Tough line on Iran to continue as Trump hails ‘great win’ in election

Updated 08 November 2018
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Tough line on Iran to continue as Trump hails ‘great win’ in election

  • Two Muslim women make history by winning races for US House of Representatives
  • Loss of the House of Representatives unlikely to affect President Trump’s regional policies, say analysts

WASHINGTON, AMMAN: President Donald Trump on Wednesday hailed “a great win” in midterm elections after his Republican party increased its majority in the US Senate, although it lost control of the lower House of Representatives.

The Republicans “defied history” by retaining control of the upper house and “dramatically outperformed historical precedents,” Trump said.

Analysts said the loss of the House of Representatives was unlikely to affect President Trump’s regional policies, particularly in relation to Iran.

Eliot Engel, the congressman expected to head the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was one of the Democrats who opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. 

On Trump’s foreign policies, he said: “I don’t think we should challenge something just because it’s put forth by the administration, but I do think we have an obligation to review policies and do oversight.”

The election brought wins for Arab-American candidates on both sides of the political divide, and two Democrats made history by becoming the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Rashida Tlaib, 42, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, ran virtually unopposed in Michigan. Ilhan Omar, 37, a former refugee from Somalia, won in Minneapolis, Minnesota, succeeding Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Tlaib has become “a source of pride for Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim world,” her uncle, Bassam Tlaib, said in the Palestinian village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa.

Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, told Arab News Tlaib’s victory spoke volumes about the accumulation of political expertise and the political assimilation of Palestinian-Americans. 

“We are proud that this trailblazer American politician is female, a professional, and ready and able to speak truth to power,” he said.

Palestinian diplomat Husam Zomlot said: “Her victory is historic and indicative of the role the Palestinian-American community will play in the future.”

Omar fled Somalia’s civil war with her parents when she was 8, and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. In 1997, the family settled in Minnesota, where there is a large Somali population. She won a seat in the state’s legislature in 2016.

Elsewhere, Republican Justin Amash, the first Palestinian elected to Congress, in 2010 in Michigan, was comfortably re-elected.

In Florida, Lebanese-American Democrat Donna Shalala defeated Republican Maria Elvira Salazar. Three other Arab-American Republicans incumbents were also re-elected — Darin LaHood in Illinois, and Ralph Abraham Jr. and Garret Graves in Louisiana.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.