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.


Lebanon MPs call for extra security

Updated 38 min 36 sec ago

Lebanon MPs call for extra security

  • Violent protests and clashes greet Hassan Diab government as budget talks loom

BEIRUT: As Lebanon’s new government gets down to business, MPs’ biggest concern seems to be their own security.

In the wake of violent protests in the past week, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri on Thursday asked Lebanese army chief, Gen. Joseph Aoun, to take “exceptional measures” to protect the parliament’s surroundings.

The plea to beef up security follows clashes outside the Lebanese parliament and the burning of a photograph of new Prime Minister Hassan Diab near the government’s headquarters.

Almost 500 people were injured in Beirut at the weekend after security personnel fired tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets at demonstrators who threw stones, attempted to invade the Parliament building, and attacked bank offices and shops.

The formation of a new government ends months of political deadlock and economic decline following Saad Hariri’s resignation as prime minister in October in response to mass protests over corruption and mismanagement.

With the country facing growing unrest, the rising levels of violence represent a stern test for the new government as it completes a ministerial handover.

Parliamentary guards were busy this week erecting concrete walls on roads leading to the parliament.

One military official told Arab News that “safe passage” will be restricted to MPs to prevent a repetition of Nov. 19 clashes when protesters blocked access to the parliament.

Parliament is due to meet on Monday and Tuesday to approve a draft budget for 2020.

Shops and businesses facing the parliament’s entrance and access points have borne the brunt of violent protests in recent days.

A manager at a Rolex outlet said: “We haven’t decided to close the shop completely yet. We are living day by day. During the day, everything is normal, there’s traffic and people, but in the afternoon, protesters take over. We hide the merchandise in a safe place, close the shop, and leave. Today, we decided to cover the glass fronts with steel plates so that they won’t be destroyed by protesters.”

Protesters used petrol bombs as well as firecrackers for the first time on Wednesday night, according to security personnel.

Jan Kubis, the UN special coordinator in Lebanon, tweeted that some protesters were attempting to “provoke the security forces, undermine civil peace and fuel sectarian strife.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “Lebanon will face a terrible financial crisis in the coming weeks. We are ready to intervene and provide support, but only to a government committed to reform.

“This is important to the US, but if you look at the protests taking place in Beirut and in cities outside Beirut, you can see, just like in Baghdad, they are not protesting against America, these are protests calling for sovereignty and freedom. The protests taking place in Lebanon today are to tell Hezbollah: Enough is enough.”

The EU described the formation of the Lebanese government as a “fundamental step toward ensuring the country’s ability to address the multiple crises affecting it.” It also urged the government to implement “structural reforms to answer the needs and the expectations of the Lebanese people. Adequate protection must be ensured for the most vulnerable groups in society.”

Ralph Tarraf, EU envoy to Lebanon, said: “We are ready to positively commit to assisting the government if it implements constructive reforms that can improve the government’s performance.”