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Posts tagged as Egypt

Why the EU is embracing Middle East strongmen

For the EU, the timing could hardly have been worse. Egypt's parliament this month backed a proposal to extend President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's increasingly authoritarian rule until as far as 2034, a power grab that has shaken the country.

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May hails Brexit talks ‘progress’ but no breakthrough

BRUSSELS: Prime Minister Theresa May said she had made ‘progress’ in talks with the EU on Wednesday as she sought to extract concessions on the terms of Britain’s divorce, but as expected there was no major breakthrough.
With less than six weeks until Brexit day, May met European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker hoping for movement on the Irish backstop issue after EU leaders insisted they would not restart negotiations.Fears are growing that Britain could yet crash out without a deal, and there was fresh drama just before May headed to Brussels as three of her MPs resigned from her Conservative party in protest over Brexit to join a new independent group of lawmakers.Citing the risk of a hard Brexit, ratings agency Fitch on Wednesday warned it could downgrade Britain, while the pound slipped against the US dollar.A joint statement from May and Juncker called their meeting constructive, striking a slightly more positive tone than when they met a fortnight ago.How Europe reacted to Brexit deal defeatThe two leaders agreed that talks had been constructive, and they urged their respective teams to continue to explore the options in a positive spirit, the statement said,Separately, May said she had stressed the need for legally binding changes to the backstop though the EU has ruled this out.Weve agreed that work to find a solution will continue at pace, time is of the essence and its in both our interests that when the UK leaves the EU it does so in an orderly way.And so weve made progress, May said.May and the other 27 EU leaders approved a Brexit withdrawal agreement at a summit on November 25 last year, but the British leaders own parliament rejected it overwhelmingly on January 15.Since then, May and her ministers have repeatedly met EU leaders and their negotiator Michel Barnier to urge them to reopen the text to find a way to appease eurosceptic MPs.The main stumbling block has been the Irish backstop, which provides for Britain to remain in the EU customs union until a way is found such as a future free trade deal to ensure that Irelands border with Northern Ireland remains open.
Brexiteers in Mays own Conservative party see this as a trap to keep Britain tied to the bloc indefinitely, and have demanded a time limit or exit clause.But such a clause would be seen in Brussels as a betrayal of EU member Ireland and has consistently been given short shrift by EU officials.May and Junckers statement indicated a fresh push to see what guarantees the EU could offer on the backstop to convince sceptical MPs it will not be used to trap Britain.In sadness, EU leaders approve Brexit dealIt also suggested the political declaration outlining plans for future EU-UK ties could be beefed up to increase confidence that both sides will try to reach a future deal as soon as possible, so the backstop never has to be used.May said her Brexit Minister Stephen Barclay and Attorney General Geoffrey Cox would be back in Brussels on Thursday just three days since their last visit as the pace of negotiations picks up.A European source said Cox, whose legal analysis of Mays deal confirmed Brexiteer fears, will have a key role to play.
If Brussels does enough on the backstop to persuade Cox to soften his advice, it could help swing the parliamentary arithmetic behind the prime minister.Without a deal, Britain is due to leave the Union abruptly after four decades on March 29, with no follow-on agreement or transition period to manage trade and economic relations.Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet Barnier on Thursday.Officials in both Brussels and London have played down talk that an EU-Arab League summit in Egypt this weekend could become a Brexit in the desert meet, insisting the issue would not hijack the gathering.Both sides have said they want to avoid a no deal Brexit, and many experts foresee economic chaos, even warning of food and medicine shortages or a renewed threat of unrest in Northern Ireland.Manufacturing supply chains could be disrupted, and Brexit uncertainty has already been cited as a contributing factor in the closure or departure of several British-based businesses.One option to avoid no deal would be for Brussels to accord Britain an extension to the March 29 deadline, although May insists she will not request a delay.A delay could keep Britain inside the EU for May 23-26 elections for a new European Parliament, which will start sitting from July 2, presumably without any British members.

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Saudi index slips on profit-taking

Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell on Monday with most sectors turning red, led by the banks as investors focused on profit-taking after the market by far outperformed its major Gulf peers.
Financial stocks also pulled Abu Dhabi down.Saudi Arabia’s index was down 0.3 percent with its biggest lender, National Commercial Bank, decreasing 1.3 percent and Al Jazira Bank shedding 1.7 percent. Saudi index has got off to a strong start this year, taking many by surprise, with a 10 percent gain year-to-date after returning 8.3 percent in 2018.The rally has been led mainly by foreigners buying close to 4.4 billion riyals ($1.2 billion) through a qualified foreign investors’ scheme and swaps last month in anticipation of inflows after Saudi Arabia is included in the FTSE and MSCI emerging market indexes later this year.Saudi exchange weekly data shows foreign investors have been net buyers in all weeks this year and have bought 838.1 million riyals ($223.48 million) of stocks on a net basis the last week.
The Abu Dhabi index fell 0.6 percent after three straight sessions of gains as eight of its 10 financial stocks declined with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender, shedding 0.9 percent.Gulf Medical Projects plunged 9.6 percent. The firm had last week reported a much lower profit for 2018.
The emirate’s biggest listed developer Emaar Properties and its unit Emaar Development gained 0.5 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. The stocks have risen in recent sessions after posting robust fourth-quarter earnings, boosting the index along.Property firms, which were partly behind the index’s poor performance last year, showed some sign of recovery reflected in the fourth-quarter results and increased construction contracts.Construction contracts were up 4 percent year-over-year last month, and rose four times the lows seen in the preceding four months, SICO Research said in a note.
The real estate gains were offset by financial stocks, however, with Mashreq Bank slumping 10 percent in a very thin trade, while Shuaa Capital plunged 7.9 percent.
Shuaa had last week reported a fourth-quarter loss compared with a profit a year earlier.In Qatar, Qatar Fuel rose 2.5 percent. Drilling rig provider Gulf International Services, which slumped in the last two sessions after it had turned to a full-year loss, recouped some losses to rise 1.1 percent.The Index was hit by a technical glitch which impacted displaying the index value.The stock exchange later said that it was working to fix the issue, but added that the stock prices are correct.Egypt’s blue-chip index was up 0.2 percent with developer Madinet Nasr For Housing And Development gaining 1 percent after it reported 19 percent rise it its full-year profit.No content from Business Recorder.Business Recorder shall not be responsible or held liable for any error of fact, opinion or recommendation and also for any loss, financial or otherwise, resulting from business or trade or speculation conducted, or investments made, on the basis of the information posted here.

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Ex-Mossad Chief Secretly Visited Saudi Arabia in 2014 – Israeli Channel 13

The former leader of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad visited Saudi Arabia in secret in 2014, in an effort to rally support against Iranian influence, Israel’s Channel 13 News revealed on Tuesday evening.The dispatch is the latest to come from a report on covert efforts between Israel and the Gulf countries to normalise security and diplomatic ties over recent years, as Tel Aviv presses for open ties with its Gulf allies at a Middle East summit in Warsaw today.
The report revealed that the then-chief of Mossad, Tamir Pardo, made a behind-the-scenes visit to the Saudi capital where he met with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, King Abdullah’s special envoy to discuss the Iranian issue shortly after the nuclear deal was signed between Iran and the major powers, bringing to end the sanctions that had crippled the Islamic Republic for decades.The meeting was unprecedented due to the fact that until that point, Saudi officials had only met with Israeli officials in a third country, refusing to host them themselves.The report, quoting unidentified Western diplomats, said that by the end of 2013, following the signing of the interim nuclear deal, there was a major breakthrough in relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.The report comes as Netanyahu suggested at an anti-Iran summit in Warsaw on Wednesday that he would make public Israel’s covert normalisation of ties with many Gulf states.With the exception of Egypt and Jordan, who have signed treaties with Israel, no other Arab state has official direct relations with Tel Aviv. However a series of under-the-table deals and alliances are gradually being unearthed.
The ultra-conservative kingdom, concerned about international rapprochement with its regional nemesis, reportedly decided to ally with Israel, who is equally opposed to any move that will enable the strengthening of Iranian influence.Israel and Iran consider each other their primary enemy, while Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for influence in the wider region.Bandar bin Sultan is believed to have developed the sharing of Saudi and Israeli intelligence during his tenure as director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, before he became King Abdullah’s envoy and adviser.These ties have accelerated since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince and de facto ruler, as he has also been developing an anti-Iranian front to include Hizballah and Lebanon.
Channel 13’s report also reveals how a Saudi proposal to lead peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians amid the 2014 Gaza War was rejected by Netanyahu, to the Saudis’ bitter dismay.The report comes as the Saudi monarch reaffirmed his support for a future Palestinian state.Meeting with the President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, King Salman said his country “permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital”, reported the official Saudi Press Agency.The pledge comes as the United States is expected to offer hints of its proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians at a conference on Wednesday in Warsaw, Poland.

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