RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister struck a note of defiance Friday in the face of international outrage over critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, denying the kingdom was in crisis and that his predecessor had been demoted.
Ibrahim al-Assaf, a former veteran finance minister who was briefly detained last year in what Riyadh said was an anti-corruption sweep, replaced Adel al-Jubeir as foreign minister in a major government shake-up on Thursday ordered by King Salman.
The surprise reshuffle was seen partly as an attempt to elevate the kingdom’s marginalised old guard, adding a veneer of checks and balances to the policy decisions of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who faces intense global scrutiny over the October 2 murder of journalist Khashoggi.
But while talking to a foreign journalist, in his first interview since his appointment, Assaf insisted the restructuring was motivated not by the Khashoggi affair, but the need to make the government machinery more efficient.
“The issue of Jamal Khashoggi… really saddened us, all of us,” Assaf told media at his residence in Riyadh, adorned with mahogany furniture, a wall-mounted elephant tusk and other hunting trophies.
“But all in all, we are not going through a crisis, we are going through a transformation,” he added, referring to social and economic reforms spearheaded by the crown prince.
Is Uber buying Careem for $3.1b?
DUBAI: According to the rumors making rounds here today it seems that Uber is about to acquire Careem for $3.1b!
Sources privy to NPTV have insinuated that the deal will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday 26th March). Initially Uber will pay $1.4 billion in cash and the rest in notes convertible to Uber shares.
It comes as Uber prepares for its initial public offering — expected next month — which could see the rideshare giant’s value increase to $100 billion.
British Shadow Justice Minister on climate change
BRADFORD: Climate/ecological change is one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces in the modern era.
British Shadow Minister Imran Hussain maintains: “With disaster awaiting if we do not make substantial changes to the way that we live our lives, and I was visited recently by school children from Bradford who came to talk to me about their campaign against climate change.
“It’s always positive to see young people get involved in a deeply important issue, and their actions should serve as a wakeup call to the Government that their views must no longer be ignored.
“They are also right to be worried about the kind of planet they will inherit and demand far-reaching action, for if we do not act over the next 12 years, we will forever miss the opportunity to do anything about it.”
Egypt-Israel peace treaty lives on in troubled region
CAIRO: The US-mediated 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel may only have resulted in a “cold peace” but their ties have survived four decades in a turbulent region, analysts say.
The watershed treaty brought together late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli premier Menachem Begin for a 26th March, 1979 signing ceremony in Washington as a beaming Jimmy Carter, then-US president, looked on. The peace deal, the first ever between Israel and an Arab state, and which cost Sadat his life at the hands of an Islamist extremist, has kept Cairo out of any armed conflict with its neighbour.
The treaty has emerged unscathed from upheavals in Egypt, notably the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, proving its “stability”, said Amr al-Shobaki, political analyst with the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. The 40th anniversary comes as armed conflicts roil several countries across the Arab world, from Libya in the far west to Yemen in the south. It also comes at a time of major US policy changes.
In 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, causing uproar in the Muslim world. He followed up on Friday with a pledge to recognise Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. Israel seized mainly Palestinian east Jerusalem, Syria’s Golan and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in the 1967 Six-Day War, when it also occupied the West Bank and Gaza. But under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel returned the Sinai to former enemy Egypt.