US tells anti-Daesh coalition to ‘keep eyes on prize’

It’s pressing those partners to refocus, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from Iraq and Syria of Daesh. (AFP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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US tells anti-Daesh coalition to ‘keep eyes on prize’

KUWAIT CITY: The Trump administration is increasingly concerned the 74-strong coalition it cobbled together to destroy Daesh is losing sight of the prime objective.
It’s pressing those partners to refocus, overcome rivalries and concentrate on the task at hand: the eradication from Iraq and Syria of Daesh.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to sound that alarm at a coalition gathering in Kuwait on Tuesday. His visit comes with the fight at a critical moment and the mission shifting from offensive military operations to stabilization.
Distractions are adding up, such as Turkey’s fighting with US-backed Kurdish rebels in Syria and renewed spillover from Syria’s civil war. Meanwhile, hostilities between noncoalition actors Iran, its proxies in Syria, and Israel risk creating a new conflict in an already crowded battlespace.


Australia move on Jerusalem slammed

Israeli troops return after blowing up a Palestinian’s house in Ramallah on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 58 min 38 sec ago
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Australia move on Jerusalem slammed

  • PM Morrison says committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital
  • The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital

RAMALLAH, SYDNEY: The Palestinian leadership on Saturday described as “irresponsible” Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it violated international law.

Canberra earlier recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but a contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

“We look forward to moving our embassy to West Jerusalem when practical, in support of and after final status of determination,” Morrison said, adding that work on a new site for the embassy was under way.

“All of Jerusalem remains a final status issue for negotiations, while East Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory,” he added.

“Furthermore, recognizing our commitment to a two-state solution, the Australian government is also resolved to acknowledge the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a future state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” he added.

The country became one of just a few to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead and recognize the contested city as Israel’s capital.

Australia said it would open a defense and trade office in the west of the holy city and also committed to recognizing a future state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital.

Most foreign nations avoided moving embassies there to prevent inflaming peace talks on the city’s final status — until Trump unilaterally moved the US Embassy there earlier this year.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement that the Australian decision to open a trade office in the city violated a UN resolution.

“From the beginning, we’ve perceived the Australian government’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as one wherein petty domestic politics steer irresponsible policies that contradict world peace and security,” he said in a statement.

Morrison first floated the shift in foreign policy in October, the move angered Australia’s immediate neighbor Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation. 

The issue has put a halt on years-long negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.

Canberra on Friday told its citizens traveling to Indonesia to “exercise a high degree of caution,” warning of protests in the capital Jakarta and popular holiday hotspots, including Bali.

Morrison pointed to Australia’s military history in the region, and the country’s interest in a “rules-based” order in the Middle East, to support the shift in foreign policy.