Israel’s Liberman: No fuel or gas will enter Gaza until all violence stops

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Liberman: No fuel or gas will enter Gaza until all violence stops

Army says several Palestinians breached security fence on Saturday, returned to Gaza; firefighters tackle 4 blazes caused by arson balloons near Israeli communities

Palestinian protesters carry tires as smoke billows at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, on October 12, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Palestinian protesters carry tires as smoke billows at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza city, on October 12, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Israel will not allow any more fuel into the Gaza Strip until violence against Israel from the Hamas-run enclave halts “entirely,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Saturday.

“Until violence in the Gaza Strip stops entirely, including the launching of incendiary balloons and the burning of tires near Israeli communities, the supply of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip will not be renewed,” he said.

Israel on Friday halted the transfer of fuel to Gaza in response to heavy rioting and attacks at the border fence. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, whose terror group seeks to destroy Israel, vowed Saturday that mass rallies would continue until the “siege on Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and all the lands of Palestine is lifted.”

On Saturday afternoon two Palestinians breached the border in the north of the Strip and hurled an object at an unmanned IDF post. They then returned to Gaza. Security forces arrived at the scene to inspect the suspicious object.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting at the Knesset on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Later in the evening the army said a number of attempts to breach the security fence were identified, some of them successful.

“In all of the events, the suspects were under surveillance from the moment of the crossing and returned to the Gaza Strip immediately,” the military said.

“In addition, a suspect who crossed the security fence from the northern Gaza Strip was apprehended near the crossing point without any weapons in his possession. The suspect was transferred to security forces for further questioning.”

Since the morning, firefighters worked to extinguish four blazes caused by incendiary balloons near Israeli towns in the Gaza periphery, a spokesman for the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services said.

One flaming balloon landed near a grocery store in Kibbutz Givat Brenner, near Rehovot. A civilian found the balloon and extinguished it. Police were called to the scene.

An incendiary balloon that landed in Kibbutz Givat Brenner on October 13, 2018 (Courtesy)

Police, meanwhile, said four such balloons discovered in recent days in the central towns of Rishon Lezion, Bat Yam, and Modiin had all probably come from Gaza, according to the Walla news site.

Police sappers who examined the balloons found the incendiary devices they carried identical to those used in Gaza. Police noted that the distance between Gaza and the cities in question was not great, and said balloons could easily cross such distances on air currents.

Earlier, during funerals for some of the Gazans killed in the previous day’s border riots, Haniyeh said: “The strength of will and the determination of our people in the March of Return will lead to victory over the crimes of the occupation. The blood of the martyrs brings us closer to victory over the Zionist enemy.”

He added that “our marches are not for diesel fuel and dollars, but a natural right of our people.”

Palestinians carry the bodies of Ahmad al-Tawil (R) and Ahmed Abu Naim (L), who were killed the day before during a protest along the Israel-Gaza border fence, during their funeral in Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on October 13, 2018. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Seven Palestinians were reported killed in intense clashes with Israeli security forces along the Gaza border Friday afternoon, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Gaza media outlets said at least 150 protesters were injured.

In the most serious incident, the army said assailants planted a bomb at the fence in the south of the Strip, blowing a hole in it. Some 20 Gazans then infiltrated the border and approached an IDF snipers’ post. Most turned back, but three who did not were shot and killed, the IDF said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in Gaza City on January 23, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Liberman’s order to halt the transfer of fuel into the Gaza Strip in response to the incident came only days after Israel began allowing fuel donated by Qatar to be pumped into the Strip to allow increased power for residents.

“Israel will not tolerate a situation in which fuel is allowed into Gaza while terror and violence is used against IDF soldiers and citizens,” a statement from his office said Friday.

On Saturday minister and security cabinet member Yoav Gallant described the terrorist group as Israel’s “weakest and most aggressive enemy, a puppy that barks and shouts.”

He slammed Hamas for its actions in Gaza, saying it was “using the blood of civilians to provoke international attention.”

In recent days Qatari-bought fuel had begun entering the Strip to allow operation of its only power station, in a bid to alleviate conditions in the blockaded Palestinian enclave. Hundreds of liters of fuel have since passed into the territory.

Israel facilitated the delivery over the objections of the Palestinian Authority, hoping it would help ease months of protests and clashes.

A Qatari official told the Reuters news agency that the $60 million fuel donation came “at the request of donor states in the United Nations, to prevent an escalation of the existing humanitarian disaster.”

Housing Minister Yoav Galant speaks at the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

For months residents of the strip have been receiving only four hours of electricity a day on average. Jamie McGoldrick, the UN’s resident humanitarian coordinator, told the Reuters news agency the delivery will add a few more hours of electricity to Gaza’s 2 million residents.

Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in a 2007 near civil war and multiple reconciliation attempts aimed at restoring the PA to power in Gaza have failed.

Abbas says that making deals with Hamas amounts to recognizing their control over Gaza in place of the PA and has sought to block the fuel deliveries. He has reportedly threatened to cut off funds to Gaza in response to the fuel transfers.

Israel fears further deterioration in Gaza could lead to another round of war on the southern border.

Both Israel and Egypt enforce restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza. Israel says the blockade is necessary to keep Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip from arming or building military infrastructure.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Humiliated by Attack, Vow to Retaliate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Humiliated by Attack, Vow to Retaliate

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A funeral ceremony in Ahvaz, Iran, on Monday for the victims of the attack on a military parade. Credit Attention Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Soldiers in dress uniform lay prone in the street. Others, apparently heavily armed, faced the assailants, then threw themselves to the ground without firing back. Some just ran for their lives.

Captured on video and widely shared on social media, the attack over the weekend on an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps parade in Iran was a humiliating blow. A local Arab separatist group claimed responsibility, but Iran said the perpetrators were backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

The moment terrorists struck a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran Credit Video by Press TV

On Monday, Iranian officials vowed revenge against all three countries and Israel.

The attack has escalated tensions between Iran and the Persian Gulf states and their American allies. The Trump White House has taken a hard line against Iran, withdrawing from a nuclear agreement and imposing sanctions that have damaged Iran’s flailing economy.

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have clashed with Iran over Yemen, Qatar and Syria. The conflicts are expected to take center stage at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

The attack on Saturday in Ahvaz, Iran, killed at least 25 people, including some children and other civilians who had been among the spectators, according to Iran’s state news agency, IRNA, and a dozen members of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

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Iranians at the funeral on Monday. Iranian news accounts said the four assailants had worn Iranian uniforms.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

A widely posted image on Facebook showed members of the Revolutionary Guards military band, wearing tricolor sashes and carrying musical instruments, hiding in a drainage ditch — described by many commentators as a sewer — during the attack.

Iranian officials, including the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, focused blame on Arab kingdoms on the Persian Gulf, as well as the United States. “This cowardly act was carried out by those who are rescued by Americans wherever they are entangled in Syria and Iraq and their hands are in the Saudi and Emirati pockets,” Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday, the Fars news agency reported.

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In a speech on Monday at a funeral ceremony for the victims of the attack, the deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, said, “You have seen our revenge before,” according to the news agency Al Ahed, which is run by the pro-Iranian organization Hezbollah in Lebanon. “You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating, and you will regret what you have done.”

The Ahvaz National Resistance, a little-known group with roots among the Arab minority of Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack on Saturday. So did the Islamic State, though the links to that group were ambiguous. It was the worst attack inside the country since an Islamic State-claimed assault on Parliament in 2017.

Ahvaz is the capital of Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran, where many of the country’s Arabs live. The Islamic State posted a video that it said showed three of its fighters on their way to the attack, according to IRNA. Two of the fighters were speaking Arabic with an Iraqi accent.

الجزيرة مباشر الآن

@ajmurgent

عاجل | مراسل الجزيرة: وزير الاستخبارات الإيراني يعلن اعتقال شبكة من الأفراد لصلتهم بهجوم

G181@G18113

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The Islamic State claimed responsibility with bulletins on its Amaq news service, which also ran the video of the fighters. But the video did not explicitly say the attackers belonged to the Islamic State, nor did they pledge allegiance to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as similar claims from the group have done in the past.

Image

The attack killed 25, including children and other civilians who had been among the spectators, according to the state news agency IRNA.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

Iranian news accounts said there had been at least four assailants, who disguised themselves in Iranian uniforms and attacked from behind the viewing bleachers at the parade. They said three of the assailants had been killed and one captured.

Iranian officials provided no evidence that the countries they blamed were behind the attack. The United States and the Emirates issued statements dismissing the accusation.

But the attack came at a volatile time in Iran’s relations with those countries.

A prominent academic in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, added fuel to that fire by saying the attack had been part of an effort to bring the fight against Iran inside the country. Mr. Abdulla, who has frequently been described as an adviser to the Emirate government and as close to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, suggested support for the attack in a Twitter post on Saturday: “A military attack against a military target is not a terrorist act,” he said.

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla@Abdulkhaleq_UAE

هجوم عسكري ضد هدف عسكري ليس بعمل إرهابي.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned an Emirati envoy to complain about Mr. Abdulla’s remarks and warned that the Emirates “would be held accountable for individuals affiliated with official Emirati agencies that show clear support for terrorist acts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Analysts said the Revolutionary Guards, an elite militia that operates independently of the Iranian government, were bound to react strongly to such a public humiliation.

“They’re going to go for a strong reaction to remedy the horrible image this attack has given them, the imagery that they are running away, falling down on the ground and so on,” said Ahmad Moussalli, a regional expert and professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. “They could correct that with a heavy military blow somewhere.”

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The scene of the attack on Saturday. The Ahvaz National Resistance, a little-known group with roots among Iran’s Arab minority, claimed responsibility for the attack, as did the Islamic State.CreditMorteza Jaberian/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He said that he doubted the Revolutionary Guards would risk a direct military confrontation with the Emirates or Saudi Arabia and that the response would more likely occur in Syria or Iraq. The attack, though embarrassing, Mr. Moussalli said, “shows that the gulf and the United States is targeting Iran now, and gives Iran a pretext to flex their military power.”

The Emirates were not the only regional power cheering on internal resistance to the Iranian government recently.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, suggested a year ago that it was time to turn from external pressure on Iran to internal pressure. Prince Mohammed, in repeated interviews in the United States this year, also likened Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler, saying at one point, “I believe the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good.”

Saudi Arabia had also bitterly opposed the nuclear deal Iran signed with the United States and other world leaders, and it had cheered the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement.

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, fueled claims of an American campaign against Iran when he addressed an “Iranian uprising summit” in New York on Saturday — hours after the attack in Ahvaz — saying that a leadership change in Iran was inevitable because of United States sanctions.

“I don’t know when we’re going to overthrow them,” Mr. Giuliani said, according to a Reuters report. “It could be in a few days, months, a couple of years. But it’s going to happen.”

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Mohammad Taha Eghadami, the father of a 4-year-old boy killed in the attack, at the mass funeral on Monday.CreditEbrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

The American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, insisted that the Trump administration was not seeking a leadership change in Iran. In response to President Hassan Rouhani’s criticism of the United States, she said in an interview with CNN: “He can blame us all he wants. The thing he’s got to do is look in the mirror.”

After attacks in Tehran last year, the Revolutionary Guards said that Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States were responsible, but most government officials blamed terrorists. This time, Iranian leaders described the attack not as terrorism, but as an act of foreign aggression — a significant difference, said Hussein Allawi, a national security analyst at Al Nahrain University in Iraq.

“The Iranian authorities denied that a terrorist organization did the operation,” he said. “Instead it accused states in the Middle East of carrying out the operation, even though signs of terrorism in the operation were clear.”

Despite the bellicose language from the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, other officials seemed to adopt a more cautious reaction, at least initially.

Speaking at the funeral for the Ahvaz victims on Monday, the deputy commander of Iran’s regular army, Brig. Gen. Nozar Nemati, said it was too early to say whether Western intelligence agencies had been involved in the attack, and suggested it may have originated closer to home.

“They are the same people who were followers of Saddam at the onset of the war, and they are pursuing the same goal,” IRNA quoted him as saying. He was referring to the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who fought a bitter war in an attempt to destroy Iran in the 1980s.

Follow Rod Nordland on Twitter: @rodnordland.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting from Beirut, Falih Hassan from Baghdad, and Rukmini Callimachi from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: Blaming U.S. and Gulf States, Iran Vows Revenge for Humiliating Attack. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

ISIS releases video claiming to show Iran parade attack gunmen

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Islamic State releases video claiming to show Iran parade attack gunmen

Assailants disguised as soldiers attacked annual military parade in city of Ahwaz, killing at least 29, including women and children

Still form a video released by the Islamic State affiliated Amak news agencyy purporting to show the perpetrators of a shooting attack in a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahwaz which left 29 people dead (Twitter)

Still form a video released by the Islamic State affiliated Amak news agency purporting to show the perpetrators of a shooting attack in a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahwaz which left 29 people dead (Twitter)

A news agency affiliated with the Islamic State terrorist group released a video Sunday which purports to show the perpetrators of a shooting attack at a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahwaz which left at least 29 people dead, including women and children, and wounded dozens more, some of them critically.

The footage, released by the Amaq news agency, shows three men in a vehicle, apparently on their way to carry out the attack.

“We are Muslims, they are heretics,” one of the men can be heard saying in the video. “We will kill them with a guerilla attack, inshallah.”

Gunmen disguised as soldiers on Saturday attacked the annual Iranian military parade in the country’s oil-rich southwest, marking the anniversary of the start of its 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The attack saw gunfire sprayed into a crowd of marching soldiers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, bystanders, and government officials watching from a nearby riser.

Iranian officials blamed a number of different targets, including Israel, the US, and regional-arch enemy Saudi Arabia, while two groups — the Islamic State and an anti-government Arab group — claimed responsibility.

But in the hours following the attack, state media and government officials seemed to come to the consensus that Arab separatists in the region were responsible.

An image made available by Iran’s Mehr News agency on September 22, 2018, shows an Iranian soldier carrying a child at the site of an attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, that was marking the anniversary of the outbreak of its devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. (AFP/ MEHR NEWS AND AFP PHOTO / Mehdi Pedramkhou)

Ahvaz lies in Khuzestan, a province bordering Iraq that has a large ethnic Arab community and has seen separatist violence in the past that Iran has blamed on its regional rivals. The separatists, however, previously only conducted pipeline bombings at night or hit-and-run attacks.

The separatists accuse Iran’s Persian-dominated government of discriminating against its ethnic Arab minority. Iran has blamed its Mideast archival, the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for funding their activity. State media in Saudi Arabia did not immediately acknowledge the attack.

Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran on September 22, 2018. (AFP / STR)

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused US-backed Gulf states of being behind the attack, saying in a statement that “this crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States.”

“Their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country,” he added.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also immediately blamed the attack on regional countries and their “US masters,” calling the gunmen “terrorists recruited, trained, armed, and paid” by foreign powers. The claim further raises tensions in the Mideast as Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers is in jeopardy after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord.

“Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties. Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, ordered the country’s security forces to identify those behind the attack, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency, and warned of an aggressive response.

“The response of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the smallest threat will be crushing,” Rouhani said on his official website. “Those who give intelligence and propaganda support to these terrorists must answer for it.”

Earlier Saturday, a spokesman for the Iranian army blamed Israel and the US for the attack.

Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told the state news agency IRNA, that the gunmen who opened fire at the parade were “not from Daesh [Islamic State] or other groups fighting [Iran’s] Islamic system … but are linked to America and [Israel’s intelligence agency] Mossad.”

Shekarchi also claimed “the terrorists have undergone training in two countries in the Persian Gulf.”

The Islamic State terrorist group had earlier claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Citing a security source, its propaganda agency Amaq said: “Islamic State fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces in the city of Ahvaz in southern Iran.”

An Iranian soldier runs past injured colleagues lying on the ground at the scene of an attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, September 22, 2018. (AFP/ ISNA / MORTEZA JABERIAN)

In a further claim, Yaghub Hur Totsari, a spokesman for the Arab Struggle Movement to Liberate Ahvaz, told Reuters the Ahvaz National Resistance umbrella organization of Arab anti-government armed movements was behind the attack, but did not specify which particular group carried it out.

Shekarchi said the dead included a young girl and a former serviceman in a wheelchair.

“Of the four terrorists, three were sent to hell at the scene, while the fourth who had been wounded and arrested went to hell moments ago due to his severe wounds,” Shekarchi told state television.

Khuzestan deputy governor Ali-Hossein Hosseinzadeh told the semi-official ISNA news agency that “eight to nine” troops were among those killed, as well as a journalist.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens during a meeting between the Iranian president and the North Korean foreign minister in the capital Tehran on August 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

The Revolutionary Guard is a paramilitary force answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Guard also has vast holdings in Iran’s economy.

Guard spokesman Gen. Ramazan Sharif also said that an Arab separatist group funded by Sunni arch-rival Saudi Arabia carried out the attack.

“Those who opened fire on civilians and the armed forces have links to the Ahvazi movement,” Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif told ISNA. “They are funded by Saudi Arabia and attempted to cast a shadow over the Iranian armed forces.”

State television immediately described the assailants as “takfiri gunmen,” a term previously used to describe the Islamic State group. Iran faced a bloody assault last year from the Islamic State group, and Arab separatists in the region have attacked oil pipelines there in the past.

Saturday’s rally was one of many in cities across Iran held to mark the anniversary of the launch of the war with massive Iraqi air strikes.

In this photo provided by the Iranian Students’ News Agency, ISNA, Iranian armed forces members and civilians take shelter in a shooting during a military parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran, September 22, 2018. (AP Photo/ISNA, Behrad Ghasemi)

A rare attack

The attack came as rows of Revolutionary Guard soldiers marched down Ahvaz’s Quds (Jerusalem) Boulevard, which, like many other places around the country saw an annual parade marking the start of Iran’s long 1980s war with Iraq. Images captured by state television showed journalists and onlookers turn to look toward the first shots, then the rows of marchers broke as soldiers and civilians sought cover under sustained gunfire.

“Oh God! Go, go, go! Lie down! Lie down!” one man screamed as a woman fled with her baby.

In the aftermath, paramedics tended to the wounded as soldiers, some bloodied in their dress uniforms, helped their comrades to ambulances.

“We suddenly realized that some armed people wearing fake military outfits started attacking the comrades from behind [the stage] and then opened fire on women and children,” an unnamed wounded soldier told state TV. “They were just aimlessly shooting around and did not have a specific target.”

Saturday’s attack comes after a coordinated June 7, 2017 Islamic State group assault on parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. That attack had at that point been the only one by the Sunni extremists inside of Shiite Iran, which has been deeply involved in the wars in Iraq and Syria where the militants once held vast territory.

In this photo provided by the Iranian Students’ News Agency, ISNA, Revolutionary Guard members carry a wounded comrade after a shooting during their parade marking the 38th anniversary of Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran, in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, Iran, September 22, 2018. (AP Photo/ISNA, Shayan Haji Najaf)

At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in the 2017 attack that saw gunmen carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives storm the parliament complex where a legislative session had been in progress, starting an hours-long siege. Meanwhile, gunmen and suicide bombers also struck outside Khomeini’s mausoleum on Tehran’s southern outskirts. Khomeini led the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the Western-backed shah to become Iran’s first supreme leader until his death in 1989.

In the last decade, such attacks have been incredibly rare. In 2009 more than 40 people, including six Guard commanders, were killed in a suicide attack by Sunni extremists in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchistan province.

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2017: U.S. Embassy In Riyadh Saudi Arabia Issued More Than 106,000 Visas

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

 

US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Carl Risch reaffirmed on Tuesday that the United States and Saudi Arabia share strong and positive relations that have been going on for decades, especially when it comes to consular affairs.

He revealed that there are ongoing discussions to develop and strengthen them in the coming years.

Responding to Asharq Al-Awsat, Risch revealed that more than 106,000 visas, 70 percent of which were granted to Saudi citizens, were issued in 2017. He stressed that restless efforts are spent on developing visa mechanisms and providing timely and reliable services for the embassy.

Risch expressed pride over strong and positive relations shared with Riyadh.

About 70 percent of US visas issued in Riyadh, Dhahran and Jeddah were for Saudi nationals. Some 77,910 visas issued to Saudis included visitation, work, and study passes.

Risch is on a tour to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

Meeting with counterparts, Risch will discuss a range of consular issues. While in the region, the diplomat also plans to review consular operations at US Embassies and Consulates in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Amman, and to meet with inter-agency partners.

Stressing that US national security is a priority when issuing visas, Risch said that a vetting system looks into applications, making sure the applicant is eligible.

On the time it takes to land a US visa, Risch said that some requests are completed quickly, while others take longer. “But we want to be a reliable source for those who want to get visas from our representations anywhere in the world.”

He pointed out that all types of US visas are issued to Saudi citizens, but the most common are tourist visas and work visas for attending meetings.

Requests to visit families or friends and visas issued to Saudi students stand to prove the long history between the two countries, Risch added.

India unlikely to accept foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

India unlikely to accept foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala

Government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation, an official source said.

INDIA Updated: Aug 21, 2018 23:45 IST

Kerala floods,Flood-relief operations,Kerala natural disaster
Flood victims unload food and relief material from an Indian Air force helicopter at Nelliyampathy Village, in Kerala, on Tuesday. (REUTERS)

The government is unlikely to accept any foreign financial assistance for flood-relief operations in Kerala, official sources said.

They said government has taken a considered decision to rely solely on domestic efforts to tide over the situation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has offered $100 million (around Rs 700 crore) as financial assistance for flood relief operation in Kerala.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, called up Prime Minister Modi and made the offer for assistance, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Thiruvananthapuram.

Around three million Indians live and work in the UAE out of which 80% are from Kerala.

The government of Maldives has also decided to donate $50,000 (Rs 35 lakh) for flood affected people in Kerala.

It is understood that the UN is also offering some assistance for Kerala.

However, sources said India is unlikely to accept the assistance.

The floods in Kerala, worst in a century, have claimed lives of 231 people besides rendering over 14 lakh people homeless.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 23:21 IST

Chinese President Meets UAE Leaders in Abu Dhabi

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

 

Chinese President Meets UAE Leaders in Abu Dhabi

Friday, 20 July, 2018 – 09:15
Chinese President Xi-Jinping arrives in the UAE on an official visit (WAM)
Abu Dhabi – Asharq Al-Awsat
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the UAE on Thursday for a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with UAE leaders.

The Chinese leader and his wife were welcomed at the airport by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as other senior officials.

The two UAE leaders hoped that the visit would contribute to establishing a new phase of cooperation and joint action to meet the aspirations of the two countries and their peoples.

The two sides exchanged cordial talks on issues of common interest, historical ties and the continuous development of relations, WAM news agency reported.  They also pointed to the important role assumed by China in regional and international economic and political files.

For his part, the Chinese President expressed his happiness to visit the UAE, which he said shared with China friendly relations and a common vision on many issues, and wished the Emirates further growth, progress and prosperity.

On the occasion of Xi Jinping’s visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum said: “The historic visit of the Chinese president to the UAE establishes a new phase of strategic partnership that has brought the two countries together for decades.”

“We are delighted to welcome President Xi Jinping to the UAE on this important visit which we view as a cornerstone of wider prospects for prosperous cooperation between the two friendly countries,” he added.

He also underlined the strong economic relations and trade exchanges between the two countries, pointing out that the UAE trade with China represented about a quarter of the total volume of Arab-Chinese trade during 2017, which amounted to nearly 200 billion dirhams ($54.4 billion).

He emphasized the “active tourism movement”, saying that more than one million Chinese people visited the UAE last year alone. He added that economic cooperation extended to include many sectors such as oil and gas, renewable energy, infrastructure and advanced technology.

Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israeli questioned, FBI traveled to Tel Aviv, in Trump election probe — report

New York Times says ‘Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,’ emissary for Saudi, and Emirati princes met with Trump Jr. and others 3 months before election

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son  Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump (R) standing with his son Donald Trump Jr. after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, September 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Jewel SAMAD)

Three months before the November 2016 elections, senior members of the campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump, including his son Donald Trump Jr., met with a small group of people from the Mideast who offered to help the controversial businessman win the race against Hillary Clinton. The group included “an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation,” an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes, and Erik Prince, a Republican donor and the former head of the private security firm Blackwater whose sister Betsy Devos is now secretary of education, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to the report, “was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.”

According to the report, the Israeli specialist, Joel Zamel, “extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign,” and his firm “had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.”

The company, PSY-Group, according to the NY Times report, “employed several Israeli former intelligence officers” and “specialized in collecting information and shaping opinion through social media.” Zamel is also founding director and CEO of geopolitical analysis and business consultancy group Wikistrataccording to Bloomberg.

This 1998 frame from video provided by C-SPAN shows George Nader, president and editor of Middle East Insight. (C-SPAN via AP)

The plan, according to the report which cited three people involved and a fourth briefed on the effort,” involved using thousands of fake social media accounts to promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy on platforms like Facebook.”

Meanwhile, the Gulf emissary was George Nader, a longtime close adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed of Abu Dhabi, who conveyed to Trump Jr. “that the crown princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”

Nader allegedly said that the two crown princes “saw the elder Mr. Trump as a strong leader who would fill the power vacuum that they believed Mr. Obama had left in the Middle East, and Mr. Nader went on to say that he and his friends would be glad to support Mr. Trump as much as they could, according to the person with knowledge of the conversation.”

Trump Jr. “responded approvingly,” the New York Times said, citing “a person with knowledge of the meeting,” and following the initial offers for help, Nader “was quickly embraced as a close ally by Trump campaign advisers — meeting frequently with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and Michael T. Flynn, who became the president’s first national security adviser.”

Nader was also reportedly “promoting a secret plan to use private contractors to destabilize Iran, the regional nemesis of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.”

After Trump won the election, Nader paid Zamel “a large sum of money, described by one associate as up to $2 million.” and while the NY Times said there were conflicting accounts for the payment, “a company linked to Mr. Zamel provided Mr. Nader with an elaborate presentation about the significance of social media campaigning to Mr. Trump’s victory.”

In this June 21, 2017, photo, special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The August 3 meeting is a focus of the ongoing investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who was tasked last year with examining possible cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the lead-up to the election.

The revelation of the meeting is the first indication that countries other than Russia may have offered assistance to the Trump campaign.

Nader also reportedly visited Moscow twice during the campaign and Zamel’s businesses have ties to Russia, which are “of interest” to the special counsel’s investigation, according to the report.

Zamel was already questioned by investigators for the special counsel, the report said, “and at least two FBI agents working on the inquiry have traveled to Israel to interview employees of the company who worked on the proposal.”

The Israeli police worked with US investigators to seize the computers of one of Mr. Zamel’s companies, which is currently in liquidation, according to the report.

Nader too has been cooperating with the inquiry, the report said, “and investigators have questioned numerous witnesses in Washington, New York, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, and elsewhere about what foreign help may have been pledged or accepted, and about whether any such assistance was coordinated with Russia, according to witnesses and others with knowledge of the interviews.”

Blackwater founder Erik Prince arrives for a closed meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A lawyer for Trump Jr., Alan Futerfas, told the NY Times in a statement that “prior to the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. recalls a meeting with Erik Prince, George Nader, and another individual who may be Joel Zamel. They pitched Mr. Trump Jr. on a social media platform or marketing strategy. He was not interested and that was the end of it.”

A lawyer for Zamel, Marc L. Mukasey, told the NY Times, that “neither Joel Zamel, nor any of his related entities, had any involvement whatsoever in the US election campaign.”

“The DOJ [Department of Justice] clarified from Day 1 that Joel and his companies have never been a target of the investigation. My client provided full cooperation to the government to assist with their investigation,” he said.

“There was a brief meeting, nothing concrete was offered or pitched to anyone and nothing came of it,” he added.

The New York Times reported that though it is still unclear if any direct assistance was forthcoming from Saudi Arabia, or the UAE, “two people familiar with the meetings said that Trump campaign officials did not appear bothered by the idea of cooperation with foreigners.”

The August 3, 2016 meeting came two months after Trump Jr., Kushner, and others met with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Clinton.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee released about 2,500 pages of interview transcripts and other documents tied to the New York meeting on June 9, 2016.

In a closed-door interview last year with the committee, Trump Jr., said he did not give much thought to the idea that the meeting was part of a Russian government effort to help his father in the presidential race.

AP contributed to this report

READ MORE:

United Arab Emirates: The Truth Knowledge And History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

United Arab Emirates

Introduction The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defense and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states – Abu Zaby, ‘Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn – merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra’s al Khaymah. The UAE’s per capita GDP is on par with those of leading West European nations. Its generosity with oil revenues and its moderate foreign policy stance have allowed the UAE to play a vital role in the affairs of the region.
History The United Arab Emirates was originally formed from tribally-organized Arabian Peninsula sheikhdoms along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Oman. It had been part of Oman and was then called Oman’s Gulf. The UAE was established in 1971 when the emirates bonded together and became one united country. It has since evolved into a modern, high-income nation.

Portuguese

Portuguese expansion into the Indian Ocean in the early sixteenth century following Vasco da Gama’s route of exploration saw them battle the Ottomans up the coast of the Persian Gulf. The Portuguese controlled the area for 150 years in which they conquered the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula. It is noteworthy to mention that Vasco da Gama was helped by Ibn Majid, an Arab from Julphar (now known as Ras Al Khaimah, one of the UAE emirates), to find the route of spices.

British and Ottomans

Then, portions of the nation came under the direct influence of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. Thereafter the region was known to the British as the “Pirate Coast”, as raiders based there harassed the shipping industry despite both European and Arab navies patrolling the area from the 17th century into the 19th century. British expeditions to protect the Indian trade from raiders at Ras al-Khaimah led to campaigns against that headquarters and other harbours along the coast in 1819. The next year, a peace treaty was signed to which all the sheikhs of the coast adhered. Raids continued intermittently until 1835, when the sheikhs agreed not to engage in hostilities at sea. In 1853, they signed a treaty with the United Kingdom, under which the sheikhs (the “Trucial Sheikhdoms”) agreed to a “perpetual maritime truce.” It was enforced by the United Kingdom, and disputes among sheikhs were referred to the British for settlement.
See also: British Residency of the Persian Gulf

Primarily in reaction to the ambitions of other European countries, the United Kingdom and the Trucial Sheikhdoms established closer bonds in an 1892 treaty, similar to treaties entered into by the UK with other Persian Gulf principalities. The sheikhs agreed not to dispose of any territory except to the United Kingdom and not to enter into relationships with any foreign government other than the United Kingdom without its consent. In return, the British promised to protect the Trucial Coast from all aggression by sea and to help in case of land attack.

In 1955, the United Kingdom sided with Abu Dhabi in the latter’s dispute with Oman over the Buraimi Oasis another territory to the south. A 1974 agreement between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia would have settled the Abu Dhabi-Saudi border dispute; however, the agreement has yet to be ratified by the UAE government and is not recognised by the Saudi government. The border with Oman also remains officially unsettled, but the two governments agreed to delineate the border in May 1999.

Sheikh Zayed, oil and the Union

In the early 1960s, oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi, an event that led to quick unification calls made by UAE sheikdoms. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and the British started losing their oil investments and contracts to U.S. oil companies.

The British had earlier started a development office that helped in some small developments in the Emirates. The sheikhs of the Emirates then decided to form a council to coordinate matters between them and took over the development office. They formed the Trucial States Council, and appointed Adi Bitar, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s legal advisor, as Secretary General and Legal Advisor to the Council. The Council was terminated once the United Arab Emirates was formed.

In 1968, the United Kingdom announced its decision, reaffirmed in March 1971, to end the treaty relationships with the seven Trucial Sheikhdoms which had been, together with Bahrain and Qatar, under British protection. The nine attempted to form a union of Arab Emirates, but by mid-1971 they were still unable to agree on terms of union, even though the British treaty relationship was to expire in December of that year.

Bahrain became independent in August and Qatar in September 1971. When the British-Trucial Shaikhdoms treaty expired on December 1, 1971, they became fully independent.

The rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai decided to form a union between their two emirates independently, prepare a constitution, then call the rulers of the other five emirates to a meeting and offer them the opportunity to join. It was also agreed between the two that Adi Bitar write the constitution by December 2, 1971.

On that date, at the Dubai Guesthouse Palace, four other emirates agreed to enter into a union called the United Arab Emirates. Ras al-Khaimah joined later, in early 1972.

The UAE sent forces into Kuwait during the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War.

The UAE supports military operations from the United States and other Coalition nations that are engaged in the invasions of Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan (2001) as well as Operations supporting the Global War on Terrorism for the Horn of Africa at the Al Dhafra Air Base located outside of Abu Dhabi. The air base also supported Allied operations during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and Operation Northern Watch.

On November 2, 2004, the UAE’s first president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, died. His eldest son, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, succeeded as ruler of Abu Dhabi. In accordance with the constitution, the UAE’s Supreme Council of Rulers elected Khalifa as president. Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan succeeded Khalifa as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 24 00 N, 54 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 83,600 sq km
land: 83,600 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Maine
Land boundaries: total: 867 km
border countries: Oman 410 km, Saudi Arabia 457 km
Coastline: 1,318 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: desert; cooler in eastern mountains
Terrain: flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of vast desert wasteland; mountains in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Jabal Yibir 1,527 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 0.77%
permanent crops: 2.27%
other: 96.96% (2005)
Irrigated land: 760 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 0.2 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.3 cu km/yr (23%/9%/68%)
per capita: 511 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: frequent sand and dust storms
Environment – current issues: lack of natural freshwater resources compensated by desalination plants; desertification; beach pollution from oil spills
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: strategic location along southern approaches to Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil
Politics The UAE’s political and governmental structure is composed within a framework of a federal presidential elected monarchy and composed of a federation of the seven Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm al Qaiwain.

The Presidency and Premiership of the United Arab Emirates is de facto hereditary to the Al Nahyan clan of Abu Dhabi and the Al Maktoum clan of Dubai. The President of the United Arab Emirates and the head of state is the ruler of Abu Dhabi and the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, is the ruler of Dubai and the head of government. The political influences and financial obligations of the Emirates are reflected by respective positions in the Federal government. While each Emirate still retains autonomy over own territory, a percentage of its revenue is allocated to the UAE’s central budget.

The federal system includes the executive branch which consists of the President, Vice President, the Federal Supreme Council (comprised of the Emirates’ seven rulers), and a Cabinet, or Council of Ministers. The legislative branch consists of a parliamentary body, the Federal National Council. A constitutionally independent judiciary includes the Federal Supreme Court.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the union’s president from the nation’s founding until his death on November 2, 2004. The Federal Supreme Council elected his son, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president the next day. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the heir apparent.

The Supreme Council elects the Council of Ministers, while an appointed/elected forty-member Federal National Council, drawn from all the emirates, reviews proposed laws. The UAE’s parliamentary body represents the Emirates, and is half appointed by the rulers of the constituent states and the other half elected indirectly to serve two-year terms. The council carries out the country’s main consultative duties and has both a legislative and supervisory role provided by the Constitution.

There is a federal court system; all emirates except Ras al-Khaimah have joined the federal system; all emirates have both secular and Islamic law for civil, criminal, and high courts.

The UAE took its first steps towards indirect elections for the country’s parliament on National Day, December 2, 2005 upon the official announcement by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan which followed the formation of an Electoral College. A National Electoral Committee was created and the UAE’s first election occurred during mid-December 2006. The election and appointment of nine women (comprising 22.5 per cent of the Council) strongly signified advancement and political participation of women in the United Arab Emirates. The long-term objective is for the FNC to be wholly-elected.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

The UAE’s liberal climate towards foreign cooperation, investment and modernization has prompted extensive diplomatic and commercial relations with other countries. It plays a significant role in OPEC, the UN and is one of the founding members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Regionally, the Emirates have long maintained close relations with Egypt and remain the highest investors in the country from among the rest of the Arab world. Pakistan has also been a major recipient of economic aid and relations have been extremely close since the founding of the federation. Pakistan had been first to formally recognize the UAE upon its formation and continues to be one of its major economic and trading partners with about 400,000 expatriates receiving employment in the UAE. India’s large expat community in the UAE also has for centuries evolved into current close political, economic and cultural ties. However, the largest demographic presence in the Emirates is Iranian. Like most countries in the region, the UAE and Iran dispute rights to a number of islands in the Persian Gulf but this has not significantly impacted relations due to the large Iranian community presence and strong economic ties.

Following the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait, the UAE has maintained extensive relations with its Western allies for security and cooperation towards increasing interoperability of its defense forces. France and the US have played the most strategically significant roles with defense cooperation agreements and military material provision. Most recently, these relations culminated in a joint nuclear deal for the US to supply the UAE with nuclear technology, expertise and fuel. Commercially, the UK and Germany are the UAE’s largest export markets and bi-lateral relations have long been close as a large number of their nationals reside in the UAE.

People Population: 4,621,399
note: estimate is based on the results of the 2005 census that included a significantly higher estimate of net inmigration of non-citizens than previous estimates (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.5% (male 484,102/female 462,405)
15-64 years: 78.6% (male 2,663,702/female 970,672)
65 years and over: 0.9% (male 26,244/female 14,274)
note: 73.9% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 30.1 years
male: 32 years
female: 24.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.833% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 16.06 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.13 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 24.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 2.74 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.84 male(s)/female
total population: 2.19 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.11 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 15.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.89 years
male: 73.35 years
female: 78.56 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.43 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.18% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Emirati(s)
adjective: Emirati
Ethnic groups: Emirati 19%, other Arab and Iranian 23%, South Asian 50%, other expatriates (includes Westerners and East Asians) 8% (1982)
note: less than 20% are UAE citizens (1982)
Religions: Muslim 96% (Shia 16%), other (includes Christian, Hindu) 4%
Languages: Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 77.9%
male: 76.1%
female: 81.7% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 12 years (2003)
Education expenditures: 1.3% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: United Arab Emirates
conventional short form: none
local long form: Al Imarat al Arabiyah al Muttahidah
local short form: none
former: Trucial Oman, Trucial States
abbreviation: UAE
Government type: federation with specified powers delegated to the UAE federal government and other powers reserved to member emirates
Capital: name: Abu Dhabi
geographic coordinates: 24 28 N, 54 22 E
time difference: UTC+4 (9 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 7 emirates (imarat, singular – imarah); Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi), ‘Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah (Sharjah), Dubayy (Dubai), Ra’s al Khaymah, Umm al Qaywayn (Quwayn)
Independence: 2 December 1971 (from UK)
National holiday: Independence Day, 2 December (1971)
Constitution: 2 December 1971; made permanent in 1996
Legal system: based on a dual system of Sharia and civil courts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: none
Executive branch: chief of state: President KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 3 November 2004), ruler of Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) (since 4 November 2004); Vice President and Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN RASHID Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister and Vice President MUHAMMAD bin Rashid Al-Maktum (since 5 January 2006); Deputy Prime Ministers SULTAN bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 20 November 1990) and HAMDAN bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan (since 20 October 2003)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
note: there is also a Federal Supreme Council (FSC) composed of the seven emirate rulers; the FSC is the highest constitutional authority in the UAE; establishes general policies and sanctions federal legislation; meets four times a year; Abu Zaby (Abu Dhabi) and Dubayy (Dubai) rulers have effective veto power
elections: president and vice president elected by the FSC for five-year terms (no term limits) from among the seven FSC members; election last held 3 November 2004 upon the death of the UAE’s Founding Father and first President ZAYID bin Sultan Al Nuhayyan (next to be held in 2009); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the president
election results: KHALIFA bin Zayid Al-Nuhayyan elected president by a unanimous vote of the FSC; MUHAMMAD bin Rashid Al-Maktum unanimously affirmed vice president after the 2006 death of his brother Sheikh Maktum bin Rashid Al-Maktum
Legislative branch: unicameral Federal National Council (FNC) or Majlis al-Ittihad al-Watani (40 seats; 20 members appointed by the rulers of the constituent states, 20 members elected to serve two-year terms)
elections: elections for one half of the FNC (the other half remains appointed) held in the UAE on 18-20 December 2006; the new electoral college – a body of 6,689 Emiratis (including 1,189 women) appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates – were the only eligible voters and candidates; 456 candidates including 65 women ran for 20 contested FNC seats; one female from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi won a seat and 8 women were among the 20 appointed members
note: reviews legislation but cannot change or veto
Judicial branch: Union Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president)
Political parties and leaders: none; political parties are not allowed
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, FAO, G-77, GCC, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Yousef bin Mani Saeed al-OTAIBA
chancery: 3522 International Court NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 243-2400
FAX: [1] (202) 243-2432
consulate(s): New York, Houston
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Richard G. OLSON, Jr.
embassy: Embassies District, Plot 38 Sector W59-02, Street No. 4, Abu Dhabi
mailing address: P. O. Box 4009, Abu Dhabi
telephone: [971] (2) 414-2200
FAX: [971] (2) 414-2603
consulate(s) general: Dubai
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and black with a wider vertical red band on the hoist side
Culture Once a part of Oman, the United Arab Emirates was formed on 2 December 1971. From this point in time, the United Arab Emirates has flourished in a wide range of fields, to be known today as an extremely large economic center in the world, and continues to expand at a rapid rate. While from the outside many may know the Emirates for Dubai and the extravagant resorts, in reality, the people of the Emirates is what is really shaping the country as a whole. The culture that has been cultivated in the area for many years is one that is unlike anything else, and continues to thrive and be an important part of everyday life. The people, from the high ranking international business men to the lower income workers all contribute to the countryʼs well being and individuality. The countryʼs direction can be contributed to the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has been a main component in the economic stimulus and growth of the nation, and for the bettering of life for its people. His idea for his country has allowed for a new life for the people of his country, while still keeping the values of old, and setting the platform for a new culture and way of living that was once inconceivable for them to have, and aspects of life that they could have only once dreamed of .
Economy Economy – overview: The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. In April 2004, the UAE signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Washington and in November 2004 agreed to undertake negotiations toward a Free Trade Agreement with the US. The country’s Free Trade Zones – offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes – are helping to attract foreign investors. Higher oil revenue, strong liquidity, housing shortages, and cheap credit in 2005-07 led to a surge in asset prices (shares and real estate) and consumer inflation. The global financial crisis and the resulting tight international credit market and falling oil prices have already begun to deflate asset prices and will result in slower economic growth for 2009. Dependence on oil and a large expatriate workforce are significant long-term challenges. The UAE’s strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $186.4 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $270 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 8.5% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $40,400 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 1.6%
industry: 61.8%
services: 36.6% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 3.266 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 7%
industry: 15%
services: 78% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 2.4% (2001)
Population below poverty line: 19.5% (2003)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed): 20.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $83.15 billion
expenditures: $48.3 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 22.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 14.4% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: NA
Stock of money: $49.5 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $104.6 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $155.4 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $224.7 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: dates, vegetables, watermelons; poultry, eggs, dairy products; fish
Industries: petroleum and petrochemicals; fishing, aluminum, cement, fertilizers, commercial ship repair, construction materials, some boat building, handicrafts, textiles
Electricity – production: 62.76 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 57.88 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 2.948 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 381,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 2.703 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil – imports: 232,300 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 97.8 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 48.79 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 43.11 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 6.848 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 1.343 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 6.071 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $36.41 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $207.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: crude oil 45%, natural gas, reexports, dried fish, dates
Exports – partners: Japan 23.6%, South Korea 9.2%, Thailand 5%, India 4.8% (2007)
Imports: $141.1 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, food
Imports – partners: China 12.8%, India 10%, US 8.7%, Japan 6.1%, Germany 5.9%, UK 5.3%, Italy 4.6% (2007)
Economic aid – donor: since its founding in 1971, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has given about $5.2 billion in aid to 56 countries (2004)
Economic aid – recipient: $5.36 million (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $67.24 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $73.71 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $62.69 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $28.95 billion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): Emirati dirham (AED)
Currency code: AED
Exchange rates: Emirati dirhams (AED) per US dollar – 3.673 (2008 est.), 3.673 (2007), 3.673 (2006), 3.6725 (2005), 3.6725 (2004)
note: officially pegged to the US dollar since February 2002
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 1.385 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 7.595 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern fiber-optic integrated services; digital network with rapidly growing use of mobile-cellular telephones; key centers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai
domestic: microwave radio relay, fiber optic and coaxial cable
international: country code – 971; linked to the international submarine cable FLAG (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe); landing point for both the SEA-ME-WE-3 and SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable networks; satellite earth stations – 3 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; tropospheric scatter to Bahrain; microwave radio relay to Saudi Arabia
Radio broadcast stations: AM 13, FM 8, shortwave 2 (2004)
Radios: 820,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 15 (2004)
Televisions: 310,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .ae
Internet hosts: 381,915 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 2.3 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 39 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 22
over 3,047 m: 10
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 17
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 5 (2007)
Heliports: 5 (2007)
Pipelines: condensate 520 km; gas 2,908 km; liquid petroleum gas 300 km; oil 2,950 km; oil/gas/water 5 km; refined products 156 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 4,080 km
paved: 4,080 km (includes 253 km of expressways) (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 58
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 9, chemical tanker 4, container 8, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 24, roll on/roll off 4, specialized tanker 1
foreign-owned: 14 (Denmark 1, Greece 3, Kuwait 10)
registered in other countries: 313 (Bahamas 23, Bahrain 1, Belize 5, Cambodia 2, Comoros 7, Cyprus 9, Dominica 1, Georgia 1, Gibraltar 3, Hong Kong 1, India 6, Indonesia 2, Iran 1, Jordan 13, North Korea 8, Liberia 23, Malta 5, Marshall Islands 15, Mexico 1, Netherlands 5, Panama 109, Papua New Guinea 6, Philippines 1, Saint Kitts and Nevis 18, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 9, Saudi Arabia 1, Sierra Leone 8, Singapore 12, Somalia 1, Turkey 1, UK 9, unknown 6) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Mina’ Zayid (Abu Dhabi), Al Fujayrah, Mina’ Jabal ‘Ali (Dubai), Mina’ Rashid (Dubai), Mina’ Saqr (Ra’s al Khaymah), Khawr Fakkan (Sharjah)
Military Military branches: United Arab Emirates Armed Forces: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force and Air Defense, National Coast Guard (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.) for voluntary military service; 18 years of age for officers and women; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 2,405,884 (includes non-nationals)
females age 16-49: 884,853 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 2,004,558
females age 16-49: 760,637 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 25,856
female: 23,085 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 3.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: boundary agreement was signed and ratified with Oman in 2003 for entire border, including Oman’s Musandam Peninsula and Al Madhah enclaves, but contents of the agreement and detailed maps showing the alignment have not been published; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which Iran occupies
Illicit drugs: the UAE is a drug transshipment point for traffickers given its proximity to Southwest Asian drug-producing countries; the UAE’s position as a major financial center makes it vulnerable to money laundering; anti-money-laundering controls improving, but informal banking remains unregulated

UAE says Iran wasted no time in undermining regional security

 

UAE says Iran wasted no time in undermining regional security

The United Arab Emirates said on Saturday Iran had wasted no time in undermining regional security since it sealed a nuclear deal with world powers last year.

“Against all optimistic expectations, Iran wasted no time in continuing its efforts to undermine the security of the region, through aggressive rhetoric, blatant interference, producing and arming militias, developing its ballistic missile program, in addition to its alarming designation as a state sponsor of terrorism,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders.

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Turks, Saudis, UAE said to pump quarter billion dollars into East Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Turks, Saudis, UAE said to pump quarter billion dollars into East Jerusalem

Israeli officials fear funds to ‘rescue’ Muslim holy sites could touch off Palestinian violence in run up to US embassy move to Israeli capital

File: Waqf officials and others prepare to pray outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, rather than enter the compound via metal detectors set up by Israel following a terror attack, July 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

File: Waqf officials and others prepare to pray outside the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, rather than enter the compound via metal detectors set up by Israel following a terror attack, July 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Less than two weeks away from the scheduled transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are pumping a quarter of a billion dollars into the Islamic Waqf and a slew of Muslim organizations in East Jerusalem, Hadashot news reported Wednesday.

The Waqf (Muslim Trust) administers the Temple Mount, home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, as well as a slew of schools, orphanages, Islamic libraries, Islamic courts and other properties. The mount is the holiest place in Judaism as the site of the ancient temples. Israel maintains overall security control at the site.

The three countries are describing the move as an act of “rescue” to finance renovations at holy sites, but Israeli officials fear their involvement will go beyond money and could spark violence in the run-up to the ribbon-cutting on May 14, the TV report said.

On Sunday, Hadashot News reported that US President Donald Trump was looking increasingly likely to come to the ceremony and was mulling allowing convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard to come too by lifting restrictions that prevent him from travelling to Israel.

Jonathan Pollard (left), and his lawyer Eliot Lauer leave federal court in New York following a hearing, July 22, 2016. (AP/Larry Neumeister, File)

Pollard served nearly 30 years for spying for Israel, and since being paroled in 2015 has been prohibited from leaving US soil, barring him from moving to the Jewish state as he wishes.

Trump’s announcement late last month that “I may go” to the ceremony reportedly surprised Israeli officials who had received no indication from the Americans that he might be attending.

It had been previously reported that Trump had considered but decided against attending the inauguration.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is currently set to lead the 250-member delegation for the event, which will include 40 members of Congress and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump. Other media reports have suggested that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo could lead the delegation, in lieu of a Trump arrival.

Welcomed by Israel, the Palestinians have seen the embassy move as a provocation, and have said it effectively negates the possibility of the Trump administration serving as an honest broker in peace talks. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials have refused to meet with anyone on Trump’s team since he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a press conference on Jerusalem, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 11, 2018. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

The opening of the embassy will take place just two days after the deadline for Trump’s decision on whether or not to scrap the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015 between Tehran and six world powers, including the US, under then-president Barack Obama.

The agreement curbed Tehran’s controversial nuclear enrichment program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.

Trump has termed the agreement the “worst deal ever” and has called on the other signatories to “fix it.”

He has threatened to tear up the deal unless new restrictions are imposed on Iran’s ballistic missile program and other military activities by May 12.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is campaigning for the deal to be fixed or nixed.

On Tuesday, he revealed that the Mossad intelligence agency had obtained 100,000 documents from Iran’s own secret nuclear weapons archive proving, he said, that the 2015 deal was based on “Iranian deception.”

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