Ammon News, Editor's Choice

Jordan, 6 countries agree to establish East Mediterranean gas forum

[1/14/2019 3:22:20 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Seven countries, including Jordan, announced at a meeting of energy ministers in Cairo on Monday the establishment of the "East Mediterranean Gas Forum" based in the Egyptian capital. Energy ministers from Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Italy, Israel, Cyprus and Greece, signed on the agreement to create the forum, which aims at establishing a regional gas market that serves the interests of members by providing supply and demand, optimizing resource development, rationalizing the cost of infrastructure, offering competitive prices and improving trade relations, the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum said in a statement on Monday. The ministry added that neither the Eastern Mediterranean producing or consuming countries, or transit countries, could join the forum later. Partners in the forum to be created said they aim to "establish an international organization that respects members' rights on their natural resources in accordance with principles of international law as well as supporting their efforts to benefit from their reserves, using infrastructure and building a new structure in order to secure their energy needs for the well-being of their people." Ministers called on their countries' officials to start formal talks on the structure of the forum and present their proposals to the next ministerial meeting scheduled in April, according to the statement.

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Armed Forces revises anti-terrorism strategy

[1/8/2019 12:00:05 PM]

AMMONNEWS - The Jordan Armed Forces- Arab Army (JAF) Tuesday announced an updated strategy to counter terrorism and extremist ideology upon a directive by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Freihat, it said in a statement. The strategy, which aims at protecting JAF members and taking pre-emptive measures to keep pace with the change in the strategic environment, was compatible with the anti-terrorism strategy of the various state institutions and security bodies. It also reflects His Majesty King Abdullah, the Supreme Commander's vision calling for the rejection of extremist ideology, drying up the resources of terrorism and portraying the tolerant image of Islam that was expressed by the King in global forums.

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More than 400 Syrian refugees return home from Jordan since start of year

[1/8/2019 7:18:28 AM]

AMMONNEWS - After a period of stability in many Syrian regions, more than 400 Syrian refugees, who were displaced because of terrorism, returned home from Jordan through the Nasib-Jaber border crossing, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported . Since the beginning of January 2019, the crossing received about 404 Syrian refugees holding temporary pass tickets, Head of the Immigration and Passports Department at the Nasib-Jaber border crossing, Mazen Ghandour said. More than 6,000 Syrian refugees have already returned to Syria since the opening of the Nasib-Jaber border crossing in mid-October 2018.

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Pope hails Jordan’s ‘spirit of fraternity’ in welcoming refugees

[1/7/2019 5:24:53 PM]

AMMONNEWS - His Holiness Pope Francis on Monday praised the Kingdom efforts in hosting refugees and the “spirit of fraternity” displayed in the act. The Pope made his remarks during a speech delivered to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on the occasion of the New Year. Pope Francis addressed several international issues, in which he stressed the importance of joint action among nations to reach global justice and peace, especially in the Middle East. Pope Francis commended the “considerable sacrifice” made by Jordan and Lebanon to welcome a large number of refugees “in the spirit of fraternity”, according to the text of the speech, accessed by The Jordan Times. "Nor can we forget the many displaced persons resulting from the conflict; this has created great hardship for neighbouring countries. Once more, I express my gratitude to Jordan and Lebanon for receiving in a spirit of fraternity, and not without considerable sacrifice, great numbers of people,” His Holiness said in his address. “At the same time, I express my hope that the refugees will be able to return to their homelands in safe and dignified living conditions. My thoughts also go to the various European countries that have generously offered hospitality to those in difficulty and danger,” he added. He called on the international community to work for a peaceful solution in Syria, referring to the wave of large-scale displacement caused by the war that affected neighbouring countries. He also expressed hope for the resumption of peace negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis in order to reach an agreement that meets the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples, emphasising the principle of two states living side by side in peace and safety.

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Israel Ready to Build Red Sea-Dead Sea Project With Jordan

[1/2/2019 3:45:37 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Israel’s regional cooperation minister said Israel is ready to move ahead with a multibillion dollar project with Jordan to pipe water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, an idea that’s been on the drawing board for years. Tzachi Hanegbi said he expects the Israeli cabinet to approve the Red Sea-Dead Sea project, which will bring water from the Red Sea to a desalination center in the Jordanian port of Aqaba. The brine byproduct will be piped 200 kilometers (125 miles) north to the Dead Sea, a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west, whose severe shrinkage has created a slew of environmental problems. Each country will pledge $40 million per year to the project for 25 years, Hanegbi said, which would bring the total to at least $2 billion. Jordan’s Ministry of Water didn’t respond to a request for comment. The project could help to relieve a dire water shortage in Jordan, and Palestinians will be able to buy the desalinated water at cost, Hanegbi said. It’s also meant to alleviate the evaporation of the Dead Sea, where Jordan and Israel harvest potash and do a brisk tourism business. A hydroelectric plant will provide power to both countries. Bilateral Tensions The neighbors agreed to work together on the project in 2013, but implementation has been delayed by political tensions including stalled Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and the 2017 killing of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard at the embassy in Amman. Jordan is expected to exhaust its underground freshwater sources in the next 40 years, according to Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization. Israel sees the collaboration as a way to improve ties with Jordan, which have remained frosty despite their 1994 peace agreement. “This is important for regional cooperation,” Hanegbi said in a phone interview. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convinced that peace has a price, and he agreed to it.” Early Elections Hanegbi’s comments come a week after Netanyahu called early elections, moving up the vote from next November to April. The prime minister has made improving ties with the Arab world a priority during his past term. Hanegbi denied Israel’s decision on the water project was connected to the elections, saying it followed months of behind-the-scenes talks with his Jordanian counterpart. National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat also was involved in the negotiations, Hanegbi said. “This is the largest joint project in the Middle East between Israel and an Arab state,” Hanegbi said. “Jordan has severe water issues and Israel wants to maintain Jordan’s stability. It’s the country with which we have our longest border.” A 2014 World Bank feasibility study on the project said that if no action is taken, the area near the Dead Sea will suffer from further sinkholes, mud flats and landslides that will affect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, tourism and the chemical industry. The lake’s water level is declining by more than one meter (3.3 feet) a year. *Bloomberg

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Israel to open new Red Sea airport in Jan near port of Aqaba

[1/2/2019 5:56:43 AM]

AMMONNEWS - the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) announced on Tuesday, January 1, 2019, that Israel’s second international airport is expected to open on January 21, 2019, near the southern Red Sea resort of Eilat. The $500 million Ramon Airport will initially be used for domestic flights, and later will allow international commercial flights, the Israeli Minister of Transportation said in a statement, without revealing the official date of the arrival of the first flight. The airport, which is located 18 km north of the Eilat resort near the Jordanian port of Aqaba, will be able to handle up to 2 million passengers a year upon opening with expansion allowing capacity of up to 4.2 million passengers by 2030, according to the Airport’s official website. The Ramon Airport which was under construction since 2013, will be a gateway for southern Jordan including the resort of Aqaba, and areas of Wadi Rum and Petra, as well as the Taba area of Sinai, in Egypt. The opening ceremony will be held on January 21, 2019 with the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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US military: Syrian army not in Manbij

[12/29/2018 5:13:38 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Syrian army has not entered Manbij, the US military said Friday, after Syrian forces claimed they had gone into the key northern city and raised the national flag. “Despite incorrect information about changes to the military forces in Manbij city, (the US-led coalition) has seen no indication of these claims being true,” US Central Command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Earl Brown said. Manbij is a strategic city close to the Turkish border where Kurdish forces have been deployed since 2016. US and French special operations troops are also stationed there, assisting the Kurds, but the Americans will be withdrawing under a surprise pull-out announced by President Donald Trump last week. Brown called on all parties to respect the “integrity of Manbij and the safety of its citizens.” “Our mission has not changed. We will continue to support our coalition partners, while also conducting a deliberate and controlled withdrawal of forces, while taking all measures possible to ensure our troops’ safety and that of our partners on the ground,” he told AFP. The US withdrawal from Syria has sent Kurdish forces scrambling to find allies to fend off a possible attack from Turkey, which views the fighters as “terrorists.” The Kurds have welcomed a regime advance in Manbij province, a pragmatic shift in alliances that will dash their aspirations for autonomy but could help them cut their losses. *AFP

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