South Africa Shuts Embassy In Nigeria For Fear Of Attack

South African Embassy deserted for fear of attack. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun

 

South African High Commission in Nigeria has shut down its offices and consulate for fear of attack.

The country’s acting High Commissioner, Ambassador Bobby Moroe says he has directed the Mission to suspend all consular activities until further notice.

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Officials of the commission confirmed to Channels Television that none of its officials has left the country except for those on leave.

Counter-Terror Police Arrest Man Suspected Of Plotting Attack On US Embassy

The US Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

 

Belgian counter-terror police have arrested a man suspected of plotting an attack against the US embassy in Brussels, federal prosecutors said Monday.

The police on Saturday arrested the man following “converging signs raising fears of an attack against the US embassy,” the prosecutor’s office said.

“The suspect has been detained for an alleged attempted attack within a terrorist context and preparation of a terrorist offence,” it said in a statement.

The man identified only as M.G. appeared Monday morning before an investigating judge who ordered him held, it added.

The suspect denies any involvement in the alleged plot.

A source close to the investigation told AFP the suspect is a Belgian man around 40 years old and a convert to Islam who had “raised suspicion because of his behaviour”.

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He had been seen “scouting” the embassy area before he was arrested, the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The source declined to say whether the suspect fit the profile of a jihadist.

A spokesman for the US embassy said, “We have no comment at this time.”

Jihadists have staged a number of attacks in Brussels, which hosts the headquarters of the European Union and NATO.

The worst was on March 22, 2016, when suicide bombers killed 32 people and wounded hundreds of others at Brussels airport and a metro station near EU buildings.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks.

Previous attacks in Belgium

Since 2016, several other attacks, some of them also claimed by IS, have targeted Belgian police or soldiers.

The last “terrorist attack” occurred in the eastern city of Liege on May 29 last year when Benjamin Herman shot dead two women police officers and a student.

He shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) before being shot dead by the police.

Since the end of January 2018, the terror alert level in Belgium has been set at two, which means an attack is considered unlikely, the same as it was before January 2015.

A level three alert — indicating an attack is possible and likely — was set later in January 2015 after police smashed a jihadist cell in the eastern city of Verviers.

That Belgian police raid occurred a week after attacks against the Charlie Hebdo magazine and Jewish supermarket in Paris.

The level four alert — which means a serious and imminent threat of attack — has been put in place twice but for limited duration.

It was imposed for the first time for a week in the wake of the November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris which claimed the lives of 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.

It was then raised from three to four in the days after the March 2016 attacks.

Police say they believe the same cell was behind both the French and Belgium attacks.

AFP

US Orders Non-Emergency Embassy Staff To Leave Venezuela

US Secretary of State, Mr Mike Pompeo

 

The United States on Thursday ordered non-emergency embassy staff to leave Venezuela but stopped short of complying with a full expulsion ordered by Nicolas Maduro, who Washington says is no longer president.

 

Amid deadly political clashes in the crisis-torn country, the State Department said that US citizens “should strongly consider departing Venezuela.”

Maduro on Wednesday gave US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country after President Donald Trump, backed by major Latin American nations, said the leftist firebrand was no longer Venezuela’s legitimate president.

The United States said it was ignoring the order as it did not believe Maduro was still president and instead recognized as interim leader Juan Guaido, the opposition head of the National Assembly.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview Thursday that Maduro — to whom the military leadership is still loyal — bore responsibility for the safety of US diplomats.

“There’s no higher priority for the State Department than to keep all the people in our missions safe and secure. And we’ve made clear to the Maduro regime that it is our expectation that they will be safe and secure,” he told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham.

“What we want to make sure that former president Maduro knows is that he doesn’t have the right to make the decision about whether or not we stay there,” Pompeo said.

State Department officials have not answered questions on how many US personnel remain in Venezuela.

Maduro has also shuttered US missions in the United States.

 

AFP

Maduro Announces Closure Of Venezuela Embassy In US

Entrance to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, DC/ AFP

 

President Nicolas Maduro announced on Thursday the closure of Venezuela’s embassy and consulates in the United States having broken off diplomatic ties with President Donald Trump’s government the day before.

Maduro made the call during a special session at the Supreme Court in which he accused the US of pushing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself Venezuela’s acting president on Wednesday, into attempting a coup d’etat.

AFP

US Closes Embassy In Nigeria Indefinitely Over Government Shutdown

US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington

 

The United States Embassy in Nigeria has announced its decision to shut down operations indefinitely.

In a Facebook post on Monday, the embassy blamed the development on the government shutdown in the US.

“Due to the current U.S. government shutdown, the American Centers located in the Embassy, Abuja and Consulate General, Lagos are unfortunately closed. They will re-open once the U.S. government shutdown is resolved. Sorry for any inconvenience to our valued patrons,” the statement read.

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The implication would mean that thousands of Nigerians will miss their visa appointments following the incident.

Also, persons who have applied for tourist, study, business visas, immigrant visas or any other travel document will have to cancel their plans.

The embassy charges N57, 600 in visa fees which is non-refundable. However, it was not clear whether any concessions would be made to applicants since the development was no fault of theirs.

President Donald Trump and the legislative arm have been at loggerheads for nearly two months over his decision to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Building a wall was one of Trump’s major campaign promises as part of efforts to curb illegal migration and crime.

He had boasted during his campaign that the Mexican government would pay for the wall.

But the Democrat members in Congress have, however, rejected Trump’s proposal.

UAE To Resume Diplomatic Service In Damascus After Seven Years

File photo of damaged buildings in Damascus

 

The United Arab Emirates to resume diplomatic service in Damascus embassy on Thursday, an official said, seven years after it severed ties with Syria over the violent repression that triggered the war.

An official at the information ministry invited journalists “to cover the reopening of the Emirati embassy in Damascus today”.

The move is seen as another step in efforts to bring the regime of President Bashar al-Assad back into the Arab fold after years of diplomatic isolation.

A visit to Damascus by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir earlier this month had been interpreted by some observers as a sign of that trend.

Rumors of the Emirati embassy reopening have circulated in recent days as renovation work was spotted getting underway at the building.

The UAE broke ties with Syria in February 2012, as the repression of nationwide protests demanding regime change was escalating into a war which has now killed more than 360,000 people.

AFP

Palestinians Slam ‘Provocative’ Brazil Embassy Move To Jerusalem

A picture taken on October 28, 2018, shows the Israeli and Brazilian flags hanging outside the building housing the offices of the Brazilian Embassy, in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Brazil’s far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro declared that he will move the embassy to Jerusalem if he is elected. JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

A senior Palestinian official on Friday condemned Brazilian far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s announcement that he would move his country’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

“These are provocative and illegal steps that will only destabilise security and stability in the region,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told AFP.

The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, sparking fury among Palestinians, who consider the Israeli-annexed eastern part of the city the capital of their future state.

“It is very unfortunate that Brazil has joined this negative alliance against international law,” Ashrawi said.

On Thursday Bolsonaro tweeted that “as previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

“Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the move as “historic”.

Only the United States and Guatemala currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, while other countries have theirs in Tel Aviv.

Israel occupied Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It sees the entire city as its capital.

For decades the international community maintained that the city’s status should be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.

AFP

Brazil Will Move Its Embassy In Israel To Jerusalem – Bolsonaro

Jair Bolsonaro gestures to supporters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 28, 2018. 
MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP

 

Brazil will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday, making the Latin American giant the largest country after the United States to make the controversial switch.

“As previously stated during our campaign, we intend to transfer the Brazilian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel is a sovereign state and we shall duly respect that,” Bolsonaro tweeted, a move that will defy Palestinians and most of the world.

In interviews, Bolsonaro said Israel should have the right to decide where its capital is located, just as Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia in 1960.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, with international consensus being that the status of the whole city must be negotiated between the two sides.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

In December, President Donald Trump reversed longstanding US policy and recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, prompting Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to boycott his administration.

The embassy was officially transferred on May 14. Guatemala and Paraguay followed suit, though the latter announced last month it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv.

Bolsonaro, 63, who won a run-off election on Sunday, has outraged many with his overtly misogynistic, homophobic and racist rhetoric.

Following his victory, Netanyahu told Bolsonaro he was certain his election “will lead to a great friendship between our peoples and the tightening of links between Brazil and Israel.”

An official in Netanyahu’s office told AFP the Israeli premier was “very likely” to attend Bolsonaro’s inauguration ceremony in January.

Bolsonaro meanwhile plans to make Israel one of his first foreign trips as president, along with the United States and Chile — countries that “share our worldview,” according to the president-elect’s future for chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni.

AFP

Paraguay Moves Embassy To Jerusalem After US, Guatemala

FILE PHOTO Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales (C) speaking to the press after holding a meeting with the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (L). Johan ORDONEZ / AFP

 

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes inaugurated his country’s Israel embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, making it the third nation to make the deeply controversial move after the United States and Guatemala.

Cartes and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the inauguration of the new embassy in a Jerusalem office park.

The Paraguayan leader called it a “historic event”.

“This act has profound significance in the sense that it expresses Paraguay‘s sincere friendship and full solidarity with Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu said cooperation between the two countries would become “greater,” naming areas such as agriculture, security and technology.

The South American nation of some seven million people follows in the footsteps of the United States, which broke with decades of international consensus when it declared Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December.

Washington followed up on the declaration by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14.

The US embassy opening was accompanied by mass protests and clashes along the Gaza border that saw 62 Palestinians killed by Israeli gunfire.

Israel has sought to persuade other countries to follow the White House move, but so far only Paraguay and Guatemala have done so.

Guatemala opened its new embassy in the same Jerusalem office park as Paraguay‘s on May 16.

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

AFP

Jerusalem: U.S. Is Committed To Reaching Lasting Peace – Trump

Trump Says High Oil Prices 'Will Not Be Accepted'
US President Donald Trump addresses the nation                                              Mandel NGAN / AFP

 

The United States President, Donald Trump has reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring a lasting peace.

Trump gave the assurance on Monday during a video addressing to officially declare open his country’s new embassy in Jerusalem.

Details later…

UPDATED: U.S. Opens New Embassy In Jerusalem Amid Protests

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (C-L) claps as US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump unveils an inauguration plaque during the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018.
PHOTO: Menahem KAHANA / AFP

 

The United States has formally opened a new consulate in Jerusalem amid global protests.

The ceremony of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem began on Monday with the US national anthem.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman then spoke and President Donald Trump was given a standing ovation when he mentioned him.

Friedman referred to the embassy’s location as “Jerusalem, Israel” drawing wild applause.

Demonstrators block traffic at an intersection near the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, while protesting against the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. PHOTO: Mandel NGAN / AFP

 

Earlier in the day, violent clashes erupted along the Gaza Strip’s border, leaving 37 Palestinians dead from Israeli fire and hundreds wounded in the conflict’s bloodiest day in years.

Tens of thousands had gathered near the border in protest while smaller numbers of stone-throwing Palestinians approached the fence and sought to break through, with Israeli snipers positioned on the other side.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan led the Washington delegation at the inauguration that also included Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both White House aides, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Some 800 guests were attending the ceremony.

 

Jerusalem’s status is perhaps the thorniest issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

AFP

U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem To Open On May 14

A worker installs decorations of Israeli and US flags in front of the US Consulate in Jerusalem where US officials will install the new US Embassy, on May 7, 2018. The embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is expected to occur on May 14. THOMAS COEX / AFP

 

Workmen on Monday put up street signs to the US embassy due to open in Jerusalem on May 14, a move hailed as historic by Israel but loathed by Palestinians.

Municipal workers erected signposts reading “US Embassy” in Hebrew, Arabic and English around the site, currently a US consular building, in the city’s Arnona neighbourhood.

Breaking with decades of US diplomacy and international consensus President Donald Trump announced on December 6 the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the embassy, located until now in Tel Aviv.

The embassy is to get a festive inauguration next Monday, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the state of Israel.

Small in size, it will initially occupy part of the consular workspace pending planning and construction of a purpose-built embassy, a long-term project according to the US State Department.

Trump’s unilateral decision delighted the Israelis and enraged the Palestinians, who want to make the eastern, mainly Palestinian, part of the city the capital of their future state and who say Trump’s decision ignores their demands.

The question of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian leaders are refusing to meet Trump’s peace negotiators because of the embassy row.

AFP