June 19, 2024


sights and trips

Biden news today: Jamal Khashoggi’s US lawyer sentenced to three years following detention in UAE

Biden says US would use force as ‘last resort’ to prevent Iranian nuclear weapons

President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East came to an end with yet more controversy after it emerged that an American lawyer who previously represented murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been detained in the UAE.

US citizen Asim Ghafoor was detained at Dubai airport on Thursday while travelling to Istanbul for a family wedding and was held on charges related to an in absentia conviction for money laundering. Mr Ghafoor reportedly had no prior knowledge of any conviction.

UAE state media said on Saturday that the attorney had been sentenced to three years in prison.

On Saturday, Mr Biden met with UAE President Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and invited him to visit the US before the year is out.

He was one of multiple Middle Eastern leaders Mr Biden met in Saudi Arabia on Saturday before leaving aboard Air Force One.

New details also emerged about Friday’s controversial meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the man US intelligence found responsible for ordering the Khashoggi’s murder.

When Mr Biden confronted MBS about the killing – after a friendly fist-bump – he denied the accusation and fired back about the US’s own controversies.


Secret Service agent sent back to US after alleged assault at bar

A member of the Secret Service has been sent back to the US after being detained by Israeli police in Jerusalem.

It is alleged he assaulted a woman outside of a bar, according to reports. It is not known exactly how the incident came about, but local reporting suggests he was intoxicated.

“Late Monday, the United States Secret Service was informed that an agency employee working in Israel was allegedly involved in a physical encounter. The employee was briefly detained and questioned by Israeli police, who released him without charges. The employee has returned to the United States,” the agency said in a statement.

“In accordance with agency protocol, his access to Secret Service systems and facilities was suspended pending further investigation.”


Biden urged to raise cases of political prisoners on Middle East trip

Joe Biden has been urged to raise the plight of three political prisoners in different nations when he visits the Middle East – as well as to press for action over every person “unjustly” held in the region.

The relatives of political prisoners being held in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – the person held in Cairo, Alaa Abdel El-Fattah, has joint UK-Egyptian citizenship – travelled to Washington DC, where they have called on the US leader to raise the specific cases.

They also want Mr Biden to more generally press the issue of human rights in the region, something the US president has long vowed he will do.

The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe reports.


Watch: Biden says anti-Israel voices in Democratic Party are ‘few’ and ‘wrong’


Joe Biden has met every Israeli leader since 1973

President Joe Biden is six years older than the state of Israel, which was established in 1948, and he’s met every one of the country’s prime ministers since he first became a US senator in 1973 and visited just before the Yom Kippur war.


Watch: Biden says normalisation of Saudi-Israeli relations ‘will take time’


Secret Service agent sent back to US after alleged assault

A member of the US Secret Service has returned to the United States after allegedly assaulting a woman outside a bar and being detained by Israeli national police in Jerusalem.


Joe Biden’s evolving views on Saudi Arabia

Joe Biden will touch down in Saudi Arabia on Friday in a move that will bring an unceremonious end to his campaign promise to make the wealthy Gulf state a “pariah” in the global community.

The president’s visit, which he attempted to explain in a Washington Post op-ed and through a statement from his press secretary last month, is a clear reversal of his onetime vow to make the Kingom pay for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi crown prince, Mohamed bin Salman.

A year and a half into his White House term, Mr Biden’s evolving view on Saudi Arabia remains one of the starkest differences between Joe Biden the president and Joe Biden the presidential candidate.


Analysis: Biden opposed South African apartheid but is now accused of ignoring similar policies in Israel

When Joe Biden travels to Bethlehem he will be greeted by large billboards emblazoned with the words: “Mr President, this is apartheid,” alongside a map of what is left of the disconnected Palestinian territories — a stunt arranged by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

Richard Hall reports on how some of the world’s leading human rights groups have condemned Israel for committing what the president opposed so fiercely as a senator in the 1980s and how he is accused of ignoring it today.


Biden: Trump’s decision to pull out of Iran agreement ‘gigantic mistake’

During his interview with Israel’s Channel 12, President Joe Biden also defended his administration’s push to restore the Obama-era agreement which had briefly halted Iran’s nuclear programme. The Biden administration has been in negotiations with Tehran in an attempt to bring back the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the deal negotiated between Iran, the EU, and the five permanent nuclear weapons states, the US, the UK, China, Russia, and France.

“The only thing worse than the Iran that exists now is the Iran with nuclear weapons,” Mr Biden said.

He added that he believes it was a “giant mistake” for the Trump administration to back out of the agreement because Iran is “closer to a nuclear weapon now than they were before,” but he also said he is committed to keeping Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organisations, even if it kills any chance of rebooting the agreement.


Why is Joe Biden going to Saudi Arabia?

There will be several issues on the agenda when Joe Biden touches down friday in Jeddah, the centuries-old port city on the coast of Red Sea.

Mr Biden will arrive in Saudi Arabia on Friday, his first visit to an Arab country since taking office, as part of his participation at King Salman’s invitation in a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council: a political, economic and military alliance which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates alongside Saudi Arabia, which is hosting the summit.

John Bowden takes a look at what’s on the president’s agenda.