UAE defends Trump’s visa ban

United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Arab League Secretary General (unseen) are seen during a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 02 February 2017
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UAE defends Trump’s visa ban

ABU DHABI: The UAE’s top diplomat on Wednesday came out in defense of President Donald Trump’s order temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE foreign minister, said the US was within its rights to take what he said was a “sovereign decision” concerning immigration.
Sheikh Abdullah also voiced faith in the American administration’s assurances that the move was not based on religion, and noted that most of the world’s Muslim-majority countries were not covered by the order.
“There is a temporary ban and will be revised in three months, so it is important that we put into consideration this point,” he said.
“Some of these countries that were on this list are countries that face structural problems,” he continued. “These countries should try to solve these issues ... and these circumstances before trying to solve this issue with the US.”
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for lifting the ban, saying the measures would not prevent terrorists from entering the US. “I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later,” Guterres told reporters.
“Those measures indeed violate our basic principles and I think that they are not effective if the objective is to, really, avoid terrorists to enter the US,” he said. “If a global terrorist organization will try to attack any country like the US, they will probably not come with people with passports from those countries that are hotspots of conflicts today.”
“They might come with the passports from the most — I would say — developed and credible countries in the world or they might use people who are already in the country.”
British Premier Theresa May told British lawmakers that the ban was “divisive and wrong,” five days after she initially refused to condemn the move.
The Vatican, meanwhile, voiced “concern” over the ban and Trump’s executive orders to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and impose.
“Naturally, there is concern,” the Holy See’s number three, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, said.


US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

Updated 18 December 2018
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US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

  • James Jeffrey said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war
  • Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay

WASHINGTON: The US said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is “fundamentally different.”

James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.

“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change —  we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.

“There is a strong readiness on the part of Western nations not to ante up money for that disaster unless we have some kind of idea that the government is ready to compromise and thus not create yet another horror in the years ahead,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama had called for Assad to go, although he doubted the wisdom of a robust US intervention in the complex Syrian war. and kept a narrow military goal of defeating the Daesh extremist group.

President Donald Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in October that the US would not provide “one single dollar” for Syria’s reconstruction if Iran stays.

Jeffrey also called for the ouster of Iranian forces, whose presence is strongly opposed by neighboring Israel, although he said the US accepted that Tehran would maintain some diplomatic role in the country.

Jeffrey also said that the US wanted a Syria that does not wage chemical weapons attacks or torture its own citizens.

He acknowledged, however, that the US may not find an ally anytime soon in Syria, saying: “It doesn’t have to be a regime that we Americans would embrace as, say, qualifying to join the European Union if the European Union would take Middle Eastern countries.”