|Southwest Asia News Digest
Turkish High-Speed Rail Project To Be Financed by China
Oct. 13 (EIRNS)Turkey and China have agreed to cooperate in the construction of 7,000 kilometers of high-speed rail lines across Turkey, the Turkish daily Zaman reported on Oct. 13. A Railway Cooperation Agreement was signed during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, with China reportedly offering loans up to $30 billion.
The entire network could be completed by 2023, in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. It will include six new lines, which will link the capital of Ankara with the four corners of the country. Once completed, the journey of over 1,600 kilometers from Edirne, which is on the border with Greece, in the extreme northwest corner of Turkey, and Kars, on the border of Iraq, in the extreme northeast corner, would take 12 hours,
The train would pass through the Maramray Tunnel under the Bosporus Strait, which is now under construction. At Kars, standard rail lines already operate to Mosul, Iraq, to the west, and into Iran in the northwest. The projects would pass through some very challenging topography, including mountainous regions requiring state-of-the-art tunneling.
Turkish Prime Minister in Damascus
Oct. 12 (EIRNS)Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan was in Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Oct. 12.
While the talks centered around both security and economic issues, the issue of dealing with the terrorist Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) was a high priority. The PKK, a narco-terrorist organization and instrument of British intelligence operations, is a destabilization threat against Syria and Iran, as well as against Turkey, its main target. Talks also dealt with the establishment of a free trade area among Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Syrian counterpart, Walid Al Moallem, joined the talks as well, with both countries expressing their commitments to cooperate in suppression of the PKK.
Another mutual concern is the failure of Iraq to form a new government since elections were held in March 2010. Speaking at a press conference in Damascus, Erdogan emphasized that it is the mission of the Iraqis to decide on their own government. On Oct. 11, Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, was in Turkey, where he met Erdogan and Davutoglu.
Erdogan's visit to Damascus followed the second ministerial meeting of the Syria-Turkish High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council, held in the Syrian city of Latakia on Oct. 3. The two sides pledged to continue the security cooperation agreements based on the Adana Protocol of 1998, which had paved the way for improved Syrian-Turkish relations.
Israel's Jabotinskyites Begin New Settlement Provocations
Oct. 15 (EIRNS)Stymied by the Palestinian decision not to walk out on the U.S.-patronized peace talks, the fascist Jabotinskyite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Oct. 14, approved 238 new Jewish housing units in East Jerusalemthe Arab sector of the old cityand the bulldozers began rolling the next day to clear way for these illegal Jewish settlements. This is the first such building since U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel last March, when Netanyahu delivered his cynical slap at the demands by the United States to halt building Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.
The provocation by Netanyahu is intended to ensure that there will be no resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Both Russia and the U.S. State Department condemned the Israeli action. "It is contrary to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," said State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley. A statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry was stronger, expressing "extreme concern and disappointment" and calling on Israel to reconsider this decision.
Jordan To Build Nuclear Plants with Japanese Aid
Oct. 13 (EIRNS)Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged on Oct. 12 that Japan would extend "maximum possible" financial aid to Jordan's project to build nuclear power plants, according to AFP. The pledge was made when Kan met with Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai in Tokyo. A civil nuclear cooperation pact was signed in the suburbs of Amman by Kiyoshi Asako, chargé d'affaires at the Japanese Embassy in Jordan, and Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission. Jordan aims to start operation of its first nuclear plant by 2019, and a Japan-France consortium as well as Russian and Canadian groups are bidding for the project, according to Kyodo news agency. Rifai told Kan that Jordan, as a "regional hub," was going ahead with its nuclear power, water, and railway projects, which would bring economic benefits to the whole of the region.
Saudi Arabia Investing in Desalination and Power Projects
Oct. 12 (EIRNS)Between the first quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2015, Saudi Arabia is expecting to complete more than $20 billion in power projects. Almost $10 billion of that figure has been or will be invested in desalination plants. Power, desalination, and construction are projected to experience the most growth going into the next decade.
Desalination plants take massive amounts of electricity to fuel the water filtration processes, the minimum of which costs 0.86 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per cubic meter of desalinated water produced. This electricity runs the pumps that push water through membranes, used in the reverse osmosis desalination process, the most widely used desalination process not only in the Middle East, but wherever desalination is done.
One of the largest desalination plants planned for Saudi Arabia will produce upward of 1 million cubic meters of freshwater per day.