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U.S. certifies Iran, Syria, 3 others uncooperative on counter-terrorism

The United States Government has certified Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Cuba as “not cooperating fully” with its counterterrorism efforts in 2019.  

These five countries has for long had political and diplomatic frictions with the U.S.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of State said it had notified Congress of the certification, done under Section 40A(a) of the Arms Export Control Act.

By this action, the five countries are prohibited from the sale or license for export of defence articles and services, according to the statement.

It also formally notifies “the U.S. public and international community that these countries are not fully cooperating with U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” the statement added.

Noting that this was Cuba’s first year on the register since 2015, the statement cited two major reasons for its certification.

First, it accused Cuba of harbouring members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a revolutionary left-wing armed group involved in the lingering conflict in neighbouring Colombia.

ELN is designated by the Department of State as a foreign terrorist organisation for alleged ransom kidnappings and armed attacks in Colombia, a U.S. ally.

It said Cuba had refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN leaders living in Havana after the group claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Colombia.

“The United States maintains an enduring security partnership with Colombia and shares with Colombia the important counterterrorism objective of combating organisations like the ELN.

“Cuba’s refusal to productively engage with the Colombian government demonstrates that it is not cooperating with U.S. work to support Colombia’s efforts to secure a just and lasting peace, security, and opportunity for its people,” the statement said.

It also accused Cuba of accommodating several fugitives wanted on charges of political violence in the U.S., many of whom it said had been living in Cuba for decades. 

For Iran, the statement said the Islamic republic remained the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.

It alleged that Iran continued to support Lebanese militant group, Hizballah, “Palestinian terrorist groups, and other terrorist groups operating throughout the Middle East.

The U.S. government said North Korea remained on the register for harbouring four Japanese involved in the hijacking of a Japan Airline flight in 1970.

“Syria has continued its political and military support for terrorist groups, including the provision of weapons and political support to Hizballah.  

“The Assad regime’s relationship with Hizballah and Iran grew stronger in 2019 as the regime became more reliant on external actors to fight opponents and secure areas”, it said.

The statement said the government of President Nicholas Maduro of Venezuela continued to provide conducive environments for “terrorists in the region to maintain a presence”.

“While Maduro was not the recognised President of Venezuela during this period, his control within Venezuela effectively precluded cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism efforts.

“Individuals linked to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents (who remain committed to terrorism notwithstanding the peace accord) and the ELN were present in the country in 2019,” it said.

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