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Kuwait To Drastically Reduce Expat Workers; Big Blow To Indian, BD Migrant Workers

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Kuwait is looking to reduce its expat population, due to a slump in oil prices and coronavirus, that has strained its economy. If implemented, the decision could be a big blow to Indian migrants working in the Gulf country.

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Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, has announced that the country’s expatriate population should be more than halved to 30% of the total. The announcement comes as the Kuwaiti economy continues to struggles due to the global pandemic and massive drop in oil prices.

The Gulf nation is heavily dependent on foreign workers which amount to nearly 3.4 million of Kuwait’s 4.8 million population. For many years, Kuwait has tried to reduce public-sector expatriates with nationals, but thanks to the coronavirus, this process has now been accelerated.

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The announcement by the government is a rare acknowledgement and renews the push by members of the government to reduce the number of migrant workers, especially unskilled labour since they put the economy under immense strain.

The plan is to implement a quota system and replace all expatriate government employees, estimated at 100,000, with Kuwaitis.

Anti-expat rhetoric is expected to rise further as election day approaches. The government is also looking for means to diversify its economy since the world is moving towards cleaner energy sources. Presently, carbon sales account for an estimated 90% of total government income.

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According to experts at EurAsian Times, if the government decides to implement such a decision, it would be a big blow to Indian migrants workers in Kuwait. The oil-rich country is a favourable destination for workers since it allows tax concessions who send remittances back to India.

Indians constitute the largest group of expatriates in Kuwait, with an estimated population of 1 million and their annual remittances worth $4.8 billion. India is also among Kuwait’s top 10 trading partners, with bilateral trade worth $6.2 billion during 2015-16.

The country is also a popular destination for migrant workers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. In Kuwait, at least 650,000 expatriates, mostly from the above-mentioned countries, are employed as domestic workers alone.

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The proposed move also drew flak from netizens. Critics were quick to point out that small pools of citizens will make replacing many foreign workers difficult, especially in occupations Kuwaitis are reluctant to take up, and will lower overall consumption.

Sajed Al-Abdaly, a prominent political columnist, took to twitter and urged the government to reconsider their move if they want the people to take it seriously.

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The coronavirus has caused oil prices to drop to historic lows, thus sending shudders through rentiers economies of the Middle East. Before the outbreak of the virus, countries in the region leveraged their oil wealth to expand their populations with foreign workers and build vibrant consumer societies.

However, this is set to change with most Gulf expected to run deficits of 15%-25% of economic output, leading to a build-up of debt, dwindling reserves, and tough choices.

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Iran blames ‘wrong setting’ of missile defence system for shooting-down Ukrainian jet

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The air defence system, which accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger in January in Tehran was misconfigured due to the fact that it had been shifted a day earlier, according to a report from Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.

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Iran said it accidentally shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after take-off, killing all 176 aboard. Decoding of the jet’s black boxes is expected to start July 20.

The passenger plane was hit by two missiles, fired 30 seconds apart, from a missile defence system that confused the jet for a cruise missile.

An operator had forgotten to re-adjust the north direction on the radar system after moving to a new position, an error that contributed to misreading the radar’s data, according to the report published on Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization website.

“The operator of the air defence system launched a missile at what it had detected as a hostile target without a response from the command center,” CAO said in the report, adding that an unnamed person took action independently and without authorization.

The statement said the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military center” of the Revolutionary Guard. It also blamed the “highest level of readiness” resulting from tensions with the United States.

The admission came after Tehran had outrightly denied claims of downing the passenger jet and accused the US of “spreading lies” about intelligence suggesting they did. Of the 176 people killed in the crash, most were Iranian and Canadian nationals.

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Rafale jets dodge all radars, air defence systems; bombs Turkish facilities in Libya

The Dassault Rafale is a French multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions.

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Recently, the al-Watiya airbase in Libya was reportedly bombed by Rafale jets, which either belonged to France or Egypt, the two nations within the range of the base that possesses these (Rafale) aircraft, writes the Arab Weekly.  

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The report quoting its sources called the attack by Rafale jets as a response to Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar’s visit to Libya.

The Turkish presence in Libya is highly undesirable to both Egypt and France and the former has even warned to intervene militarily in Libya if the Turkish-backed militias tried to head towards Sirte. France has also called the Turkish moves as “unacceptable,” emphasising that it would not permit this to continue.

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But this recent airstrike on al-Watiya airbase reportedly by 4++ generation Rafale jets displayed that the boundaries in airspace differ from the boundaries on land drawn by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Indeed, basing fighter jets and drones in al-Watiya pose a direct threat to any military deployed in the region.

Sisi has discussed the possibility of directly intervening in Libya, pointing out that Egypt “will not allow the conflict in Libya to cross the Sirte line.” He also emphasised that “with regard to Egypt’s security, al-Jufra is a red line that we will not allow any force to cross.”

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The Tripoli government accused “a foreign air force” of bombing al-Watiya base, without furnishing any information on the identity of the aircraft or the targets attacked. Even though Turkish and Qatari media rejected any casualties, the Libyan source, however, claimed that many Turkish soldiers were injured or dead in the airstrikes by Rafale jets.

A retired Libyan army officer revealed to Arab Weekly that a squadron of fighter planes launched a series of airstrikes on al-Watiya base, where Turkey had deployed F-16 aircraft, Bayraktar TB2 and Anka-S drones, backed by a MIM-23 Hawk air defence system with its radars.

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He further said that the air raids targeted the al-Nadab quarters at al-Watiya base, which the Turkish forces on the base had used as their headquarters since last May. Also targeted were Sungur air defence systems, fixed and mobile radar installations and Koral signal jamming system, which the Ankara had deployed at al-Watiya base.

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Libyan parliament member Ibrahim al-Darsi later acknowledged and “the airstrikes were launched by forces all too well-known to us,” and added that the targets of these attacks were “a clear message and constituted a strong and painful slap in the face of Turkish President Erdogan and his proxies in Libya, especially the militia government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.”

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Srebrenica genocide: Pakistan draws similarity between 1995 Srebrenica massacre with Kashmir

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

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Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan on Saturday urged the world community to “learn a lesson” from 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and “not let such massacre happen again.”

“Today, we are observing the 25th memorial anniversary of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica. I still remember the day very well along with most people who have humanity in their hearts. I remember when it happened. we were shocked. We were appalled how in a what was a safe haven of United Nations peacekeeping forces, this massive massacre was allowed to happen.

“I still feel the shock how such a thing could have been allowed by the world community, Khan said in a video message aired by state-run Pakistan Television. “I think, It is important that we learn lessons from that, the world community must never let such things to happen again,” he went on to say.

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

“Today, 800,000 Indian troops have besieged 8 million people of Kashmir. And we all fear a similar sort of massacre might follow there,” he said, adding: “So the world community must take notice, and never allow such acts to take place there.”

Kashmir and Palestine

In a Twitter post, in connection with the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “July 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica Massacre, the murder of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims & ethnic cleansing of over 20’000 people. The world has a collective responsibility to ensure history is not repeated.”

“What is happening in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine is chillingly similar,” he added, referring to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and New Delhi’s scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s longstanding special status in August 2019.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the funeral services and burials.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in this year’s memorial program via video link. During a two-day visit to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo last year for a similar event, Erdogan attended a procession to commemorate thousands of innocents who fell victim to the genocide.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic — later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — overran the UN zone.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica residents fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.

UK ‘stands with’ all feeling Srebrenica genocide pain

British administration on Saturday “reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting reconciliation across the Western Balkans,” on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today (11 July) marks twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statement said.

“Today I stand with all who continue to feel unimaginable pain from the genocide 25 years ago at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

“The United Kingdom has worked to support justice for the victims, find the missing & promote reconciliation,” he added.

Underlining that more than 8,000, mostly Muslim men and boys, were murdered and over 20,000 women and children were forcibly expelled from their homes, the UK urged “all parties to reject hate speech and the glorification of the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes.”

The statement also said the “verdicts from international and domestic courts must be respected.” Raab said: “On the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we remember the victims and the anguish of their families.

“During my time in the Hague between 2003 and 2006, pursuing those responsible for this dark chapter in European history, I was reminded daily of the heinous cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.

“The UK is determined to end impunity and help rebuild those countries affected – as our commitment to the ICC, and UK investment and support for Bosnia demonstrates.”

Turkey pays homage

he Turkish president on Saturday remembered the Srebrenica martyrs on the 25th anniversary of the genocide. “We will always stand by our Bosnian brothers in their search for justice. The Srebrenica Genocide will never be forgotten,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, Erdogan spoke via video link at the memorial ceremony held at the former accumulator factory used by the United Nations troops as a base in the war in Bosnia.

Erdogan stressed that despite all tragedy and tears, European politicians have learned no lessons from Srebrenica Genocide, adding that free use of words that “fuel enmity towards Islam and support xenophobia is a source of concern for our future.”

“Even though it has been a quarter of a century since the genocide, our pain is still fresh. Our hearts wrenched with every mass grave unearthed,” he said. Erdogan wished God’s mercy on Srebrenica martyrs and patience to their families, their loved ones and to all who feel pain in their hearts.

 

By Aamir Latif, Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

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