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Drifting Saudi- US Relations

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Relations between global super power USA and energy super power Saudi Arabia have been successful in terms of trade volumes with USA buying oil from Saudi kingdom and sells goods, including terror goods to Riyadh. In political terms, the post Cold War era in general and post-Sept-11 in particular, have not been smooth as continuous tensions spoil the otherwise strong bilateral ties.

One logical factor that perhaps binds USA and Arab world is crony capitalism, corruption and state lies and threats to common people.

Ever drifting Saudi-US relations give us an idea about the hidden agendas of USA and Israel against Arab nations, including Palestinians. USA looks at Arab world through Israeli prism and uses Israel to promote the region as a prime zone for profitable energy cum arms trade.  

Saudi-US relations are not exactly what it used to be a few years ago. Now a couple of issues, like Saudi ambition for a UN veto, supposed covert US support for Iran’s overt efforts to dominate the West Asia region, keep them disengaged politically, though in economic terms ties look to be in order.

The post King Abdullah era seemed to be promising a restart of better relations but that is not the case. However, Saudi support for US war in Syria somehow tries to bind the ties not to deteriorate further.  

More than Saudi Kingdom, it is the USA which is eager to reduce tensions between West and Arab world due to NATO war in Islamic world and continued US support for an essentially fascist Israel against Palestine.

In January, Saudi Arabia’s Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and US President Barack Obama, in their first formal meeting in Riyadh, pledged to work closely on a range of regional and international issues as they focused on regional and international issues of common interest in addition to setting out the means to enhance bilateral relations. In the talks they focused, instead of Israeli arrogance towards Palestinians, on ‘counter-terrorism’ and regional stability with special reference to bilateral Saudi-US relations.

Obama’s meeting with King Salman was considered significant as it comes just days after the death of King Abdullah and during his four-hour stop in Riyadh Obama also attended a dinner with Saudi officials at Erga Palace.

Earlier Americans had no particular interest in Saudi kingdom – then a dessert nation without economic prosperity as oil, making Arab nations rich l, was discovered only later.   Roosevelt arrived from the Yalta summit with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Roosevelt’s health was very poor; he had only weeks to live. Ibn Saud had come from Jeddah on an American destroyer, the USS Murphy. It was king’s first trip outside the Arabian Peninsula aside from a brief visit to Basra in Iraq.

Though the Saudi-US relations had begun in 1945 during the Cold War as allies against the communist Russia, they were not important for America. On February 14, 1945, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with Saudi King and the custodian of Holy Mosques Abdul-Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud in Egypt, as World War II was coming to an end, and the two forged a partnership that has endured for the last 70 years despite occasional severe strains.

As a rule, USA establishes ties with nations only if they are useful to US interests and overtly supportive of US plans for the world. That Saudi does not promote Zionist agenda in Mideast against Palestinians does help improve relations with Arab nations. It is primarily because American rulers consider Israel as being a part of USA or at least a part of US Empire globally. While Israel has the US given right to attack any Arab or Persian nation at will, none in the world can ever try to attack Israel because the super power and the notorious NATO can retaliate on Israel’s behalf.

Discovery of energy resources made Saudi Arabia dear to USA. USA began focusing on energy rich Arab nations very early even while installing an ultra fanatic Israeli regime in Mideast and pampering it with free supply of weapons and technology to fight the Arab nations that did not recognize it and oppose it.

The USA and Saudi kingdom agreed to work together to ensure stability in the post-war Middle East. The USA took the responsibility for ensuring security for the kingdom, focusing on places like Mecca and Medina with holy sites, and the Saudis had to ensure American access to their oil fields. Thus Americans control Saudi economy with many Americans working for the kingdom and economic establishments. US oil companies began already operating in the kingdom.

In the name of Saudi security and using Soviet communism as the main threat to Islam, USA in fact focused on expanding its military bases in Arab world. In order to expand its military might globally, the United States quickly acquired use of Dhahran air base for operations in the Middle East. Under pressure from Washington Saudi Arabia even declared war on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, securing an ordinary seat in the United Nations with US support but without the veto. USA is opposed to Saudi acquiring veto because that make Israeli regime accountable for its crimes against humanity in Palestine, elsewhere in the region.

When, during their luncheon meeting as part of Quincy summit Churchill smoked and drank champagne in order to belittle the Arabs, the Saudis felt insulted. The Quincy summit was carefully planned in advance. Ibn Saud’s son Prince Faisal, the future king, had visited the United States in November 1943 to begin the courtship. Faisal was only 36 but he had been serving as his father’s top diplomat since 1919, when he traveled to London to discuss the future of the region after World War I when he was 12 years old. He visited Washington and it was during Faisal’s visit that the plans for the Dhahran air base were agreed and the United States began providing military assistance to the kingdom.

Every Saudi king and every US president since 1945 has reaffirmed the partnership begun on the Quincy. US President Barack Obama was wise to visit Saudi Arabia on his way home from India last month to pay his respects to the memory of the late King Abdullah and confer with the new king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud Salman. As the Saudi-US partnership is entering a period of transition in the post US Sept-11 reality, both sides would reconsider their priorities.

Roosevelt found Ibn Saud to be a fascinating figure but a tough negotiator. The issue that they quarreled over was the future of Palestine and the aggressive Zionist movement for Israeli state in Palestine. Roosevelt tried to convince the Saudi monarch to support plans for a Jewish state in Palestine after the World War II without disturbing Palestine. Americans argued that Israel and Palestine would exist side by side. Ibn Saud argued that since the Jews had been the victims of German atrocities, they should get their state out of German territory not in West Asia or Mideast. Rational arguments did not make USA change its preset Zionist criminal mind. Americans with strongest military back up were bent upon putting the arrogant Jews inside Palestine.

USA its ally UK won for Israel and Saudi lost then and there on Palestine. After the creation of Israel in Mideast in Palestine lands, USA helped Israel with its expansionist agenda of effecting holocaust of Palestinians in a sustained manner. Israel occupied West bank and Gaza Strip and later let Gaza Strip become independent by withdrawing terror forces from there during Ariel Sharon era, but West Bank is still in Israeli occupation. Now Illegal Jewish settler parties in Israel ask the fascist regime to retake Gaza Strip as well and put an end to Palestine. Still USA wants to shield Zionist crimes against humanity.

Not only USA and Europe that support Israel and unkind to the besieged Palestinians, but even Russia maintained a discreet silence over Zionist expansionist strategies through criminal policies because a billion Russian Jews were to be sent to the newly created Israel.

Thus the super power USA, veto powers UK, France, Germany, Russia and nuclearized fascist Israel all won and Arabs lost the political war against fascism.. They have in fact threatened the humanity by their defense of Israel and conspiracy against Palestinians. Since all of them have coordinated their strategies to deny Palestinians their legitimate home Palestinians have just one way forward: fight for their rights and for Palestine state through UN. They have made the first moves in the direction with enormous success as US-Israeli terror twins had to lose their illegal and immoral war against humanity.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict proved to be the most contentious issue in the American-Saudi relationship for the next 70 years and likely will remain so for many more to come. 70 long years of ties between them with difference social and political systems, have let them understand each other as best as possible and the future US alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would rely on their rich experiences on intentional arena.

USA uses both diplomacy and even triclomacy to get what it wants from the globe and it has been successful as Russia plays double roles very superbly. However, Moscow never comes in the way of US-Arab ties.

Establishment of Palestine has been a major policy of Saudi Arabia while USA has a different plan altogether in favor of Israel. USA, like Israel, is not sincere about settlement of the tensions or establishment of Palestine though they had declared decades ago as their Mideast policy.

Siding with the Palestinians on their right to have a sovereign nation, King Salman has promised continuity in Saudi foreign policy and stressed that implementing the 2003 Arab peace plan for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestine was his top priority. The Saudis blame the endless continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict for fueling terrorism in the region.

Ever since US 9/11 hoax the relationship has been more controversial than in the past in the United States and the rest of the West. Israel expected USA to attack Saudi Arabia for the Sept-11 hoax but the Pentagon attacked an Islamizing Afghanistan. Israel insisted the USA – and still insists hopelessly – to attack Iran over its nuclear program. However, Obama declined to oblige Zionist regime and rich US Jewish leaders who fund generously both the political parties.

Obama’s reluctance in attacking Iran has annoyed Israel and its fascist and fanatic allies. Anti-Islamic media and other sources like war mongers and arms manufactures seeking wars, badly want a civilizational divide between Christianity (and plus Judaism) and Islam as they focused on lingering questions about human rights and gender equality, about Saudi ties to al-Qaeda in the 1990s and early 2000s, concerns about how the Wahhabi puritanical faith provides a breeding ground for radical Islam and questions about have become much more frequent and stark in the last decade. They have many more such bogus reasons.

Arabian kingdom is an absolute monarchy named after the ruling family; maybe the United States is a “vibrant” democracy in the promotion of corruption and capitalism. How Americans treat those who write or speak about US militarism goals is not a secret.

Many Jewish Americans and their powerful organizations influence US foreign policy and have raised doubts in media about the wisdom of the US-Saudi partnership when Israeli ties are enough for Washington.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have few capitalist – even imperialist- values in common though many say they don’t share any values and so the alliance has always been defined primarily by shared threats and enemies. This suits war mongers and arms manufactures.

After all, they all want and hope to watch – rather enjoy – a third world war on their TV sets when millions of humans get killed and wounded, nature is badly destroyed. These sadist elements in USA and Israel, however, might be thinking that only Muslims would be killed and Muslim nations would be destroyed as peer the IA-Pentagon plan as the superpower USA has acquired military bases world over and everywhere USA has maintained paid agents.

Israel, seeking to kill or drive remaining Palestinians out of their homes in Palestine to enable the Jewish military to create a so-called greater Israel, obviously, does not want any Arab-American unity at all. War mongers and arms manufacturers in USA and Israel also do not want peace anywhere in the world especially in West Asia as they seek a permanent and profitable war situation especially in Mideast can make them richer all the time.

With Israel deciding policies for USA, it is not that easy to precisely forecast the future relations between USA and Saudi Arabia or broadly US Arab relations in general.

Middle East

Ukraine crisis could produce an unexpected winner: Iran

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 Iran potentially could emerge as an unintended winner in the escalating crisis over Ukraine. That is, if Russian troops cross the Ukrainian border and talks in Vienna to revive the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement fail.

An imposition of tough US and European sanctions in response to any Russian incursion in Ukraine could likely make Russia more inclined to ignore the fallout of violating US sanctions n its dealings with Iran.

By the same token, a failure of the talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, the European Union, France, Germany, and Britain to revive the accord that curbed the Islamic republic’s nuclear program would drive Iran closer to Russia and China in its effort to offset crippling US sanctions.

US and European officials have warned that time is running out on the possibility of reviving the agreement from which the United States under then-President Donald J. Trump withdrew in 2018.

The officials said Iran was weeks away from acquiring the know-how and capability to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb quickly. That, officials suggested, would mean that a new agreement would have to be negotiated, something Iran has rejected.

No doubt, that was in the back of the minds of Russian and Iranian leaders when they met last week during a visit to Moscow by Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi. It was the first meeting between the leaders of Russia and Iran in five years.

To be sure, the road to increased Russian trade, energy cooperation, and military sales would open with harsh newly imposed US sanctions against Russia even if restrictions on Iran would remain in place.

That does not mean that the road would be obstacle-free. Mr. Putin would still have to balance relations with Iran with Russia’s ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. 

If anything, Russia’s balancing act, like that of China, has become more complicated without the Ukraine and Vienna variables as Iranian-backed Houthis expand the seven-year-long Yemen war with drone and missile strikes against targets in the UAE.

The Houthis struck as the Russian, Chinese and Iranian navies started their third joint exercises since 2019 in the northern Indian Ocean. The two events were not related.

“The purpose of this drill is to strengthen security and its foundations in the region, and to expand multilateral cooperation between the three countries to jointly support world peace, maritime security and create a maritime community with a common future,” Iranian Rear Admiral Mostafa Tajoldini told state tv.

US dithering over its commitments to security in the Gulf has persuaded Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to hedge their bets and diversify the nature of their relations with major external powers.

However, a Russia and potentially a China that no longer are worried about the fallout of violating US sanctions against Iran could put Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on notice that the two US rivals may not be more reliable or committed to ensuring security in the Gulf. So far, neither Russia nor China have indicated an interest in stepping into US shoes.

This leaves Saudi Arabia and the UAE with few good choices if Russia feels that US sanctions are no longer an obstacle in its dealings with Iran.

Russia is believed to want the Vienna talks to succeed but at the same time has supported Iranian demands for guarantees that the United States would not walk away from a revived deal like it did in 2018.

Against the backdrop of talk about a proposed 20-year cooperation agreement between the two countries, Russia appears to want to negotiate a free trade agreement between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union that groups Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, alongside Russia.

Iran has signed a similar 25-year cooperation agreement with China that largely remains a statement of intent at best rather than an action plan that is being implemented.

Like in the case of China, the draft agreement with Russia appears to have been an Iranian rather than a Russian initiative. It would demonstrate that Iran is less isolated than the United States would like it to be and that the impact of US sanctions can be softened.

“We have a document on bilateral strategic cooperation, which may determine our future relations for the next 20 years. At any rate, it can explain our prospects,” Mr. Raisi said as he went into his talks with Mr. Putin.

For now, Mr. Raisi’s discussions in Moscow appear to have produced more lofty prospects than concrete deals.

Media speculation that Russia would be willing to sell Iran up to US10 billion in arms, including Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 anti-missile defense systems, appear to have remained just that, speculation. Saudi Arabia and the UAE would view the sale to Iran of such weapons as particularly troublesome.

By the same token, Iranian officials, including Finance Minister Ehsan Khanduzi and Oil Minister Javad Owji, spoke of agreements signed during the Moscow visit that would revive a US$5 billion Russian credit line that has been in the pipeline for years and produce unspecified energy projects.

It’s unclear if these are new projects or ones that have been previously discussed and even agreed to, such as the one Lukoil stopped working on in 2018 after the US pulled out… Lukoil was concerned about being targeted by US sanctions,” said international affairs scholar Mark N. Katz.

Theoretically, the dynamics of the Ukraine crisis and the prospects of failed Vienna talks could mean that a long-term Russian Iranian cooperation agreement could get legs quicker than its Chinese Iranian counterpart.

Negotiating with a Russia heavily sanctioned by the United States and Europe in an escalated crisis in Ukraine could level the playing field as both parties, rather than just Iran, would be hampered by Western punitive measures.

Tehran-based Iranian scholar and political analyst Sadegh Zibakalam suggested that it was time for the regime to retire the 43-year-old Iranian revolution’s slogan of “neither East nor West.” The slogan is commemorated in a plaque at the Foreign Ministry.

Asserting that Iran has long not adhered to the motto, Mr. Zibakalam suggested that the plaque be removed and stored in the basement of a hardline Tehran newspaper. “It has not been used for a long time and should be taken down,” he tweeted.

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Middle East

Unified Libya will come only via ballot box, ‘not the gun’-UNSC

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A boy runs in the ruins of the Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli, Libya. © UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti

Libya is at a “delicate and fragile juncture in its path to unity and stability”, the UN Political Affairs chief told the Security Council on Monday, urging the international community to remain united in supporting national elections postponed last month. 

In welcoming positive developments across three different tracks of intra-Libyan dialogue, Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, also recognized the challenges that must be overcome.  

“So many Libyans have told us, the way towards a stable and united Libya is through the ballot box, not the gun”, she said. “We must stand with them”. 

Postponed elections 

Growing polarization among political actors, and disputes over key aspects of the electoral process, led to the postponement of long anticipated elections on 24 December.  

The High National Commission for Elections (HNEC) cited shortcomings in the legal framework along with political and security concerns. To address this, the House of Representatives has established a Roadmap Committee to chart a new political path that defines an elections timetable and process. 

New Special Adviser 

Last month, Stephanie Williams was appointed Special Adviser on Libya, having served as acting Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission, UNSMIL, last year.  

To date, she has undertaken wide-ranging consultations, including with members of the Government of National Unity (GNU), the High National Election Commission, the House of Representatives, and candidates for presidential and parliamentary elections.  

Oil-rich Libya has descended into multiple crises since the overthrow of former rule Muammar Gadaffi in 2011, which in recent years saw the country divided between rival administrations – a UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital Tripoli, and that of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), led by General Khalifa Haftar.  

Ms. Williams has reiterated that the focus of the political process now, should remain on holding “free, fair, inclusive and credible national elections” in the shortest possible timeframe. 

“In all her meetings, the Special Adviser highlighted the 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote”, said Ms. DiCarlo, adding that she also called on everyone to respect the will of the Libyan people and to adhere to the timeline agreed to in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) roadmap, which was endorsed by the Security Council

Welcomed developments 

The UN political affairs chief said ongoing dialogue among political, security and economic actors from across the country was key. 

“We have seen reports of consultations between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the High State Council, as well as among presidential candidates from western and eastern Libya”, she said.  

On the security track, there have been meetings among various armed groups, as well as the Chief of General Staff of the Western Military Forces under the GNU and the acting General Commander of the rival LNA, with the participation of military chiefs and heads of military departments from both sides.  

Turning to the economy, further steps have been taken to reunify the Central Bank of Libya.  

Moreover, renewed efforts continue to advance national reconciliation based on the principles of transitional justice.  

Security situation 

While the ceasefire has continued to hold, “political uncertainty in the run up to the elections has negatively impacted the overall security situation”, the political chief informed the Council, including in Tripoli. 

It has resulted in shifting alliances among armed groups affiliated with certain presidential candidates, she added. 

Similarly, unfulfilled demands made to the GNU by the Petroleum Facilities Guards (PFG) in western Libya resulted in the shutdown of oil production, causing the National Oil Corporation to declare in December, force majeure – a clause that removes liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes. 

Following negotiations between the PFG and the GNU, Oil production was restored on 9 January. 

To implement the ceasefire agreement, last month military representatives from opposing sides, called the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC), discussed with Turkish and Russian authorities, an Action Plan to gradually withdrawal mercenaries and foreign fighters from the country.     

At the same time, despite serious logistical and security challenges, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) continued its work to establish a ceasefire monitoring hub in Sirte, pending the GNU’s approval on accommodation and office facilities. 

Human rights concerns 

“The human rights situation in Libya remains very worrying”, said Ms. DiCarlo, noting “documented incidents of elections-related violence and attacks based on political affiliation”, which she described as obstacles toward a conducive environment for free, fair, peaceful and credible elections. 

“We are particularly concerned that women and men working to protect and promote women’s rights continued to be targeted by hate speech, defamation and incitement to violence”, she stated. “Some of the disturbing social media posts that posed a threat to the safety and security of these persons were removed after UNSMIL brought them to the attention of social media platforms”.  

Meanwhile, arbitrary detention by State and non-State actors continued across the country, with many detainees subjected to serious rights abuses. 

Migration management  

The situation of migrants and refugees is also highly concerning.  

“Large numbers of migrants and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea and returned to Libya continue to be detained in inhumane and degrading conditions with restricted humanitarian assistance. Thousands are unaccounted for”, the UN official said.  

Ms. DiCarlo pointed out that hundreds of foreign nationals were expelled from Libya’s eastern and southern borders without due process, with some “placed in extremely vulnerable situations across remote stretches of the Sahara Desert without sufficient food, water, safety and medical care”. 

“The United Nations remains ready to work with Libyan authorities on a long-term national response to migration and refugee management in line with international law to include addressing human rights concerns”, she assured. 

Accountability  

To ensure political progress, Elham Saudi, Co-founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya, said that all who commit abuses must be held accountable, including mercenaries. 

She noted that without law, revenge would be the only winner.  

Ms. Saudi also maintained the importance of an enabling environment for all rights advocates, especially women, and expressed hopes for a human-rights based approach in how Libya is governed, going forward. 

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Middle East

Embarking on Libya’s Noble Foray Into the Future

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On Saturday the 22nd of January, activists from across the civil society spectrum in Libya gathered over Zoom with one purpose in mind; publicly declaring their support for the 1951 Libyan Independence Constitution. Despite the political turmoil which has engulfed the country since the Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2011, a strong civil society movement which supports a return to our historical constitution, has always existed in Libya. These supporters, who represent a significant number of Libyans from across the country, see the restoration of the 1951 constitution as the only way to shape their future.

Libya has been through an immeasurable amount of internationally led initiatives, all aimed at providing Libya with long term “solutions”. Only over the course of the past decade, one can count the UN-brokered Skhirat agreement in December of 2015, the 2017 Paris meeting, the 2018 Palermo conference alongside Mohammed bin Zayed’s Abu Dhabi gathering in February 2019. Followed by Putin and Erdogan’s joint call for a ceasefire in 2020, alongside the first (2020) and second (2021) Berlin conferences alongside UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, each and every one of these efforts amounted to nothing.

The main reason behind these, perhaps well-intentioned but failed attempts, was the simple fact that none of these efforts had any grounding in Libyan history or the support of the Libyan people. Reaching consensus in a society as heavily divided as that of Libya, is a significant challenge. However, placing our faith in our history will undoubtedly provide us with a solution that is closer to the hearts of citizens of our nation and which has the potential to assist in competing factions finally putting their differences aside.

This was the catalyst of Saturday’s meeting which sought to once and for all provide an authentically Libyan solution to the issues which have been plaguing the country for over a decade. The first of these is the preservation of our territorial integrity which has for too long been challenged by foreign actors. It is high time that a long term resolution for our country’s ills is found that ensures the exclusion of foreign elements from shaping the future of our great land.

The second issue the gathering sought to underscore was the need to build an inclusive future for all members of Libyan society. For far too long, our country has excluded citizens of certain political persuasions, cultural backgrounds or those who hold different opinions. Every Libyan deserves equal opportunities, protection of basic rights alongside access to justice. This has been impossible in a country which for so long has lacked a cohesive national identity.

These two issues are indeed intertwined with the third issue which the conference sought to highlight, namely, our demand to return to constitutional legitimacy under the leadership of our Crown Prince Mohammed El Hasan el Rida el Senussi. As the sole heir to the throne of King Idris, passed down through the late Crown Prince Hassan, Prince Mohammad is the leader our country has yearned for.

With leadership claims grounded in historical fact that cannot be upended by foreign or domestic elements, from an ideological standpoint, Prince Mohammad serves as an anchor, offsetting challenges to stability posed by foreign elements. This is strengthened by his position as  the scion of a family which has been in Libya for centuries and founded the Senoussia movement, briniging with it Islam, to the country. Furthermore, historical memories of the reign of King Idris, which saw religious tolerance, gender equality and security for its citizens, reflects the future which Libyan’s would like to see for themselves today.

Bringing together journalists, academics, human rights defenders and political activists, Saturday’s gathering was indeed revolutionary. It would have been unimaginable that such a gathering would even have taken place a mere decade ago. Representing not only themselves, but a wide range of segments of Libyan society, those attending over Zoom broadcasted a powerful message; a rejection of foreign attempts top shape the future of the country alongside a return to historical, constitutional, legitimacy under the leadership of the only man who can help Libya exit the current quagmire and begin its noble foray into the future.

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