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CAIRO, Sept 16, 2018 – President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has directed the government to expedited action to ensure optimised and ideal utilisation of the country’s petroleum resources and wealth. The presidential directives to this effect came at a meeting that President Sisi called on Sunday with Prime Minister Dr Moustafa Madbouli and Petroleum and Mineral Wealth Minister Tarek el-Mulla, the Presidency Spokesman, Ambassador Bassam Radi said.

In particular, the president directed the government to accelerate the completion of petroleum refining projects so as to narrow the gap between the import and consumption of petroleum products and achieving the availability of such products from local refineries, spokesman Radi said.

The presidential directives also called for the addition of new petroleum refining projects and production units in a number of governorates, especially including Alexandria, Assiut and Suez. President Sisi also stressed the importance of adopting the most up-to-date scientific approaches to the development of the petroleum sector with all its components and that the human resources be the focus of the development process through raising the efficiency of workers in this sector, advancing their skills and applying a modern system for the management of human resources.

In the course of the meeting, President Sisi’s directives called for commitment to the preset timetable for the development of the Zohr natural gas field in order to achieve its maximum production capacity which has now reached 2 billion cubic feet per day, Ambassador Radi said, adding that the Petroleum Ministry and affiliate bodies were directed to remove any hurdles that may hamper the field’s development.

By the Gazette Editorial Board

Anti-Hezbollah forces are allegedly manoeuvring to delay the formation of the government until an international Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) issues its conclusion in September on the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri (father of appointed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri). 

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned his adversaries that they would be ‘playing with fire’ if they associated the formation of the government with the STL’s decision in September. The Lebanese authorities have cooperated with the tribunal since it was established by the UN’s Security Council in March 2009. Nasrallah maintains that the investigation is a tool of Israel and the United States.

The September verdict will definitely create a new situation in the political life of Lebanon, undermining Hezbollah’s credibility. The STL’s decision this month will give appointed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri the opportunity to safely and legitimately get rid of Hezbollah ministers—the alleged assassins of his father—in his new government.  Hezbollah, already categorised as a terrorist organisation by the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, won the majority of votes in the recent Lebanese general elections.

Nasrallah said in a televised speech earlier this week: “The STL does not mean anything to us at all and its rulings are of no value, regardless of whether they condemn or acquit.” He sternly warned ‘those betting on the tribunal: do not play with fire’. Hezbollah’s political opponents reacted immediately, calling the speech a threat to the state.

Appreciating the sensitivity of the situation, pro-Hezbollah President Michel Aoun notified the appointed Prime Minister that time was running out and efforts to form a new government should be speeded up. Aoun is allegedly considering suggestions that the appointed Prime Minister, Saad al-Hariri, should be replaced by someone, who is capable of forming the government. If the President adopted this alternative, however, the situation in Lebanon would explode.

El-Hariri was assigned to form a new government three months ago. Since then, he has been weighing carefully whether his new government should include ministers belonging to Hezbollah. El-Hariri is also unwilling to normalise his country’s relations with Syria. Both Aoun and Hezbollah reject al-Hariri’s anti-Syria attitude.

The STL Trial Chamber has scheduled oral closing arguments in the assassination case of the ex-Prime Minister for the period between Sep. 11 and Sep. 21. Four Hezbollah operatives are being tried in absentia over their alleged role in the killing. The STL Prosecution has recently submitted a “Final Trial Brief” that explains the links between Hezbollah and the supposed assassination squads, and draws attention to meetings and phone calls between senior Hezbollah and Syrian officials prior to the February 2005 attack.  It remains uncertain, which of the sparring factions will have to throw in the towel.


LONDON, August 29, 2019 (Reuters) - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asked the government to work “day and night” to resolve economic problems, as parliament increases pressure on President Hassan Rouhani over handling the economic hardship following US sanctions.

“We need to be strong in the economic field ... The officials should work hard day and night to resolve the problems,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by the state television in a meeting with Rouhani and his cabinet on Wednesday.

CAIRO, Aug 20, 2018 (MENA) - Finance Minister Mohamed Maiet said the government is keen on implementing major projects, with investments worth LE5 billion, in the education and transport fields through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programme.

There is full coordination between the finance, education and higher education and scientific research ministries to speed up the implementation of these projects that will help boost Egypt's economy.

In a statement on Monday, the minister said following Eid el-Adha vacation, the PPP Central Unit, representing the Finance Ministry, will finalise procedures to establish 1,000 language schools.

The projects aim at shoring up the state plans to develop the education sector in line with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi's directives.

BENI SUEF, August 15, 2018 (MENA) - President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stressed on Wednesday that the government is keen on securing the needs of the local market and reducing Egypt's import bill.

Producing needed products will save hard currency and, hence, contribute to currency stability, in addition to creating jobs for youths, he said.

During the inauguration of a cement and marble industrial complex in the Upper Egypt governorate of Beni Suef, the president said the project will secure about 2,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs.

The marble complex will create 3,000 jobs in Upper Egypt, he added.

BAGHDAD, July 27, 2018 (News Wires) - Iraq’s top Shiah cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for a government to be formed as soon as possible to tackle corruption and poor basic services.

In a Friday sermon delivered by a representative, Sistani also encouraged the incumbent government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to respond urgently to protesters’ demands seeking better basic services and jobs.

“The current government must work hard urgently to implement citizens’ demands to reduce their suffering and misery,” Sistani’s representative said in the Shiah holy city of Kerbala.

Anger is mounting at a time when politicians are struggling to form a government after the May 12 election, which was marred by allegations of fraud that prompted a recount.

Thousands have protested this month in cities in the long-neglected south, Iraq’s Shiah heartland, against the lack of proper government services.

Sistani said the next prime minister in the new government had to be strong and courageous to fight corruption in government.

“He (the new prime minister) must launch a relentless war against the corrupted and those who protect them,” Sistani’s representative said.



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