Trump: Germany Owes US, NATO Vast Sums of Money

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

World

Trump: Germany Owes US, NATO Vast Sums of Money

Trump

Washington –President Donald Trump said on Saturday that Germany owed “vast sums of money” to NATO and the US, and that Berlin “should pay.”

Trump’s statements come following his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.

Trump took it to twitter where he said: “Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

The two leaders did not show any signs of agreement on several pending issues, including NATO and defense expenditures.

During a joint press conference with Merkel, Trump complained that other NATO members have not paid their dues for years. He insisted they pay for “their fair share of the defense they receive.”

NATO countries are asked to contribute 2 percent of their GDP to the alliance’s defense spending.

Merkel said that Germany agreed on the need for “increasing expenditure” to meet the 2 percent goal.

Trump then criticized the way the media had dealt with the meeting saying on Twitter also: “Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

Expenditure was not the only point of disagreement between the two. A German journalist brought up the case of wiretapping and Trump’s accusations that British Intelligence was working with Obama to spy on him.

Despite constant negations and absence of evidence, the US President continued with his allegations and even joked that Merkel had also been a victim of wiretapping.

Since his arrival at the White House, the Republican billionaire had written several controversial tweets, none of which had damaged his credibility as much as the one he wrote on March 4.

He tweeted: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.”

Media reports reveal each day new findings on Trump’s or his close personnel’s contacts with Russia.

Trump had repeatedly denied any affiliations to the Kremlin, but he could not control the flow of information and therefore decided to attack his predecessor.

Since then, Obama, former intelligence director James Clapper and many democratic and republican officials have denied those allegations.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to apologize to the UK for press secretary Sean Spicer’s allegation that the GCHQ had spied on Trump Tower for Obama. Spicer almost caused a diplomatic crisis by defending the president.

On Thursday, Spicer quoted a series of articles that discussed surveillance. He referenced comments made earlier this week on Fox News TV by Andrew Napolitano in relation to Trump’s controversial claim that wiretaps had been installed at his New York residence.

“Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ,” Spicer said in the press conference.

British officials were quick to comment on Napolitano’s claims, saying they were “rubbish”.

A government source reportedly said the claim was “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd”.

It told Reuters that under British law, GCHQ “can only gather intelligence for national security purposes” and noted that a US election “clearly doesn’t meet that criteria”.

“As for as wiretapping, I guess by this past administration, at least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said during his press conference with Chancellor Merkel, referring to reports that the National Security Agency had tapped Merkel in 2010.

Such incidents do not reassure US Congressmen, including those in Trump’s camp. Trump promised to reveal next week new evidences that prove his allegations.

Chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes confirmed Friday that the Justice Department had “fully complied” with the committee’s request.

He did not provide any further details.

FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday.

The public hearing is the first of several that the intelligence committees are expected to hold on alleged Russia’s interference in the presidential election.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Trump The Moron At It Again: Saying Obama Got The British Intelligence Agency To Spy On Him

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

White House Seeks to Allay British Concerns Over Unfounded Wiretapping Claim

11:43 AM ET
White House officials tried to calm the concerns of British allies after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated an unfounded claim that the British spy service spied on President Trump. But the White House is stopping short of saying it offered an apology to its closest foreign ally.

“[British Ambassador to the U.S.] Kim Darroch and [National Security Advisor] Sir Mark Lyall expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and General McMaster,” a White House official said Friday. “Mr. Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr. Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”

Several British outlets reported Friday that the White House apologized to the U.K. government, but the White House would not confirm those accounts.

The row began Thursday, as Spicer repeated the claim of Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano, who suggested that former President Obama had ordered GCHQ, the U.K.’s equivalent of the National Security Agency, to spy on his successor. For nearly two weeks the White House has been struggling to justify Trump’s assertion in a March 4 tweet that Obama had him “wire tapped.”

On Thursday, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee jointly stated they’ve seen no evidence of any surveillance of Trump Tower. Even Trump allies in Congress are staying away from the claim, though Trump maintained Wednesday in an interview with Fox News that he would be vindicated by new information “very soon.” The White House has argued that Trump’s use of quotation marks around the phrase wires tapped implied he meant all manners of surveillance against him, but hasn’t offered any official proof of the claim, beyond reports in the press.

Reading a long list of media reports that mentioned alleged signals intelligence about Trump and his ties to Russia, Spicer quoted comments.

“Last, on Fox News on March 14th, Judge Andrew Napolitano made the following statement,” Spicer said during the daily White House briefing. “‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ, what is that? It’s the initials for the British Intelligence Spying Agency. So simply, by having two people saying to them, “The President needs transcripts of conversations involved in candidate Trump’s conversations involving President-elect Trump,” he was able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this.'”

Within hours GCHQ responded in a rare statement calling the claim “utterly ridiculous.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense,” a GCHQ spokesperson said. “They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

Asked by a reporter whether the subject of GCHQ’s alleged involvement had raised between the two governments and whether it would affect the so-called “special relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K., Spicer backtracked.

“No, no, it has not been raised,” Spicer said. “But I do think that, again, we’re not — all we’re doing is literally reading off what other stations and people have reported, and I think that casts into concern some of the activities that may have occurred during the ’16 election. We’re not casting judgment on that. I think the idea is to say that if these organizations, these individuals came to these conclusions, they merit looking into.”

The claim is all the more incendiary given the close intelligence-sharing relationship between the two countries. The U.S. and the U.K., along with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, form the Five Eyes — a decades-old intelligence cooperative in which the countries share much of their signals intelligence and pledge not to spy on each another.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May told The Independent that the White House would not float the claims again. “We’ve made clear to the Administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored and we’ve received assurances they won’t be repeated.”

US Releases $221 Million Fund To Palestine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

US Releases $221 Million Fund to Palestine

USAID

Ramallah – US has announced the release of the $221 million for Palestinians, which President Donald Trump had previously frozen and put under review after former US President Obama had ordered at the “last minute” of his presidency.

US State Department had confirmed that the money will be used for services in the West Bank and will not go directly to the authorities’ treasury.

A Palestinian official told Asharq Al-Awsat that most of this money had been allocated to foreign organizations working within the Palestinian territories.

Speaking during a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that to his understanding the money had been released, but also said that the issue was still under review.

“220.3 million that was released was for West Bank programs such as water, infrastructure, education, renewable energy, civil society, municipal governance, and the rule of law, as well as Gaza recovery. And a smaller amount was to go directly to Israeli creditors of the Palestinian Authority as well as East Jerusalem hospitals. None of the funding was to go directly to the Palestinian Authority,” explained Toner.

The official stated that these funds were never assigned to the authority and were not a donation from former President Obama.

“We don’t know why Trump decided to freeze them, and then released them,” said the official.

He added that the majority of these funds will be given to international organizations in Palestine. “Most of the money will be given to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for projects within the Palestinian authorities,” according to the official.

The funds included $180 million from USAID, $25 million to support Palestinian hospitals and $45 million to pay for fuel purchased from Israel.

He then explained that the funds were supposed to be given before the end of 2016, but they were delayed until Obama ordered the transfer, few hours before leaving the White House.

On January 20, and just few hours before Trump’s inauguration, Obama informed the congress that he will send the money. The money was frozen after the Congress’ recommendation as a punishment for the authorities’ attempts to join UN organizations and for instigation.

Though it is not legally binding, the White House abode by the Congress’ decision. Hours before Trump’s arrival, former US secretary of state John Kerry informed the Congress of the transfer.

Trump’s administration then announced it had frozen the grant in order to make adjustments to ensure it complies with the new administration’s priorities.

The relations between Trump’s administration and the Palestinian authority are not exactly strong, despite the few meetings made. Major conflict rose when Palestine stated it won’t accept any solution other than the two-state solution, while Trump declared it is not the only solution available.

Palestinians are afraid Trump will transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, warning that this will be an admission that Quds is Israel’s capital, thus ending any US role in the peace process.

Yet, Palestinians are seeking better relations with the US. Chief of Palestinian Intelligence Majid Faraj met with US security officials.

Then, US Director of CIA Mike Pompeo met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. But, till now, no contact has been established at the level of the White House or the State Department.

Trump Accuses Obama Of “Nixon/Watergate” Type “Bugging” Of Trump Tower Phones

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

President Trump on Saturday angrily accused former president Barack Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election.

Citing no evidence to support his explosive allegation, Trump said in a series of five tweets sent Saturday morning that Obama was “wire tapping” his New York offices before the election in a move he compared to McCarthyism. “Bad (or sick) guy!” he said of his predecessor, adding that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.”

Trump offered no citations nor did he point to any credible news report to back up his accusation, but he may have been referring to commentary on Breitbart and conservative talk radio suggesting that Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team. The Breitbart story, published Friday, has been circulating among Trump’s senior staff, according to a White House official who described it as a useful catalogue of the Obama administration’s activities.

A spokesman for Obama did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Trump has been feuding with the intelligence community since before he took office, convinced that career officers as well as holdovers from the Obama administration have been trying to sabotage his presidency. He has ordered internal inquiries to find who leaked sensitive information regarding communications during the campaign between Russian officials and his campaign associates and allies, including ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

What is next for Trump and the intelligence community?

Washington Post reporter Adam Entous breaks down Friday’s intelligence report on Russian involvement in the 2016 election. (Dalton Bennett/The Washington Post)

Some current and former intelligence officials cast doubt on Trump’s assertion.

“It’s highly unlikely there was a wiretap on the president-elect,” said one former senior intelligence official familiar with surveillance law who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. “It seems unthinkable. If that were the case by some chance, that means that a federal judge would have found that there was either probable cause that he had committed a crime or was an agent of a foreign power.”

A wiretap cannot be directed at a U.S. facility, the official said, without finding probable cause that the phone lines or Internet addresses were being used by agents of a foreign power — or by someone spying for or acting on behalf of a foreign government. “You can’t just go around and tap buildings,” the official said.

Trump sent the tweets from Palm Beach, Fla., where he is vacationing this weekend at his private Mar-a-Lago estate. It has long been his practice to stir up new controversies to deflect attention from a damaging news cycle, such as the one in recent days about Sessions and Russia.

Trump’s tweets took numerous top White House aides by surprise, according to a second White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly. There was an expectation that Saturday would be a “down day, pretty quiet,” this official said, and there was little if any attempt to coordinate the president’s message on the wire-tapping allegations.

Recent Immigration Raids in U.S. Cities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS AGENCY)

What to Know About Recent Immigration Raids in U.S. Cities

10:26 AM Eastern

Hundreds of undocumented immigrants were arrested in raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in cities across the U.S. this week — the first widespread enforcement of President Donald Trump’s policy aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

Trump campaigned on a promise to take action against illegal immigration, pledging to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants by targeting those with criminal records. Notably, experts have challenged Trump’s estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.

The raids took place at homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, the Washington Post reported, citing immigration officials.

Here are some key details to know:

This action follows Trump’s executive order on immigration
Trump signed an executive order last month aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. It set a priority of deporting any undocumented immigrant who had been charged with a crime, convicted of a crime or had “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

But immigration officials said the recent raids were a “routine” enforcement practice.

“These are existing, established fugitive operations teams. ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately,” said Gillian Christensen, acting press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, according to CNN. “ICE only conducts targeted enforcement of criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws.”

Raids caused panic in immigrant communities
Recent arrests and deportations have affected people who were not considered a priority for deportation under the Obama administration.

Protests broke out in Phoenix this week over the deportation of a mother who had lived in the U.S. for 21 years and was arrested during a routine meeting with ICE on Wednesday. She had been convicted of a felony in 2008 for using a fake social security number to gain employment, but she was not previously considered a deportation priority.

Officials conducted similar raids during Obama’s presidency but prioritized immigrants who were deemed a threat to national security or public safety. Still, more than 2 million people were deported under Obama, leading some critics to label him “Deporter in Chief.”

The raids this week caused fear and confusion in immigrant communities, and immigrants’ rights advocates argued it was different than typical law enforcement action. Some groups issued guidance for dealing with ICE officials. In Austin, Texas, teachers handed out flyers to students, explaining “what to do if ICE comes to your door,” the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Democratic leaders and lawmakers spoke out about the arrests
“Angelenos should not have to fear raids that are disruptive to their peace of mind and bring unnecessary anxiety to our homes, schools, and workplaces,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday. “The Administration should take a just, humane, and sensible approach that does not cause pain for people who only want to live their lives and raise their families in the communities they call home.”

Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro confirmed there was a “targeted operation” taking place in the state and said he was “concerned” about the raids.

“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state,” he said in a statement.

Tehran Worried after Drone Flies Near Khamenei Office

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASHARQ AL-AWSAT NEWS)

Tehran Worried after Drone Flies Near Khamenei Office

Tehran

London – Iranian authorities were worried on Friday after a drone flew near the office of the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran.

Iran’s anti-aircraft forces extensively fired at the drone as it approached the Pasteur strategic area, where the office of the supreme leader is located.

The drone later appeared to have been operated by a film crew shooting aerial footage for a documentary.

Tehran’s deputy governor general for security affairs, Mohsen Hamedani said the state television crew was filming Friday prayers and “did not know about the prohibited airspace.”

He added: “The drone did not respect the no-fly zone” in central Tehran.

Pasteur Street in central Tehran is highly secured due to the presence of key government institutions there, such as the office of the Iranian President, the center of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Intelligence leadership, the center of the Assembly of Experts for the Leadership, and the Supreme National Security Council. The street also includes several military schools and the center of the Armed Forces Logistics.

Iran’s Air Defense Base issued a statement on Friday saying the drone had entered Tehran’s airspace without coordination and permission, Mehr new agency said.

The statement said the drone was shot down by the anti-craft forces in a central district of the capital.

ILNA news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that the drone was shot down as “it approached the no-fly zone” near the office of the supreme leader.

The source later explained that the drone belonged to a documentary-making team that had permission to film but “unintentionally started moving it towards the no-fly zone,” Reuters reported.

The commander of Tehran air defense forces said in August that the capital’s airspace was under full control and “no aircraft can enter it without permission.”

Meanwhile, experts expected on Friday that the U.S. decision to renew the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) would engender a new crisis between Washington and Tehran that could negatively reflect on the Nuclear Deal, already criticized by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

On Dec. 15, U.S. President Barack Obama allowed U.S. sanctions against Iran to be renewed, but have rejected in a surprise move to actually sign the legislation that brings the sanctions into force.

AFP said on Friday that the White House said renewing ISA was pointless since it remains suspended so long as Tehran sticks to its promises to curb its nuclear program.

“The US Congress never liked the deal and now that Obama is leaving office, they’re trying to find ways of violating the deal without being too obvious about it,” Foad Izadi, a world politics professor at the University of Tehran told AFP.

Iran also fears that keeping the sanctions would affect Tehran’s economic relations with the rest of the world. Tehran therefore believes that the U.S. Treasury should take more measures to comfort banks that are hesitant in dealing with Iran due to the sanctions.

When the banks ask the U.S. Treasury for guidance, the answers are slow and ambiguous, said Izadi.

“They ask for a green light, and they are given a yellow light, which is not enough.”

Shashank Joshi, from the RUSI think tank in London said, “Iran is showing they’re looking into doing something tough, without actually doing it… that they’re willing to tear up the deal if pushed too far.”

Asharq Al-AwsatArab

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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China slams US over Aixtron takeover row

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

China slams US over Aixtron takeover row

 (I HAVE ONE QUESTION FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF CHINA, HOW MANY COMPANIES IN CHINA ARE BEING BOUGHT AND TAKEN OVER BY COMPANIES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES LIKE GERMANY AND THE U.S.? CHINA’S GOVERNMENT HAS MADE IT VERY PLAIN FOR EVER THAT THEY DO NOT ALLOW THIS SO IT IS VERY FAIR FOR OTHER COUNTRIES GOVERNMENTS TO SAY NO TO CHINA, ISN’T IT?)(TRS)

CHINA yesterday urged the United States to stop making groundless accusations against Chinese companies and politicizing normal acquisition cases.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the remarks in response to US President Barack Obama’s block of a Chinese company’s purchase of Aixtron US, the German chip equipment maker’s division in California where nearly a fifth of its 713 workforce is based.

Obama issued an order directing China’s Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund to “fully and permanently abandon” the proposed acquisition of Aixtron’s US business, the US Department of Treasury said in a statement on Friday.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, which reviews foreign purchases of US companies, and Obama assess that “the transaction poses a risk to the national security of the United States that cannot be resolved through mitigation,” the statement said.

Lu told a regular press briefing yesterday: “The Chinese company’s acquisition is purely market behavior.”

China is opposed to politicization of and political intervention in normal acquisitions, he said.

Lu urged the US to offer a fair environment and convenience for investment by Chinese companies.

The Chinese government always encourages Chinese companies to carry out overseas investment and cooperation in accordance with market and international rules as well as local laws, he added.

Aixtron said, however, the US order “was limited to the US business and did not prohibit the acquisition of Aixtron shares,” sparking hopes among analysts that a deal could be revived, albeit under revised terms.

“Chinese investors might be willing to take over Aixtron without its US business including US patents and patent applications,” DZ Bank analyst Harald Schnitzer said in a client note.

While the 670-million-euro (US$717 million) deal is small, US opposition is seen as a sign of growing concern in the West about the acquisition of cutting-edge technology by Chinese players and comes after Washington blocked the sale by Philips of its US lighting business to Asian buyers.

The crux of the issue for Aixtron is that it makes devices which produce crystalline layers based on gallium nitride that are used as semiconductors in weapons systems.

Gallium nitride is a powdery yellow compound used in light-emitting diodes (LED), radar, antennas and lasers.

Gallium nitride technology can boost the power of weapons systems while making them cheaper because it needs less electricity.

The German firm’s technology is being used to upgrade both US and foreign-owned Patriot missile defence systems.

Analysts have said Aixtron has a bleak future as a standalone company as it struggles in an overcrowded market where Chinese companies call the shots.

Aixtron has also said it needs to cut costs and jobs if the deal falls through, while analysts said a white knight bidder for Aixtron such as US chip equipment maker Applied Materials could emerge.

Another obstacle for the deal is that the German Economy Ministry withdrew its approval for the Chinese acquisition in October and is doing its own review of the transaction.

It said yesterday that the process was independent of the US review and would continue, without giving a timeline for presenting its conclusions.

“There is still a quite low probability of the deal going through as planned,” a Frankfurt-based trader said.

“But the ball is back in German court as the German Economy Ministry’s review of the Chinese takeover bid is ongoing.”

Iran: Will The Supreme Ruler Ali Khamenei Allow President Hassan Rouhani Win Re-Election?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘NATIONAL INTEREST’ REUTERS AND THE BBC)

Can Hassan Rouhani Win Re-Election?

Rouhani’s approach to foreign affairs, his basic faith in the power of diplomacy to resolve bitter conflicts, has been discredited.

November 29, 2016

Before the U.S. elections, when Trump’s chances at ascending to the Oval Office seemed, to most liberal voters at least, a distant possibility, Iranian hardliners lined up with many of the world’s other autocrats to cheer him on. This wasn’t just a display of schadenfreude. In Iran, few hardliners, and certainly not the country’s supreme leader, have ever said a nice thing about any U.S. politician. At the heart of their enthusiasm for Trump is the knowledge that however he changes U.S. policy toward Iran as president, it’ll significantly complicate Hassan Rouhani’s hopes of winning a re-election in May.

Rouhani has led a charge to fill the country’s elective institutions with a diverse coalition of moderates that generally share his centrist values on privatization and diplomatic engagement. In elections last February, he helped oust prominent hardliners from their long-held seats in the parliament and Assembly of Experts, a clerical oversight body. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, moreover, has a personal stake in the May elections, given his interest in isolating Hashemi Rafsanjani, a longtime rival who has orchestrated Rouhani’s rise, from the locus of executive power. As one former reformist official told Reuters in July, “Hardliners want a president who is closer to their camp and gets his directions from Khamenei’s allies.”

Amid this maneuvering, Trump’s electoral victory has all but sealed the legacy, if not the fate, of Rouhani’s landmark policy: the nuclear deal. Trump has promised to either renegotiate or alternately dismantle it – not that the distinction matters much. Rouhani said the day after Trump’s win that there would be “no possibility” of changing the deal. Short of a credible U.S. threat of war, it’s difficult to imagine why Rouhani would accept less favorable terms. At a minimum, Trump would have to make the trying case for why world powers should renege on their prior commitments and reimpose an international sanctions regime.

Suffice it to say, Trump may not know how to negotiate a “better” deal without losing the necessary international buy-in. The furthest his campaign staff has gone toward explaining how to wring a more exacting agreement is a garbled statement of the obvious: “He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore few issues or change few issues, and there will be a discussion,” Walid Phares, a top foreign policy adviser to Trump, told the BBC.

Regardless of what tack he takes in his first 100 days, Trump’s rhetoric makes it clear that he doesn’t intend on sweetening the deal for Iran. This has major implications for Rouhani’s popularity. Since the deal’s implementation in January, he has been fighting the perception that it’s failing. Rouhani justified his concessions by promising two outcomes: first, they would alleviate the threat of war against the world’s greatest military power, and second, they would inject foreign capital into the Iranian economy and reconnect it to the global marketplace.

Hardliners have already questioned this bargain, asking why Rouhani negotiated away the country’s hard-fought nuclear program for disparately little economic relief. “The public is asking: what has the nuclear deal accomplished for people’s livelihood and for the dignity of Islamic Iran?” an editorial in the country’s hardliner Kayhan newspaper asked last July, and that was when Rouhani still had a U.S. counterpart who wanted the deal to succeed as much he did. According to a poll released that same month, three-quarters of Iranians, out of a sample of 1 thousand, said they haven’t seen any economic improvement since the deal was signed.

That poll suggests the extent to which the deal hasn’t panned out for Iran. It was supposed to act as a springboard for foreign investment in Iran, a country endowed with natural resources, a robust consumer base and an unrivaled manufacturing capacity. But the gold rush never came, in large part because banks refrained from resuming commercial ties with Iran. The nuclear deal may have lifted restrictions on international trade with Iran, but it left intact a dizzying array of U.S. sanctions, which have in turn left an insurmountable compliance risk for big banks.

Obama fast-tracks secretive plan to import 1,800 Muslims rejected by Australia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CREEPING SHARIA NEWS)(I HAVE ALSO SEEN THIS SAME INFORMATION IN AUSTRALIAN NEWS PAPERS IN THE PAST 4-6 WEEKS SEVERAL TIMES)

Obama fast-tracks secretive plan to import 1,800 Muslims rejected by Australia

no-refugees-demonstration

If the reported number is 1,800, expect a much larger number with many more to follow. Don’t expect big media to investigate (i.e., do their job). Source: Obama fast-tracks plan to take Muslim migrants rejected by Australia

by Leo Hohmann

The chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees are demanding the Obama administration provide details of a secret resettlement deal in which the U.S. has agreed to take up to 1,800 mostly Muslim asylum seekers who have been rejected by Australia as illegal aliens.

Congress only learned of the deal through media reports two weeks ago and, according to a letter sent to administration officials by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the deal is not only a matter of grave national security concern, but it could be illegal.

That’s because it amounts to an international treaty that Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated without consulting or notifying Congress according to Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, according to the letter, sent by the two lawmakers Nov. 22 to Kerry and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Goodlatte chairs the same committee in the House.

The rejected aliens come from terror-infested countries including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Nearly 2,500 of them were interdicted off the coast of Australia in 2013 in accordance with that country’s policy of not accepting any of the wave of “refugees” streaming out of the Middle East. Unlike Europe, Australia effectively said “no” to the United Nations’ plan to open up Western democracies for millions of refugees fleeing not only the Syrian civil war but conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and even countries like Pakistan that are not at war. Germany alone has accepted 1.5 million Muslim refugees and subjected itself to thousands of sexual assaults on its women and girls.

But migrants who tried to get to Australia did not find a welcome mat. They were rescued by the Australian coast guard from their unsafe vessels and taken to off-shore camps on the Islands of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they have remained ever since. The United Nations stepped in and is looking for countries that will take the asylum seekers.

The U.N. found a taker in the Obama administration. Kerry confirmed he had reached a deal to take an undetermined number of the 2,465 aliens for permanent resettlement in the United States. Goodlatte and Grassley said they have since found out that up to 1,800 of the boat people could end up being distributed to U.S. cities and towns. But very little information has been released about the aliens or how many will end up in which American cities.

“This situation is concerning for many reasons,” the letter states. “First, your department s negotiated an international agreement regarding refugees without consulting or notifying Congress. Such information was not disclosed to Congress during the annual refugee consultation that occurred on September 13, 2016, even though your staff confirmed that the agreement had, at the time, been negotiated ‘for months.’ Second, the agreement and the number of refugees to be resettled has been deemed by your departments as classified, thus the American people are left in the dark as to the rationale for this agreement. Third, the individuals who will be resettled are coming from countries of national security concern. In fact, two of the countries are officially designated by the State Department to be State Sponsors of Terrorism. Finally, it begs the question why Australia and other countries refuse to admit these individuals, what other countries are doing to help alleviate the situation, what kind of precedent this sets for future refugees interdicted at sea by Australian forces and prevented from entering Australia, and how a similar situation will be prevented in the future.” Read the entire letter from Grassley and Goodlatte.

They came from the following countries:

Iran
Sri Lanka
Pakistan
Afghanistan
Somalia
Iraq
Sudan
Stateless

No details have been released as to how many from each country would be considered for resettlement in the U.S., what cities or states they would be sent to, the breakdown of men, women and children, or the state of their health. The U.S. sent teams to begin screening the aliens almost immediately after the deal was brokered by Kerry, according to the letter.


Read it all and this previous Hohmann piece: Leaked memo: Refugees vet themselves

As America Bows Out Of World Affairs China Says ‘Thank You’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST/WORLD POST)

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

President-elect Donald Trump’s “America First” policy marks an historic withdrawal from the world the United States has largely made. His administration can’t stop globalization, only diminish America’s role in governing it. For better or worse, that leaves China, the world’s second-largest economy, as the only major power with a global outlook.

In a YouTube video this week Trump rejected the Trans-Pacific Partnership that was the core of President Obama’s pivot to Asia. Economist Ed Dolan shows in charts how rejecting trade will not help, but hurt, America. He argues that the lower-skilled, less-educated and older workers who voted most heavily for Trump would almost certainly be among the losers of Trump’s trade plans. Matt Sheehan,The WorldPost’s former China correspondent, examines how Trump’s war on trade could inadvertently hurt American public higher education, which has come to rely on international students as public funding has dwindled.

Trump also announced an energy policy focusing on boosting fossil fuels, effectively signaling a withdrawal from the globally-agreed Paris accord on climate change. And, throughout the election campaign, he has sown deep doubts about America’s commitment to its worldwide web of security alliances.

An increasingly nationalistic European public, contemptuous of the European Union bureaucrats in Brussels, mired in flat growth and reeling from the crisis of a massive refugee influx, has also turned inward. Polls show that many oppose the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Russia is absorbed in reasserting influence in the neighborhood of its historical sphere of influence.

China, meanwhile, has a decades-long strategy of opening out to the world. When the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council met with President Xi Jinping in Beijing in 2013, he declared, “The more developed China becomes, the more open it will be. It is impossible for China to shut the door that has already been opened.” To that end China has put forward the “One Belt, One Road” strategy to revive the old Silk Road trading routes stretching from Beijing to Istanbul. It has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to fund development across the region. In the wake of the TPP’s demise, China is pressing forward with its Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to further lower tariffs among 16 nations in the Asia-Pacific region. And, as Alvin Lin and Barbara Finamore  write, China is now the defacto world leader on fighting climate change as America under Trump retreats from the battle and embraces fossil fuels.

Writing from Beijing, Shi Yinhong recognizes the strategic opportunities the American retreat present to China, which he believes will embolden Xi’s foreign policy. But he also worries about the troubles China will face from a more protectionist America and Europe. Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden see the likely neglect of Africa by the Trump administration further boosting China’s influence on that continent.

Shahed Ghoreishi thinks Iran can learn something from China’s path toward prosperity. “China has been able to move forward from its revolutionary rhetoric to develop a self-image that is relevant to its population,” he writes, “Iran has yet to do so.”

Former United Nations arms inspector Scott Ritter suggests that, as a foreign policy establishment outsider, Trump could well break the logjam on nuclear disarmament, recalling how another outsider, Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, met in Reykjavik, Iceland and “flirted with the total elimination of nuclear weapons, out of a mutual recognition by both leaders that nuclear war was unwinnable.”

Turning to the American domestic scene, I argue in a short essay that the “Great Reaction” against the political correctness of ethnic and gender politics signified by Trump’s election has been long in the making, noting that as long ago as 1991 the liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. argued, “The ethnic upsurge began as a gesture of protest against the Anglo-centric culture, but today it threatens to become a counter-revolution against the original theory of America as one people, a common culture, a single nation.” If Schlesinger were alive today,” I write, “he would surely be horrified that a charlatan like Donald Trump could rise to power through divisive invective against Muslims, Mexicans and women, threatening to destroy the American republic from the reverse side of political correctness.”

Eliot Nelson warns that the “alt-right” movement that Trump has emboldened is a hate movement pure and simple, replete with Nazi-like “Hail Trump” salutes. And even President Obama, who seems more tame to Trump, has encountered some failures in his role as commander-in-chief. One agenda item Obama was not able to fulfill is closing Guantanamo Bay. Anne Richardson traces the story of one man who was wrongly imprisoned there for years.

Alex Kaufman reports that Tesla is showing what it can do by powering an entire Pacific island with renewable energy. Finally, in our Singularity series this week, we look at how we can save our history one smartphone at a time.

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The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital TimesSeung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat AzizGordon Brown,Fernando Henrique CardosoJuan Luis CebrianJack DorseyMohamed El-Erian,Francis FukuyamaFelipe GonzalezJohn GrayReid HoffmanFred HuMo IbrahimAlexei KudrinPascal LamyKishore MahbubaniAlain MincDambisa MoyoLaura TysonElon MuskPierre OmidyarRaghuram RajanNouriel RoubiniNicolas Sarkozy,Eric SchmidtGerhard SchroederPeter Schwartz, Amartya SenJeff SkollMichael SpenceJoe StiglitzLarry Summers, Wu JianminGeorge YeoFareed ZakariaErnesto ZedilloAhmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

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