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Hope, And Fear, as US Gulf Allies Look to Trump

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  • Hope, And Fear, as US Gulf Allies Look to Trump

US Gulf allies are looking at Donald Trump to tilt Washington in their favour, analysts say, but fear a dangerous void if the incoming president goes so far as to tear up the Iran nuclear deal.

Still fuming after the nuclear agreement was brokered over their objections, Saudi Arabia and its fellow Sunni Arab states in the Gulf hope Trump will rebalance ties at the expense of their regional rival Tehran.

Washington’s traditional allies in the Middle East are concerned, however, over the potential uncertainty of a radical move to go back on the deal with Iran.

“Eight years of (President Barack) Obama’s administration destroyed the balance of power in the region completely,” says Mustafa Alani, a senior adviser to the Gulf Research Centre.

Gulf states “hope now that under Trump the regional balance of power is going to be restored” after Obama “just ignored Iran’s expansionist policy” in the Middle East, Alani says.

The oil-rich Gulf states have been highly critical of the nuclear deal, fearing it would lead to more regional “interference” by Tehran.

The Sunni Gulf monarchies oppose predominantly Shiite Iran in a range of conflict-ridden countries across the Middle East, from Syria and Iraq to Yemen and Lebanon.

Trump has also opposed the agreement, which lifted sanctions in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

He called it the “worst deal ever negotiated”.

‘Huge new uncertainty’ –

The deal is a centrepiece of President Hassan Rouhani’s expected re-election bid in May, and experts say Tehran is unlikely to be willing to make any concessions to Trump.

“If the Trump administration takes a strong stand and the Iranians refuse, the agreement collapses and there is no replacement,” Alani says.

Given the potential for uncertainty, many experts expect the deal to survive, despite Trump’s rhetoric.

“I believe all the Gulf states will counsel Trump to maintain the agreement rather than introduce a huge new uncertainty into the region,” says Richard LeBaron, an analyst associated with the Atlantic Council in Washington.

Trump may “choose to live with” the Iran accord and focus “on other aspects of the Iranian threat like its missile build-up”, says Anthony Cordesman, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Analysts say Trump is likely to rebalance relations in other ways, however.

Cordesman noted that three figures known for their distrust of Tehran figure prominently in Trump’s team.

They are retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn, national security adviser; retired Marine general James Mattis, nominated as defence secretary; and former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for secretary of state.

“All three see Iran as a serious potential threat, recognise the strategic importance of Iraq, and the role Arab states play in deterring Iran,” Cordesman says.

Strained Obama ties –

Ties with Obama became especially strained when he suggested in a magazine interview last year that the Saudis needed to “share” the Middle East with Iran.

His criticism of the kingdom for exporting its fundamentalist “Wahhabist” version of Islam also struck at the heart of the ruling family’s legitimacy.

Saudi Arabia is regularly accused in the West of financing radical mosques and of fuelling extremism, even though the kingdom is part of a US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Such concerns could impede Gulf ties with the new administration, which has faced accusations of Islamophobia over comments made by incoming officials including Trump.

During the campaign he proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“There is a lack of understanding” in the Trump team “of the Gulf’s effort” against radical Islam, Alani says, noting that Gulf states have themselves suffered attacks.

For LeBaron, “the targeting of Muslims as the source of the security problem will inevitably darken Saudi-American relations”.

Another stumbling block may come in the form of energy policy, a crucial question for the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.

Trump will certainly be “very favourable to the development” of shale oil and gas in the United States, says Jean-Francois Seznec of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center, putting Washington in potential conflict with Gulf producers.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday for Democracy Day Celebration

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The Federal Government has declared Wednesday, June 12, a public holiday in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

The announcement was made in a statement signed by Aishetu Ndayako, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, on behalf of Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior.

The statement urged Nigerians to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers and to ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secure, peaceful, and indivisible entity.

“As we mark another Democracy Day in the history of our dear country, let us all reflect on the efforts of our founding fathers and ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secured, peaceful, and indivisible entity,” the statement read.

A Historic Shift

The designation of June 12 as Democracy Day dates back to June 7, 2018, when former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the day would henceforth be celebrated as Democracy Day.

Prior to this declaration, Democracy Day was observed on May 29, the date marking the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

President Buhari’s decision was rooted in the historical significance of June 12, 1993, the day of what is widely regarded as Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election.

Despite the election’s annulment by the then-military government, Buhari emphasized that the democratic credentials of the process should be honored.

Honoring a Legacy

To further commemorate the significance of June 12, Buhari posthumously awarded Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election, with the nation’s highest honor, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

The statement from the Ministry of Interior also highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to implementing positive reforms aimed at reviving Nigeria’s economy and enhancing national security.

A Call for Unity

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, called on all citizens and friends of Nigeria to appreciate the progress that has been made in the country’s democratic journey and to look forward to a brighter future.

“As we celebrate Democracy Day, we must appreciate the progress that has been made and remain hopeful for a better future for Nigeria’s democracy,” the minister said.

This year’s Democracy Day comes at a crucial time as Nigeria continues to navigate economic challenges and security concerns. The public holiday on June 12 provides an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the importance of democracy and the ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions.

As the nation prepares to observe the public holiday, there is a sense of anticipation and hope that the values of democracy will continue to guide Nigeria towards a prosperous and harmonious future.

The government’s declaration serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of June 12 and the importance of upholding democratic principles.

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Guilty on All 34 Counts: Trump Convicted in Hush Money Case

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In a historic and unprecedented legal decision, former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts in his “hush money” trial, making him the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 12 New Yorkers on Wednesday, concluding a six-week trial in Manhattan.

The charges against Trump centered around falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

The jury found Trump guilty on all counts, concluding that he authorized a scheme to falsify checks and related documents to keep the alleged affair from becoming public knowledge.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office presented evidence showing that the conspiracy to cover up the payment began during Trump’s 2016 campaign and continued into his first year in the White House.

They argued that Trump, along with his associates, created false records to mislead voters and conceal the payment.

Trump, who has consistently denied having any sexual encounter with Daniels, responded angrily to the verdict. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, he called the trial “a disgrace” and accused the judge of bias.

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” Trump stated.

He vowed to continue fighting the verdict, saying, “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here. We’ll fight to the end.”

The conviction comes at a critical time for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the 2024 election. Despite the conviction, there is no constitutional barrier preventing him from running for office again.

Legal experts note that the Constitution’s requirements for presidential candidates—being at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and a U.S. resident for 14 years—do not include any disqualification for being a convicted felon.

Judge Juan Merchan has scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11. The defense has until June 13 to submit any motions, with the prosecution required to respond by June 27.

Trump’s legal team indicated they would prefer a sentencing date in mid to late July.

Trump’s conviction adds to the already intense political climate as the nation prepares for the 2024 elections. The trial has drawn significant media attention and public scrutiny, reflecting deep divisions within American society.

The trial highlighted broader issues regarding campaign finance and the use of hush money in politics. It also raises questions about the integrity of presidential candidates and the lengths to which they might go to protect their public image.

As the legal and political ramifications of this verdict unfold, Trump’s conviction on all 34 counts marks a significant chapter in U.S. history.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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