NATO chiefs urged to seek Mideast allies against terror

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrive for a working dinner at The Parc du Cinquantenaire — Jubelpark Park in Brussels on July 11, 2018, during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit. (AFP / POOL / BENOIT DOPPAGNE)
Updated 12 July 2018
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NATO chiefs urged to seek Mideast allies against terror

  • Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, says "collective European defense requires renewed effort to effectively combat hybrid asymmetric threats, to include terrorism."
  • US President Donald Trump has demanded that NATO members double their spending on defense.

JEDDAH: NATO chiefs were urged on Wednesday to seek allies in the Middle East to counter terrorist threats before they emerged in Europe. 

“Collective European defense requires renewed effort to effectively combat hybrid asymmetric threats, to include terrorism,” said Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, who is attending the NATO summit in Brussels.

“The recently uncovered terror plots in Paris and Belgium, which have all the hallmarks of state sponsorship, and the mass terror attacks in Europe in 2016, should really highlight the need for NATO member states to counter such threats with innovative methods.

“This means not only depending on the US as a strategic partner, but also greater investment in their own defense and working with partners from the Middle East to South Asia to counter and deter asymmetric threats before they hit European shores.”

US President Donald Trump shocked allies as the summit began by suddenly demanding that they double their spending on defense. “He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 percent of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to 4 percent,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Trump’s surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, called Germany a “captive” of Russia because of its gas links and singled out Berlin for failing to pay its way.

Later all 29 NATO leaders, including Trump, backed a joint statement committing themselves to greater “burden sharing” and to the alliance’s founding commitment that an attack on one member is an attack on them all — with no mention of the 4 percent.


Moroccans protest prison sentences of anti-poverty activists

Updated 21 April 2019
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Moroccans protest prison sentences of anti-poverty activists

  • Security forces kept watch as participants sang, “The people want the detainees released” and “Long live Rif.”

RABAT: Thousands of demonstrators in Morocco are condemning prison sentences given to the leader of the Hirak Rif anti-poverty movement and dozens of other activists.
The demonstration brought one of the main avenues of the Moroccan capital, Rabat, to a standstill on Sunday. Security forces kept watch as participants sang, “The people want the detainees released” and “Long live Rif.”
Hirak leader Nasser Zefzafi was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 20 years for threatening state security. An appeals court upheld his sentence and those of other activists this month.
Rif is the struggling region in northern Morocco where the Hirak movement was born in 2016. The movement demands development and job creation for the region.
Families, human rights organizations and left-wing parties are demanding the imprisoned activists’ immediate release.