News from other parts of the Middle East

This post focuses on the ever-growing power of Chinese economic imperialism in the Middle East, but also the rising soft power of South Korea. It looks at the impact of the unrest in the region on the big oil countries, showing how oil has sustained authoritarian governments, which are fearing the changes. Labour conflict remains rife in the region, including the growing militancy of the hyper-exploited migrant workers from South Asia. Even Israel is seeing an upswing in labour militancy, with  a general strike a real possibility. 

Eric Lee: Countdown to general strike in Israel as mainstream media attack union

According to a report in the financial daily newspaper Globes, the Histadrut is only a week away from a general strike in the public and private sectors following failed talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahua.

Histadrut leader Ofer Eini is quoted as saying “We presented to the prime minister all our reservations about his announcement (of concessions) last Thursday but we have yet to receive any answers.”  Further meetings are planned for this week, including a meeting with the Minister of Finance tomorrow, and Eini says “After the meeting on Thursday we will decide how to proceed with our labor dispute.”

Meanwhile, the right-wing Jerusalem Post has run an article attacking the Histadrut for coming to the defense of low-paid workers who are not its own members.That’s not a typo — it’s actually what Asher Meir writes.  Here is an example:

“Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini is doing what labor bosses are supposed to do: threatening a strike if his constituents’ demands are not met. But let’s see what his demands are: raising the minimum wage of ALL workers, and lowering prices of certain staples for ALL consumers. These are political demands, not economic ones, and they are illegitimate ones for a labor union or federation.”


Chosunilbo: Libyans Protest at Korean Building Sites

Building sites in Libya operated by a Korean construction firm were raided by locals recently, injuring workers and damaging or burning equipment. Around 100 Libyans are apparently staging a sit-in protest.

According to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday, Libyans stormed three Korean construction sites, including one in the new city of Derna, causing hundreds of millions of won in property damage and injury to workers.

A bus owned by a Korean builder is completely burned out after a raid by locals in Libya late last week. /Yonhap

Around 80 Korean workers employed by a builder as well as around 1,700 other foreign laborers are working at the sites. They have escaped from the construction sites. “The raids have caused around W100 million to W200 million (US$1=W1,123) in property damage, but we may see further losses due to delayed construction,” said a spokesman for the builder.


Christopher Helman: Oil Giants Fear Revolution Is Coming To Them Next

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. (2002 photo)

I hope you have a plan, King. Image via Wikipedia

When Apache Corp. bought BP’s Egyptian assets last summer for $650 million no one anticipated the uprising that has occurred just six months later. Today Apache announced that it was pulling nonessential workers out of the country. Apache joins the likes of BG Group, Statoil, Shell and Transocean in closing offices and curtailing drilling operations.

So far in Egypt there’s been no disruption in flows from existing oil and gas wells producing 700,000 bpd. The Egyptian army has beefed up patrols of the 200-mile Sumed pipeline, which carries crude oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. A Middle Eastern businessman told me today that Egypt’s energy assets are in safe hands considering the army has been fed and clothed with billions from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for the past 30 years.

But what happens when the unrest spreads to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Algeria?


Construction Week: Chinese firm signs $1.2bn Khartoum airport deal

A state-owned Chinese firm has won a $1.2billion contract to build Khartoum’s new international airport.

The China Harbour Engineering Company said in a statement late Monday that the contract, signed in Khartoum, Sudan on 1 February, was worth $1.2 billion dollars.

The project, which covers the construction of the new airport’s runway, airline terminals, control towers and other key facilities, will replace Khartoum’s existing airport located in the centre of the capital.


Stephen White: Striking Bangladeshi Arabtec workers deported from Dubai

The protest was the second reported strike since the new year

71 Bangladesh nationals identified as instigating a strike involving 5,000 workers employed by Arabtec have been deported from Dubai, Bangladesh authorities have revealed.

As reported last week, the workers were rounded up by police after they were identified as ring leaders in a two-week strike over pay rises.

It is estimated that 5,000 workers employed by Arabtec first went on strike on 16 January to demand wage increases of Dhs200 ($55) from their average salaries of Dhs800-1,000 (depending on skill level). It was also reported that some workers claimed that they hadn’t been paid for overtime work.

READ THE REST. RELATED  ARTICLES: Rioting workers in labour camp protestRioting Chinese workers arrested in MakkahWorkers killed in crane fall in Downtown Dubai

BBC: Dubai’s migrant workers

The dark side of the dream.



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