Archive for October 8th, 2011

Turkey calls regional envoys to discuss Arab protests, Syria

14 June 2011 Tuesday

Turkish diplomats in the Middle East will gather in capital Ankara to discuss the latest developments in the region, labelled as the “Arab Spring”, as well as the situation in Syria.

During Monday’s assessment meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT), as well as Turkish ambassadors in Damascus and Beirut, it has been decided that Turkish ambassadors commissioned in the Middle East shall be summoned to Ankara to discuss the latest developments in the region, particularly the incidents in Syria.

Accordingly, Turkey’s senior diplomats will gather in the Turkish capital on Wednesday to assess the recent developments, officials told AA on Tuesday.

In the past week, thousands of Syrians have fled to Turkey to escape the violence between government forces and anti-Assad protesters in their country. Turkey has set up tent-camps to accommodate Syrian citizens.

Source: World Bulletin.

Arab League issues first condemnation of Syria violence

Tuesday 14 June 2011
Martin Chulov in Beirut

Comments ‘unbalanced and politically motivated’, says Syrian representative, as army’s onslaught continues.

The Arab League has publicly criticized the violence in Syria for the first time, saying Arab states are “angry and actively monitoring” the crisis.

The comments from the outgoing secretary general, Amr Moussa, drew a bitter response from Damascus. Syria’s representative at the league described them as “unbalanced and politically motivated”.

Mounting international condemnation, however, has done little to slow the onslaught of the Syrian army as it pushes through northern border villages on an operation it claims is cleansing the area of criminal gangs. Residents of the town of Deir Azzor were reportedly bracing themselves on Tuesday night for the arrival of armor and troops from the Syrian military’s feared 4th division, commanded by Maher al-Assad, brother of Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

The same division has been in control of the town of Jisr al-Shughour since Friday, forcing most remaining people in the besieged enclave to flee to the nearby mountains bordering Turkey.

Syrian refugees continue to arrive at crossing points into Turkey and some are reported to have told authorities that the army arrested at least 15 people along the way. More than 7,000 refugees are now in southern Turkey and at least 5,000 have fled into Lebanon. Moussa said: “Though their views differ, Arab states are all worried, angry and actively monitoring the current crisis in Syria. What we are hearing and monitoring, about many victims falling, indicates great tumult in Syria … The situation in Syria should not be left in this state. Continuation of the status quo could lead to what may not be desired … for Syria.”

Syria’s envoy, Youssef Ahmad, claimed Moussa was recommending the same sort of military intervention that the Arab League endorsed in Libya three months ago.

“Days before leaving his post, Moussa calls for a kind of foreign intervention in the Syrian affairs, when the Libyan blood, shed by NATO air strikes as a result for a [UN] security council resolution, based, regrettably on an Arab demand in which Moussa’s efforts immensely contributed, isn’t dry yet,” he said.

On the Lebanon-Syria border, few refugees crossed on Tuesday. “The Syrians are keeping people away from the border,” said a man in the town of Wadi Khaled, who identified himself as Omar. “It has been like this for many days.”

Wadi Khaled is teeming with refugees from towns and cities, especially Hama and Homs, scenes of fierce violence over the last fortnight. “There are at least 5,000 Syrians here,” said Omar.

“But it is very difficult for any more to come because the army is stopping them or shooting them.”

Syrian troops were clearly visible patrolling a river that acts as an unofficial border. Several Syrian tanks had their turrets pointed towards Lebanon. At an official crossing point further up the road, there was no sign of anyone arriving.

Source: The Guardian.

Ministry taking measures to ensure enough food supplies during Ramadan

By Omar Obeidat

AMMAN –– As the holy fasting month of Ramadan will coincide this year with the return of Jordanian expatriates and the tourism high season, the government has started early preparations to ensure food items are available to meet the expected rise in demand.

At a meeting with traders, importers and the Consumer Protection Society, Industry and Trade Minister Hani Mulki stressed that the ministry will take necessary measures to ensure that the supply of basic food commodities during the fasting month meet increasing demand.

The ministry will also take measures to avoid any unjustified rise in food prices, which historically see hikes during the month.

“This year’s Ramadan is different from previous years because it will coincide with the return of Jordanians abroad who will come to spend their holidays in the Kingdom and we also expect the number of Arab tourists to increase significantly in summer,” Mulki said.

More than half a million Jordanians are estimated to be living in the Gulf region, many of whom expected to spend the summer holiday back home.

According to official figures, demand on essential food commodities during the holy month of Ramadan rises by 25-40 per cent, which experts attribute to change of consumption behavior.

Citing ministry figures showing that local production of wheat, barley and vegetables will be enough to cover consumption, the minister expected the prices of food items to remain stable or even go down during the month.

In addition, he said, the government will facilitate importing procedures for the private sector to bring large quantities of foodstuff.

Mulki warned that the ministry could resort to setting a price ceiling in case unreasonably high prices prevail.

Meanwhile, he remarked that authorities will not halt food and vegetable exports to regional and international markets.

The minister rejected as baseless media reports that the government plans to reduce sales tax on certain commodities, saying such reports push importers and traders to be reluctant to bring basic food items into the local market, which he said will affect the strategic storage of these commodities.

Khalil Haj Tawfiq, an importer of foodstuff and a member of Jordan Chamber of Commerce, said importers have asked the government to exempt food products and vegetables from the sales tax in a bid to bring prices down.

Mulki replied that although the state budget is suffering a relatively high deficit, the government is studying such an option to alleviate financial burdens on citizens but a decision in this regard might be included in next year’s budget.

Also attending the meeting were directors of the civil and military consumer corporations who indicated that the corporations have signed deals with suppliers to make sure they have enough stocks of sugar, rice, cooking oil and chicken among others, to meet local needs “even three months after Ramadan”.

10 June 2011

Source: The Jordan Times.