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Trump administration must return press pass to CNN reporter Jim Acosta

A judge has ordered the Trump administration to immediately return White House press credentials to CNN's Jim Acosta. The journalist's press pass was revoked after a contentious press conference with President Trump. A US District Court on Friday ordered the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta. The journalist, who is CNN's chief White House correspondent, was barred from the White House after a contentious press conference with President Donald Trump. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Acosta of "placing his hands" on an intern as she sought to take the microphone from him after the president indicated he would not answer a question from Acosta. The White House agreed to temporarily reinstate Acosta's press pass after the order. Judge Timothy Kelly, a Trump appointee, ordered the administration to restore Acosta's press pass while the case is pending. Kelly said there should be a due process in place for limiting a journalist's access to the White House. Describing the White House's reasons for revoking Acosta's credentials, Kelly said the "belated efforts were hardly sufficient to satisfy due process." Sanders had spelled out the reasons in a series of tweets only after CNN filed its lawsuit. 'Let's go back to work' The judge also found that Acosta suffered "irreparable harm," as he dismissed the Trump administration's argument that CNN could just send other reporters to report on the White House in Acosta's place. "Let's go back to work," Acosta told reporters after the hearing. CNN said in a statement it "looked forward to a full resolution in the coming days" and thanked "all who have supported not just CNN, but a free, strong and independent American press." Trump has made no secret of his dislike for the US broadcaster, often describing the network as "fake news." But in court, US government lawyers said Acosta was penalized for acting rudely at the conference and not for his criticisms of the president.

A judge has ordered the Trump administration to immediately return White House press credentials to CNN’s Jim Acosta. The journalist’s press pass was revoked after a contentious press conference with President Trump. A US District Court on Friday ordered the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials of CNN journalist Jim Acosta. The journalist, who is CNN’s chief White ... Read More »

US bomb threats: Critics blame Trump’s toxic rhetoric

US President Donald Trump called for "more civility" in politics after a string of parcel bombs targeted prominent politicians. Critics claim his attacks on the media and Democrats provide fuel for political violence. Deep divisions and the specter of political violence erupted in the United States Wednesday after a string of parcel bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and news outlet CNN. At least seven packages were intercepted before they reached former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others. None of the parcels exploded and nobody was hurt. The FBI has launched an investigation. US President Donald Trump condemned political violence and called for unity, but Democrats and critics were quick to put the blame on the president's often vitriolic rhetoric. Read more: Opinion: Politically motivated violence in Trump's America is no surprise At a rally in Wisconsin ahead of the November 6 mid-term vote that could see Democrats take control of one or both houses of Congress, Trump told supporters the media had a responsibility "to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories." "Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself," Trump said. "We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony." But he also said that those "engaged in the political arena" must stop treating political opponents as being "morally defective." "No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historic villains, which is done often," he said. Critics lay the blame at Trump's door Former CIA Director John Brennan, who had a parcel bomb addressed to him at CNN's office in New York, said he may have been targeted because of his strong criticism of Trump. Brennan is actually an analyst for NBC. "If I and others are being targeted because we're speaking out ... it's a very unfortunate turn of events," he said at an event in Austin. "Donald Trump too often has helped to incite these acts of violence" but "I'm hoping that maybe this is a turning point." The media has often been at the center of Trump's barbs against "fake news" and he has labeled journalists as "enemies of the people." CNN is one of the president's favorite targets. CNN president Jeff Zucker issued sharp criticism of Trump's verbal assaults on the media. "There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media," said Zucker. "Words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that." Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, two top Democrats, said in a statement that Trump's "words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence." "Time and time again, the President has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions: Expressing support for the Congressman who body-slammed a reporter, the neo-Nazis who killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his supporters at rallies who get violent with protestors, dictators around the world who murder their own citizens, and referring to the free press as the enemy of the people," they said. Soros targeted The spree of parcel bombs started on Monday with one sent to the New York home of George Soros, a financier of liberal causes who is a bete noire of the far-right. In recent weeks, Soros has been accused by conservatives of trying to undermine Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination and backing a caravan of Central American migrants trying to reach the United States. Laura Silber, a spokeswoman for Soros' Open Society Foundations, blamed toxic political rhetoric for the bomb scares. "The hateful rhetoric that dominates politics in the US and in so many countries around the world breeds extremism and violence," Silber said in a statement. "In this climate of fear, falsehoods and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats."

US President Donald Trump called for “more civility” in politics after a string of parcel bombs targeted prominent politicians. Critics claim his attacks on the media and Democrats provide fuel for political violence. Deep divisions and the specter of political violence erupted in the United States Wednesday after a string of parcel bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and news ... Read More »

Donald Trump confirms US will pull out of nuclear arms pact with Russia

President Donald Trump has announced he will pull the United States out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal with Russia. The president has accused Russia of violating the 1987 pact, but provided no further details. The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. Trump justified the move by accusing Moscow of violating the 1987 nuclear arms pact , but refused to provide further details. "[Russia] has been violating it for many years. I don't know why President Obama didn't negotiate or pull out," the president said following a campaign stop in Elko, Nevada. "We're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons [while] we're not allowed to. We are going to terminate the agreement and then we are going to develop the weapons." Trump went on to indicate that he would reconsider, provided Russia and China agreed to sign up to a fresh nuclear deal. China is party to the current pact. "We'll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," Trump said. The landmark agreement, signed by then-leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibits the US and Russia from possessing, producing or testing ground-launched cruise missiles with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 kilometers). US dreaming of 'unipolar world': Russia Russia has responded to Washington's impending withdrawal from the arms treaty by accusing it of striving to become the world's only superpower. "The main motive is a dream of a unipolar world. Will it come true? No," Moscow's state-run news agency RIA Novosti quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. "This decision is part of the US policy course to withdraw from those international legal agreements that place equal responsibilities on it and its partners and make vulnerable its concept of its own 'exceptionalism.'" Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov took to Twitter to condemn the move as "the second powerful blow against the whole system of strategic stability in the world," with the first being Washington's 2001 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the TASS state news agency that Trump's planned move was dangerous. "This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," he said. Second Trump-Putin summit still in the pipeline Trump's announcement comes just as US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to begin a series of visits to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. In Moscow, Bolton is expected to begin preparations for a second summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although no date has yet been announced, a meeting is expected in the near future. That could be in November, when the two leaders will be in Paris for a commemoration ceremony marking the end of World War I. Another possibility would be around the time of the next G20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, slated to begin November 30. Tensions between Russia and the US remain strained over the Ukraine crisis, the conflict in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential vote and the upcoming midterm elections.

President Donald Trump has announced he will pull the United States out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal with Russia. The president has accused Russia of violating the 1987 pact, but provided no further details. The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. Trump justified the move by accusing ... Read More »

Central American migrants vote to reform caravan, continue march toward US

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue marching toward the US border. The migrants in question, most of whom are from Honduras, had entered Mexico without registering by crossing the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala, either by swimming or on makeshift rafts. It followed a chaotic day at the border on Friday when thousands surged through a series of police lines and barricades, only to ultimately be pushed back by Mexican officers in riot gear. Thousands remain stranded on the bridge connecting the two nations. Rodrigo Abeja, one of the caravan's leaders, told The Associated Press the group that crossed the border would move toward the Mexican city of Tapachula on Sunday morning. "We don't yet know if we will make it to the (US) border, but we are going to keep going as far as we can," he said. The migrants gathered in a park on the Mexican side of the river crossing shouting "Let's all walk together!" and "Yes we can!" Mexico allows women, children to register as migrants Meanwhile, authorities at Mexico's southern border on Saturday allowed small groups of women and children to enter the country and be processed by immigration officials. Those migrants were then taken to a shelter in Tapachula, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the border. Most of the women and children had spent the night sleeping out in the open, either on the packed border bridge or in the Guatemalan border city of Tecun Uman. Mexican authorities have insisted that those still stranded on the bridge crossing will have to file asylum claims one-by-one to gain access to the country. It remains unclear whether their applications are likely to be accepted. Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has organized a fleet of buses to take the migrants back to their native Honduras. Initial estimates suggest over 300 people have already taken up the offer. Trump: Migrant caravan politically motivated The migrant caravan's decision to continue travelling toward the US comes despite assertions by US President Donald Trump on Friday that not a single one of them would be allowed to enter the United States "on [his] watch." Trump has sought to make the caravan and US border security a central issue ahead of midterm elections in just over two weeks' time. The president kept up that rhetoric during a rally in Elko, Nevada, on Saturday. "The Democrats want caravans, they like the caravans. A lot of people say 'I wonder who started that caravan?'" he said. Trump went on to praise Mexican authorities for trying to halt the caravan's progress. "Mexico has been so incredible. Thank you Mexico and the leaders of Mexico, thank you," he said. "And you know why, because now Mexico respects the leadership of the United States." However, Mexico's increasingly no-nonsense approach to the large inflows of migrants has largely come on the back of Trump's threats to cut aid and shut down the US-Mexico border if authorities did not stop them. Back in Guatemala, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales echoed Trump's politicized theme as the pair met Saturday to discuss the crisis. "This migration has political motivations," said Morales, "which is violating the borders and the good faith of the states and of course putting at risk the most important thing, people." Hernandez also deplored "the abuse of people's needs" for "political reasons." Honduras, where most of the migrants are from, has seen violent street gangs brutally rule over large swathes of turf for years. With a homicide rate of nearly 43 citizens per 100,000, the country ranks among the poorest and most violent in the Americas

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair

Saudi Arabia's reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi's suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors' conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the International Monetary Fund chief confirmed that she would still participate in the meeting. Finally, she has pulled out. Lagarde's spokesperson declined to give a reason for the decision. The cancellation, however, is in line with the announcements of several leading Western politicians who also do not want to be seen in the Saudi capital. Global business leaders have changed their plans as well. The CEOs of major banks including HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse do not want to travel to Ryiadh. Others attendees have left their participation open. The CEO of German manufacturer Siemens, Joe Kaeser, said he would reach a decision in the coming days. While Kaeser views the disappearance of Khashoggi as a serious matter, he does not necessarily see boycotts as the solution. "If we stop conversing with countries where people have gone missing then we might as well stay home because we couldn't converse with anyone," he said. 'We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house' "We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house the way we want, but we have to deal with the situations as they arise," said Jürgen Hardt, a lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party, during a recent radio interview. Hardt, a foreign policy expert in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, added that politicians must maintain dialogue with each other, even when their attitudes do not align or when they completely reject their decisions. Read more: Could the Khashoggi case spell the end for Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman? Hardt pointed out that Saudi Arabia is an active player in the Middle East peace process trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. At the same time, however, the country is waging a brutal war in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes. "That's why we have a highly ambivalent view of Saudi Arabia," Hardt said. "With what has unfolded in recent days in the Khashoggi case, and what may be revealed in the coming few days, we will further sharpen our view. And then, if necessary, Europe will adjust its policy on Saudi Arabia." A political heavyweight Any change in European Union policy towards Saudi Arabia would be a decision of enormous significance. For years, the kingdom has been trying to present itself as a reliable political partner to the West. Riyadh has not only declared its intention to mediate in Middle East conflicts; it also claims it wants to play an active role in the fight against terrorism. The country plays an important role in the war in Syria, as well. It sees itself as an important counterweight to Middle East rival Iran, which has massively expanded its presence and influence in the region. In this context, Saudi Arabia has huge political and strategic value for the West. Saudi Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who currently lives in exile in Germany, said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing increasing pressure to answer to the suspected murder of Khashoggi, is a particularly important partner for the United States. "The American government could hardly afford to be without a man like Mohammed bin Salman who is easy to influence and control," bin Farhan told DW. The exiled prince also believes that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent trip to Saudi Arabia had an ulterior motive: "To keep the crown prince in power so that [the US] can pursue its own plans." Middle East expert Thomas Richter from the German Institute of Global and Area Studies told DW that if the suspicions about Khashoggi's violent death continue to intensify, the kingdom, in particular the crown prince, might be viewed by German politicians in a new light. Richter believes if this happens, a "serious reflection" would begin. "One could reach the conclusion that Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by a few people and apparently led by a young prince who does not shy away from anything," he said. Petrodollars and investments However, the economic might of Saudi Arabia could limit the extent of any diplomatic reorientation towards the country, and perhaps, even a direct response to the Khashoggi affair. Saudi Arabia's massive oil reserves give the ruling family substantial leverage. Every day, the world's largest oil exporter sells 10 million barrels. Global demand for oil already exceeds supply in OPEC states. Additionally, due to the imminent sanctions against Iran, around 1.7 million fewer barrels are expected to become available on the market. Should the relationship between the West and Riyadh deteriorate in the aftermath of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia could retaliate by reducing its exports. The result would be an increase in oil prices. Such a scenario would be reminiscent of the so-called oil crisis of 1973, when OPEC states reduced their production volumes as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Within a few days, the price rose from around $3 to more than $12 per barrel. The result was a worldwide recession. Read more: Donald Trump vs. OPEC: What can he do to bring down oil prices? And Saudi Arabia is not only important as an oil exporter, but also as an investor. In the US alone, it holds bonds worth almost $170 billion (€148 billion). Should it sell them, interest rates on the bond markets would increase sharply. Such a rise would massively upset the monetary policy of the Trump administration, which is financing its latest tax cuts through further bond issues. Hope for a new political culture? Saudi Arabia remains a highly significant international player, both politically and economically. Thus, its reputation as a soon-to-be rogue state in the wake the Khashoggi affair is not entirely accurate. For the time being, Riyadh is responding with threats against its partners. But Saudi Arabia will now have to face the music: Very few international players want to come to the table publicly now. If the outrage over the Khashoggi affair does not subside shortly, the presumed crime could prompt the kingdom to reconsider its political culture.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors’ conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ... Read More »

Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida: ‘Our worst fears realized’

Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States. Hurricane Michael churned through the Florida panhandle packing 155-mph (250-kph) winds on Wednesday afternoon, unleashing devastating damage along the Gulf coast as it moved inland into Georgia. It had the lowest barometric reading of a hurricane to make landfall since 1969, making it the most intense storm to hit the continental US in half a century. Michael was also the most powerful hurricane to hit the panhandle of Florida. The storm slammed ashore early afternoon near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 hurricane on the five-level Saffir-Simpson wind scale, uprooting trees and powerlines, dumping rain and unleashing severe flooding. "Michael saw our worst fears realized, of rapid intensification just before landfall on a part of a coastline that has never experienced a Category 4 hurricane," said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Authorities said a man in the town of Greensboro was killed by a falling tree when it crashed through the roof of his home. Some 375,000 people had been urged to leave their homes for stronger shelters in Florida, but many residents were trapped after they were caught surprised by the storm doubling in strength as it approached land. By Wednesday night, more than 400,000 people in Florida, Georgia and Alabama were without power. Emergency alerts for Alabama, Georgia The storm's strength diminished to a Category 1 storm packing 75-mph (120-kph) winds as it moved into Georgia late Wednesday. It was projected to cut through the state and move into the Carolinas as a tropical storm on Thursday. The governors of North and South Carolina urged residents to prepare for heavy rain and winds, which come less than a month after Hurricane Florence battered the mid-Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump said he had spoken with Florida Governor Rick Scott on Tuesday, and federal emergency services were coordinating with regional agencies in the areas likely to be impacted. "It is imperative that you heed the directions of your State and Local Officials. Please be prepared, be careful and be SAFE!" the president tweeted to residents of Florida and Georgia. Climate change making more destructive storms In the past year, several massive storms battered the US coasts, including Irma, Maria and Harvey. Houston's metropolitan area suffered a record-equaling $125 billion (€108 billion) in damage. North and South Carolina are still reeling from Hurricane Florence last month. Climate scientists have long warned that the effects of global warming make storms more destructive and point to last year's string of hurricanes as visible evidence.

Hurricane Michael has caused widespread damage across the Florida panhandle. The Category 4 monster was among the most powerful hurricanes in half a century to strike the mainland United States. Hurricane Michael churned through the Florida panhandle packing 155-mph (250-kph) winds on Wednesday afternoon, unleashing devastating damage along the Gulf coast as it moved inland into Georgia. It had the ... Read More »

US indicts Chinese spy for trying to steal aviation trade secrets

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China's Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major US aerospace firms and persuade them to travel to China under the guise that they would give a presentation at a university. Court papers documented how Xu and other intelligence operatives would then plan to illicitly obtain "highly sensitive information" from their expert guests. In one instance, Xu recruited an employee at GE Aviation, who sent him a presentation containing the company's proprietary information. Xu then continued to follow up by asking the employee for more specific technical information and even proposed setting up a meeting in Europe. GE Aviation is a Cincinnati-based division of US industrial conglomerate General Electric, which regularly works under Defense Department contracts. The company said it had been cooperating with the FBI for several months on the matter. "The impact to GE Aviation is minimal thanks to early detection, our advanced digital systems and internal processes, and our partnership with the FBI," GE Aviation spokesman Perry Bradley said. According to court documents, Xu is also suspected of targeting another unnamed described as "one of the world's largest aerospace firms, and a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems," and a third as a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. Unprecedented extradition Xu was detained in Belgium in April on a US arrest warrant. Following several failed appeals, he was handed over to American authorities on Tuesday in what was an unprecedented extradition of a Chinese intelligence official to the US from another country. The announcement will almost certainly heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade tensions, hacking and corporate espionage. Read more: China's tech firms hit by spy chips row Bill Priestap, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, said that the incident "exposes the Chinese government's direct oversight of economic espionage against the United States." John Demers, the assistant US attorney general for national security, warned that the case was not an isolated incident. "It is part of an overall economic policy of developing China at American expense," he said. "We cannot tolerate a nation stealing our firepower and the fruits of our brainpower." Xu is the second Chinese national in two weeks to be charged by the US Justice Department with trying to steal aviation industry secrets. Ji Chaoqun was charged by American authorities of helping identify potential recruitment targets for China's Ministry of State Security. Officials said the two cases appeared closely linked.

The US Justice Department said on Wednesday it had detained a Chinese spy on charges of state-sponsored economic espionage, after he allegedly attempted to steal trade secrets from several American aviation and aerospace companies. Yanjun Xu, an intelligence officer for China’s Ministry of State Security, is accused of running a five-year operation in which he would woo employees from major ... Read More »

China calls for US restraint in Korean military drills after B-1B flyover

With the US sending a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber jet over the Korean peninsula, China has called for more delicate handling of the situation. North Korea has described Trump as "insane." In a tit-for-tat show of military might, South Korea and the United states have this week held air combat drills — a week after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that it claims puts the US within its reach. Read more: South says North Korea's latest missile test is bigger threat Midway though the large-scale aerial exercises involving hundreds of warplanes, the US has flown a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea. The bomber flew from Guam and joined US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in the military drills. North Korea has consistently described the B-1B as a "nuclear strategic bomber," although the plane was converted to carry conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s. The North Korean military issued a statement saying, "Through the drill, the South Korean and US air forces displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles." North Korean state media said on Tuesday that the military exercises were serving to escalate tensions, describing a heightened risk of nuclear war due to "US imperialist warmongers' extremely reckless war hysteria." It also labeled US President Donald Trump as "insane." Read more: Which countries have diplomatic relations with North Korea? China calls for restraint China has proposed that North Korea suspend missile and nuclear testing in exchange for a halt to US-South Korean military exercises. This suggestion has been repeatedly rejected by Washington. Read more: North Korea: UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman visits Pyongyang South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit China next week for talks on North Korea. Asked about the bomber's flight, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, "We hope relevant parties can maintain restraint and not do anything to add tensions on the Korean peninsula."

With the US sending a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber jet over the Korean peninsula, China has called for more delicate handling of the situation. North Korea has described Trump as “insane.” In a tit-for-tat show of military might, South Korea and the United states have this week held air combat drills — a week after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic ... Read More »

US Air Force: Missiles fired at Saudi Arabia from Yemen have ‘Iranian markings’

A top US general has claimed there is an Iranian role in missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen's Houthi rebels. Heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia threaten to expand beyond Yemen into a regional war. Iran has helped Yemen's Houthi rebels develop ballistic missiles launched at Saudi Arabia, a top US Air Force official said Friday. "What we have seen, clearly from the results of the ballistic missile attacks, that there have been Iranian markings on those missiles, that's been demonstrated," Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, who commands US Air Forces Central Command, told reporters. "To me that connects the dots to Iran in terms of who's providing those missiles and that capability." The comment further ratchets up tensions between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia over Yemen at a time when a new crisis is brewing in Lebanon that threatens a broader regional conflict that could draw in the United States and Israel. It also comes as the United States and Iran are competing in eastern Syria as the fight against the "Islamic State" winds down, risking a new conflict across the Middle East. On November 4, Saudi Arabia intercepted a variant of the Volcano-1 (Burkan 2-H) long-range ballistic missile fired from Yemen toward the King Khalid International Airport near the capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia said this week that Iran helped the Houthis and that the ballistic missile launch was "a blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could rise to be considered as an act of war." The Foreign Ministry later said investigators found evidence proving "the role of Iranian regime in manufacturing" missiles, but did not provide the evidence or elaborate. French President Emmanuel Macron also said this week that the missile was "obviously" Iranian. Read more: Yemen's war explained in 4 key points Threat of more missile launches Houthi rebels have fired more than 70 ballistic missiles towards Saudi Arabia since the kingdom led a coalition military intervention in 2015. But the latest launch was the first time Houthis had targeted Riyadh, some 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) north of the border with Yemen. No deaths or damage were reported from the missile. Media tied to Houthi rebels claimed a short-range missile had been fired in response to "Saudi-American aggression and crimes against the people of Yemen," in a reference to US air refueling support and provision of weaponry to the Saudi-led coalition. Analysts say that the November 4 launch could presage further long-range ballistic missile strikes on major population centers in the Gulf States participating in the Saudi-led coalition as Houthi rebels seek to retaliate for airstrikes that have devastated Yemen. "The fact that they (Houthis) have the capability to strike Riyadh raises the political stakes as well as the cost of war for Saudi Arabia," April Longley, an expert on the Arabian Peninsula for the International Crisis Group, wrote in an analysis. "It also means that other Gulf cities may soon be in target range; on 8 November, the Houthis threatened further attacks on Saudi and Emirati ports and airports." "Given growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the US administration's eagerness to push back against Tehran, missile strikes by the Houthis in Gulf countries or in the Red Sea arguably are the single most dangerous trigger points for widening the conflict beyond Yemen to a regional confrontation," she added. How much influence does Iran have over Houthis? Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of arming the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies. Iran says it supports the Houthis politically and domestically, but denies arming them. Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group, wrote in an analysis that while Iran benefits from Saudi Arabia being stuck in a Yemen quagmire at a low cost, "it is unclear whether Iran exerts the kind of influence over the Houthis that would enable it to order or prevent such an attack." He cited previous instances of the Houthis ignoring Iran's advice and warned that "Iran ultimately might pay a price for actions by an allied group it does not control." Missile stockpiles The Houthis say the missile variants are produced domestically and are remnants of previous stockpiles. Yemen has had ballistic missiles dating back to the 1970s when the country was split between the north and south before reunification in 1990. When the Houthi rebels and allied forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh overran the capital Sana'a in September 2014 they captured ballistic missile stockpiles. However, Saudi Arabia and the United States suspect Iran may be providing technical aid and parts to help advance the Houthi ballistic missile program. The Saudi-led coalition has a tight land, air and sea embargo over Yemen in order to block weapons transfers, making it difficult for Iran to supply ballistic missiles or components. The blockade was further expanded this week, prompting international concerns over supplies of humanitarian aid in a country on the brink of famine. Iran's Revolutionary Guard chief, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said earlier this week that Tehran can't transfer missiles to Yemen due to the blockade and that they were made there. Harrigian didn't provide information on the type of missile used against Riyadh or show images of debris. He also didn't explain how Iran may have got around the Saudi blockade. "How they got it there is probably something that will continue to be investigated over time," the lieutenant general said.

A top US general has claimed there is an Iranian role in missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia threaten to expand beyond Yemen into a regional war. Iran has helped Yemen’s Houthi rebels develop ballistic missiles launched at Saudi Arabia, a top US Air Force official said Friday. “What we ... Read More »

Turkey ‘seeking arrest of second US consulate worker’

Turkish media say authorities are questioning the wife and son of a US consulate worker being sought in Istanbul by police. Ankara has also reportedly summoned a US diplomat of its NATO ally in a row over visa services. Turkey issued an arrest warrant for another US consulate worker, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported Monday. The family members of the worker were being questioned although Turkey's justice ministry said it had no information about a new warrant being issued. NTV said the consulate official was still being sought by security officials. The reports follow the arrest in Istanbul last week of a local US consulate employee, a Turkish national identified as Metin Topuz. The detention triggered a diplomatic row as US and Turkish missions each cut back visa services. Read more: US halts visa services to Turkey Turkish foreign ministry sources said the US mission's second-in-charge, Philip Kosnett, had been summoned to the ministry. Turkey demands US rethink Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul told A Haber television on Monday that he hoped Washington would review its decision to suspend visa services to Turkish citizens wanting to visit and study in the United States. Gul said the case against Topuz was one for the Turkish judiciary to pursue. "Trying a Turkish citizen for a crime committed in Turkey is our right. I hope the US will revise its decision in this light,” Gul said. Turkey's Anadolu news agency said Topuz was accused of espionage and links to the US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen. Ankara accused Gulen of being behind a coup attempt in 2016. The US embassy said it was "deeply disturbed” by his arrest.

Turkish media say authorities are questioning the wife and son of a US consulate worker being sought in Istanbul by police. Ankara has also reportedly summoned a US diplomat of its NATO ally in a row over visa services. Turkey issued an arrest warrant for another US consulate worker, Turkish broadcaster NTV reported Monday. The family members of the worker ... Read More »

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