Trump replaces McMaster, taps Bolton as national security adviser

Outgoing White House National Security Advisor HR McMaster, left, and John Bolton. (AFP/Getty Images)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Trump replaces McMaster, taps Bolton as national security adviser

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump shook up his foreign policy team again on Thursday, replacing H.R. McMaster as national security adviser with John Bolton, a hawk who has advocated using military force against North Korea and Iran.
The move, announced in a tweet, came little more than a week after the firing by Trump of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo was nominated to replace him.
The shake-up means Trump is bringing in top advisers more likely to agree with his views, with a prospective summit meeting approaching between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That is supposed to happen by the end of May.
McMaster, hired early in Trump’s presidency to replace scandal-tarred Michael Flynn as national security adviser, had been widely expected to leave soon.
Trump found McMaster’s style grating and had been looking for a replacement, advisers said.
The White House said Trump and McMaster had “mutually agreed” that he would leave.
“I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend,” Trump’s tweet said.
The announcement came a day after Trump was angered by a leak of information from his presidential briefing papers that said he was advised specifically not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his disputed re-election.
“The two have been discussing this for some time. The timeline was expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation. This was not related to any one moment or incident, rather it was the result of ongoing conversations between the two,” a senior White House official said.
McMaster, 55, is to stay on until mid-April. He said in a statement he was also requesting retirement from the US Army, in which he holds the rank of three-star general.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had been hoping to entice McMaster into another military assignment in order to qualify as a four-star general.


Thai Islamic leaders tighten rules on child marriage

Updated 9 min 37 sec ago
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Thai Islamic leaders tighten rules on child marriage

BANGKOK: Islam’s guiding council in Thailand has introduced new regulations requiring that marriages of children under age 17 be approved by a religious committee.
The action follows an uproar earlier this year over an 11-year-old Thai girl who married a 41-year-old Malaysian man, triggering calls in both countries for stronger laws against child marriage. The girl was reportedly sent back to Thailand from Malaysia and put under the care of Thai social welfare workers.
A senior member of the Central Islamic Council of Thailand, Wisut Binlateh, said Friday that Muslim children of any age in Thailand previously could get married with permission from their parents, but now children under age 17 must also seek approval from an Islamic committee which would consider whether the marriage is appropriate.
Wisut said the measure took effect Dec. 4, when the Sheikhul Islam, the senior Thai Muslim leader, signed his approval.
Human rights activist Angkhana Neelaphaijit said the regulation does not carry the weight of law, and holds no punishment for those who fail to abide by it.
Islamic law is observed for Muslims in Thailand’s four southernmost provinces for family matters and inheritance, but does not set a minimum age for marriage. Three of the four provinces are the only ones with Muslim majorities in the Buddhist-dominated country, while the fourth has a substantial Muslim community.
According to Thai law, which applies to the rest of the country, the minimum legal age for marriage is 17, though courts may allow the marriage of younger individuals if there is an appropriate reason. The reasons, however, are not defined in the law.
Angkhana said the new measure by Thailand’s Islamic leaders is a step in the right direction, but requires further work to protect people’s rights.
“It is a good thing that the Sheikhul Islam Office has introduced this measure, but we have to also try to reach an understanding with the religious leaders that if there are violators, what can we do to punish them,” she said.
Angkhana also said because Thailand’s four southern provinces use Islamic law for family matters, a legal loophole has allowed a surge in Malaysian men coming to southern Thailand for second or third marriages, because there is little oversight compared to what they face at home.
“The problem is in Malaysia, if a man wants to have a second or third wife, he needs to ask permission from a court. But in Thailand, there is no such law regulating this or also anyone checking whether a man is wealthy enough to care for a family,” she said.