Posts Tagged ‘the United Arab Emirates’

Malaysia: PM confident Saudi Arabia understands Malaysia-Qatar ties

October 17, 2017

| October 16, 2017

Najib Razak says although Malaysia enjoys special relationship with Saudi Arabia, it has good cooperation with all countries.

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PUTRAJAYA: Bilateral relations between Malaysia and Qatar, specifically in the trade sector, is strong despite the Middle Eastern nation facing a crisis with other Gulf countries.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said this was so as relations between the two countries had been well established for the past 43 years.

He said Malaysia was known as a country that enjoyed good cooperation with all others, as well as with Muslim nations, as it practiced the principle of ‘wasatiyyah’ (moderation).

Najib said although Malaysia had a special relationship with Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic relations with Qatar in June, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani’s visit to Malaysia has not raised any problem.

Najib said he was confident the Saudi government understood Malaysia’s stand.

Image result for Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani, in Malaysia, photos

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, right, speaks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, and Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V, after inspecting an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.

“We will continue to maintain the relationship (with Saudi Arabia) at its best, but this does not prevent us from having ties, especially economic relations, with Qatar,” he said in a press conference after meeting Sheikh Tamim Hamad at Seri Perdana here, today.

Also present were Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and Minister with Special Functions in the Prime Minister’s Department Hishammuddin Hussein.

On June 5, five Gulf nations, namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Yemen announced the decision to break ties with Qatar, on grounds that the country supported terrorism.

Asked whether the Emir of Qatar wanted Malaysia as mediator between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Najib said, “It may be beyond Malaysia’s capacity to become a mediator or offer itself as a mediator.

“But they (Qatar) know Malaysia is a country that they can rely on to play a positive part in the conflict’s resolution, in matters of principle.”

Najib said during the meeting, the two leaders also discussed cooperation on anti-terrorism and security.

He said the Emir of Qatar was serious about fighting terrorism, and hoped for continued cooperation with Malaysia to address the issue.

“The Rohingya issue was also discussed, in which Qatar is aware that Malaysia is at the forefront of helping the Rohingyas, as well as in the construction of a ‘field hospital’ at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“I also raised Qatar’s promise to contribute US$50 million (for the Rohingya) during the Deputy Prime Minister’s (Zahid Hamidi) visit to Qatar. The mechanism on how the donation can be channelled, will now be determined,” he said.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/16/pm-confident-saudi-arabia-understands-malaysia-qatar-ties/

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Qatar orders aid to private sector as boycott hurts economy

October 8, 2017

New investors in Qatar’s logistics zones will be completely exempt from paying rents for a year if they obtain building permits by certain deadlines. (AP)
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DUBAI: Qatar’s government announced measures to help private sector businesses on Saturday after its economy was hurt by a boycott by other Arab states.

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Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani decided to cut rents paid by companies in Qatar’s logistics zones in half during 2018 and 2019, official news agency QNA reported.
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New investors in the zones will be completely exempt from paying rents for a year if they obtain building permits by certain deadlines. Qatar Development Bank, a state-founded body which lends to firms, will postpone receiving loan installments for up to six months to facilitate industrial sector projects.
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Sheikh Abdullah also told all ministries and government departments to increase their procurement of local products to 100 percent from 30 percent, if the local products meet necessary specifications and the purchases obey tender rules.
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Qatar’s economy expanded just 0.6 percent from a year earlier in the April-June quarter, its slowest growth since the 2009-2010 global financial crisis, after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties on June 5.
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The four states accuse Doha of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies. The boycott triggered a pull-out of deposits by Gulf states from Qatari banks, deepened a slump in real estate prices and caused a plunge of 18 percent in the stock market.

France calls for lifting of sanctions on Qatar citizens

July 15, 2017

French Foreign Minister says his country is “very concerned by the sudden deterioration” of the situation in the Gulf.

France has called for a swift lifting of sanctions that target Qatari nationals in an effort to ease a month-long rift between the Gulf country and a Saudi Arabia-led group.

In his visit to the Qatari capital Doha on Saturday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said his country is “very concerned by the sudden deterioration” of the situation in the region.

“France calls for the lifting, as soon as possible, of the measures that affect the populations in particular, bi-national families that have been separated or students,” Le Drian told reporters in Doha, after he met his counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

READ MORE: The turning point of the GCC crisis

Le Drian also met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, following the steps of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in the Gulf this week to help to find a solution the regional impasse.

He is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia later on Saturday and will visit Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

“France should be a facilitator in the mediation” led by Kuwait, Le Drian told reporters.

Kuwait is trying to mediate the dispute.

“France is talking to all these countries to help in the search for a solution,” he said, calling for “dialogue and calm” between the Arab states concerned.

Le Drian also said France counted on “reinforcing cooperation with Qatar in the fight against terrorism, particularly in combating terrorism financing”.

‘Political, intellectual terrorism’

For his part, Sheikh Mohammed said that the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar are disrupting the regional effort to combat terrorism.

“Combating terrorism also cannot be through practising political and intellectual terrorism against a state,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Aside from France, officials from Britain and Germany also visited the region in recent weeks.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Samer Shehata of the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, however, said that while France’s voice lends more support for Qatar, it does “not have a tremendous amount” of influence in the crisis.

“The United States has the most pressure it can potentially exert on the parties involved, particularly the Saudis and the Emiratis,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Qatar on June 5, accusing it of financing armed groups and allying with Saudi Arabia’s regional ally, Iran — allegations that Doha denied.

On June 22, the Saudi-led group issued a 13-point list of demands, including the shutdown of Al Jazeera, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country, as a prerequisite to lift the sanctions.

Doha rejected the demands and the countries now consider the list “null and void”.

On July 11, US and Qatar signed an agreement to help combat “terrorism financing”. But the Saudi-led group called it “insufficient”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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France Urges Qatar, Arab Neighbors to Resolve Diplomatic Standoff

July 15, 2017 9:06 AM
  • VOA News
French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian is seen at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 3, 2017. Le Drian met Saturday in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian is seen at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 3, 2017. Le Drian met Saturday in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

France’s foreign minister has expressed concern about the deterioration of relations between Qatar and its Arab neighbors and urged all sides to find a way to end the diplomatic standoff.

Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke to reporters after talks with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, in Doha on Saturday.

A group of nations that includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accuses Qatar of supporting terrorism and has given Doha a 13-point list of demands after severing diplomatic ties in early June.

Qatar has said it is willing to negotiate but will not give up its sovereignty.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited the region earlier this week but left with little apparent progress in resolving the standoff.

https://www.voanews.com/a/france-qatar/3945483.html

Arab states send Qatar 13 demands to end crisis, official say

June 23, 2017

Reuters

Four Arab states boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism have sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television and reducing ties to their regional adversary Iran, an official of one of the four countries said.

The list, compiled by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain as the price for ending the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years, also demands the closing of a Turkish military base in Qatar, the official told Reuters.

Qatar must also announce it is severing ties with terrorist, ideological and sectarian organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, he said, and surrender all designated terrorists on its territory,

The countries give Doha 10 days to comply, failing which the list becomes ‘void’, the official said without elaborating. The demands were handed to Qatar by Kuwait, which is mediating in the dispute, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The four Arab countries accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional instability and cozying up to revolutionary theocracy Iran. Qatar has denied the accusations.

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on Qatar, accusing it of being a “high level” sponsor of terrorism, but he has also offered help to the parties in the dispute to resolve their differences.

Turkey has backed Qatar during the three-week-old crisis. It sent its first ship carrying food aid to Qatar and dispatched a small contingent of soldiers and armored vehicles there on Thursday, while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Saudi Arabia’s leaders on calming tension in the region.

(Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Rania El Gamal and Paul Tait)

Qatar Says Won’t Negotiate Until Economic Boycott Ends

June 19, 2017

DOHA — Qatar will not negotiate with Arab states that have cut economic and travel ties with it unless they reverse their measures, its foreign minister said, ruling out discussions over Qatar’s internal affairs including Al Jazeera TV.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar had still not received any demands from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which severed relations two weeks ago, triggering the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahmanal-Thani

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting Islamist militants and stirring up unrest, charges Doha denies.

“Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters in Doha. “Until now we didn’t see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward.”

He said Kuwait’s ruler was the sole mediator in the crisis and that he was waiting for specific demands from Gulf states in order to take resolution efforts forward.

“We cannot just have (vague) demands such as ‘the Qataris know what we want from them, they have to stop this or that, they have to be monitored by a foreign monitoring mechanism,'” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Anything that relates to the affairs of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council is subject to negotiation, he said, referring to the body comprising Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

“Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar’s affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar’s affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs,” he said.

Qatar’s Gulf critics have accused Al Jazeera of being a platform for extremists and an agent of interference in their affairs. The network has rejected those accusations and said it will maintain its editorial independence.

Image result for LNG, Qatar, photos

The crisis has hit civilian travel, some food imports, ratcheted up tensions in the Gulf and sown confusion among businesses. But it has not affected energy exports from Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar would rely on other states if the boycott continued, including Saudi Arabia’s arch regional foe Iran.

“We have a back-up plan which depends mainly on Turkey, Kuwait and Oman,” he said. “Iran has facilitated for us the sky passages for our aviation and we are cooperating with all countries that can ensure supplies for Qatar.”

(Reporting by Tom Finn; writing by Sylvia Westall; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Trump Urges Muslims to Fight Extremism in Saudi Speech — Plus Photos of Events in Riyadh

May 21, 2017

As he continues his first overseas trip as president, Trump aims to strike a conciliatory tone toward Muslims

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President Trump speaks at the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Updated May 21, 2017 11:24 a.m. ET

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—President Donald Trump called Sunday on Muslim leaders across the globe to confront “the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds,” in a conciliatory speech aimed at corralling Arab allies around a new, combined effort to combat terrorism.

His speech at an Arab-Islamic-American summit in the Saudi capital marked a dramatic departure from rhetoric during his presidential campaign, most notably was his deliberate decision not to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” as he pointedly did as a candidate.

Instead, Mr. Trump sought to draw a distinction between religion and terrorism carried out in its name. It “is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations” but “a battle between good and evil,” he said.

“Terrorists do not worship God. They worship death,” Mr. Trump said.

“Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear,” he added, if you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief and your soul will be fully condemned.”

Mr. Trump sought to underpin his pursuit of a renewed campaign against terrorism with new measures aimed at combating groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State, and countering Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

Arab leaders agreed take steps to target terrorism financing, and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia opened a center in Riyadh focused on that effort. The U.S. also agreed to some $400 billion in economic investments with Saudi Arabia including $110 billion in new arms sales to Riyadh.

As president, Mr. Trump issued two travel bans targeting Muslim-majority countries he deemed terrorism threats, fulfilling one of his signature campaign promises. Both executive orders were halted after being challenged and tied up in U.S. courts.

In a February speech to both chambers of Congress, Mr. Trump said his administration was “taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism,” stressing the last three words.

Roger Stone, a Republican operative who was closely involved with Mr. Trump’s campaign, responded to a photograph of King Salman placing a medal around the president’s neck by writing on Twitter: “Candidly, this makes me want to puke.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly criticized his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” He also said his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, was “afraid” to say it, though she had said she would.

While many Saudis have been delighted by Mr. Trump’s visit, and he received a warm welcome from the royal family, the reaction from Arabs across the region has been more critical.

From Islamists to pro-democracy advocates, many have responded harshly to a U.S. president who has spoken of a ban on Muslims. Others simply saw Mr. Trump’s elaborate reception from the Saudi monarchy as another sign that the administration wouldn’t push the region’s autocrats toward democratic reform any time soon.

U.S. officials didn’t publicly raise human-rights abuses by Saudi Arabia that the American government has criticized in the past.

For the White House, Mr. Trump’s speech on Islam was a chance for the new president to persuade a wider audience that his views aren’t hostile to the religion, as he tries to kick-start closer cooperation with Muslim leaders to combat terrorism.

Sunday’s summit could also help Saudi Arabia convey a message to the wider world about its commitment to fighting religious extremism. The country, which practices an austere interpretation of Sunni Islam, has struggled to shed its reputation as a hub of radical Islam since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America. The perpetrators were mostly Saudi citizens.

Since then, Riyadh has emerged as one of Washington’s closest counterterrorism allies, and under King Salman has sought to lead regional efforts against terrorism.

The Saudi monarchy—eager to cultivate better ties with the U.S. under Mr. Trump than it had under Mr. Obama—has largely overlooked some of new president’s past positions. Saudi Arabia sees the U.S. as a vital partner in efforts to counter the influence of rival Iran in the region, and has enthusiastically welcomed the new administration’s more hard-line stance toward Tehran.

The World Bank announced at an event with the president’s daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a combined $100 million to a fund that will assist women entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi take part in a bilateral meeting in Riyadh on Sunday.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi take part in a bilateral meeting in Riyadh on Sunday. PHOTO:MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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Mr. Trump held individual meetings Sunday with leaders from Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt and Kuwait. The summit included representatives from the six Persian Gulf countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Noticeably absent from Sunday’s summit is the Sunni kingdom’s regional adversary: Shiite Iran, with whom Riyadh severed diplomatic relations in early 2016. Tensions between the two countries, which back opposite sides of conflicts in Yemen and Syria, have played out across the Middle East, heightening tensions between Sunnis and Shiites.

Mr. Trump is seeking warmer U.S. relations in the Middle East, in part to push for a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians and a broader thaw between Israel and its Arab neighbors. It also wants America’s Persian Gulf allies to take more of a leading role to counter Iran’s influence and help stabilize the volatile region.

Mr. Trump noted the tense relations as he met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, saying “there won’t be strain with this administration.”

He told the king the two countries have “many of the same things in common.” The king replied that they have a “very good foundation of mutual understanding and strategy” that has “led to a great stability in the region.”

Write to Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com and Margherita Stancati at margherita.stancati@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-saudi-speech-to-mark-bid-to-ease-muslim-tensions-1495359283

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President Trump speaks at the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
President Trump speaks at the Arab-Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Trump attended a meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council leaders in Riyadh on Sunday.
President Trump attended a meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council leaders in Riyadh on Sunday. JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud waits to receive Mr. Trump for the Arab-Islamic-American Summit.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud waits to receive Mr. Trump for the Arab-Islamic-American Summit.JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
Mr. Trump, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, meets with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Mr. Trump, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, meets with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
Mr. Trump pauses during a meeting with leaders at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit.
Mr. Trump pauses during a meeting with leaders at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit. EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
First lady Melania Trump plays with children during a visit to the American International School in the Saudi capital.
First lady Melania Trump plays with children during a visit to the American International School in the Saudi capital.GIUSEPPE CACACE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
A worker in Riyadh walks past a balloon with a U.S. flag on it as part of welcome celebrations ahead of the visit of Mr. Trump.
A worker in Riyadh walks past a balloon with a U.S. flag on it as part of welcome celebrations ahead of the visit of Mr. Trump. HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS
Mr. Trump and King Salman arriving for a reception ahead of a banquet at Murabba Palace in Riyadh.
Mr. Trump and King Salman arriving for a reception ahead of a banquet at Murabba Palace in Riyadh. BANDAR AL-JALOUD/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Mr. Trump is welcomed by Saudi King Salman on Saturday.
Mr. Trump is welcomed by Saudi King Salman on Saturday. BANDAR AL-JALOUD/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
King Salman gives Mr. Trump the kingdom’s highest honor, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal.
King Salman gives Mr. Trump the kingdom’s highest honor, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal. SAUDI PRESS AGENCY/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
White House senior adviser Jared Kushnerr and his wife, Ivanka Trump, arrive at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushnerr and his wife, Ivanka Trump, arrive at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh. MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGE
Mr. Trump greets diplomats at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh.
Mr. Trump greets diplomats at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh. SAUDI ROYAL PALACE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGE
Mr. Trump and King Salman stop for coffee.
Mr. Trump and King Salman stop for coffee. MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
From left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross take part in a bilateral meeting with King Salman in Riyadh.
From left, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross take part in a bilateral meeting with King Salman in Riyadh. MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
In the front row, from left, Abu Dhabi‘s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, U.S. President Donald Trump, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Jordan’s King Abdullah II at a summit in Riyadh on Sunday.
In the front row, from left, Abu Dhabi‘s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, U.S. President Donald Trump, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Jordan’s King Abdullah II at a summit in Riyadh on Sunday. JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
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Trump calls for stamping out financing of terrorist groups to Muslim leaders — “Drive them out.”

May 21, 2017

President Trump Sunday in a highly-anticipated speech to Muslim leaders during his first foreign trip called for unity between the U.S. and Middle Eastern nations in the fight to “stamp out extremism.”

During his second day of his first trip abroad, Trump’s speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia addressed the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries to challenge extremism by cutting off the financing of terrorist groups.

Trump announced the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which is committed to prosecuting the financing of terrorism.

“Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God,” Trump said.

The council comprises Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will sign the memorandum of understanding in Riyadh, according to Reuters.

“America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security,” Trump said.

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations,” the president added.

In his first overseas trip as president, Trump also pledged to work with Saudi Arabia leader King Salman to bring peace to the Gulf region and forge stronger economic ties, in large part through a roughly $10 billion arms deal.

“That was a tremendous day,” Trump said shortly after signing the arms deal. “Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The arms deal is part of large, $350 billion economic packages between the ally nations.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/21/trump-calls-for-stamping-out-financing-terrorist-groups-to-muslim-leaders.html

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Trump Tells Muslim Leaders: ‘Drive out’ the Terrorists

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Donald Trump offered a message of unity Sunday as he called on the Arab world to confront extremism during a highly anticipated speech in the birthplace of Islam.

“Drive them out!” Trump said of terrorists to dozens of Arab leaders who attended his remarks. “Of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of your Holy Land, and drive them out of this Earth!”

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations,” Trump said. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”

He added, “If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing, then we not only will be judged by our people, not only will be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.”

The speech during the initial stop of the president’s first foreign trip is set to be a stark contrast to his previous comments on Islam. As a candidate, Trump frequently criticized the religion, saying, “I think Islam hates us” and “there’s a tremendous hatred there.”

The U.S.’s Middle Eastern allies have often complained about America’s focus on human rights, a stance Trump also seemed keen to make a break from.

“America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens,” the president said. “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all.”

Introducing Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke of the responsibility and need “to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism.”

“There is no honor in committing murder,” Salman said, adding that Islam is “the religion of peace and tolerance.”

Trump defined the struggle against extremism as “a battle between good and evil.”

“Barbarism will deliver you no glory — piety to evil will bring you no dignity,” the president said. “If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned.”

Trump also offered a firm rebuke of Iran, a stark departure from the overtures of the Obama administration that had caused such a chill with the Saudi government.

Calling them out for funding arms, training terrorists, and “spreading destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump implored all nations to “work together to isolate” Tehran until the regime is “willing to be a partner for peace.”

“Pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve,” he said.

In the speech at the King Abdul Aziz Conference Center, Trump did not use the phrase “radical Islamic terror” — one he uttered repeatedly on the campaign trail, and lambasted his predecessor for saying. The president did say: “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

The president also said countries in the region must do the hard work themselves and not to expect the U.S. to fight terror for them.

“The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children,” Trump said. “Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization.”

Trump said he hoped the gathering of region leaders in Riyadh who attended his speech would mark the beginning of the end of terrorism and the start of peace in the Middle East.

“This region should not be a place that refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock,” the president said.

Trump came to office promising to disengage the U.S. from conflicts that have claimed thousands of U.S. lives, particularly in the greater Middle East, where it has been embroiled in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq among others.

Trump echoed his “America First” mantra from the campaign, which according to the White House does not mean isolation and instead is about U.S. citizens’ “safety and security.”

His presidential campaign was rife with anti-Muslim comments and promises, including support of surveillance of mosques, as well as an early proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

As president, Trump made good on a version of that promise by signing a travel ban that has been stalled in the courts which would have barred citizens from a handful of Muslim-majority countries, although not Saudi Arabia.

On Saturday, Trump received a royal greeting after touching down in the country. The pomp and pageantry included a signing ceremony for a military arms deal to Saudi Arabia, worth $110 billion effective immediately and up to $350 billion over 10 years, and ended with a boisterous banquet filled with music and dancing.

“That was a tremendous day. Tremendous investments in the United States,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Earlier Sunday before his speech, Trump held meetings with other regional leaders during which he touted “lots of beautiful military equipment” that U.S. workers manufacture

Includes video:

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/trumps-first-foreign-trip/trump-speech-muslims-we-are-not-here-lecture-n762631

South China Sea: What Does China Actually Want? And At What Cost?

October 28, 2016

By Nick Bisley

The complex disputes over islands, rocks and reefs in the South China Sea involve six countries: China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. They have a long history, with their origins in the interruption of traditional practices by European and Japanese colonialism, and compounded by the post-WWII conflicts in Southeast Asia. These disputes are among the most vexing issues in the region.

Despite this backstory the tensions associated with contestation have waxed and waned. The current spike in geopolitical temperature dates back to 2009, and in particular to China’s issuing of the decidedly ambiguous “dashed line” map. This map can now be found in passports, on inflight magazines and in every school book in the country. Since then, China has begun to take steps to defend what it portrays as its rights in the sea. Disputed features have been built upon and now boast 3 km runways and deep water ports. Sansha island in the Paracels, population 1200, has city status. And while Beijing is not the only country occupying or building on disputed features, its activities are the most widespread and destabilizing.

Yet in spite of its many activities, it is not clear precisely what it is that China wants. We can see plainly its methods of advancing its interests on a daily basis, but just what its larger strategic objective may be is uncertain. This is perhaps most obvious in the case of the dashed line map – it was presented accompanying a note in which China asserted its “indisputable” sovereignty over the islands and the adjacent waters of the Sea. But it lacked specificity about what the dashes meant, where, precisely on the map the lines are located or indeed what meaning they held.

This ambiguity is, in part, deliberate. It provides diplomatic leeway to manage events; it sows confusion in the minds of those who have a stake (however large or small) in the dispute; and, of course, it papers over the fact that Beijing may not be entirely set in its own mind as to what it wants to achieve. But this lack of clarity makes managing the dispute extremely difficult and the process of negotiating some kind of settlement acceptable to all virtually impossible.

There are ultimately three main things that China appears to seek. First, as with all the claimant states, China is a net energy importer. The Sea is thought to be rich in oil and gas, and China wants not only the economic benefit that comes from having sovereign rights over hydrocarbon reserves but also the security of supply that it would entail. Equally, the South China Sea is a significant fishery and as a country which consumes growing volumes of protein this is highly prized.

China also desires security for its maritime approaches. The country is dependent for its economic prosperity on trade flows – energy and commodities inbound and finished goods going to market. But this goes beyond protecting shipping lanes; in the nineteenth century China was brought low by foreign forces that tore the country apart and humiliated its people, at least so goes the Party’s nationalist mythology. The Party’s claim to legitimacy depends on its ability to protect China and it follows from this that it must secure the means through which others approach China. The South China Sea is, in many respects, the country’s front door and it does not want that door to be vulnerable.

Finally and perhaps most crucially the Sea is now presented by the Party-State as a fundamental part of China. It has long argued that China was once a great nation and that only through the tenacity and discipline of the Communists was it able to be made whole and once again sit at the top table in world affairs. The South China Sea thus has a nationalist and identity value above and beyond material resources and questions of strategy, and this value should not be understated given the importance of this matter to the Party’s legitimacy and sense of itself.

The problem is that these three goals make devising a negotiated settlement that involves anything but a maximalist vision of China’s claims over the sea extraordinarily difficult. More significantly, its vision is incompatible with the view that the United States and its allies have for Asia’s future. And it is for this reason that the South China Sea has become such a significant part of the region’s international politics and why the United States and its allies find managing the dispute so vexing.

Nick Bisley is Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, Australia.

Image: PLA Navy carrier battle group in formation in the South China Sea. Flickr/Creative Commons/Simon Yang

http://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-does-china-actually-want-the-south-china-sea-18211

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   (From July 12, 2016)

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Above Chinese chart shows China’s “Nine Dash Line.” China says it owns all ocean territory north of the Nine Dash Line. There is no international legal precedent for this claim.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid.

U.S. Navy Leads 30-Nation Maritime Exercise in Middle East

April 9, 2016

Reuters

ABU DHABI — The U.S. Navy is leading a 30-nation maritime exercise across Middle Eastern waters which it says will help protect international trade routes against possible threats, including from Islamic State and al Qaeda.

The exercise, which is partly being held in the Arabian Gulf, comes as tensions run high between Gulf Arab countries and Iran over its role in the region, including its support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, for the Houthis in the Yemen conflict and for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) started on Monday with a symposium in Bahrain where the U.S Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, in part as a bulwark against Iran.

Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said on Saturday the exercise was designed to stop militants from causing disruption to shipping as, “we know that they want to disturb trade lines”.

“This region provides a strong training opportunity for nations worldwide as three of the six major maritime chokepoints in the world are here: the Suez Canal, the Strait of Bab Al Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz,” Donegan said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had praised security cooperation with Bahrain on Thursday during a visit to the Gulf monarchy calling it a “critical security partner”.

U.S. President Barack Obama will attend a summit in Riyadh on April 21 with the Gulf Cooperation Council states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain – on Iran’s role in the region.

(Reporting By Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra)

 

Hezbollah Says Saudi Arabia, Turkey Obstructing Syria Peace Chances

March 21, 2016
Reuters

Hezbollah accused Saudi Arabia and Turkey on Monday of obstructing efforts to reach a political solution in Syria, saying Riyadh did not want to see any progress at Geneva peace talks aimed at ending five years of conflict.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Saudi Arabia have for years been on opposing sides of Syria’s civil war, but relations have worsened in recent months – mirroring the growing hostility between Riyadh and Tehran, the region’s two rival powers.”What is disrupting any progress towards a political solution is firstly Saudi Arabia, and secondly Turkey,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told Al Mayadeen television in an interview.

Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which insist Assad must leave power, have been supporting Sunni Muslim insurgents fighting to overthrow him.

“Saudi Arabia doesn’t want any progress in the negotiations in Geneva,” Nasrallah said, adding Riyadh might be holding out until the U.S. presidential election in November to see whether a new administration might pursue a different policy on Syria.

“So I don’t expect progress in the political process or a political solution,” he said.

His criticism of Riyadh comes nearly three weeks after the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which groups Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

Saudi Arabia said last week it would punish anyone who belongs to Hezbollah, sympathises with it, supports it financially or harbours any of its members.

Several GCC countries have deported Lebanese nationals over suspected links to the group. A Kuwaiti newspaper said on Monday the emirate had expelled 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis.

But Nasrallah said that the allegations were either baseless or related to people Hezbollah did not know about.

“They said a group was arrested in Kuwait smuggling drugs (and) belonged to Hezbollah, they were contacting Hezbollah in Syria,” Nasrallah said. “That’s empty talk”.

“(There are reports) that there is a cell that’s been sentenced in the UAE. We don’t know anything about that, we don’t know who they are,” he said. He also denied that Hezbollah had sent any fighters or weapons to Bahrain.

Nasrallah warned Israel against trying to exploit Hezbollah’s deployment in Syria to launch military action in Lebanon, but said he believed a major conflict with Israel was unlikely – because of the heavy costs it would bring.

“In any war against Lebanon, which targeted Lebanon’s people, infrastructure – we would go into this war without limits or red lines,” he said.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah could hit any target inside Israel, including nuclear facilities and what he said were biological research centres and petrochemical plants.

Israel and Hezbollah fought an inconclusive war in 2006.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans and Laila Bassam; Editing by Mark Heinrich)