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

Palestinian Rights Advocates Refuse to Applaud

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Published on Thursday, August 13, 2020, by Common Dreams is an article on how Palestinian Rights Advocates Refuse to Applaud Israel-Trump-UAE Deal That Upholds ‘Ongoing, Devastating Apartheid‘. Here it is republished for apparent reasons if only of peace, progress and prosperity for each and everyone around unfolding however awkwardly before our very eyes. It would be a good opportunity to remind that resolving millennia problematics could start with the unequal impact of heatwaves without of course overlooking all those transboundary aquifers. 


“The Trump administration hit upon the Nobel Peace Prize-winning idea that you can supposedly solve the Israel-Palestine conflict by pretending Palestinians don’t exist.”

Julia Conley, staff writer

In front of the EU Council, covered by 4,500 empty pairs of shoes to represent every life killed in the Israel since 2008, is seen in Brussels, Belgium, on 28 May 2018. European Foreign Ministers greeted by the installation as they entered a meeting. (Photo: Olivier Matthys/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Advocates for Palestinian rights vehemently rejected claims by the Trump administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Thursday marked a “historic day” in the fight for peace in the Middle East, after Israel and the United Arab Emirates forged a deal normalizing relations between the two countries.

The newly-official diplomatic relationship reportedly came after Israel told UAE officials that it would suspend plans to annex parts of the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Rights advocates promptly pointed out that Israel already occupies the West Bank and will continue to do so regardless of any promise to the UAE, and that the Israeli to expand annexation—though on hold at least for now—would have been a violation of international law.

“We won’t celebrate Netanyahu for not stealing land he already controls in exchange for a sweetheart business deal,” tweeted Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), a Palestinian-American.

As President Donald Trump, Netanyahu, and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed released a joint statement celebrating the so-called “historic diplomatic breakthrough”—and U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the deal should solidify a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Trump—CodePink pointed out that Netanyahu stated publicly after the deal was brokered that annexation is “still on the table” and something he is still “committed to.”

“The Trump administration hit upon the Nobel Peace Prize-winning idea that you can supposedly solve the Israel-Palestine conflict by pretending Palestinians don’t exist,” tweeted Intercept journalist Murtaza Hussain.

The deal is primarily an attempt to bolster “the Israel-US-Gulf alliance against Iran…while maintaining Israel’s status quo of occupation and apartheid,” said CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin. 

In Gaza, the Popular Resistance Committees called the deal “a treacherous and poisonous stab in the back of the nation and its history” which “reveals the size of the conspiracy against our people and our cause.” 

CodePink accused UAE leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, of abandoning their previous stance that the UAE would only normalize diplomatic relations with Israel if and when the country acted in accordance with international law.

“We are not fooled by this fake diplomacy, which is nothing more than a way to maintain Israel’s status quo of land theft, home demolitions, arbitrary extrajudicial killings, apartheid laws, and other abuses of Palestinian rights,” said CodePink national co-director Ariel Gold. “Annexation is a daily reality on the ground. By normalizing relations with Israel without any gains for Palestinians, the UAE is pledging complicity with Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.”

The group said the purpose of the Trump-brokered deal was entirely unrelated to moving closer to peace and solidarity between Palestinians and Israelis, and was instead an attempt to shore up the power of Trump, Netanyahu, and bin Zayed. 

“The UAE’s change from supporting Palestinian dignity and freedom to supporting Israel’s never-ending occupation cements the UAE’s alliance with the Trump administration, which allows the country to purchase weapons that are used against civilians in Yemen,” said CodePink.

The Israeli and UAE delegations are set to meet in the coming weeks about cooperative agreements regarding telecommunications, investments, tourism, and other aspects of a normalized diplomatic relationship. But as the Middle East Eye reported, the new deal is simply a formalization of relations that had already been ongoing; last month, for example, two Israeli defense companies signed a deal with an artificial intelligence firm in the UAE. 

“There is nothing ‘historic’ or ‘groundbreaking’ about this agreement: Israel and the UAE have been strong allies under the table for many years!” tweeted Omar Baddar, director of the Arab American Institute. “This is merely making that friendship public.”

“Israel may be able to normalize with these dictatorial governments without treating [Palestinians] like human beings who deserve basic rights, but Israel will never be truly accepted by the PEOPLE of the region so long as Palestinians live without freedom under the boot of occupation,” Baddar wrote.

The agreement, journalist Mehdi Hasan tweeted, represented a “classic” deal by two countries regarding Palestinian people’s lives, security, and future.

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=commondreams&creatorUserId=14296273&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-5&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1293952073495646211&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.commondreams.org%2Fnews%2F2020%2F08%2F13%2Fpalestinian-rights-advocates-refuse-applaud-israel-trump-uae-deal-upholds-ongoing&siteScreenName=commondreams&siteUserId=14296273&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=550px

IfNotNow, a Palestinian rights group led by Jewish Americans, condemned the deal, which was made without the involvement of Palestinians.

“The focus needs to be on promoting solidarity between Palestinians and Israelis who are joining together in struggle to end an apartheid system,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “We must stand with the people. This Trump/Netanyahu deal will not alleviate Palestinian suffering—it will further normalize it.”Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons A

Specter of Threats on all MENA’s countries

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There is a specter of threats on all MENA’s countries, starting with those that are oil-exporters. The risk of dislocation of social cohesion and that of amputation of territorial integrity are perhaps at the forefront.

What are then the scenarios for the future situation in all the countries of the MENA region? Here are some:


New wave of protest expected to hit MENA region say analysts

New waves of protest are expected to hit the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region when lockdowns are lifted, and the global coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.

For many regimes in the region, the spread of COVID-19 has been somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Protests were stopped in Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon. But the impact of the virus is likely to fuel more instability in the region as governments struggle to deal with the economic crash, job losses, and boiling public anger.

According to Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East programme at Chatham House: “The coronavirus has exposed the fragility of the social safety-net systems across the region,” and the “Covid-19 has postponed the inevitable unrest to come.”

Her comments fuelled speculation in the Financial Times about the coming unrest in the MENA region, which many would say has barely recovered from the 2011 uprising that became popularly known as the “Arab Spring”.

With governments lacking legitimacy, restless populations, high youth population and rampant unemployment, the region was already under severe stress. Their lack of financial resources to be able to deal with the virus in the way wealthy nations have been able to, by providing large-scale rescue packages to support businesses and protect jobs, is expected to make their position even more untenable.

While trust between people and the regimes is said to be dangerously low, authoritarian measures adopted during the spread of the pandemic has exacerbated this endemic problem. The shuttering of news agencies and expulsion of foreign journalists that contradicted government handling of the pandemic were cited as just two of the ways in which mistrust has been deepened.

In states like Algeria activists are even accusing authorities of exploiting the crisis by cracking down on political opponents and detaining opposition politicians as well as journalists.

States like Iraq have suffered a double blow of the spread of the coronavirus and the collapse of the global oil market which resulted from a major drop in global supply and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Baghdad is unlikely to be able to pay as much as half of its staff in the public sector, by far the largest employer, while Algeria, another country exposed to the oil price plunge, is said to be cutting state spending by 30 per cent.

Countries heavily reliant on tourism are also being hit hard. Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco have seen this key sector completely freeze over the past months. As revenues plummet, remittances, which is a major source of income for many countries in the region, have dried up. Lebanon, one of the countries already at breaking point due to economic meltdown, will face major challenges.

This weekend, two banks in southern, and two in northern Lebanon were damaged in separate attacks over the weekend, as public anger grows over the country’s economic crisis.

The real test, according to the FT report, will come after the pandemic begins to ease and the economic consequences of the global crisis are truly felt, particularly for the region’s most vulnerable.

Read more:

Regional Powers’ Attempts to co-opt the Syrian tribes

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The regional powers’ attempts to co-opt the Syrian tribes will only deepen the war-torn country’s divisions by creating rivalries between them sustains Haian Dukhan of University of Leicester per the following article.

Syria: attempts by Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to co-opt Arab tribes in Syria will deepen the country’s divisions

Saudi Arabia is putting renewed pressure on its ties with tribal groups in Syria as it continues to support those trying to topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

In a visit in late June to Syrian territories controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance fighting against the Assad regime, the Saudi minister for Gulf affairs, Thamer Al-Sabhan, met with representatives of Arab tribes in Deir Ezzor, one of Syria’s most heavily tribal areas. He asked them to help the SDF maintain stability and security in their territories.

Arab tribes represent 20% of Syrian society and are particularly focused in the east of the country. But this area is currently divided: territory east of the Euphrates river is controlled by the SDF, which includes the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, while much of the territory west of the river is governed by the Syrian regime.

Saudi Arabia’s rivals in the region are also trying to use their ties with Syrian tribes for their own ends. Although Iran and Turkey don’t have the same kinship ties that Saudi tribes do with the Syrian tribes, both countries have been working since the beginning of the Syrian conflict to create new ties with them. Their aim is to use the tribes to further their interests in Syria – toppling the Assad regime in the case of Turkey and propping it up in the case of Iran.

But these attempts to co-opt the Syrian tribes will only deepen the war-torn country’s divisions by creating rivalries between them.

Shifting allegiances

In the Syrian context, tribes refer to local groups of people that live geographically close to each other. They are distinct from other segments of Syrian society by having extended kinship ties, tribal customs and tribal leaders, or sheikhs. Some of Syria’s most prominent tribes are Aqaydate, Baggara and Busha’ban.

During the rule of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, between 1970 and 2000, tribes were part of the rural coalition that enabled the regime to preserve power. But Bashar al-Assad’s neo-liberal policies, such as lifting subsidies on livestock fodder and other agricultural products, accompanied by severe drought in 2003 changed the power dynamic and the tribes revolted against the regime in 2011.

The 2011 uprising in Syria was a golden opportunity for Saudi Arabia to use its links with the Syrian tribes to destroy the Assad regime and so eliminate growing Iranian influence in the country, which it considers its sphere of influence.

The Euphrates river in Deir Ezzor, Syria. Marcel Holyoak via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Since the uprising, Saudi Arabia has used tribal networks to provide financial and military support to the armed opposition against Assad. It also encouraged tribal sheikhs to defect from the Syrian regime, promising to provide them with refuge and financial aid. This led to the defection of more than 20 Syrian tribal leaders, who took refuge in Saudi Arabia.

Iran tried its own tactics to woo Syria’s Arab tribes. Iranian officials continue to invite Syrian tribal leaders to visit Tehran for talks in an effort to persuade them to remain loyal to Assad. These visits are covered by Iranian and Syrian state media, which portray the visiting sheikhs as important national figures.

Iran has spent large amounts of money and expertise on training militias of the Tay and the Sheitat tribes to fight alongside the Syrian regime forces. Iranian missionary groups have also been working to convert people from the Baggara tribe in Deir Ezzor from the Sunni to the Shia branch of Islam, in order to counterbalance the power of the Sunni Aqaydate tribe that has strong kinship ties to Saudi Arabia.

A counter balance to Turkey and Qatar

The rift between Saudi Arabia and Turkey took place after the Arab Spring and intensified after Turkey decided to back Qatar, offering it economic and military aid to help overcome a blockade by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Since around 2013, the competition between these two regional hegemons moved to Syria.

Turkey aims to use the Arab tribes in Turkey to legitimise its intervention against the SDF, and in particular its Kurdish forces, in the area to east of the Euphrates. Ultimately, it wants to have Arab fighters alongside its own army on Syrian soil. In a February 2018 visit to Urfa, a town close to the Turkish-Syrian border, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, met with Syrian tribal leaders who praised Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch against SDF forces in the Afrin district.

But Saudi Arabia considers the area to the east of the Euphrates river in Syria to be within its sphere of influence and will do whatever is possible to prevent it from falling under Turkish control. The Saudis are using financial aid to stabilise the SDF’s rule and decrease some of the tension between the SDF and Arab tribes.

But these attempts to co-opt the tribes by regional powers will only deepen Syria’s divisions. Many tribes have been split into competing clans that are fighting each other just because they find themselves to the east or west of the Euphrates.

Instead of trying to look for tribes who can serve their interests in Syria, Saudia Arabia, Iran and Turkey should support initiatives that foster a shared national identity for all Syrians.

Haian Dukhan, Teaching Fellow in International Relations, University of Leicester

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Gaza’s crafts industries fast disappearing

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Israel’s 12-year blockade of the territory has accelerated this trend of Gaza’s crafts industries fast disappearing at a time when normal life seemed ever more difficult to bring back onto its streets. Decades in the besieged enclave, have somehow allowed stores to be reopened, students to head back to schools, and people generally resuming work. This article of Gulf News dated July 10, illustrates fairly well the particular situation of the strip today.


Gaza City, Gaza Strip: When Gazans think of better economic times, images of clay pottery, colorful glassware, bamboo furniture and ancient frame looms weaving bright rugs and mats all come to mind. For decades, these traditional crafts defined the economy of the coastal Palestinian enclave, employing thousands of people and exporting across the region. Today, the industries are almost non-existent.

While such professions have shrunk worldwide in the face of globalisation and Chinese mass production, Gazan business owners say Israel’s 12-year blockade has accelerated the trend. “We have been economically damaged. We are staying, but things are really difficult,” said Abed Abu Sido, one of Gaza’s last glassmakers, as he flipped through a glossy catalogue of his products.

At his quiet workshop, layers of dust covered the few remaining glass artifacts, requiring him to scrub them to reveal their colours. Cardboard boxes of unfinished products and materials were stacked floor-to-ceiling.

Abu Sido opened his business in the 1980s, selling many of his items to vendors in the popular marketplace of Jerusalem’s Old City. In his heyday, he said he took part in exhibitions in Europe. That changed after 2007, when the Hamas militant group overran Gaza, and Israel and Egypt responded by sealing Gaza’s borders. Abu Sido laid off his 15 workers and ceased operations the following year.

Israel says the blockade is needed to contain Hamas and prevent it from arming. But the closure, repeated rounds of fighting with Israel and a power struggle with the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have hit Gaza hard.