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After white nationalism defence, lawmaker Steve King faces rebuke

Washington, DC – US Republican Congressman Steve King’s recent defence of white supremacy and white nationalism has provoked controversy and backlash, including from within his own party. House Democrats are organising a vote to rebuke King’s comments, while the Republican Party has stripped the hardline politician of his committee assignments in Congress. King served as…

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After white nationalism defence, lawmaker Steve King faces rebuke

Washington, DC – US Republican Congressman Steve King’s recent defence of white supremacy and white nationalism has provoked controversy and backlash, including from within his own party.

House Democrats are organising a vote to rebuke King’s comments, while the Republican Party has stripped the hardline politician of his committee assignments in Congress.

King served as chairman of the immigration and border security sub-committee, as well as Agriculture, Small Business and Judiciary committees in the last Congress, among others.

“We will not tolerate this in the Republican Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday, in the wake of a New York Times report in which King ostensibly defended white nationalism and white supremacy. 

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilisation – how did that language become offensive?” King said in the New York Times interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilisation?”

In a statement released on Monday, King claimed that his quotes were “mischaracterised” and said McCarthy’s decision to remove King’s committee assignments “ignores the truth”.

Claiming that he has denounced white nationalism and white supremacy, King said, “My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilisation is nearly as full as my record in defence of Freedom of Speech [all sic].”

In a separate statement directly addressing the New York Times article, King dismissed claims that he sympathises with white nationalists or white supremacists. “Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist [sic].”

‘Brazen and crass’ 

For years, few in the Republican Party batted an eye when King railed against Muslims and immigrants, made overtly racist statements, and built ties with hardline elements of the European far right.

King, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, promoted the idea of building a wall on the US-Mexico border over a decade ago and introduced legislation to end automatic birthright citizenship as far back as 2011.

Christopher Mathias, a HuffPost reporter who focuses on the far right, started following King closely in late 2017 as the politician’s social media activity increasingly overlapped with European far-rightists and some neo-Nazis.

In December 2017, King tweeted a link to an article about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s opposition to “mixing cultures”. Alongside the link, King wrote, “Diversity is not our strength.”

In June 2018, King retweeted Mark Collett, a British far-rightist who has described himself as a “Nazi sympathiser”. Collett had shared an article claiming that a majority of young Italians oppose immigration.

“Europe is waking up,” King wrote alongside that retweet. “Will America … in time?”

“At that point, when King refused to apologise for promoting a Nazi on Twitter, I decided to take a longer, closer look at him,” Mathias told Al Jazeera.

Many of these incidents failed to prompt condemnation from fellow Republicans, but the latest King controversy has marginalised him within his own party.

“It’s partly the fact that it was in the [New York] Times and people pay attention to the Times, and it was also that King almost lost in November,” Mathias added, explaining that King has become more of “toxic asset” for Republicans than he was before. 

“Because he’s so brazen and crass, it gives them the opportunity to say they denounce white supremacy, when in fact most of them are busy supporting Trump’s border wall.”

In recent years, King has travelled to Europe often to meet far-right parties and groups, including the Freedom Party of Austria, which was founded by former Nazi officers and is currently a junior coalition partner in the Austrian government.

He has promoted Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim politician, and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally party. 

Last year, he endorsed the Toronto mayoral campaign of Faith Goldy, a far-right candidate who has made neo-Nazi remarks. 

Shane Burley, author of Fascism Today, says that King exemplifies white nationalists’ influence on the Republican Party and mainstream conservatives in the last decade.

“At this point, I’m pretty comfortable saying Steve King is a white nationalist,” Burley told Al Jazeera. “From everything we can see, that’s what’s motivating Steve King.”

He added, “Steve King says explicitly what [Republicans] would rather not say; the Republican Party is made up of people who want to deny the racial implications of their policies.”

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Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.” The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.” This was…

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Saudi Arabia issues calming statement as Lebanese tensions rise over port explosion case

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Waleed Bukhari told Lebanese religious figures on Tuesday that the Kingdom “cares for Lebanon’s security, stability, institutions and co-existence between Christians and Muslims.”

The Saudi embassy’s media office said: “There is no legitimacy for the discourse of strife, nor for one that goes against Lebanon’s Arab identity.”

This was the first Saudi statement since the bloody clashes in Tayouneh on Oct. 14.

At least seven people were killed in the violence in Beirut amid a protest organized by Hezbollah and its allies against the lead judge probing last year’s blast at the city’s port.

The protestors, gathered by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, demanded the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the investigation.

According to the embassy’s statement, Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian “expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for never abandoning Lebanon and its people, despite the unfair stances against the Kingdom by some Lebanese parties that only represent themselves.”

Sheikh Derian added that “the Saudi-Lebanese relations have always been and will remain solid regardless of any offensive speeches because our relations are above these speeches and Saudi Arabia will always see Lebanon as an Arab brotherly country.”

The statement comes after the Intelligence Directorate summoned the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, to the Defense Ministry on Wednesday as part of the investigation into the bloodshed in Tayouneh.

The summoning was the motivation for Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi’s spontaneous visits on Tuesday to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and President Michel Aoun.

Al-Rahi denounced “the summoning of Geagea only by the Intelligence Directorate to testify.”

Charles Jabbour from the Lebanese Forces party told Arab News that “Geagea will not appear at the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.

“They should start with summoning Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah. All parties should give testimonies, beginning with the party that called for the demonstration. Only when a judge dares to summon Nasrallah, will we be able to talk about a state and a judiciary in Lebanon.”

The move to summon Geagea was condemned by several political figures.

Former Premier Saad Hariri refused “to engage in an absurd conflict and the frontlines of a civil war and sectarian divisions.”

He added: “Announcing that Dr. Geagea was informed to appear before the Intelligence Directorate via a plastered notification is absurd and leads the country into further division along with using state machinery for revenge politics.”

Former Premier Fouad Siniora also denounced “the bias of the judicial authorities in the military court over the deplorable Tayouneh events and the continuing violations of the constitutions by those who were entrusted with the task of preserving and protecting it.”

Siniora rejected “the practices seeking to use the judiciary for reprisals against political opponents, and not for its main mission: To seek the truth and achieve justice.”

Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat criticized the “selectivity instead of a transparent and just investigation for a comprehensive justice.”

He said: “All those who fired shots in the Tayouneh events should be arrested, without discrimination, and this destructive and futile political dispute must be ended.”

Samy Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, announced his rejection to “all the means Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have resorted to in hampering the investigation into the Beirut port blast.”

Hezbollah accused Geagea of firing the first shot on Oct. 14 at the demonstrators who penetrated the anti-Hezbollah and Christian-majority Ain Remaneh area.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab, who is also a defendant in the Beirut port explosion investigation, visited Sheikh Derian on Tuesday, reiterating his demand “to either lift immunity from everyone without exception, or adopt the legal and constitutional mechanisms in force in the Supreme Council for the Trial of Presidents and Ministers.”

So far, all the politicians who have been accused of being involved in the Beirut port blast have declined to appear before Judge Bitar.

Amal Movement and Hezbollah ministers have refused to attend Cabinet sessions unless Judge Bitar is removed and the investigations into Tayouneh are halted, causing a governmental paralysis at a time when Lebanon is in desperate need of reforms to unblock the international aid that would lessen its dire economic situation.

Prime Minister Mikati hoped on Tuesday that “Cabinet meetings will resume as soon as possible to make the decisions required to activate the work of commissions and committees and do what is needed from the government.”

Mikati added that he hoped his government would supervise “the parliamentary elections with full integrity, to enable these elections to renew the political life in Lebanon.”

The joint parliamentary committees held a session on Tuesday and voted to keep the electoral law as it was, thus rejecting Aoun’s proposal to make amendments.

Aoun had objected to holding the elections on March 27 and to the proposals to change the expatriate voting formula by canceling the six seats allocated for Lebanese voters who live abroad.

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Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture

LONDON: A former Iranian air force pilot exiled in Turkey has said he still feels unsafe after a failed kidnapping attempt last month. Mehrdad Abdarbashi, a former helicopter pilot who defected from the military when he was ordered to fight in Syria, had previously tried to resign from the armed forces, but Tehran rejected his…

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Damascus bookshops disappear as crisis hits culture

LONDON: A former Iranian air force pilot exiled in Turkey has said he still feels unsafe after a failed kidnapping attempt last month.

Mehrdad Abdarbashi, a former helicopter pilot who defected from the military when he was ordered to fight in Syria, had previously tried to resign from the armed forces, but Tehran rejected his resignation and seized his passport.

In 2018, he said he received orders to be deployed to Syria on behalf of the Assad regime and decided it was time to flee Iran.

“It was the first time I was being deployed there, and I refused because I did not want to be involved in a proxy war going on there,” he told Al Jazeera.

He is now in hiding in eastern Turkey, and was recently targeted by two Iranian agents who tried to drug and kidnap him.

Turkish intelligence, which had been in contact with Abdarbashi, foiled the plot. The Iranian agents were charged with espionage and conspiracy to commit a crime in a Turkish court earlier this month.

But Abdarbashi said he still fears the Iranian regime will reach him despite Ankara’s protection.

“I don’t think I am safe in any city in Turkey right now. I think Iranian intelligence will come after me, and this time they won’t try to kidnap me, this time they will just kill me,” he said.

“Of course, Turkish police and intelligence are still looking after me. But I still think Iranian agents will somehow reach me.”

Iranian exiles in Turkey are often targeted by Tehran’s agents, who try to kidnap them to bring them back to the Islamic Republic.

In June 2020, Eisa Bazyar, a writer critical of the Iranian regime, was forced into a car in western Turkey and held for two days before he managed to escape.

The following November, Habib Chaab, an Iranian dissident with Swedish citizenship, was seized as he transited through an Istanbul airport.

For a period of time, it appeared that Ankara was complying with and even directly cooperating with Tehran’s attempts to kidnap foreign dissidents and bring them back to Iran.

In two cases, Ankara assisted with the capture and deportation of men sentenced to death for their role in anti-regime protests.

But last year’s war between Azerbaijan — perhaps the nation with the closest ties to Ankara — and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh appears to have prompted a cooling in relations between Turkey and Iran. Their opposing sides in the Syrian conflict has also proved a more subtle bone of contention.

As relations between the two large Middle Eastern states — which share a long border and have a centuries-old history of Persian-Turkic competition — have declined, Ankara’s cooperation with Iranian intelligence operations on Turkish soil appears to have ceased.

In February this year, Turkish police arrested an Iranian diplomat at the Istanbul consulate in connection with the assassination of spy-turned-dissident Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in November 2019. 

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Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times   Click above icon to download full news paper   The post Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times

 

Click above icon to download full news paper

 

The post Kuwait Times Wednesday, October 27, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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