+44 01483 457477 farolaz@hotmail.co.uk

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

Advertisements

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

.

‘West of The Nile and Around The Sudd’

Advertisements


‘West of The Nile and Around The Sudd’ story published on IPS is not an exceptional story. All republics of the MENA region have put up efforts at establishing a stable and representative rule that has proven universally unsuccessful.  Have they become therefore failed states living on borrowed time?

Let us find out in this remarkable article.

The image above is for illustration and is of the UNEP.

‘West of The Nile and Around The Sudd’

By Theodore van der Pluijm

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands, Nov 9 2021 (IPS) – Tensions and hostilities persisted until early 2019 when the regime of Omar al-Bashir – to a large extent symbolized by oppressing minority groups in the Darfurs, Blue Nile state and South Kordofan – finally ended. Meanwhile, many inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains and other parts of South Kordofan, had escaped to South Sudan, which had become independent in 2011. There, they found, however, a country with even more interethnic strains and assaults, resulting, in addition to the innumerable internally displaced persons, the flight of 2.3 million citizens to six countries in the region. An area characterized by perpetual political and ethnic tensions which often resulted in border crossings in opposite ways. The present case of refugees from Ethiopia to the Republic of Sudan is an example of this phenomenon in the IGAD-region. (The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is an eight-country trade bloc in Africa that includes governments from the Horn of Africa, the Nile Valley and the African Great Lakes. Its headquarters is in Djibouti City).

The author on the road between Dilling and Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan in February 1999. Through the ‘Juba Peace Agreement’ of October 2020, internal reconciliation would finally be realized in The Sudan. By this, creating an environment in which sustained rural and agricultural development programs could be implemented without major ideological or inter-ethnic frictions, including in Darfur and in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan.

The Transitional Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok aimed at political and ethnic appeasement in order to foster development initiatives all over the country. However, the military coup led by general Al-Burhan arrested Hamdok and all other civilian members of this interim government. Once again, many people went into the streets to protest. Once more demonstrators were arrested or killed. In addition, during the past two weeks, the pressure from outside has gained momentum. The US and other countries, now even including Saudi Arabia and the UAE have urged Al-Burhan to release all persons and to return to civilian rule with Hamdok as Prime Minister.

The book ‘West of The Nile and Around The Sudd’ – published in May 2021 with 142 pp. containing a large number of pictures taken in the field – is about efforts by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a United Nations specialized agency and financing institution, aimed at designing of and monitoring the implementation of agricultural and rural development projects in the Republic of The Sudan. The country has ample natural resources for achieving food security and adequate income and living standards for the entire population, including the inhabitants of rural areas where there are no armed conflicts.

More specifically, the purpose of this book is to show how local data are collected as indispensable tools for the preparation of new development projects or for the supervision of on-going investment programs. Considering the latter, the book starts with the process of data-gathering during a supervision mission for the World Bank-led Southern Region Agricultural Project (SRAP) in October 1980, about two years after its start. This promising region-wide scheme, however, had to be terminated already in 1984, an effect of the conflict between the central government and forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

The way of assembling information during the formulation mission in early 1999 for the design of the South Kordofan Rural Development Project is reflected in parts Three, Four and Five of the book. During meetings in villages and hamlets, we were impressed both by the willingness of the local authorities to provide maximum information and the friendliness and openness of the inhabitants – families and individuals – in the way they received us and provided their opinions.

This project started its promising operations at the end of the year 2000. However, also in this case, during its implementation, time and time again, project activities have been affected by armed conflicts between government forces – frequently assisted by militias – and insurgents, historically located in the Nuba Mountains and other zones of South Kordofan. However, different from the SRAP, its implementation could continue. Nevertheless, as part Six in the book explains, time-wise and regionally, project activities had frequently to be halted in order to avoid clashes and combats. Moreover, in the final stages of 2012-2013, project activities had to be stopped, when, despite the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CAP), hostilities in South Kordofan expanded significantly.

(On 19 December 2018, a few weeks before starting this book, I visited the ambassador of the Republic of Sudan in The Netherlands. During an informative, frank and pleasant meeting, I stressed that the time had come for President Omar al-Bashir to change his policies radically. Evidently, I was completely unaware that on the very same day in the historic city of Atbara, massive protests took place. These eventually triggered demonstrations and protests all over the country in which women played a major role. Finally, on 11 April 2019 Al Bashir was arrested. A promising era could commence).

The author of the book is a former United Nations IFAD senior official who was Director of the Near East and North Africa Division., in addition to other responsibilities.

.

PArtition, now !

Advertisements

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!

.

The anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

Advertisements

Hadi Khatib on AMEInfo of 18 September 2021 came up with this deep statement on the anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs that is long, as is the one curing it

The anxiety list for MENA entrepreneurs is long, as is the one curing it

A research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to COVID-19 in the MENA region revealed anxiety has several facets in the minds of these leaders. But all of these insecurities have cures.

  • 55% of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress.
  • More than 95% of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends.
  • Research finds that entrepreneurs are happier than people in jobs.

EMPWR, a UAE-based digital media agency dedicated to mental health and an exclusive mental health partner for WAMDA and Microsoft for startups, published a research report on the mental health challenges and wellbeing of entrepreneurs due to COVID-19 in the MENA region.

The research indicated that startup founders undergo higher levels of stress than the rest of the region, with twice the likelihood of developing depression issues.

55% of startup founders said that raising investment has caused the most stress; the pandemic was the second most-cited reason cited by 33.7% of respondents.   44.2% spend at least 2 hours a week trying to de-stress. 

Other insights, uncovered by the report, include:

  • A good relationship between co-founders can help startups navigate the pandemic-hit market. More than 95% of entrepreneurs view co-founders as family members and/or friends
  • Many entrepreneurs live well below their means to fund their ventures, leading to stress that is detrimental to their health

With only 2% of healthcare budgets in the MENA region currently spent on addressing mental health, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on young entrepreneurs and achievers could lead to an economic burden of $1 trillion, by 2030, according to the report.

EMPWR’s MENA partners shared special offers on their mental health services for the region’s entrepreneur community.

From Saudi Arabia:

Labayh is offering the technology ecosystem a 20% discount on their online mental health services for 2 months. Promo code: empwr, with the offer valid until October 29.

From Egypt:

O7 Therapy are offering 50% off their online mental health services, for 50 Entrepreneurs in the MENA region. Promo code: Entrepreneur50, valid until December 1, 2021.

From the UAE:

My Wellbeing Lab is offering 20 one-on-one coaching sessions to entrepreneurs that wish to be coached and helped; alongside unlimited access for any entrepreneur to their “Discovery Lab”, a platform that gives entrepreneurs and leaders insights into their mental wellbeing as well as their teams. Promo code: MWL21.

Takalam is offering 10% off for 3 months. Promo code: Impact.

Mindtales is offering the MENA ecosystem 50% off their services for one month. Their App can be downloaded here.

H.A.D Consultants is offering 20 one on one coaching sessions to entrepreneurs. Promo code: HAD_SME01.

From Oman:

Nafas, a meditation app focused on reducing stress, anxiety, and help with insomnia, is offering access to its platform. Register as a user via this link to redeem benefits. 

Entrepreneurs’ mixed emotions

Entrepreneurs must grapple with uncertainty and being personally responsible for any decision they make. They likely have the longest working hours of any occupational group and need to rapidly develop expertise across all areas of management while managing day-to-day business.

Yet despite all this, research finds that entrepreneurs are happier than people in jobs.

To understand this, a comprehensive and systematic review of 144 empirical studies of this topic, covering 50 years revealed:

1. It’s not all about pay

Work on the economics of entrepreneurship traditionally assumed that entrepreneurs bear all the stresses and uncertainties in the hope that over the long term they can expect high financial rewards for their effort. It’s false.

2. Highly stressful, but…

High workload and work intensity, as well as financial problems facing their business, are at the top of the entrepreneurs’ stress list.

But some stressors have an upside. While they require more effort in the here and now, they may lead to positive consequences such as business growth in the long term. Some entrepreneurs appear to interpret their long working hours as a challenge and therefore turn them into a positive signal.

3. Autonomy is both good and bad

The autonomy that comes with being an entrepreneur can be a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs can make decisions about when and what they work on – and with whom they work. But recent research into how entrepreneurs experience their autonomy suggests that, at times, they struggle profoundly with it. The sheer number of decisions to make and the uncertainty about what is the best way forward can be overwhelming.

4. An addictive mix

The evidence review confirms that, by any stretch of imagination, entrepreneurs’ work is highly demanding and challenging. This, along with the positive aspects of being their own boss coupled with an often competitive personality, can lead entrepreneurs to be so engaged with their work that it can become obsessive.

So the most critical skill of entrepreneurs is perhaps how they are able to manage themselves and allow time for recovery.  

Stress management tips for entrepreneurs

Identify what the actual source of your stress is. Is it tight deadlines, procurement issues, raising capital, managing investors’ expectations, building a talented team, or delay in landing the first sale for your new startup business?

Even if numbering more than a few, break them down because unmanageable tasks look simpler when broken down into smaller segments. Then, list down how you plan to successfully tackle each issue. Meanwhile, exercising multiple times a week has been rated as one of the best tactics for managing stress.  

Another technique for handling stress is to take a break. Rest as much as you can before going back to continue with the tasks.  It’s also a good idea to reach out to friends, family, and social networks because they are likely to understand what you’re going through and offer words of wisdom and courage.

Stay away from energy-sapping junk food. Eating healthy keeps you fueled for the next challenge. Finally, get enough sleep, and power naps. Sleep helps your body and mind recover.   

Hadi Khatib is a business editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and copy of relevance to a wide range of audiences. If newsworthy and actionable, you will find this editor interested in hearing about your sector developments and writing about them. He can be reached at:  hadi.khatib@thewickfirm.com

To give architecture political clout we must engage with ordinary people

Advertisements

The Architects Journal with Leanne Tritton, author, elaborated this article on how to give architecture political clout, we must engage with ordinary people.

To give architecture political clout we must engage with ordinary people

The architecture and built environment sector has a poor track record in communicating with the general public, something those in power are all too aware of, writes new chair of The London Society Leanne Tritton

My business is communication. I love working alongside built environment professionals, and in my day job I am fortunate to see at first hand how architects and developers are working hard to positively design and build better places.

But, sadly, few members of the general public see our sector in the same light. It is not surprising, given that the media generally focuses on the negative and the sensational. That’s just a fact of life. But we haven’t gone out of our way to help ourselves and present the other side of the story or co-ordinate campaigns that inform opinion.

For obvious reasons, central and local government is preoccupied by the feelings of the nation. It seems the built environment’s only meaningful connection with the population of this country is via a series of consultations that accompany proposed development. As these make their way through the planning process, such efforts often descend into almost hand-to-hand combat.

Put simply, we’ve not had strong enough links with either the general public or government to promote effectively what we do.

It also does our industry no credit that we have such a poor track record when it comes to engaging with the country’s political leadership and working to influence policies that will not only benefit our sector, but the greater good.

Politicians know that we have limited ‘clout’ and so have been able to dictate the pace and degree of change that takes place, and do so on their terms.

This needs to be put right, although it’s not to say there aren’t those who seek to engage with ordinary people about the buildings all around them. I have long admired the work undertaken by Open City, which, as well as running a series of events highlighting the architectural wonders of the capital, also organises the annual Open House festival. This event, which lasts for just a few days every year, gives people unparalleled access to some of London’s finest buildings.

It is also hugely encouraging to see Simon Allford, co-founding partner of AHMM, elected as president of the RIBA. Allford will not only be able to offer the institute effective leadership, he is the type of person who can walk into a room full of government ministers and have an immediate and positive impact.

Then there is The London Society (TLS). Established in 1912 by a group of Londoners concerned about the lack of planning in the capital, its theme 110 years on will focus on the connections among communities and those organisations that sit beyond those of built environment professionals and which have the potential to make the city stronger.

Having recently joined TLS as chair, I believe the organisation has a unique opportunity to present the built environment’s case outside the industry bubble.

Members of TLS come from all walks of life, not just the professions. All share a passion for the city and want to engage with the debates about its future, while also recognising – and indeed cherishing – its past. It is an organisation for all those who love London, forging links with underrepresented communities across the capital and, usefully, having the ear of MPs, sponsoring as it does the All-Party Parliamentary Group on London Planning and Built Environment.

The time for engagement is upon us and we need to fund those organisations that give us critical mass and help the public understand that we are on their side.

Leanne Tritton is managing director of ING Media and chair of The London Society. As part of the AJ100 Festival, she will be speaking at the panel debate COP26 – How can we get better at influencing government? at 9.35am on Monday 20 September.