Tag: Mike Pompeo

US State Department puts Cuba back on ‘sponsor of terrorism’ list, makes early days tough for incoming Biden administration
Americas

US State Department puts Cuba back on ‘sponsor of terrorism’ list, makes early days tough for incoming Biden administration

Biden administration: Outgoing United States President Donald Trump and his administration are not backing down from making early days of Biden administration tough as it takes charge on January 20, one week from now. State Department led by Mike Pompeo has put Cuba back on the list of ‘sponsor of terrorism’. This action will make Biden’s attempts to realign with Havana more complicated. 

The controversial decision has put Cuba reclassified into the list, putting it alongside Syria, North Korea and Iran. The announcement was made by Mike Pompeo who said that Cuba was engaging in a “range of malign behavior across the region”. With this Pompeo has highlighted Cuba’s support to Nicolas Maduro, authoritarian leader of Venezuela, that Trump had tried to overthrow, though unsuccessfully. 

Pompeo has justified the decision of reclassifying Cuba on the list by accusing Havana of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists”.

This action reverses former President Barack Obama’s decision of 2015 to remove Cuba from the list after being there for over three decades. 

The move by Trump administration is in reference to enabling and giving shelter to former Black Panther Assata Shakur who was jailed in the US over killing of police officer in 1973. She later escaped to Cuba where was given shelter by then Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Furthermore, the decision is also made due to refusal by Cuba to hand over a group of Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas, which were involved in Bagota bomb attack in 2019. 

But many US allies are not in favour of Trump’s charges on Cuba. Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House said, “Terrorism as an international definition is committing acts of violence against unarmed civilians intended to frighten the population. Cuba doesn’t do that. Yes, it represses its own people – but so does Saudi Arabia.”

Sabatini explains that move by Trump is more of a “parting gift” to incoming Biden administration. He said, “It’s like when departing armies leave scattered mines in a field. They are planting these political mines for the Biden administration that will be very difficult to be rolled back and to lock in, at least temporarily, their policy preferences.” 

Havana is furious with the decision. Its foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted, “The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims.” He called the move ‘hypocritical and cynical’. 

US Secretary of State planning to announce new Iran-Al Qaeda ties
Middle East & Africa

US Secretary of State planning to announce new Iran-Al Qaeda ties

Iran-Al Qaeda ties: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to publicly blame Iran for its ties with Al-Qaeda in Tuesday’s speech, as per The Reuters.

Pompeo plans to utilize the declassified US intelligence in the statement, The Reuters reported, referring to “two people acquainted with the issue.” He is expected to reveal details on Iran purportedly shielding Al-Qaeda leaders and supporting the terror organization, the report stated. 

During the National Press Club meeting in Washington on Tuesday, Mike Pompeo is expected to make some allegations in his speech. Pompeo has blamed Iran for its ties with the Al-Qaeda before, however, without providing any proof. 

There are a few doubts about openly examining the data among legislators and the intelligence community, the report added. 

The announcement might probably complicate the situation of President-elect Joe Biden’s objective of reconnecting with Tehran over the nuclear deal. 

The White House has attempted a year-long campaign against Iran by withdrawing from the 2015 atomic deal, imposing heavy sanctions, and assassinating the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. 

Pompeo’s speech could include information on the killing of Al-Qaeda’s second in command in Tehran in Aug 2020, stated by Israel. 

The New York Times revealed in Nov 2020 that an Israeli agent completed the attack on Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah in the direction of the US. Abdullah was charged for being one of the main conspirators of decimating assaults on two US consulates in Africa in 1998 and a 2002 assault on an Israeli-owned inn in Kenya.

Iran has completely denied the allegations and accused Israel of killing its top atomic researcher, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

It’s vague why Iran would shelter al-Qaeda members. Iran is a Shiite state and has battled with Al-Qaeda, a Sunni jihadist group. Experts revealed to The New York Times that Iran may have sheltered members of Al-Qaeda to forestall assaults in Iran or to permit them to lead operations against America. 

Joe Biden has stated that if Iran recognizes the terms and conditions of the nuclear deal, then we would think of rejoining the nuclear deal. However, Iran has welcomed America’s stand, but only after they remove the imposed economic sanctions.

Pompeo threatens China with sanctions over Hong Kong detentions
Asia Pacific Focus

Pompeo threatens China with sanctions over Hong Kong detentions

Pompeo threatens China: In response to China’s detention of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong on Wednesday, including a US citizen, John Clancey, US threatened to issue sanctions against those involved in the arrest. On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the China’s crack down of power over protestors and said he was “appalled” by the arrest of an American citizen. In a strong message to Beijing, which might lead to retaliation, Pompeo said, “The United States will not tolerate the arbitrary detention or harassment of US citizens.” 

Pompeo called the act  an “outrage and a reminder of the Chinese Communist Party’s contempt for its own people and the rule of law.” He said, “The United States will consider sanctions and other restrictions on any and all individuals and entities involved in executing this assault on the Hong Kong people.”  Besides, the US Secretary of State added that Washington might even “explore restrictions against the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the United States, and take additional immediate actions against officials who have undermined Hong Kong’s democratic processes.”

Timing of Pompeo’s statement did not play out in his favour as the detention in Beijing was followed by barbaric intervention of Trump supporters in Congress, in a bid to overturn the Presidential election results, which otherwise claimed Joe Biden as the country’s next President. On Thursday, Trump finally conceded his defeat and accepted that Joe Biden, who is due to be sworn in on Jan. 20, would succeed him.

The entire episode at US Capitol was enough for Chinese state media to mock at its rival’s internal affairs, especially when Washington has been pointing fingers at state of affairs in Hong Kong. On Friday, Beijing accused Washington of holding  “double standards.”

“In Hong Kong, violent actions are described as a ‘beautiful sight,’ in the U.S., people involved in this chaos are called ‘mobs’,” said The Global Times, a state-owned tabloid.

With respect to Pompeo’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said it a serious interference in China’s internal affairs. He said, “China will take all necessary steps to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. The United States must pay a heavy price for its mistakes.” He also warned Washington “to stop its crazy provocation” and added that “whoever plays with fire will burn himself.”

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities took about 53 activities and politicians in its custody, under the new security law. The American human rights lawyer Clancey, who was later granted bail along with few others on Thursday, said that the pro-democracy supporters would “continue to work for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong.”

Besides US, many rights groups including Amnesty International also slammed the Chinese authorities for misusing the national security law. The rights group said that the arrests were “the starkest demonstration yet of how the national security law has been weaponised to punish anyone who dares to challenge the establishment”. 

Maya Wang, Chinese senior researcher at Human Rights Watch said, “Beijing once again has failed to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance & that millions of HK people will persist in their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government”

According to the handover of the former British colony to China by the British regime in 1997, it was decided that the semi-autonomous territory would be operated by Beijing under “one country, two systems” principle. Of late, Beijing started pressing greater control over the city, drawing criticism that Hong Kong’s freedoms were under threat.

Saudi Arabia slams Iran for the accusation over nuclear scientist killing
Middle East & Africa

Saudi Arabia slams Iran for the accusation over nuclear scientist killing

Saudi Arabia slams Iran: On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir stated that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was too eager to reprimand the Kingdom for anything negative that occurred in Iran. 

“Will Zarif reprimand us for the following flood or earthquake?” he tweeted. “It isn’t the policy of Saudi Arabia to engross in assassinations; in contrast to Iran, which has been involved in such strides since the Khomeini Revolution in 1979. 

“Ask numerous nations who have lost a significant number of their residents because of Iran’s lawbreaker and illicit conduct,” Al-Jubeir added. 

On Tuesday, Iran’s parliament passed a bill requiring the public authority to help uranium enrichment by 20% and end UN assessments of its atomic plants.

The current bill would require another parliamentary vote to get cleared and also approval from the Guardian Council. Besides, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last say on every atomic policy. 

The bill would provide European signatories to the 2015 atomic arrangement three months to lift sanctions on Iran and to reestablish its admittance to the global banking system. 

As per political analysts following the assassination of Iranian atomic scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Tehran has been blaming different nations for having a hand in it. 

“There is no uncertainty that this step establishes a threat, increasing it to 20 percent implies that it will be near developing an atomic bomb,” political researcher Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri revealed to Arab News.

He added that the move showed the Iranian government‘s emphasis on destabilizing the locale, and its assurance to dominate the competition to build atomic weapons. 

“If Iran obtains atomic weapons or accomplishes that objective then it will bring about an extraordinary peril to the region. Fakhrizadeh’s killing proposes that Iran was anticipating for an escalation.” “Iran may have the atomic bomb at this point without the global community making any move against it. 

Al-Shehri added. 

He added that the killing of the nuclear scientist won’t alter the condition, even the attacks on Iranian offices would not influence the real Iranian foundation.

In Nov, Netanyahu held discussions with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, as per Israeli media reports, Netanyahu and Mossad agency chief Yosef Meir Cohen met Prince Mohammed, along with US Secretary Mike Pompeo, in the Red Sea city of Neom, the sources added. However, Riyadh refused any such conference took place.

Moreover, The New York Times stated that the US and two other intelligence officials stated Israel had a hand in the firing on Fakhrizadeh. Israel has not yet commented on the allegation or neither denied it.

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