The United States has criticized Myanmar’s military leaders after they staged a coup in the Southeast Asian country on Monday, while it was still Sunday in the U.S. On top of that, President Joe Biden threatened sanctions if the military doesn’t change course.
Early Monday morning in Myanmar, the military took over the government and detained senior politicians such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing will be in charge of the nation for one year, according to an announcement read on military-owned Myawaddy TV, per the Associated Press.
In a Sunday statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the top U.S. diplomat said that the “United States expresses grave concern and alarm regarding reports that the Burmese military has detained multiple civilian government leaders, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and civil society leaders.”
Furthermore, the new secretary of state called on the military leaders to immediately “release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” adding that the U.S. “stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”
While the multi-ethnic country has preferred the name Myanmar over Burma in the English language since 1989, the U.S. government continues to refer to it as the latter. It should be noted, however, that the term to describe people or things from Myanmar is still “Burmese.”
President Biden in a separate statement Monday threatened sanctions if Myanmar’s military doesn’t reverse course.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” Biden said. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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American Citizens Released in Prisoner Exchange with Iran Return Home
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a significant diplomatic development, five American citizens who were detained in Iran have been successfully released and are on their way back to the United States.
The five Americans, along with two family members, arrived safely in Doha, Qatar on Monday after departing from Iran. This release comes as part of a prisoner exchange agreement between the United States and Iran, accompanied by the return of $6 billion in frozen funds to Iran.
A White House official commented on this, stating, “The president is making five families whole again.” The $6 billion in frozen funds, a substantial part of this exchange, arrived in Qatar on Sunday night, leading to Iran’s decision to release the American detainees. Qatar has played a crucial role as an intermediary for negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.
President Biden, in a statement on Monday, expressed his satisfaction with the successful exchange and revealed that two of the American citizens involved had requested that their identities remain undisclosed. He also used the opportunity to call upon the Iranian regime to provide a full account of the disappearance of Bob Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran.
“The Levinson family deserves answers,” President Biden stated. He further announced sanctions against former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken held a press conference later on Monday to address the release and answer questions from reporters. Blinken expressed his relief at the return of the American citizens and emphasized the U.S. government’s dedication to punishing countries that unlawfully imprison U.S. citizens.
He clarified that the prisoner swap was negotiated separately from discussions regarding the Iran nuclear deal, cautioning against interpreting the exchange as an indicator of progress in the nuclear negotiations, though there are many skeptics raising concern across social media platforms.
The Biden administration has underscored that Qatar will retain control of the $6 billion that is being unfrozen and will allocate it to Iran exclusively for humanitarian purposes. However, some Iran watchdogs have voiced concerns, claiming that this move is insufficient.
According to reports from Fox News, Benham Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, stated, “The Islamic Republic must be beaming now. Despite rhetoric from Washington about supporting the Iranian people, in practice with the waiver and random payment, the Biden administration is now effectively helping Tehran signal that no matter what the regime does, it will not be met with meaningful pressure.”
Furthermore President Donald J Trump took to Truth social Monday commenting on the deal current President Joe Biden made stating, “This absolutely ridiculous 6 Billion Dollar Hostage Deal with Iran has set a terrible PRECEDENT for the future. Buckel up, you are going to see some terrible things start to happen. The 3 years ago highly respected USA has become a laughingstock all over the WORLD. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. VOTE TRUMP!!!”
The release of these American citizens and the accompanying fund transfer mark a questionable development in U.S.-Iran relations. The path forward remains complex and uncertain as both nations grapple with long-standing issues and ongoing negotiations surrounding the Iran nuclear deal.
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