Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Will discuss the $300m US ‘payment’ matter with Pompeo: Foreign Minister Qureshi

After the US military moved to scrap a $300 million aid to Pakistan for what it claimed was Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of regional American strategy, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi contended the labeling of the payment as “aid” and vowed to discuss the matter with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy… $300m (actually $323.6m to include non-Pakistan funds) was reprogrammed by the Defense Department in the June/July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities,” Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said in an email to AFP.

The US defence department “is awaiting a congressional determination on whether this reprogramming request will be approved or denied”, Faulkner said.

Take a look: ,US cuts military training programme for Pakistan,

Responding to the development, Qureshi, the newly appointed foreign minister of Pakistan, clarified that the payment, which the US is now considering scrapping, is in fact the support coalition fund.

“This is not an aid of any kind that can be suspended,” he said. “This is actually the payment of expenses incurred by us during the war against terrorism.”

The foreign minister said that to “rid the region and the world from terrorism is a joint effort, for which Pakistan has done a lot. The Pakistan Army and people have sacrificed a lot, which is why the positive thinking should be that all the measures that are for our joint goals should continue as is.”

Qureshi said that the matter will be discussed with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo when he ,visits Pakistan on Wednesday,.

“We will sit with him, present our point of view and exchange ideas,” he said. “We have several combined interest … we will take our mutual respect for each other into consideration and move forward.”

Pakistan has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown militant groups and has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars in its long war on extremism.

But US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups that attack Afghanistan from alleged safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The White House believes that a Pakistani crackdown could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the long-running war in Afghanistan.

US frustration boils over

President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama authorised drone strikes on Pakistani soil and sent US commandos to kill Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout.

But Trump’s aggressive language has especially angered Pakistani officials. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump wrote on Twitter at the beginning of the year.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Pakistani leaders disputed the $33b figure, insisting that around half of the money relates to reimbursements, and the prime minister’s office accused Trump of ignoring the great sacrifices the country has made to fight extremism.

In March, a senior US official said that Pakistan has “done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests,” and concerns over a lack of action by Islamabad against militant groups still persist.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups,” Faulkner had said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 3, 2018 at 8:25 am

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Will discuss the $300m US ‘payment’ matter with Pompeo: Foreign Minister Qureshi

After the US military moved to scrap a $300 million aid to Pakistan for what it claimed was Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of regional American strategy, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi contended the labeling of the payment as “aid” and vowed to discuss the matter with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy… $300m (actually $323.6m to include non-Pakistan funds) was reprogrammed by the Defense Department in the June/July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities,” Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said in an email to AFP.

The US defence department “is awaiting a congressional determination on whether this reprogramming request will be approved or denied”, Faulkner said.

Take a look: ,US cuts military training programme for Pakistan,

Responding to the development, Qureshi, the newly appointed foreign minister of Pakistan, clarified that the payment, which the US is now considering scrapping, is in fact the support coalition fund.

“This is not an aid of any kind that can be suspended,” he said. “This is actually the payment of expenses incurred by us during the war against terrorism.”

The foreign minister said that to “rid the region and the world from terrorism is a joint effort, for which Pakistan has done a lot. The Pakistan Army and people have sacrificed a lot, which is why the positive thinking should be that all the measures that are for our joint goals should continue as is.”

Qureshi said that the matter will be discussed with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo when he ,visits Pakistan on Wednesday,.

“We will sit with him, present our point of view and exchange ideas,” he said. “We have several combined interest … we will take our mutual respect for each other into consideration and move forward.”

Pakistan has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown militant groups and has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars in its long war on extremism.

But US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups that attack Afghanistan from alleged safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The White House believes that a Pakistani crackdown could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the long-running war in Afghanistan.

US frustration boils over

President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama authorised drone strikes on Pakistani soil and sent US commandos to kill Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout.

But Trump’s aggressive language has especially angered Pakistani officials. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump wrote on Twitter at the beginning of the year.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Pakistani leaders disputed the $33b figure, insisting that around half of the money relates to reimbursements, and the prime minister’s office accused Trump of ignoring the great sacrifices the country has made to fight extremism.

In March, a senior US official said that Pakistan has “done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests,” and concerns over a lack of action by Islamabad against militant groups still persist.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups,” Faulkner had said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 2, 2018 at 10:25 pm

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Pentagon moves to scrap $300m aid to Pakistan

The US military is seeking to reallocate $300 million in aid to Pakistan due to Islamabad’s lack of “decisive actions” in support of regional American strategy, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

The US has been pushing Pakistan to crack down on alleged militant safe havens in the country — Islamabad denies any safe havens on its soil — and announced a freeze on aid at the beginning of the year that an official said could be worth almost $2 billion.

“Due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of the South Asia Strategy… $300m (actually $323.6m to include non-Pakistan funds) was reprogrammed by the Defense Department in the June/July 2018 time frame for other urgent priorities,” Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said in an email to AFP.

Take a look: ,US cuts military training programme for Pakistan,

The US defence department “is awaiting a congressional determination on whether this reprogramming request will be approved or denied”, Faulkner said. The move comes ahead of Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph F. Dunford’s visit to Islamabad next week.

They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In their talks with Pakistani officials, the delegation will “make very clear what we have to do, all of our nations, in meeting our common foe, the terrorists,” ,US Defence Secretary James Mattis had said earlier,. “And make that a primary part of the discussion.”

Pakistan has fought fierce campaigns against homegrown militant groups and says it has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars in its long war on extremism.

But US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups that attack Afghanistan from alleged safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The White House believes that a Pakistani crackdown could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the long-running war in Afghanistan.

US frustration boils over before

President Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama authorised drone strikes on Pakistani soil and sent US commandos to kill Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout.

But Trump’s aggressive language has especially angered Pakistani officials. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump wrote on Twitter at the beginning of the year.

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Pakistani leaders disputed the $33b figure, insisting that around half of the money relates to reimbursements, and the prime minister’s office accused Trump of ignoring the great sacrifices the country has made to fight extremism.

In March, a senior US official said that Pakistan has “done the bare minimum to appear responsive to our requests,” and concerns over a lack of action by Islamabad against militant groups still persist.

“We continue to press Pakistan to indiscriminately target all terrorist groups,” Faulkner had said.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - at 12:26 pm

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John McCain, war hero and political maverick, dead at 81

John McCain, a war hero and ,towering figure in American politics,, known for reaching across the aisle in an increasingly divided nation, died on Saturday following a battle with brain cancer. He was 81.

The senator’s passing marked the end of a storied, 35-year political career that brought the independent-minded Republican within reach of the White House as his party’s presidential nominee.

“It’s been quite a ride,” McCain, who was tortured during five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, wrote in a memoir published earlier this year.

“I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war and helped make peace. I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

McCain, who had been receiving treatment in his home state of Arizona, was surrounded by his wife Cindy and his family during his final hours.

“He was a great fire who burned bright, and we lived in his light and warmth,” said Meghan McCain, one of the late senator’s seven children — three of them from a previous marriage.

Near the driveway to his ranch in a rural part of Sedona, Arizona, a sign read “Sen McCain, thank you for your service.”

A police escort accompanied the hearse that carried his body, as a fiery sunset cast its last light over the rustic countryside McCain loved dearly, and local residents came bearing flowers for the late political titan.

A steady stream of friends and colleagues had come to bid him farewell at his Arizona ranch in the months since his cancer diagnosis, in July 2017.

US President Donald Trump, who once mocked McCain’s war record, said he sent his “deepest sympathies and respect.” McCain had been a rare and outspoken Republican critic of Trump, accusing him of “naivete,” “egotism” and of sympathizing with autocrats.

He made a decisive vote last year that killed Republican attempts to repeal Barack Obama’s health care reforms, and Trump never forgave him.

Pakistan also offered its condolences over McCain’s death, saying he will be “greatly missed.”

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement that McCain had “always stood for strong Pakistan-US relations and a cooperative approach for promoting peace and building stability in the region.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country salutes McCain as a “great American patriot and a great supporter of Israel.” Netanyahu said he was deeply saddened by McCain’s passing and will always treasure his friendship. McCain’s “support for Israel never wavered. It sprang from his belief in democracy and freedom,” Netanyahu added.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Senator McCain “stood for an America that is a reliable and close partner. An America that takes responsibility for others out of strength, and stands by its values and principles even in difficult moments and bases its claim to leadership on that.” He added that “we will remember his voice.”

‘All in his debt’

The sharp-tongued McCain had disagreements with many fellow politicians — including inside his own camp — but the Republican stalwart was widely recognised for his deep integrity, and condolences came swift from the highest reaches of American politics.

“We are all in his debt,” said former president Obama, the Democrat to whom McCain lost the presidency in 2008.

“We shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed.”

Democrat Bill Clinton hailed McCain for having “frequently put partisanship aside,” while his former vice president Al Gore said he always admired how the senator “would work to find common ground, no matter how hard.”

“John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order,” said former president George W. Bush, whom McCain sought and failed to defeat in 2000 and succeed in 2008.

On Capitol Hill, McCain became close friends with Senator Lindsey Graham and former senator Joe Lieberman — a trio dubbed the “Three Amigos”.

Now that the trio is missing its driving force, Graham wrote that “America and Freedom have lost one of her greatest champions… And I’ve lost one of my dearest friends and mentor.”

Hailing him as a “truth-teller” with “unsurpassed” dedication to the US and its military, the top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he would seek to rename a Senate building in his honor.

McCain stopped receiving cancer treatment earlier this week, his family saying “the progress of the disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict.” He had spent more than three decades in the Senate, looming large in debates over war and peace and the moral direction of the nation. Before joining the upper chamber, he served as a US representative from 1983 to 1987.

McCain had been away from the Senate floor since last December, remaining at his Arizona home for treatment of glioblastoma — the same form of brain cancer that took the life of another Senate giant, Democrat Ted Kennedy, in 2009.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 26, 2018 at 10:26 am

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Russia talks on Afghanistan ‘unlikely to yield progress’: US State Dept

The United States has rejected an invitation to join Russia-led talks on Afghanistan because they are unlikely to help bring peace, a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday, as the Trump administration prepared to appoint a diplomatic veteran as a new special envoy for the war-battered nation.

Russia said that the ,Taliban will be joining the Sept 4 talks in Moscow,, along with representatives of several neighbouring countries. It will be one of the insurgent group’s biggest diplomatic forays since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The State Department official said that as a matter of principle, the US supports Afghan-led efforts to advance a peace settlement. And, based on previous Russia-led meetings on Afghanistan, the Moscow talks are “unlikely to yield any progress toward that end.” The spokesman was not authorised to be quoted by name and requested anonymity.

That decision comes as the Taliban escalates attacks across Afghanistan. It has refused direct talks with Kabul, even as it seeks to raises its diplomatic profile in the region and calls for talks with the US which it views as the real power behind the Afghan government.

The insurgent group has yet to respond to President Ashraf Ghani’s offer earlier this week of a ,conditional cease-fire for the duration of the Eidul Azha religious holiday, that began on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends to appoint a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, to a special envoy post that would deal with the Afghan-Taliban peace process and Afghanistan’s integration into the administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy, according to two US officials and a congressional aide briefed on the plan.

Khalilzad, who did not respond to queries about his potential new role, is expected to visit South Asia soon, according to the officials, who were not authorised to publicly discuss personnel matters and spoke on condition of anonymity.

A native of Afghanistan who was educated at the American University in Beirut and the University of Chicago, Khalilzad is a diplomatic veteran in Republican foreign policy circles and has also served as US ambassador to Iraq and the United Nations.

He was considered for secretary of state by the Trump transition team, notably after introducing then-candidate Donald Trump at his first major foreign policy speech during the campaign.

Despite escalating violence in Afghanistan, the top US commander there said Wednesday that the US-led coalition sees hope in Taliban statements in recent months indicating interest in a negotiations to end the 17-year war, and Afghan public and religious clerics’ desire for peace. He contended that could lead to political reconciliation.

“We have an unprecedented window of opportunity for peace now,” Gen John Nicholson told Pentagon reporters from Kabul. His comments came just a day after rockets slammed into the heart of Kabul as Ghani delivered a speech for the Eid holiday, highlighting the precarious security even in the heavily protected capital.

Nicholson did not address the Russia talks. US-Russian ties are increasingly strained. Washington has eyed Russian engagement in Afghanistan and its links to the Taliban with suspicion. Moscow says it is encouraging the insurgents to abandon hostilities and engage in a dialogue with the Afghan government.

Nicholson, who is slated to turn over command of the war next month, said the Taliban launched major assaults to take control of two provincial centers this year, and after tough battles the Afghans regained control.

But he also acknowledged that the military campaign led by the Afghans and backed by the coalition is largely at a stalemate, and that the Afghan government has made little progress taking back additional population centers from Taliban control.

Nicholson took over the war effort in March 2016. In May of that year, 34 per cent of Afghanistan’s districts were contested or under militant control or influence, compared with 44 per cent as of May 2018, according to US military figures. He will leave as the longest-serving US commander of the coalition.

Nicholson’s time in charge included a key reversal in US policy on the war — stretching from the troop drawdown ordered in the final years of the Obama administration through President Donald Trump’s endorsement last summer of a new strategy to increase US and coalition presence, beef up the training and push for reconciliation.

Nicholson said that the Afghan Air Force and special operations units are growing in numbers and abilities, and that progress will have an increasing impact over the coming year.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 23, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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One year on, Trump still fuels racial divide

WASHINGTON: There has been no reset, no moment of national healing.

One year after ,blaming “both sides” for violent clashes, between white supremacists and counter-protesters, President Donald Trump still flirts with racially tinged rhetoric and feels little blowback from Republican leaders or Republican voters when he does. Black leaders and Democrats argue Trump’s tone and actions on race have gotten even worse in the months since the ,clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia,.

The result is a starkly segregated political landscape where there is scant punishment for racially loaded rhetoric and, at times, clear reward.

Democrats are pinning their hopes of flipping control of Congress on mobilising liberals and minorities, particularly black voters. And Republicans’ best chance of holding off a Democratic wave is strong turnout among the conservative white voters who helped sweep Trump into office and often cheer his willingness to dive into hot-button issues with racial overtones.

Trump has told associates that he believes at least one of those issues his criticism of black NFL players who kneel during the national anthem is a political winner because it energises his white base. He revived the matter on Friday, tweeting that the players are expressing outrage “at something that most of them are unable to define”. Players have said they are protesting police killings of black men, social injustice and racism.

‘Oldest strategies’

Trump’s rise to power can be traced through a series of statements that invoke racial stereotypes. In 1989, he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, five black and Hispanic teenagers accused of raping and beating a white woman; they were later exonerated through DNA evidence, but Trump has suggested he still believes they’re guilty. For years, Trump promoted the lie that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Over the past year, from his perch in the White House, he’s repeatedly questioned the intelligence of prominent black figures, including Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat-California, basketball star LeBron James and CNN anchor Don Lemon, whom he called “the dumbest man on television”.

“One of the oldest strategies is to call into question the intellect of African-Americans,” said Mitch Landrieu, the former Democratic mayor of New Orleans. “It’s just sad and awful.” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the black community has “never seen this level of tone deafness or this total disregard” from a modern American president.

Even against that backdrop, Trump’s response to Charlottesville stood out.

In his initial remarks about the violent clashes that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, the president said there were “very fine people on both sides”. Two days later, reading carefully from a written statement, he condemned the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Yet in an unscripted moment the next day, he again said there was “blame on both sides”. The episode prompted some Republican leaders to condemn him. Some business leaders abandoned White House advisory committees, and some West Wing aides let it be known that they contemplated quitting.

But, ultimately, the outrage from those corners subsided. Washington moved on. Republican leaders who harshly criticised the president at the time still largely back his agenda, well aware that polling shows there was no sustained damage to Trump’s popularity among the party’s voters after Charlottesville.

“If it did anything, it reinforced opinions,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “The intensity of opinions changed, both supportive and against. It confirmed what people thought about Trump. It didn’t change their views.”

According to a CBS News poll taken in the days after the Charlottesville clashes, a wide share of Democrats about 7 in 10 said Trump’s policies encouraged racial division in the country, little different from a poll conducted earlier in the year. By comparison, more than 8 in 10 Republicans said the president’s policies either had no effect on race relations or encouraged unity.

Trump’s job approval among blacks has shown little change, consistently stuck around 10 per cent in most surveys.

The White House did not respond to questions about whether Trump has any regrets about his handling of the Charlottesville protests or other racial rhetoric.

Some of Trump’s black supporters argue that the criticism is overblown.

“Either people have a short memory or they’ve brushed it under the rug and they’re focused on what’s really important: their ability to take care of themselves economically,” said Michael Barnett, an African-American Trump ally who serves as chairman of the Palm Beach GOP and vice chairman of the Florida GOP.

Yet a year after Charlottesville, the president’s relationship with the black community remains deeply strained.

In a new memoir, former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman labels Trump a “racist” and claims she’s been told there are tapes of him using the N-word repeatedly while filming The Apprentice reality series. She’s scheduled to discuss the memoir on national television on Sunday (today), the anniversary of the Charlottesville violence.

A White House spokeswoman dismissed Manigault Newman as “a disgruntled” former employee.

Pollster Henry Fernandez of the African-American Research Collaborative reports that black women in particular feel “disrespected” by Trump, a fact that may mean Charlottesville will come back to hurt Trump after all.

Black women helped fuel Democratic victories in recent months in Alabama and Virginia. And black voters make up a small but motivated slice of the electorate this fall: at least seven per cent of the electorate in more than a third of the nation’s most competitive House districts, Fernandez noted.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat and one of just three African-Americans in the Senate, warned that the consequences for Trump’s tone and actions could extend well beyond political pain.

“The president’s demeaning and degrading and cruel attacks on minorities,” Booker said, “make people feel like they have licence to hate, make people feel like they have licence to hurt others.” Booker added: “These things are dangerous.”—AP

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 12, 2018 at 7:25 am

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Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with US: Trump

The ,first set of US sanctions against Iran, that had been eased under the landmark nuclear accord went back into effect early Tuesday under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, targeting financial transactions that involve US dollars, Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold.

More US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be reimposed in early November.

In an early morning tweet, Trump said the re-imposition of sanctions mean, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”

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“I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

The stiff economic sanctions ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic despite statements of deep dismay from European allies, three months after ,Trump pulled the US out of the international accord, limiting Iran’s nuclear activities.

Read: ,Iran dismisses US talks offer as Trump reimposes sanctions,

Trump declared the landmark 2015 agreement had been “horrible”, leaving the Iranian government flush with cash to fuel conflict in the Middle East.

Iran accused the US of reneging on the nuclear agreement, signed by the Obama administration, and of causing recent Iranian economic unrest. European allies said they “deeply regret” the US action.

As the sanctions loomed on Monday, Trump said in a statement, “We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”

Trump warned that those who don’t wind down their economic ties to Iran “risk severe consequences”.

The Europeans didn’t like any of it.

Despite Trump’s claims, the accord “is working and delivering on its goal” of limiting Iran’s nuclear program, said a statement by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The ministers said the Iran deal is “crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world”, and the European Union issued a “blocking statute” on Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters under ground rules requiring anonymity, said the United States is “not particularly concerned” by EU efforts to protect European firms from the sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran still can rely on China and Russia to keep its oil and banking sectors afloat. Speaking in a television interview, he also demanded compensation for decades of American “intervention” in the Islamic Republic.

Months of uncertainty surrounding the sanctions have already further hurt Iran’s economy. The country’s rial currency has tanked, and the downturn has sparked protests across the nation.

The “Trump Administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a statement posted to Twitter. But, he said, the reimposed sanctions would endanger “ordinary Iranians.”

“US hypocrisy knows no bounds,” he said.

US officials insisted the American government stands with the people of Iran and supports many of their complaints against their own government.

National security adviser John Bolton said Iran’s leadership is on “very shaky ground”, but he insisted economic pressure from the Trump administration is not an attempt at “regime change”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said sanctions are an important pillar in US policy toward Iran and will remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

“They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple,” said Pompeo, en route on Sunday from a three-nation trip to Southeast Asia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a firm foe of the Iranian government, said the sanctions symbolize “the determination to block Iran’s regional aggression as well as its continuous plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons”.

He called on the countries of Europe to join the US, saying, “The time has come to stop talking; the time has come to do.”

The US has long designated Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Pompeo noted on Sunday, adding that the Islamic Republic cannot expect to be treated as an equal in the international community until it halts such activities.

He said that “there’s no evidence today of a change in their behavior”, and in the meantime “we’re going to enforce the sanctions”.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - August 7, 2018 at 5:25 pm

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US reimposes sanctions to levy economic pressure on Iran

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday reimposing many sanctions on Iran, three months after pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying the US policy is to levy “maximum economic pressure” on the country.

In a statement, Trump said the 2015 international accord to freeze Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions was a “horrible, one-sided deal” and said it left the Iranian government flush with cash to use to fuel conflict in the Middle East.

“We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilising behaviour and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation,” Trump said.

Trump warned that those who don’t wind down their economic ties to Iranian “risk severe consequences” under the reimposed sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says renewed US sanctions on Iran will be rigorously enforced and remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

Speaking to reporters en route from a three-nation trip to Southeast Asia, Pompeo said Monday’s re imposition of some sanctions is an important pillar in US policy toward Iran.

He said the Trump administration is open to looking beyond sanctions but that would “require enormous change” from Tehran.

“We’re hopeful that we can find a way to move forward but it’s going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime,” he said Sunday. “They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple.”

European foreign ministers said Monday they “deeply regret” the re imposition of US sanctions.

A statement by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom insisted that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal “is working and delivering on its goal” of limiting Iran’s nuclear program.

The ministers said the Iran deal is “crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world.”

A senior administration official said the United States is “not particularly concerned” by EU efforts to protect European firms from the re imposition of sanctions.

The official was not authorised to discuss the matter by name and spoke Monday on condition of anonymity.

The European Union issued a “blocking statute” Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.

The official says the US will use the sanctions aggressively and cited Iran’s severe economic downturn this year as evidence the sanctions would prove to be effective despite opposition from the EU, China and Russia.

Pompeo called the Iranian leadership “bad actors” and said Trump is intent on getting them to “behave like a normal country.”

A first set of US sanctions that had been eased by the Obama administration under the terms of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal took effect on Monday, following Trump’s May decision to withdraw from the accord. Those sanctions target Iran’s automotive sector as well as gold and other metals.

A second batch of US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank will be reimposed in early November.

Pompeo noted that the US has long designated Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism and said it cannot expect to be treated as an equal in the international community until it halts such activities.

“Perhaps that will be the path the Iranians choose to go down,” he said. “But there’s no evidence today of a change in their behaviour.”

In the meantime, he said, “we’re going to enforce the sanctions.”

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You can’t win without electables and money: Imran

IN a reference to new entrants to PTI,  Imran Khan says that the newcomers would have to comply with the party’s policies and discipline, and that those who didn’t would be kicked out.—White Star

IN a reference to new entrants to PTI, Imran Khan says that the newcomers would have to comply with the party’s policies and discipline, and that those who didn’t would be kicked out.—White Star

FOR Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, the key to the Prime Minister House lies in understanding the country’s complex political realities.

In a conversation with Dawn during his ,election campaign in Karachi, on Wednesday, Mr Khan said that although he cannot vouch for each of the near 700 national and provincial-level candidates his party has fielded to contest the upcoming elections, he is playing with what exists in Pakistan’s political class.

“You contest elections to win. You don’t contest elections to be a good boy. I want to win. I am fighting elections in Pakistan, not Europe. I can’t import European politicians,” Mr Khan said.

He talked about the importance of manpower and financial resources for a successful election campaign.

PTI chief says Nawaz Sharif tried his best (to mend relations with India). “I will give him the credit. Nawaz Sharif tried everything, even personal [gestures] calling him [Modi] over to his house.”

“After 1997, I came to the conclusion that unless we took people in the party who know the art of winning election, we will not be able to succeed.

“This is not Europe, where all you need to do is tell people what you stand for and they will go out and vote for you. In Pakistan, you need money and thousands of trained polling agents who can bring out people on the day of election. If you do not have those workers, you cannot contest the election.”

Even as his critics question why he has awarded tickets to political turncoats instead of workers who have had a long association with the party, Mr Khan said: “The political class here doesn’t change that much. You can introduce new actors but you can’t change the political class wholesale. This is why I give the example of Mahathir Mohamad, who changed Malaysia with the same political class by giving them clean leadership.”

He denies that he has compromised his ideals by awarding tickets to ,electables,. “It would be a compromise if I did not stick to my objectives after coming into power, and if I did not run a clean government.”

Mr Khan said that the new faces would have to comply with PTI’s policies and discipline, and that those who didn’t would be kicked out.

When asked if his campaign slogan of ‘Naya Pakistan’ is only achievable with a ‘new PTI’, Mr Khan said there was no change in his strategy. “This is a joke going around that I have now gathered electables. I always sought out electables, but before this they were not willing to join us.

“Forget MPAs and MNAs, in the past we have even invited electables from union councils in other cities to join us. It is after the success of the 2011 rally at Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore that people changed their minds and started to join us.”

Relations with India

While there is very little that the PTI chief would give Nawaz Sharif credit for, when it comes to the former prime minister’s efforts to improve relations with India, Mr Khan concedes that Nawaz tried his best.

“Nawaz Sharif tried his best [to mend relations with India],” said Mr Khan. “I will give him the credit.”

“Nawaz Sharif tried everything, even personal [gestures] calling him [Modi] over to his house. No one got in his way. But I think it is the policy of the Narendra Modi government to try and isolate Pakistan. They have a very aggressive anti-Pakistan posture because Modi wants to blame Pakistan for all the barbarism they are doing in Kashmir. What can one do in the face of this attitude?”

Civil-military relations

Asked how he would tackle the delicate relationship between the civil and military leadership if his party came to power, Mr Khan said good governance would be his strength.

“When you have democratic governments that perform and deliver, that is their strength. We have had military influence on politics in Pakistan because we have had the worst political governments. I am not saying it is justified but where there is a vacuum something will fill it.”

He added: “Under crooked and corrupt governments, people welcome the military with open arms. In 1999 when Musharraf’s martial law was declared, people were celebrating in Lahore – Nawaz’s political centre! – because governance had failed.”

He recalled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as the strongest prime minister to come through electoral process who was totally in charge of the country’s affairs.

‘Military did not interfere in Bhutto’s govt’

“He [Bhutto] was the strongest prime minister. He dismissed many army officers. No one could say he was not in charge. When people talk about military interference, they should know that the military did not interfere in Bhutto’s government, because he was a powerful prime minister.”

When asked to comment on the military’s influence in setting Pakistan’s foreign policy, Mr Khan said: “The army will get involved where there are security situations. If you look at the US policy in Afghanistan, a lot of the US-Afghan policy was influenced by Pentagon. Even when Barack Obama didn’t want to continue the war in Afghanistan, he did it because he was convinced by Pentagon.”

Possibility of forming coalition

Although he is confident about his chances of making federal government with a simple majority, when asked about an alternative plan, Mr Khan said: “A coalition depends on the partner in question. If the coalition partner allows us to implement our manifesto, it’s fine.”

He added that his party had trouble with former coalition partner Qaumi Watan Party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and that it had to kick out members who resisted their anti-corruption code. “If the head of a political party is corrupt, then it would be difficult to make a coalition with them.”

On eradicating militancy

Although it is a position he has been criticised for, Mr Khan remains adamant on engaging militants in dialogue.

“There has to be a dual policy: one is dialogue and the other is military action. I have been labelled ‘Taliban Khan’ just because I did not agree with this one-dimensional policy that Pakistan implemented under American pressure.”

He said the war in Afghanistan was a classic example of how military solutions alone did not work. “The US has been there for 15 years with a military option but has failed. If there is consensus among the American and Afghan governments and allies that they want unconditional peace talks with Taliban, it means the military option has failed.”

Confidence ahead of polls

“I am as confident as I’ve ever been and more prepared than before,” said Mr Khan.

Ahead of polls on July 25, surveys conducted by the Jang Media Group showed the PTI gaining ground.

A survey by Pulse Consultant showed the PTI ahead with the support of 30 per cent of respondents nationwide, compared to 27pc for the PML-N. The Pakistan Peoples Party was at 17pc.

A separate nationwide poll by Gallup Pakistan had the PML-N on top with 26pc, the PTI with 25pc and the PPP at 16pc.

According to Reuters, the new polls indicate a swing towards Mr Khan’s party compared to similar nationwide polls in 2017 that had put the PML-N 8-9 percentage points ahead of the PTI.

“I don’t know what will happen but I am more optimistic than I have been in my 22 years in politics,” Mr Khan said.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018

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In dramatic turnaround, Trump orders end to family separations

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump ordered an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents at the US border on Wednesday, reversing a tough policy under heavy pressure from his fellow Republicans, Democrats and the international community.

The spectacular about-face comes after more than 2,300 children were stripped from their parents and adult relatives after illegally crossing the border since May 5 and placed in tent camps and other facilities, with no way to contact their relatives.

Take a look: ,Explainer: How the US has split up families throughout its history,

Pictures and accounts of the separations sparked outrage and a rebellion among Republicans in Trump’s own party, as well as international accusation that the US was committing human rights violations.

“What we have done today is we are keeping families together,” Trump said as he signed the executive order. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.” Trump said that even with the change, border enforcement will be “equally tough, if not tougher.” For weeks, Trump had insisted he was bound by the law to split the children from their parents and that only Congress could resolve the problem — before he radically shifted gears.

“We want security for our country,” Trump said. “And we will have that — at the same time, we have compassion, we want to keep families together.” The order says the Department of Homeland Security — and not the Justice and Health and Human Services Departments, as under previous policy — would have continuing responsibility for the families.

It also suggests the government intends to hold the families indefinitely by challenging an existing statute, the 1997 Flores Settlement, that places a 20-day limit on how long children, along or with their parents, can be detained.

That move could lead to new legal battles for the administration.

Trump said there was a need to remain tough to prevent crime.

“We still have to maintain toughness, or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and we don’t want,” he said.

Earlier, as countries marked World Refugee Day on Wednesday, world leaders assailed Trump for the separations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Council of Europe and Pope Francis all took issue with the “zero tolerance” policy.

May said images of migrant children kept in cage-like units were “deeply disturbing,” and the Council of Europe, a global human rights watchdog, said Trump had abdicated any claim to moral leadership in the world.

“A person’s dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity,” the pope said on Twitter.

Obama’s reaction

Former US President Barack Obama called for an end to the separation of migrant children from parents at the US-Mexico border, saying the “cruelty” of the practice was contrary to American ideals.

“To watch those families broken apart in real time puts to us a very simple question: are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together?” Obama said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“To find a way to welcome the refugee and the immigrant — to be big enough and wise enough to uphold our laws and honor our values at the same time — is part of what makes us American,” said the former president, while acknowledging that Wednesday was World Refugee Day.

Michelle Obama said simply, “Sometimes truth transcends party,” while retweeting an excerpt of a newspaper op-ed by Laura Bush.

After a downturn last year, since October, the number of migrants seeking to cross the southwest US border from impoverished Guate­mala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as from Mexico, has surged.

From March to May this year, more than 50,000 people a month were apprehended for illegally crossing the border from Mexico. About 15 percent of those are arriving as families, and eight percent as unaccompanied children.

Nearly all of the families, and many others, have officially requested asylum, citing the incessant violence in their home countries.

The zero tolerance policy, with mandatory separation of children from adults, was announced on May 7 as a deterrent.

The issue struck an emotional chord, amid accounts of children screaming and crying in facilities prepared for them.

“We were outside, and you could hear voices of children that appeared to be playing or laughing,” pediatrician Marsha Griffin said in El Paso.

“But when they opened the door, we saw around 20 to 30 10-year-old boys in one of these chain-link enclosures, and they were crying and screaming and asking for their mothers.”

Trump did not say how the 2,300-plus children already taken from their families would be reunited. On Tuesday, a top official from the Department of Health and Human Services admitted they have no system in place to do so.

Celebrities open wallets

George Clooney and John Legend have sent hefty donations to charity and Bruce Springsteen interrupted his Broadway show to decry the border crisis as the entertainment world voiced outrage over the separation of migrant families at the US border.

Clooney and his lawyer wife Amal said that they were donating $100,000 to the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, an organisation based at the University of Chicago that provides legal counsel to unaccompanied children.

The Clooneys, whose foundation has funded eight schools in Lebanon for Syrian refugee children, said that while they could not change President Donald Trump’s policy, “we can help defend the victims of it,” the Clooneys said in a statement.

Pop singer Legend and his model wife Chrissy Teigen earlier said that they were donating $288,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union to support separated migrant children.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2018

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US leaving UN’s Human Rights Council, cites anti-Israel bias

The United States (US) is leaving the United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC), which Ambassador Nikki Haley called “an organisation that is not worthy of its name”.

It’s the latest withdrawal by the Trump administration from an international institution.

Haley said Tuesday the US had given the human rights body “opportunity after opportunity” to make changes. She lambasted the council for “its chronic bias against Israel” and lamented the fact that its membership includes accused human rights abusers such as China, Cuba, Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights,” Haley said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing alongside Haley at the State Department, said there was no doubt that the council once had a “noble vision. But today we need to be honest,” Pompeo said.

“The Human Rights Council is a poor defender of human rights.”

The announcement came just a day after the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, denounced the Trump administration for separating migrant children from their parents.

But Haley cited longstanding US complaints that the 47-member council is biased against Israel. She had been threatening the pull-out since last year unless the council made changes advocated by the US.

“Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded,” Haley said.

Still, she suggested the decision need not be permanent, adding that if the council did adopt reforms, “we would be happy to rejoin it.”

She said the withdrawal notwithstanding, the US would continue to defend human rights at the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called the US decision “courageous,”” calling it “an unequivocal statement that enough is enough”.

The move extends a broader Trump administration pattern of stepping back from international agreements and forums under the president’s “America First” policy.

Although numerous officials have said repeatedly that “America First does not mean America Alone”, the administration has retreated from multiple multilateral accords and consensuses since it took office.

Since January 2017, it has announced its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, left the UN educational and cultural organisation and pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Other contentious moves have included slapping tariffs on steel and aluminium against key trading partners, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Opposition to the decision from human rights advocates was swift.

A group of 12 organisations including Save the Children, Freedom House and the United Nations Association-USA said there were “legitimate concerns” about the council’s shortcomings but that none of them warranted a US exit.

“This decision is counterproductive to American national security and foreign policy interests and will make it more difficult to advance human rights priorities and aid victims of abuse around the world,” the organisations said in a joint statement.

Added Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch: “All Trump seems to care about is defending Israel.”

On Twitter, al-Hussein, the UN human rights chief, said it was “Disappointing, if not really surprising, news. Given the state of #HumanRights in today’s world, the US should be stepping up, not stepping back.”

And the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank close to the Trump administration, defended the move, calling the council “notably incurious about the human rights situations in some of the world’s most oppressive countries.”

Brett Schaefer, a senior fellow, pointed out that Trump could have withdrawn immediately after taking office but instead gave the council 18 months to make changes.

Haley has been the driving force behind withdrawing from the human rights body, unprecedented in the 12-year history of the council. No country has ever dropped out voluntarily. Libya was kicked out seven years ago.

The move could reinforce the perception that the Trump administration is seeking to advance Israel’s agenda on the world stage, just as it prepares to unveil its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan despite Palestinian outrage over the embassy relocation.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is visiting the Middle East this week as the White House works to lay the groundwork for unveiling the plan.

Israel is the only country in the world whose rights record comes up for discussion at every council session, under “Item 7″ on the agenda. Item 7 on “Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” has been part of the council’s regular business almost as long as it has existed.

The United States’ current term on the council ends next year. Although the US could have remained a non-voting observer on the council, a US official said it was a “complete withdrawal” and that the US was resigning its seat “effective immediately”. The official wasn’t authorised to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity.

That means the council will be left without one of its traditional defenders of human rights. In recent months, the US has participated in attempts to pinpoint rights violations in places like South Sudan, Congo and Cambodia.

The US pullout was bound to have ripple effects for at least two countries at the council: China and Israel. The US, as at other UN organisations, is Israel’s biggest defender.

At the rights council, the US has recently been the most unabashed critic of rights abuses in China whose growing economic and diplomatic clout has chastened some other would-be critics, rights advocates say.

There are 47 countries in the Human Rights Council, elected by the UN’s General Assembly with a specific number of seats allocated for each region of the globe. Members serve for three-year terms and can serve only two terms in a row.

The US has opted to stay out of the Human Rights Council before: The George W. Bush administration opted against seeking membership when the council was created in 2006. The US joined the body only in 2009 under President Barack Obama.

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Israel’s man in the White House

IF there’s one consistent strand in Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it is the single-minded, open-ended support he has given Israel.

And while his predecessors over the last several decades have been strong supporters of the Zionist state, Trump has dropped the fig-leaf of neutrality between the Israelis and Palestinians. There is now no daylight between Washington and Tel Aviv on the latter’s perceived (and exaggerated) security needs.

It began with the appointment of the current US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a well-known ally of the Israel right-wing, and a staunch supporter of its illegal settlement policy. Friedman has also championed the Israeli cause of declaring Jerusalem as the country’s capital, something Trump’s predecessors had resisted for fear of damaging the prospect of a peace deal between the two parties.

The extent of resistance Friedman faced in his confirmation can be gauged by the fact that he squeaked through the Senate hearings by 52-46 votes. Normally, the US nominee for the position is confirmed without much of a grilling.

His appointment was met with even more robust opposition from Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, who called Friedman “the son of a dog” after Trump announced that the US would shift its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Even though this move was opposed by key US allies, Trump pushed ahead, much to the delight of Benjamin Netanyahu and his many right-wing admirers in the US and Israel.

And now, the trashing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement that pushed Iran’s nuclear ambitions into the future, completes Israel’s plan to dominate the region. Even though the IAEA, the UN agency for atomic energy, had certified 11 times that Iran was in full compliance of the agreement’s provisions,

Trump has nevertheless proceeded to slap a host of sanctions on Iran. He has also threatened to impose sanctions on foreign countries dealing with Iran, putting at risk billions of dollars in ongoing contracts, including one for $30 billion for civilian aircraft from Airbus. The manufacturer fears that the Trump administration will block the export of a significant number of American parts used by Airbus.

All this is, of course, music to the ears of Benjamin Netanyahu, the man who probably has more influence in America today than any of his predecessors. Since negotiations over the JCPOA first began, the Israeli prime minister has been vociferous in his opposition to the deal. He even took the unprecedented step of appealing directly to the US Congress, bypassing Barack Obama.

All of Israel’s many American supporters were encouraged to pressure their local congressional representatives to oppose the agreement. But Obama finally prevailed, and the JCPOA remained his finest foreign policy legacy until it was junked by Trump.

Another man who has been cheering the American pullout from the JCPOA is Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the throne and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. For decades, the kingdom and Iran have been locked in a bitter rivalry over regional influence, with the Saudis realising that despite the billions spent on shiny new imported weapons, they are not a military match for Iranian forces equipped largely with indigenously produced hardware. They therefore welcome the imposition of sanctions on their hated enemy, as well as the clear anti-Iran thrust of the new American foreign policy.

The evolving alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia is nothing new. When Israel was threatening to unilaterally attack Iranian nuclear facilities, many observers reported that Riyadh had agreed to permit Israeli jets to overfly Saudi territory on their way to Iran. Clearly, there is a convergence of interests here: Israel and Saudi Arabia depend on American support, and both share a hatred of Iran.

And, of course, renewed American sanctions on Iran have pushed up the price of oil, something welcomed by a cash-strapped Saudi Arabia.

Trump’s nixing of the JCPOA has also sent a green light to Israel that it can attack Iranian targets in Syria at will. The recent raids, and the feeble Iranian response, reflect accurately the balance of power in the region. Iranian trainers and combat troops have played a key role in Bashar al Assad’s recent military successes against mostly jihadist groups. But lacking modern anti-aircraft missile systems, they are vulnerable to Israel’s powerful air force.

I think it was Theodore Roosevelt, the American president over a century ago, who said: “Talk softly, but carry a big stick.”

With Iranian leaders, it has been the other way around. When the previous Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmednijad, threatened to destroy Israel, it was like giving it a gift: to this day, he is cited as the reason for keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. Most Arab leaders don’t understand the amount of support Israel enjoys in the United States. For one, there are around 50 million American Christian evangelists who back Israel and Trump. Then there is a great deal of cultural affinity between Israel and most Western societies. And for American strategic planners, Israel is a strong ally in the midst of a strife-torn, autocratic Middle East.

Like an aircraft carrier in a storm-tossed ocean, Israel can be used as a staging post for US forces in a crisis. Finally, the serving and retired generals who now surround and advise Trump have seen service in Iraq, where many of their soldiers died at the hands of Iran-backed Shia militias. This gives them a reason to hit back at Tehran.

After the 1973 war which saw Israel occupy and annex Syria’s Golan Heights, the strategic situation has changed dramatically: Egypt and Jordan have cut separate peace deals with Israel. Iraq and Syria have been effectively neutralised. Iran is the only country that might pose a threat to Israel still standing, but for how long?

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Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2018

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Growing chatter over Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize prospects

  • ,Can Trump be nominated?,

Barack Obama ,won it,.

So did Jimmy Carter, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Now, President Donald Trump’s supporters are ,pushing for him to be the next US leader to win the Nobel Peace Prize, — a move that’s being met by smirks and eye rolls in Europe, where Trump remains deeply unpopular.

But that’s not stopping a growing list of champions from pushing the Nobel committee to consider Trump for the world’s most coveted diplomatic prize.

“I’ve been talking about this for months,” said Indiana Rep Luke Messer, touting the success of what he called Trump’s “Twitter diplomacy”. He’s one of 18 Republican lawmakers who penned a letter to Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Berit Reiss-Andersen last week to “respectfully nominate President Donald J. Trump to receive the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work to end the Korean War, denuclearize the Korean peninsula, and bring peace to the region”.

As is customary, lawmakers in the Nordic region where the Nobel is awarded refrain from commenting on possible nominees. But in Copenhagen, Denmark, there was little appetite for the prospect of a Trump win.

“Trump … the peace prize? You must be joking,” said Lene Larsen, a 46-year-old accountant before bursting out laughing. “Maybe it should be a sex prize or a prize for being unpopular.”

Hasse Jakupsen, 52, said the prospects of a win were dim.

“I am pretty sure the Norwegians can see through this. Being nominated does not mean that you actually get the prize. It is pretty ridiculous to have such hopes” of getting the prize.

The push comes as Trump is preparing for an ,historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un,, which will serve as the highest-stakes diplomatic test to date for a president whose unconventional approach to foreign policy has also prompted fears of nuclear winter. Trump scored a substantial win on Wednesday when he announced that three Americans who had been detained by Kim ,were on their way home to the US,.

It remains far from clear, however, whether the North will ultimately agree to give up its nuclear weapons and allow independent inspectors to verify their compliance.

Polling has shown Trump and many of the policies he’s championed to be broadly unpopular around the globe. The Pew Research Center has also found that the public’s trust in the U.S. president to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs has plummeted since Trump took office. And Sweden saw the largest drop from former President Barack Obama, who won the Nobel in 2009 less than a year into his presidency, to Trump, with 93 percent confident in Obama and just 10 percent in Trump.

But Trump supporters, including British politician Nigel Farage, argue that Obama won after having accomplished far less.

Read: ,After Obama, a Nobel prize for Trump — or not so fast?,

“He got the Nobel Peace Prize for what he might do,” Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, said on a London talk radio station last month. Farage, who campaigned alongside Trump, said Trump deserved the prize “for managing to get… talks going with North Korea, something that no US president has ever, ever managed to do”.

As a member of the European Parliament, Farage is among those who can nominate people for the prize, and said he would be setting up a petition to bolster Trump.

Can Trump be nominated?

Nominations can come from university professors, directors of peace research and international affairs institutes, and former recipients, as well as members of national assemblies and national governments, among others.

To be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize of the year, nominations must be sent to the Norwegian Nobel Committee before February 1 of the same year. There are currently 330 candidates for the 2018 prize, including 114 organisations. Nominations are required to be kept secret 50 years.

In January, Henrik Urdal, manager of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, told The Associated Press that Trump’s name had been submitted for the 2018 prize, but said the nomination lacked “a strong academic justification”. The leader of the independent Norwegian peace institute said Trump had been nominated by “an American player with the right to nominate a candidate”, but declined to name who.

And in March, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects the prize winners, said someone using a stolen identity had nominated Trump. The Norwegian news agency quoted committee secretary Olav Njolstad as saying it appeared the same person was responsible for forging nominations in 2017 as well.

A Nobel for Trump would be a dramatic end to a confrontation that began with Trump taunting Kim, calling him “Little Rocket Man” and threatening to unleash “fire and fury” to destroy his country.

The idea for awarding Trump the prize has also been ,championed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in,, who reportedly said during a meeting of his senior secretaries that Trump should win the prize instead of him, as the widow of a former South Korean President had suggested.

The idea was quickly embraced by Trump supporters — but surprisingly not by Trump, who is rarely reluctant to pat himself on the back and take credit even when it’s not due.

During a recent speech in Michigan, Trump’s crowd broke into a “Nobel! Nobel! Nobel!” chant when he mentioned his efforts on North Korea.

“That’s very nice, thank you.” Trump responded. “That’s very nice. Nobel,” he said with a chuckle. “I just want to get the job done.”

Asked on Wednesday whether he thought he deserved the prize, Trump again played coy. “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it,” he said, adding that the only prize he wanted was “victory for the world”.

Several people close to the president also said they had never heard the president discuss the prize.

Messer, the congressman who led the letter effort, had hoped that praising Trump would help win his primary race for the Senate in Indiana, where support for the president had become a litmus test for Republican voters. But Messer, who was highly critical of Trump throughout the 2016 general election, lost his primary Tuesday night.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has also promoted the idea, sending an email to supporters that encourages them to “Nominate President Trump to Win the Nobel Peace Prize” by adding their name to a list.

The president’s new lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has also championed the idea, telling Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity that he’d told the president the prize was a given.

“Look at what’s going on with North Korea. I told the president, ‘You’re going to get the Nobel Peace Prize.’”

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Trump tears up Iran nuclear deal, revives sanctions

WASHINGTON: Presi­dent Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday as his administration pledged to find a comprehensive and lasting solution to the so-called Iranian threat.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Mr Trump said in a televised address from the White House Diplomatic Room.

“Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie,” he added. “The fact is, this was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm. It didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

Explore: ,What is the Iran atomic deal and why is it being targeted,

Minutes after the speech, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States will not stop at revoking the deal alone.

“Sanctions will go into full effect and will remind the Iranian regime of the diplomatic and economic isolation that results from its reckless and malign activity,” he said. This reinstates all sanctions waived as part of the nuclear accord and imposes additional economic penalties as well.

The United States, he said, had a shared interest with its allies in Europe and around the world to prevent Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon. “As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working (with) our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian threat.”

Read: ,Don’t make others’ lives harder: UK, France, Germany urge US,

Last week, Britain, France and Germany urged the Trump administration not to revoke the deal, arguing that the agreement was the best way of stopping Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

President Trump ignored the advice.

President Rouhani says Iran will remain committed to multinational accord

Earlier on Tuesday, Pre­sident Trump telephoned President Emmanuel Macron of France and told him that he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. President Macron visited Washington late last month to persuade Mr Trump not to do so.

Secretary Pompeo said the United States had taken other European allies into confidence as well.

“Our effort is broader than just the nuclear threat and we will be working together with partners to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile programme; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East and beyond,” he said in a statement issued by his office.

Editorial: ,Undoing the Iran deal,

In 2015, six nations — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — signed a nuclear deal with Iran, which was later approved by the UN Security Council as well. The deal, titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), became effective on Oct 18, 2015.

Mr Trump’s decision has unravelled the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama. And critics appearing on various US television channels after the announcement warned that it would also isolate the United States from its allies.

Senior members of his administration watched as President Trump declared that he was revoking the deal because it failed to achieve its objective: protect the US and its allies from “the lunacy” of Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

Vice President Mike Pence, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were among those who attended President Trump’s 11-minute address, which began around 2:15 pm.

The president took a few questions after the speech, saying that his actions on Iran “will make America much safer” and he was leaving the accord because the Iranian regime was the leading state sponsor of terror.

“Over the years Iran and its proxies have bombed American embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members and tortured US citizens,” he said.

Mr Trump claimed that the agreement “allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium” and “lifted crippling economic sanctions” in exchange for “very weak limits” on its nuclear programme. The nuclear accord, he said, was “a great embarrassment to me as a citizen” and “a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.

He called the sunset provisions “totally unacceptable,” which did “nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities” in the region.

He said he walked out of the arrangement when it became obvious to him that the deal could not prevent an Iran nuclear bomb.

“The United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal” and impose “the highest level” of economic sanctions on Tehran, he said. “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.”

At the end of his remarks, President Trump signed the proclamation to withdraw from the JCPOA.

Related: ,Netanyahu hails US decision,

He announced near the conclusion of his remarks that Secretary Pompeo was arriving in North Korea shortly to finalise the arrangements for his summit meeting with Kim Jong Un. He said he’s hopeful that three Americans held in North Korea will soon be released.

Reacting to Mr Trump’s announcement, President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would remain committed to the multinational nuclear deal, reports Reuters.

“If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place… By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” President Rouhani said in a televised speech. “I have instructed the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation to take the necessary measures for future actions so that if necessary we can resume industrial enrichment without limit,” he said in an address to the nation.

“We will wait several weeks before applying this decision. We will speak with our friends and allies, the other members of the nuclear agreement,” he said. “I have ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in coming weeks. If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2018

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Anger, dismay, support — how the world sees US withdrawal from Iran deal

  • ,’Psychological warfare’,
  • ,Uranium enrichment to resume?,
  • ,Stay the course,
  • ,’Regret’,
  • ,’Disappointed’,
  • ,’Instability’,
  • ,Breaking commitment,
  • ,Compliance,
  • ,’Bold decision’,
  • ,Support from Saudi,
  • ,’Misguided’,

US President Donald Trump’s decision to ,withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, prompted furious reaction in Tehran, regret in Europe and cheers from Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The following is a selection of reactions from around the globe to Trump’s biggest foreign policy move since taking office:

‘Psychological warfare’

“This decision was an act of psychological warfare against Iran.” — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Uranium enrichment to resume?

“I have instructed the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation to take the necessary measures for future actions so that, if necessary, we can resume industrial enrichment without limit.” — Rouhani

Stay the course

“Stay true to your commitments as we will stay true to ours and together with the rest of the international community, we will preserve this nuclear deal.” — European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini

‘Regret’

“France, Germany and the UK regret the US decision to leave the JCPOA. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake. We will work collectively on a broader framework, covering nuclear activity, the post-2025 period, ballistic activity and stability in the Middle East, notably Syria, Yemen and Iraq.” — French President Emmanuel Macron, on Twitter, referring to the Iran deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

‘Disappointed’

Moscow is “deeply disappointed by the decision of US President Donald Trump to unilaterally refuse to carry out commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” — Russia’s foreign ministry

‘Instability’

“The unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal is a decision that will cause instability and new conflicts.” — Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Twitter

Breaking commitment

Damascus “strongly condemns the US president’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, which shows once again that the United States is not honouring its commitments and international agreements.” — Syrian foreign ministry source quoted by the official SANA news agency

Compliance

“I call on other JCPOA participants to abide fully by their respective commitments under the JCPOA and on all other member-states to support this agreement.” — UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

‘Bold decision’

“Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Support from Saudi

“The kingdom supports and welcomes the steps announced by the US president toward withdrawing from the nuclear deal … and reinstating economic sanctions against Iran.” — Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry

‘Misguided’

“The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working … That is why today’s announcement is so misguided … I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake.” — former US president Barack Obama, whose administration brokered the 2015 deal

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US will regret quitting nuclear deal: Iran

TEHRAN: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that if the United States quit the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers then Washington would regret it “like never before”.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement when it comes up for renewal on May 12, demanding his country’s European allies “fix the terrible flaws” or he will re-impose sanctions.

“If the United States leaves the nuclear agreement, you will soon see that they will regret it like never before in history,” Rouhani said in a televised speech in north-western Iran.

Rouhani says Tehran will develop as many missiles and weapons as needed

“Trump must know that our people are united, the Zionist regime [Israel] must know that our people are united,” he said.

“Today all political factions, whether they be from the right, the left, the conservatives, reformers and moderates are united,” he added.

The nuclear deal was struck in 2015 between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States, then led by Barack Obama. Under the pact, sanctions were eased in return for a commitment not to pursue a nuclear bomb, but Iran says it is not reaping the rewards despite complying with the deal.

Trump has consistently complained about the agreement, citing perceived flaws including “sunset” provisions lifting some nuclear restrictions from 2025.

In an ,attempt to salvage the deal,, French President Emmanuel Macron has recently pushed to extend its scope to address this issue, as well as the absence of any limits on Iran’s conventional missile capabilities and Tehran’s role in the region.

Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, via the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah in Syria’s civil war, and its backing for Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen have added to frictions between Tehran and Western powers.

Rouhani vehemently reiterated his country’s opposition to curtailing its non-nuclear missile capabilities, in his speech on Sunday.

Tehran “will build as many missiles and weapons as needed” for its defence, he said. “We are honouring our commitment, but we are telling the whole world we will not negotiate with anyone about our weapons and our defence.”

Iran’s president also said that while he was open to discussing the country’s regional role, he would not abandon what he described as its fight “against terrorism”.

“We want to talk to the world so that our region is safe” but “we will not allow you to create a new Daesh” he said, using an Arabic term for the militant Islamic State group.

While Rouhani did not elaborate on this point, Iran’s ally the Syrian government has consistently referred to all armed opponents as “terrorists” and accused the West of facilitating terrorism.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2018

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Trump softens stance on Iran nuclear deal after meeting Macron

    WASHINGTON: US Pre­sident Donald Trump said on Tuesday that after a White House meeting with French President Emmanuel Mac­ron, he was “fairly close to understanding” the French position on the need to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.

    Mr Macron is in Washington to persuade Mr Trump to keep the 2015 accord negotiated by the Obama administration. President Trump has been threatening not to extend the pact after a May 12 deadline but France, which played a key role in the negotiations, wants it extended.

    Besides the US and Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China also signed it as guarantors.

    The two presidents met at the White House Cabinet Room with their top advisers and later told the media that their talks focused on the Iran nuclear deal.

    President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron embrace at the conclusion of a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday. ? AP

    President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron embrace at the conclusion of a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday. ? AP

    Mr Trump said he had a “good discussion” with President Macron on the Iranian nuclear agreement and hinted that side agreements could be negotiated. “We’re looking forward to doing something but it has to be done and it has to be done strongly,” he said without explanation.

    “We’re fairly close to understanding each other. Our one on one went very well,” said the US president while responding to a question about the French position on the nuclear pact.

    President Macron said: “On Iran, we will look at it in a wider regional context, for example there’s Syria and the situation in the whole region. We have a common objective, we want to make sure there’s no escalation and no nuclear proliferation in the region. We now need to find the right path forward.”

    In his earlier remarks to the media, Mr Trump called the Iran deal “a disaster” and “insane” but stopped short of calling for its abrogation, as he did in the past. Instead, he warned Iran of “big problems” if it resumes the nuclear programme it agreed to curb in 2015.

    “It won’t be so easy for them to restart,” Mr Trump said when asked how the US would react if Iran resumed its nuclear programme after the deal was scrapped.

    “They’re not going to be restarting anything. They restart it they’re going to have big problems, bigger than they’ve ever had before,” he said.

    He criticised the Obama administration for concluding a deal which, he claimed, allowed Iran to test missiles. “The Iran deal is a disaster. They’re testing missiles. What’s that all about?” he said.

    Mr Trump’s warning followed a statement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, threatening of “severe consequences” if the US withdraws from the nuclear deal.

    Although Mr Rouhani did not specify what retaliatory action Tehran might take, his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran could restart enriching uranium.

    Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018

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