Germany Suspends Training of Peshmerga

Berlin- Germany will suspend its mission training Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq because of the conflict between the Kurds and the Iraqi government, the German defense minister said on Wednesday.

Reuters said that Germany has been a major partner for the Iraqi Kurds. It has provided 32,000 assault rifle and machine guns, as well as other weapons valued at around 90 million euros since September 2014.

About 130 German soldiers are based in Erbil where they are providing training to the Kurdish fighters, the news agency said.

The German government, which agreed on Wednesday on three-month extension of seven other foreign assignments for its armed forces, suspended the training of the Kurdish fighters as it sought to “always ensure the unity of Iraq”.

“We had agreed last Friday with the foreign office to pause the training so no wrong signal would be sent,” Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.

The minister said the German mission of equipping and training the Kurds for their fight against ISIS was necessary and the right thing to do.

“We haven’t forgotten how it looked like in 2014 when ISIS tried to commit genocide against the Yazidis and was around 10 km from Baghdad,” she said.

The suspension of the training is temporary and resuming it will depend on daily examination of the situation in Iraq, said the government spokesman on Wednesday.

Germany had warned Iraqi Kurds against holding what it called a “one-sided” referendum and had urged Iraqi and Kurdish officials to avoid any steps that could lead to a further escalation of the situation.

King Salman Receives Princes, Kingdom’s Mufti, Citizens


Riyadh – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz received at al-Yamamah Palace princes, the Kingdom’s Grand Mufti, scholars and a group of citizens who came to greet the King.

The audience was attended by Prince Saad bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bin Turki, Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh region, and a number of princes.

Saudi Women to be Recruited in Leading Posts in Civil Aviation

Riyadh- President of General Authority of Civil Aviation Abdul Hakim bin Mohammed Al Tamimi asserted that Saudi women will be able to reach leading positions in GACA soon.

During a meeting with GACA’s employees, Tamimi said the General Authority for Civil Aviation has been among the entities that provided work opportunities for women, and proved their high efficiency and ability, and given them a key role in licensing procedures for airlines or employees.

He also praised women’s ability to accomplish many missions usually practiced by men in the civil aviation sector, noting that on the personal level, he has six daughters, and he is keen to empower women so they can play a prominent role in the service of the country and its development, and vitally contribute to the Kingdom’s future.

The President of the General Authority for Civil Aviation expressed great confidence in the Authority’s employees and staff, and said he is eager to work to enhance their abilities and qualification so they can properly proceed their work and reach leading positions in the authority.

He pointed out that GACA focuses on training its staff in line with the highest international standards in order to empower it and develop it as soon as possible.

Tamimi talked about the authority’s plan concerning the separation of the legislative and the operational bodies; the legislative side will be only concerned in the civil aviation aspect, while the operational side will be independent.

He also stressed the Authority’s eagerness to achieve the objectives of the «National Transformation Program 2020» and «Saudi Vision 2030», highlighting the importance of the civil aviation sector and its primordial role in the national economy.

Finally, Tamimi explained that the Authority in keen to finding the best work environment for better achievement and performance, along with a successful communication among leaders and employees.

GACA’s president encouraged employees to directly communicate with him about any problem or complaint. He urged them to exert efforts and devote capacities to implement the objectives of the Authority.

Sports Can Make the Human Body 10 Years Younger


London — Recent analysis of data from a long-term study into the effects of an active lifestyle show those who lead active lifestyles were around 10 years younger in terms of motor skills. The results of the study were published by the Sports Institute at the German Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

This study focused on examining the health status of middle-aged people who regularly practice sports, and others who don’t.

Prof. Klaus Bös, who led the study with the scientist Alexander Woll said: “Our data shows that a 50-year-old sportsperson is as fit as the 40-year-old inactive individual,” according to the German News Agency (DPA).

He said data also showed that health problems which usually increase with age are remarkably rare among those practice sports.

The study found that those who exercise less than two and a half hours a week are four times more likely to suffer from diabetes. The study kicked off in 1992 in the city of Schönborn, Germany, and involved over 500 women and men, aged between 35 and 80 years old.

Bös said the physical activity among the study participants increased over the years, but 50% of them did not reach the two-and-half-hours exercise per week recommended by the WHO. However, sports alone is not enough to keep the body healthy as people age.

Older people often eat little or consume foods that lack nutrients, because they prefer easy-to-prepare meals, making it difficult for them to fight infections, said an expert.

“Without a balanced diet, infections such as flu can affect an individual many times,” the expert added.

Family members of infected people should not be surprised that their loved ones need extra help. They should pay more attention to their sick relatives, and make sure they eat nutritious foods. They should also encourage older people to exercise since sports enhances the body resistance.

Experts also recommend sauna sessions that stimulate metabolism and blood circulation and help individuals sleep better. It is also strongly recommended that people above 60 years old receive the annual flu vaccine.

Coffee Machines Stock Germs, Say Scientists

London- Scientists have found that all kinds of pathogens gather in coffee grounds and in used pod machine capsules.

According to the German News Agency (DPA), Fritz Titgemeyer, head of the Food Microbiology Laboratory at the Munster University of Applied Sciences in Germany, said that damp coffee grounds encourage the growth of germs.

If you leave a used coffee pod in the machine for a few days before throwing it out, some mould spores may remain in there and you may be adding them to your next brew.

Titgemeyer noted that a heat-stable poison may have developed, a so-called mycotoxin, and you will not be able to see or taste it.

The water containers and the plastic tubes in coffee machines are also a perfect breeding ground for bacteria if they are not cleaned properly. The expert said that bacteria can settle there in the form of biofilms. All removable components need to be cleaned thoroughly.

Titgemeyer added however disgusting it may be to imagine one’s coffee machine full of microorganisms, they do not really pose a health risk.

“The water is heated to 80 degrees Celsius, which kills any germs present in the water tank,” he said.

If you use the machine to make cold drinks, however, you may need to worry. Titgemeyer explained that in cold-extracted drinks like iced tea or iced coffee, all germs will remain. The good news is that many coffee machines include a self-cleaning program, but there are also extra things you can do to make sure you keep the germs at bay.

Sugar Stimulates Growth of Malignant Tumors

London- In a new scientific breakthrough, a team of researchers from Dutch and Belgian universities said they have finally determined the role of sugar in stimulating the growth of cancer and its tumors. Nine years of research showed that cancer cells rapidly break down sugars, and stimulate tumor growth.

Till this date, scientists have sought to narrow down the mechanism whereby cancer cells metabolize sugar without producing energy. This phenomenon is called the “Warburg effect” discovered by German Scientist Otto Warburg.

Scientists said that sugar is naturally linked to ‘Ras’ proteins, commonly found in tumor cells, which is a vital gene that no cancer cell can survive without. This link is so strong that cancer tumors are not allowed to emerge from the healthy tissue containing tumors.

Experts believe that the results of the study published in the “Nature Communications” journal will change the dietary guidelines for cancer patients and highlight the risk of sugar consumption on other healthy individuals.

Prof. of molecular biology Johan Thevelein from KU Leuven University in Belgium said: “Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth.”

In the 1920s, Otto Warburg discovered the phenomenon in which these tissues convert huge amounts of sugar into lactate products, which are milky materials, compared to healthy tissues.

To study this phenomenon, scientists examined the yeast containing the “Ras” protein. “We observed in yeast that sugar degradation is linked via the intermediate fructose (a type of sugar) to the activation of Ras proteins, which stimulate the multiplication of both yeast and cancer cells,” explained Thevelein.

Yemeni Army Regains Control over Strategic Areas in Shabwa


Aden – The Yemeni national army regained control over new strategic locations in Shabwa, southern Yemen, during the last 24 hours of fighting against the Houthi and Saleh militias as intense air raids by the Saudi-led coalition to support the legitimacy continued.

Army spokesman Major General Mutlaq al-Maaroufi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the army had regained control of al-Akda, Al-Abara and Abdul Rahman strongholds in Osailan after bloody clashes with the militias, hours after the gunmen took control of these areas.

The militia withdrew from these areas before the army intensified its targeting and siege, Maaroufi said.

The Saudi-led coalition warplanes mounted an attack on gatherings of militias in Osailan, resulting in many casualties.

Maaroufi said the army had a new plan to impose its control over the militia-controlled Beihan district, following the new military changes to the command of the 19th Brigade.

Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthis are sending reinforcements for their troops in the border areas between Beihan and Osailan.

For his part, activist Ahmed al-Mus’abi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Houthi militias are carrying out mass abductions and arrests and are storming many houses in Beihan.

He said that during the past two days, the militia had kidnapped dozens of people, including children amid the continued suffocating siege on the district.

In other field developments, field sources in the northwestern Hajjah governorate said that the artillery of the joint forces continued its heavy shelling of militia positions in Hayran and Hard districts.

In the past 24 hours, the sources estimated that the forces had launched more than 90 artillery shells.

Arab coalition fighters continued their air raids on militia positions, about two kilometers from the entrance of the Midi district, amid continuing heavy overflights along the border areas.

Saudi Research and Marketing Group Acquires Controlling Stake in ‘Argaam’

Prince Badr bin Farhan with Ghassan al-Shibl, Rashid al-Owain and Islam Zween

Riyadh– As part of its plan to expand its range of specialized content and develop digital publishing initiatives, Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) acquired a controlling stake in the Argaam Investment and Trading Company.

Argaam is a financial news portal that runs an online economic and financial information service and provides real-time updates on financial markets and macroeconomic trends in Saudi Arabia and the region.

SRMG acquired 51 percent of Argaam for $10 million in an attempt to expand its operations, at a time when Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy and opening up to more foreign investments and as a part of the National Transformation Plan (NTP) 2020 and Vision 2030.

Following the acquisition, SRMG Chairman Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud said it will help pave the way to a “brighter future” for the digital content industry in Saudi Arabia. He added that Argaam was very successful in various fields, mainly because it was one of the most prominent digital experiments in creating content for finance, business, and market movement in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

He added that this acquisition will also help promote means of development and alleviate it into higher levels.

Sources at the group revealed that this acquisition was done based on several strategic elements including its compatibility with Argaam’s content platforms which will generate a comprehensive performance within an environment that will raise Argaam into international levels.

Managing director and chief executive of SRMG Ghassan al-Shibl pointed out that the acquisition of one of the most important economic websites in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world is a continuation of the group’s strategy to expand its specialized content portfolios in the world of finance, business, market economics and different media platforms.

Shibl added that Saudi Arabian data has become a “strategic commodity” for potential investors weighing their options on how to invest in the Kingdom.

The acquisition also reflects an anticipated rise in demand for information on Saudi Arabia’s economy and financial markets as the country ramps up non-oil growth and diversifies its economy under its Vision 2030 strategy, according to Shibl.

The acquisition comes after SRMG signed a deal with the New York-headquartered Bloomberg LP to launch Bloomberg al-Arabiya, a new multi-platform Arabic-language business and financial news service.

The agreement includes the publishing of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in Arabic as well as a 24/7 television and radio network. The Bloomberg al-Arabiya team will be headquartered in the Gulf, and managed by SRMG with support from Bloomberg.

Saudi Research and Marketing Group is one of the leading investment companies in the industry of media and publishing and other fields linked to it in the Middle East. Established in 1987, SRMG is based on an investing comprehensive approach.

Israel Refuses to Negotiate with Palestinian Government ‘Dependent on Hamas’

Tel-Aviv – Following long discussions and sharp disputes over the stance towards the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, the Israeli cabinet announced on Tuesday its rejection to negotiate with a Palestinian government “dependent on Hamas”, which Israel describes as “a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction” of the country.
The statement followed comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he said that his government would neither try to prevent the implementation of the Palestinian agreement, nor would it cut relations with the Authority.
The Israeli government stressed that Hamas should recognize Israel and renounce terrorism in accordance with the Quartet’s conditions. It also demanded the disarming of Hamas, the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the recent war, and the release of two citizens held by the movement in the Gaza Strip.
The government added to these conditions, which Netanyahu had put forward following the signing of the reconciliation agreement last week, the necessity that the Palestinian Authority extend its full security control over the Gaza Strip, including the crossings, and prevent arms smuggling there.
It also called for thwarting the Hamas-terrorist network in the West Bank and cutting relations between the movement and Iran.
Israel’s security cabinet, which convened on Monday evening, conducted lengthy research on the reconciliation agreement, after which Netanyahu declared that Israel would neither recognize nor accept the agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas.
However, he said that he would “not try to prevent its implementation on the ground, and will not cut relations with the Authority.”
Netanyahu told his ministers that should the reconciliation agreement be implemented and PA officials return to the civil administration offices in Gaza and control the border crossings, “we must work with them, because this serves the Israeli interests in preventing a humanitarian crisis and improving the living conditions of the residents of the Gaza Strip.”

Iran Denies any Revolutionary Guards Role in Kirkuk Operations


London – Iranian Supreme Leader’s top Adviser for International Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati denied media reports that the Iranian Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) participated in the Iraqi government operations in Kirkuk against the Kurds.

“The IRGC plays no role in the Kirkuk operations,” Velayati told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday while defending the “consultative” role of the Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria.

He made his remarks in response to charges by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces that the IRGC was commanding the movement of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Kirkuk.

This was the second time in two days in which Velayati commented on the Kirkuk operations. On Monday, he had criticized Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, accusing him of trying to control the Kirkuk oil.

“Barzani should accept that he has made a mistake, admit it and try to make up for it,” Velayati demanded.

A Peshmerga statement said that a Revolutionary Guards leader, known as Eqbalpour, was directing the PMF in Kirkuk.

Barzani’s media adviser, Kifah Mahmoud said: “The Iranians were very clear to see. Many members of the IRGC were in the battle and most of them were speaking Persian.”

“What happened was a conspiracy with Iran’s participation through the PMF and air coverage, and of course with Turkish approval,” Mahmoud added, according to the German news agency (dpa).

Meanwhile, officials at the Parwezkhan border crossing between Iraq and Iran said troops from the pro-Baghdad PMF had taken control of the Iraqi side of the crossing, reported the Anadolu news agency.

It quoted officials, on condition of anonymity, as saying that PMF members who were stationed on the Iranian side, entered the Parwezkhan crossing and seized control of it.

On the Kurdish side, officials stressed that Kurdish border crossings with Iran were under the full control of Kurdish authorities and that the Iraqi forces were not present there.

“The claim that the PMF forces have entered the border ports between the Kurdistan Region and Iran is not true,” Samal Abdulrahman, director general of the Kurdistan Region’s customs told Rudaw television.

“No Iraqi force has come to the border port, which remains closed by Iran,” Aram Sayakhan, media and relations officer of the Parwezkhan crossing told Rudaw.