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Qatar to act as U.S. diplomatic representative in Afghanistan

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Reuters World came up with an Exclusive: Qatar to act as U.S. diplomatic representative in Afghanistan – official . It is by Humeyra Pamuk

The image above is for illustration and is of Reuters.

A military helicopter is pictured flying over Kabul, Afghanistan November 4, 2021.REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov 12 (Reuters) – The United States and Qatar have agreed that Qatar will represent the diplomatic interests of the United States in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official told Reuters, an important signal of potential direct engagement between Washington and Kabul in the future after two decades of war.

Qatar will sign an arrangement with the United States on Friday to assume the role of “protecting power” for U.S. interests to help facilitate any formal communication between Washington and the Taliban government in Afghanistan, which the United States does not recognize.Report ad

The move comes at a time when the United States and other Western countries are grappling with how to engage with the Taliban after the hardline group took over Afghanistan in a lightning advance in August as U.S.-led forces were withdrawing after two decades of war.

Many countries including the United States and European states are reluctant to formally recognize the Taliban as critics say they are backtracking on pledges of political and ethnic inclusivity and not to sideline women and minorities.Report ad

But with winter approaching, many countries realize they need to engage more to prevent the deeply impoverished country from plunging into a humanitarian catastrophe.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will announce the deal with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani at a news conference after their meeting on Friday.

According to the arrangement, which will come into effect on Dec. 31, Qatar will dedicate certain staff from its embassy in Afghanistan to a U.S. Interests Section and will coordinate closely with U.S. State Department and with U.S. mission in Doha.

The U.S. official said the United States would also continue its engagement with the Taliban through the Qatari capital, Doha, where the Taliban have maintained a political office for years.

“As our protecting power, Qatar will assist the United States in providing limited consular services to our citizens and in protecting U.S. interests in Afghanistan,” said the senior State Department official, who spoke about the sensitive matter on the condition of anonymity.

Consular assistance may include accepting passport applications, offering notarial services for documentation, providing information, and helping in emergencies, the U.S. official said.

The U.S. Interests Section will operate out of certain facilities on the compound in Kabul used by the U.S. Embassy prior to the suspension of operations, the State Department official said, adding that Qatar would monitor the properties on the compound and conduct security patrols.

Millions of Afghans face growing hunger amid soaring food prices, a drought and an economy in freefall, fueled by a hard cash shortage, sanctions on Taliban leaders and the suspension of much financial aid.

The Taliban victory in August saw the billions of dollars in foreign aid that had kept the economy afloat abruptly switched off, with more than $9 billion in central bank reserves frozen outside the country.

In a separate agreement, Qatar will continue to temporarily host up to 8,000 at-risk Afghans who have applied for special immigrant visas (SIV) and their eligible family members, the U.S. official said.

“SIV applicants will be housed at Camp As Sayliyah and al-Udeid Air Base,” the official said.

The two decades-long U.S. occupation of Afghanistan culminated in a hastily organized airlift in August in which more than 124,000 civilians, including Americans, Afghans and others, were evacuated as the Taliban took over. But thousands of U.S.-allied Afghans at risk of Taliban persecution were left behind.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay, Editing by Robert Birsel

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Good omens hard to find as global climate talks open

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By Mark John and Katy Daigle, REUTERS. it is about how Good omens are hard to find as global climate talks open.

Summary

  • COP26 aims to secure tougher measures to cut CO2 emissions
  • Conference set to begin with afternoon speeches
  • Weekend G20 summit failed to set positive tone for COP26
  • Thunberg urges leaders: ‘Face up to climate emergency now’

GLASGOW, Nov 1 (Reuters) – World leaders began arriving on Monday at a U.N. conference critical to averting the most disastrous effects of climate change, their challenge made even more daunting by the failure of major industrial nations to agree ambitious new commitments.

The COP26 conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow opens a day after the G20 economies failed to commit to a 2050 target to halt net carbon emissions – a deadline widely cited as necessary to prevent the most extreme global warming.

Instead, their talks in Rome only recognised “the key relevance” of halting net emissions “by or around mid-century”, set no timetable for phasing out coal at home and watered down promises to cut emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg asked her millions of supporters to sign an open letter accusing leaders of betrayal.Report ad

“As citizens across the planet, we urge you to face up to the climate emergency,” she tweeted. “Not next year. Not next month. Now.”

Many of those leaders take to the stage in Glasgow on Monday to defend their records and in some cases make new pledges at the start of two weeks of negotiations that conference host Britain is billing as make-or-break.Report ad

“Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell the opening ceremony, according to advance excerpts of his speech.

“If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”

DISCORD

Discord among some of the world’s biggest emitters about how to cut back on coal, oil and gas, and help poorer countries to adapt to global warming, will not make the task easier.

At the G20, U.S. President Joe Biden singled out China and Russia, neither of which is sending its leader to Glasgow, for not bringing proposals to the table.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, on board Air Force One with Biden, said Glasgow could put pressure on those who had not yet stepped up, but that it would not end the global effort.

“It is also critical for us to recognise that the work is going to have to continue after everyone goes home,” he told reporters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose country is by far the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and ahead of the United States, will address the conference on Monday in a written statement, according to an official schedule.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia, one of the world’s top three oil producers along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, has dropped plans to participate in any talks live by video link, the Kremlin said. read more

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will also stay away. Two Turkish officials said Britain had failed to meet Ankara’s demands on security arrangements and protocol. read more

PROMISES, PROMISES

Delayed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, COP26 aims to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels – a level scientists say would avoid its most destructive consequences.

To do that, it needs to secure more ambitious pledges to reduce emissions, lock in billions in climate-related financing for developing countries, and finish the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries.

Existing pledges to cut emissions would allow the planet’s average surface temperature to rise 2.7C this century, which the United Nations says would supercharge the destruction that climate change is already causing by intensifying storms, exposing more people to deadly heat and floods, raising sea levels and destroying natural habitats.

Developed countries confirmed last week that they would be three years late in meeting a promise made in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries by 2020. read more

“Africa is responsible for only 3% of global emissions, but Africans are suffering the most violent consequences of the climate crisis,” Ugandan activist Evelyn Acham told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

“They are not responsible for the crisis, but they are still paying the price of colonialism, which exploited Africa’s wealth for centuries,” she said. “We have to share responsibilities fairly.”

Two days of speeches by world leaders starting Monday will be followed by technical negotiations. Any deal may not be struck until close to or even after the event’s Nov. 12 finish date.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Jeff Mason; writing by Mark John and Kevin Liffey; editing by Barbara Lewis

Regional Integration in the MENA region

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Opinions|World Bank

Some views expressed in this article are by David R Malpass, President of the World Bank Group and posted on Al Jazeera‘s blog tell us that the World Bank is concerned with the Regional Integration in the MENA region, hence a call for action.

MENA countries are on the cusp of important regional integration initiatives that will provide much needed efficiency gains, diversification, trust building and green growth.

Published On 28 Oct 2021

Countries of the MENA region today have a strong economic incentive to accelerate their efforts at regional integration, writes Malpass [Johannes P Christo/Reuters]

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a region of abundant human and natural resources, shared culture and languages and a well-established heritage of skill in trade. With a total population close to that of the European Union, the MENA region is, however, the least economically integrated in the world. As they strive to create more jobs, attract more investment, boost growth and recover from the pandemic, countries of the MENA region today have a strong economic incentive to accelerate their efforts at regional integration.

The MENA region has been at the crossroads of regional trade throughout history. Countries have previously established a host of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements, with limited tangible outcomes. The benefits of regional integration include growth spillovers, larger markets, and production scale economies. These are well recognised by MENA economists, traders and farmers alike. What is lacking is not a rationale or capacity to integrate, but rather a sense of urgency to prioritise and move forward with integration.

Opportunities for regional integration include energy and water and certain geographic regions within MENA. These would benefit from advanced dialogue, foundational technical work, and the promise of strong and near-immediate positive economic impact.

With the exception of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the energy sector in MENA is interconnected but not integrated. This means only two percent of the electricity produced in the MENA region is traded between countries each year. Recognising the benefits, the Arab Ministerial Councils for Electricity (AMCE), under the League of Arab States (LAS), has prioritised the establishment of a Pan-Arab Electricity Market (PAEM). The World Bank is engaged in this initiative and has been offering technical assistance and advice. Indeed, the PAEM has the ambitious objective to increase cross-border electricity trade from the current two percent to 40 percent by 2035. This will equip the MENA region with one of the largest multi-country integrated systems in the world – producing a total generation capacity of more than 600 gigawatts by 2035.

In North Africa, scaling up existing regional energy with Europe’s Mediterranean countries should also be expanded. At my recent meeting with Arab Governors during the World Bank Group Annual Meetings, I emphasised the need to sustain and accelerate these critical regional energy initiatives and to prioritise actions that will help alleviate demand and supply imbalances across many countries of the MENA region.

The fact that most of the MENA region’s water is shared also presents an opportunity to accelerate regional integration efforts. In the MENA region, all major river basins, tributaries, and groundwater aquifers are considered shared waters. As pressure increases due to climate change, population growth and development it will become increasingly important to develop adequate frameworks for advancing regional cooperation. There is a broad range of global examples that showcase the power of water as a catalyser for cooperation. As a result, strengthening transboundary water cooperation can be a powerful tool not only for improving water security in the countries in the region, but also for promoting economic prosperity and greater cooperation.

Finally, and as described in the recent update of the World Bank Group’s approach to Regional Integration in Africa, it is critical to strengthen and enable the strong historical and socioeconomic linkages that exist between countries of the Maghreb and those of sub-Saharan Africa. In anticipation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), now is the time to expand and deepen existing platforms for regional cooperation, including in agriculture and digital sectors where progress is most needed, and to explore additional opportunities for regional integration between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

While the challenges of establishing – and sustaining – regional trade, infrastructure and institutions are significant, MENA countries are on the cusp of important regional integration initiatives that will provide much-needed efficiency gains, diversification, trust-building and green growth – all of which will play a catalytic role in economic growth and poverty reduction in MENA. The World Bank Group is ready to play a part in furthering this forward-looking agenda.


David R Malpass, President of the World Bank GroupDavid R Malpass was named President of the World Bank Group in April 2019. Malpass previously served for eleven years in US government roles at the US Treasury, State Department, Senate Budget Committee, and Congress’s Joint Economic Committee. In between government service, he worked for twenty-four years on Wall Street as a top-ranked economist, a columnist with Forbes magazine, and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal. Malpass earned a degree in physics at Colorado College as a Boettcher Scholar, an MBA from the University of Denver, and studied as a Mid-Career Fellow at Georgetown University.

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PArtition, now !

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PArtition, now ! by fadymozaya, posted on 25, 2021, could teach us a lot about how not to share an area of land despite all different and differing aspects of everyday life has direct consequences beyond any description.

The Levant

Some expressions rhyme and flow as if they were a cluster of a hymn or the words of a Renaissance poet.
In my middle eastern mountain area, some words suppress many others and hint at ideas and events that seem to flourish around distinct communities and not others as if they are parasites feeding on an organic scheme.

The invasion of the capital of Phoenicia Libanesis started in the 7th century, it is said that it only took less than a year to take over the “byzantined” capital of Phoenicia Libanesis, some claim that Jeb’El took that role at that time!

The invading herds filled the buffer zone that the sad events of the cataclysmic event of 551-553 A.D caused in the Lebanese littoral, survivors managed to reach the Highlands at that time through the straits of Mount Lebanon, mentioning here Bisri valley, Lycus surrounding, Fidar straits, Madfoun valley, Turza alleys, Kadisha/kalamus sea gate, and Terbol pathways.

The theory that a vacant Mount Lebanon was occupied by oppressed communities of the Syrian inner lands and further has been thoroughly examined by Historians and scribes of the “higher authorities” for centuries.



In the time of emergence of accurate sciences like Anthropology, Geophysics, demography and more .. it is the simple-minded way of thinking to believe any of these texts, clearly controversial in the spectrum of scientificity, and Truth!

Modern scholars have proved continuity of life since the 2nd millennium BC in the cities of Phoenicia Libanesis, and other studies identified clearly a 5000 years of sustainability of Human life in the northern mountains of Lbnn , the way it seems indicates a larger and deeper ancestry! (1)

The culture of Mount Lebanon has been remained untapped and undisturbed unless for brief times of political turbulence, since the Assyrian times and up until the Ottoman period, with slight changes in demographic maps, like the Sharkass implantation on the maritime edge of the river of Kadisha valley, and some others in the Jbeil Kesserwan district.

The invader mindset remained clearly non-homogenous to the native cults and habits, this can clearly be seen in socio-ethnic studies about the Lebanese maze of population, one can clearly identify differences (and minor similarities) between the communities of today’s fragile matrix .

The hard economics, the fragile agreements, the hint-backs to origins and roots still seem to widen the gap between these social components, now it is clearly seen that the self-identification terminology has turned into a complete narrative in the lives of the Lebanese communities, I would like to label it the “Ento-Nehna” speech!

What will come is only the fruit of what we have been doing for years, and we have not changed a bit, since the 7th century onwards.

Making it clear, we require a new socio-political system, and why not, partition.
We have one life to live, and it is precious enough to say what we need, to claim what we earn!

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What is COP26? Here’s how global climate negotiations work

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This article republished from The Conversation is by Shelley Inglis, University of Dayton, Ohio, USA. It looks at the forthcoming international gathering of Glasgow on Climate Change and on the potential confrontations from a practical point of view and elaborates in its own way on What is COP26? Here’s how global climate negotiations work.

The image above is about U.N. climate summits that bring together representatives of almost every country. UNFCCC

What is COP26? Here’s how global climate negotiations work and what’s expected from the Glasgow summit

Over two weeks in November, world leaders and national negotiators will meet in Scotland to discuss what to do about climate change. It’s a complex process that can be hard to make sense of from the outside, but it’s how international law and institutions help solve problems that no single country can fix on its own.

I worked for the United Nations for several years as a law and policy adviser and have been involved in international negotiations. Here’s what’s happening behind closed doors and why people are concerned that COP26 might not meet its goals.

What is COP26?

In 1992, countries agreed to an international treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which set ground rules and expectations for global cooperation on combating climate change. It was the first time the majority of nations formally recognized the need to control greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming that drives climate change.

That treaty has since been updated, including in 2015 when nations signed the Paris climate agreement. That agreement set the goal of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), and preferably to 1.5 C (2.7 F), to avoid catastrophic climate change.

COP26 stands for the 26th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC. The “parties” are the 196 countries that ratified the treaty plus the European Union. The United Kingdom, partnering with Italy, is hosting COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, 2021, after a one-year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are world leaders so focused on climate change?

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report, released in August 2021, warns in its strongest terms yet that human activities have unequivocally warmed the planet, and that climate change is now widespread, rapid and intensifying.

The IPCC’s scientists explain how climate change has been fueling extreme weather events and flooding, severe heat waves and droughts, loss and extinction of species, and the melting of ice sheets and rising of sea levels. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called the report a “code red for humanity.”

Enough greenhouse gas emissions are already in the atmosphere, and they stay there long enough, that even under the most ambitious scenario of countries quickly reducing their emissions, the world will experience rising temperatures through at least mid-century.

However, there remains a narrow window of opportunity. If countries can cut global emissions to “net zero” by 2050, that could bring warming back to under 1.5 C in the second half of the 21st century. How to get closer to that course is what leaders and negotiators are discussing.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called the latest climate science findings a ‘code red for humanity.’ UNFCCC

What happens at COP26?

During the first days of the conference, around 120 heads of state, like U.S. President Joe Biden, and their representatives will gather to demonstrate their political commitment to slowing climate change.

Once the heads of state depart, country delegations, often led by ministers of environment, engage in days of negotiations, events and exchanges to adopt their positions, make new pledges and join new initiatives. These interactions are based on months of prior discussions, policy papers and proposals prepared by groups of states, U.N. staff and other experts.

Nongovernmental organizations and business leaders also attend the conference, and COP26 has a public side with sessions focused on topics such as the impact of climate change on small island states, forests or agriculture, as well as exhibitions and other events.

The meeting ends with an outcome text that all countries agree to. Guterres publicly expressed disappointment with the COP25 outcome, and there are signs of trouble heading into COP26.

Celebrities like youth climate activist Greta Thunberg add public pressure on world leaders. UNFCCC

What is COP26 expected to accomplish?

Countries are required under the Paris Agreement to update their national climate action plans every five years, including at COP26. This year, they’re expected to have ambitious targets through 2030. These are known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs.

The Paris Agreement requires countries to report their NDCs, but it allows them leeway in determining how they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The initial set of emission reduction targets in 2015 was far too weak to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

One key goal of COP26 is to ratchet up these targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.

Another aim of COP26 is to increase climate finance to help poorer countries transition to clean energy and adapt to climate change. This is an important issue of justice for many developing countries whose people bear the largest burden from climate change but have contributed least to it. Wealthy countries promised in 2009 to contribute $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations, a goal that has not been reached. The U.S., U.K. and EU, among the largest historic greenhouse emitters, are increasing their financial commitments, and banks, businesses, insurers and private investors are being asked to do more.

Other objectives include phasing out coal use and generating solutions that preserve, restore or regenerate natural carbon sinks, such as forests.

Another challenge that has derailed past COPs is agreeing on implementing a carbon trading system outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Chinese street vendors sell vegetables outside a state-owned coal-fired power plant in 2017. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Are countries on track to meet the international climate goals?

The U.N. warned in September 2021 that countries’ revised targets were too weak and would leave the world on pace to warm 2.7 C (4.9 F) by the end of the century. However, governments are also facing another challenge this fall that could affect how they respond: Energy supply shortages have left Europe and China with price spikes for natural gas, coal and oil.

China – the world’s largest emitter – has not yet submitted its NDC. Major fossil fuel producers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Australia seem unwilling to strengthen their commitments. India – a critical player as the second-largest consumer, producer and importer of coal globally – has also not yet committed.

Other developing nations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa and Mexico are important. So is Brazil, which, under Javier Bolsonaro’s watch, has increased deforestation of the Amazon – the world’s largest rainforest and crucial for biodiversity and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

What happens if COP26 doesn’t meet its goals?

Many insiders believe that COP26 won’t reach its goal of having strong enough commitments from countries to cut global greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030. That means the world won’t be on a smooth course for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and the goal of keeping warming under 1.5 C.

But organizers maintain that keeping warming under 1.5 C is still possible. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been leading the U.S. negotiations, remains hopeful that enough countries will create momentum for others to strengthen their reduction targets by 2025.

The world is not on track to meet the Paris goal. Climate Action Tracker

The cost of failure is astronomical. Studies have shown that the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius can mean the submersion of small island states, the death of coral reefs, extreme heatwaves, flooding and wildfires, and pervasive crop failure.

That translates into many premature deaths, more mass migration, major economic losses, large swaths of unlivable land and violent conflict over resources and food – what the U.N. secretary-general has called “a hellish future.”

[Get The Conversation’s most important politics headlines, in our Politics Weekly newsletter.]

Shelley Inglis, Executive Director, University of Dayton Human Rights Center, University of Dayton

Read the original article.