Gulf states sideline Arab League in Syria talks


The meeting of Arab foreign ministers scheduled to be held in the Saudi city of Jeddah over the Syrian crisis has been postponed indefinitely without explanation by the Arab League. This “emergency meeting” was to discuss the conflict and the replacement of the UN and international mediator Kofi Annan, who resigned last week after the failure of his peace efforts. The Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi was tipped to succeed him .

However, the foreign ministers of the six Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain) held last night in Jeddah a meeting about the Syrian crisis. Now, this session is expected to take place Tuesday during an Islamic summit in the kingdom following the initiative of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who seeks to mobilize the Muslim world in favor of the uprising in Syria.

Syria, a member of the OIC, “will not be represented at this summit,” according to Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization Islamic Cooperation (OIC), adding that a preparatory meeting of Foreign Ministers would be held Monday and should “decide on a suspension of Syria, recommended by representatives of member countries. ” The organization of this summit, which promises very sharp clashes between Iran, unwavering supporter of Syria, and the GCC, including Saudi Arabia, comes as the UN could not take a firm stand on this issue after the differences arising among members of the Security Council.

It would seem that those parties who declined Iran’s invitation to last Thursday’s “Friends of Syria” summit in Tehran have been forced by that event to step up their own efforts.

Leaders of the Gulf Arab States pose for a photo before the opening session of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh May 10, 2011. (Ho New/Courtesy Reuters)

Four days after launching its ground offensive to cleanse the rebels from Aleppo, tanks and warplanes of the regime of Bashar al-Assad continue to pound several districts of this metropolis in the North of the country. According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), the neighborhoods Shaar, Tariq al-Bab, Hanano, Bustan al-Qasr and Salaheddin are the target of violent firing of artillery by the army.

Shots were also heard in Damascus while the nearby towns of Al-Tal and Harsata were bombed, according to the SOHR.

In Homs, soldiers assisted by militiamen “executed” ten young people in the Shams neighborhood, according to the Syrian National Council, the main opposition coalition. The victims were selected from a crowd of 350 people gathered in one place, said SNC.

Clashes took place elsewhere in the province of Deraa (south), birthplace of the insurgency launched in March 2011 against the Assad regime.

In Beirut, a judicial source said that the Syrian security chief, General Ali Mamluk, is suspected of plotting attacks in Lebanon. Last week, the former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha was arrested . Samaha is a pro-Syrian figure.

Some content via Al Bawaba


Disturbing Mining Sector News from #Mauritania


Some news stories caught my attention today, each relating to mining in Mauritania, which is a major source of income for the country, although only a tiny fraction of the revenue finds its way to the impoverished population.

First, a report [ar] that there are hundreds of unexploited areas of mining potential which have been discovered by surveys – as many as 900 – with less than 300 licences granted so far. The report also claims that contributions from mining have increased by 16%

The next story [ar] is of SAMIA gypsum mine workers appealing to an industry watchdog to investigate the reports made by their employers of profits, which the workers say are inaccurate. The workers believe the joint operation, which is 50% owned by an investor in Kuwait, has made a loss, and that this is attributable to fraudulent practices. They say the Q1 reports were based on erroneous data supporting a 20 million MRO profit when in fact it should register a 60 million MRO loss, and that they have documented evidence of these allegations. Sahara Medias adds that the reporters wanted to contact the company for comment but were unable to find a telephone contact. By common accounts, this is a fairly typical situation for notoriously corrupt Mauritanian commercial dealings: it was described to me as “business as usual”.

These stories brought to mind Kinross Gold’s claims that the strike action which ended a few days ago was causing them to lose vast sums of money, amounts which would transform Tasiast into a far more valuable operation than it is in reality. Interestingly enough, Kinross shares nudged up a little on the news. We know that Kinross was in difficulties after it’s takeover of the Tasiast mine and has written off part of the purchase, which included a massive payout to at least one former director, who was retained as consultant. The $11 billion Canadian company has lost some $3 billion of its worth since the start of 2012 and is embroiled in alleged violations of securities laws, leading analysts to speculate the company may succumb to hostile takeover bids.

Injured MCM mine worker Mohamed Ould Khatari

Finally, there is the sad case of a worker from the Akjoujt mine operated by MCM who was exposed to toxic chemical powder at work and was given only rudimentary treatment (the exposed skin was washed with water). He eventually reported MCM to the gendarmerie for negligence after they refused to send him for a spcialist consultation. He was then sent for medical treatment, but the doctor just prescribed a topical antibiotic and told him to take Paracetamol for the agonising burning pain still affecting his arm, which is covered in irregular lesions.