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QATAR | Page 20
SPORT | Page 1
Fenced-off Rumailah
Park still draws visitors
Spain start
with win
over Belarus
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Vol. XXXV No. 9605
January 17, 2015
Rabia I 26, 1436 AH
www. 2 Riyals
PM attends Kahramaa presentation
rev up for
In brief
WORLD | Anger
Offensive cartoon
sparks protests
Thousands demonstrated in the
Middle East yesterday and clashes
broke out in Pakistan as a new
offensive cartoon published by
French magazine Charlie Hebdo
angered Muslims. In Zinder, Niger’s
second city, protesters smashed
the entrance door to the French
cultural centre and set fire to its
cafeteria, library and offices, while
three churches were also torched.
In Karachi, Pakistan, at least three
people were injured when protesters
clashed with police outside the
French consulate. Pages 2, 3, 11, 15
SRI LANKA | Politics
Sirisena lifts travel
ban on foreigners
Sri Lanka’s new government
yesterday announced lifting a ban
on foreign nationals visiting to
the island’s former war zones and
scrapped an economic embargo on
minority Tamil regions. President
Maithripala Sirisena, just a week
after taking office, removed the
travel ban introduced by his
predecessor three months ago, the
defence ministry said.
“Since there is no war situation
in the country and the life of the
community is normal, it was decided
to remove restrictions imposed on
foreigners,” the ministry said in a
statement. Page 17
NIGERIA | Violence
Bomb attack razes
opposition building
Unknown assailants threw dynamite
at an opposition coalition secretariat
in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger
Delta yesterday, destroying the
building but not claiming any
casualties, police said. “Around
3am on Friday the youths attacked
the APC secretariat at Ngor. The
entire building was razed to the
ground in the fire. I’m calling on the
commissioner of police to investigate
the matter,” local opposition All
Progressives Congress (APC) official
Ikwut Emmanuel said of the incident
in Rivers state.
AMERICA | Personality
Ali out of
Boxing legend Mohamed Ali was
released from hospital yesterday
after receiving treatment for a
severe urinary tract infection. A
family spokesman said Ali was
looking forward to celebrating his
73rd birthday today at home with
family and friends. Ali, an Olympic
gold medallist, has suffered from
Parkinson’s disease since the 1980s.
The annual show aims to raise the
“biker culture” in Qatar and the
GCC region
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani attending a presentation on the
main projects that are being implemented by Kahramaa (Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation) and its plans. HE
the Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh al-Sada and senior Kahramaa officials were present. The Prime
Minister also reviewed Kahramaa’s role in providing electricity and water services to vital projects in the state, including Doha’s
New Port, Qatar Integrated Railway (Qatar Rail) and the World Cup sites. Page 2
ICC opens initial probe into
war crimes in Palestine
The Hague
he International Criminal
Court’s prosecutor yesterday
opened a preliminary probe
into possible war crimes committed
against Palestinians, a move immediately blasted by Israel as “scandalous”.
Fatou Bensouda said her office
would conduct an “analysis in full
independence and impartiality” into
alleged war crimes, including those
committed during last year’s Gaza
Her decision comes after Palestine
formally joined the ICC earlier this
month allowing it to lodge war crimes
and crimes against humanity complaints against Israel as of April.
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed during last summer’s
war in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu reacted angrily to the prosecutor’s decision, calling it “scandalous” and “absurd”.
Gambian-born Bensouda had earlier stressed that “a preliminary examination is not an investigation but
a process of examining the information available... on whether there is
a reasonable basis to proceed with an
Bensouda will decide at a later stage
whether to launch a full investigation.
Israel began a massive crackdown
on the West Bank on June 13 after the
kidnapping and subsequent murder
of three Israeli teenagers, triggering a
series of events that led to the sevenweek Gaza war.
Palestine’s move to join the ICC is
also seen as part of a shift in strategy
to internationalise its campaign for
statehood and move away from the
stalled US-led peace process.
The Palestinians were upgraded
from observer status to UN “observer
state” in 2012, opening the doors for
them to join the ICC and a host of other international organisations.
Both Israel and the US have condemned the plan, with Washington
calling it “counterproductive”.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman said in a statement yesterday that the ICC decision was “solely
motivated by political anti-Israel considerations”.
Lieberman said he would act to
“dismantle this court”.
Israel earlier this month delayed
transferring some $127 in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians in
retaliation for the attempts to press
war crimes charges against the Jewish
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad
al-Malki welcomed the move.
“Everything is going according to
plan, no state and nobody can now
stop this action we requested,” he told
AFP. “In the end, a full investigation
will follow the preliminary one.”
Rights group Amnesty International welcomed the ICC’s announcement saying it “could pave the way for
thousands of victims of crimes under
international law to gain access to justice”.
But the initial probe could lead to an
investigation into crimes “committed by all sides”, Amnesty stressed in a
Yesterday’s announcement is the
second such an initial probe by the
ICC’s prosecutor into the situation in
The Palestinian Authority in 2009
lodged a complaint against Israel but
the ICC prosecutor said in 2012 after
“carefully considering legal arguments” it could not investigate because of the Palestinians’ status at the
At the time the Palestinians’ “observer” status blocked them from
signing up to the ICC’s founding Rome
The ICC is the world’s first independent court set up in 2002 to investigate genocide, war crimes and
crimes against humanity.
But it can only probe alleged crimes
in countries that have ratified the
Rome Statute, or accepts the Haguebased court’s jurisdiction for a certain
time period, or through a referral by
the UN Security Council.
Currently, chief prosecutor Bensouda is also running preliminary investigations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq
and Ukraine.
While 123 countries have now ratified the Rome Statute, Israel and the
US have not. Page 4
ore than 1,000 Qatari and
international bikers attended the second annual GCC
Charity Bike Show organised by the
Soul Riders Motorcycle Club at the
Aspire Zone yesterday.
The event kicked off with a motorcade starting from the Museum of Islamic Art on the Corniche and culminating at the back of The Torch Doha
with more than 750 bikers joining the
Soul Riders founding member and
leader Abdulla al-Hajjaj told Gulf
Times the event recorded a huge
turnout compared to the last year’s
edition, which attracted about 600
Al-Hajjaj said that Soul Riders
hoped to surpass last year’s proceeds
totalling QR80,000, which was donated to the Hamad Medical Corporation’s Kidney Bank and Qatar Red
“For this year’s fund-raiser, we
chose Qatar Charity as our beneficiary. We hope to raise more funds this
time considering the huge turnout
of participants,” said al-Hajjaj, who
added that the QR200 registration
fee from each biker participant would
go directly to charity.
Aside from its fund-raising component, al-Hajjaj noted that the event
was also highlighted by a competition
among participating bikers vying for
recognition in 25 categories, including Sportster, Dyna, Softail Touring, V-Rod, Vintage, Touring, Metric
Touring, Chopper, Bobber, Burgor,
Radical, Trick, Super Shot, Spider
CanAm, Hayabousa, best paintwork,
and public’s choice award.
“The owners customise their bikes.
The labour and effort they pour into
their vehicles to take it to the next
level make it a work of art. These are
no longer ‘manufacturer bikes’ but a
piece of art,” al-Hajjaj said.
He stressed that the annual show
aimed to raise the “biker culture” in
Qatar and the GCC region: “This is
something that we have worked hard
for the past five years.”
Describing Soul Riders as a “multinational biker club”, he said: “We
have members from the US, Europe,
and Asia aside from those coming
Spectators viewing some of the
motorcycles participating in the GCC
Charity Bike Show yesterday at the
Aspire Zone.
from other GCC countries. In a manner, we speak at least 32 languages
due to the diversity of our membership.
“Religion or nationality is not a
factor for us. We are a group connected by our souls, hence our name
Soul Riders.”
Al-Hajjaj emphasised that the biker culture had a “strong bond”.
He added that the group received
government support for other motoring activities such as the escorting of other chapter members from
neighbouring GCC countries visiting
In the past, Soul Riders was involved in social and cultural campaigns such as breast cancer awareness, Ride for Hope, and Wheels n’
Heels – Reach Out to Asia, as well as
sporting events like Tour of Qatar Cycling Race, Qatar Sports Day, among
Soul Riders was established in October 2012 by Khalid al-Hamadi with
only 11 bikers as its initial members.
It now has 62 active members from
different expatriate communities
in Qatar that also form part of the
2,000-member umbrella organisation, “Bikers Network”.
2014 the hottest year on record
Cape Canaveral, Florida
ast year was Earth’s hottest on
record in a new sign that people are disrupting the climate
by burning fossil fuels that release
greenhouse gases to the air, two US
government agencies said yesterday.
The White House said the studies,
by the US space agency Nasa and the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), showed a
need for action to reduce rising world
emissions of greenhouse gases.
The data showed that the 10 warmest years since records began in the
19th century had occurred since 1997.
Last year was warmest, ahead of 2010,
2005 and 1998. The records undercut
arguments by climate sceptics that
global warming has stopped in recent
The scientists said the record
temperatures were spread around
the globe, including most of Europe
stretching into northern Africa, the
western US, far eastern Russia into
western Alaska, parts of interior
South America, parts of eastern and
western coastal Australia and elsewhere.
“While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic
weather patterns, the long-term
trends are attributable to drivers of
climate change that right now are
dominated by human emissions
of greenhouse gases,” said Gavin
Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard
Institute of Space Studies in New
“The data shows quite clearly that
it’s the greenhouse gas trends that
are responsible for the majority of the
trends,” he told reporters. Emissions
were still rising “so we may anticipate
further record highs in the years to
UN studies show there already are
more extremes of heat and rainfall and
project more disruptions to food and
water supplies and rising sea levels as
ice melts from Greenland to Antarctica.
In December, about 200 governments will meet in Paris to try to reach
a deal to limit global warming, shifting to renewable energies. China and
the US, the top emitters of greenhouse
gases, say they are cooperating more to
achieve an UN accord.
“We can’t wait to take action,” a
White House official said in a statement.
Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would take Canadian crude across the US said the
new data made it all the more pressing to prevent the construction of the
But US Senator James Inhofe, the
Senate’s leading climate change sceptic, said the difference between 2014
and 2010 was so insignificant as to
prove there was no need for more
stringent EPA regulations.
“Human activity is clearly not the
driving cause for global warming, and
is not leading our planet to the brink of
devastation that many alarmists want
us to believe,” he said.
In Britain, Energy and Climate
Change Secretary Ed Davey also said
the records were “yet more evidence
that we need to act urgently to prevent
dangerous climate change”.
Members of Soul Riders Motorcycle Club before the start of the bike show.
PICTURES: Peter Alagos.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Prime Minister reviews work
progress at Kahramaa projects
he State of Qatar has
strongly condemned the
French Charlie Hebdo
weekly and some European newspapers republishing offending
cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
In a statement on Thursday, the
Foreign Ministry said that freedom of expression did not mean
offending others and provoking
feelings and cynicism on the beliefs and religious symbols.
The statement stressed that
such actions were shameful and
would not serve the interests of
any one but would fuel hatred,
anger, and constitute a violation
of human values and the principles of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, moderation and mutual
respect among peoples.
The Ministry called on the Western media to respect others and their
beliefs and keep away from intolerance and extremism and be committed to the values and principles upon
which the Western civilisation was
E the Prime Minister
and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin
Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani has
visited Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) to review the progress of
work at its current projects and
future plans.
During his visit, the Prime
Minister attended a presentation on the main projects implemented by Kahramaa and its
preparations in various sectors,
including consumer services,
water, electricity, cooling of areas, energy rationalisation and
efficiency as well as future plans.
The presentation included
a review of Kahramaa’s emergency services centres, electronic services provided by the
corporation and plans aimed to
improve the service.
The Prime Minister underlined the importance of providing the best services to citizens
and residents of the state and
their development and re-
sponse to the needs of customers as well as the importance
of caring for infrastructure
projects and their readiness.
He reviewed a project for
early delivery of electricity and
water for the plots of land that
have not yet been built.
HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser
praised the performance index of
the power grid in Qatar and the
outstanding level it had achieved
on the region level, the coverage
of electricity and water networks
which reached 100% and the water security projects, including
the construction of main giant
tanks to provide a strategic reserve of water storage.
He was briefed on achievements pertaining to the rationalisation and reduction of
consumption since the launch
of the national programme for
energy conservation and efficiency in 2012, drawing attention to the importance of education and its role in reducing
consumption and reduction of
abuse, particularly of water.
He also reviewed Kahramaa’s
role in providing electricity and
water services to vital projects in
the state, including Doha’s New
Port, Qatar Integrated Railway
(Qatar Rail), the World Cup sites
and others. He was briefed by a
number of Kahramaa department
directors on a number of projects
being carried by the corporation
and the progress of work.
The Prime Minister toured
Kahramaa’s crises management
room where he was briefed
on the surveillance and control system. He also visited
Kahramaa’s training halls.
He launched the smart metres system which is claimed to
be one of the most advanced in
the world, providing facilities
for remote reading and equipped
with consumption data recording modules for electricity and
water as well as GPS modules
for localising the individual
metering points.
HE the Minister of Energy and
Industry Dr Mohamed bin Saleh
al-Sada said that the Prime Minister’s visit had confirmed his
“keenness to closely follow up the
progress in the projects being carried out by Kahramaa and reflects
the attention the state pays to the
electricity and water sector”.
Sales of expensive bicycles
riding high on popularity
By Joey Aguilar
Staff Reporter
ales of high-end bicycles have increased significantly in Qatar due to
the rising popularity of cycling
in the country, according to
supervisors of leading sports
One supervisor said many
cyclists have been upgrading
their existing cycles and their
accessories and parts since
September, a few weeks before
the start of the cold season.
“A lot of races and cycling
events are being organised
since last year and everyone
wants to make sure that their
bikes are good and performing
well,” he added.
With Qatar hosting the
World Cycling Championships
next year, he said they expected
the sales of expensive bicycles
to shoot up.
The shop sells at least two to
three units a week, with prices ranging from QR8,000 to
While the shop is the sole
distributor of a popular brand,
the supervisor said some stores
sell cycles of other known
brands from entry-level to
high-end units.
Asked which units are the
most saleable, he said average
race and mountain bikes that
cost between QR2,500 and
QR5,000 top their list.
In June last year, the shop
recorded an average sale of
65 units per week despite the
soaring temperature. The figure
is higher than their sales during
Some customers want their orders (high-end cycles) personalised.
the peak season as well, according to the supervisor.
The trend continued before
the start of the winter due to
some special promotions by the
At some stores elsewhere in
Doha, a typical mountain bike
costs around QR1,600, a lot
cheaper than the units sold in
The price of a bicycle also
varies depending on what its
parts are made of: from the
main frame to parts such as
chain rings, pedals and the handlebar grip, among others.
The supervisor also noted
that sales of bicycles for
children have increased with
at least 25 units sold in a
“Sometimes, it falls to 18
units but that is still good,” he
pointed out. Prices of branded
units range from QR1,100 to
QR1,800. But in other shops,
prices are lower, between
QR500 and QR800.
Another shop at Salwa Road
also recorded a rise in highend bicycle sales, with the price
range being QR14,000 to over
Meanwhile, sales of bicycles
priced between QR1,600 and
QR4,000 continue to surge, according to a supervisor. An average of 160 units (all kinds) has
been recorded per month since
last year.
He said that some of their
customers who buy high-end
cycles prefer to have their orders personalised.
“It is up to them what colour and type of materials will
be used for each part. It takes
about 45 days to complete it and
the assembly takes place in the
US,” he said.
HE Sheikh Abdullah touring Kahramaa facilities. HE the Minister of Energy and Industry Dr Mohamed
bin Saleh al-Sada accompanied him.
Use of pictograms
for medications
finds favour with
migrant workers
he efforts of a Qatar University (QU) professor
and his team, to use pictograms for dispensing medications to migrant workers, are
paying rich dividends.
Through one-year study, Dr
Nadir Kheir, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the
College of Pharmacy, has enabled the use of pictograms for
medication labels project.
A large number of migrant
workers in Qatar do not follow
English or Arabic. When they
have health issues, the interface
between them and health workers poses a serious challenge and
the pharmacists face difficulty in
dispensing prescriptions.
Dr Kheir says: “It is a challenge
if patients can not communicate
with healthcare staff. I saw that
upfront. Some of the pharmacists
try to solve the problem with illustrations like drawing lines to
indicate the number of times the
medicines are to be taken.”
At QU, Dr Kheir found that
the International Federation of
Pharmacy (FIP) had a project
about pictograms in pharmacy
which assisted in developing
pictorials or pictures in labels.
He thought of trying it out in
Qatar among the workers.
He along with Dr Ros Dowse of
Rhodes University in South Africa, worked on a study project.
“We spent more than a year on
the project, in recruiting workers through Qatar Petroleum’s
Dr Nadir Kheir
contracting companies,” he said.
Over 120 consenting workers
joined the project. To explain
the consent to them, at least five
translators were needed.
The workers, who did not understand English or Arabic, were
divided into three groups to assess the comprehension of labels
on medication packs.
“In the first group, we used the
current system which is medicine with the label, written in
English or Arabic and the pharmacist gives verbal instruction.
The second group was labels
with pictorials only without any
written or verbal instruction,
and the third group was shown
medicines with labels supported
by written instructions, pictorials and verbal instructions,” Dr
Kheir explained.
The three groups were tested
and asked to explain what they
understood in their own language. After analysis, it was
found that the group that was
given medicines with labels supported by written instructions,
pictorials and verbal instructions
was the best to comprehend.
Imagination Qatar
programme begins
AlFaisal Without Borders
Foundation (ALF) kicked off this
year’s Destination Imagination
Qatar (DI) programme with
300 students taking part in a DI
The event was organised by
Stenden University Qatar students,
as a series of didactic workshops in
photography and photo editing, film
editing, engineering for Illusions,
acting and theatre, visual arts and
sculpture and augmented reality.
The workshops were designed to
provide DI students with specialised
skills they could take back to their
school teams and use to create
the solution of their chosen DI
challenge in one of the workshops
subject areas.
Ali Mare, executive director of
ALF, said, “With knowledge and
creativity comes innovation and
the DI programme provides the
opportunity for these students
to hone these skills to present
something unique to the appraisers
at the DI Qatar National tournament
held this spring. Through the
introduction of the DI programme
to the region, ALF is committed
to developing 21st century skills
in students that take part in DI to
empower and inspire them to be
influential, ethical contributors to
their society and the world.”
Many Doha residents and
companies provided key experts
to deliver the skills workshops
including representatives
from Qatar University, Qatar
Photographic Society, College
of North Atlantic Qatar, The
Little Engineer, New Methods
Technologies, Northwestern
University Qatar, Qatar Robotics
Institute, Nano Technologies and
The event closed with an anime
show performed by Qatar
Cosplayers. Winners of the DI Qatar
National Tournament will be able to
showcase their talents and compete
at the global DI finals to be held in
May in Knoxville, Tennessee, US.
TAMU-Q organises international mathematics workshop
Leading experts and graduate
students from Brazil, Europe, the
Gulf region and the United States
have gathered in Education City
at the international mathematics
workshop held from January 4 to 8.
Organised by Texas A&M
University at Qatar, the event
aimed to promote the exchange
of ideas and interactions among
Dr Nordine Mir, professor of
mathematics at Texas A&M at
Qatar, said the workshop was
designed to spark mutually
beneficial collaborations
between mathematicians in the
region and colleagues in Europe,
Brazil, and the US.
“This meeting focused on recent
results and developments in the
analysis and geometry of several
complex variables, CR manifolds
and closely related areas, such
as the theory of over determined
systems of partial differential
equations,” he noted.
The workshop also helped build
exposure for the Qatar research
Mauritania families benefit from QC projects
Experts and students at the international mathematics workshop in
Doha recently.
“Therefore it will contribute to
the Qatar National Research
Strategy,” said Dr Mir.
A lecture on complex BrunnMinkowski theory was given
by Bo Berndtsson (Chalmers
University, Sweden). The
conference was organised
by Dr S Berhanu at Temple
University in the US, Dr Mir
and Dr Emil Straube at Texas
A&M University at College
Besides Texas A&M University
at Qatar, some of the sponsors
included Texas A&M University,
the US National Science
Foundation and Qapco.
“A conference of this calibre adds
substantial further visibility to
the science programme at Texas
A&M at Qatar and to Qatar as
the Middle East research hub,”
said Dr Straube, professor of
mathematics at Texas A&M
large number of families
in Mauritania, a country in North Africa, have
benefitted from various Qatar
Charity (QC) projects, giving
them steady income and access
to safe drinking water.
Idris Almsahl, director of
QC’s Mauritania office, said
they focused their projects in
remote areas to help thousands
of poor people especially widows and divorced women.
QC donated 15 sewing machines to sewing and arts training graduates during their
graduation ceremony.
Almsahl believes these initiatives will help students to
launch their own businesses. “It
will generate a source of income
to support their families.”
Saadna Ould Hamadi praised
QC’s role in establishing small
projects that “economically
support” those who are in
dire need.
He said the projects also fit
the capabilities and skills of
the beneficiaries, who thanked
QC for giving them sustainable
In co-ordination with specialised local association, QC
also funded a number of initiatives to train women in sewing and arts, including Mohsen
Without Borders, the organisation of Society Awareness and
Goodness for Social Solidarity.
The group supports women
by providing unemployed female heads of household with
free sewing training courses.
QC also launched a project to
provide safe drinking water for
2,000 people in the municipality of Al-Aria, state of Atararzh.
It is learnt that residents suffer
from lack of safe drinking water.
A 20-tonne water tank was
Qatar Charity donated sewing machines to Mauritania women.
donated to the municipality benefitting more than 20
“The municipality has experienced difficulty in solving this
urgent problem and Qatar Charity’s timely intervention has
eliminated the population’s suffering from thirst,” said Al-Aria
mayor Bemb Ould Salek.
QC is currently drilling four
wells in Mauritania which cost
QR1mn to provide safe drinking
water for around 20,000 people.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Obama warns Congress against Iran sanctions
S President Barack Obama
and British Prime Minister
David Cameron warned
US lawmakers yesterday not to
trigger new sanctions against Iran
over its nuclear programme, saying such a move would upset diplomatic talks and potentially lead
to war.
In a joint news conference at the
White House, Obama and Cameron
urged members of Congress to be
patient and hold off on any legislation calling for further sanctions
“There is no good argument
for us to try to undercut, undermine the negotiations until they’ve
played themselves out,” Obama told
“Congress needs to show patience,” he added. “My main message to Congress is ‘Just hold your
Obama said he told Democratic
lawmakers he would veto a bill calling for more sanctions if it landed
on his desk.
The joint push with Cameron,
who said he had called US senators personally about the issue,
represented the strongest effort
yet by the White House to prevent
lawmakers from both parties from
seeking to force additional penalties
on Tehran.
Obama said Iran could use such
sanctions as an excuse to abandon
talks and accuse Washington of
blowing up the deal and acting in
bad faith.
“There would be some sympathy to that view around the
world, which means that the
sanctions that we have in place
now would potentially fray,”
Obama said.
“Congress should be aware that
if this diplomatic solution fails, then
the risks and likelihood that this
ends up being at some point a military confrontation is heightened.
And Congress will have to own that
as well.”
Cameron also spoke out against
calls for further sanctions on Iran,
saying negotiations needed “space”
to succeed.
“We remain absolutely committed to ensuring that Iran cannot de-
velop a nuclear weapon,” Cameron
“The best way to achieve that
now is to create the space for negotiations to succeed. We should not
impose further sanctions now.”
Washington’s UN envoy Samantha Power warned on Monday
that imposing new sanctions “will
almost certainly” see to the end of
France said yesterday that
“significant” questions remained before a deal on Iran’s
nuclear programme can be
struck, after its foreign minister
met his Iranian counterpart.
“Laurent Fabius raised with Mohamed Javad Zarif the significant
questions that remain to be solved,”
according to a statement from the
French foreign ministry.
Zarif also met US Secretary of
State John Kerry in Paris earlier yesterday to discuss negotiations for a
nuclear deal.
The pair, who held marathon
talks in Geneva earlier this week in a
bid to nail down a deal, were taking
the opportunity to meet again in the
French capital on separate diplomatic trips.
Their talks lasted just under an
hour, a US official said.
The new Zarif-Kerry talks came
as their negotiators were also meeting in Geneva.
Global powers leading the talks,
known as the P5+1 are due to open
negotiations tomorrow in the Swiss
city as a deadline looms for a comprehensive deal which would rein
in Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for relief from a tight network of sanctions.
Both sides have remained tightlipped about whether any progress
is being made.
Abe begins
regional tour,
makes peace
push pledge
apanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe began a sixday tour of the Middle East
yesterday, pledging to play a
role in regional stability while
also pushing Japan’s infrastructure exports.
“I hope to send a message
that Japan will offer support in
non-military fields to contribute to regional peace and stability,” Abe, who is being accompanied by a phalanx of business
leaders, told reporters in Tokyo
ahead of his departure.
Abe, who will visit Egypt,
Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, said “I hope
to send a message to the world
that Japan, together with the
Middle East, will build a tolerant society.”
The tour comes “right after
the terror attack in Paris, but
Islamic society and extremism
are totally different from each
other”, he added, referring to
the murderous assault on the
offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Dozens of Japanese company
executives are also accompanying Abe, and “we expect to
strengthen economic ties with
each of these nations”, Abe’s
right-hand man, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yoshihide Suga told
reporters this week.
The last time a Japanese
leader visited Jordan, Israel and
the Palestinian territories was
in 2006 when Junichiro Koizumi was in office. Abe was the
last premier to visit Egypt during his brief first stint in the top
job in 2007.
Abe will meet today with
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and express support
for Cairo, which Suga called “a
key player in bringing stability”
to the region.
He is scheduled to deliver a
policy speech on the Middle
East in the Egyptian capital.
Abe will then visit Jordan for
talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II tomorrow, where he is
expected to announce Japan’s
support for the country as it deals
with an influx of refugees from
He will also have talks with
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, and separately with
Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas on the last leg of his tour.
His itinerary includes a visit
to Yad Vashem—Israel’s national
memorial in Jerusalem to the victims of the Holocaust, 70 years
after the end of World War II.
Abe and members of his delegation are welcomed by Egyptian
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlab upon their arrival at Cairo
International Airport yesterday.
A protester holds up a copy of the Qur’an during the demonstration in Amman yesterday.
Prophet cartoons spark
protests across Mideast
uslims marched yesterday in Middle Eastern cities against a new
cartoon of Prophet Muhammad
published by French magazine
Charlie Hebdo, as Gulf states
warned the drawing could fuel
The largest rally was in Jordan,
where around 2,500 protesters
took to the streets of the capital
Amman amid tightened security,
while demonstrations also took
place in East Jerusalem and Khartoum.
The crowd, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood
and youth groups, set off from AlHusseini mosque in central Amman
holding banners that read “insulting the Prophet is global terrorism”.
The latest issue of Charlie
Hebdo, published on Wednesday,
features a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad on its cover.
It was the first edition of the
satirical magazine to be published
since Islamist gunmen killed 12
people in an attack on its Paris offices on January 7 over such cartoons.
Qatar condemned the cartoon,
which was also reprinted by several European papers.
“These disgraceful actions are
in the interest of nobody and will
only fuel hatred and anger,” the
foreign ministry warned, describing them as a “violation of human
values of peaceful co-existence,
tolerance, justice, and respect
among people”.
Bahrain’s foreign ministry
echoed the warning, saying publication of such cartoons “will
create fertile ground for the
spread of hatred and terrorism”.
Charlie Hebdo’s latest cartoon
is “disgraceful” and no more than
an attempt to “provoke” Muslims
and “mock” their beliefs, it said.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II on
Thursday said the latest issue of
Charlie Hebdo was “irresponsible
and reckless”.
Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa
mosque compound yesterday, some
with banners reading “Islam is a
religion of peace!” and “Our leader
will forever be Muhammad”.
Israeli security forces, which
control access to the compound—
the focal point of months of Jewish-Muslim tensions in the Holy
Land—said Friday prayer passed
off without incident, and there
were no initial reports of violence
linked to the demonstration afterwards.
In Khartoum, hundreds of dem-
Suspects back from
Syria held: Bahrain
ahraini authorities arrested suspects who have
returned from Syria and
are allegedly linked to “terrorist” groups, the interior ministry
said yesterday.
Bahrain is among the countries
that have joined the international
coalition against the Islamic State
group in Syria and Iraq.
Bahrain’s interior ministry
announced that authorities have
arrested “a group of people who
were recently in Syria and are
suspected of contacts with terrorist groups abroad”.
It said that investigations were
ongoing, without giving further
details in the statement carried
by the official BNA news agency.
The conflict in Syria, which
began in March 2011, is believed
to have drawn in thousands of
foreign fighters.
Sunni militants have flocked
to Syria to support the rebels,
while Shia fighters—mainly from
Lebanon and Iraq—support Assad’s forces.
The Syrian conflict “has attracted some Bahraini citizens”,
the interior ministry acknowledged in February last year.
But it did not clarify whether
it was referring to Sunni Islamists or to Shias accused of links
to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement which has been fighting
alongside Assad’s troops.
Bahrain has been deeply divided since a 2011 uprising led by
Last month, the kingdom urged
the international community to
focus its efforts on combating
the “evil theocracy” of militant
groups such as Islamic State.
“I call on you to discard the
term ‘war on terror’ and focus
on the real threat which is the
rise of this evil theocracy,” said
Bahrain’s crown prince, Sal-
man bin Hamad al-Khalifah.
“We are fighting theocrats...
We will be fighting these theocrats for a very long time,” said
the prince.
z Rights groups urged Bahrain’s Western allies yesterday
to call on the kingdom to drop
charges against prominent activist Nabeel Rajab, on trial over
tweets deemed insulting to public institutions.
Rajab was released from custody in November and will stand
trial on January 20.
“Bahrain’s allies including
the United Kingdom, Germany, France and other European
countries should publicly call on
Manama to drop charges against
the human rights advocate
Nabeel Rajab,” Human Rights
Watch and the Gulf Centre for
Human Rights (GCHR) said.
Rajab was arrested in October
after posting comments on Twitter about the interior and defence
onstrators poured out of the Grand
Mosque and marched across the
adjacent square, chanting “Expel
the French ambassador, victory to
the Prophet of God!”.
One banner in Arabic said: “The
French government should apologise and the French government
must stop insults to religious figures”.
In Lebanon’s northern flashpoint city of Tripoli, 70 people
staged a march carrying banners
bearing the name of the Prophet
and chanting “Allahu Akbar”.
In Baddawi, on the northern
outskirts of the city, prayer leader
Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahimi addressed hundreds of worshippers
saying: “May God punish this
newspaper and those who back it.”
A protest against the cartoon
in Tehran was cancelled, with no
official reason given, as senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ali Movahedi
Kermani told worshippers its publication amounted to “savagery”.
In Tunis, worshippers at El Fath
mosque interrupted prayer leader
Noureddine Khadmi as he delivered a sermon saying: “We are all
against insults made against our
Prophet but it is not a reason to
Charlie Hebdo journalists “deserved to be killed because they
insulted our Prophet many times”,
the worshippers cried out.
Saudi Arabia’s top religious
body, the Council of Senior Ulema, also criticised the new publication of Muhammad cartoons
that it said “have nothing to do
with the freedom of creativity or
Its secretary general Fahd alMajid warned that publishing
such images would only “serve
extremists who are in search of
excuses for killing and terrorism”.
Flogging of blogger
in Saudi ‘postponed’
Protesters stand amid teargas smoke during clashes with police
after a demonstration against the arrest of Sheikh Ali Salman (on the
poster), head of the Shia opposition movement Al Wefaq, in Salman’s
home village of Bilad al-Qadeem, on the outskirts of Manama
audi Arabia yesterday
postponed the next
round of flogging for a
blogger sentenced to 1,000
lashes for insulting Islam because his wounds from last
week’s beating have not yet
healed, his wife said.
The public flogging of Raef
Badawi, who is also serving
a 10-year jail sentence, has
sparked an international outcry and a campaign by Amnesty
International and other rights
groups to free him.
Later yesterday, his wife Ensaf Haidar told AFP: “We only
knew today that Badawi’s case
was referred by the royal court
to the supreme court nearly a
month ago,” possibly paving the
way for an appeal.
Badawi received the first 50
lashes of his sentence outside a
mosque in Jeddah on January 9.
He is expected to undergo
a total of 20 flogging ses-
sions until his punishment
is complete, but Haidar said
the second round of lashes
had been postponed yesterday.
“The prison doctor saw Badawi’s health does not allow his
flogging today,” she said, speaking by telephone from Canada.
“The wounds caused by the
flogging last time do not allow
flogging him this time as well,”
she said. “But it will probably
still take place next Friday.”
Amnesty said that the doctor had concluded that Badawi
“would not be able to withstand
another round of lashes at this
It also said the doctor had
recommended the flogging be
postponed until next week.
In September, a Saudi court
upheld the decade-long jail
sentence and 1,000 lashes for
Badawi, who has been behind
bars since June 2012.
UN human rights chief Zeid
Ra’ad al-Hussein on Thursday
urged Saudi King Abdullah to
pardon Badawi.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Swedish FM slams Israel reaction over Palestine
weden’s foreign minister
said yesterday Israel had
irritated close allies by
overreacting to Stockholm recognising the state of Palestine,
saying its rhetoric over the issue
had “crossed all limits”.
“It is unacceptable how they
have been talking about us and
everybody else,” Margot Wallstrom said in an interview in
daily Dagens Nyheter. “It has
irritated not only us, but the
Americans and everyone who
has anything to do with them
right now.”
Relations between Israel and
Sweden have nosedived since
Social Democrat Prime Minister
Stefan Lofven used his inaugural
address in parliament last year
to announce that his country
would recognise a Palestinian
Israeli said the move was illconsidered, would not contrib-
ute to peace and called its ambassador back to Jerusalem for
The United States said recognition was premature.
In the interview, Wallstrom
said Sweden supported Israel,
Palestine and peace, but was
sharply critical of Israel’s policies. “Israel has been extremely
aggressive,” she said.
“They have continued with
their settlement policies, they
have continued demolitions,
they have continued with their
occupation policies which entail
a humiliation of Palestinians,
which makes the (peace) process
Wallstrom had been due to
go to Israel this week, but postponed her trip. The Swedish
government said the decision
was due to scheduling difficulties, but Swedish radio quoted an
official at the Israeli foreign ministry saying Wallstrom would
not have been extended an official welcome by Israel.
“We said that it is difficult
to put these meetings together,
diplomatic meetings of any kind,
as we approach the elections,”
Paul Hirschson, spokesman for
Israel’s foreign ministry, said.
“I would add that the atmosphere between Israel and Sweden is not exactly the best right
now and that factors into the decision. But the primary issue is
the timing, more than anything
*Envoys from the United
States, the European Union, the
United Nations and Russia will
meet later this month to discuss
the next steps to address the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, officials
said on Thursday.
The gathering of the Middle
East diplomatic quartet will take
place on January 26 in Brussels
to discuss ways of reviving the
peace process after the Palestinians failed to win UN Security
Council approval of a resolution
on ending the Israeli occupation.
“The Quartet envoys will meet
at the end of this month to discuss the way ahead,” US ambas-
Rivals agree
on road map
to form unity
govt in Libya
The participants call on
all the players to cease
hostilities to create a
conducive environment for
ibya’s warring factions
have agreed on a road
map to form a unity government after two days of UNbrokered talks in Geneva, touted
as the last chance to avert total
The North African nation has
been wracked by conflict since
the overthrow of Muammar
Gaddafi in a 2011 uprising, with
rival governments and powerful
militias battling for control of
key cities and the country’s vast
oil riches.
UN special envoy to Syria,
Bernardino Leon, had warned
at the start of the talks that they
were a last-ditch effort to prevent all-out chaos.
“The participants agreed after extensive deliberation on an
agenda that includes reaching
a political agreement to form a
consensual national unity government and the necessary security arrangements to end the
fighting,” a UN statement said.
It said the talks “were constructive and... reflected the
participants’ sincere commitment to reach common ground”.
The participants called on all
the players to cease hostilities to
create a conducive environment
for the dialogue, and “expressed
their unequivocal commitment
to a united and democratic Libya
governed by the rule of law and
respect for human rights”.
They agreed to work towards
the release of abducted people, providing and allowing humanitarian aid to reach affected
regions, opening airports and
securing land and maritime navigation.
The delegates will return to
Geneva for a fresh round of talks
next week after consultations.
As news of the agreement
came, the UN refugee agency
said an upsurge in fighting since
the start of this year across several towns in the east, including
the second city of Benghazi, had
sparked more displacements.
“In Benghazi alone, the local
council is reporting that around
90,000 people are unable to return home,” it said, adding that
number of people displaced
nationwide was approximately
Libya’s internationally recognised government decamped
last summer to the eastern city
of Tobruk after an Islamistbacked militia alliance seized the
capital Tripoli and set up its own
The alliance known as Fajr
Libya (Libya Dawn) also holds the
third city, Misrata. It launched a
bloody offensive in December to
seize control of key oil terminals
but was repelled by the army.
The broad agreement cobbled
in Geneva also saw the factions
pledge to work towards ensuring the free movement of people
across the divided nation.
They also vowed to respect
the legitimacy of state institu-
tions, work towards the peaceful
transfer of power and reject violence and terrorism.
The agreement came after
months of UN efforts to get the
opposing sides back to the negotiating table after a single round
of talks in September.
A major concern in Libya is the
proliferation of Islamist militias
in key areas such as Benghazi.
Those militias are led by the
Ansar al-Shariah group, blacklisted by the United Nations for
its links to Al Qaeda.
The Islamic State group that
has seized large areas in Iraq
and Syria is also thought to have
gained a foothold in eastern Libya.
Leon had also underscored
the threat of Libya becoming a
hotbed of Islamist insurgency,
saying it menaced North Africa,
the Middle East, the Sahel and
Europe, which lies on Libya’s
Jihadists are reported to have
set up camps in Libya, including
in the remote southern desert, to
train militants to fight in Mali,
Iraq or Syria.
The head of Libya’s recognised
government has pleaded for
more international help in combating militias by lifting an arms
embargo imposed by the UN Security Council at the start of the
anti-Gaddafi uprising in 2011.
“In Libya, the government
and armed forces are battling
these groups alone, without any
support from the international
community,” Prime Minister
Abdullah al-Thinni said in an
interview just before the Geneva
sador Samantha Power told the
Security Council.
The 15-member council last
month rejected a resolution on
Palestinian statehood that set a
2017 deadline for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories.
The United States and Australia voted against, but China,
France and Russia were among
eight countries that backed the
resolution, leaving it just one
vote short of the nine required
for adoption.
says ICC
decision is
Women flash the victory sign during a rally of supporters of Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn), a mainly-Islamist
alliance, yesterday in Tripoli’s Martyr’s Square.
srael condemned as “scandalous” the International Criminal Court’s decision yesterday
to launch a preliminary probe into
possible war crimes committed by
Israeli forces against Palestinians.
The Palestinians, in contrast,
said nothing “can now stop this
action” from being widened into
a full-scale investigation as they
have requested.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he rejected
the ICC decision, which he called
He noted in a statement that
since Palestine was not a state,
the ICC had no jurisdiction over
it, according to the court’s own
The probe is “absurd” since
“the Palestinian Authority cooperates with Hamas, a terror group
that commits war crimes, in contrast to Israel that fights terror
while maintaining international
law, and has an independent justice system”, the premier said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman added that the sole purpose of the preliminary examination was to “try to harm Israel’s
right to defend itself from terror”.
In a statement he said the decision was “solely motivated by political anti-Israel considerations”,
adding that he would recommend
against co-operating with the
Palestinian Foreign Minister
Riyad al-Malki welcomed the
“Everything is going according to plan; no state and nobody
can now stop this action we requested,” he said. “In the end, a
full investigation will follow the
preliminary one.”
Lieberman accused the court of
double standards for not examining the mass killings in Syria or
other conflict zones, investigating instead “the most moral army
in the world”.
He also said he would act to
“dismantle this court, a body that
represents hypocrisy and gives
terror a tailwind”.
Israeli actions radicalising Muslims: Turkey PM
urkish Prime Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu accused his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu
yesterday of terrorism and said
Israeli “provocations” such as
the bombardment of Gaza were
contributing to radicalisation in
the Muslim world.
In a Reuters interview, Davutoglu said peace in the Middle
East and the eradication of extremist groups would be virtually impossible without the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He also warned the international community against focusing solely on fighting Islamic
State militants in its efforts to
end the conflict in Syria, saying the “brutality” of President
Bashar al-Assad was the root
cause of the problem.
Turkey, an EU candidate nation and member of the Nato
military alliance, is a key Western ally in the fight against Islamic militants. But its leaders
have become increasingly concerned about what they see as
rising Islamophobia in Europe
Davutoglu speaks during the interview with Reuters in Istanbul yesterday.
and increasingly outspoken in
their criticism of Israel.
“(Netanyahu) himself killed,
his army killed children in the
playground. They killed our citizens and an American citizen in
international waters. This is terrorism,” Davutoglu said, refer-
ring to a 2010 Israeli assault on a
Turkish boat attempting to break
Israel’s blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
“Nobody can argue about Israeli aggression in Jerusalem in
the Al Aqsa mosque,” he added.
“These provocations create
frustration in the Muslim world
and are becoming one of the reasons why these radical trends are
emerging,” he said.
“If we want to establish peace
and order in the Middle East,
eliminating all the extremist
forces, we have to solve the Pal-
estinian question.”
Davutoglu on Thursday compared Netanyahu to the Islamist
militants who killed 17 people in
Paris last week, saying both had
committed crimes against humanity.
Netanyahu has called for an
international condemnation of
Davutoglu’s remarks and those
of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after he criticised the
Israeli prime minister’s attendance with other world leaders at
a solidarity march in Paris.
Once-good relations between
Israel and Turkey have declined
markedly over the past five years,
with US efforts to revive the
soured ties failing to make headway. There was no immediate
reaction in Israel to Davutoglu’s
latest comments.
Davutoglu said Turkey, which
has faced criticism for failing to
stop thousands of foreign fighters crossing into Syria, would do
everything it could to stem the
flow, describing the conflict in
its southern neighbour as a major national security threat.
But he said a coherent strategy was needed for Syria before
Turkey would consider a greater frontline role in the US-led
coalition against Islamic State,
including an internationally policed no-fly zone to protect the
northern city of Aleppo from
Assad’s forces.
“The source of the problem
is the Assad regime’s brutality. Without solving that source,
that reason, dealing only with
(Islamic State) or other biproducts of this crisis will not be
solving the problem altogether,”
Davutoglu said.
“(We want a) no-fly zone ... so
that Aleppo will be protected at
least against the air bombardment and there will be no new
refugees coming to Turkey,” he
said, warning of a potential new
influx of millions if the city was
not defended.
He said Turkey may extend
a series of existing militarised
zones along its border with Syria
to try to stop the passage of foreign fighters without closing the
frontier to refugees.
“On the border, up to now,
there are refugee camps, there
are certain places where there
is much more strict control ...
These military zones might be
enlarged,” he said, adding Turkey had so far been reluctant to
do so, so as not to deter refugees.
The Turkish authorities had
banned some 8,000 foreigners
from entering the country over
the past year alone because of
security concerns and had further improved co-ordination
with European intelligence
agencies, Davutoglu said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Homs city receives food aid after local deal: UN
N aid workers have started delivering food to tens
of thousands of people
trapped in a besieged district of
Homs city in Syria following negotiations with warring parties,
officials said yesterday.
In the absence of a nationwide
peace deal, relief groups have
tried to get localised agreements
with fighters on all sides of the
conflict to get convoys through to
people in battle zones.
The United Nations did not give
details of the Homs agreement
but local opposition activists said
there was a temporary ceasefire.
Food was sent to Al Wa’er
on Thursday, Elisabeth Byrs, a
spokeswoman for the UN’s World
Food Programme, told journalists
in Geneva.
“Following extensive negotiations between parties to the
conflict, a first convoy carrying 8,500 family food rations
were delivered to the besieged
area of Al Wa’er,”—enough food
for about 42,500 people for one
month, Byrs said.
Two more convoys over the
coming days will deliver food to
75,000 people, she added, 30%
of the estimated quarter of a million people the United Nations
says are trapped in besieged areas
across Syria.
A UN official in Geneva said
that the WFP rations were aboard
an 18-truck convoy that also delivered some medical supplies
and non-food items from other
UN agencies.
Al Wa’er has witnessed an
intensification of shelling and
heavy clashes which prevented
all access for humanitarian deliveries, WFP said in a statement.
Al Wa’er has been cut off for
nearly two years by government forces, opposition activists
say. Syrian state media said last
month that aid was delivered to
Al Wa’er “almost every month”.
The UN peace envoy to Syria,
Staffan de Mistura, has said he
wants to start focusing on brokering “freeze zones”, or local
truces, in the northern city of
Aleppo rather than a peace plan
for the whole of the divided
“This is why ... we have put on
the table the proposal of a freeze
of heavy fighting in Aleppo, and
eventually the return for a united,
reconstructed Syrian city as it used
to be because it is a symbolic mi-
peace force
troops in
S Sudan
400 US troops
to train Syria
rebel forces
The American troops will
complement a small CIA
training programme that is
already in place
he US military will send
more than 400 troops to
train Syrian rebel forces as
part of a long-planned effort to
build up a moderate opposition to
take on the Islamist State group,
the Pentagon said yesterday.
The training will take place in
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar
and is expected to start in the
“early spring”, said spokeswoman Commander Elissa Smith.
The Pentagon also planned to
deploy an unspecified number
of support troops or “enablers”
to provide logistics, intelligence,
communications and other assistance, Smith said.
“The goal for the train and
equip programme is to build the
capabilities of the moderate Syrian fighters to defend the Syrian people; stabilise areas under
opposition control; promote the
conditions for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Syria;
and empower trainees to go on
the offensive” against the IS
group, she said in an e-mail.
The US Congress backed legislation last month to fund the
training and equipping of Iraqi
forces and moderate Syrian
But President Barack Obama,
wary of having the US drawn
into the multi-sided civil war in
Syria, has been accused by some
rebel groups, lawmakers and allies of moving too slowly to help
the Syrian opposition.
The American troops will
complement a small CIA training programme that is already in
US intelligence agencies and
foreign partners are working to
identify potential recruits for
the training programme, who
will then be vetted to ensure they
have no ties to the IS group or
other extremists, officials said.
“We’ve identified numerous
groups that we believe are suitable for training based on our
current understanding of the
environment and we continue
to evaluate the situation,” Smith
The Pentagon hopes to train
about 5,000 Syrian rebels a year,
officials said.
US troops already have started
training Iraqi government and
Kurdish forces in the fight against
the IS militants, with about 2,100
Americans deployed to Iraq.
IS militants have executed 17
men in recent days in areas they
control in eastern and northern
Syria to avenge a string of assassinations targeting their fighters,
a monitor said yesterday.
“The Islamic State (IS) group
has executed 16 men in Deir alZor and one more in Raqa, to send
a message to all their opponents
after recent assassinations of 12
Syrian, Iraqi and Algerian jihadists,” said Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“The men were accused of
fighting IS,” Abdel Rahman said,
adding that only one of them had
been proven to be linked to the
He added: “IS is sending a
message to all people living under its control, to say: ‘This is
what will happen to any opponent.’”
The group emerged in Syria’s
war in 2013 and in June declared
a “caliphate” in areas under its
control straddling Syria and Iraq.
It has committed some of the
war’s worst abuses, carrying out
near-daily executions in areas in
its grip.
Most of Raqa and Deir al-Zor
provinces are IS-controlled.
Among those executed in the
past two days in oil-rich Deir
al-Zor were five members of the
Shaitat tribe, which launched a
local rebellion last year against
The millitants quelled the revolt, killing more than 900 tribe
members in response.
Syria’s war has killed more
than 200,000 people in nearly
four years.
A Free Syrian Army fighter gets out of a hole in a wall on the Old Aleppo frontline on Thursday.
Lebanon averts strife as talks ease tension
double suicide bombing
at a cafe in the Lebanese
city of Tripoli was meant
to ignite a new round of civil
strife in a country whose stability has been repeatedly strained
by the war in neighbouring Syria.
Instead, the fragile Lebanese
state appears to have emerged
a little stronger from the Sunni
militant attack that killed nine
people in an Alawite neighbourhood, helped by new political
talks that are containing sectarian tensions.
The state’s response to the
bombing - an operation that
re-established control over a
prison taken over by its Islamist inmates - points to common
ground among Lebanese on opposite sides of the region’s wider, sectarian-fuelled conflict.
Lebanon, with its own combustible sectarian mix, has felt
the force of that conflict in suicide bombings and bloody confrontations between the army
and militant groups.
More trouble is expected: a
car bomb rigged with 120kg of
explosives was found on Thursday near the Syrian border.
Sunni militant leaders remain
at large, with plenty of opportunity to recruit among disaffected
Lebanese Sunnis, in Palestinian refugee camps, and from a
pool of well over a million Syrian
But Lebanese politicians see
the outcome of the Tripoli attack as further proof their country will continue to muddle
through, shielded by regional
understandings that have spared
Security forces accompany Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk during his inspection of Roumieh prison on January 13.
them the kind of all- out conflict
raging in Syria and Iraq.
The two players best placed to
contain sectarian tensions - the
Future Movement of Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri and the Shia
group Hezbollah - launched political talks this month seen as
part of a broader effort to keep a
lid on Lebanon.
The dialogue has been credited
with keeping tensions in check
after the January 10 bombing in
a predominantly Alawite neighbourhood that is generally sympathetic to Hezbollah and the
Syrian government.
“If we had been in a climate
of tension certainly there would
have been different reactions,”
Samir al-Jisr, a Future Movement politician taking part in
the dialogue, said.
Hezbollah urged restraint.
The families of the two bombers
condemned them and said they
would not hold funeral rites.
Two days later, security forces stormed Roumieh prison in
a long planned operation that
could not have happened without a green light from rival politicians after the Tripoli bombing.
crocosm of all of Syria,” De Mistura
told a news briefing in Geneva on
Thursday, saying that Islamic State
rebel forces were “only 20 miles
away from Aleppo”.
More than 200,000 people
have been killed in Syria’s conflict, which began in March 2011
with popular protests against
President Bashar al-Assad and
spiralled into civil war after a
crackdown by security forces.
Interior Minister Nohad
Machnouk, a member of the
Future Movement, said Islamist inmates were connected to
the Tripoli attack. “Dialogue is a
strategic decision that supports
Lebanon’s integrity and opens
the way to every political and
security step that will help with
stability,” he said.
Beyond the gates, the inmates
were effectively running the jail.
With access to the Internet and
mobile phones, they were in
contact with militants outside.
Nabih Berri, the parliament
speaker, said the operation
“proved that the state exists”,
adding that it was a result of
and had required a political decision.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has credited Hariri for
pushing for the dialogue. With
Saudi backing, the former prime
minister remains an influential
voice among Sunnis though he
has made just one visit to Lebanon since leaving in 2011 after
Hezbollah and its allies toppled
his government.
He hopes the talks might pave
the way for agreement on a new
president - a position reserved
for a Christian that has been
empty since Michel Suleiman’s
term expired in May.
Lebanon’s two main Christian
rivals - Samir Geagea and Michel
Aoun - are expected to hold their
own talks on the presidency. But
it is widely assumed a deal to fill
the post will need to be brokered
by outside powers.
For now, the Sunni-Shia dialogue is focused on managing
tensions as the threat of more
Sunni militancy remains high.
Hezbollah’s role in Syria,
where it is fighting alongside
government forces, has been
cited by Al Qaeda-linked militants as a motivation for attacks. Hezbollah’s critics say
it has provoked such violence.
The group says it is fighting in
Syria to protect Lebanon from
Leading Sunni militants are
still at large, hiding in Palestinian refugee camps beyond
the reach of the security forces. Militants linked to Islamic
State and Al Qaeda still represent a threat at the eastern border with Syria.
They are holding some two
dozen members of the security
forces taken captive during an
attack on the border town of
Arsal last August - the most serious spillover of the Syrian war
to date.
“Despite what happened in
Roumieh prison, which has restored some of the state’s standing, the situation in the country remains fragile,” said Rajeh
Khoury, a political commentator.
“The danger is still there because Lebanon stands in the
middle of fires and wars that are
burning around it.”
n advanced party of Chinese peacekeepers is in
South Sudan and the rest
of the 700-strong contingent is
due to arrive by early April, a UN
official said yesterday, part of
a surge in a UN mission to protect civilians in a nation mired in
Fighting in the oil-producing
nation, which is one of the world’s
poorest, has killed more than
10,000 people, driven more than a
million from their homes and left
many without enough food.
“We had an advanced party
of 18 members of the incoming battalion arrive on January 9 to begin preparations for
delivery of contingent-owned
equipment,” said Brian Kelly, a
spokesman for the UN mission
in South Sudan UNMISS.
He said some of the equipment had already landed in Entebbe, in neighbouring Uganda.
“Overall deployment of the
700-stong Chinese infantry battalion and its equipment will take
more than two months to complete,” he said, adding 180 troops
would be in Juba by the end of
February with 520 more arriving
by late March or early April.
China is a major investor in
South Sudan’s oil industry.
Fighting erupted in December 2013 in South Sudan, which
won independence from Sudan
in 2011, after months of political
tension between President Salva
Kiir and his sacked deputy and
political rival, Riek Machar.
The conflict has reopened
deep tensions among ethnic
groups, pitting Kiir’s Dinka
against Machar’s Nuer.
Some of the worst fighting in
the nation of 11mn people has
been in Jonglei state and the two
oil producing states of Unity and
Upper Nile.
Linda Etim, USAID deputy
assistant administrator for affairs, said yesterday nearly half
of the population in those three
areas was projected to face a
food security emergency.
“The malnutrition situation
is classified as critical or very
critical in more than half of the
country,” she said.
Although the warring parties
have agreed to ceasefires—the
first deal reached in January
2014, a month after fighting
erupted—the deals have been
regularly flouted. Fighting has
picked up after a lull during rains
that ended late last year.
Bird flu claims
third victim in
Egypt this year
A woman has died of H5N1 bird
flu in southern Egypt, the third
person in the country to die of
the illness this year, a health ministry official said yesterday.
The woman, 43, lived in a village
in Assiut and had direct contact
with infected birds, Ahmed Abdel
Hameed told reporters.
The World Health Organisation
(WHO) says there has been a jump
in the number of H5N1 infections in
people in Egypt, but that there does
not appear to have been any major
genetic change in the flu strain to
explain the rise in human cases.
At least 10 people died from the
disease in Egypt in 2014.
The Geneva-based WHO said on
Tuesday that between December
4 and January 6, there had been
18 new laboratory-confirmed
human cases of H5N1 infection in
Egypt, including four deaths.
This was the highest ever
monthly number of human cases
in Egypt, the UN public health
agency said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Malawi warns of more rain
as floods ravage country
Opposition leaders
detained as polls loom
EU partners with drug
industry to fight Ebola
Zambia’s key railway
line re-opens after strike
Nigeria finds H5 strain
of bird flu in poultry
Malawian authorities yesterday warned that more
heavy rain was expected as floods ravaged the southern African country, leaving dozens dead and missing
and thousands displaced. “What the country has
witnessed is only the beginning of the onset of rains,”
Paul Chiunguzeni, principal secretary for Disaster
Management Affairs, said in a statement. “The government is urging people living in flood-prone districts
to urgently relocate to upland areas to avoid losing
more lives.” The floods, which have wreaked havoc on
half the country’s 28 districts, have left an estimated
100,000 people homeless. The government on
Tuesday put the death toll at 48, but Chiunguzeni
would not provide an updated figure, saying teams
had been sent to “source and verify information” on
the number of people dead and missing.
Burundi opposition leaders yesterday accused
Bujumbura of eliminating rivals ahead of elections,
after a senior opposition figure was jailed for bribery
and another arrested for rebel links. The action
against the two leaders comes amid growing fears of
violence ahead of the elections later this year, with a
string of attacks Frederic Bamvuginyumvira, a former
Burundian vice-president and current deputy leader
of the Front for Democracy (Frodebu) party, was
sentenced on Thursday to five years in jail for bribery
following a sex scandal. Meanwhile Frodebu youth
leader Patrick Nkurunziza was arrested on Thursday,
the most prominent figure held in connection with a
rebel force that entered the country from lawless regions of neighbouring eastern Democratic Republic
of Congo earlier this month.
The EU will partner with the European pharmaceutical industry to finance 215mn euros in research
projects to fight Ebola, mainly to develop vaccines
and diagnostic tests, it announced yesterday. The
funds come on top of 24.4mn euros that the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation EU, released in November to boost research for a
vaccine and treatment for the deadly disease which
has ravaged west Africa. “Eight research projects to
develop vaccines (and) rapid diagnostics tests are
being funded with a total of 215mn euros,” the commission said in a statement. “There is no vaccine or
treatment against Ebola as yet, so we must urgently
step up our efforts in Ebola research,” Carlos Moedas,
European Commissioner for Research, Science and
Innovation, said in a statement.
A key railway line which links landlocked Zambia to
the ports in Tanzania reopened yesterday after a Tanzania high court ruled that the five-day strike action
by workers was illegal. “The suspension of operations...has now been uplifted and all train operations
have resumed with immediate effect,” the company
said. Workers at the cash-strapped Tanzania Zambia
Railway Authority (Tazara), which is owned by the
governments of Tanzania and Zambia, downed
tools on Monday demanding five months of unpaid
salaries. Yesterday, however, the company said it
had secured funds to pay the salary arrears. Built in
the 1970s, Tazara remains an important route to the
sea, handling most of Zambia’s copper and cobalt
exports. But the troubled rail firm has been struggling
to carry out its operations to capacity.
Nigeria said yesterday it had quarantined two
poultry farms in the north and south of the country after detecting an H5 strain of bird flu in both.
Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said in a
statement that samples were taken from birds at
the two farms, in the commercial hub Lagos and
the main northern city of Kano, after they showed
“unusual high mortality” rates. The samples “tested
positive for the H5 strain of avian influenza virus”,
the statement said, adding that samples had been
sent to a laboratory in Italy for further testing.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, was the continent’s first country to
detect bird flu in 2006, when chicken farms were
found to have the H5N1 strain. In 2007, it reported
its first human death from the disease.
Leaders mull
force to fight
Boko Haram
Dozens of Chadian tanks
head out of the Chadian
capital, N’Djamena, south
towards Cameroon to help
fight Nigeria’s Boko Haram
est African leaders are
considering creating a
military force to fight
Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants
and will hold a regional summit
next week to discuss the issue,
Ghana’s President John Mahama
said yesterday.
Regional bloc ECOWAS will
seek the support of the African
Union (AU) for its plans, said
“Nigeria is taking military action and Cameroon is fighting
Boko Haram, but I think we are
increasingly getting to the point
where probably a regional or a
multinational force is coming
into consideration,” Mahama,
who currently chairs ECOWAS,
told a news conference.
“It is what we want to discuss
at the AU because, if that must
happen, there must be a mandate
to allow such a force to operate,”
he said.
Boko Haram is fighting to create a hardline state in northeast
Nigeria along the border with
Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
But it has recently expanded its
field of activity to neighbouring
The group’s fighters seized the
military base and town of Baga,
in Nigeria on the shores of Lake
Chad, on January 3. Baga was the
headquarters of a multinational
force with troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Meanwhile, dozens of Chadian tanks have headed out of the
capital south towards Cameroon
to help fight Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgents.
The convoy, seen by an AFP
journalist, roared out of the city
after Chad’s parliament voted to
send armed forces to Cameroon
and Nigeria to fight against the
militant group.
Cameroon’s President Paul
Biya had announced on Thursday
that Chad President Idriss Deby
had agreed to send “a substantial contingent” of troops to help
Cameroonian armed forces, who
have faced repeated attacks from
Boko Haram.
Earlier yesterday, Chad’s parliament in N’Djamena voted 150 to 0
to send an unspecified number of
“Chadian armed troops and security forces to assist Cameroonian
and Nigerian soldiers waging war
against the terrorists in Cameroon
and Nigeria”.
Cameroon has been critical of
the passivity of the Nigerian authorities and of muted international reaction in the face of Boko
Haram aggression.
Since Boko Haram’s insurgency
began, around 135,000 people
have fled the restive northeast of
Nigeria, and at least 850,000 have
been displaced inside the region.
A satellite image, released by Airbus Defence and Space satellites and
made available by Human Rights Watch, shows evidence of large-scale
destruction of the area surrounding Baga, particularly in the town of Doro
Gowon, on the shores of Lake Chad, in the far north of Borno State in
northeast Nigeria following attacks since January 3 byBoko Haram militants.
So far Chad has been spared,
but its border is not far from the
Islamists’ headquarters in the
Nigerian state of Borno.
The entry of Chadian forces
in the increasingly regional
fight against Boko Haram may
prove valuable in halting the
extremists’ series of ruthless
After describing Boko Haram
as a direct threat to the nation’s
“vital interests”, Chadian leaders
moved quickly to deploy units
of the country’s powerful armed
forces to resume its position as
one of the region’s most hostile
anti-jihad forces.
In 2013 Chadian troops became formidable allies of French
forces battling militants who’d
taken control of northern Mali,
and played an important role in
routing those extremists out into
the remote areas of the Sahel.
As they did so, Chadian soldiers gained a reputation for
ruthless efficiency in pursuing
and liquidating retreating militant fighters, and were credited
with killing some of the most
wanted radical leaders.
One of Chad’s main objectives in joining its neighbours to
take on Boko Haram is re-taking
the northeast Nigerian town of
Baga, which the extremist group
stormed in a stunning show of
force January 7, provoking the
flight of 5,000 people.
Over 3,500 of buildings
in the strategically-situated
Baga and outlying areas were
thought to have been raised,
perhaps 2,000 people massacred, and hundreds of people
taken captive in Boko Haram’s
“Boko Haram kidnapped at
least 300 women and held us in a
school in Baga,” a non-identified
woman quoted in a statement released on Thursday by Amnesty
International said.
“They freed the older women, the mothers, and most of
the children after four days, but
they are still holding the younger
women,” she said.
On Thursday US Secretary of
State John Kerry deplored Boko
Haram’s activity as a “crime
against humanity, nothing less”,
and suggested the torment of
Baga was a particularly stark reminder of the threat the group
poses to the region and world.
People gathering outside the Bata Stadium yesterday.
Nations Cup organisers
dismiss Ebola, venue fears
he African Football
measures have been taken in
host nation Equatorial Guinea
to protect against Ebola as the
Africa Cup of Nations prepares
to get underway.
“We are very confident, it was
one of our top priorities,” assured CAF general secretary Hicham El Amrani at a press conference in the country’s largest
city Bata.
More than 8,000 people have
died in the epidemic in west
Africa, but no cases have been
reported in Equatorial Guinea,
which stepped in to organise the
hosting of the Cup of Nations
after Morocco’s withdrawal over
Ebola fears.
“A lot of money has been invested in Equatorial Guinea in
equipment such as specialist
ambulances. There is an antiEbola commission and doctors
have come from other countries.
“A concrete plan has been put
in place.”
Meanwhile, El Amrani has
stated his satisfaction at preparations in the towns and cities
chosen to host games at the 16team event.
Fears have been expressed in
A Mali supporter blowing a vuvuzela horn upon the arrival of Mali’s
team at Malabo airport yesterday ahead of the 2015 Africa Cup of
Nations football tournament.
particular about the small towns
of Mongomo and Ebebiyin, but
he said: “In Mongomo and Ebebiyin what we have got is better
than what we expected.”
The two towns are hosts along
with Bata and the capital Malabo, which also staged games
when Equatorial Guinea cohosted the 2012 Nations Cup
with Gabon.
The small central African
state has had barely two months
to prepare after stepping in
when Morocco refused to host
the competition and there has
been concern whether adequate
facilities could be provided in
Mongomo and Ebebiyin, both
situated deep in the interior of
the impoverished country.
El Amrani said work to lay
the pitches at the two venues
started around December 13
and was finished by December
25. He added that work on other facilities at the stadia was on
“We have four sites that are
of an acceptable level, with certain imperfections, but with the
priority given to the players,
security, good quality playing
surfaces and accommodation,”
he added.
Eight training pitches across
the four host towns have been
approved by specialists, while
accommodation is “satisfactory”, despite concerns already
expressed by Congo Brazzaville
coach Claude Le Roy.
Le Roy complained of a lack of
sufficient rooms for his players
and staff and a lack of water at
his team’s hotel in Bata.
El Amrani said: “Despite difficulties at certain hotels, we
believe that the majority if not
all of the infrastructure for the
teams is satisfactory.
“Of course, things are better
in Malabo, and it has not been
possible to build new facilities
since November 13, but overall
things are satisfactory.
“The four sites are ready, the
ticketing system is in place and
the sale of tickets began last
“We are just having a few
worries with media installations, but we are working very
hard on that.”
The 30th Nations Cup begins
today, when the hosts face Congo Brazzaville and Gabon meet
Burkina Faso, with both Group A
games being played in Bata.
Quiet lawyer favourite in Zambian presidential race
Lungu’s rapid rise from
backroom politician to
presidential front-runner in one
of Africa’s most promising frontier markets has revealed tactical
nous and a steely determination
that few knew lay beneath his
quiet exterior.
The ruling Patriotic Front (PF)
candidate goes into the copper
producer’s January 20 presidential by-election as slight favourite over main rival Hakainde
Hichilema, a businessman whose
United Party for National Development is popular with the middle-class and investors.
But with no reliable opinion
polls, few experts are keen to call
a clear winner in the contest to
succeed President Michael Sata,
who died in office in October
aged 77.
“Lungu has the edge but there
are so many unknowns this time
around,” said Alex Ng’oma, a political analyst at the University of
Zambia. “It’s too close to call.”
Lungu has been swift to tap
into the working class support
base of Sata, a populist leader
from the majority Bemba tribe,
using catch phrases and slang
in traditional languages on the
campaign trail, while avoiding
detailed policy debates.
His promises to build roads
and reduce fuel and food prices,
despite IMF pressure to cut public spending, mirror the pledges
that won Sata a 2011 election.
“We vote Lungu because of
Michael Sata,” said Gilbert Neba,
a shoe-seller on a bustling street
in the capital, Lusaka.
“What Lungu says in campaigns is about the continuity of
the late president. Let him finish
what Sata started,” Neba added,
puffing out his chest to display a
“Vote Lungu” t-shirt.
However, Lungu, a tall, slim
figure described by his campaign
team as the “silent type”, is a very
different prospect from Sata, an
abrasive leader nicknamed “King
Cobra” because of his venomous
He only emerged as a potential
PF leader in August when Sata
shocked the ruling party by firing
his presumed successor, justice
minister Wynter Kabimba, and
replacing him with Lungu.
“If you asked anyone six
months ago who would be the
next president, no one would
have picked Edgar,” a lawyer who
has worked with Lungu told Reuters.
“But maybe we should have
known. He’s a quiet guy but very
persuasive. He’s got this affable,
laid-back style and people tend
to give him what he wants before
they realise it.”
Hichilema, known locally as
“HH”, won 18% of votes in 2011
but is thought to have gained
support due to PF infighting following Sata’s death.
With another election due in
20 months when Sata’s first term
would have ended, the winner
will have little time to overturn a
host of economic problems.
Zambia, the continent’s big-
gest copper producer after
Democratic Republic of Congo,
has been one of the world’s best
performing economies in the
last decade, averaging 6-7%
growth as the mining sector
But growth slowed to 5.5% last
year and could ease further with
the price of copper, which accounts for 70% of export earnings, falling to a six-year low last
The government is also in
deadlock with mining companies
over unpaid VAT returns and royalty increases, adding to pressure
on the kwacha currency.
“The scope to make bold
changes will be limited,” said one
senior Western diplomat in Lusaka. “Victory this time could be
a poisoned chalice.”
A digital billboard displays an election message depicting the Patriotic
Front (PF) presidential candidate Edgar Lungu in Lusaka. Zambians go to
the polls on January 20.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Obama, Cameron vow to
help France defeat terror
Obama warned Paris must
not simply respond to the
attacks with a security
crackdown but should also
learn to better integrate its
Muslim minority
Obama and British Prime
Minister David Cameron
vowed yesterday to help France
and others defeat the threat of
global terrorism with stronger
co-operation and surveillance.
In his first meeting with a foreign leader since last week’s extremist attacks in Paris, Obama
reaffirmed Washington’s close
ties with its “indispensable ally”
Britain and vowed both would
support France.
“I know David joins me when
I say that we will continue to do
everything in our power to help
France seek the justice that is
needed... to defeat these terrorist networks,” Obama said.
Obama said the Paris attacks
“underscored how terrorist
groups like Al Qaeda and ISIL
are actively trying to inspire and
support people within our own
countries to engage in terrorism.”
Both leaders had warm words
for France, but Obama warned
Paris must not simply respond
to the attacks with a security
crackdown but should also learn
to better integrate its Muslim
“Our biggest advantage, major, is that our Muslim populations, they feel themselves to be
Americans and there is this incredible process of immigration
US President Barack Obama listens to British Prime Minister David Cameron during a joint news
conference following their meeting at the White House in Washington yesterday.
and assimilation that is part of
our tradition,” he said.
“There are parts of Europe in
which that’s not the case ... it’s
important for Europe not to simply respond with a hammer and
law enforcement and military
approaches to these problems.”
He said the United States
would hold a summit in February
on countering violent extremism
and the threat of radicalized Islamist fighters returning to their
home countries from the war in
“David and the United Kingdom continue to be strong
partners in this work, including sharing intelligence and
strengthening border security,”
he said, expressing personal
friendship with his guest.
The pair held a joint news
conference in the White House
after two days of detailed talks in
Cameron said: “This morning, we have agreed to establish a
joint group to identify what more
we can do to counter the rise of
domestic violent extremism and
to learn from one another.”
The British leader described
the jihadist movements that inspired the Paris attackers a “poisonous, fanatical death cult.”
The United States and Britain
already cooperate closely in global electronic surveillance, and
Cameron said the two leaders
had agreed to deepen their cooperation on cyber-security.
The pair issued a strong warning to Russia over what they said
was its aggression in Ukraine,
saying that sanctions would
“Russia has chosen to trample over the affairs of a sovereign
state. This threatens our stability and our prosperity,” Cameron
said, in a tacit measure to nervous Western allies in Europe.
“It is important that every
country understands that and
that no-one in Europe forgets
our history. We cannot walk on
And both leaders warned the
US Congress not to threaten
tougher sanctions against Iran
while negotiators attempt to
strike a deal to rein in its nuclear
Obama said Iran was already
chafing under existing sanctions
and had not accelerated its programme and that he would strongly urge Congress not to torpedo
the ongoing talks with Tehran.
“We’ll see how persuasive I
am. But if I’m not persuading
Congress, I promise you, I’m going to be taking my case to the
American people on this,” he
In a separate statement, the
White House said the US National Security Agency and FBI
would form a joint cyber-security cell with British domestic
intelligence MI5 and eavesdropping agency GCHQ.
This will speed intelligence
sharing and strengthen the allies’ defenses against cyber-attacks from foreign governments
and criminals, the leaders said.
The partners will begin their
reinforced cooperation with a
year-long exercise to test and
strengthen the defenses of the
financial sector.
In recent weeks Washington
has been embarrassed by the
seizure of a military Twitter account by jihadist sympathisers
and angered by North Korea’s
alleged hacking of Hollywood
studio Sony.
But trans-Atlantic partnership has also had successes.
A young hacker—suspected of
taking part in attacks that shut
down online gaming platforms
over Christmas — was arrested
yesterday in a joint operation
with the FBI and British police.
Obama, 53, is beginning his
last two years in office, while
Cameron, 48, is preparing for
general elections in May that
are expected to be very close and
could mark the end of his coalition government. Page 10
US on edge after
attacks in Paris
he United States is on
edge after the Paris terror
attacks, tightening security amid fears of attacks by both
“lone wolf” attackers and small
cells guided from afar.
On Wednesday the FBI announced the arrest of a young
American man in Ohio who is
accused of planning an attack on
the Capitol in Washington, the
seat of Congress.
An undercover officer recorded
him in conversations held both
face-to-face and over the Internet, advocating violent attacks in
conversations held both face-toface and over the Internet.
The same day an American jihadist was sentenced to 20 years
in prison in Florida for trying to
support Al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, new charges were
filed against the Qazi brothers, Americans arrested in 2012
for trying to detonate a bomb in
New York.
FBI director James Comey
spoke recently of the spread of
the terrorist threat since the
September 11, 2001 attacks.
Experts see a rising number of
“lone wolves” and small jihadist
cells of the kind formed by the
Kouachi brothers in France and
Amedy Coulibaly, who staged
the recent attacks in France.
These are Western-born Muslims inspired by the ideology and
tactics of Al Qaeda or the Islamic
State group, who decide to stage
an attack with or without the direct support of the organisation.
The threat is almost undetectable and extremely hard to prevent, said analyst Max Abrahms,
who expects the FBI to break up
more of the kind of operations
envisaged by the Ohio suspect.
The attack against the French
newspaper Charlie Hebdo was
claimed by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the
Yemeni branch of the movement, which is “particularly
worrisome for the US.”
“AQAP is making a lot of noise
right now and understandably
that that gives US security officials jitters,” said Abrahms, who
teaches at Northeastern University.
“It makes perfect sense, particularly because the attack
was linked to AQAP that the US
would ramp up its own security,”
he added.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, which left 17 dead, US
Secretary of Homeland Security
Jeh Johnson ramped up security
and surveillance around government buildings and at airports.
“It is time to be extra vigilant,”
he said, announcing efforts to
raise awareness among religious
and ethnic communities across
the United States.
“The continuing terror threat”
overshadowing the United States
was hammered home with all US
security services and police during a teleconference Wednesday
with the FBI and Homeland Security.
“Continued vigilance, information sharing, and co-ordination at all levels are the key to effective prevention, and provided
an inclusive forum to share relevant information with our law
enforcement partners,” said an
FBI statement.
Two congressional probes will
focus on homegrown terrorism.
The Republican chairman of
the Homeland Security Commission of the House of Representatives, Michael McCaul, said
it is a matter of determining how
the US government fights these
domestic threats and fixes the
gaps in its in defence systems to
protect the US.
Obamacare’s lead agency chief to quit ‘In Dog We Trust’ rug to go
he Obama administration official who oversaw
the botched rollout of the
Obamacare website, Healthcare.
gov, announced yesterday she
will resign as head of the agency
that also manages the Medicare
and Medicaid healthcare programsme.
“It is with sadness and mixed
emotions that I write to tell you
that February will be my last
month,” Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services
(CMS), said in an email to staff
that was seen by Reuters.
A former nurse and hospital
executive, Tavenner, 63, joined
CMS in February 2010, a month
before President Barack Obama
signed the Affordable Care Act
into law. She enjoyed widespread
bipartisan support in Congress
as a private sector leader who
had also served as Virginia’s
health and human resources
An administration official
said Tavenner was leaving “at
the right time” after her agency
had hired capable new officials
in leadership positions. “She’s
been here for five years and it’s a
24/7 job,” the official said.
Andrew Slavitt, a former
UnitedHealth Group executive who joined CMS last year
to oversee and
policy co-ordination with other
CMS programmes, will replace
Tavenner as acting CMS administrator, US Health and Human
Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said. is now headed
up by Kevin Counihan.
“Marilyn has done a great job
in a very difficult position under
near impossible circumstances.
She has proven herself to be
a strong leader and a straight
shooter,” Senator Orrin Hatch,
Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a
Tavenner quickly emerged as a
leading figure in the implementation of Obamacare, including, which crashed
on launch in October 2013 due
to technical glitches and plunged
Obama and his signature domestic policy into months of political crisis.
“It is with sadness and
mixed emotions that I write
to tell you that February
will be my last month”
Administration officials put
together a rescue operation with
help from outside experts that
got the website working well
enough to surpass enrollment
Republicans in the House of
Representatives later accused
Tavenner and other administra-
tion officials of misleading them
about the Obamacare rollout by
assuring lawmakers ahead of the
launch that the website would
Tavenner’s nearly 2,000word e-mail to staff made no
mention of, but
focused instead on the successes of Obamacare enrollment,
improved quality of care and a
crackdown on Medicare fraud
and abuse.
Burwell told federal staff in
a separate e-mail that Tavenner had helped shore up the
finances of the ailing Medicare
programe for the elderly and
disabled, expanded the Medicaid programme for the poor,
reduced deadly hospital infections and accelerated innovation.
“It’s a measure of her tenacity and dedication that after the
tough initial rollout of, she helped right the
ship,” Burwell said.
under the hammer in Florida
he rug at a Florida sheriff ’s
department might have
been better suited for an
animal shelter.
The plush green carpet proudly displayed the crest of the
Pinellas County Sheriff ’s Department, emblazoned with its
name and a picture of the state
of Florida.
Unfortunately, it also contained a small but disastrous
spelling error: The words “In
Dog We Trust,” rather than “In
God We Trust,” the official motto
found on US currency and on
many government seals.
It took workers at the office a
few months to notice the typo,
which appears in fine print on
The rug bearing the official motto with the spelling error.
the rug. Now they’re looking to
sell the defective floor covering
for a good cause.
“The Pinellas County Sheriff ’s
Office will not ‘sweep anything
under the rug’,” it said in a statement.
“Due to extensive inquiries
regarding the plans for the ‘dog-
gone’ rug, the Sheriff ’s Office
has placed the item up for bid
and will donate 100% of the bid
to Canine Estates Incorporated,
a local animal rescue,” said the
sheriff ’s department,
The office has ordered a new
rug which they hope will be error-free.
New Cuba rules no beach bonanza for US travellers
merican travellers beware: you can’t legally
book your next beach vacation to Cuba just yet.
New US rules that came into
effect yesterday as part of moves
to improve relations with Washington’s old Cold War foe will
allow expanded travel to communist-run Cuba for American
The new regulations will allow
Americans to visit the island for
any of a dozen specific reasons,
including family visits, education and religion, without first
obtaining a special license from
the US government as was previously the case.
But trips purely for tourism
remain specifically prohibited.
Collin Laverty, president of
US company Cuba Educational
Travel, said the “educational”
category would probably be one
of the most-used formal categories for travel.
“You will be expected to visit
the agricultural market, speak
with the owners of private restaurants, share your own life
experiences with Cubans and,
of course, to stay away from the
beaches,” said Laverty.
He has brought around 5,000
people to Cuba over the last four
years, organising trips that range
from short family visits for Cuban-Americans to holidays designed for art collectors or cigar
Many of the Americans who
travel to the island already visit
beach resorts such as Varadero,
on the island’s northern coast,
betting on the fact that what US
authorities don’t know will not
hurt them.
A senior US official said that
under the new rules visitors
could still be slapped with penalties for disregarding the travel
categories, adding they would
have to keep records and documents showing they complied
with the rules for five years.
Currently travel to the island
from the United States is either via third countries such as
Mexico, or directly on chartered
flights that are permitted to carry licensed travellers.
Over time, if direct commercial flights start and on-line
booking sites add Cuba to their
destinations, travellers might be
A Cuban gives the thumbs up from his balcony decorated with the US and Cuban flags in Havana,
yesterday. The United States eased travel and trade restrictions with Cuba yesterday, marking the first
concrete steps towards restoring normal ties with the Cold War-era foe since announcing a historic rapprochement.
able to book tickets themselves
and certify to the airline that the
trip was for an allowed purpose,
the US official said.
United Airlines Inc said on
Thursday it planned to serve
Cuba from Houston and Newark,
New Jersey, subject to government approvals. Delta Air Lines
and JetBlue Airways said they
would look into adding services.
“We are interested in providing service to Cuba from multiple US cities, as soon as legally
permitted. Our existing charter
programme to and from Cuba
has given us valuable experience
in the market and a strong foundation for future expansion,”
said JetBlue spokesman Morgan
Experts in travel to the island
noted that the new regulations
exempt some but not all groups
from the requirement of travelling in an organised group rather
than as individuals.
Those exempt include CubanAmericans, journalists and people travelling for government or
business reasons. But ordinary
travellers will still need, at least
for the moment, to book through
a tour operator, which will still
be responsible for ensuring the
itinerary meets Treasury regulations and does not constitute
pleasure tourism.
That regulation “implicitly bars individual travel which
forces it to remain under the table,” said John McAuliff, who has
arranged licensed trips to Cuba
on behalf of the Fund for Recon-
ciliation and Development.
Augusto Maxwell, head of
the Cuba practice at Miami law
firm Akerman, said the new
rules were a blessing to American business travellers who have
long been constrained by a $180
per diem limit on spending by
the Treasury Department. That
limit has been lifted under the
new rules.
Previously, US business travellers wanting to visit high-end
restaurants and sample expensive rums and cigars had to tread
carefully in Cuba to avoid scrutiny. “The older rules were nudgenudge, wink-wink. These rules
are very clear,” he said.
David Campbell, marketing
director at,
an accommodation search engine, urged US travellers to go
now, before direct flights and
cruise ships made the island 90
miles south of Florida too accessible.
That said, while tourism has
developed strongly over the
last two decades and Cuba is
used to visitors from Canada,
Europe and Latin America, the
island still lacks a wide choice
of high-end hotels and other
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
American woman accused of killing mother seeks funds from her estate
Kansas City
US woman who is being
tried in Indonesia for the
murder of her mother on
the resort island of Bali has filed
a lawsuit seeking money from
a trust in her alleged victim’s
name to pay legal bills, court
records showed.
The woman, Heather Mack,
and her boyfriend, Tommy
Schaefer, could face the death
penalty if found guilty of murdering Sheila von Wiese-Mack,
whose battered body was found
in a bloody suitcase outside a
luxury hotel in August.
Mack filed a suit in Chicago
on Thursday seeking to transfer
$150,000 out of her mother’s
$1.6mn trust fund to pay her
legal expenses, according to her
attorney, Anthony Scifo.
The money would go to a bank
to pay future billed expenses, he
said. Mack is the sole beneficiary of the trust, administered by
William Wiese, the dead woman’s brother, Scifo said.
Wiese has an “affirmative
duty” to act for her benefit, Scifo
said. “He has not provided her
with one cent,” he said.
A hearing on the matter is
scheduled in Cook County Circuit Court, he said.
Trials for Mack and Schaefer,
both from Chicago, began on
Wednesday. Neither entered a
plea in their initial appearance,
and the two are due back in court
next week.
Mack, however, maintains her
innocence, according to the lawsuit filed in Illinois. She travelled
to Bali for a vacation with her
mother, the suit states.
Mack, seven months pregnant, is charged with assisting
Schaefer in killing von WieseMack, who was 62 at the time of
her death. The couple is accused
of stuffing her battered body in a
suitcase and dropping it off with
other luggage outside a luxury
hotel. They could die by firing
squad if convicted, Sifco said.
Bali police conducted a fourmonth investigation into the
murder that included a reenactment of the crime at the
luxury hotel where von WieseMack’s body was found.
Other evidence submitted
to prosecutors included CCTV
footage showing the couple
speaking to a taxi driver after
dropping off the bloodied suitcase.
Mack and her mother had a
troubled relationship, and von
Wiese-Mack had frequently reported that her daughter had
punched and bitten her, according to police reports cited by
Chicago media.
Von Wiese-Mack had recently
moved to a condominium in Chicago. Her husband and Heather’s
father, classical music composer
James Mack, died in 2006.
Strong currents
stop divers reaching
aircraft’s main body
Pangkalan Bun
Buddhist monks hold placards as they protest against visiting UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, in Yangon yesterday.
Myanmar govt warned over
growing religious tensions
top American diplomat
yesterday decried growing religious intolerance
in Myanmar and warned the use
of faith for political ends was
“playing with fire” in a crunch
election year for the former junta-run country.
His comments came as hundreds of monks staged a rally in
Yangon blasting the UN’s rights
envoy for perceived bias towards
Rohingya Muslims, in the latest
show of strength for Buddhist
“We expressed a concern that
the use of religion in particular
to divide people —whether it is
done for political or for any other
purposes — is incredibly dangerous, particularly in an election
year,” Tom Malinowski, a senior
state department human rights
envoy, told reporters after a six
day mission to the country.
The delegation voiced fears
“this really is playing with fire
and exposing the country to
dangers that it is not prepared to
handle,” he added.
Myanmar has seen surging
Buddhist nationalism in recent
years and spates of violence tar-
UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Yanghee Lee talks during a press
conference in Yangon.
geting Muslim minorities that
have raised doubts over its much
vaunted reforms after decades of
harsh military rule.
UN Special Rapporteur on
Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, was denounced by crowds of monks in
the main city of Yangon as she
concluded her second official
visit to the country yesterday.
The UN envoy warned that
inter-religious violence remains
a “significant problem” in Myanmar, particularly in unresttorn Rakhine state, where she
said continuing acute tensions
between Muslims and Buddhists
could have “far-reaching impli-
cations”. “The election is a very
critical time in shaping the future of Myanmar and the situation in Rakhine is still in a state
of crisis,” she told reporters.
Myanmar has large minority religious
groups, particularly Muslims
and Christians, who are both
estimated to account for around
four% of the population, although many believe the number
of Muslims could be higher.
Religious intolerance, sporadically spilling into lethal bloodshed, has spread across Myanmar since 2012, when unrest
between Rohingya Muslims and
Buddhists ignited Rakhine state.
Both the US and UN raised
particular concerns about a set
of controversial laws proposed
by President Thein Sein in response to campaigns by hardline
Buddhist monks.
The draft legislation — including curbs on interfaith marriage, religious conversion and
birth rates — are seen by activists
as particularly discriminatory
against women and minorities.
They are yet to be passed by
parliament, but the high-level
support from government has
raised fears over growing politicisation of religion in the diverse
and conflict-prone nation.
“If these bills are passed, it
could be viewed as one of the
indicators of backtracking in the
political reform process,” said
Her visit comes in the wake
of a recent UN resolution urging Myanmar to grant the stateless Rohingya access to citizenship —stoking controversy in the
country, where many view the
group as illegal immigrants from
neighbouring Bangladesh.
At the monk protest in Yangon, hardline nationalist cleric
Wirathu said that monks had
decided to protest against the
UN “as they are trying to in-
Impeachment calls crescendo for ex-Thai PM
Thai anti-graft official
said ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra must face a “political
punishment” for a costly rice
subsidy scheme, as calls for her
impeachment gathered steam
Yingluck, the kingdom’s first
female premier and the sister of
former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, was toppled from office
by a controversial court ruling
shortly before the army staged a
coup in May.
She faces impeachment by
the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly
over her administration’s lossmaking rice programme, which
funnelled cash to her rural base,
but costbns of dollars and was
a driving force behind protests
that felled her government.
impeachment needs three-fifths of the
250-strong assembly to vote
in favour when they meet next
Friday. A guilty verdict would
bring an automatic five-year
ban from politics, but also risks
enraging her family’s ‘Red Shirt’
supporters who have laid low
since the coup.
“Although she is no longer in
her position she still has to face
a political punishment,” said
commissioner Vicha Mahakhun
of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC).
Yingluck did not appear at
her second hearing on Friday
- sparking indignation among
members who refused to hear
from former ministers sent to
represent her.
Experts say the impeach-
ment move is the latest attempt
by Thailand’s royalist elite, and
its army backers, to nullify the
political influence of the Shinawatras, whose parties have won
every election since 2001.
The NACC led the probe into
the rice scheme which paid
farmers up to twice the market rate for their grain but left
Thailand with a mountain of
unsold rice. “We warned the
government twice (over the rice
scheme) but the government
ignored us,” Vicha said, adding
he hoped the Attorney-General
would “agree” to also pursue a
criminal charge against her over
the scheme.
Last week Yingluck defended the scheme as a wellintentioned attempt to support
Thailand’s rural poor, who historically receive a disproportionately small slice of government cash.
“I ran the government with
honesty and in accordance with
all laws,” the former businesswoman told the assembly.
But her failure to attend on
Friday sparked sharp criticism
from members known for their
loathing of the Shinawatra clan,
who bitterly divide opinion in
Thailand. “All of our questions
are clearly and directly put to
Yingluck... she should come to
answer,” said assembly member
and renowned anti-Thaksin figure Somchai Saweangkarn.
The assembly ruled that
Yingluck would have to answer
their questions next week ahead
of the vote.
Since Thaksin swept to power
in 2001, Shinawatra governments have been floored by two
coups and bloodied by the removal of three other premiers
by the kingdom’s interventionist courts.
terfere in our country’s internal
The Rakhine conflict left
some 200 people dead and
around 140,000 trapped in
squalid displacement camps,
mainly the Rohingya, who have
fled the country in their tens of
thousands in perilous sea journeys heading for Malaysia and
“These people are Bengalis
not Rohingyas,” Wirathu said,
using a term seen as disparaging
to the Rohingya, many of whom
claim long ancestry in Myanmar.
“I don’t accept them because
they are dangerous to our country, not because I want them to
suffer,” he added.
Lee also warned that while
dozens of displaced people in
Rakhine’s Myebon area had been
granted either citizenship or
naturalised status during a pilot
scheme last year, none of those
given official documentation
were permitted to leave their
“They remain inside the camp
with minimum food rations,
limited access to health care and
to other essential services. The
despair that I saw in the eyes
of the people in the Myebon
IDP camp was heartbreaking,”
she said.
ndonesian divers yesterday
again failed to reach the
main body of an AirAsia
plane that crashed into the sea
last month with 162 people on
board, as strong underwater
currents hampered efforts.
Flight QZ8501 went down in
the Java Sea on December 28 in
stormy weather, during what
was supposed to be a short trip
from the Indonesian city of
Surabaya to Singapore.
The plane’s black boxes
were recovered this week,
providing investigators with
a wealth of information to
determine what caused the
crash, and on Wednesday a
Singapore navy vessel spotted the fuselage, the jet’s main
So far just 51 bodies of the
crash victims have been recovered, but authorities hope
the main section will contain
most of those belonging to
passengers and crew.
Underwater photos taken by
high-tech search equipment
showed the fuselage and part
of Malaysia-based AirAsia’s
motto — “Now Everyone Can
Fly” — painted on the plane’s
For the past two days, divers
have been trying to reach the
wreckage but the inhospitable conditions in the area have
prevented them from accessing it.
Search and rescue agency
official S B Supriyadi said that
yesterday “the divers were
hampered by strong currents
which them stopped from
reaching the fuselage”.
Officials say that if it proves
difficult to retrieve bodies
from the main section while
it is still on the seabed, search
and rescue teams will try to lift
it. The plane’s tail was raised
out of the water last weekend
using giant balloons.
There was a huge international hunt for the crashed
plane, involving ships from
several countries including the
US and China, but the search
has now been scaled back.
The jet’s black boxes, the
flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been
flown to Jakarta, where the
Safety Committee and international experts have started
a probe.
Indonesia’s meteorological
agency has said bad weather
may have caused the crash,
but only the black boxes will
be able to provide definitive
All but seven of those
on board the flight were
Police shoot dead
suspected militant
police yesterday shot
dead a suspected militant
accused of deadly attacks on
policemen and having links
to the country’s most wanted
extremist, an official said.
The world’s most populous
Muslim-majority nation has
struggled with extremism for
more than a decade, facing a
series of attacks on Western
targets, although a crackdown has weakened the most
dangerous networks.
The elite anti-terror unit
shot dead the suspected militant, identified by police only
as Ronny, during a firefight
early yesterday in a small village in Kediri district, on the
main island of Java.
“He tried to escape and
opened fire on police,” national police spokesman
Ronny Sompie said, adding
that the suspect died at the
Sompie said that the man
was linked to the country’s
Santoso, leader of the Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen
militant group, which hides
out in the jungles on central
Sulawesi island.
He was allegedly behind
deadly attacks on four policemen.
The militants on Sulawesi
are thought to be among the
few that remain a real threat
in Indonesia. They regularly
launch attacks but these tend
to target Indonesian security
forces and be low-impact.
New species of legless amphibian found in Cambodia
A new species of legless
amphibian resembling a giant
earthworm or a snake has been
discovered in a remote but
threatened area of Cambodian
rainforest, conservationists said
The grey-brown creature -Ichthyophis cardamomensis
-- was found in Cambodia’s
southwest Cardamom Mountains, an area under threat
from habitat loss, according to
Fauna and Flora International
(FFI). The new species is often
mistaken for a snake, with
larger species known to grow
up to 1.5 metres in length, FFI
It was confirmed by scientists
earlier this month according
to leading Cambodian FFI
herpetologist Neang Thy.
“These discoveries are
important to demonstrate
that much of Cambodia’s
biodiversity remains unknown
and unstudied by science, and
This handout photo released by Fauna and Flora International
(FFI) shows a new species of legless amphibian resembling a
giant earthworm in Pursat province, Cambodia.
many more areas need to be
searched,” said Thy, who has
been researching amphibians
and reptiles since 2003. The
creature is caecilian -- an order
of amphibians that look like
snakes or earthworms and are
generally found underground.
Once a stronghold of the toppled Khmer Rouge regime, the
bio-diverse Cardamom Mountains are home to an array
of rare species, including the
Asian elephant, but the area
faces widespread deforestation. Conservationists warn
that illegal logging and other
habitat destruction could
mean new species become
extinct shortly after discovery.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Govt tries former Nanjing
mayor for corruption
North Korea sets up shop
at Swiss holiday fair
Vendors fleeing officers
‘run over and kill son’
Murakami begins online
agony uncle clinic
‘Volatile situation’ in PNG
asylum-seeker protest
The former mayor of China’s Nanjing city went
on trial yesterday on charges of taking $1.9mn in
bribes, the court said, 15 months after he was removed from his post. Ji Jianye allegedly accepted
11.3mn yuan ($1.9mn) from late 1999 to 2012, the
Yantai Intermediate People’s Court in eastern
Shandong province said on its microblog.
The court is in the eastern province of Shandong,
while Nanjing is the capital of neighbouring
Jiangsu. China typically holds corruption trials
outside the geographical area where the alleged
crimes took place, to separate officials from their
local power bases.
North Korea, a hereditary dictatorship under
international pressure over its nuclear weapons
programme and human rights record, has sent a
representative to a travel fair in Switzerland to attract
visitors to the isolated country. Mountaineering,
landmarks and the country’s beaches are part of the
sales pitch by the North Korea tourism representative, Ri Yong Bom. But the biggest pull for Westerners is the chance to catch a glimpse behind the
last remaining Iron Curtain state. “Mostly, they are
interested to see our system, how it works, how the
people are living and what the present situation is,”
Berlin-based Ri said.
A Chinese couple selling fruit on the street accidentally ran over and killed their four-year-old son while
trying to avoid city enforcement officers, state media reported yesterday, prompting outrage online.
It is the latest public outcry involving “chengguan”,
or urban management officers, who have gained
particular notoriety among the Chinese public for
abusing their power while enforcing city laws. Street
vendors in China often operate without licences,
and can be fined for doing so. When the fruit sellers
in Zhejiang province’s Hangzhou city spotted four
chengguan patrolling, they got in their truck to flee,
accidentally running over their son.
Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has started
offering opinions and advice on queries from fans
in an online agony uncle column, kicking things
off by revealing his fears over hate speech and
his own failing eyesight. The publicity-shy writer
started the project Thursday at “Murakami-san
no tokoro” or “Mr Murakami’s place” where he
hoped for easy-going, fun exchanges with readers. The first batch of answers -- mostly in short
and simple sentences — appeared at www. yesterday, adorned by illustrations of a man resembling Murakami alongside
several animals.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said
yesterday he was worried about the “volatile situation”
at a Papua New Guinea asylum-seeker camp after reports that detainees were swallowing razor blades and
washing powder. Australia sends asylum-seekers who
try to enter the country by boat to offshore detention
centres on Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the Pacific
with no prospect of being settled on the mainland,
even if they are genuine refugees. More than 400 boat
people on Manus Island in PNG have gone on hunger
strike protesting their detention, living conditions and
the possibility of being permanently resettled in the
Pacific nation, refugee advocates and reports said.
Top Chinese
probed for
hina’s ruling Communist
Party said yesterday it
has put the deputy chief
of the country’s top intelligence
agency under investigation,
the latest high-ranking figure
probed in a much-publicised
corruption crackdown.
Ma Jian, a deputy head of China’s ministry of state security, is
suspected of “serious disciplinary violation” — generally a euphemism for graft — the party’s
internal watchdog said on its
The shady ministry of state
security is said to be responsible
for intelligence gathering overseas and surveillance against
Chinese dissidents. It is a vast
organisation but does not have a
website or public address.
Separately, the former mayor
of the eastern city of Nanjing, Ji
Jianye, stood trial yesterday for
The news of Ma’s investigation follows probes into other
figures in China’s security apparatus, most notably Zhou Yongkang who was responsible for
the security ministry and Ma’s
ultimate boss as a member of the
party’s all-powerful Politburo
Standing Committee before his
retirement in 2012.
Dozens of Zhou’s associates
and family members, including
many from the police and security services, have been detained
in the past year, according to
Chinese reports. State media reported Thursday that Zhou had
formed a clique with Bo Xilai,
a former rising star in the party
who fell victim to a murder and
graft investigation and was jailed
in 2013.
China’s President Xi Jinping
has vowed to target both highlevel “tigers” as well as low-level
“flies” in a campaign against
endemic graft that he says is a
threat to the future of the party.
But critics say China has failed
to implement institutional safeguards against graft, such as
public asset disclosure, an independent judiciary, and free
media, leaving anti-corruption
campaigns subject to the influence of politics.
A party investigation usually
precedes a criminal prosecution,
followed by a trial and possibly a
jail sentence.
Former Nanjing mayor Ji,
who was expelled from the ruling party last January, allegedly
accepted 11.3mn yuan ($1.9mn)
from late 1999 to 2012, the Yantai Intermediate People’s Court
said on its microblog.
The politician had earned the
nickname “Bulldozer Ji” for promoting construction in the city
-- but state media linked his
downfall to construction project
awards to a company with which
he had close ties.
The ministry of state security is often described as China’s
equivalent of the Soviet Union’s
much-feared KGB.
Li Fengzhi, a former operative
in the ministry who defected to
the US, told reporters in 2009
that he had grown “furious” that
his job entailed spying on dissidents, spiritual groups and aggrieved poor people.
Very little official information
about Ma has been made public,
but respected financial magazine
Caixin said he had worked at the
ministry for several decades after attending university in the
It cited an unnamed source
as saying Ma was connected to
“disputes” at Founder Group, a
technology conglomerate affiliated with the elite Peking University.
Police this month reportedly
detained the group’s CEO and
several other executives after
they were accused by a business
rival of insider trading and misappropriating company assets
worth several billion yuan.
The most recent official report
to mention Ma says that he attended “activities related” to a
December meeting in Islamabad
between China’s top police official Guo Shengkun and Pakistani
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Hong Kong’s South China
Morning Post this week cited
sources as saying that Ma is
“closely linked” to Ling Jihua,
the previous chief of staff to
former president Hu Jintao.
It added that Ma may have
been held as part of an inquiry
into Ling, who was detained last
month following rumours that
he had attempted to cover up the
lurid 2012 death of his son in a
Ferrari crash.
Members of a rescue team look at a section of the hull (front) of a tugboat which sank on a trial voyage in Jingjiang, east China’s Jiangsu
province yesterday.
Foreigners among 22 missing
after boat sinks in Yangtze
ore than 20 people
including four Singaporeans were missing
yesterday after a tugboat sank
on a trial voyage on the Yangtze, China’s longest river, state
media and authorities said.
The newly built vessel was
undergoing testing with 25 people aboard in the eastern province of Jiangsu on Thursday
afternoon when the accident
happened, state media said.
Three people had been rescued, state broadcaster China
Central Television reported,
leaving 22 missing. The televi-
sion report said “around” eight
foreigners were on board when
the boat sank.
A Singapore foreign ministry
spokesman said that the vessel, JMS Delta, was registered
in the city-state and four of its
nationals were on board.
The Japanese and Indian
consulates in Shanghai each
confirmed that one of their nationals was among the missing.
A microblog posting by
a newspaper under China’s
transport ministry said two of
the others on board were from
Malaysia and Indonesia.
“Water entered the boat cabin very quickly, in less than 20
seconds it was completely filled
with water,” survivor Wang
Zhenkai told state television
from his hospital bed.
Wang was accompanying a
Japanese technician who was
testing the engine, though the
ship was made and outfitted in
China, reports said.
A photo carried by state media showed only the bow and
part of the hull of the metal ship
floating above the waterline,
with a salvage barge alongside.
Reports said rescue workers
were trying to raise the vessel
and the search was continuing, but Xinhua cited rescuers
saying the work was difficult as
the current was swift and the
water cold. “As long as we have
the slimmest hope, we will give
a 100% effort,” Wang Shim-
Tongan volcano creates new island Shark attacks teen
off Australian beach
Tongan volcano has created a substantial new
island since it began
erupting last month, spewing
out huge volumes of rock and
dense ash that has killed nearby
vegetation, officials said yesterday.
The volcano, about 65 kilometres
southwest of the
South Pacific nation’s capital
Nuku’alofa, rumbled to life on
December 20 for the first time
in five years, the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry said.
It said the volcano was erupting from two vents, one on the
uninhabited island of Hunga
Ha’apai and the other underwater about 100 metres offshore.
The ministry said experts
took a boat trip to view the
eruption on Thursday and confirmed it had transformed the
local landscape.
“The new island is more than
one kilometre wide, two kilometres long and about 100 metres high,” it said in a statement.
“During our observations
the volcano was erupting about
every five minutes to a height of
about 400 metres, accompanied by some large rocks... as
the ash is very wet, most is being deposited close to the vent,
building up the new island.”
It said ash and acidic rain was
This handout photo shows smoke rising from the eruption of a volcano, some 65 kilometres southwest of
the South Pacific nation Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa.
deluging an area 10 kilometres around the volcano, adding: “Leaves on trees on Hunga
Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai have
died, probably caused by volcanic ash and gases.”
A number of international
flights were cancelled earlier
this week amid concerns about
the volcano’s ash plume but
they resumed on Wednesday,
with authorities saying debris
from the eruption was not being thrown high into the atmos-
phere. Tonga, which is almost
2,000 kilometres northeast of
New Zealand, lies on the socalled Pacific “Ring of Fire”,
where continental plates collide
causing frequent volcanic and
seismic activity.
teenage boy was taken
to hospital yesterday
after being bitten by a
shark he was filming off Australia’s east coast as another
beach remained shut for a week
over repeated shark sightings.
The 17-year-old, named in
local media as Sam Smith, was
spearfishing off Mollymook,
230 kilometres south of Sydney, when he was bitten on the
hand after attempting to stab
the shark to “scare it off ”, his
friend said.
Luke Sisinni said the pair
were shooting video clips
while spearfishing when they
spotted the animal, with Smith
swimming down to film it.
“He said it spun around and
started coming for him, so he
stabbed it with his spear to try
and scare it off, but it just went
ballistic and bit him,” Sisinni
told the Ulladulla Times, adding that the shark was about 1.5
metres long.
A New South Wales Ambulance spokeswoman said the
teenager was taken to hospital
in a stable condition.
“Our paramedics on the
beach treated this patient for
lacerations to his left hand in-
cluding multiple lacerations to
his fingers,” she said.
The incident came as
beaches off the city of Newcastle, 400 kilometres north of
Mollymook, were closed for a
seventh consecutive day after
lifeguards spotted large sharks
close to the coast attacking
dolphins. “This is definitely
an extraordinary situation,”
police inspector Paul Bernard
told reporters.
“We often see sharks herding schools of baitfish... but to
have large sharks in the environment attacking other creatures in the middle of the day
close to shore is not something
we see. Dolphins are not small
— they’re bigger than people.”
Sydney’s Bondi Beach was
briefly closed in early January
after a shark sighting.
Swimmers were also ordered out of the water at Bondi
in November after a shark
was spotted, which followed
the discovery of a great white
shark carcass in nets set up
offshore to protect bathers.
Beaches across Sydney and
New South Wales state have
been partially netted since
1937. The last shark fatality in
Australia was in late December
when a 17-year-old boy was
attacked while spearfishing in
the country’s southwest.
ing, deputy head of the Jiangsu
Maritime Safety Administration, told state television.
The accident occurred on a
stretch of the river between the
cities of Jingjiang and Zhangjiagang, which is close to the Yangtze’s mouth near the commercial
hub Shanghai.
The provincial government
said the boat was undergoing
trials without properly completing the required procedures and
without first reporting the condition of the ship, as required by
The operator “should have
reported to the responsible government body for endorsement,
but did not,” Wang, the safety
administration official, said.
China plans database
of bad behaviour to
deter its unruly tourists
China has started work on a
national database to help rein
in some of its unruly sightseers
and monitor the behaviour of
habitual offenders, state media
said, after some instances of
graceless conduct brought its
tourists unwanted notoriety.
Chinese tourists overtook Americans and Germans as the world’s
top-spending travellers in 2013,
the World Tourism Organisation
says, but questionable behaviour
has given offence in some countries, making them unwelcome.
In 2013, a Chinese school student
scrawled his name on the wall of
an ancient temple in Luxor, causing outrage in Egypt. In Hong
Kong, the former British colony
that returned to Chinese rule
in 1997, anger reached boiling
point last year when a mainland
couple allowed their two-year-old
to defecate on a sidewalk.
Last month, a Chinese woman
scalded a flight attendant on a
Thai AirAsia flight from Bangkok
by throwing hot water at her, in
the most recent incident involving people from the country
travelling overseas. A system that
tracks bad behaviour by Chinese
tourists is in the works, the official
Xinhua news agency said on
Thursday, citing Li Jinzao, head of
the National Tourism Administration. Once it is in place, habitual
offenders may find it tough to
board planes or book hotels, with
the data being shared with airlines, hotels and travel agencies.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Man arrested over
Xbox, Playstation hacks
Sotheby’s wins court battle
over disputed painting
Architect killed getting
out of taxi on M1
‘Car thief’ hurt in fall
during rooftop chase
Girl denies starting
fatal blaze
The police yesterday said they had arrested a
man in northwest England following the 2014
cyberattacks on Sony PlayStation and Microsoft
Xbox systems. Both systems suffered long outages
over Christmas after a major distributed denial
of service (DDOS) attack. A hacking group calling
itself Lizard Squad, which had attacked the two
networks earlier last year, claimed responsibility.
“Officers ... have arrested a man in Southport,
Merseyside yesterday morning as part of an
investigation into ‘swatting’ and computer hacking
offences,” Merseyside police said. The officers
had worked closely with the US Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) in the operation, it added.
Sotheby’s yesterday won its legal battle with a man
who claimed the auction house negligently led
him to undersell a painting acquired by an expert
who later declared it to be a Caravaggio. Lancelot
William Thwaytes sold the painting, known as “The
Cardsharps”, to the partner of renowned collector
Denis Mahon at a London auction in 2006 for
£42,000 after Sotheby’s billed it as being the work
of a “follower” of the Italian Renaissance master.
But a year later, Mahon claimed that the work was
an original, painted around 1595, and insured it for
£10mn. Thwaytes sued Sotheby’s for negligence,
claiming they hadn’t sufficiently examined whether
the painting could be an original.
A London architect was knocked down and
killed as he got out of a taxi on the M1. Andrew
Griffiths, 32, was struck by a silver Mondeo when
he stepped out of a white Ford Mondeo on the
hard shoulder of the southbound carriageway
at junction 20 near Rugby, Warwickshire. He
was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are
investigating. The driver stopped and no arrests
were made. Griffiths, who lived in Kentish Town
and was originally from Sutton Coldfield, worked
at award-winning PKS architects in Camden. PKS
partner Christopher Kyriakides said: “We will
sorely miss Andrew. He was a bright man with a
bright future. ”
A suspected car thief fleeing police over the
rooftops of a wealthy west London street
plunged onto a balcony, smashing his back and
pelvis. The man hid for about 30 minutes as
police flooded Crookham Road in Fulham, but
he was located on the second-floor balcony
after crying out in pain. The drama in the street,
where homes can cost £3mn, happened at
about 7pm on Thursday. The man, 38, had fallen
10ft. He was taken to hospital. A Met spokesman
said he had been arrested on suspicion of theft.
Police are battling gangs of thieves who are
targeting expenisve “keyless” cars in wealthy
A 16-year-old girl has denied starting a fire which
claimed the life of a firefighter. Father-of-two
Stephen Hunt, 38, died after he tackled a blaze at a
shop in Manchester city centre on July 13, 2013. The
teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons,
appeared at Manchester Crown Court yesterday
and entered a not guilty plea to committing arson
being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Her father sat behind her in the dock throughout
the brief hearing. Sixty firefighters tackled the fire
at Paul’s Hair World in Oldham Street as Hunt got
into difficulties inside the building. The ex-soldier
and firefighter for five years was taken to hospital
but did not recover from his injuries.
Global oil price
drop hands
Cameron a gift
heaper oil has handed
Prime Minister David
Cameron a political gift
four months before a national
election by lowering prices for
everything from petrol to food,
blunting rival Labour’s attack over
a “cost of living crisis”.
But with just over 100 days before election day and his Conservatives still narrowly behind Labour
in most opinion polls, Cameron’s
allies are still uncertain if the feelgood factor will arrive fast enough
to get him re-elected.
One of Miliband’s signature
proposals, launched to
great fanfare in 2013, is
a freeze on household
utility rates. But that loses
its impact with bills falling
“This is definitely a political
windfall and a good thing because
it’s a fast tax cut in layman’s terms
and puts money into people’s
pockets very fast,” one source
close to Cameron and his Conservative Party said.
“But there’s uncertainty about
whether the votes will feed
through as fast as the price cuts are
feeding through. The election is
not that far off now.” Labour insiders say the opposition party has no
plans to change tack, arguing that
the recovery has been uneven and
voters who feel pinched will still
respond to its message.
“The cost of living crisis is not
just about whether wages can rise
faster than prices for one month.
It’s a fundamental question about
who the economy works for,” a
Labour source said, explaining the
party’s campaign strategy.
The opposition party says
workers have suffered the worst
decline in real incomes over the
course of a parliamentary term
for more than a century, with real
wages for full-time workers falling
by more than £2,000 since 2010.
The past five years have indeed
been tough for many, but Britain
now has one of the fastest growth
rates of any advanced economy.
Unemployment is at a multi-year
low, mortgages have never been
cheaper, and, perhaps most importantly, sliding oil prices have
driven down inflation, so that
wages are finally rising faster than
“It takes a huge bite out of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s core
central economic attack that the
recovery has only benefited a small
proportion of the population,” said
Oliver Harvey, a Deutsche Bank
strategist in London.
One of Miliband’s signature
proposals, launched to great fanfare in 2013, is a freeze on household utility rates. But that loses its
impact with bills falling anyway.
E.ON on Tuesday became the first
utility to cut household prices and
others are expected to follow.
Whether voters will give Cameron credit for improving circumstances is still unclear though.
“The difficulty they have in
getting much out of it is that it is
beyond their control largely,” said
Joe Twyman, of pollster YouGov,
pointing out that Cameron is obviously not personally responsible
for global oil price falls.
“Yes it’s going well for them at
the moment but there’s nothing to
suggest it couldn’t switch round.”
Nor is the oil price fall all good
news: Scotland’s North Sea oil industry has been hard hit. But the
Conservatives have few votes to
lose in Scotland. Some economists
are also starting to fret that low
inflation could turn to damaging
deflation. The eurozone, Britain’s
biggest trade partner, is already
suffering from falling prices and
could face more uncertainty from
elections in Greece.
Yet overall few dispute that
tumbling oil prices are a net benefit for Britain, boosting growth and
consumers’ disposable incomes,
and that some of that feel-good
factor should rub off on Cameron.
The only question is how much.
“It could be said that Cameron
is lucky to have the right economic situation,” said YouGov’s
Twyman. “He and his party will be
rubbing their hands with glee.”
Prime Minister David Cameron tours 1776 as he attends a cyber breakfast in Washington yesterday. 1776 serves as a global hub for startups tackling major challenges in
education, energy, healthcare, government, and other critical industries. 1776 startups receive mentorship, corporate connections, access to capital, media attention, and a
pipeline of top talent - the raw materials critical for innovators to succeed.
Britain, US to up cyber
security co-operation
ritain and the US will increase co-operation on
cyber security, Prime Minister David Cameron said, setting
up “cyber cells” to share intelligence and conduct simulated
attacks to test the defences of
organisations such as banks.
Cameron is on a two-day visit
to Washington focused on the
economy and security, and held
a second meeting with President Barack Obama at the White
House yesterday.
“We have got hugely capa-
Long-lost British space
probe found on Mars
British-built space probe
that disappeared without
a trace more than a decade
ago has been spotted on the surface of Mars, the UK Space Agency
said yesterday.
The Beagle 2 lander was found
partially deployed with one of its
parachutes still attached in images
taken by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
Scientists said it would be impossible to renew contact or retrieve data from the machine,
which was lost without trace on
December 26, 2003.
“These images are consistent
with the Beagle 2 having successfully landed on Mars,” David Parker, head of the UK Space Agency,
told reporters in London.
Parker said the find vindicated
the hard work behind the ill-fated
mission, which has remained a
The driving force behind the
project, planetary scientist Colin
Pillinger, died last year not know-
ing whether his rover landed successfully or not.
“To be frank, I had all but given
up hope of ever knowing what
happened to Beagle 2,” Parker said.
“Every Christmas Day since
2003 I have wondered what happened to Beagle 2,” he added.
The mission gripped Britain and
there were emotional reactions to
the presumed destruction of Beagle 2 during a landing sequence
followed around the country.
Named after Charles Darwin’s
ship HMS Beagle, Beagle 2 was
shaped like a giant pocket watch
and opened to reveal solar panels,
a robotic arm and research equipment designed to search for signs
of life.
It rode piggy-back to Mars
aboard the European Space Agency’s Mars Express in 2003, taking
off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in the first European mission to explore another planet.
The mission’s call-sign was
composed by the Britpop band
Blur, and the “test card” used to
calibrate the probe’s cameras after
the landing was painted by British
artist Damien Hirst.
After detaching from Mars Express on December 26, it was never
heard from again and scientists
had said it may have burnt up in
the planet’s atmosphere.
“It was a great pity we couldn’t
have delivered the world-class
science Beagle 2 may have brought
and even sadder that Colin and
other colleagues who died in 2014
didn’t live to see the discovery that
Beagle 2 made it to Mars,” Parker
In the early days and weeks after
it disappeared, Pillinger remained
relentlessly optimistic and his
terrier-like enthusiasm made him
a popular figure on British television.
The European Space Agency’s
director general Jean-Jacques
Dordain said meanwhile at a press
briefing in Paris that “what was
viewed as a failure 11 years ago in
fact turns out not to be a total failure”.
“At least there was a landing on
Mars,” he added.
In London, Parker said: “The
history of space exploration is
marked by both success and failure.
ble cyber defences, we have got
the expertise and that is why we
should combine as we are going
to, set up cyber cells on both sides
of the Atlantic to share information,” Cameron told the BBC in
an interview aired yesterday.
The co-operation between
Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping
agency and the US National Security Agency will include joint
war games, with the first exercise later this year to involve the
Bank of England and commercial
banks in both the City of London
and Wall Street, the BBC reported.
“This is a real signal it is time
to step up the efforts and to do
more,” said Cameron.
The prime minister also issued
a plea to the US Internet giants
to accept they have a “social responsibility” to help fight terrorism by allowing Britain’s intelligence agencies to have access
to the data and content of online
communications between terror
Speaking in Washington, the
prime minister reinforced his
message by saying that access
to communications data or actual intercepts have been vital
in preventing attacks, specifically mentioning that a plot to
murder police officers had been
Charity initiative
The premier said he would ask
Obama to step up pressure on the
likes of Facebook and Twitter to
do more to co-operate with the
intelligence agencies as they seek
to track terror suspects.
He spoke earlier this week of a
need to ensure there is no “safe
space” for terrorists as he outlined plans to create a new legal
framework to allow the intelligence agencies to break into
encrypted communications between terror suspects.
The prime minister said of
Internet companies such as
Facebook and Twitter: “They
need to work with us. They
need also to demonstrate,
Singer Smith leads
Brits nominations
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, talks to children
after attending a London event yesterday hosted by the
Fostering Network organisation to showcase the work of
foster carers in providing support to young people
which they do, that they have
a social responsibility to fight
the battle against terrorism. We
shouldn’t allow safe spaces for
traits to communicate. That’s a
huge challenge but that’s certainly the right principle.
“Of course people want privacy in their communications.
Nobody wants to listen to the
phone calls or read the e-mails
of people as they go about their
daily lives.”
The prime minister added that
the agencies have been successful in thwarting terror attacks
but they need new powers to
keep pace with changing technology.
Smith was nominated for
a Brit award in five different categories, going up against
artistes such as Ed Sheeran and
George Ezra at Britain’s equivalent of the Grammys.
The 22-year-old is up to win
best British male solo artiste,
breakthrough artiste, best British single, best British video and
best British album for his 2014
record In the Lonely Hour.
Sheeran and Ezra were nominated in four categories each in
the British pop music awards,
which will take place on February 25.
Smith made a splash with his
hit ballad Stay With Me and has
already scooped six nominations in the US Grammy Awards,
which take place earlier in February.
Red haired 23-year-old singer
Sheeran was nominated in the
single, album, British male solo
artist and video categories.
He will go up against 21-yearold Ezra, also nominated for the
album, solo artiste and single
categories for his song Budapest,
as well as netting a nomination
for breakthrough artiste.
Paolo Nutini and veteran musician of Damon Albarn, who
made his name with groups Blur
and Gorillaz, complete the nominees for best British solo artiste.
The best British group title
will be contested by Coldplay,
boy band One Direction, alt-J,
Clean Bandit and Royal Blood.
Meanwhile singers Ella Henderson, Lily Allen, Paloma Faith,
FKA Twigs and Jessie Ware will
battle for the title of best British
female solo artiste.
for the international female solo
artiste category included Taylor
Swift, Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, Sia
and St. Vincent.
Irish artist Hozier, propelled
to fame by his single Take Me To
Church this year will compete
against Beck, Jack White, John
Legend and Pharrell Williams for
the international male solo artiste category.
Foo Fighters, The Black Keys,
First Aid Kit, The War on Drugs
and 5 Seconds of Summer will
go head to head to be crowned
best international group at the
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
New wave of fighting
kills 11 in east Ukraine
Polish bishops call for
Holocaust remembrance
Erdogan invites Armenian
leader to join Gallipoli event
Merkel rejects claim about
German military aid in Iraq
Spain migrant law may ruin
asylum system: rights chief
Fierce fighting in east Ukraine has killed at least
11 people over the past 24 hours, officials said
yesterday, as a new round of violence threatened
all-out conflict between government forces and
pro-Russian rebels. A military spokesman reported
six soldiers killed and 18 others wounded over the
past day, adding that a civilian was left dead in a
rebel strike on a checkpoint near Fashchivka in the
Lugansk region. City officials in hard-hit Donetsk
earlier said four civilians died after shelling
sparked a fire at a warehouse there. “In the past
day, six Ukrainian soldiers were killed. Eighteen
more were wounded,” military spokesman Andriy
Lysenko said.
Poland’s Catholic Church yesterday made an
unprecedented appeal to its followers to help
preserve the heritage of the once vibrant Polish
Jewish community wiped out by Nazi Germany.
“The history of Polish Jews is an integral part of
our country’s heritage. Poland was a common
home for different people of different faiths,” the
Polish Episcopal Conference said in a statement
from its Jewish dialogue committee. “We call
on priests to launch initiatives to preserve the
memory of Jewish communities in the areas
where they lived, and we ask the faithful and
local authorities to help them out with this task.
“Don’t shrug and say, ‘it’s not our problem’.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has invited his Armenian counterpart, Serzh
Sarkisian, to attend commemoration ceremonies
in Turkey marking the 100th anniversary of the
World War I Gallipoli campaign this year, officials
said yesterday. In a surprise move, Erdogan has
sent invitation letters to more than 100 leaders,
including US President Barack Obama and the
Armenian president, to participate in the Gallipoli
centenary on April 24. The Gallipoli campaign
was one of the most famous battles of World
War I when Ottoman troops resisted an invading
Allied Force seeking control of the Gallipoli
peninsula on the Dardanelles strait.
Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday rejected
a claim that Germany had no legal right to
send up to 100 military advisers to Iraq to train
Kurdish forces to fight Islamic State militants.
Through her spokesman, she said the aid,
which Germany’s parliament is due to authorise
this month, is legal and had been checked
by government lawyers. “This conforms with
the law, both [German] constitutional law and
international law,” said the spokesman, Steffen
Seibert. “There were clear requests from the
secretary general of the United Nations that
member states help against the terrorists of the
Islamic State.”
A top European rights official warned Spain
yesterday it risked destroying its asylum
system if it passed a law authorising police to
immediately deport migrants from its north
African territories. Spain says the measure is
needed to help its border guards secure the
border of Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish cities
fenced off from Morocco.
Its police have been accused of breaking
international rights conventions by beating
African migrants who climb the fences into
the territories and deporting them on the
spot without asylum procedures — so-called
Kerry hugs Hollande,
shares France’s pain
Secretary of State on mission
to give “big hug” to France;
White House admitted
earlier low-key response
was mistake ; James Taylor
sings classic song You’ve got
a friend
ecretary of State John Kerry clasped French President Francois Hollande in
a warm embrace yesterday and
said the US shared France’s pain
after its deadliest attack in half a
In an unusual move, Hollande
trotted down the steps of the Elysee
Palace to greet Kerry, who hugged
the French president in front of a
phalanx of photographers.
“I know you know that we
share the pain and the horror of everything that you went
through,” said Kerry.
“Our hearts are with you.”
Hollande said the French people “were victim of an exceptional terrorist attack,” likening
last week’s events to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“We must therefore together
find the necessary response.
And that is the (reason) for (our)
meeting today beyond friendship,” said Hollande.
The United States faced criticism for not sending a top-level
representative to last Sunday’s
march in Paris in the wake of the
attacks, which drew 1.5mn people onto the streets of the French
capital and dozens of world
The White House was forced
to admit it erred in sending
only its ambassador when most
French President Francois Hollande greets US secretary of state John Kerry as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday.
countries were represented at
head of state or ministerial level.
Kerry, a noted Francophile
who also speaks French, told his
counterpart Laurent Fabius that
he was unable to come earlier
because he was travelling in India and Bulgaria.
Fabius told reporters that he
had “apologised” for his absence, which prompted contro-
French post office hostage-taking ends
An armed man who earlier took
several hostages at a post office
northwest of Paris yesterday
has surrendered with no one
hurt, a French police official
The man equipped with a
military weapon took an
unconfirmed number of
hostages at the post office in
the town of Colombes, just
Publication of
cartoons illegal,
says Russia
outside the capital.
“I cannot confirm or deny
whether it is linked to
terrorism,” an official at the
city prosecutor’s office said
earlier, declining to give
further details.
BFM TV, citing an unidentified
source, said the hostage drama
was not related to last week’s
attacks in Paris.
versy on both sides of the Atlantic.
The top US diplomat and Fabius laid a wreath of red roses
and carnations as well as white
lilies at the Jewish supermarket where four people died in a
siege, the last in a spate of Islamist attacks over three days in and
around the French capital.
In all, three Islamist gunmen
killed 17 people, including 12
people in an attack on satirical
magazine Charlie Hebdo and a
young policewoman.
“We appreciate your comments about our common history. ... The American people
watched you and your team indeed all of the (government) lead
with great elegance and grace in
this week,” Kerry told Hollande.
Kerry and Fabius later laid a
wreath at the Charlie Hebdo offices, as the victims of that attack continued to be laid to rest.
The burials of three more
members of the Charlie Hebdo
team were taking place Friday,
with bagpipes playing Amazing
Grace ringing out at the funeral
of Stephane Charbonnier, alias
Charb, the editor-in-chief.
Since the attacks, copies of
the magazine have flown off the
shelves with a print run of 5m
compared to a normal circulation of 60,000.
Kerry also visited the scene
outside the Charlie Hebdo offices where a Muslim policeman
was gunned down by the two Islamist brothers Said and Cherif
With ambassador Jane Hartley, Kerry placed a bowl of flowers on the spot which has also
become a makeshift shrine.
He then stood silently for a
minute with his head bowed before crossing himself.
Finally he gave an emotional
speech at Paris City Hall, much
of it in French, where he said:
“We simply will not descend into
“I really wanted to come here
to share a hug with all of Paris,
old friends,” he said, after what
he termed the “living nightmare” of the attacks.
“I wanted to express to you
personally the sheer horror that
all Americans felt.”
He then gave way to US singer
James Taylor, who sang his hit
You’ve Got a Friend.
The Kerry visit came as the
shell-shocked French capital remained on edge after last
week’s attacks.
French authorities detained 12
people overnight in the suburbs
of Paris, a judicial source said, in
connection with the shootings.
The nine men and three women were to be questioned about
“possible logistic support” they
may have given to the gunmen,
in particular weapons and vehicles, the source said.
ussia’s media watchdog
yesterday warned publications that printing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad was against the country’s
law and ethical norms following the Charlie Hebdo attack in
“The publication in Russian
media of such caricatures go
against ethical and moral norms
worked out over centuries,” said
the media and communications
watchdog Roskomnadzor.
“Disseminating caricatures on
religious themes in the media can
be considered insulting or humiliating to the representatives of
religious confessions and groups,
and qualified as inciting ethnic
and religious hatred”, an offence
under Russian law, it said.
The publication would also
violate the Russian media
and anti-extremism laws, the
watchdog said, adding that it
was asking Russian media to
“refrain from publishing caricatures that can be seen as a
The watchdog published the
statement as a response to the
ongoing debate on the “legality of publishing caricatures
depicting religious objects of
worship which affect feelings of
religious people.”
Many newspapers and maga-
zines around the world reprinted
cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo, whose
Paris office was attacked by gunmen on January 7, leading to the
deaths of 12 people.
Although Russia’s leadership extended its condolences
to France, and Foreign Minister
Sergei Lavrov participated in the
unity march staged at the weekend, pro-Kremlin commentators
and Muslims accused the cartoonists of provoking the attack.
Russia’s Council of Muftis - a
top Muslim authority - condemned the attack but said that
“perhaps the sin of provocation... is no less dangerous for
peace than the sin of those who
yield to the provocation”.
It further said after Charlie
Hebdo published a post-attack
issue with the Prophet Muhammad on the front page that it is
an “unacceptable response” to
the shooting because one “cannot laugh at the feelings of the
Several rallies have been announced next week by Muslims
opposing the cartoons, including one in Chechnya’s main city
Chechnya’s leader Ramzan
Kadyrov said those who drew
Muhammad cartoons were
“people without spiritual and
moral values” and said that
500,000 people would participate in the rally scheduled for
Monday morning.
Erdogan salms ‘provocative’ Charlie Hebdo
Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan yesterday lashed
out at Charlie Hebdo for its
“provocative” publications
about Islam, saying the French
satirical weekly incited hatred
and racism.
“This magazine (is) notorious
for its provocative publications
about Muslims, about
Christians, about everyone,”
Erdogan told a meeting of
businessmen in Ankara.
“This is not called freedom.
This equates to wreaking terror
by intervening in the freedom
space of others. We should
be aware of this. There is no
limitless freedom,” he said.
In its first issue since the
attacks by Islamist gunmen last
week on its headquarters that
killed 12 people, the magazine
featured an image of the
Muslim prophet.
Erdogan said Muslims expected
respect for their Prophet
Muhammad the same way as
they valued other prophets of
Judaism and Christianity.
“They may be atheists. If they
are, they will respect what is
sacred to me,” said Erdogan.
“If they do not, it means
provocation which is
punishable by laws. What they
do is to incite hatred, racism,”
he added.
Belgium uncovers plot to kill EU lays out strategy to
police as arrests sweep Europe combat foreign fighters
elgian police raided an
Islamist cell planning attacks against police yesterday as dozens of people were
arrested in sweeps across Europe, keeping the continent on
alert one week after the Paris attacks.
Two suspected jihadists were
shot dead in a police raid in the
eastern Belgian town of Verviers
on Thursday night and prosecutors said 13 suspects had been
detained across Belgium, with
two more held in France.
French police separately
detained 12 people in the suburbs of Paris in connection
with last week’s attacks on
the Charlie Hebdo satirical
magazine, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman, in
which 17 people were killed.
Hundreds of German police
meanwhile raided alleged Islamist sites in Berlin, arresting two
men suspected of being part of
a group planning to carry out an
attack in Syria.
The raids highlighted fears
about young Europeans travelling to fight with the Islamic
State and Al Qaeda-linked
groups in the Middle East before
returning to carry out attacks on
Western targets.
“The group was on the verge
of carrying out terrorist attacks
to kill police officers in public
roads and in police stations,”
Belgian federal prosecutors’
spokesman Eric Van der Sijpt
told a news conference about the
raids overnight.
Police found Kalashnikov
assault rifles, explosives, ammunition and communications
equipment, along with police
uniforms that could have been
used for the terror plot, he said.
Members of the group had
recently returned from Syria,
prosecutors said, but they
said there still appeared to be
no direct link to the Paris attacks.
Michel raised Belgium’s terror
alert to its second highest level
after the raids. The European
Commission stepped up security
at its headquarters in Brussels as
a “precaution”, a spokeswoman
Jewish schools in Brussels and
the port city of Antwerp closed
The unrest across Europe has
fuelled fears of tensions between
communities, but in Verviers, a
faded industrial town near the
German border, residents said
they would stay united.
“The Muslim community
had the strongest reaction,
one that says that none of this
should exacerbate the delicate
balance that makes this town
stand on its feet,” mayor Marc
Elsen said.
Belgium has one of the largest
number of extremists who have
returned from Syria relative to
its population, with a large Muslim community that suffers from
high unemployment and disenfranchisement.
In Germany an alleged leader
of a group planning to carry out
an attack in Syria and the man
in charge of financing were arrested in raids on suspected Islamist sites in and around Berlin
by more than 200 police officers,
officials said.
They were suspected of leading an Islamist group of “Turkish
and Russian nationals from (the
Caucasus regions’ of) Chechnya
and Dagestan.”
he European Union will
do more to stop citizens
going to fight as insurgents in Syria and Iraq but resist
calls for sweeping pan-European
powers to fight threats after the
militant attacks in Paris and police raids in Belgium, officials
said yesterday.
EU foreign ministers meeting
in Brussels on Monday will seek a
strategy to deal with young Muslims heading to Middle East war
zones or returning radicalised
from the region. They plan talks
with the secretary-general of the
Cairo-based Arab League, Nabil El-Araby, as well as the EU’s
counter-terrorism co-ordinator.
Other priorities to be tackled
at a Jan. 29-30 gathering will include a crackdown on arms traf-
ficking, better sharing of airline
passenger data, trying to prevent EU citizens leaving to fight
abroad, and seeking to curb radical Islam on the Internet to discourage EU citizens from bringing violence back home.
Ministers are also considering a plan to withdraw the travel
documents and identity cards
of any EU citizen planning to go
to Syria or Iraq or considered to
represent a public threat in Europe, an initiative supported by
the European Commission.
The rules underpinning the
EU’s passport-free Schengen
zone, which removes border
controls among most EU countries, could be used to empower
guards on external borders of the
zone to undertake systematic
checks of EU citizens arriving
from a third country to stop suspected jihadist militants.
Schengen rules have also re-
cently been changed to make it
possible to temporarily reintroduce checks at internal borders.
The ideas will then be taken up
by EU government leaders at a twoday summit on Feb. 12-13 in Brussels, where concrete steps could be
taken, but the Commission cautioned it is not planning a host of
new, pan-EU security legislation.
“The European Union is seeking to minimise the risks posed
by terrorism in Syria and Iraq,”
said an EU diplomat, speaking
on condition of anonymity.
“Clearly the Charlie Hebdo
shootings have galvanised everyone to act,” the diplomat said,
referring to the Jan. 7 assault on
the French satirical journal.
Anthony Dworkin, a human
rights expert, said EU officials
were right to focus on improving
coordination among agencies
and across borders, rather than
seeking new legislation.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Petrol, diesel prices cut;
excise on fuels raised
CBI seeks polygraph test
of Chandy’s ex-gunman
Story by jailed ex-MP
included in textbook
Goa chief minister denies
occupying two houses
Bareilly peaceful
after clashes
With international crude oil prices going below
$45 a barrel, state-run oil marketing companies
yesterday cut petrol price by Rs2.42 a litre and
that of diesel by Rs2.25 per litre. At the same
time, the government yesterday raised the excise
duty on both petrol and diesel by Rs2 a litre. The
basic excise duty on the transport fuels, raised
for the fourth time in quick succession, came into
effect yesterday. There would be no change in
other excise duty rates applicable to the transport
fuels, the government said. On January 1, the
government had increased basic excise duty on
petrol and diesel - both branded and unbranded
- by Rs2 a litre.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is set to
move court in Kochi seeking permission to take
a former security personnel of Kerala Chief
Minister Oommen Chandy for a lie detector
test, according to officials. Salim Raj, Chandy’s
gunman, lost his job in 2013 after it was alleged
that he was in close contacts with Saritha Nair,
one of the key accused in the infamous Solar
panel scam case. Raj, a Kerala Police constable,
landed in more trouble when a Kerala High
Court bench in March last year handed to the
CBI the case of two land deals. The 45 acres of
land worth Rs4bn was believed to have been
usurped by Raj and his accomplices.
A story written in Hindi by former Bihar MP Anand
Mohan, serving a life term for the 1994 lynching of
Gopalganj district magistrate G Krishnaiah, has been
included in a class VIII text book. The story - Parvat
Purush Dashrath - forms chapter 19 of the book
published by Central Board of Secondary Education.
Anand Mohan has written two books during his stay
in Saharsa jail. Anand Mohan and 35 others were accused of lynching Krishnaiah on December 5, 1994.
A trial court awarded the death sentence to three
accused, including Anand Mohan. On appeal, the
Patna High Court upheld the conviction of Anand
Mohan but commuted his death sentence to life
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar yesterday
denied reports suggesting that he occupies two
government houses and lashed out at the national media for blowing the issue out of proportion. Parsekar clarified that the roof of his official
residence ‘Mahalaxmi’ was being repaired and till
then he was staying in another bungalow, allotted
to him two-and-a-half years ago when he was the
state health minister. “I have not caused any loss
to the government. I would have caused a loss
to the exchequer, if the CM’s residence was not
ready and I had gone to stay in five-star resorts in
Goa. I am staying put in the same place where I
was staying as health minister,” Parsekar said.
Seventeen people were arrested and cases
slapped against 400 people yesterday for their
alleged involvement in communal clashes
in Bareilly earlier this week, police said. “The
situation is under control and we are taking
all care to ensure that peace and the rule of
law prevails in the violence-hit areas,” a home
department official said. Clashes erupted in
Fatehganj area of the city Wednesday after an
animal carcass was found next to a religious
place. While police and district officials acted
promptly and defused the situation, violence
broke out on Thursday in which over a dozen
people were injured.
Kerala govt
plans to set up
judicial panel
for diaspora
By Ashraf Padanna
erala, home to a majority of Indian workers in
the Gulf, has announced a
panel with judicial powers for the
diaspora to redress their grievances.
“We are in the process of
bringing a legislation to formalise the commission to be headed
by a retired high court judge
with all judicial powers,” Ramesh
Chennithala, the state’s home
minister said.
Addressing the Global NRK
(Non-Resident Keralites) Meet
– which opened here yesterday
– the minister said NRKs could
lodge both civil and criminal
complaints with the commission.
The decision follows widespread
complaints of fraud against NRK
investors, usurping of their properties back home by local residents
and the duping of job seekers by
recruitment agents.
“We will present the proposal
before the next cabinet and bring
it to the Legislative Assembly for
a comprehensive legislation,” he
said, seeking suggestions from
the nearly 1,000 delegates.
The state will also approach
the federal government to set up
separate police cells at its three
international airports for NRKs
seeking justice.
Finance Minister K M Mani
urged returning migrants to invest in sunrise areas like hi-tech
farming instead of the risky
traditional sectors. He offered
interest-free loans for starting
such ventures.
“Hi-tech farms is a better option than information technology which everybody seems to
favour. It ensures a ready market
and steady returns,” he said. “We
are also ready to subscribe to 10%
in these ventures”.
The government also offers
short-term courses in high-tech
farming and similar ventures for
those keen to start businesses individually or collectively. Expatriates were also urged to invest
in the proposed hi-tech villages
housing small biotech and nanotech units.
Inauguratiung the two-day
meet, Chief Minister Oommen
Chandy said the government
would provide exemption in
landholding limit to investments
that bring in jobs. Currently, 15
acres is the maximum land that
both individuals and groups can
“For every Rs50mn investment or 20 jobs created, exemption will be given for an acre in
multiples and this will be treated
as investments for public purposes,” he said.
The chief minister who participated in two-hour long interactive session, suggested making the biannual meet an annual
Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty said the government
was preparing to accommodate the skilled workers returning from the Gulf. The state has
also decided to allow technology
parks in the private sector.
“The state-run technology
parks here and the state capital,
Thiruvananthapuram, employ
more people than the government. Similar projects are needed to accommodate returning
migrants,” he stressed.
K Babu, the minister for ports
and airports, wanted NRKs to invest in the state’s fourth international airport at Kannur, which is
approaching financial closure.
The first flight will land at the
greenfield airport on December
31. “Though 35% work is complete, despite the delay due to
heavy rains, the response from
retail investors has been lukewarm. It’s a potential area of
investment,” he said adding the
Kochi airport in which NRKs
invested heavily, had already returned 130% of their investment
by way of dividends in 15 years.
Kashmir protest
Supporters of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) surround Mohamed Yasin Malik as they chant slogans during a protest in Srinagar yesterday. JKLF
chairman Mohamed Yasin Malik and supporters were demonstrating against a reported decision by the government to give permanent resident status to refugees of
Bangladesh who are settled in various areas of the winter capital of Kashmir.
Woman raped by Uber
taxi driver to sue in US
Guardian News and Media
New Delhi
he women who said she
was raped by an Uber taxi
driver in Delhi plans to
sue the smartphone taxi service
for negligence in the US courts.
The unidentified woman has
instructed Douglas Wigdor, one
of New York’s most high-profile
litigators, to represent her.
Wigdor said he was examining the possibility of asking a US
court to exercise jurisdiction in
the case because Uber’s conduct
was based on company policy
made in the US. He said there
was a substantial body of case
law to suggest the court would
consider doing so.
Wigdor said: “I can confirm
that I have been retained by
the young lady who was raped
by an Uber driver in Delhi last
December. Having met extensively with her and her family
while in Delhi, I can only compliment them for their bravery
and fortitude during this very
difficult time. We will use all of
our resources to vindicate my
client’s rights, hold those responsible for their actions and
ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”
The authorities in Delhi
banned Uber from operating in
the capital after one of its drivers, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was arrested in December over the
alleged rape. Officials in Delhi
accused the company of misleading customers and not having proper licences for the service it offered.
Delhi police accused Uber
of failing to check whether the
driver had a clean police record.
The case caused uproar in India
where a series of incidents have
highlighted the country’s growing problem of sexual violence
towards women.
The decision by the alleged
victim to seek compensation
he government yesterday blasted the European
Parliament for adopting a
resolution calling for the repatriation of two Italian marines
charged with killing two Indian
“The case involving the two
Italian marines ... is sub judice
and is being discussed between
India and Italy,” an external affairs ministry spokesperson said.
He said the Supreme Court
had on January 14 granted three
months extension to marine
Massimiliano Latorre for staying
in Italy on health grounds. The
other marine, Salvatore Girone,
lives in the Italian embassy in
New Delhi.
“Under these circumstances,
the European Parliament would
have been well advised not to
adopt the resolution,” he said.
The Indian embassy in Brussels also issued a similar statement.
The European Parliament on
Thursday hoped that the row
between India and Italy over the
prosecution of the marines accused of killing the fishermen
in 2012 should be settled under
“Italian jurisdiction or through
international arbitration”.
The members called for the
marines to be repatriated to Italy
as their detention without charge
was a “serious breach of human
rights”, according to an European
Parliament press release.
In a resolution, the members
expressed “great sadness” over
the death of the Indian fishermen
but voiced concern over the detention of the marines.
“We have to ensure that the
principles of international law
are complied with and I think
that the fate of the two marines
will be linked to the credibility of
our anti-piracy efforts,” said EU
foreign affairs high representative Federica Mogherini.
In February 2012, the two marines, on board an Italian commercial vessel, shot and killed
the Indian fishermen after mistaking them for pirates.
Italy said the incident took
place in international waters and
the marines should be tried in
Italy or in an international court.
India insists the incident occurred in Indian waters.
The two marines face murder
Disagreeing with the house,
Neena Gill, British member of
the European Parliament and
vice chair of the parliamentary
delegation for India, expressed
her disappointment over the
“I rise to express my disappointment about the way this
matter has been addressed by
this house. And I do have strong
reservations about the resolution.
“While the EU has a duty to
stand up for its citizens, it is hard
to understand that the lives of
Indian fishermen should be valued lower than the liberty of the
two EU citizens,” said Gill.
She called on Mogherini, a
former Italian foreign minister,
“to avoid further escalation of
this case which is fundamentally
a bilateral issue between Italy
and India”.
everything necessary to bring
the perpetrator of the Delhi assault to justice. Uber introduced
new background checks in Delhi
and said it would pay experts to
come up with the best screening
method for all of India.
Wigdor represented Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid who
settled for a rumoured $6mn
with Dominique Strauss-Kahn
in 2012 over an alleged assault.
Wigdor’s past cases also include suing the investment bank
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein
for $1.4bn on behalf of a group
of women claiming sexual discrimination. That case was also
Japan minister
meets premier
European resolution on
Italian marines flayed
New Delhi/Brussels
in the US is the latest setback
for the Silicon Valley company,
which was recently valued at
China last week banned drivers of private cars from offering
services through ride-hailing
apps and the company faces legal challenges in South Korea,
California and elsewhere for using drivers who do not have taxi
Two of its drivers have been
charged with sexually assaulting
customers in Chicago in the past
three weeks.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief
executive and founder, said last
month his company would do
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Japanese
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in New Delhi yesterday.
apan Foreign Minister Fumio
Kishida met Prime Minister
Narendra Modi yesterday at
the start of a two-day trip aimed
at boosting ties between Asia’s
second and third largest economies.
Kishida’s trip comes on the
heels of the crushing win of
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in
national polls last month and a
visit by Prime Minister Narendra
Modi to Japan in August-September.
Abe, a right-wing nationalist
likened to Modi for his zeal for
economic reforms, has been keen
to shore up ties with New Delhi
to counter an increasingly assertive China.
Modi too signalled the high
priority he accorded to Japan
by making the trip to Tokyo his first bilateral visit outside
South Asia since taking office
last May.
There was no immediate word
on the outcome of the talks with
Modi which lasted around half an
hour. The two men were pictured
smiling and shaking hands at the
start of their meeting.
A government spokesman said
earlier that Kishida’s visit would
boost an already growing friendly co-operation between the two
“We welcome this visit which
signifies the importance that
Japan places on relations with
India,” foreign ministry Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.
“You are aware of the pathbreaking nature of (our) prime
minister’s visit to Japan last year,
and you are also aware of the
outcomes of that visit.
“This visit is intended to take
forward those outcomes in terms
of reaching their logical conclusion,” he said.
Kishida will also chair the
eighth strategic dialogue with
his Indian counterpart Sushma
Swaraj today and discuss ways
to double Japanese investment
in India.
The Japanese government is
encouraging businesses to tap
fast-growing emerging markets
such as India, as the domestic
market shrinks due to a rapidly
ageing population and low birth
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Tejpal’s trial on
hold for three weeks
Nagaland CM accused
of money laundering
Ex-Aam Aadmi Party
leader Ilmi joins BJP
Trinamool MP accused
of slapping policeman
Goa carnival to be
held from February 14
The Supreme Court yesterday put on hold,
for three weeks, the trial of Tehelka foundereditor Tarun Tejpal for alleged sexual assault
on his junior colleague in Goa during an event
organised by the magazine. A court bench
suspended Tejpal’s trial by three weeks after
senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the
editor, told the court that the trial court had
fixed January 23 for arguments by him but
had not provided the documents relied on by
the prosecution. Tejpal, accused of sexually
assaulting a woman colleague in a Goa hotel on
November 7-8, 2013, was charged on February
18, 2014 with rape, and sexual harassment of his
The political crisis in Nagaland over the
demand for removing Chief Minister T R Zeliang
has got murkier as the rebel NPF legislators
accused him of indulging in international
money laundering, a charge Zeliang denied
yesterday. Accusing Zeliang of wooing the
legislators and party workers to favour him,
the rebel Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislators,
claimed to have documents of international
money transfers to the chief minister and
his wife’s bank account. “We have in our
possession documents of international money
transfers to Zeliang and his wife’s accounts,”
the rebel legislators Noke Wangnao and G Kaito
Aye said
Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Shazia
Ilmi yesterday joined the BJP “for the rest
of my life” after lavishing praise on Prime
Minister Narendra Modi. A day after former
police officer Kiran Bedi formally joined the
Bharatiya Janata Party, it was the turn of Ilmi,
who broke ranks some time ago with Aam
Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal. “There
is indeed a new political discourse in the
country, and we must all be a part of it,” the
journalist-turned-politician told the media in
the company of Delhi BJP president Satish
Upadhyay. Ilmi had contested - and narrowly
lost - the December 2013 assembly elections
on the AAP ticket.
Former Indian football captain Prasun Banerjee
has been slapped with a non-bailable charge
after he allegedly hit a traffic constable who
is said to have stopped him from flouting
traffic rules. The Lok Sabha MP from Howrah,
has become only the latest in a long line of
Trinamool leaders against whom there are
complaints of taking the law in their own hands
and even attacking police personnel. However,
Banerjee denied the charge. “The constable
lacks mental balance. I never attacked him. This
is a conspiracy to malign me,” said the brother of
legendary Indian coach P K Banerjee and who
also captained the Indian football team at the
1982 Asian Games in Delhi.
Goa’s popular Carnival festival will be held
over four days from February 14, state tourism
officials said yesterday. The Carnival, a festival
which is symbolic of Goa’s Portuguese legacy
will be held in six towns, including capital
Panaji. According to a press release issued
by the state tourism ministry, the carnival
float parade this year will feature themes
“revolving around socio-cultural, environment
and tourism-related aspects”. The carnival
is celebrated in a big way in countries once
ruled by the Iberians - either Portuguese like
the globally celebrated Brazilian Carnival or
the Spanish and to some extent in regions
ruled by the French.
on oil firms
‘to feature
in Obama
visit talks’
Censor board
chief quits
‘over govt’s
New Delhi
he government will use an
upcoming visit by Barack
Obama to press the US
to remove Indian oil companies
from a list naming firms doing
business in Iran, and to seek priority access to US LNG exports,
sources in the oil ministry said.
The US president will arrive in
New Delhi on January 25 and hold
discussions with Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, who visited Washington in September. An official
agenda has not been released.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) listed three
Indian companies as having
commercial activity in Iran’s energy sector in a report this week,
potentially making it difficult for
them to do business with other
countries, mainly the US.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Oil India and Indian Oil
Corporation, which have been on
the list since 2010, cited interests
in Iran’s Farsi concession in their
2013-14 annual reports but told
the GAO they had ceased activity
in 2007, the GAO said.
“This (mention in the list)
could hit Indian companies’
plans to invest in other countries,
particularly in America,” one of
the sources said.
The US has imposed sanctions
on Iran’s energy sector to put pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear
programme, which the West suspects may seek to develop atomic
weapons. Companies doing business in the sector face exclusion
from the US financial system.
Iran says its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful
Separately, oil ministry sources
said India will seek preferential
access to US exports of liquefied
natural gas (LNG), even though
India does not have a free-trade
agreement (FTA) with the US.
“We want them to give us the
freedom to lift LNG from any of
their projects on a priority basis,
including the ones that are meant
for FTA nations,” an official said.
New Delhi
Members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) shout slogans as they push
a police barricade while they protest against the release of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s controversial
film, in New Delhi, yesterday.
Petition seeks to strip
jailed minister of post
est Bengal Transport
and Sports Minister
Madan Mitra - arrested
in the Saradha scam - was yesterday yet again denied bail with
a city court extending his judicial
custody till January 30.
During the day, a public interest litigation (PIL) was also filed
before the Calcutta High Court
seeking Mitra’s disqualification
as a minister as he can’t discharge
his ministerial responsibilities
from jail.
Mitra, a senior leader from the
state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, was presented in the court
of additional chief judicial magistrate H Mukherjee on the expiry of
his earlier judicial remand.
“The Central Bureau of Investigation in its remand application
is claiming that all materials have
been collected from Mitra. If so,
why are they seeking his further
custody,” Mitra’s counsel Ashok
Mukherjee asked the court press-
ing for the minister’s bail.
The defence also questioned
why Mitra was being detained in
custody when Sajjan Agarwal one of the accused mentioned in
the CBI charge-sheet, was not arrested.
The CBI counsel said Agarwal
was co-operating with the agency
in the investigation and his arrest
was not required.
Subsequently, Mitra, seeking
the court’s permission to speak,
asked the court why was he arrested when he too had been cooperating with the CBI.
“The CBI claims Agarwal is
co-operating so he need not be
arrested. I too have been co-operating with the CBI, then why was I
arrested? Does this mean that one
will not co-operate if in custody?
If so, then I should also be allowed
out so that I can co-operate,” argued Mitra.
Opposing the bail plea, the CBI
counsel said granting bail to Mitra would hamper the investigation. The agency asserted Mitra’s
custody was essential for its bid
to unravel the larger conspiracy
involved in the multi-crore rupee
scam which has affected lakhs of
depositors across several states.
Seeking the court’s permission
for CBI officials to interrogate
the minister in jail, the agency’s
counsel said it would be later submitting a supplementary chargesheet in the case.
Rejecting Mitra’s bail, the court
extended the minister’s judicial
custody by 14 days and allowed
the CBI to interrogate him in the
presence of a defence counsel between January 17 and January 24.
Meanwhile, Subhrojit Bhaduri,
a lawyer filed a PIL (public interest
litigation) before the bench of chief
justice Manjula Chellur and justice
A K Banerjee contending that Mitra be disqualified as a minister as
he is unable discharge his ministerial responsibilities from jail.
“As a minister, Mitra had taken
an oath of serving the people by
discharging his ministerial duties
and responsibilities. Since now
he is in jail and can’t discharge his
responsibilities so we have approached the court seeking his
removal,” he said.
eela Samson has resigned
as the censor board chief,
protesting against what she
termed interference by the government, while denying yesterday
that her exit was linked to controversial film “MSG”, which is ready
for release after the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT)
gave it the green signal.
“It is absolutely true that I have
resigned. (I resigned) on Thursday night by SMS and yesterday
by e-mail and hard copy letter,”
Samson said.
Samson has headed the Central Board of Film Certification
(CBFC), a statutory body under
the information and broadcasting
ministry, since 2011. It regulates
the public exhibition of films under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
An acclaimed Bharatanatyam
dancer, Samson said her resignation followed interference by the
government in the censor board’s
working and what she described
as coercion and corruption of
panel members.
But she denied speculation
that her departure was due to the
clearance given by the FCAT which hears appeals of applicants
aggrieved by a CBFC order, for
film certification - to Dera Saccha
Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim
Singh’s film “MSG”.
When asked by the media if
“MSG” was the factor in her resignation, Samson said: “That is not
the reason.”
Meanwhile, Minister of State
for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
said Samson’s resignation was her
Seeing red
personal decision and there was no
coercion by the government.
“Whatever the decision, it has
to be acceptable to all,” he said, in
an obvious reference to the FCAT’s
green signal to “MSG”. “There was
no coercion by the government. If
she feels so, let her convey it to the
“MSG” was reportedly first
rejected by the examining committee of the censor board and
referred to the revising committee.
When it too decided against
clearing the film, it was referred to
FCAT, which cleared it for release
after asking producers to make
minor changes.
Samson said her
resignation followed
interference by the
government in the censor
board’s working and what
she described as coercion
and corruption of panel
The film’s producers claimed
they have got the required permission from the censor board for the
movie’s release, but it didn’t hit the
screens as scheduled yesterday.
A high-profile premiere was
planned for the movie in Gurgaon. Thousands of Singh’s fans
had gathered at Leisure Valley
Ground to watch a screening,
amid protests by the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) workers
Thailand extradites
wanted terrorist
Villagers protest by blocking the National Highway No 37
with a replica of a buffalo in Ahatguri in Morigaon district,
Assam. The demonstrators are angry at the Supreme
Court verdict of banning animal fights. Although the court
banned animal fights in many parts of the country, the
restriction has seemingly no takers in Assam. People of the
state have organised buffalo fights on the occasion of the
annual Magh Bhihu festival.
and the party’s activists.
The movie’s premiere had to be
postponed to tomorrow, and police and security agencies in Punjab and Haryana were put on alert
following the protests.
Sect leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is said to have
around 50mn followers and has
been mired in a controversy since
2001, facing murder and rape cases in courts, told media in Gurgaon
that there was nothing objectionable in his film.
“There’s a move to stop the release of the film. I have no knowledge on why the censor board
objected to the film,” he said, adding that the film carries a message
against social evils like alcoholism,
prostitution and drugs and promoted good causes like blood donation and doing voluntary work.
Samson said in an earlier statement: “Interference, coercion and
corruption of panel members and
officers of the organisation appointed by the ministry and having to manage an organisation
whose board has not met for over
nine months as the ministry had
‘no funds’ to permit the meeting
of members.”
“The term of all members and
the chairperson is over. But since
the new government failed to appoint a new board and chairperson, a few were given extensions
and asked to carry on till this procedure was completed.
“However, recent cases of interference in the working of the
CBFC by the ministry, through an
‘additional charge’ CEO and corrupt panel members have caused
a degradation of those values the
members of this Board of CBFC
and chairperson stood for,” Samson added.
uthorities in Thailand
yesterday issued orders
for the extradition of
Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) chief
Jagtar Singh Tara and a Punjab
Police team was given custody of
the terrorist in Bangkok.
“A four-member Punjab Police party positioned in Bangkok
is bringing Jagtar Singh Tara to
India after his extradition by
Thailand. After completion of
administrative formalities, Jagtar Singh Tara has been handed
over to the Punjab Police team,”
a Punjab Police spokesman said
Tara was nabbed in Thailand
on January 6 following a coordinated operation of central
agencies, Punjab Police and the
Thailand Police.
The counter intelligence wing
of the Punjab Police had tracked
Jagtar Singh Tara in Thailand.
A Bangkok court had on January 6 ordered that Tara will be
extradited from Thailand to India.
Tara is one of the terrorists
convicted in the sensational assassination of then Punjab chief
minister Beant Singh by a human
bomb at the heavily-guarded
Punjab secretariat complex here
on August 31, 1995.
Tara, who was using the assumed name of Gurmeet Singh,
was living in disguise near the
beach resort town of Pattiyya
in Thailand. Thai authorities
said that he had been living illegally in Thailand for over four
Three terrorists - Tara, Jagtar
Singh Hawara, Paramjit Singh
Bhaura - and their accomplice
Devi Singh, a murder convict living with them in the same prison
barrack, had made a sensational
escape by digging a 104-feetlong tunnel in the high-security
Burail jail here on the intervening
night of January 21-22, 2004.
Hawara and Bhaura were rearrested by security agencies but
Tara remained elusive.
Tara will be produced before a
court in Patiala town, 80km from
here, today where police remand
for his questioning would be
sought, the spokesman said.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
US musician Dave Grohl (centre) of the Foo
Fighters band performs on stage during their
concert in Santiago de Chile, Chile, yesterday.
The band started its world tour to promote their
latest album Sonic Highways.
Brazil workers end strike
after Volkswagen U-turn
Police detain 80 Taiwanese
online betting workers
Fuel shortage in Argentina
province after protest
Chile to reform
voting system
Workers at Volkswagen’s main plant in Brazil
ended a 10-day strike, after the German automaker
scrapped plans to slash 800 jobs, their union
said yesterday. “The Volkswagen work force has
managed to overturn the 800 layoffs and agreed
unanimously a union-mediated proposal to end the
strike,” the metalworkers’ union said in a Facebook
posting. Thousands of workers from Mercedes
and Ford plants had joined their counterparts at
Volkswagen to protest layoffs in the industry. The
German firm announced just before Christmas it
would cut 800 workers at the Sao Bernardo do
Campo plant near Sao Paulo, sparking an openended strike at the site.
A total of 80 Taiwanese people allegedly working
in illegal gambling were detained in Paraguay
by police, a prosecutor said. The 57 men and
23 women were believed to have been illegally
exploited as workers in a human and drug
trafficking ring. “They lived closed-in, cramped and
exploited; they were exhausted and disoriented,”
said Alfredo Acosta, the prosecutor in charge of
the investigation. “We are assuming that they
were working in online Chinese betting. Their
work schedule was during the night and early
morning, exactly business hours in China.” He said
the authorities were seeking those responsible for
bringing the illegal workers to Paraguay.
Argentina’s state-run energy company YPF said an
open-ended strike by oil workers in the province
of Mendoza was causing a shortage of fuel at its
service stations there and risked impacting supply
throughout the country. Workers are striking due
to conflicts within their trade union rather than
due to problems with YPF, the company said.
They are blocking oil fields and the refinery of
Lujan de Cuyo which produces 35% of YPF’s
fuel, equivalent to 20% of the country’s total
fuel supply, it added. “Residents of Mendoza
are beginning to feel the impact of this decision
in terms of a lack of fuel in YPF’s main service
stations,” the company said.
Chile looks set to make major changes to its
electoral system so it will better represent voters’
wishes and ensure more women participate in
politics, an issue close to the heart of centre-left
President Michelle Bachelet. The Senate this
week gave the green light to Bachelet’s electoral
reform bill, with the support of two opposition
senators. The bill is expected to easily pass in the
lower house and then be signed into law. The vote
overturns a byzantine electoral system introduced
by dictator Augusto Pinochet that has effectively
excluded parties that do not belong to one of two
leading coalitions and prevented either coalition
from winning a significant majority in Congress.
city on edge
as economic
crisis worsens
China firm
‘mulls deal
for Mexico
Mexico City
hina’s third-largest carrier China Telecom is
preparing a possible bid
for a contract to build and run
a new mobile broadband network in Mexico and is seeking local partners to join it in a
consortium, three people with
knowledge of the matter said.
It has already secured up to
several billion dollars of financing from Chinese statecontrolled banks, including
the China Development Bank,
for the project, which Mexico
estimates will cost $10bn over
10 years, one of the people
The proposed network is part
of a sweeping reform designed
to break billionaire Carlos
Slim’s hold on the Mexican telecoms business, but the Chinese involvement could prove
controversial and trigger concerns from the US, some Mexican officials say.
Mexico’s government is trying to ease its economic dependence on the US and ramp
up Chinese investment. A
Chinese-led consortium looks
poised to win a $3.75bn contract to build a high-speed
train system, sources with
knowledge of the plan say.
This is despite the group’s
previous winning bid being revoked late last year amid a political scandal.
Representatives for China
Telecom did not return requests
for comment, and representatives for China Development
Bank could not be reached for
comment. A spokesman for
Mexico’s communications and
transport ministry (SCT) declined to comment.
On a trip to China in November to reduce tensions caused
by the train contract cancellation, Communications and
Transport Minister Gerardo
Ruiz Esparza also discussed the
mobile network plan with the
Chinese government, according to a ministry press release.
San Cristobal
Students block a street as they clash with national guards during a protest against the government in San
55 children rescued
from trafficking gang
tah’s attorney general says he posed as a
bodyguard and translator during a secret mission coordinated with authorities in
Colombia to rescue more than
55 child sex slaves from a gang
on an island off the country’s
Caribbean coast.
Sean Reyes, the US state’s top
law enforcement official, said
he played the role of Spanishspeaking interpreter and muscle
for the sting set up by Operation
Underground Railroad, a Utahbased non-profit organisation
that works with police to fight
child sex trafficking worldwide.
“It’s not a black-ops deal,”
Reyes, a Republican, said of the
operation that took place last
The sting had the support
of both the US and Colombian
governments, Reyes said. Two
US department of homeland
security investigators were also
present, an adviser to the attorney general said.
Reyes accompanied a small
group of men who posed as
wealthy investors in a plan by
Colombian criminals to build a
child sex hotel on the Rosario Islands, an archipelago southwest
of the resort city of Cartagena.
In video footage released by
his office, members of the Colombian security forces are seen
landing by boat and ordering
everyone, including Reyes, onto
the ground at gunpoint.
“Everything happened so
quick. Bang, bang, the takedown,” Reyes said.
“The hardest part was standing there listening to these traffickers, having them slapping
us on the back and jubilant and
thinking that we were all friends
and partners,” he said.
“I’m crawling out of my skin,
as the father of a 12-year-old,
when they bring out an 11-yearold and offer her up as the grand
prize because she’s a virgin.”
The Utah group said children
as young as 10 were among those
rescued, and that some 40 others were picked up elsewhere by
local law enforcement.
“We’re bringing them back
into custody so they can stand
trial and suffer the consequences of their depraved practices,”
Reyes said.
Colombian police officials did
not immediately have details on
the operation.
Reyes said he took part because “it’s critical that people
throughout the world understand what an epidemic human
trafficking really is.”
The attorney general, a father-of-six, said the arrest almost a year ago in Utah of a
Guatemalan man, Victor Rax,
showed the problem of child sex
slavery striking close to home.
Rax was charged with smuggling in Central American boys,
sexually abusing them, and
making them carry drugs into
schools in what Reyes called
“the sleepy little communities
of Utah.”
Rax committed suicide in jail
last April.
asked youths are once
again blocking streets
and burning tyres
in the Venezuelan city of San
Cristobal, the epicentre of last
year’s massive anti-government protests.
The groups are small and the
unrest contained, but dissent
is rising in this volatile Andean
city, a barometer of frustration
with nationwide shortages that
are putting pressure on the socialist government of Nicolas
Students, who also accuse the
government of corruption and
repression but whom Maduro
labels “coupsters,” are threatening to unleash larger demonstrations again.
“It’s time,” Deiby Jaimes, 21,
said from behind a barricade of
burning trash as police gazed
down from their hilltop perch.
“There’s a social, economic and
political crisis. Economically
we’re completely lost and in a
But Jaimes and other students
said they were restraining themselves to see if other Venezuelans
also take to the streets.
Last year’s protests split the
opposition and failed to attract
widespread support from Venezuela’s poor, meaning mainstream anti-government leaders like Henrique Capriles are
calling for less radical tactics
including peaceful rallies and a
good showing at an upcoming
parliamentary vote.
“People are scared,” said
Jaimes, an accounting student,
as dozens around him knocked
rocks together menacingly.
“But fear is disappearing due to
Brazil drought
shortages. We’re expecting a social explosion.”
High demand and a Christmas lull in distribution have aggravated shortages across the
nation of 30mn people. Queues
sometimes snake around entire
blocks, prompting isolated scuffles for coveted milk or diapers.
Although there has been scattered violence around the Opec
nation, many eyes are once again
on the opposition hotbed of
San Cristobal, where clusters of
demonstrators have been facing
off with security forces since the
New Year.
It was here that the attempted rape of a student last year
prompted protests that spread
into a wave of national demonstrations. Major General Efrain
Velasco Lugo, who is in charge of
security for the western Andean
region, called the protesters
misguided delinquents. “They
want to torch the city again.”
Their motto, he added, can be
boiled down to “because I think
differently to you, I’m going to
topple you.”
Indeed, Maduro says rightwing foes, encouraged by the US
and compliant foreign media, are
plotting an “economic coup” to
topple his socialist government.
Protesters retort they are decrying flawed policies, like currency
controls that have crimped imports and led to shortages.
Army officials said on Thursday 18 protesters had been arrested in San Cristobal, capital of
Tachira state, in the last 10 days,
with six currently behind bars.
Rights group Penal Forum said
56 demonstrators were arrested
nationally this year, with most
now released. A national guard
shot a protester in the chest on
Thursday night during clashes in
San Cristobal, a student leader
Petrobras CEO to
keep job: minister
Rio de Janeiro
Water levels have fallen drastically at the Jaguari dam, part of
the Cantareira System, in Braganca Paulista city, 84kms from
Sao Paulo, Brazil. The drought in the region is the worst in 80
years, according to reports. The region received only a third
of the usual rainfall during the wet season from December to
said. Reuters could not immediately verify the information.
The situation remains a far
cry from unrest between February and May that left 43 dead
and hundreds injured during the
biggest disturbances in more
than a decade. Victims included
supporters and security officials.
Still, the mood is increasingly
combative in San Cristobal, traditionally known as the “cordial
city,” as life becomes a series of
queues. Taxi driver Luis Perez
wakes up around 5am to wait in
line for gasoline.
“We produce so much oil,
and look how we’re suffering,”
he said as he finally filled up his
creaking blue 1982 Chevrolet.
“We need a change of government,” he added before paying
less than 2 cents a litre for the
world’s cheapest gasoline.
Roughly 15% of fuel in Tachira
is smuggled out of the state, estimates Nellyver Lugo, a ruling
party state legislator who heads a
commission on gasoline. Lack of
spare parts for trucks and tricky
contract negotiations reduced
supplies this year, she added.
Up to 25% of food is smuggled
out for sale at a hefty profit in
Colombia, the army says, citing
discoveries of subsidised flour
stashed in tires or rice in engines.
Even once-fervent “Chavistas” are becoming skeptical as
inflation and shortages threaten
anti-poverty advances under
the late Hugo Chavez’s 19992013 rule.
“There was a lot of hope, but
things didn’t pan out the way we
wanted,” Ronald, a government
employee who would not give
his last name, said as he stood in
line clutching scarce toilet paper.
“Now we’re paying the price. I
hope they implement changes.”
aria das Graças Foster will keep her job
as chief executive officer of Petroleo Brasileiro SA
despite calls for her resignation after a corruption scandal
at the state oil company, Brazil’s Energy Minister Eduardo
Braga said.
Braga made the statement
on the Miriam Leitao show on
GloboNews, a Brazilian 24hour TV news channel, GloboNews said on its website.
The energy ministry was
not immediately available for
Braga said that he expects
the government to allow an
increase in electricity rates of
between 20% and 25% this
year as authorities cut subsidies to replenish public accounts. Two years of low rainfall have curbed hydroelectric
output and raised the cost of
In 2012 President Dilma
Rousseff strong armed utilities into reducing electricity
fares by about 20% for household consumers in exchange
for the renewal of their concessions.
Braga said that CEO Foster
will lead the cleanup of Petrobras and that its governance
is improving as a result of the
scandal. There was no evidence
of any wrongdoing by the current leadership, he said.
Calls for Foster’s resignation from Petrobras, as the
company is popularly known,
have grown since November,
when the company delayed
the release of its third-quarter
results until at least the end
of January. That came after
Petrobras’ auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers
to certify the results in the
wake of a giant contract fixing, bribery and political kickback scheme.
Company executives allegedly conspired with construction and engineering firms to
inflate the value of projects.
They then kicked back much
of the excess to executives,
politicians and political parties as bribes and campaign
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Saudi Arabia appoints new
envoy to Pakistan
Revenue board to take
action against doctors
Transport of Afghan goods
disallowed to India
Many legislators found
without own vehicles
Record increase in mobile
phones import
Saudi Arabia has appointed its senior diplomat
Abdullah Mardob Al-Dahrani as the new
ambassador to Pakistan. The Saudi mission in
Islamabad was without a full-fledged ambassador
for eight months, the longest period of time
without an envoy. Jassim M Al-Khaledi has been
the acting ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan
since then. Abdullah Al-Dahrani had also served
in Pakistan as second-in-command with former
ambassador Ali Saeed Al-Assiri nine years ago.
Al-Dahrani is known for his favourable disposition
towards Pakistan and is viewed as a competent
diplomat, who has served his country in various
capitals besides serving in the headquarter Riyadh.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of Pakistan
has directed the tax offices to initiate the process
of penalty and prosecution against around
175,000 doctors, who have taxable income but
are not filing income tax returns, official sources
said yesterday. The directorate general of
broadening of tax base of the FBR has circulated
a list of around 186,000 doctors to regional
offices, directing them to take immediate action
against non-filers by sending notices, an official
at the regional tax office in Karachi said. Around
11,000 enlisted doctors have filed income tax
return for 2014, while the remaining has been
declared defaulters.
Pakistan has refused to allow transportation of
Afghanistan goods through the Wagah border
to India, arguing that this provision was not
included in the bilateral pact between the two
countries. The minutes of the recent AfghanPakistan trade meeting held in Islamabad state
that Afghan-registered trucks will be allowed
to carry fruits and vegetables up to Wagah for
export to India. They agreed that necessary
amendments would be made in the rules to
include all exports rather than only fruits and
vegetables. The Pakistan side had agreed to
allow the Afghan trucks to go up to Wagah by
January 20, 2015.
A majority of Balochistan Assembly members,
including Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch,
have declared that they do not own a vehicle for
travel, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
stated as the Assembly members revealed their
assets and liabilities for 2014. According to the
ECP’s website, Chief Minister Baloch, tribal elders
and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP)
leaders Nawab Ayaz Jogezai and Sardar Raza
Mohammed Badech, JUI-F leader and former
senior provincial minister Maulana Abdul Wasay,
former caretaker chief minister Saleh Bhootani,
and BNP leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal are among
those who do not own a personal vehicle.
Pakistan witnessed record imports of mobile
phones and telecommunication equipment
worth $1.23bn in 2014, with investment in
the sector during the same year reaching
$1.8bn. A report published by the Pakistan
Telecommunication Authority attributed the big
increase of 300% in the investment, and of 25.5%
in the related imports, to the introduction of 3G
and 4G services in the country during 2014. But
the report noted that the import bill $544mn
for the cellular handsets and $682mn for the
telecom equipment contributed to the ever
rising trade deficit of the country which stood at
$16bn last year.
Clashes at Charlie Hebdo
protest, three injured
t least three people were
clashes between antiCharlie Hebdo protesters and
police outside the French consulate in Pakistan’s Karachi, officials said, including an AFP
photographer who was shot in
the back.
The protest by the student
wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami
religious party was one of several staged across Pakistan by
Islamist groups after Friday
prayers against the depiction of
the Prophet Muhammad by the
French satirical magazine.
“Three injured were brought to
the hospital, two were minor injuries and one photographer was serious,” said Doctor Seemi Jamali,
a spokeswoman for the city’s
main Jinnah hospital, referring
to AFP’s Asif Hassan, 38.
“The bullet struck his lung,
and passed through his chest. He
is out of immediate danger and
he has spoken to his colleagues,”
she said, adding that Hassan was
hit by what appeared to be a live
The others injured were a policeman and a local TV cameraman who were discharged after
receiving first aid.
Senior police official Abdul
Khaliq Sheikh said that the violence began when some 350 protesters were prevented by police
from approaching the French
consulate, in the southern part
of the sprawling metropolis.
“When the police tried to stop
them they started firing,” he said,
adding that the police responded
with tear gas and water cannon
to disperse the protesters.
Police said Hassan and the
other journalist did not appear to
have been deliberately targeted
but were caught in crossfire when
protesters shot at the police.
A witness at the scene backed
the police account, though the
religious party blamed the police.
Five suspects of Pak
school massacre
Afghanistan has arrested at least
five men suspected of being
involved in the last month’s
attack at a Pakistani school that
killed 135 students, officials said
An Afghan security official
confirmed that the five Pakistani
men were currently being held for
questioning in Afghanistan.
A Pakistani security official
said that the arrest came after
Pakistan supplied information to
the Afghan government.
They will be handed over in
the coming days, both Afghan
and Pakistani security officials
On December 16, seven Pakistani
Taliban gunmen went from class
to class and killed more than 150
people, mostly students, at the
Army Public School in Peshawar
Last week, Pakistan’s spy chief
arrived in Kabul to meet with the
Afghan president to talk about
the arrest and the handover,
security officials from both the
countries confirmed.
The attempt to engage with
Afghanistan on terrorism-related
issues “reflects Pakistan’s
seriousness to root out terrorists
for the first time since 9/11,” said
Irfan Shahzad, lead security
researcher at Islamabad-based
Institute of Policy Studies.
“We will have to see what impact
does it have on the future of the
region. Nonetheless, it is a very
significant symbolism.”
bans Haqqani
group after
talks with top
US diplomat
Asif Hassan, left, a photographer of French news agency Agence France-Press (AFP), shot during a protest against satirical French weekly
Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, is
helped by a fellow photographer in Karachi yesterday.
“Police are responsible for
those wounded during the protest including Asif Hasan,” said
Hafiz Bilal Ramzan, head of the
party’s student wing.
The rallies come a day after
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
led parliament in condemning
the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo,
whose Paris offices were attacked
last week by Islamist gunmen
who killed 12 people.
The newspaper was known for its
cartoons of Prophet Muhammad,
and its defiant post-attack issue
released Wednesday again featured
the Prophet on its front page.
The new cover has sparked
anger in parts of the Islamic
world, with protests staged
from the Philippines and Turkey
to Kuwait and Mauritania.
Many find any depiction of
the Prophet highly offensive, let
alone images satirising him.
The magazine’s new cover
shows Prophet Muhammad with
a tear in his eye, under the headline “All is forgiven”. He holds a
sign reading “Je Suis Charlie” (I
Am Charlie), the slogan that has
become a global rallying cry for
supporters of the victims and
freedom of speech.
In Pakistan, thousands of religious party activists turned
out nationwide, including followers of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the
charitable wing of the banned
Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group
which masterminded attacks on
Mumbai in 2008.
The group has come under the
spotlight since Pakistan vowed
to crack down on militant groups
of all hues, including those considered friendly to its interests,
following a Taliban school massacre last month that left 150
people dead.
The Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction
of the Pakistani Taliban earlier
issued a statement lauding the
two brothers who carried out the
Charlie Hebdo assault, saying
“they freed the earth from the
existence of filthy blasphemers”.
“O enemies of Islam beware!
Every youth of this Ummah
(Muslim community) is willing to
sacrifice himself on the honour
of (the) Prophet,” said the statement, which was sent via email
by spokesman Ehsanullan Ehsan.
Protesters in the northwest
city of Peshawar and central
Multan burnt French flags on the
streets, while rallies were also
held in the capital Islamabad and
the eastern city of Lahore.
In addition to protests by religious parties, lawyers have
vowed to boycott court proceedings to show their displeasure
over the sketches.
Insulting the Prophet carries
the death penalty under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, with 14
people currently languishing on
death row for the offence.
Mobs often take matters into
their own hands and lynch those
accused of blasphemy, and such
killers are widely feted.
akistan has outlawed the
Taliban-linked Haqqani
network, officials said
yesterday, days after US Secretary of State John Kerry
urged Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif’s government to fight
groups that threaten Afghan,
Indian and US interests.
American officials blame
high-profile attacks in Afghanistan on the powerful
Haqqani network, which
mainly operates out of Pakistan’s border areas, and say
it has ties to the Pakistani
Senior Pakistani government officials said a formal announcement of the ban would
be made “within weeks”.
“We have decided to ban the
Haqqani network as a step in
implementing the National
Action Plan devised after the
(Peshawar) school attack,”
said a cabinet member, referring to a massacre of 134 children by Taliban gunmen last
“The military and the government are on the same page
on how to tackle militancy.
There is no more ‘good’ or
‘bad’ Taliban.
“Kerry specifically pressed
Haqqanis, including banning
the group,” the official added.
A second official, a minister who spoke on condition of
anonymity, confirmed the decision to outlaw the Haqqani
Afghan leader seeks to sideline
powerful bloc in break with past
he Afghan cabinet, finalised this week after
months of haggling,
leaves a powerful faction that
helped oust the Taliban in 2001
significantly weakened, in a
bold but risky break from the
past by President Ashraf Ghani.
Known as “mujahideen”
because many also fought the
Soviets in the 1980s, the group
is angry at being overlooked
for key security posts and is
threatening to block nominees
when they are presented to
parliament in the coming days.
The outcome of that process is difficult to predict, but
Ghani, faced with the daunting task of dragging Afghanistan out of war and poverty,
appeared to believe his predecessor Hamid Karzai had been
held back by factional rivalries.
“President Ghani didn’t
want to repeat past mistakes
during Karzai’s time,” said a
close aide to the leader, who,
like his top security choices, is
from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Pashtuns.
“He wants to give a message to the international community and his people that the
cabinet will be a different one,”
added the aide, who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
The main loser is the ethnic Tajik wing of the former
Northern Alliance, a group of
fighters mainly from the north
of the country who have long
been criticised for carving out
local fiefdoms and putting personal above national interests.
Afghanistan is listed as the
world’s fourth most corrupt
nation by the watchdog group
Transparency International,
although accusations of graft
have been levelled at officials
across the ethnic and political
Even under Karzai, a Pashtun, former Alliance members,
particularly from the smaller
ethnic Tajik community from
the province of Panjshir, enjoyed sweeping powers.
The ex-mujahideen’s exclusion has prompted criticism
of Abdullah Abdullah, Ghani’s
election rival-turned-government partner who draws his
support mainly from the north.
He was branded a “traitor”
Ashraf Ghani ... facing a
daunting task
on social media after the cabinet was unveiled on Monday.
During last year’s bitterly
contested election, Ghani and
Abdullah, who is a Tajik, both
promoted themselves as candidates who aimed to put aside
ethnic-based patronage.
But the outcry over the
nominations shows it will not
be easy to break with Afghanistan’s recent past.
“Right now, 80% of influential and powerful people around
the country are former mujahideen commanders, and they
don’t want to give up their power,” said Farhad Sediqi, a parliamentarian from the north.
Hazrat Ali, a former mujahideen and now lawmaker,
said there was a risk that par-
liament could scupper the
lengthy nomination process
that has paralysed parts of Afghan government.
“The parliament is dominated
by mujahideen figures, and I don’t
think they will vote for many of
these nominees,” he said.
Each nominee needs a simple
majority, and parliament is expected to decide on the appointments as early as Januaryt 24.
An ethnic Tajik was put forward as foreign minister, but
the defence and interior ministries have gone to Pashtuns, as
did the top post at the National
Directorate of Security.
Other Tajiks among cabinet
nominees had little connection
to the mujahideen and Northern Alliance.
It is not immediately clear
whether the nominations will
affect Ghani’s push to re-start
peace talks with the Pashtundominated Taliban.
The Islamist militants have
waged war on foreign and Afghan
forces since 2001, and their campaign has become increasingly
deadly over the last year, killing
hundreds of civilians and thousands of security personnel.
Shahzada Shahid, a lawmak-
er close to Abdullah, said Abdullah was under pressure from
his traditional power base.
“It is not possible to include
all those prominent figures in
the cabinet, but there should
have been a balance.”
Mujib Rahimi, a spokesman
for Abdullah, said his office
had no immediate comment on
criticism of the nominations.
During three months of negotiations over the cabinet, Abdullah nominated two ex-mujahideen leaders, both Tajiks from
Panjshir, for interior minister,
said sources in both camps.
However, Ghani used his
veto to reject the candidates
because he said they lacked
the necessary education and
represented the old guard, the
aides added.
The disagreement over the
key post was the final tussle in
a protracted tug-of-war. Eventually, Abdullah put forward an
ally who is Pashtun, Nur ul-Haq
Ulumi, and Ghani accepted.
For Panjshiris, the choice
of Ulumi was especially contentious, since he was a general in the Soviet-backed army
that fought the mujahideen in
the 1980s.
The United States accuses
the Pakistani intelligence
agency of supporting the
Haqqani militants and using
them as a proxy in Afghanistan
to gain leverage there against
the growing influence of its
arch-rival India. Pakistan
denies this.
A formal announcement of
the ban would show the government is keen to convince
the US it will no longer differentiate between ‘good’ and
‘bad’ militants.
But it remains to be seen
if the ban will translate into
significant action.
There has been intense debate within the government
on whether to brand the group
a terrorist organisation.
Some officials have argued
the move would have little
battlefield impact but risks
setting back Afghan reconciliation efforts and unleashing more attacks against
In June last year the Pakistan army launched a longexpected military operation in
the troubled North Waziristan
region, said to be the base of
the Haqqani group.
“Pakistan has done a lot
already to disrupt the activities of the Haqqanis ... within
Pakistan,” said a Western
“But they must also take
follow up steps ... to ensure the
Haqqanis and other groups are
not allowed to regroup or return to sanctuaries, their assets are frozen, their funding
is blocked and their networks
Imran Khan pays
income tax
Other than electricity bill, Imran
Khan has also paid income
tax formally ending his civil
disobedience movement that was
being preached and practised only
by him, it was reliably learnt.
PTI chairman gave a call for the
civil disobedience on August 17
urging public not to pay the taxes
and electricity bills.
PTI secretary general Jehangir
Tareen was the first to disobey
as he had deposited his taxes the
very next day of the call. Tareen is
a regular taxpayer and considered
among the highest tax paying
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s
warning appears to have worked.
He had announced to impose
heavy penalties on those NTN
holders who failed to file tax
returns till December 5, 2014. FBR
officials confirmed his tax payment
but stopped short of disclosing the
date and the tax amount.
If his 2013’s tax is any guide, this
year’s figure will be hovering
around Rs200,000.
While he calls into question the
taxes of political rivals, Imran is shy
of explaining his own position. He
dodges questions every time when
confronted about his taxes.
He declared Rs12.3mn income
in 2013 and paid only Rs194,936
tax over it. Most of the income
declared was from agriculture and
services (outside Pakistan). This
year saw the declaration of the
highest amount of cash in hand
(Rs13.61mn) whereas Rs381,765
was in bank at the closing of that
financial year.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
slams clergy
‘critical’ of
By Joel M Sy Egco
Manila Times
President Benigno Aquino welcomes Pope Francis upon his arrival at the presidential Malacanang Palace. Right: People smile as they wait outside the Malacanang Palace for the Pope during his visit to Manila.
Pope demands leaders
end graft, fight poverty
ope Francis yesterday
demanded leaders in the
Philippines end “scandalous social inequalities,” hitting
out at corruption in a nation
where tens of millions of Catholics endure brutal poverty.
The pontiff made the comments in his first speech of a
five-day visit to the Philippines,
after an electrifying welcome
on Thursday enhanced the nation’s reputation as the Catholic
Church’s vibrant Asian bastion.
Francis, a revered figure for
most Filipinos, took immediate aim at the nation’s elite who
have for decades enjoyed the
spoils of power while the vast
majority lived in poverty.
“It is now, more than ever,
necessary that political leaders
be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the
common good,” the Pope said
in the speech at the presidential
palace. He challenged “everyone, at all levels of society, to
reject every form of corruption,
which diverts resources from
the poor.”
The 78-year-old pontiff, seen
by many around the world as a
bold reformer compared with
his predecessor, said the “great
biblical tradition” obliged everyone to hear the voice of the
“It bids us break the bonds of
Pope Francis meeting children at an event.
injustice and oppression which
give rise to glaring, and indeed
scandalous, social inequalities,”
he said.
Francis had moments earlier
met President Benigno Aquino,
who has waged a high-profile
campaign against corruption
since coming to power in 2010
that has seen his predecessor
and three senators detained.
Aquino also orchestrated the
impeachment of the Supreme
Court’s chief justice on corrup-
tion charges, and he has won
international plaudits for his
But critics of Aquino, the son
of democracy heroine Corazon
Aquino, have accused him of
focusing his anti-graft campaign only on opponents and
not allies.
They also point out his family has for decades been among
the elite.
And, despite Aquino presiding over some of Asia’s strong-
est economic growth, his time
in office has failed to make a
major dent on poverty.
About 25mn Filipinos, or one
quarter of the population, live
on the equivalent of 60 cents a
day or less, according to the latest official poverty surveys.
The poverty has forced more
than 10mn Filipinos to head
overseas in search of a better
Francis said one of the main
purposes of his trip was to visit
survivors of Super Typhoon
Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda, which left
7,350 people dead or missing in
He will spend today in areas of the central Philippines
that were devastated by the
typhoon, which smashed into
coastal communities with the
strongest winds ever recorded
on land.
“In a particular way, this visit
is meant to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters
who endured the suffering, loss
and devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda,” he said.
While in Tacloban, the Pope
is expected to get some firsthand experience of the tropical
storms and typhoons that claim
hundreds of lives each year in
the Philippines.
A tropical storm in the area
will bring “heavy to intense”
rain today, according to the
Philippine weather agency.
Monsignor Pedro Quitorio,
spokesman for the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said the Pope intended
to press on with the Tacloban
trip regardless of the weather.
The Philippines has long been
the Church’s stronghold in the
region, with Catholics accounting for 80% of the former Spanish colony’s population.
Francis enjoyed a hero’s
welcome when he arrived on
Thursday night, with hundreds
of thousands of people crowd-
ing the streets of Manila to get a
first glimpse of him as he travelled in a motorcade.
Massive crowds continued to
choke his motorcade route on
Friday as he travelled around
the city, including near the
centuries-old Manila Cathedral
where he celebrated mass with
priests and nuns.
“My sacrifice was worth it. I
feel happy. I feel blessed,” Nanette Hermano, 56, said as she
cried after taking a smartphone
picture of the Pope outside the
“I’ve been here since 3:00
am, but I don’t feel tired, I don’t
feel hungry. It’s like a miracle.”
Later in the day Francis will
lead thousands of people in
prayer at Manila’s top concert
arena, where music fans have
flocked in recent years to see the
likes of Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga
and Taylor Swift.
Pope-mania will reach a peak
tomorrow, with organisers expecting him to attract as many
as 6mn people for mass at a Manila park.
If as big as expected, the
crowd will surpass the previous
record for a papal gathering of
5mn during a mass by John Paul
II at the same venue in 1995.
Francis is on a week-long tour
of Asia that began in Sri Lanka.
It is his second trip to the
region in five months, signalling the importance the Vatican
places on Asia’s growth potential for the Church.
he rift between President
Benigno Aquino and some
members of the Catholic
Church became even more evident during Pope Francis’ visit to
Malacanang yesterday when the
Philippine leader lashed out at
prelates who have been critical
of his administration.
In his speech during a general audience with Vatican and
senior government officials, the
president noted the “silence”
of the Church when the administration of then president and
now Pampanga representative
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was
committing “abuses.”
“Hence, there was a true test
of faith when many members of
the Church, once advocates for
the poor, the marginalised and
the helpless, suddenly became
silent in the face of the previous
administration’s abuses, which
we are still trying to rectify to
this very day,” Aquino said.
“In these attempts at correcting the wrongs of the past, one
would think that the Church
would be our natural ally. In contrast to their previous silence,
some members of the clergy now
seem to think that the way to be
true to the faith means finding
something to criticise, even to
the extent that one prelate admonished me to do something
about my hair, as if it were a
mortal sin,” he added.
The president’s first brush
with the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines
(CBCP) was at the height of debates on the controversial Reproductive Health measure in
Congress. Some CBCP officials
grew even more critical when
they openly called for the resignation of the president last
year, stressing that he had lost
the moral ascendancy to lead the
A multi-sectoral National
Transformation Council (NTC)
has launched nationwide campaigns to muster popular support against the Aquino government.The group has called for
the establishment of an alternative or transitional government
in lieu of the one at present.
But Malacanang ignored such
calls and belittled the efforts of
the NTC.Lipa City (Batangas)
Archbishop Ramon Arguelles,
who hosted the Lipa assembly
in August, said Aquino must
quit immediately.Last October 1
in Cebu, the call became much
sharper and Arguelles’ message
became much stronger.
In his speech yesterday, the
president said he finds it hard to
understand the transformation of
the Church from being the champion of the rights of all.
“Perhaps we had grown so accustomed to having this Church,
always at the forefront of championing the rights of all, especially
those of the marginalised, that we
found it hard to understand its
transformation. We were taught
that the Catholic Church is the
true church, and that there is constancy, for it upholds the truth at
all times,” he added.
Big business cashes in on ‘Brand Pope’ during visit
ope Francis says he has
come to the Philippines
to help the poor, but the
country’s biggest businesses and
multinationals are also cashing
in with a not-so-subtle hijacking of his image.
The pontiff is the most trusted
figure for many in the Philippines, where 80% of the nation’s
100mn people are Catholic, and
this week’s trip has generated
a marketing frenzy for “Brand
Images of a smiling Francis are
splashed on towering billboards
and full-page newspaper advertisements, stamped with logos of
McDonald’s, Pepsi, Hyundai and
myriad big local companies.
Gerald Bautista, a marketing
strategist for 20 years who runs
his own consulting firm in Manila, said putting the Pope and
a brand together has a hypnotic
effect on consumers in the Philippines.
“He has no negative attributes, (and) gives 100% benefits in terms of credibility and
integrity,” Bautista said.
“They (consumers) would
subliminally think that the brand
is good. Subliminally, it influences their choice when they go
to a supermarket.”
Local luxury department store
Rustan’s rolled out a two-page
spread on the day of his arrival
Thursday, with its logo on the
shoulder of the 78-year-old
A yellow ribbon, a symbol of
allegiance to President Benigno
Aquino and his late mother
Corazon, who was an icon of democracy in the country, was also
pinned on the Pope’s collar.
The yellow ribbon appeared to
be digitally manipulated, with a
presidential spokeswoman telling AFP she was not aware the
Pope had worn the pin.
Next to the Pope were photos
A Catholic store selling different kinds of Pope Francis merchandise.
of a spread of ornate jewellery
with the pontiff ’s image for sale,
including a champagne pearl
The ad also reminded readers that a former ambassador
to the Vatican owned Rustan’s,
masquerading its promotion as a
“welcome” message to the Pope.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, which is
organising the Pope’s five-day
trip, said it was unfazed with
the Pope’s image being used for
Asked if it was proper to profit
from the Pope’s image, conference spokesman Bishop Mylo
Vergara said the decision to do so
was “really up to” the businesses
The conference has in fact
signed on some of the Philippines’ biggest companies as official sponsors for the tour, allowing them to place their brands
on welcome banners erected
throughout Manila.
Francis would frown upon
blatant usage of his likeness to
sell products, according to Andrea Tornielli, co-ordinator for
the Vatican Insider website in
“The reality is that the Pope
loves the poor so much, it would
be much better that the money
used for advertising be given to
the poor,” Tornielli said.
Philippine Long Distance
Telephone, the nation’s biggest
telecommunications company
owned by business titan Manuel
Pangilinan, is one of the official
sponsors of the Pope’s trip.
PLDT spokesman Ramon Isberto insisted the company’s
motives were altruistic, pointing
out it was providing free phone
and Internet infrastructure so
Filipinos could share information about the Pope.
“This is not a money-making
event for us... our main effort is
to help every Filipino experience
the Pope,” Isberto said.
Meanwhile, small business
owners are also enjoying a surge
in sales out of the papal visit, as
they flood sidewalks and malls
with a dizzying array of papal
souvenir merchandise.
Filipino bishops did not put
out guidelines on the use of the
Pope’s image for merchandising
to give the poor a chance to make
money, said Father Rufino Sescon, from the organising committee.
“(And) if we regulate, it might
look like we’re the ones trying
to make money off the Pope,” he
Josie Rudavites, who runs a
tiny stall outside one of Manila’s
most popular churches, said
daily sales had jumped 10-fold
to 3,000 pesos ($67) since she
started selling badges and calendars with the Pope’s image.
“The Pope is all the rage,” said
Rudavites, 36, who normally
sells candles for praying at the
A customer at a nearby stall,
Angie Nalang, said she had
brought her 17-year-old autistic
son to the religious market surrounding the church because he
was desperate for a souvenir.
“He said he wants anything
with the Pope on it,” Nalang said,
as her son picked a white T-shirt
with an image of the Pope smiling and waving.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Lanka names ex-envoy as
governor of Tamil north
ri Lanka’s new President
Maithripala Sirisena has
named a former diplomat
as governor of the northern
province, replacing a retired
military officer in a bid to forge
reconciliation with ethnic minority Tamils after the end of
a 26-year war.
Since the 2009 end of the
war, former president Mahinda Rajapakse maintained
tight security in the region,
ignoring requests to appoint
a civilian governor to speed
reconciliation efforts.
The government announced
the appointment of H M G
S Palihakkara, a former Sri
Lankan permanent envoy to the
United Nations, on its official
website late on Thursday.
“The government has appointed a non-military civil
servant as the governor,” it said.
During his 38-year career,
Palihakkara was also foreign secretary and a disarmament adviser to the UN
He served as a member of a
domestic reconciliation panel
appointed by Rajapakse to examine possible violations of
human rights in the final phase
of the war.
Rajapakse’s failure to adopt
the panel’s recommendation
to tackle such violations led to
international pressure, with the
UN rights body urging a probe
into war crimes in March.
The Tamil National Alliance
(TNA), the former proxy political party of the Tamil Tiger
rebels, which has long sought
the removal of the previous
governor, welcomed the move.
“Changing the military governor to a civilian is a progressive step,” Suresh Premachandran, spokesman of the TNA,
which backed Sirisena unconditionally at polls on January 8,
“He has first-hand information on what happened in the
war. We hope he will take decisions in consultation with the
elected representative, unlike
the former military governor.”
The TNA complained to parliament that former governor G A
Chandrasiri had hampered many
policy decisions by the northern
provincial council, despite the
party’s majority of more than
two-thirds in that body.
Rajapakse gave Chandrasiri
another five-year term in July.
Rajapakse gives up party
leadership: Sri Lanka’s former
President Mahinda Rajapakse
yesterday stepped down as head
of his party to avoid divisions
following a surprise upset in
this month’s elections.
“With effect from today, I will
be handing over the leadership
of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(SLFP) to President Maithripala Sirisena,” the former
Maithripala Sirisena, centre, emerging from a meeting in Colombo yesterday after he was formally named leader of the party that had
previously sacked him for becoming the common opposition candidate at the January 8 elections.
president said in a statement.
“I am taking this decision
as I have a great dislike to see
the SLFP face the danger of
division,” Rajapakse said.
Sirisena defected to run against
China port deal
under scanner amid
security concerns
ri Lanka’s new government yesterday said it will
review a $1.5bn port deal
with China Communications
Construction Co over concerns
about the Chinese company
getting land on a freehold basis
in a high security zone.
Sri Lanka’s neighbour India
has also raised security concerns over the project as a large
portion of cargoes bound for
India are transhipped through
Colombo port.
“You cannot have land given
on a freehold basis to another
country in a high security zone.
The project has to be completely looked at,” Kabeer Hashim,
Sri Lanka’s new investment
reporters after taking office.
“When you sell land or give it
in outright grant in a high secu-
rity zone next to the port, it is a
problem,” he said.
New Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe, during last
month’s presidential election campaign, said he would
scrap the port project if his
party came to power. Mithripala Sirisena, backed by
Wickremesinghe’s party, won
the election to unseat former
president Mahinda Rajapakse
last week.
Under the proposed deal, 108
hectares of land will be given to
the Chinese firm to cover its
investment costs, including 20
hectares on an outright basis
and the rest on a 99-year lease.
An Indian diplomat who has
knowledge of the project said
the 20-hectare plot is a security concern because of the
large number of India-bound
cargoes that pass through
Colombo port.
Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the port project,
which will be built on reclaimed
land in the capital, Colombo,
when he visited in September
last year.
probusiness United National Party
says some development deals
struck by the previous government, which was heavily
dependent on China for infrastructure, did not follow appropriate tender procedures
and were not transparent.
The port development,
which is to be built on 233
hectares of reclaimed land,
would include shopping malls,
a water sports area, a mini golf
course, hotels, apartments and
India has become increasingly worried about China’s
influence in Sri Lanka. Rajapakse’s administration in November allowed a Chinese submarine and a warship to dock
at Colombo, despite concerns
raised by India.
Rajapakse in the January 8 polls,
which he won by around 51.3%
to the incumbent’s 47.6%.
Sirisena, who is supported by
a range of opposition parties and
several fellow defectors from the
SLFP, has called on lawmakers
angladesh has asked the
United Kingdom to send
Party (BNP) senior vice-chairman Tarique Rahman back to
the country to stand trial of the
cases filed against him, top government sources said in Dhaka
A letter signed by Foreign
Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood
Ali in this regard has already
been sent to the Bangladesh high
commissioner to the UK and he
has been directed to hand the
letter over to UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond, they said.
The government move came
at a time when the BNP is enforcing a countrywide blockade
coupled with occasional general strikes in protest against
its alleged confinement of BNP
chairperson Khaleda Zia and refusal to allow the party to hold a
Tarique Rahman
rally in the capital to mark the
first anniversary of the January 5
polls which the BNP terms as the
‘democracy-killing day’.
During the tenure of ‘armybacked’ caretaker government
led by Fakhruddin Ahmed, Tarique, the elder son of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, was given
bail in a number of cases and
was allowed to travel to the UK in
2008 for medical treatment. He
has been living in the UK since
“The government has taken
an initiative to bring fugitive
Tarique Rahman back to Bangladesh. As part of the initiative, Foreign Minister Ali wrote
a letter to his UK counterpart
Hammond requesting the British government to send Tarique
back to Bangladesh to face the
trial as well as action for his
recent acts against the country and outrageous statements
against the Father of the Nation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman,” a source said.
There have been media reports in the past that communications were made with the
UK authorities seeking the repatriation of Tarique against whom
arrest warrants have been issued
by many courts in Bangladesh.
While commenting on the
matter, a top government official
said: “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first ever foreign
minister-level communication
between Bangladesh and the
UK regarding the repatriation of
Tarique Rahman.”
from the ruling party to support him, to control the 225-seat
Rajapakse’s yesterday statement indicated Sirisena was
considered a member of the
party again.
Sirisena at the weekend appointed opposition leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe as prime minister and named a 27-member
Parliament was to reconvene
on Monday.
Ranatunga assumes office
ore than two-thirds of
lawmakers in Nepal’s
constituent assembly
yesterday petitioned chairman
Subhas Chandra Nembang to
promulgate the country’s new
constitution through voting.
Lawmakers of ruling parties
- Nepali Congress, Communist
Party of Nepal (Unified MarxistLeninist) and Communist Party
of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist),
besides various fringe parties submitted to Nembang a petition
signed by 413 members of the
601-seat unicameral body tasked
with drafting a new constitution
for Nepal, Xinhua reported.
The lawmakers’ push to go
for voting came at a time when
Nepal’s political parties have
less than a week left to meet the
stipulated January 22 deadline
for drafting the new statute.
Nepali Congress lawmaker
Gagan Thapa said they have
submitted 413 signatures to the
constituent assembly chairman,
as there were very slim chances
for promulgating the new statute
through consensus.
“We are hopeful that it will
put pressure on other parties to
promulgate the new statute before January 22,” he said.
Opposition and ruling parties
of Nepal remain at loggerheads
over key contentious issues, concerning the new constitution as
even the self-imposed deadline
is fast approaching.
However, the ruling parties
maintain that they would continue to make efforts to come
up with the first draft of the new
NC leader
to India
Sri Lanka’s former World Cup winning cricket captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, offering prays before
assuming duties as the country’s new Minister of Ports and Shipping during a signing ceremony
in Colombo yesterday. Ranatunga vowed to fight corruption and clean up Sri Lanka’s ports said
to be rife with corruption.
Govt seeks Tarique’s extradition
By Mizan Rahman
petition on
charter vote
Besides, he said that the High
Court, on January 7, issued an
order directing the government
to take appropriate measures to
prohibit print, electronic, and
social media from publishing
and broadcasting any statement
by Tarique as long as he remains
fugitive in the eyes of the law.
The foreign secretary has also
been instructed by the court to
submit a compliance report with
regard to the present immigration status of Tarique in the UK,
he added.
The BNP leader has been accused of being involved in terrorism, extremism, corruption, money-laundering, and
suppression of the opposition,
officials said.
The foreign minister also
mentioned that there is sufficient evidence that Tarique was
‘one of the masterminds’ behind
the terrorist acts and violence
in the run-up to and during the
parliamentary polls on January 5,
2014, they said.
Protester shot dead
in Bangladesh
protester in Bangladesh was yesterday
shot dead by security forces
which warned of tougher actions to contain the renewed
surge of political unrest that
has claimed 25 lives so far.
The Rapid Action Battalion
(RAB) said they initially arrested the protester but his accomplices attacked the elite anticrime unit of police, sparking
a shootout in northwestern
Chapai Nawabganj district.
The deceased was an arsonist who torched vehicles and
threw crude bombs in the region to enforce the opposition
BNP’s nationwide blockade,
said a statement issued by RAB
hours after the incident.
BNP’s Chapai Nawabganj
unit in a statement said the
35-year old protester, Motiur
Rahman, was an activist of its
youth front.
The security forces’ action
came a day after paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh
(BGB) chief Major General Aziz
Ahmed warned of using guns
against arsonists to protect lives
of people as well as members of
law enforcement agencies.
“If someone is seen setting fire
on a vehicle we will use ours guns
as one casualty will save lives of
five (several) others ... and if they
attack us with petrol bombs we
will not chase them with batons,
rather shoot them for self-defence,” Ahmed said in a in a press
conference late on Thursday.
Despite the warning, suspected opposition activists overnight set ablaze four
trucks, injuring two drivers
in northwestern Sirajganj and
northeastern Feni.
In one of the incidents in
northwestern Pabna, unidentified activists last night
stopped a potato-laden truck
on a highway and torched it
using petrol bombs.
fter a three-year-long vacancy at its Mandi House
embassy in New Delhi,
Nepal has finally picked its envoy for India, a critical diplomatic mission for the Himalayan
nation’s foreign relations.
A cabinet meeting yesterday
evening, chaired by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, decided to
send senior Nepali Congress
leader Deep Kumar Uphadhyay
as Nepal’s new ambassador to
The plum posting has been
vacant since the past more
than three years after the then
government recalled ambassador Rukma Shukshere Rana
after he was found serving as
managing director of NepalIndia joint venture company
Dabur Nepal.
A central working committee
member of the Nepali Congress,
Uphadhyay is a former assistant
finance minister and hails from
the southern Kapilvastu district.
He had lost the second elections
to the constituent assembly
in 2013.
Though Uphadhyay does
not have experience in working
at the ministry of foreign affairs or in any prior assignment
in a diplomatic position, as a
staunch loyalist to Prime Minister Koirala, he enjoys good
relations with Indian political
The appointment came yesterday after ruling coalition
partners Nepali Congress and
CPN-UML decided to split the
key ambassadorial positions in
New Delhi and Washington DC,
CPN-UML activist Arjun
Karki was named ambassador to
the US - a post lying vacant for
more than a year.
Both ambassadorial nominees have to face a parliamentary
committee hearing before the respective agreements are sent for
approval of the host country.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Chairman: Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Attiyah
Editor-in-Chief : Darwish S Ahmed
Production Editor: C P Ravindran
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Doha, Qatar
[email protected]
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Renzi aiming for
quick presidential
election in Italy
Italy’s last presidential election, in 2013, was a messy
saga that crowned two months of political paralysis and
exposed the inability of the political class to deal with
Following inconclusive rounds of voting, party
leaders failed to agree on a candidate who could muster
a majority. To break the deadlock, they begged the
incumbent to stay for a second term.
Giorgio Napolitano would then go on to force the
creation of a grand coalition government.
Now that Napolitano has finally thrown in the towel
- he resigned on Wednesday, ending almost nine years
of presidential tenure - Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is
determined to ensure a smooth succession.
Some 1,000 national and regional lawmakers are
due to cast their ballots, starting from late January. If
Renzi’s prediction holds, the election could be resolved
in a couple of days.
Such an outcome would consolidate his leadership,
which has been dented by waning popularity and an
enduring economic crisis. It would also give him fresh
political capital to invest on economic and political
reforms, on which the European Union is demanding
Renzi is the key player in the election because he
leads the biggest force in parliament, the centre-left
Democratic Party (PD).
To secure a presidential election, a two-third majority
needs to be cleared
in the first three
rounds of voting,
which are usually
inconclusive. The
requirement falls to
a simple majority
of 50%-plus-one
in the subsequent
The PD on its own
controls around 450 votes. But it could count on up to
700 if it is able to secure the support of centrists and
Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia, which sits
on the opposition but already cooperates with Renzi on
key political reforms.
Forza Italia is contributing to the drafting of a new
electoral law that should reduce the risk of hung
parliament, and to a bill that abolishes the requirement
for all laws to be approved by both houses of parliament,
in a bid to streamline the legislative process.
The snag is that secret ballot voting rules in the
presidential race give cover to backbenchers who do not
want to toe the party line. There are concerns that rebel
groups within the PD and Forza Italia will try to shoot
down candidates endorsed by their leaders.
The key hurdle for Renzi will be ensuring discipline
within the PD. Several media outlets have suggested in
recent days that Renzi could mollify left-wing critics in
the PD by picking a candidate close to their hearts. As
part of the deal, rebel party members would soften their
opposition to the government’s labour and institutional
The expectation is that Italy’s next president will hail
from the centre-left, but with a consensual profile that
could be acceptable also to conservatives. Napolitano
was such a figure when first elected in 2006, even if
Berlusconi’s party did not vote for him.
Putin must shift priorities if he
wants to save Russia’s economy
Though the decision in
December to abandon the
South Stream gas pipeline is a
step in the right direction, it is
far from adequate
By Anders Aslund
s 2014 came to a close, an
enormous financial crisis
erupted in Russia. World oil
prices had fallen by almost
half since mid-June, and the ruble
plummeted in December, finishing the
year down by a similar margin. Russia’s
international reserves have fallen by
$135bn, and inflation has reached
double digits. Things are only going to
get worse.
The current oil price will force
Russia to cut its imports by half
– a move that, together with the
continuing rise in inflation, will
diminish Russians’ living standards
considerably. Add to that everworsening corruption and a severe
liquidity freeze and a financial
meltdown, accompanied by an 8-10%
decline in output, appears likely.
Russia’s ability to negotiate its
current predicament hinges on its
powerful president, Vladimir Putin.
But Putin remains unprepared to act;
in fact, so far, he has pretended that
there is no crisis at all. In both of his
major public appearances in December,
Putin referred simply to the “current
In his New Year greeting, he boasted
about the annexation of Crimea and the
successful Winter Olympics in Sochi,
carefully avoiding any reference to the
But, with the economy in free fall,
Putin cannot pretend forever. And when
he finally does acknowledge reality, he
will have little room for manoeuvre.
Of course, Putin could withdraw his
troops from eastern Ukraine, thereby
spurring the US and Europe to lift
economic sanctions against Russia. But
this would amount to admitting defeat
– something that Putin is not prone to
Likewise, short of initiating a major
war, Putin has few options for driving
up oil prices. Moreover, even before
the oil-price collapse, crony capitalism
had brought growth to a halt – and
any serious effort to change the system
would destabilise his power base.
In fact, Putin’s leadership approach
seems fundamentally incompatible
with any solution to Russia’s current
economic woes.
Russia faces serious
– and intensifying –
financial problems
Though accurate and timely statistics
on Russia’s economy – needed to
guide effective measures to counter
the crisis – are readily available to the
public online, Putin claims not to use
the Internet.
Instead, the journalist Ben Judah
reports, Putin receives daily updates
on Kremlin politics, domestic affairs
and foreign relations from his three
key intelligence agencies. His actions
suggest that he considers economic
data to be far less important than
security information – perhaps the
natural attitude of a kleptocrat.
To be clear, there is no dearth of
economic expertise among Russian
policymakers. On the contrary, Russia’s
key economic institutions boast
competent managers.
The problem is that policymaking
is concentrated in the Kremlin, where
economic expertise is lacking. Indeed,
the last of the economic heavyweights
– all of them holdovers from the
1990s – in Putin’s personal circle was
Alexei Kudrin, who resigned as finance
minister in 2011.
Unlike in the US, none of Russia’s top
economic managers sits on the National
Security Council.
Putin has usurped authority not
just from his more knowledgeable
colleagues, but also from the prime
minister, who has traditionally served
as Russia’s chief economic policymaker.
Indeed, since Putin returned to the
presidency in 2012, Prime Minister
Dmitri Medvedev has been all but
In short, Putin – who is no economic
expert – makes all major economic
policy decisions in Russia, delivering
orders to top managers of state-owned
enterprises and individual ministers
in ad hoc, one-on-one meetings. As a
result, Russian economic policymaking
is fragmented and dysfunctional.
Nowhere is this lack of co-ordination
more obvious than in the sensitive
currency market. In Russia, unlike in
most other countries, the central bank
does not retain the exclusive right to
When the ruble tumbled in
December, the finance ministry – which
holds almost half of Russia’s foreign
reserves, $169bn, in two sovereignwealth funds – deemed the central
bank’s intervention to be insufficient.
So it announced that it would sell $7bn
from its reserves to boost the ruble – a
move that caused the exchange rate to
overshoot on the upside.
When the exchange rate plummeted
again, the Kremlin urged the five
largest state-owned exporting
companies to exchange a portion of
their assets into rubles, leading to
another overshoot, followed by yet
another sharp decline.
Clearly, such unco-ordinated
interventions are exacerbating
currency-market turmoil, with the
ruble’s value fluctuating by 5% – and as
much as 10% – in a single day.
Russia’s fiscal situation, determined
by Putin’s arbitrary budget
management, is hardly better. Putin’s
priorities are clear: first come the
military, the security apparatus,and
the state administration; second are
the major infrastructure projects from
which he and his cronies make their
fortunes; social expenditures (primarily
pensions), needed to maintain popular
support, come last. Suddenly, oil
revenues are no longer sufficient to
cover all three.
As hard as the finance ministry
may try to balance expenditures
and revenues, it lacks the needed
political weight. Last year, the central
government delegated more education
and health-care expenditures to
regional bodies, without allocating
more resources – and there was nothing
anyone could do about it.
If Putin wants to save Russia’s
economy from disaster, he must shift
his priorities. For starters, he must
shelve some of the large, long-term
infrastructure projects that he has
promoted energetically in the last two
Though the decision in December to
abandon the South Stream gas pipeline
is a step in the right direction, it is far
from adequate.
Likewise, Putin should follow
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov’s
sensible recommendation to cut
public expenditure, including on social
programmes and the military, by 10%
this year. But experience suggests that
Putin is unlikely to do so.
Russia faces serious – and
intensifying – financial problems. But
its biggest problem remains its leader,
who continues to deny reality while
pursuing policies and projects that will
only make the situation worse. - Project
zAnders Aslund is a senior fellow at
the Peterson Institute for International
Economics in Washington, DC.
Renzi is the key
player in the
election because
he leads the
biggest force in
To Advertise
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2014 Gulf Times. All rights reserved
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s State Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev
attending a meeting of the Security Council near Moscow yesterday. Russia’s ability to negotiate its current predicament hinges on Putin. But Putin remains unprepared to
act; in fact, so far, he has pretended that there is no crisis at all. In both of his major public appearances in December, Putin referred simply to the “current situation”.
Terror plots reignite security debate in Europe
By Helen Maguire
ow do you fight terrorism in
a bloc that has no internal
borders and a patchwork of
national rules?
This is the conundrum facing
European security experts after a week
of deadly attacks in Paris, arrests in
Berlin and a foiled terrorist plot in
The issue is further complicated by
deeply-rooted rights to privacy and
cherished freedoms cemented in the
European Union’s founding acts.
“We must act quickly, but with calm
and lucidity,” European Commission
president Jean-Claude Juncker said
yesterday during a visit to Paris.
A number of EU safeguards already
exist, including a system to share data
on suspects within Europe’s borderfree Schengen zone, measures to curb
the financing of terrorism, and an
anti-radicalisation network.
But the fight against terrorism
is first and foremost a national
responsibility, making it harder to
co-ordinate between capitals while
suspects can move freely across many
of the EU’s borders.
Following last week’s attacks in
Paris, several EU interior ministers
agreed to step up security cooperation and revisit EU plans
to gather airline passenger data.
Proposals are also underway to tighten
controls at the external frontiers of the
Schengen zone.
But fears are rife that measures to
step up security could trample on
cherished freedoms and privacy rights
within the EU.
Spain has proposed reintroducing
border controls within Schengen,
“We must act quickly,
but with calm and
while groups such as France’s farright National Front and Italy’s Lega
Nord have called for the system to be
abolished entirely.
“Our state must be able to decide
over the control of our borders,”
National Front leader Marine Le Pen
told the European Parliament this
week, calling free cross-border travel a
“crazy idea.”
Several European leaders have
lashed out at such talk.
“Suspending Schengen would be
the end of Europe,” Italian Prime
Minister Matteo Renzi told EU
lawmakers on Tuesday, adding that
the bloc should be “bigger than fears
and threats”.
“We must not change our freedom
of thought or revise downwards our
values in the face of the violence of
Kalashnikovs,” added EU Parliament
President Martin Schulz.
Opinions are also polarised over
the proposals to introduce an EUwide system to collect and share
information on people flying in and
out of the bloc, known as passenger
name record (PNR) data.
The initiative, dating back to
2011, has been blocked by the EU’s
legislature over privacy concerns.
Airlines based in the EU already
share PNR information - which
includes names, addresses and credit
card numbers - with security forces
in Australia, Canada and the United
Diplomats say there is now a large
degree of consensus among member
states on the need to push through a
deal with legislators.
There are concerns that failure to
act at a European level will prompt
countries to go it alone. France
announced on Tuesday that it will
launch its own system in September.
“National systems will be a
patchwork of rules with holes,” Tusk
warned, adding, “They would interfere
with the privacy of citizens but not
properly protect their security.”
But several EU lawmakers remained
“Our consent cannot be
unconditional,” said Sophie In ‘t Veld
of the liberal ALDE group, urging
member states to adopt updated data
protection laws. “No new powers
without new safeguards,” she said.
It is not the first time the EU has
grappled to square security needs with
privacy concerns. The issue is highly
sensitive in countries such as Germany,
where memories linger of state
surveillance under both the Nazis and
the East German communist regime.
Last year, the EU’s top court
scrapped an anti-terrorism law
requiring telecoms firms to log private
data for law-enforcement purposes,
saying it breached citizens’ rights.
In 2013, revelations about
US surveillance practices by
whistleblower Edward Snowden
touched a raw nerve among many
But analysts argue that a lack
of co-ordinated powers at the EU
level makes the bloc reliant on US
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
In search of new development goals
A global partnership
could spur investment in
research and development
and ease the flow of
information among
scientists, business people
and policymakers
By Manish Bapna and Kitty van der
he question of how the world
can end extreme poverty and
improve human wellbeing
will take on new urgency in
2015, as the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) expire and a new set
of goals – the proposed Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) – are
United Nations Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon’s “Synthesis Report”,
outlining the main elements of the
post-2015 agenda, provides strong
guidance regarding what sustainable
development should look like and
what world leaders must do over the
next 15 years to achieve it.
After two years of crafting the
“what” of sustainable development,
the year ahead must focus on how to
get it done.
The central ambition is bold: the
eradication of extreme poverty by
2030. To make that happen, the
SDGs will need to shift away from
the twentieth-century model of
development, in which rich countries
gave money to poor countries, mostly
to feed the hungry and improve health
and education.
The MDGs were remarkably
successful in several of these areas. But
the picture has changed significantly
since then. A new set of emerging
economies – including China, India,
Brazil, and South Africa – is racing
to modernise. The private sector is
assuming a greater role in economic
development. And environmental
degradation is threatening the gains of
recent decades.
The SDGs will have to transcend
the idea of a planet divided starkly
between those who give aid and those
who receive it. The new goals must
account for a world undergoing rapid
globalization, in which all countries
have assets as well as needs.
Today’s challenges go beyond
health, food, and education.
The SDGs will have to integrate
these concerns with the demands
of the growing global middle class,
the effects of shifting political and
economic power, and the challenges
of environmental sustainability,
including climate change.
Three ingredients will be essential
to achieving the goals: financing
mechanisms, trade, and partnerships.
Forty years after rich countries
promised to dedicate 0.7% of GDP to
aid, their commitments remain at less
than half that level.
Though most emerging economies
no longer rely on aid, it remains
crucially important for low-income
countries. That said, even if aid targets
were met, the shift to sustainable
development will cost much more
than what aid alone can cover.
We need to look for new sources
of funds, ensure that government
spending is aligned with the
sustainable-development agenda, and
target those areas where the money
can do the most good.
In much of the developing world,
investing in sustainable development is
complicated by the fact that tax revenues
are too low to pay for what is needed.
This is not always a matter of raising
tax rates; it is also often a matter of
collecting what people and companies
owe. Closing loopholes and cracking
down on evasion are two ways to
ensure that taxes are collected.
The OECD estimates that a dollar of
aid spent on improving tax collection
yields an average of $350 in revenue.
A shared commitment that builds on
initiatives by the G-8 would make tax
evasion that relies on tax havens or
money laundering harder to hide.
Governments cannot deliver a
sustainable future alone. The private
sector also has an important role to
play in energy, agriculture and urban
development, including transport
and water systems that can drive
innovation and economic opportunity.
While levels of private finance dwarf
international public finance, directing
these private funds to programs that
reach the poorest and protect the
environment requires the right policy
incentives, such as a price on carbon,
regulatory certainty, and the wise use
of public money.
Trade boosts domestic production
and generates revenue that can help
pay for development. There have been
important gains in market access in
the past 15 years: 80% of developing
countries’ exports to developed
countries are now tariff-free, while
average tariffs are down overall.
But non-tariff barriers can cost
exporting countries more than tariffs
do. What is needed is an international
partnership that helps low-income
countries integrate into the globalised
marketplace while improving
environmental and labor standards.
The SDGs can create political
momentum for these efforts, which
could then be framed by the World
Trade Organization in December 2015.
Making development sustainable
will also require accelerated
innovation and diffusion of technology
between now and 2030.
A global partnership could
spur investment in research and
development and ease the flow
of information among scientists,
business people and policymakers.
Such new and creative partnerships
can make progress on complex
problems that governments, civil
society, or the private sector cannot or
will not solve alone.
For example, the GAVI Alliance
(formerly the Global Alliance on
Vaccines and Immunisation), a
partnership comprising international
organisations, philanthropies,
governments, companies, and research
organisations, has immunised 440mn
children since 2000 and helped avert
more than 6mn deaths.
We must improve and expand
these types of partnerships to other
challenges such as infrastructure,
agriculture, and energy.
Between now and September 2015,
when heads of state will gather for
the UN General Assembly, we have
a historic chance to set the world
on a more sustainable path that
will eradicate poverty and enhance
prosperity for all.
Ambitious goals provide a firm
foundation for a brighter future. Over
the coming months, however, leaders
must work together to set the world on
the right course to realise this vision. Project Syndicate
zManish Bapna is managing director
of the World Resources Institute. Kitty
van der Heijden is European director of
the World Resources Institute.
Weather report
Three-day forecast
Disciplinary policies and procedures
The fines collected may
be utilised for the welfare
of the workers such as
cultural, sports and other
By Nizar Kochery
QUESTION: We are preparing
disciplinary procedures at our
company. Could the employer
decide the fine payable? How are
the fines utilised? Please advice on
Ministerial Decision No 9 of 2005.
SU, Doha
ANSWER: Ministerial Decision
No 7 and 9 of 2005 are on penalties.
Article 58 of the Labour Law requires
employers employing more than 10
employees to formulate appropriate
disciplinary policies and procedures
and the sanctions which will be applied
to employees who breach them.
A Penalties Register containing
details on penalties imposed including
the penalty, nature of violation,
total amount of penalty etc. to be
maintained by every such employer.
The Ministerial Decision No 9
stipulates that a regulatory committee
chaired by the employer or a nominee
of the employer and members
representing the workers shall decide
on the penalties and disposal of cash
fines collected from errant employees.
The fines collected may be utilised
for the welfare of the workers such as
cultural, sports and other activities.
Bills of
Q: In a contract for supply, our
client is offering “bill of exchange”
whereas we have asked for cheque
or promissory note. What’s the
difference between these?
HT, Doha
A: Bills of exchange are similar to
cheques and promissory notes.
They can be drawn by individuals or
banks and are generally transferable
by endorsements. The difference
between a promissory note and a bill
of exchange is that bill of exchange is
transferable and can bind one party to
pay a third party that was not involved
in its creation.
According to Article 552 of the
commercial Laws, any legal action
arising from a bill of exchange against
its acceptor shall be statute barred
upon the lapse of three years from the
date on which payment was due.
With regard to a legal action brought
by the holder of a bill of exchange
against the endorsers or drawer will
lapse by limitations after one year
from the date of a protest made within
the legal time limit or from the date
of maturity if the bill of exchange
stipulates exemption from a protest
being made.
Limitations will not apply if a
judgment confirming a debt has been
issued, or the debtor has admitted it in
an independent instrument that causes
the debt to be renewed.
Q: My service contract of two years
expires after two months and I plan
to resign from the job and leave the
country after that. I would like to
know about my service settlement.
MI, Doha
A: The employee shall be entitled
for gratuity, payment against prorate
annual leave and repatriation travel
benefits. Article 54 provides that
gratuity shall be payable to those
employees with one or more years of
continuous service. The gratuity shall
be calculated at the rate of three weeks’
basic salary per year and prorate unless
otherwise a higher rate is agreed by the
claim for the rent and termination of
the contract.
Tenant refusing
to pay rent
Transfer of
Q:I had rented a flat for my
personal use when my family was
in Doha for a an expected period
of five years. Later because of our
children’s education needs, the
family left after two years. When
I went to cancel the contract, the
landlord refused to accept it and
asked rent for three more years.
But he allowed me to sublet the flat
and I rented it to another family
under a contract. They have not
paid rent for the past five months.
How could I vacate them? The
electricity bills are in my name. Do
I have the right to disconnect the
flat’s electricity connection?
HM, Doha
Q: I had transferred my
sponsorship from my old company
to a new one two years ago. I have
finished the two-year contract
stated in my offer letter and wish to
join yet another company. But my
present employer is refusing to give
a no-objection certificate for me to
join another company. Is there any
legal way for me to get the transfer?
OA, Doha
A: When there is lease contract and
tenant residing therein, you have no
right to cut the electricity connection
for any reason even when electricity
connection is in your name. In the
event of non-payment the lessor can
file a rental case before the Rental
Disputes Settlement Committee to
A: Transfer of sponsorship is not a
matter of right and there is no waiver
or privilege for any category of workers
including those who employed locally.
Except with the written consent of the
current sponsor, the prevailing Laws
and regulations prohibits the granting
entry for work to one who earlier
resided in the country to work only two
years after the date of departure. This
also will require accord of appropriate
High: 24 C
Low: 14 C
Misty to Foggy at places becomes
modertate temperature daytime and
partly cloudy with chance of scattered
rain at places and cold by night
High: 22 C
Low : 16 C
High: 22 C
Low : 15 C
P Cloudy
Fishermen’s forecast
Wind: NW-NE 05-15 KT
Waves: 1-3/4 Feet
Wind: NW-NE 03-12 KT
Waves: 1-2/ Feet
Around the region
Abu Dhabi
Kuwait City
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zPlease send your questions by
e-mail to: [email protected]
Under Article 1181, sums due to a
hotel operator by a hotel guest for
accommodation, food and expenses
incurred for his account, are secured
by a privilege over the effects brought
by the guest to the hotel or its
Unless it can be proved that the hotel
operator knew of the existence of a
third party’s rights over these effects
at the time they were brought on to
the premises, this privilege may be
enforced on these effects, even if they
do not belong to the guest, provided
that they are not lost or stolen property.
A hotel operator may, if he has
not been paid in full, object to the
removal of these effects, and if they
are removed notwithstanding his
objection or without his knowledge,
the privilege continues to be
enforceable on them.
An hotel operator’s privilege has
the same rank as a lessor’s privilege.
Should the effects in question be
subject to both claims, the first in
date will have priority, unless it is
enforceable as against the other.
Sums due to the vendor of a
movable for the price and accessories
are secured by a privilege over the
movable sold. This privilege is
enforceable as long as the movable
sold preserves its identity subject to
the rights acquired in good faith by
third parties and subject to the special
provisions applicable in commercial
This privilege follows in rank
privileges referred to in the preceding
articles. It operates, however, as
against the lessor and hotel operator,
if it can be proved that they had
knowledge of such privilege at the
time the thing sold was brought onto
the leased property or into the hotel.
Co-owners who have partitioned
a movable have a privilege over this
movable in respect of their remedies
against each other resulting from
the partition, and for payment of
any difference reverting to them
in the partition. The privilege of a
co-partitioner has the same rank
as a vendor’s privilege. Should the
movable in question be subject to
both rights, the first in date will have
The price and accessories due to the
vendor of an immovable are secured
by a privilege over the immovable
sold. Such privilege must be inscribed,
notwithstanding the transcription of
the sale, and its rank is fixed by the
date of inscription.
Sums due to contractors and
architects who have been entrusted
with the erection, reconstruction,
repair or maintenance of buildings
or other works, have a privilege over
such works but only in respect of the
increase in value resulting from such
works as at the time of the sale of the
immovable. Such a privilege must be
inscribed: its rank is fixed by the date
of its inscription.
Co-owners who have partitioned
an immovable have a privilege over
this immovable in respect of their
respective remedies against each other
resulting from the partition, including
their right to claim payment of any
difference reverting to them in the
partition. Such a privilege must be
inscribed: its rank is fixed from the
date of its inscription.
Around the world
Cape Town
Hong Kong
New Delhi
New York
Sao Paulo
C Showers
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Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Doha Book Fair
records impressive
turnout of visitors
By Ayman Adly
Staff Reporter
he 25th edition of Doha
International Book Fair
(DIBF) will be concluding today having recorded an
impressive turnout of visitors in
the last few days.
“It is good that the fair has expanded to a much larger area this
year,” said Nour, an exhibitor of
children and education books.
He suggested that it would have
been better if the stalls were distributed on the basis of category
so it would give all exhibitors
equal chance to be seen by potential customers.
I almost sold out 95%
of my collection, which
encourages me to come
back again to Doha next
year with a new collection
of rarities”
“For example, there are children’s and educational books
and toys at the middle and both
at the far ends of the venue,” he
Nizar, an exhibitor of interior design catalogue books and
magazines, said his targeted
customers are architects and
those working in decoration in
addition to the amateurs from
the field.
One of his customers said
such category of books if available at local bookstores are much
expensive. Nizar, like a considerable number of other exhibitors,
tried to improve his sales by giving special offers on his books
that amounted to more than 50%
of the tag price.
While the rare antiquity books
and manuscripts where on display at the exhibition for a tag
price of hundreds of thousands
of Riyals, there were also some
other stalls that displayed copies
of popular Arabic newspapers
and magazines, mostly Egyptian, from the early 1910s and
onwards for tens or hundreds
of Riyals. Both such categories
were of particular interest to Qataris rather than expatriates.
“Young Qataris were very keen
to own a great number of my rare
collection of antiquity books and
they showed immense interest
in the books that were printed
centuries ago with their exquisite paintings. I almost sold out
95% of my collection, which encourages me to come back again
to Doha next year with a new
collection of rarities,” said Badr
al-Hajj, owner of Folios limited,
who displays limited edition of
books that were printed more
than 400-500 years ago.
He said that some of these
were sold for as much as
$140,000, and consider that value of a book as a good and guaranteed asset better than money
in the bank.
DIBF also featured a number
of sophisticated software educational programmes, mostly in
The majority of visitors have
been Arab expatriates and locals,
as the vast majority of books on
display were in Arabic with some
in English and some other languages. A considerable number
of exhibitors expressed their
admiration of the smooth co-ordination at the fair and stressed
that locals were very keen to buy
books, especially women, some
of whom even bought a large
Some of the participants in the young falconer event for six to 10 year-olds.
All set for an exciting
day at falcon festival
t will be an action-packed
day today at the sixth Qatar International Falcons
and Hunting Festival at Sabkhet
Marmi in the Sealine area of Mesaieed.
The fourth round of Tala’a
competition will be held in the
morning, while the Young Falconer event for participants aged 11 to
15 takes place in the afternoon, in
parallel with the 12th round of the
Hudud al Tahaddi challenge.
Visitors observing a calligraphy artist at work at the book fair
yesterday. PICTURES: Nasar T K.
“The event includes some
oral questions about
falcons and falconry,
covering the different kinds
of falcons and how to take
care of falcons and train
Children enjoying drawing and colouring at the book fair.
The Tala’a event tests the falcon’s speed and ability to identify the location of its prey, and
involves an electronic Habari
bird (or bustard) which is placed
at a distance of 1km; qualifying
time is then counted from the
moment the falcon is released.
In the Hudud al Tahaddi challenge, falcons seek to obstruct
the flight of homing pigeons especially trained to fly away, and
instead causing them to land.
Non-competitive rounds of
Hudud al Saluki, in which salukis
or Arabian greyhounds race at
high speeds for a distance of 2km
will be held to entertain the large
audience that tends to gather to
watch the festival’s events especially over the weekend.
Yesterday’s results saw three
qualifying participants in the
Tala’a event, namely Abdulhadi
Hamad al-Hadwan al-Marri,
Saleh Ubaid al-Mahran al-Marri
and Hadi Mohamed Faisal alMusafra al-Hajri. The Hudud
al-Tahaddi round resulted in
the qualification of Jaber Ayed
al Ethba al-Marri for the final
round, in addition to winning
QR100,000 after his falcon,
Marmi, caused the homing pigeon to land in the event’s arena.
The Young Falconer event for
six to year old competitors saw
36 participants, in addition to a
large turnout of spectators and
parents. The event aims to promote the practice of falconry
among the young, which in turn
serves to maintain this heritage sport with its noble ideals
through the generations.
Saleh Mohamed al-Kuwari, a
member of the event’s organising
committee, was pleased with the
level of performance of the young
falconers. “The event includes
some oral questions about falcons and falconry, covering the
different kinds of falcons and
how to take care of falcons and
train them,” he explained.
The festival, being organised
by the Gannas Society under the
patronage of HE Sheikh Joaan
bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani,
runs until January 31.
Qatari national Mohamed al-Naimi with his sons who participated in the young falconer competition.
Fenced-off Rumailah Park continues to draw visitors
By Peter Alagos
Business Reporter
ay trippers continue to
flock to Doha’s Al Rumailah Park after it was
closed for renovation twoand-a-half months ago but
their number has significantly
dropped due to the fence covering at least 98% of the area.
“As long as these ‘gates’ are
still open, I see no reason why
I shouldn’t enjoy the park with
my family,” an Asian expatriate
told Gulf Times yesterday, referring to four small sections of the
fence that are yet to be sealedoff completely by authorities
The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning
(MMUP) officially declared
the park closed on November
1, 2014 to make way for rehabilitation works. It was initially
barricaded with nylon cord
and ribbons but the makeshift
fence did not prevent visitors
from entering.
Succeeding weekends after
the MMUP made the announcement saw more visitors taking
advantage of the park’s wide,
grassy area complemented by
several shady trees where many
families and group’s gather for
picnics and even parties.
The celebration of Qatar National Day also helped extend
the park’s “usefulness” to its patrons, mostly couples, families,
and children. Immediately after
the event, authorities gradually
started fencing off the park with
corrugated metal sheets.
One of the park’s security
guards said the metal trusses
and industrial grade plastic seats
of the grandstand used for the
Qatar National Day celebrations
that remain at the back of the
park has stalled fencing work,
thus “prolonging the life” of Rumailah Park.
As of yesterday, two small
sections of the fence along the
Corniche remain open, including a couple of other “entrances” at the back of the park are
being used by visitors to gain
access to the area.
Compared to previous weeks,
the number of visitors to the
park yesterday has dwindled;
tell-tale signs that the public has
finally come to terms with the
closure of one of Qatar’s enduring destinations.
One of the visitors noted that
the grassy sections of the park
have not been watered causing it
to wither. “Also, you can now get
more parking at the back of the
park unlike before when throngs
of people frequent the park, especially during weekends,” he
Visitors of nearby Corniche
and the Museum of Islamic Art
Park have significantly increased
and will continue to grow in
number when Rumailah Park is
finally sealed-off, one observer
Earlier in the week local
Arabic daily Al Sharq reported
that the company tasked to rehabilitate the park has started
the first stage of construction
work for underground parking
Visitors continue to hold weekend picnics at Rumailah Park even after its closure. RIGHT: Families enjoy the park’s concrete slide.
PICTURES: Peter Alagos.
China freezes
projects in
two cities
eyes bank
stakes sale
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Rabia I 26, 1436 AH
Eurobank and
Alpha apply for
emergency funds
IEA cuts non-Opec output
estimate; sees oil recovery
on-Opec oil producers will
increase output this year
at a slower rate than previously forecast, aiding a recovery in
crude prices, the International Energy Agency said.
The adviser lowered its nonOpec supply growth estimate by
350,000 barrels a day, the first cut
since the 2015 forecast was introduced in July. Half the cut is from
Colombian output while effects on
US production are so far “marginal,” it said.
The slow-down in non-Opec
output will lead to a “rebalancing”
of currently over-supplied global
markets in the second half, reviving
prices, the agency said.
“Companies have been taking
an axe to their budgets, postponing or cancelling new projects,” the
Paris-based IEA, which advises 29
nations on energy policy, said in its
monthly market report.
“A price recovery, barring any
major disruption, may not be imminent, but signs are mounting
that the tide will turn.”
Oil prices have collapsed almost 60% from last year’s peak,
as the Organisation of Petroleum
Exporting Countries resolved to
defend market share against the
fastest US production in more than
three decades. Opec’s decision
is testing the ability of rival producers to keep pumping as prices
slump to a 5 1/2-year low. Brent
futures traded near $49 a barrel
Non-Opec supply still will increase 950,000 barrels a day this
year to 57.5mn a day, the IEA said.
Colombia’s supply will be about
A view of the the Ecopetrol oil refinery in Cartagena on the northern coast of Colombia. The International Energy Agency lowered its non-Opec supply
growth estimate by 350,000 barrels a day, the first cut since the 2015 forecast was introduced in July. Half the cut is from Colombian output while effects
on US production are so far “marginal,” the IEA said.
175,000 lower than previously anticipated, about the same as Canada and the US combined.
Any stimulus for demand from
lower prices remains “elusive” because of underlying weakness in the
global economy, said the agency,
which kept its global oil consumption forecast for 2015 unchanged.
The surplus in oil inventories in
developed economies in December
was the highest for the time of year
since 2010, its preliminary data
A higher level of supply from
Opec will be required than previously expected because of slower
non-Opec growth, according to
the report. The organisation will
need to provide 29.2mn barrels
a day this year, about 300,000 a
day more than last month’s forecast. That’s still about 1.3mn a day
less than its 12 members pumped
in December, when Iraqi supplies
rose to a 35-year high of 3.7mn
barrels a day.
Swiss central bank under fire
as franc move wreaks havoc
Switzerland’s central bank came under
fire at home and abroad yesterday after
scrapping its bid to stop the franc rising,
which wreaked havoc on global markets
and bankrupted several foreign exchange
A brokerage firm in Britain and another in
New Zealand declared insolvency while
at home in Switzerland, exporters warned
that they too could be put out of business
by the Swiss National Bank’s sudden
“From an economic standpoint, this move
is incomprehensible at the current time,”
the Swiss Business Federation said in a
statement, warning that the country’s vital
export and tourism industries would be
Swiss newspaper Le Temps charged in an
editorial that the central bank was “guilty of
naivety” and questioned if it had forgotten
the stabilising role it should play on the
markets and the economy.
The SNB had “put its credibility at risk”,
the newspaper said, while the Tribune de
Geneve said the bank was “sinking the Swiss
A rout on Swiss stocks continued yesterday,
with shares tumbling more than 4%, after
having already plunged 8.7% on Thursday.
The SNB had caught markets off guard on
Thursday with its shock announcement
that it was abandoning the minimum rate of
1.20 francs against the euro that it had been
defending for more than three years.
The Swiss currency immediately gained
nearly 30% against the euro, before
stabilising at around parity — which is still
15% higher than Wednesday’s rate.
The yield on the Swiss 10-year bond entered
negative territory yesterday, slipping to
-0.031% around midday, meaning lenders
will now have to pay to lend money to
The boss of a small watchmaking company
H Moser & Cie underlined the impact of the
SNB’s move in an open letter addressed to
central bank chief Thomas Jordan, warning
that he may have to move his business out
of Switzerland.
“Over 95% of our watches are sold to people
outside of Switzerland, and the first retailers
called the same day to cancel orders,”
Edouard Meylan wrote.
“In fact, one thought crossed my mind: why
not just move two kilometres into Germany
and continue business as usual in the EU?,”
wrote Meylan, whose company employs 55
Watchmakers are particularly jittery as the
SNB’s decision comes just ahead of the
luxury industry’s annual trade show, when
buyers travel to Switzerland to place orders
for the entire year.
An organisation representing the Swiss
textile industry, which exports 75% of its
production to the European Union, also
voiced alarm.
“If the overheating of the Swiss franc
continues ... many of our exporters will be in
trouble, and that could have consequences
for the labour market,” Swiss Textile warned
in a statement.
Exporters are not the only ones fretting.
Domestic retailers could also be hurt as
consumers flock to neighbouring countries
like France and Germany to shop for cheaper
goods, including daily necessities.
In the northern city of Basel, local authorities
announced extra trains running to Germany
on Saturday, anticipating a rush of crossborder shoppers.
Switzerland’s employers organisation
cautioned that such “purchase-tourism”
would likely skyrocket.
“It’s like Christmas all over again!” Vanessa,
a 28-year-old hospital orderly, told AFP
outside a Geneva exchange office, while
contemplating whether to swap all her Swiss
franc savings into euros.
Swiss banking giant UBS estimates that
the SNB’s decision would deliver a severe
blow to economic growth, and slashed its
output forecast to just 0.5% this year from its
previous estimate of 1.8%.
Casualties were also piling up outside
Switzerland, with broker Alpari UK declaring
insolvency after clients’ losses linked to the
sharp rise in the Swiss franc were passed on
to the company.
New Zealand foreign exchange broker
Global Brokers NZ also said it was closing
since “a majority of clients in a franc position
were on the losing side and sustained losses
amounting to far greater than their account
Another forex trading firm FXCM in New
York warned it may not be able to meet
certain regulatory capital requirements as
clients chalked up losses totalling some
$225mn - a sum that the company could be
left with.
In Poland, where 700,000 mortgages, or
40% of the total, are denominated in the
franc, homeowners were meanwhile facing
sharply higher monthly repayments.
And in Croatia, an association of people with
loans in Swiss francs requested a temporary
freeze on the exchange rate. Pages 4, 9 & 10
Production from Saudi Arabia,
Opec’s biggest member, remained
steady in December at 9.6mn barrels a day, the IEA said.
Opec itself reduced estimates for
the crude it will need to provide in
2015 by 100,000 barrels a day to
28.8mn a day in its monthly market
report on Thursday.
A M Best affirms
‘excellent’ rating
of Qatar General
Insurance and
Reinsurance Co
Global insurance rating agency A M Best has affirmed
the financial strength rating of ‘A-’ (excellent) and the issuer credit ratings of ‘a-’ of Qatar General Insurance and
Reinsurance Company with “stable” outlook.
The ratings reflect the country’s second largest
insurer’s strong risk-adjusted capitalisation, sound track
record of operating performance and enhanced enterprise risk management (ERM) capabilities.
“An offsetting rating factor is the company’s high
concentration in Qatari real estate and equity assets,”
the agency, however, said.
The company’s prospective risk-adjusted capitalisation is expected to remain strong and supportive of the
company’s projected growth over the medium term, it
Capital requirements are driven by its investment
risk, with over 90% of its portfolio held in real estate
and equities at yearThe ratings reflect the
end 2013. However,
country’s second largest the insurer has sufinsurer’s strong risk
ficient shareholders’
adjusted capitalisation, equity to absorb this
sound track record of
concentrated investoperating performance ment profile and has
and enhanced
proven its ability to
enterprise risk
prudently manage its
management (ERM)
exposures. “The incapabilities
vestment profile may
be a source of future
volatility to both its capital position and its operating
results,” A M Best cautioned.
Qatar General’s technical performance for conventional business weakened in 2014, largely stemming
from greater competition and poor performance
on tariffed motor third party liability business. “It is
expected to produce a breakeven underwriting result
for 2014,” it said.
The insurance company has implemented strategic
initiatives to improve technical performance, focusing
on risk selection and enhancing distribution channels.
Operating performance continues to be bolstered by
investment income, with significant rental income
generated through real estate holdings.
Qatar General has strengthened its ERM capabilities
in recent years, developing an internal capital model
and applying stress tests on the company’s balance
sheet, incorporating both underwriting and asset
related scenarios.
US consumer prices post
biggest drop in six years
S consumer prices recorded their biggest
decline in six years in
December and a gauge of underlying inflation held steady,
which could bolster the case for
delaying the first interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve.
The Labour Department said
yesterday its Consumer Price
Index fell 0.4% last month,
the largest drop since December 2008, after sliding 0.3% in
November. In the 12 months
through December, CPI increased 0.8%.
It was the weakest year-onyear reading since October
2009, and followed a 1.3% rise
in November. Last month’s
readings were in line with expectations.
US Treasury debt prices held
gains, while the dollar trimmed
gains versus the euro and US
stock index futures pared losses.
“It seems nearly certain that
further declines in headline inflation rates will be seen in coming months. What is important
though is that core inflation
rates are not necessarily immune
to declines in oil and gasoline,”
said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG in New York.
While Fed officials have
viewed the energy-driven inflation weakness as transitory, a
strong dollar is taming underlying price pressures, which could
cause some discomfort.
The so-called core CPI, which
strips out food and energy, was
unchanged in December. It was
only the second time since 2010
that it did not increase. The core
CPI had nudged up 0.1% in November.
“It seems nearly certain
that further declines in
headline inflation rates
will be seen in coming
months. What is important
though is that core inflation
rates are not necessarily
immune to declines in oil
and gasoline”
Inflation is running below
the Fed’s 2% target, despite a
strengthening labour market
and overall economy. A second
report from the Fed showed
factory output rose 0.3% last
month, rising for the fourth
straight month.
Darkening prospects for
the global economy could also
complicate policy decision for
the US central bank.
Many economists have been
expecting the central bank to
raise interest rates by June.
However, following December’s
surprise declines in retail sales
and average hourly earnings,
rate futures have pushed back
bets for a hike to the second half
of the year.
In the 12 months through December, the core CPI rose 1.6%,
the smallest gain since February, after increasing 1.7% in November.
Slower global demand and
increased shale production in
the US have caused an oil glut,
sending crude prices tumbling.
Brent crude prices approached a six-year low this
week, a sign that overall inflation pressures will remain subdued in the months ahead.
Gasoline prices tumbled
9.4% last month, the biggest
drop since December 2008, after declining 6.6% in November. Gasoline has now declined
for six straight months. Energy
prices recorded their biggest
decline since 2008.
Food prices rose 0.3% after
rising 0.2% the prior month.
Away from food and energy,
shelter costs increased 0.2%
last month after rising 0.3% in
Apparel prices recorded their
biggest decline since September 1998. There also declines
in airfares and new motor vehicle price. The cost of used cars
and trucks dropped 1.2 % last
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
India’s oil imports from
Iran jump sharply in ’14
brace for
growth: PM
New Delhi
ndia imported 42% more Iranian oil
last year over 2013 levels as its refiners increased purchases to take
advantage of an easing in sanctions targeting Tehran’s nuclear programme.
The jump came with an end-of-theyear boost as imports in December
surged 84% from a year ago to 348,400
barrels per day (bpd), the highest since
Iranian and US officials are meeting
in Geneva this week ahead of talks between Tehran and world powers tomorrow focused on reaching a final deal to
end the sanctions against Iran in return
for curbs to its nuclear programme.
Diplomatic efforts to reach a final
agreement last year failed for a second
time in November, and a self-imposed
deadline was extended to June 30 this
Tehran says its uranium enrichment
programme is for peaceful purposes
only and not aimed at building a weapon.
India – Iran’s top oil customer after
China – imported 276,800 bpd of oil
and condensate last year, compared
with 195,600 bpd in 2013, according to
tanker arrival data obtained from trade
sources and Thomson Reuters Oil Research & Forecasts.
Indian refiners bought about 39%
more Iranian oil in December compared
with November, the data also showed.
Annual imports of Iranian oil rose
sharply last year as refiners ramped up
purchases in the first quarter to make
up for a big decline in shipments in 2013
as insurers had not extended coverage
for processing oil from the sanctionshit nation.
Private-refiner Essar Oil was the biggest Indian client of Iran in 2014, followed by Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and Indian Oil Corp.
Lee: Optimistic.
ingapore will do well if it
manages to achieve an annual economic growth of
2 to 3% for the next five years,
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
was quoted as saying yesterday.
The economy has reached a
stage of its development where it
is no longer possible to expand by
5 to 6% each year, Lee said in an
interview with tdomestic media.
His comments came after data
earlier this month showed that
full-year growth for 2014 slowed
to 2.8% from 3.9% in 2013, tempered by an uneven global recovery and lacklustre exports.
An Indian Oil petrol pump is seen in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat. India, Iran’s top oil customer after China, imported 276,800 bpd of oil and condensate last year, compared
with 195,600 bpd in 2013.
Iran remained the seventh-biggest
oil supplier to India in 2014, while its
share in overall purchases rose to 7.3%
last year, compared with 5.1% in 2013,
the data showed.
The current sanctions allow Iran access to some of its frozen oil revenue
overseas and restrict its oil sales at
about 1mn to 1.1mn bpd.
Overall, India imported 3.84mn bpd
of oil in December, up 9.4% from a year
earlier. Imports for the full year fell
1.4% to 3.81mn bpd.
In the January-December period India imported about 3.9% more oil from
Latin America, with the region accounting for about 20.1% of overall imports, up from about 19.1% a year ago.
The Middle East region supplied
about 59% of India’s oil imports in
January to December, compared with
62.3% a year ago.
Africa’s share jumped to 16.7% from
In the fiscal year to March 31, 2014,
India cut its imports from Iran by 15%
to 220,000 bpd to get a waiver from
US sanctions on the Islamic republic.
India’s annual oil contracts with Iran
follow the country’s April-March fiscal
In the first nine months of the year to
end March 31, 2015, Indian refiners have
shipped in about 250,200 bpd of Iranian oil, up 41% from the same period
a year ago.
Modi says committed to achieving budget deficit goal
New Delhi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said
yesterday he was committed to meeting this
year’s budget deficit target, welcoming a cut in
interest rates by the Reserve Bank of India on the
back of falling inflation.
In a speech, Modi said his government would cut
wasteful spending, streamline the payment of
welfare benefits and raise investment in roads
and railways to boost economic growth in Asia’s
third-largest economy.
Modi’s comments signalled his assent to RBI
Governor Raghuram Rajan’s call for “sustained
high quality fiscal consolidation” as a condition
for further monetary easing after a surprise
quarter-point cut on Thursday.
“We are committed to achieving the fiscal deficit
target announced in the budget,” Modi told
an Economic Times event. “We have worked
systematically in this direction.”
The government is struggling to contain the
deficit at 4.1% of gross domestic product in the
year to March 31. It is still looking to raise funds
through asset sales and has taken advantage of
weak oil prices to hike fuel levies.
The 64-year-old prime minister said it would
be difficult to revive economic growth but
promised to deliver a combination of big-bang
and incremental reforms. “The objective must be
to improve the welfare of the people,” Modi told
business leaders.
These included reforms to the power sector to
ensure round-the-clock supply, and following up
on a shakeup of the coal sector that would open
up mining and marketing to private-sector and
foreign players.
Addressing the same event, Finance Minister
Arun Jaitley said earlier that the RBI’s quarterpoint cut in its main policy rate, to 7.75%,
marked an important turning point for the
“Hopefully, it will add to growth, add to
investment,” said Jaitley, who has called
repeatedly for lower interest rates.
He said the government was keeping its options
open on pushing its reform agenda through
parliament and did not rule out calling a joint
session of both houses to enact key legislation.
Modi has resorted to issuing a string of
temporary executive orders to keep his reform
drive on track because he does not command a
majority in the upper house of parliament.
To permanently enact these orders he could call
a joint session in which his nationalist Bharatiya
Janata Party and its allies would command an
overall majority.
Jaitley said he doubted that the political
opposition could be persuaded to back the
government’s reforms but said it faced defeat at
the polls if it failed to do so. Delhi holds a regional
election on February 7.
Singapore introduced a
series of property cooling
measures over the past
few years, triggering a
4% decline in private
residential property prices
in 2014, the first annual
decline since 2008
“Domestically, we have to get
used to what that means. Three
per cent (growth) per year means
wages will go up correspondingly,
gradually, year by year,” the Business Times quoted Lee as saying.
“Maybe not every year, but over
four to five years you will see improvements if we are successful in
our policies,” he said.
While Singaporeans have to
accept a slower pace of growth,
the government would do all it
could to help people through this
period of economic restructuring, Lee said. The government
has pushed to reduce a politically
unpopular reliance on foreign
workers, leading to a tight labour
market which is affecting construction and retail sectors.
Singapore also introduced a
series of property cooling measures over the past few years,
triggering a 4% decline in private residential property prices
in 2014, the first annual decline
since 2008.
China authorities freeze property projects in 2 cities
Dow Jones
hinese housing-market uncertainties
that contributed to a closely watched
bond default appear to be spreading, as
authorities in one city froze transactions related
to multiple developers’ properties and a second
moved to freeze a troubled company’s apartments.
It wasn’t clear whether the moves were related, and authorities in one city cautioned the
public against reading too much into the moves.
But the lack of details has spooked investors and
added to worries over a property market more
broadly hit by a sales slump and slowing economic growth.
In the eastern city of Hangzhou, authorities
froze nearly all of the apartments in a 749-unit
project called Xixi Puyuan built by Kaisa Group
Holdings, according to local property portal
Touming Soufang.
The reason for the move wasn’t clear, and it
also wasn’t clear whether other companies were
A Kaisa spokesman declined to comment, and
Hangzhou authorities didn’t respond to requests
for comment. In China, local authorities have
broad authority to block properties from being
sold or transferred for a variety of reasons.
The move came after Kaisa missed $23mn in
interest payments due last week on its offshore
bonds and defaulted, putting a focus on the
company and the rights of investors to recoup
The default also led to more than 20 Chinese
companies to ask a court in Kasia’s hometown,
the city of Shenzhen, to freeze its assets. Its
projects in Shenzhen were blocked by the government late last year, and some senior executives have left the company.
Financial services firm Shanghai AJ Corp’s
trust unit said it has applied to a court in Shanghai to freeze the deposits and other assets of
Kaisa’s Hangzhou unit. “We’re now waiting for
the court to process our petition,” said a spokeswoman from the financial firm, who declined to
give further details. The basis of the company’s
claim against Kaisa wasn’t clear.
Meanwhile, authorities in Shenzhen blocked
thousands of properties owned by a number of
Chinese property companies, including China
Overseas Land Investment Ltd and China Merchants Land Ltd Authorities didn’t give a reason, and it wasn’t clear whether the move was
connected to Kaisa.
State-run China Overseas, which saw more
than 2,000 units in an affordable housing
project blocked, said the apartments had already been sold and that the temporary suspension was due to a normal administrative measure, not any wrongdoing on its part.
The project, called Yuejing Garden, is in the
same district where Kaisa projects were earlier
blocked. China Merchants Land didn’t respond
to a request for comment.
China Overseas shares fell 2.8% to HK$24.55
in Hong Kong yesterday, while China Merchants
Land fell 5.1% to HK$1.11. A Hong Kong index
of real-estate stocks listed on the mainland was
down 0.6% compared with a broader market
gain of 0.9%, according to FactSet.
In a statement on its Weibo social-media account yesterday, Shenzhen’s Urban Planning
Land and Resources Commission said it occasionally blocks sales of apartments to help judicial authorities, but also to manage affordablehousing projects and to make the market more
“Authorities could also temporarily lock up
the relevant properties and unlock them after
those issues are resolved,” it said, adding “we
suggest no “overreading,” in order to maintain
a good market environment.” It didn’t disclose
details or name specific companies.
Chinese housing-market uncertainties that contributed to a closely watched bond default appear to be spreading, as authorities in one city froze
transactions related to multiple developers’ properties and a second moved to freeze a troubled company’s apartments yesterday.
The freezes have worried buyers and potential
buyers in those developments. “When I spoke to
sales staff, they were unsure if they could even get
their salaries this month,” said a home buyer surnamed Zhou, whose family bought two homes in
Kaisa’s Yufeng project, which is still under construction. “How can I be confident that Kaisa will
complete the construction of my home?”
Shenzhen-based lawyer Zhang Xiang said the
apparently arbitrary nature of the freezes has
given the investment community jitters. “It’s
very rare for thousands of properties from a
single developer being locked up by authorities
at once,” he said, adding that the reasons could
range from a legal dispute to official scrutiny to
other matters.
The freezes come as China’s broader housing
market deals with a slowdown amid high inventories of unsold homes in many cities. Year over
year, average new-home prices fell about 2.7%
in December, according to data provider China
Real Estate Index System. But the problems
haven’t hit more affluent cities like Shenzhen as
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Weak oil
mutual fund
and losers
New Delhi/London
eak oil prices shaped
the performance of
mutual funds in 2014
and investors expect the trend
to continue, meaning last year’s
star, India, is likely to keep shining in the months to come.
Equity funds were led by those
specialising in India – an energy
importer – while funds focused
on oil exporter Russia dominated the bottom of the league,
according to Lipper, a fund ratings, ranking and information
company belonging to Thomson
Reuters, and the data relates to
funds sold in Britain.
Investors attribute some of
the growth in Indian stocks, that
saw Mumbai’s benchmark BSE
index rise nearly a third in 2014,
to the election of a pro-business
government in May, under Prime
Minister Narendra Modi.
However, Avinash Vazirani,
manager of Jupiter Asset Management’s India fund, which
grew more than 50% over the
year, ranking sixth out of 3,380
equity funds, said the real lift
came from an unexpected positive terms-of-trade number on
the back of a falling oil price.
Crude prices have roughly
halved in the last six months of
“Oil prices come off, it means
(India’s) import bill comes down,
their subsidies go down... If you
assume a 40% drop in crude oil,
and crude is down more than
60%, GDP goes up 1%, inflation
comes down 3.2% to 4%,” he
said, noting that Indian markets
looks set to stay strong throughout 2015.
Some managers caution however that Indian equities may
start to lose some of their momentum in the coming year.
“There is a disconnect between the market’s expectations
and the performance of the real
economy and that disconnect
has to close,” said David Cornell, fund manager at Ocean Dial
which runs an India-themed
fund that ranked 11th in the Lipper survey.
In contrast, funds focused on
Russia were particularly hard hit
because of the combined effect
of oil, Western sanctions and the
war in Ukraine.
Russia’s dollar-denominated
RTS equities index dropped
more than 40% last year while
the rouble has lost more than
three-quarters of its value
against the dollar since early
Russian central bankers hiked
interest rates to defend the currency late last year, which analysts say bodes ill for assets in
the year ahead.
“On balance, we think that
much tighter monetary policy
and lower oil prices will push
Russia into a significantly deeper recession than was previously
expected,” Barclays analysts
said. Among bond funds, the
top ranks were dominated by
specialists in longer-duration
European and UK debt, which
investors also attributed in part
to the falling oil price and its disinflationary effects.
Schroders’ Alix Stewart who
manages a fund ranked ninth out
of 1,490 bond funds available in
Britain, said expectations that
the US Federal Reserve would
start tightening monetary policy
had made “duration risk” unpalatable at the start of the year.
China unveils new support
steps for slowing economy
hina announced fresh support
measures yesterday for its slowing economy after data showed
a worrying drop in bank lending and
foreign investment growth falling to a
two-year low.
The central bank said it would lend
50bn yuan ($8.1bn) to banks at discounted rates to allow them to re-lend
the money to farmers and small businesses – areas of the economy that are
usually short of cash.
The latest attempt to ease policy in
a “targeted” manner to help the most
vulnerable sectors came as data showed
that foreign direct investment (FDI) in
China rose just 1.7% in 2014, the slackest pace since 2012.
The world’s second-largest economy drew a record $119.6bn worth of
FDI last year, slowing markedly from
growth of 5.3% in 2013, the Ministry of
Commerce said.
Investment flows into China are an
important gauge of the health of the
world economy, and are also a good indicator of where capital is flowing within the Chinese economy.
“The priorities of macro policy this
year is to let the economy shift its gears
without losing its growth speed,” said
Zhu Zhixin, a vice director at China’s
powerful economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said.
Hurt by a housing slump and waning investment and manufacturing
growth, China’s economy likely expanded 7.2% in the October-December
quarter from a year earlier, its weakest rate since the depths of the global
financial crisis, according to a Reuters
poll of economists.
That means China’s full-year growth
may have undershot the government’s
7.5% target in 2014 and would mark the
country’s worst economic performance
in 24 years. China is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter growth report
on January 20.
With analysts betting on more gloom
in 2015, with growth possibly dipping
below 7%, China is widely expected to
loosen policy further in coming months
to stoke activity.
“We expect this kind of targeted easing to continue,” said Ting Lu, an econ-
China-made ductile iron pipes are displayed in Lianyungang port before being exported to Lianyungang. The China central bank said yesterday it would lend $8.1bn to
banks at discounted rates to allow them to re-lend the money to farmers and small businesses – areas of the economy that are usually short of cash.
omist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch
in Hong Kong. “We expect three cuts in
the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) this
year, totalling 150 basis points.”
The RRR refers to the amount of
deposits that banks must set aside as
reserves at the central bank and is adjusted by the PBoC to control the level
of liquidity in the banking system.
A cut in a reserve ratio cut would
give banks greater capacity to lend, but
many market watchers question if businesses will want to borrow more money
as economic conditions deteriorate and
if banks want to risk more bad loans.
The downbeat investment report
came a day after data showed Chinese
banks issued far fewer loans in December than expected.
That suggested a surprise interest
rate cut in November, the first in over
two years, has not spurred demand for
credit, and that banks remained reluctant to lend.
Lu from Bank of America-Merrill
Lynch said he believed RRR cuts are
imminent because bets for a weaker
yuan this year have led fewer firms to
sell their dollars to the central bank for
yuan, thereby reducing the supply of
yuan and liquidity in the market.
The PBoC did not comment on China’s liquidity conditions yesterday,
saying only that its re-lending exercise
was aimed at lowering firms’ financing
costs, and that it had pumped a record
99.4bn yuan into the economy via “relending” last year.
The focus on weaker parts of the
economy was echoed by the NDRC,
which said in a statement that the
country must “unleash its consump-
tion potential” this year. Even as it
vowed to stoke demand, the NDRC
said it had approved 53.1bn yuan of
new railway projects, indicating that
authorities were still counting on investment to remain a mainstay driver
of the economy.
“China has very big volumes of retail
sales, but the per capita figure is quite
small,” Zhong Shan, a vice minister at
China’s trade ministry, told reporters
at a briefing. “So China still has great
potential in expanding domestic consumption.”
Foreign investment surges past $100bn in ’14
Chinese overseas investment
surged past $100bn for the first
time last year, official figures
showed yesterday, but remained
below investment into the
Overseas direct investment (ODI)
rose 14.1% to $102.9bn in 2014,
vice commerce minister Zhong
Shan said at a briefing, as Chinese
firms continued to buy up assets,
particularly energy and resources,
to power the world’s number two
Foreign direct investment (FDI)
into China rose to $119.6bn, the
second consecutive increase,
although that is only 1.7%
higher, representing a marked
Although the outbound figure did
not overtake the incoming total,
as some officials had expected
early last year, Zhong said the
long-term trend was clear.
“On current trends, China’s
outward investment will continue
to grow faster than its utilisation
of foreign investment, which will
make China a net investor in no
time... making a historic turning
point,” he said.
In 2013 Chinese ODI rose 16.8%
to $90.17bn, while FDI rebounded
5.3% to $117.59bn after declining
the previous year in the face of
economic weakness in developed
markets and a growth slowdown
at home.
Both ODI and FDI exclude
financial sectors. The ministry did
not provide complete country and
regional breakdowns for Chinese
investment destinations in 2014,
other than saying – without giving
totals – that investment to the
European Union nearly tripled
while that to the US increased
The slowdown in FDI growth
came as Chinese authorities last
year launched anti-monopoly,
pricing and other inquiries
into foreign firms - in sectors
from auto manufacturing and
pharmaceuticals to baby milk fuelling fears Beijing was targeting
them. The commerce ministry has
repeatedly denied the charges.
Recent years have seen China’s
appeal as an investment
destination decline owing to
increasing land and labour costs
and competition for investment
from other Southeast Asian
countries such as Vietnam.
Officials have also blamed
source country factors, such
as Washington’s drive to move
industrial production back to
the US. Investment from the
28-member EU fell 5.3% to
$6.85bn in 2014, the ministry
said, while investment from
the 10-member Asean group of
Southeast Asian nations declined
23.8% to $6.51bn.
Investment from the US also
declined 20.6% to $2.66bn.
But South Korean investment into
China jumped 29.8% to $3.97bn,
while that from Britain rose 28%
to $1.35bn.
Investment from Japan,
meanwhile, slid 38.8% to $4.33bn
as geopolitical tensions between
the region’s top two economies
continue. The ministry did not
immediately provide figures for
FDI from Hong Kong and Taiwan,
two of the largest inbound
An employee counts yuan banknotes at a bank in Beijing. Chinese overseas investment surged
past $100bn for the first time last year, official figures showed yesterday.
Rajan’s rate-cut surprise prompts bullish forecast shift
surprisingly early start to India’s
rate-cutting cycle prompted at
least four global banks to step up
forecasts for further easing this year.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan lowered the repurchase
rate to 7.75% from 8% on Thursday in
the first cut since May 2013. Barclays
sees the benchmark at 7.25% by June,
25 basis points lower than its earlier
forecast. Morgan Stanley, Commerzbank AG and Australia & New Zealand
Banking Group also shifted outlooks.
The one-year interest-rate swap rate
extended declines after dropping the
most since October on Thursday.
While signalling that the RBI is confident of achieving its target to limit
consumer-price gains at 6% by January
2016, Rajan also said the government
needs to stick to fiscal goals to justify
more easing. The 10-year sovereign
bond yield will fall 44 basis points to
7.25% by December 31, according to the
median estimate of 10 banks and money managers in a Bloomberg survey.
The repo rate is seen dropping to 7%.
“Given the huge improvement in
India’s inflation dynamics, driven by a
collapse in oil prices, the central bank
will have more room to cut,” Charlie
Lay, a strategist at Commerzbank in
Singapore, said in a phone interview
on Thursday. “On the back of reduced
rates, we expect the rupee to be stable
and yields to come off more.”
The rupee climbed to its strongest
level since November 13 on Thursday
amid confidence the government will
complement Rajan’s action by addressing infrastructure bottlenecks that
boost living costs and act to spur Asia’s
third-largest economy. The currency
rose 0.3% to 61.8625 a dollar yesterday.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, likely
to present the budget next month, has
pledged to narrow the fiscal deficit to
a seven-year-low of 4.1% of gross domestic product.
“Key to further easing are data that
confirm continuing disinflationary
pressures,” Rajan said in a statement.
“Also critical would be sustained fiscal
consolidation as well as steps to overcome supply constraints and assure
availability of inputs such as power,
land, minerals and infrastructure.”
Rajan’s move came after a January
12 report showing consumer prices
rose 5% in December, holding below
the RBI’s 6% target for a third straight
month. India, which imports about
80% of its oil, benefited from a 48%
slump in Brent prices last year. Rajan
raised the repo rate three times since
taking office in September 2013.
Morgan Stanley expects the RBI to
cut the repo rate by another 125 basis points over the next 12 months,
compared with an earlier estimate of
50 basis points. Commerzbank sees a
100-basis point reduction in 2015 from
50 earlier. ANZ, which previously saw
the rate dropping 25 basis points this
year, is now predicting a decrease of up
to 75 basis points more.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s
government has scrapped controls on
diesel prices, raised natural gas tariffs
and allowed more foreign investment
in sectors such as defence since taking
power in May. It last month decided
against extending a tax break for the local automobile industry in a bid to bolster revenue and meet its deficit goal.
While the RBI cited the government’s
commitment to meeting the target in its
statement on Thursday, the shortfall had
reached 99% of the full-year target in
just eight months, data showed on December 31. Growth in the $1.9tn economy slowed in the July-September period
for the first time in three quarters.
“The RBI will be enamoured towards
substantial easing only when the government is able to show meaningful
progress on cutting the deficit and removing supply constraints that push
prices higher,” Kunal Kundu, an economist at Societe Generale SA in Bengaluru, said in a phone interview on Thursday.Investors are predicting more gains
for Indian sovereign debt, which returned 16.5% in 2014, the most among
the largest emerging markets including
Brazil, Russia and China.
Barclays forecasts the 10-year sovereign yield at 7.25% by year-end, compared with an estimate of 7.40% earlier.
The rate was little changed at 7.69%
yesterday, after slumping eight basis
points on Thursday, the most since December 2. It tumbled 97 basis points,
or 0.97 percentage point, last year, the
most since 2008, as calls for easing intensified.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Hedge funds, speculators face
big losses on Swiss franc rally
New York/London
Rupee rises to over
one-month high
The Indian rupee yesterday
appreciated for the second
straight session and rose
19 paise to log its over
one-month closing high of
61.87 against the greenback
following sustained dollar
selling by exporters and
capital inflows in local shares.
However, a strong dollar
overseas after Switzerland’s
unexpected move to lift its
currency restriction, capped
the rupee’s gains. The dollar
index was up 0.41% against its
major global rivals while the
euro hit over a decade low.
At the Interbank Foreign
Exchange (Forex) market, the
domestic unit commenced
slightly lower at 62.08 a
dollar from previous close of
62.06. It then declined further
to a low of 62.20 on some
hesitancy in local equities in
early trade. However, rupee
bounced back on a late rally
in domestic stocks to a high
of 61.79 before settling at
61.87, showing a rise of 19
paise or 0.31%. On Thursday, it
had risen by 12 paise or 0.19%.
This its strongest close
since 61.83 on December 8,
2014. The stock benchmark
S&P BSE Sensex yesterday
improved further by 46.34
points, or 0.17%. FPIs bought
shares worth USD 274.03mn
yesterday, as per Sebi data.
Pramit Brahmbhatt, Veracity
Group, CEO said,” Rupee
appreciated taking cues
from strong local equities.
Also, the FIIs buying in debt
market helped rupee to trade
strong against the mighty
dollar index which is heading
towards to post its fifth weekly
gain in a row.” The trading
range for the spot USD/INR
pair is expected to be within
61.40 to 62.40, he added.
“The Indian rupee opened
the session on almost
flat note. The domestic
currency continued to gain
as trade deficit narrowed
to its 10-month low levels,”
according to Forex Advisors.
A visitor looks at a table showing exchange rates at a currency exchange office in Warsaw yesterday. Currency speculators and global macro hedge funds with large
short positions in the Swiss franc are staring massive losses in the face after the Swiss National Bank shocked markets on Thursday by removing a three-year-old cap
on the currency.
result of this move have dramatically
Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, on
Thursday closed its ‘top trade’ recommendation of a short position on
the Swiss franc against the Swedish
crown, with a potential loss of around
16.5%. It added that its current forecast for the euro against the Swiss
franc is under review.
The euro dropped as much as 30%
below the 1.20 cap to 0.8500 franc per
euro at one point Thursday before rebounding to roughly 1.00, down 16%.
The dollar plunged to 0.736 franc, its
lowest since 2011, before paring losses. It was last trading at 0.8682 franc,
down 15%. London-based money
manager Insight Pareto, with assets
under management of about $475bn,
closed its short position against the
franc late last year.
“We didn’t like how the Swiss franc
behaved when the SNB moved to negative rates ... the franc was not able to
sustain any kind of sell-off in the market,” said Paul Lambert, Insight’s head
of foreign exchange.
Insight converted its short Swiss
franc trade into cash.
Similarly, a forex options trader at a
large brokerage who trades on the CME
floor in Chicago said his firm stopped
trading options in the Swiss franc a
few weeks ago because overall volumes
were increasing, leading the firm to
think something was imminent. CME
volume in Swiss franc futures in De-
cember was 1.15mn contracts, up 38%
from November and 64% greater than
December 2013.
One of the winners was Sunny
Dhonsi, a former JP Morgan trader
who left last year to set up Govardhan, primarily an opportunistic equity
hedge fund. He had bought puts on
the euro against the Swiss franc with a
1.20 strike price.
These puts, a bet on the euro falling
against the franc, were cheap because
of how aggressively the Swiss had defended their currency. He said with
the European Central Bank poised to
boost its own monetary policy, the SNB
was looking at having to purchase even
more euros in order to defend the franc.
“We didn’t put on the trade think-
Indian shares post biggest
weekly gain in two months
urrency speculators and global
macro hedge funds with large
short positions in the Swiss
franc are staring massive losses in the
face after the Swiss National Bank
shocked markets on Thursday by removing a three-year-old cap on the
The move sent the safe-haven franc
soaring against the euro and the US
dollar at a time when more than $3.5bn
was betting on more franc weakness,
the largest such position in more than
a year and a half.
The damage from the Swiss franc’s
sharp moves comes as a blow for macro
hedge fund managers nursing wounds
from nearly four years of mediocre
performance. Only days ago, the SNB
termed the 1.20 francs per euro cap the
cornerstone of its monetary policy.
“You have these massive policies
which forced all investors to invest
with the policy and then they remove
the policy and everyone is left high
and dry,” said Chris Morrison, strategist for the $550mn Omni Macro Fund,
which profited from the move.
Data from the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission released Friday
showed net short positions of 24,171
contracts on the Swiss franc, the largest since June 2013. Adding in 662
short option contracts gives a combined position of 24,833 contracts or
$3.5bn at the current rate of around
0.87 franc to the dollar.
Global macro hedge funds that use
fundamental analysis to bet on the financial markets and represent $288bn
in assets on the Lyxor platform had a
net short position of 2.6%, indicating
a loss given the currency move.
“Yesterday, we were doing fine.
We were up 2% this month, but with
the SNB move, our gains have been
wiped out,” said Axel Merk, president of Merk Investments in Palo
Alto, California, which has mutual fund assets of about $300mn.
Merk said his funds were hurt by the
SNB move, with two short positions
on the franc, one against the euro and
the other against a currency basket.
He has since closed the short position on the franc against the euro. But
Merk further increased his shorts on
the Swiss unit against a currency basket because he believes the risks on
the franc and the Swiss economy as a
ndian stocks climbed, with the benchmark
gauge completing a weekly advance, as industrial and consumer companies rose after the
central bank cut borrowing costs in an unscheduled move on Thursday.
Sesa Sterlite, the largest Indian copper maker,
climbed the most in two weeks, while Hindustan Unilever, the biggest home-products maker,
increased to a record. Mahindra & Mahindra, a
tractor maker, rose for a second day. Tata Consultancy Services fell after reporting profit that
missed estimates.
The S&P BSE Sensex added 0.2% to 28,121.89
at the close, taking the weekly gain to 2.4%,
the most in more than two months. The gauge
changed directions at least 12 times amid a slide
in Asian stocks after the Swiss National Bank’s
decision on Thursday to abandon the franc’s cap
against the euro roiled markets worldwide. The
Reserve Bank of India cut the main rate as a slide
in inflation offered scope to boost an economy
growing at little more than half the pace of four
years ago.
“Global factors are a constant worry for investors, but our market will not go down much
because macros are improving and the RBI has
signaled the start of the easing cycle,” RK Gupta,
managing director of Taurus Asset Management
Co, which has about $600mn in assets, said by
phone from New Delhi.
The Sensex is climbed 2.3% so far this year and
is valued at 15.5 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with the MSCI Emerging Markets
Index’s multiple of 10.6.
ing they would lift the cap so soon, just
that the options were too cheap and
totally mispriced,” he said.
However, other computer-driven
funds that base their models on historic volatility may have been exposed
because the cap has dampened volatility in the franc for the last few years.
Commodity trading advisors returned nearly 10% last year, according
to data from industry tracker Eurekahedge, nearly three times the average
gains in global macro hedge funds.
“CTAs will win from today’s move,
global macro may lose and that will
be a repeat of the developments that
we have had in recent quarters,” said
Philippe Ferreira, head of research at
Lyxor Asset Management.
sian shares stumbled
yesterday and the dollar skidded against the
safe-haven yen after Switzerland’s central bank unexpectedly scrapped its currency cap
– jolting markets already roiled
by plunging commodities prices.
MSCI’s broadest index of
Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed about 0.4%. A resurgent yen pressured exporter
shares and helped push Japan’s
Nikkei stock average down 1.4%,
off steep session lows but still
down 1.9% for the week.
The greenback touched a fresh
one-month low of 115.85 yen,
but was last 0.3% higher on the
day at 116.53 yen.
“Investors will likely stay cautious against overseas developments for two to three weeks
given weak oil prices and commodity price as well as the global
economic concern,” said Chisato
Haganuma, chief strategist at
Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
Chinese stocks were one
bright spot in Asia, with the
Shanghai Composite Index
gaining 0.9%. Sentiment got a
lift from the central bank’s announcement that it would increase relending quotas to banks
by $8.1bn, to support agriculture
and small companies.
But the mood was kept in check
by data showing China’s foreign direct investment rose at its
slowest pace in two years in 2014,
underscoring a cooling economy.
Brent and US crude were higher
in Asian trade, up 0.3% and 0.5%
respectively, but both remained
under $50 a barrel.
Copper added about 0.4% to
$5,652 a tonne, but was still at
risk of notching its worst week
since 2011.
The Swiss currency surged as
much as 30% on Thursday to a
high of 0.8500 franc per euro
after the Swiss National Bank
(SNB) suddenly ditched its commitment to cap the franc at 1.20
per euro. The euro took back
some of its biggest one-day drop
against the Swiss franc in history, and was last up 2.9% on the
day at 1.0196 francs.
Spain’s Isolux Corsan plans listing
Spanish energy and construction company
Isolux Corsan said yesterday it planned to list
on the Spanish stock exchange to raise around
€600mn ($698mn) to reduce debt and fund
This marks the third Spanish stock market
listing to be announced over the past few days.
Builder ACS said on Thursday it would float
a stake in its renewable energy business and
the government said on Wednesday it would
relaunch a delayed listing for airports operator
Aena in the next few weeks.
A period of market volatility resulted in some
deals being pulled at the end of last year, but
low oil prices and hopes of a recovery in euro
zone economies has increased confidence
among Spanish companies.
Isolux Corsan reported revenues of €3.2bn in
2013, of which more than 80% was generated
outside Spain through projects such as power
transmission in India, Brazil and the US and
building and managing toll road networks in
India and MexiCo.
One of the group’s most high-profile
operations is a 1bn-euro project to build two
pylons the height of the Eiffel Tower to string
electricity cables over the Amazon river to
connect the Brazilian cities of Manaus and
Macapa to the grid.
The company also intends to make available
an over-allotment of shares no greater than
15% of the size of the offering, it said in a
Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Santander
will be the joint global coordinators for the
initial public offering, the company said. The
operation needs approval by the Spanish stock
market regulator.
German bond yields hit record
lows after Swiss cap shock
Traders at the Bombay Stock Exchange. The Sensex added 0.2% to 28,121.89 yesterday.
erman bond yields hit new lows yesterday
as investors parked money in safe, toprated debt as the shock of the Swiss National Bank scrapping its currency cap continued
to wash over markets.
The 10-year benchmark dropped below 0.40%
for the first time, while yields on US Treasuries and UK Gilts also fell after the SNB stunned
markets on Thursday by abandoning its pledge to
keep the franc above 1.20 per euro.
Bond brokers said police raids against suspected Islamist militants in Belgium and a request
from two Greek banks for emergency funding had
also rattled investors, forcing them to take refuge
in risk-free assets. There was little sign of stress
on low-rated eurozone government bonds, however, with analysts suggesting the Swiss move
meant it was almost certain the European Central
Bank would ease monetary conditions via quantitative easing next week.
“The SNB’s shock decision... has triggered a
wave of repricings,” said Commerzbank analyst
Markus Koch, adding that the uncertainty should
remain positive for Bunds. In the wake of the
SNB’s decision, yields on all Swiss government
bonds out to nine-year maturities have fallen
below zero. Analysts said this should also firm
interest in Bunds and other top-rated bonds, as
investors look to swap their Swiss bond holdings
for higher-yielding alternatives.
Yields on 10-year Dutch, Finnish and Austrian
bonds also fell to new record lows yesterday, as
did Belgium and French equivalents after a brief
sell-off on Thursday.
Market experts said the SNB has tended to buy
“semi-core” French and Belgium bonds as part
of an initiative to protect its currency cap, raising
speculation that its demand for this debt would
now waver. Italian and Spanish yields also edged
lower as bets firmed that the ECB was preparing
to print money to start buying sovereign bonds
next week. The view among traders was that the
SNB abandoned its currency cap because it could
not hold out against the tide of money coming its
way from the ECB stimulus.
Italian 10-year yields were down 2 bps at 1.72%,
while Spain’s were 1 bps lower at 1.57%. A Reuters
poll of economists on Thursday showed there was
a 90% chance the ECB conducts QE, and a 70%
chance it is delivered this month.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
StanChart eyeing bank stake
sales as it tries to slim down
first profit
decline in
9 quarters
Hong Kong
tandard Chartered’s abrupt move
to shut its global equities business last week could be a prelude to the lender selling off stakes in
a number of Asian banks as it looks to
boost capital, people familiar with the
lender’s thinking said.
The most likely potential sale is
Standard Chartered’s $621mn holding
in Agricultural Bank of China Ltd (AgBank), a person with direct knowledge
of the situation said.
The bank’s 45% stake in Indonesia’s
PT Bank Permata, valued at around
$638mn, could also be sold, though
that deal would probably come after an
AgBank stake sale, people close to the
bank said.
Early this month Standard Chartered moved aggressively to reverse its
flagging fortunes by closing the bulk of
its global equities business and axing
4,000 jobs in retail banking. .
But Chief Executive Peter Sands is
under pressure to cut costs and bolster capital levels further, as the bank
grapples with potential losses from
commodities loans that could mean it
needs $4.4bn in extra provisions.
“It was an easy decision to get rid
of the equities business but there are
other things the bank could be doing,”
said a former Standard Chartered executive.
The change in the banks fortunes
reflects the fact its focus on emerging
markets and commodities has flipped
from being a strength to a weakness in
the current economic climate.
“The tailwinds that benefited
Standard Chartered from 2008-2013
became headwinds in 2014,” Jefferies
analysts said in a note this week.
Having minority stakes in other
banks has become less attractive to
lenders like Standard Chartered as new
rules mean they now have to hold more
capital against those holdings.
Bankers cautioned though that there
is no active sale process for any of
these assets.
A spokeswoman for Standard Chartered declined to comment. Sources
were not authorised to speak publicly
about the matter due to client confidentiality.
The stake in Indonesia’s Bank Permata could attract interest from Asian
banks, especially Japanese lenders,
bankers who have worked on similar
deals told Reuters. Japanese banks have
been aggressively expanding into Indonesia amid sluggish growth at home.
Standard Chartered teamed up with
Standard Chartered is planning to sell stakes in a number of Asian banks as it looks to boost capital, sources said yesterday.
Indonesian trading firm Astra International to buy a controlling stake in Permata in 2004. Any sale could be complicated though by the agreement that
binds Standard Chartered with Astra.
Standard Chartered also owns a
15.4% stake in Vietnam’s Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank valued at
about $105mn, while in China it holds
a 20% stake in unlisted China Bohai
Bank for which it paid $123mn in 2005.
Xiaomi to invest
in India start-ups
hina’s Xiaomi plans to
invest in Indian tech
start-ups and overseas
media content, as the world’s
No.3 smartphone maker looks
to dominate homes with its own
TVs and appliances.
Just three years after selling
its first handset, a $1.1bn round
of fund-raising announced in
December valued the privately
held company at $45bn, making
it the world’s most valuable tech
With Samsung Electronics
Co and Apple Inc in its sights in
the handset market, Xiaomi is
now expanding into home appliances and television. The Beijing-based company has already
reserved $1bn for Internet TV
“Where we really want to
make significant investments
is in content, particularly in the
Chinese market to start with but
beyond that in other markets as
well,” Hugo Barra, vice president
of Xiaomi’s global division, said
in an interview yesterday.
Taking a leaf from Samsung’s
book, Xiaomi’s recent investments include a Chinese electronics maker as part of a strategy to build an Internet-of-things
environment, where devices can
be controlled by smartphones.
“One area that we are also
looking to make some investments in is start-ups in India.
India is already the largest market for us outside of mainland
China,” Barra said, without elaborating on the types of start-ups.
Xiaomi has had mixed success
in India. Sales of its handsets were
suspended there after telecoms
equipment maker Ericsson filed a
complaint alleging infringement
of intellectual property rights.
Partial sales were permitted from
December though the case is yet
to be settled. Barra dismissed
concern that overseas expansion
could be stalled by allegations of
IP violation, and said Ericsson’s
lawsuit doesn’t affect day-to-day
“We have licensed a lot of intellectual property already,” he
said. Xiaomi licenses others’
intellectual property, but some
claims made against the company are illegitimate and Xiaomi
will fight those, Barra said.
Critics say Xiaomi is unwilling
to expand into Western markets
because it still has too few patents to compete.
“It doesn’t have anything to
do with intellectual property,”
said Barra. “It has to do with the
fact that we have much more significant opportunities in developing markets, where our model
of selling very high specification
devices at really aggressive prices
is much more powerful.”
“These are larger populations
when you add them together
than the Western world.”
On Monday, Reuters exclusively reported that Chief Executive Lei Jun and Facebook Inc
counterpart Mark Zuckerberg
discussed a potential investment by Facebook in China’s top
smartphone maker ahead of last
month’s fundraising, but a deal
never materialised.
Barra declined to comment on
Xiaomi’s co-operation with Facebook, beyond saying they had
a very good relationship.
However any sale of stakes in Chinese banks are likely to be handled
discreetly for fear of upsetting the authorities and giving off the impression
the bank is exiting the country.
That means Standard Chartered may
choose to exit Bohai Bank by listing it
on the stock market, the people familiar with the bank’s thinking added.
Other divestment, aside from bank
stakes, could also be on the cards.
Standard Chartered has already
sold a bundle of investments made
by its private equity arm worth about
$530mn, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
That deal was concluded at the end
of last year, the source added, declining to be identified as the deal was not
Standard Chartered’s leasing unit
Pembroke, which it bought in 2007 and
which operates a fleet of 98 aircraft according to the company website, could
also be put up for sale. The bank’s aircraft and ship leasing portfolio was
worth $4.9bn at the end of 2013, according to the bank’s annual report.
Selling more sizeable units such as
the profitable aircraft leasing business
would be painful for Standard Chartered, but may ultimately prove necessary.
eliance Industries, operator of the world’s biggest
oil refining complex, reported its first profit decline in
nine quarters as crude’s slump
drove down the value of stockpiles and narrowed its refining
Net income fell 7.6% to
Rs50.9bn ($823mn) in the three
months ended December 31,
compared with the same period
a year earlier, Mumbai-based
Reliance said in a stock exchange
filing yesterday. That matched
the Rs50.8bn median estimate
of 24 analysts compiled by
Bloomberg. Net sales fell 23% to
China’s slowest economic
growth in almost three years is
reducing global demand growth
for oil. The weakness is holding
back Reliance’s refinery business
even as its natural gas production continues to lag behind estimates.
Reliance shares dropped 0.5%
last year, the first annual decline
in three years, compared with a
30% gain in the benchmark S&P
BSE India Sensitive Index. The
stock has extended its decline by
another 2.4% this year, while the
benchmark index has increased
The company operates two refineries that can together process 1.24mn barrels of crude everyday, the world’s biggest. The
plants are located next to each
other at Jamnagar in the western state of Gujarat and have the
ability to process cheaper, lower
grades of crude into high-value
products for sale in Europe and
the US.
Profit from making diesel
in Singapore, an Asian benchmark, averaged $15.57 a barrel
in the quarter ended December
31, compared with $17.47 a year
earlier and $14.54 a barrel in the
preceding three months, according to data from PVM Oil
Associates Ltd in London.
The decline in oil prices also
results in the value of stockpiles
falling. The losses can reduce
profits at refiners such as Reliance and Indian Oil Corp that
have to maintain reserves.
Alibaba to court China consumer for US retailers
Beijing/San Francisco
China’s Alibaba Group Holding plans a major move
to win US business this year, by offering American
retailers new ways to sell to China’s vast and growing
middle class.
Anchored by Alipay, the dominant Chinese electronic
payments system that works closely with Alibaba
and is controlled by its executives, the world’s largest
Internet retailer is using the calling card of China’s
consumers to attract US partners, two sources close to
the company told Reuters.
Long seen as the most potent threat to
Inc with $300bn in global sales, the moves add up
to a conservative approach to expanding in the US,
contrary to industry speculation that the company may
be plotting a direct assault on US soil.
That considered strategy, outlined to Reuters for the
first time by the sources and executives who work
directly with the Chinese company, is intended to
heighten awareness in the US of what Alibaba does,
gain goodwill in an important Western market, and lay
the groundwork for a longer-term play.
At the heart of its push are Alibaba’s and Alipay’s trial
deals to handle Chinese sales, payment and shipping
for some of the biggest names in US retail from
Neiman Marcus Group to Saks Inc. Both confirmed the
agreement but would not talk about how the pilots are
The Chinese companies will also work with US startup
Shoprunner, an online mall for US retailers in which it
owns a stake, and retail services provider Borderfree
Inc to court Chinese consumers.
And Alibaba is preparing a marketing campaign to
raise awareness among US businesses of its global
business-to-business wholesale platform,,
so they can buy and sell to and from global suppliers.
“They own the toll road into China,” said Michael
DeSimone, Chief Executive Officer of Borderfree. “What
really puts the jetpack on things when you deal with
an Alipay is, they’re on the ground and they know the
Chinese consumer so well.”
Industry insiders point to just $15bn in annual US-toChina, cross-border consumer sales now. But Daiwa
estimates cross-border purchases, which exclude sales
of American products within the country, can grow to
1.8tn yuan ($291bn) by 2020.
“It’s not a big thing right now, but within the next 12 to
18 months what you’ll see more of is bringing 300mn
Chinese consumers to retailers in the US,” Alibaba Vice
Chairman Joseph Tsai said in an interview with Reuters
last year. He laid out the broad plan, and sources have
now described details. Still, there’s no guarantee of
success. China’s middle class is over 250mn strong
and growing, spurred by government policy to create
a more consumer-driven economy. Apple iPhones
and General Motors cars have become big-selling
status symbols, but the market remains a challenge for
Western companies, especially those lacking a global
footprint. Home Depot Inc decided in 2012 to shut all
seven of its big box China stores, while in December,
Best Buy said it will sell its struggling China business.
And Alibaba’s 10-month-old effort to help foreign
retailers set up shop in China, Tmall Global – its
business-to-consumer website, has had muted success.
Of 5,000-plus brands and 650 merchants that now sell
on that site, just 30 have accumulated more than 10mn
yuan in sales, according to the company.
But there are signs of traction. Costco Wholesale Corp,
which began selling on Tmall Global in November,
saw sales of more than 40mn yuan in its first month
of operations, according to data Alibaba provided
to Reuters. And the site has attracted some 90mn
unique visitors since launch, buying from 90% of listed
Part of Alibaba’s aim is to counter official concerns
about Chinese mega-Corps. In 2014, Alibaba hired
former Treasury chief of staff James Wilkinson to help
tailor its international strategy, and it has enlisted Korn
Ferry to search for a Washington-based international
government affairs chief.
Alipay and a logistics-partner network that took years
to assemble are central to Alibaba’s US effort.
Major brands, such as Nike, that have a large physical
presence in China already sell directly on Tmall. But
Alipay’s effort directly connects American merchants
with China, without the need for investment in a
physical presence.
It also allows US retailers and Chinese consumers to
avoid difficulties associated with foreign exchange.
Chinese consumers pay in yuan; US companies get
paid in dollars.
Alibaba’s and Alipay’s programme for US companies
is called ePass. It includes a customs pre-approval
process, a sort of “fast lane” that shaves days off
delivery. Daiwa analysts John Choi and Alex Liu call
that capability Alibaba’s biggest advantage over rivals
such as
Alibaba and Alipay have made pilot agreements
to handle payments and shipping to China for
department stores Neiman, Saks, Macy’s Inc, Macy’s
Bloomingdale’s chain, Ann Taylor, luxury fashion
site Gilt, and apparel label Aeropostale, according to
Borderfree. The companies declined to comment,
although Neiman, Saks and Ann Taylor confirmed
the deal. If a Chinese consumer bought a pair of
shoes from Saks, for instance, Alipay would handle
the financial transaction. The shoes go to a US-based
Alipay facility that handles the transfer to China. After
clearing customs, a local partner typically would
handle final delivery.
Alibaba has even taken on a role akin to a cultural
liaison for US retailers. Tracey Weber, chief operating
officer of online retailer Gilt, said that as their Alipay
trial progressed, the Chinese company began
increasingly to help with marketing and even product
selection: advising them to use more red for instance,
or to more prominently display cross-body handbags
popular in China.
“It is such a different environment,” she said.
Shoprunner, meanwhile, hired an ex-Amazon executive
to head up a new Shanghai office last year, and Chief
Executive Scott Thompson said the startup is preparing
a major marketing campaign in China in 2015.
Alibaba also aims to draw in more US businesses to
its portal, as buyers and sellers. One
strategy is to reduce the number of counterfeit goods,
a major problem in China and a concern for companies
considering sharing intellectual property such as
technology and designs.
To that end, Alibaba has enlisted data company Dun &
Bradstreet Credibility Corp, among others, to beef up a
supplier-certification program it hopes will help draw
in many of the estimated 27mn small-time American
businesses and manufacturers that now operate
mostly offline.
Validation could allow both sides to assure themselves
that they are working with legitimate partners.
Jeff Stibel, who is heading up Dun & Bradstreet
Credibility Corp’s effort with Alibaba, said integration
was starting, and it will launch its certification program
early this year.
Alibaba also has some plans to sell to Americans.
Alibaba has a small US-based portal,, a
collection of Internet storefronts for smaller businesses
and products from yoga mats to scented candles.
While it focuses on US consumers, a quarter of its
1.4mn listed products can already be shipped to Asia.
It hopes eventually to help sellers gain access to
Alibaba’s US-Chinese corridor, 11Main President Mike
Effle told Reuters. itself is an avenue to sell to Americans,
as businessman Michael Sorrentino found at the
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year.
The chief executive of smartphone case maker
Eyepatch estimates about 20% of US retailers he spoke
with asked if they could buy his gear through Alibaba.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Company Name
Exxon Mobil Corp
Microsoft Corp
Johnson & Johnson
Wal-Mart Stores Inc
Procter & Gamble Co/The
General Electric Co
Jpmorgan Chase & Co
Pfizer Inc
Verizon Communications Inc
Chevron Corp
Coca-Cola Co/The
Merck & Co. Inc.
Intel Corp
At&T Inc
Walt Disney Co/The
Visa Inc-Class A Shares
Intl Business Machines Corp
Cisco Systems Inc
Home Depot Inc
United Technologies Corp
3M Co
Unitedhealth Group Inc
Boeing Co/The
Mcdonald’s Corp
American Express Co
Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Nike Inc -Cl B
Du Pont (E.I.) De Nemours
Caterpillar Inc
Travelers Cos Inc/The
Lt Price
% Chg
FTSE 100
Company Name
Wpp Plc
Wolseley Plc
Wm Morrison Supermarkets
Whitbread Plc
Weir Group Plc/The
Vodafone Group Plc
United Utilities Group Plc
Unilever Plc
Tullow Oil Plc
Tui Ag-New
Tui Ag-Di
Travis Perkins Plc
Tesco Plc
Taylor Wimpey Plc
Standard Life Plc
Standard Chartered Plc
St James’s Place Plc
Sse Plc
Sports Direct International
Smiths Group Plc
Smith & Nephew Plc
Sky Plc
Shire Plc
Severn Trent Plc
Schroders Plc
Sainsbury (J) Plc
Sage Group Plc/The
Sabmiller Plc
Rsa Insurance Group Plc
Royal Mail Plc
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-B Shs
Royal Dutch Shell Plc-A Shs
Royal Bank Of Scotland Group
Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc
Rio Tinto Plc
Reed Elsevier Plc
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc
Randgold Resources Ltd
Prudential Plc
Persimmon Plc
Pearson Plc
Old Mutual Plc
Next Plc
National Grid Plc
Mondi Plc
Meggitt Plc
Marks & Spencer Group Plc
London Stock Exchange Group
Lloyds Banking Group Plc
Legal & General Group Plc
Land Securities Group Plc
Kingfisher Plc
Johnson Matthey Plc
Itv Plc
Intu Properties Plc
Intl Consolidated Airline-Di
Intertek Group Plc
Intercontinental Hotels Grou
Imperial Tobacco Group Plc
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hargreaves Lansdown Plc
Hammerson Plc
Glencore Plc
Glaxosmithkline Plc
Gkn Plc
G4s Plc
Friends Life Group Ltd
Fresnillo Plc
Experian Plc
Easyjet Plc
Dixons Carphone Plc
Direct Line Insurance Group
Diageo Plc
Crh Plc
Compass Group Plc
Coca-Cola Hbc Ag-Cdi
Centrica Plc
Carnival Plc
Capita Plc
Burberry Group Plc
Bunzl Plc
Bt Group Plc
British Land Co Plc
British American Tobacco Plc
Bp Plc
Bhp Billiton Plc
Bg Group Plc
Barratt Developments Plc
Barclays Plc
Bae Systems Plc
Babcock Intl Group Plc
Aviva Plc
Astrazeneca Plc
Associated British Foods Plc
Ashtead Group Plc
Arm Holdings Plc
Antofagasta Plc
Anglo American Plc
Aggreko Plc
Admiral Group Plc
Aberdeen Asset Mgmt Plc
3I Group Plc
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Inpex Corp
Daiwa House Industry Co Ltd
Sekisui House Ltd
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd
Japan Tobacco Inc
Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd
Toray Industries Inc
Asahi Kasei Corp
Sumitomo Chemical Co Ltd
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
Kao Corp
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd
Astellas Pharma Inc
Eisai Co Ltd
Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd
Fujifilm Holdings Corp
Shiseido Co Ltd
Jx Holdings Inc
Lt Price
% Chg
Lt Price
Dow Jones Indus. Avg
S&P 500 Index
Nasdaq Composite Index
S&P/Tsx Composite Index
Mexico Bolsa Index
Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx
Ftse 100 Index
Cac 40 Index
Dax Index
Ibex 35 Tr
Nikkei 225
Japan Topix
Hang Seng Index
All Ordinaries Indx
Nzx All Index
Bse Sensex 30 Index
Nse S&P Cnx Nifty Index
Straits Times Index
Karachi All Share Index
Jakarta Composite Index
Company Name
Bridgestone Corp
Asahi Glass Co Ltd
Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Meta
Sumitomo Metal Industries
Kobe Steel Ltd
Jfe Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd
Sumitomo Electric Industries
Smc Corp
Komatsu Ltd
Kubota Corp
Daikin Industries Ltd
Hitachi Ltd
Toshiba Corp
Mitsubishi Electric Corp
Nidec Corp
Nec Corp
Fujitsu Ltd
Panasonic Corp
Sharp Corp
Sony Corp
Tdk Corp
Keyence Corp
Denso Corp
Fanuc Corp
Rohm Co Ltd
Kyocera Corp
Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd
Nitto Denko Corp
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Nissan Motor Co Ltd
Toyota Motor Corp
Honda Motor Co Ltd
Suzuki Motor Corp
Nikon Corp
Hoya Corp
Canon Inc
Ricoh Co Ltd
Dai Nippon Printing Co Ltd
Nintendo Co Ltd
Itochu Corp
Marubeni Corp
Mitsui & Co Ltd
Tokyo Electron Ltd
Sumitomo Corp
Mitsubishi Corp
Aeon Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Ufj Financial Gro
Resona Holdings Inc
Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdin
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Gr
Bank Of Yokohama Ltd/The
Mizuho Financial Group Inc
Orix Corp
Daiwa Securities Group Inc
Nomura Holdings Inc
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Holdin
Ms&Ad Insurance Group Holdin
Dai-Ichi Life Insurance
Tokio Marine Holdings Inc
T&D Holdings Inc
Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd
Mitsubishi Estate Co Ltd
Sumitomo Realty & Developmen
East Japan Railway Co
West Japan Railway Co
Central Japan Railway Co
Ana Holdings Inc
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone
Kddi Corp
Ntt Docomo Inc
Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc
Chubu Electric Power Co Inc
Kansai Electric Power Co Inc
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc
Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc
Tokyo Gas Co Ltd
Secom Co Ltd
Yamada Denki Co Ltd
Fast Retailing Co Ltd
Softbank Corp
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Zee Entertainment Enterprise
Wipro Ltd
Ultratech Cement Ltd
Tech Mahindra Ltd
Tata Steel Ltd
Tata Power Co Ltd
Tata Motors Ltd
Tata Consultancy Svcs Ltd
Sun Pharmaceutical Indus
State Bank Of India
Sesa Sterlite Ltd
Reliance Industries Ltd
Punjab National Bank
Power Grid Corp Of India Ltd
Oil & Natural Gas Corp Ltd
Ntpc Ltd
Nmdc Ltd
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd
Lupin Ltd
Larsen & Toubro Ltd
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd
Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
Itc Ltd
Infosys Ltd
Indusind Bank Ltd
Idfc Ltd
Icici Bank Ltd
Housing Development Finance
Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hindalco Industries Ltd
Hero Motocorp Ltd
Hdfc Bank Limited
Hcl Technologies Ltd
Grasim Industries Ltd
Gail India Ltd
Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories
Dlf Ltd
Coal India Ltd
Cipla Ltd
Cairn India Ltd
Bharti Airtel Ltd
Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd
Bharat Heavy Electricals
Bank Of Baroda
Bajaj Auto Ltd
Axis Bank Ltd
Asian Paints Ltd
Ambuja Cements Ltd
Acc Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
A trader reacts in front of the German share price index DAX board at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The index rose 1.35% to
a record close of 10,1677 points yesterday.
ECB stimulus speculation
lifts Europe stock markets
uropean stocks pushed higher
yesterday on fresh signals the
ECB will launch a bond-buying
stimulus programme next week, while
the euro crashed below $1.15 for the
first time in more than 11 years.
Frankfurt’s DAX 30 rose 1.35% to
a record close of 10,1677 points and
hit an intra-session record high of
10,207.97, while the CAC 40 in Paris
gained 1.31% to 4,379.62.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index rose 0.79% to 6,550.27 points.
Meanwhile Switerzerland’s SMI
tumbled 5.96%, still reeling from the
Swiss National Bank (SNB) abruptly
ending Thursday its policy to hold
down the value of the franc, which saw
the currency soar.
The SNB came under fire yesterday
for its surprise withdrawal of the floor
of 1.20 francs to the euro, as the sharp
rise of the currency threatens causing a
slump in the export-dependent economy and has bankrupted several foreign exchange broker firms worldwide.
A brokerage in Britain and another in
New Zealand declared insolvency yesterday as they were caught out by the
swift rise in the franc, while the shares
of a US brokerage were suspended.
On Thursday, the Swiss unit had rapidly
strengthened 30% to 0.8517 before ending
the day at 1.0035, a gain of around 15%.
The franc stabilised around parity
with the euro, trading at 0.9818 Swiss
francs to the euro late yesterday.
The SNB had been defending the exchange rate floor since September 2011
in an effort to protect the country’s vital export and tourism industries, even
buying massive quantities of foreign
currencies to do so.
The rate was introduced as the eurozone crisis sent investors flocking to
the haven currency. More recently, the
Russian ruble crisis put renewed pressure on the franc. But the bank said
Thursday it was no longer needed.
Focus was also firmly on the European Central Bank, which will decide
on the scale of a planned sovereign
debt purchase at next week’s meeting, a board member said Friday, in
the clearest sign yet that the ECB will
launch the controversial stimulus
“We will take the American and
British experiences into account in order to determine the amount of debt
to buy so as to reestablish confidence
and bring inflation back to a level close
to and lower than 2%,” Benoit Coeure
told the French newspaper Liberation.
It comes as official data on Friday
revealed that inflation in Germany,
Europe’s biggest economy, slowed to
just 0.2% in December, its lowest level
in more than five years, and averaged
0.9% for the whole of 2014.
The chronically low level of inflation across the single currency bloc has
Company Name
Aluminum Corp Of China Ltd-H
Bank Of East Asia
Bank Of China Ltd-H
Bank Of Communications Co-H
Belle International Holdings
Boc Hong Kong Holdings Ltd
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd
China Coal Energy Co-H
China Construction Bank-H
China Life Insurance Co-H
China Merchants Hldgs Intl
China Mobile Ltd
China Overseas Land & Invest
China Petroleum & Chemical-H
China Resources Enterprise
China Resources Land Ltd
China Resources Power Holdin
China Shenhua Energy Co-H
China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd
Citic Ltd
Clp Holdings Ltd
Cnooc Ltd
Cosco Pacific Ltd
Esprit Holdings Ltd
Fih Mobile Ltd
Hang Lung Properties Ltd
Hang Seng Bank Ltd
Henderson Land Development
fuelled concern the region could slip
into deflation - a sustained and widespread drop in prices. Britain too risks
falling into deflation later this year.
While falling prices may sound good
for consumers, deflation can trigger a
vicious spiral in which businesses and
households delay purchases, throttling
demand and causing companies to lay
off workers.
Such concerns have fuelled speculation that the ECB could launch a programme of sovereign bond purchases
known as quantitative easing or QE
when it holds its first policy meeting of
the year next Thursday.
The Swiss central bank’s decision to
abandon the currency cap “is a major
move and has several consequences
not least of which is to inject a fresh
deflationary shock into the system”,
noted Neil MacKinnon, economist at
VTB Capital financial group.
“Now the markets expect the ECB
to announce QE at next week’s meeting. If they don’t the markets will understandably be very disappointed and
this will just create fresh volatility and
downward pressure on the major equity markets.”
US stocks pushed upwards, with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average rising
0.16% to stand at 17,347.94 points in
midday trading.
The broad-based S&P 500 climbed
0.51% to 2,002.78, while the tech-rich
Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.41%
to 4,589.43.
Lt Price
% Chg
Company Name
Hong Kong & China Gas
Hong Kong Exchanges & Clear
Hsbc Holdings Plc
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
Ind & Comm Bk Of China-H
Li & Fung Ltd
Mtr Corp
New World Development
Petrochina Co Ltd-H
Ping An Insurance Group Co-H
Power Assets Holdings Ltd
Sino Land Co
Sun Hung Kai Properties
Swire Pacific Ltd-A
Tencent Holdings Ltd
Wharf Holdings Ltd
Lt Price
% Chg
Doha Securities Market
Saudi Tadawul
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Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Pooch Cafe
Workers push carts full of merchandise at the centre in Phoenix, Arizona. The European Commission
yesterday said its preliminary view is that a tax ruling by Luxembourg in favour of Amazon constitutes state aid.
EU charges Amazon tax deal
with Luxembourg was illegal
U regulators charged Luxembourg yesterday with giving
illegal tax breaks to Internet
shopping giant Amazon, putting
European Commission chief JeanClaude Juncker back in the spotlight
over deals made when he was the
duchy’s premier.
The European Commission’s preliminary findings into Amazon’s
deals with the tiny country were the
latest in a widening probe by Brussels into sweetheart tax arrangements between major companies and
several countries.
They follow last year’s “Luxleaks”
scandal which revealed details of tax
breaks given to dozens of major firms
during Juncker’s 19 years as Luxembourg premier.
The Commission, the EU’s powerful executive arm responsible for
policing its competition rules, said
its “preliminary view is that the tax
ruling... by Luxembourg in favour of
Amazon constitutes state aid.”
“The Commission has doubts at
this stage as to that ruling’s compatibility with” European Union internal market rules, which are meant to
ensure a level playing field for companies and to protect consumers, it
Bound And Gagged
Cryptic Clues
Sudoku is a puzzle
based on a 9x9 grid.
The grid is also
divided into nine
(3x3) boxes. You are
given a selection of
values and to complete the puzzle,
you must fill the
grid so that every
column, every row
and every 3x3 box
contains the digits
1 to 9 and none is
Weekly’s Solutions
1. Arm a domineering
woman (6-3)
8. Love to go to the museum
for eggs (3)
9. Former prime minister had
lain next to the room (11)
11 and 18Ac. Author writing
about children’s cakes (7,7)
12. Took a scarf (5)
13. Henry returns with a
mineral from a Pakistan city
15. Broken nose I’d given to
the inventor (6)
17. Tale of a holy man or
youth leader (5)
18. See 11 Ac.
20. I’m Peter Dell and I’m
awfully irritable (3-8)
22. Animal found on a ship
23. Time for a Beatles record
Accordingly, the arrangement
may have given the company an unfair advantage over competitors and
would therefore be illegal.
Luxembourg said it “is confident
that the allegations of state-aid are
without merit ... and it will be able to
show that its tax arrangements were
legitimate and afforded no unfair advantage.”
Luxembourg was fully co-operating with the Commission probe and
had supplied all the information requested, it added.
The EU has opened similar investigations into US tech icon Apple’s deals with Ireland, coffee-shop
chain Starbucks with the Netherlands and Italian automaker Fiat,
also with Luxembourg.
If found at fault, a country would
have to recover the amount granted
in illegal state aid, potentially a huge
amount of money given that some of
the tax deals date back many years.
Such tax arrangements are widespread in practice and are not strictly
illegal in themselves, constituting
tax avoidance rather than tax evasion
which does breach the law.
However, critics say they allow
companies too much leeway, minimising their tax burden at the expense of ordinary citizens who have
had to suffer through tough austerity
programmes imposed by EU governments desperate to balance the public books.
The fallout from the 2008 global
financial crash, which brought the
EU economy to its knees, put tax
policy at the top of the agenda, with
member states pledging to make the
system fairer and more transparent.
Tax policy, however, remains a
member state prerogative in the EU
so the Commission has taken up the
cudgels on competition grounds.
The revelations have proved embarrassing for Juncker who in response has led the charge for a full
investigation and efforts to establish common tax standards for the
28-nation bloc.
Many remain dissatisfied with his
stance however and on Wednesday,
the Greens Group said it had collected enough votes to force the European Parliament to launch a probe
of its own.
In November, Juncker survived a
no confidence vote in Parliament as
the scandal overshadowed his first
days in office, with some even calling
for him to stand down.
Juncker suggested that the scandal
had been used as a way to attack him
and insisted he was not personally
involved in the deals.
At his swearing in, he promised
that tackling tax avoidance would be
a priority for his 5-year term.
“For tax harmonisation, the coordination and bringing together of
tax policies is an absolute necessity.
I will do it,” Juncker said.
Quick Clues
2. Has destroyed a tree (3)
3. Artist leaving the party gives a
reason to sue (5)
4. Stop for a b-breather (6)
5. Awfully pleased to have
passed (7)
6. Sure no coins can fool the
expert (11)
7. Wine turns up with ease (9)
10. Monarch is an awful person
from another time (11)
11. Heavenly tiles Alec makes (9)
14. Two men get extremely
touchy with the Queen’s family
16. Dreads discovering snakes
19. Scope to changed the thicket
21. Are going back in time (3)
1. Impartial (9)
8. Flee (3)
9. Derange (5,6)
11. Unscrambler (7)
12. Earlier (5)
13. Buccaneering (6)
15. Nullify (6)
17. Rule (5)
18. Designate (7)
20. Impassive (11)
22. Baton (3)
23. Insipid (9)
2. Taboo (3)
3. Dogma (5)
4. Disregard (6)
5. Specimen (7)
6. Fear (11)
7. Experienced (9)
10. Doubt (11)
11. Leaving (9)
14. Satisfied (7)
16. Renowned (6)
19. Cost (5)
21. Donkey (3)
Weekly’s Solutions
Across: 7 Grotto; 8 Colour; 10
Operate; 11 Force; 12 Laud; 13
Guard; 17 Topic; 18 Roar; 22 First;
23 Ruinous; 24 Inform; 25 Patron.
Down: 1 Ignoble; 2 Hopeful;
3 Steal; 4 Comfort; 5 Board; 6
Brief; 9 Pecuniary; 14 Contort; 15
Sojourn; 16 Present; 19 Affix; 20
Craft; 21 Final.
Across: 7 Exacts; 8 Moment;
10 Console; 11 Devil; 12 Oath;
13 Broth; 17 Lambs; 18 Take; 22
Locks; 23 Tallies; 24 Forage; 25
Down: 1 Reactor; 2 Magnate; 3
Stool; 4 Cordite; 5 Leave; 6 Stole;
9 Reprobate; 14 Massage; 15
Patient; 16 Persist; 19 Bluff; 20
Score; 21 Fleet.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Who wants to buy a hotel? Swiss Alps in shock over franc’s rise
he Swiss Alps already looked
pricey before the Swiss National Bank dropped its currency
bombshell yesterday. Now Swiss tourism fears being frozen out altogether.
As the central bank’s shock decision to scrap a cap on the Swiss franc
pushed the currency up nearly 30%,
some businesses were already reporting cancellations as visitors rushed to
rearrange their plans for the busy winter season.
Swiss hoteliers vented their fury on
social media and politicians urged the
Swiss to support the country’s tourism industry, while resorts across the
French border cheered a “Godsend” as
they looked forward to new Swiss clients.
“Swiss people! Take your holidays
in Switzerland!,” said Swiss tourist office chief Juerg Schmid on a twitter account.
In Gstaad, hotelier Thomas Frei
tweeted: “Great, first rejections, wanting to know the euro rate and whether
we can do a better rate. While I’m at it,
does anyone want to buy my hotel?”
Tourism contributes 3% of Swiss
GDP and hotels and restaurants em-
ploy 5% of the labour force. The
franc’s abrupt surge, which sent the
Swiss stock market down 9% on
Thursday, comes weeks before European school half-term breaks which
mark the height of the ski season, and
a week ahead of the World Economic
Forum, the annual meeting of rich and
powerful in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
It is unlikely to dampen the spending of the many well-heeled attendees
at Davos, although it will be noticeable.
Anyone wanting to pick up a copy of
the Economist magazine during their
stay in Davos, for example, will find
they have to part with 10 Swiss francs,
70% more than in Germany where it
sells for €5.80.
The main worry of Swiss tourism officials is that a country already
struggling with a reputation for being
expensive will find it harder to attract
visitors further down the scale, delaying a recovery in the sector.
“The original forecasts predicting
growth once again in the Swiss tourism industry over the next two years
probably won’t stand up any more,”
Christoph Juen, CEO of the Swiss hotel
association hotelleriesuisse, told Reuters.
That is an “existential threat” to
some hoteliers, he said.
Tourists from Europe accounted for
37% of overnight stays in 2013, according to latest data from the Swiss statistics office, but the country will be out
of reach for many after ‘SNB Day’.
The price of a six-day ski pass in
Verbier, a resort popular with Europeans, rose to €347 on Thursday,
from 296 before the franc’s surge.
A cordon bleu schnitzel in Zurich’s
Zeughauskeller, a popular tourist
hangout, costs an extra €4 at €27.9
and a beer is now €6.3.
“I’m glad I’m just here for one day,”
said Amit Raj, 29 from Seville in Spain,
admiring the watches in the shop Beyer on Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s luxury
shopping street.
“I’m definitely going to be a lot more
cautious tonight and won’t withdraw
any more money,” he said.
Even before the decision to allow
the franc to surge, Europe’s economic
woes had seen the number of German
travellers to Switzerland drop 19% over
five years to 1.9mn by 2013, according
to the latest available German tourism
association data.
In Alpine ski resorts, the economic
chill has worsened in the past year as
the number of Russian visitors fell
sharply due to Moscow’s standoff with
the West over Ukraine and because
of a weaker Russian rouble. Tourism
from Japan has also been hit as the yen
An even bigger test for the mainly
small businesses in the hotel and restaurant industry could come during
the summer.
In the busiest summer months
2.5mn nights per month are booked by
foreigners at Swiss hotels, 70% more
than during the peak ski season, says
Not everyone, though, is feeling sore
about the SNB’s decision.
In Geneva, long queues formed outside foreign exchange bureaux as foreign workers and others sought to cash
in their francs.
“For me, it’s good news: it is giving me the opportunity to have more
euros for the same amount in Swiss
francs,” said Alexandre, a Frenchman
who works in the watchmaking industry, adding he was nonetheless worried
about what the future held.
Over in France, Clement Marie, comanager of the Savoyarde Hotel in
Val d’Isere, a ski resort less than three
hours by car from Geneva, saw the
franc’s appreciation as a chance to attract Swiss customers.
“This could be great for business,”
he said. “Considering how little snow
and how few customers we have had
this January, this could be a Godsend.”
A clerk exchanges Swiss francs into euros at a counter in a Swiss post office in
Bern. As the central bank’s shock decision to scrap a cap on the Swiss franc pushed
the currency up nearly 30%, some tourism businesses were already reporting
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Ukraine’s effort
to cut reliance on
Russian gas sees
explorers exit
People queue outside a currency exchange office in Geneva. The Swiss franc rose nearly 30% against the Polish zloty yesterday.
Soaring Swiss franc
stirs mortgage fears
in Croatia and Poland
witzerland’s shock decision to remove the cap on
its currency spread panic
on Thursday among Croatian
and Polish homeowners with
mortgages in the franc who will
see their monthly payments
jump, while nearby Austria and
Hungary downplayed the impact.
The Swiss central bank on
Thursday ended its bid to artificially hold down the value of its
currency, sending it rocketing
almost 30% against the euro.
It also rose nearly 20%
against the Polish zloty — bad
news for some 700,000 Polish
households with mortgage
loans in Swiss francs — while
the main index on the Warsaw
stock exchange slumped by
around 3%.
Around 40% of Polish mortgage loans are in Swiss francs, or
the equivalent of around €31bn
($36bn), according to Poland’s
Financial Supervision Authority
“This is going to be painful,” said Piotr Andrzejewski,
a 45-year-old Warsaw media
executive who has a loan of
120,000 Swiss francs, adding
that his monthly payment will
go up by €70-95 if Thursday’s
rate holds.
“It’s worse for those who have
to sell their apartment today
while still paying off the mortgage. It’s possible that in some
cases the value of the loan will
exceed the value of the property,” he told AFP.
Swiss franc loans were for a
long time the best credit deal
around. The craze swept across
Poland, as well as Croatia and
Hungary, in the early 2000s
when the franc was weak and
interest rates were lower than
those for loans in local currencies.
The KNF recommended lim-
iting their number in June 2013,
however, after sensing potential
trouble down the line.
Polish psychotherapist Roman Kwiatkowski took the currency news in stride: “What can
you do? There’s no choice but to
accept it.”
“I took out the loan because it
was a much better deal than the
ones in zloty. I knew it was a risk.
Who knows if in the end I benefited or lost out because of it,”
he told AFP.
“My monthly payments will
go up by €50 ($60). Given my
salary, it’s not a disaster.”
The Franak association of
Croatians with loans in Swiss
francs, however, labelled the
currency’s rise exactly that — a
“disaster” — and were to urgently meet with the government over the issue.
Croatia’s kuna currency fell
by nearly 17% against the Swiss
Some 60,000 Croatians have
loans in Swiss francs and the
Franak association estimates
that the soaring of the currency could affect lives of up to
300,000 people in the country
of 4.2mn.
Austria’s monetary authorities for their part expressed
relief that Vienna had banned
new loans in foreign currency in
The Swiss decision “confirms
our strategy of limiting risks associated with loans in foreign
currencies for both banks and
individuals”, said Klaus Grubelnik, spokesman for Austria’s
Financial Market Authority
Hungary downplayed the impact despite the fact that around
one million Hungarians took out
some €10bn in foreign-currency
mortgages — mostly in Swiss
francs — before the 2008-9 global financial crisis.
After the crisis the Hungarian government moved to help
the loan-holders, who had seen
their repayment rates soar as the
Swiss franc rose and the Hungarian forint plunge.
“The appreciation of the
Swiss franc will not have a significant impact on the debt
level,” the Hungarian economy
ministry said.
“Today’s step by the Swiss
central bank confirms the government’s efforts to reduce FX
debt, which have in the past
years significantly reduced the
country’s vulnerability.”
The government decision
to lock in the conversion rates
had saved borrowers more than
500bn forints (€1.6bn, $1.9bn),
it added.
“The sharp rise in the Swiss
franc (...) would have been a
cause for panic in financial markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) a few years ago,” said
William Jackson, an analyst with
the London-based Capital Economics.
“But there are reasons to think
that the fallout now should be
more manageable.”
kraine’s ambition to
wean itself off gas supplies from a hostile Russia has never seemed so distant.
Foreign explorers that are
key to Ukraine’s future energy
independence are fleeing the
nation as a war against proMoscow insurgents in eastern
regions sends the economy
into freefall. Even government
measures aimed at shrinking
consumption of Russian gas
have helped drive some international companies away.
JKX Oil & Gas Plc halted investment last week, citing a 55%
tax imposed on gas production
and a government decision to secure supplies for households by
imposing restrictions on sales to
industrial customers. The company joined Chevron Corp, Royal
Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp
and Eni, which quit Ukraine or
froze projects in the past year.
Others are set to follow, according to Bloomberg Industries.
“JKX’s decision to suspend its
planned natural gas field development investments in Ukraine
may be followed by peers also
active in the country,” Philipp
Chladek, an analyst at the London-based researcher, said on
January 7. With the state’s curb
on sales to industry and gas
production tax, “economic parameters appear insufficient to
justify further drilling.”
The Parliament, sworn in six
weeks ago, has passed a draconian budget to unlock the next
tranche of a $17bn International Monetary Fund-led bailout
and prevent a default. At the
same time, Ukraine is trying to
reduce dependence on gas from
Russia’s OAO Gazprom, which
until last year supplied more
than half of demand. A 48%
slump in Ukraine’s currency
against the dollar in 2014 also
cut its ability to fund imports.
“It’s very difficult for us but
we’re repaying our foreign
debts,” Prime Minister Arseniy
Yatsenyuk said in Kiev on Janu-
ary 9. “If the world sees that
Ukraine is repaying debts, then
investors will be back.” The
government didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg calls
seeking comment.
The Russian annexation of
Ukraine’s Crimea region in
March dealt a first blow to hopes
of energy self-sufficiency.
Ukraine lost control of the potentially gas-rich offshore fields
in the Black Sea it had planned
to explore with Exxon and Eni.
The conflict that followed in
eastern Donetsk and Luhansk
provinces has claimed more
than 4,700 lives, crippled transport infrastructure and prevented coal production. It forced
Shell to recall all personnel from
operations at the Yuzivska field
in June and abandon plans to
drill 15 exploratory wells.
“The government is in an
impossible position,” Otilia
Dhand, an analyst at political
risk adviser Teneo Intelligence,
said in Brussels. “It’s hard to
convince investors that the
economy will improve when
you have a war raging.”
Even away from the violence,
international producers have
left. Chevron pulled out of an
agreement to explore the Oleska
field in western Ukraine, more
than a thousand kilometres
(620 miles) from the fighting as
economic conditions worsened.
The economy is expected to
shrink 6% this year, according
to Moody’s Investors Service,
after tumbling 7.5% in 2014.
Ukraine will struggle to add
to its 15bn cubic meters a year
of conventional gas output or
benefit from shale deposits that
the US Energy Information Administration estimates may be
Europe’s third largest.
While Ukraine is doing what
the IMF and European Union
asks of it by paying off bondholders and the country’s debts
to Russia, its currency reserves
are being depleted and capital
flight is accelerating, Timothy
Ash, chief emerging-market
economist at Standard Bank
Group Ltd, said by e-mail.
Men repair a gas pipeline in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Foreign
explorers are fleeing the nation as a war against pro-Moscow
insurgents in eastern regions sends the economy into freefall.
At Davos this year hottest emerging market is spelled U-S-A
he World Economic Forum
has long been something of a
coming-out party for emerging
economies, with developing countries
dispatching politicians and executives
to the Swiss resort of Davos to drum up
interest. This year, the big magnet for
investment looks to be an older player
on the global stage: the US.
While Brazil stagnates, Russia enters a recession, and India struggles to
implement economic reforms, the US
is booming as energy prices plummet
and Silicon Valley dominates global
tech. Though Wednesday’s retail sales
report damped enthusiasm about the
scale of the US rebound, the American economy grew at its fastest pace
in over a decade in the third quarter
of 2014, reaching an annualised rate of
“The pendulum has shifted,” said
Jacob Frenkel, chairman of JPMorgan
Chase & Co’s international arm, who’s
been attending Davos since the mid1980s. “The US is now regaining its
position in the world economy. It is the
place where the recovery took hold in
the most robust way.”
The Davos agenda continues to focus more on emerging markets than
on the US, but the tone at this year’s
meeting, which takes place from January 21-24, is less upbeat about prospects in the developing world. The 2014
programme featured sessions such as
The logo of World Economic Forum (WEF) logo is seen in front of snow-covered trees in Davos. The Davos agenda continues
to focus more on emerging markets than on the US, but the tone at this year’s meeting, which takes place from January
21-24, is less upbeat about prospects in the developing world.
“Fulfilling North Africa’s Promise” and
“Eurasia: The Next Frontier?”
This year, a panel titled “Achieving
Africa’s Growth Agenda” will weigh
the impact of falling commodity prices.
Another, “The Arab World Context,”
will address rising youth unemployment and escalating social tensions.
Beyond the podium at Davos — in
the corridors, cafes, and bars — much
of the talk will be about America’s remarkable resilience, said Martin Reitz,
who oversees the German business of
investment bank Rothschild. Companies “not present in the US or who are
sub-scale in the US are thinking about
how to address this.” Stuck in a small
ski town surrounded by snow, forests,
and mountains for the better part of a
week, top CEOs use the conference to
catch up with other executives, and the
talk often turns to acquisitions. That
could lead to more deals like the $259bn
in foreign takeovers of US companies
that took place in 2014, more than double the previous year’s total and the
highest since 2007.
Germany’s Merck KGaA’s made
the biggest of last year’s bunch, with
a proposed $17bn takeover of SigmaAldrich, a producer of chemicals used
in laboratories.
“If you want to participate in innovation, you have to be in the US,” says
Merck Chief Executive Officer KarlLudwig Kley. “No country on earth is
investing as much in innovation.”
The interest is global. In May, Japanese distiller Suntory completed a
$16bn acquisition of 219-year-old
bourbon producer Jim Beam. A few
months later, Calgary-based Encana
made a $5.9bn bet on the Texas oilpatch
with its purchase of Athlon Energy,
the largest-ever US oil and gas deal by
a Canadian company. And in March,
Qatar’s sovereign-wealth fund joined
a group of investors that agreed to buy
half of American Express’s businesstravel unit for $900mn.
The American uptake of some products sold by foreign firms remains
small. Franck Riboud, chairman of
French yogurt-maker Danone, often describes the US as an “emerging
market” for the dairy product; only
6% of households buy it monthly. For
big companies, “the US is the safest
and best harbor,” says Manuel Falco,
the head of corporate and investment
banking for Europe, the Middle East,
and Africa at Citigroup.
Despite the shift in sentiment, the
Davos crowd is a long way from writ-
ing off Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
Based on purchasing power, China last
year overtook the US as the world’s
largest economy, according to the International Monetary Fund, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
is seeking broad reforms to increase
“Most companies I meet with believe
these are going to be important markets
for a long time,” said John Veihmeyer,
global chairman of consultancy KPMG,
who will be in Davos next week. “You
don’t want to make decisions today you
will look at in 10 years and regret.”
Still, the atmosphere in Davos will
be markedly different from 2006, when
India’s government and companies
sponsored parties and dinners with a
campaign called “India Everywhere,” or
three years later when Vladimir Putin
took the stage to promote Russia as an
island of economic stability in the global financial crisis.
The World Bank this month cut its
forecast for global growth while noting
that the US is pulling away from other
major economies. It expects the American economy to expand 3.2% this year
— faster than the global average of 3%.
While the lender said China will grow
by 7.1%, that’s down from the 7.5% pace
it projected in June.
This year, “the strength of the US
is definitely going to be a major theme
in Davos,” said Dominic Barton, global
managing director at consultant McKinsey & Co “The US is very economically dominant and powerful, and I
think it’s just going to get better.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Unwinding crisis loans add to pressure for ECB bond buying
ECB wants to expand its balance
sheet to deploy stimulus; balance
sheet dynamics raise pressure for
QE next week
fresh repayment of crisis loans
next week will have a tightening
effect on the European Central
Bank’s policy stance, bolstering the
case for it to deliver a broad bond-buying plan at a crunch January 22 meeting.
The repayments have a shrinking ef-
fect on the ECB’s balance sheet — just
the opposite of what the central bank
wants to achieve — and leave it swimming against the tide of its own past
policy measures as they unwind.
The ECB said yesterday banks would
repay €13.864bn next week in loans
they took at the height of the eurozone
crisis in late 2011 and early 2012. Some
196bn remains to be paid before they
mature later this month and next.
That means the ECB’s balance sheet,
which fell to €2.169tn last week as
banks took less in weekly ECB loans,
might even dip below €2tn in the coming weeks as the remainder of the socalled LTRO 3-year crisis funds are
repaid. The direction of travel is wrong
for the ECB, which wants to grow the
balance sheet towards €3tn by injecting money into the flagging economy
with a view to stimulating demand and
buoying inflation, which has turned
A batch of asset purchase plans and
new loans the ECB launched last year
have failed to prevent the balance sheet
shrinking, effectively leaving the ECB
with only one tool to hit its target: a
broad sovereign bond-purchase plan.
The ECB’s policymaking Governing Council meets next Thursday, with
market expectations high that it will
announce just such a programme of so-
called quantitative easing (QE) — essentially money printing to buy sovereign bonds.
Intervening in the large, liquid government bond market would allow the
ECB to achieve the scale of impact it
has failed to have with other stimulus
measures. ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said the scale of such
a plan was key.
“For it to be efficient, it has to be big,”
he told the Irish Times in an interview
published on Friday.
Another Governing Council member, Ewald Nowotny, said earlier this
week the shrinking balance sheet effect
risked tightening policy and that “it
would make sense to act on the monetary policy front”. The balance sheet
may have dipped again this week, as
banks took a similar amount in weekly
funds but repaid some €14bn in LTROs
this week.
Other stimulative measures the central bank began deploying last year have
proven to be small-scale so far.
A covered bond buying programme
has amassed a volume of €31bn, and
the ECB’s purchases of bundled loans
known as asset-backed securities
amount to less than €2bn.
Banks took just over €200bn in two
shots of cheap, four-years the ECB offered last September and December — far
less than the €400bn on offer last year.
The combined effect of those stimulus plans still leave the ECB with much
to do if it is to buoy prices in the eurozone, where inflation is running at
-0.2% — far below the ECB’s target of
just under 2%.
“The aim of a QE is to ensure trust in
the capacity of a central bank to stabilise
inflation,” Coeure told French newspaper Liberation in another interview.
“We will take the US and British experiences into account to determine
the amount of bonds to buy in order to
restore confidence in the fact that inflation will come back to a level close to
and below 2%.”
Austrian banks
count cost of
eastern troubles
People are seen outside a Eurobank branch in Athens yesterday. Two major Greek lenders applied to tap the national central bank’s emergency funding yesterday, a year after
ending their reliance on it.
Eurobank, Alpha apply
for emergency funding
wo major Greek lenders
have applied to tap the
national central bank’s
emergency funding a year after
ending their reliance on it, bankers said yesterday, as Greeks
withdraw cash before a snap
election on January 25.
Liquidity has also been
squeezed by a lack of foreign
buyers at recent government Tbill issues.
Executives at both Eurobank
and Alpha said the funding re-
quests were precautionary and
related partly to their exposure
to Swiss franc mortgages. Both
had yet to make use of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA)
“We are not making use of
ELA funding currently and do
not foresee that we will need to
in the immediate future as we
have sufficient collateral to tap
funds from the European Central Bank,” a Eurobank executive told Reuters, declining to be
“Swiss franc loan exposure is
part of the reasons but not the
main one,” the executive said.
The franc soared after the Swiss
central bank stopped capping it
on Thursday.
Greek banks’ exposure to
Swiss-franc denominated loans,
mostly mortgages, ranges from
2 to 4% of their gross loans. Eurobank has a higher exposure of
about 11%, or €5.7bn, according
to Euroxx Securities.
Eurobank, where Finance
Minister Gikas Hardouvelis
worked as chief economist before joining the coalition government in June last year, still
has available ECB-eligible collateral for funding but acted
pre-emptively, the executive
said. National Bank, Greece’s
largest lender, has no plans to
seek emergency funding at the
central bank, a spokesman said
yesterday. “We have no such
need,” he said.
ELA is effectively emergency loans from national central
banks to commercial banks.
Greek banks relied on it heavily at the peak of the debt crisis
in 2012 but had repaid it by early
last year.
Eurobank shares tumbled 8%
and Alpha Bank fell 7% yesterday, pushing the Athens bourse’s
banking index down 7%.
Greek banks have been putting
up collateral to tap ECB funds,
with their total borrowing rising 2.3% to €44.9bn ($52.5bn) in
November. It is expected to top
€50bn in December.
ELA funding is more costly
than borrowing from the ECB
and needs its approval.
“We want to have the ELA
credit mechanism available as a
precaution,” an Alpha Bank executive told Reuters.
One executive said Greek
banks now need more collateral
on the unhedged part of francdenominated mortgage portfolios which they had swapped with
Austrian banks’ longstanding
ties with central and eastern
European neighbours
provided years of profits when
they moved in quickly after
the fall of the Soviet Union.
But Ukraine’s descent into
chaos, Russia’s economic
crisis, political turmoil in
Hungary and sluggish
Romanian growth caught
them out and led to a series of
profit warnings, exposing risk
management failings and a
culture of hoping for the best.
Some banks are now
retrenching in the region.
UniCredit Bank Austria, the
Austrian bank with the biggest
exposure to CEE, booked a
€1.6bn loss in 2013 after big
goodwill impairments for
exposure in the East, where
it is trying to sell its Ukraine
business after ending an illfated foray into Kazakhstan.
“We are drawing
consequences and have
begun years ago to optimise
our portfolios gradually,” chief
executive Willibald Cernko
said of the sector.
Raiffeisen Bank International
said this month all its
businesses were under review
and it will decide by mid-2015
whether to exit a market or two.
Raiffeisen ratcheted higher
estimates for bad loan
provisions due to increasing
violence in Ukraine, pushing
shares to record lows
this month and spooking
investors. It said its 2014 loss
could exceed the €500mn
forecast if it needs to write
down its business in Russia.
The situation in Ukraine took
some Austrian bankers by
surprise. “I didn’t think what
happened in the Arab Spring
would happen in Ukraine,” one
senior banker told Reuters for
this story on the condition he
not be identified.
Raiffeisen, whose former
Chief executive Herbert
Stepic remains a key source
of information given his
extensive contacts in the
region, hired former Russian
Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin
as an adviser. But the bank
was still late in seeing the
danger from Russian President
Vladimir Putin’s ambitions
in Ukraine, a market it had
already mulled quitting given
corruption, political turmoil
and a broken justice system.
The co-heads of Austria’s
Financial Market Authority
watchdog say they prevented
major losses at some banks by
blocking eastward expansion
plans that were simply too
risky. For some banks, however,
the restraint came too late.
Hypo Alpe Adria, which used
state debt guarantees to
fuel a decade of breakneck
expansion at home and in the
Balkans, was nationalised in
2009 to prevent a collapse
that would have sent shock
waves through the region.
Some bankers say an
independent report looking into
the nationalisation captures an
Austrian culture that rewards
a softly-softly approach to
tackling a problem.
The senior banker
acknowledged some of the
“It is (typically) Austrian — unlike
Anglo Saxons — that one sticks
too much to past decisions,” he
said. Banks tend to mark down
loans with a view to fixing the
problem over years. “But this
approach of saying ‘OK, we
have a problem. I will take a
practically complete writedown
and sell the position, the
problem is gone’ — this is not
the Austrian approach.”
Erste Group foresaw problems
in Ukraine, selling its unit there
in 2012. “You have to have
the guts to take a loss on an
investment,” chief finance
officer Gernot Mittendorfer
said, noting Erste saw that
Ukraine was not making the
gradual move towards the
European Union that the bank
had expected.
While Erste’s cumulative
profits are greater than the
write offs it has had to take
in the region, it has forecast
a record 2014 loss of up to
€1.6bn amid fresh hits from
Romania and from Hungary,
a market where banks have
suffered under unorthodox
economic policies.
Mittendorfer said Erste
decided not to enter the
Russian market given the
political risk even though
this angered some investors
given the profits that rivals
Raiffeisen and Bank Austria
were making there.
Bank Austria’s Cernko told
Reuters: “Russia remains a
core market of our banking
group. At the beginning of last
year we put measures in place
to safeguard our earnings,
thus the impacts from rouble
depreciation should be limited.”
More time to repay debt seen best eurozone can offer Greece
Eurozone rules out Greek debt
write-off; extension of maturities
on loans seen as best offer; officials
hope Syriza’s campaign stance
softens after poll
yriza will have to honour all Greek
debts and continue reforms if
it takes power but the eurozone
might agree to wait longer to be repaid,
officials in Brussels say.
The left-wing party led by Alexis
Tsipras, which heads opinion polls nine
days before elections, is pledging to negotiate a debt reduction and an end to
budget austerity but says it is committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone.
“We are not considering debt writeoffs,” European Commission vice-
president Valdis Dombrovskis told
Officials said a new Greek government can discuss changes to economic
policies but room for negotiation was
limited. “If Tsipras wants to survive,
be accepted in Europe, he will have to
show a degree of realism,” one eurozone
official said.
The best Syriza can hope for is an extension to the maturity dates of Greece’s
loans and possibly the scrapping of the
remaining tiny interest margin on a small
portion of those loans - an option under
consideration for some time already.
“The eurozone would certainly be
prepared to do a maximum of what it
can to meet some of the political agenda of Syriza, but there are clear limits:
a debt write-off is not acceptable,” the
official said. “And Greece has to follow
reforms and financial improvement,
that will be part of any deal.”
Officials believe striking a deal with
Tsipras may be possible, hoping Syriza’s tough talk is for campaign purposes — as are the warnings from Greece’s
current ruling parties that voting for
Syriza could mean an exit from the eurozone.
“Today we are in election mode. All
sides are sending signals to get as many
votes as possible,” the eurozone official
The question is whether Tsipras can,
or is willing to, shift position quickly
enough to avert a new Greek crisis.
He has moderated some of his antibailout rhetoric but has repeatedly said
he will cancel austerity terms in the
programme irrespective of the outcome
of talks with lenders on debt.
Analysts say Syriza is unlikely to
make a quick retreat from that pledge
once it takes power, especially since it
has suggested Greece has enough funds
on hand to survive for a few months
without the help of lenders.
Syriza has also suggested an extension to the bailout programme that is
due to end in February to give itself
more room to renegotiate the whole
The European Central Bank fired a
warning shot last week saying that unless Athens was under a programme
with the eurozone, the ECB could
no longer provide liquidity for Greek
That would give Greece only a month
to negotiate a new deal that would keep
the ECB on board.
Unlike in 2010 when Athens sparked
the sovereign debt crisis, the eurozone
now has the experience and institutions to prevent contagion and is convinced it could withstand renewed economic turmoil in Greece or even its exit
from the euro.
“Should Greece default or get out of
the eurozone or pursue some antagonistic scenario, they would be shooting
themselves in both feet,” a second eurozone official said.
“There is going to be change, but the
likelihood of a catastrophic scenario is
extremely unlikely.”
Eurozone finance ministers agreed
in late 2012 that once Greece reached a
primary surplus, as it did last year, they
would find ways to ease the debt burden
for Athens to help bring it down from
177% of GDP to below 110% by 2020.
They also agreed they might cut the
50 basis point margin that Athens pays
on €53bn of loans it received from the
first of its two bailouts.
But the biggest relief would come
from extending loan maturities and
smoothing repayment humps.
“The maximum that can be done are
the measures mentioned in the No-
vember 2012 statement: the extension
of maturities and the reduction of the
margin on the first bailout package. I
have not seen anything else being discussed,” the first official said.
The maturities of the loans have already been extended to an average of 30
years and Athens has a grace period of
10 years on nearly three-quarters of all
its borrowing.
If the loans were extended to an average of 50 years, as suggested by Greece,
the annual cost of debt servicing would
fall sharply, leaving more money for
growth or debt repayment.
Klaus Regling, the head of the eurozone bailout fund, said the November
2012 blueprint could still be considered. “I am sure that the Eurogroup
(eurozone finance ministers), if (Greek)
reforms continue, will take another
look,” he told Portuguese paper Diario
Economico on Wednesday.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Halal business high on agenda in South Korea, Singapore
By Arno Maierbrugger
Gulf Times Correspondent
The awareness of opportunities to develop successful business lines in the halal
industry seems to be spreading across
East Asian countries.
Not just the Philippines and Thailand
beefed up their halal food production and
export lately, now it is South Korea that
wants to dig deeper into the global halal
food business, and Singapore combines
this with halal tourism.
According to South Koreas Ministry of
Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the
country sees “good potential” in the global halal food market which is expected
to grow from $1.08tn in 2012 to $1.62tn in
2018, or to close to 18% of the entire food
market worldwide.
The ministry has earmarked Malaysia,
Indonesia and the Middle East as primary
target countries, saying that halal food
comes at 80% from non-Muslim countries
and big global food companies which
would open South Korea big opportunities.
The country — with a Muslims population of just 140,000 — has turned its
attention to the halal business after the
2014 World Islamic Economic Forum
(WIEF) Foundation Roundtable in December was held in South Korea for the first
time and local politicians and business
people pledged support for the halal
industry. Province governor Moon Soon
Choi of the huge northeastern Gangwon
province proposed setting up a Muslim
village and a halal industry network for
food and tourism. There are also plans
by the South Korean tourism ministry to
introduce halal restaurants in the country
and provide halal facilities for Muslim
tourists. There are also initiatives to bring
together South Korean producers of
halal products and link them to Jakim, a
recognised halal certification authority
in Malaysia, to receive the necessary
product certifications.
South Korean companies that already
have obtained the halal certification are
food giants CJ CheilJedang, Namyang
Dairy Products, Nongshim, Pulmuone,
Orion and Lotte Confectionary.
That said, it is easily thinkable that
South Korea will play a role in a new
smartphone application that specifically
targets Muslims and their special needs
when travelling.
A Singaporean company earlier this
month has launched “HalalTrip”, an app
that allows users to share and rate halal
food and restaurants across the world. It
has been developed by CrescentRating, a
Singapore-based company that focuses
on halal travel and destination marketing
for the halal tourism industry.
The “HalalTrip” app also features prayer
times and indicates the direction to
Makkah, and features such as city guides
and hotel-booking will be added shortly.
The free app is available for Android and
Apple smartphones at their respective
online stores.
“Halal food is one of the most important
aspects for Muslim travellers. We have
seen a huge increase in the industry as
restaurants want to become halal and
more Muslim-friendly,” said Fazal Bahardeen, founder and CEO of CrescentRating.
“We have launched the app in response to
this global trend.”
Bahardeen said that over the last
year, CrescentRating has seen a surge in
restaurants across the world wanting to
certify their food as halal. The company
has also recently launched its own halal
rating and accreditation system that not
only encompasses halal restaurants, but
also hotels, airlines, hospitals, shopping
malls, spas and wellness centres, travel
and tour operators, cruises, convention
centres, theme parks and even railway
Unfazed by market swings, Fed
sticks to mid-2015 hike scenario
New York
Sees economy ripe for modest
tightening in some 6 months; little
alarm over volatile markets inside
central bank; oil slide seen helping
US economy, no barrier to liftoff
New York/San Francisco
umbling oil prices have strengthened rather than weakened the
Federal Reserve’s resolve to start
raising interest rates around midyear
even as volatile markets and a softening US inflation outlook made investors
push back the timing of the “liftoff.”
Interviews with senior Fed officials
and advisers suggest they remain confident the US economy will be ready
for a modest policy tightening in the
June-September period, while any
subsequent rate hikes will probably be
slow and depend on how markets will
While they are hard-pressed to explain why bond yields have fallen so
low, their confidence in the recovery
stems in part from in-house analysis
that shows falling oil prices are clearly
positive for the US economy.
Internal models also suggest that a
decline in longer-term inflation expectations probably does not signal a loss
of faith in the Fed’s 2% inflation goal.
Instead, the models attribute much
of the recent decline in market-based
measures of inflation expectations
to increased investor confidence that
prices will not spiral out of control, officials say.
Policymakers’ public comments reflect that, as they sound unperturbed
by what has been a steep drop in recent
months. “I am watching the inflation
expectation numbers but not drawing
a conclusion that they call for any action or that they change in any serious
way my outlook,” Atlanta Fed President
Dennis Lockhart told reporters earlier
this week.
Some of those interviewed stressed
that in the light of last year’s strong jobs
gains waiting until mid-year represented a cautious approach rather than an
aggressive one, allowing the Fed to delay the rate liftoff if needed, particularly
if inflation expectations turned sharply
However, with markets increasingly
gripped by fears of global deflation and
economic stagnation, futures traders
now are betting the Fed will stay pat at
least until October, possibly until December.
Yet interviews with the Fed insiders
reveal that while they keep an eye on
volatile markets they remain confident
that unexpected overseas headwinds
will not derail the US economy.
So far, signs of domestic price weakness, such as slow-growing wages,
Goldman Sachs
profit hit by
weak fixed
income trading
The Federal Reserve building in Washington DC. Interviews with senior Fed officials and advisers suggest they remain confident the US economy will be ready for a
modest policy tightening in the June-September period.
have not shaken the central bank’s faith
that inflation will rebound once energy markets stabilise, the interviews
showed. In fact, cheaper gasoline and
the boost it gives particularly to lowerand middle-income households could
be just the shot of economic confidence
the Fed needs to tighten policy after six
years of near-zero rates.
“We’ve been through enough of these
energy price swings...and this volatility can’t go on forever,” Richmond Fed
President Jeffrey Lacker told Reuters in
an interview on Monday. “I don’t think
we’d have trouble looking through that
transitory phenomenon,” of slightly
low inflation, and raise rates, he said.
“I don’t think we’d have trouble selling
Lacker has long criticised the Fed’s
exceptional monetary stimulus and
advocated ending it, but his comments
on inflation reflect the thinking of more
centrist Fed policy makers on the subject.
A sharp drop in unemployment to
5.6% and solid economic growth have
led most Fed policymakers to pencil in
a rate rise this year, with many eyeing
a move sometime in the summer. Most
Wall Street economists agree with such
Inflation remains a half-percentage
point below the Fed’s 2% target, and
could slip more on plunging oil prices
and the soaring dollar. But the Fed expects oil prices to eventually stabilise,
the US economy to keep growing despite weakness in Europe and elsewhere, and inflation to rebound in com-
ing years. The interviews also showed
Fed officials were not overly alarmed by
weakness in some market-based measures of inflation.
Some believe the sharp drop in longer-term borrowing costs, rather than
a matter of concern, may be an added
reason not to delay a tightening beyond
mid-2015, especially if a “rush to safety” is driving demand for US Treasuries.
With central banks in Europe and
Japan looking to ease policy in the face
of deflation threat, investors have sold
stocks and commodities and snapped
up US debt, driving yields on 10-year
and 30-year bonds to or near record
Such low borrowing costs make for
exceptionally easy financial conditions
in the US, even with the Fed looking to
end the era of near-zero interest rates.
“I think it’s important that the Fed
not be so intent on every little movement in these asset market prices that
they don’t take strong enough action,”
said former Fed vice-chairman Donald
Kohn, who is now a member of the Bank
of England’s Financial Policy Committee. “I certainly expect them to be
pretty cautious right after liftoff,” he
told Reuters.
The Fed took a small step toward its
first rate rise in nearly a decade last
month, when rather than saying it
would wait a “considerable time” with
tightening it said it would be “patient”
— a term Fed chair Janet Yellen suggested meant it might move in April at
the earliest.
oldman Sachs Group
reported a 7% drop in
fourth-quarter profit as
an unexpected bout of market
volatility in December hit its
bond-trading business.
Fixed-income trading, long
a strength for the bank, came
under pressure last year due to
stricter capital rules in the aftermath of the financial crisis and
relatively calm markets that discouraged clients from trading.
Just when it seemed things
were picking up, a burst of volatility last month caused by factors ranging from plunging oil
prices to weak global economic
data, spooked investors again.
Goldman said revenue from
trading fixed-income securities,
currencies and commodities
(FICC) fell 19% in the quarter,
excluding gains from repayment
of debt and the sale of most of
its European insurance business
in 2013.
Overall, FICC revenue fell
29% to $1.22bn in the quarter, mainly due to low levels of
activity in debt products and
mortgages, partially offset by
significantly higher net revenue
from trading commodities and
The business, which once
contributed about 40% of Goldman’s revenue, has been on a
decline since 2009 as new rules
also discourage banks from trading on their own account and it
accounted for only about 16% of
revenue in the quarter.
JPMorgan Chase & Co’s FICC
revenue fell 14% in the quarter,
Citigroup’s 16% and Bank of
America Corp’s 30%.
Goldman’s shares were down
1.6% before the bell as investors also reacted to a 16% fall in
investment banking revenue to
$1.44bn. The bank said net revenue dropped for both equity and
debt underwriting.
Overall net income fell to
$2.17bn, or $4.38 per share, in
the fourth quarter from $2.33bn,
or 4.60 per share, a year earlier.
Analysts had expected earnings
of $4.32 per share, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Of the big US banks reporting
this week, only Wells Fargo & Co
managed a rise in profit, largely
because it is more focused on retail and commercial banking.
Revenue in Goldman’s investing and lending division,
which puts the bank’s own capital to work by investing in companies and lending to them, fell
26% to $1.53bn.
Foreign institutions continue to be bearish, but with lesser vigour
By Santhosh V Perumal
Business Reporter
Plunging crude, which hit a new six-year
low, had its severe spell on 18% fall in
Industries Qatar (IQ), leading the Qatar
Stock Exchange slip throughout the week
to settle 443 points lower at below the
12,000 mark.
Foreign institutions continued to be
bearish but with lesser vigour as the main
20-stock index fell 3.6% during the week
that saw Amwal forecast that Qatar could
end up in small budgetary deficit of $5bn
to $10bn if oil prices remained below $50
for the whole of 2015.
Domestic institutions’ reduced net
buying were also seen exacerbating the
bearish spell in the market during the
week that witnessed report that Qatar and
Shell not to proceed with the Al Karanaa
project in view of weak oil prices, which
according to various estimates may well
drop to as low as $40 a barrel in the short
“For IQ, we estimate a 10% decline
in product price would result in a 24%
decline in net profit,” said Afa Boran, Head
of Asset Management in Amwal, which
manages assets worth QR400mn.
More than 71% of the stocks were in
the red during the week that saw Amwal
being “cautiously selective” in Qatar’s
bourse; given the low oil price scenario.
Crude oil prices have corrected by
over 50% from their highs in 2014 owing
to excess supply, driven by higher US
shale oil output and a fall in demand
because of slowdown in many major
Both Qatari and foreign retail investors
were seen reducing their exposure in the
market, where real estate, industrials and
banking stocks dominated the trading
ring with them constituting about 83% of
the total trade volume.
Substantial selling was also seen in telecom, realty and transport sectors during
the week that saw the index that tracks
Shariah-principled stocks melt faster than
the other indices.
The industrials stocks shrank 9%,
telecom (2.33%), transport (2.16%), real estate (2.05%), banks and financial services
(1.48%), insurance (1.44%) and consumer
goods (1.07%) during the week that saw
Qatar’s intention to allow dual listing of
German companies as part of efforts to
attract more German institutional investments into its bourse.
The 20-stock Total Return Index shed
3.6%, All Share Index (comprising wider
constituents) by 3.29% and Al Rayan
Islamic Index by 3.62% during the week.
Of the 43 stocks, only 12 gained, while
30 declined and one was unchanged
during the week. Seven each of the 12
banks and financial services and the nine
industrials; six of the eight consumer
goods; four each of the five insurance and
the four realty; and all of the two telecom
stocks close lower during the week.
Major shakers included IQ, QNB, Aamal
Company, Mesaieed Petrochemical
Holding, Barwa, Ezdan, Mazaya Qatar,
Vodafone Qatar, Ooredoo, Commercial
bank, al khaliji, Doha Bank and Widam
Food; even as Qatar Islamic Bank, Masraf
Al Rayan, Nakilat and Gulf Warehousing
bucked the trend.
Market capitalisation eroded 4.38% or
about QR30bn to QR647.79bn during the
Foreign institutions’ net selling fell to
QR133.29mn compared to QR212.27mn
the previous week.
Domestic institutions’ net buying weakened to QR187.18mn against QR3202.7mn
the week ended January 8.
Local retail investors’ net profit taking
plummeted to QR55.61mn compared to
QR113.74mn the previous week.
Non-Qatari retail investors’ net buying
fell to QR2.01mn against QR5.99mn the
week ended January 8.
A total of 47.73mn shares valued at
QR2.87bn changed hands across 32,261
The real estate sector saw a total of
18.68mn equities worth QR582.69mn
change hands across 7,157 deals.
As many as 10.72mn industrials stocks
valued at QR1.1bn trade across 11,165
The banks and financial sector witnessed as many as 10.16mn shares worth
QR878.91mn change hands across 8,443
The telecom sector saw 4.27mn equities valued at QR108.69mn trade in 2,564
The market saw a total of 1.57mn
consumer goods stocks worth QR95.91mn
change hands across 1,584 transactions.
The transport segment recorded
1.86mn shares valued at QR63.4mn trade
in 905 deals.
The insurance saw a total of 0.47mn
shares worth QR33.4mn trade across 343
The debt market witnessed a total
of 58,500 government bonds valued at
QR597.47mn change hands across mere
three deals deal; while there was no trading of treasury bills during the week.
NBA | Page 8
FOOTBALL | Page 10
old rival
is still a
karting king
Knicks 16th
straight loss
Barca hope
calm continues
in pursuit
of Madrid
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Rabia I 26, 1436 AH
Defending champs Spain
start with win over Belarus
‘We were never behind Belarus, but we certainly have our problems, especially in defence’
Spain’s Julen Aguinagalde (right) in action against Belarus during their 24th World Men’s Handball Championship match
at the Duhail Sports Hall yesterday. Aguinagalde and team-mate Jorge Maqueda scored six goals each in Spain’s 38-33 win
over Belarus. PICTURES: Othman al-Samaraee
By Yash Mudgal
efending champions Spain
launched their campaign in
the 24th World Men’s Handball Championship with a
hard-fought 38-33 victory over Belarus at the Duhail Sports Hall yesterday.
The all-European duel unfolded at
almost breakneck speed as both the
teams showed determination to dominate. They exchanged opening goals
within 90 seconds and in five minutes
the score was 4-4.
Spaniards demonstrated more quality in their scoring prowess against their
rivals, who failed to score at the crucial
moments, and earned two points.
Spanish defence struggled throughout the game but found their rhythm
in the last 10 minutes of the game and
overcame fighting Belarussians. The
defending champions’ cause was also
helped by two red cards to Belarus.
Not very satisfied with his team’s
performance, Spain coach Manuel
Cadenas said: “I think we are lucky to
earn two points in our first outing. It
was a good game although we were not
very good in defence. We were never
behind Belarus, but we certainly have
our problems, especially in defence.”
He also gave credit to their opponents by saying, “They played a very
good game. They were also in their
first game of the championship, but I
must admit they were good in speed
and attack.”
The second half started just like the
first one, with a fast and furious exchange of goals between the teams.
Collective efforts by the Spanish ensured they kept a healthy lead over
Belarus. It seemed that every time
the Belarus players were scoring, the
Spanish were scoring one back.
Yet the Belarussians were showing
their ‘never-say-die’ attitude trou-
Referee shows a red card to one of the Belarussian players yesterday.
bling the Spanish defence with their
daring attacks, at times reducing
Spain’s lead to just a single point.
Spain’s Jorge Maqueda was on top of
his game scoring four goals in the first
period and finished the game with two
more in 10 attempts.
Belarusians gave Spaniards, the best
in the group, a hard time in both defence and attack mainly through the
efforts of Aliaksandr Tsitou (five goals)
and Maxim Babichev (four goals).
“We lost two important players to
red cards, but we still showed a great
performance against the world champions. We played on a high level until the last ten minutes. We can take
confidence from this performance.
Our goal is to reach pre-quarterfinals,
so we need to take the points against
other opponents,” Belarus’ veteran left
winger Ivan Brouka, the highest goal
(510) scorer for his team, said.
Commenting over the red cards Belarus coach Yuri Shevtsov said: “I cannot discuss the referee’s decision. I just
accept the decision although I think
the decision influenced the game.”
Spain’s centre-back Joan Canellas
also lauded Belarus’ efforts and admitted that they have problem in defence.
“I am satisfied with the game. Clearly Belarus is improving in many areas.
The game was very fast, especially the
second-half. Belarus was hitting us on
fast breaks so it was very dangerous
but we have coped with it well. We will
have to improve in defence above all.”
Spain will take on Brazil, Qatar will
meet Chile and Belarus will lock horns
with Slovenia in a busy Group A day
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Our goal is to win
each match, says
Qatar’s Saric
France win
opener in quest
for triple crown
The goalkeeper was outstanding in the opening match making 20 saves
By Yash Mudgal
here is no doubt that the limelight
in the opening match of the 24th
Men’s Handball World Championship in Doha was stolen by
Qatari goalkeeper Danjel Saric. With 20
saves in all, the 37-year-old Barcelona
goalkeeper was outstanding in between
the posts for the hosts. Saric provided
Valero Rivera’s outfit with the composure
needed to see out a 28:23 victory over
Brazil at Lusail Multipurpose Arena.
France’s Nikola Karabatic (right) in action against Czech Republic
yesterday. PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
By Yash Mudgal
How was the opening match for you
against Brazil?
Saric: It was a tough game for us,
and taking in consideration that it was
the first of the tournament, we were
under huge pressure. Now that we have
rid ourselves of the pressure, we can
throw on and focus on the next few
games. Our defence was good, our attack wasn’t, but that happens from time
to time. Brazil are behind us and Chile
are our focus now. I just hope and wish
that our injured players can recover in
time for the next match.
How do you think the squad is performing?
Saric: We can do a lot better, that’s for
sure. These guys have spent the last four
months together, but still there are a lot
of things to be improved. Hopefully, after
a day of rest we can lift our performance
against Chile to the next level.
How much of a role will your schedule play in helping you to qualify for
the eighth-finals?
Saric: Brazil and Chile are on our level.
Chile could be very dangerous if we don’t
take them seriously. Firstly, we have to
try and compete with teams from “our
league”, and then think about the others. We will keep both feet firmly on the
ground and only think about the next
match. Honestly, I don’t think about how
far we could go at this moment. Our goal
is to win each match and fight until the
final whistle.
After that performance it is understandable why you have been on the
top of Valero Rivera’s wish list…
Saric: Qatar 2015 is a huge motivation for me. I haven’t been on the international stage for a while, so I want to
show that I can still play on the highest
level. My aim is to play among the best
despite my age. Top players and goalkeepers are always the heroes at events
like these and I am aware that this is my
role here.
Qatar’s goalkeeper Danjel Saric celebrates after the hosts won their opening 24th Men’s Handball World Championship match
against Brazil in Doha on Thursday. PICTURE: Mamdouh
Do you feel extra pressure due to the
amount of time, money and energy
which was invested in this team?
Saric: This is a very specific situation,
but pressure is normal for professional
athletes and I believe it can only make
things better. If you aren’t on the necessary level, it doesn’t matter how big the
expectations are.
Who are the favourites in your group?
Saric: Spain and Slovenia.
Did you have a chance to take a look
at the Opening Ceremony?
Saric: I have just heard that it was an
amazing experience. I would like to see
sold-out halls in the upcoming days handball on this level deserves that.
rance started their campaign to clinch the ‘triple
crown’ on a winning note
in the 24th Men’s World
Handball Championship at Duhail Sports hall yesterday.
Olympic and European champions France defeated Czech Republic 30-27 in a keenly-fought
game, while Argentina came
back from behind to hold twice
runners-up Denmark 24-24.
Luka Karabatic and Michael
Guigou were the joint top scorers
for the Olympic champions with
seven goals each. The most prolific scorer in the Czech team was
Horak with eight.
Former champions Germany
and Russia also scored victories
against Poland and wild card entrant Saudi Arabia respectively
on a day when 11 matches took
place across three venues.
Former semifinalist Slovenia
also secured an easy 36-23 win
over Chile in Group A. Slovenia,
who made to their first-ever
world championship semi-final
in Spain two years ago, need this
win to springboard themselves to
the top half of the table.
Slovenia found it tough only
for the first 25 minutes against
the Chileans who have shown
some improvement in comparison to their two last championships during which they won
only twice against Australia.
The second match of the
Group A began with weak defensive performances on both sides,
which helped the outsiders from
Chile to get into the game, leaving Slovenia with a tight encounter up until the half-time break at
Two speedy players from the
Chilean back court, Frelijj and
Salinas created a lot of problems
for a powerful, but slow Slovenian defense in Kozlina and Gaber.
Left-handed Rodrigo Salinas
(top scorer of the match with 10
goals) put the South Americans
into the lead at 5-4 after seven
minutes, and Chileans maintained this tempo for the next
ten minutes, until the Slovenian
head coach Boris Denic finally
found a way to wake his players
up for the end of the first-half.
Slovenian right wing Dragan
Gajic showed why he was the
top scorer in the French League
in the previous season. Scoring
eight goals in the first 30 minutes (nine in total), Gajic gave
his team a slight advantage going
into the break.
It took only seven minutes of
the second-half for Slovenians to
wear down the Chileans, forcing
coach Fernando Capurro to take a
time-out to put a stop to the 5-0
run from the strong European
side (21-14). Slovenia was particularly strong from counter attacks with Gajic, Spiler and Dolenec coming up with the goods.
“We didn’t perform well in the
first-half, but we improved our
game in the second. We have a lot
of quality and I am looking forward to playing much better in
the competition,” Slovenia coach
Boris Denic said.
Group A
Slovenia 36 Chile 23
Spain 38 Belarus 33
Group B
Bosnia-Herzegovina 30 Iran 25
Macedonia 33 Tunisia 25
Croatia 32 Austria 30
Group C
France 30 Czech Republic 27
Algeria 20 Egypt 34
Sweden 24 Iceland 16
Group D
Russia 27 Saudi Arabia 17
Poland 26 Germany 29
Denmark 24 Argentina 24
Qatar has done a very, very good job: IHF president
Everyone knows about the games
that will take place here in Qatar but
what else is happening at this festival
of handball?
IHF president Dr Hassan Moustafa: It is the first time that we have invited
all of our ‘handball family’ to a World
Championship. We have invited Presidents from 200 countries, all of the Secretaries General for the Secretaries General administrative course, as well as all of
our referee trainers who will be running
courses with the international referees
and coaches.
We are also organising a conference
[New Sports Medicine Concepts in
Handball] so all of those in the medical
profession involved in handball will be
here too.
The handball family are all here in Doha
and, like everyone at the IHF, I am very
happy to be here.
Q: World Championships cannot
take place without the local organising committee and local Government
support. Tell us about the support
you have received from Qatar Handball Association and the Qatari Government.
Dr Moustafa: The Qataris have done
a very, very good job. We have had a very
positive and long-term co-operation
with His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani who is a fan of handball and
has really supported it. I am very satisfied
and express my gratitude towards them.
We have new venues for this World
Championship and after it finishes the
Qatar Handball Association will be using
them, so in addition to the existing hotels
and athletic facilities that the national
team use to train, they have everything
covered to organise tournaments, training camps - all possibilities.
After this tournament I am sure a lot of
countries from this region will be asking
to organise an event like this and will be
increasing their performance levels - Qatar 2015 is set to be a big benefit for our
sport in this region.
sport here, but the top sport in terms of
results. Qatar’s handball teams are one
of the leading teams in Asia as shown by
their men’s team who are Asian Champions not only at the senior level, but at a
junior level.
They want to continue and be handball
pioneers in this region. I hope that the
countries around Qatar can follow them
in organising big events and being well
prepared for World Championships or
Olympic Games - it will benefit us all.
Q: What does hosting this World
Championship mean for Qatari
Dr Moustafa: This is not the first time
that Qatar has organised a World Championship - they organised the Men’s
Youth World Championship in 2005 and
for the past five years they have organised
the IHF Super Globe for clubs, but this
is the first time that there has been such
a big handball event like a senior World
Championship here in the Gulf area.
Even though this is the first time, you
can see that the standard of organisation
and venues here is more than an Olympic
Games standard.
Since 2000 I have been the IHF President and before that I was Chairman of
the Commission of Coaching and Methods, so I have been involved with organising a lot of World Championships and
attended many Olympic Games. I can
honestly say these venues and infrastructure here in Doha are the best I have seen.
A lot of fans in Qatar come and support handball which is now the second
Q: You met with the Qatar Government and Ministry of the Interior
upon your arrival in Doha this week;
what did you discuss?
Dr Moustafa: After the attacks in Paris we had to be sure of the security here
so we met with His Excellency the Prime
Minister to discuss this and they had already prepared everything.
We wanted to be sure of security and I
am certain that there will be no problems;
security will be of an extremely high
standard like everything else is at this
World Championship.
Q: What are your expectations for the
tournament itself?
Dr Moustafa: I am sure that it will be
one of the best World Championships we
have ever had - everything is of such a
high standard; accommodation, venues,
transport, security - if the players play to
their high standard of performance and
the referees, players and coaches all cooperate well then it will be the best ever
World Championship.
International Handball Federation president Dr. Hassan Moustafa speaks during the opening ceremony of the 24th Men’s
Handball World Championship in Doha on Thursday. PICTURE: Mamdouh
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Egypt’s Islam Hassan (left) and Algerian goalkeeper Abdelmalik Slahdji in action during their match yesterday. Hassan scored five goals in his team’s 33-21 win. PICTURE: Jayaram
Fahed, the mascot of 24th Men’s Handball World Championship, at the
Spain vs Belarus match yesterday. PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
Algerian fans ahead of the match against Egypt. PICTURE: Jayaram
Macedonia’s Kiril Lazarov (second from right) rises to score past
Tunisia’s Mosbah Sanai (right) and Abdelhak Ben Salah (second from
left) during their match yesterday. Lazarov scored 10 goals in his
team’s 33-25 win. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Bosnia’s Ivan Karacic (centre) tries go past Iranian goalkeeper Saeid Heidarirad during their match
yesterday. Bosnia won 30-26. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Croatian fans cheer their team in the match against Austria yesterday.
PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
Sweden’s Kim Andersson (right) grabs an Iceland player during their match yesterday. Sweden won the
match 24-16. PICTURE: Jayaram
Austria’s Janko Bozovic (left) is blocked by Croatia’s Zeljko Musa
during their match yesterday. Croatia’s Ivan Cupic scored 11 goals in
the team’s close 32-30 win. PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
A Polish player (fourth from right) tries to get past his German counterpart to score a goal during their match yesterday. Germany won the match
29-26. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Denmark’s Anders Eggert (left) tries to go past an Argentinian player
during their match yesterday. Eggert scored five goals as the two
teams played out a 24-24 draw. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed
Russia’s S Aslanyan (left) gets ready to shoot past Saudi Arabia’s M Alsalem during their match yesterday.
Russia won 27-17. PICTURE: Othman al-Samaraee
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Tough without Ajmal, says Pakistan spin coach
akistan’s spin bowling
coach Mushtaq Ahmed
Friday admitted it will
be tough to find the
right balance without ace spinner Saeed Ajmal suspended due
to illegal bowling action.
Pakistan will be without Ajmal at this year’s World Cup
starting on February 14 after the
off-spinner withdrew following
his failure to completely alter his
Ahmed, a member of Pakistan’s World Cup winning team
in 1992 - also held in Australia
and New Zealand—said the team
would find it tough without
“legend” Ajmal.
“We were used to Ajmal,”
Ahmed told media at the conclusion of the Pakistan team’s training camp.
“Ajmal has been our legend
and has been our number one
bowler, and it’s very difficult to
make a combination without
Ahmed said Pakistan won
the 1992 World Cup without
then frontline paceman Waqar
Younis, who was ruled out two
weeks before the event with a
back problem.
“If you remember the scenario
when Waqar returned home due
‘Fake Sheikh’ evidence prompts
Pakistan re-think - report
LONDON: Prosecutors are
re-examining the criminal
convictions of three Pakistan
players jailed in 2011 over spotfixing allegations, according to
a report in Britain’s Guardian
The Guardian said the convictions in a London court of then
Pakistan captain Salman Butt,
paceman Mohammad Asif and
swing bowler Mohammad Aamer, were among 25 cases called
into question by the methods
of ‘Fake Sheikh’ undercover
reporter Mazher Mahmood.
Prosecutors dropped on
Wednesday a case of alleged
match-fixing involving 13 footballers in England because of
doubts about the reliability of
Mahmood’s evidence.
After the now defunct News of
the World revealed the three
Pakistan cricketers had conspired to bowl no-balls during a
Test match at Lord’s in 2010 in
return for a share of £150,000
($228,207), the trio and their
agent Mazher Majeed were
Following the ‘sting’ operation,
the three players were banned
for a minimum of five years
each by the International
Cricket Council.
At a subsequent separate court
hearing in London, they were all
given prison sentences.
Aamer’s ICC ban is set to expire
in August and he could return
to international cricket soon
The case made headlines
around the world, appearing to
shed light on the contentious
issue of illegal and unregulated
betting markets in Asia and the
Far East.
However, there were those
who regarded the jail terms as
severe given it appeared no
actual bet had been placed.
Betting expert Ed Hawkins, the
author of ‘Bookie Gambler Fixer
Spy: A Journey to the Heart
of Cricket’s Underworld’, was
among those to say no Asian
syndicate would ever accept a
wager on when a specific noball would be bowled because it
was too easy to manipulate the
The Crown Prosecution Service
(CPS) announced this week
there was “insufficient evidence
to provide a realistic prospect
of conviction” in the footballers’
case following the collapse of
pop singer Tulisa Contostavlos’s
She was cleared of helping arrange a cocaine deal in July last
year after a newspaper sting
led by Mahmood, famed for
going undercover in traditional
Arab dress, hence his ‘Fake
Sheikh’ nickname.
Judge Alistair McCreath said
there were “strong grounds” to
believe Mahmood, a reporter
with The Sun On Sunday tabloid, had lied in the witness box.
Last month, the CPS said it was
re-examining criminal convictions in 25 cases where evidence was given by Mahmood
after several trials were halted.
Mahmood was suspended by the
Sun on Sunday, owned by Rupert
Murdoch’s News UK British
newspaper arm, in July after the
collapse of Contostavlos’s trial.
He had previously worked for
Murdoch’s News of the World
before it was shut down as a
result of the phone hacking
India have
strong chance
to defend
WC: Fletcher
ndian cricket coach Duncan
Fletcher (pictured) yesterday
said his team’s belief in defending the World Cup title
stems from the way it has performed in overseas conditions
over the past couple of years.
Fletcher, who will be coaching
a team in the World Cup for the
third time, said the 2013 Champions Trophy victory is a testament to the fact that the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side is
used to winning and has a strong
chance to retain the title.
“We have a good chance to win
after the way the team has been
building over the last three-four
years. A big reason for my belief is our Champions Trophy
(2013) victory in England,” the
66-year-old was quoted as saying by
“We played in every foreign
conditions that didn’t suit the
side and yet we played so well
that we didn’t lose a single
match. That shows that the side
is used to winning and that’s really exciting.”
to injury before the 1992 World
Cup ... this shouldn’t be a problem. I will give credit to Ajmal,
he always says teams don’t win
because of individuals, teams
win if we play as a united team.
“We will feel his absence but
the new players have to play
their role and if we play as a unit
I am hopeful we can deliver.”
Pakistan will also hope spinning all-rounder Mohammad
Hafeez clears a bowling action
test later this month after he too
was suspended in November last
year for illegal action.
“Unfortunately you all know
what happened to Ajmal and
Hafeez, we got stuck. So when
you don’t have a thing which you
require, then you have to rely on
other things. I think whatever
resources we have, we have to
trust and believe in them.”
Pakistan have little-known
leg-spinner Yasir Shah in their
15-man squad, termed a “surprise package” by chief selector
Moin Khan.
“If you look back, leg-spinners have been very successful in
Australia,” said Ahmed.
“I have my personal experience; I have toured five to six
times (in) Australia and have a
very successful ratio bowling
over there.
“The way Shah and Shahid
Afridi have been bowling, I think
they will make a difference for
Pakistan paceman Junaid survives injury scare
Pakistan’s frontline paceman Junaid Khan yesterday had an injury
scare barely a month before the
start of the World Cup, with a
thigh injury threatening his participation in the mega event.
The 25-year-old fell while bowling during the team’s training
camp on Thursday, but an MRI
scan revealed there was no
muscle tear and Khan should
recover in a week.
The left-arm paceman was only
selected in Pakistan’s 15-man
squad after recovering from a
knee injury sustained during
Pakistan’s one-day series against
Australia in October last year.
He was out of action for three
months before returning to
action in a domestic one-day
tournament earlier this month.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)
said Junaid’s latest injury was
not serious. “Junaid Khan was
presented to us with pain in his
right thigh and left elbow after
he had a fall while bowling in the
nets Thursday. Pain in the right
thigh was non-radiating. There
was no discoloration or change
in the temperature in the said
area,” said PCB doctor Sohail Saleem, quoted in a PCB release.
Warner counters
Morgan ton to lead
Aussies to big win
‘I was happy with my performance to start like this as captain but devastated at the result’
also adjudged lbw for a duck two
balls later.
Morgan arrived after Joe Root
was caught by Shane Watson
from the bowling of Pat Cummins for just five.
The captain was eventually
the ninth man to fall, in the push
for late runs, holing out to Glenn
Maxwell at deep mid-wicket
from the bowling of Starc in the
48th over.
The England innings was
wrapped up one ball later, when
Steven Finn was clean bowled
by a Starc yorker.
Starc finished the innings
with 4-42 from 8.5 overs and
ustralian opener David
Warner led his team
to an emphatic threewicket win over England in the opening one-day
international of the triangular
series at the Sydney Cricket
Ground yesterday.
The powerful left-hander’s
commanding century cancelled
out a long overdue ton by new
England skipper Eoin Morgan to
help the Australians earn a bonus point for reaching the target
inside 40 overs.
Morgan’s lone hand of 121 off
136 balls with 11 fours and three
sixes enabled England to recover from a disastrous start to
make 234 in 47.5 overs.
Warner then made 127, breaking his own drought with his first
one-day international ton since
back-to-back hundreds against
Sri Lanka in 2012, as Australia
cruised to the victory target with
61 balls to spare, finishing on 235
for seven from 39.5 overs.
Warner faced 115 balls, hitting 18 fours, and fell when just
eight runs were needed to win
and Australia was chasing the
bonus point.
He was delighted to become
the first Australian to score a
limited overs century against
England at the SCG, his home
ground. “It was good to score a
hundred, it was a big one (getting the record), here at the
SCG,” Warner said.
“Importantly, we won the
game and we got a bonus point.”
England have now won just
three of their last 14 one-day
internationals as they head towards next month’s World Cup
in Australia and New Zealand.
David Warner of Australia celebrates after playing a shot to bring up his century during the Tri-Series
One Day International against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney, Australia, yesterday.
Morgan took little solace
from his own performance after
the loss.
“Ultimately the early wickets
cost us,” Morgan said. “I was
happy with my performance
to start like this as captain but
devastated at the result.”
In the first match of the triangular series, which also features
India, Morgan won the toss in
his debut as skipper since replacing Alastair Cook and elected to bat.
Sangakkara signs for Surrey
Asked to pick one quality that
gives this team an edge over the
others, the Zimbabwean pointed out: “One-day cricket is all
about handling extreme pressure when the side is down; understanding where the game is
poised at that stage and finding
your way out of that situation to
end up on the winning side. Our
excellent record when chasing
totals shows that.”
“Most other sides can’t do it
because under such pressure,
you lose your cool. Because
Dhoni is so adept at soaking in
the pressure, we have done well
in those situations.
It is important to be calm and
take the game all the way and
win with maybe three balls to
spare. People might say, ‘Oh,
they barely got home’, but getting home is the most important
Pakistan as we do get bounce on
the wickets of Australia and when
a leg-spinner gets bounce, he becomes a wicket-taking option.”
Ahmed said the team management, especially head coach
Waqar, had full confidence in the
abilities of the players.
“We don’t have the ball in our
hand, but we have lot of belief. If
we believe that we can win, then
our belief will be shifted onto the
players,” he added.
Pakistan will fly to New Zealand on January 21 where they
play two one-day internationals before they start their World
Cup campaign with a match
against arch-rivals India in Adelaide on February 15.
Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara is to join Surrey, the
English county announced
Sangakkara is currently
ranked as the world’s
number one Test batsman
and is one of the most prolific scorers in the history
of the five-day game with
12,203 runs to his credit.
The 37-year-old left-hander
is set to rejoin former Sri
Lanka coach Graham Ford,
now in charge of Surrey.
Sangakkara has signed
a two-year contract and
should be available for most
of the 2015 English season
after announcing his intention to retire from one-day
internationals following the
World Cup in Australia and
New Zealand which starts
next month, although he
could yet extend his Test
career later this year.
“We’re delighted that Kumar has agreed to join us,”
Surrey director of cricket
Alec Stewart said Friday.
“He is the number one Test
batsman in the world but
it’s the special character
that he has which is as
important to us,” the former
England captain explained.
“He is a five-star player and
five-star person and that is
important because he will
be working with our young
homegrown players as they
become serious cricketers
at this level.”
Stewart added: “He has
worked a lot with our coach
Graham Ford, when he was
in charge of Sri Lanka, and
we are both very happy to
reach this stage.”
His sixth one-day century for
England helped the tourists put
on a defendable total before being dismissed in 47.5 overs.
Morgan was the only England
batsman to score over 30.
The century ended a dry run
for Morgan, as it was his first
century in his past 20 one-day
innings, which had included
just one prior half-century.
He brought up his ton by lofting James Faulkner (3-47) over
cover from the 127th ball he
faced, having hit nine fours and
two sixes.
Morgan had to save the innings after a top-order collapse and strode to the wicket
with his side in strife at 12 for
The home side struck with
the very first ball, with Ian
Bell trapped lbw by left-armer
Mitchell Starc for a duck.
Worse was to come for England when Bell’s replacement
at the crease, James Taylor, was
I.Bell lbw Starc .............................................................................0
M. Ali c Maxwell b Faulkner ......................................22
J. Taylor lbw Starc ...................................................................0
J. Root c Watson b Cummins .....................................5
E. Morgan c Maxwell b Starc .................................121
R. Bopara c Maxwell b Doherty ............................13
J. Buttler c Warner b Faulkner ..............................28
C. Woakes c Smith b Maxwell ...................................8
C. Jordan c Maxwell b Faulkner ...........................17
S. Broad not out ........................................................................0
S. Finn b Starc .............................................................................0
Extras (b2, lb3, w14, nb1) ...........................................20
Total (all out, 47.5 overs) .........................................234
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Bell), 2-0 (Taylor), 3-12
(Root), 4-33 (Ali), 5-69 (Bopara), 6-136
(Buttler), 7-168 (Woakes), 8-224 (Jordan),
9-234 (Morgan), 10-234 (Finn).
Bowling: Starc 8.5-0-42-4, Cummins 9-142-1, Watson 4-0-23-0, Faulkner 10-1-47-3,
Maxwell 6-0-37-1, Doherty 10-0-38-1
D. Warner c Bell b Woakes .......................................127
A. Finch b Woakes ................................................................15
S. Watson c Woakes b Jordan ................................16
S. Smith b Ali ...............................................................................37
G. Bailey c Buttler b Woakes ....................................10
G. Maxwell c Buttler b Woakes ...............................0
B. Haddin run out (Bopara) ........................................16
J. Faulkner not out ..................................................................6
M. Starc not out ........................................................................0
Extras: (lb7, w1) ........................................................................8
Total: (7 wickets; 39.5 overs) .............................235
Fall of wickets: 1-33 (Finch), 2-71 (Watson),
3-158 (Smith), 4-199 (Bailey), 5-200 (Maxwell),
6-227 (Warner), 7-233 (Haddin).
Bowling: Woakes 8-1-40-4, Finn 8-1-48-0,
Broad 6.5-0-49-0, Jordan 6-0-33-1, Ali 9-045-1 (1w), Bopara 2-0-13-0.
Sammy avoiding controversy
over Bravo, Pollard omission
Durban, SouthAfrica
est Indies Twenty20 captain Darren
Sammy has said he
would not be drawn
into the controversy surrounding the omission of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard from the
regional squad for next month’s
ICC Cricket World Cup to be
jointly hosted by Australia and
New Zealand.
The West Indies Cricket Board
(WICB) and its selection panel
headed by Clive Lloyd have come
under fire from many quarters
for excluding the two all-rounders from Trinidad and Tobago,
reports CMC.
Sammy has declined to comment on the specific issue only
to say that Bravo and Pollard will
bounce back.
“I know with all the controversy guys will bounce back
that’s just cricket,” said Sammy.
“I won’t be drawn into all
whats going on cause that has
never been we are just
looking to move on in the oneday series.”
Among those who have blasted the omission of Bravo and
Pollard was flamboyant opener
Chris Gayle who described the
decisions as “ridiculous” and
said it smacked of victimisation.
The Prime Minister of
St.Vincent and the Grenadines
Ralph Golzalves has also accused the WICB of victimization despite public statements
from the board’s president Dave
Cameron and Lloyd denying
those claims and arguing that
the World Cup squad was selected on merit.
“It’s a situation that you don’t
really want to deal with in cricket
but for me I have always stayed
away from controversy and stuff
like that,” said Sammy after the
West Indies won the T20 series
against South African 2-1.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
McIlroy hits first
pro hole-in-one to
close on Kaymer
‘It definitely made up for the two previous holes. The 12th hole was playing sort of
similar, I hit a nine iron there and pitched 194 so I knew it was a pretty good number’
Kaymer tightens his
grip in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi
artin Kaymer tightened his grip on the
Abu Dhabi HSBC
Golf Championship
yesterday, shooting a secondround 67 to move to 13 under par
following a flawless morning in
the desert.
The German, who rattled in
10 birdies for an opening 64, is a
three-times winner of the tournament and holds the record
lowest score, a devastating 24
under in 2011.
“I’ll give it my best to get into
the 20s (under par),” Kaymer,
30, told reporters. “I can’t even
remember how I played in 2011
- I know I didn’t miss many fairways and once you do that you
have chances.”
Starting one stroke clear of
Belgium’s Thomas Pieters on
eight under, the world number
12 picked up shots at his third,
fourth and ninth holes.
Kaymer chipped in from the
bunker at the next to reach 12
under, but then found sure-fire
birdie chances difficult to create,
missing from 15 feet or more on
the next six holes.
The two-times major winner
sunk an eight-foot putt on his
17th for a fifth birdie and did not
drop a shot all day.
“I made 80-85 percent of the
realistic birdie chances,” said
“It’s only halftime. There are
always some guys who can shoot
the same score I did in the first
two days, so I approach tomorrow the way I approached this
morning: very neutral. It’s nice to
have a bit of a cushion, hopefully,
but nothing has been done yet.”
Kaymer was most recently in
the world’s top 10 in 2012 and
last May was outside the world
top 60 before winning the US
Open by eight strokes to end a
three-year title drought on the
European Tour. That experience
of leading from the front could
be decisive in Abu Dhabi.
Martin Kaymer of Germany
holds the ball before playing a
shot during the Abu Dhabi Golf
“At the US Open I really
played my own game, I didn’t
compare myself to the other
players, I was trying to see how
low I could play and I stayed aggressive,” Kaymer said.
“You’re playing well, so you
need to continue and not play
more defensive.”
Most golfers find the National
course easier in the morning, because swirling winds kick up in
the afternoon and the temperature also soars, but Kaymer said
early starts were also hazardous.
“Once you miss the fairway,
you’re in that thick, wet grass and
it’s almost impossible to get home
in two on the par fours,” he added.
World number one Rory McIlroy picked up three shots in his
opening 11 holes to move to eight
under par, five behind Kaymer.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 12th hole during the Abu Dhabi Golf championship yesterday.
Abu Dhabi
ory McIlroy sunk his first professional hole-in-one in the
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship second round yesterday
as the four-times major winner mounted
another late surge to close within two
strokes of leader Martyn Kaymer.
The German, teeing off early, shot a
flawless 67 for an aggregate 13-under
score of 131, piling the pressure on McIlroy who arrived on the first tee under a
blistering midday sun.
The Northern Irishman, starting on
five under, seemed unperturbed, making birdies on the first two holes, but the
25-year-old bogeyed the sixth to slip seven strokes behind Kaymer.
McIlroy sunk further birdies at 10 and
11 before missing simple putts to pick up
further shots on the next two holes.
The world number one’s luck was to
turn on the par-three 15th, however, as
he lofted a nine-iron tee shot 177 yards
into the hole.
“It definitely made up for the two previous holes,” McIlroy told reporters. “It
was straight downwind. The 12th hole
was playing sort of similar, I hit a nine
iron there and pitched 194 so I knew it
was a pretty good number.
“I had been playing well, but had not
been putting so good, so that took the
putter out of it.”
McIlroy fluffed a 12-foot birdie chance
on 16 by inches, holding his face in frustration. He found sand on his final two tee
shots, but recovered to sink a 15-foot birdie
on the last green, knocking fists with longtime caddie JP Fitzgerald in celebration, his
66 giving him an aggregate score of 133.
The late surge was similar to his firstround 67 when he made five birdies in the
final seven holes.
“I went to the range yesterday and
worked on a couple of things and I drove
the ball much better today, which you
need to around here,” McIlroy said.
“I played really well from tee to green.
131 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 64-67
132 - Thomas Pieters (BEL) 65-67
“Martin has got a phenomenal
record around here and I couldn’t
think of a better way to start the
season than to test yourself against
one of the best players in the
world,” added McIlroy
133 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67-66
135 - Peter Uihlein (USA) 67-68, James
Morrison (ENG) 68-67
136 - Richard Green (AUS) 68-68,
Alexander Levy (FRA) 66-70
137 - Gary Stal (FRA) 68-69, Morten
Madsen (DEN) 68-69, Tyrrell Hatton
(ENG) 66-71, Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)
138 - Robert Karlsson (SWE) 67-71,
Eddie Pepperell (ENG) 70-68, Soren
Hansen (DEN) 69-69, Michaël LorenzoVera (FRA) 69-69
I was hitting some good putts that just
weren’t dropping.”
He is two shots adrift of Kaymer, a
three-times Abu Dhabi winner, and one
shy of Belgian Thomas Pieters.
“Martin has got a phenomenal record
around here and I couldn’t think of a better way to start the season than to test
yourself against one of the best players in
the world,” added McIlroy.
World number two Henrik Stenson
suffered the ignominy of missing the cut,
a second-round 68 lifting him to par for
the tournament following a disastrous
first day.
“There was a lot that needed to work
out there today to try and make it,”
Stenson told reporters. “I hit the ball
much better, made a couple of putts,
my short game was a little sharper than
Rose looking for
improvement after
slow start to year
Justin Rose plays a shot during the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
Abu Dhabi
Casey, Simpson share the lead
aul Casey, who was
competing in Honolulu
for the first time in 10
years, fired a 62 to grab
a share of the lead at the PGA
Tour’s Sony Open on Thursday.
England’s Casey is the coleader along with Webb Simpson
as they shot matching eight-under 62s in the first round at the
Waialae Country Club course.
Casey is a 13-time winner on
the European Tour, but his sole
win on the PGA Tour came at the
2009 Houston Open.
“I don’t know what to say. I
mean, I’m ecstatic,” Casey said.
“First, I’m loving being in Hawaii. I have not been here for a
long time. The last time I was
here was 2010 when I played in
Maui, and it’s just, it’s great to
be back.”
Former US Open champion
Simpson is a four-time winner on the US tour, with the last
one coming at the 2014 Shriners
Paul Casey of England lines up a putt on the fourth green during the
first round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club.
Hospitals for Children Open.
Robert Streb continues to play
well this season as he is tied for
third with Camilo Villegas after
the duo began the event with
seven-under 63s. Streb won the
McGladrey Classic in October.
Rory Sabbatini carded a sixunder 64 and he is alone in fifth.
Jason Day, Matt Kuchar, John
Peterson, Tim Clark, J.J. Henry
and Jonathan Randolph are all
tied for sixth at five-under 65.
Casey began on the back nine.
He started off with a birdie on 10
before making three consecutive
pars from No. 11. On the 14th
hole, Casey rolled in an 18-foot
birdie putt to get to two-under
for the round.
Casey got on a roll when he
made five straight birdies from
No. 17, putting him at seven under. After his lone bogey on No.
6, Casey made two more pars
before closing things out with
his ninth birdie on the ninth,
giving him the clubhouse lead.
“I had no idea what to expect
today, so I’m over the moon with
that,” Casey said.
After having used the belly
putter for more than a decade,
American Simpson switched to
the short putter for the first time
in his PGA Tour career.
It didn’t seem to bother him.
“Today was a big day for me,”
said Simpson. “It was one of my
best putting rounds I’ve ever had
to be honest.
First-round scores in the $1 million
USPGA Sony Open (par-70):
62 - Paul Casey (ENG), Webb
63 - Camilo Villegas (COL), Robert
64 - Rory Sabbatini (RSA)
65 - J.J. Henry, Matt Kuchar, Tim
Clark (RSA), Jason Day (AUS),
Jonathan Randolph, John Peterson
66 - Brian Davis (ENG), Kevin Na,
Jimmy Walker, Brian Harman,
Michael Putnam, Chris Kirk, Daniel
Summerhays, Troy Merritt, Russell
Knox (SCO), Harris English, Blayne
“I made a lot of putts. I didn’t
hit it great on the back nine, my
first nine holes, but then I started driving it well. If you drive
it well around this golf course,
you’re going to give yourself opportunities.”
Defending champion Jimmy
Walker had a strong first round
and his four-under 66 has him
tied 12th in a group of 11 players.
ustin Rose declared himself happy with his short
game after shooting a
three-under par 69 in the
second round of the Abu Dhabi
HSBC Golf Championship yesterday, but said he had much
to work on following a sluggish
start to the year.
World number six Rose, the
third-highest ranked player appearing at the event in the UAE
capital, is in danger of missing
the cut after a first-round 73.
The Englishman is two-under
for the tournament and could
only look on as playing partner Martin Kaymer sizzled with
scores of 64 and 67 to be clubhouse leader.
“I didn’t play well at all, in
fact I played awfully, but you get
yourself into situations where
sometimes you have to work hard
to make a cut,” Rose told Reuters.
“Hopefully, it gives me two
more days to work on my game
and get some momentum going
as I start the season.
“I’ve certainly got a lot of work
to do. I was happy with my short
game coming in, under pressure,
grinding to make pars when I
needed to, so that’s a good sign.”
Rose began yesterday with an
opening hole birdie, bogeyed his
fifth and then picked up shots at
his seventh and ninth. He created
“I’m not concerned about
my long game, it’s the
strength of my game
normally, so hopefully that
should click back into gear.
I was proud of the way I battled away today”
few chances thereafter until lofting his tee-shot on his par-three
16th to within two feet of the pin.
He made no mistake from that
distance and then sunk an eightfoot par putt on the final green.
“To make the first pressure
putt of the year—there are some
positives,” said the 2013 US Open
“I’m not concerned about my
long game, it’s the strength of
my game normally, so hopefully
that should click back into gear.
I was proud of the way I battled
away today.”
Rose finished joint-second in
his only previous Abu Dhabi appearance, in 2013, but said he was
not frustrated he has so far failed
to reproduce that form. He will
play next week’s Qatar Masters.
“I was looking at both of these
weeks as my pre-season,” South
Africa-born Rose said.
“There’s a good field here, you
want to contend, but I was very
aware I was going to have to see
how my game went.
“I still feel capable of a couple
of mid-60s around here if I get
going but whatever happens I’ll
take positives out of this week
that I’ll be able to build upon.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
First German fighter in
UFC main event plays
quiet underdog role
Irishman Conor McGregor is heavily favoured over Dennis Siver, the first German in an Ultimate
Fighting Championship main event, and vows to deliver a knockout within two minutes today
Stiverne, ‘I
ain’t a cab
Las Vegas
File picture of Conor McGregor entering the octagon ready for a featherweight fight against Dustin Poirier at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (below) Dennis Siver, the first German in the main event of an UFC card.
artial arts fighter Dennis
Siver is the first German in
the main event of an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card, but finds himself in
the shadow of a brash Irish opponent
who vows to deliver a knockout within
two minutes.
Some sports bookies list Conor McGregor as a 10-to-1 favourite for tomorrow’s UFC Fight Night in Boston.
The promotion of the match has
been similarly one-sided, with a
30-second television spot from the
UFC - the domination promotion in
mixed martial arts (MMA) - showing
Siver for barely one second, while McGregor compares himself to ancient
Irish warriors and vows to “obliterate”
the featherweight division.
A victory over the Siver, who stands
10th in the UFC’s contender rankings,
is expected to bring McGregor a title
shot against Brazilian champion Jose
Aldo, who has ruled the 145-pound
(65-kilogram) since 2009, already dispatching nine challengers.
McGregor has talked openly of UFC
plans to hold the title fight in a football
stadium in Ireland, where he has galvanised interest in the fast-growing
combat sport.
Google data shows McGregor, 26,
was the most-searched sportsperson
of 2014 in his home country. With a
record of 11-2 in his seven-year career, McGregor is 4-0 with three firstround technical knockouts since joining the UFC in 2013.
Siberia-born Siver has lived and
trained in Mannheim, Germany, since
moving with his ethnic-German family from Omsk, Russia, at age 17.
He is indifferent to being perceived as a sacrificial lamb for the
fifth-ranked McGregor, whom Siver
calls “inferior everywhere” to him in
MMA’s key aspects: striking, positional wrestling and submissions.
“This fight will bring us a little more
attention,” Siver told dpa. “Particularly when I win, I do think it will advance our entire MMA scene here in
Germany a little bit. ... Unfortunately,
it won’t be on television in Germany.”
UFC fights were shown on German
cable television from 2009-10, until
the Bavarian state authority for new
media ruled that the sport was too
brutal, citing MMA rules that allow
punches to continue on the ground.
After a long legal fight, news came last
week that a German appeals court had
overturned the ban.
There was no immediate indication that a broadcast partner would be
found in time for the Siver-McGregor
bout to be seen in Germany, except
through the UFC’s website.
Incorporating martial arts from
around the world, modern MMA is a
free-flowing blend of boxing and kick
boxing with Olympic and folk wrestling, judo and Brazilian jiujitsu chokes
and joint locks.
Siver, 35, took his first pro MMA
fight in 2004, forging a career record of
22-9 with one no contest. In 2007 he
became the first German in the UFC,
where he has built mark of 11-6 with
one no contest.
Fellow German featherweight Alan
Omer has trained with Siver, and was
once booked in 2010 to fight McGregor in a smaller European promotion, though the match fell through.
He called McGregor an “overrated”
fighter who has used “psychological
warfare” to anger or intimidate opponents.
“With Dennis I think that will be
different, because Dennis is ice cold, a
dog,” Omer said.
Still, he gives McGregor credit for
advancing MMA in Ireland - a country
with deep combat sport traditions - to
a level that the Stuttgart-based Omer
thinks is unlikely in Germany.
“In Germany, most people are pacifists and reject violence, which naturally makes it harder for a fighter to
make such a meteoric rise,” said Omer,
an Iraqi-born Kurd.
Compared to his Irish opponent,
the unflappable Siver is soft-spoken
and reserved, with a business-like approach to the fight game - the “antiMcGregor,” Omer said.
Potsdam-based Tim Leidecker, a
fixture on the European MMA circuit
who manages a large stable of German,
Polish and Scandinavian fighters including several in the UFC, contrasted
McGregor’s “X-factor” with Siver’s
steady, reliable work ethic.
“Dennis is truly an incredibly consistent performer, someone who is
almost robot-like in delivering in the
cage,” Leidecker said. “You can really
set your watch by it. That guy will
bring it.”
ermane Stiverne (above)
says the defence of his World
Boxing Council heavyweight
title against undefeated Deontay Wilder will show the boxing
world he is serious about winning
championship belts.
“I ain’t a cab driver. I ain’t a one hit
wonder,” Canada’s Stiverne said at a
news conference Thursday ahead of
their 12-round world title fight today at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las
“This is the real deal. This belt here
ain’t going nowhere. It’s staying right
here in this green hotel.”
The 36-year-old Stiverne, who
was born in Haiti but grew up in
Montreal, traded verbal jabs with the
unbeaten Wilder at the David Copperfield Theater inside the hotel’s
main casino.
“You better shut up. The champ
is talking. You had your time. I’m
gonna whoop you boy,” said Stiverne
who is 24-1-1 with 21 knockouts.
Challenger Wilder described
Stiverne as “a tourist” with the belt.
“Everyone has been talking for
you, but they can’t fight for you. You
don’t understand what is coming,”
Wilder, an American, said.
“This is my time. This is my purpose. I have never been so ready to
whoop a man in my life. This is real.
I don’t play.
“I ain’t scared to talk. I’m going to
back it up. I’m ready. Watch me pass
my test. I promise you I will do it.”
The hard-punching Stiverne won
the vacant title with a sixth-round
technical knockout of Chris Arreola
on May 10, seizing the belt vacated
by Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko when
he stepped away from the ring in December of 2013.
Stiverne knocked Arreola down
twice in the sixth before the referee
stopped the contest in the first heavyweight world title fight on US soil
since 2009.
Twenty-one of Stiverne’s 24 victories have come inside the distance.
Wilder, seven years Stiverne’s junior, is unbeaten in 32 fights, all won
by knockout or technical knockout.
With a win he can become the
first American-born fighter to win a
heavyweight world title since Shannon Briggs briefly held the lightly
regarded World Boxing Organization
title in November 2006.
Wilder said he is going to surprise
the champion.
“I need to let this beast inside of
me out. I am so ready for this fight,”
Wilder said.
“He has never faced someone with
my athletic skills. My athleticism
alone is going to hurt him.”
Dominant Oryx team win division championship
The Oryx (A team) (pictured above) won all of their games making them their division
champions yesterday. They only conceded one try all day! The Trojans (B team) had their best
tournament of the year - winning one game, tying one and losing the other two.
Action from the women’s rugby match between Dubai Wasps and Tigers which was held yesterday at the Doha Rugby FC grounds.
PICTURE: Jayaram
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Terranova wins
stage 12, al-Attiyah
poised for victory
Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah, in a Mini, is almost certain of victory in the final stage today
as he holds a lead of almost 36 minutes on South African Giniel de Villiers in a Toyota
West and Holroyd
fastest in qualifying
Antony West in action during the qualifying session yesterday.
By Sports Reporter
n the Qualifying session of
the Qatar Superbike round 4
held at Losail International
Circuit, Anthony West made
the best lap time, 2:01.283. “I
am happy with the result of the
qualifying today, and lap time
was better than last time I was
here month ago. Not too much
stress but I know Alex today was
pushing hard and he is going fast
and I am sure he will not let it be
easy for me but I will try to win
two races,” West said.
The second best lap time
was for the defendant champion, Alex Cudlin, with a time of
2:01.664. Cudlin had a problem
last round with the engine and he
didn’t had a good result, losing
the leader of the championship
for Mishal. “I think it will be a
big fight with Anthony. The main
thing is I am ahead of Mishal,
who is ahead of me in the championship and I need to beat him
every time I can and if I can beat
Anthony this is a bonus,” Cudlin
told after the qualifying session.
The leader of the championship, Mishal al-Naimi, got the
third best time, 2:02.658 and he
will try to make good races tomorrow to keep the first position
in the standings. “I am happy and
confident with my bike. I will try
tomorrow to get a good result
and win and hope I can make a
good race to still lead the championship’ al-Nami said.
The German rider Nina Prinz
ended in the fourth position and
the Spanish Moto2 rider Julian
Simon finished in the fifth place.
Regarding the Supersport
category, the fastest rider was
the Saudi Abdulaziz Binladin
and the Hungarian Victoria
Kiss was the fastest rider in the
LARSS category.
Race 1 will be today at 13:00
and Race 2 at 15:50
In the Qatar Challenge third
round of the season, the winner
of last round, Mark Holroyd took
the pole position today with a
lap time of 2:28.398 and he will
start in first position tomorrow.
“I don’t think I will be as quicker
as today for tomorrow race, that
was an absolutely perfect lap. I
will be very defensive tomorrow,
as a lot of the guys found a lot of
speed in the track which is fantastic, and let’s see how it goes,”
Holroyd said.
The second place in the grid
will be for the Qatari driver Abdullah al-Kharaan who made a
lap time of 2:29.559. The Qatari
driver was very happy with this
result and he hopes tomorrow to
make a good race and beat Mark.
The leader of the championship,
Peter De Vido, will start from the
third place as he did a lap time
of 2:29.674. Today the race is
scheduled at 14:30.
Mini driver Nasser al-Attiyah of Qatar and co-driver Mathieu Baumel of France compete during the Stage 11 of the Dakar 2015. (Below) KTM rider Marc Coma.
Rosario, Argentina
Standings - After Stage 12
rgentine Orlando Terranova
claimed his fourth stage win at
the Dakar Rally yesterday and
the 11th for the dominant Mini
team, as Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah closed
in on a second overall title.
Terranova, 35, finished ahead of another Mini driven by Russian Vladimir
Vasilyev and the Duster Renault of fellow
Argentine Emiliano Spataro.
Al-Attiyah, winner in 2011, is almost
certain of victory in the final stage today
which finishes in Buenos Aires, as the
44-year-old Mini driver holds a lead
of almost 36 minutes on South African
Giniel de Villiers in a Toyota, which he
extended by a further seven minutes
In the motorbikes, Australian Toby
Price rode his KTM to a dominant stage
victory as Spaniard Marc Coma moved
closer to a fifth title.
Car No
Coma played it safe over the 298km
special between Termas de Rio Hondo
and Rosario to finish sixth at 6min 25sec
behind Price who had lead from start to
Spaniard Joan Barreda Bort finished
second at 1min 55sec with fellow Honda
rider Paulo Goncalves of Portugal third at
3min 02sec.
Goncalves, second in the overall stand-
Terry Fullerton
(right) during
his karting days
ings, only took back 3min 23sec on Coma,
with the Spaniard holding a comfortable
18-minute advantage going into Saturday’s final stage to Buenos-Aires.
Price consolidated his overall third
place, taking more than ten minutes on
Chilean rival Pablo Quintanilla, who finished eighth.
One more day of rallying and then all
of these brave individuals can call it a day.
Don’t rush to F1: Hamilton’s dad
very young racer wants
to be the next Lewis
Hamilton but most are
in too much of a hurry to
give themselves the best chance
of success. That is the considered view of Hamilton’s father
Anthony, who by his own admission did not know what he
was getting into when the future double Formula One world
champion was starting out but
now has a pretty clear idea of
what it takes.
“Part of the reason why I very
rarely get involved with young
drivers and their parents these
days is because nobody wants to
do what we did,” the Briton told
Reuters in an interview.
“Nobody wants to hang
around. They all want instant
The trend in Formula One has
been for ever younger entrants,
with Red Bull’s Toro Rosso team
hiring Dutch racer Max Verstap-
Senna’s old rival is
still a karting king
File picture of British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG GP.
pen last year when he was still
only 16 and in his first season in
Verstappen will make his race
debut in Australia in March as a
17-year-old, and the youngest
ever driver, but the governing
FIA has now changed its superlicence rules to ensure 18 is the
minimum age in future.
Anthony Hamilton agreed
with that move and urged
youngsters to take their time.
“If you look at the motor racing scene nowadays, people are
doing less than a year in a category and then think ‘I’ve had
enough of this one so now I’m
going to jump two or three because I can afford it’,” he said.
“And the next thing you know
they are sitting in a Formula One
car. Or expect to be sitting in
one. Well, look, the educational
process hasn’t changed.
“I think there’s a lot of talent
out there. The trouble is, the talent doesn’t want to wait. They
all want it now.”
While Lewis was signed to
the McLaren Mercedes driver
development programme before
he had graduated from go-karts,
the emphasis was on getting
as much experience as possible rather than being rushed
through the junior series.
He did two years in Formula
Renault, and the same in Formula Three before a dominant
season in GP2 that led to a sensational McLaren debut in 2007.
“By the time (Lewis) arrived in
Formula One, he’d got so much
experience and appreciation,”
said his father. “But he could not
have done it without karting. He
could not have done it without
taking his time and going through
the educational process.”
For Hamilton senior, the key
to success is about knowing
who you are and what you stand
for, and not being distracted by
those rivals who might appear to
be moving up the ladder faster.
He recognised that there was
a time when he too had unrealistic expectations, and was
impatient, but McLaren taught
him the important lesson that
sometimes there was more to be
gained by waiting.
“What I try to say to parents
is that you’ve got to just believe.
Stay the course and just believe.”
“If you believe your kid is going to make it then just stay with
it. But they just can’t keep their
mind off the fact that Johnny next
door who was in karts with them,
and who they beat two years running, is now driving cars and is
two years in front of them.
“I say forget that nonsense,
don’t worry about it,” he added.
“He might be driving cars but he’s
not getting the micro-skills and
experience he needs...stay in karts
as long as you possibly can.”
yrton Senna was once
so annoyed at being
beaten by Terry Fullerton in a go-kart race
that he angrily pushed him into a
hotel swimming pool.
But beating the Brazilian was
all part of the job for the boy racer who had a dream and grew up
to make it happen.
When Senna was asked in
1993, the year before the triple
Formula One world champion
died at Imola, which driver he
had most enjoyed racing against,
he reflected for a moment before
replying. “I would have to go
back to ’78, ’79 and 1980, when
I was go-kart driving and was
teammate to Fullerton,” he said.
“He was very experienced and
I enjoyed very much that driving
with him because he was fast, he
was consistent, he was for me a
very complete driver.
“And it was pure driving, pure
racing. There wasn’t any politics
then, right? And no money involved either. So it was real racing and I have that as a very good
The fact he singled out Fullerton, rather than former McLaren
teammate Alain Prost or any
other F1 rival, was telling.
Karting was a passion for
Senna and Fullerton was the man
who set the standard and, as often as not, won. “It opened up
the public to the fact that Senna
had a life before F1,” the 63-yearold Briton.
“And also the fact that he
wasn’t always considered the
best driver in the world. Because when he was in karting he
wasn’t. At the time it was probably me. If you’d done a poll at
that time, he’d have probably
made fifth or sixth.”
Fullerton, who became Britain’s first karting world champion in 1973 and remains a renowned figure in the sport,
recognised, however, that times
have changed.
The first steps on the motorsport ladder are now far more expensive than in those carefree days
and few see karting as anything
more than a temporary stage.
“My dad was a schoolteacher,
a maths teacher, and we did it on
his wage,” said the Briton. “On a
doctor’s or a teacher’s wage, you
could afford to go proper karting
in those days. It would take all
your disposable income, but you
could do it.”
“There’s been a big shift away
from doing it as an individual and
for fun and into doing it with a
team and more seriously with all
the data and stuff,” Fullerton said.
“The kids even at nine or 10 are
into their data and apex speed.
“And there’s more desperate
dads. There used to be rich kids
before, and there are still rich
kids now, but there’s more desperate people.”
Fullerton was never one of
them, preferring to become a
karting pro than chase fame and
“When I got to 19 or 20, I became a professional karter. So
my dream came true. I loved it. I
didn’t connect it with motor racing at all. In fact, I didn’t really
like motor racing. I didn’t use to
watch F1, I just loved karting.”
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Streaking Seahawks chase Super Bowl return
eattle quarterback Russell Wilson promises
“one for the ages” when
the Super Bowl champion Seahawks take on the Green
Bay Packers tomorrow for a
place in this season’s NFL championship showcase.
The Seahawks and Packers
will duel for the National Football Conference crown, while in
the American Conference, superstar quarterback Tom Brady
leads the New England Patriots
against the Indianapolis Colts,
whose quarterback Andrew Luck
is trying to build a playoff legacy
placed on
exempt list
to match his dazzling talent.
In Seattle, the Packers will
be up against a streaking Seahawks team who have won seven
straight games.
“It’s going to be one for the
ages,” predicted Wilson, who
connected on 15-of-22 passes
for 268 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions
in Seattle’s 31-17 victory over
Carolina in the second round of
the playoffs.
The third-year pro is an impressive 25-2 as a starter at the
Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field,
where the frenzied fans are an
additional nightmare for visiting
The win over the Panthers
made Seattle the first reign-
ing Super Bowl champs to win
a playoff game the next season
since the 2005 New England Patriots.
That’s not enough for Wilson.
“It’s exciting but the job’s not
done,” said the 26-year-old signal-caller. “We’re on one mission. You just have to take it one
game at a time. Our goal is to go
Rodgers battles injury
The immediate concern for
Packers quarterback Aaron
Rodgers will be not Wilson but
Seattle’s formidable defence,
which in the regular season led
the league in average points allowed with a stingy 15.9.
Against Carolina, Seahawks
cornerback Richard Sherman
notched his 25th career interception and safety Kam Chancellor turned a pick-off into a
90-yard touchdown return.
“We’re going to have to be efficient against them,” said Rodgers, who was clearly hobbled by
a left calf injury in the Packers’
second-round victory over Dallas. “They’re a great defense,
they’ve got Pro Bowlers all over
the place and they’re wellcoached.”
Rodgers and the Packers
capped the 2010 season with a
Super Bowl title. They, too, say
their job this season isn’t over.
“Our goal is to go a lot deeper
than the NFC Championship
Game,” said offensive guard T.J.
Lang. “Going up to Seattle, it’s
going to be a good matchup and
we’re excited about it. It’s going
to be a tough one, we understand
that, but we’ll be ready for the
New England’s Brady has been
meeting post-season challenges
for more than a decade. Sunday’s
showdown with Luck’s Colts will
be Brady’s ninth AFC title game
with the Patriots under coach
Bill Belichick.
He has won five of them,
leading to three Super Bowl triumphs.
“It’s great to have Tom and his
ability and his poise and presence as our quarterback,” Belichick said of the 37-year-old superstar. “There’s no quarterback
I’d rather have than Tom Brady.”
Challenge and opportunity
The 25-year-old Luck, selected first overall by the Colts in
the 2012 draft, emerged for good
from the shadow of former Colts
QB Peyton Manning last weekend as he led Indianapolis past
Manning’s current team, Denver, 24-13.
Since Luck entered the league,
the Patriots have beaten the
Colts by an average 48-22 in
three meetings, including a 4322 win in the second round of the
playoffs last season.
The Pats routed the Colts 4220 in a regular-season match-up
in November.
Luck threw for 265 yards and
two touchdown passes against
the Broncos. His 1,703 passing
yards in the playoffs is the most
by any player in his first five
post-season games.
But now the young quarterback who has led the Colts to the
post-season in each of his first
three seasons needs to prove he
can take things further. Against
Brady and the Patriots that
won’t be easy.
“The Patriots are a great, great
team,” said Colts coach Chuck
“Hall of Fame coach. Hall of
Fame quarterback. We all know
how hard it is to win there. We
know it will be a tall order but
it’s going to be a great opportunity for our guys. We’ll continue
to embrace this opportunity and
prepare accordingly.”
Bucks hand Knicks
16th straight loss
‘The same things happen over and over again. We’re the only people who can control that’
New York
Los Angeles
osh McNary, an Indianapolis Colts reserve linebacker charged with raping a 29-year-old woman
in December, has been placed on
the NFL’s commissioner exempt
list, the league said on Thursday.
Being on the list means McNary cannot play or practice
with the team, which is in the
NFL playoffs, until his legal issues are resolved.
McNary, a second-year NFL
player, pleaded not guilty to the
charges on Thursday and was
free after posting $25,000 bond.
The linebacker was charged
Wednesday in Marion County
Superior Court with felony rape,
criminal confinement and battery. He is accused of attacking
the woman in his Indianapolis
apartment when she rejected his
“He scared me, intimidated
me,” the woman told detectives.
The Colts, who had asked NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell to
place McNary on the exempt list,
play the New England Patriots in
the American Football Conference championship tomorrow
with the winner headed to the
Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
McNary’s lawyer, Edward
Schrager, released a statement
saying the player denies all the
The charges and affidavit are
not evidence of wrongdoing,
but “simply one side’s story,”
the statement said. “Joshua has
full faith and confidence in the
American way, including its justice system.”
McNary, 26, is primarily a special teams player for the Colts.
He played in college at Army,
becoming the school’s all-time
sack leader, before serving two
years of active duty in the military.
He was signed by Indianapolis
as a free agent in April 2013.
“The Colts sincerely hope this
extraordinarily serious matter
will be resolved expeditiously
and that justice will prevail,” the
team said.
Cases of domestic violence
and sexual assault have rocked
the National Football League in
the past year and Goodell has
responded by toughening sanctions against offenders.
In the past year, several players
have been placed on the exempt
list, including 2012 NFL most
valuable player Adrian Peterson,
who was charged with spanking
his 4-year-old son with a switch.
Having McNary on the list
“will permit the investigation
provided by the league’s Personal
Conduct Policy to run its course
and will afford Josh the opportunity to focus on his defense
against the charges,” the Colts
he desperate New York
Knicks travelled across
the pond looking to
break their longest slide
in history. Instead, they showed
a London crowd how really bad
they are on two continents.
OJ Mayo scored 22 points and
Brandon Knight added 20 as the
Milwaukee Bucks extended the
Knicks’ franchise-record losing
streak to 16 Thursday, 95-79 at
the sold-out O2 Arena.
“We knew what we wanted to
do and did a great job of sticking
to it,” said Knight, who added
five rebounds, six assists and
a career-high six steals in the
Bucks’ sixth win in the last eight
Giannis Antetokounmpo netted 16 points and Khris Middleton had 14 for Milwaukee
(21-19), who improved to 3-0
against New York this season.
Knicks top scorer Carmelo
Anthony scored 25 points after
a six-game lay-off with a sore
left knee, but it wasn’t enough
as league-worst New York (536) fell behind early and played
catch-up all night long.
“It’s a recurring act,” Anthony said. “The same things happen over and over again. We’re
the only people who can control
During his six-game time off,
Anthony had time to observe his
“I can’t pinpoint what’s
wrong but it seems like the
guys are not playing with confidence,” he said. “We get down
and it seems like everybody puts
their heads down.”
The Knicks missed their first
10 shots to fall behind 14-0 and
31-13 after the first quarter.
“We didn’t give ourselves a
chance after the first few minutes of the game,” said Knicks
rookie coach Derek Fisher, who
Giannis Antetokounmpo from Milwaukee Bucks (second from right) competes for the ball against Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks
(second from left) during an NBA game at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday.
hasn’t tasted victory since December 12 at Boston.
The Bucks opened up a
24-point second-quarter advantage en route to a 56-37 halftime cushion behind 16 from
Trailing 82-56 heading into
the fourth quarter, and with
Anthony done for the night,
the Knicks reserves made a
run to pull within 11 at the 4
minute 40 second mark. But
the rally fizzled and New York
fell for the 26th time in the last
27 games.
At the midpoint mark of the
82-game schedule, the Knicks
are on course to finish with a 1072 record, and could challenge
the NBA’s worst mark of 9-73
posted by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers.
“We have to get better,” Fisher said. “We have to work harder
than we’re working.”
Meanwhile, the Houston
Rockets took down Oklahoma
City 112-101 Thursday thanks
to a quick start out of the gate
and a near triple double from
former Thunder star James
Harden led a half dozen Houston players in double figure
scoring with 31 points, 10 assists
and nine rebounds in front of a
crowd of 18,300 at the Toyota
Center arena.
“We want to be a championship team,” Harden said. “We
got it rolling tonight.
“I had confidence and trusted in my teammates to make
the easy threes. We had a great
bounce back game.”
The Rockets had a four-game
NBA winning streak come to an
end with Wednesday’s 120-113
loss to the Orlando Magic.
On Thursday, Trevor Ariza
tallied 17 points and Donatas
Motiejunas scored 14 for Houston. Dwight Howard, Patrick
Beverley and Josh Smith each
scored 13 points in the win.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder
with 24 points and 10 rebounds,
while Russell Westbrook, Dion
Waiters and Reggie Jackson
scored 16 points apiece in Oklahoma City’s third loss in four
The Rockets jumped all over
the Thunder from the opening
buzzer as Harden stepped up his
play against his former team.
The Rockets also shot 16-of-36
from three-point range.
Harden scored the first seven
points for the Rockets as part of
a 23-2 run early in the first.
Oklahoma City scored the
first four points of the contest
then fell silent until Waiters hit
a field goal to cut the Rockets
commanding lead to 23-9.
Harden scored 15 points in
quarter of the season as they led
40-18 at the end of the first and
then 64-53 at the half.
The Rockets maintained a
double-digit lead throughout
the third and took an 88-75 lead
into the fourth.
Milwaukee 95 NY Knicks ................79
112 Oklahoma City..101
Cleveland 109 LA Lakers ............. 102
Datsyuk scores late to lift Red Wings over Blues
St Louis
Detroit Red Wings’ Kyle Quincey celebrates with teammates
Gustav Nyquist , Danny DeKeyser and Joakim Andersson after
defeating St. Louis Blues in overtime on Thursday in St. Louis.
The Red Wings won 3-2.
etroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg knew that going to
a shootout against the
St. Louis Blues would be a risky
proposition. So he was overjoyed
when Pavel Datsyuk scored at
4:57 of overtime to give the Red
Wings a 3-2 win on Thursday.
‘’We didn’t want to go that
far,’’ he said. ‘’It was nice to finish it off in overtime.’’
Detroit won for the fourth
time in five games and completed a six-game road trip with
a 4-2 mark. Petr Mrazek made
25 saves and improved to 3-0 in
four career appearances against
St. Louis.
Joakim Andersson and Tomas
Tatar scored in a 60-second
span in the second period to give
the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
David Backes and Alexander
Steen tallied third-period goals
for St. Louis, which had a fivegame winning streak snapped.
Steen scored with 48 seconds
left in regulation to tie it 2-2.
Detroit is 1-7 in shootouts.
The Blues are 4-2.
Zetterberg provided a perfect screen on the winning goal,
parking himself in front of goalie
Brian Elliott. Datsyuk’s drive deflected in off Elliott’s blocker.
‘’I heard the bench say five
seconds, and I just shot as quick
as possible,’’ Datsyuk said.
It was the fourth winning tally
of the season for Datsyuk and his
15th of the season.
‘’I didn’t see it,’’ Elliott said.
‘’It just snuck in there.’’
Elsewhere, the sizzling Boston
Bruins won their fifth game in a
row when they dusted the New
York Rangers 3-0.
Tuukka Rask turned aside 30
shots for his second shutout of
the season as the Rangers suffered their second straight loss
after winning 13-of-14.
The Minnesota Wild ended
their season-worst six-game losing streak in emphatic fashion
with a 7-0 blowout road win over
the lowly Buffalo Sabres, who lost
a franchise-record ninth in a row.
Seven different goal scorers
contributed for the Wild (19-195), who had lost 12 of their previous 14 games.
Goalie Ryan Miller posted his
29th career shutout and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 on the road to
snap a three-game losing streak.
The Flyers (17-21-7) were
blanked for the second straight
game. They rarely threatened
to beat Miller, who did not face
many tough shots in his fourth
shutout this season.
Center Mika Zibanejad scored
after 69 seconds and the Ottawa
Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.
Boston ..........................3
Minnesota ................7
Vancouver ...............4
Tampa Bay ..............3
Colorado ....................4
Winnipeg ...................2
Calgary ........................4
San Jose .....................3
NY Rangers ...........0
Philadelphia ..........0
Montreal .....................1
Edmonton ...............2
St. Louis ......................2
Dallas .............................1
Toronto ........................1
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
will be
soon, says
Kvitova wins all-Czech
final over Pliskova
‘I’m glad I stand here as the winner of this tournament. It’s always going to stay as a great memory in my mind’
Valentin Balakhnichev
oping will be eliminated from Russian athletics in the near future,
the country’s Athletics Federation (VFLA) president
Valentin Balakhnichev said on
Following a German television
documentary alleging that drug
use was widespread among Russian athletes and recent controversy over banned walkers competing, Balakhnichev remains
“The VFLA takes around
4,000 doping samples every
year,” he told Reuters. “Not one
federation in the world has such
a widespread anti-doping programme.
“I will guarantee to you that
in the near future, after carrying
out a difficult process, we will
clean our hands of this dirt.
“We are not working to support doping—we are fighting
against it.”
Balakhnichev said he was not
taking responsibility for banned
Russian walkers taking part in
official events.
The world and Olympic 20km
champion Yelena Lashmanova
competed in this week’s Mordovian winter championships in
Saransk even though she is suspended until 2016 after failing a
drugs test.
“Apart from Lashmanova, two
other sportsmen also competed
who had no right to do so—Sergei Bakulin and Yekaterina
Medvedeva,” Balakhnichev said.
“We have sent all three an official letter and we are waiting for
their responses as well as (those
of) the organisers of the competition.”
The International Association
of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is
looking into the allegations.
“The IAAF has already got
in touch with us and on Monday we must send them some
official documents, including
photographic evidence. We will
comply with this request,” Balakhnichev said.
The competition in Saransk
was not an official VFLA event,
according to Balakhnichev.
“This incident is connected
with separate sportsmen and not
our federation,” he said. “I cannot run after everyone and make
sure they are not breaking the
Twenty Russian walkers have
been disqualified for doping offences in the last six years, local
media have reported.
Each of them trained at the
Olympic Training Centre in
Saransk under decorated coach
Viktor Chegin.
Olga Kaniskina, one of his
former pupils who won gold at
the 2008 Beijing Olympics, took
over as the head of the centre on
Tuesday with Chegin staying on
as chief coach.
“The coaches have even more
responsibility than the sportsmen,” Balakhnichev said.
“They should be more actively making sure that the antidoping controls from (Russia’s
anti-doping agency) RUSADA
are being enforced. We should
be concentrating our focus on
particular individuals and not on
particular sports.”
Balakhnichev said he was not
jumping to any conclusions.
“The Lance Armstrong case
saw the sportsman punished and
not the American cycling federation,” he added, referring to the
disgraced former multiple Tour
de France champion.
etra Kvitova edged out
fellow Czech Karolina
Pliskova in two tiebreak
sets to win the Sydney
International yesterday.
The reigning Wimbledon
champion downed her rising
compatriot 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6)
to send her into next week’s
Australian Open full of confidence.
Kvitova quelled Pliskova’s tenacious challenge in one hour
and 52 minutes to secure her
15th career title.
It was Kvitova’s third win in
Australia following her victory
in the 2009 Hobart International and the 2011 Brisbane International before she went on
to win the first of her two Wimbledon crowns in 2011.
Kvitova is the world number
four and was Friday drawn in
Serena Williams’ top half at
the Australian Open, setting
the stage for a potential semifinal against the world number
A former Australian Open
junior champion, Pliskova took
the fight to Kvitova, breaking
the tournament’s second seed in
the second game of the final to
seize an early initiative.
But Kvitova clubbed two
forehand winners and then unleashed a scorching backhand
pass to break back as Pliskova
Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova holds the trophy after defeating compatriot Karolina Pliskova in the women’s singles final of the Sydney
International tournament at Sydney Olympic Park yesterday.
Watson to play Brengle in Hobart WTA final
Smooth draw
for Djokovic at
Australian Open
England’s Heather Watson will play American
Madison Brengle in the final of the Hobart International following victories yesterday.
The 49th-ranked Watson overcame American
Alison Riske 6-3, 7-5 and has yet to drop a set on
her way to Saturday’s final.
Qualifier Brengle was taken to three sets in eliminating Japan’s Kurumi Nara, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
In a match spanning more than four hours, Watson
and Riske were forced off the court six times amid
rain squalls and gusting winds.
One suspension lasted an hour and came just as
Watson reached match point for the first time.
“It wasn’t easy having to adapt our games to the
conditions and I felt like instead of serving properly it was more just trying to get the ball in the
court,” Watson said.
World No.84 Brengle and Watson train together in
“Maddie’s a good friend of mine,” Watson said.
“We actually have Christmas with each other every
Dolgopolov a doubt
for Open after
Kooyong injury
chances of winning
a fifth Australian
Open title have been
boosted by a kind draw in the
opening week, while women’s
top seed Serena Williams
kicks off her campaign against
106th-ranked Belgian Alison
Van Uytvanck.
World number one Djokovic faces a qualifier first up
and will avoid the top 10 seeds
until at least the quarterfinals, where he could meet
big-serving Milos Raonic, one
of the highly-fancied crop of
young players tipped to challenge the dominance of the
‘Big Four’.
Reigning champion Stan
Wawrinka, seeded fourth,
faces a tougher route if he is to
defend his crown.
The Swiss takes on 99thranked Marsel Ilhan of Turkey
before a possible fourth round
matchup with 16th seeded
Italian Fabio Fognini and a
likely quarter-final against US
Open finalist Kei Nishikori.
On the comeback trail from
injury and illness, third seed
Rafa Nadal has also been given few favours with a dangerous opening round tie against
Russian Mikhail Youzhny, a
former top-10 player.
“Youzhny is not that easy
to beat,” said 83-year-old
Hall of Fame coach Nick Bollettieri at the draw ceremony
at Melbourne Park on Friday.
“I’m sure a lot of people will
be looking at that first round
to see how healthy Nadal is.”
Following that, the 2009
champion has a possible third
round against Czech bogeyman Lukas Rosol, who upset
him in the second round of
Wimbledon in 2012.
Second seed Roger Federer
tried to serve out the opening
set at 5-4.
After snatching the first set
in a tiebreaker, Kvitova claimed
an early break in the second and
looked headed for a routine win.
Pliskova had other ideas,
drawing back on level terms in
the sixth game to force another
tiebreaker, only for Kvitova’s
class to prevail once again when
it mattered most.
Underlining her superiority over her compatriots, Kvitova’s win was her 15th straight
against Czech opponents.
Kvitova said her hard-earned
win three days out from the
start of the Australian Open was
most satisfying.
“It’s always tough to play a final,” she said.
“I’m glad I stand here as the
winner of this tournament. It’s
always going to stay as a great
memory in my mind.”
Pliskova was satisfied with
her week’s work and now looks
ahead to Melbourne where she
has drawn a qualifier in the
opening round of the Australian
“She was really better today
and deserved to win. It was a
good match for me. She is four
in the world, so I’m not really
sad,” Pliskova said.
“Definitely it’s better to go
there (Melbourne) with some
matches like what I won here,
and good matches.
“I beat one top 10, one top 20,
so that’s definitely better.”
Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return during a practice session
ahead of the Australian Open in Melbourne yesterday. The
Australian Open will take place from January 19 to February 1.
starts his Australian Open
against Taiwan’s Lu YenHsun, a former Wimbledon
quarter-finalist, and could
face 15th seed Tommy Robredo in the fourth round.
Sixth seed Andy Murray
may feel the most aggrieved
of the men’s contenders. After first playing a qualifier, the
Scot could meet Wimbledon
semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov
in the fourth round with Federer to come in the quarters.
In the women’s draw, Williams, bidding for a sixth title at Melbourne Park, has no
major danger matches until
the last eight, where a potential clash against Caroline
Wozniacki looms.
Second seed Maria Sharap-
ova will play a qualifier as she
aims for her second trophy
after her 2008 triumph, with
eighth seed Eugenie Bouchard
a likely quarter-final opponent.
Simona Halep of Romania,
ranked third and a dark horse
to clinch her maiden grand
slam, will take on Italian Karin Knapp first up.
Twice champion Victoria
Azarenka is unseeded after her
2014 season was all but wiped
by injury and shapes as a dangerous floater in the draw.
American Sloane Stephens
in the first round, with the
prospect of a mouthwatering
showdown with Williams in
the quarters.
is a major doubt for
next week’s Australian
Open after he retired
hurt in the Kooyong Classic final
yesterday and handed Spain’s
Fernando Verdasco his second
title at the exhibition event.
The Ukrainian, who is 21st
seed and scheduled to play Italy’s Paulo Lorenzi in the first
round at Melbourne Park next
week, had just lost the first-set
tiebreak 7-3 when he called for
the trainer.
Clutching his right knee, he
decided he could not continue,
leaving his big-serving Spanish
opponent to claim another title
after his 2010 triumph.
“It’s my right knee, I had surgery on it last year and it started to feel the same as before,”
Dolgopolov, who reached the
last eight of the Australian Open
in 2011, told Channel Seven.
“The knee is locked, I’m going
to get a scan and I really hope I’ll
be able to play but I’m not sure
of that. I’m just hoping I can
get out on court. That would be
good for me.”
Kei Nishikori, last year’s
champion at Kooyong, earlier
completed his preparations for
another tilt at becoming the first
Asian to win the men’s singles
Fernando Verdasco poses with
the Kooyong Classic trophy
title at the grand slam of the
The Japanese, seeded fifth at
the Australian Open, went down
7-6 7-6 to France’s Richard Gasquet, 24th seed at Melbourne
Park, in the match to decide who
would finish third in the traditional warm-up for the year’s
first grand slam.
In New Zealand, world
number 16 Kevin Anderson was
stunned 6-4 7-6 by Jiri Vesely in
the semi-finals of the Auckland
Open, the Czech qualifier outserving the tall South African
to set up a meeting with Adrian
Mannarino earlier won an
all-French clash against Lucas Pouille 6-4 3-6 7-5 to reach
what will be a first ATP final for
the world number 44 and Vesely.
The players at Kooyong had to
contend with windy conditions,
which with added rain more seriously disrupted play over the
Bass Strait in the women’s singles semi-finals at the Hobart
Heather Watson had already
endured a long rain break in her
match against American eighth
seed Alison Riske and the wet
weather returned as she was
preparing to serve at match
The British number one was
clearly affected by the hourlong disruption and Riske saved
the match point before breaking back after the resumption,
albeit benefiting from a couple
of line calls that Watson loudly
Watson got another break
straight away, however, and
made no mistake with her second attempt to serve out the
match, winning 6-3 7-5 to move
into her second career WTA final.
American qualifier Madison
Brengle joined the Briton in the
title showdown after battling to
a 6-4 1-6 6-3 victory over Japan’s Kurumi Nara.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Barcelona hope
calm continues in
pursuit of Madrid
Messi and Suarez will definitely return for the visit to Deportivo la Coruna tomorrow,
but Neymar is a doubt after hurting his ankle during last week’s win over Atletico
fter staving off a full blown
institutional crisis with victory over La Liga champions
Atletico Madrid last weekend,
Barcelona will be hoping their best performance of the season proves to be a
turning point in their campaign.
The star forward trio of Lionel Messi,
Neymar and Luis Suarez were all on
target to ensure coach Luis Enrique remained in a job as he appeared on the
brink due to dressing room discontent
with his constant rotation of the squad.
However, speculation over Messi’s
future at the club has continued to
rumble on due to the Argentine’s contradictory statements over the past
The four-time World Player of the
Year firstly stated on Barca TV that he
“never had any intention of leaving”,
but the next day claimed “I don’t know
where I’ll be next year.”
Enrique named his 28th different
line-up in 28 matches in charge for the
second leg of the Catalans Copa del Rey
tie away to Elche on Thursday, taking
advantage of a 5-0 first leg lead to give
Messi, Neymar, Suarez and a host of
other first-team regulars a rest.
Messi and Suarez will definitely return for the visit to Deportivo la Coruna tomorrow, but Neymar is a doubt
after a late challenge from Jose Maria
Gimenez meant he finished the game
against Atletico with a bloodied ankle.
“He is recovering well after that ugly
challenge, but that is football,” said Enrique.
“Fortunately, it is nothing serious
and he will be available to play shortly.”
Earlier tomorrow, Real Madrid will
have the chance to open up a fourpoint gap on Barca at the top of the table when they travel across the Spanish
capital to face Getafe.
Cristiano Ronaldo paraded the third
Ballon d’Or of his career in front of
an adoring Santiago Bernabeu ahead
his side’s Copa del Rey clash against
Atletico on Thursday.
The Madrid fans’ love for the Portuguese, though, saw them turn against
Gareth Bale during last weekend’s 3-0
win over Espanyol as the Welshman
was whistled for not passing to Ronaldo
when he missed a simple chance in the
However, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti backed Bale, who had previously
scored a wonderful free-kick and contributed in the build-up to James Rodriguez’s opener.
“The relationship between Cristiano
and Gareth is great. I saw the chance
from the other day and it seemed to
me very difficult to pass the ball at that
time so I didn’t need to speak with Gareth.
“He played a fantastic game against
Atletico will expect to secure their
place in third when struggling Granada
travel to the Vicente Calderon.
The Andalusians haven’t won in the
league since September and another
defeat could signal the end of an ill-fated time in charge for experienced coach
Joaquin Caparros.
Valencia can leapfrog Sevilla into
fourth for at least 24 hours when they
host Almeria at Mestalla looking to
make up for the disappointment of
their Copa del Rey exit to Espanyol in
Sevilla had no such trouble as they
disposed of Granada 6-1 on aggregate
to make the last eight, but they will face
a more difficult task when seventhplaced Malaga visit the Sanchez Pizjuan tomorrow night.
There was also a setback in the Cup
for David Moyes as he was sent-off
during Real Sociedad’s 2-2 draw with
Villarreal, which saw the Basques eliminated 3-2 on aggregate.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Scot,
though, as he was offered a crisp in consolidation by a young fan as he watched
the final few minutes of the game from
the stands, and his side can move into
the top half of the table should they
beat Rayo Vallecano at home today.
Today: Real Sociedad v Rayo Vallecano (6pm), Valencia v Almeria (8pm),
Villarreal v Athletic Bilbao (10pm),
Espanyol v Celta Vigo (11.45pm)
Tomorrow: Getafe v Real Madrid
(2pm), Atletico Madrid v Granada
(7pm), Deportivo la Coruna v Barcelona (9pm), Elche v Levante (11pm),
Sevilla v Malaga (11pm)
coach Laurent Blanc
will be feeling the pressure this weekend as his
stuttering side host minnows
Evian in Ligue 1 action tomorrow.
After a slow start to the season, including six draws from
their opening nine matches, they
had appeared to be hitting their
straps by early December after
a run of nine straight wins in all
But they lost their unbeaten
start to the season with a 3-1
Champions League reverse away
to Barcelona and followed that
up with a 1-0 defeat at Guingamp
in the league four days later.
Victory in that latter game
would have seen the champions replace Marseille at the top
of Ligue 1 but instead they have
continued to falter, as indeed
their main rivals have.
Both sides began the new year
with a league defeat—although
PSG have made progress past
Montpellier and Saint-Etienne
in the Cup while Marseille fell
to Guingamp—allowing Lyon to
take over top spot following a
fifth straight win.
PSG come into this weekend’s
matches in fourth spot and four
points behind Lyon as SaintEtienne also overtook them last
weekend. They last won a league
match on December 6 and Blanc,
who seems to be under pressure
even when his side is winning,
has been widely criticised in the
press this week.
Popular sports daily newspaper l’Equipe described him as
“isolated and fragile” ahead of
a morale-boosting League Cup
win over Saint-Etienne in midweek. Blanc has yet to decide
whether to bring South American pair Edinson Cavani and
Ezequiel Lavezzi in from the cold
following their suspension from
the first team since turning up
late to a winter training camp in
Their return to the fold would
certainly give PSG a boost in
front of goal where they had gone
two scoreless games in the league
before their humiliating 4-2 reverse at Bastia last weekend,
having led 2-0.
Meanwhile, Lyon fancy a trip
to struggling Lens on Saturday
hoping to maintain the momentum from a run of 10 wins and
just one defeat in their last 12
league encounters.
Ligue 1 top scorer Alexandre
Lacazette has been in fine form
and scored a brace in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Toulouse.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for a team languishing in
17th place after losing three of
their opening four league matches, but president Jean-Michel
Aulas is unsure of their ability to
remain in the mix.
“It’s nice, even though I know
it will only be short-lived, and
due in part to the poor performances from our opponents,” he
said. Having said that, when we
get up the next day it’s nice, but
there’s more chance that it won’t
last than the opposite.”
That’s not a view shared by
former coach Remi Garde who
told l’Equipe: “they can fight for
the title this year.”
Although he qualified that by
adding: “I’m more surprised by
PSG’s season than by Lyon’s progression.”
Marseille lost the league lead
last week when going down 2-1
at Montpellier but will look for a
quick revenge against Guingamp,
their cup conquerors the week
before, at the Stade Velodrome
Juve drop Pogba
hint as Roma face
Barcelona’s Luis Suarez (L) and Neymar (C) celebrate together with Leo Messi (hidden)
after Messi scored the third goal against Atletico Madrid during their Liga match in
Barcelona on Januay 11.
Algeria lead favourites ahead
of Afcon tournament
Christian Gourcuff, Algeria’s French coach
African Footballer of the Year.
Brahimi scored his first international goal in the group stage
against South Korea in the World
Cup last year. He has scored six
goals in 15 appearances for the
Portuguese club.
Algeria, are part of the Group C
“group of death” which includes
the “physical” Senegal, “well-organized” Ghana and South Africa
who is looking confident after not
having lost in 11 games, said Palacios.
Another team to watch, he believes, is the Elephants of Ivory
Coast who have a collection
of excellent players, including
brothers Yaya Toure and Kolo
lgeria, Ivory Coast and
Ghana are regarded as
the favourites to win
an unpredictable African Cup of Nations tournament
which begins today in Equatorial
But it is Algeria, the top-ranked
team in Africa, where most betting men are putting their money.
“Algeria pushed Germany
more than any other team at the
World Cup in Brazil last year,”
said former Peruvian national
player Augusto Palacios, who
now coaches in Johannesburg.
“They are a religious team and
so are very disciplined. They are
also very organized and structured. Most of their players play
in the local league. For me, Algeria
are the team to beat at the Afcon
Algeria, under French coach
Christian Gourcuff, steamed
through the Afcon qualifiers with
five wins in six games after an excellent World Cup in which they
took champions Germany into
extra time in the last 16.
One of the team’s stars, Porto
winger Yacine Brahimi, was recently voted the BBC’s 2014
Blanc feeling the
pressure at PSG
Toure, Cheick Tiote and Wilfred
The team, under coach Herve
Renard, will take on Guinea, Mali
and Cameroon in group D.
Midfielder Yaya Toure, who
was pivotal for English Premier
League champions Manchester
City, will captain the Elephants
after the retirement from international football of striker Didier
“Ivory Coast have a history of
underperforming in major tournaments and Toure will have to
play as well he does for Manchester City if the team is to reach the
finals of the tournament,” Palacios said.
The Black Stars of Ghana, who
are also in Group C, are another
team to watch but have a tough
challenge against Algeria, Senegal
and South Africa.
Coach Avram Grant has been
forced to leave two of his stars,
defender Jeffrey Schlupp and
striker Majeed Waris, out of his
final squad of 23, due to injury.
Two others top players, Sulley
Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng, have been left out after being
suspended indefinitely for gross
misconduct during the World
Cup last year.
Crystal Palace striker Kwesi
Appiah has been included, after scoring for the Black Stars
in a warm up game in Portugal
last week. He will make his Afcon debut with Daniel Amartey,
Baba Rahman, Frank Acheampong and David Accam. Striker
Asamoah Gyan will captain the
A dark horse for the tournament is Burkina Faso, in Group A
with Equatorial Guinea, Gabon
and Congo.
“They are looking very dangerous,” Palacios said. “In the end,
this tournament is very difficult
to predict. We’ll speak again after
the final.”
Nigerian football legend Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha also picks
Algeria, Ivory and Ghana as his
Nigeria won the 2013 edition of
the tournament but did not qualify for Equatorial Guinea.
“For me, the favourites are Algeria, Ghana, Tunisia and Ivory
Coast who for some time now
have always been tipped to win
the Afcon,” Okocha told French
football website Le Buteur.
“Algeria is likely to advance to
the quarter-finals. I would say
the team has the chance to win
the African Cup.
“We saw how well they performed at the last World Cup
- advancing to the last 16 was a
respectable achievement. Algeria
also had a very good run in the
Afcon qualifying which shows
The tournament was initially
scheduled to be hosted by Morocco, but the Moroccan government’s request for a postponement because of the Ebola virus
epidemic in West Africa was rejected by the African Football
Confederation CAF. Morocco
were then excluded and Equatorial Guinea stepped in.
The tournament kicks off in
Bata with Equatorial Guinea and
Congo playing opening match.
The final will be played in the
same venue on February 8.
uventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has indicated
the future of star midfielder Paul Pogba could lie
elsewhere, as the champions look
to tighten their grip on Serie A
with another home game against
Verona tomorrow.
Pogba has become an integral
part of Juve’s midfield since joining the Italian giants in 2012 on
a free transfer from Manchester
However the 21-year-old
Frenchman has risen to global
prominence and an elite handful of clubs with riches Juventus
can only dream of are waiting in
the wings hopeful of securing his
United, Manchester City, Real
Madrid, Bayern Munich and
Paris Saint Germain were put on
red alert in midweek when Allegri
told reporters: “Regarding Pogba,
we have to live in the present. We
don’t know what will happen in
“A lot of clubs are looking
at him, but that’s normal. He’s
young, strong and has yet to reach
his full potential as a player.”
Juventus host Verona for the
second time this week tomorrow—four days after a 6-1 drubbing of the Gialloblu in the last
16 Cup win in Turin—looking to
retain their three-point lead on
Allegri hedged his bets, rested strike pair Carlos Tevez and
Fernando Llorente for the last 16
tie and his choice was vindicated
as striker Sebastian Giovinco hit
a brace and Pogba another in the
one-sided display.
meanwhile face scrutiny in a potentially treacherous trip away
to Palermo less than a week after Francesco Totti saved their
blushes with a brace to snatch a
point from a 2-2 draw with city
rivals Lazio.
Totti is likely to miss the trip
to Sicily because of flu symptoms
and Palermo, who were unbeaten
since October before last week’s
4-3 defeat away to Fiorentina,
will be no pushover.
Palermo are being watched
closely by clubs desperate to lure
one of their star players, Paulo
Dybala, whose nine goals and
seven assists so far have reportedly made him a transfer target
for the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal
and Liverpool.
Like Juventus, Palermo owner
Maurizio Zamparini could cash
in come June, although the Italian with the reputation for his
trigger-happy firing of coaches
has slapped a prohibitive valuation of “over 40m euros” on the
“Dybala is worth over
EUR40m, but I won’t sell him
until June,” Zamparini told Radio
“A lot of foreign clubs are
courting him, including Manchester United. I told them he
isn’t for sale right now but that
we could come to the table again
in six months.”
With Juve and Roma setting
the pace, the battle continues
for third-place supremacy with
no less than seven clubs between
one and six points behind Lazio,
third at 12 points behind Juve.
Lazio showed last week they
have the mettle to challenge the
likes of Napoli and both Milan giants for the third and final spot in
next season’s Champions League.
Milan, eighth at 17 points
adrift of Juventus and five behind
Lazio, host Atalanta tomorrow
looking to end their three game
winless streak.
City rivals Inter, who sit ninth
a point further adrift, could give
recent signing Xherdan Shaqiri
his debut away to struggling Empoli in today’s early game.
The Swiss international signed
on a four-and-a-half-year deal
from Bayern Munich last week,
said he has joined the club with
firm ambitions.
Gulf Times
Saturday, January 17, 2015
City host Arsenal
to kick off key
two-match stretch
‘We now have Arsenal and Chelsea coming up, but this is the Premier
League, you have to play against tough teams and you can’t choose when’
Chelsea not signing
new players, says
remier League leaders
Chelsea are not planning
on doing business during the January transfer
window, manager Jose Mourinho
said yesterday.
Mourinho’s men have topped
the table for most of the season
but having let a six-point lead
slip to two in recent weeks with
Manchester City hot on their
tails, British media speculated
Chelsea could bolster their defence.
The Portuguese, though, said
he was happy with his squad and
had no plans to buy defensive
reinforcements despite his back
four being carved apart in a 5-3
defeat at local rivals Tottenham
Hotspur two weeks ago.
“I’m happy with the squad,
it is not a big group but a good
group,” Mourinho told a news
conference ahead of his team’s
visit to Swansea City today.
“I’ll be happy if nobody leaves
or nobody comes but the market
is open so you never know.
“I have the two best goalkeepers in the Premier League, I have
fantastic defenders. The team
defends very well. We conceded
five in one game and that is better than conceding one each
in five matches and losing five
Title rivals Manchester City
have already added to their
squad with the signing of Ivory
Coast striker Wilfried Bony from
Swansea for a reported 30 million pounds ($45.54 million) on
Asked for his view on the deal,
Mourinho remained unmoved by
City’s new signing.
“Well done. He is a good player
and a good striker,” Mourinho
said. “If they have the money and
can spend the money and have
no problems with Financial Fair
Play, well done.
“They can only play with 11
though. If Bony plays and Dzeko
is on the bench then I am happy
with that. But to have Aguero,
Jovetic, Bony and Dzeko is magnificent.”
Mourinho faced the media
yesterday for the first time after
missing last week’s press conference before a win against Newcastle United.
He had refused to face reporters after being charged with
misconduct by the Football Association for claiming there was
a campaign against Chelsea following a draw at third-placed
“Now I am in conditions to
control myself and a week ago I
couldn’t control my words so to
avoid bigger problems I stayed
away,” Mourinho explained.
“I am not interested in the FA
charge, I just ignore it and get on
with my job.”
Everton’s English midfielder Ross Barkley (2nd R) heads towards goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park
in Liverpool, north west England on January 10. City will be aiming to bounce back from the 1-1 setback when they take on Arsenal tomorrow.
anchester City begin a twogame stretch this weekend
that could go a long way in
determining if they retain
their Premier League title.
The defending champions host fifthplace Arsenal tomorrow, followed by a
January 31 visit to leaders Chelsea.
While City are unbeaten in 12 league
matches, an unexpected 2-2 draw with
Everton last weekend dropped them two
points back of Chelsea.
“We now have Arsenal and Chelsea coming up, but this is the Premier
League, you have to play against tough
teams and you can’t choose when,” City
midfielder Fernandinho said. “If you
want to fight for the title, you have to
play to win these games.
“They are two difficult games, two
great teams. We’ll see who is in command after these two games. But it can
help to win the title.”
Arsenal are in a crowded fight for a
top-four finish and a spot in the Champions League. The Gunners are fifth, one
Fixtures (all times Qatar)
Today: Aston Villa v Liverpool (6pm)
Burnley v Crystal Palace (6pm)
Leicester City v Stoke City (6pm)
Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United (6pm) Swansea City v
Chelsea (6pm) Tottenham Hotspur v
Sunderland (6pm) Newcastle United
v Southampton (8.30pm)
Tomorrow: West Ham United v Hull
City (4.30pm) Manchester City v
Arsenal (7pm)
Monday: Everton v West Bromwich
Albion (11pm)
point behind Manchester United, but
just four points ahead of Liverpool in
Arsenal have won just one of their last
five visits to the blue side of Manchester and suffered a 6-3 defeat last season. That, though, was without Alexis
Sanchez, who’s shone in his first season
at the club by scoring 18 goals.
“He’s got the whole package and
hopefully it will continue because ultimately that is going to help us,” midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain told
Arsenal’s website.
Chelsea visit a Swansea side who begin life without Wilfried Bony, after the
striker’s move to Man City on Wednesday. That’s opened the way for Bafetimbi
“I’ve got 100 per cent faith in Bafe,”
manager Garry Monk said. “I think the
more game time for Bafe he gets, the
more used the team will get when we’re
playing him.”
Southampton hope to continue their
fine run of form with a visit to Newcastle. The Saints are unbeaten in five in
the league, including a 1-0 win at Manchester United last time out that vaulted
them up to third place.
Manchester United go to Queens Park
Rangers looking to rebound from their
first loss in 11 games. While QPR are
next-to-last, they’ve enjoyed success
at home where they’ve secured all 19 of
their points this season.
“This United game is a big one for us,”
defender Steven Caulker said on QPR’s
website. “At home our form in the league
has been good and we want to maintain
“We know a result against United will
have the table looking a lot healthier and
set us up much better for going into the
back-end of the season.”
Meanwhile, only nine points separate
bottom club Leicester City (17) with 11th
placed Stoke City (26) while only three
points cover the bottom six.
Today sees two of the clubs in the mire
meet in a so-called ‘six pointer’ when
17th placed Burnley (20 points) take on
15th placed Crystal Palace (20) at Turf
Sean Dyche’s Burnley, promoted last
season, have hit form at an opportune
time, drawing with Manchester City and
Newcastle United and beating Queens
Park Rangers in their last three league
games. Palace came from behind to beat
Tottenham Hotspur last week in Alan
Pardew’s first game in charge.
Both clubs will see the game as a massive opportunity to strike a direct blow
against one of the sides around them
and edge towards the predicted 36-point
safety target.
With Pardew taking the reins at his old
club Crystal Palace in the wake of Neil
Warnock’s sacking and former Palace
boss Tony Pulis replacing Alan Irvine at
West Bromwich Albion the managerial
merry-go-round has started.
City’s Nasri out for
up to four weeks
with calf injury
Van Gaal issues Falcao warning M
manager Louis van
Gaal said yesterday
that striker Radamel Falcao must prove himself, warning that a player’s financial value never influenced
his selection policy.
The Colombia international
was left out of van Gaal’s 18-man
match day squad for United’s 1-0
loss to Southampton last weekend as the Dutchman instead
named three centre-backs—
Jonny Evans, Tyler Blackett and
Paddy McNair—on the substitutes’ bench.
Van Gaal later insisted that
Falcao, who has scored three
goals in 11 games for United, had
been left out for tactical reasons.
Falcao joined United in a loan
deal worth £16 million ($24 million, 21 million euros) which includes wages, from AS Monaco
in August and the Red Devils
have the option to make it per-
manent after the end of the season for an additional £44 million.
Van Gaal also insisted the financial value of a player remains
secondary to what they produce
on the pitch.
“He (Falcao) has to prove himself, that we have agreed,” van
Gaal told a news conference yesterday. “Because of that we have
made this deal and everything is
clear. It is not the end of the year
so he has a chance.
“It is the quality of the training sessions and quality in his
matches and I have to have a
game plan,” he added.
“I explained it after the
Southampton game. If a player
cost £95 million or £5,000 it
makes no difference to me.
“You have to prove yourself
and a player of £95 million has to
prove himself too.”
Despite his assessment, the
Dutch manager said there were
no issues with the confidence of
Falcao, who has also struggled
with injuries since arriving at
Old Trafford.
“Is his morale good? I think
so,” added van Gaal
“You will have to wait and
see if he plays. Because if I say
that then part of my line-up his
“Then I make it easy for my
opponent and I don’t want to
make it easy.”
United will check on the fitness of Netherlands striker
Robin van Persie, who is nursing
an ankle problem, ahead of their
Premier League clash away to
Queens Park Rangers on Saturday while winger Ashley Young
remains out with a hamstring
“We have to wait and see with
Robin,” van Gaal, whose side are
currently fourth in the table,
“In the Netherlands they said
he was injured but we shall see.
I’m busy looking up not looking
down.” Van Gaal also claimed
that QPR will provide a stern test
for his players at Loftus Road
even though Harry Redknapp’s
side are battling to avoid relegation from the top-flight.
Samir Nasri will
game against former
club Arsenal after being ruled out
for up to a month with a calf injury,
manager Manuel Pellegrini said
The France playmaker is also
likely to sit out their crucial clash
with Premier League leaders
Chelsea on Jan. 31, but there was
better news on the injury front
for City fans with captain Vincent Kompany and striker Sergio
Aguero declared fit.
“Unfortunately, Samir Nasri
has a calf injury so he will not be
fit. I think he will be out for around
three weeks to a month,” Pellegrini
told reporters.
“Vincent Kompany is 100 percent fit. We have some doubts
about Edin Dzeko. We will see tomorrow the squad list.”
The Chilean coach was again
pressed on the future of Yaya
Toure, who is away at the African
Nations Cup, after the midfielder
refused to confirm he would be at
the club next season in an interview with CNN.
Pellegrini, however, seemed
“I think Yaya is 100 percent
committed with our team and
with this team. I don’t have any
doubts about that,” he said.
City’s title challenge suffered
a blow as they were held to a 1-1
draw by Everton on Saturday
which left them two points behind
Having drawn two of their last
three league games, City need a
victory to stay on the coat-tails of
Jose Mourinho’s side, who could
extend their lead to five points
with victory over Swansea City on
“It’s a very important game,”
Pellegrini said.
“Arsenal are not at the top of
the table at the moment but they
always have high targets. Both
teams play very attractive football
so I hope we are going to see a very
good match.”
City reinforced their attacking
options this week with a 28-million pound ($42.4 million) deal for
striker Wilfried Bony, but will not
be able to call on his services until
he returns from the Nations Cup
with Ivory Coast.
Pellegrini stressed that the arrival of the powerhouse forward
does not spell the end of the road
for Stevan Jovetic at the Etihad
“Bony is replacing Alvaro (Negredo), not Jovetic. Stevan is a
very important player for us,” he
“We sold Alvaro because he had
personal problems and did not
want to continue here.”
Saturday, January 17, 2015
I still believe in this
team: Belmadi
Qatar now turn attention to qualifying for 2018 World Cup
Japan close
to last 8,
stay alive
Qatar coach Djamel Belmadi leads a team training session in Sydney yesterday.
atar’s early exit from the Asian
Cup has raised the stakes for
their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign as they work towards hosting the tournament in 2022.
Success in Australia was supposed to
mark another step in Qatar’s progress
but a 4-1 defeat to UAE, followed by a 1-0
reverse to Iran, has ended their quarterfinal ambitions.
Coach Djamel Belmadi was expecting
much more from the recently crowned
Gulf Cup champions, but he said he still
had faith in his players.
“We wanted really to qualify at least for
the second round... but I still believe in
this group,” the Algerian told media late
on Thursday after the loss to Iran.
“There are a lot of young players, they
have quality and if we take care of them
we can have a better team, especially for
the next qualification for the World Cup.”
Qatar were ultimately punished for
their off-day against UAE, when they let
slip a 1-0 lead with slack defending and
goalkeeping a big factor in the eventual
Despite an improved performance
against Iran, they were undone by Sardar
Azmoun’s brilliant solo goal and Team
Melli should have scored more as Qatar
left gaps at the back.
The Asian flop ends one of the few opportunities for big-tournament experi-
ence open to Qatar, who start their 2018
World Cup qualifying campaign later this
Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup has
been shrouded in controversy and the
highly ambitious Gulf state will be desperate to build a creditable team for 2022.
But Belmadi said the Asian Cup could
prove valuable experience for his team,
adding that with an average age in the
mid-twenties, some of them could figure
in 2022.
“The experience is so important. Today
our average age was around 24-25 years
old. Most of our players hadn’t played in
a competitive tournament like this,” he
“They can learn in many ways. First to
deal with the environment. As you could
see today the stadium was filled with Iran
“We don’t choose to play in this kind
of environment in our country. Also with
the intensity of the game, I think the
players now know any wrong pass, wrong
control can make a big difference in the
game and you could see that today.
“It was a normal situation and then
we conceded a goal. I hope we learn from
Belmadi said he expected members of
Qatar’s youth team, who won last year’s
under-19 Asian Cup in Myanmar, to also
figure in 2022.
He will be hoping he can stick around
to shape the World Cup side, with trigger-happy Qatar going through no fewer
than 30 different coaches since 1990.
apan defeated Iraq 1-0 to
move three points clear
at the top of Asian Cup
Group D while Hamza alDaradreh bagged four goals to
become tournament top scorer
as Jordan kept their hopes alive
with a 5-1 drubbing of Palestine.
After a slow start, Jordan
stormed to a three-goal lead at
half time and eventually won
in style thanks to a wonderful
strike from Yousef Ahmad andal-Daradreh heroics.
It was Jordan’s first win since
March 2014 and the first under the guidance of coach Ray
Wilkins. Japan top the group
on six points thanks to Keisuke
Honda converting a 23rd minute
penalty after he was fouled in
the box. The all-action Honda
had a busy match, also hitting
the woodwork on three separate
occasions. Jordan are level with
Iraq in second, on three points
but having lost when the teams
met, must get a better result
against Japan in their last game
than Iraq manage against Palestine to progress.
“I don’t suppose we could
have asked for it to go too much
better from the goal-scoring
perspective,” Wilkins said. “I’ve
been hoping they could get a
victory to get their confidence
“They are a young side.
They’re good boys though and
they try to implement everything I ask of them. It doesn’t
always come off I can assure
you, but today was one of those
Iraq fought gamely against
Japan but despite peppering
the Japanese box with several
set pieces, failed to get a clear
chance in front of keeper Elji
Japan started brightly on what
was Yasuhito Endo’s 150th cap
and Honda could have opened
the scoring when he headed
onto the post from point-blank
Moments later he did find the
net from the spot as two Iraq
defenders sandwiched him in
attempting to clear after Shinji
Okazaki was denied by a superb
save by Jalal Hassan Hachim.
After the break Honda hit the
bar from 20 yards with a swerving shot which left Hachim nowhere and his frustration grew
as he somehow contrived to hit
the post from Shinji Kagawa’s
cross with the goal gaping.
Iraq had a fair share of possession but the Japanese defence was always in control and
Kawashima was called into action for only a couple of routine
In Melbourne, the game burst
to life in the 34th minute when
Ahmad curled in a superb opening goal from the corner of the
box to give Jordan the lead.
Just 60 seconds later the advantage was doubled by Al Dardour when he tapped home a
shot from Abdallah Deeb which
was heading just the wrong side
of the post.
And when al-Daradreh was
again on hand to provide a simple finish to Odai al-Saify’s
cross, Jordan were cruising.
Palestine had struck the bar
through Hisham Salhi early on
but the minnows made defensive mistakes which were harshly punished at this level.
After the break al-Daradreh
raced clear to complete his hattrick in 75 minutes and five minutes later he converted a cross
from Oday Zahran to overtake
the United Arab Emirates’ Ali
Mabkhout as top scorer in the
Palestine refused to give up
and Jaka Hbaisha claimed their
historic first goal at the finals
with a late consolation, firing
home a free kick at the back
Ginola paid to run for FIFA job
Former footballer David Ginola from France adjusts his tie before speaking at a
press conference in London where he announced his campaign to stand for the
FIFA presidency.
ormer France international
David Ginola’s unlikely bid to
“refresh football” by challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA
presidency yesterday took an early
twist when it emerged he was paid by a
bookmaker to stand.
The 47-year-old revealed he was
being paid £250,000 ($379,290,
EUR327,297) by betting company Paddy Power to throw his hat into the ring.
But if he is to have his name on a ballot paper, Ginola needs the support of
at least five member countries.
And the former Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur favourite’s cause was
not helped when, under questioning
from journalists at a news conference in
London, he was unable to name a single member of global governing body
FIFA’s executive committee.
Earlier yesterday, in an appeal for public support, Ginola said on his Twitter
account “I am standing for FIFA president and I need you on my team.”
“It is time that football was refreshed,” Ginola told the Sun tabloid.
“We have to be brave and deal with
what is going on in this game we love.”
He added: “I know it will not be easy
for me to be elected but I have to try. I
always did my best on the pitch and I
will do the same now.”
There are doubts whether Ginola will
even be allowed to stand, let alone unseat Blatter.
Candidates must have played an active role in football administration for
two of the past five years—whether
Ginola’s consultancy work for French
third tier club Etoile Frejus St Rafael
counts is unclear.
They must also be nominated by five
member associations, something many
pundits feel Ginola has little chance of
However, Ginola invited fans and
other groups to join ‘Team Ginola’, with
his campaign already backed by pressure group ChangeFIFA.
“I’m standing because like you, I love
football,” said Ginola in a video posted
on the website.
“Whether you are on the terraces or
on the pitch we all know that the FIFA
system isn’t working,” he added.
“The game needs to change, but I
can’t change it on my own. I need you
to stand up and change it with me.
“By joining Team Ginola you are saying ‘yes’ to a FIFA built on democracy,
transparency and equality. You are saying ‘yes’ to a FIFA which cares about
one thing—football.”
Ginola follows fellow Frenchman
Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA official, and Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin alHussein, a FIFA vice-president, into
the election fray.
Potential candidates have until January 29 to put their names forward. The
FIFA Congress with the election will be
held in Zurich in May.
Blatter, 78, who has been at the top
of FIFA since 1998 is widely expected to
secure a fifth term in office.
After moving to England from Paris
Saint-Germain in 1995, Ginola played
for several Premier League clubs.
Renowned for his model good looks
and flowing hair, as much as his football skill, Ginola—capped 17 times by
France—was named England’s Footballer of the Year in 1999, the same year
he helped Spurs win the League Cup.
Hamza al-Daradreh of Jordan (L) celebrates his goal with Yousef
Ahmad Mohamed during their Group D Asian Cup match in
Melbourne yesterday.
Japan were never in danger: Aguirre
Japan coach Javier Aguirre said
the defending Asian Cup champions were never in any real
danger despite only narrowly
beating Iraq 1-0 yesterday.
Keisuke Honda’s first-half
penalty proved the difference as
Japan, who won a record fourth
title in 2011, went three points
clear at the top of Group D.
“It was a very complicated game
because Iraq defended well and
we couldn’t penetrate,” Aguirre
told reporters. “We had chances
to score more goals and couldn’t
convert, but we took three
points and didn’t pick up any
injuries so I’m very happy.”
Japan playmaker Shinji Kagawa
had voiced concern about the
Brisbane humidity in the buildup to the game, mindful of last
year’s World Cup flop in similarly
sapping conditions in Brazil.
“There was some fatigue
towards the end,” conceded
Aguirre, whose side had
thrashed Palestine 4-0 in their
opening game. “But the players
did well. Luckily we got into a
nice rhythm early on.”
Man-of-the-match Honda
squandered a string of chances,
hitting the framework three
times, arguably the most glaring
miss when he hit the post in the
second half with the goal at his
However, he converted the
decisive kick of the game with a
well-taken penalty, sending Jalal
Hassan the wrong way as he
rolled the ball into the goalkeeper’s left-hand corner.
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