Archive for January, 2017
If the Trump’s White House approves the relocation, it would overturn decades of international consensus on Jerusalem. The message to the Palestinians and Arab world would be clear and provocative, said Nabil Shaath, a senior Palestinian official and former Palestinian foreign minister. “Moving the embassy is the same as recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital. It’s a war crime,” he told Al Jazeera. “There’s no way we or the Arab world could accept it. It would mean the end of the US as the broker of the peace process. We would fight back and mobilise the rest of the world against the move.” The Israeli army has been advising the government of Benjamin Netanyahu on the possible fallout too, according to a report last week in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. A change of address would be seen as a US green light for Israel to extend its sovereignty over the city and its holy places, including the al-Aqsa mosque, in the view of Israeli military intelligence. Reactions could include mass protests from the Islamic movements inside Israel; riots in the occupied Palestinian territories and neighbouring states such as Jordan, which is the official guardian of al-Aqsa; and the collapse of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas inaugurated Palestinian embassy in Islamabad. The new Palestine Embassy Complex has been built in the Diplomatic Enclave. The government gifted land in 1992 for the purpose and in 2013 also contributed towards its construction. President Abbas thanked Pakistan for its support on constitution of the embassy and told the media he had briefed PM Nawaz about the latest situation between Palestine and Israel. Abbas is on a three-day visit to Pakistan. He is accompanied by a 17-member delegation, including five ministers. It is the third visit by President Abbas to Pakistan. He has previously been to the country in 2005 and 2013.
Turkey reopened its embassy in Libya, the Foreign Ministry said, more than two years after the mission was closed for security reasons. “The activities of the Turkish Embassy in Tripoli have resumed today with a reduced staff in the initial stage,” the ministry said in a statement on its website. Since the embassy closed in 2014, Turkey has been represented by its consulate in Misurata, a town in northwest Libya. Fighting broke out between two rival seats of power in Libya — in Tobruk and Tripoli — in 2014 and the security vacuum allowed Daesh to establish a presence in the country. Last year a UN-backed unity government was established in Tripoli.
Iran summoned Switzerland’s ambassador, who represents Washington’s interests in Tehran, to protest President Donald Trump’s visa ban on Iranians, the foreign ministry said. Swiss ambassador Giulio Haas was “handed a letter of protest on the recent executive order by the US President and the imposed limitations and discriminatory behaviour against Iranian citizens travelling to America,” said spokesman Bahram Ghasemi. A senior diplomat told the ambassador that Trump’s order was “baseless, discriminatory and unacceptable”. Ghasemi said Iranian citizens have been victimized by “US-backed terror groups” for decades, and been law-abiding citizens wherever they have settled. Haas said he would communicate the protest promptly to the US State Department. With more than one million Iranians living in the US, Trump’s visa ban — which covers seven Muslim countries — has caused has chaos for students, businessmen and families.
One of South Africa’s most influential diplomats is accused of running his embassy “like a spaza shop”, brokering personal business deals with international companies and soliciting donations for his foundation. Obed Mlaba, South Africa’s high commissioner to the UK, has been sending letters to directors of various companies operating in the UK and South Africa, on government letterheads, to secure business deals for his personal projects. The projects include the building of a technical school and a private hospital in KwaZulu-Natal under the auspices of the Obed Mlaba Foundation Trust. As far back as 2015, Mlaba received queries from the Department of International Relations and Co-operation regarding his “potential conflict of interest” relating to the nondisclosure of his financial interests. Yet no action has been taken against him. Mlaba said this week that there was nothing inappropriate about his deals, but two South African businessmen based in London said he was known for abusing his position for personal gain.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says officials are in talks with US counterparts to get clarity on how the order may affect Australians. “The Australian embassy in Washington is engaging with US officials on the potential implications of the suspension for Australian travellers, including dual nationals,” a spokeswoman told AAP in a statement. All travellers are being warned that rules could change at short notice. “Travellers should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the United States for the most current information,” the spokeswoman added. Australians who hold passports from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may potentially be turned away from the US. The government’s Smarttraveller website has updated its notifications warning travellers to the US about the controversial new rules. Australians who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria will no longer be allowed to apply for the standard electronic travel authorisation – ETSA – which travellers must complete before heading to the US. The ETSA is an online application that determines entry eligibility based on security or police risks. All those affected will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a US embassy or consulate.
A number of senior career diplomats are leaving the State Department after the Trump administration accepted their resignations from presidentially appointed positions. The State Department said that several senior management officials as well as a top arms control diplomat would be leaving. All had submitted their resignations prior to Donald Trump’s January 20 inauguration as is required of officials holding jobs appointed by the president. They were not required to leave the foreign service but chose to retire or resign for personal reasons, the department said. While none of the officials has linked his or her departure explicitly to Trump, many diplomats have privately expressed concern about serving in his administration given the unorthodox positions he’s taken on many foreign policy issues. The union that represents American diplomats, the American Foreign Service Association, called for the administration to quickly name successors to the positions. The union urged that they be filled with career diplomats but played down the significance of the moves. Among those whose resignations have been accepted are Thomas Countryman, who had been serving as the acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. Others include Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy; two assistant secretaries, Joyce Barr and Michele Bond; and Gentry Smith, who directs the Office of Foreign Missions. Other senior career diplomats to have left the State Department since Trump’s election include Victoria Nuland, the former assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Gregory Starr, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security. Starr retired on Inauguration Day as did Lydia Muniz, a non-career political appointee who had run Overseas Building Operations. Trump has yet to fill many top diplomatic jobs, including the deputy secretary roles. His nominee to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate next week.