Jordan to host ‘Friends of Syria’ group next week, says ministry

Updated 16 May 2013
0

Jordan to host ‘Friends of Syria’ group next week, says ministry

AMMAN: Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday Amman will host a meeting of the so-called “Friends of Syria” group next week to discuss latest developments in Syria’s civil war.
“The foreign ministers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Germany and Italy will hold a meeting in Amman in mid-next week,” ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafei told AFP.
“This meeting will follow up on previous meetings in Istanbul and Abu Dhabi to discuss the unfortunate events in Syria and coordinate positions in line with the recent US-Russian agreement to revive the political path to tackle the crisis.”
Washington and Moscow have proposed a peace conference between the Syrian regime and the opposition in the coming weeks to find a political solution to the country’s civil war.
But France warned on Tuesday that the proposed foreign-backed peace conference would be “very difficult” to organise.
A diplomatic source said a meeting of top officials from the United States, France and Britain will take place on Thursday, with Russia and China joining the talks a day later. It is still unknown where these talks will be held.
At a meeting late Monday in Abu Dhabi, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as that of Turkey — all supporters of the Syrian opposition — insisted that President Bashar Assad should have no role in the future of Syria.
In a statement after talks among the pro-opposition “Friends of Syria” meeting group in Istanbul last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will double its assistance to the Syrian opposition to $ 250 million and expand its non-lethal military supplies to rebel fighters.
On Tuesday during a visit to Stockholm Kerry said that Syria’s opposition will receive additional assistance if Assad refuses to attend the peace conference proposed by the United States and Russia.
Top diplomats from the 11-nation core group have also warned Assad that foreign support for the opposition would grow if he continued to rebuff efforts to find a political solution to Syria’s crisis.
The conflict in Syria has now killed at least 80,000 people, according to activists.


More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

Updated 39 min 22 sec ago
0

More than 70 countries commit to combat terror financing

  • Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing
  • The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS: More than 70 countries committed Thursday to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
Participants at an international conference in Paris agreed to “fully criminalize” terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions “even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.”
The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Abdel Al-Jubeir and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani were all present.
Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the United States, is expected to close the conference later with a call for the necessity for multilateral action.
Daniel Lewis, executive secretary of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force, said he is hoping that words will be put into action.
“When we have information — for example the UN list of individuals and entities financing terrorism — we need to make sure measures like asset freezing are implemented fully and quickly,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Participants called for better information-sharing between intelligence services, law enforcement, financial businesses and the technology industry. They also agreed to improve the traceability of funds going to non-governmental organizations and charity associations.
Participants included countries that have accused each other of funding terrorism, notably in the Arabian Gulf.
France has pushed for international coordination and more transparency in financial transactions. But it has recognized how sensitive the issue is, and saw the conference as a first step for coordinated action.
The French organizers noted that Daesh military defeats on the ground have not prevented the group from pursuing its terrorist activities, along with Al-Qaeda — especially in unstable regions of Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Yemen, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.
Terror groups don’t only rely on the cash economy — they’re using increasingly hard-to-track tools like prepaid cards, online wallets and crowdfunding operations.
Daesh has also invested in businesses and real estate to ensure its financing. Daesh revenues alone were estimated at $2.5 billion between 2014 and 2016, according to the French president’s office.
Though most of the attacks in Western countries do not cost a lot of money, a French official said terror groups “behave like big organizations” in that it “costs a lot to recruit, train, equip people and spread propaganda.” The official was speaking anonymously under the presidency’s customary practice.
The French counterterrorism prosecutor Francois Molins told FranceInfo radio that Daesh uses micro-financing techniques to collect a great number of small amounts of money.
Work with the financial intelligence unit helped identify 416 people in France who have donated money to Daesh over the last two years, he said.
Money, he said, went to “320 collectors mostly based in Turkey and Lebanon from whom jihadis in Iraq and Syria could receive funds.”
In recent years, the US and other Western nations have encouraged Middle Eastern nations to close off such sources.
However, allegations over extremist funding in part sparked a near-yearlong boycott of Qatar by four Arab states.
Qatar denies funding extremists, though it has faced Western criticism about being lax in enforcing rules.
Participants agreed to hold a similar conference next year in Australia.