A Day with The New York Times


New York – The international version of The New York Times newspaper is a staple in my office and its electronic version is the most visited website on my mobile phone. Its investigations inspire me and some of my ideas derive from its reports. I always wanted to visit the newspaper’s headquarters to witness up close what takes place behind the scenes.

I indeed got the opportunity to spend a day there. At exactly 9 am, a yellow New York taxi dropped me off in front of a skyscraper on Manhattan’s eighth avenue near Times Square. I forgot the hustle and bustle and the tourists around me and set my sights on the gray building in front of me that houses the Times and entered its lobby.

Loud orange walls. A massive space without any chairs. Cheerful employees.

I was received by the vice president of communication Danielle Rhoades. At around 9:30 am, we headed to the conference room to attend a morning editorial meeting. I chose to sit at the back so that I could watch every detail. Editors from various departments soon began to enter the room and take their seats. A call was made to the newspaper’s Washington office so that its editors may also be present at the meeting.

The meeting kicked off with a report on the most read articles on the website. Related social media activity was also discussed. Discussions soon shifted towards the Washington work agenda, which could be summed up in one word: Trump.

A Washington editor talks about the agenda that revolved around Trump’s tweets that day, his activities and meetings. The editors delved deep into the US president’s tweet, expressing their views and expectations about his stances and new moves. The meeting did not revolve around a single person, but no one interrupted the other. The editors were not formal with each other, but they were professional. Ever since Trump embarked on his electoral campaign, The New York Times, monitored and documented his every controversial move and statement in its political and opinion articles.

At this point, the two sides got embroiled into daily media debates. Trump chose Twitter to respond to the newspaper with bold tweets. I never expected that Trump, The New York Times’ fiercest critic, to be its morning meeting’s guest of honor. I wondered if other US presidents enjoyed this much attention.

Editors later told me that they were very happy that Trump reads their newspaper, adding that they have six correspondents at the White House.

Going back to the editorial meeting, or what remained of it after the Trump discussion, I noticed the presence of all departments, even the non-political ones. One of the main stories of the day was a scientific study. The video, photography and breaking news departments were allotted time at the meeting, which demonstrated a harmony between the print and online version of the newspaper.

I spent a day at one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world and I had the opportunity to observe its work starting from the morning. Below are what stood out:

One identity unites the print and online versions

In the past, meetings used to focus on the print version’s front page. Things have changed now and attention is given to the “material that are worth being published on the front page of the website,” said Ronald Caputo, executive vice president of the Print Products and Services Group. He later told me: “The print version is still important to us.” The relationship between the print and online version of the newspaper is clear and close. Their motto is cooperation, not competition, especially since the same editorial team is responsible for both the print and electronic versions.

The New York Times stayed abreast technological advancements through its website, but it chose to preserve its print version, that is still read by millions all over the world. Over the decades, the newspaper formed its own special identity that distinguishes it from others. The era of online journalism has given it an opportunity to expand this identity. For example, The New York Times podcast has become daily fixture of over 700,000 listeners.

“We will not abandon the print version any time soon,” Caputo told me.

He also added that he can never imagine only having an electronic version of the Times. The newspaper does after all have a million print subscribers and millions of readers that buy it from kiosks.

Strict rules

Publishing The New York Times, like all print material, is bound by the importance of the articles, news and ads. Choosing photographs and direction of the issue is the responsibility of an editorial and publishing team. The departments complement each other and in order to preserve the identity of the Times, the production team adheres to strict rules on advertising. They do not allow big ads on the front page. The pages are imagined and then compiled before being sent to 27 printing presses in the United States.

Caputo, who is in his 32nd year at the newspaper, said of his career: “The printing and distribution have not changed much in the past decade, but we witnessed the greatest change at the beginning of the 1990s.”

“We used to own two printers at the time, then we introduced technology that helped replace manual printing,” he explained.

Up until 1993, the newspaper was printed in black and white.

“We decided to add color to the Sunday editions and in 1997 the daily editions also featured some colored pages, including the front and back pages,” said Caputo.

He ruled out the possibility that the entire newspaper would be printed in color due to the high expense and weakness of the advertising market in the US.

Challenge of accuracy and speed

I asked the electronic department if their priority was to be the first to publish a story or to be a constant source of accurate news. They replied that they aspire to achieve both, because they do not publish breaking news until they verify it.

More than 1,350 journalists work at The New York Times. Last year, they were able to work as correspondents in over 150 countries. These are all part of the Times’ efforts to combat “fake news”. To avoid discrepancies, the newspaper always checks facts before publishing them. Photographs and videos are also very important for the newspaper, which focuses on releasing its own content at the heart of a developing story. Correspondents take photographs in their daily coverage and a video team works on reports to accompany daily news. Visual documentation adds to the credibility of the published articles.

Prominent social media presence

The New York Times realized at an early stage the importance of using social media to attract readers and interact with them. It has accounts on several social media platforms. Instagram posts images taken by its photographers from around the world, Twitter posts breaking and latest news, and Facebook opens the door to discussions and interactions through the comments section.

The Times has 14.4 million Facebook followers, 39.1 million Twitter followers and 2.8 million Instagram followers, making it the leading newspaper on social media. These figures are however not the goal of the publication, but it seeks to provide a comprehensive journalistic experience to its followers on any platform.

International news section

The international news department coordinates with foreign bureaus. Correspondents around the world present their proposals to the international affairs editors for discussion at the editorial meeting. Ideas are then generated and task are distributed to the correspondents. The proposals are not purely political, but they include social and cultural topics, among others. The New York Times has 75 correspondents all over the world, more than ever before. In the Middle East, the correspondents work from Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul, Kabul and Tehran. War correspondents often travel to danger zones. Most of them speak several languages and are able to perform instant translations. These correspondents also read the local newspapers in the country they are in. In the Middle East, they seek to read the most important dailies, such as Asharq Al-Awsat.

In the most dangerous and isolated locations, The New York Times seeks the assistance of local correspondents, who receive the complete backing and protection of the newspaper.

Publishing agreements

Asharq Al-Awsat is one of the global publications that struck a deal to publish New York Times articles in its newspaper. The American newspaper has remarkable content, unique reports and opinion pieces written by prominent columnists. These are among the reasons that led the Arab world’s leading international newspaper to translate and publish the Times’ content.

Patti Sonntag, managing editor at The New York Times’ News Services division, said that the newspaper wants to reach all the countries of the world.

The newspaper in a few lines

No one imagined that the first issue of The New York Times would mark the beginning of one of the world’s most important newspapers. In 1851, the top floor of a windowless room in a building in Manhattan in New York was the birthplace of the first copy of the newspaper, which was then comprised of only four pages. Established by Henry Jarvis Raymond and George Jones on September 18, 1851, the newspaper managed after a few decades to become the United States’ leading daily.

Throughout its history, it has garnered 122 Pulitzer Prizes, becoming the most decorated newspaper in the world. Nicknamed the “gray lady,” it is also considered one of the most influential publications in the world.

At the beginning of 2017, 308,000 people subscribed to its electronic service, bringing the total to 3.2 million spread across 195 countries.

Self-Censorship: Silencing the Voice to Stay Alive


New York – Journalism is a profession of relaying facts and documenting the news whether through the lens of a mobile phone during an Arab Spring demonstration or an in-depth report that uncovers corruption at European banks or a blog that speaks of the suffering of a hungry town in Africa.

It is a difficult profession wherever it may be. It is rife with dangers, red lines and challenges. The journalist makes major sacrifices in exchange for publishing his work, which may expose his family to danger and end his life.

The circle of freedom of the press has become smaller today and the faces of censorship have increased. They may change from one region to the other, but they have in all cases hindered publication and doubled the violations. We now comfortably receive the news through a quick google search or a tour of twitter. What if we however stopped for a moment and thought of the army of reporters, those journalists under fire or behind bars, wherever they may be. Who documents their journey? Who defends their rights? Who will restore their silenced voice?

Faces of censorship

I tried to find the answers to my questions. I did not imagine that I would find most of them on Manhattan’s 7th avenue in central New York. Up in a skyscraper, on the 11th floor specifically, lies the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Formed by a number of journalists in 1981 to protect their colleagues, the committee is one of the most prominent defenders of freedom in the world. It is exerting efforts for a world where journalists can work without fear or threats in all corners of the globe. These are noble goals that may be impossible to achieve in our time. The most important product of the committee is its annual guide, “Attacks on the Press.” The book monitors the greatest challenges that journalists have faced throughout a year. The 2017 edition focused on the “new face of censorship.”

“We chose to highlight the new faces of censorship in this year’s edition because it is a serious issue as different parts of the world are witnessing a decrease in press freedom, especially in countries that have been known for their freedom, such as Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Kenya and others.” This is the answer I received from CPJ’s Communications Officer Kerry Paterson when I sat down with her over cup of coffee at her office away from the hustle and bustle of the street.

Paterson spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat about the change in the concept of censorship. She believes that the term now has a broader meaning that has made it more vague. The threat to withdraw ads from newspapers in Kenya is a form of censorship, the blocking of websites by some governments is also a form of censorship, threats to journalists is also another form. The most disconcerting censorship however, is “self-censorship” that some journalists may have to practice out of fear for their lives, she explained.

New definition of the journalist

The turbulent political climate in most parts of the world has forced journalists to work in dangerous conditions, especially in conflict zones. Paterson revealed that 88 percent of journalists who were killed in the field over the past year were locals, not foreign correspondents.

CPJ’s annual survey said that 36 journalists lost their lives in war since the beginning of the year. In 2016, 48 journalists were killed around the world and 259 were imprisoned. Sevety-two journalists were killed in 2015 and 61 in 2014.

The widening of the scope of Middle Eastern conflicts, the importance of spreading information and the diversity of sources have also altered the concept of journalism and the journalist. In this regard, Paterson said that “we have become flexible in our definition of the journalist.”

“For example, the reporter who practices accurate and independent journalistic work, but whose only outlet is his Facebook page as a result of his country’s restrictions, is considered a journalist,” she added.

She gave the example of a journalist who used to work at a radio station in the Congo, who when the station closed its doors, decided to carry a megaphone and roam the streets of his town to report the news. He died while doing his job.

CPJ is a research-based organization that offers services to journalists in every sense of the word, whether in providing financial, medical or even judicial aid or even helping them escape a conflict zone after receiving threats.

Paterson referred me to her colleague Sahrif Mansour when I asked her about specific cases in the Middle East.

Glimpse inside the Middle East

Self-censorship is the product of fear. Fear from the punishment of governments and terror from death threats that the journalist receives from extremist organizations in the Middle East, such as ISIS and its ilk. This is indirect censorship that forces the reporter to stop his writing out of fear for his life.

In the Middle East, specifically after the Arab Spring, the region witnessed for the first time several outlets to exchange information and news in the region. In the countries of the Arab Spring, the citizens took the decision to risk their lives to spread their opinions and what they see and hear about issues that ignited their revolutions. This is how Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa coordinator, took me back to 2011 in describing the atmosphere at the time.

Mansour told Asharq Al-Awsat that the revolution led to the birth of the citizen journalist and media activist. They did not receive any professional support or training to work in journalism, but many of them took the risk and some of them paid the price.

According to Mansour, over 100 journalists were killed in Syria, most of them youths, while covering demonstrations or developments linked to the armed conflict in their country. The same can be said of Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Several of the activists and journalists who were killed were working in media that was broadcast on the internet and that depended on volunteers who had not received prior training or who did not have any experience in covering wars.

Life line

CPJ does not offer training courses, even though it tries despite poor resources, but it works on saving journalists’ lives. The committee intervenes when traditional methods are useless, especially when dealing with non-government parties, such as armed factions. In the Middle East, said Mansour, CPJ focuses on helping journalists who are in danger, whether through offering any form of medical or legal help or financial aid to allow them to leave conflict areas. Some of the support could take the form of facilitations to obtain a residency for those seeking to immigrate to the US or Europe where they may continue to carry out their journalistic work.

CPJ’s role is not limited to preserving the lives and security of the journalists in the real world, but it also offers protection in the virtual world and the internet. Mansour said that the committee intervenes when a journalist is hacked or if his social media accounts are blocked, suspended or compromised.

In regards to the safety of journalism, he revealed that CPJ is in the process of launching a daily report on the operation to liberate Syria’s Raqqa from ISIS.

“We will work on raising awareness and issuing special safety alerts on areas that journalists should avoid,” Mansour said. CPJ will also explain the types of precautions that should be taken should journalists report from these areas. These precautions include knowing where the nearest hospital or the closest evacuation route is. CPJ has helped over 120 Syrian journalists, who were forced to leave their country and it helped them settle down in their new location.

Loss of security

These challenges may discourage a journalist no matter how much he may believe in his cause. These challenges also have psychological effects as well. Mansou explained that several journalists, especially those who covered conflict zones suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other forms of psychological disturbances caused by their work in violent zones.

Despite the challenges, the phenomenon of citizen journalists distinguished the countries of the Arab Spring. The journalist may choose a pseudonym or a blogger activist may choose to write with caution out of fear of losing everything, but they still persevere.

Former British Finance Minister Leads the Evening Standard

London- The first day in any new post must be full of stress and challenges. Yet, it is more challenging for a politician who has to spend his days in a news environment after experiencing parliamentary sessions and budgets for the British treasury.

After the surprising announcement last month of being appointed an editor of the daily Evening Standard in London, George Osborne, the former British finance minister began his new carrier as a journalist.

He had promised his staff to handle his duties at 7 am, but was delayed by a crowd of journalists and photographers who were waiting for him outside the newspaper’s headquarters in Kensington Street, west of London.

Osborne left the government last year, after partaking in a fruitless campaign to maintain his country’s membership in the EU. He also decided not to run for the general elections on June 8.

Osborne, who was once seen as the upcoming leader of the ruling conservative party, opposes some of PM Theresa May’s policies. He said he hopes the Evening Standard would become a dauntless newspaper.

“I’m thrilled on my first day of work in the Evening Standard, and promise you to publish facts and analyses with no fear,” he tweeted.

Commenting on the new post, veteran journalists have mocked Osborne’s lack of editorial experience and potential conflicts of interest.

The Sun newspaper asked “Is George Osborne a qualified journalist?”, pointing to his humble experience in journalism. It also noted that The Times and The Economist had snubbed him after he applied for work there. He then worked as a freelance journalist at The Telegraph.

In an article published by The Guardian, the newspaper imagined the approach that will be adopted by the Evening Standard under the lead of the conservative party, and expected its analyses to tend towards the right-wing.

However, Osborne surprised the audience in the first editorial with an analysis that criticizes May’s policies and her decision to organize early elections. The newspaper warned May from the failure of her Brexit negotiations with Brussels and said: “When someone signs a bounce check, the failure of the banking process would not be a surprise.”

The newspaper slammed inflation caused by the Brexit, and asserted that the Brits do not want their country to be sized because of the PM’s clumsy policies. It also called on the ruling party to commit to the people’s will in the Brexit negotiations, in case they made it in the upcoming elections.

The former finance minister already had a job with a salary of 650,000 pounds ($837,000) a year for working 48 days at BlackRock, and has earned hundreds of thousands of pounds giving speeches.

While at the University of Oxford, Osborne dabbled in student journalism and was proud enough of his efforts to display the two issues of the magazine he edited in his Downing Street flat while chancellor.

GM of Emerging Markets at Careem Reveals Plans to Expand in Arab Cities


Beirut – Five years after its launch from Dubai, Careem, which is specialized in transportation services via its smart application and website, succeeded in expanding to 55 cities and hiring more than 200,000 drivers.

The company’s plans include expanding to more cities in the MENA in order to increase the number of users, who now exceed an estimate of nine million.

According to General Manager of Emerging Markets at Careem, Ibrahim Manna, the service is now available in more than 55 cities and extends from Morocco to Pakistan with the cooperation of 200,000 “captains” – the name drivers are called as a symbol of respect.

“The number of employees in the company currently exceeds one thousand and we have offices in more than seven countries – the growth average of the company is around 30 percent per month,” he said.

Manna added that there is an urgent need to recruit since the company is witnessing increasing growth, knowing that last year there were 300 employees in the company and now there are over 1,000.

Despite this success, Manna, who hails from Jordan, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the company is still in its beginning.

On whether Uber is the biggest competitor of Careem, Manna answered: “No. Our biggest competitor is the way people approach transportation, whether their own vehicle or other means. We try hard to encourage people to adopt the gig economy phenomenon, instead of owning a private vehicle that they only use for two hours a day. Careem is always available and can provide transportation for a reasonable price.”

He added that “there is a category in Saudi Arabia and other countries that cannot move freely, because they have special needs. We never stopped thinking about that and we have launched Careem ONE that helps them sit easily and safely in the wheelchair in the vehicle.”

Manna stressed that in the end, the main focus is currently on the region that is witnessing challenges in the transportation field and that expanding to Europe is not on the 2017 agenda.

Former Telegraph Editor-in-Chief: Journalists Must Be Allowed Freedom on the Field


London – Sir Max Hastings, former editor-in-chief of England’s The Telegraph newspaper, recounted to Asharq Al-Awsat the details of his career in journalism, starting with his landmark coverage of the Falkland’s War and ending with his lament of the current state of affairs in the field.

The son of a war correspondent, Hastings aspired to be a soldier, but he soon found out that he did not have the required discipline to join the army. He instead set his sights on writing and kicked off his career in television before moving to paper journalism. His mother was editor-in-chief of the US Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

“I believe that all young journalists dream of travel and I was lucky to start my career in journalism when the world was witnessing many exciting developments,” he said.

Earning a journalism scholarship in the United States in 1967, he bore witness to the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. He also covered the war in Vietnam when he was 24 years old, saying that he was “reckless” at the time, but that the experience had him “enrapt.”

Asked about the war in the Falklands, Hastings said that he had his breakthrough when covering the war. He explained that many of his war correspondent colleagues believed that the war would not erupt and they opted not to travel to the region, but he did.

He said that he was “lucky enough” to be there to document it, adding: “Seeing as I was the only journalist there, all newspapers published my articles and my daily coverage,” he stated, revealing that he later published a successful book on his experience.

“Luck has played an important role in my success,” admitted Hastings.

He explained that he was lucky enough to join the BBC at the age of 17 because his father used to collaborate with them. He was also said that his mother’s career in the industry helped him land his first job in paper journalism.

“Today at the age of 71 and as I look back, I realize that many of my colleagues died while performing their duties as war correspondents, but I am still alive even though I went through dangerous experiences,” Hastings said.

“Besides luck, what allows a journalist to stand out and advance in his career is challenging authority. The skilled journalist must break the rules every once in a while,” he revealed.

Asked about his views on Israel, he replied that he was initially a supporter during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but “then I became a witness to Israeli aggression and its treatment of the Palestinian people and I no longer liked Israel.”

He described himself as one of Israel’s “staunchest” critics, adding that a day will come when it will regret its oppressive actions.

Commenting on the situation in the Middle East, Hastings said that this is a very complicated file.

“I believe that we committed errors in our policy in the past few years, starting with the war in Iraq in 2003. I was against intervention in Syria because of the vagueness of the British strategy even though I oppose Bashar al-Assad, but I do not think that Britain should abandon the Middle East.

“Its intervention must be diplomatic and political, not military.”

Asked to assess the current state of the media, Hastings quoted a British journalist who once said in 1968 that there was a vast amount of information, but very little knowledge. The case still applies today.

He explained that when he worked for the BBC and The Telegraph, journalist crews had budgets that allowed them to travel the world, but this has now changed. He said that there are now plenty of ways to gather and spread information, but there is very little knowledge.

He attributed this to the lack of specialists in the field. He said that in his day, some of his colleagues were specialized in covering issues of defense, while journalists these days cannot tell the difference between a battalion and a brigade.

On his experience as The Telegraph editor-in-chief, Hastings remarked that it was a daunting experience to assume such a post at the age of 39. He said that many people, including Rupert Murdoch, opposed his appointment, “but I was always certain that a person can take the lead through setting goals, assuming responsibility, … investing in productive workers and letting go unprofessional staff.”

He stressed that The Telegraph stood out from among its rivals, such as The Times, because it used to provide its readers with plenty of information, at one point featuring 17 stories on its front page. This has however all changed now because readers are more interested in reading celebrity news.

He noted the poor wages journalists are earning these days, adding that the “unique” journalist can distinguish himself from his peers by placing the story he is working on as the most important priority in his life until it is published.

“He would do the impossible to gather information and facts … and madly pursue his goal,” Hastings stressed.

“I know a lot of people who took up journalism but they did not excel, not because they were not smart enough, but because they did not give their stories enough attention.

“A journalist should be able to run free on the ground to meet interesting people … but these days they are bound by several duties, such as editing and writing articles for the paper and electronic copies of the newspapers,” he said.

Terrorism Hits the Heart of London on 1st Anniversary of Brussels Attacks

London- A state of terror prevailed in London Wednesday after a man carried out a terrorist attack near the parliament in Westminster.

The attack, which also coincided with the commemoration of last year’s ISIS attacks in Brussels, started when a man, still unidentified, used his car to strike pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the railings surrounding the heavily guarded Houses of Parliament.

The attack left at least four people dead and more than 20 injured, according to local authorities.

The assailant then ran through the gates brandishing a knife and stabbed a 48-year-old policeman to death before being shot dead by another officer.

Immediately after the attack, police officers closed the Parliament complex and MPs who were inside the House of Commons were asked to stay there. They were later escorted by armed policemen to the nearby Scotland Yard offices.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in parliament at the time of the attack and was seen being ushered away in a silver car as what sounded like gunfire rang out. At night, May chaired an emergency cabinet (Cobra) meeting.

She described the attack as “sick and depraved.”

The British PM said: “We will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”

Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police Service’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, said in a press conference outside the Scotland Yard offices that an unarmed policeman, three civilians and the assailant died in the attack.

Rowley said police believed there was only one attacker.

The Muslim Council of Britain issued a statement condemning the attack.

“Our thoughts and prayers are for the victims and those affected. We pay tribute to the police and emergency services too for handling the situation bravely,” the Council said in a statement received by Asharq Al-Awsat.

Several countries, including the US, Germany, France and the Gulf Cooperation Council, condemned the attack.

It came a year to the day after ISIS jihadists killed 32 people in twin bomb attacks in Brussels and after a series of deadly assaults in Europe that had hitherto spared Britain.

British National Faces Jail for Attempting to Join ISIS in Syria


London – A man who tried to travel to Syria and join ISIS has been found guilty of terrorism offences, according to British authorities.

Patrick Kabele, 32, of Willesden in North West London, was stopped at Gatwick Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Istanbul on August 20, 2016, a court heard.

Kabele was found to be carrying £3,000 as well as numerous media devices, according to police.

Kabele reportedly refused to answer any questions about his travel plans, but police said inspection of his media devices revealed his plan to travel to Syria and join ISIS.

A jury at Woolwich Crown Court found him guilty of preparing terrorist acts – namely of attempting to travel to Syria – on Tuesday. He will be sentenced at the same court on April 28.

In a common matter, Scotland Yard’s former Counter-Terrorism Chief revealed that he lies awake worrying about a mass casualty attack in London, as he issued a new warning about the threat posed by radicalization in prisons.

In press statements published by “Evening Standard” website, Commander Richard Walton said that the danger of a marauding firearms attack in the capital was a “constant anxiety” to police and the intelligence services.

He also expressed concern about the potential ability of the large number of extremists in prison to radicalize vulnerable inmates and use their new criminal contacts to obtain guns.

Ministers and police have cited the limited availability of firearms in Britain as one key advantage in this country’s efforts to protect the public, despite a recent counter-terrorism and National Crime Agency operation in which more than 800 illegal weapons were discovered in four weeks.

A joint initiative, led by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism (NCTP) command, was the largest multi-agency program that has ever been mounted.

Police have seized more than 800 potentially lethal weapons during a month-long operation designed to prevent terrorists and criminals gaining access to illegal firearms, amid fears of a Paris-style gun attack on the streets of Britain.

As part of the initiative, officers encouraged the public to report information and, as a result, received more than 160 tips via Crimestoppers, which combined with other sources led to an average of 55 intelligence reports every day into the operations room.

Moreover, Walton said that people who have gone to Syria, returning foreign militants, are the super-terrorists.

“They are the terrorists who actually know what they are doing. They are the terrorists who have fought, who have been trained, who can organize complex attacks, that’s why they are particularly dangerous.”

Report of Military Balance: ISIS Threatens Europe, Iran’s Missiles Raise Global Concern

London- The International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS)’s annual report said that security challenges facing our world have not diminished and still require action from policymakers.

The 2017 report that was released in London also said conflicts continued to rage in Africa and the Middle East, along with the security disturbances in Ukraine and Europe.

During the session held by the institute to launch the “Report of Military Balance 2017”, experts discussed major security challenges facing the world, including the spread of extremist organizations, Iran’s recent tests of ballistic missiles, growing expenditure on military armory in Europe, China and the Middle East.

The session was chaired by IISS Director John Chipman and attended by Dr. Bastian Giegerich, General Ben Barry and Douglas Barry, Nick Childs, and Loussy Peru-Soder.

Responding to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ben Barry said that Yemen was heavily armed before the start of its ongoing war; the Arab coalition has intercepted missiles launched by Houthi militias, he said.

Concerning the Syrian war, he said that the annual report documents armories, and traditional capacities of the armed factions in Syria, including their developed and heavy arms, which are usually used by traditional armies. Evaluation of these arms was made through photos and videos which were shared on social media, he stated. Barry added that these armed factions do not own the logistic features of traditional armies; however, these factions merge, transform, spread, and trade weapons with other groups as we have previously seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Commenting on the efficiency of U.S.-led International Coalition strikes against ISIS since 2014, he said the organization has lost control of wide territories in Iraq. He also considered that ISIS has been weakened in Syria, but it is still able to resist any attack against it.

However, Barry said that the real threat of ISIS is that it has become an inspiration for extremists around the world, as the organization succeeded in exporting its ideology and in launching many attacks outside its strongholds and the territories it controls. Finally, he considered that the only way to undermine this threat is to motivate integration and coherence in communities, to focus on rehabilitation programs, and to promote coordination among security bodies on the local and global levels.

*Confusion on the nuclear deal
Concerning Iran’s nuclear issue, Paulina Izewicz, IISS’s researcher on nuclear issues, stated that the relation between the Iranian Nuclear Deal and Security Council Resolution 2231 is very complicated.

She said the resolution supports the deal but does not constitute a part of it; measures to control the Iranian program of ballistic missiles are also complicated, as the resolution is not binding regarding a request for Tehran to suspend the production of such missiles.

Izewicz added that uncertainty in the Iranian deal raises question marks on the agreement’s legal efficiency, which affects the nuclear deal itself and causes huge debate. Paulina did not rule out more U.S. sanctions on Iran after the change of the U.S. administration and amid Congressional calls for new restrictions on Tehran.

*Military expenditure in Asia
During his presentation, IISS Director John Chipman announced the launch of an electronic database including all the information featured in the report for the first time on the internet.

Chipman said that North Korea has enhanced its missiles capacity. He added that the growing terrorist attacks in 2016 have highlighted the challenge of cross-border terrorists. Many countries announced their readiness to launch military activities aiming to protect their national security, he noted.

Chipman revealed that the world has witnessed a constant shift in Asia’s military expenditure. The report showed that defense expenditure in Asia (especially in China) has grown by 5-6% on annual bases. These numbers came despite a drop in the global military expenditure in 2016 by 0.4% compared with 2015, following the drop in oil prices.

*China competes with the West in air weapons
The report revealed that western technological-military excellence has faced growing challenges. China has been up to par with the West, especially in air defense. Over the past years, China has depended on national efforts to develop and manufacture national military systems. China has allocated additional sums in its budgets for this purpose. China’s official defense budget last year was 1.8 times higher than those of South Korea and Japan combined. It also accounted for more than a third of Asia’s total military spending in 2016.

*Russia threatens Eastern Europe
The report said that Russia has posed the biggest threat to countries in eastern and northern Europe and that Russian military power has grown.

Writings of Journalist with Scoop of the 20th Century Focus on Middle East

London- On August 30, 2009, Daily Telegraph dedicated its issue to revive the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.

The prestigious print back then was honored by its writer Clare Hollingworth who revealed the beginning of the war in 1939.

“A sleek limousine crossed the border of Poland and Germany and sped along the autobahn between Beuthen and Gleiwitz,” the newspaper published.

Inside was a 26-year-old reporter on her first assignment for The Daily Telegraph, who was about to break the scoop of the century.

“I broke this story when I was very, very young,” she says.

“I went there to look after the refugees, the blind, the deaf and the dumb. While I was there, the war suddenly came into being,” she told The Telegraph.

Clare, who would never be forgotten by journalists and people in general for being the undisputed doyenne of war correspondents, died on Tuesday in Hong Kong at 105.

Western press hastened to cover her death news.

When searching in her archives and searching deeply in her books, it was noticed that the most prominent stations and writings of Clare were in the Middle East region.

Hollingworth spent most of her working years in Beirut and Cairo, moving among Arab countries and holding talks with Kings and Arab leaders.

She also travelled to Tehran and sat with the Shah and Princess Fawziah in an office filled with war books.

After making her first scoop, Hollingworth spent the rest of the four decades making other similar accomplishments by working as a reporter for the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian in the Middle East and the Far East regions.

She roamed the world equipped with little more than a toothbrush, a typewriter and, if need be, a revolver.

Embedded long before the term was applied to journalists, she slept in trucks and in trenches, at times buried up to her neck in sand for warmth on cold desert nights.

She covered World War II from Eastern Europe, the Balkans and North Africa; the Greek and Algerian civil wars; hostilities between Arabs and Jews in the waning days of the British mandate in Palestine; and the Vietnam War, among other conflicts.

In 1965, wanting to cover hostilities between India and Pakistan but discovering that reporters were barred from the front; she simply secured permission from an old acquaintance, Indira Gandhi, who was then India’s minister of information and broadcasting.

Hollingworth was also one of the first Western journalists to report regularly from China, opening The Telegraph’s Beijing bureau in 1973.

She obtained the first interview with Mohammed Reza Pahlavi after he became the shah of Iran in 1941, and what was very likely among the last, after he was deposed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.

Turkish Deputy PM: Fears of Sectarian Sykes–Picot Agreement

London- Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş says the geographical position of Turkey has always been a sword of two edges. Kurtulmuş told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Turkish border is the reason behind the formation of strategic alliances that contributed to the country’s development and the economic renaissance.

“However, this placed Ankara in the frontline of the battle against extremism, terrorism and regional troubles taking place in the Middle East; this actually raised concerns of a new sectarian Sykes–Picot Agreement,” said Kurtulmuş.

Speaking of the future of EU-Turkish relations, Kurtulmuş said that Ankara managed to maintain solid relations with the European Union since 1993 “but, unfortunately, throughout this long-term relationship Turkey witnessed some biased stances that were taken by the EU. For example, the union offered Turkey a unique partnership but not a membership of the union. “

On whether the suggestion for Turkey to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) might hurdle negotiations with the EU and increase tension between the latter and Turkey, the deputy PM said that this is unlikely because Turkey enjoys several strategic, cultural and geographic features. “SCO is not an alternative for the EU,” he added.

Commenting on Russian-Turkish relations, Kurtulmuş stressed his country’s keenness to establish stable ties with Russia, the EU, the U.S. and other countries. “Sometimes, excellent relations might stumble and this is normal in international relations,” he said.

Kurtulmuş said: “We support the Syrian people and the moderate opposition and we call for removing power from Bashar al-Assad. However, we kicked off negotiations with the Russians to reach a rational solution to the Syrian crisis since this would introduce the region to a new phase of stability.”

The deputy prime minister added that the Syrian people, who were oppressed by the Assad regime, have the right to determine their fate.

As for the new U.S. administration, the deputy PM told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the new U.S. administration has two options either to support the Democratic Union Party (Kurdish) or to back 80 million Turkish citizens. We hope that Trump’s government chooses to defend Turkey in its war against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the armed Kurds in Syria. I am optimistic in this regards.”

Speaking of Saudi-Turkish relations, Kurtulmuş said that the region is currently facing the threat of a potential second Sykes–Picot Agreement and that should compel us to unite as Islamic countries to combat the division of countries on sectarian grounds.

“Saudi Arabia has an active role in this field; we are now at a crossroads: to surrender to Sykes–Picot Agreement or to unite against sectarianism”, Kurtulmuş added.