Archive for August, 2011

‘Turkey could host mediation talks between Fatah and Hamas’

22 May 2011, Sunday / CUMALI ÖNAL, CAIRO

Chief Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmed, who chaired reconciliation talks with Hamas, has said Turkey could very well be the venue for the next round of talks aimed to solve differences between two Palestinian groups.

“Turkey is a brotherly country, not just a friend. We need Turkey more than ever and Turkey needs to be more active,” he told Today’s Zaman, adding that Turkey could very well bring the Palestinian sides together in its own country.

Al-Ahmed dismissed suggestions that Egypt would not want Turkey to take a leading role. “Egypt is no longer the same Egypt.” he said. “We also believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that our martyrs are Turkey’s martyrs.

Whatever upsets us also upsets Turks. Turkey has every right to assist the Palestinians,” he explained.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was not so enthusiastic to amplify Turkey’s role in mediation talks, however. Speaking to reporters in Damascus last month after a meeting with Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, he said, “Egypt has made very valuable contributions on this issue. We have not been attempting to bring the role it [Egypt] played to Turkey. We believe that, with the latest change in the region, Egypt will make many more valuable contributions on the Palestine issue in particular. We believe that we will be engaged in efforts that are not different alternatives but complementary to each other.”

On May 3, both factions signed an Egypt-brokered reconciliation pact agreeing to form a national unity government. The accord, signed in Cairo, ended a four-year rift between the two groups. The differences between the two sides are still being worked out. Al-Ahmed said some of the talks will be held in Moscow at the invitation of Russia. “Turkey could very well invite us to hold talks there as well,” he said, adding that

Turkey has much more clout in the Palestinian issue because of religious, cultural and historic ties.

Al-Ahmed asked Turkey to apply pressure on both sides and positively engage in discussions through dialogue. “Turkey should not hesitate to exert pressure on both sides,” he underlined. Looking back at the past, he said, Turkey has had more contact with Hamas than Fatah. “Turkey could have played an active role in the Palestinian issue but was slow to react. Today, however, it can play a larger role,” he explained.

The chief Fatah representative also blamed Syria for not helping reconciliation talks. “To the extent that the old Egyptian regime played a negative role in talks, Syria was also a negative factor,” he said.

Source: Today’s Zaman.

Thousands refused passports in Gaza

Sunday 22/05/2011

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Demonstrators gathered in Gaza City on Saturday to protest the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to grant passports to 30,000 Gaza residents.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have have been unable to get passports issued by the Fatah-led PA, residents say, because of factional tensions, despite the recent reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Salim Sharab, organizer of a campaign to demand passports for all residents, blamed the Palestinian Authority Minister of Interior in Ramallah for rejecting applications from Gaza.

He asked: “Are we paying a toll for political affiliation?”

Sharab added that those denied passports had a right to be told if they were considered spies for foreign governments, and deserved explanations as to why they were being prohibited from exiting the coastal enclave.

Patients needing medical care abroad, students and hajj pilgrims are among the rejected applicants.

Osama Fuad Abu Askar, of Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, joined Saturday’s protest in Gaza City’s Unknown Soldier square. He has been trying to get a passport for four years.

“I lost my legs in 2004 during Israeli shelling and since 2007 I have been trying to get a passport so I can travel abroad and get prosthetic limbs. As a disabled man, how can I be a threat?” he asked.

Askar said reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah was pointless “if Palestinian citizens can’t get their basic rights.

“Passports are not exclusive rights for Hamas or Fatah.”

Mahmoud Abu Sweirih, another protester, said he had been married for 13 years but he and his wife have not been able to have children.

“Doctors said I needed treatment abroad, but I can’t go because I can’t get a passport. How come one individual determines my fate? Doesn’t the Palestinian constitution give me the right to have a passport?”

Campaign organizer Sharab appealed to human rights groups and the Arab League to help resolve the situation.

Director of the Addamir human rights organization Khalil Abu Shammala said passports were an inalienable right guaranteed by the constitution and international law.

“Our representatives held several meetings with PA officials in the West Bank. We planned to file legal proceedings, but waited because we had promises that the case would be resolved once the reconciliation agreement was signed,” Abu Shammala said.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Jerusalem police close alleged Hamas office

Sunday 22/05/2011

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Jerusalem police said on Sunday that they had closed an East Jerusalem community center, adding that detentions would likely be made because the organization had violated a closure order.

Police spokeswoman Luba Simmari said detectives closed the premises of the Heritage Committee in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, which she accused of being affiliated with Hamas, the Islamist political party which controls the government in the Gaza Strip.

The party runs hundreds of community organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

“It is the intention of the police to arrest suspects responsible for reopening it,” she told AFP. “It was run by Hamas… Hamas is forbidden to work in East Jerusalem.”

Neighbors said that the two-story building was also used for prayers.

An eyewitness said that police welded its doors shut.

Israel considers Hamas a “terrorist organization” and prohibits any activities run by the party to take place in territory it controls.

The Palestinian Authority is also prohibited from carrying out official activities.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Demonstration in Jordan in support of Syria’s anti-Assad protests

May 21, 2011

Amman – Hundreds of Syrians living in Jordan staged a demonstration outside the United Nations office in Amman on Saturday, in support of protesters in Syria calling for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

They crowd held up placards and chanted slogans against al-Assad, calling for and end to his leadership and security crackdown on protests in Syria.

Meanwhile, Jordanian media reported that the government had asked the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood movement, whose leaders have been given refuge in the country, to stop protests outside the Syrian embassy in Amman.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who ended a visit to the United States earlier this week, has reportedly asked US President Barack Obama to give al-Assad ‘a chance’ to implement the reforms that protesters are demanding.

Authorities on Friday prevented hundreds of Jordanians from demonstrating near Ramtha and in support of protesters across the border in the Syrian city of Daraa.

Source: Monsters and Critics.

Paramount, CBS and Rubicon to Build Star Trek Resort in Jordan

Ancient Middle Eastern history and culture to mix with Star Trek®
Estimated $1 Billion+ project scheduled for 2014 opening

Amman, Jordan, May 21, 2011 – [ME NewsWire]: Rubicon Group Holding, a diversified global entertainment organization producing innovative digital animated content and location-based attractions, will design and produce The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), a 184-acre themed entertainment resort located in Aqaba, Jordan, which, through a license from CBS Consumer Products, will prominently feature an amazing attraction inspired by the 2009 international hit motion picture, Star Trek. The “Star Trek” attraction is being creatively developed by Paramount Recreation.

That announcement was made today by Randa S. Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon Group Holding at the Jordanian-American Business Forum, under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in a special signing ceremony attended by business leaders from Jordan and the United States.

TRSA, which will look to the future to celebrate the heritage of the region’s past civilizations, will generate employment for more than 500 high-skilled workers in the local community, with Rubicon facilitating the training for these key jobs, as well. The themed entertainment destination will serve as a model for “green energy,” incorporating state-of-the-art renewable technologies throughout the facility, and hosting a “future” pavilion where businesses, students and attendees can learn about alternative energy sources ranging from solar and wind energy to greywater harvesting. The project, a milestone in the development of tourism in Jordan, will provide a progressive and entertaining “celebration” of the region’s culture and heritage.

From a stunning location in the coastal town of Aqaba, TRSA features classic story telling combined with immersive entertainment experiences to bring about a world-class leisure adventure. Capturing the rich history of the surrounding area, this wondrous attraction draws from Nabatean, Babylonian, British and Roman influences to provide an incomparable adventure. With an impressive array of technologically advanced attractions, five-star accommodations, captivating theatrical productions, nighttime spectacles and unique dining and shopping, The Red Sea Astrarium offers something for everyone.

To complete the chronological spectrum with a futurist perspective, Rubicon has joined with CBS Consumer Products and Paramount Recreation to create a stunning Star Trek-themed center that will deliver a variety of multi-sensory 23rd-century experiences, culminating with a state-of-the art space-flight adventure that takes real-time immersive entertainment experiences to bold new heights. This exciting, world-class attraction will serve as the cornerstone of the TRSA sector’s world of tomorrow. This will mark the iconic property’s first themed entertainment venue outside the United States.

The Red Sea Astrarium is sure to become a family destination, attracting visitors from the 350 million residents across the Middle East and fun, leisure as well as thrill seekers from all over the world.

Architectural firm Callison has been engaged to work with Rubicon Group Holding and its team of visionaries, including Paramount Recreation and CBS, to master plan and create a world class destination resort.

“TRSA will be a destination showcase in an extraordinary part of Jordan,” said Ms. Ayoubi. “The opportunity to lead the design on such a remarkable project and to work with such world class partners as CBS and Paramount is a dream-come-true for the entire Rubicon family. We are honored, elated, and proud to have our Themed Entertainment team in charge of moving this project forward.”

“At its core, Star Trek is about bringing worlds together and about a profound hope for the future,” said Liz Kalodner, EVP and General Manager of CBS Consumer Products. “We are proud to bring such a unique, interactive Star Trek property to this part of the world to be a part of Jordan’s future.”

Source: TrekWeb.

Biggest Protest in Tafileh calling for political, economic reforms


By Wael Jaraysheh

AMMONNEWS – A major demonstration on Friday took place in the southern governorate of Tafileh, with residents calling for genuine economic and political reforms.

The protest is the biggest of its kind in the governorate (180 km south of Amman) in years, organized by local residents without any official participation of political parties or civil society organizations.

The demonstrators marched from the Grand Tafileh Mosque towards the governorate building, calling for the ouster of the government and accusing it of “slacking” in implementing reform measures directed by King Abdullah II.

Protestors also called for dissolving the parliament, fighting corruption, and blasted the “security grip” in handling populist activism.

Activist Muhammad Salem Al Arwan said in a speech during the demonstration that Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit has been “procrastinating” in the past two months by presenting to people “failed projects.”

He criticized the government’s handling of Khalid Shaheen, the business tycoon convicted of bribery last year and allowed to travel abroad under the pretext of seeking medical treatment, and demanded government clarification of the incident.

“There will be no real reform, because the corrupt cannot hold other corrupt individuals accountable,” he added.

Retired military official Owdeh Sawalqah criticized the marginalization of Tafileh governorate by successive governments, and called on protestors to demand the ouster of the governor.

He also blasted the government’s privatization program, charging that the government has “sold” the important resources of Jordan to the benefit of elite businessman and corrupt officials.

The lack of security presence during the demonstration was noticeable, in comparison to demonstrations on Friday in Amman and other governorates.

Source: Ammon News.

Jordanians want ‘corrupt, oppressive’ govt sacked

May 20, 2011

AMMAN — Thousands of Jordanians demonstrated on Friday across the kingdom, calling for regime reforms as well as the sacking of what they called the “corrupt and oppressive” government.

“The people want to reform the regime and end tyranny. No to corruption,” around 2,500 Islamists and trade unionists chanted as they marched from the King Abdullah Mosque in central Amman to a roundabout near the interior ministry.

“Reform starts with combating corruption and the corrupt,” reads a banner carried by the demonstrators.

Muslim Brotherhood chief Hammam Said, who took part in the march, said “we are sending a message to King Abdullah II that reform plans should be accelerated in line with popular demands.”

“The regime and government are not serious about reforms,” he told AFP.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Islamic Action Front, accused Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit’s government of corruption.

“The government is corrupt and oppressive. Reform is inevitable, and rulers have two choices: adopt reforms or quit,” Zaki Bani Rsheid, leader of the IAF political office, told the crowds.

In the southern city of Tafileh, around 1,500 demonstrated against corruption, calling for the “downfall of the government.”

“Who are the partners of Khaled Shahin,” they chanted, referring to a top Jordanian businessman who have been sentenced to three years in jail for corruption.

The government has allowed Shahin to travel to the United States for medical treatment, but he was spotted in a London restaurant in April, which caused an outcry in Jordan.

Also, in Karak, near Tafileh, hundreds of people demonstrated after midday weekly prayers, urging “punishment of the corrupt.”

Jordanians have been protesting since January to demand political and economic reforms as well as more efforts to fight corruption.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.