UAE defends Trump’s visa ban

United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (R), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Arab League Secretary General (unseen) are seen during a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 02 February 2017

UAE defends Trump’s visa ban

ABU DHABI: The UAE’s top diplomat on Wednesday came out in defense of President Donald Trump’s order temporarily barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE foreign minister, said the US was within its rights to take what he said was a “sovereign decision” concerning immigration.
Sheikh Abdullah also voiced faith in the American administration’s assurances that the move was not based on religion, and noted that most of the world’s Muslim-majority countries were not covered by the order.
“There is a temporary ban and will be revised in three months, so it is important that we put into consideration this point,” he said.
“Some of these countries that were on this list are countries that face structural problems,” he continued. “These countries should try to solve these issues ... and these circumstances before trying to solve this issue with the US.”
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for lifting the ban, saying the measures would not prevent terrorists from entering the US. “I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later,” Guterres told reporters.
“Those measures indeed violate our basic principles and I think that they are not effective if the objective is to, really, avoid terrorists to enter the US,” he said. “If a global terrorist organization will try to attack any country like the US, they will probably not come with people with passports from those countries that are hotspots of conflicts today.”
“They might come with the passports from the most — I would say — developed and credible countries in the world or they might use people who are already in the country.”
British Premier Theresa May told British lawmakers that the ban was “divisive and wrong,” five days after she initially refused to condemn the move.
The Vatican, meanwhile, voiced “concern” over the ban and Trump’s executive orders to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and impose.
“Naturally, there is concern,” the Holy See’s number three, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, said.


Protests grip Iraq’s capital and south despite rising toll

Updated 7 min 13 sec ago

Protests grip Iraq’s capital and south despite rising toll

  • Late Friday, unidentified gunmen attacked a parking complex near Tahrir
  • Protesters feared it signalled that their movement would be derailed but by Sunday

BAGHDAD: Thousands of Iraqi protesters streamed into streets and public squares in the capital and restive south on Sunday, saying they were not deterred by deadly violence meant to “scare” them.
In Baghdad, crowds of anti-government demonstrators thronged Tahrir Square, the epicenter of their movement.
Late Friday, unidentified gunmen attacked a parking complex near Tahrir where demonstrators had been squatting for weeks, leaving 20 protesters and four police officers dead, medics told AFP.
Protesters feared it signalled that their movement would be derailed but by Sunday, the numbers gathered under the sun in Tahrir were staggering.
“They’re trying to scare us in whatever ways they can, but we’re staying in the streets,” said Aisha, a 23-year-old protester.
At least 452 people — the vast majority of them protesters — have died and 20,000 have been wounded since the rallies erupted.
In Nasiriyah, a protest hotspot where dozens were killed in a spree of violence last month, protesters regrouped in downtown along with representatives of powerful tribes.
“We will keep protesting until the regime collapses,” pledged Ali Rahim, a student.
In other southern cities, local authorities had declared Sunday — the first day of the work week in Iraq — a holiday for civil servants.
Road blocks and massive strikes also disrupted work in Hilla, Amara, Diwaniya, Kut and the shrine city of Najaf, AFP’s correspondents there said.
The rallies have persisted despite the resignation of premier Adel Abdel Mahdi earlier this month, with protesters demanding the complete ouster of the ruling class.
Iraq is ranked the 12th most corrupt country in the world by watchdog group Transparency International, with billions of dollars pilfered each year from the state budget of OPEC’s second-largest producer.