After Saudi stop, Merkel visits UAE

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with people working in refugee relief from all over Germany in Berlin. Merkel arrived in Dubai on Monday after a one-day visit to Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo)
Updated 01 May 2017
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After Saudi stop, Merkel visits UAE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Germany has offered diplomatic help to try to end the war in Yemen, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday as she ended a two-nation Gulf tour taking in the Arab world’s largest economies with a stop in the United Arab Emirates.
Merkel arrived in the seven-state federation following a visit to Saudi Arabia, where she held talks with King Salman and other senior leaders that touched on regional conflicts as well as women’s inequality and other human rights issues.
She said Berlin is offering diplomatic support aimed at resolving the Yemen conflict and has been in contact with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about its proposal, according to a transcript of her remarks provided by her office.
“Germany has offered to support this UN process with its own diplomatic possibilities,” she was quoted as saying. “That has met with the approval of Saudi Arabia. We will now move ahead with the necessary coordination with the UN secretary-general.”
A Saudi-led coalition backed by significant Emirati support has been bombing and battling Yemeni rebels for more than two years in support of the impoverished country’s internationally recognized government.
Shiite powerhouse Iran supports the insurgents, known as Houthis, and the Sunni-ruled Gulf states view the fight as a way to limit Iran’s involvement in their backyard.
While in Saudi Arabia, Merkel had said she does not believe there can be a military solution to the war, which has killed more than 10,000 civilians and created a humanitarian crisis in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country.
The UN recently said some 18.8 million people in the country need humanitarian help or protection.
The German leader was greeted by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan upon her arrival on Monday in the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi. The crown prince is the half-brother of the country’s ailing president and his presumed successor.
Emirati officials did not allow foreign journalists based in the country to witness Merkel’s visit.
German officials have said Merkel would press Gulf rulers to do more to take in refugees and provide humanitarian relief for those fleeing conflict in Muslim-majority countries. Germany has provided refuge to hundreds of thousands of people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.
Trade is high on Merkel’s agenda too. Her delegation includes prominent German business leaders looking to strengthen ties with the country’s two largest trading partners in the Middle East.
Her meetings in the Emirates, which includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, would include discussion of a free-trade agreement between the Gulf states in the European Union and “how we can move ahead and intensify our economic relations still further,” she said.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.