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By Abdel Bari Atwan

Saudi Arabia: Dangerous Ambitions for Regional Military Dominance

Earlier this week, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to London, published an OpEd in the New York Times which contained an unprecedented attack on Western countries and their policies toward Syria and Iran.

The Prince said that the West’s failure to move on Syria and its rapprochement with Iran represented a real threat to his country’s safety and regional stability.

He added that Saudi Arabia ‘ruled nothing out’, including militarily,  and was prepared to act alone. He pointed out that by refusing its chance for a temporary seat on the Security Council, Saudi Arabia had already made this absolutely clear.

This surprising, yet clearly well-considered outburst is of great significance and may well herald important changes in the region.

Since presenting his credentials in London, where he replaced Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence Chief, almost nine years ago, Prince Mohammad has not once written an article in the newspapers, and very rarely spoke to British or foreign press representatives. This marks a sea change in Saudi diplomacy, from its past, passive, stance, to being on the offensive.

Saudi Arabia has been actively meddling in the Syrian file too with organisational, financial and military support for the Islamic Salvation Front. Having refused its Security Council seat to demonstrate its displeasure with Washington, Riyadh is turning to Russia instead for both arms deals and security coordination.

Prince Mohammad’s comment that Riyadh is prepared to move alone to guarantee security in the region is again a massive break with the past. Since its foundation in 1932, the Kingdom has always depended on the West for its security and the security of the region. Declaring that Saudi Arabia is now ready and able to carry this huge burden alone raises many questions.

***

The Saudi leadership’s feelings of betrayal are entirely understandable. First, the Americans failed to keep their word on Syria where President Obama’s chemical weapons ‘red line’ was overstepped by the Assad regime when it used Sarin gas on its own people in the suburbs of Damascus. Instead of punishing the regime, in the Saudis’ eyes, Obama moved to make peace with it, bringing it back into the international community’s fold by allowing it to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Then, the Americans began a totally unexpected rapprochement with Iran, the Saudis’ arch-enemy. The Saudis had been expecting the US to put an end to the nuclear threat represented by Iran by military means. Instead, Washington now appears to accept Tehran as a nuclear power.

Iran’s expanding power, and its proxy and actual involvements in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, destabilize the region and threaten Saudi Arabia’s own internal security since Tehran actively incites rebellion by the Kingdom’s Shi’a minority too.

The Saudi leadership is considering two options, judging by political and diplomatic moves in the last few days:

Riyadh may enter into a marriage of convenience with Israel, which shares its enmity towards Iran. Although this would break many historical, cultural and religious taboos, Riyadh has form in this. After all, it was the Saudis who summoned half a million US troops onto its territory in 1990 to drive Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Just as the Muftis issued fatwas on that dangerous precedent, the royal family will not have to work hard to find willing clerics to justify even this most serious breach with the past.

Prince Turki Al-Faisal met, and publicly shook hands with, Israeli officials at the World Policy Conference in Monaco last week. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister has overseen several intensive meetings with Gulf security officials. At the beginning of the month, Israel President Shimon Peres delivered a speech via satellite television link to 29 Arab and Moslem Foreign Ministers at the opening ceremony of the Gulf Arab Security Conference in Abu Dhabi . Reports indicate that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal was present and Peres received a standing ovation from the audience.

A second option sees the configuration of the brand new Gulf Co-operation Council’s (GCC) unified military command along the lines of Nato.  This development has the full support of the West and was championed by Chuck Hagel, US Defence Secretary in a speech he gave at the Manama Dialogue two weeks ago. He promised that the US would willingly arm a joint command and commended the agreement when it was formally endorsed at the GCC Summit in Kuwait last week. Two days later, the Obama administration announced that restrictions on selling ballastic missile systems  and hardware for defence, maritime security and counter-terrorism should be lifted for the GCC.

Defence spokeswoman, Bernadette Meehan, said the move, ‘Reflects our strong commitment to the GCC, and our desire to work with our Gulf partners to promote long-term regional security and stability’. She also compared the GCC with Nato in terms of its hoped-for military capabilities.

We believe that the Saudi leadership would prefer the second option, but that it will not drop the first. Indeed the two could be combined since the total number of troops in the combined GCC armies number just 250,000, whereas Iran has 545 000 troops, the eighth biggest army in the world. Israel has around 200,000 troops and the addition of a third party could provide numerical parity with equal armaments.

***

America has taken a strategic decision not to engage in any war in the Middle East, and now prefers to back-seat drive regional conflict.

The question is whether other Gulf States will accept the Saudi vision of a Nato-style Gulf?

It will be uphill work for the Saudis since they are already at loggerheads with Oman – over political and economic union – and Qatar – over Egypt and Syria.

 

 


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ordan’s ‘Honor’ Killings Persist Despite Reform Efforts


Every year, 20 Jordanian women are killed because of “family honor.” In 2011, societal pressure forced Jordan’s parliament to backtrack on amending Article 76 of the temporary penal code whereby “the use of mitigating reasons for assault crimes” would have been abolished. This article protects the perpetrators of honor crimes who often benefit from mitigating reasons and avoid receiving a deterring punishment.

A 2011 study titled “Cultural and Legal Discrimination Against Jordanian Girls” polled the country’s main population centers (the capital Amman, Zarqa, Irbid, Mafraq, Aqaba and Karak) and found that 80.9% of parents believe that protecting the female equates to protecting the family’s honor. Among those polled, 55% believed that a woman should be accompanied by her brother when she is outside the house; 66% are opposed to women having the same rights as a men of the same age with regard to being unaccompanied outside the house; 49% are opposed to a female child playing outside the house; and 29% say that all women should get married regardless of their education. According to the study, 29% of those polled said their convictions emanate from traditions, 25.1% said their convictions emanate from personal attitudes, 16% attributed their convictions to societal factors and 15.5% to religion.

 

Kingdom fourth best Arab country for women — survey

 

LONDON — Jordan is the fourth best country in the Arab world to be a woman, a poll of gender experts showed on Tuesday.

The Kingdom scored 58.218 points, ahead of Qatar, Tunisia and Algeria.

Comoros, where women hold 20 per cent of ministerial positions and where wives generally keep land or the home after divorce, came on top, followed by Oman and Kuwait.

The poll by Thomson Reuters’ philanthropic arm surveyed 336 gender experts in August and September in 21 Arab League states and Syria, which was a founding member of the Arab League but was suspended in 2011.

Questions were based on provisions of the UN Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which 19 Arab states have signed or ratified.

The poll assessed violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.

Experts were asked to respond to statements and rate the importance of factors affecting women’s rights across the six categories. Their responses were converted into scores, which were averaged to create a ranking.

Egypt is the worst country in the Arab world to be a woman, according to the poll, citing sexual harassment, high rates of female genital mutilation and a surge in violence.

Discriminatory laws and a spike in trafficking also contributed to Egypt’s place at the bottom of a ranking of 22 Arab states, the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey found.

Despite hopes that women would be one of the prime beneficiaries of the Arab Spring, they have instead been some of the biggest losers, as the revolts have brought conflict, instability, displacement and a rise in Islamist groups in many parts of the region, experts said.

“We removed the Mubarak from our presidential palace, but we still have to remove the Mubarak who lives in our minds and in our bedrooms,” Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy said, referring to Egypt’s toppled dictator, Hosni Mubarak.

“As the miserable poll results show, we women need a double revolution, one against the various dictators who’ve ruined our countries and the other against a toxic mix of culture and religion that ruin our lives as women.”

The foundation’s third annual women’s rights poll gives a comprehensive snapshot of the state of women’s rights in the Arab world three years after the events of 2011 and as Syria’s conflict threatens further regional upheaval.

Iraq ranked second-worst after Egypt, followed by Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.

Sexual harassment

Egypt scored badly in almost all categories.

A UN report on women in April said 99.3 per cent of women and girls are subjected to sexual harassment in Egypt.

Human Rights Watch reported that 91 women were raped or sexually assaulted in public in Tahrir Square in June as anti-Mohamed Morsi protests heated up.

“There are whole villages on the outskirts of Cairo and elsewhere where the bulk of economic activity is based on trafficking in women and forced marriages,” said Zahra Radwan, Middle East and North Africa programme officer for the Global Fund for Women, a US-based rights group.

Female genital mutilation is endemic in Egypt, where 91 per cent of women and girls — 27.2 million in all — are subjected to cutting, according to UNICEF. Only Djibouti has a higher rate, with 93 per cent of women and girls cut.

In Iraq, women’s freedoms have regressed since the US-led 2003 invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the poll showed.

Domestic abuse and prostitution have increased, illiteracy has soared and up to 10 per cent of women — or 1.6 million — have been left widowed and vulnerable, according to Refugees International.

In Saudi Arabia, ranked third worst, experts noted some advances. S. Arabia remains the only country that bans female drivers but cautious reforms pushed by King Abdullah have given women more employment opportunities and a greater public voice.

Since January, 30 women have been appointed in the 150-member shura council, but the council has no legislative or budgetary powers.

Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system forbids women from working, travelling abroad, opening a bank account or enrolling in higher education without permission from a male relative.

Syria’s civil war has had a devastating impact on women at home and in refugee camps across borders, where they are vulnerable to trafficking, forced and child marriage and sexual violence, experts said.

Rights groups say forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have targeted women with rape and torture, while hardline Islamists have stripped them of rights in rebel-held territory.

The poll highlighted a mixed picture for women’s rights in other Arab Spring countries.

In Yemen, ranked fifth worst, women protested side-by-side with men during the 2011 revolution and there is a 30 per cent quota for women in a national dialogue conference convened to discuss constitutional reforms.

But they face an uphill struggle for rights in a largely conservative country where child marriage is common.

In Libya, ranked 14th for women’s rights, experts voiced concern over the spread of armed militias and a rise in kidnapping, extortion, random arrests and physical abuse of women.

In Tunisia, ranked best among Arab Spring nations, women hold 27 per cent of seats in national parliament and contraception is legal, but polygamy is spreading and inheritance laws are biased towards males.

Along with Syria, all Arab League member states except Somalia and Sudan have signed or ratified CEDAW.

In the absence of full statehood recognition for the Palestinian territories, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas symbolically endorsed the convention on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

But protection offered by CEDAW is superficial, experts said. Signatories may raise reservations against any article that contradicts Sharia (Islamic law), a country’s family code, personal status laws or any piece of national legislation.






 

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وظائف شاغرة من وزارة العمل الأردنية ... خدمة مجانية تقدمها صحيفة عمان الأردنية   

 

 

توفر فرص عمل في دولة قطر

توفر فرص عمل في قطر    عمان في 17/4/2014 تدعو وزارة العمل الباحثين عن عمل من الأردنيين الراغبين بالعمل في دولة قطر في المهن التعليمية للمراحل الدراسية الثلاث في المجالات التالية: ( اللغة العربية، اللغة الانجليزية، الرياضيات، العلوم، الفيزياء، الكيمياء، الاحياء، الحاسب الآلي، التعليم المبكر، الدعم التعليمي الاضافي، اخصائي لغة ونطق، فني تقنية معلومات). يشترط في المتقدم لهذه الوظائف : 1-    ان يكون حاصلا على درجة البكالوريوس فس التخصصات المطلوبة. 2-    خبرة لا تقل عن خمس سنوات . 3-    ان لايزيد العمر عن خمسين عاما. 4-    اجادة اللغة الانجليزية ويستثنى معلمو اللغة العربية. 5-    اجادة استخدام لحاسوب ويفضل الحاصلون على شهادة ( ICDL ).     تكون الاولوية للحاصلين على تقدير جيد جدا. ترسل الطلبات على الرابط الالكتروني للتوظيف في المجلس الاعلى للتعليم في دولة قطر خلال اسبوع من تاريخه. الرابط الالكتروني: http://tawtheef.sec.gov.qa

   وزراة العمل تعلن توفر فرص عمل في السعودية

  عمان الأردنية - عمان 16 نيسان (بترا)- اعلنت وزارة العمل عن توفر فرص عمل للباحثين عن عمل من الأردنيين الراغبين بالعمل في المملكة العربية السعودية في مهن (مدير عمليات، مدير تقني، مدير جودة، مدير تشييد، مهندس كهرباء، مهندس ميكانيك، مهندس جودة، عمال كهرباء، عمال ميكانيك، مشرف ميكانيك، مشرف كهرباء).

كما يتوفر فرص عمل بمهنة (مدير مشاريع)، التواصل على الايميل(snr1392@hotmail.com)،

و(مدير مشروع) على الايميل (nyousef@juracontracting.com) .

ويتوفر فرص عمل بمهنة ( مهندس كهرباء) والتواصل على الايميل (nz77@live.com) ، اضافة الى فرص عمل بمهنة (مهندس مبيعات) والتواصل على الايميل (osmn.19@gmail.com) ، وفرص عمل بمهنة(مهندس ميكانيك) والتواصل على الايميل(aa.said@fareconstruction.com).

وللمزيد من التفاصيل زيارة موقع النظام الوطني للتشغيل الالكتروني.

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Jordan’s public sector seen more corrupt this year — report

AMMAN — Jordan’s public sector is perceived to be more corrupt than last year, graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) said in a statement on Tuesday, as the Kingdom scored 45 points on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2013, compared with 48 in 2012.

Jordan ranked 66 among the 177 countries surveyed, compared with 58 last year.

Two-thirds of the countries surveyed scored below 50, on a scale from 0, perceived to be highly corrupt, to 100, perceived to be very clean.

The Berlin-based non-profit group said the result indicates the world has a “serious, worldwide corruption problem” that needs to be addressed.

The UAE is perceived to be the cleanest in the MENA region, while Sudan is seen to be the most corrupt.

The CPI saw Jordan’s regional ranking drop to the sixth among Arab countries compared to the fourth last year, after Oman and Saudi Arabia gained on the Kingdom.

According to the graft index, Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are seen as the world’s most corrupt countries while Denmark and New Zealand are nearly squeaky-clean.

The most widely used indicator of corruption in political parties, police, justice systems and civil services worldwide, the CPI is a composite index of surveys and assessments of corruption collected from independent institutions.

The nature of corruption makes it impossible to measure meaningfully, says TI, which leads the group to collect data from institutions like the World Bank, African Development Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit, Bertelsmann Foundation, Freedom House and others.

Among countries that have slipped the most on CPI 2013 are war-torn Syria, Libya and Mali.

In a statement on its website, TI said the world urgently needs a renewed effort to crack down on money laundering, clean up political finance, pursue the return of stolen assets and build more transparent public institutions.

 

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