Saudi Arabia becomes 1st Arab country to get FATF membership

Agencies
June 23, 2019

Riyadh, Jun 23: Saudi Arabia has become the first Arab country to be granted full membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) following the group's annual general meeting in the US.

The kingdom's accession came as the global money laundering watchdog celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first meeting held in Paris in 1989, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia which had received an invitation from the FATF at the beginning of 2015 to join as an "observer member", was admitted into the organization after the group's meeting in Orlando, Florida, on Friday (June 21).

Saudi Arabia had been a founding member of the MENA arm of the group since November 2004, and its full membership came after it was reported the kingdom had made "tangible progress" and for its efforts in implementing the FATF's guidelines.

The group is responsible for issuing international standards, policies and best practices to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation.

With the kingdom becoming a FATF member, the number of permanent members in the group is now 39.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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Washington, Jan 14: President Donald Trump has been impeached by the House days before leaving office, becoming the first American president to be impeached twice.

The previous three impeachments those of Presidents Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Trump took months before a final vote, including investigations in the House and hearings. This time it only took a week after Trump encouraged a crowd of his supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Democrats and 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump on one charge: incitement of insurrection. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will not begin a trial until next Tuesday, at the very earliest, which is the day before Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as president. It's unclear, for now, exactly how that trial will proceed and if any Senate Republicans will vote to convict Trump.

Even though the trial won't happen until Trump is already out of office, it could still have the effect of preventing him from running for president again.

A look at next steps:

SENDING TO THE SENATE

Once the House votes to impeach, the speaker of the House can send the article or articles over to the Senate immediately or she can wait a while. Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn't yet said when she will send them, but many Democrats in her caucus have urged her to do so immediately.

Pelosi has already appointed nine impeachment managers to argue the case against Trump in a Senate trial, a sign that she will send them sooner rather than later.

Once the articles are sent over that is usually done with an official walk from the House to the Senate then the majority leader of the Senate must start the process of having a trial.

THE SENATE SCHEDULE

The Senate is not scheduled to be in session until January 19, which could be McConnell's last day as Senate leader. Once Vice President Kamala Harris is sworn in, making her the president of the Senate, and Georgia's two Democratic senators are also sworn in, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer will take charge and determine how the trial will proceed.

McConnell said he will not bring the Senate back on an emergency basis to start the trial, so the earliest it could begin would be Tuesday. That means the trial is certain to take place after Trump has already left office.

McConnell noted that the three previous Senate trials lasted 83 days, 37 days, and 21 days respectively.

ALL EYES ON MCCONNELL

McConnell believes that Trump committed impeachable offenses and considers the Democrats' impeachment drive an opportunity to reduce the divisive, chaotic president's hold on the GOP, a Republican strategist told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

And McConnell told major donors over the weekend that he was through with Trump, said the strategist, who demanded anonymity to describe McConnell's conversations. His wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, resigned from Trump's Cabinet soon after the riots.

But despite sending signals, McConnell has been characteristically quiet in public. In a note to colleagues Wednesday released by his office, McConnell said he had not made a final decision on how I will vote.

SENATE POLITICS

If McConnell voted to convict, other Republicans would surely follow. But no GOP senators have said how they will vote, and two-thirds of the Senate is needed.

Still, some Republicans have told Trump to resign, including Pennsylvania Sen. Pat

Toomey and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and few are defending him.

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has said he would take a look at what the House approves, but stopped short of committing to support it.

Other Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, long a key ally of the president, has been critical of his behavior in inciting the riots but said impeachment will do far more harm than good. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in last year's impeachment trial, after the House impeached Trump over his dealings with the president of Ukraine.

In the House, 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican. Every single House Republican voted against Trump's first impeachment in 2019.

TRUMP'S FUTURE

If the Senate were to convict, lawmakers could then take a separate vote on whether to disqualify Trump from holding future office.

Schumer said Wednesday: "Make no mistake, there will be an impeachment trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote on convicting the president for high crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote on barring him from running again. In the case of federal judges who were impeached and removed from office, the Senate has taken a second vote after conviction to determine whether to bar the person from ever holding federal office again.

Only a majority of senators would be needed to ban him from future office, unlike the two-thirds needed to convict.

DIFFERENT CHARGES, DIFFERENT IMPEACHMENT

This impeachment trial is likely to differ from the last one in many ways.

The House charges in 2019 on Trump's dealings with the president of Ukraine, whom he urged to investigate Biden, came after a lengthy investigation and testimony from multiple government officials. While Democrats unanimously criticized the conduct and charged Trump with abuse of power, the charges wove together a complicated web of evidence.

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Agencies
January 5,2021

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Riyadh, Jan 5: Gulf Arab leaders gather in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a summit that is expected to see formal agreement towards ending a long-running dispute with Qatar that shattered Gulf unity at a time of heightened regional tensions with Iran.

Riyadh, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in mid-2017 over allegations Doha supports terrorism. Qatar denies that and says the boycott aims to curb its sovereignty.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani headed to al-Ula, where the summit is being held, state media reported, after an announcement that Saudi Arabia would reopen its airspace and sea and land border to Qatar under a deal that a senior US official said would be signed on Tuesday.

Bahrain will be represented by its crown prince instead of the king at the annual summit and the UAE delegation is headed by the federation's vice-president, who is also ruler of Dubai.

Also Read | Saudi Arabia will reopen borders with Qatar after three years of blockade, says Kuwait

While Saudi Arabia made clear it intended to lift the embargo, the other three countries did not immediate comment in on the issue, but the US official said "it's our expectation" they would also join. Under the emerging deal, Qatar will suspend lawsuits related to the boycott, the official said.

All of the countries are US allies. Qatar hosts the region’s largest US military base, Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE host US troops.

The development is the latest in a series of Middle East deals sought by Washington - the others involving Israel and Arab states - aimed at building a united front against Iran.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, assigned to work on the dispute by President Donald Trump, is due to attend the ceremony in the historical city of al-Ula along with Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook, a special State Department adviser.

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Agencies
January 17,2021

India's first three COVID-19 survivors and how life has changed for them -  The Economic Times

Abu Dhabi, Jan 17: An Indian expat, who suffered serious medical complications after being diagnosed with Covid-19, has become the first patient to be transferred to India for further treatment, according to social workers.

Keralite Abdul Jabbar Chettian is said to be the first person to be medically evacuated from a foreign country to Kerala, by following the Covid-19 protocol transfer for a patient who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Ajman-based businessman Jabbar tested positive for Covid-19 in the UAE on January 6, 2021. However, as the viral infection progressed, Jabbar was diagnosed with pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The family wanted to shift him to Kerala for advanced treatment, said Praveen Kumar, social worker and member of the medical team at the Consulate-General of India in Dubai. “The transfer was initiated by air ambulance company Universal Medical Transfer Services, which has operations in the UAE and India,” he added.

Jabbar’s nephew Adil CT told media: “We decided to transfer him because 90 per cent of his family is back home in Kerala. Also, my uncle was keen to continue his treatment there. As of now, he is still critical. However, we hope that his condition would improve soon,”

The transfer was completed successfully on January 14 from Ajman Hospital to MIMS Kozhikode, Kerala, by Chartered Air Ambulance with Universal Medical Transfers special medical team trained in transferring Covid-19 positive patients using an ISOVAC Isolation Pod. The air ambulance with the patient landed at 5.30pm (UAE time) at Kozhikode International Airport, following which, the patient was transferred to MIMS hospital.

“The transfer was done following the complete Covid-19 protocols and taking special safety precautions. While the patient turned Covid-19 negative on January 13, considering pneumonia with severe ARDS, we followed the protocols for transferring him,” according to Dr Afsal Mohammed, medical director of Universal Medical Transfer Services.

“We had to take special permission from the government of UAE and Kerala. The special first-time permission for the transfer was taken from the Collectorate, Malappuram, and Kozhikode Airport Public Health Officer,” explained Kumar. In addition, a special NOC from the UAE Ministry of Health was required, with special efforts put in by the Indian Consulate, said Kumar.

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