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.


Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

Updated 12 November 2018
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Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

  • The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing
  • Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Monday approved the formation of an independent commission to help determine the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the country’s civil war, which ended nearly three decades ago.
The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing, collect DNA samples and exhume mass graves from the 1975-1990 conflict.
Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament.
“This is the first step toward giving closure to families of the missing hopefully,” said Rona Halabi, spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross. “This represents a milestone for the families who have waited for years to have answers.”
The Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons says more than 17,000 people are estimated to have gone missing during the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said lawmakers approved the law after voting on each of its 38 articles.
LBC TV said lawmakers initially protested, saying calls for accountability may affect current officials. The broadcaster said they were reassured the 1991 amnesty for abuses committed by militias during the war remains in place.
Many of Lebanon’s political parties are led by former warlords implicated in some of the civil war’s worst fighting.
“For the first time after the war, Lebanon enters a genuine reconciliation phase, to heal the wounds and give families the right to know,” Gebran Bassil, the country’s foreign minister tweeted.
The ICRC began compiling DNA samples from relatives of the disappeared in 2016 and has interviewed more than 2,000 families to help a future national commission.
DNA samples have been stored with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the ICRC. The law would allow Lebanese security forces to take part in the sample collection.