Silverman hails resumption of direct flights, Kuwaiti humanitarian aid
KUWAIT: US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman speaks during a roundtable at the US Embassy yesterday. — Photo by Joseph Shagra
KUWAIT: Kuwait and the United States share similar agendas in the Middle East, including efforts to preserve Gulf unity, US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman said yesterday. He was speaking during a roundtable at the US Embassy on the Kuwait-US strategic dialogue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that will kick off tomorrow. Issues of regional importance and bilateral cooperation between the two countries will be the main subjects to be discussed, including defense and security, economy, education and trade.
“We had a similar dialogue in 2016 and 2017 – it’s a process. What we are trying to do is strengthen our relations in all aspects, including making travelling from Kuwait to the US easier. Just last week, Kuwait Airways was able to resume direct flights to New York City, which was the result of the two governments’ continuing commitment to make the American and Kuwaiti people reap the practical benefits of our strategic relations,” he said. Silverman also revealed “Kuwait’s desire” to set up an American-staffed custom checkpoint at Kuwait International Airport, similar to the one in Abu Dhabi. Kuwait’s request in this regard is currently under discussion, he said.
Silverman said Pompeo’s visit is part of his tour of the Middle East which included Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, and underscores America’s interest in the region, including the GCC countries. Silverman reiterated his country’s commitment to regional security and the importance of relations between the two countries as well as look for ways to curb Iran’s destabilizing practices in the region and find solutions to regional problems including Yemen. “The unity of the GCC is extremely important; it will be highlighted in this trip. The secretary is here to find and explore solutions to regional conflicts and find solutions to the negative activities of Iran,” he said.
Silverman said the US president and his secretary of state appreciate the efforts made by Kuwait, not only in the diplomatic sphere, but also Kuwait’s humanitarian contributions to refugees as a major effort for the stability of the region. “We would like to thank HH the Amir for his humanitarian work – the Amir does not need to do what he does. It’s not only the right thing to do in terms of humanitarian assistance, but also a major investment for stability in the region,” he added.
Silverman pointed out that military agreements between Kuwait and the US are aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the Kuwaiti army and training its personnel. Military contracts, according to Silverman, are due to be signed during the dialogue. He said there have been deals on F18 aircraft and M1A2 tanks, indicating that the two sides will discuss the delivery of the military equipment in the coming few years.
Silverman reiterated America’s commitment to hosting the GCC-US summit in Washington, expected to be held in the first quarter of this year as an annual event to discuss many issues, including ending the Gulf crisis, strengthening trade and economic relations and combating terrorism and drying up its sources. “We had committed to host the summit – Saudi Arabia hosted the May 2017 summit. We want to see the end to the Gulf dispute, along with other issues such as fighting terrorism, stopping terrorist financing, creating a real structure to maximize the defense against ballistic missiles and also enhance our economic and trade relations,” he said.
The envoy also confirmed the attendance of Kuwait at a ministerial meeting scheduled to be held in Warsaw in mid-February. “An invitation was sent to Kuwait and they confirmed that they are going to attend the ministerial meeting along with 70 other countries. We hope to see the maximum attendance – Iran will be part of the conference, with the hope that it could lead to a change in the behavior of the Iranian regime, but other issues will be discussed too,” he added.
On the sanctions against Iran, Silverman said this is only the beginning stage and results will not appear quickly. He pointed out that Iranian oil exports had fallen from 2.7 million barrels per day to less than 1 million, hoping to see results on the ground soon. “The economic sanctions on Iran reduce the Iranian government’s support of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, which by its practices harms the economy of Lebanon. So sanctions have an effect – as the history of sanctions shows, countries will always claim they are not affected, but they have a great impact on the economy in the long term. I hope the Iranian government will realize the magnitude of the economic difficulties it is putting on itself and its people,” he added.On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the ambassador said the US government is keen to revive peace talks, pointing out there is no specific timetable for relaunching negotiations between the two countries. On the US military pullout from Syria as announced by US President Donald Trump, he said it was mainly a tactical decision rather than a strategic one, stressing that the US policy toward Syria has not changed and the elimination of Iranian-backed terrorist groups is still the top priority.
“We want to see a political solution with regards to the Syrian regime. We ask them to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Some Arab countries have expressed their desire to reopen embassies in Syria, but we disagree with this. If you (the Arab countries) are trying to influence the Assad regime to do what it is supposed to do, we don’t believe the reopening of embassies is the right thing to do,” he concluded.
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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.
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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.