindfulness Can Help Soothe Short-term and Chronic Pain Harvard Men’s Health Watch Your mind is a powerful pain remedy when given the chance. Science continues to show how mindfulness can manage pain -- and it doesn›t take years to master. «Using mindfulness is a way for older adults to treat ongoing chronic pain and the occasional flare-up without having to always rely on medication,» says Ellen Slawsby, director of pain services at Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.
SHIFT YOUR THINKING Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment and
accepting a situation without judgment. «When pain strikes, mindfulness helps to shift your thinking away from negativity to recognize pain for what it is -- something that can ease,» says Slawsby. This change in mindset also interrupts your brain›s processing of painful feelings and can induce a relaxation response to naturally release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals, and help relieve discomfort. The goal of mindfulness is not to eliminate pain, but rather to manage your reaction to it, according to Slawsby. «You don›t focus on going from a high of 10 to zero on the pain scale, but rather 10 to around five,» she says. «That amount of change can do wonders for getting through painful episodes.» Ultimately, mindfulness is about being more in control of
Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment and accepting a situation without judgment. «When pain strikes, mindfulness helps to shift your thinking away from negativity to recognize pain for what it is.”
Silhouette of a man meditating in lotus pose placed on vectorized abstract watercolor background )Getty(
your pain. «Pain happens in life, and accepting that it occurs -- and you can help it ease -- is liberating and shows you don›t have to fear it,» says Slawsby.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT As with acquiring any new skill, learning mindfulness takes practice. Slawsby suggests doing some kind of mindfulness exercise for 20 minutes every day. This teaches you to stay in the moment, channel your thoughts and positive energy into a single experience, and learn to relax. «It takes about four to six weeks of daily practice for mindfulness to become a natural reaction to pain,» says Slawsby. There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Guided meditation is ideal, but here are some other suggestions. Count breaths. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing as you count your breaths to 10 and then backward to zero. Repeat several times. «Something so natural and repetitive, like breathing can move your focus away from pain, while it helps to calm anxiety,» says Slawsby. Watch and listen. Observing the natural world, like the trees in your backyard or squirrels scampering around, also can produce a mindful and relaxing state. YouTube (www. youtube.com) offers many videos that show tranquil nature
settings, often with calming background music. «You can feel some of the same benefits from a virtual experience, like watching a person snorkeling over a coral reef or walking through Muir Woods in California,» says Slawsby. Be aware of when pain occurs. Sometimes pain is predictable, and mindfulness can be a pre-emptive measure. For example, if you suffer from recurring morning pain and stiffness, do a mindful stretching or yoga routine when you first wake up. «In this way, mindfulness helps you think about ways to ease pain before you expect it to begin.» Look to your past. We›ve all had moments of mindfulness before, so think back to those times and try to replicate them. «What did you do that helped you feel calm and in control?» says Slawsby. «It could be a hobby or a household chore or some other form of repetitive absorbing stimuli.»
Young man meditating in nature on autumn day )Getty(
Major Behavior Change Towards Food Waste
More Saudis Are Making a Self-Commitment to Recycle Food Despite Abundance, Cheap Price Motasem Al Felou – Jeddah “You are three people. Order two portions for now. If you need one more, you will get it in a second,” said the waiter to his customers in a traditional Saudi food restaurant in Jeddah, a Saudi city located in the Western Region. It is a good sign -- there is a priority besides making profits -- reducing food waste! A year ago, a study by the Saudi Grain Organization (SAGO) estimated food waste in the Kingdom at around USD 10.6 billion. After announcing the findings, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MoEWA) and SAGO Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli, launched a joint food conservation campaign to raise awareness and help people adopt new habits to reduce food waste. The Ministry of Municipality and Rural Affairs has mandated all restaurants, hotels with dining facilities and wedding halls to handle leftovers and unsold food in cooperation with the Saudi food banks like Ita’am. With more forward-thinking people in the Kingdom, the footprint of food consumption is being taken into consideration, extending the anti-food waste practices that might help lead to a carbon ? fingerprint reduction for the food shopping and cooking process. Majalla spoke to both Saudis and expats to learn more about how they are boosting re-use and re-cycling at home, and even when they eat out.
Bad shopping habits, especially with fresh fruits, vegetables & meats, lead to preparing bigger portions, and eventually ending up with more leftovers & waste. Setting a budget for groceries has made it easier for Abdullah, an Arab expat in his early forties, to reduce food waste. “I stick to the shopping list I prepare with my wife. Now we have very, very few leftovers. It all starts from the shopping list,” said Abdullah.
Some people have no problem heating or microwaving leftovers on the next day. However, more & more people are using food leftovers to make something new for dinner or the next day’s meals. Alaa, a Saudi mother of two, has found a solution for the food that is not eaten at lunch or vegetables & fruits that are expected to be rotten in a few days. For example, she makes home pizza with mixed vegetables for her kids from the leftover beef & veg-
FIXING THE SHOPPING LIST
“The lockdown started around this time last year. I used to cook more than my family consumed. Food leftover management used to be my ugliest nightmare. I decided to track the origins of the problem. Buying the groceries that I only need helped me cook the right portions with no or low food waste,” Sarah Saleh, a Jeddah-based full- time teacher, told Majalla. “With too much free time during the lockdown, cooking & eating helped us fight boredom. However, the food waste was huge. Throwing food in the garbage makes me feel guilty,” she added.
Customers queue to pay for groceries at a supermarket during a nationwide curfew to stem the spread of COVID19 in the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 3, 2020, ahead of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
etable stew. She also makes apple pies from the apples that are not consumed fresh. When tomatoes start to wrinkle a bit or become softer, Alaa peels them, makes tomato paste and puts it in jars to be used later for cooking.
With more forward-thinking people in the Kingdom, the footprint of food consumption is being taken into consideration, extending the anti-food waste practices that might help lead to a carbon fingerprint reduction for the food shopping and cooking process.
BREAD FOR FEEDING ANIMALS
“A few years ago, I asked my wife to dry the leftover bread on the balcony. I take the bags of bread & give them to shepherds, who later soak the bread in water to feed their animals,” said Hamdan, a Jeddah-based teacher. Hamdan goes the extra mile by spreading awareness among his students about the importance of food waste management, especially bread. Before the lockdown, the teacher used to feel sorry after the school breakfast breaks. Many students ate only half of their meals and threw away the rest. “It took me too long to save the bread waste. It is better to teach little kids and ask them to guide their parents if they are not aware about how to deal with bread leftover,” added Hamdan. Fatima, a housewife in her forties, dries the leftover bread and grinds it into powder that can be used for fried chicken! Khalid, a young university student, has a different way. He feeds the street cats with the leftover chicken and meat.
REUSE OF SHOPPING BAGS
After shopping and putting the groceries in the refrigerator, Muna, a local part time employee, stores the plastic bags in her kitchen cupboard to be used later as garbage bags. “Why throw away the plastic shopping bags? I stopped buying garbage bags a long time ago,” said Muna. The same applies to glass jars. They can be used to prepare pickles instead of buying new jars. “Saudi is a rich country. I am making good money. It is not about
saving money. It is about saving the environment. Re-use of plastic bags and glass jars helps a lot,” explains Muna.
DINNING OUT AND TAKEAWAY
Saudis love to eat out. They are open to new cuisines & tastes. For those who order large quantities out of hunger, there is a solution for the leftovers -- taking them away with them. “I always tell waiters ‘I want to have this takeaway’ when there are some leftovers, just to avoid waste,” said Abdulrahman, a Jeddahbased government employee. He gives the food to workers or janitors or takes the extra food home to be consumed on the next day. “Some people think it is not appropriate to take food home after dining out. However, I am proud of not wasting a single rice grain! The mentality is changing and more people are taking the leftovers than before,” concluded Abdulrahman.
Zahi Hawass: Egypt’s Indiana Jones By Majalla Illustration by Ali El Manzalawi Zahi Hawass, the popular Egyptian face resembling Indiana Jones, made headlines this week as Egypt is gearing up to organize The Pharaohs’ Golden Parade. A host of mummies will be transferred from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the Museum of Egyptian Civilization in southern Cairo. But two major deplorable incidents took place before the historic event -- a huge container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal and a train crash killed dozens in Upper Egypt. Some linked the incidents with the pharaonic parade, describing them as “the curse of the pharaohs.” However, Hawass denied this myth saying that there is no such thing. So, who is Hawass, the well-known Egyptian archeologist? Hawass was born in the village of Al-Abidiya, near the Egyptian governorate of Damietta, on May 28, 1947, and grew up in his hometown. He attended Alexandria University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Greek and Roman antiquities in 1967. He completed his postgraduate studies and obtained a Diploma in Egyptology from Cairo University in 1979. After graduation, he worked as an inspector in the pyramids area and during this work he obtained a scholarship to study at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he earned a master’s degree
in Egyptology and Syro-Palestinian Archaeology in 1983. In 1987, Hawass obtained his Ph.D. in Egyptology from the Postgraduate Studies in the Art and Archeology of the Mediterranean World (or AAMW) group. Afterwards, he worked as a lecturer at the University of California and the American University in Cairo. He returned to Egypt but his passion for further scientific progress did not stop as he continued to study in the fields of archeology, history and Egyptian culture at the American University in Cairo in 1988. In 1993, Hawass was appointed chief inspector in the Giza plateau, but he left the position after a short period only to be returned to it in 1994. He continued in this capacity until 1998 when he was transferred to the post of director of the Giza plateau. In 2002, he was appointed Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. Hawass made many discoveries of Egyptian antiquities as he discovered the tombs of the builders of the pyramids in Giza and the Valley of the Golden Mummies in the Bahariya Oasis in the Giza region. In 2005, he unveiled the satellite pyramid from Khufu and was part of the Almeria Mummy Project sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Hawass continued his archaeological excavations and announced in 2007 that he and a team of experts had identified the mummy of Hatshepsut, which had been found in a small tomb
in the Valley of the Kings. In 2009, Hawass was appointed by late President Hosni Mubarak to the position of Deputy Minister of Culture in recognition of his work and efforts. In the same year, Hawass accompanied former US President Obama when he visited Egypt on tours to various archaeological sites in ancient Egypt. On January 31, 2011, Hawass was appointed to the position of Minister of State for Antiquities. During his tenure as minister, Hawass was interested in protecting Egyptian antiquities and recovering artifacts that were looted during protests in 2011, but he soon resigned from his post in March 2011 due to the publication of a list of archaeological sites which was stolen during the protests. Thereafter, he devoted himself to working as a lecturer in the field of antiquities inside and outside Egypt as well as writing weekly articles for many newspapers and magazines. Hawass has published many books related to the study of archeology, the most important of which are “Curse of the Pharaohs: My Adventures with Mummies,” and “King Tutankhamun: The Treasures of the Tomb.” Hawass has won many awards during his career, but the highest honor is the Medal of Sciences and Arts of the First Class from former president Hosni Mubarak in 1998. In 2003, he was awarded the American Academy’s Gold Award for Achievement and the Glass Obelisk Award for his efforts in protecting and preserving Egyptian antiquities.
American Book: King Farouk Torn Between Churchill and Hitler “War of Shadows: Codebreakers, Spies, and the Secret Struggle to Drive the Nazis from the Middle East” Mohammad Ali Salih – Washington In 1942, during World War II, Germany’s Adolf Hitler›s Nazi forces, in alliance with Italy’s Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, already in control of countries in North Africa, were heading eastwards, across the Libyan desert, towards Egypt. The German forces, led by General Erwin Rommel, the “Desert Fox,” were trying to quickly reach the Suez Canal to cut off the supply lines of the Allied forces, especially the British, to the Horn of Africa, India and South Asia. During the summer of that year, Rommel’s forces reached just a day›s distance from Cairo, where Egypt’s King Farouk and his British allies were mobilizing their forces. Rommel was also only a week away from Palestine, where there were nearly half a million Jews (prior to the establishment of Israel); in Tunisia, Rommel had rounded thousands of Jews, sent some of them to Europe, killed some and enslaved others. This book is by Gershom Gorenberg, an American-born Israeli journalist, who defined himself as “a left-wing, skeptical Orthodox Zionist Jew.” He authored “The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements,” and “The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount.” In this book about the networks of competing spies in the
Middle East during World War II, he, early on, addressed those who would wonder why he chose such a subject. He wrote that he was having lunch in Jerusalem with a friend whose father was a British spy in Palestine, and that when the British sensed that German forces were approaching, they advised his father to send his mother away to South Africa. Out of curiosity, he embarked on studying the subject of spies during World War II, spending years searching for documents and interviewing people. He traveled to Britain, the US, France, Cairo, and other countries – and didn’t miss El Alamein, seat of the decisive battle in which the German forces were defeated. These are a few of the book’s chapters: Curtain Rising: Last Train from Cairo; The Seductive Curves of the Dunes; Next King of the Nile; Sandstorm; The Lady Who Spied on Spies; Spies, Everywhere; El-Alamein; and Unknown Soldiers. The most Arabic country that the book mentioned is Egypt, describing its precarious position since it had, for decades before the war, resisted the military and political British presence, and, for a while, flirted with the idea of supporting Germany and Italy. «Smoke rose from the grand British embassy facing the Nile…. In Cairo heat, privates fed bonfires with all the papers
27th February 1939: King Farouk of Egypt (1965 - 1920), makes a close examination of a range-finder during exercises of the Egyptian army artillery. (Getty Images)
that must not fall into enemy hands – cables from London, lists of arms, reports radioed in cipher from the battle fields, maps, and codebooks ... (Meantime) there were Egyptians writing slogans and banners welcoming the German forces ... Among the peasants, it was said that ‘after the German occupation, there would be a general and free distribution of agricultural implements,’” Egypt’s King Farouk (22 years-old) “was dithering about what to do if the Germans occupied Egypt … whether to leave with the retreating British, and lose his throne in the event of a final German victory, or to stay and lose his throne in the event of a final British victory.” British documents revealed the bewilderment of the king – he might welcome the Germans and cooperate with them. But, would the British execute him if they would return to Egypt? In a letter sent by Miles Lampson, the British ambassador in Egypt, to the British Foreign Office in London, he wrote that the king told him that he was with them, either victorious or defeated. However, the ambassador asked, «Do we, really, trust this boy king?» (Although Farouk was severing diplomatic relations with Germany). Farouk did not flee, but others did, and one of them was the «aristocrat» Ahmed Hassanein, his advisor, and before him, his father King Fuad’s advisor, Hassanein, headed towards Oasis
Perhaps because Farouk had not yielded much to the British, the book said he was a «beloved king.» One of the reasons was that he was «the first Egyptian king from the dynasty of Muhammad Ali Pasha who was able to deliver an official speech in Arabic, the language of his homeland. Al-Kufra and Jabal Al-Owainat (on the Egyptian-SudaneseLibyan border). But he took advantage of his escape, and gathered new information about the region, because, before the war, he had visited it and wrote books about fossils there
that belong to millions of years ago. (He was famously the lover of Queen Nazli, the mother of King Farouk.) Perhaps because Farouk had not yielded much to the British, the book said he was a «beloved king.» One of the reasons was that he was «the first Egyptian king from the dynasty of Muhammad Ali Pasha who was able to deliver an official speech in Arabic, the language of his homeland (his father, King Fuad, could not do that, because his mother tongue was Turkish). In addition to Farouk and Hassanein being unsure about whom to support, the British or the Germans, the book wrote about other similar personalities, mainly Ali Maher and Mustafa Al-Nahhas. According to British documents, because Maher was an antiBritish prime minister, the British suspected that he was a secret ally with the Germans. The British ambassador wrote a letter to the king, ordering him to dismiss Maher (also, General Aziz Al-Masri, Commanderin-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, for the same reason). On the other hand, Prime Minister Al-Nahhas was supportive of the British. However, the king, as usual, bargained with the British to choose a less liberal prime minister, Hassan Sabri. The king said that Al-Nahhas had «Bolshevik (Communist) tendencies.» Thus, for years, the king oscillated between Maher the «Nazi» (Britain›s enemy), and Al-Nahhas the «Communist» (Britain›s friend), and other prime ministers and leaders with different ideological affiliations. Egypt’s dilemma between the two European powers was reflected in the relatively free newspapers. On one side, some reported on an old friendship between the king and the German leader Adolf Hitler, with photos of a Mercedes-Benz that was a gift from Hitler, and, on the other side, there were pro-Britain
The most Arabic country that the book mentioned is Egypt, describing its precarious position since it had, for decades before the war, resisted the military and political British presence, and, for a while, flirted with the idea of supporting Germany and Italy.
reports with photos of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. All came to an end in 1942, in the Battle of El-Alamein, on the border between Egypt and Libya, where British forces that were led by General Bernard Montgomery defeated the German forces of Rommel. While that saved the king from choosing between the British or the Germans, it increased the British pressure on him. In fact, after the British victory at El-Alamein, the British ambassador proposed to the British Foreign Office in London to dismiss the king, but the Office decided to continue supporting the king on the condition that he appoint Al-Nahhas as a prime-minister. Another round of the difficult relations between the two sides. Ten years after El-Alamein, a group of revolutionary army officers toppled the king, ending about 150 years of his royal dynasty, and, later, ordered the British out of Egypt, ending 70 years of control.
Author: Gershom Gorenberg Publisher: Public Affairs Print Length: 482 pages Amazon Prices: Hardcover, $ 24.99 Kindle, $ 18.99 60