How the world reacted after Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of JASTA

How the world reacted after Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of JASTA
US President Barack Obama (L) and CIA Director John Brennan. (Agencies)
Updated 02 October 2016

How the world reacted after Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of JASTA

How the world reacted after Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of JASTA

US President Barack Obama dubbed it a “mistake” and “basically a political vote.”
He said: “I understand why it happened. Obviously, all of us still carry the scars and trauma of 9/11 — nobody more than this 9/11 generation that has fought on our behalf of the country in the aftermath of 9/11.”

A White House official said JASTA was “embarrassing.”
“I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. In that year, the Senate overrode President Ronald Reagan’s veto of a land bill to give a few acres to six retired couples who paid for it, but later learned that it was still government property because of a surveying error.

CIA Director John Brennan warned that JASTA will have grave implications for the national security of the United States.
“The principle of sovereign immunity protects US officials every day, and is rooted in reciprocity,” he said. “If we fail to uphold this standard for other countries, we place our own nation’s officials in danger.” He said: “No country has more to lose from undermining that principle than the United States — and few institutions would be at greater risk than the CIA.”

White House Speaker Paul Ryan acknowledged Obama’s concerns that the bill could subject US service members to lawsuits in foreign courts.
“So I’d like to think that there’s a way we could fix it so that our service members do not have legal problems overseas, while still protecting the rights of the 9/11 victims,” Ryan told reporters.

Russia: US again showed disregard to international law
“Washington has once again demonstrated total disregard for international law, legalizing the possibility of filing lawsuits in US courts against states suspected of supporting terrorism,” the Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department said in a statement, as cited by RIA Novosti.“The United States, where many politicians have come to believe in their own ‘uniqueness,’ insistently continues along the line of extending its jurisdiction to the entire world, disregarding the notions of state sovereignty and common sense,” the statement added.

France: JASTA violates international law
In Paris, French authorities have reiterated their rejection to JASTA, which the Foreign Ministry said violates international law. The Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said France and European countries consider JASTA as contravening international law. Nadal also said that France, which is fighting militants along with its partners, including the United States, said this battle “should be waged through the respect of national and international laws.”

French Parliamentarian Pierre Lellouche
He warned that JASTA would “cause a legal revolution in international law with major political consequences.” He said one of those consequences would be French citizens allowed to sue the United States.

EU criticizes JASTA
An EU spokesperson said: “We do not believe the approach set out in JASTA is in the interest of either the EU or US, and it would be in conflict with the fundamental principles of international law and, in particular, the principle of state sovereign immunity.”

The Dutch parliament
JASTA is a “gross and unwarranted breach of Dutch sovereignty.”

Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed
He tweeted: “Are there no rational people among you?” He said the law “is an arrow launched by the US Congress at its own country.”

Egypt
Ahmed Abu Zaid, spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry warned that JASTA could have a dire effect on international relations.


World Bank threatens to halt $200m Afghan aid over banking data row

Updated 34 min 23 sec ago

World Bank threatens to halt $200m Afghan aid over banking data row

World Bank threatens to halt $200m Afghan aid over banking data row
  • Letter sent to Afghan president comes amid corruption claims linked to new government controls on public-private partnerships

KABUL: The World Bank has threatened to close the taps on $200 million worth of aid to Afghanistan if Kabul fails to share banking sector data.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday said that the World Bank had warned the country’s President Ashraf Ghani that it would halt its assistance if the information was not forthcoming.
In a letter dated Nov. 23, Henry G. Kerali, the World Bank’s country director for Afghanistan, mentioned issues that “remain to be resolved” and “may impact” the bank’s capacity to disburse the full amount of $200 million.
The issues included the World Bank’s inability to obtain banking data from Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), the country’s central bank.
“The letter has actually been addressed to the president, and copies of it have been sent to relevant offices. The issue will be resolved in the coming week,” finance ministry spokesman, Shamroz Khan Masjidi, told Arab News.
“In the past, we would have shared a number of non-sensitive banking data with the World Bank. Now, a misunderstanding has appeared with the central bank which has not shared it with it (the World Bank) … the issue will be resolved.” The World Bank’s Kabul office declined to comment on whether the letter, a copy of which has been seen by Arab News, was a warning to Ghani. In an equivocal statement issued on Wednesday, the lender said: “No letter from the World Bank to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has been released to the public.” Ghani’s spokesman declined comment.
The World Bank’s purported threat comes amid complaints over increasing corruption after the presidential palace in recent months took control of public-private partnerships (PPP) from the Ministry of Finance through amendments to the country’s PPP law.
Reliant on international assistance, Afghanistan is considered one of the most corrupt countries.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the US government’s leading oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction, in a letter on Nov. 11 said that the Afghan government “often makes paper reforms, such as drafting regulations or holding meetings, rather than concrete actions that would reduce corruption, such as arresting powerful actors.” Even Ghani’s brother, Hashmat Ghani, spoke against the PPP law move. “Taking away PPP office and authority from the finance ministry has been a mistake. It should be reversed immediately,” he said in a tweet on Thursday.
Torek Farhadi, a former Afghan and International Monetary Fund adviser, said the World Bank’s letter was “not a good signal” for Afghanistan.
“The reason for which it is interrupting the payment is that the president wants to move a number of important state-owned enterprises and the management of PPP to the palace where there is no oversight of the parliament at the palace as opposed to the ministry (Finance Ministry),” he told Arab News.
“So, this is how corruption creeps in, and the international community is worried about what is going on and the World Bank expresses it in a diplomatic language in this letter.” Sediq Ahmad Usmani, a lawmaker from the parliamentary financial affairs committee, said: “The executive power, particularly, the presidency, has created another government of its special circle which deals with appointments and budget’s expenses. All the power lies with the president and without his knowledge they cannot do anything.” “This has been our concern and we have shared it with the donors and have asked them to prevent such wayward acts,” he added.
Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, denied the existence of any “circle” under the president. “These MPs, I am sure they know the whole process and the authority of government officials and the president on budget spending. Budget issues must not be politicized.
“The government sends details of the budget to the parliament in a very transparent way and they have the legal right to oversee the spending. It is an open budget system, there is no circle.”