Russia must ‘account for role’ in MH17 tragedy: G7

Dutch minister of Justice and Security Ferdinand Grapperhaus during a plenary debate on the MH17 treaty with Ukraine in the Senate in The Hague on July 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 16 July 2018

Russia must ‘account for role’ in MH17 tragedy: G7

  • The Dutch and Australian governments may move toward submitting the complex dossier to an international judge or organization
  • G7 ministers said a joint investigation into the crash had yielded “compelling, significant and deeply disturbing” findings on Russia’s involvement

OTTAWA: Russia must “account for its role” in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine and cooperate with efforts to establish truth and justice, foreign ministers of the world’s industrial democracies said on Sunday.
The statement by the G7 ministers came on the eve of a summit between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, but also just before the anniversary of the July 17, 2014 air disaster which killed all 298 crew and passengers when the airliner was shot down.
G7 ministers said a joint investigation into the crash had yielded “compelling, significant and deeply disturbing” findings on Russia’s involvement.
“We are united in our support of Australia and the Netherlands as they call on Russia to account for its role in this incident and to cooperate fully with the process to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims of MH17 and their next of kin,” the statement said.
The call came not only before the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki on Monday but as the Russian leader was to meet France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow, where he was attending the World Cup soccer final on Sunday.
Along with France and the US, the G7 includes Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada, currently holding the group’s presidency.
A Dutch-led probe concluded in May that the plane was struck by a Buk surface-to-air missile controlled by Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Rocket Brigade, based in the city of Kursk.
It said the missile had been brought from Russia into an area held by Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine and was filmed several times on July 17 and 18 in that area.
Russia has called the investigaton’s conclusions “unfounded.”
Many of the victims were from Australia and the Netherlands.
Joined by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, the G7 ministers called on Russia to “immediately engage with Australia and the Netherlands in good faith to explain and to address all relevant questions regarding any potential breaches of international law.”
The Dutch government and Australia have said they may move toward submitting the complex dossier to an international judge or organization.
MH17 was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russian border.
The plane crashed in an area controlled by pro-Russian fighters supporting a separatist insurgency.


Arabs in Middle East know the US election will affect their lives, experts say

Updated 29 October 2020

Arabs in Middle East know the US election will affect their lives, experts say

  • Editor-in-chief and columnist take part in US radio discussion of Arab News/YouGov survey of opinions on the presidential candidates
  • Whether Biden triumphs or Trump wins second term, the poll suggests most people in region want Washington to maintain a tough stance on Iran

CHICAGO: Arabs in the Middle East have a direct stake in the outcome of next week’s US presidential election. That was the conclusion reached on Wednesday by the guests who took part in a US radio discussion of a recent YouGov poll, commissioned by Arab News, that asked people across the region for their opinions on the candidates and their policies.
Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas and columnist Dalia Al-Aqidi agreed that one of the key conclusions that can be drawn from the “Election 2020: What do Arabs Want?” survey is that most people in the region believe the election will have an effect on their lives.
About 40 percent of those polled said Democratic challenger Joe Biden is the better choice for the region, compared with only 12 percent who preferred Trump. However, 53 percent said they had opposed the policies of Biden’s former running mate, President Barack Obama, who is currently on the campaign trail to rally support for his former vice president.
“What is very interesting about the study we did this time around is that while the majority thinks that Biden might be better for the region (about half of the respondents) don’t even know who Biden is,” Abbas said during the “The Ray Hanania Show” on WNZK AM 690 Radio in Detroit, which is part of the US Arab Radio Network. “They are voting for a candidate they don’t know just so they don’t vote for Trump.”
Biden’s close association with Obama is seen by many Arabs as a negative factor.
“You cannot separate Joe Biden from Barack Obama,” said Abbas. “Yet even people who said Biden is better for the region, 58 percent of them said that they would want Biden to distance himself from Obama’s policies, and they think Obama left the region in a worse-off situation.”
Al-Aqidi said it is unrealistic to expect that Biden would disregard his personal history with Obama.
“This is impossible — you cannot expect Biden to distance himself from Obama,” she said. “Actually, Obama is helping and trying to save Biden in the past two weeks, campaigning with him.
“Even in Biden’s platform, it always goes back to ‘I was a VP and as a VP I did this.’ It would be extremely hard for Biden to distance himself … if Biden wins, he will be a shadow of Obama.”
The YouGov survey, which was commissioned by the Arab News Research and Studies Unit, asked 3,097 people in 18 Arab countries about their opinions on a number of issues relating to the US presidential election.
The continuation of Washington’s recent tough stance on Iran was one of the top issues that respondents said the winner should focus on. Notably, the war posture adopted against Iran by the Trump administration, and the strict sanctions it has imposed on the regime in Tehran, received strong support from people polled in Iraq (53 percent), Lebanon (38 percent) and Yemen (54 percent), three nations that have been severely affected by the regional activities of the Iranian state.
“This is not a marginal issue for people living in the Middle East,” said Abbas. “You just have to look at countries, any country in the Middle East: where you find destruction, you will find Iranian fingerprints all over.”
The main issue is not religion or differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites, he added, it is Iranian interference in the affairs of other nations.
“As the former ambassador to the US, Prince Khaled, said, Saudi Arabia used to send tourists to Lebanon — Iran sends terrorists,” Abbas said.
“For people who have short-term memories let me remind them it was the Iranians who attacked the US Marines in Beirut. It’s the Iranians who transformed (Beirut) from a tourist destination … today, Lebanon is (experiencing) one of its worst-ever economic crises and it does not look like there is a way out for it.”
Arabs in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen are therefore very supportive of Trump’s tough approach to Iran, he added.
“Nobody is safe from the Iranian tentacles,” Abbas said. “This is a mad regime.”
On another important regional issue, slightly more than half of the Arabs polled said they do not support a bigger role for Washington in the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis. However, the proportion of Palestinians living in the occupied territories who favor greater US involvement was higher.
“I think the Trump administration succeeded in this issue (pursuing peace between Israel and the Palestinians) more than any other previous administration,” said Al-Aqidi. “The US approach now is extremely different and it is driven by number one, the economy.”
She added that Trump’s strategy of brokering the recent agreements by the UAE and Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel was “the result of a different strategy.”
“The Ray Hanania Show,” which is sponsored by Arab News, is broadcast on WNZK AM 690, on the US Arab Radio Network, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST on Wednesdays. There is also a live simulcast of the show on the Arab News Facebook page.