A Syrian girl collects her belongings from rubble on April 21 after her building was reportedly destroyed in an air strike by government forces in the northern city of Aleppo. Baraa Al Halabi / AFP Photo
A Syrian girl collects her belongings from rubble on April 21 after her building was reportedly destroyed in an air strike by government forces in the northern city of Aleppo. Baraa Al Halabi / AFP PhShow more



NEW YORK // The United States is investigating whether Syrian regime forces are responsible for an alleged chemical attack earlier this month.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the agent used in the attack in Kafr Zeita, a village in Hama province controlled by rebel forces, was a toxic industrial chemical, most likely chlorine.

“We’re working to determine what happened,” Mr Carney said on Monday. “And once that has been established, we can talk about what reaction, if any, or response, if any, there would be from the international community.”

The Syrian opposition claims that military helicopters dropped improvised barrel bombs containing chlorine gas on the village on April 11 and 12, and that these attacks were followed by poison gas strikes on Al Tamana’a in Idlib province on Friday and on Monday in Telminnes, a town near Kfar Zeita.

Syrian state media reported that chemical weapons were used in Kfar Zeita, but blamed Al Nusra Front, the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate, saying that two people were killed in the Kafr Zeita attack and more than 100 injured.

The remains of the chlorine bombs bore distinctly similar characteristics to the barrel bombs the Syrian military regularly deploys and which no rebel groups are known to have in their possession, weapons analysts told Reuters.

A State Department spokeswoman said that US was working with the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to obtain more details, but acknowledged that chlorine was not one of the priority chemicals that Syrian president Bashar Al Assad had agreed to hand over for destruction.

Mr Al Assad’s government is required to give up its chemical weapon stockpiles under a UN Security Council resolution passed in September after a chemical attack allegedly killed more than 1,400 people in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus.

The state department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, declined to say whether the use of chlorine would be seen as a breach of the resolution, saying the investigation was only in its preliminary stages.

Chlorine, which has industrial uses and is far less lethal than poison gas such as sarin, was not known to have been weaponised by Syria at the time of the agreement last September and was not included on the list it submitted to the OPCW. If Damascus is using industrial chlorine gas as a tactical weapon across the country, it reveals a significant blind spot in the chemical weapons deal and raises the possibility that the agreement will fail to end chemical warfare in Syria.

Analysts doubt that a chlorine attack would prompt a military reaction from a US administration that has so far refused to become directly involved in the three-year war that has left more 150,000 dead. Military action would also threaten to derail the chemical disarmament process that officials describe as a major US achievement.

“What are they going to do, attack Syria now and take control of the country? Nobody in the West wants to take responsibility for Syria,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. “I don’t think [the latest attack] is going to affect US policy very much.”

A small number of moderate rebel groups have in recent weeks posted videos on YouTube showing fighters using sophisticated US-made anti-tank missiles against Syrian forces, and it has been reported that Washington is allowing allies who possess the missiles, such as Saudi Arabia, to supply them to vetted groups.

The US administration has previously been reluctant to give such weapons to the rebels, and has so far blocked the transfer of anti-aircraft missiles, out of fear they would fall into the hands of Islamist militants.

With counterterrorism concerns taking precedence, western officials also fear that if Mr Al Assad fell, Syria would become a Somalia-like vacuum dominated by extremists who would use it as a base to launch attacks abroad.

Rather than a softening of this position, Mr Landis said, the appearance of American anti-tank missiles is more likely an attempt to manage the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, which has frayed significantly during the past year over US policy in the Middle East.

“The US is trying to keep Saudi from going it alone and so to restrain them they need to give something and keep some skin in the game and keep the rebels limping along,” Mr Landis said.

“America has completely divorced itself from this situation and is focused on saving its reputation in the world by clinging on to international law and repeating empty mantras about transitional government in Syria, which is yesterday’s news,” Mr Landis said. “But [they] refuse to enable the opposition to win in any way, shape or form.”

tkhan@thenational.ae

Difference between fractional ownership and timeshare

Although similar in its appearance, the concept of a fractional title deed is unlike that of a timeshare, which usually involves multiple investors buying “time” in a property whereby the owner has the right to occupation for a specified period of time in any year, as opposed to the actual real estate, said John Peacock, Head of Indirect Tax and Conveyancing, BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates, a law firm.

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)

WRESTLING HIGHLIGHTS

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Top 5 concerns globally:

1. Unemployment

2. Spread of infectious diseases

3. Fiscal crises

4. Cyber attacks

5. Profound social instability

Top 5 concerns in the Mena region

1. Energy price shock

2. Fiscal crises

3. Spread of infectious diseases

4. Unmanageable inflation

5. Cyber attacks

Source: World Economic Foundation

BUNDESLIGA FIXTURES

Saturday, May 16 (kick-offs UAE time)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (4.30pm) 
RB Leipzig v Freiburg (4.30pm) 
Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (4.30pm) 
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn  (4.30pm) 
Augsburg v Wolfsburg (4.30pm) 
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach (7.30pm)

Sunday, May 17

Cologne v Mainz (4.30pm),
Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (7pm)

Monday, May 18

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (9.30pm)

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

How Tesla’s price correction has hit fund managers

Investing in disruptive technology can be a bumpy ride, as investors in Tesla were reminded on Friday, when its stock dropped 7.5 per cent in early trading to $575.

It recovered slightly but still ended the week 15 per cent lower and is down a third from its all-time high of $883 on January 26. The electric car maker’s market cap fell from $834 billion to about $567bn in that time, a drop of an astonishing $267bn, and a blow for those who bought Tesla stock late.

The collapse also hit fund managers that have gone big on Tesla, notably the UK-based Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF.

Tesla is the top holding in both funds, making up a hefty 10 per cent of total assets under management. Both funds have fallen by a quarter in the past month.

Matt Weller, global head of market research at GAIN Capital, recently warned that Tesla founder Elon Musk had “flown a bit too close to the sun”, after getting carried away by investing $1.5bn of the company’s money in Bitcoin.

He also predicted Tesla’s sales could struggle as traditional auto manufacturers ramp up electric car production, destroying its first mover advantage.

AJ Bell’s Russ Mould warns that many investors buy tech stocks when earnings forecasts are rising, almost regardless of valuation. “When it works, it really works. But when it goes wrong, elevated valuations leave little or no downside protection.”

A Tesla correction was probably baked in after last year’s astonishing share price surge, and many investors will see this as an opportunity to load up at a reduced price.

Dramatic swings are to be expected when investing in disruptive technology, as Ms Wood at ARK makes clear.

Every week, she sends subscribers a commentary listing “stocks in our strategies that have appreciated or dropped more than 15 per cent in a day” during the week.

Her latest commentary, issued on Friday, showed seven stocks displaying extreme volatility, led by ExOne, a leader in binder jetting 3D printing technology. It jumped 24 per cent, boosted by news that fellow 3D printing specialist Stratasys had beaten fourth-quarter revenues and earnings expectations, seen as good news for the sector.

By contrast, computational drug and material discovery company Schrödinger fell 27 per cent after quarterly and full-year results showed its core software sales and drug development pipeline slowing.

Despite that setback, Ms Wood remains positive, arguing that its “medicinal chemistry platform offers a powerful and unique view into chemical space”.

In her weekly video view, she remains bullish, stating that: “We are on the right side of change, and disruptive innovation is going to deliver exponential growth trajectories for many of our companies, in fact, most of them.”

Ms Wood remains committed to Tesla as she expects global electric car sales to compound at an average annual rate of 82 per cent for the next five years.

She said these are so “enormous that some people find them unbelievable”, and argues that this scepticism, especially among institutional investors, “festers” and creates a great opportunity for ARK.

Only you can decide whether you are a believer or a festering sceptic. If it’s the former, then buckle up.

Director: Romany Saad
Starring: Mirfat Amin, Boumi Fouad and Tariq Al Ibyari

RESULTS

5pm: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Racing Festival – Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (Turf) 2,200m
Winner: Suny Du Loup, Pat Dobbs (jockey), Hamad Al Marar (trainer)
5.30pm: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Racing Festival Cup – Conditions (PA) Dh150,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Nadia Du Loup, Antonio Fresu, Sulaiman Al Ghunaimi
6pm: Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Cup – Conditions (PA) Dh150,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Dareen, Dane O’Neill, Jean de Roualle
6.30pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup – Group 3 (PA) Dh500,000
Winner: AF Alwajel, Pat Dobbs, Ernst Oertel
7.15pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown – Group 1 (PA) Dh5,000,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: First Classs, Ronan Thomas, Jean De Mieulle
8pm: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup – Listed (TB) Dh380,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: San Donato, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson
8.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: AF Rasam, Fernando Jara, Ernst Oertel

Section 375

Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha, Meera Chopra & Rahul Bhat

Director: Ajay Bahl

Producers: Kumar Mangat Pathak, Abhishek Pathak & SCIPL

Rating: 3.5/5

Company profile

Name: WallyGPT
Started: 2014
Founders: Saeid and Sami Hejazi
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment raised: $7.1 million
Number of staff: 20
Investment stage: Pre-seed round

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5