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Trump: Saudi to pay ‘necessary money’ to help rebuild Syria | News

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US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia will spend the “necessary money” to help reconstruct war-torn Syria, without offering any details.

Trump’s comments on Monday came days after he took to Twitter to announce the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria while also abruptly declaring victory over ISIL in the country. The surprising decision on Wednesday contradicted his own experts’ assessments and sparked surprise and anger among some of Washington’s allies.

On Monday, in his latest unexpected foreign policy statement made on Twitter, Trump said Riyadh would step in to support Syria following the US military withdrawal.

“Saudi Arabia has now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria, instead of the United States. See?” Trump wrote.

“Isn’t it nice when immensely wealthy countries help rebuild their neighbours rather than a Great Country, the US, that is 5,000 miles away. Thanks to Saudi A!”

There was no immediate comment from the Saudi government, which in October delivered $100m to the US, two months after pledging the sum to help stabilise parts of Syria and just as international outcry over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Riyadh’s shifting narratives about his fate grew.

‘Who will get the money?’

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Washington, DC, said the initial reaction to Trump’s announcement was “one of bafflement” as no other US officials had commented on his statement which also came on a day that the president was not scheduled to have a telephone conversation with the Saudi leadership.

“It came out of nowhere and there are more questions than answers, including how much money is he talking about. We know that the Saudis in October delivered $100m intended for Syria reconstruction but the president’s tweet seemed to imply that there was more money that is going to be forthcoming,” said Reynolds.

“Also, how will this money be spent? When will it be disbursed? And most importantly, in a country that is divided in many different spheres of influence, who will get the money?”

The US president has repeatedly expressed his support for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, despite CIA assessment that the royal ordered Khashoggi’s killing inside the kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October.

Trump has also defied pressure from US legislators to impose tougher sanctions on Saudi Arabia over the journalist’s murder by indicating that he had no intention of cancelling military contracts with the kingdom.  

“The Trump administration sees Saudi Arabia as a strategic partner in the region, and Trump has certainly gone out on the fence to defend that strategic partnership,” Ellen Wald, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and the author of Saudi Inc: The Arabian Kingdom’s Pursuit of Profit and Power, told Al Jazeera.

“And now he is saying, ‘look we are still committed to you, now you’ve got to step up and do what needs to be done’ – and it’s definitely been clear from Trump’s policy that they would like Saudi Arabia to really serve as an effective counterpoint in the region to Iran,” she added.

Turkey-US talks

Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria was followed by resignations from Pentagon chief James Mattis and Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

The announcement of the withdrawal – which is reportedly going to be completed within 60 to 100 days, comes on the eve of a possible Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria against Kurdish fighters who Ankara considers to be “terrorists”.

A US delegation is expected to head to Turkey this week to discuss cooperation on Syria. US forces have for years backed the Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG)-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIL.

Ankara claims the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has waged attacks on Turkish soil since the 1980s as they sought autonomy.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision

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One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada

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An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care

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With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/local-news/ottawa-covid-19-hospitalization-data-of-severe-illness-shows-half-of-cases-coming-from-community-not-just-long-term-care-homes-3136152

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