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Showing posts from September, 2018

Trump calls Saudi's King to discuss oil supplies

U.S. President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Saturday and they discussed efforts being made to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.
The call comes days after the U.S. president criticized OPEC for high oil prices and called again on the exporting group to boost crude output to cool the market ahead of midterm elections in November for U.S. Congress members.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and OPEC’s de-facto leader.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Trump said OPEC members were “as usual ripping off the rest of the world”.
“I don’t like it. Nobody should like it,” Trump said on Tuesday.
“We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. 
We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices.”
The White House said in a statement that the two leaders had a ca…

North Korea says 'no way' will disarm unilaterally without trust

North Korea’s foreign minister told the United Nations on Saturday continued sanctions were deepening its mistrust in the United States and there was no way the country would give up its nuclear weapons unilaterally under such circumstances.
Ri Yong Ho told the world body’s annual General Assembly that North Korea had taken “significant goodwill measures” in the past year, such as stopping nuclear and missiles tests, dismantling the nuclear test site, and pledging not to proliferate nuclear weapons and nuclear technology.
“However, we do not see any corresponding response from the U.S.,” he said.
“Without any trust in the U.S. there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first.”
While Ri reprised familiar North Korean complaints about Washington’s resistance to a “phased” approach to denuclearization under which North Korea would be rewarded as it took gradual steps, his statement appeared significa…

First rebel group begins withdrawal from demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that rebel group Failaq al-Sham has started withdrawing its forces and heavy arms from a demilitarized zone in northwest Syria.
The group is the first to comply with a requirement to leave a demilitarized buffer zone set up by Turkey and Russia to avert a Russian-backed Syrian army offensive, Rami Abdulrahman, head of the UK-based war monitor told Reuters.
Rebel sources could not immediately be reached for comment.


A year after failed independence bid, Iraq's Kurds vote for parliament

A year after a failed bid for independence, Iraq’s Kurds will be voting again on Sunday, this time in a parliamentary election that could disrupt the delicate balance of power in their semi-autonomous region.
With opposition parties weak, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are likely to extend their almost three decades of sharing power.
But splits within the PUK present the possibility that Masoud Barzani’s KDP will take a dominant position in Kurdish politics, both in the regional capital Erbil and in the difficult formation of a federal government in Baghdad.
The contentious referendum on independence in 2017, led by Barzani, promised to set Iraq’s Kurds on a path to a homeland.
Instead, a swift backlash from Baghdad dashed those prospects and diminished the region’s autonomy.
Speaking on the vote’s first anniversary, Barzani, who stepped down as Kurdish president in the aftermath, told thousands of flag-waving men in Erbil: “We will never give u…

Security services in Syria's Raqqa uncover Islamic State cell

Security forces in northern Syria’s Raqqa city said on Sunday they had uncovered an Islamic State sleeper cell which was plotting series of large attacks across the devastated city.
Raqqa served as the de facto capital of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate until it was retaken by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia alliance last October.
A spokesman for the Raqqa Internal Security Forces set up by the SDF said it had killed two members of an Islamic State cell and detained five others during an operation on Saturday.
“Special forces and explosives experts carried out a counter operation .. to confront plans which were about to be executed by a terrorist cell affiliated with mercenaries of Daesh in a neighborhood in Raqqa city,” the unit’s spokesman Mohannad Ibrahim said at a news conference.
Daesh is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
The forces raided two residential apartments where the cell members were hiding and confiscated grenades, pistols and explosives,…

U.S. warship sails near disputed South China Sea islands: U.S. official

A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Sunday, a U.S. official told Reuters, potentially angering Beijing at a time of tense relations between the two countries.
Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war that has seen them impose increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyer Decatur traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands.
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.
China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
“We conduct routine and regular freedom-of-navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will c…

Saudi misses out on joining anti-illicit funding body for now

Saudi Arabia has missed out on gaining full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) after the global body dedicated to fighting illicit money flows found the kingdom fell short in combating money laundering and terror financing.
The decision by the 37-member inter-governmental body is a setback for Saudi at a time when it is striving to bolster its international reputation in order to encourage foreign investors to participate in its huge transformation plan and improve financial ties for its banks.
But after undergoing a process called “mutual evaluation”, the kingdom was found to have a low or moderate level of effectiveness for 7 of the 11 criteria it was assessed on for anti-money laundering and counter terror financing, a FATF spokeswoman told Reuters.
“This means that Saudi Arabia will not be granted membership status at this point,” the spokeswoman said. 
“Nevertheless, since the mutual evaluation is close to being satisfactory, the membership process therefore continu…

Britain announces ban on high-rise combustible cladding

Britain announced on Sunday that it is banning the use of combustible materials on the outside of high-rise buildings in response to the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people.
“I will change the building regulations to ban the use of combustible cladding for all high rise residential buildings, hospitals, care homes and student accommodation and bring about a change in culture on building safety,” housing minister James Brokenshire said in a statement.
The ban will apply to buildings over 18 meters (19.69 yards)tall.
The government had previously indicated it wanted to implement a ban following the Grenfell Tower fire, Britain’s deadliest on domestic premises since World War Two.

Classmates mourn boy shot dead by Israeli troops in Gaza border

The school friends of Nassir al-Mosabeh sat tearfully in their classroom in Khan Younis on Sunday and mourned their 12-year-old friend who was killed in a protest on the Gaza-Israel border.
Gaza health officials said Israeli soldiers on Friday shot dead seven Palestinians, who were among thousands who thronged to the fortified border as part of weekly protests launched six months ago. Mosabeh was one of those killed.
“I cried for him like I have never cried before. I do not know what the (Israeli) occupation saw in him to kill him? 
What did he do to them? Did he kill anybody? 
I do not know what happened,” Mosabeh’s friend, Dia’ Abu Khater said.
Mosabeh’s classmates in the school in the southern Gaza Strip decorated his chair with his picture ringed by red and white flowers and green leaves, the Palestinian colors.
Mosabeh was always at the border to assist medics in the Friday protests, his sister, Eslam, said.
“Nassir always came with us. Everyone in the field hospital knows him and he al…

Saudi Crown Prince arrives in Kuwait for talks

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Kuwait on Sunday, state media reported, amid expectation that he will discuss oil supplies and a Kuwaiti mediation effort to resolve Saudi Arabia’s conflict with Qatar.
Prince Mohammed will hold talks with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, state news agency KUNA reported.
The Saudi prince is expected to discuss the resumption of oil output from a neutral zone which Saudi Arabia shares with Kuwait, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
He will be accompanied by Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih during his trip to Kuwait, two separate sources said.
A Gulf Arab official told Reuters earlier that the dispute with Qatar would also be on the agenda.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have imposed sanctions on Qatar accusing it of cosying up to Iran - their regional arch rival - and supporting terrorism.
Doha denies the accusations. Kuwaiti mediation efforts have failed so far to end the dispute.

Facebook security breach allows hackers potential access to Tinder, Spotify & Instagram

A Facebook hack which left the accounts of more than 50 million users compromised may have also affected third-party apps such as Tinder, Spotify and Instagram, if people used their Facebook account to register for the services.
The added repercussions of the massive security breach were confirmed by the company later Friday, during a follow-up conference call with reporters. 
Facebook acknowledged that not only had hackers obtained the ability to access Facebook accounts of affected users, they could also access any other service in which a Facebook account was used for registration.
Thousands of websites and apps including Tinder, Spotify, Airbnb and Instagram allow you to register and sign in using Facebook. 
This saves users having to create various passwords and usernames for each site.
It’s not clear yet if any third-party accounts were actually compromised, but it means the possible fallout is far more widespread than initially indicated and other companies may need to carry out the…

No unilateral disarmament while US prevents trust building with coercive methods – North Korea

Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula should be implemented in a “step-by-step” manner and accompanied by trust-building measures between Pyongyang and Washington, North Korean Foreign Minister told UNGA.
“The reason behind the current deadlock is that the US is relying on the coercive methods that prevent trust building,” Ri Yong-ho said during his speech at the UN General Assembly, referring to the nuclear disarmament of the Korean peninsula.
The “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula was part of the joint statement signed by its leader, Kim Jong-un, and the US President Donald Trump following their meeting in Singapore in June. Ri he said that Pyongyang is “fully committed” to implementing the document that doesn’t set any deadline for nuclear disarmament.
Implementation of the Trump-Kim joint statement is a shared responsibility of both North Korea and the US, Ri Yong-ho said, adding that it is also “in the best interests” of Washington. 
“If it becomes the victim of t…

Naval blockade would mean ‘war’: Moscow slams US idea of hampering Russian trade

Attempts to use the US Navy to block Russia’s trade would amount to a declaration of war, a high-ranking senator commented on the US internal secretary’s idea of impeding Russia’s energy trade through a blockade.
“A US blockade of Russia would be equal to a declaration of war under international law,” said the head of the Russian Senate’s Information Policy Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, commenting on a report that US Internal Secretary Ryan Zinke suggested the US could use the navy to block Russian energy from hitting Middle East markets.
Pushkov also called Zinke’s claim that trade expansion is the real reason behind Russia’s involvement in Syria “absolute nonsense.”
The very idea that Russia could potentially supply energy to the Middle East, which is literally “oozing with oil,” is absolutely detached from reality, Pushkov said. 
Indeed, Russia does not supply any energy to the region, which is itself a major oil exporter, and has never announced plans to do so.
The Russian senator added …

Hero air traffic controller dies helping last plane escape Indonesian earthquake and tsunami

A young Indonesian air traffic controller stayed on duty as the earthquake shook the building, to make sure one last aircraft escaped Friday’s deadly disaster. 
He was fatally injured fleeing afterwards.
Anthonius Gunawan Agung was the last person remaining in the air traffic control tower at Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu when the 7.7 quake hit the city on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
While his colleagues ran for their lives as the tower swayed violently from the shocks, Agung, 21, remained steadfast to ensure that Batik Air Flight 6321 got off the ground, as deep fissures and cracks began to appear on the runway.
When the plane took off to safety, further trembling hit the tower. Fearing that he would be trapped beneath the rubble, Agung jumped the four stories off the tower, landing on the ground where he sustained a broken leg and internal injuries.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors decided to send him to a bigger one for better treatment. 
However, he died be…

Syria a victim of wars fought in the name of oil – Austrian Foreign Minister

Oil is the real reason behind all conflicts in the Middle East while Syria is just the latest victim of this struggle, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told the UN General Assembly in a speech she started in Arabic.
The very existence of the modern Middle Eastern states have been “shaped by oil business,” Kneissl told the UNGA. 
A Middle East expert herself went on to explain that the borders of the states that were established following the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire were “based on pipelines.”
All the wars the region witnessed over the recent decades are just a continuation of this fight for the control over the fossil fuels that still “dominate the energy mix” in the world, the foreign minister said, adding that Syria, which has been engulfed in a bloody seven-years conflict, is “a victim of instability created by all these wars.”
This was the first time an Austrian top official made such statements at the level of the UN General Assembly.
Kneissl also surprised the gathering…