Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Sisi Agrees With Jordanian PM on Importance of Regional Political Settlement

Cairo-Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held talks with Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Al-Mulki in Cairo on Wednesday in the presence of Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi.

Both parties agreed on the importance of reaching a political settlement to the turmoil facing Arab states in the Middle East.

Egypt’s presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef said in a press statement a copy of which was obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat that Sisi welcomed Mulki’s visit to Egypt, saying it reflects the strong ties between Egypt and Jordan.

He said both parties stressed the constructive bilateral relations and praised the countries’ efforts to strengthen these ties at several fields of cooperation.

Mulki had arrived to Egypt on Tuesday to ink about 20 cooperation agreements between the countries in the agriculture, energy, and transportation sectors.

The meeting tackled the ongoing situation in the Arab region, as well as solutions to the political turmoil, in order to preserve the sovereignty of these countries and to encourage the return of the refugees to their countries.

The two parties also agreed on the importance of developing the Arab League that would contribute to a development in the Arab region.

Meanwhile, Sisi kicks off on Thursday a tour that would take him to India and China.

Youssef said that the Egyptian president’s tour comes in the context of Cairo’s keenness to enhance cooperation with Asian countries, in addition to the president’s participation as a guest of honor at the G20 summit expected in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou on Sept. 4 and 5.

Youssef added that Sisi’s visit to India’s New Delhi aims at holding talks with high-ranking officials concerning means to develop and enhance bilateral relations and to benefit from the Indian experience at several levels, particularly in the fields of information and technology.

Sisi Agrees With Jordanian PM on Importance of Regional Political Settlement

How the Iranian Opposition can Unite and Win?

For the past 37 years, the Iranian regime has cleverly been able to disunite, or cause the current disunity and distrust, in the opposition and redder it almost irrelevant. But this seems to becoming to an end.

The rights of Iran’s non-Persian nationalities were one of the central themes of the mass rally organized by the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) this month, marking a departure from the usual annual program of the Iranian opposition group.

The three-day event in Paris, entitled “FREE IRAN”, attracted tens of thousands enthusiastic followers. Also attending were over 40 parliamentary delegates as well as representatives of governments, liberation movements and the media from around the world.

There appeared to be a drive to reach out to others in the Iranian opposition as well as Arab governments, in an effort to forge wider solidarity. Invited to attend for the first time, I headed a moderate Ahwazi Arab delegation as we sought to respond to the MEK’s offer to give our cause a fair hearing.

I am not unfamiliar with the MEK as I have known many of its leaders while a political prisoner in various jails in Iran during the Shah’s rule. I spent nearly two years of my 5 years term sentence in Tehran Evin prison where the MEK’s ideological father and leader, Aallatoah Taleghani, was also imprisoned.

MEK: emerging from introspection

I always thought that the MEK could have done a better job in uniting the opposition abroad and confront the regime from within more aggressively. I felt they were somewhat inward looking and have been unreceptive toward other members of the opposition groups, especially non-Persian nationalities movements, parties and organizations. This has not been helped by the existential threats it has faced due to the actions of the Clinton and Bush administrations as they sought to pacify the Iranian government. The Clinton administration’s decision to list it as a foreign terrorist group on October 1997 as part of a diplomatic effort to open dialogue with moderates in Tehran and appease the mullahs. With Iran proven to be an untrustworthy partner due to its sponsorship of international terrorism and the controversies over the nuclear program, the MEK was delisted in September 2012. After the US invasion of Iraq, the MEK’s Camp Ashraf was attacked and now Camp Liberty, which hosts some 3,000 MEK members, is encircled and subjected to rocket attack by Iran’s puppet government. This along with the terrorist designation absorbed around 90 per cent of its activity, according to the organization’s leadership.

Non-Persian nationalities: seeking empowerment

In the 1980s, Ahwazi activists and some of our Kurdish partners were part of National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), whose largest member is the MEK – they left 4 years later.

However, in early 2000, the leaders of Arabs, Kurds, Azeri, Baloch and Turkmen reached a conclusion that we, the non-dominant and doubly oppressed non-Persian nationalities, needed to start an independent opposition coalition. There was a realization that we had much in common and did not have sufficient support from Persian-led opposition groups.

On February 19 2005 in London, the leaders of organizations representing major nationalities and ethnic groups in Iran gathered in a historic summit to form the Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI). It issued a manifesto that states: Iran belongs to all its peoples and nationalities, a right that they have been denied or taken away from them; Iranian non-Persian nationalities have been subjected to double oppression, and; the legitimacy of any government is derived from its peoples and, in Iran’s case, the full cultural, national, ethnic and religious spectrum.

CNFI charted a roadmap for future of Iran stipulating that without the participation of all its nationalities to have the opportunity to rule the country and the regions that they live in, achievement of freedom, development and peace is impossible in Iran; that the establishment of a federalist system of government on the basis of ethnicity-nationality and geography is the only political mechanism that is enduring, and it (Federalism) allows all Iranian nationalities to realize their aspirations and the exercise of self rule in a framework of a free, united and a democratic Iran.

It also set the following principles as the basis for future activities and cooperation. This included the acceptance that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a totalitarian, anti-democratic state that violates the rights of the Iranian peoples. Furthermore, the state needed to be replaced with a plural, federal democratic government in Iran with the separation of religion and state. It would seek peaceful relations with all countries on the basis of mutual respect and respect for international norms and accords, and work to resolve conflicts employing peaceful means and international law.

MEK opens up to co-operation

One of the significant qualitative changes during this year’s event was the realization that the regime change needed to involve the entire spectrum of Iranian opposition groups. This is historically significant and there is precedent. The same argument was hotly debated during the early 1970s: whether or not the Shah regime needed be overthrown or could it be reformed. Some on the left, under pressure from USSR believed that the Shah was reformable and it was moving a way from “US imperialism”. However, by the mid-1970s, regime change became the dominant theme and the struggle focused toward this end.

The MEK’s “Free Iran” initiative promises to act as the same basis for a common platform. For this to happen, the two categories of opposition, the Persian-led opposition groups and non-Persian groups, such as CNFI, need to come to some understanding and form a unified Iranian opposition. They can then go forward to seek regional and international support. The MEK’s ability to run an effective mass rally with no glitches and providing accommodation, transport and security for tens of thousands people, without a hitch, indicates it has considerable capability, experience, and organizational strength. MEK and NCRI are certainly in a position to lead the Persian opposition initially in negotiations with CNFI for a unity platform.

However, there remain differences between the Persian-led groups and CNFI. While CNFI sets it platform as a decentralized and federal system as a minimum, the MEK believes in autonomy and autonomous regions only for Kurdistan. In a positive move, Dr. Mohammad Mihadesian, the head of MEK’s foreign relations, stated in recent interviews with Al-Arabiya and Alkhabriah that MEK seeks the same autonomy for the Kurdish, Arab, Baloch, Azeri, Turkmen and Lur regions as well.

However, in the 10-point “platform for Future Iran” which was handed out during the gathering it still states “We are committed to the equality of all nationalities. We underscore the plan for the autonomy of Iranian Kurdistan, adopted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The language and culture of our compatriots from whatever nationality are among our nation’s human resources and must spread and be promulgated in tomorrow’s Iran.”

CNFI believes a federal state would provide the political apparatus to address the cultural, social and economic inequalities that have arisen in Iran as a result of centralized control in Iran. It wants a constitutional guarantee that the rights of self-determination is clearly and expressly stipulated where should regions become under pressure from the central government, secession can be an option, if in fact that be decided in an internationally guaranteed and observed referendum. However, a maximalist demand can postpone this coalition and prolong this regime. I think the gap can be overcome with negotiations.

Karim Abdian is a Washington DC based political commentator and a human rights activist. He provides commentaries on Iran and the Middle East in Arabic, Farsi and English.

He is the executive director of Ahwaz Studies Canter and the head of International Relations Committee of the Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran (CNFI).

How the Iranian Opposition can Unite and Win?

Brazil’s Rousseff Dismissed for Breaking Budget Laws

Ending an impeachment process that has polarized the scandal-plagued country, Brazil’s Senate officially removed President Dilma Rousseff from office on Wednesday for breaking budgetary laws. Brazil’s political life has been short to paralyzed over the last nine months.

Senators voted 61-20 to convict Rousseff for illegally using money from state banks to boost public spending, putting an end to 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule in Latin America’s largest economy.

Conservative Michel Temer, the former vice president who has run Brazil since Rousseff’s suspension in May, will be sworn in on Wednesday to serve out the remainder of the presidential term through 2018.

Roussef denied any wrongdoing and said the impeachment process was aimed at protecting the interests of the country’s economic elite and rolling back social programs that lifted millions of Brazilians from poverty during the last decade.

Her opponents, however, have hailed the chance to turn the page on a drawn-out political crisis, the country’s worst recession in generations and a sweeping corruption scandal at state oil company Petrobras .

Motorists honked car horns in the Brazilian capital in a blaring tribute to the removal of a president whose popularity had dwindled to single figures since winning re-election in 2014.

In Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, fireworks exploded in celebration after the vote.

Temer has vowed to boost an economy that has shrunk for six consecutive quarters and implement austerity measures to plug a record budget deficit, which cost Brazil its investment-grade credit rating last year.

However, he is likely to face bitter political opposition from the Workers Party, which has vowed to take to the streets in protest.

Brazil’s Rousseff Dismissed for Breaking Budget Laws

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister: Demand Remains ‘Very Healthy’, No Specific Level of Oil Output Targeted

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih announced that the world’s largest oil exporter does not target a specific level of oil production and that its output is based on customers’ needs.

Speaking during an official visit to China, minister Falih told al-Arabiya TV channel that despite low crude prices he was exceptionally optimistic for global demand.

As talks on OPEC’s bid for freezing output to back oil rates resurface, Falih commented on the well-standing demand for crude in China, saying that it remains “very healthy” and that India’s demand was “very good” too.

“We in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia do not have a targeted number to reach. The kingdom’s production meets the requirements of the customers, whether they are outside internationally or inside the kingdom,” Falih said on Wednesday.

“The kingdom’s production policy will maintain a large degree of responsibility,” he said, signaling the kingdom would not flood an oversupplied market if there was no demand for it, a position Saudi Arabia has always said it holds to.

OPEC is due to meet in Algeria in September and is expected to seek to revive a global output freeze deal.

In July the kingdom pumped 10.67 million barrels per day, the most in its history. Falih last week told Reuters production in August had remained around that level.

Saudi Arabia has a production capacity of 12.5 million bpd, leaving it able to boost output further to meet any global shortage. Falih said that production level was not expected to be reached unless there were unexpected outages.

“The market now is saturated with oversupply and we don’t see in the short term a need for the kingdom to reach its maximum production capacity,” he told al-Arabiya.

Falih is on a visit headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aimed at bolstering relations with China, a top energy customer and trade partner. The delegation heads to Japan late on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally accounted for most of Asia’s crude needs.

Falih denied there was a price war between producers in China, adding that increasing Russian oil supplies to China “is something natural and we do not see it as a threatening move to Saudi Arabia.”

Under sweeping economic reforms led by Prince Mohammed, Riyadh plans to sell a stake of less than 5 percent in national oil major Saudi Aramco.

Falih, Aramco’s chairman, told al-Arabiya that China had shown interest in opening its stock markets for Aramco’s flotation.

Aramco has been in talks with China’s CNPC and Sinopec for investment opportunities in refining, marketing and petrochemicals.

Falih said he hoped to reach a deal with CNPC before the end of the year, expecting investments in China to exceed $20 billion, if the talks were finalized.

Aramco is talking to CNPC about two refineries in China, with one being built in Yunnan at a more advanced stage, he said.

Aramco is also in talks with Sinopec on a refinery in Qingdao. “We look forward to improve the economic feasibility of the project and finish the negotiations,” he said, adding Aramco is expected to take a stake of between 40 and 45 percent in such projects.

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister: Demand Remains ‘Very Healthy’, No Specific Level of Oil Output Targeted

Singapore Urges Tests for Pregnant Women with Zika Signs

Singapore urged pregnant women showing symptoms of fever or rashes to have themselves tested for the Zika virus Wednesday after the number of confirmed cases in the city-state soared to 82.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which has caused explosive outbreaks in the Americas and the Caribbean since late last year, poses a particular risk to pregnant women because it can cause microcephaly, a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

The United States and Britain joined Australia, South Korea and Taiwan in advising pregnant women to avoid non-essential travel to the city-state, while a local health expert warned the infection rate would rise.

Environment agency workers stepped up efforts to eradicate mosquitoes that spread the disease, expanding a fumigation campaign centered on the “ground zero” of the outbreak, the eastern suburb of Aljunied.

As infections climbed, they blasted an industrial area at Kallang Way to destroy breeding sites fueling the outbreak.

Another nearby area — Paya Lebar Way — was also smothered with insecticide.

Five of the latest infections reported Tuesday were of people who live or work in those two areas.

Zika has been detected in 58 countries including hardest-hit Brazil. It causes only mild symptoms for most people, such as fever and a rash.

The health ministry said that “all pregnant women in Singapore with symptoms of Zika — fever and rash and other symptoms such as red eyes or joint pain” should be tested for infection.

Pregnant women with male partners who have been tested positive were also told to visit their doctors.

Construction workers in the affected areas have been given mosquito-repellent patches, chewable Vitamin C tablets and removable sleeves to cover their arms. Many of those infected were construction workers at a condominium project.

Since Singapore reported its first locally transmitted Zika infection on Saturday, confirmed cases have soared as authorities ramped up testing.

Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Singapore’s Mouth Elizabeth Novena Hospital, said the number is likely to rise further.

“There are very few mosquitos carrying the Zika virus but you must remember (that) for every one Zika case found, four more are asymptomatic,” he told AFP.

“So now we have 82 cases, you multiply that by four, there are 328 cases lurking in the background.”

But he said Singaporean authorities — who spend some Sg$1.0 million ($733,000) a day on exterminating mosquitoes — were in a good position to deal with the outbreak.

“We have a very determined government with the funds… and a rather obedient population,” he said. “When told to stay home, people do stay home and follow instructions.”

Singapore Urges Tests for Pregnant Women with Zika Signs

Libyan MP: Aguila Saleh is Complicating all Solutions

Cairo – Chairman of Parliamentary Health, Economy and Investment committee MP Ayman Seif al-Nasr said that Speaker Aquila Saleh wants to overthrow the government.

During his visit to Egypt among a Libyan delegation, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper interviewed MP Nasr on the latest developments in Libya.

When asked about the true stance of the Speaker Saleh regarding the PM Fayez Sarraj, MP Nasr said it can’t be truly known what Saleh wants especially with the change in the agenda of the parliament and calling to vote on motion of no-confidence.

He added that initially, the first clause of the agenda included reconsidering the internal list, while the second was about the constitutional referendum. “Then came the surprise to vote on the motion of no-confidence, with the absence of the members of parliaments who support the agreement,” explained the MP.

Nasr told Asharq Al-Awsat that this is a legal violation since the items intended to be discussed on the agenda should be announced 24 hours in advance.

According to the MP, this created a debate inside the parliament and many MPs didn’t attend. The attendees were 101 out of 179 MP, with 61 granting the no-confidence in government and 39 leaving the session objecting the agenda.

“It is clear that the Speaker wants to overthrow the government and the procedures he is taking regarding the presidential council are not likely to have positive outcomes,” he added.

Nasr explained that the problem is that Speaker won’t preside the session in Tabrak when all members are present. He added that in the case two MPs want to hold a session, which is legal per the bylaws of the parliament, MPs pro-Saleh lock the doors of the halls preventing them from expressing their right.

When asked if there is something hindering the dialogue, Nasr said that they don’t really know what Saleh wants. He added that previous discussions aimed to find a common ground, but it was never clear.

He explained that problem lies in the rejection of the political agreement and the presidential council.

Akila Saleh wanted the council to be formed equally among all.

MP Nasr said they tried to create a trust link among all members and every time it was met with rejection from the speaker. “We would take Saleh’s instructions and execute them and even pressure all parties to accept them.

Political agreements don’t belong to one side, but rather an integrated partnership. We don’t present a military power here. We are working on a dialogue that can save the political process until we stop all wars and interferences, and take Libya into the safety shore,” said the MP.

When asked about the reasons why Speaker Saleh is hindering the political solution, Nasr believes there are none. He added that all Saleh’s statements are contradicting wondering whether Libya has the luxury of time to reach a solution. He asked Speaker Saleh what’s his objection on Sarraj given that he had been there since the elections of the parliament and is candidate that doesn’t belong to any party or tribe, in addition that Sarraj is not rejected by Saleh himself.

After meeting the U.N. Sec Gen Special Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler in Egypt, Nasr thinks that Kobler is not very optimistic that the parliament can overcome this crisis. Yet, Kobler believes there is a chance for the parliament to vote on a new government and there is always a way to find a solution amid all the problems.

Despite that, Nasr said that Kobler can’t offer a solution; he merely tries to bring sides together.

When asked about his opinion on a possible solution, Nasr believes that Libya is at a crossroads and a solution could happen once guarantees have been granted to all sides. The guarantees Nasr was referring to included rebuilding the trust in regard of what forming a government is, holding sessions of the presidential council and including Ali al-Qatrani and Omar al-Aswad in the negotiations.

In the end, MP Nasr said that the delegation came here because Egypt is keen to end the crisis of choosing the minister of defense given that it affects its national security.

Libyan MP: Aguila Saleh is Complicating all Solutions

Saudi: Commercial Sector Prices on the Rise

Riyadh- In coincidence with the residential properties sector poor performance, the commercial properties sector seems to undergo a first of its kind rise in prices, especially in the commercial stores rental fees during the past five years.

Ibrahim Mortada, manager of a commercial mall in Riyadh, said that decreased dealing in residential properties affected the prices but not those of the commercial properties, taking into consideration that censorship is absent and a one united contract that obliges everyone to adhere to specific prices is also unavailable.

In response to real-estate reforms issued by the government, majorly the law of white-lands fees, the mobility and value of Saudi real-estate sector dropped in notable levels but the influence on commercial properties performance was minimal compared to residential properties.

Investor Ahmad al-Dusari said that he had to shut down his supply markets after the rental fees doubled in three years, a rate that he can’t bear. Dusari said that he used to pay annually SAR160, 000 (USD42. 600) but the property owner doubled the rental fee to SAR320, 000 (USD85, 000). He failed short to pay off this amount and the store has been closed since one year.

Dusari called on relevant authorities to take necessary procedures to correct the condition in the commercial properties sector because this will affect the citizen in the first place.

Broker Hani Habtour said that leasing stores in Saudi Arabia is among the sectors undergoing a rise in prices. He added that demand-supply balance is a major driver of this sector especially when it comes to stores located in crowded areas.

“Some properties’ owners raise the rental fees on annual basis and tenants accept this because they are already gaining huge profits,” continued Habtour.

Saudi: Commercial Sector Prices on the Rise

How Big Can China's Cities Get?

By any measure, Shanghai is one of the world’s biggest cities. It’s home to more than 24 million people. Its subway system is the longest ever built, extending to its rural limits. Crowds are so thick that burly “shovers” get paid to help pack the trains. Now the local government is saying enough is enough: Documents released this week reveal that Shanghai intends to admit a mere 800,000 new residents over the next 24 years, on its way to becoming an “excellent global city.”

A population cap on one of China’s most dynamic locales may seem impractical. But the government is actually thinking bigger: The plan envisions Shanghai as the high-end hub at the center of a massive “city cluster” comprising 30 urban areas — with a staggering total population of 50 million.

That might sound preposterous. But the Yangtze Delta Cluster, as it’s known, is one of at least 19 such projects in the works. The idea is to use an extensive hub-and-spoke rail system, much of it high-speed, to better integrate China’s burgeoning urban areas. The big three clusters — located along the Pearl River, the Yangtze River and the Beijing-Tianjin corridor — will each have 50 million people or more.

The effect could be transformative. For one thing, it will create the world’s biggest labor markets, and further urbanize a country that’s still more than 40 percent rural. It should boost economic growth and efficiency. And it could help solve a growing dilemma: Many of China’s biggest cities have simply reached their geographic and demographic limits.

“Adding more density to the cities won’t work anymore,” says Alain Bertaud, a senior research scholar at New York University who has consulted in China for decades. The problem, he says, is that those cities are increasingly fragmented.

Housing in Shanghai and Beijing has become so expensive that non-wealthy residents have been pushed to the furthest reaches of the suburbs, where commuters often face extended waits just to enter a subway station — let alone actually get on a train. The result is a large labor force that can’t be put to work by employers, largely defeating the purpose of urbanization.

Clusters may offer an antidote. In theory, those 50 million people in the Yangtze Delta Cluster will all be within commuting distance of Shanghai, yet they won’t need to jam into its over-crowded neighborhoods or rely on its overloaded public services. They’ll get the benefits of density, in other words, while spreading out its burdens.

There’s some precedent for this approach. Long before anyone had heard the term “city cluster,” China’s relentless expansion had caused urban areas to start melding into one another. Most notable was the Pearl River Delta, where Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and several smaller cities merged into an informal cluster famous for its manufacturing.

The organic nature of that development, though, meant that there was no regional authority to deal with the problems that resulted — the traffic, the pollution, the wasteful subsidized competition between neighbors — and an uneven distribution of social services. China’s planners are hoping that the new clusters can reap the advantages of the old ones, but with more order and efficiency.

That won’t be easy. Transportation poses a particular challenge: High-speed rail and subways can move commuters between cities, but the final journey — from station to workplace or home — is much harder. (Bertaud notes that China’s urban planners “are very interested in self-driving cars.”)

Another pressing task will be getting local governments to stop using land sales to finance infrastructure and services. Doing so induces further sprawl, raises the cost of public works and leads to the ghost cities — or, at least, ghost neighborhoods — that plague China’s urban areas. New regional authorities will also be needed to manage clusters that will span thousands of square miles and tens of millions of people.

All this will be arduous. But with the benefit of decades, China’s city clusters could become key economic engines — and, maybe, a model for how cities around the world can keep growing.

Bloomberg Service

How Big Can China's Cities Get?

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

U.S. Warns ISIS, Qaeda Would Take Advantage of Yemen Instability

Washington-The United States has condemned the terrorist attacks in Yemen that were claimed by ISIS and which left scores of people dead on Monday.

The U.S. is seeking to give peace talks in Yemen a new push after the efforts carried out under the auspices of the United Nations to reach an agreement between the conflicting parties collapsed earlier this month. No date for a new round of discussions has been set.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the terrorist “attack underscores the urgency of a full and comprehensive settlement that will shrink the political and security vacuum that’s been created by the ongoing civil war there.”

The spokesman stressed the importance of reaching a political understanding.

“In the absence of a political solution, we remain concerned that Daesh (the Arabic acronym for ISIS) and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will continue to take advantage of the instability, and innocent people will regrettably continue to suffer,” he said.

Kirby told the press briefing that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed with Gulf state officials in Jeddah last week ways to reach a comprehensive settlement.

“We urge parties to seize this opportunity and work constructively with the U.N. special envoy as he begins his consultations,” he said.

The situation in Yemen had topped the agenda of discussions of Kerry during his visit to Saudi Arabia last week.

Washington is working for a new round of negotiations between Houthi insurgents and the legitimate Yemeni government.

Kerry’s proposal lies in pushing Houthis to withdraw from cities they have occupied since 2014 and the formation of a unity government.

U.S. Warns ISIS, Qaeda Would Take Advantage of Yemen Instability

U.S. General Confirms Iraq Being on Schedule for Mosul’s Retake

Iraq is right on track with meeting its objective realizing the city of Mosul’s take back from ISIS later this year, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command said on Tuesday.

However, the advance according to schedule is conditioned by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi choosing to go forward as planned, the military official added.

Although Iraqi and U.S. officials have not announced a timetable for moving on the city, a senior Baghdad-based diplomat said last month Abadi wanted to bring forward the start of the Mosul campaign to October.

“It’s the prime minister’s objective to have that done by the end of the year,” General Joseph Votel, who oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East, told a news conference.

“My assessment is that we can meet the … prime minister’s objectives, if that’s what he chooses to do.”

Two years since ISIS seized wide swathes of northern and western Iraqi lands, Votel said that tables had firmly turned against the militant group as it loses territory in its self-declared “caliphate”.

Mosul has been the largest urban center under the militants’ control, with a pre-war population of nearly 2 million. It was from Mosul’s Grand Mosque in 2014 that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” spanning regions of Iraq and Syria.

Votel said the battle for Mosul could present a mixed picture for war planners, with ISIS retreating in some areas only to reinforce in others.

“ISIS has to make hard decisions, because they’re being pressured in a variety of ways,” Votel said.

He pointed to the two-and-a-half month battle by U.S.-backed forces in Syria to take back the town of Manbij from ISIS as an example of how fighting could become protracted.

“We should expect that in some places, perhaps in some parts of Mosul, they will cede that area to us, to the coalition, to the Iraqis. And then in other areas, they will fight harder to hold onto that,” Votel said.

The U.N. estimates that under a worst-case scenario, more than 1 million people could be displaced from Mosul and another 830,000 from a populated corridor south of the city, adding to the burden of caring for 3.5 million Iraqis displaced by ISIS’ 2014 onslaught and U.S.-backed Iraqi counter-offensives.

U.S. General Confirms Iraq Being on Schedule for Mosul’s Retake

SDF Official Confirms Brief Ceasefire between Turkey, Kurdish-Backed Fighters in Syria

An armistice between Turkey and the Kurdish-backed Jarablus Military Council is put in order place, a Kurdish military official at an SDF-allied group said on Tuesday.

The Jarablus Military Council is a group aligned with U.S.-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The truce deal has been put in force since midnight on Monday and is holding, said Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the SDF-allied Manbij Military Council.

However, a commander in one of the Turkey-supported Syrian opposition groups that have clashed with SDF-allied groups south of Jarablus said there was no ceasefire, but that there was a pause in the military operation.

“There is no truce and no ceasefire. But there has been a pause for some time,” he said, adding that the operation would resume shortly.

Alternatively, Turkey’s army chief signaled no letup in the launched Syria offensive despite that Washington has criticized the targeting of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters.

Turkish-backed forces began the offensive last week by capturing the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from ISIS militants; they then advanced on areas controlled by Kurdish-aligned militias which have U.S. support in battling the hardline militants.

Turkey, which is already fighting a pushing Kurdish insurgency at home, openly said the operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield” has a dual goal of driving away ISIS and preventing Kurdish forces extending their areas of control along the Turkish border.

Washington said the offensive by its NATO ally risked undermining the fight against ISIS because it was focusing on Kurdish-aligned militias. Ankara says it will not take orders from anyone on how to protect the nation.

“By pursuing the Euphrates Shield operation, which is crucial for our national security and for our neighbours’ security, the Turkish Armed Forces are showing they have lost none of their strength,” Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said in a statement on Tuesday to mark a national holiday.

On the eve of the Victory Day holiday, President Tayyip Erdogan said the operation would continue until all threats, including that of Kurdish militia fighters, were removed from the border area.

SDF Official Confirms Brief Ceasefire between Turkey, Kurdish-Backed Fighters in Syria

Teenage German Girl is Charged With Attempted Murder and Supporting ISIS

German federal prosecutors have charged a 16 year old girl of Moroccan origin named Safia S. who was accused of stabbing a German policeman in the neck with a knife. She was charged with attempted murder, being a supporter of a foreign terrorist organisation and inflicting serious bodily harm on a policeman aged 34 after a six month investigation.

A 19 year old man of Syrian origin who knew about the plan to attack non-Muslims was charged with failing to report a crime. The investigation proved that the young extremist has already written about her intentions to carry out a suicide attack in Germany to a friend in Britain via the internet.

Safia S. stabbed a policeman in the neck with a kitchen knife she was carrying at a train station in the city of Hanover which is the capital of Lower Saxony on February the 26th. Reports issued by the investigative committee said that she provoked the police more than once and stabbed the policeman whilst he was checking her personal identity. Safia S. was also carrying another knife which led prosecutors to believe that she intended to stab more than one person.

The spokesman for Hanover police Axel Brockmann told Asharq Al-Awsat that investigators encountered difficulties due to the fact that Safia S. was underage. However, the prosecution did not wait till she turned sixteen years old to initiate legal action and stressed that the investigation provided lots of evidence and witnesses to her affiliation to ISIS. Brockmann also alluded to a video clip that featured the defendant talking about a suicide operation which she sent to associates of ISIS, and she asked them how to carry out the operation. It is believed that she established these connections during her visit to Turkey where she tried to enter Syria and join ISIS.

Teenage German Girl is Charged With Attempted Murder and Supporting ISIS

Off to College? Maybe these Devices should Go Along

WHEN Vanessa Arreola, 18, starts her freshman year at Stanford University this fall, the top item on her back-to-school wish list is a MacBook Pro.

She said she wouldn’t consider a tablet because she prefers a traditional keyboard. She relies on apps like Google Docs for documents and Google Slides for presentations, which are available through a web browser.

“A tablet is just like your cellphone, but bigger,” she said. “I don’t see a point of getting a tablet.”

But Claire Ashcroft, 19, who studies public health at Brigham Young University in Idaho, said the opposite. Half of her textbooks are digitized, and she uses apps like Microsoft Excel and Word — so her ideal school device would be a Windows machine with a touch screen, like a Microsoft Surface tablet.

The polarizing responses illustrate how back-to-school shopping for technology gadgets has become increasingly complex for parents. In the past, the dilemma for most students was whether to get a Windows PC or a Mac. Now, because of a proliferation of different computing forms with the rise of mobile devices, the debate has shifted toward whether to buy a computer or a tablet — and which operating system on top of that.

Then there are the different types of software and tools that students use, like flashcard apps or readers for digital textbooks, some of which are for mobile devices and others for computers.

To make back-to-school season easier, parents should have a conversation with their children about what devices and which operating system to buy based on their student’s area of studies and the apps they use.

Devices That Deserve to Go Along on Vacation JUNE 22, 2016

I also compiled a guide to some of the best back-to-school products, including computers, mobile devices, audio accessories and food gadgets. The list was curated after testing dozens of products and interviewing five college students about the tools that help them do homework and get through cramming sessions. (While this list focuses on college students, many of whom will be getting their own computers for the first time, some items would also be a good fit for high schoolers.)

Laptop Versus Tablet

The students I polled were split on whether a laptop or tablet would be the best study tool. In general, students in science-oriented fields would probably benefit from a laptop, which can handle multitasking more easily and run more powerful apps than tablets. For designers and liberal arts majors who are using more lightweight apps for writing essays or drawing sketches, a tablet may be a better fit.

For students in science-oriented fields, like Ms. Arreola, the $899 MacBook Air stood out as the most versatile and convenient computer. It can run both the Mac and Windows operating systems, weighs only 2.4 pounds and has at least nine hours of battery life. It also has an excellent keyboard and ports for plugging in accessories like a display, mouse or phone charger.

For those seeking a tablet, devices like the $599 iPad Pro or $499 Microsoft Surface 3 should work well. The ability to remove the keyboard for reading digital books or to use a stylus to make drawings would come in handy on either of these devices.


Chances are that your son or daughter already has a smartphone, given that on average, children are getting their first smartphones at age 10. But if they have a hand-me-down, four-year-old iPhone or Android device, it may be a good time to get a speedier, more capable phone.

The best ones on the market come from Apple and Samsung Electronics: the iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S7. Which one you pick should partly depend on your child’s computing device, since iPhones are more tightly integrated with Apple devices and Android devices generally mesh better with Windows computers.

There are two caveats. First, Apple is expected to release a brand-new iPhone this fall; so if you go the Apple route, it would be wise to wait a few months. Second, these are high-end phones that cost roughly $700, which could easily blow your budget.

If price is a concern, there are plenty of excellent lower-tier smartphones. The iPhone SE, which has most of the same guts as the iPhone 6s but a smaller 4-inch screen, is a solid option at $399. For Android devices, I like Huawei’s Nexus 6P, which also costs $399. It has a nice look and feel and works with Project Fi, Google’s low-cost cellular service.

With the amount of shuffling around that students do on campus, I also recommend a battery pack to give smartphones more juice throughout the day. Anker’s PowerCore Slim 5000, about $20, is affordable and provides about two full charges to a smartphone in a compact battery pack.

Audio Accessories

High-quality audio gear is a sound investment for students. Roommates can be loud distractions from schoolwork and sleep, plus a bit of music can ease the pain of typing out a tedious essay.

That makes it worthwhile to invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. My favorite set is the Bose QuietComfort 35. They are wireless, comfortable and extremely effective at filtering out noise, plus they sound great. At $350, they are pricey but will provide comfort and nice sound for many years.

Another useful audio device is the $180 Amazon Echo, the internet-connected speaker that responds to voice commands. It can stream music from services like Spotify and Pandora and also dictate a student’s calendar events. When set up with an internet-connected power outlet, like TP-Link’s Smart Plug, the Echo could even be used to turn on an electric kettle for boiling water for tea or coffee first thing in the morning, if you say, “Alexa, turn on the kettle.”

Coffee and Food

Speaking of water kettles, a food gadget or two will not go amiss in students’ lives, especially if the devices offer a shortcut to downing some caffeine or gobbling up ramen.

A great electric kettle for quickly boiling water is Bonavita’s $55 BV3825B Gooseneck. The stainless steel kettle can boil up to a liter of water and has a long gooseneck spout that lets you smoothly pour water into a teapot, french press or cup of noodles.

For a fast and inexpensive gadget to make coffee, check out the $30 AeroPress. You place the AeroPress chamber on a mug, add one scoop of ground coffee, add hot water and plunge the coffee through a filter into the mug. It makes cheap coffee taste delicious.

For heating up food, I recommend a toaster oven instead of a microwave. A well-made toaster oven is not only capable of heating up microwave dinners, but it can also toast bagels and leftover slices of pizza or even roast a chicken leg. Breville’s $150 Mini Smart Oven evenly heats up foods and will get students through times of desperation.

In the end, it’s up to students to use their imaginations to get the most out of their back-to-school gear. Ms. Ashcroft, the Brigham Young student, said her favorite study tool during her freshman year was her iPhone 5 — she uses the apps Quizlet and StudyBlue to study with digital flashcards and notes.

But she would like a Microsoft Surface tablet.

“If we’re talking wishful here, I would choose that,” she said. “I have a couple of friends with those, and I think they’re pretty nice.”

Off to College? Maybe these Devices should Go Along

Opinion: Hijab, Niqab and the Burkini

What distinguishes the west from the rest of the world is its respect for the principle of freedom; it believes in it as a culture and commits to it in constitutions that governments and citizens adhere to. For this reason, France’s highest administrative court, the State Council, intervened and considered the ban on burkinis being worn on beaches in municipalities in the south of France illegal.

The burkini is a new outfit designed to allow Muslim women to spend time on beaches and swim in public places if they wish to do so. The burkini faces three contradictory stances; mayors reject it because it is Islamic, Islamic militants reject it because it is un-Islamic, and a few practicing Muslims approve of it.

The State Council, France’s highest administrative court, considered the case that was brought before it and judges said the ban on the burkini “has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”

It is possible to understand the problem of differences in cultures and bear in mind the growing fear and hatred that the local population feel. For example, Nice is one of the French coastal cities that banned the burkini, and we should remember that it was attacked by a man affiliated to ISIS who deliberately ran over more than eighty people in one of the most cruel, brutal and frightening attacks. In this frenzied atmosphere, it is natural that most French people said that they were against “Islamic” swimwear in a recent referendum.

There may not be more than a hundred Muslim women who want to wear the burkini and they would be part of the Muslim liberal minority. However, it reflects the state of the cultural clash and the increasing challenges faced by Muslims in the West with regards to the workplace, clothes and schools. This path of suffering was previously walked upon by Europe’s Jews who have co-existed and integrated into European Christian culture whilst keeping a part of their traditions without excessively differentiating themselves. Despite the moderate approach that the Jews of Europe took, this did not prevent the existence of hostile groups that are fuelled by religious hatred. However, they remained limited in countries that are ruled by law and where offenders are punished.

The freedom to practise one’s religion is a right that is protected by the constitution, and this is what makes Europe attractive to millions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and even to Christians of other denominations that used to suffer from rejection and discrimination in the past. The west is the land of freedom, but it is only protected as long as it does not infringe on the freedoms of others, like extremists do. For example, Omar Abdel-Rahman was an extremist preacher who preoccupied the British media because he insulted British society and the system that took him in when he arrived as a refugee who was wanted and had been given a death sentence in Egypt.

The British police guarded him and his home from racist attacks for years. He was then extradited to the United States on charges of being involved with an Islamist group that was behind the bombings in New York in the nineties. Due to clothing, food and freedom of expression against religious symbols, the limits of freedom in Britain, France, Belgium and other countries have become a hotly debated topic that is being fuelled with the large number of Muslim refugees. In addition to this, terrorist operations are pouring oil on the fire of hatred against the majority of Muslims who are peaceful.

The municipal authorities that manage the beaches of Nice, Frejus and other areas are trying to flout the decision and forbid Islamic swimwear, whilst much of the French media praised the judicial decision and considered it a victory for freedom and the laws of France. However, the burkini is one item of clothing amongst many. A previous judicial decision banned the niqab and implementing the ban is still a big problem for the authorities. We must understand why the law bans the niqab and does not ban the hijab which only covers the hair. The niqab is banned because it covers the entire face and is therefore considered a threat to security at a time when streets and squares are filled with cameras and detectives who scrutinise faces in search of people who are wanted.

We must also notice the social changes that have occurred in the Muslim community in Europe. In the recent past, the vast majority ate, drank, dressed and studied like the rest of the population. However, militancy has entered into the community just as it previously spread in Muslim countries. Muslims in Europe want to distinguish themselves with halal meat, Islamic banking, private Islamic schools, the hijab and the burkini. All of these things are consistent with laws that protect individual freedoms. It would be difficult for the majority of Muslims in Europe to become militants and live isolated from communities whilst Islam itself facilitates their lives according to their circumstances, and there are many different interpretations of this.

Opinion: Hijab, Niqab and the Burkini

“Children Suicide Bombers” Drop the Fake Masks of ISIS

Cairo- The video that featured a group of children who shot captives in Iraq; the arrest of a child who was trying to implement a suicide bombing operation with an explosive belt; and the bloody suicide attack implemented by another child in a wedding party south of turkey have raised many questions on ISIS’s recruitment of children.

Egyptian experts in extremist groups’ affairs see that ISIS’s exploitation of children in its terrorist attacks drops the last fake mask of the organization, and suggests that the organization’s adoption of this new trend perhaps aims at saving expenditures and avoiding the loss of its experienced members.

On another hand, experts say that ISIS used children to fuel its wars by indoctrinating its bloody ideology in their young minds, as part of the so-called “schools of Caliphate” by training children on three levels: intellectual, combatant, and psychological.

Observers also see that the extremist organization is ongoing with its illegitimate practices, and uses children to implement its operation aiming at urging the International Coalition to decrease its strikes. ISIS previously released a video that features a group of children wearing army customs and explosive belts, who were threatening the countries participating in the International Coalition.

Opinion of the House of Fatwa

The Egyptian House of Fatwa has said that ISIS dependence on children in its operations is a consequence of the International Coalition’s strikes, which have killed thousands of the extremist militants. This gap led the organization to recruit its juvenile members to compensate its losses.

Dr. Ibrahim Najm, consultant of the Egyptian Mufti noted that children’s recruitment is ISIS mean to prepare a new generation of powerful militants who will be the future of the alleged Caliphate.

Najm adds that the organization indoctrinates extremist ideologies in minds of children from an early age, teaches them draconian approaches, implements execution operations infront of them, and provides them with weapons to play; those children are the terrorists of the future and they will be more aggressive given that they haven’t been disturbed with secular values and communities of unbelievers, according to the organization.

ISIS’s main strategic and visual goal is to wash children’s brains through lessons it provides, which starts with their clothes and ends by teaching them specific verses from Quran on how to kill unbelievers.

Children Terrorist Nurture

Experts divide schools of “Caliphate Cubs” in three levels, which are:

1. Intellectual- religious training: children should be trained on radical intellect, including readiness to implement suicide operations.

2. Practical-combatant training: children should undergo hard physical training and receive lessons on weapon usage.

3. Psychological training: children should be taken to public squares to participate in slaughtering captures of ISIS, aiming at enhancing their belonging to the organization.

Observers have also pointed that ISIS goes far in its brainwash strategy and teaches children how to spy on their parents and to kill them, which will lead to the growth of a serious generation of Takfirees.

Offending Islam

Dr. Mohammad Ahmad al-Dish, professor of Islamic culture in Al Azhar considered that ISIS’s recruitment of young children exports an offending image on Islam to the West.

Ahmad al-Dish added that the extremist group is likely using social media websites to communicate with youth and attract them toward extremism. The professor sees that children in our communities should be immunized against these extremist intellects and to learn about the right image about Islam.

Reports and Numbers

Reports have revealed that ISIS has kidnapped 800 to 900 children from Mosul in 2015, aiming at providing them with religious and military training. The terrorist organization has recruited those children by force; the exact number of children captured is unknown, but statistics show that their number is regularly growing.

Dr. Hamed Mustafa Mekkawi, professor at Al Azhar revealed that children recruited in ISIS troops are obliged to attend all the draconian practices of the organization like decapitation and stones casting at women.

Concerning the confrontation on ISIS, Mekkawi said that a campaign should be launched on social media websites to highlight the dangers surrounding children like sexual assaults and killing; and to urge from their consequences on the communities’ future.

He also said that concerned parties should intervene to free children from the environments where they can be exploited, and to return them to their normal life to participate in normal activities under the supervision of psychologist experts.

“Children Suicide Bombers” Drop the Fake Masks of ISIS

Yemen’s Mohammed Maitami: Early Cost of Damage Touches $15 Billion

Riyadh- Damage brought about by the guerrilla war in Yemen has recently accounted for an augmented $15 billion, according to Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohammed Maitami.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Maitami says that the size of damage done has increased from a previously announced imprecise $12 billion. Primary evaluation has not delivered its assessment with accuracy given that most of the study was dependent on satellite retrieved footage and data, with no field review whatsoever.

Maitami added that the revised figure came after an effective aerial photography that combed six of Yemen’s districts and four cities (two situated south and two north.)

The Yemeni government carried out the field assessment in the lines of topographic impartiality, said Maitami.

Warring blocs in Yemen must be prepared to fast-track through finding a solution for restoring peace and launching nationwide reconstruction projects, commented Maitami. He says that any political gaps must be filled, rebuilding put into effect as soon as possible as to prevent a relapse.

The needs of the people of Yemen must be attended immediately, said Maitami.

The Yemeni official commented on the recently proposed roadmap for solution, put forward by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that any issuing of a roadmap must be settled by national negotiating committees. Maitami added that the roadmap must also agree with Gulf initiatives and the outcome of national dialogue.

Yemen’s legitimate government, institutions, civil organizations, private sector members, cooperation council members, supply funds and members of national economic cooperation must all be ready to kickoff reconstruction instantly after the peace agreement is signed, said Maitami.

Yemen’s Mohammed Maitami: Early Cost of Damage Touches $15 Billion

Deputy Crown Prince in China to Present “Saudi Vision 2030”

Beijing – London – Deputy Crown Prince, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman, arrived to Beijing, Monday, on the second stop of his official tour to Pakistan, China and Japan.

He was received at the airport in Beijing by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Shu, the Chinese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a number of officials of the Chinese government, and members of the Saudi Embassy in Beijing.

The official visit comes upon the directive of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and in response to the invitation of the Chinese government, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Prince Mohammed arrived in the Chinese capital from Islamabad, where he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and several high-ranking officials.

In a cable sent to Sharif, the deputy crown prince expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s hospitality, adding that the visit has offered an opportunity to discuss issues of common interest in order to serve the Islamic nation.

Prince Mohammed also said that the visit underlined the depth of the strategic relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and solidarity between the two brotherly peoples.

Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdullah bin Marzouk Al-Zahrani, described the Saudi-Pakistani relations as strategic.

In comments to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, the Saudi ambassador said that the deputy crown prince’s visit to Pakistan has achieved great results that would further promote the existing strong cooperation between the two countries.

Prince Mohammed’s official delegation to China includes Minister of Finance Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed Al-Qasabi, State Minister Mohammed Al Sheikh, Minister of Culture and Information Adel Altoraifi, Minister of Environment Abdulrahman All-Fadhli, Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, Minister of Energy Khaled Al-Faleh, Minister of Housing Majed Al-Huqail, and Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammed Al-Suayyil, Chief of General Intelligence Khalid Al-Humaidan, as well as other officials.

For his part, Saudi Ambassador to China Turki Al-Madi said in a statement that Prince Mohammed’s visit to China “promotes the march of relations between the Kingdom and China and pushes them toward wider levels to serve the interests of the two friendly countries.”

He added that the visit is an opportunity to display Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 that is met with great interest by Chinese officials.

Deputy Crown Prince in China to Present “Saudi Vision 2030”

Monday, 29 August 2016

China Prepares to Host G20 Summit

China hopes to highlight its central position in shaping global governance rules and reinforce itself as a global power at the upcoming G20 Summit.

The G20 Summit will be held on September 4th and 5th in Hangzhou, China, and President Xi Jinping will chair it. The Summit will host the leaders of the G20 member states, guest countries and leaders of international organizations. It will be the first time China hosts the meeting in the eight-year history of the event. The theme of the Summit will be “Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”.

China is planning to present a vast strategy for global growth amid the lowest rate of global growth in about thirty-years and poor economic recovery. The country would like leaders of the G20 member states to resist protectionism and pursue economic growth through innovation. In doing so, China hopes to strengthen itself as a global power.

However, diplomats have said China suspects the West will overshadow its leadership on the international stage by disputes over territory and protectionism. Preventing Western G20 leaders from doing this will be an important indicator of how successful China will judge the Summit to be.

“From where China sits, it looks like the Americans are trying to encircle them,” a senior Western envoy said when recounting conversations with Chinese officials ahead of the event.

China has recently been facing legal disputes after an international court ruled its claims to the resource-rich South China Sea violated international law. The country continues to reclaim land and construct military facilities such as air strips on islands and reefs in the international waterway and President Xi will be under pressure at the Summit to avert challenges against his government’s actions on this issue.

“Let’s make cooperation ever higher,” the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily wrote in a commentary last week, making it clear that Beijing does not want disputes to overshadow the Summit which will be attended by leaders whom they have had clashes in foreign policy with such as U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Earlier in August, the Chinese state-run Study Times wrote that Western nations were purposely denying a rising China a strong voice on the international stage with schemes such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multinational trade agreement that wants to to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws.

“Trying to get back their right to global governance, they are forging a new ‘sacred alliance’, striving to establish new rules,” the paper wrote in a G20 commentary.


China has been angered by the UK and Australia confronting them over strategic Chinese investments in their countries. China responded by accusing them of protectionism and paranoia.

Britain has delayed Hinkley Point, a Chinese-funded $24 billion nuclear project while Australia has blocked the $7.7 billion sale of the country’s largest energy grid to Chinese buyers.

Western leaders are also worried about access to their companies in China.

The President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Joerg Wuttke said European officials are becoming increasingly confident in voicing their dissatisfaction with China’s overcapacity issues and a lack of reciprocal market access for European companies.

“It has reached the point where people are not afraid to speak up any more. They feel like they have to be tougher in front of their own constituencies,” Wuttke told Reuters.

A European official involved in trade issues with China also voiced frustration over China’s position on protectionism.

“The Chinese would shut you down at once if you said you wanted to buy one of their grids. You wouldn’t get to the end of the sentence,” the official added.

This may lead to clashes or pose a hindrance to China’s success at the Summit.

Despite China being angered by many countries, a diplomat said that China still wants the Summit to go smoothly.

“It’s very important from the stance of national pride,” said the diplomat, pointing out it was not uncommon for G20s to be overshadows by arguments over non-economic related issues.

“It’s a minefield for China.”


Ties between China and Japan have long been overshadowed by territorial clashes over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Despite the long-held divisions, China’s top diplomat last week urged Japan to play a

“constructive” role at G20 amid fears that Japan is steering towards becoming involved in the South China Sea dispute at the insistence of its ally the U.S.A.

Wang Youming, the head of the developing countries program at the Foreign Ministry-backed China Institute of International Studies, wrote in the Chinese Global Times that the closer G20 member states forged their alliances, the more likely Japan would get involved in China’s claims to the sea.

“Japan is getting entangled in the South and East China Sea issues, cozying up to the Philippines, and urging China to respect the result of the so-called ‘arbitration’ case,” Wang wrote.

“Japan is up to its old tricks, and it’s hard not to think they are trying to mess things up.”


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon praised the Chinese government for its focus on promoting sustainable development at the upcoming Summit. “I commend China for steering the G20 summit this year in such a successful way leading the G20 towards an action agenda that will come in full support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Ki-Moon.

The 17-point sustainable development agenda was finalized last year by leaders who attended the Summit to celebrate the United Nation’s 70th anniversary.

China Prepares to Host G20 Summit

OIC Secretary General Calls Gabonese Blocs to Show Restraint Following Elections

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed agreement to the manner in which Presidential elections were held in the Republic of Gabon on 27 August 2016, which recorded a high turnout of voters.

The OIC -formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference- is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents.

The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.

OIC Secretary General Iyad bin Ameen Madani lauded all Gabonese voters for their dedication and commitment to democracy and to the rule of law during the electoral process.

Moreover, he urged all political stakeholders to refrain from any violence and only resort to the legal channels in order to address any political difference to avoid risking the peace and stability Gabon has been enjoying over several decades.

Madani also indicated that the different presidential candidates have to accept the outcome of the vote expressed by the will of the people of Gabon who demonstrated their political maturity throughout the campaign and on the day of the elections.

The OIC had dispatched a team of electoral observers to Libreville to monitor this year’s presidential election as it did seven years ago in 2009 to encourage Gabon to continue on its path in democracy.

OIC Secretary General Calls Gabonese Blocs to Show Restraint Following Elections

Apple Faces Lawsuit over 'Touch Disease'

Owners of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones who say a design defect causes the phones’ touchscreens to become unresponsive, making them unusable, have pushed for legal action against the technology giant Apple Inc.

Complainants linked the problem to Apple’s decision not to use a metal “shield” or “underfill” to protect the relevant parts, as it did on versions of the iPhone 5.

According to a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit filed on Saturday, Apple has long been aware of the defect.

The touchscreen often holds up after a flickering gray bar appears atop the touchscreens, Apple has refused to fix it.

“The iPhones are not fit for the purpose of use as smartphones because of the touchscreen defect,” according to the complaint filed in federal court in San Jose, California.

Todd Cleary of California, Jun Bai of Delaware and Thomas Davidson of Pennsylvania are the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which accuses Apple of fraud and violating California consumer protection laws. They seek unspecified damages.

Apple did not immediately respond on Monday to a request for comment.

Problems with iPhone 6 touchscreens were described online last week by iFixit, which labeled the issue “Touch Disease.”

That company sells repair parts and has previously analyzed other Apple products.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, sold 166.4 million iPhones, generating $108.5 billion of net sales, in the first nine months of its current fiscal year.

Apple Faces Lawsuit over 'Touch Disease'

Foreign Investors Show Interest in Saudi Shares Market after Ease of Restrictions

Riyadh- Some foreign investors have expressed interest in investing in the Saudi shares market after relaxing the restrictions and setting new rules for the market that will become effective soon. The rise of foreign investors’ requests is estimated as 100% in August 2016 compared with same month in 2015.

It is well-known that researches and financial consultations companies that are licensed from the Saudi Capital Market Authority issue reports and researches on local shares market on regular basis. An official from one of these companies told Asharq Al-Awsat that most foreign investment files applied come from East Asian countries, Europe and the U.S., noting that relaxing the restrictions was a major motivation for investors.

In current time, the Saudi shares market has become an investment destination that attracts foreign capitals after introducing the new rules of the market and relaxing the restrictions imposed on foreign financial institutions interested in investing in the local shares market.

Starting September 4, foreign financial institutions will be infront of a promising chance to invest in the Saudi shares market since the new restrictions and conditions will be activated on the 4th. Restrictions included declining minimum required assets value managed by the applicant company to reach SAR3.75 billion (USD1 billion) instead of SAR18.75 billion (USD5 billion) or even more as it was the case before updating the rules.

In the same context, Tadawul announced that foreign purchasing via direct foreign investment reached SAR6.3 million (USD1.68 million) in last week’s session 21-25 August.

The regulations consist of 24 items on procedures, requirements, obligations and conditions for qualified foreign investors to register in the Saudi Capital Market.

More categories are now included in the qualified foreign financial institutions such as public authorities and state affiliated institutions. Also, the foreign investor is now permitted to deal with a head of a Saudi or non-Saudi portfolio to manage his investments in the Saudi capital market.

Foreign Investors Show Interest in Saudi Shares Market after Ease of Restrictions

Turkey Says Syrian Kurdish YPG Carrying out Ethnic Cleansing

Turkey on Monday said it would continue targeting a Syrian Kurdish militia in Syria if it failed to fulfil promises to retreat east of the Euphrates River, accusing the group of ethnic cleansing. But the warning came amid a call by a top U.S. official to focus on the fight against ISIS.

“The YPG (People’s Protection Units) first of all… needs to cross east of the Euphrates as soon as possible. So long as they don’t, they will be a target,” said Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“In the places where it has moved, the YPG forces everyone out — including Kurds — who do not think like it does and carries out ethnic cleansing,” he added.

Ankara had said it had killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” on Sunday as it pressed on with a two-pronged operation inside Syria against ISIS jihadists and the YPG.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 40 civilians were killed in Turkish shelling and airstrikes, claims that were strongly rejected by Ankara.

“Allegations that… civilians were shot at or targeted do not reflect the truth,” the office of the prime minister said, adding the army was taking “all necessary measures to prevent any harm to the civilian population.”

The action against the YPG is hugely sensitive as the Kurdish group — seen as a terror group by Ankara — is an ally of Turkey’s NATO ally, the United States, in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

The U.S. Monday criticized clashes between Turkish forces and some opposition groups in northern Syria as “unacceptable” and called on all armed actors in the fighting to stand down and focus on the fight against ISIS.

“We want to make clear that we find these clashes – in areas where ISIS is not located – unacceptable and a source of deep concern,” Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to counter ISIS, said on his official Twitter account, citing a defense department statement.

“We call on all armed actors to stand down… the U.S. is actively engaged to facilitate such deconfliction and unity of focus on ISIS, which remains a lethal and common threat.”

The chief spokesman for the YPG also said that Turkey’s claims that is it fighting YPG forces west of the Euphrates river were untrue and a pretext for seizing Syrian territory.

“There are absolutely no YPG military reinforcements being sent towards Manbij. Turkey’s claims that it is fighting the YPG west of the Euphrates have no basis in truth and are merely flimsy pretexts to widen its occupation of Syrian land,” Redur Xelil told Reuters.

But Cavusoglu said the ethnic composition of the area around the city of Manbij west of the Euphrates — captured by the YPG from ISIS earlier this month — was largely Arab.

“Residents who had to leave the region (before fighting broke out) must be the ones who live there. But that is not the goal of the YPG,” he said at a news conference alongside his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders.

Cavusoglu also hailed the success of the lightning operation by Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters, who on Wednesday captured the town of Jarablus from ISIS.

“The objective of this operation (Jarablus) … is to clear this region of the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist organization.”

“As you see, even with a small force, ISIS … is leaving and running away from the regions under their control,” he added.

Turkey Says Syrian Kurdish YPG Carrying out Ethnic Cleansing

Some Good News for Investors: The Bull May Still Have Spring in its Step

The bull market in stocks has been supported by two fundamental pillars: high corporate earnings and low interest rates. Both of these mainstays appeared wobbly early this year. Fortunately for investors, there is now some good news for both of them.

Interest rates, which were expected to rise, have actually fallen since the beginning of the year. A series of statements by Federal Reserve officials — including a speech on Friday by Janet L. Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, in Jackson Hole, Wyo. — now confirms that even if there are some short-term rate increases, the central bank expects relatively low rates to prevail for years.

Corporate earnings and cash flow, which had flagged, are stabilizing and perhaps rising, according to a stream of corporate reports released during the quarterly earnings season, which is nearing its end.

Taken together, this information is hardly a guarantee that stocks will continue to rise or that current market levels will seem sensible years from now. But for investors, the interest rate and earnings environment has become friendly again, and without these buttresses, the outlook for stocks would be much gloomier.

Consider corporate earnings. They had been weakening steadily since the third quarter of 2014, as American companies ran into headwinds overseas and revenue softened. The strong dollar was an impediment, the global economy was sluggish, and plummeting energy and commodities prices sank the fortunes of companies in those industries. These trends unnerved the stock market.

But fresh data streaming in from corporate earnings reports has been good enough for Edward Yardeni, a veteran economist and market strategist, to declare emphatically in a note to clients on Monday that “the earnings recession is over.”

As he acknowledged, it’s not entirely a rosy picture, and the numbers are complicated enough to make your head swim. On a year-to-year basis, for example, earnings in the second quarter are expected to have declined more than 2.2 percent for companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, according to a tally by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That’s hardly cause for rejoicing.

Exclude energy companies, however, and year-to-year earnings improved to a positive 2.3 percent growth rate. Moreover, Mr. Yardeni noted that compared with the level of the previous quarter, overall earnings for companies in the S.&P. 500 increased in the second quarter. And while the consensus of Wall Street analysts is that the current quarter’s earnings will post another year-over-year decline, Mr. Yardeni expects that earnings will at least be no worse than they were in the previous quarter and will perhaps grow modestly.

“The point is that earnings are much better than you might have expected, given the dollar, given what happened to energy and commodity prices, and given the slow growth of the global economy,” he said.

What’s more, the cash generated by corporate America has allowed companies not only to pay reasonably handsome dividends but also to buy back large quantities of their own shares. These buybacks have strengthened the market: By reducing the number of shares, they have been making earnings per share look much better, and that should continue.

Earnings, and cash from earnings, are the essential core of what you are buying as an investor. But what share price is reasonable for those earnings? At least in part, the answer is “It depends on interest rates.” When interest rates are lower, earnings are worth more and share prices tend to rise, said Aswath Damodaran, a finance professor at New York University, who has explained this truth in elaborate formulas, many of which he posts on his website.

But the simplest way of looking at it, he says, and the most important for an investor, is to consider how interest rates affect the value of a stock and a bond. “Low rates have had a big effect on the stock market,” he said. “Stock is much, much cheaper than bonds at today’s interest rates.”

This comparison may seem odd, if you’re not accustomed to thinking this way. It works like this: For the S.&P. 500, the price-to-earnings ratio is about 20, which means that for every $100 worth of stock, you receive $5 in earnings. By comparison, a 10-year Treasury note, with a yield of 1.6 percent, pays out only $1.60 for a $100 investment. The bond has a price-to-earnings ratio of more than 60, meaning that it’s more than three times as expensive as stock. If interest rates rose to, say, 10 percent, their rough level in 1979, he said, the price-to-earnings ratio of bonds would drop to 10: Current stock prices would look unreasonably high in that environment, he said.

“In the world we live in right now,” he said, “low interest rates make stocks look very good, at least in comparison to bonds.”

That’s why the latest signals from the bond market, and the latest statements from the Federal Reserve, are so important for stock investors. They indicate that while rates are likely to rise moderately in the United States in the next year, they probably won’t rise very much, and low rates will be with us for some time. Inflation is very low, growth is meager, and the economy is vulnerable to shocks.

In her speech on Friday in Jackson Hole, Ms. Yellen acknowledged as much. If the economy continues to improve, she said, the Fed will raise its benchmark federal funds rate, as it has stated for many months. That rate is now between 0.25 and 0.5 percent. But she also emphasized that the central bank wasn’t likely to raise rates very much.

Forecasts show that the federal funds rate will settle “at about 3 percent in the longer run,” she said. “In contrast, the federal funds rate averaged more than 7 percent between 1965 and 2000.” When the next recession comes, she indicated, the Fed may consider experimental methods of influencing interest rates. John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, set the stage for Ms. Yellen’s speech with a note, posted this month on the San Francisco Fed website, indicating that interest rates had fallen to a very low “natural level” that is likely to be sustained for an extended period.

This raises complex problems for central bankers. For stock investors, though, it provides straightforward confirmation of a central assumption of the bull market: While there may be some short-term increases, low interest rates are likely to be here for some time to come.

That’s not entirely positive. If economic growth were stronger, inflation would probably be higher and interest rates would rise. Without strong growth, churning out robust corporate earnings will be a challenge. For now, though, the twin pillars of the stock market remain intact. That could keep the bull market in stocks, now in its eighth year, cavorting for a while longer.

Some Good News for Investors: The Bull May Still Have Spring in its Step

Baghdad Disregards Plots to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador

Riyadh, Baghdad-Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Iraq Thamer al-Sabhan said the Kingdom would always support Iraq’s Arabism, in response to Iraqi government’s call to replace Sabhan as he accused Iranian-backed militias of trying to assassinate him.

During a phone interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, the Saudi ambassador said his country was keen on Iraq’s unity, adding that he was shocked by the Iraqi government’s reaction, despite Iran’s blatant interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Sabhan also noted that his latest statements on Iran have “disturbed” some Iraqi factions, but added that the Iraqi people have always been keen on maintaining friendly relations with Riyadh and Baghdad.

On Sunday, Iraq called on Saudi Arabia to replace its ambassador to Baghdad over comments he made about Iran’s involvement in Iraq.

Well-informed sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the Iraqi decision to replace Sabhan was taken unilaterally, as neither Iraqi ministers nor Parliament deputies had a say in this matter.

The Saudi ambassador stressed that the Kingdom would deploy further efforts to achieve the interests of the Iraqi people. He told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that, as ambassador, he should represent his country’s political stance.

Riyadh only reopened its embassy in Baghdad in December after it was closed since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Sabhan was the first Saudi ambassador appointed since the reopening, which was seen as heralding closer cooperation in the fight against ISIS militants who control swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and have claimed bombings in Saudi Arabia.

The Iraqi foreign affairs ministry asked its Saudi counterpart to replace Sabhan as he has breached “the limits of diplomatic representation.”

In a statement, the Iraqi ministry criticized the Saudi ambassador for claiming that Iranian-backed militias were planning to assassinate him.

In comments to Asharq al-Awsat, the Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman, Ahmed Jamal, expressed his country’s keenness on establishing the “best relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He added that the request to replace Sabhan should not negatively affect relations with Saudi Arabia.

Baghdad Disregards Plots to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Culture in Saudi Arabia between Centralization and Decentralization

Arab communities, just like other counterparts have witnessed confusion in their view and relation with the cultural movement concerning the determination of the term’s definition, and its management between centralization and decentralization. Culture resembles beauty felt by people in their lives and which they are unable to express even if they seek to explain it in dictionaries.

In the context of history, heritage, and arts, the media in Saudi Arabia tackles the perspectives of civilization and culture, but it succeeded in neither defining the cultural depth nor highlighting this aspect in the government’s policies and strategies. The Saudi society heavily discusses culture and its people, but it can’t define them, which may be reflecting a sort of confusion in reaching a required definition of culture.

Over the history, the Saudi cultural issue passed through many stages of administrative organization including the establishment of a General Secretariat for the Supreme Council of Arts, Sciences, and Literature by the Ministry of Education in 1973; then the Youth Care has worked on launching cultural platforms along with sports clubs, establishing a number of cultural clubs, holding a number of conferences for writers, launching a number of prizes for people who excelled in efforts to promote the social culture. All these efforts have been crowned by adopting Al Janadriyah – “National Festival for heritage and culture”, then Souk Okaz near Al Taif city.

During the eighties, the Ministry of Economy and Planning also tried to enhance the level of culture in the public sector and institutions of civil society, by merging them in one entity, which led to the consolidation of culture affairs and information affairs in one ministry.

However, this procedure that was heavily lauded back then didn’t succeed in fulfilling its goals; instead, it paralyzed and obstructed the growth of the culture sector in the ministry.

This year, the government announced the establishment of the General Authority of Culture; the cultural society has greeted this step and hoped it will achieve flexibility, administrative and financial independence, freedom of creativity in cultural activities, development of movement in intellect and arts, advancement in activity of composure, translation, and publication, and the building of knowledge and humanitarian communication with other cultures.

The cultural society in the Kingdom expects the new commission to be a supervisory and organizational authority that promotes cultural affairs far from the intervention of the censure entities; it also expects the establishment of a Supreme Council of Culture supposed to be responsible for setting a cultural policy (national strategy) that benefits from experiences, and exterior and internal expertise.

Some people look at the authority from a different perspective, which is the possibility of losing the decentralization on culture. Therefore, the new authority should coordinate with all the other parties, which can provide positive contributions, because culture is a national affair that be coordinated by all the government sectors.

Culture in Saudi Arabia between Centralization and Decentralization

Deputy Crown Prince Visits to Lead Saudi Delegation at G20 in China

Saudi Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz left for a tour across Asia on Sunday, the Kingdom’s Royal court announced. Prince Mohammed is expected to visit each of Pakistan, China, and Japan.

The prince will lead Saudi Arabia’s official delegation to the G20 11th economic summit, which will be held in China this September.

The event embodies an international forum bringing together governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies and aims at studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

In its statement the Royal Court says that Prince Mohammed’s visit came in response to invitations received from the governments of each of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the government of the Peoples Republic of China and the government of Japan.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz had permitted the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Second Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense’s Asian tour.

Prince Mohammed left Jeddah this Sunday 25/11/1437 H. corresponding to 28 August 2016 on an official tour that will take him to each of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Peoples Republic of China and Japan.

Deputy Crown Prince Visits to Lead Saudi Delegation at G20 in China

Saudi, Qatar's Stock Markets Rebound while Rest of the Region Weakens

Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s stock markets made a partial recovery from last week’s losses on Sunday. Other Gulf markets dropped in quiet trade and Egypt sank as the government was hit by a corruption scandal in its wheat industry.

Saudi Arabia’s index, which had dropped 4.0 percent last week because of concern about the country’s economic slowdown, rose 1.6 percent as many stocks reliant on domestic demand rebounded.

Utility Saudi Electricity added 5.3 percent and Al Jazira Bank rose 3.1 percent. The biggest petrochemical company, Saudi Basic Industries, dropped 0.3 percent as it went ex-dividend.

Qatar’s index rose 0.6 percent in modest turnover as top lender Qatar National Bank rebounded 1.5 percent.

Drilling rig provider Gulf International Services added 0.8 percent after the Qatar exchange said index compiler FTSE had added GIS to the list of companies eligible for its secondary emerging markets index.

FTSE’s original list of 20 companies did not include GIS, sending the stock 1.4 percent lower on Thursday. FTSE will publish a confirmed list of stocks to be included in its index after the market closes on Wednesday.

Dubai edged 0.1 percent lower although courier firm Aramex climbed 3.9 percent in unusually heavy trade. Abu Dhabi slipped 0.4 percent in a broad-based decline, with eight of the 10 most heavily traded stocks falling.

In Egypt, the index fell 1.0 percent to a three-week low after the Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafi resigned amid the highest-profile corruption case since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014.

A parliamentary fact-finding commission’s report into corruption in Egypt’s wheat industry found the government played a key role in “wasting public funds” in its costly food subsidy program.

The controversy could destabilize the cabinet or distract its attention from economic reforms needed to secure a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. It could also complicate an international bond issue which the country plans in late September or early October.

Saudi, Qatar's Stock Markets Rebound while Rest of the Region Weakens

Iraq's Youth Orchestra - a Musical Dream that Shattered

Young Iraqis gathering from all around the country for about six years challenging the war to play in an orchestra, but the emergence if ISIS ruined their dreams.

The Iraqi National Youth Orchestra’s story is told in a memoir by Paul MacAlindin, the band’s conductor from its founding in 2009 until it was forced to stop playing in 2014, an end that left him “devastated and empty and very, very broken.”

In 2008, little did MacAlindin, a Scottish musician, know about Iraq and the severe struggle there, when he saw an appeal in the local newspaper from a 17-year-old Iraqi pianist, Zuhal Sultan, for a maestro to put the orchestra together.

“I knew pretty much what everyone else in the general public knew, which was that Iraq was a war zone,” said MacAlindin, who took the job that, was funded by, among others, the British and German governments.

The musicians were sought on Facebook and auditioned via YouTube since it was not safe for MacAlindin to go to Iraq and meet them.

“There was no teaching to speak of,” said MacAlindin, they learned everything they know by online videos.

The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq eventually met in 2009 for a summer school, the first of many rehearsals and concerts for which MacAlindin would fly in to conduct.

His proudest memory is their first concert, following two weeks of “orchestral bootcamp” with a team of translators to help the Kurdish and Arabic speakers communicate with their maestro and each other.

Resilience and Despair

Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture, Haydn’s Symphony No. 99, and – to represent the ethnic mix of the orchestra – Kurdish and Arabic Iraqi pieces made up the repertoire that night and the orchestra went on to play in Britain, France and Germany.

As well as nurturing musical talent, the orchestra brought together people aged between 18 and 25 from all over Iraq.

“We had no interest in the politics or religion or all the other things that divide young people against each other in Iraq.

But since the orchestra’s collapse in 2014, the year ISIS declared a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria, MacAlindin is pessimistic about its future.

“The whole country is in such a state of trauma that the possibility of anybody fulfilling their personal potential and contributing culturally to a nation – it’s just not happening,” he said.

Iraq's Youth Orchestra - a Musical Dream that Shattered