Saudi leaders pay tribute to ‘model of leadership’ as world reacts to death of Queen Elizabeth II

Update Queen Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and the nation's figurehead for seven decades, has died aged 96. (Supplied/Royal Family)
Queen Elizabeth, Britain's longest-reigning monarch and the nation's figurehead for seven decades, has died aged 96. (Supplied/Royal Family)
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Updated 10 September 2022

Saudi leaders pay tribute to ‘model of leadership’ as world reacts to death of Queen Elizabeth II

Saudi leaders pay tribute to ‘model of leadership’ as world reacts to death of Queen Elizabeth II
  • Politicians and officials react and share condolences on the death of the monarch

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and the nation’s figurehead for seven decades, has died aged 96, Buckingham Palace said on Thursday.

Here is regional and global reaction to the news.

SAUDI ARABIA’S KING SALMAN

“Her Majesty was a model of leadership that will be immortalized in history. We recall with appreciation her efforts in strengthening the relations and friendship between our two countries, as well as the high international status that Her Majesty enjoyed throughout her reign.”

SAUDI ARABIA’S CROWN PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN

“I am saddened by the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who devoted her life in the service of her country. Her Majesty was an example of wisdom, love and peace, and the world remembers today the great impact she had throughout her reign.” 

GCC SECRETARY-GENERAL DR. NAYEF FALAH MUBARAK AL-HAJRAF

Al-Hajraf expressed sincere condolence and sympathy to the Royal Family, government and people of the UK on the death of Queen Elizabeth II after a “rich life she dedicated for Britain and the world at large,” Saudi Press Agency reported.

In a cable, the Secretary General recalled the contributions of Queen Elizabeth II and her role in enhancing the GCC-British relations and friendship and partnership ties binding the GCC and the United Kingdom, underscoring the importance of the distinguished GCC-British relations citing their pivotal role in enhancing security, peace and stability and support for development, wishing the United Kingdom, its friendly people and His Majesty King Charles III every success and best wishes.

UAE PRESIDENT SHEIKH MOHAMED BIN ZAYED AL-NAHYAN

“I extend my sincere condolences to the family of Queen Elizabeth II and the people of the UK. Her Majesty was a close friend of the UAE and a beloved and respected leader whose long reign was characterized by dignity, compassion and a tireless commitment to serving her country.”

The UAE has declared a three day-mourning period, or until Sept. 12, and all flags in the Emirates and at its embassies abroad will fly at half-mast during the duration.

UAE VICE PRESIDENT SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL-MAKTOUM
“We join the world in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, a global icon who represented the finest qualities of her nation and people. Her incredible lifetime of service and duty to the United Kingdom is unparalleled in our modern world.”

JORDAN’S KING ABDULLAH II

“Jordan mourns the passing of an iconic leader. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a beacon of wisdom and principled leadership for seven decades. She was a partner for Jordan and a dear family friend. We stand with the people and leadership of the UK at this difficult time.”

KUWAIT EMIR SHEIKH NAWAF AL-AHMAD AL-JABER AL-SABAH

The Emir expressed his and Kuwaiti government and people’s deep sorrow and sympathy for Queen Elizabeth’s death, in a cable sent to the British government. The ruler noted that “the whole world had lost with her death a great leader who was wise, experienced and far-sighted.”

Kuwait’s Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also expressed his “deep sorrow over the demise of Queen Elizabeth II.”

Flags in Kuwait would be flown in half-mast starting for three days to mourn the demise of the queen.

BAHRAIN’S KING HAMAD BIN ISA AL-KHALIFA

The ruler of Bahrain has mourned Queen Elizabeth II’s “passing and emphasized that the world has lost a great source of inspiration and strength whose wisdom and humanity will be missed by all.”

King Hamad has ordered that flags be lowered to half-mast for three days. Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, also sent a cable of condolences to King Charles III.

OMAN’S SULTAN HAITHAM BIN TARIK

The Oman ruler expressed “his heartfelt sympathies to King Charles, his family and people of the UK” and recalled the virtues of the late Queen and the lofty status that she was accorded by world nations.

The Sultan issued orders to fly flags at half-mast in establishments of the public and private sectors and in embassies abroad on Friday, Sept. 9.

IRAQ PRESIDENT BARHAM SALIH

“I feel deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, I offer my deepest condolences to the royal family and the people of the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth will be remembered as a great symbol of history who served with grace, dignity and steadfastness.”

IRAQ PRIME MINISTER MUSTAFA AL-KADHIMI

“Our deep and sincere sympathies to the British people and Britain’s Royal Family. Queen Elizabeth II was respected and cherished the world over. We extend our condolences to King Charles III,  and stress the continued partnership between our two countries. We offer our condolences to King Charles III and affirm the continuity of the partnership between Iraq and the United Kingdom.”

SAUDI EMBASSY IN LONDON

“The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the people of KSA, wishes to express its deepest condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth on the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.

“Her Majesty was a long and steadfast friend to KSA, and she will long be remembered for her endless service to her country and her people. May she rest in peace.”

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER LIZ TRUSS

“Queen Elizabeth II was the rock on which modern Britain was built. Our country has grown and flourished under her reign. Britain is the great country it is today because of her.”

US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN

Biden said the legacy Queen Elizabeth leaves behind will “loom large in the pages of British history, and in the story of our world.”

CHINA’S PRESIDENT XI JINPING

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered “sincere sympathies to the British government and people” following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
“Xi Jinping, representing the Chinese government and the Chinese people, as well as in his own name, expresses deep condolences,” a statement said, adding: “Her passing is a great loss to the British people.”

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY KARINE JEAN-PIERRE
“(Our) hearts and our thoughts go to the family members of the Queen, (go) to the people of the United Kingdom ... Our relationship with the people in the United Kingdom, and this is something the president has said himself, has grown stronger and stronger.”

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES
“As the United Kingdom’s longest-lived and longest-reigning Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II was widely admired for her grace, dignity, and dedication around the world. She was a reassuring presence throughout decades of sweeping change, including the decolonization of Africa and Asia and the evolution of the Commonwealth.
“Queen Elizabeth II was a good friend of the United Nations, and visited our New York Headquarters twice, more than fifty years apart. She was deeply committed to many charitable and environmental causes and spoke movingly to delegates at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.
“I would like to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II for her unwavering, lifelong dedication to serving her people. The world will long remember her devotion and leadership.”

MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN

“We at the Muslim Council of Britain remember how the Queen devoted her life to public service and sought unity among British communities.

“Her Majesty’s reign saw extraordinary change in our country. Over seven decades, the United Kingdom has seen itself transformed into a multicultural and multi-faith society.

“Her Majesty was the first monarch to engage with newly established Muslim communities here in the UK. Though the first British mosque was seen in the Victorian era, the Queen was the first monarch to visit a UK mosque during her Jubilee celebrations in 2002. Audiences at events and ceremonies hosted by the Royal family reflect the diversity of Britain.

“All of us, of all faiths and none, will remember Her Majesty’s legacy of public service and celebrate her achievements.”

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN

Putin on Thursday offered his condolences to King Charles III following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, wishing the new monarch “courage and resilience” after his mother’s passing.

“The most important events of the United Kingdom’s recent history are inextricably bound with the name of Her Majesty. For many decades Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed her subjects’ love and respect as well as authority on the world stage,” Putin said, according to a Kremlin statement.

PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER SHEHBAZ SHARIF

“Deeply grieved at the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Pakistan joins the UK and other Commonwealth nations in mourning her death. My heartfelt condolences to the royal family, people and government of the UK.”

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be remembered as a stalwart of our times. She provided inspiring leadership to her nation and people. She personified dignity and decency in public life. Pained by her demise. My thoughts are with her family and people of UK in this sad hour.”

CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU
“It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada’s longest-reigning Sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a constant presence in our lives – and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country’s history.”

NEW ZELAND’S PRIME MINISTER JACINDA ARDERN

“She was extraordinary,” said Ardern, ordering flags to fly at half-staff and a state memorial service to be held.

“People throughout the world will be feeling an acute sense of loss at this time and New Zealanders most certainly share that grief,” said Ardern.

“The Queen was a much respected constant through unprecedented global change,” she said, as her office stated that “the new king becomes New Zealand's new head of state.”

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT CHARLES MICHEL
“Our thoughts are with the royal family and all those who mourn Queen Elizabeth II in the UK and worldwide. Once called Elizabeth the Steadfast, she never failed to show us the importance of lasting values in a modern world with her service and commitment.

EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF JOSEP BORRELL
“Queen Elizabeth Il’s remarkable reign oversaw key events of the 20th & 21st century. The EU pays tribute to her unique contribution to building peace & reconciliation. While her loss will be felt around the world, our immediate thoughts are with her family & the people of the UK.”

DUTCH KING WILLEM-ALEXANDER
“We remember Queen Elizabeth II with deep respect and great affection. Steadfast and wise, she dedicated her long life to serving the British people. We feel a strong bond with the United Kingdom and its royal family, and we share their sorrow at this time.”

THE ROYAL HOUSE OF NORWAY
“The Royal Family is deeply saddened to receive the news that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has passed away.”

ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER MARIO DRAGHI
“Queen Elizabeth was a major player in world history over the last seventy years. She represented the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth with balance, wisdom, respect for institutions and democracy. She has been the most beloved symbol of her country and has garnered respect, affection and warm feelings everywhere. She ensured stability in times of crisis and kept the value of tradition alive in a society in constant and profound evolution.
“Her spirit of service, her dedication to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, the profound dignity with which she has held office for such a long time have been an unceasing source of admiration for generations.”

FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II embodied the British nation’s continuity and unity for over 70 years. I remember her as a friend of France, a kind-hearted queen who has left a lasting impression on her country and her century.”

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY
“It is with deep sadness that we learned of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On behalf of the UA people, we extend sincere condolences to the @RoyalFamily, the entire United Kingdom and the Commonwealth over this irreparable loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER JOHN MAJOR
’We have all lost someone very precious to us and, as we mourn, we should be grateful that we were blessed with such an example of duty and leadership for so very many years.”

* with Agencies


Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3
Updated 7 sec ago

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3

Pakistan Taliban claim suicide blast killing 3
  • Taliban earlier announced an end to a shaky cease-fire with Islamabad and ordered nationwide attacks

QUETTA, Pakistan: Three people were killed and 23 injured Wednesday when a suicide bomber targeted a police truck in western Pakistan, an official said, an attack claimed by the domestic chapter of the Taliban.
The Pakistan Taliban — known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — are separate from the Taliban in Afghanistan but share a common hard-line Islamist ideology.
On Monday, the group announced an end to a shaky cease-fire with Islamabad declared over the summer and ordered nationwide attacks to resume.
Senior police official Azhar Mehesar told AFP the blast targeted a police team preparing to escort polio vaccinators in the city of Quetta and that those killed “include a policeman, a woman and a child.”
In a statement to AFP, the TTP claimed responsibility for the attack and said it would soon share further details.
The group was founded in 2007 by Pakistani jihadists who fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1990s before opposing Islamabad’s support for American intervention there after 9/11.
For a time they held vast tracts of Pakistan’s rugged tribal belt, imposing a radical interpretation of Islamic law and patrolling territory just 140 kilometers (85 miles) from the Pakistan capital.
The Pakistani military came down hard after 2014 when TTP militants raided a school for children of army personnel and killed nearly 150 people, most of them pupils.
Its fighters were largely routed into neighboring Afghanistan, but Islamabad claims the Taliban in Kabul are now giving the TTP a foothold to stage assaults across the border.
In the year since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, Pakistan has seen a 50 percent surge in militant attacks, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).
Most of these attacks have been focused in the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which neighbor Afghanistan.
The 2014 school assault deeply shocked Pakistan, and since then the TTP have vowed only to target state security forces.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only nations in the world where wild polio is still endemic.
Polio vaccination teams are routinely escorted by police in the western regions, and the TTP has made a habit of ambushing officers as they travel into those restive remote areas.
Pakistan officials on Monday launched a week-long immunization campaign aiming to inoculate over 13 million children living in “high-risk districts.”
In April, Pakistan reported its first case of polio in 15 months. Since then 20 cases have been reported, according to the government-funded End Polio Pakistan program.


Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
Updated 30 November 2022

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries

Australian parliament censures former PM Morrison over secret ministries
  • It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature

SYDNEY: Australia’s parliament on Wednesday voted to censure former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison after an inquiry found his secret appointment to multiple ministries during the COVID-19 pandemic undermined trust in government.
Morrison, who lost power in a general election in May, secretly accumulated five ministerial roles during the pandemic: health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs.
The historic motion, brought by the ruling Labor party, passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country’s lower house.
It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature.
“The fact is, that our democracy is precious,” Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during the debate, speaking in favor of censuring Morrison.
“There’s no room for complacency.”
Morrison has said his decisions were lawful, and that the decision was necessary in case ministers became incapacitated during the pandemic.
“For those who wish to add their judgment today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following: have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?,” Morrison said in parliament before the vote on Wednesday.
“In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right?“
Morrison said he had only used the powers on one occasion, to block BPH Energy’s PEP-11 gas exploration project.
He accepted the recommendations of an inquiry into the appointment, including legislation requiring public notice of ministerial appointments.


Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests
Updated 30 November 2022

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests

Trump ‘unlikely’ to be president after hosting Fuentes, top Republican McConnell suggests
  • 'There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the US,” McConnell told reporters

WASHINGTON: The top two Republicans in the US Congress broke their silence on Tuesday about former President Donald Trump’s dinner last week with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, saying the Republican Party has no place for antisemitism or white supremacy.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Representative Kevin McCarthy, who may become speaker of the US House of Representatives when Republicans take control in January, had not commented previously on the Nov. 22 meeting.
Trump began his 2024 bid for the White House on Nov. 15, and is Republican voters’ top choice, according to opinion polls.
“There is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy, and anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States,” McConnell told reporters without mentioning Trump by name.
“That would apply to all of the leaders in the party who will be seeking offices,” McConnell added, when asked if he would support Trump should he become the party’s 2024 presidential nominee.
McCarthy was pressed for his thoughts on the Trump dinner by reporters at the White House, after talks with President Joe Biden.
“I don’t think anybody should be spending any time with Nick Fuentes,” said McCarthy, currently the House minority leader. “His views are nowhere within the Republican Party or within this country itself.”
Trump has said the encounter at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, was inadvertent, but the meeting has drawn rare criticism from fellow Republicans, some of whom accused Trump of empowering extremism.
Tuesday’s comments were the first by McCarthy and McConnell to address the Trump dinner.
Fuentes has been described as a white supremacist by the US Justice Department. The Anti-Defamation League said Fuentes once “’jokingly denied the Holocaust and compared Jews burnt in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.’“
While president, Trump was broadly criticized for not explicitly condemning white nationalists whose August 2017 rally on a college campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, was seen as having provoked violence with counter-protesters, one of whom was killed.
“You also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said at the time.
PENCE CALLS FOR APOLOGY
Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called for an apology from Trump for the meeting with Fuentes.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologize,” Pence said in a televised interview with NewsNation.
McCarthy mentioned that Trump said he didn’t know who Fuentes was.
“I condemn his ideology. It has no place in society,” he said of Fuentes.
Fuentes attended the dinner with Ye, the musician formerly known as Kanye West, who has also drawn widespread criticism for antisemitic comments.
“The president will have meetings with who he wants. I don’t think anybody, though, should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes, and his views should come nowhere within the Republican Party or the country itself,” McCarthy said.

 


NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine
Updated 30 November 2022

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine

NATO pledges more aid to Kyiv as air raid sirens blare again across Ukraine
  • NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriots and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics”

KYIV: NATO allies promised on Tuesday more arms for Kyiv and equipment to help restore Ukrainian power and heat knocked out by Russian missile and drone strikes, as air raid sirens blared across Ukraine for the first time this week.
Ukrainians fled the streets for bomb shelters, although the all-clear later sounded across the country. In the eastern Donetsk region Russian forces pounded Ukrainian targets with artillery, mortar and tank fire.
Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, began a two-day meeting in Bucharest, seeking ways both to keep Ukrainians safe and warm and to sustain Kyiv’s military through a coming winter campaign.
“We need air defense, IRIS, Hawks, Patriots, and we need transformers (for our energy needs),” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO meeting, enumerating various Western air defense systems.
“In a nutshell: Patriots and transformers are what Ukraine needs the most.”
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriots and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “trying to use winter as a weapon of war” as Moscow’s forces lose ground on the battlefield.
In a statement, NATO ministers condemned Russia’s “persistent and unconscionable attacks on Ukrainian civilian and energy infrastructure” and confirmed a 2008 decision that Ukraine will eventually join the alliance. But it announced no concrete steps or timetable that would bring it closer to NATO.
US and European officials said ministers would focus in their talks on non-lethal aid such as fuel, medical supplies and winter equipment, as well as on military assistance. Washington said it would provide $53 million to buy power grid equipment.
The foreign minister of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, urged his NATO colleagues to take the political decision to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine to give them a military edge against Russian forces. Western powers have been reluctant to go down that road for fear of stoking direct conflict with Russia.
ACCUMULATING DAMAGE
Russia has been carrying out huge attacks on Ukraine’s electricity transmission and heating infrastructure roughly weekly since October, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians, a war crime.
Moscow says hurting civilians is not its aim but that their suffering will end only if Kyiv accepts its demands, which it has not spelled out. Although Kyiv says it shoots down most of the incoming missiles, the damage has been accumulating and the impact growing more severe with each strike.
A senior US military official said on Tuesday Russia was firing unarmed cruise missiles that were designed to carry nuclear warheads at targets in Ukraine to try to deplete Kyiv’s stocks of air defenses.
The worst barrage so far was on Nov. 23, leaving millions of Ukrainians in cold and darkness. President Volodymyr Zelensky told Ukrainians at the start of this week to expect another soon that would be at least as damaging.
There are no political talks to end the war. Moscow has annexed Ukrainian territory which it says it will never relinquish; Ukraine says it will fight until it recovers all occupied land.
Kyiv said it wants weapons to help it end the war — by winning it.
“No eloquent speech will say more than concrete action. ‘Patriot’, ‘F-16’, or ‘Leopard’ for Ukraine,” tweeted presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, referring to US anti-aircraft missiles and fighter jets, and German tanks.
’RISKS ARE GROWING’
Russia called off nuclear talks with the United States this week at the last minute. Moscow said it had “no choice” but to cancel the talks, aimed at resuming inspections under an arms control treaty, because Washington refused to address its wider concerns about strategic stability.
Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as warning Washington of unspecified risks because of its support for Kyiv against what Russia calls a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor.
“We are sending signals to the Americans that their line of escalation and ever deeper involvement in this conflict is fraught with dire consequences. The risks are growing,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
In Kyiv, snow fell and temperatures were hovering around freezing as millions in and around the capital struggled to heat their homes. After a week of trying to restore electricity from the last attacks, national grid operator Ukrenergo said the system was still suffering a 30 percent shortfall of needed power.
Ukraine’s military General Staff said on Tuesday evening Russian forces in the Donetsk region were continuing to focus their efforts on taking the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka. A Russian missile strike on Lyman killed one person and injured three others, it said.
Ukrainian aircraft carried out nine strikes targeting Russian servicemen and equipment, notably in the southern central Zaporizhzhia region, the General Staff said.
In the southern Kherson and Kriviy Rih regions, it added, Russian forces are consolidating their defenses and keeping up artillery attacks, including on the city of Kherson which Ukraine recently recaptured.
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.
Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said electricity had been restored to 50 percent of Kherson city after heavy Russian bombardment.
Both sides will have to keep troops supplied and healthy in cold, wet trenches for the first long winter of the war, a bigger challenge for the Russians as an invading force with longer and more vulnerable supply lines.

 


Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot

Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot
Updated 30 November 2022

Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot

Right-wing Oath Keepers founder convicted of sedition in US Capitol attack plot

WASHINGTON: Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group, was convicted by a jury on Tuesday of seditious conspiracy for last year’s attack on the US Capitol in a failed bid to overturn then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss — an important victory for the Justice Department.
Rhodes, a Yale Law School-educated former Army paratrooper and disbarred attorney, was accused by prosecutors during an eight-week trial of fomenting a plot to use force to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.
He was the best-known of the five defendants in the most significant of the numerous trials arising from the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. One co-defendant, Kelly Meggs, was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Tuesday, while three others — Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell — were acquitted of that charge.
US District Judge Amit Mehta has presided over the trial. The jury deliberated for three days.
Rhodes, who wears an eye patch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun, is one of the most prominent defendants of the roughly 900 charged so far in connection with the attack.
Rhodes in 2009 founded the Oath Keepers, a militia group whose members include current and retired US military personnel, law enforcement officers and first responders. Its members have showed up, often heavily armed, at protests and political events around the United States including the racial justice demonstrations following the murder of a Black man named George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Prosecutors during the trial said Rhodes and his co-defendants planned to use force to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory. Meggs, Watkins and Harrelson all entered the Capitol clad in tactical gear.
The defendants was were accused of creating a “quick reaction force” that prosecutors said positioned at a nearby Virginia hotel and was equipped with firearms that could be quickly transported into Washington if summoned.
Fifty witnesses testified during the trial. Rhodes and two of his co-defendants testified in their own defense. They denied plotting any attack or seeking to block Congress from certifying the election results, though Watkins admitted to impeding police officers protecting the Capitol.
Rhodes told the jury he had no plan to storm the Capitol and did not learn that some of his fellow Oath Keepers had breached the building until after the riot had ended.
Prosecutors during cross-examination sought to paint Rhodes as a liar, showing him page after page of his inflammatory text messages, videos, photos and audio recordings. These included Rhodes lamenting about not bringing rifles to Washington on Jan. 6 and saying he could have hanged US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat reviled by the right, from a lamppost.
Watkins, a transgender woman who fled the US Army after being confronted with homophobic slurs, and Caldwell, a disabled US Navy veteran, also chose to testify.
Watkins admitted to having “criminal liability” for impeding police officers inside the Capitol and apologized. At the same time, Watkins denied having any plan to storm the building, describing being “swept up” just as enthusiastic shoppers behave on “Black Friday” when they rush into stores to purchase discount-price holiday gifts like TVs.
Caldwell, who like Rhodes did not enter the Capitol building and never formally joined the Oath Keepers, tried to downplay some of the inflammatory texts he sent in connection with the attack. Caldwell said some of the lines were adapted from or inspired by movies such as “The Princess Bride” and cartoons such as Bugs Bunny.
Four other Oath Keepers members charged with seditious conspiracy are due to go to trial in December. Members of another right-wing group called the Proud Boys, including its former chairman Enrique Tarrio, also are due to head to trial on seditious conspiracy charges in December.