‘UK can play crucial role in ending Rohingya genocide’

            By Muhammad Mussa </p>  <p>LONDON (AA) - The UK can play an instrumental role in bringing an end to the Rohingya genocide by Burmese authorities, a parliamentary session heard late Monday. </p>  <p>The message was conveyed at an event organized by the Justice for Rohingya Minority group, which hosted a cross-party panel of MPs including Catherine West of the Conservative Party, Rushanara Ali and Helen Goodman of the Labour Party and Baroness Sheehan, the Liberal Democrat Party’s spokesperson for international development. </p>  <p>The session also featured Ben Emmerson QC, an international lawyer who sat as a judge at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and Sirazul Islam, an 18-year-old genocide survivor who was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, where he spent eight years of his life before moving to the UK.</p>  <p>“I would like to thank you all for inviting me to this event and allowing me to share with you my experience of being a Rohingya youth,” Islam said.</p>    <p>“I was born in a refugee camp, in a land I couldn’t call my own and devoid of the basic comforts that many of you grew up with. Children normally want to have fun, play with their friends and enjoy school. But for me, survival was the most important thing, as we didn’t have those enjoyments in the camp.</p>  <p>“And as the camp was not officially registered with the Bengali government, it lacked many basic necessities such as clean water, comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms. Life in the camp was difficult, but it was even more difficult knowing that I couldn’t return to the land that my family was born in and had lived for many years and called home”. </p>  <p>Islam’s testimony of Rohingya life in a refugee camp cast a somber mood over the room and made clear the realities faced by thousands, if not millions, of Rohingya refugees living in limbo in Bangladesh. </p>  <p><br></p>  <p>“Islam’s harrowing account should be a wakeup call to all of us and remind us that this genocide is still going on and that we as a nation of morals and humanity should stand up and fight for the justice of our fellow Rohingyas,” said West, who was also moderating the event. </p>    <p>She also cited the fact that the UK, as a global power, was a leading advocate of human rights and as such held a unique position at the UN Security Council (UNSC) in bringing to light the plight of minority peoples such as the Rohingya in Myanmar. </p>  <p>“The UK has been a leading advocate of human rights since the end of the Second World War and has used its position as one of the permanent members of the Security Council to influence and change how we view human rights and what laws and policies we legislate on the issue. </p>  <p>“And as such, the UK has been at the vanguard in distributing aid to Rohingya refugees and attempting to find a solution to end the Rohingya genocide,” West added. </p>  <p>The role of the international community in ending the genocide was also discussed and in particular what the International Criminal Court (ICC) could do to bring justice to the Rohingya and hold to account the perpetrators of the genocide. </p>  <p>Emmerson said that due to China’s permanent position on the Security Council and its close relationship with the Burmese government, it is difficult to pass a resolution against Myanmar and especially a referral to the ICC.</p>    <p>“It is expected that China would veto any resolution against Burmese authorities in the Security Council, and so essentially this creates an impasse that we have seen occur many times throughout the UNSC’s existence,” he stated. </p>  <p>Emmerson said that one of the viable options was to impose economic sanctions on the Burmese government and lobby international firms against doing business in Burma as well as lobbying Western governments to boycott Myanmar and isolate it economically. </p>  <p>According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.</p>  <p>The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.</p>  <p>The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Theresa May to visit Germany for crisis Brexit talks

            By Ayhan Simsek </p>  <p>BERLIN (AA) – Germany’s chancellor will host Britain’s prime minister Tuesday in Berlin to discuss the latest developments on Brexit, her office said. </p>  <p>“Upon a request from the British side, Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet British Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday at 13:00 hours,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said.</p>  <p>On Monday, May announced the postponement of Tuesday’s planned Brexit vote at the House of Commons, saying the deal “would be rejected by a significant margin”. </p>  <p>But the European Union ruled out renegotiation of the Brexit deal and announced Monday that it would review plans for a no-deal scenario. </p>  <p>“We will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop, but we are ready to discuss how to facilitate UK ratification,” European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter. </p>  <p>“As time is running out, we will also discuss our preparedness for a no-deal scenario,” he said. </p>  <p>The so-called backstop arrangement in the Brexit deal has been widely criticized by the MPs, who fear that it would force the UK to adhere to EU rules, even after its exit from the bloc. </p>  <p>The arrangement is aimed at preventing a &quot;hard border&quot; between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. </p>  <p>EU leaders are scheduled to meet in Brussels for a two-day summit Thursday and Friday, and Brexit has been added to the agenda. </p>  <p> 

UK PM addresses Parliament after delaying Brexit vote

            <p>By Muhammad Mussa </p>  <p>  <p>LONDON (AA) – UK Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the lower house of Parliament or House of Commons on Monday after delaying a historic vote on her Brexit deal, admitting that it would have been rejected. </p>  <p>  <p>“As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be rejected by a significant margin,” she said, admitting that her deal was unpopular. </p>  <p>  <p>“We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time.” </p>  <p>  <p>The shock announcement is a humiliation for May as Downing Street was adamant that voting on the agreement would go ahead as planned, with cabinet ministers publicly stating it would not be postponed. </p>  <p>  <p>May was confident that her deal would pass through Parliament and had repeatedly announced that this was the only deal that would work for the UK, noting she had no intention of renegotiating the agreement with the European Union. </p>  <p>  <p>She had also warned parliamentarians that the only alternative to her deal was a no-deal Brexit that would plunge the UK into economic and political oblivion. Her warning went unheeded, however, as many as 100 Tory MPs and the majority of the opposition had publicly stated that they would vote against her deal as well as the Democratic Unionist Party, the Northern Irish party that is propping up May’s flailing government.</p>  <p>  <p>“Mr. Speaker, having spent the best part of two years poring over the details of Brexit, listening to the public’s ambitions, and yes, their fears too, and testing the limits of what the other side is prepared to accept, I am in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one,” May said.</p>  <p>  <p>“It honours the result of the referendum. It protects jobs, security and our Union. But it also represents the very best deal that is actually negotiable with the EU,” she added. </p>  <p>  <p>May will now seek to renegotiate her deal with the EU and make the points of contention more attractive to MPs, particularly the backstop arrangement regarding Northern Ireland, and will have until Jan. 21 before it will be put to vote in parliament. </p>  <p>  <p>Upon hearing of the postponement of the vote, the EU stated that they will not renegotiate the deal with London and have stepped up preparations for a no-deal Brexit. </p><br>

May postpones Brexit deal vote: Reports

                By Diyar Guldogan</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - British Prime Minister Theresa May has postponed Tuesday's vote on Brexit deal after holding an emergency conference call with her Cabinet on Tuesday, the country’s media reported.</p>    <p>May will give a statement to the House of Commons on the European Union at 3.30 p.m. local time (1530GMT), The Guardian said in a report, citing the Speaker’s Office.</p>    <p>The European Court of Justice on Monday ruled that the U.K. is &quot;free to unilaterally revoke the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU.&quot;</p>    <p>In 2017, May notified the European Council of the U.K.’s intention to withdraw from the 28-member bloc under Article 50 TEU (Treaty on European Union).

UK can unilaterally revoke Brexit, says top EU court

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – The European Court of Justice on Monday ruled that the U.K. is "free to unilaterally revoke the notification of its intention to withdraw from the EU".

"When a member state has notified European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the U.K. has done, that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification," the court said.

In 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May notified the European Council of the U.K.’s intention to withdraw from the 28-member bloc under Article 50 TEU (Treaty on European Union).

"That possibility exists for as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that member state has not entered into force or, if no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU, and an possible extension, has not expired," it added.

Opposition demands contempt proceedings against UK govt

                      By Muhammad Mussa</p>  <p> </p>  <p>LONDON (AA) - Six opposition parties have written a joint letter, calling for contempt proceedings over the government’s failure to publish its Brexit legal advice in full.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>The letter has been signed by representatives from the Labour party, the DUP, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats party, the Green party and the Welsh Plaid Cymru and has been sent to the speaker of the House of Commons.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>“We are writing to request that you consider giving precedence to a motion being placed before the House of Commons that the Government has held Parliament in contempt,” the letter read.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>The group argue that the government is in contempt of parliament after failing to publish its full Brexit legal advice after having lost a vote in the Commons on Nov. 13 when the Labour party introduced a motion that required the government to publish its legal advice.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>The letter went on to say that “the motion passed unanimously and was not opposed by the Government” and that the speaker of the Commons ruled that “the motion is effective”.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>“It is apparent to us - and we believe the overwhelming majority of the House - that the information released today does not constitute the final and full advice provided by the Attorney General to the Cabinet. It does not comply with a motion of the House that you have ruled to be effective,” the letter said.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>“We would now ask that you consider giving the House of Commons the opportunity to debate and consider this matter of contempt at the earliest opportunity,” the signatories said.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>The six representatives who signed the letter were Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for exiting the EU; Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP; Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat’s spokesperson on exiting the EU; Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green party; Stephen Gethins, SNP foreign affairs and Europe spokesperson; and Hywel Williams, the Plaid Cymru spokesperson on Brexit.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>The government today published a 43-page summary of its legal advice on the draft withdrawal agreement signed with the EU and has already come under heavy criticism from MPs across parliament.

UK government publishes summary of Brexit legal advice

                                  By Muhammad Mussa</p>    <p>LONDON (AA) - The government has published a summary of its legal position on the draft withdrawal agreement signed with the EU in late November.</p>    <p>The 43-page document sets out the government’s legal position on the Brexit deal and is made up of six parts that cover citizens’ rights, the transition period, the financial settlement and a protocol on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.</p>    <p>“This document describes the overall legal effect of the draft Withdrawal Agreement of 25 November 2018 (‘the Agreement’),” the document states, adding that it covers six areas signed by the U.K. and the EU including the protocols on Northern Ireland and Ireland, Gibraltar and the U.K.’s military bases on the island of Cyprus.</p>    <p>The legal advice goes on to state that the withdrawal agreement is a treaty and as such is binding on the U.K. and the EU under international law. It will ensure that EU law will not be binding in the U.K. when it leaves the EU.</p>    <p>The document also sets out the terms of the transition period in which the U.K will remain a part of the customs union and single market and abide by EU law until December 2020. Under the terms of the transition period, the U.K. will not be able to influence or change EU legislation and policies.</p>    <p>Importantly, however, the legal advice argues that the U.K. will not be able to end the Irish backstop arrangement, which will keep an open border and frictionless trade on the island of Ireland, after the transition period ends unless the EU agrees to end it as well.</p>    <p>The publishing of the document by the government came after the opposition Labour party threatened to hold the government in contempt of parliament after they had previously refused to publish the legal advice.</p>    <p>The government was put under further pressure to publish the document after the DUP, the party that props up the government in parliament, joined in with Labour’s threats to hold the government in contempt of parliament.</p>    <p>The government’s legal advice has been a source of contention between MPs within the Conservative party, the opposition and those in the DUP due to its position on the Irish ‘backstop’ arrangement in which the U.K. and Northern Ireland will remain a part of the customs union.</p>    <p>Under the arrangement, Northern Ireland, unlike the U.K., will remain in the single market to ensure frictionless trade. However, this would mean separate regulations would be enforced between Northern Ireland and the U.K. and that checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the U.K. would be set in place.</p>    <p>The backstop arrangement has come under heavy criticism from many MPs, especially those within the DUP and those supporting a hard Brexit, as they argue that the U.K. and Northern Ireland will have to abide by different regulations that could threaten the integrity of the Union and that the U.K. would not be able to end the arrangement unless it received consent from the EU.</p>    <p>May finalized her Brexit withdrawal agreement on Nov. 13 and, although her Cabinet reluctantly have agreed to support it, it has faced mass criticism from within her party and from the opposition Labour Party with two of her cabinet ministers resigning in protest.</p>    <p>It is yet to be seen whether May will be able to pass her Brexit deal through parliament as the Democratic Unionist Party, the party that May depends on getting her legislation through parliament, has repeatedly stated that they will vote against her deal as will other parties.</p>    <p>On Nov. 25, the remaining 27 EU member states endorsed May’s Brexit deal and have said that this is the only deal that will work for Britain.</p>    <p>May now faces the challenge of passing her Brexit deal through parliament in what will be known as the “Meaningful Vote.”</p>    <p>The Meaningful Vote is said to be the most historic and important vote to take place in parliament since the end of the Second World War and May is expected to suffer a devastating loss.

UK PM urges Saudis to cooperate with Turkey

            By Tayfun Salci</p>  <p>LONDON (AA) – British Prime Minister Theresa May has urged Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler to hold the killers of Jamal Khashoggi to account and to ensure that Riyadh cooperates fully with Turkey, her office said Friday. </p>  <p>May held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.</p>  <p>&quot;The prime minister stressed the importance of ensuring that those responsible for the appalling murder of Jamal Khashoggi are held to account and that Saudi Arabia takes action to build confidence that such a deplorable incident could not happen again,” her office said.</p>  <p>May also encouraged bin Salman to ensure that Saudi Arabia will cooperate fully with Turkish authorities and work to “bring both investigations to an acceptable close”.</p>  <p>Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, was killed shortly after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.</p>  <p>After saying he had left the consulate alive, Saudi Arabia admitted weeks later that he was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.</p>  <p>May also asked Saudi Arabia to end the conflict in Yemen and “bring relief to millions threatened by famine” during her meeting with the crown prince. </p>  <p>Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by conflict since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. </p>  <p>The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies launched a military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen and shoring up the country’s Saudi-backed government.</p>  <p>The war has resulted in a collapsed economy and a cholera outbreak that has affected over 1.1 million people. </p>  <p>Riyadh has repeatedly accused the Houthis of acting as a proxy force for Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-foe in the region.

Demonstrators in UK demand an end to war in Yemen

            By Muhammad Mussa <br>

LONDON (AA) – Protestors gathered outside 10 Downing Street late Friday, demanding an end to the war in Yemen and the British government’s support of Saudi Arabia.

The demonstrations were organized by the Stop The War Coalition and Hands Off Yemen anti-war movements.

Protestors and campaigners held placards reading “Hey, hey, Theresa May, how many kids have you killed today?” and chanted slogans such as “Stop arming Saudi! Stop bombing Yemen!” and “Justice for Jamal!”.

“We believe that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi demonstrates the nature of the Saudi regime,” a senior campaigner of the Stop The War Coalition said.

“A regime that is capable of the arbitrary murder of a journalist and pretending the murder didn’t happen is a regime that is [also] capable of terrible war crimes in Yemen and pretending that they didn’t happen either.”

The campaign activist was skeptical that the British government would apply significant pressure on Saudi Arabia to accelerate a peace process in Yemen and said if Prime Minister Theresa May wanted to influence the Saudi monarchy, she should withdraw UK support for the Saudi military command.

“Unfortunately, we believe the British government is drifting and not applying pressure, so we believe British complicity with this war must end, and that is why we are here, to demonstrate our opposition and join the growing international movement which is demanding an end to the war in Yemen and the introduction of a peace process.”

The activists also demanded justice for Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

“We cannot let the world forget about Jamal,” one protestor said, adding that forgetting about him “would give the Saudi regime a green light to continue their Machiavellian and reckless acts throughout the region without any fear of accountability”.

In an interview with Sky News, May said she planned to speak to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has come under heavy criticism and pressure from the international community following the murder of Khashoggi by Saudi agents in Istanbul, with the international community accusing bin Salman of ordering it.

“I am going to speak to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, but it is the relationship we have with Saudi Arabia that enables me to sit down with him and be robust on our views on two issues.

“First of all, the terrible killing of Jamal Khashoggi, and the message I will be giving and the message we have given from the UK from the time it happened is that the Saudi Arabians need to ensure that their investigation is a full investigation, that it is credible, that it is transparent and that people can have confidence in the outcome of it and that those responsible are held to account.

“But I will also be raising the situation in Yemen, where the humanitarian crisis is getting worse. We are very concerned about that.”

She added that now is the time and there is an opportunity to come to a political solution because it will ensure a safe and secure future for the people of Yemen.

An estimated 8.4 million people in Yemen are at risk of severe famine and more than 22 million people, or 75 percent of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Impoverished Yemen has been wracked by conflict since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies launched a military campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen and shoring up the country’s Saudi-backed government.

The war has resulted in a collapsed economy and a cholera outbreak that has affected over 1.1 million people.

Riyadh has repeatedly accused the Houthis of acting as a proxy force for Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-foe in the region.

UK premier to raise Khashoggi killing with bin Salman

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – British Prime Minister Theresa May will raise the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi with the Saudi crown prince during a meeting slated for Friday evening at the G20 summit.

Speaking during her flight to Buenos Aires, May said she "intends" to speak with Mohammed bin Salman.

“The message that I give will be very clear … on this issue of Jamal Khashoggi but also on the issue of Yemen,” the prime minister told reporters.

“We want to see a full and transparent investigation in relation to what happened and obviously those responsible being held to account,” May said, reiterating the U.K.’s stance on the brutal killing.

May's spokesperson confirmed the meeting with bin Salman, who has been accused of allegedly ordering the killing of Khashoggi, will be conveyed Friday evening.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for The Washington Post, was killed shortly after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After weeks of saying he had left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration later admitted he was killed there, blaming his death on a group of rogue Saudi operatives.

“On the issue of Yemen, we continue to be deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation,” May said.

“The long-term solution for the Yemen is a political situation and we will be encouraging all parties actually to look for that and work for that,” she added.

The crown prince is in Argentina for the G20 Summit with Turkish, American and Canadian officials also in attendance.

He was met with protests in Buenos Aires and the summit is expected to create tensions between the prince and western leaders.