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Trump Tweets About Weapon Sales After South Korea Suggests Bringing Back US Tactical Nukes

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

As part of South Korea’s response to the latest escalations out of its northern neighbor, the country’s defense minister on Monday said it was “worth reviewing the redeployment of American tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula” to guard against the North, a step that analysts warn would sharply increase the risk of an accidental conflict. On Monday, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said that he asked his American counterpart, Jim Mattis, during talks at the Pentagon last week that strategic assets such as  U.S. aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and B-52 bombers be sent to South Korea more regularly.

“I told him that it would be good for strategic assets to be sent regularly to the Korean Peninsula and that some South Korean lawmakers and media are strongly pushing for tactical nuclear weapons [to be redeployed],” Song told a parliamentary hearing on North Korea’s nuclear test, without disclosing Mattis’s response.

A poll that YTN, a cable news channel, commissioned in ­August found that 68 percent of respondents said they supported bringing tactical nuclear weapons back to South Korea.

“The redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons is an alternative worth a full review,” Song said, echoing a position closely associated with conservatives in South Korea but not with progressives like Moon, who was elected president in May after vowing to engage with the North.

South Korean officials have been asking for fighter jets and ballistic missile-equipped submarines to be based on the peninsula, and have long wanted B-1Bs and B-52s to land rather than just fly over — all to give a greater sense of U.S. commitment to South Korea. The United States had about 100 nuclear-armed weapons, including short-range artillery, stationed in South Korea until 1991. Then President George H.W. Bush signed the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives and withdrew all tactical nuclear weapons that had been deployed abroad.

Shortly afterward, the two Koreas signed an agreement committing to making the peninsula free of nuclear weapons — a deal that North Korea violated by developing its own nuclear arms. But Pyongyang has maintained that Seoul has also broken its promise because remaining under the U.S. nuclear umbrella is tantamount, it says, to having such weapons. After the defense minister spoke at the hearing, the South Korean president’s office said that it was not considering redeploying tactical nuclear weapons. “Our government’s firm stance on the nuclear-free peninsula remains unchanged,” said Kim Dong-jo, a spokesman for Moon.

Addressing this, and other issues, President Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, spoke on the phone for 40 minutes Monday night, Korean time — some 34 hours after the nuclear test and more than 24 hours after Trump took to Twitter to criticize Moon’s “talk of appeasement.”

As the WaPo reports, the two presidents agreed to remove the limit on allowed payloads for South Korean missiles — something Seoul had been pushing for — as a way to increase deterrence against North Korea, according to a statement from South Korea’s Blue House. They agreed as well to work together to punish North Korea for Sunday’s nuclear test, pledging “to strengthen joint military capabilities,” a White House statement said, and to “maximize pressure on North Korea using all means at their disposal.”

In a later phone call, Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel “reaffirmed” the necessity of coordinating a response at the United Nations.

 

At a U.N. Security Council meeting, Haley pressed for the “strongest possible” sanctions against the North. The administration plans to circulate a new sanctions draft this week. Haley did not spell out how she would overcome the objections of veto-wielding permanent members China and Russia.

 

But she cautioned, “War is never something the United States wants. We don’t want it now. But our country’s patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory.”

And to underscore just that, moments ago Donald Trump tweeted “I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military”

I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017

Meanwhile, China balked at the possibility of further escalation: “China will never allow chaos and war” in Korea, said Liu Jieyi, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations. Sanctions alone will not solve the crisis, said Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia. On Tuesday, Putin made it clear that Russia and China will most likely veto another sanctions vote in the UN Security Council.

Furthermore, military experts in the United States are almost universally opposed to the idea of deploying strategic or tactical weapons in South Korea. “The thing that most concerns me about redeployment is that it introduces more room for miscalculation or unintended escalation,” said Catherine Dill of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.

In that situation, the ability to react more quickly could be a negative factor. From the perspective of the military alliance between the United States and South Korea, having long-range ballistic missiles or strategic bombers is “perfectly sufficient” to continue to deter North Korea, Dill said.

As the North Korean threat has increased this year, the United States has sent F-35 stealth aircraft and other strike fighters on flyovers across the southern half of the peninsula in a not-so-thinly veiled warning to Kim. The U.S. Pacific Command even released photos last week of B-1B Lancers dropping bombs on a range on the southern side of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

Still, that has not convinced local politicians, and a growing number of policy­makers in Seoul say that Guam is too far away and that, if the South comes under attack from North Korea, it can’t wait the two-plus hours it would take American bombers to arrive from their base in the Pacific.

“We need these strategic or tactical assets that can destroy North Korea’s nuclear-capable missiles before they can inflict harm on us,” said Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean national security adviser.  “Right now they can retaliate, but by that time, tens of thousands of people might have been killed,” Chun said. “We need a first layer of offensive weapons stationed closer to North Korea’s nuclear and missile sites.”

Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear expert who served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, said that in the South Korean context, “strategic assets” are all about giving “a tangible sense of reassurance” to the government in Seoul. “The reassurance bucket is bottomless,” Wolfsthal said. “You can pour stuff into it and it’s never going to fill up.”

* * *

Finally, while it remains to be seen if the US will concede to S.Korean demands and dispatch tactical nukes, overnight a top U.S. naval commander said the US will “keep sending formidable defense assets” to the Korean Peninsula in combined deterrence and response to North Korea’s “self-destructive” actions. Adm. Scott Swift, who commands the U.S. Pacific Fleet, stressed that although South Koreans stand closest to the North’s threats, they “do not face this aggressor alone.”

He cited the North’s continued provocations, including “ill-advised” ballistic missile launches and inflammatory warnings of nuclear war, highlighted by its sixth nuclear test Sunday.

Speaking at the International Seapower Symposium here, the admiral described the Kim Jong-un regime’s choice as “irrationally self-destructive actions and behaviors that defy logic and explanation.”

“We will continue to deploy carrier strike groups, expeditionary strike groups, AEGIS ships, the world’s most capable submarine force and advanced aircraft like the F-35, P-8 and MH-60R to be prepared to respond decisively when called,” he stressed. “Today, our platforms have longer reach, are more interconnected and possess greater lethality than what has ever been fielded before.” He added that his fleet has also seamlessly integrated operations with South Korean and Japanese navies for overwhelming ballistic missile defense and anti-submarine warfare.

Swift expressed confidence about the might of his unit in charge of defending the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. “Let our potential adversaries take pause and note that the only naval force more powerful than the U.S. Pacific Fleet is the entirety of the United States Navy,” he said. It is unclear if his words will frighten Kim Jong-Un…

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Reverend Jesse Jackson Now Speaks For God: “Trump Would Not Qualify To Get Into Jesus’ Kingdom”

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

The great  Reverend Jesse Jackson, known for such scandals and controversies as Congressional pay-for-play schemes, having an extra-martial affair, and threatening to cut off President Barack…

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Russia provides Hezbollah with diplomatic cover at the UN

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Russia has provided Hezbollah with diplomatic cover at the United Nations during tense disagreements over the extension of a UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, Israeli sources claim. Last week the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to renew Resolution 1701 but only after the US and Israel agreed to remove paragraphs that were critical of Russia’s ally in the region, Hezbollah. Moscow is said to have threatened to veto the initial draft which accused the group designated as terrorist by US, Israel and several European countries of conducting prohibited military activity in southern Lebanon in violation of Resolution 1701. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Russia ensured that all mentions of Hezbollah were omitted from the resolution. Both the US and […]

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Hurricane Irma Strenghtens To “Extremely Dangerous” Category 5, Eastern Caribbean On Lockdown

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Irma has strengthened to an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center said in its advisory at 7:45am AST. According to the Hurricane center, NOAA and Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft data indicate Hurricane Irma has intensified into an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with maximum winds of 175 mph (280 km/h) with higher gusts.

Recon finds surface winds of 152 knots (175 mph) in #Irma‘s right front quadrant. Holy crap. pic.twitter.com/YhkyPqaJXz

— Eric Webb (@webberweather) September 5, 2017

As of this moment, the hurricane is located 270 miles east of Antigua, moving west at 14 mph. States of emergency were declared in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and all of Florida while people on various Caribbean islands boarded up homes and rushed to find last-minute supplies, forming long lines outside supermarkets and gas stations. This morning the Dominican Republic has issued a Hurricane Watch from Cabo Engano to northern border with Haiti; Tropical Storm Watch from south of Cabo Engao to Isla Saona.

BREAKING: Hurricane #Irma is the first Category 5 storm of the 2017 Atlantic season. Winds are at 175 mph. This is a very dangerous storm! pic.twitter.com/NbW9lJLqct

— HurricaneTracker App (@hurrtrackerapp) September 5, 2017

According to meteorologists, Irma is the 17th hurricane in the Atlantic on record to have max winds >= 175 mph. Atlantic max wind record is Allen (1980) at 190 mph.

#Irma is the 17th hurricane in the Atlantic on record to have max winds >= 175 mph. Atlantic max wind record is Allen (1980) at 190 mph. pic.twitter.com/KN0JkXq5wn

— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) September 5, 2017

Ultimately, the question is how strong Irma will be when it inevitably makes landfall on the Eastern Seaboard, somewhere in the vicinity of Miami.

Meanwhile, officials across the northeastern Caribbean canceled airline flights, shuttered schools and urged people to hunker down indoors as Hurricane Irma barreled toward the region, now as an “extremely powerful” Category 5 storm. Irma’s maximum sustained winds increased to near 175 mph early Tuesday.

According to AP, emergency officials warned that the storm could dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters) as the storm drew closer.

“We’re looking at Irma as a very significant event,” Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, said by phone. “I can’t recall a tropical cone developing that rapidly into a major hurricane prior to arriving in the central Caribbean.” 

U.S. residents were urged to monitor the storm’s progress in case it should turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. “This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey,” Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.

In the Caribbean, the director of Puerto Rico’s power company predicted that storm damage could leave some areas of the U.S. territory without electricity for four to six months. But “some areas will have power (back) in less than a week,” Ricardo Ramos told radio station Notiuno 630 AM.

The power company’s system has deteriorated greatly amid Puerto Rico’s decade-long recession, and the territory experienced an islandwide outage last year. Meanwhile, the governor of the British Virgin Islands urged people on Anegada island to leave if they could, noting that Irma’s eye was expected to pass 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the capital of Road Town.

“This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane,” U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp warned. “It’s not time to get on a surfboard.”

Antigua and Anguilla shuttered schools Monday, and government office closures were expected to follow. On the tiny island of Barbuda, hotel manager Andrea Christian closed the Palm Tree Guest House. She said she was not afraid even though it would be her first time facing a storm of that magnitude.

“We can’t do anything about it,” Christian said by phone, adding that she had stocked up on food and water. “We just have to wait it out.”

Both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands expected 4 inches to 8 inches (10-20 centimeters) of rain and winds of 40-50 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello activated the National Guard, canceled classes for Tuesday and declared a half-day of work. He also warned of flooding and power outages. “It’s no secret that the infrastructure of the Puerto Rico Power Authority is deteriorated,” Rossello said.

Meteorologist Roberto Garcia warned that Puerto Rico could experience hurricane-like conditions in the next 48 hours should the storm’s path shift. “Any deviation, which is still possible, could bring even more severe conditions to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Garcia said. The U.S. Virgin Islands said the school year would open Friday instead of Tuesday.

Gov. Kenneth Mapp said most hotels in the U.S. territory were at capacity with some 5,000 tourists. He noted the storm was expected to pass 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of St. Thomas and warned that the island could experience sustained winds as high as 80 mph

“It’s not a lot of distance,” he said, adding: “It could affect us in a tremendous way. I’m not saying that to alarm anyone or scare anyone, but I want the Virgin Islands to be prepared.”

Residents on the U.S. East Coast were urged to monitor the storm’s progress due to the possibility it could turn northward toward Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas. “This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of (Hurricane) Harvey,” Evan Myers, chief operating officer of AccuWeather, said in a statement.

Just spoke to @POTUS – he offered the full resources of the federal government as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma.

— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 5, 2017

In Miami-Dade County, the early scramble was on to stock up on hurricane supplies, reports CBS Miami. People were shopping for gasoline, generators, food, batteries, and everything else they’d need get by were Irma to hit the region hard.

“We are not yet at the height of hurricane season and people have not taken steps to get prepared yet,” Miami-Dade County Emergency Management Director Curt Sommerhoff said Monday. “We are encouraging them to take those steps today.” Miami-Dade officials were to meet Tuesday to assess the danger.

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Somalia’s Al-Shabaab plans to send uranium to Iran  

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Somalia’s government has called upon the US to provide “immediate military assistance” to stop the extremist Al-Shabaab group from supplying uranium to Iran, the BBC reported yesterday. Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad sent an official letter to Stephen Shwartz, the US ambassador to Somalia, warning of Al-Shabaab’s recent capture of central regions of the country containing uranium deposits. The group has since been working on extracting the valuable resource used in the production of nuclear energy and weapons. The US government has not responded officially to the claim. Garaad’s letter highlights Al-Shabaab’s affiliation with Daesh, the so-called “Islamic State”. A small section of Al-Shabaab broke off and pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh, in October 2015. The […]

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More scandals hit Israel with Netanyahu’s wife to be charged and ex-head of naval intelligence arrested

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Close associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been charged in relation to just two of numerous scandals currently embroiling senior political figures in Israel. Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, is to be indicted on charges of fraud amounting to $110,000 later this week, while last Sunday’s round of arrests as part of the investigation into the “submarine scandal” included Brigadier General Shai Brosh, former head of the Israel navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit and naval intelligence. According to Haaretz, Sara Netanyahu is accused of using public funds for private expenditure in the prime minister’s households. The case has been under investigation for two years since reports emerged of her excessive spending, and now involves three separate incidents in which she […]

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BofA: Even The Bubbles Are Becoming More “Bubbly” Thanks To Central Banks

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Back in June, Citi’s credit strategist Hans Lorenzen pointed out that while QE had failed to spark inflation across the broader economy, it had achieved something else: “the principal transmission channel to the real economy has been… lifting asset prices.” That however has required continuous CB balance sheet growth, and with the Fed, ECB and BOJ all poised to “renormalize” over the next year, the global monetary impulse is set to turn negative in the coming year. Meanwhile, as financial markets scramble to maximize every last ounce of what central bank impulse remains, we get such bubbles as London real estate, bitcoin and vintage cars, or as Citi puts it: “the wealth effect is stretching farther and farther afield.”

 

Three months later, the latest to tackle the issue of central bank bubble creation, is BofA’s Barnaby Martin, who in a note released overnight asks rhetorically “are bubbles becoming more “bubbly”?

Just like Lorenzen, Martin observes the blanket central bank “lower for longer” rates intervention, which leads to “speculative behavior in assets.” Well, technically, Martin hedges by calling it a “risk”, but one look at the chart above and below shows that the bubbles created by central banks are all too real. And as Martin, whose topic is the unprecedented buying spree across credit, notes it’s not just credit markets that are seeing exceptional investor demand at this point in the cycle: so is everything else, or as he puts it:

As chart 3, over the page shows, asset bubbles seem to be becoming more “bubbly” as time goes by.”

What he means by this is that post the financial-crisis, “the largesse of central banks appears to be inducing quicker and steeper price gains in assets compared to the case historically.”

Some examples:

For instance, the increase in Japanese equities was pronounced between mid-1982 and the end of 1989, with share prices rising around 440% over the period. But Bitcoin, for instance, has risen roughly 2000% since just mid-2015. And other, recent, in-vogue indices seem to be surging higher as well.

Not surprisingly, just like Lorzenen three months ago, Martin agrees that there is are two key events which would immediately put an end to these “bubbly” bubbles: an inflationary shock, or the ECB putting a hard stop to its bond monetizing largesse .

In our view, an end to the bullish credit cycle in Europe can only come about once the major inflows dry up. For us, this will require more than just the ECB tapering their bond purchases next year. Witness, for example, the strength of Sterling credit spreads over the last few months despite the BoE’s corporate bond buying programme “hard stopping” in April this year.

More than just central bank jawboning, however, Martin thinks “the end of the credit party will likely require a big inflationary “shock” in Europe, and one strong enough to reset market expectations over the pace of rate hikes. Safe to say that this seems a long way off to us.”

As a result, helped by falling political uncertainty (note European policy uncertainty is now lower than US policy uncertainty – the first time since mid-2012) and the renewed rise in negative yielding assets (note record number of European countries now with negative yielding debt), we see credit spreads heading tighter into year-end.

And yes, this means after the latest correction, Bitcoin will keep going higher…

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‘Fruitful’ meeting between ICRC head, Hamas leader in Gaza

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer met the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau in Gaza, Yahya Al-Sinwar, today and said the meeting was “fruitful”. In a very brief appearance after a meeting with Al-Sinwar in Gaza, he said: “It was a fruitful meeting. We discussed the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as well as respecting international law.” Spokeswoman of the ICRC in Gaza Suhair Zaqqout told MEMO that Maurer is not set to hold press briefings in Gaza. However, in a closed meeting with representatives of the local community and young activists, he said: “The situation in Gaza is a violation of international law. We are hearing from you to pass your voice to […]

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Putin Rejects More Korea Sactions, Warns US Risks “Global Catastrophe, Huge Loss Of Human Life”

September 5, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After UN Ambassador Nikki Haley asked the security council to pass the “strongest possible” sanctions against North Korea which was “begging for war” following the isolated nation’s sixth nuclear test which took place over the weekend, Russia President Vladimir Putin has hinted that Russia may – and most likely will – use its Security Council veto power to stop any further sanctions from being implemented.  

Putin, who is in China for a meeting of leaders from the BRICS countries, said that sanctions at this point would be “counter-productive” and that US threats of military action could trigger “a global catastrophe and a huge loss of human life,” according to Reuters. Some US diplomats have quietly agreed with the Russian leader, noting that if the barrage of already imposed sanctions on Pyongyang hasn’t changed the country’s behavior, then any incremental actions would likely have no impact either.

PUtin added that Pyongyang wouldn’t halt its nuclear tests until it “felt secure.” More details:

“Ramping up military hysteria in such conditions is senseless; it’s a dead end,” he added. “It could lead to a global, planetary catastrophe and a huge loss of human life. There is no other way to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, save that of peaceful dialogue.”

His remarks followed similar statement from China, which chafed at the notion that the US would seek to punish all countries that trade with the North, and similarly suggested that it too would veto any further sanctions on North Korea.

“Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises, we consider that they are a provocation … (But) ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe,” he told reporters. “There’s no other path apart from a peaceful one.”

Putin’s remarks followed South Korea which said it had agreed with the US to scrap a weight limit on its warheads, helping it respond to the North Korea threat after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test two days ago. While Putin described further sanctions as “the road to nowhere,” he said Russia was prepared to discuss “some details” around the issue, without elaborating.

According to Bloomberg, even before North Korea detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb on Sunday, Japan was calling for moves to cut off its oil supply. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang dodged a question at a briefing in Beijing about whether his nation would consider limiting oil shipments to North Korea.

“The actions and reactions of the Security Council will depend on the conclusions reached through debate by its members,” Geng said, according to an official transcript. “China will promote denuclearization and the maintenance of stability on the peninsula, and promote solving problems on the peninsula through dialogue and consultation.”

The Russian leader also lashed out at the United States, saying it was preposterous for Washington to ask for Moscow’s help with North Korea after sanctioning Russian companies whom U.S officials accused of violating North Korea sanctions. Putin also blasted Washington for imposing more sanctions against Russian entities. A few days ago, Russia was forced to withdraw diplomats from the US after the Trump administration shuttered three Russian consulates.

“It’s ridiculous to put us on the same (sanctions) list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea,” said Putin. “This is being done by people who mix up Australia with Austria,” he added.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump floated the idea of sanctioning any country or entity that trades or does any kind of business with the North. For Moscow, that would mean stopping the use of North Korean laborers, tens of thousands of whom work in Russia, and halting fuel supplies to Pyongyang. Russia has so far refused to consider doing either. According to RT, Putin warned that the North would never stop its nuclear program.

“As I told my colleagues yesterday, they will eat grass but will not stop their program as long as they do not feel safe,” Putin said. “What can restore their security? The restoration of international law.”

For their part, North Korea’s ambassador warned that the US will receive more “gift packages” as long as it continues to threaten the DPRK.

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Yemen’s former president denies Houthi alliance divide

September 5, 2017 Middle East Monitor 0

Yemen’s former president denied any divide within the Houthi armed group, The National has reported. Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former president who was rumoured to be under house arrest by the Houthis, appeared in a TV interview with Yemen’s Today TV. “There is no crisis or differences whatsoever, but only in the imagination of those who want these decisions and who want to plant these doubts and divisions,” Saleh said. Read: Houthi fighters and Saleh supporters clash in Sanaa There is no truth in what “international media, linked to enemy countries, have reported or what is being said on social media in [Yemen],” Saleh continued. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabian media companies in particular have emphasised a division […]

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