By David Ariosto, CNN
domingo, 2 de maio de 2010
By Ali Zaidi
Never was there a land more wrapped around a river.
Most people know that Egypt’s economy throughout its history has been based around the Nile — through the millennia the river’s annual flooding has watered and fertilised its farmlands, and from 1902 the Aswan Dam, and from 1970 the Aswan High Dam have controlled the flooding and allowed properly irrigated agriculture.
But for this writer, it took an actual visit to Egypt to appreciate just how central the river is not just to the economy and history but to the cultural, intellectual and spiritual life of the country.
Indeed, as you can see for yourself quite clearly if you fly over it, Egypt is not so much a country as a corridor, a narrow strip of continuously cultivated land on both sides of the river where 90 per cent of the population live — surrounded by burning desert. The river provides up to 90 per cent of the water needs of a country where, especially in Nubia in the south, it sometimes doesn’t rain for years on end.
The fertility of this narrow corridor and the creativity of its people, produced the most spectacular of the ancient civilisations; the country’s subsequent history has been hardly less illustrious – always with a touch of the grandiose – and over the centuries, given its central position in North Africa and the Middle East, coupled with the commerce of the Mediterranean, established itself as the intellectual and cultural centre of the Arab world.
In another direction, south, while the cataracts on the Nile inhibited conquest and commerce, over the centuries, a great variety of peoples moved up the river, and today a large proportion of the population of East Africa are their descendants, the so-called Nilotes.
Egypt has, in that sense, been one of the major historical gateways between the worlds of the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa.
In the middle of the 20th century, under Gamal Abdel Nasser, the country allied itself to the anti-colonial cause, giving significant material and diplomatic support to the Independence movements around the continent.
Today, the country is again compelled to look south, as the talks on a new treaty on the sharing of the river’s waters — to replace the colonial-era treaties that secured it the bulk, 55 billion cubic metres a year out of an annual flow of 84 billion — stumble from crisis to crisis under the aegis of the Nile Basin Initiative.
The trouble is, of course, Egypt itself (and Sudan) — after the latest round, a Cabinet Minister told Parliament. “Egypt’s historical rights to Nile waters are a matter of life and death. We will not compromise them.” Now the other Nile Basin countries are threatening to go ahead and sign a new treaty without Egypt and Sudan.
Recently, a group of journalists from the Nile Basin countries was invited by the Egyptian government on a week-long tour of the country. The idea appeared to be to showcase the formidable expertise in river/water management and other economic benefits that Egypt has to offer the upstream countries (sub-text: as long as you leave our share of the water alone.) We were taken to Cairo, Aswan and Luxor.
We met ministers, government officials, water resource management experts, journalists — we even saw the Pyramids, though our minders’ attitude seemed to be: What’s the big deal?
We visited the Egyptian Museum, saw the superb mosques of old Cairo, took in an awesome light and sound show at the Temple of Karnak. We went on a boat ride on Lake Nasser after a tour of the High Aswan dam, an engineering feat of rugged simplicity pulled off in the teeth of Anglo-American opposition, whose giant turbines were built in (the then) Leningrad and are currently being refurbished by an American company. We had lunch with Boutros Boutros Ghali.
The people we met couldn’t have been friendlier or more forthcoming; every meal was a banquet, every conversation an eye-opener.
There was much agonising over Egypt’s role in Africa; a senior journalist at Al –Ahram, the country’s ‘national’ newspaper, who has covered the continent extensively, lamented that his compatriots’ views of their southern neighbours were so coloured by the stereotypes of war, famine and chaos propagated by the Western press, but also pointed out that people in sub-Saharan Africa harboured equally distorted stereotypes of North Africa and Arabs in general, courtesy of the same Western news agencies.
In private conversations, we found our Egyptian interlocutors deeply fascinated by East Africa’s struggle for democracy — something that they will soon be undergoing themselves, it would appear — and our advances in mobile phone technology. Never mind MPesa, they went round-eyed over borderless networks.
The East African
Asma Ali Zain
Parents expressed concern over the recall of 40 over-the-counter infant’s and children’s liquid medications, including the commonly used Tylenol.
Several parents said they had to make frantic calls to doctors asking if they should continue administering the drug to their children or not. Others asked for alternatives.
The UAE Ministry of Health said on Sunday that it will issue a circular today ordering a local recall of the medications that may include Tylenol, Tylenol Plus, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl.
However, a representative from Glaxo Smith Kline, the company that supplies Zyrtec to the UAE said it was safe for use since the medicine was manufactured in Italy and not the US.
McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the US-based manufacturers of the medicines issued a worldwide voluntary recall on Friday after consulting with the US Food and Drug Administration.
The recall has also been issued in the UAE, the US and 10 other countries.
According to the www.mcneilproductrecall.com that lists all the recalled products, medicine that have not yet expired have been recalled.
The company is advising consumers to stop giving the products to their children as a precautionary measure. The recall was not undertaken because of any adverse effects, the company said.
“We are also following what the company has advised and are asking parents to stop giving the products to their children as a precaution,” said a paediatrician in Dubai who said a number of parents had expressed concern over the news.
A parent, however, said that it was not clear what batches were affected. “I have sizeable stock of medicine and I am not sure if I should dispose of it and use alternatives for my children,” said Mariam Hafeez, a housewife based in Sharjah.
Until Sunday, pharmacies said that they were still stocking and selling the medicine. Ramin, a pharmacist from 32Care Green Pharmacy in Dubai said they had not been asked to remove the medicine from the shelves.
“The medicine is still being supplied and we will continue to sell it until we are asked by the ministry to stop doing so,” he said. Though Tylenol is widely used in the country, Motrin and Benadryl is not available.
Five people have been killed and at least 12 injured in a stampede at a concert in Mexico, police said.
Panic broke out when shots were heard at a pop concert in the the northern state of Nuevo Leon, sending the crowd of 500 people scrambling for cover.
TV images showed people giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the victims at the gig in the city of Guadalupe.
The area has been plagued by a rise in drug-related violence after an alliance between two rival drug cartels ended.
Hundreds of fans of the band Intocable rushed for the exits after concert-goers shouted they had heard shooting, senior government official Ivonne Alvarez told Reuters news agency.
Mobile phone images broadcast on TV showed fans ducking behind chairs.
Police recovered a spent bullet shell after Sunday's concert.
(Reuters) - At least four people died on Sunday in clashes between Sudanese security forces and protesters angry over a failed investment scheme in Darfur, an aid source and witnesses said.
Automatic gunfire erupted after about 1,000 people marched on the centre of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, U.N. officials and aid workers said.
Local residents said protesters were angry after losing money in a Ponzi scheme, a pyramid model where money is paid from one investor to the other and presented as profit.
Two members of the crowd told Reuters that security forces opened fire on protesters. One humanitarian aid source said some protesters were also armed and there were exchanges of fire.
"Between four and 10 people have been killed ... and 30 to 40 people injured ... There was intense fighting. We cannot say who killed who," said an aid official, asking not to be named.
Aid workers and U.N. officials took refuge in their compounds during the confrontation.
"There is a lot of confusion ... We don't know if it is police shooting, or civilians, or the Arab militias in town. They lost a lot of money and are very unhappy," said one aid worker, speaking to Reuters by phone.
The fighting had ended by early afternoon but streets were largely deserted and shops shut, residents of the area said.
"They used guns against the protest ... They shot some people," said Dirar Abdullah Dirar, a member of the League of the Victims of the El Mawasir Market, which helped organise the protest to demand the return of investors' money.
Mawasir is a local term for pipes, slang for a swindle.
Another witness in the crowd told Reuters he saw four bodies in the street. "Everything is quiet now but the problem is not solved. We have still not heard how we are going to get our money back," he said.
North Darfur's police chief Abdul Rahman al-Tayeb issued a statement late on Sunday saying three protesters died in the demonstration, without going into how they lost their lives.
Al-Tayeb said officers had to use batons and teargas after meeting resistance from the crowd which he said was backed by "armed movements". A total of 104 people were arrested, he said.
El Fasher, and Darfur's other major cities, have become thriving commercial centres during the remote western region's seven-year conflict, boosted by foreign cash brought in by aid workers and peacekeepers and accelerating urbanisation.
Local residents told Reuters two men set up a business in El Fasher around 10 months ago, taking in cash and other goods and promising returns of more than 50 percent after a month.
Investors received certificates for their goods and did receive payments in the early days of the scheme, one investor said. But the business closed down before last month's national elections, leaving thousands unpaid, he said.
Police arrested a number of men accused of setting up the investment operation, the secretary general of North Darfur's government, Ali Mohammed Ibrahim, told Reuters last week.
Mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms against Sudan's government in 2003, accusing it of neglect. Khartoum armed mostly Arab militias to crush the uprising.
Editing by Charles Dick
In a press statement it sent to ENA on Saturday the taskforce said the terrorists, who promote the cause of the busiest regime of Eritrean government to destabilize the region, have been detained while they were entering via Somaliland and Somalia borders.