Residents walk through the destruction of the once rebel-held Salaheddine neighborhood in eastern Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Last month, government forces captured all parts of eastern Aleppo, brining Syria's largest city to full control of Syrian authorities for the first time since July 2012. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Facts on the ground have changed since the beginning of the war in Syria and Bashar Al Assad is playing by his own, warped rules. Hassan Ammar / AP

It is a losing game in Syria



Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, struck all the right notes about finding a political settlement in Syria during his press conference in Abu Dhabi with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. Both men agreed that more time was needed to see progress on peace talks, but that for this to happen, there would need to be an end to the terrorism inflicted on the people of Syria.

UN Security Council resolution 2254 from 2015 was invoked as a road map to peace. It remains the guiding document for a potential peace process. However, facts on the ground have changed since then and Bashar Al Assad is playing by his own, warped rules. At this point, it might be worth heeding the warning from Robert Ford that Mr Assad has already won.

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This pronouncement might seem bizarre given that Syria remains wracked by conflict, with control of its lands splintered and ISIL still at large, half of its population displaced and historic monuments in Palmyra, Aleppo and Homs lost forever.

However, the former US ambassador to Syria's larger point, as told to The National's Joyce Karam in an interview in Washington on Monday, holds true; that there are certain realities on the ground that have become permanent. Chiefly, Mr Ford is referring to Iran's entrenchment and the unlikelihood of Mr Assad ever being held accountable for his crimes against his own people and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in a conflict that he escalated.

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The forces supporting Mr Assad – his own army, in addition to Hizbollah and Iranian-led militias – could regain control of the remaining parts of the country, as the regime continues to ignore Russian de-escalation zones. Rebel opposition groups in Homs and Jobar are already being bombed and sooner or later, Deraa or Idlib will be retaken, says Mr Ford.

Also likely is that Mr Assad’s regime will never accept any kind of power share or decentralisation of control. The state of affairs in Syria has potentially grave implications for the wider region, from Israel’s growing nervousness about Iran’s influence in an already antagonistic neighbouring country, to Kurdish ambitions for independence. All the while, the children of Syria have little hope of any kind of victory. In Raqqa, they are likely to bear the mental scars of life under ISIL for decades even once the brutal extremist group is driven out by US-backed forces.

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According to Save the Children, families in Raqqa are facing an impossible decision to stay amid the threat of being bombed or leave and risk deadly ISIL reprisals. Time may well have run out and even as the conflict begins to wind down, there is little hope of any kind of real change in the country. This is the urgent challenge facing all parties with an interest in resolving the crisis in Syria.

Ambassador Ford’s statement that Mr Assad “has won” implies mere survival, while handing over sovereign-decision making about the use of arms and the killing of over half a million of his own citizens to Iran. The international community has a closing window of opportunity to remind Mr Assad that successful leadership means protecting your country and people and taking them forward, not holding them hostage to the barrel of a gun.

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COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Du Football Champions

The fourth season of du Football Champions was launched at Gitex on Wednesday alongside the Middle East’s first sports-tech scouting platform.“du Talents”, which enables aspiring footballers to upload their profiles and highlights reels and communicate directly with coaches, is designed to extend the reach of the programme, which has already attracted more than 21,500 players in its first three years.

Company profile

Company: Eighty6 

Date started: October 2021 

Founders: Abdul Kader Saadi and Anwar Nusseibeh 

Based: Dubai, UAE 

Sector: Hospitality 

Size: 25 employees 

Funding stage: Pre-series A 

Investment: $1 million 

Investors: Seed funding, angel investors  

The Killer

Director: David Fincher

Stars: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, Charles Parnell

Rating: 4/5 

Overview

Cricket World Cup League Two: Nepal, Oman, United States tri-series, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu

Fixtures
Wednesday February 5, Oman v Nepal
Thursday, February 6, Oman v United States
Saturday, February 8, United States v Nepal
Sunday, February 9, Oman v Nepal
Tuesday, February 11, Oman v United States
Wednesday, February 12, United States v Nepal

The struggle is on for active managers

David Einhorn closed out 2018 with his biggest annual loss ever for the 22-year-old Greenlight Capital.

The firm’s main hedge fund fell 9 per cent in December, extending this year’s decline to 34 percent, according to an investor update viewed by Bloomberg.

Greenlight posted some of the industry’s best returns in its early years, but has stumbled since losing more than 20 per cent in 2015.

Other value-investing managers have also struggled, as a decade of historically low interest rates and the rise of passive investing and quant trading pushed growth stocks past their inexpensive brethren. Three Bays Capital and SPO Partners & Co., which sought to make wagers on undervalued stocks, closed in 2018. Mr Einhorn has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the poor performance this year, while remaining steadfast in his commitment to value investing.

Greenlight, which posted gains only in May and October, underperformed both the broader market and its peers in 2018. The S&P 500 Index dropped 4.4 per cent, including dividends, while the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index, an early indicator of industry performance, fell 7 per cent through December. 28.

At the start of the year, Greenlight managed $6.3 billion in assets, according to a regulatory filing. By May, the firm was down to $5.5bn. 

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Karwaan

Producer: Ronnie Screwvala

Director: Akarsh Khurana

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Dulquer Salmaan, Mithila Palkar

Rating: 4/5

Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Sri Lanka-India Test series schedule
  • 1st Test India won by 304 runs at Galle
  • 2nd Test Thursday-Monday at Colombo
  • 3rd Test August 12-16 at Pallekele
COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre flat-six
Power: 525hp (GT3), 500hp (GT4)
Torque: 465Nm (GT3), 450Nm (GT4)
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Price: From Dh944,000 (GT3), Dh581,700 (GT4)
On sale: Now

The biog

Favourite pet: cats. She has two: Eva and Bito

Favourite city: Cape Town, South Africa

Hobby: Running. "I like to think I’m artsy but I’m not".

Favourite move: Romantic comedies, specifically Return to me. "I cry every time".

Favourite spot in Abu Dhabi: Saadiyat beach

Results

United States beat UAE by three wickets

United States beat Scotland by 35 runs

UAE v Scotland – no result

United States beat UAE by 98 runs

Scotland beat United States by four wickets

Fixtures

Sunday, 10am, ICC Academy, Dubai - UAE v Scotland

Admission is free

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

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I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

THE DETAILS

Deadpool 2

Dir: David Leitch

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Justin Dennison, Zazie Beetz

Four stars

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