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Hong Kong police fire tear gas as protesters defy emergency law

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police fired tear gas on Sunday as protesters defied an emergency law and marched wearing masks through the Chinese-controlled city, witnesses said.There was no obvious reason for the tear gas, as the rally at Pacific Place on Hong Kong island seemed peaceful, said one witness.Tens of thousands of protesters wore face…

Hong Kong police fire tear gas as protesters defy emergency law

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police fired tear gas on Sunday as protesters defied an emergency law and marched wearing masks through the Chinese-controlled city, witnesses said.There was no obvious reason for the tear gas, as the rally at Pacific Place on Hong Kong island seemed peaceful, said one witness.Tens of thousands of protesters wore face masks in defiance of colonial-era emergency powers that threaten them with a year in prison for hiding their faces.Hong Kong’s rail operator reopened part of its metro system on Sunday after an unprecedented shutdown, but kept many typically busy stations closed, as the Chinese-ruled city braced for large demonstrations expected later in the day.Meanwhile, a Hong Kong court rejected a challenge to the emergency law criminalizing protesters wearing face masks.Pro-democracy lawmakers went to the High Court on Sunday seeking an emergency injunction against the ban, arguing the emergency powers bypassed the legislature and contravened the city’s mini-constitution.But a senior judge dismissed their injunction demand.Violent protests had erupted across the Asian financial center soon after Lam wielded the colonial-era powers for the first time in more than 50 years to order the ban in hopes of curbing months of unrest.The night’s “extreme violence” justified the use of the emergency law, Beijing-backed Lam said on Saturday, when the city felt eerily quiet, with the subway and most shopping malls closed and many roads deserted.Despite the closure of the metro, which carries about 5 million passengers a day, hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets, defying the ban on face masks, but had largely dispersed by evening.Hong Kong’s protests have plunged the city into its biggest political crisis in decades, posing the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power.“These extreme radicals have rampant arrogance and behave vilely,” China’s representative Liaison Office in Hong Kong said on Sunday, denouncing Friday’s destruction of one of its buildings by “extremist militants.”“We strongly condemn this and support the SAR government and the police to severely punish illegal violent elements in accordance with the law,” it said in a statement, referring to Hong Kong’s status as a special autonomous region of China.Rail operator MTR Corp. said it would not open some stations on Sunday, as it needed time to repair vandalized facilities, and also cut short operations by more than three hours, to end at 9 p.m.Most supermarkets and commercial stores reopened after the previous day’s closures, although some malls, such as Sogo in the bustling Causeway Bay commercial district and IFC in Central, remained shuttered.Global luxury brands from Prada to Cartier are counting the costs as the unrest has kept tourists away, taking retail sales down 23 percent in August, their biggest decline on record.Many restaurants and small businesses have had to shut repeatedly, with the protests pushing Hong Kong’s economy to the brink of its first recession in a decade.The increasingly violent protests that have roiled the former British colony for four months began in opposition to a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, but have spiraled into a broader pro-democracy movement.Lam said the ban on face masks, which many protesters use to conceal their identities, was ordered under the emergency laws that allow authorities to “make any regulations whatsoever” in whatever they deem to be in the public interest.But it enraged protesters, who took to the streets on Friday to vent their anger, many of them masked in open defiance. Some set fires, hurled petrol bombs at police and burned the Chinese national flag, in a direct challenge to authorities in Beijing.The current “precarious situation,” which endangered public safety, left no timely solution but the anti-mask law, Matthew Cheung, Hong Kong’s chief secretary, wrote on his blog on Sunday.He urged people to oppose violence ahead of grassroots district council elections set for Nov. 24.Financial Secretary Paul Chan also addressed the protests in his blog, saying that despite recent obstacles, Hong Kong’s banking system remained sound and the financial market was functioning well.Protesters have taken aim at some of China’s largest banks, trashing ATM machines at branches of Bank of China’s Hong Kong unit, for example, while nearby international counterparts, such as Standard Chartered, have escaped untouched.Chan’s comment came after Hong Kong’s Monetary Authority said about 5 percent of the city’s ATMs could not transact cash withdrawals for ‘various reasons.’The Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) condemned violent acts “which have caused serious damage to some bank branches and ATMs.”Protesters are angry at what they see as creeping interference in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula guaranteeing freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.China dismisses the accusation, saying foreign governments, including Britain and the United States, have fanned anti-China sentiment.

 

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Trump to issue sanctions, stop trade deal, increase tariffs on Turkey

ANKARA: As Ankara pressed on with its offensive in northeastern Syria amid international criticism, Washington announced some 1,000 soldiers were withdrawn from the zone. With the US departure, the attention turns to how the regional actors, especially Turkey and Syria, will operate in their zones of influence in the war-torn country where the possible escape of…

Trump to issue sanctions, stop trade deal, increase tariffs on Turkey

ANKARA: As Ankara pressed on with its offensive in northeastern Syria amid international criticism, Washington announced some 1,000 soldiers were withdrawn from the zone.

With the US departure, the attention turns to how the regional actors, especially Turkey and Syria, will operate in their zones of influence in the war-torn country where the possible escape of Daesh fighters from prisons could result in more chaos.

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Turkey considers the SDF and YPG to be terrorists allied with the PKK, who have been involved in a bloody campaign for autonomy against Turkish states for decades. The PKK is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU and the US.

But, whether some 50,000 YPG fighters will be integrated into the Syrian Army or will try to maintain their autonomy is still a matter of concern.

Mazloum Abdi, commander-in-chief of the SDF, recently wrote for Foreign Policy that the Kurds are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin.

Yury Barmin, an analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, said: “Damascus and the SDF struck a deal at the Russian base in Hmeymim to let the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) enter the Kurdish-controlled area in the northeast and deploy at the Syrian-Turkish border. The SAA is set to take control over Manbij, Kobane and Qamishli.”

However, Barmin told Arab News that a deal between Damascus and the SDF would greatly contribute to a buffer zone that Turkish President Recep Yayyip Erdogan intends to create in northern Syria, allowing Kurds to take some areas along the border without directly antagonizing Ankara. This policy, Barmin added, would be unacceptable to Moscow.

“There are now lots of moving targets and the goal of the Syrian Army — whether it will take some strategic cities or control the whole border along Turkey — is unclear for now. As Russian President Vladimir Putin is on his official visit to Saudi Arabia, his decision for Syria will be clearer when he returns home,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Some experts claim that with the US decision to withdraw its forces, the territorial claim of northeastern Syria by the Kurdish YPG militia and its political wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has finished.

Barmin also noted that Russia let Erdogan operate the Adana agreement to a certain extent, under which Turkey has the right to conduct cross-border operations.

“But now, Russia would like to show Turkey its own red lines in the region,” he said.

However, Navvar Saban, a military analyst at the Omran Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul, said that the Syrian regime is not capable of striking a deal without being backed by Russians, and that Moscow would not want to lose its relationship with Ankara.

“Russians always talk about the Adana agreement. We are now talking about a renewal and reactivation of the agreement with new specifications to allow Turkey to go deeper into Syrian territories. In this way, the Russians will have a bigger chance to allow the Syrian regime and Turkey to communicate. It is something that will open the diplomatic channels,” Saban said.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!”

Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said that if the US is completely out of the way, Russia and Turkey will have to either agree or contest each other to take over the US territorial control in northeast Syria. He added that this might be the most crucial race in the coming weeks.

Concerning the diplomatic channels between Damascus and Ankara, Macaron thinks that the channels were and will remain open between Moscow and Ankara since they have common interests beyond Syria.

“If Turkey had no other option, it might have to settle for controlling a few border towns, but this means Erdogan can no longer effectively implement his plan to return Syrian refugees, most notably without funding from the international community. Ankara is more likely to succeed in striking such a deal with Moscow than with Washington,” Macaron told Arab News.

Many experts agree that the Syrian chessboard will be determined predominantly by Russian moves.

“Assad has no say in what will happen next, Russia is the decision maker and there is little the Syrian regime can do unless Iran forcefully intervenes to impact the Russian-Turkish dynamics in the northeast,” Macaron said.

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Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

FORT WORTH, TEXAS: A white Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a black woman through a back window of her home while responding to a call about an open front door was charged with murder on Monday after resigning from the force.Aaron Dean, 34, was booked into jail on a murder charge Monday afternoon.…

Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

FORT WORTH, TEXAS: A white Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed a black woman through a back window of her home while responding to a call about an open front door was charged with murder on Monday after resigning from the force.Aaron Dean, 34, was booked into jail on a murder charge Monday afternoon. The police chief said earlier in the day that he acted without justification and would have been fired if he didn’t quit.Police bodycam video showed Dean approaching the door of the home where Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was caring for her 8-year-old nephew early Saturday. He then walked around the side of the house, pushed through a gate into the fenced-off backyard and fired through the glass a split-second after shouting at Jefferson to show her hands.Dean was not heard identifying himself as police on the video, and Interim Police Chief Ed Kraus said there was no sign Dean or the other officer who responded even knocked on the front door.”Nobody looked at this video and said that there’s any doubt that this officer acted inappropriately,” Kraus said.Earlier in the day, Jefferson’s family had demanded that Dean, a member of the force for 1½ years, be fired and arrested.”Why this man is not in handcuffs is a source of continued agitation for this family and for this community,” family attorney Lee Merritt said.Police went to Jefferson’s home about 2:25 a.m. after a neighbor called a non-emergency line to report a door ajar. In a statement over the weekend, the department said officers saw someone near a window inside the home and that one of them drew his gun and fired after “perceiving a threat.”The video showed Dean shouting, “Put your hands up! Show me your hands!” and immediately firing.Jefferson was staying up late, playing video games with her nephew, when she was killed, according to the family’s attorney.As for what, exactly, led Dean to open fire, the police chief said: “I cannot make sense of why she had to lose her life.” The chief said Dean resigned without talking to internal affairs investigators.The video included images of a gun inside a bedroom. Kraus said he did not know whether Jefferson was holding the weapon. But he said the mere fact she had a gun shouldn’t be considered unusual in Texas.”We’re homeowners in Texas,” the police chief said. “Most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be and we had access to a firearm, we would be acting very similarly to how she was acting.” Kraus said that, in hindsight, releasing the images of the weapon was “a bad thing to do.”Mayor Betsy Price called the gun “irrelevant.””Atatiana was in her own home, caring for her 8-year-old nephew. She was a victim,” Price said.Texas has had a “castle doctrine” law on the books since 2007 that gives people a stronger legal defense to use deadly force in their homes. The law was backed at the time by the National Rifle Association and is similar to “stand your ground” measures across the U.S. that say a person has no duty to retreat from an intruder.Fort Worth is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Dallas, where another high-profile police shooting occurred last year.In that case, white Dallas officer Amber Guyger shot and killed her black neighbor Botham Jean inside his own apartment after Guyger said she mistook his place for her own. Guyger, 31, was sentenced this month to 10 years in prison.A large crowd gathered outside Jefferson’s home Sunday night for a vigil after demonstrations briefly stopped traffic on Interstate 35. A single bullet hole was visible in the window of the single-story, freshly painted purple home, and floral tributes and stuffed animals piled up in the street.The police chief said Dean could face state charges and that he had submitted a case to the FBI to review for possible federal civil rights charges.Dean has not yet hired an attorney but will have one provided with financial support from the state’s largest police union, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, according to Charley Wilkison, executive director.Relations with the public have been strained after other recent Fort Worth police shootings. In June, the department released footage of officers killing a man who ignored repeated orders to drop his handgun. He was the fourth person Fort Worth police had fired upon in 10 days.Of the nine officer-involved shootings so far this year in Fort Worth, five targeted African Americans and six resulted in death, according to department data.Nearly two-thirds of the department’s 1,100 officers are white, just over 20% are Hispanic, and about 10% are black. The city of nearly 900,000 people is about 40% white, 35% Hispanic and 19% black.Calling the shooting “a pivotal moment in our city,” the mayor said she was ordering a top-to-bottom review of the police force and vowed to “rebuild a sense of trust within the city and with our police department.”Jefferson was a 2014 graduate of Xavier University in New Orleans and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. She was working in pharmaceutical equipment sales and was considering going to medical school, according to the family’s lawyer.

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Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

LONDON: British media are reporting that the wife of an American official who left the UK after being involved in a fatal road accident no longer has diplomatic immunity.BBC and Sky News said Sunday that UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had told the family of Harry Dunn that “immunity is no longer pertinent” because the…

Britain’s Johnson plays down Brexit breakthrough hopes

LONDON: British media are reporting that the wife of an American official who left the UK after being involved in a fatal road accident no longer has diplomatic immunity.BBC and Sky News said Sunday that UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had told the family of Harry Dunn that “immunity is no longer pertinent” because the suspect has left the UK The Foreign Office declined to comment.Dunn, 19, was killed in August when his motorcycle collided with a car outside a British air force base in southern England used by the US military. The alleged car driver, Anne Sacoolas, who is married to a US official, subsequently left Britain.Sacoolas’ lawyer, Amy Jeffress of Arnold and Porter, said: “Anne is devastated by this tragic accident” and wants to meet Dunn’s parents.

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