Why the UAE’s food supply is secure

The nation is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to food security, says a report in Al Ittihad. Other topics: Iran and Al Qaeda (Abdel Rahman Al Rashed, Asharq El Awsat) and Egypt (Abdel Bari Atwan, Rai Al Youm).

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A recent bulletin issued by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, and published in the Abu Dhabi-based daily Al Ittihad, reported statistics showing that a staggering 80 to 90 per cent of the UAE’s food needs are imported. This shows how vulnerable local markets are to food crises.

Food crises are normal occurrences around the world because they are generally linked to natural phenomena or disasters and to climatic fluctuations that effect producing countries. Another consideration in this regard is the different food export policies of various source countries.

For these reasons, the UAE makes serious efforts to rectify its unbalanced situation in terms of food resources, the bulletin said. The country is active in organising and hosting events and conferences on food safety and food production. These bring together local, regional and international stakeholders.

In line with the nation’s food safety strategy, last week Abu Dhabi hosted the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture. It was attended by officials from a number of producing countries along with delegations from “agriculturally promising” countries in Asia and Africa.

Along the same lines, a conference on Water and Food Security in the Gulf was held in 2012, and it acted like a forum for relevant experts, researchers, intellectuals and academics to share ideas and come up with recommendations pertaining to global water and food issues.

The UAE recognises that the need for accelerated development in the agricultural sector is of the utmost necessity to ensure this vital sector is resilient and capable of addressing any challenges related to food security in this country and in the rest of the world. In Africa, the fight against poverty and food scarcity is given precedence over all other issues.

The bulletin added that the UAE recognises the effectiveness of modern technologies and innovative solutions in developing various vital sectors, including agriculture, and it focuses on motivating and supporting scientific research and innovation in the areas of agriculture and global food security.

All the efforts the UAE has applied towards ensuring its food security have paid off, the report said. The nation has been able to build a secure, strategic stock of food items that enables it to ensure stable supplies to local markets, thus saving them from the possible effects of any global crisis.

The UAE government has signed many partnership and collaboration agreements with agricultural countries to implement agricultural projects on their territories. This achieves food security for the UAE and for its partner countries as well, the bulletin said.

US finally finds out who backs Al Qaeda

The US Treasury dropped a bombshell when it announced a series of sanctions against Iran, accusing it of backing operations carried out by Al Qaeda in Syria, including that of its military branch in Syria Al Nusra Front and its representative Yassine Al Souri.

Abdel Rahman Al Rashed, a columnist in the pan-Arab daily Asharq El Awsat, highlighted that “should most Sunni Muslims realise that Al Qaeda is actually linked to Iran, it would soon collapse and lose its ideological legitimacy and funding”.

The writer said it was strange to think that the Sunni Al Qaeda may be linked to the Shiite Iranian regime.

Al Qaeda’s first years drew suspicions aimed at Saudi Arabia. Those were contradicted by Al Qaeda’s activities in Iraq: its targets strangely seemed to coincide with Iran’s, focusing on Saudi Arabia, the US and Europe. Information about Iran welcoming several members of Al Qaeda led to the conclusion that the Iranian and Syrian regimes supported its operations.

“It does seem quite far-fetched to believe that a group of Sunni extremists works alongside an extremist Shiite regime. But in this part of the world, one must keep an open mind and consider all possibilities”, argued Al Rashed.

The US Treasury’s decision condemns Al Qaeda, Iran and Syria’s Bashar Al Assad. “They are the first step towards correcting the path of the war against terror,” concluded Al Rashed.

Surprise candidacy by Egyptian leftist Sabahi

Left-wing Egyptian politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 democratic vote, announced on Saturday that he would run for president in the upcoming elections, noted Abdel Bari Atwan on the news website Rai Al Youm.

Mr Hamdeen said that his battle is the battle of the Egyptian revolution, without explaining which one he meant, the 2011 revolution or the army-backed 2012 “revolution”, the writer observed.

There are two explanations for Mr Sabahi’s surprise candidacy. It might have been planned in coordination with the army and its chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who is widely expected to run for and win the presidency. By so doing, they may be seeking to accord legitimacy and plurality to the race by encouraging other candidates whom Field Marshal Al Sisi would defeat.

A personal genuine decision by Mr Sabahi is the second explanation. If that is the case, his move will be seen as clear defiance of the military’s candidate, which will pit him against the army, even after the almost-guaranteed win of the media-backed Field Marshal El Sisi.

Meanwhile, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a moderate Islamist who came fourth in the 2012 vote, has said he does not intend to run, saying that the current circumstances are undemocratic.

* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk