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US Capitol riots: Middle East states react

Leaders from Turkey, Israel, Iran, the UAE respond to Donald Trump supporters rioting in Washington
Trump’s continued rejection of his electoral loss incited chaos in Washington, with his supporters breaking down security barricades outside Capitol Hil and entering the chambers of Congress (AFP)

The world reacted with “concern” to scenes in the United States on Wednesday, after hundreds of US President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed a session of Congress that was certifying Joe Biden’s election win in Washington DC.

Trump’s continued denial that he lost November's presidential election during a rally earlier in the day incited chaos, with his supporters breaking down security barricades outside Capitol Hill and entering the chambers of Congress to disrupt the special session. 

Several world leaders reacted to the violent scenes by calling on Trump’s supporters to show calm and restraint and for the democratic result to be respected. 

Middle East Eye takes a look at some of the latest reaction from Middle Eastern and North African states to the events.

Turkey

Turkey was one of the first countries to react to the Capitol Hill riots, with its foreign ministry issuing a statement on Wednesday expressing concern about the violence.

"We believe that the USA will overcome this domestic political crisis in maturity,” the statement read. “We recommend that our citizens in the USA stay away from crowded places and places where shows are held."

The ministry called on all parties in the US to use moderation, common sense and to "maintain restraint" through a “domestic crisis” that “we believe the US will overcome”.

The speaker of the Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Sentop, tweeted: “We follow the events in the USA with concern and invite the parties to calmness. We believe that problems will always be solved within law and democracy. As Turkey, we have always been in favour of the law and democracy and we recommend it to everyone.”

Several users reacted to the Turkish statements by praising them for mirroring similar sentiments previously shared by the US towards incidents in non-Western countries. 

Iran

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reacted by saying that Wednesday’s incident showed “what a failure Western democracy is” and how Trump, as a “populist man”, has “damaged the reputation of his country".

In a televised speech, Rouhani called on the world and President-elect Joe Biden to “learn” from America’s “populism”. 

Rouhani urged the new administration “to make up (for the past) and restore the country to a position worthy of the American nation… for their own benefit and the good of the world”. 

Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate in Iranian politics, oversaw negotiations for a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with the world’s leading states, which Trump abandoned in 2018, imposing stringent sanctions on Tehran.

On Wednesday, Iran issued a new request for Interpol to arrest Trump and 47 other American officials over the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani on 3 January 2020. 

Israel

The morning after the violent events in Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added his voice to the chorus of reactions by describing the events as the "opposite" of US and Israeli values.

The Capitol Hill riot was not a coup. It was an attempt to preserve white supremacy
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“For generations, American democracy has inspired millions around the world and in Israel. American democracy has always inspired me,” the staunch Trump ally said at the opening of a meeting with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

Netanyahu added that the storming of Capitol Hill “was shameful and must be vigorously condemned” and expressed his hope that, with “no doubt”, US democracy “will prevail.”

Benny Gantz, Israel's defence minister, said footage from Wednesday would "hurt the heart of anyone who believes in democracy”.

"This is proof that before political rivalry, we must agree on the rules of the game: preserving the rule of law, respecting democratic processes and a respectful discourse," he added.

Foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi tweeted expressing his shock at rioting in "the fortress of world democracy".

"I am sure that the American people and its representatives will know how to repel the attack and continue strongly defending the values on which America was founded, which are important to all of us,” he wrote.

UAE 

The UAE embassy in Washington was one of several to respond by urging its citizens to avoid protest locations in Washington.

"The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC, calls on all citizens in Washington, DC, to stay away from the protest areas in the city, and to abide by the curfew decision starting from 6pm today until 6am on Thursday, 7 January,"  the embassy wrote on Twitter, sharing  a tweet by the mayor of Washington, who ordered a 12-hour curfew.

Speaking in 2020, UAE ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba said that about 5,000 Emiratis lived in the US, with the majority students or in the country for medical treatment.