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Jordan’s Petroleum Woes

You probably thought that you would not live long enough to hear of a nation in the Middle East complain of not having enough oil to supply its population. Well, this is exactly what the Kingdom of Jordan in the Middle East is facing today.

Unlike many other Arab states and Kingdoms in the Middle East, Jordan does not have its own natural source of oil. It therefore imports natural gas and heavy oil from Egypt. However, supplies from Egypt were recently disrupted following an attack on the Arab Gas Pipeline that occurred last month. This attack marked the second Sinai explosion in a period of one month. According to officials in Cairo, the repairs will take between 7 and 10 days to complete.

This however, is unacceptable for Jordan, which relies on Egypt’s natural gas and heavy oil supplies for 80% of its energy production. The Kingdom reports having experienced a loss of up to JD637 million in the first half of this year as a result of the continuous disruptions in the supply of oil from Egypt. The Kingdom is currently purchasing oil from the international market at a cost of more than $3 million per day.


The current high cost of fuel in the international market and the continuous disruptions in oil supplies has led officials from Amman to seek alternative sources of energy. Although the Kingdom is set to receive oil from neighboring Iraq at an $88 per tonne discount, the Kingdom officials still continue to seek alternative sources of energy that are more reliable and pocket friendly.

This is good news for various energy firms around the globe. Plans are underway for the construction of an offshore terminal for liquefied gas at the Port of Aqaba. Construction is set to begin in 2013 and various international firms have expressed interest in the project including Royal Dutch Shell, Al Fijr, Lemont/General Electric and British Petroleum. If all goes according to plan, the Kingdom would greatly reduce its current 30 000 tonnes a day consumption of heavy oil.

The country’s switch to alternative power will also see a reduction in government spending. Jordan currently spends one-fifth of its gross domestic product on the importation of energy to meet the nation’s needs. The country currently imports 97% of its energy. Amman officials are also exploring energy sources such as nuclear power, wind, solar and oil shale.

Dear Mr. Abbas: Good Luck in September Before the General Assembly

Abu Mazen said it! He means it! Go to the General Assembly in September and fight fight fight for statehood!

I hope he wins.

Meanwhile, too many hash smoking Hashemites need to reconsider the Palestinian refugee problem!

Jordan will reportedly be voting against a Palestinian statehood bid scheduled to be put before the UN General Assembly in September.

Et tu brute?

But these are your Muslim brothers and sisters. For many of you, your blood relatives!

One state official of the Hashemite Kingdom was quoted saying:

“Jordan’s top national interests will be in danger if the Palestinian Authority declares statehood unilaterally – especially in everything related to the issue of refugees, water, Jerusalem, and the borders…”

A unilateral Palestinian declaration of state is in Israel’s best interest, said a top-ranking Jordanian official, because it wants the state to be established “within the borders of the separation fence.” This would erase the border between the West Bank and Jordan.

Jordan vehemently opposes this.

Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit said during a press conference that this was:

“The beginning of the exposure of Jordan’s decision to publicly stand its ground before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas”.

Not only does Jordan deny responsibility for displaced Jordanians from the 1967 war, or for Transjordanians, Jordan is actually preparing to cancel the identification papers provided for Palestinian statesmen and their families. The decision is part of a 1988 ruling “to disengage from the West Bank and maintain Palestinian identity“.

Today, 1,951,603 Palestinian refugees are located in Jordan. 338,000 of them are still living in refugee camps. The percentage of Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps in Jordan to those who settled outside the camps is the lowest of all UNRWA fields of operations.

Former UNRWA chief-attorney James G. Lindsay said years ago:

“In Jordan, where 2 million Palestinian refugees live, all but 167,000 have citizenship, and are fully eligible for government services including education and health care.” Eliminating services to refugees whose needs are subsidized by Jordan “would reduce the refugee list by 40%.”

Jordan, Egypt, Grapel

On Friday, more than 500 Jordanians demonstrated outside the prime minister’s office in Amman, pleading for a government free of corruption and other particular. At the same time, some 600 Hashmoneans held pro-reform protests in the southern cities of Tafileh, Karak and Thieban as well as the Northern city of Irbid.

Demonstrators chanted:

“The people want to reform the regime. Speed up democratic reforms now. We want our stolen money back…We demand an incorruptible national salvation government…”

One banner read:

“Democracy means an independent judiciary, honest MP’s and an elected government…”

In Karak, protestors hailed former information minister Taher Adwan who was forced to resign on Tuesday after accusing the government of introducing “restrictive” legislation, he described as a “blow to the reform drive” and “martial laws.”

Heavy protesting in Jordan actually began in January, as Arab citizens throughout the Middle East have demanded political and economic reforms and an end to corruption.

In Jordan, unlike other Arab countries, the protests have usually passed without serious violence.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian Transport Ministry said it was following up with Egyptian authorities on re-opening the maritime line between Aqab and Taba for tourism. These hot resort towns were closed by Egypt.

Meanwhile, in an unrelated story, Jerusalem and Washington held meetings with Cairo on June 13, to release 27-year-old Ilan Grapel, the dual US/Israeli citizen arrested on charges of Mossad affiliated espionage. Israel announced on Monday, Grapel had no connection to Israeli intelligence, whatsoever. Furthermore, the Israeli foreign ministry insisted Cairo had not informed Jerusalem of the arrest.

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials renewed his detention. Grapel will spend 15 more days in an Egyptian jail pending further investigation.

More From Egypt and Elsewhere

As mayhem continues throughout the Middle East, journalists are in danger, and consequently, so is revelation of truth. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by the Committee to Protect Journalists for “an unprecedented and systematic attack” on international reporters.

The committee’s executive director, Joel Simon, said:

“This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism…With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world’s worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran and Cuba…We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented action…and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately.”

Incognito agents have gone so far as to enter hotels and confiscate equipment. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Friday 101 direct attacks on news facilities and journalists. Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud of the newspaper Al-Ta’awun, was shot and killed by sniper fire while filming demonstrations in central Cairo’s Qasr al-Aini, adjacent to Tahrir Square.

Injured Associated Press photographer Khalil HamraAl-Jazzera, BBC, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, the Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN all said they have staff members who’ve been attacked. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also reported that staffers were detained.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, despite the ongoing Internet black-out said:

“There have been no instructions to hinder the coverage of the media in the Tahrir area…I made clear that they have full freedom to do anything they want.”

Egyptian and American sources told the New York Times that Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, who nearly escaped an assassination attempt in recent days that took the lives of two of his body guards, met with army leaders to discuss steps to weaken President Hosni Mubarak’s authority and possibly have him removed him from the presidential palace.

The capital of Sudan, Khartoum, is another city where waves of protests became violent. On Saturday morning, 12 journalists were kidnapped.

Along with similar demonstrations in Syria, Turkey, Malaysia and Iraq, hundreds of Jordanian protesters marched toward the Egyptian embassy in Ankara, calling Mubarak a puppet of Israel. Jordan’s main Muslim opposition, however, said it wants to give their new leader an opportunity to carry out the political reforms promised.

Among reforms that the Jordanian population would like to see are financial. According to a wire by the latest WikiLeaks release, more than 80% of the Hashmonean Kingdom’s budget is spent on “bloated” civil service and a military “patronage system” – including supporting U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The Jordanian government told U.S. diplomats that:

In spite of increased calls by opposition groups and non-governmental figures to explain its Afghanistan assistance and end its security cooper with the United States … Mash’al Al Zaben, Chief of Staff for Strategy, stated that Jordan would stay in Afghanistan until the last U.S. soldier came home.”

Jordan’s deficit hit a record $2 billion this year, while inflation rose six percent and unemployment figures hit 12.9 percent.

The WikiLeaks documents also told of Jordan’s military support to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. According to the ambassador:

“Jordan has already made a significant contribution of forces in Afghanistan (ref B), currently numbered at 850 troops, which includes an infantry battalion, a special operations company, and a field hospital…Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistan. Prince Faisal and Minister Hasan will likely make a number of offers for increased participation in Afghanistan…”

Jordan:

Tweeting around the Egyptian Internet gag order:

Muslim Brotherhood:

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This Dysfunctional Desert

While Bibi says that peace talks could begin as early as the middle of August, only a few days after the Arab League said that it would back direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, five rockets hit the southern town of Eilat and Aqaba, purportedly fired from the Sinai Peninsula. This is just a day after Hamas militants lobbed an upgraded Kassam rocket at Sderot, thereby destroying a hydrotherapy rehabilitation center for children at Sapir College.

Oh and mortar fire too.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator said the Palestinians had submitted a “far-reaching” peace proposal to Barack Obama which would end the conflict with Israel and resolve Palestinian claims – too much hookah puffing?

Obama has pledged to the Palestinians that if Mahmoud Abbas agreed to go into direct talks, there would be an augmentation of the West Bank construction freeze, set to end in late September – too many Marlboro Lights and booze has clearly blurred the President’s Middle East outlook.

As for the Sinai attack, a Jordanian man was killed and three wounded when one of the rockets hit central Aqaba, the Jordanian Red Sea port city. There were, thank God, no casualties reported in Eilat where the rocket struck north of the hotels.

The IDF is in contact with the Jordanian and Egyptian armies.

Egyptian officials told the Israeli media that the attack could not have come from Sinai, which they say is heavily secured – however, Egypt recently sentenced 26 alleged members of a Hezbollah spy cell on charges of plotting attacks on tourist sites and smuggling weapons to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

Will Egypt begin to work closer with the Jewish Country to keep the border secure?

Will Hamas succeed in destroying peace talks between Israel, Fatah and Obama, which will, as always, prove ineffectual, anyway?

Stay tuned and find out…

“Go Home Chomsky!” said Israel, but did they mean it?

A fierce debate was had after Israeli authorities refused to permit Noam Chomsky, linguist and American left icon, to enter Samaria from Jordan.

So, like how can an 81-year-old professor emeritus at MIT pose a risk to Israel? Right?
Noam Chomsky
Mr. Chomsky, a Jew who lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1950s, is a blunt critic of both American and Israeli policy. But a terrorist?

Barring him from entering the West Bank to lecture at Bir Zeit, a Palestinian university, “is a foolish act in a frequent series of recent follies,” said Boaz Okun, the legal commentator of Yediot Aharonot.

“Put together, they may mark the end of Israel as a law-abiding and freedom-loving state, or at least place a large question mark over this notion.”

Government spokespersons were humiliated and issued statements saying that the decision was made by an Interior Ministry official at the Jordan-West Bank border and did not actually represent policy.

“There is no change in our policy”

Said Bibi’s spokesman Mark Regev,

“The idea that Israel is preventing people from entering whose opinions are critical of the state is ludicrous; it is not happening. This was a mishap. A guy at the border overstepped his authority. Upon a second attempt to enter, Mr. Chomsky would succeed…The Jewish Country has no intention of breaking policy — or threatening the spirit of freedom for that matter”.

Chomsky held a television interview from Jordan with Al Jazeera in which he said:

“There were two basic points…One was that the government of Israel does not like the kinds of things I say — which puts them into the category of I suppose every other government in the world. The second was that they seemed upset about the fact that I was just taking an invitation from Birzeit and I had no plans to go on to speak in Israeli universities, as I have done many times in the past, but not this time.”

A conservative group of Parliament members, though, said they had no objection to the decision.

“This is a decision of principle between the democratic ideal — and we all want freedom of speech and movement — and the need to protect our existence,” asserted Otniel Schneller, of Kadima. “Let’s say he came to lecture at Birzeit. What would he say that? That Israel kills Arabs, that Israel is an apartheid state?”

Mr. Chomsky said he had last visited in 1997 and was then refused entry as well, and returned to Amman, the Jordanian capital.
Moustafa Barghouti, Chomsky’s would-be host in the West Bank, condemned Israel’s decision, saying:

“The decision of Israel to prevent Professor Chomsky from entering the Palestinian Territories is a result of the numerous campaigns against Chomsky organized by the Jewish lobby in the United States.”

Last month, Ivan Prado, one of Spain’s very famous clowns, spent six hours at Ben-Gurion airport being questioned by security agents before being sent back to Madrid. He was planning to run a clown festival modeled after one in Spain in Ramallah but was accused of having ties with Palestinian terrorist groups.

Actually, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Mr. Prado was caught lying during questioning at the airport and that his cell phone, which he denied having, contained a telephone number of a Palestinian, considered to be a member of a terrorist group.

Jordan Wants Teva Off Their Turf

Teva (at NASDAQ)A group of Jordanian pharmaceutical companies fear that operations of the Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. may affect them should it decide to cooperate with a local company.

Representatives of the Israeli pharmaceutical giant met with local companies in the framework of a Brazilian industrialists’ delegation. The meeting took place on Thursday in Amman under the guidance of the Amman Chambers of Commerce and Industry, provoking anger from bodies which object to the normalization of relations with the Jewish Country.

They who opposed the meeting had learned of it only a short time before it actually took place. They sent faxes and SMS messages to Jordanian companies in protest, but the messages came too late.

Talal Elabu, a spokesman for the Islamic faction in the Jordanian pharmacists’ union, warned Jordanian companies not to give the Israeli firm “a foot inside the Hashemite Kingdom”.

In the anti-Israel periodical al-Sabeel, Elabu was quoted as saying:

“Teva is one of the biggest companies in the world operating in the field of generic drugs. Every step it takes into the Jordanian market will have a negative effect on our national industry. If it enters the market, we can see this as the end of part of our pharmaceutical industry.”

He hinted that in addition to the Amman Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Jordanian Ministry of Health was also involved in hosting the Israeli company, in contravention of the Pharmacists Union guidelines that forbid commerce with Israeli companies.

“We will respond harshly to any company that cooperates with Teva.”

Who’s Scroll Is It Anyway?

More than 2000-years-old, the Dead Sea Scrolls are far from being a dead issue. A couple of months ago I posted about a battle between two top Jewish American intellectuals who differ in opinion as to who wrote the Scrolls – one held that they were wrote by the Ascetic Jewish sect, the Essenes, where as the other held that they were collected by various scribes throughout the country.
Well now the battle is not between intellectuals, but two governments and incidentally, two religions.

Jordan has complained to the United Nations that the Dead Sea Scrolls belong to them, and Israel should give them up. They claim that the Jewish country seized the ancient texts during the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel had “illegally” annexed East Jerusalem.

Rafea Harasheh of Jordan’s antiquities department said this in a statement:

“The kingdom has filed a complaint to UNESCO that the scrolls belong to Jordan…the government has legal documents that prove Jordan owns the scrolls…we have been trying our best to restore our stolen antiquities, including the scrolls. Stealing our antiquities violates international treaties and ethics…Israel seized the scrolls and other antiquities from the Palestinian Museum, which was managed by Jordan, in east Jerusalem when it occupied this part of the city in 1967.”

The scrolls, some of which as old as the third century BC, were put on display at an exhibit at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum.
In April, top Palestinian officials called on the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to step in and cancel the exhibition.

Furthermore Jordan has asked Canada to seize the scrolls, invoking the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Canada insisted that the situation is between Jordan and Israel. It will be interesting to hear the UN’s take on this.

The Real Indiana Jones

CNN reports:

Archaeologists believe a desert site in Jordan may contain the ruins of the elusive King Solomon’s Mines…. Thomas Levy of the University of California San Diego, who led the research, said carbon dating placed copper production at Khirbat en-Nahas (Arabic for ‘Ruins of copper”) in the 10th century — in line with the biblical narrative of Solomon’s rule.

King Solomon Treasures

Dr. Thomas Levy has succeeded where Harrison Ford keeps failing. Through hard work, and without any acting skills, he and his team are advancing archeology in this region and uncovering the history of this land.

I wonder what they’ll find down there.

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