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Posts tagged ‘United Arab Emirates’

Weekly Standard’s Kristol: Putin Should ‘Pay’ for Crimea Invasion.


Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to “pay a price” at home through the imposition of economic sanctions for invading the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said Tuesday.

“There is a lot one can do with economic sanctions and other things. And
Putin needs to pay a price for this, and he needs to pay a price for it at home,” Kristol told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“The Russian people, and especially Russian elites close to him, need to feel, ‘Yikes he has endangered our bank accounts abroad, our ability to travel abroad, our hopes to get even richer’ off Putin’s kind of crony version of corporatism,” he added.

Story continues below video.

The opinion was echoed by Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett on the “Morning Joe” panel, “If the West could actually get its act together and coordinate, [it] could be used very effectively indeed.”

The impact of sanctions may not hold that great a sway, Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, told the “Morning Joe” panel. He said Putin had “outfoxed everyone,” and maintained the move into Ukraine would not be “easily reversible.” He also warned the Russian president could become emboldened by his success in Ukraine.

“There is nothing in the response of the United States, or Europe, or anyone else [that] has suggested to him that anyone would stop him actually from rolling forward. And he just has to calculate.

“He might say, ‘All right, I’m going to get criticized. I’m going to get excoriated for a while. But nobody is really going to stop me if I move forward in Ukraine or elsewhere,'” Goldberg said.

It was a mistake not to use the threat of military action against Russia, Kristol argued. He said Americans were “too quick to proclaim our own helplessness.”

“One thing that would help would be if Americans, in government especially, didn’t say, the first thing they say, ‘Well, God forbid, we can’t do anything militarily. The troops, that would be just out of the question,'” Kristol said.

The Russian invasion into Crimea, Tett emphasized, had set off alarms for Europeans as they realized their dependence on Russia for energy. She said it served as a reminder, “They need to get a lot less dependent on Russia.”

The invasion was also important, Kristol maintained, given the fact the Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons in an agreement with Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 1994 called the Budapest Memorandum. He said a part of the agreement was that “Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would be respected by Russia.”

“If it now turns out that a nuclear-armed neighbor can just invade a country with whom they made this deal, with impunity, what signal does it send everywhere around the world?” Kristol asked. “The signal it sends is, not only don’t give up your nuclear weapons, build nuclear weapons. That will guarantee your safety. Everything else is just talk.”

Goldberg agreed, and said Middle East countries could decide to take up nuclear arms in the face of the events in the Ukraine.

“If you are sitting in Saudi Arabia right now or the United Arab Emirates, you would see Russia marching into Crimea, and saying, ‘Well, I think we might need the ultimate deterrent as well,'” Goldberg said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

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Bernanke: Fed Could Have Done More During Crisis.


Image: Bernanke: Fed Could Have Done More During Crisis

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. central bank could have done more to fight the country’s financial crisis and that he struggled to find the right way to communicate with markets.”We could have done some things on the margin to mitigate somewhat the crisis,” Bernanke, 60, said on Tuesday in his first public speaking engagement since he stepped down in January after eight years heading the Fed.

“Although we have been very aggressive, I think on the monetary policy front we could have been even more aggressive.”

Editor’s Note: Secret Wall Street Calendar Uses Strange ‘Crash Alert System,’ Gets 18.79% Annual Returns

Bernanke said he could now speak more freely about the crisis than he could while at the Fed — “I can say whatever I want” — and in remarks to over 1,000 bankers and financial professionals in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, he made clear that he had regrets.

The United States became “overconfident”, he said of the period before the September 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers. That triggered a crash from which parts of the world, including the U.S. economy, have not fully recovered.

“This is going to sound very obvious but the first thing we learned is that the U.S. is not invulnerable to financial crises,” Bernanke said.

As the Fed provided tens of billions of dollars of emergency aid to the U.S. financial system, Bernanke said he felt the central bank was in a “terrible” political situation because it could be accused of bailing out institutions unfairly.

He also said he found it hard to find the right way to communicate with investors when every word was closely scrutinized.

“That was actually very hard for me to get adjusted to that situation where your words have such effect. I came from the academic background and I was used to making hypothetical examples and … I learned I can’t do that because the markets do not understand hypotheticals.”

He concluded that he should “try to simplify the message, but not simplify too much”.

Ultimately, Bernanke said, he wished the U.S. economy could have recovered faster but “we did good in a very complicated situation and in a very complex political situation, and the result is what it is.”

Bernanke received at least $250,000 for his appearance at the financial conference staged by National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest bank, according to sources familiar the matter. NBAD did not announce the fee.

Because of Abu Dhabi’s oil wealth, state-controlled NBAD prospered during the global crisis caused by Lehman’s collapse, taking market share from hard-hit U.S. and European banks.

Bernanke’s speaking fee is similar to one received by his predecessor Alan Greenspan for an Abu Dhabi speaking engagement in 2008, the sources said.

Greenspan embarked on a series of lucrative speeches after he stepped down, and Bernanke now appears to be doing the same. He is scheduled to speak at an event in South Africa on Wednesday and in Houston on Friday.

Another former heavyweight in U.S. economic policy, ex-Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, spoke at the Abu Dhabi event and criticized some aspects of Fed policy under Bernanke, although he acknowledged that policy needed to be expansionary.

Ultra-loose monetary policy, known as quantitative easing, has diminished returns in the economy and there is concern about the way the impact of low interest rates is being transmitted through the economy, Summers said.

Bernanke, looking relaxed in a grey suit and tie, said that after stepping down, he would write more about his experiences in the crisis to explain his side of the story. “For the future, I’m in a mode of reflection.”

Editor’s Note: Secret Wall Street Calendar Uses Strange ‘Crash Alert System,’ Gets 18.79% Annual Returns

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

LIGNET: US Shift on Iran Forcing Saudis to Shore up Gulf Alliance.


Image: LIGNET: US Shift on Iran Forcing Saudis to Shore up Gulf Alliance

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdul Latif Al Zayani, left, and Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, Kuwait’s minister for foreign affairs, attend the last session of the 34th GCC summit in Kuwait on Dec. 11, 2013. (AP)

Iran’s recent diplomatic breakthrough with the United States has invaded the comfort zone of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and forced it to embrace unification of militaries as well as true political and economic union. Rising suspicion of the Saudi push for closer solidarity could be linked to aggressive Iranian lobbying of several Gulf countries in recent months.

Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at LIGNET.com.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

UAE Sentences American to 1 Year in Jail for Youth Parody Video.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An American man detained for months in the United Arab Emirates and seven co-defendants were fined and sentenced to jail Monday after being convicted in connection to a satirical video about youth culture in Dubai.

The case, which has drawn the attention of international human rights advocates, centers around a mockumentary uploaded to the Internet.

Officials charged that the film spoofing would-be Dubai “gangstas” ran afoul of a 2012 cybercrimes law that tightened penalties for challenging authorities, according to supporters of one of the filmmakers, Shezanne Cassim.

Cassim, 29, is a U.S. citizen from Woodbury, Minn., who was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Dubai for work after graduating from the University of Minnesota in 2006. He became the public face of the defendants after his family launched an effort to publicize his months-long incarceration following his arrest in April.

He was sentenced Monday to a year in prison followed by deportation and a 10,000 dirham ($2,725) fine, according to family spokeswoman Jennifer Gore.

American consular officials have been following the case closely and attended Monday’s hearing at the State Security Court in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi.

The U.S. Embassy had no official comment following the verdict. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf last week said American officials were troubled by Cassim’s “prolonged incarceration” and called for “a fair and expedient trial and judgment.”

Two Indian defendants received similar sentences, while two Emirati brothers were sentenced to eight months behind bars and received 5,000 dirham fines, according to state-owned newspaper The National. A third brother was pardoned.

The paper said the defendants had been accused of “defaming the UAE society’s image abroad.”

Three other defendants, a Canadian, Briton, and an American, were convicted and sentenced in absentia to the penalties given to their other foreigners. They have never been detained by authorities and so are unlikely to serve their sentences.

The paper identified the defendants only by their initials, which is common in the Emirati media.

Gulf Arab authorities have been cracking down on social media use over the past two years, with dozens of people arrested across the region for Twitter posts deemed offensive to leaders or for social media campaigns urging more political openness.

The video, called “Ultimate Combat System: The Deadly Satwa Gs,” is set in the Satwa district of Dubai. It is a documentary style clip that pokes fun at Dubai youth who style themselves “gangstas” but are not particularly thuggish, and shows fictional “combat” training that includes throwing a sandal and using a mobile phone to call for help.

It opens with text saying the video is fictional and is not meant to offend.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Hagel Outlines New Weapons Sale Plan for Gulf.


U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opened the door for the U.S. to sell missile defense and other weapons systems to U.S.-friendly Gulf nations, with an eye toward boosting their abilities to counter Iran’s ballistic missiles, even as global powers ink a nuclear deal with Tehran.

In a speech to Gulf leaders in Manama, Bahrain, on Saturday, Hagel made it clear that the emerging global agreement that would limit Iran’s nuclear program doesn’t mean the security threat from Iran is over.

Instead, he laid out steps to beef up defense cooperation in the Gulf region, while at the same time insisting that America’s military commitment to the Middle East will continue.

“I am under no illusions, like all of you, about the daily threats facing this region, or the current anxieties that I know exist here in the Gulf,” Hagel told a security conference. “These anxieties have emerged as the United States pursues diplomatic openings on some of the region’s most difficult problems and most complex issues, including Iran’s nuclear program and the conflict in Syria.”

He said the interim deal is just a first step that has bought time for meaningful negotiations, adding that “all of us are clear-eyed, very clear-eyed about the challenges that remain” to reaching a nuclear solution with Iran.

And he pointed to the ongoing plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons as diplomacy made possible by America’s military threat. He said President Barack Obama’s threat to strike Syria after a chemical weapons attack believed to be the work of Bashar Assad’s government led to the ultimate deal to remove and destroy the arsenal.

But Hagel argued that the emphasis on diplomacy must not be misinterpreted.

“We know diplomacy cannot operate in a vacuum,” Hagel said. “Our success will continue to hinge on America’s military power, and the credibility of our assurances to our allies and partners in the Middle East that we will use it.”

And, he warned that with America’s sophisticated weapons, “no target is beyond our reach.”

As part of the security effort, he said the U.S. wants to take steps to beef up the Gulf region’s ability to defense itself.

Washington has pushed for more than 20 years, particularly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, for better defenses among a group of Gulf nations that includes long-time allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The latter hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Progress has been limited, in part because of their reluctance to collaborate.

Hagel’s speech continued a theme he has repeated over the past two days in private meetings with Gulf leaders and in remarks to troops aboard the Navy’s USS Ponce warship at the nearby U.S. base. He is countering apprehension in the region that the Iran nuclear deal, coupled with U.S. budget pressures and the drawdown in Afghanistan, could signal a decline in America’s commitment to the region.

The interim Iran agreement carved out less than two weeks ago by major nations, including the U.S., would freeze parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for some relief from crippling Western economic sanctions. The deal may open the door to warmer relations with the West, but it has escalated tensions in the Gulf region, where leaders worry that it could embolden Iran and destabilize the area.

Hagel was speaking at an annual international security forum known as the Manama Dialogue, just across the water from Iran. His broader message was that while Iran’s nuclear program is a critical worry, its other conventional missile threats, terrorism links and occasional provocative maritime behavior also greatly concern the U.S. and the region. And those threats are not addressed by the nuclear agreement.

Hagel was challenged at one point during a question-and-answer session by a former Iranian nuclear negotiator over why his address failed to mention Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons. Hossein Mousavian, who is now a scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, told Hagel he “didn’t mention a single word about the major threat of nuclear bombs in the region, which is Israel.”

Hagel replied by noting that Iran is in violation of “many United Nations resolutions.”

Israel is widely understood to possess nuclear weapons but declines to confirm it.

Hagel spent a chunk of the speech detailing the strength of the U.S. military in the area, including more than 35,000 air, land and sea forces in and immediately around the Gulf. They include about 10,000 Army troops, advanced jet fighters, more than 40 ships, sophisticated surveillance and intelligence systems, and a broad missile defense umbrella made up of ships, Patriot missile batteries and radars.

The most concrete proposal Hagel outlined is the Pentagon’s plan to allow military sales to the Gulf Cooperation Council, so the six-member nations can have more coordinated radars, sensors and early warning missile defense systems. While the U.S. can sell to the individual nations, Hagel is arguing that selling the systems to the GCC will ensure that the countries will be able to communicate and coordinate better.

It is unclear, however, how effective that plan will be considering it can be difficult for the six sometimes-combative nations of the GCC — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to reach agreements.

Hagel also said he wants the Gulf nations to participate in an annual defense ministers’ conference, and would like the first meeting to happen in the next six months.

Hagel is expected to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia to meet with leaders in the coming days.

___

Associated Press writer Adam Schreck contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

American Man Jailed in Abu Dhabi for Making Funny YouTube.


A Minnesota man is in prison in Abu Dhabi for making a video mocking young people who live in Dubai, and his family is working to try to get him out.

Shezanne Cassim, 29, and four others who appear in the video he uploaded to YouTube in October 2012, were put in prison in April for violating cybercrimes law and for posing a national security threat, the United Arab Emirates say, CBS Minnesota reported.

Cassim has been living and working in Dubai for seven years as a business consultant.

He and his friends made a spoof showing young men in Dubai going to a fake camp where they learn how to strike people with belts and throw shoes.

The video was a parody of “a certain cultural stereotype about the youth in Dubai,” Cassim’s brother explained. “It’s just teenagers living in a suburb called Satwa who try to act like they are tough guys, even though they are suburban teenagers. And it’s like making fun of hipsters in Brooklyn.”

Cassim’s family members have all visited him at the maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi where he was transferred to in June, and they say no date has been given as to when he will get out. He has been denied bail three times by a judge and no ruling or a sentencing date has been issued.

“Part of the frustration is that he is essentially in there indefinitely, with no end in sight,” said Shervon Cassim, brother of the detained man. “He doesn’t understand what they think he’s done wrong.”

Some of Minnesota’s congressional delegates have tried to help, but have yet to make any headway.

Video from CBS Minnesota:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Courtney Coren

Super Minister Diezani Disappears In London, Upsets Other Ministers.


 

Nigeria’s minister of Petroleum Resource, Diezani Allison-Madueke
By SaharaReporters, New York

At least nine Nigerian ministers were embittered by what they described as the nonchalant and disrespectful attitude of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the just concluded Honorary International Investor’s Council (HIIC) in London.

The ministers were irked by Ms. Alison-Madueke’s disappearing act in London.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who led a delegation to London, had ordered his cabinet members to attend a meeting with Nigerians resident in the United Kingdom. But the Petroleum Minister took off on her own mission, without telling any of her colleagues her whereabouts. Her action angered other ministers who saw her behavior as a display of reckless indifference to and disregard for her colleagues.

According to a minister who spoke to SaharaReporters, he and his colleagues discovered, after the parley with Nigerians, that Ms. Alison-Madueke had arranged for Mr. Jonathan to visit some places in London with her. He added that the Petroleum Minister and Mr. Jonathan did not return until past midnight.

Mr. Jonathan had fallen violently ill last Thursday and had to be hospitalized last Thursday in London. The president did not attend the meeting with Nigerians either, as he ended his participation at the HIIC yesterday.

“Not only did Diezani not attend the meeting [with Nigerians], she also did not offer explanations for her absence or apologize to her colleagues for her non-appearance,” the minister told SaharaReporters.

Our source added that Ms. Alison-Madueke also did not attend the first day of the investment council events as she spent most of her time at the King Edward VII Hospital in Westminster where the president was treated. “The Minister of Petroleum Resources did not attend the inaugural meeting of the HIIC as she knew that President Jonathan was not going to be able to make it,” said the source.

When contacted today a source at the Petroleum ministry said the minister had a different investment meeting in London with investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who are interested in getting oil blocks they intend to use in making two major refineries function to full capacity.

However, the assertion is at variance with recent announcement by the federal government, which announced plans to sell Nigerian refineries.

SaharaReporters learned that Ms. Alison-Madueke was one of the last persons with President Jonathan before he suddenly took ill and had to be hospitalized. Our cabinet source said that the Petroleum Minister did not alert her colleagues about President Jonathan’s hospitalization until very late.

In order to forestall an embarrassing situation, presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, was asked to quickly draft a release informing the public that Mr. Jonathan had fallen ill. The release did not disclose the nature of illness or the hospital where the president was hospitalized.

Yesterday, as Mr. Jonathan attended the HIIC, Ms. Alison-Madueke arrived late at the venue and left early, only to disappear again with the president as other ministers met with Nigerians and labored hard to explain the policies of the Jonathan administration.

President Jonathan remains in London today, but has no public activity planned for him, according to a Presidency source. He is scheduled to return to Nigeria tomorrow.

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