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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, May 27, 2018

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Trump tells Arab leaders they should drive Hamas and Hezbollah out of their lands

Next visit to UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Visiting United States President Donald Trump, in a surprising move, has called on Arab countries to drive Hamas and Hezbollah out of their 'holy land.' > BNN

He has also told the 55 Muslim heads of state of including from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman that an estimated 95% of victims of terrorism are Muslims.

Mr Trump's most controversial point however was lumping Hamas and Hezbollah amongst ISIS and al-Qaeda.

"We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure," the U.S. president told the Arab summit on Monday.

"The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams," he said.

Hamas immediately rejected the accusation, pointing out it was a resistance group and is not opposed to the West, but to Israel, which occupies Palestinian land.

"The statement describing Hamas as a terror group is rejected and is a distortion of our image and shows a complete bias to the Zionist occupation," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Sunday.

Hezbollah and Hamas are both considered reistance groups, both being major humanitarian organisations, and each having a poltiical and militant wing. The Gulf Cooperation Council has joined a small number of countries that has designated Hezbollah a terrorist group, a move Mr Trump congratulated the council for in his speech. 

Both Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and Hamas, in the Palestinian territories, have won elections. Hezbollah remains a major party in the Lebanese government, while Hamas rules Gaza.

Mr Trump however believes they should be crushed, and Arab countries are the ones that should be doing it.

"The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them," Mr Trump said in his address on Monday. "The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.

"It is a choice between two futures, and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you."

"A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH," Mr. Trump told the Arab nations leaders. (Emphasis is as provided in the White House-distributed transcripts of the president's speech).

Mr Trump said Muslim nations needed to contribute to the elimination of terrorism. He paid tribute to various countries for their participation to date.

"Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion," he said.

"The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil."

"Many are already making significant contributions to regional security: Jordanian pilots are crucial partners against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition have taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen. The Lebanese Army is hunting ISIS operatives who try to infiltrate their territory. Emirati troops are supporting our Afghan partners. In Mosul, American troops are supporting Kurds, Sunnis and Shias fighting together for their homeland. Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner. Our longstanding partnership with Kuwait and Bahrain continue to enhance security in the region. And courageous Afghan soldiers are making tremendous sacrifices in the fight against the Taliban, and others, in the fight for their country."

"As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds," Mr Trump said. "We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements."

"I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered," Mr Trump added.

"I also applaud the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking funders from using their countries as a financial base for terror, and designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization last year. Saudi Arabia also joined us this week in placing sanctions on one of the most senior leaders of Hezbollah."

"Of course, there is still much work to do," the U.S. president said.

"That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians."

"Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED," Mr Trump said.

"And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents; they save them. Many nations here today have taken important steps to raise up that message. Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development."

"The United Arab Emirates has also engaged in the battle for hearts and souls, and with the U.S., launched a center to counter the online spread of hate. Bahrain too is working to undermine recruitment and radicalism," Mr Trump said.

"I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees. The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies. Instead of depriving this region of so much human potential, Middle Eastern countries can give young people hope for a brighter future in their home nations and regions."

"That means promoting the aspirations and dreams of all citizens who seek a better life, including women, children, and followers of all faiths. Numerous Arab and Islamic scholars have eloquently argued that protecting equality strengthens Arab and Muslim communities," the president said.

"For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope."

"In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican – visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible – including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas," {resident Trump told the GCC leaders.

"Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them."

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