US President Donald Trump walked out of the meeting with top Democrats on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, after they vowed to not approve funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
“He asked (House) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no,” Schumer told reporters outside the White House.
“And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss,’ and he just walked out. Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way.”
On Twitter, Trump described the meeting as a “total waste of time”, underscoring his demands for a wall on the southern border.
“I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Earlier on Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said that the Trump administration was “determined to stand firm” in its push to secure more than $5bn in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico to end what he called a “humanitarian crisis”.
“President Trump and I, and our entire team, are determined to stand firm until the Democrats in Congress come to the table and work with us to secure the border, build a wall, end this humanitarian crisis and do what’s right for the American people,” Pence said in an interview with syndicated radio show host Rush Limbaugh.
The comments came on the 19th day of a partial government shutdown, which is centred on Trump’s demand for $5.7bn in funding for the wall. More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or required to work without pay and services have been also disrupted for many other Americans.
On Tuesday, Trump gave a televised address in which he made the case for a border wall, saying the situation is a “humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul”.
Pelosi and Schumer responded, accusing Trump of appealing to “fear, not facts”.
Democrats oppose the border wall, calling it ineffective, expensive and immoral. After taking control of the House of Representatives last week, they passed a two-bill spending package that included more than $1.3bn for border security measures that do not include a wall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has so far this year refused to bring any legislation Trump won’t sign to a vote.
McConnell faces increasing pressure from within his party, especially from vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2020, as several conservative senators urged action to reopen the government.
Keep Republicans in line
To shore up his party’s support, Trump and Pence also met congressional Republicans on Wednesday for talks about the shutdown.
Trump told reporters as he was leaving the Capitol that party is “totally unified” in its demands for border security.
“A couple [Republicans] talked about strategy … but they’re with us all the way,” he said.
But some Republicans, including Senator John Thun, have indicated in recent days that there is growing concern about the toll the shutdown is taking on everyday Americans, including disruptions in payments to farmers and trouble for home buyers who are seeking government-backed mortgage loans – “serious stuff”.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski recently urged colleagues to approve spending bills that would reopen various agencies, “so that whether it’s the Department of the Interior or it is the IRS, those folks can get back to work. I’d like to see that”.
After the president’s meeting with Republicans on Wednesday, John Cornyn, the No 2 Republican in the Senate, said Trump urged senators to “hang together” in the face of what they expect to be rising political pressure on the president and lawmakers of both parties as the shutdown begins to hurt federal workers paychecks.
“This really isn’t about the substance anymore. This is about who is going to win and who is going to lose a political argument so that unfortunately we are not even talking about the substance anymore,” Cornyn told Al Jazeera. “This is a completely contrived and phony crisis as far as I am concerned because we solve problems like this everyday, working out and negotiating outcomes. But having said that, I think there is going to be significant political pressure on everybody when federal workers and contractors start missing their paychecks, or cant pay the rent or the mortgage, or put food on the table.”
Cornyn added that there are “discussions” behind the scenes about a compromise.
Ahead of his Capitol Hill visit, Trump said he thought “we’re getting closer to a deal”, but presented no details on what that may be. Instead, he renewed his notice that he might declare a national emergency and try to authorise the wall on his own if Congress wouldn’t approve the $5.7bn he’s asking for.
“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t we might go that route,” he said. If he moves forward with this threat, it will likely face challenges in the courts.
Growing proportion of Americans blame Trump: poll
As the shutdown stretched to the second-longest on record, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday found that a growing proportion of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown, though Republicans mostly support his refusal to approve a budget without taxpayer dollars for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
The national opinion poll, which ran from January 1 to January 7, found that 51 percent of adults believe Trump “deserves most of the blame” for the shutdown. That is up four percentage points from a similar poll that ran from December 21 to 25.
Another 32 percent blame congressional Democrats for the shutdown and seven percent blame congressional Republicans, according to the poll. Those percentages are mostly unchanged from the previous poll.
With additional reporting from William Roberts in Washington, DC.
Israel urges hard line against Iran at nuclear talks
SULAIMANIYA: An attack by Daesh militants on a village in northern Iraq on Friday killed three villagers and 10 Kurdish soldiers, officials in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said. Daesh claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a statement posted on an affiliated Telegram account.The attack took place in the Makhmour region, a hotbed for Daesh…
SULAIMANIYA: An attack by Daesh militants on a village in northern Iraq on Friday killed three villagers and 10 Kurdish soldiers, officials in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region said.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a statement posted on an affiliated Telegram account.The attack took place in the Makhmour region, a hotbed for Daesh activity that sees regular attacks against Kurdish forces, Iraqi forces and often civilians.Makhmour is a mountainous area about 70 km southeast of Mosul and 60 km southwest of the Kurdish capital of Irbil.Kurdistan’s Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called for greater security cooperation between Iraqi Kurdish and Iraqi security forces to stop Daesh’s insurgent activities.Iraqi officials and analysts have long blamed a lack of coordination along a stretch of territory claimed by both Baghdad and Irbil for Daesh’s continued ability to wage deadly attacks.Daesh controlled roughly a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017, including the remote Makhmour region but also major cities including Mosul.A loose coalition of US-led forces, Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias defeated the extremist group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.Western military officials say at least 10,000 Daesh fighters remain in Iraq and Syria.A statement from the Kurdistan region’s armed forces, the peshmerga, said Daesh militants attacked the village in the early hours of Friday killing three residents.It said peshmerga forces intervened, resulting in clashes that killed at least seven of their soldiers.Kurdish security and hospital officials said the final death toll was at least 10 peshmerga soldiers and three villagers.In a separate development, Kurdish demonstrators in The Hague stormed the headquarters of the global chemical weapons body on Friday, sparking clashes in which six people were hurt and 50 arrested, Dutch police said.
A loose coalition of US-led forces, Iraqi and Kurdish troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias defeated the Daesh extremist group in 2017, but its members still roam areas of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.
Dozens of protesters alleging that Turkey is using toxic arms in northern Iraq broke through security to enter the grounds of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.A number of them managed to get inside the lobby of the building before police removed them, diplomatic sources said, while the rest staged a noisy protest outside the front doors.Police dragged the demonstrators off one by one, put them on the ground and handcuffed them, journalists saw. Some were bundled into waiting vans, but the large number meant many were taken away in a hired bus.At least a dozen police vehicles sealed off the road outside the OPCW, which is opposite Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s official residence. Several ambulances and a medical helicopter were also at the scene.Two police officers and four protesters were wounded when the demonstrators “stormed the building,” The Hague police said.Turkish jets regularly attack the separatists’ bases in northern Iraq and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, with several villages having emptied of their inhabitants since a new Turkish army offensive in April.The PKK and Kurdish organizations in Europe have in recent months accused Turkey of using chemical weapons, including a nerve agent and sulfur mustard gas, in dozens of attacks in northern Iraq.“We have called on OPCW and all international bodies to come and independently investigate the use of chemical weapons,” Zagros Hiwa, a spokesperson for the Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union, the PKK’s political branch, told AFP.
Clashes rock Arab town in Israel, alleged car-rammer killed
Yemeni military commander hopeful of Marib advance after army cuts Houthi supply lines LONDON: Yemen’s military commander heading army troops in Marib Maj. Gen. Mansour Thawaba said he was hopeful of advancements in the strategic province after Houthi supply lines were cut. There have been “great advances” in the past two days in Bayhan, Usaylan…
Yemeni military commander hopeful of Marib advance after army cuts Houthi supply lines
LONDON: Yemen’s military commander heading army troops in Marib Maj. Gen. Mansour Thawaba said he was hopeful of advancements in the strategic province after Houthi supply lines were cut.
There have been “great advances” in the past two days in Bayhan, Usaylan and Harib, the major general told Al-Arabiya, noting that army forces cut the Houthis’ supply line between Bayhan and Harib.
He explained that military operations continued on all fronts, with the southern front seeing most of the action. He also noted the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s support with airstrikes.
“Marib is not besieged, and the Houthis are far from achieving this,” he said.
He added that most of those fighting for the Houthis were children and young men.
“They do not care about the children of Yemenis who are killed by the dozens every day,” he said, referring to the Houthi militia.
The coalition announced on Friday night that it had destroyed a ballistic missile launcher south of Sanaa.
The coalition added that it also destroyed a “mine-making workshop” in the capital, stressing that it had taken “preventive measures to spare civilians and civilian structures from collateral damage” during the airstrikes.
US critics of Israel face challenges in redrawn Congress districts
CHICAGO: Nine members of Congress who have been vocal critics of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians could face tougher re-election campaigns as a result of their districts being redrawn, an analysis by Arab News shows. Every 10 years, the dominant political parties in many states re-draw district boundaries based on demographic data provided by the…
CHICAGO: Nine members of Congress who have been vocal critics of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians could face tougher re-election campaigns as a result of their districts being redrawn, an analysis by Arab News shows.
Every 10 years, the dominant political parties in many states re-draw district boundaries based on demographic data provided by the US Census, which does not count Arab and Muslim Americans as a separate category.
Where population shifts have led to proposed boundary changes, incumbents may be forced to stand in new districts. That’s the challenge facing Illinois representative Marie Newman, who won election in 2020 in the 3rd Congressional District, which has the largest concentration of Palestinian American voters.
Newman has chosen to face-off with Sean Casten, who is very strong on climate change, in the new 6th District rather than stand against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who is one of only two Hispanic congress members in Illinois, in the 4th District. Casten is a strong supporter of Israel and silent on Israeli violence against Palestinians, while Garcia has often joined Newman to support pro-Palestinian legislation, including voting against a bill giving Israel $1 billion for its Iron Dome defense system last September.
“Rep. Newman was supportive of the push to create a second congressional district of Latino influence and understood that doing so would mean the need to shift boundary lines of existing CDs in the Chicagoland area,” Newman campaign spokesperson Ben Hardin said.
Describing the challenges as “inevitable,” Hardin said: “Representative Newman is grateful … to have the support of so many people here in Chicago’s southwest side and in the south and west suburbs, including a strong coalition of supporters from the Arab and Muslim American community.”
The new Illinois district map was approved by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, one of Israel’s strongest advocates, in November. Pritzker aroused anger among Arab Americans after refusing to apologize for disparaging remarks he made in a 1998 congressional race in which he accused a rival of accepting money from a Muslim group that Pritzker asserted supported terrorists.
“There is no doubt that the Illinois Democrats are seeking to undermine Newman, who has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim rights,” said Hassan Nijem, the president of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.
“She and Chuy Garcia are the only Illinois Democrats to defend Palestinian rights and recognize our growing community.”
The Illinois primary has been delayed from March until June 28, 2022, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to Newman and Garcia, seven other members of Congress who voted against the Iron Dome money could be affected by district changes.
They include Cori Bush of Missouri; André Carson of Indiana; Raúl Grijalva of Arizona; Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rashida Tlaib of Michigan; and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a Republican Congressman who consistently votes against all foreign aid regardless of the recipient.
Tlaib, Pressley and Omar are members of the “Squad,” a group of progressive Democrats that includes New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Instead of voting against the Iron Dome funding, however, AOC voted “present” not taking a position.
In Michigan, which is holding its primary on Aug. 2 next year, mapmakers are proposing to re-draw Tlaib’s 13th district, increasing the number of African American voters. That could be important even though Tlaib defeated several African American candidates when she first ran and won office in the predominantly African American district in 2018.
Tlaib may be forced into a new district against pro-Arab Democrat Debbie Dingell. However, she could survive as the Michigan process puts remapping in the hands of an independent commission rather than partisan politicians. The final Michigan remap might not be completed until late January.
Also in Michigan, proposed changes would pit Jewish Democratic Congressman Andy Levin, who has been an outspoken supporter of the two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, against Brenda Lawrence.
Minnesota congressional remapping plans have targeted Omar and another pro-Palestinian Congresswoman, Betty McCollum, although maps in those districts have not been finalized.