• Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia

    President Donald J. Trump spoke yesterday with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. King Salman praised President Trump for his visionary new Iran strategy and pledged to support American leadership. President Trump thanked King Salman for Saudi Arabia’s support and emphasized the importance of the Gulf Cooperation Council in countering Iran’s destabilizing […]


    SANAA, Yemen, Oct 16 (NNN-SABA) – Teachers in the Shiite Houthi rebel-held northern Yemen, went on strike Sunday, the first day of new school term, in the war-torn Arab country. “All teachers in all schools are on an open strike, until Houthi-controlled authorities pay our salaries,” an official at the Teachers’ Union, in the capital, […]

  • WTAS: Praise for President Donald J. Trump’s New Strategy on Iran

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: I congratulate President Trump for his courageous decision today. He boldly confronted Iran’s terrorist regime. If the Iran deal is left unchanged, one thing is absolutely certain- in a few years’ time, the world’s foremost terrorist regime will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons and that’s tremendous danger for our collective future. President Trump has just created an opportunity to fix this bad deal. To roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism. That’s why Israel embraces this opportunity. And that’s why every responsible government, and any person concerned with the peace and security of the world, should do so as well.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): This new strategy announced by the president to contain Iran’s regional ambitions, its malign conduct and efforts to dominate the broader Middle East is an appropriate response to the consequences of the Obama Administration’s failed policies. The Obama Administration’s determination to draw down America’s conventional military presence from across the globe, avoid conflict with competitor nation states even when those same countries threatened our national security interests, and its drive to negotiate an agreement with Iran that left a state sponsor of terror with an internationally recognized nuclear enrichment program was simply inadequate. The president’s decision not to certify that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is ‘in the vital national security interests of the United States’ now provides the opportunity for Congress to strengthen the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and create a standard for certification that is consistent with our interests.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): The nuclear agreement struck by the previous administration with Iran is fatally flawed. Not only did it codify Tehran’s domestic enrichment capability, but once key restraints expire in the coming years, the regime will be free to pursue nuclear weapons under the guise of international legitimacy. All the while, Iran has continued to test-fire ballistic missiles and finance its terrorist proxies across the globe. Simply enforcing a fatally flawed agreement is not sufficient. I support President Trump’s decision to reevaluate this dangerous deal, and the House will work with his administration to counter Iran’s range of destabilizing activities.

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL): President Trump made the right decision to decertify the Obama Administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran (JCPOA). He is correct in finding that this deal is not in our national interest. I know the White House has been working hard to craft a new law to fix the Iran deal, and I appreciate them and Chairman Corker seeking my input. I will reserve judgment until actual legislation is presented. But I have serious doubts about whether it is even possible to fix such a dangerously flawed agreement. Ultimately, leaving the nuclear deal, reimposing suspended sanctions, and having the president impose additional sanctions would serve our national interest better than a decertified deal that leaves sanctions suspended or a new law that leaves major flaws in that agreement in place.

    Senator Tim Scott (R-SC): There are no surprises with Iran � they are bad actors who have been funding terrorist actions around the globe for decades. The United States must stand strong against Iran’s rogue actions, and the President made it clear today we will not idly stand by when it comes to Iran. I look forward to a spirited debate in Congress over the coming weeks regarding potential next steps to ensure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

    Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR): Lawmakers need to do now what we couldn’t do two years ago: unite around an Iran strategy that truly stops Iran’s nuclear weapons program and empowers the United States and our allies to combat the full spectrum of Iran’s imperial aggression. The legislation Senator Corker and I have been working on with the administration will address the major flaws in the original Iran deal: the sunset clauses, the weak inspections regime, and the failure to restrict Iran’s development of advanced centrifuges. And it will create time and leverage for firm diplomacy-together with our allies-to work and neutralize the threat of a nuclear Iran permanently.

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ): For years, the Iranian regime has literally been getting away with murder. Meanwhile, the United States has lacked a comprehensive strategy to meet the multifaceted threat Iran poses. The goals President Trump presented in his speech today are a welcomed long overdue change. They offer the United States a path forward that centers our policy towards Iran on its destabilizing regional ambitions rather than its nuclear program alone. I look forward to learning more about the specifics of this strategy, and the Senate Armed Services Committee will conduct thorough oversight of our military’s role in it.

    Senator David Perdue (R-GA): President Trump is correct to decertify President Obama’s dangerous Iran Nuclear Deal because it is not in our national security interests. In no circumstance can we allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and President Obama’s deal laid out a road map for Iran to do just that. I applaud President Trump’s action to decertify. Decertification gives the U.S. significant leverage at the negotiating table to get the international community on board to tackle non-nuclear issues and to address shortcomings in the deal, like sunset clauses and inspection loopholes. To be clear, this is part of a long-term regional strategy. This includes countering Iranian influence in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, where Iranian proxies have been gaining control and influence in the region. President Trump is doing what the last administration refused to do: reengaging with the rest of the world, while asserting American security interests.

    Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS): I continue to believe that the pact with Iran, negotiated by the Obama Administration, is a terrible deal for America and our allies. Iran is still the leading state sponsor of terrorism, and its illegal ballistic missile program is advancing. By his actions today, President Trump is giving us the opportunity to strengthen our hand to hold Tehran accountable. Decertification does not end U.S. participation in the agreement, but it does represent the first step toward negotiating a better deal.

    Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK): Denying presidential certification of the flawed Iran deal is the right call. The Iran deal clearly does not have sufficient means of preventing Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear technology and does nothing to check their litany of other abuses, including developing intercontinental ballistic missiles, funding terrorist organizations and supporting rogue regimes like Assad. Worse, it has put our most valuable allies in the region, especially Israel, at greater risk. The president’s action today marks a strong new beginning to America’s foreign policy�one where our allies trust us and our enemies respect us. I look forward to working with the President, his administration and my colleagues in Congress to make meaningful, substantive changes to the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

    Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ): Before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was willed into being (it was never signed by Iran), the Clinton Administration orchestrated the wildly ineffectual ‘Agreed Framework’ with North Korea. Two decades later, the Hermit Kingdom is armed with a hydrogen bomb and is threatening to turn the United States to ‘ashes and darkness.’ History could not be clearer: appeasement policies do not work. The Iran Deal was not a treaty approved by Congress. President Trump has every right decertify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA. Moreover, I applaud his efforts.

    Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO): It is no secret that Iran is the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism and that their ultimate goal remains to have nuclear weapons. I support the President’s position to reevaluate the flawed Iranian treaty and I will continue in my role in Congress in identifying ways we can counteract Iran’s destabilizing behavior. As a Marine combat veteran, I know that weakness only invites further aggression by our adversaries.

    Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): This decision is a welcome opportunity to address some of the major deficiencies within the JCPOA and ensure that Iran will never be a nuclear weapon state. We must work together to close the loopholes, get rid of the sunsets, stop Iran’s ballistic missile program, mandate inspections of Iran’s military sites, and, once and for all, attain the unconditional release of all the U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents being unjustly held in Iran. We were sold a false bill of goods that promised international sanctions against Iran’s other illicit activity, yet too many in the international community, particularly our P5+1 partners, have given Iran a pass. There has not been one new EU sanction against Iran since the deal was implemented, despite Iran’s continued human rights violations, support for terror, and pursuit of ballistic missiles. Decertifying provides some much needed leverage and we need to use this opportunity to get the EU on board with sanctioning Iran’s non-nuclear related activity, including taking action against the IRGC, and protect the national security interests of the United States and our allies.

    House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA): The decertification of the Iran nuclear agreement as ‘not in the national security interests’ of the United States is an important initial step toward reining in the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism. It’s crucial that the Trump administration’s new, tougher Iran policy will be well-resourced and aggressively implemented, and that the administration designate the regime’s entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror group. I hope to see our allies join us in sending a strong, united message that the Iranian regime’s support for international terrorism and its nuclear ambitions will no longer be tolerated.

    Representative Pete Roskam (R-IL): I support the President’s decision to refuse to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act and to advance the fight against Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the Middle East. I will soon be introducing legislation to support the President’s goals of permanently preventing a nuclear-armed Iran and countering Iranian aggression.

    Representative Jim Banks (R-IN): President Trump is right to call for a new policy on Iran and demand a change in the Iranian regime’s behavior. Iran has continued to engage in aggressive activity and to support terrorism despite the Obama Administration’s flawed deal. Congress must partner with the administration to correct flaws of past policy and hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing actions. We must work with our allies to ensure that Iran’s nuclear ambitions truly are stopped.

    Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY): President Trump’s decision not to recertify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, was the right decision for America’s best interests. The JCPOA in its current form is deeply flawed and one sided for what is in the agreement, and deeply flawed and one sided for what is not in the agreement. It is not a pathway for how to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It is a blueprint for how Iran can acquire a nuclear weapon. This ‘deal’ propped up the wrong regime, providing Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, with a jackpot of up to $150 billion in sanctions relief, without even asking for a signature.

    Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH): I am encouraged by the steps taken today by the President to put the rogue Iranian regime, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, on notice. It is clear that a new, comprehensive strategy is vital to preventing Iran from ever creating or acquiring nuclear weapons, and checking its regional aggression. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a deal that America should not have been a party to in the first place. It only temporarily restricts Iran’s nuclear program, and does little to deter Tehran from continuing its thirst for nuclear weapons and technology – all while filling the regime’s coffers. Not only has Iran repeatedly displayed a disturbing pattern of behavior while continuing to recruit and fund terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, but the Iranian regime’s continued nuclear testing on military sites also undermines the standards set by the international community to promote security and regional stability. History shows that President Trump is right to be wary of Iran, and this announcement today solidifies the Administration’s policy of protecting American security, and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Representative Dave Joyce (R-OH): The Iran nuclear deal is a bad deal for the United States and our allies. The world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the leading cause of violence in the Middle East, cannot be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. Congress must continue to work with the Administration to ensure American interests are put first and the Iranian regime is held fully accountable for its support of terrorism around the world.

    Representative Mike Turner (R-OH): I was opposed to the Iran Nuclear Deal because it has an insufficient inspection regime, insufficiently addresses long range ICBM missile development, and is limited to 10 years, giving the appearance of permission to develop nuclear weapons during the 11th year. However, in my briefings from the International Atomic Energy Agency, it appears that Iran is materially complying with the provisions that require Iran abandon pursuit of the development of nuclear weapons. After the President’s statements today, the international community and Congress must provide sufficient leverage for amending the agreement in ways that could ensure Iran never obtains nuclear weapons.

    Representative Ted Poe (R-TX): President Trump’s decision to de-certify the Iran nuclear deal is the right decision at this time. It is not in the interest of the United States to enable Iran a patient pathway towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. The regime in Iran has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted and that its true intentions are the ultimate destruction of Israel and the United States. Through decertification we are sending Tehran a strong signal that the United States will not appease its threatening behavior. I also applaud the President’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, better known as the IRGC, as a terrorist organization through Executive Order 13224 � a step I proposed in my bill H.R. 479 earlier this year. The IRGC is a leading cause of instability in the Middle East through its support of the murderous regime in Syria, its development of ballistic missiles, and its provocative action towards our sailors transiting the region. It is past time we hold this band of thugs to account.

    Source: White House

  • As Hunger Surges, WFP Chief Appeals For Peace On World Food Day

    ROME � The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme today made an impassioned plea for peace amid mounting evidence of the links between conflict, migration and rising hunger.

    Concerns are growing that progress in defeating global hunger is being reversed as record numbers of people flee their homes to escape fighting.

    Someday in the future, World Food Day will be a celebration of a peaceful and well-fed world. Sadly, that day seems very far off right now. We have far too much violence and conflict, and that is why we have more people who are hungry and in need of assistance, said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

    After steadily declining for over a decade, hunger is on the rise again and of the 815 million hungry people on the planet, 489 million live in countries affected by conflict, the annual UN report on food security and nutrition revealed last month.

    I call on the people in power, the people with guns, to stop the fighting now, said Beasley, who has met many people fleeing conflict and violence in Yemen, South Sudan and Bangladesh over the past few months. I saw their wounds with my own eyes and I heard their stories with my own ears. They were frightened, hungry and malnourished after enduring a nightmare that most people cannot even imagine. If we are truly going to end hunger, we must stop this kind of inhumanity.

    The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report found that while most countries had achieved significant gains in reducing hunger in the last 25 years, progress in the majority of countries affected by conflict had stagnated or deteriorated. Conflicts can devastate the economy, disrupt agriculture and lead to forced population movements.

    A WFP study published earlier this year established a link between hunger and migration. It found that countries with the highest level of hunger, coupled with armed conflict, have the highest outward migration. For each additional year of conflict and bloodshed, an extra 40 people out of 10,000 will flee their country. It showed that people often move several times within their own country before crossing borders, leaving behind their land, jobs and livelihoods.

    In war-torn countries, where agriculture and trade is disrupted and the economy collapses, the cost of a simple, nutritious plate of food can be more than a day’s wages. WFP has developed an index where we have worked out the cost of a basic plate of food to people in 33 developing countries as a share of their average daily income. In Counting the Beans: The True Cost of a Plate of Food around the World, we show that in South Sudan, for example, the cost could be the equivalent of a New Yorker having to pay US$321 for a modest lunch � say a plate of bean stew — cooked at home. At the height of the siege of the Syrian town of Deir Ezzor, the same meal worked out at nearly US$200.

    Source: World Food Programme

  • US Airstrikes Kill Dozens of IS Fighters in Yemen

    The Pentagon says U.S. airstrikes on two Islamic State training camps in Yemen have killed dozens of Islamic State fighters.The camps were in Yemen’s al-Bayda region.The Pentagon says IS used the camps to train militants to carry out terror attacks wit…

  • Shock and revulsion over Mogadishu bombing

    The bomb was as enormous as the flecks of torn skin smudging the ground are miniscule. Entire overcrowded buses were blown up, every passenger killed. No one in the vicinity was spared: shopkeepers at the side of the road selling khat; office managers; children fooling around or running errands for parents; a medical student about to graduate; mothers; fathers; sisters; brothers.

    At approximately 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, a truck bomb was detonated in the middle of the traffic in Mogadishu’s Hodan district, next to the landmark Safari hotel, frequented by politicians and other Somali movers and shakers.

    Later in the day, a second explosion was reported in the city’s Madina district.

    When the Hodan bomb went off, near the busy K5 roundabout, Somalis on social media reported it as the loudest explosion they’d ever heard � a feat in itself in a city that’s been used to violence for more than two decades.

    The bodycount started in the dozens, but soon started to climb, hitting 85, then more than 100. Now the death toll is officially up to 276 people.

    It is expected to reach more than 300, said Mohamed Moalim, permanent secretary in the government’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. Hundreds more have been injured.

    “We still have a number of bodies not identified, hundreds of families wanting to identify loved ones, but it’s happening slowly because of the size of the situation, he told IRIN via Skype. Many of the bodies are charred beyond recognition.

    “When you see the area and location, you will [understand the extent of the damage],” said Farah Bashir, managing director of Galayr Consultancy, referring to the bustling commercial district, with many shops, hotels, and businesses.

    He wasn’t at the office when the explosion happened, but he heard the blast and arrived to find complete destruction, with shattered buildings and people trapped under rubble.

    “The blood of the victims, burned pieces of human bodies, said Bashir. No doors, windows, curtains, walls � all [destoyed] and demolished.

    The city’s two largest hospitals, Medina and Turkish-supported Digfer, are entirely overwhelmed. There aren’t nearly enough doctors and nurses to tend to everyone. Medical students are volunteering, but supplies are low.

    “We need food, water, emergency equipment, beds, sheets, antibiotics,” said Moalim. The UN and international NGOs are mobilising, but none were immediately on the ground, he noted.

    African Union troops, known as AMISOM, have been providing security and services in the clean-up, and the Turkish government is sending ambulance planes expected to land today.

    Al-Shabab on the march?

    As of yet, no group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bears all the hallmarks of the jihadist group al-Shabab, at war with successive governments and their international backers since 2006.

    They have staged repeated attacks in Mogadishu, but nothing close to the scale of Saturday’s carnage. Previously the worst attack was in June when 30 people died in the bombing of a popular pizza restaurant.

    They won’t claim responsibility because of the massive civilian deaths, but this was definitely an al-Shabab operation, said Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa director at the International Crisis Group.

    Why they’ve done it is because they had the opportunity to do it, he told IRIN.

    The security forces have suffered a series of setbacks over the last few months. They have withdrawn from the key Lower Shabelle region as a result of al-Shabab attacks, and there are rising tensions and low morale within the fledgling Somali National Army.

    Last week, defense minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed and army chief General Mohamed Ahmed Jimale both submitted their resignations amid reports of rivalry between the two men.

    The Somali army is being retrained and built up so it can take over security once AMISOM troops start withdrawing next year, but reforms have been slow.

    The recent military setbacks have allowed al-Shabab to gain a corridor to infiltrate Mogadishu, said Abdi. This is a serious lapse in security, or collusion.

    The truck carrying the explosives was believed to have been waived through the numerous checkpoints along the Afgooye road into the city, although the government says it was being followed before it detonated.

    The attack has generated universal revulsion, with Mogadishu residents taking to the streets to demonstrate their outrage. Hundreds more have lined up to donate blood.

    “I’m feeling very sad,” said Bashir. “You can’t identify and you can’t know and you can’t analyse the loss of [so many] innocent people who were just doing business around the area.”

    Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has declared three days of mourning.

    The shock of Saturday’s attack has been likened to the impact of al-Shabab’s 2009 bombing of a medical school graduation that killed 19 people, which was widely condemned and hurt the group’s standing inside Somalia.

    We’re beginning to see a groundswell of public resentment, but whether this will translate into support for the government is hard to tell, said Abdi.

    Farmajo was elected in February by a landslide, but has struggled to bridge the deep divide between the central government and the six federal states over powers and authority, which is hobbling his administration.

    The divisions have been exacerbated by the Gulf crisis between the Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates-led coalition, versus a diplomatically isolated Qatar.

    Farmajo is seen to side with Qatar, while the cash-strapped Somali states have chosen Riyadh and Abu Dhabi � who are looking for bases in Somalia for their military intervention in neighbouring Yemen.

    Al-Shabab may have been trying to take advantage of the government’s weakness, but it is unclear how things will now play out. This [attack] could throw the government a lifeline in terms of public support, but it could tip the other way if it’s mishandled, said Abdi.

    Source: White House

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