Home Authors Posts by Roy Siemens

Roy Siemens

2089 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron met President Donald Trump in Washington to discuss a new agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

After talks, President Trump, who is skeptical of an accord that was struck in 2015, spoke about “doing a much bigger, maybe, deal”.

President Macron said a new pact must cover Iran’s ballistic missile program and its role in the Middle East.

Iran warned of “severe consequences” if the US withdraws from the deal.

In 2015, Iran agreed to mothball its nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions on Iran.

President Trump has been threatening to reject an extension of the Obama-era nuclear pact reached between Tehran and world powers by a May 12 deadline.

President Macron had been lobbying Donald Trump to stick with the deal, saying there was no better option.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to visit the US on April 27 to make a last-minute bid to dissuade President Trump from potentially torpedoing the agreement.

Image source Wikimedia

Iran Nuclear Deal Reached After Nine Years of Negotiations

Iran Nuclear Deal: US Imposes Fresh Sanctions over Ballistic Missile Test

Oil Prices Hit $75 over Prospect of New US Sanctions on Iran

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted as saying that Tehran would “most likely” abandon the accord if the US pulled out.

Referring to the 2015 accord which he described as “insane”, President Trump said: “They should have made a deal that covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that covered other parts of the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Macron agreed that Tehran’s influence in the region must be part of negotiations.

The French president also stressed that – as well as controlling Iran’s nuclear program for the next decade as envisaged by the current agreement – a fresh deal would need to cover its nuclear activities longer-term, as well as its ballistic missile program.


Emmanuel Macron talked about working with President Trump to build a “new framework” in the Middle East – and especially in Syria.

He said he did not know whether President Trump would extend the May 12 deadline, adding: “I can say that we have had very frank discussions on that, just the two of us.”

President Trump earlier warned Iran against resuming its nuclear program.

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

On April 23, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened “severe consequences” if the US withdrew from the deal.

Meanwhile, Javad Zarif said just hours before the Trump-Macron summit that a probable response would be to restart the enrichment of uranium – a key bomb-making ingredient.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful civilian purposes.

Ten people have been killed and other 15 injured after driver of a rented van ploughed into pedestrians in northern Toronto on April 23.

Canadian police are questioning the suspected driver, named as Alek Minassian, 25.

He was not previously known to authorities, police said.

According to officials, the incident appeared to be deliberate but the motive was not clear.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said the “tragic and senseless attack” had brought him “great sadness”.

Meanwhile, an officer has been praised for not opening fire during a tense standoff with the suspect, who claimed to be armed.

Video broadcast on CBC News showed a man pointing what appeared to be a gun at officers and shouting “kill me”.

The officer tells the man to “get down” and when the suspect says he has a gun, the officer repeats: “I don’t care. Get down.”

The suspect was then arrested without shots being fired.

Canadian police said the white rental van mounted the kerb on Yonge Street between Finch Avenue and Sheppard Avenue at about 13:30 local time on April 23 and drove into pedestrians along a 1.24 mile stretch.

Image source Wikimedia

Barcelona Van Attack Kills at Least One and Injures 32 on Las Ramblas Street

Muenster Attack: Three Killed and 30 Injured as Van Is Driven Into Pedestrians

Pictures from the scene showed bodies covered in orange sheets along the van’s route. Debris and items of clothing were scattered across the pavements and road.

The van was brought to a halt by police several streets away and was quickly surrounded.

The suspect was arrested 26 minutes after the first emergency call was made to the police.

Police said Alek Minassian was from the northern Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill and was not previously known to authorities.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said: “The actions definitely looked deliberate.”

Public safety minister Ralph Goodale said there “would appear to be no national security connections” and Canadian broadcaster CBC cited government officials as saying he was not associated with any known terror groups.

Alek Minassian had previously attended a school for students with special needs in north Toronto, former classmates said.

Van rental company Ryder System Inc confirmed that one of its vehicles was involved and said it was co-operating with authorities.

The incident happened while foreign ministers of the G7 leading industrialized nations – Canada, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – were holding talks in Toronto.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the G7 meetings would continue on April 24 as planned.

According to new reports, CIA director Mike Pompeo travelled to North Korea for a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un.

The meeting to prepare for direct talks between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader took place over Easter weekend, unnamed officials said.

President Trump had earlier alluded to high-level direct talks with North Korea.

However, this unexpected and clandestine meeting would mark the highest level US contact with North Korea since 2000.

President Trump said from Florida, where he is hosting Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe: “We have had direct talks at… extremely high levels.”

He added that he gave his “blessing” for talks between South Korea and North Korea to discuss a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

South Korea has also signaled that it may pursue a formal resolution of the conflict. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un are scheduled to meet at the end of April.

The news that President Trump’s nominee for secretary of state had travelled to Pyongyang for a secret meeting with Kim Jong-un was first reported by The Washington Post.

Very little is known about the talks other than that they were to prepare for the upcoming Trump-Kim summit.

According to The Washington Post, the meeting took place soon after Mike Pompeo was nominated as secretary of state and is attributed to two anonymous sources “with direct knowledge of the trip”.

Later the Reuters said the report had been confirmed to them by senior officials.

The White House has not commented.

The US does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea, although diplomats have visited in the past and there are some so-called “back channels” used to communicate with Pyongyang.

Image source Wikimedia

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

Mike Pompeo’s trip was the highest level meeting with a North Korean leader since 2000 when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, in Pyongyang.

In 2014, the then-head of National Intelligence James Clapper visited North Korea in a secret mission to negotiate the release of two US citizens. James Clapper did not meet Kim Jong-un during his trip.

President Trump stunned the international community last month by accepting North Korea’s suggestion for direct talks. It would be unprecedented for a sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.

Donald Trump said the summit would take place either in early June or “a little before that” and that several sites were under consideration but that none of them were in the US.

Analysts have speculated that a location for talks could be the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea, Beijing, another Asian country, Europe or even a vessel in international waters.

North Korea has been isolated for decades because of its well-documented human rights abuses and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, in defiance of international laws and UN sanctions.

Pyongyang has carried out six nuclear tests, and has missiles that could reach the US.

However, South Korea’s hosting of the Winter Olympics in February gave an unexpected window for diplomacy and in the weeks since there have been a flurry of visits to North Korea from China, South Korea and now the US.

President Trump’s estimate that a meeting could take place in June or earlier appears to be one the administration is taking seriously.

However, news of Mike Pompeo’s visit is also likely to overshadow the other key diplomatic balancing act under way, which is the important relationship with Japan, a key US ally and neighbor of North Korea.

There have been fears in Tokyo that President Trump’s plans for bilateral talks could sideline Japan and Shinzo Abe is currently in Washington for talks with the US leader.

Relations between the two men appeared cordial on this, the second time that President Trump has welcomed Shinzo Abe to his Mar-a-Lago resort.

On April 17, President Trump insisted that the two countries were “very unified on the subject of North Korea”, and PM Shinzo Abe praised the president’s handling of the North Korea issue.

However, observers say Shinzo Abe’s goal for his US trip will be to persuade President Trump as much as he can not to sway from the West’s hard line on North Korea.

PM Shinzo Abe has repeatedly sought to portray a close personal relationship with President Trump and was the first foreign leader to meet him in New York after his election victory in 2016.

Multiple government targets in Syria have been bombed in an early morning operation launched by the US, UK and France targeting alleged chemical weapons sites.

The strikes follow a suspected chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma last week.

According to the Pentagon, explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs.

Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to the US responded by saying the attack on its ally “will not be left without consequences”.

President Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House at about 21:00 local time: “A combined operation with the armed forces of France and the United Kingdom is now under way.”

The wave of strikes is the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.

Image source AP

Donald Trump Says Russia Should Get Ready for Missiles to Be Fired at Syria

Israeli F-16 Fighter Jet Shot Down by Syrian Anti-Aircraft Fire

At a Pentagon briefing shortly after President Trump’s announcement, Gen. Joseph Dunford listed three targets that had been struck: a scientific research facility in Damascus, allegedly connected to the production of chemical and biological weapons; a chemical weapons storage facility west of Homs; a chemical weapons equipment storage and an important command post, also near Homs.

Syrian state TV said government forces had shot down more than a dozen missiles, and claimed only the research facility in Damascus had been damaged.

It also said that 3 civilians had been injured in Homs.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters there were no reports of US losses in the operation.

In his earlier address, President Donald Trump had said: “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

However, Secretary James Mattis said that “right now, this is a one-time shot”. Gen. Joseph Dunford confirmed the wave of strikes had ended.

Gen. Joseph Dunford said the US had specifically identified targets that would “mitigate” the risk of Russian casualties. However, the Pentagon said that Russia – which has forces on the ground in Syria in support of the government – had not been given advance notice of the targets.

On the same time, UK PM Theresa May confirmed British involvement, saying there was “no practicable alternative to the use of force”.

She also said the strikes were not about “regime change”.

According to the UK ministry of defense, UK strikes carried out by four Tornado jets hit one of the targets mentioned by the Pentagon – a military site near the city of Homs which is believed to have housed precursor materials for chemical weapons.

France President Emmanuel Macron also confirmed his country’s participation in the operation.

“Dozens of men, women and children were massacred with chemical weapons,” President Macron said of the Douma incident a week ago – adding that “the red line had been crossed”.

Syria has denied carrying out the Douma attack and Russia had warned that Western military strikes would risk starting a war.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has dispatched a fact-finding mission to the site of the alleged attack in Syria. Investigators were due to start their probe on April 14.

Sana, Syria’s official state news agency, called the western action “a flagrant violation of international law”.

It said: “The American, French and British aggression against Syria will fail.”

A US official told Reuters that Tomahawk cruise missiles were being used against multiple locations in Syria.

President Donald Trump has said that Russia should “get ready” for missiles to be fired at its ally Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma on April 7.

The president tweeted: “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and <<smart>>!”

Senior Russian figures have threatened to meet any US strikes with a response.

The Syrian government denies mounting a chemical attack on Douma.

In one his tweets on April 11, President Trump called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “gas killing animal”.

In another, President Trump painted a dark picture of US-Russia relations but said it did not have to be that way.

He tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?”

Meanwhile, the US, UK and France have agreed to work together and are believed to be preparing for a military strike in response to the alleged chemical attack at the weekend.

Syrian opposition activists and rescuers say government aircraft dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals on Douma.

According to the Syrian-American Medical Society (SAMS), which operates in rebel-held areas, and local aid workers, more than 500 people had been treated for symptoms “indicative of exposure to a chemical agent”.

On April 11, the UN’s World Health Organization demanded access to verify reports from its partners, which include SAMS, that 70 people had died – including 43 who showed “symptoms consistent with exposure to highly toxic chemicals”.

Meanwhile, a team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is due to deploy to Syria “shortly” to determine whether banned weapons were used.

The town of Douma, the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus, was under renewed assault from Syrian and Russian forces last week.

Image source Flickr

Rebels have now been evacuating Douma under an agreement involving the Russian military.

Russia said it would deploy military police to Douma on April 12 and that the situation there had stabilized.

Several senior Russian figures have warned of a Russian response to a US attack, with Alexander Zasypkin, Moscow’s ambassador to Lebanon, repeating on April 11 a warning by the head of the military that missiles would be shot down and their launch sites targeted if they threatened the lives of Russian personnel.

Also on April 11, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova asked whether the aim of Western strikes might be “to quickly remove the traces of the provocation… [so] international inspectors will have nothing to look for in terms of evidence”.

Addressing new ambassadors in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said the world was becoming more chaotic. He said he hoped common sense would prevail and that the situation would stabilize.

President Putin said Russia would “keep all its international obligations in full”.

On April 10, President Trump cancelled his first official trip to Latin America so he could focus on Syria.

Israeli F-16 Fighter Jet Shot Down by Syrian Anti-Aircraft Fire

TPS: Trump Administration Extends Temporary Protection for Nearly 7,000 Syrians

US Urges Russia to Stop Supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

On April 11, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US was still assessing the chemical attack and that the US military stood ready “to provide military options if they are appropriate as the president determines”.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said any strikes would “not target allies of the [Syrian] regime or attack anyone, but rather attack the regime’s chemical capabilities”.

However, The Times newspaper reports that the UK’s PM Theresa May has urged President Trump to provide more evidence of the suspected chemical attack.

A US Navy guided-missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, is in the Mediterranean Sea.

On April 10, the UN Security Council failed to approve moves to set up an inquiry into the alleged attack on Douma.

As permanent members of the council, Russia and the US vetoed each other’s proposals to set up independent investigations.

The US-drafted resolution would have allowed investigators to apportion blame for the suspected attack, while Russia’s version would have left that to the Security Council.

The OPCW’s fact-finding mission will not seek to establish who was responsible for the attack.

British PM Theresa May has announced that the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats after Moscow refused to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used on former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

She said the diplomats, who have a week to leave, were identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”.

Theresa May also revoked an invitation to Russia’s foreign minister, and said the Royal Family would not attend the FIFA World Cup in Russia later this year.

Moscow denies attempted murder and says it will respond appropriately.

Addressing the UN Security Council, the UK said Russia had used “a weapon so horrific that it is banned in war”.

UK’s deputy UN ambassador, Jonathan Allen, accused Russia of breaking its obligations under the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

He said he had heard the threats from Russia but that the UK would not be deterred.

Image source Wikipedia

What Is VX Nerve Agent that Killed Kim Jong-nam?

In response Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, denied his country’s involvement in the attack and demanded “material proof” from Britain to support its charge.

The US ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington stood in “absolute solidarity” with the UK, citing the “special relationship” between the two countries.

The mass expulsion is the largest since 31 were ordered out in 1985 after double agent Oleg Gordievsky defected.

Former spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, 33, remain critically ill in hospital after being found slumped on a bench on March 4.

Russia refused to meet Theresa May’s midnight deadline to co-operate in the case, prompting her to announce a series of measures intended to send a “clear message” to Russia: expelling 23 diplomats; increasing checks on private flights, customs and freight; freezing Russian state assets where there is evidence they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents; ministers and the Royal Family boycotting the FIFA World Cup in Russia later this year; suspending all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the UK and Russia and planning to consider new laws to increase defenses against “hostile state activity”.

0

Kim Jong-un is hosting a dinner for two South Korean delegates, the first time officials from Seoul have met the North Korean leader since he took office in 2011, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The dinner has been confirmed by a South Korean presidential spokesman.

The South Korean delegation is in Pyongyang for rare talks partly aimed at restarting dialogue between North Korea and the US.

Relations between North Korea and South Korea have warmed following the PyeongChang Winter Games.

In an unprecedented move the delegation includes two ministerial-level envoys – intelligence chief Suh Hoon and National Security adviser Chung Eui-yong.

According to the North Korean state radio, the delegation was met by Ri Son-gwon, North Korea’s reunification chief, who led talks in the weeks before the Winter Olympics.

North Korea Canceled Meeting with VP Mike Pence at Winter Olympics

PyeongChang 2018: South Korean and North Korean Athletes Under Same Flag During Opening Ceremony

During the two-day visit, the South Korean group will focus on establishing conditions for talks aimed at getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons as well as dialogue between the US and Pyongyang.

Chung Eui-yong had earlier told a press briefing he would deliver President Moon Jae-in’s “resolution to maintain the dialogue and improvement in relations between the South and the North… [and] to denuclearize the Korean peninsula”.

On March 3, President Donald Trump said that the US would be prepared to meet North Korea, but reiterated that Pyongyang would first have to “denuke”.

However, North Korea – which has said it wants to talk to the US – said it was “preposterous” for the US to insist on preconditions.

It’s remains unclear who would represent the US in any such meeting.

The top US diplomat on North Korea Joseph Yun announced his decision to retire earlier last week, a departure which could hamper the Trump administration.

The relationship between the US and North Korea were particularly tense before the Winter Olympics, with both countries repeatedly threatening each other with total destruction.

The US has distanced itself from the North Korean overtures during the Games.

VP Mike Pence has said there is “no daylight” between the US and its regional allies on the need to “continue to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missile program.

In a recent interview, President Donald Trump has warned that Israeli settlements “complicate” the peace process with Palestinians and urged “care” over the issue.

The president also told the Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom that he did not believe the Palestinians, and possibly Israel as well, were ready to make peace.

He angered Palestinians in December when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Donald Trump also threatened to withhold aid unless Palestinians agreed to talks.

The interview was published on February 11.

Asked by editor-in-chief Boaz Bismouth when the US would present its peace plan, President Trump said: “We will see what happens. Right now the Palestinians are not into making peace, they are just not into it. Regarding Israel, I am not certain it, too, is interested in making peace so we will just need to wait and see what happens.”

Image source Wikimedia

Israeli Settlements: UN Condemns Plans to Build 2,500 More Homes in West Bank

Israeli Settlements: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Condemns as Biased John Kerry’s Speech

Asked whether Israeli settlements would form part of the peace plan, the president said: “We will be talking about settlements. The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.”

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

President Trump said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital had been a highlight of his first year in office.

Israel claims the whole of the city as its capital but the Palestinians want East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will no longer accept the US as a mediator following the controversial recognition of Jerusalem.

According to the Israeli military, one of its F-16 fighter jet has crashed amid Syrian anti-aircraft fire after an offensive against Iranian targets in Syria.

The two pilots parachuted to safety before the crash in northern Israel. It is believed to be the first time Israel has lost a jet in the Syrian conflict.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted: “Moments ago, IAF aircraft, targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System & Iranian targets in Syria. 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel.”

Red alert sirens sounded in areas of northern Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

Residents reported hearing a number of explosions and heavy aerial activity in the area near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria.

Israel was carrying out strikes after the launch of an Iranian drone into Israel. The drone was intercepted.

Syria accused Israel of “aggression”, as Israel then launched more strikes.

Image source Wikimedia

TPS: Trump Administration Extends Temporary Protection for Nearly 7,000 Syrians

US Urges Russia to Stop Supporting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

In a statement, the Israeli military said “a combat helicopter successfully intercepted an Iranian UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that was launched from Syria and infiltrated Israel”.

It said the drone was identified quickly and was “under surveillance until the interception”.

The drone went down on Israeli territory and was “in our possession”, IDF spokesperson Brig Gen Ronen Manelis said.

The military said that in response the IDF “targeted Iranian targets in Syria”. It said the mission deep inside Syrian territory was successfully completed.

After coming under Syrian anti-aircraft fire, the F-16’s two crew ejected and were later taken to hospital. One of them was “severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation”, the IDF said.

It was not clear whether the F-16 jet was hit by anti-aircraft fire or went down near Harduf for other reasons.

Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that the country’s air defenses opened fire in response to an Israeli act of “aggression” against a military base on February 10, hitting “more than one plane”.

Meanwhile, Iran, Russia and the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon – key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – dismissed as “lies” Israeli claims that an Iranian drone had entered Israeli airspace, news wires report.

0

A new audit finds that the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is missing documentation for how it spent hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to Politico, Ernst and Young found the DLA could not account for $800 million.

The money was reportedly used for military construction projects and computer systems.

DLA confirmed failure to properly track its spending, but said there was no “loss of accountability”.

A spokeswoman said the DLA, which was founded during World War II, is already taking steps to improve.

Image source Wikimedia

9/11 Pictures of Pentagon Released by FBI

Kunduz Hospital Strike: Pentagon to Compensate Victims over Bombing

The Defense Department, which has an annual budget of $700 billion, has reportedly never undergone a full audit.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans advocate billions of dollars in additional funding for the department.

According to the report, the audit raises concerns about how the agency handles its budget.

According to Politico, the DLA is one of the largest agencies in the Pentagon, employing 25,000 people with an annual budget of $40 billion.

The Pentagon’s annual budget exceeds half-a-trillion dollars.

Of the unaccounted money, $465 million was found to be used for construction projects for the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies, the report said.

The agency also failed to produce documentation for $100 million of computer systems.

The report covers the fiscal year that ended in September 2016.

A missile alert sparked panic among residents of Hawaii on January 13 before it was declared to be false.

Mobile phone users received a message saying: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

Hawaii Governor David Ige apologized to people, saying an employee had pressed the wrong button.

Meanwhile, the US government announced there would be a full investigation.

An alert system is in place because of the potential proximity of Hawaii to North Korean missiles.

Last month, Hawaii tested its nuclear warning siren for the first time since the end of the Cold War.

According to the Associated Press, a push alert was sent to people’s phones.

The phone message, all in capital letters, went out at 08:07 local time.

The message was corrected by email 18 minutes later but there was no follow-up mobile text for 38 minutes, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports.

Image source Flickr

Hawaii Activates Nuclear Attack Warning Siren for First Time since Cold War

In a tweet, Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) said simply: “NO missile threat to Hawaii.”

TV and radio broadcasts across the state were also interrupted with a recorded emergency message: “Stay indoors!

“If you are outdoors seek immediate shelter in a building. Remain indoors well away from windows. If you are driving pull safely to the side of the road and seek shelter in a building while laying on the floor. We’ll announce when the threat has ended. This is not a drill!”

Matt Lopresti, a member of the Hawaiian House of Representatives, was at home when he received the emergency alert on his mobile phone.

He described how he and his family had sought shelter in a bath tub.

He told local broadcaster KGMB: “We got our children, grabbed our emergency supplies, put them in our most enclosed room in our house which is our bathroom.

“We put them in the bath tub, said our prayers, tried to find out what the Hell was going because we didn’t hear any alarms, any of the sirens.

“There’s not much else you can do in that situation. You know, we did what we could… and I am very angry right now because it shouldn’t be this easy to make such a big mistake.”

The US military confirmed no missile threat had been detected and the alert had been released in error.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, announced an investigation.

He tweeted: “The @FCC is launching a full investigation into the false emergency alert that was sent to residents of Hawaii.”

North Korea’s missile and nuclear program is seen as a growing threat to America. Hawaii is one of the American states closest to North Korea.

In September, North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test.

In December, the Star-Advertiser reported that a missile launched from North Korea could strike Hawaii within 20 minutes of launch.

0

North Korea has accepted South Korea’s proposal to hold military talks to defuse border tension, after their first high-level meeting in two years.

It will also send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games taking place in South Korea in February.

According to the South Korean government, an agreement was also reached to reinstate a military hotline suspended two years ago.

However, the North Korean delegation was negative on the subject of denuclearization, South Korea added.

The US gave a cautious welcome to the meeting.

The state department said the United States remained in close consultations with South Korean officials who would ensure North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics did not violate UN sanctions.

After a day of negotiations, both Koreas issued a joint statement which confirmed they had agreed to hold military talks on defusing military tension.

North Korea also agreed to send a National Olympic Committee delegation, athletes, cheerleaders, art performers, spectators, a taekwondo demonstration team and media to the games, while South Korea would provide the necessary amenities and facilities.

The statement also referred to exchanges in other, unspecified areas and other high-level talks to improve relations, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports.

Image source Wikipedia

North Korea Crisis: Kim Jong-un Offers Threats and Hopes in New Year Speech

UN Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea over Ballistic Missile Tests

South Korea asked North Korea to end any hostile acts that might raise tension, while the North agreed there was a need to guarantee a peaceful environment on the peninsula, a statement from the South’s government said.

The South also proposed that athletes from both Koreas march together at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang as they did at the 2006 Winter Olympics. It also pushed for the reunion of family members separated by the Korean War – a highly emotional issue for both countries – to take place during the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls in the middle of the Games.

South Korea said it would consider temporarily lifting relevant sanctions, in co-ordination with the UN, to facilitate North Korea’s participation in the Olympics.

North Korea’s reaction to these proposals is not known.

In his opening remarks, the head of North Korea’s delegation, Ri Son-gwon, was fairly neutral. He said he hoped the talks would bring a “good gift” for the new year and that his country had a “serious and sincere stance”.

Talks were held in the Panmunjom “peace village” in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) at the border.

Five senior officials on each side attended and the leaders of both were said to have watched the talks via a CCTV feed.

In his New Year address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had said he was considering sending a team to the Olympics. South Korea’s Olympics chief had said last year that North Korea’s athletes would be welcome.

Following Kim Jong-un’s overture, South Korea then proposed high-level talks to discuss North Korea’s participation, but the North only agreed to the talks after the US and the South agreed to delay their joint military exercises until after the Olympics. North Korea sees the annual drills as a rehearsal for war.

Some critics in the US see North Korea’s move as an attempt to divide the US-South Korea alliance.

0

President Donald Trump has responded to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un saying his nuclear button is “much bigger” and “more powerful”.

In a tweet, the president warned: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

President Trump’s tweet is the latest contribution to the bickering, increasingly personalized feud between the nuclear-armed leaders.

Earlier this week, Kim Jong-un threatened that his nuclear launch button was “always on my table”.

Photo AP

North Korea Crisis: Kim Jong-un Offers Threats and Hopes in New Year Speech

Donald Trump’s Tweet Calls Kim Jong-un Short and Fat

Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s unorthodox words sent social media into a frenzy.

It ended a quick-fire day of tweeting that included taking credit for a lack of airplane crashed, announcing awards for “corrupt media”, and threatening to pull aid from Palestinians who do not show “appreciation or respect”.

President Trump’s latest comment states the obvious: any US president has immediate access to the nuclear codes and the US has the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal.

Many people online have expressed alarm at the apparently light-hearted use of nuclear threats by world leaders.

However, Donald Trump’s supporters have defended him, saying his comments are both factually accurate and show American strength and resolve.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump had a long-running spat with Marco Rubio over the size of his hands.

At the time, he insisted: “He referred to my hands – ‘if they are small, something else must be small’. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee”.

This connection was not missed by social media users.

After three days of anti-government protests in Iran, demonstrators have been warned by the Revolutionary Guards that they will face the nation’s “iron fist” if political unrest continues.

The protests erupted over falling living standards.

However, a Revolutionary Guards commander said the protests had degenerated into people chanting political slogans and burning public property.

The recent protests are the biggest show of dissent since huge pro-reform rallies in 2009. There are reports of two deaths.

In the cities of Khoramabad, Zanjan and Ahvaz there were calls for the removal or death of Iran’s Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutions Guards Corp is a powerful force with ties to the country’s supreme leader, and is dedicated to preserving the country’s Islamic system.

Brigadier-General Esmail Kowsari told the ISNA news agency: “If people came into the streets over high prices, they should not have chanted those slogans and burned public property and cars.”

The interior minister has also warned the public that protesters will be held accountable.

Image source Wikimedia

Iran: Shootings at Parliament Building and Ayatollah Khomeini Shrine

Are We Safe? Key Facts About The Iran Nuclear Deal People Won’t Tell You

Protests began in the north-eastern city of Mashhad on December 28 and spread to other major cities on December 29.

A small demonstration in the capital Tehran grew to several thousand people on December 30, and students clashed with police. The protests also became violent in several other towns.

Iran is a key provider of military support to the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. It is also accused of providing arms to Houthi rebels fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which it denies, and is an ally of Lebanon’s powerful Shia movement Hezbollah.

The Iranian authorities are blaming anti-revolutionaries and agents of foreign powers for the outbreak.

Also on December 30, thousands of pro-government demonstrators turned out for pre-arranged rallies to mark the eighth anniversary of the suppression of the 2009 street protests.

The US has led international support for the protesters.

President Donald Trump tweeted: “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”

Iran’s foreign ministry called earlier comments from President Trump and other US officials “opportunistic and deceitful”.

0

South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-registered ship last month suspected of supplying oil to North Korea in breach of international sanctions.

According to officials, the Lighthouse Winmore had secretly transferred 600 tonnes of refined oil to a North Korean ship.

A UN Security Council resolution bans ship-to-ship transfers of any goods destined for North Korea.

The revelations came as China denied claims by President Donald Trump it had allowed oil shipments to North Korea.

to The ship entered Yeosu port in South Korea on October 11 to load up with refined oil and left for Taiwan four days later, Yonhap news agency reported.

However, instead of going to Taiwan it transferred the oil to a North Korean ship and three other vessels in international waters on October 19, South Korean officials were quoted as saying.

This defies a UN Security Council resolution imposed on September 11.

Image source Flickr

UN Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea over Ballistic Missile Tests

North Korea Describes Latest UN Sanctions as “Act of War”

According to the New York Times, the transfer was captured in US satellite photo, released by the US Treasury in November, although the Lighthouse Winmore was not named by the Treasury.

According to South Korean officials, the Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it returned to Yeosu in November and remains in South Korea.

There is no evidence for this, as although the Lighthouse Winmore is Hong Kong-flagged, it was leased by a Taiwanese company, Billions Bunker Group Corp.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office said the company that chartered the ship was not incorporated in Taiwan, but did not say whether the firm’s owner or officials are Taiwanese.

The Chinese government said the accusations against it were “not consistent with the facts”.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “China has never allowed Chinese enterprises nor individuals to violate UN Security Council resolutions imposed on the DPRK.”

China handles about 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade.

There has been increasing suspicion in Washington that Chinese ships have been secretly transferring petroleum to North Korean vessels at sea.

China has continued to deny this, saying it fully enforces UN resolutions against North Korea.

On December 28, President Donald Trump tweeted he was “very disappointed” with China, which he said had been “caught red-handed”.

The tweet followed a report on the issue in South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

President Trump has previously threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it launches a nuclear attack. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has described President Trump as “mentally deranged”.

Nine people have been killed in Egypt during two attacks on Coptic Christians in Helwan district, south of Cairo, the interior ministry has said.

According to the interior ministry statement, 6 civilians and a policeman died when a gunman tried to storm a church but was intercepted and arrested.

It said the gunman had previously attacked a Coptic-owned shop in the same area, killing two brothers.

The interior ministry revised an earlier account given by the health ministry.

The initial report said 12 were dead, and suggested there were two attackers. It said one had been killed, and the other fled but was later captured.

More than 100 Christians have been killed in Egypt in 2017, with most attacks claimed by the local branch of ISIS.

Security forces have reinforced checkpoints in place around Cairo in response to the attacks.

Earlier this week, they announced plans to protect festivities around the New Year and, on January 7, Coptic Christmas. They include the deployment of rapid-reaction forces, combat troops and jamming equipment.

Image source Reuters

Egypt Church Attacks: President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi Declares Three-Month State of Emergency

Egypt bombs ISIS targets in Libya following killings of 21 Coptic Christians

According to the interior ministry statement, the first attack on December 29 took place at a household appliances shop. Then the attacker headed to the Saint Mina Coptic church, where he attempted “to trespass the church’s perimeter security”.

It said that seven people, including an auxiliary policeman, had been killed and four injured as the gunman opened fire at the church.

The attacker also had an explosive device, a machine gun and 150 rounds, it added.

The ministry suggested he was known to security services, saying he was “one of the most active terrorist elements and he carried out several terrorist attacks which resulted in the martyrdom of a number of policemen and civilians”.

However, the interior ministry account contradicts earlier ones from officials and witnesses, who spoke of a higher death toll and more than one attacker.

Video footage has also emerged appearing to show one gunman lying dead at the scene and another alleged attacker fleeing in a red car.

Egypt is a Muslim-majority country and its Christian minority – mostly members of the Coptic Orthodox Church – make up around 10% of the population.

0

An explosion at a store in Sankt Petersburg, Russia, has injured at least ten people.

According to officials, one person was said to be in serious condition after the detonation of an improvised explosive device (IED).

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the explosion, at the Perekrestok supermarket chain on December 27, as a terrorist act.

No group has said it carried out the attack, which officials say produced a blast equivalent to 200g (7oz) of TNT.

Russia’s investigative committee said the home-made device was packed with lethal components.

Image source Wikipedia

St Petersburg Subway Explosion Kills 11

The explosion took place in an area of the supermarket that housed lockers for storing bags.

The property was quickly evacuated and there were no reports of a fire, but images circulating on social media in Russia showed extensive damage in an area of the store close to the tills.

President Putin commented on the explosion at a military awards ceremony on December 28. Officials had earlier suggested the attack was being treated as attempted murder.

Earlier this month, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump spoke by phone after information provided by the CIA helped Russian security services foil an attack on St Petersburg’s Kazan cathedral.

At the time, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that a group had been planning attacks at a number of sites. Several people were reportedly detained.

In April, an explosion on the St Petersburg subway system killed at least 13 people and injured more than 50 others.

0

The latest UN sanctions imposed on North Korea have been described by Pyongyang as an “act of war”.

A North Korea’s foreign ministry statement said the measures were tantamount to a total economic blockade, the official KCNA news agency reported.

The statement added that strengthening North Korea’s deterrence was the only way to frustrate the US.

On December 22, the UN Security Council imposed the new sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile tests.

The US-drafted resolution – unanimously backed by all 15 Security Council members – includes measures to cut North Korea’s petrol imports by up to 90%.

North Korea is already subject to a raft of sanctions from the US, the UN and the EU.

Image source Wikimedia

UN Imposes New Sanctions on North Korea over Ballistic Missile Tests

Alleged North Korean Economic Agent Arrested in Australia

Characteristically bellicose, North Korea described the latest UN sanctions “as a violent breach of our republic’s sovereignty and an act of war that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and a wide region: “The United States, completely terrified at our accomplishment of the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, is getting more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country.

“We will further consolidate our self-defensive nuclear deterrence aimed at fundamentally eradicating the US nuclear threats, blackmail and hostile moves by establishing the practical balance of force with the US.”

The US said it was seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue and drafted this new set of sanctions, including deliveries of petrol products will be capped at 500,000 barrels a year, and crude oil at four million barrels a year; all North Korean nationals working abroad will have to return home within 24 months under the proposals, restricting a vital source of foreign currency.

There will also be a ban on exports of North Korean goods, such as machinery and electrical equipment.

The UN sanctions came in response to North Korea’s November 28 firing of a ballistic missile, which the US said was its highest yet.

President Donald Trump has previously threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it launches a nuclear attack while North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has described the American president as “mentally deranged”.

0

The UN Security Council has imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to ballistic missile tests.

President Donald Trump praised the decision in a tweet: “The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 in favor of additional Sanctions on North Korea. The World wants Peace, not Death!”

The US-drafted resolution includes measures to cut North Korea’s petrol imports by up to 90%.

China and Russia, North Korea’s main trading partners, voted in favor of the resolution.

North Korea is already subject to a raft of sanctions from the US, the UN and the EU.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said the sanctions sent an “unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishments and isolation”.

She described North Korea as “the most tragic example of evil in the modern world”.

Photo AP

US Urges World to Cut Diplomatic and Trade Ties with North Korea

US Declares North Korea A State Sponsor of Terrorism

The Chinese foreign ministry described the situation on the peninsula as “complex and sensitive” and called on all sides to “exercise restraint and make active efforts to ease tensions”.

The US said it was seeking a diplomatic solution to the issue and drafted this new set of sanctions, including: deliveries of petrol products will be capped at 500,000 barrels a year, and crude oil at four million barrels a year; all North Korean nationals working abroad will have to return home within 24 months under the proposals, restricting a vital source of foreign currency. There will also be a ban on exports of North Korean goods, such as machinery and electrical equipment.

Tensions have risen this year over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which it has pursued despite pressure from world powers.

The UN sanctions came in response to North Korea’s November 28 firing of a ballistic missile, which the US said was its highest yet.

President Trump has previously threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if it launches a nuclear attack. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has described President Trump as “mentally deranged”.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has announced he will not accept any US plan for peace with Israel, after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Abbas’ comments came after a UN General Assembly vote effectively repudiated President Donald Trump’s controversial declaration.

The US has for the past few months been drafting a new peace plan, though it has not divulged any details.

Meanwhile, two Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops amid fresh protests over Jerusalem’s status.

The men, both in their 20s, were shot dead in the east of the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel said it was investigating.

There have been violent confrontations on the border between Israel and Gaza, as well as across the occupied West Bank, for the past three Fridays.

Palestinians clashed with troops in places including Bethlehem as the city, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, prepared for Christmas.

Image source Wikimedia

Jerusalem Issue: UN Resolution Rejects Donald Trump’s Declaration

Jerusalem Issue: Donald Trump Threatens to Cut Financial Aid to UN Resolution Supporters

Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that he no longer accepted the US as a mediator in the peace process with Israel. He also rebuffed a new US framework for peace being developed by President Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner, before it has been launched.

The Palestinian leader told a news conference in Paris: “The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process and we will no longer accept any plan from the United States.”

While the details of the US plan are not known, it has been devised for months and there has been an expectation it will be publicly launched in early 2018.

The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed amid acrimony in April 2014.

Mahmoud Abbas has been emboldened by the outcome of the vote at the UN, which rejected any changes to the status of Jerusalem.

Yesterday’s vote came three days after the US used its power of veto to block a similar resolution at the world body’s smaller, but more powerful, Security Council.

The US had warned countries not to support the latest resolution, threatening to cut off financial aid anyone who backed it.

However, the UN resolution still passed with a decisive majority, as most nations, including the US’ allies, voted in its favor.

At least 15 people have been injured, with several in a critical condition, after a car drove into a crowd in Melbourne, Australia.

The car “collided with a number of pedestrians” on Flinders Street, a busy junction in the center of the city, said Victoria Police.

Police have arrested two people and said it was a deliberate act but is too early to say whether it was terrorist-related.

“The motivations are unknown,” police commander Russell Barrett said.

The white SUV struck pedestrians just after 16:30 local time.

Victoria Ambulance said in a statement that a child of pre-school age with serious head injuries was among those taken to hospital.

Image source Wikimedia

Jerusalem car attack kills at least one person

Times Square Attack: One Dead and 22 Injured after Speeding Car Drove into Pedestrians

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that the investigations had begun, and sent “thoughts and prayers” to those affected.

He tweeted: “As our federal & state police & security agencies work together to secure the scene and investigate this shocking incident our thoughts & prayers are with the victims & the emergency & health workers who are treating them.”

In January, six people died when a man drove a car into pedestrians on Bourke Street.

Afterwards, Melbourne authorities installed concrete blocks in various locations – including on Flinders Street – hoping to prevent vehicle-based attacks.

0

Australian authorities have arrested a man for allegedly acting as an economic agent for North Korea.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) said that Chan Han Choi, 59, has been charged with brokering illegal exports from the country and discussing the supply of weapons of mass destruction.

Police allege Chan Han Choi has broken both UN and Australian sanctions.

The case against Chan Han Choi, who has lived in Australia for more than 30 years, is the first of its kind in the country.

It is the first time anyone has been charged under Australia’s 1995 Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act.

Police say there was evidence that Chan Han Choi had been in contact with “high ranking officials in North Korea”.

They allege he had brokered services related to North Korea’s weapons program, including the sale of specialist services including ballistic missile technology to foreign entities, in order to generate income for the North Korean regime.

Image source Public Domain Pictures

Charles Jenkins: US Army Sergeant Who Defected to North Korea Dies in Japan Aged 77

US Urges World to Cut Diplomatic and Trade Ties with North Korea

Chan Han Choi also was charged with brokering the sale of coal from North Korea to groups in Indonesia and Vietnam. He is facing six charges in total after being arrested at his Sydney home on December 16.

In a news conference, police confirmed the man was a naturalized Australian citizen of Korean origin who had been in the country for over 30 years.

They described him as a “loyal agent” who “believed he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose”.

However, police insisted Chan Han Choi’s actions did not pose any “direct risk” to Australians, with the actions occurring offshore.

“I know these charges sound alarming. Let me be clear we are not suggesting there are any weapons or missile component that ever came to Australian soil,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.

“Any individual who attempts to fly in the face of sanctions cannot and will not go unnoticed in Australia.”

Chan Han Choi could face up to 10 years in prison and has been denied bail.

In October the Australian government said they had received a letter from North Korea urging Canberra to distance itself from the Trump administration.

North Korea had previously warned that Australia would “not be able to avoid a disaster” if it followed US policies towards Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Israel has targeted Hamas sites in Gaza in retaliation for rocket strikes.

According to Israel’s military, it hit weapons sites on December 9. Two people were killed, a Gaza hospital said, bringing the deaths in Israeli strikes and gunfire over the past day to four.

On December 8, three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The December 6 decision reversed decades of US neutrality on the matter.

Israel has always regarded the city of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

President Donald Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel’s air force followed a number of raids on Hamas sites on December 8 with more air strikes on December 9, targeting weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Gaza’s Shifa hospital said that two bodies of Palestinians were found under the rubble of a Hamas military site bombed by Israeli planes overnight, bringing the death toll in the past 24 hours to four, with 160 injuries. The two other fatalities came when Israeli troops fired on crowds in Gaza during clashes on December 8.

Of the three rockets fired at Israel, its military said it had intercepted one with its Iron Dome defense system, one was found on wasteland and another landed in Sderot on December 8. No casualties were reported.

On December 8, Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas leader, said anyone seeking to move their embassy to Jerusalem was “an enemy of the Palestinians”.

Speaking before the UN on December 8, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States “recognizes the obvious; that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.

Nikki Haley said the US continued to be “committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement”, and accused the UN of bias, saying it “has outrageously been one of the world’s foremost centers of hostility towards Israel”.

Israel had deployed extra battalions to the West Bank in anticipation of violence after Palestinian leaders called for protests after Friday prayers.

At least 217 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian medics said.

On December 8, there were protests held elsewhere against President Trump’s announcement.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters held demonstrations in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia and Iran.

Further afield, protesters rallied in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indian-administered Kashmir and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

At least sixteen Palestinians have been injured in clashes in the occupied West Bank, during protests against President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

According to local reports, the injuries are mostly from tear gas and rubber bullets, but at least one was hurt by live fire.

Israel has deployed hundreds of extra troops in the West Bank.

Donald Trump’s announcement – met with worldwide dismay – reversed decades of US policy on the sensitive issue.

Palestinians in the both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have gone on strike and taken to the streets in protest.

Many of the United States’ closest allies have said they disagree with the move, and both the UN Security Council and the Arab League will meet in the coming days to decide their response.

There are fears the announcement could lead to a renewed outbreak of violence. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has already called for a new intifada, or uprising.

On December 6, President Trump said that he had “determined it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel”.

He said: “I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

The president said he was directing the state department to begin preparations to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Despite warnings of regional unrest over any such move, the decision fulfills a campaign promise and appeals to Donald Trump’s right-wing base.

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality”, he added.

“It is also the right thing to do.”

President Trump said the US would support a two-state solution – shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state within pre-1967 ceasefire lines in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, living peacefully alongside Israel – “if agreed to by both sides”.

He also refrained from using Israel’s description of Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided capital”. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of any future Palestinian state.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to President Trump, who had “bound himself forever with the history of the capital”.

The prime minister also said Israel was “in touch with other countries to follow suit. I have no doubt other embassies will move to Jerusalem – the time has come”. He did not name any of these countries, although the Philippines and the Czech Republic have been mentioned in Israeli media.

The mood has been very different on the Palestinian side.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for a “day of rage” on December 8 and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”.

0

President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, senior White House officials have said.

The president is due to announce the controversial decision in a speech later.

Donald Trump is also expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years.

Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardize any Middle East peace process.

Pope Francis called for the “status quo” to be respected. Dialogue would only come through “recognizing the rights of all people” in the region, he said.

Saudi Arabia, an ally of the US, called the new policy “a flagrant provocation to Muslims”.

Israel has always regarded Jerusalem as its capital city, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US becomes the first country to do so since the foundation of Israel in 1948.

The issue goes to the heart of Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, who are backed by the Arab and wider Islamic world.

Jerusalem is home to key religious sites sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, especially in East Jerusalem.

Israel annexed the sector from Jordan after the 1967 Middle East war and regards the entire city as its indivisible capital.

According to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of talks.

Image source Wikimedia

Jordan Warns US over Jerusalem’s Recognition as Israel’s Capital

Israel Settlements: Jerusalem Housing and Planning Committee Postpones Vote on Jewish Homes

Israel-Jordan Deal on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif Holy Site

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem has never been recognized internationally and all countries maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the US could reinforce Israel’s position that settlements in the east are valid Israeli communities.

Trump administration officials said recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was seen as “a recognition of reality” by the US government.

However, specific boundaries of Jerusalem would remain subject to a final status agreement, the official said. The status of holy sites would not be affected.

President Trump would also direct the state department to begin the process of moving the US embassy to Jerusalem – but this could take several years as it still has to be designed and built and security concerns would need to be addressed.

Donald Trump originally promised the move to pro-Israel voters during his campaign for the presidency.

The White House officials added that the president would still sign a regular waiver blocking the embassy’s move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem until the new building was completed.

Successive presidents have signed waivers to get round the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the embassy. They have done this so that the US can be seen as neutral in Middle East peace negotiations.

Donald Trump has vowed to pursue a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, led by his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner.

An administration official said the new US policy on Jerusalem was not designed to favor Israel in that process.

Ahead of his formal announcement, President Trump phoned several regional leaders to inform them of the embassy move.

Reacting to news of President Trump’s impending announcement, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman told him the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for protests on December 8 and Jordan’s King Abdullah said the decision would “undermine efforts to resume the peace process”.

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi urged President Trump “not to complicate the situation in the region” while Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country could sever ties with Israel.

China also warned of an escalation in tensions in the Middle East.

France, the EU and the Arab League have also expressed concern.

US government employees and their families have been barred from personal travel in Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank for security reasons ahead of expected protests.

Israel’s intelligence minister Israel Katz told Army Radio that Israel was “preparing for every option”, including an outbreak of violence.