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The UAE and Israel: A dangerous liaison | Israel

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been so enamoured with Israel that even before formalising their new bilateral agreement, they had started normalising relations on many levels, including communications, transportation, and security among others.

What appeared to be a “marriage of convenience” has been in fact a full-fledged love affair. Unlike traditional marriages, the two fell in love and secretly consummated their relationship well before officially announcing the wedding date.

Indeed, the announcement had been a long time coming, considering the many hints and winks from both sides, but it was the Trump administration that was eager to break the news with much fanfare ahead of the US elections.

The Emirati attempt to spin its appeasement as a strategic calculation to stop Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian lands and promote Middle East peace was laughed at in Palestine and throughout the region.

As I wrote the morning after the announcement, the record shows the UAE has harboured more hostility than sympathy towards the Palestinians. If anything, the deal will further empower Israel and weaken the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

Moreover, the UAE was never at war, let alone a religious war, with Israel, to have to conclude a “peace agreement” dubbed rather dubiously the “Abraham Agreement”.

If anything, this is more of an alliance than an agreement – an alliance directed at the regional powers, Iran and Turkey; an alliance that threatens to further destabilise the region if US President Donald Trump is re-elected for four more years.

But what if the Democratic nominee Joe Biden is elected president? Surely, the Emirati leaders are reading the US press and know all too well the former vice president is ahead in the polls and remains committed to the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Geopolitical partners

Since its birth out of sin – colonial sin – Israel has been all too eager for recognition and acceptance by its Arab and Muslim hinterland. To break out of its regional isolation, it is happy to normalise relations with any nation, regardless of size, rule, or geography.

And when a rich country like the UAE volunteers to normalise relations without any real conditions, it is normal that Israel would jump at the opportunity and try to speed up the process as much as possible.

Indeed, Israel considers Abu Dhabi and Dubai the gateway to Saudi Arabia, the way Hong Kong was the gateway to China.

But why has Abu Dhabi been so eager and in a rush to dash forward with the new relationship in these uncertain times?

Well, perhaps because it reckons the new relationship with Israel is particularly instrumental in times of uncertainty, no less if Biden wins.

After all, it believes Israel’s political clout in Washington will protect it, come what may.

Indeed, the UAE and Israel began their secret contacts in Washington in the chaotic years following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and elevated them to strategic coordination during the turbulent years of the Obama administration. (For full disclosure, I was senior political analyst for Abu Dhabi TV for three years during and after the Gulf war, where I was received graciously and was able to comment freely.)

Their leaders, along with those of Saudi Arabia, felt betrayed by then-President Barack Obama’s initial support for the Arab Spring and his pressure on Arab autocrats to embrace democratic reforms, i.e. step aside or step down.

All three regimes went into a state of panic during the Arab upheavals, railing against Obama for his recognition of the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2012 Egyptian elections.

These regimes consider democracy and Arab freedom of expression to be their number one enemy.

Obama did a full U-turn on Egypt, refusing to condemn or even acknowledge the 2013 military coup d’etat engineered by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, but Emirati, Israeli and Saudi leaders decided that Washington is no longer dependable, and instead had to rely on each other to keep democracy out of the region.

This perception was reinforced two years later when, in 2015, the Obama administration reached a nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA), against the wishes of all three parties.

It did not help much that the Obama administration was committed to their military superiority and security and armed them, despite their war crimes in Palestine and Yemen.

Instead, the UAE took the relationship with Israel to a new strategic, security and intelligence level, later encouraged and supported by the Trump administration.

The first fruits of their covert intelligence cooperation allowed Abu Dhabi to use Israeli software to spy on its neighbours and on political and human rights activists throughout the region.

Neo-liberal bedfellows

Israel and the UAE may be two different countries, the former a “colonial ethnocracy” and the latter a repressive autocracy, but their close alliance with the West in general, and the US in particular, has allowed them to successfully liberalise, privatise and globalise their economies, albeit to different degrees.

Both have successfully transformed into security states and market states, becoming models for neoliberal development in the developing world.

Both created efficient bureaucracies dictated by business and commercial needs and effective security apparatuses dictated by unstable regional conditions.

Their capacity to integrate newcomers into their economies – Israel mainly from Jewish immigration and the UAE mainly from expat labour – has allowed them to expand and diversify their economies like no other.

Moreover, their cooperation in security and intelligence-gathering has solidified their clientelism as bedrocks of American influence in the region, regardless of who resides at the White House.

Their capacity to launch wars and project commercial and strategic power beyond their borders renders them important Western assets in a turbulent region.

Reckless ambition

An attraction has developed between the extroverted and rather articulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the introverted and inarticulate Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), the de facto leader of the UAE.

Bibi is envious of the Emirati wealth and its projection of power throughout the region from Tunisia to Syria through Libya and Sudan, and MBZ is envious of Israel’s advanced economy and technology and its influence in Washington.

Netanyahu is also envious of MBZ’s authoritarian rule; he would never have to face trial for corruption, the way the Israeli prime minister is now.

Both are exploiting their status as American strategic assets in order to advance their national interests, regardless of the consequences to their neighbours.

In that way, the US sale of advanced fighter jets F-35 to the UAE will most certainly go through once Israel gets something in return from Washington. And it will be the people of the region who will suffer from Emirati aerial superiority, as they do from Israel’s.

The new bedfellows will try to expand their alliance with the likes of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in order to mount a united front against any new initiative from the US, the European Union or the region that is not to their liking.

They may be able to defeat the Palestinians and Yemenis militarily, and may weaken the Lebanese and the Libyans politically. But Iran and Turkey will prove hard, indeed dangerous, to contain or confront through strategic leverage.

And the same goes for their attempts at stifling democratisation anywhere in the region, which will lead to greater instability and violence.

In short, betting on the new “peace agreement” to advance the cause of peace and stability in the region will prove wishful if not outright cynical.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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