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Abraham Accords Unleashed: The Middle East Will Never Be The Same

The peace accords signed between conservative Arab states and Israel are the start of an inevitable opening for the Middle East, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan means a new post-American, post-oil future.

photo of an Orthodox family checking in to Dubai Airlines at Tel Aviv airport

At Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport

Nir Alon/ZUMA
Marcos Peckel


BOGOTÁ — Days ago, passing through the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv, I could see prominent signs announcing direct flights between Israel and Casablanca in Morocco, and with Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Manama the capital of Bahrain, and Cairo. These were in addition to the dozen daily flights linking Tel Aviv and Istanbul, which have been operating for some years.

And to think on top of that, we now see the opening of Saudi airspace to flights to Israel, which would have been unthinkable just a few years back.

As the United States takes a back seat in the Middle East following its Afghan withdrawal, regional states are repositioning themselves in a new, post-American, post-oil reality compounded by climate change. It is a dynamic setting in which some will progress, and others stagnate.

Israel brings tangible benefits

The Abraham Accords, signed in 2020, opened the door to a new reality of coexistence, collaboration and exchanges between Israel and the Arab world. Its outlook is promising. It is but a matter of time before other countries join the trend to establish open and formal relations with the state of Israel.

The country has much to offer to Arab states in a range of areas including innovation, water management, technology, medicine, military cooperation and diplomatic support. The paradigm of refusing all formal ties with Israel until the Palestinian conflict is resolved is now a thing of the past.

But there is another Middle East that is mired in sectarian fighting and is turning its back on progress and prosperity. Certain nations are becoming victims of Iran's harmful interventions. One is Lebanon, which is being strangled by Hezbollah Iran's proxy militia imposing its will there, using arms and manpower that outmatch those of the Lebanese army. The organization has a lot of explaining to do over the calamitous explosion in the port of Beirut. It is blocking rapprochement with Israel that would bring the Lebanese enormous benefits, beginning with joint exploitation of Mediterranean gas fields.

Unrest in Gaza

photo of a young man using a slingshot

During unrest near Gaza City, a young man uses a slingshot against Israeli troops.

Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via ZUMA

Palestinian and Algerian resistance

Recently parliamentary elections in Iraq also sent a clear message: Iraqis are sick of Iranian meddling. The country that has suffered unspeakable miseries is looking for its destiny. A recent gathering of Iraqi leaders and tribal representatives urged the state to establish ties with Israel, immediately prompting threats and intimidation from Iran-backed militias.

Meanwhile, in northwest Africa: Morocco is reaping a string of social and diplomatic victories, while Algeria — a state that clings to the past — suffers social and political crises. Faithful to the "non-aligned" manual, it severed ties with Morocco over that haggard dispute over Western Sahara. Another country that has chosen stagnation.

For the Palestinians, the Abraham Accords represent a crossroads, especially regarding the leadership that must emerge once the Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas retires. They can doggedly maintain a position denying Israel's right to exist, and subject another generation to hardship, or climb aboard the peace train. If it hasn't already left, that is.

This is the new Middle East, with one half moving forward and the other staying behind.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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