17 February 2019

USA

Democratic lawmakers say U.S. military action in Venezuela 'not an option'

KONFRONTASI-Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday said Congress would oppose U.S. military intervention in Venezuela and challenged the credibility of President Donald Trump’s special envoy, Elliott Abrams, over his past embrace of American covert action.

The Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, expressed concern about Trump’s hints that military action was an option in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro is under intense international pressure to step aside and the country’s economy is in chaos.

“I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option,” Engel told a hearing on the OPEC nation.

The head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaido, invoked a constitutional provision to assume the presidency three weeks ago, arguing that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham.

Most Western countries, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, but Maduro’s socialist government retains the backing of Russia and China, as well as control of state institutions including the military.

Under U.S. law, Congress - not the president - must approve foreign military action. At the hearing, Democrats on the committee pressed Abrams on his views on military intervention, but questions about his credibility provoked the most heated exchanges.

Abrams, an assistant secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, was convicted in 1991 of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, in which U.S. officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran and funneled the money to rebels fighting Nicaragua’s leftist government. He was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Representative Joaquin Castro asked Abrams if he was aware of any transfers of weapons or defense equipment by the U.S. government to groups in Venezuela opposed to Maduro. Abrams responded that he was not.

“I ask this question because you have a record of such actions,” Castro said. “Can we trust your testimony today?”

Representative Ilhan Omar discussed U.S. support for anti-communists in Central America during the Cold War and cited Abrams’ initial dismissal of reports of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador as left-wing propaganda.

“Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they serve the U.S. interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua?” Omar asked.

“I am not going to respond to that question,” Abrams replied. He called her questioning a personal attack.

Abrams also drew intermittent outbursts from protesters at the hearing. “You are a convicted criminal!” one man shouted before being escorted out.

Trump dan Anggota Senat AS Cekcok Gara-gara Urusan Ranjang

KONFRONTASI- Publik Amerika Serikat (AS) gelisah karena melihat perkembangan negosiasi anggaran pemerintah. Negosiasi sempat dikatakan memasuki tahap final, anggota kongres yang terlibat dalam komite negosiasi justru kembali berseteru. Padahal, anggaran darurat untuk berbagai instansi sudah hampir habis.

Pompeo warns allies Huawei presence complicates partnership with U.S.

KONFRONTASI-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned U.S. allies on Monday against deploying equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on their soil, saying it would make it more difficult for Washington to “partner alongside them”.

The United States and its Western allies believe Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage, and see its expansion into central Europe as a way to gain a foothold in the EU market.

Washington is concerned in particular about the expansion of Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecoms equipment, in Hungary and Poland.

“We want to make sure we identify (to) them the opportunities and the risks of using that equipment,” Pompeo told reporters during a visit to the Hungarian capital, Budapest.

Hungary is the first stop in a trip by Pompeo to central Europe that also includes Slovakia and Poland and is part of what administration officials say is an effort to make up for a lack of U.S. engagement in the region that opened the door to more Chinese and Russian influence.

Huawei denies engaging in intelligence work for any government. It says its technologies serve 70 percent of Hungarians and that it cooperates with most telecoms providers in Hungary, including state-owned enterprises.

“We have seen this all around the world, it also makes it more difficult for America to be present,” Pompeo told reporters during a stop at the U.S. embassy,” referring to Huawei equipment. “If that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them.”

Pompeo announced plans for a defense cooperation agreement with Hungary, one of the European governments that is most enthusiastic about Chinese investment. But he said he had discussed “the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary” in talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

Budapest’s nationalist government, like Poland’s largely isolated politically in the European Union, hopes to buy mid-range air defense capabilities from the United States.

Pria Ini Sengaja Merampok Bank agar Bisa Dipenjara Lagi

KONFRONTASI-William J. Gallagher, seorang penjahat berusia 68 tahun yang baru saja dibebaskan dari penjara setelah menjalani hukuman 20 tahun, baru-baru ini merampok bank di Wisconsin, Amerika Serikat (AS). Satu-satunya tujuan dari aksinya itu agar dia ditangkap dan dikirim kembali ke penjara.

Lindsey Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

KONFRONTASI-Senior US Senator Lindsey Graham has urged President Donald Trump to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, as intense contacts between the two countries continue over negotiations to end the 17-year war with the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Graham spoke to reporters in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Sunday, capping off days of meetings that saw the top US envoy on Afghan reconciliation and its commander of military forces in the region also visit the South Asian country.

"I've seen things change here and all in a positive direction," said Graham, a senior member of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee who has visited Pakistan dozens of times in recent years.

Khan, who came to power after a general election last year, has long stated his support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan to end hostilities there.

Trump would be "far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today" if he met Khan, said Graham, who held talks with the prime minister earlier on Sunday.

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship," he said.

The relationship, he said, was previously "transactional", but should be replaced with a "strategic partnership".

Lewat Telepon, Trump-Erdogan Bahas Penarikan Pasukan AS dari Suriah

KONFRONTASI-Presiden Amerika Serikat Donald Trump pada Ahad (23/12) mengatakan ia membahas dengan timpalannya dari Turki, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, melalui telepon mengenai penarikan tentara AS dari Suriah.

Prancis Kecam Keputusan AS Tarik Pasukan dari Suriah

KONFRONTASI-Presiden Prancis Emmanuel Macron pada Ahad (23/12) mengecam keputusan AS untuk menarik tentaranya dari Suriah.

"Saya sangat menyesalkan keputusan yang diambil mengenai Suriah," kata Macron.

US sanctions 16 Russian military spies, troll farm

KONFRONTASI-The US Treasury sanctioned 16 members of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency over a "wide range of malign activity", including interference in the 2016 presidential vote and hacking international organisations.

The move came on Wednesday "in response to Russia's continued disregard for international norms", the Treasury said in a statement.

Those targetted included Victor Alekseyevich Boyarkin, a former GRU officer who acted on behalf of sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, it said.

Peretasan China Terhadap AS Makin Meningkat

KONFRONTASI-Pejabat intelijen Amerika Serikat mengatakan pada Selasa bahwa gerakan dunia maya China di Amerika Serikat meningkat dalam beberapa bulan belakangan.

Gerakan itu disebut-sebut mengincar prasarana mendasar dan kemungkinan adalah upaya meletakkan dasar bagi serangan gangguan pada masa depan.

U.S. to counter China, Russia influence in Africa: Bolton

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2018. [REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque]

KONFRONTASI--The United States plans to counter the rapidly expanding economic and political influence of China and Russia in Africa, where the two nations use corrupt business practices with little regard for the rule of law, according to prepared remarks on Thursday by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.

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