UAE issues travel warning to travelers headed to the Maldives

This file photo taken on August 17, 2007 shows the Coco Palm resort on Boduhithi Island in the Maldives. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
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UAE issues travel warning to travelers headed to the Maldives

DUBAI: The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel warning on Wednesday advising its citizens planning to visit the Maldives to take precautions.
The advisory, posted on the ministry’s official Twitter account, comes as political instability continues in the small island nation.
Political turmoil has swept the Maldives since a surprise court ruling in January that ordered the release of jailed opposition leaders, including many of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s main political rivals.
The ruling has led to a tense standoff between President Yameen Abdul Gayoom and the Supreme Court, with protests spilling into the streets of the capital, Male, and soldiers in riot gear deployed to the parliament building to stop lawmakers from meeting.
The UN and many foreign governments including the United States, Britain and India have expressed concern over the state of emergency and have urged Yameen to respect the earlier court order.
Hours after the emergency was declared, security forces in riot gear stormed the Supreme Court building, arresting the two judges, including Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed. It was not immediately clear what charges they face, if any.
The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands with fewer than 400,000 citizens, more than one-third of them living in the crowded capital city. Tourism now dominates the economy, with wealthy foreigners flown to hyper-expensive resort islands.


Syrian Kurdish-led council visits Damascus for new talks

Updated 52 min 13 sec ago
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Syrian Kurdish-led council visits Damascus for new talks

  • A delegation including members of the US-backed SDF held talks with Damascus earlier this month
  • The visits highlight efforts by the Kurdish-led authorities to open new channels to President Bashar Assad’s government

BEIRUT: The political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been to Damascus for a second round of talks with the state, the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said on Tuesday.
A delegation including members of the US-backed SDF, which controls roughly a quarter of Syria, held talks with Damascus earlier this month, their first declared visit to the capital.
The visits highlight efforts by the Kurdish-led authorities to open new channels to President Bashar Assad’s government, as they seek to negotiate a political deal that keeps their autonomy within Syria.
The SDF is spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, which has mostly avoided conflict with Assad and says its aim has been to secure Kurdish rights rather than topple the government.
This has set them apart from rebel factions fighting to topple Assad since 2011, which have now been defeated in much of the territory they once held.
The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) went for new talks on local administation and decentralization, Al-Watan cited its co-chair Riad Darar as saying on Tuesday.
“All the discussions happening now are ... to find out the other side’s point of view,” he said. The talks “need a lot of reflection to make decisions, and so the matter was left to other meetings.”
Such negotiations could raise new questions for US policy in Syria, where the US military has deployed into SDF territory during the battle against Islamic State.
The SDF seized swathes of land with US help, though Washington opposes their aim of regional autonomy. The region they control spreads across much of northern and eastern Syria, rich in farmland, oil, and water.
Damascus says the US forces are occupiers. For the first time, Assad said in May that he was “opening doors” for talks with the SDF, but also threatened force and said the Americans would leave one way or another.