18 November 2019

USA

Trump grants pardons to Army officers in war crimes cases

KONFRONTASI-US President Donald Trump on Friday pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq, a move critics have said would undermine military justice and send a message that battlefield atrocities will be tolerated.

Trump administration begins Paris climate pact exit

KONFRONTASI-The Trump administration said on Monday it filed paperwork to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the first formal step in a one-year process to exit the global pact to fight climate change.

The move is part of a broader strategy by President Donald Trump to reduce red tape on American industry, but comes at a time scientists and many world governments urge rapid action to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.

Once it exits, the United States - the top historic greenhouse gas emitter and leading oil and gas producer - will become the only country outside the accord.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the step on Monday and pointed out that the United States had trimmed emissions in recent years even as it had grown its energy production.

“The U.S. is proud of our record as a world leader in reducing all emissions, fostering resilience, growing our economy, and ensuring energy for our citizens,” he said.

The European Union expressed disappointment.

“The withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement means that the rest of us must further increase our cooperation,” Krista Mikkonen, minister of environment for current European Council president Finland said in a statement on Tuesday.

“We will continue to work with US states, cities and civil society in support of climate action.”

An official from the French presidential office accompanying President Emmanuel Macron on a state visit to China, said: “We regret this and this only makes the Franco-Chinese partnership on the climate and biodiversity more necessary.”

Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping will sign a pact on Wednesday that includes a paragraph on the “irreversibility of the Paris Agreement,” the official said.

The State Department’s letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres starts the clock on a process that will be complete one day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

All the top Democratic presidential contenders seeking to unseat Trump have promised to re-engage in the Paris Agreement if they win. But the withdrawal could leave a lasting mark, said Andrew Light, a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute and former adviser to the U.S. climate envoy under Democratic President Barack Obama.

“While it serves the political needs of the Trump administration, we will lose a lot of traction with respect to U.S. influence globally,” he said.

The Obama administration had signed the United States onto the 2015 pact, promising a 26-28% cut in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 from 2005 levels.

Trump campaigned on a promise to rescind that pledge, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy while leaving other big polluters like China to increase emissions. He was bound by U.N. rules to wait until Nov. 4, 2019, to file exit papers.

Trump has already moved, however, to unwind a slew of Obama-era rules limiting emissions - including from the electricity industry, automobiles and the oil and gas drilling sector. A report this year by state attorneys general said those rollbacks could amount to a boost in U.S. carbon emissions of more than 200 million tonnes a year by 2025.

Teresa Ribera, Spain’s environment minister, said on Twitter that the formal withdrawal - although expected - dealt a blow to the Paris deal. Spain will host the next round of climate negotiations in place of Chile in early December.

“I deeply regret this decision, which, no matter how it was announced, is no less worrying,” she wrote.

U.S wants to bolster fight against Islamic State after its leader's death

KONFRONTASI- The United States wants to bolster a coalition fighting Islamic State in northeastern Syria, a senior State Department official said on Monday, after the leader of the jihadi movement, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a weekend operation.

World leaders welcomed his death, but they and security experts warned that the group which carried out atrocities against religious minorities and horrified most Muslims remained a security threat in Syria and beyond.

Tornado slams Dallas: 4 killed in Arkansas, Oklahoma

KONFRONTASI-A tornado tossed trees into homes, tore off storefronts and downed power lines but killed no one in a densely-populated area of Dallas, leaving Mayor Eric Johnson to declare the city "very fortunate" to be assessing only property damage.

The late-night storms spawned tornadoes in several states, killing at least four people in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

A meteorologist said on Monday that people took shelter thanks to early alerts and that it was fortunate the tornado struck on Sunday evening when many people were home.

US defence chief in Afghanistan as US aims to restart peace talks

KONFRONTASI-US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has arrived in Afghanistan where stalled peace talks with the Taliban and persistent attacks by armed groups have complicated the Trump administration's pledge to withdraw more than 5,000 American troops.

Esper told reporters travelling with him that he believed the US could reduce its force in Afghanistan to 8,600 without hurting the counterterrorism fight against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS) group.

Pompeo says U.S. committed to Afghan peace after deadly explosions

KONFRONTASI-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday Washington remained committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan as police searched for bodies in the rubble of a mosque in eastern Nangarhar province where bomb blasts killed at least 69 people.

The explosives that went off during Friday prayers were placed inside the mosque in the Jawdara area of the Haska Mena district. On Friday, local officials had reported the number of dead at 62 and around 50 wounded.

Trump national security adviser jets to Turkey in bid to halt assault

KONFRONTASI- U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser flew to Turkey on Wednesday as part of an emergency delegation to try to persuade Ankara to halt an assault on northern Syria that has forced Washington into an abrupt retreat.

Robert O’Brien, who has been national security adviser for a month, was due to meet Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, ahead of talks the following day between Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

As options narrow on Syria, Trump prepares to drop sanctions hammer on Turkey

KONFRONTASI-President Donald Trump’s administration is set to impose economic sanctions on Ankara, potentially as early as this week, for its incursion into northern Syria, one of the few levers the United States still has over NATO-ally Turkey.

Using the U.S. military to stop the Turkish offensive on U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters was never an option, defense officials have said, and Trump asked the Pentagon on Sunday to begin a “deliberate” withdrawal of all U.S. troops from northern Syria.

US shoots itself in foot by sanctioning Iran oil buyers

KONFRONTASI-Data from November trade shows rates for shipping US oil to Asia hit more than a three-year high amid American sanctions on China and Iran.

Last Wednesday, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions on five Chinese nationals and six entities, including two Cosco Shipping Corporation subsidiaries.

Washington is now facing backlash from the decision because the surge in freight costs has made US crude exports to Asia unprofitable, leaving exporters reluctant to book vessels at the higher rates.

Iran's Rouhani says no to talks under U.S. pressure

KONFRONTASI-Iran will never hold talks with the United States under pressure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, but added that lifting all the sanctions Washington imposed on Tehran and respecting a U.N. Security Council resolution could pave the way for talks.

“Our response to talks under pressure is NO,” said Rouhani, but warned that Iran might exit a 2015 nuclear deal if the European powers failed to salvage the deal.

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