Trump likely to meet Putin in ‘not-too-distant-future’

US President Donald Trump looks into the crowd as he speaks at the Nevada Republican Party Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, US, June 23, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Trump likely to meet Putin in ‘not-too-distant-future’

  • The US National Security Adviser will travel to Moscow next week to explore the idea of a meeting
  • Speculation has been rife in Russian and Western media on the highly anticipated meeting

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is likely to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin “in the not-too-distant future,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a US television interview, after Trump mooted a possible summit.
The White House announced on Thursday that National Security Adviser John Bolton will travel to Moscow next week to explore the idea of a meeting.
“I know Ambassador Bolton’s planning to travel to Moscow on Sunday or Monday. He’ll be meeting with his counterpart, and I think it’s likely that president Trump will be meeting with his counterpart in the not-too-distant future following that meeting,” Pompeo told MSNBC, according to a transcript released Saturday by the State Department.
“I don’t know what the president’s schedule is going to be,” Pompeo said in the Friday interview.
Speculation has been rife in Russian and Western media on the highly anticipated meeting, which they first discussed in March.
Such talks would be scrutinized because of the continuing probe by a US special counsel into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion.
Bolton’s visit was announced almost two weeks after Trump said that Russia should be re-admitted to the G7 group of industralized democracies, from which it was suspended for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Trump is due to participate on July 11-12 in the NATO summit in Brussels before heading on to Britain to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II.
Earlier this month, Putin said he was ready to meet his US counterpart as soon as Washington gave its approval, adding that Vienna could be a possible venue for such a summit.
Ties between Washington and Moscow have been strained by the Russia probe and Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The last, brief meeting between Putin and Trump took place in November 2017 in Vietnam during an APEC leaders’ summit.


Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

Updated 18 December 2018
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Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

  • Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies
  • Police warn they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment

BERLIN: Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies but now, police warn, they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment.
Known in the media as Berlin’s “clans,” whose founders themselves fled war in Lebanon in the 1980s, they have long controlled much of the city’s illegal drugs trade, street prostitution and protection rackets.
While East European and Asian organized crime and homegrown biker gangs are also active, the clans have been especially visible, given many members’ love of gangster bling and muscle cars.
The dozen or so Arabic and Kurdish-origin extended families, with their patriarchal structures and codes of honor, have also been mythologized by rap artists and portrayed in the TV series “4 Blocks.”
Now police warn that the clans have sought out new members from among the over one million asylum-seekers who have arrived in Germany since mid-2015, half of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The clans “are trying to get others to do the dirty work” such as selling drugs or committing small burglaries, said Benjamin Jendro of the GDP police union.
Many refugees, he said, are “men who have arrived alone in Germany” and who “have not yet had to do with the justice system,” making it less likely they will go to prison if caught.
An undercover police investigator also told Die Welt newspaper that “above all, it is the young, physically strong men who are in the sights of the clans, who make them do the dirty work.”


The migrant wave that peaked three years ago sparked a xenophobic backlash in Germany, and stoked heated debate about integration efforts and crimes committed by foreigners.
This has thrown a new focus on the clans and raised questions about how Berlin’s police could let them openly flout the law for so long in a generally fairly low-crime country.
Germany’s best-known rapper, Bushido, long boasted about his close ties to one Berlin clan — until they had a falling out this year and he sought the protection of a rival group.
Bushido’s wife, Anna-Maria Ferchichi, told news weekly Stern that the couple now feared for their lives from gangsters who had formed “parallel societies right here in Germany.”
The clans’ latest show of force was the September 13 funeral of an infamous underworld figure, when 2,000 mourners congregated in the Islamic section of a Berlin cemetery, watched over by some 150 police.
In scenes Stern described as “worthy of a mafia movie,” they paid their last respects to Nidal Rabih, a 36-year-old violent repeat offender who had been shot dead in front of his family days earlier.
Rabih, a Palestinian born in Lebanon, had achieved cult status in the Berlin criminal underworld.
Boasting more than 100 offenses from robbery to attempted manslaughter, he had spent more than a decade behind bars but avoided a 2004 deportation attempt when Lebanon refused to issue him a passport.
Days after his death, Berlin municipal workers guarded by police whitewashed over a wall mural at the murder scene that depicted Rabih in the style of a martyred Islamic fighter.


Sociologists say the story of Berlin’s clans is a cautionary tale about failed integration.
Their patriarchs mostly arrived in the 1980s as refugees from then war-torn Lebanon, among them Palestinians and members of Turkey’s Arabic and Kurdish minorities.
Many had only temporary protection status and “did not have access here to education or work,” said Islamologist Mathias Rohe, arguing that this sped up the descent into delinquency.
The extended families, aside from now running large chunks of Berlin’s illegal economy, have also committed some of the city’s most headline-grabbing criminal stunts.
In 2010, masked men wielding machetes and guns robbed a poker tournament in the Berlin Grand Hyatt, making off with about 240,000 euros ($270,000).
In 2014, robbers rampaged through Berlin’s KaDeWe luxury department store, smashed glass displays and stole watches and jewelry worth 800,000 euros.
And last year, clan-linked bandits stole a 100-kilogramme (220-pound) Canadian commemorative gold coin worth over 3.75 million euros from Berlin’s Bode museum, around the corner from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s apartment.


Berlin’s police is now under fire for having long neglected the problem — something researcher Ralph Ghadban blames partially on a “fear of stigmatising and discriminating against certain minorities.”
In recent months, authorities have started to hit back by stepping up raids of shisha bars and betting shops, many in Berlin’s Neukoelln district, and confiscating expensive cars for speeding.
In August, police and prosecutors seized 77 properties worth 10 million euros, alleged to have mostly been bought with proceeds from a major 2014 bank robbery.
Some of the properties were officially owned by one convicted bank robber’s 19-year-old brother whose only declared income was state welfare.
The confiscations still have to stand up in court against challenges from the clan’s expensive lawyers, but authorities believe they have struck a first blow.
“We’re stepping on their toes,” said Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel. “We’re spoiling their fun in Berlin.”