Diaspora

Prince Harry's Taliban kill comments have 'damaged reputation … – Arab News

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LONDON: Prince Harry’s remarks about killing 25 Taliban fighters while serving in the UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan have damaged his reputation, a former British commander has told the BBC.
Retired Col. Richard Kemp described Harry’s statement — that the fighters were “chess pieces removed from the board” — as “ill-judged” and “misleading.”
The prince’s remarks on his period as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan came as part of his memoir “Spare” ahead of the book’s release.
He said: “It wasn’t a statistic that filled me with pride but nor did it leave me ashamed. When I found myself plunged in the heat and confusion of combat, I didn’t think of those 25 as people.
“They were chess pieces removed from the board. Bad people eliminated before they could kill good people.”
Kemp criticized Harry’s summary of the UK Armed Forces’ attitude toward enemy combatants, saying: “I think he’s wrong when he says in his book that insurgents were seen just as being virtually unhuman — subhuman perhaps — just as chess pieces to be knocked over. That’s not the case at all. And it’s not the way the British Army trains people as he claims.
“I think that sort of comment that doesn’t reflect reality, is misleading and potentially valuable to those people who wish the British forces and British government harm, so I think it was an error of judgment.
“It inflames old feelings of revenge that might have been forgotten about … no doubt about it there are people in the world today who already would have seen this and will be thinking about getting him back.”
MP Adam Holloway, who served with the British Army during the Iraq War, said Harry’s comments broke a longtime military rule to avoid revealing personal kill counts. He added: “It’s not about macho codes. It’s about decency and respect for the lives you have taken.”
A serving soldier told the BBC that the prince’s comments were “very unsoldier-like.”
A UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson, when asked for comment by the BBC on Harry’s remarks, said: “We do not comment on operational details for security reasons.”
BANDA ACEH: A wooden boat carrying nearly 200 Rohingya refugees, a majority of them women and children, landed on Indonesia’s western coast on Sunday, police said.
The ship is the fifth boat carrying Rohingya refugees to land in Indonesia since November, according to authorities.
Thousands of the mostly Muslim Rohingya, heavily persecuted in Myanmar, risk their lives each year on long and expensive sea journeys — often in poor-quality boats — in an attempt to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.
The wooden vessel — which carried 69 men, 75 women and 40 children — arrived at around 02:30 p.m. local time (0730 am GMT) on a beach in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh, local police chief Irwan Fahmi Ramli said Sunday.
“They are generally healthy, but there is one pregnant woman among them, and four people are sick,” Ramli said.
“We had coordinated with doctors who will come here to conduct an initial health check of these refugees, particularly those who are sick.”
He added that the refugees will be transferred to a local government facility.
According to one of the passengers, the boat departed Bangladesh on December 10.
“We feel very happy because we arrived here. Already, our engine is damaged and also we don’t have food in the boat,” 26-year-old Fairus told reporters.
Around a million Rohingya were estimated to be living in refugee camps in Bangladesh after they fled persecution in neighboring Myanmar in 2017.
Four vessels carrying Rohingya refugees have already landed in Indonesia in November and December last year, carrying a total of more than 400 passengers.
More than 2,000 Rohingya are believed to have attempted the risky journey in 2022, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR — at levels similar to 2020.
The agency estimated nearly 200 Rohingya have died or remain missing after attempting hazardous sea crossings last year.
But the figure could rise after relatives of around 180 Rohingya refugees that were on another vessel drifting at sea for weeks lost contact and were feared dead.
The UNHCR could not confirm their deaths.
But spokesman Babar Baloch said if true, it would make 2022 the deadliest year for Rohingya crossings since 2013 and 2014, when more than 900 and 700 were reported dead or missing respectively.
Relatively affluent Malaysia is a favored destination for the refugees, but many land first in Muslim-majority Indonesia, seen as more welcoming.
EL PASO: President Joe Biden visited the US-Mexico border on Sunday for the first time since taking office, tackling one of the most politically charged issues in the country as he prepares for a re-election bid.
His visit was not expected to result in new policies, but rather to demonstrate that he is taking the issue seriously and to strengthen relations with Border Patrol agents, some of whom have bristled at the rollback of hard-line enforcement policies by the White House.
Biden announced on Thursday his administration’s plan to block Cuban, Haitian and Nicaraguan migrants at the border, expanding the nationalities of those who can be expelled back to Mexico.
The long-term goal of Congress reforming America’s creaky immigration system is unlikely to succeed given Republicans’ newly assumed control of the US House of Representatives.
Right-wing lawmakers have repeatedly torpedoed US immigration reform proposals over the past two decades.
Biden sent Congress an immigration reform plan on his first day in office two years ago, but it floundered due to opposition from Republicans, who also blocked his request for $3.5 billion to beef up border enforcement.
Republicans are pushing their own plans for the border following a midterm election in they seized a narrow majority in the House of Representatives.
Texas’ Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, met Biden in El Paso and handed him a letter outlining five steps to address the border crisis — including detaining the millions of people in the United States illegally.
Republican US Representative Jim Jordan told Fox News on Sunday that his party could help the Democrats — but only if Biden adopted the enforcement policies of former President Donald Trump. Those policies included separating children from their migrant parents as part of a “zero-tolerance” approach to deter illegal immigration.
“They’ve allowed now a situation where frankly, we no longer have a border,” Jordan said.
Biden, joined by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, is expected to meet in El Paso with congressional lawmakers, local officials and community leaders.
Mayorkas on Sunday said two of the key elements leading to increased numbers of migrants making their way to the United States — international crises and legislative stasis — were outside the president’s control.
“We’re just dealing with a broken system,” Mayorkas told reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to Texas.
The White House said Biden would assess border enforcement operations in El Paso, where the Democratic mayor declared a state of emergency last month, citing hundreds of migrants’ sleeping on the streets in cold temperatures and thousands being apprehended every day.
US border officials apprehended a record 2.2 million migrants at the border with Mexico in the 2022 fiscal year that ended in September, though that number includes individuals who tried to cross multiple times.
‘MARKEDLY DIFFERENT’
At the same time as he expanded his authority to expel migrants, Biden on Thursday opened legal, limited pathways into the country for Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians — allowing up to 30,000 people from those three countries plus Venezuela to enter the country by air each month.
While winning praise from some US industry groups desperate to solve pressing labor shortages, Biden’s moves have drawn criticism from human rights activists and some Democrats who say the new restrictions are a retreat from the president’s 2020 campaign promise to restore historical rights to asylum-seekers.
Mayorkas rejected the idea that Biden was reviving Trump-era clampdowns.
“It is not a ban at all,” he said. “It is markedly different than what the Trump administration proposed.”
On the ground in El Paso, migrants greeted the new policy with trepidation.
David Guillen, 43, asked Biden to forgive him and fellow Venezuelan migrants who entered the country illegally, many of whom are now sleeping outside a church in El Paso, fearful of being arrested and deported if they attempt to travel to another city.
“We made a mistake … but not a bad mistake. It’s just that we want a better life,” he said.
After the El Paso visit, Biden is scheduled to travel south of the border to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in talks that will also touch on immigration.
Americans give Biden failing grades on immigration policy, polls show.
An average of polls gathered by Real Clear Politics shows 37 percent of the public disapprove of Biden’s handling of immigration, a number lower than his overall approval rating.
“Fundamentally we have to fix the system,” Mayorkas told reporters.
TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida begins a weeklong trip Monday to strengthen military ties with Europe and Britain and bring into focus the Japan-US alliance at a summit in Washington, as Japan breaks from its postwar restraint to take on more offensive roles with an eye toward China.
Kishida’s talks with US President Joe Biden on Friday will highlight his five-nation tour that also takes him to France, Italy, Britain and Canada — some of Group of Seven nations Japan has stepped up defense ties with in recent years. His first stop is Paris on Monday evening.
Kishida said his summit with Biden will underscore the strength of the Japan-US alliance and how the two countries can work more closely under Japan’s new security and defense strategies.
Japan in December adopted key security and defense reforms, including a counterstrike capability that makes a break from the country’s exclusively self-defense-only postwar principle. Japan says the current deployment of missile interceptors is insufficient to defend it from rapid weapons advancement in China and North Korea.
Kishida said he will explain to Biden the new strategy, under which Japan is also reinforcing defenses on its southwestern islands close to Taiwan, including Yonaguni and Ishigaki, where new bases are being constructed.
“Will will discuss further strengthening of the Japan-US alliance, and how we work together to achieve a fee and open Indo-Pacific,” Kishida told a NHK national television talk show Sunday, referring to a vision of national and economic security cooperation the two countries promote to counter China’s growing military and economic influence.
Under the new strategies, Japan plans to start deploying in 2026 long-range cruise missiles that can reach potential targets in China, nearly double its defense budget within five years to a NATO standard of about 2 percent of GDP from the current 1 percent, and improve cyberspace and intelligence capabilities.
The idea is to do as much as possible in a short time as some experts see growing risks that Chinese President Xi Jingpin may take action against self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.
Japan’s new strategy has been well received by the Biden administration and some members of the Congress. Experts say it would also widen cooperation with their main regional partners Australia and possibly South Korea.
“This is an opportunity to rethink and update the structure and the mechanisms of the alliance to reflect a much more capable partner that’s coming,” said Christopher Johnstone, senior adviser and Japan chair for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He said, however, that Japan’s focus on the strike capability and budget is a welcome but “a daunting agenda” that will require a lot of cooperation with the United States.
Paving the way for the summit, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will fly to Washington to meet their American counterparts, Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken, on Wednesday, followed by separate defense ministers’ talks Thursday.
The Biden administration, which also adopted its security strategy in October, expects Japan to assist in the supply and storage of fuel and munitions in case of a Taiwan emergency, experts say. Japan and the United States are also reportedly considering establishing a joint command.
During the talks at the White House, the two leaders are also expected to discuss China, North Korea’s nuclear and missile development as well as Russia’s war on Ukraine, Japanese officials said.
Cooperation in the area of supply chain and economic security will be also on the table. Last week, Japanese Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo disussed in Washington the importance to work together to promote and protect critical and emerging technologies, including semiconductors, and export controls to address competitiveness and security concerns.
During his trip, Kishida will seek to further strengthen bilateral military ties with four other countries, Japanese officials say.
Japan’s joint development and production of its F-X next generation fighter jet with Britain and Italy for a planned deployment in 2035 will be a top agenda item during his visits in Rome and London on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Japan and Britain have also been discussing a Reciprocal Access Agreement that would remove obstacles to holding joint military exercises in either country. Besides the Japan-US security treaty that allows US troops to station in Japan, Tokyo has a similar agreement only with Australia, and Britain would be second.
During his talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Kishida is expected to share concern over China’s growing activity in the South Pacific and confirm stepping up joint military exercise between the two sides.
STOCKHOLM: Turkiye, which has for months blocked NATO membership bids by Sweden and Finland, has made some demands that Sweden cannot accept, Sweden’s prime minister said on Sunday.
Turkiye “has confirmed that we have done what we said we would do, but it also says that it wants things that we can’t, that we don’t want to, give it,” Ulf Kristersson said during a security conference also attended by NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“We are convinced that Turkiye will make a decision, we just don’t know when,” he said, adding that it will depend on internal politics inside Turkiye as well as “Sweden’s capacity to show its seriousness.”
Sweden and Finland broke with decades of military nonalignment and applied to join the US-led defense alliance in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. But Turkiye has refused to approve their bid until the two countries take steps, including joining Turkiye’s fight against banned Kurdish militants.
Most of Turkiye’s demands have involved Sweden because of its more robust ties with the Kurdish diaspora.
Finland’s foreign minister said that the country would join NATO at the same time as its neighbor.
“Finland is not in such a rush to join NATO that we can’t wait until Sweden gets the green light,” Pekka Haavisto, said at Sunday’s conference.
In late December, Turkiye praised Sweden for responding to its security concerns but stressed more was needed to win Ankara’s full backing for Stockholm’s stalled NATO membership bid.
BRASILIA: Supporters of Brazil’s far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday invaded the country’s Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court in Brasilia, in a grim echo of the US Capitol invasion almost exactly two years ago by fans of former President Donald Trump.
The sight of thousands of yellow-and-green clad protesters wreaking havoc in the capital capped months of tension following the most fraught election for a generation. Bolsonaro, who lost the Oct. 30 vote to leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, peddled the false claim that Brazil’s electronic voting system was prone to fraud, spawning a violent movement of election deniers.
The invasion poses an immediate problem for Lula, who was only inaugurated on Jan. 1 and has pledged to unite a nation torn by Bolsonaro’s nationalist populism. Television images showed protesters breaking into the Supreme Court and Congress, chanting slogans and smashing furniture. Local media estimated about 3,000 people were involved.
Lula was far from the capital, on an official trip to Sao Paulo state. Bolsonaro, who has barely spoken in public since losing the election, left Brazil for Florida 48 hours before the end of his mandate and was absent from Lula’s inauguration.
The violent scenes in Brasilia could amplify the legal risks to Bolsonaro, who has so far not commented on the invasions. The Bolsonaro family lawyer, Frederick Wassef, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Supreme Court was ransacked by the occupiers, according to social media images that showed protesters shattering the windows of the modernist building.
A policeman on horseback was surrounded by shouting demonstrators armed with sticks who knocked him off his mount.
Lula’s Workers Party asked the office of the nation’s top public prosecutor to order public security forces to contain the demonstrators.
Brasilia Governor Ibaneis Rocha told Reuters that all security forces had been deployed to confront the rioters.
“Violence has no place in a democracy,” Douglas Koneff, the US chargé d’affaires in Brasilia, wrote on Twitter. “We strongly condemn the attacks on the institutions of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Powers in Brasilia, which is also an attack on democracy. There is no justification for these acts!“

The US Embassy in Brasilia, in a tweet, said “US citizens are warned to avoid the area until further notice.”
On Saturday, with rumors of a confrontation brewing, Justice Minister Flávio Dino authorized the deployment of the National Public Security Force. On Sunday, he wrote on Twitter, “this absurd attempt to impose the will by force will not prevail.”
Latin American leaders were quick to condemn the scenes.
“All my solidarity with Lula and the people of Brazil,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro tweeted. “Fascism decides to conduct a coup.”
Chilean President Gabriel Boric said Lula’s government has his full support “in the face of this cowardly and vile attack on democracy.”
In Washington in 2021, Trump supporters attacked police, broke through barricades and stormed the Capitol in a failed effort to prevent congressional certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Trump, who has announced a third bid for the presidency, in 2024, had pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, not to certify the vote, and he continues to claim falsely that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread fraud.
In Brasilia there have been at least three accounts of protesters assaulting journalists, according to the Brasilia journalists’ union, citing unconfirmed reports.

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