Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince

Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita at the Foreign Ministry in Rabat, Morocco, March 29, 2022. (Reuters)
Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken walks with Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, right, as he arrives at the Foreign Ministry in Rabat, Morocco, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (AP)
Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince
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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, following a news conference, at the Foreign Ministry in Rabat, Morocco, March 29, 2022. (Reuters)
Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince
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Updated 29 March 2022

Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince

Blinken in Morocco for security talks, meets with Abu Dhabi crown prince
  • Blinken met Tuesday evening with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed at the Emirati leader’s Moroccan residence
  • Morocco won US recognition for its claim to Western Sahara in return for its agreement with Israel

RABAT: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday visited Morocco, where he discussed regional security and met the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
His trip comes in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which along with sanctions against Moscow has sent wheat and fuel prices soaring in a serious blow to import-dependent North African countries.
Speaking to journalists in Rabat, Blinken said the US recognized the “disaster” the supply crunch had caused.




US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. (WAM)


“We’re discussing concrete steps we can take ... to help reduce the impact, particularly on the most vulnerable populations,” he said.
Blinken also said he was “encouraging partners to speak out against Russian aggression” and said he doubted Russia’s “seriousness” in talks with Ukraine held in Turkey.
Washington’s top diplomat had flown into Rabat late Monday from Israel where he met his counterparts from the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt, underlining a seismic shift in relations between Arab countries and the Jewish state.
On Tuesday, he met Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita for discussions including on the Western Sahara dispute and security cooperation.
The same subjects will loom large in meetings the following day with Morocco’s regional rival Algeria, after months of deteriorating relations between Rabat and Algiers.
Blinken also met Tuesday evening with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed at the Emirati leader’s Moroccan residence.
The US top diplomat emphasised that “the partnership between our countries really matters.”
“At the same time, we have real challenges to confront together in the region and beyond,” said Blinken, singling out the “terrorist attacks against the UAE” and Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthis.
Their meeting comes amid an escalation in cross-border missile and drone attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis against infrastructure in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“We’re determined to do everything we can to help you defend yourselves effectively” against the Houthis, Blinken added.
Blinken said he and the crown prince would also discuss the war in Ukraine and efforts to restore the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which aimed to limit the Islamic republic’s nuclear development in exchange for loosening sanctions.
Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally walked out on that multilateral deal in 2018 and reimposed biting sanctions, provoking Iran into rolling back on its nuclear commitments, but months of negotiations in Vienna have sought to revive the pact.
Blinken also discussed with his Moroccan counterpart the status of Western Sahara, a phosphate-rich former Spanish colony with a vast Atlantic coastline home to rich fisheries.
Morocco controls 80 percent of it, including a key highway toward West Africa, while the rest — a desert area bordering Mauritania and Algeria — is run by the Polisario Front independence movement.
Trump in 2020 recognized the region as sovereign Moroccan territory in a break with decades of US policy, after Rabat agreed to re-establish relations with Israel.
President Joe Biden’s administration has been tight-lipped on how it will follow up on the move, which came just weeks after the Polisario declared a 1991 cease-fire null and void, sparking fears that the long-frozen conflict could flare up again.
Bourita on Tuesday called on European states to follow Spain in backing a Moroccan plan for autonomy there under Rabat’s sovereignty.
“We think it’s time for Europe ... to get out of this comfort zone where people are just supporting a process that doesn’t mean supporting a solution,” he said.
“There is a consensus that the solution should be within Moroccan sovereignty and the Moroccan plan of autonomy.”
Blinken said Washington continues “to view Morocco’s autonomy plan as serious, credible and realistic.”
Blinken’s visit to Rabat also comes as the US seeks stronger support for Ukraine from a region where many countries have been reluctant to criticize Moscow.
They include Morocco, which has declined to condemn Russia at the United Nations, frustrating both Washington and European capitals.


Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria’s Kobani

Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria’s Kobani
Updated 7 sec ago

Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria’s Kobani

Turkish troops, Kurdish fighters exchange heavy shelling in Syria’s Kobani
  • Artillery fire hit within the town and around its edges, starting overnight and intensifying throughout the day
BEIRUT: Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters exchanged heavy shellfire on Tuesday in the northern Syrian border town of Kobani, leaving one civilian dead as the conflict between the warring parties escalated.
The artillery fire hit within the town and around its edges, starting overnight and intensifying throughout the day, according to residents and the semi-autonomous local administration governing the town.
The administration said in an online statement that at least one child died due to the shelling and others were wounded.
Ankara sees the semi-autonomous system — spearheaded by Kurdish factions and governing swathes of northern and eastern Syria — as a national security threat on its border.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged a new incursion to create a 30-kilometer safe zone in northern Syria, swallowing up Kobani and other towns held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Kobani has been relatively calm since US-backed Kurdish fighters pushed back Daesh fighters from the town in 2015.
But shelling and drone attacks have been ramping up in many border towns. At least three Kurdish commanders were killed last month which the SDF blamed on Ankara.
Dilvin, a shopkeeper and married mother of one, said scenes of chaos broke out in Kobani when the shelling intensified on Tuesday.
“People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking about their friends and their family. Then the sounds started to build, the sounds were everywhere,” she told Reuters by phone from Kobani.
“There was so much screaming. So much fear. Now everyone is locked up at home,” said Dilvin, who preferred to identify herself with just a first name for security reasons.

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes

Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes
  • 2 soldiers were wounded in last Friday’s clashes between army units and terrorists

DUBAI: Tunisia’s minister of defense, Imed Memmiche, visited two soldiers who were wounded in last Friday’s clashes between army units and terrorists in Mount Salloum in Kasserine. 
 
Memmiche went to the Tunis military hospital on Monday to commend the men for their ‘patriotism and sense of duty’, according to the Ministry of Defense’s statement released on state news agency TAP.


UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222

UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222
Updated 16 August 2022

UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222

UAE’s Dar Al Ber Society donates over $56m on global, local aid projects in 20222
  • The non-profit organization has donated to 22,517 projects so far this year

Dar Al Ber Society has spent over $56 million during the first half of 2022 on charitable and sustainable development projects that have benefitted 2.9 million people worldwide and in the UAE, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday. 

The non-profit organization has donated to 22,517 projects so far this year, according to WAM. 

More than $13.6 million were donated to a total of 8,901 projects in the first quarter of this year, while $14,128,257 were directed to 13,616 projects in the second quarter, the CEO and Managing Director of Dar Al Ber SocietyMuhammad Suhail Al-Muhairi said. 

Some of these humanitarian projects have been completed while others are underway, he added. 

The Dar Al Ber Society helped build 2,144 mosques – 904 in the first quarter and 1,240 in the second quarter. 

A total of 8,121 water-saving projects were also built with the help of the donations, Al-Muhairi said.

The organization helped set up 4,929 projects for families, as well as launch 5,285 medical projects, according to WAM. 

Dar Al Ber also implemented its seasonal projects in 37 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, in cooperation with 32 of its partners in the respective countries.

Represented by the Department of Zakat in the Projects and Zakat Sector, Dar Al Ber Society donated more than $11.6 million in local aid to 346,541 beneficiaries.


Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis
Updated 16 August 2022

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister meets chargée d'affaires at US Embassy in Tunis
  • The meeting represented “positive and constructive dialogue that reflects the strength of bilateral relations”

DUBAI: Tunisia’s foreign minister discussed ways to rectify the democratic process in the country during a meeting with the chargée d'affaires at the US Embassy in Tunis on Monday. 
Othman Jerandi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Migration and Tunisians Abroad, met with Natasha Franceschi, chargée d'affaires at the US Embassy, to step up consultations between the two countries, Tunisia’s state news agency TAP reported. 
The meeting represented “positive and constructive dialogue that reflects the strength of bilateral relations,” the Foreign Affairs Department said in a statement.
Upcoming bilateral events, such as the Joint Military Commission, were also discussed at the meeting, according to the same statement.
During the meeting, Jerandi welcomed the ties between the two countries, while Franceschi stressed the US’ keenness to develop partnerships with Tunisia in all sectors.
Franceschi also presented America’s initiative to host the US-Africa Leaders Summit scheduled for Dec. 13-15 in Washington.


Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three

Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three
Updated 16 August 2022

Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three

Jordan police bust crystal meth lab in Amman, arrest three
  • Similar police operations were also undertaken in Zarqa, northeast of Amman

DUBAI: Three people were arrested after Jordanian police on Monday raided a house in East Amman that was being used as a crystal meth laboratory.

The raid was carried out after agents of the anti-narcotics department received a tip off.

The officers did not find the suspect in his home, but discovered and subsequently seized chemicals used for manufacturing methamphetamine.

The man was arrested later during a follow-up operation, where he also said he had an accomplice who worked with him to produce and sell the narcotics.

In a similar effort in Jordan’s campaign to crack down on the illegal drug trade, police raided a chalet west of Al-Balqa and arrested a man found in possession of marijuana and as well as a firearm on suspicion after he tried to flee.

Similar police operations were also undertaken in Zarqa, northeast of Amman, where suspects have been arrested while in possession of illegal drugs and narcotics.