Kurd-held Afrin must be cleared of ‘terrorists,’ says Erdogan

Nouri Mahmoud, spokesman of the Kurdish People's protection unit (YPG), speaks during a news conference with Russian Lieutenant General Alexei Kim as Abdel Karim Omar of the YPG and Russian Senator Ziyad Sabsabi stand, in Qamishli, Syria, on November 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Rodi Said)
Updated 18 November 2017

Kurd-held Afrin must be cleared of ‘terrorists,’ says Erdogan

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said the Kurdish militia-held Syrian town of Afrin had to be cleared of “terrorists,” days ahead of a summit meeting with Russia and Iran on Syria’s future.
Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to launch a military operation on Afrin, which is controlled by the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), considered by Turkey to be a terror group.
But the YPG has been the main ally of the US in fighting terrorists in Syria, a policy that has infuriated Ankara.
“Afrin needs to be cleared of the YPG terror group,” Erdogan said in a televised speech, adding that Turkish troops needed to be deployed there as in Idlib province.
“Otherwise, different terror groups will occupy the area.”
He slammed the US over its support for the YPG, saying former President Barack Obama had failed to keep his promises while under Donald Trump Washington had continued to cooperate with the same group under the name Syria Democratic Forces (SDF).
“It was a big disappointment for us that America has not kept its promises, to a large extent, since the start of the Syrian crisis,” he added.
“We don’t want to enter into the same game in Afrin. A problem that we could solve quite easily together as allies is being dragged out by American intransigence,” he added.
Turkey has watched from the sidelines as towns including Raqqa have been recaptured from jihadists by the SDF.
He also scoffed at the idea that the US was fighting against Daesh. “That’s the headline. But what did you do? You paid a lot of dollars to Daesh,” he said, reaffirming a claim he has raised in the past and has been rubbished by Washington.

Ankara and Moscow announced on Thursday that Erdogan and Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani would meet for a summit on Syria on Nov. 22 in Sochi.
The three countries are now calling themselves the “guarantor powers” for Syria, with no mention of the US.
“Turkey, Russia and Iran have reached the point of having a common stance” on Syria, Erdogan added.
This was not always the case. Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey, however, has backed the opposition seeking Assad’s ouster in a conflict that has left more than 330,000 dead.
But Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria.

Abu Dhabi opens world’s first digital courtroom

Updated 27 min 22 sec ago

Abu Dhabi opens world’s first digital courtroom

  • “Technology and innovation have been disrupting every aspect of our lives and the judiciary sector is no exception,” said ADGM Courts' Ahmad Al Sayegh
  • The digital courtroom, which will not make use of paper in the entire process, is seen to save all parties time and money

DUBAI: An online platform where both plaintiffs and respondents can settle disputes without going to an actual court has been launched in Abu Dhabi, UAE state-news agency WAM reported.

The digital platform was launched by the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts (ADGM courts). which are independent courts that handle civil and commercial disputes, to streamline the judiciary process.

“Technology and innovation have been disrupting every aspect of our lives and the judiciary sector is no exception. The best innovations to come out of this sector are those that allow us to creatively manage the growing demand for transparency, information, speed and effectiveness,” said Ahmad Al Sayegh, Minister of State and Chairman of the ADGM Courts.

In the new system, both plaintiffs and respondents will be able to upload documents through an online portal, wherein all involved parties, as well as the judges and lawyers will have access to.

The digital courtroom, which will not make use of paper in the entire process, is seen to save all parties time and money.

Linda Fitz Alan, registrar and chief executive of ADGM Courts said the parties would not be required to be physically present during a hearing.

“We can do the court hearing by video conferencing, not every party has to be present in the courtroom. In fact, everybody can be on a screen if that’s the most efficient way,” she said.

Alan said only the judge needs to be present in the courtroom, “for anyone else — the lawyer, plaintiff and respondent — if there’s no particular need for it, they can all be on screen in different places,” she added.