UAE Steps Up Foreign Aid —to US
Ireland does, too
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2013 7:23 AM CST
In this May 22, 2011 file photo, residents of Joplin, Mo., walk west on 26th Street near Maiden Lane after a tornado hit the southwest Missouri city.   (AP Photo/Mike Gullett, File)

(Newser) – When tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, needed laptops for its 2,200 high school students and a rebuilt neonatal ICU, in stepped ... the United Arab Emirates? Yep. In a strange turn of events, the UAE has been stepping up foreign aid to the US. The campaign, which gave millions to Joplin, has also built soccer fields in low-income neighborhoods in cities like Chicago and LA; helped other hospitals as well as food banks and other nonprofits; and will give $5 million each to New York and New Jersey to help with Sandy relief. It's all part of an attempt by the UAE, a key American ally, to sway public opinion in the US, the Washington Post reports.

It came about after the embassy found that while 30% of Americans had a negative view of the country in 2006, 70% had no opinion. Yousef al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US, made it his mission to bring that 70% over to his side—and perhaps sway some of the 30%, too. "We had a responsibility to educate Americans about who we are," Otaiba explains. "We have been in Afghanistan with you. We went into Libya." And the UAE isn't alone: A Queens community devastated by Sandy is getting help from Ireland. Breezy Point has a proud Irish heritage, so Ireland took up the cause, the New York Times reports. Irish celebrities including the Irish Tenors have hosted fundraisers, and corporate donations, consular volunteers, and government aid have poured in. “It’s another county of Ireland," says an Irish radio producer.

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Feb 18, 2013 11:17 PM CST
It would be better if the U.S. government did not send aid to foreign countries and spend it's own (our) funds here. I think that it is nice that ANY foreign country to help out. The U.S. helps out other countries, so what is the big deal accepting help?
Feb 18, 2013 3:08 PM CST
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he is confident that the country’s Army will win the conflict against the foreign-backed militants who are fighting the government. Assad’s remarks, made during a meeting with a number of Lebanese officials in Damascus, were published in Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper. "We are sure we will win, we are reassured by the political and military developments," the paper quoted the Syrian president as telling the Lebanese delegation. "We are convinced that the future is ours.... Syria has the will power to defeat the conspiracy," [which is] backed by Western and regional powers, Assad added. "That does not mean that everything is settled, we still have a lot to do politically and in the battle against extremist terrorist groups," he said, according to the Lebanese paper. Assad also told the visiting Lebanese politicians that the “absolute majority of Syrians” were those “loyal” to the government. Meanwhile, Syrian media reported that the country’s troops were gearing up to drive militants out of areas under their control in northern province of Aleppo in the next 48 hours. Clashes between the army and the foreign-sponsored armed men have been raging during the past few days over the control of Nayrab military airbase and the road leading to Aleppo international airport. SANA relates that dozens of militants were killed on Sunday during intense clashes with the Syrian army on the outskirts of the capital, including al-Nabek town, Qara district and Ghouta area. The Army Targets Terrorists' Gatherings and Hideouts in Homs Units of the Armed Forces on Monday targeted terrorists' gatherings in Ebl, Taldao, Kafer Laha and the north of al-Bouaida al-Sharqiyah in Homs Countryside. The operations resulted in killing and injuring many terrorists, in addition to destroying a number of machinegun-equipped vehicles. A military source told SANA reporter that the army destroyed several terrorist hideouts along with different types of weapons, including launchers, sniper rifles and missiles. The source notedthat all terrorists inside the hideouts were killed or injured, adding that terrorists Ismael al-Khaled, Mwafaq al-Ali, Hassib al-Sagheir, Huzaifa al-Khateib and Hussam Abu al-Ezam, leader of an armed terrorist group, affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra, were identified among the dead. People's Assembly Continues Regular Session The People's Assembly continued activities of its 3rd regular session on Monday. Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs, Minister of Local Administration Omar Ghalawanji, said that the war which Syria is facing affected the state infrastructure, noting that the government has taken essential steps to restore security and stability. He added that the government also set up the stages for implementing the political program to solve the crisis on the ground. Ghalawanji pointed out that the government is studying the possibility of establishing the Social Insurance Fund and its main funding sources, adding that a committee for construction has been formed and more than SYP 2 billion were spent on construction in 2012. He noted that the construction committee estimated the damage caused by the armed terrorist groups till January, 10th, 2013 at SYP 1000 billion. In turn, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Minister of Internal Trade and Consumer Protection Dr. Qadri Jamil, said that discussions in the People's Assembly sessions are a sign of progress and openness in political work in Syria, calling on all sides to engage in dialogue and abandon slander. Jamil said that the opposition abroad didn't present any initiatives; rather they reacted to the government's initiative and its calls for dialogue. Additionally the Deputy PM said the unjust economic embargo on Syria has affected many Syrians and their livelihoods, and that the security conditions in areas between cities and on roads have also had a negative impact on the process of providing supplies to citizens. Similarly, State Minister for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar said that the Syrian people are suffering from many difficulties, stressing the need to implement a clear work mechanism between all ministries and the People's Assembly to overcome this, thereby creating a unified vision through the integrated work of the legislative and executive authorities. Haidar affirmed commitment to holding dialogue with the opposition within Syria and abroad, along with all those who bore arms and then abandoned them, all without relinquishing national standards. For his part, Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi asserted that national dialogue will help reduce violence, saying that the government is meeting even with unlicensed political forces and parties. Al-Zoubi noted that one shouldn't be quick to judge the results of these meetings as dialogue needs preliminary steps and the contribution of everyone including the opposition abroad, and that it also requires that gunmen throw down their weapons. He said that the current government's role ends when national dialogue is launched and when it produces a national charter. Al-Zoubi said that the political program for resolving the crisis relies on public will and referendum, noting that there are attempts by western and Arab mass media to abort this program and political dialogue. In turn, Justice Minister Dr. Najm al-Ahmad said that his ministry is working to establish a just, independent legal system and that it deals with any case related to the current situation in an exceptional manner that differs from the way cases were handled before. He affirmed that the Justice Ministry's doors are open to everyone and that it accepts criticism that helps judicial work. Russia to Send Two Planes Carrying Humanitarian Aid to Syria Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations announced its intention to send two planes carrying humanitarian aid to Syria whose total weight reaches 44 tons. The Ministry's Official Speaker Irina Rossiust said in a statement on Monday that the two planes might also return Russian citizens who reside in Syria back to their native country on the journey back if they so desire.
Feb 18, 2013 1:40 PM CST
Hey Abdul, can you spare a dime ? Doesn't quite have the same ring to it does it. The great US, accepting foreign aid. How far the mighty have fallen. LOL And you can call me................Mr Joshua