With Trump’s Ban in Limbo, Two Brothers Rejoice in Reunion

Tareq and Ammar Aziz were deported to Ethiopia after the immigration ban was first imposed, but have since reunited with their father at Dulles International Airport in Virginia following the temporarily stay

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Story Transcript

JAISAL NOOR: The Aziz brothers, two Yemeni brothers who were deported to Ethiopia, after arriving at Dulles International Airport, in Virginia, on January 28th, finally set foot on U.S. soil on Monday, February 6th, as a legal battle in the U.S. courts continues over President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

Twenty-one-year-old Tareq Aziz and his 19-year-old brother Anmar, were greeted by their father, Aqel Aziz, and attorneys, after clearing customs at Dulles.

Over 180,000 people have fled Yemen in recent years, a country beset with the legacy of a decades long U.S.-backed dictator, and an escalating humanitarian crisis. Resulting from an ongoing war led by Saudi Arabia, and directly supported by the U.S. military — more on that later in this story.

Their arrival comes after a U.S. Appeals Court, on Saturday, February 4th, denied an emergency appeal from the U.S. Department of Justice to restore the immigration order from Trump. The non-profit legal aid Justice Center raised funds via a crowd-funding campaign to provide the brothers’ legal counsel. The online campaign, Aziz vs. Trump, has raised over $36,000 as of Monday. This is Aquel Aziz, an American citizen, after being reunited with his sons.

AQUEL AZIZ: Thank you for every single person, tried to help me bring my kids back. I’m so happy. I’m so glad. And this is America. America is for everybody, for everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

JAISAL NOOR: The Aziz brothers were deported to Ethiopia, after the U.S. visas were stamped with the word “cancelled” in bold, just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, barring citizens from seven, mainly Muslim countries, and temporarily banning refugees. The elder of the two brothers, Tareq, is relieved to have arrived in the U.S. following the ordeal.

TAREQ AZIZ: I just wanted to thank all the people who support us, and who were with us. They made me feel like there is a family here; that we have a family, and that’s what I love about America. Thank you, guys. Thank you so much.

JAISAL NOOR: Tareq’s younger brother, Amar, said through an interpreter, that he’s planning on concentrating on school.

JAISAL NOOR: Attorneys from the Legal Aid Justice Center at Dulles Airport greeted both of them and hailed their arrival a partial victory.

ATTORNEY: This morning a wrong has been made right. An injustice has been rectified. We’re standing here this morning with nine people who did absolutely nothing wrong, who had absolutely no reason to be barred from this country, other than the fact that their passport said “Yemen” on it.

JAISAL NOOR: Trump faces an uphill battle to overcome a federal judge’s temporary hold on his travel ban. Last Friday, a federal judge ordered a nation-wide temporary restraining order against Trump’s Muslim ban. The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robart came in response to two legal challenges pursued by the states of Washington, and Minnesota, against the Executive Order. But the outcome of the ruling on the Executive Order’s ultimate legality is less certain.

Meanwhile the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate. It’s one of the gravest, but least understood, or reported, humanitarian catastrophes in the world. It’s backed by the United States; a topic Real News senior editor, recently interviewed AlterNet’s Ben Norton about.

BEN NORTON: But since March 2015, the U.S. has staunchly backed a Saudi led war on Yemen. Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. More than 80% of the population, for two years now, has been in desperate need of humanitarian aid, according to humanitarian groups. Not only is there a massive bombing campaign that the U.S. has backed, and Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of 10 Arab countries, all Sunni majority, that are fighting rebels inside Yemen which are called the Houthis.

I mean, this is not a religious conflict, but the Houthis are themselves Shi’a, and that kind of shows the political alliances. There are allegations that the Houthis that the Saudi-led coalitions are fighting are backed by Iran. Rhetorically, they certainly have expressed support for Iran. Politically they’re certainly aligned.

The question is how much material support they’ve gotten from Iran, and that is debated. I mean, most people agree, who seriously look at this, and serious analysts will agree, that Iran’s influence is certainly extant, but it’s not large. Iran has sent weapons shipments likely to the Houthis through Oman, but although Oman said that they’re going to stop allowing this to happen. But, at the end of the day, the Houthis don’t necessarily need access to foreign weapons.

Yemen is also one of the most highly militarized — just in terms of sheer number of weapons — countries in the world. Most households have guns. So, the Houthis don’t have a shortage of weapons. And at the end of the day, the Houthis are themselves Yemeni. But a lot of Saudi propaganda that has been echoed by the U.S. government for two years now has claimed that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.

The Washington Post actually published a very good article based on an expert’s analysis saying that, no, the Houthis are actually are not Iranian proxies. And I would invite anyone interested in reading, and further information to read that.

But at the end of the day, the Trump administration is really using their ties to Iran to push for more aggressive action. And, of course, another thing to mention really quickly, is that the war in Yemen has been absolutely catastrophic, and destabilizing, too. Trump’s first raid that was carried out was carried out in Yemen, and it was a complete disaster.

At least one U.S. Navy SEAL died, which got a lot of attention. But what got less attention is that according to local medics, more than 10 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the Navy SEAL raid. One of whom was an eight-year-old girl, Nawar al-Awlaki, whose father, Anwar Awlaki, was killed in a U.S. drone strike. He was an Al Qaeda propagandist, and his 16-year-old son was also killed in a U.S. drone strike. He, Abdulraman, was a U.S. citizen.

JAISAL NOOR: Go to the Realnews.com for the full interview. This is Jaisal Noor.

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