Pompeo visits Morocco in first since Trump election

1 / 4
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) during his visit to Rabat on December 5, 2019. (AFP)
2 / 4
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, accompanied by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, walk to meet the media before a private meeting at the Foreign Minestry in Rabat, Morocco, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (AP)
3 / 4
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) during the his visit to Rabat on December 5, 2019. (AFP)
4 / 4
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (R) during the his visit to Rabat on December 5, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2019

Pompeo visits Morocco in first since Trump election

  • Pompeo Moroccan met Interior Minister Abdellatif Hammouchi to discuss counter-terrorism efforts
  • The king of Morocco last month called for an end to “the policy of colonization in the occupied Palestinian territories” and reiterated his support for a two-state solution

RABAT: Top US diplomat Mike Pompeo visited Morocco on Thursday, the highest-ranking American official to travel there since the election of President Donald Trump.
Pompeo met his Moroccan counterpart Nasser Bourita to discuss the “threat” posed by Iran’s attempts to “broaden its regional influence,” as well as the conflicts in Libya and unrest across the Sahel region, Bourita said in a statement.
The State Department has called Morocco an “essential partner” in Washington’s broader diplomatic strategy, which includes normalization of ties between Arab countries and Israel.
The visit followed Israeli media reports that the country’s officials were hoping for a “breakthrough” in normalizing ties with the North African country in the coming days.
Neither Pompeo nor Moroccan officials made any public mention of such efforts during his visit.
Egypt and Jordan remain the only Arab countries to have peace treaties and formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
“We have a great relationship between our two countries,” Pompeo said, as he began his meetings in Rabat. “We make our people safer in each of our two countries.”
The trip comes after Pompeo announced last month that the United States no longer considered Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.
The decision broke with decades of international consensus that the settlements are illegal and a major barrier to peace with the Palestinians.
The king of Morocco last month called for an end to “the policy of colonization in the occupied Palestinian territories” and reiterated his support for a two-state solution.
On Wednesday, Pompeo met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Portugal in talks dominated by policy on their arch-enemy Iran.
Pompeo said they “discussed efforts to counter Iran’s destabilising influence in the region, the importance of economic cooperation with regional partners and other issues related to Israel’s security.”
The US Secretary of State’s program was to include an audience with King Mohammed VI, but eventually the meeting was dropped, apparently due to Pompeo’s extended stay in Lisbon.
He did however meet Moroccan Interior Minister Abdellatif Hammouchi to discuss counter-terrorism efforts, before leaving for Washington on Thursday evening.


Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

A Yemeni tries to catch locusts on the rooftop of his house as they swarm several parts of the country bringing in devastations and destruction of major seasonal crops. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 53 sec ago

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

  • Billions of locusts invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring seasonal crops

AL-MUKALLA: Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity.

Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such as dates and causing heavy losses.
“This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters,” Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, an agricultural official from Hadramout’s Sah district, told Arab News on Sunday.
Images and videos posted on social media showed layers of creeping locusts laying waste to lemon farms in Marb, dates and alfalfa farms in Hadramout and flying swarms plunging cities into darkness. “The locusts have eaten all kinds of green trees, including the sesban tree. The losses are huge,” Abu Baker added.
Heavy rains and flash floods have hit several Yemeni provinces over the last couple of months, creating fruitful conditions for locusts to reproduce. Farmers complained that locusts had wiped out entire seasonal crops that are grown after rains.
Abu Baker said that he visited several affected farms in Hadramout, where farmers told him that if the government would not compensate them for the damage that it should at least get ready for a second potential locust wave that might occur in 10 days.
“The current swarms laid eggs that are expected to hatch in 10 days. We are bracing for the second wave of the locusts.”  
Last year, the UN said that the war in Yemen had disrupted vital monitoring and control efforts and several waves of locusts to hit neighboring countries had originated from Yemen.

This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters.

Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, a Yemeni agricultural official

Yemeni government officials, responsible for battling the spread of locusts, have complained that fighting and a lack of funding have obstructed vital operations for combating the insects.
Ashor Al-Zubairi, the director of the Locust Control Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadramout’s Seiyun city, said that the ministry was carrying out a combat operation funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Hadramout and Mahra, but complained that the operation might fall short of its target due to a lack of funding and equipment.
“The spraying campaign will end in a week which is not enough to cover the entire plagued areas,” Al-Zubairi told Arab News. “We suggested increasing the number of spraying equipment or extending the campaign.”
He said that a large number of villagers had lost their source of income after the locusts ate crops and sheep food, predicting that the outbreak would likely last for at least two weeks if urgent control operations were not intensified and fighting continued. “Combating teams could not cross into some areas in Marib due to fighting.”
The widespread locust invasion comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 10 sent an appeal for urgent funds for its programs in Yemen, warning that people would face starvation otherwise.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation and because of the lockdowns, the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.