Global Pulse: UAE bid for Taliban embassy, Yemen’s TV execution, Mooch flipflop

Leaked emails expose UAE’s doublespeak on Qatar

The UAE might have used the 2013 opening of a Taliban embassy in Doha as evidence of Qatar’s support to Islamic militants, but as it turns out, the Emiratis were vying for the exact same thing. Leaked emails from Washington’s Emirati ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba’s account have shown that the estranged Persian Gulf neighbours were, in fact, competing to host Taliban in their countries.

The opening of the Taliban embassy was part of the broad American-led effort for peace talks in Afghanistan, and in their bid to enhance their influence in the region, both the UAE and Qatar wanted to seize this opportunity. But soon after the embassy was located in Doha, the UAE adopted a snotty tone. Otaiba, who is now at the centre of the controversy sparked by the leaks, in fact, as recently as last week said in an interview, “I don’t think it is a coincidence that inside Doha you have the Hamas leadership, you have a Taliban embassy, you have the Muslim Brotherhood leadership”.

Rapist’s execution publicized on social media, broadcast on TV in Yemen  

While Houthi killings are common, thousands cheering for them are not. In a rare televised execution in the war-weary Yemeni capital of Sana, a 41-year-old man convicted of raping and killing a 3-year-old was shot point blank by Houthi rebels – in the midst of approving chants.

It was perhaps the starkness of the crime and the public outrage over it, which led to the decision to broadcast the execution on television. The broadcast could have been useful for the Houthi rebels too, who appeared both morally upright and vigilant in bringing a beastly rapist to book. Spectators, some of whom carried banners reading “Justice has won,” and “Rana’s blood won’t be in vain,” learned of the execution through Facebook and Whatsapp.

Illiberal judicial overreach  

Seeing the judiciary as a liberal impediment to governance and citing judicial overreach whenever convenient is not new for authoritarian regimes. But as this analysis of the recent upheavals in Pakistan and Venezuela shows, political crises can be spurred by supreme courts assuming an activist role.

In Pakistan, the military was not directly responsible for unseating the third time elected and ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, the judiciary’s reluctance to allow the voters to dismiss or reinstate an elected leader in democratic elections, has once again pushed Pakistan in a state of utter uncertainty. In faraway Venezuela, the latest country to come under US sanctions, the Supreme Court’s overreach has had grimmer, even deadlier consequences. When the court stripped the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its powers, it unleashed countrywide protests. The deadly aftermath led to a host of political developments in the country, which have led to the prospect of two parallel Supreme Courts.

‘Don’t blame us for North Korea,’ China tells US

The Chinese have finally responded to Donald Trump’s allegation that they do “NOTHING” for the US. It is essentially up to the US and North Korea, not China, to reduce tensions and work toward talks, China’s UN ambassador Liu Jieyi said. Distancing Beijing from the mounting crisis, a foreign ministry spokesperson also said that the problem did not arise in China.

The statements come days after Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his exasperation with the Chinese establishment for not doing enough to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes. In a veiled jibe at the US, Liu also accused “relevant countries” of violating Security Council resolutions by heightening tensions and failing to resume negotiations. Trump is all set to sign a bill imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang into a law.

The Mooch just couldn’t woo Trump enough

Anthony Sacaramucci had never really maintained a low profile. During the elections, he called Donald Trump “another hack politician”, “an inherited money dude from Queens County”, and supported two of his challengers. Once Trump had sworn in as president, he promptly deleted all his tweets criticizing him, told reporters he loved Trump, and tweeted photos of himself with the president. While stepping into his coveted new role, he said, “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, that’s me and the president.” In meetings, he would flaunt his rapport with the president and keep reminding his aides that he wasn’t “one of them”.

But Trump wasn’t impressed, after all. Ten days ago, the Mooch had threatened to “fire everybody”. Ten days later, he has been removed as the communications director by the new chief of staff, John Kelly.  With all the flair and swagger that he brought to the White House, Scaramucci has had to pack his bags and leave, making clear that he was indeed not “one of them”.

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