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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Tehran’

Rouhani Wins Tehran in Iran’s Election for Assembly of Experts

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his allies won 15 of the 16 seats for Tehran in the Assembly of Experts, the state news agency IRNA reported Monday.

The 16th seat went to Ahmad Jannati, a known hardliner.

The Assembly of Experts is the 88-member clerical body tasked with choosing Iran’s next Supreme Leader – the country’s most powerful position.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia: No S-300 Deliveries Until Iran Pays the Bill

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson has flatly denied reports from Tehran that a delivery of the S-300 anti-missile defense system is due to arrive from Moscow this week.

The spokesperson told the TASS news agency that Iranian claims the first batch would arrive Thursday are “out of the question.” He said on Wednesday, “The beginning of deliveries of the first consignment of Favorit missile systems cannot take place since the Iranian side has not paid the price written in the contract as of Feb. 16.”

Last week, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan told international media the first shipment of the S-300 systems would arrive within the next two months.

The S-300 is a long-range surface-to-air missile designed to intercept aircraft and cruise missiles. The most advanced versions of the system can also target ballistic missiles.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hossein Jaberi Ansari claimed earlier in the week that a shipment of the system is already on its way to Tehran.

A Russian presidential aide for military-technical cooperation told TASS in December 2015, “The contract is in action.” But it was the Iranian ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sanai, who claimed in November 2015 that Iran was already receiving the first S-300 systems.

These claims and denials have been going back and forth for months, but at the end of the day, Iran has yet to receive the system and it is not at all clear whether Tehran has paid for it.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the S-300 system poses no threat to Israel. He was quoted in an article published in the April 2015 edition of Russia Today as saying the system “will not put at risk the security of any state in the region, including Israel.”

Hana Levi Julian

European Airlines Flying Back to Iran

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

European airlines are flying back to Iran this spring, with British Airlines leading the way — although its corporate office tried very hard to convince media otherwise.

Deputy Aviation and International Affairs Chief of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said Wednesday the UK carrier will resume London-Tehran flights in two months, quoting BA representatives from a visit on Tuesday.

British Airways (BA) CEO Willie Walsh told media two days ago that BA officials were “very interested in flying to Tehran and we are hopeful that it will form part of BA’s network in the very near future. We are actively looking at it as a destination,” he told the International Business Times. Other Heathrow slots are likely to be dropped in order to way for the service, which was stopped in 2012, a spokesperson had said.

“The related memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries ‘a while ago,’” Mohammad Khoda-Karami told the semi-official IRNA news agency.

He added that Spanish, Japanese and Malaysian (Air Asia) airlines have announced readiness to resume direct flights to Iran on a regular weekly basis.

A separate government official had earlier announced that Iran welcomes aviation cooperation “with all countries, save for the Zionist regime’s El Al airlines.”

The state-owned IRAN daily newspaper reported Thursday that Air France and KLM Airlines of Netherlands are on track to resume flights to Tehran this April. Both airlines had already announced the new route back in December.

“Air France is showing its ambition to develop itself in a country with dynamic growth and for which the European Union is Iran’s fourth economic partner,” the company said in a statement. France has a long history of commercial, political and social links with the Islamic Republic of Iran, dating back to the 1970s, when then-revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei lived near Paris.

“We’re happy to welcome you in our new AIRFRANCE KLM office in central Tehran,” announces a new website displaying a map with an address, phone numbers, hours and an email address – but little else. “We’re swapping our old office space for brand new, bright and spacious facilities to make you, our passengers, most comfortable from the moment you book your flights.”

 

Iran Air has been flying three times a week to London and twice a week each to Amsterdam and Paris.

 

In 2008 European airlines stopped flying to Iran after international and U.S. sanctions were imposed on the country in response to its defiance of United Nations nuclear mandates.

Hana Levi Julian

US Navy Vessels Seized in Persian Gulf, Held by Iran

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Ten crew members of two U.S. Navy vessels were picked up by the Iranian Coast Guard on Tuesday while in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian state-run FARS News reported the two vessels were two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Iranian territorial waters. Nine men and one woman are being held, according to EA Worldview.

The incident occurred while the two crews were trying to sort out mechanical trouble with one of the boats near Farsi Island, in the middle of the Persian Gulf.

U.S. officials told the Associated Press Tuesday that both crews and vessels were being held by Tehran.

However, “We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly,” said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

A senior American official said Secretary of State John Kerry “personally engaged with [Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad] Zarif on this issue to try to get to this outcome.”

The boats were in the process of traveling between Kuwait and Bahrain when the U.S. lost contact with them. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain.

Farsi Island is home to an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps base, EA Worldview reported.

Senior U.S. military officials said the boats were on a training mission Tuesday night when one vessel lost power and drifted into Iranian territorial waters.

One official said the Iranians ‘understand the territorial incursion was not deliberate’ and have agreed to release the Americans in international waters within hours.

“We subsequently have been in communication with Iranian authorities, who have informed us of the safety and well-being of our personnel.

“We have received assurances the sailors will promptly be allowed to continue their journey,” the unnamed American official said.

Less than a month ago, Iran fired a rocket towards U.S. vessels passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Hana Levi Julian

Bahrain, UAE, Sudan Join Saudi Arabia, Sever Ties with Shi’ite Iran

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Several Gulf Arab nations and at least one African country have downgraded their ties with Shi’ite Iran after Saudi Arabia cut its ties with the Islamic Republic, with the possibility that more may follow.

The move came after a Tehran mob stormed and torched the Saudi Arabian embassy and consulate buildings. In response, Saudi Arabia suspended all air traffic between the two countries. A letter was also immediately sent to the United Nations Security Council, accusing Iran of failing to protect the Saudi embassy.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Jaberi Ansari denied the charges, saying no Saudi diplomats were harmed in the incident; he added that none were even present during the attack.

He neatly sidestepped the fact that the building was torched and that all the interior furnishings were completely smashed by the mob that stormed the building. Instead, Ansari claimed Saudi Arabia was “looking for some excuses to pursue its own unwise policies to further tension in the region.”

But Iranian security personnel did nothing to stop the destruction of the embassy until after the embassy offices were completely smashed; at which point, authorities called for “calm.”

The destruction of the diplomatic properties came in response to Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric on Saturday. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was one of a total of 47 who were executed on charges of terrorism.

Nimr was known as a vocal activist who opposed the Saudi regime, and who led a vigorous Shi’ite Muslim minority movement in Sunni Muslim-led Saudi Arabia. Iran threatened at the time of the execution that Saudi Arabia would “pay dearly” for Nimr’s death.

By Sunday, Saudi Arabia had cut its ties with Iran and expelled the ambassador, giving him 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The United Arab Emirates and the island nation of Bahrain – Sunni-ruled monarchies – also both notified Iranian diplomats they had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran and announced it would reduce the number of diplomats stationed in Iran, according to the WAM state news agency. The government said in a statement, the UAE “has taken this exceptional step in light of Iran’s ongoing interference in internal [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Arab affairs that has recently reached unprecedented levels.”

Iran was was also accused by Bahraini officials of “increasing, flagrant and dangerous meddling” in the affairs of Gulf states – again, not the first time Iran has been accused of such activity. A similar charge was leveled against the Islamic Republic during the Arab Spring revolutions, when Tehran was accused of stirring uprisings among Shi’ite populations within the Sunni-led kingdoms and emirates. Bahrain also severed its ties with Iran.

Likewise, the majority Sunni Muslim nation of Sudan also expressed its disapproval of the Iranian attack on the Saudi embassy, calling the mob action “barbaric”. As with Bahrain and the UAE, Sudan also severed its diplomatic ties with Iran, expelling the Iranian ambassador and the entire Iranian diplomatic mission from the country. Sudan also recalled its own ambassador from Tehran.

Russia and China have now both released statements calling for “restraint” on the parts of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both have expressed concern about escalation of tensions in the region, and have asked both parties to work together to “safeguard the region’s peace and stability.”

Hana Levi Julian

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with Iran, Gives 48 Hours for Iranian Diplomats to Leave Kingdom

Monday, January 4th, 2016

The two mighty Middle Eastern Muslim powers are now officially and publicly at each other’s throats, and their minor minions are lining up alongside the major powers, as the sunni Muslim Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday, Jan. 3.

The final straw, at least for the Saudis, was the storming of the KSA’s Embassy in Tehran and its Consulate in Mashhad by Iranian protesters on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Those protests, in turn, were at least ostensibly motivated by the execution of a popular Shiite Muslim Cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, by Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The cleric had led protests against unequal treatment of Shias in an eastern part of the KSA, where the majority of Saudi Shiites are concentrated.

The Kingdom recalled its diplomats on Sunday, all of whom arrived in Dubai later that day, according to the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir. The Saudi Foreign Minister gave Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave Saudi Arabia.

Protesters began rioting outside the Saudi Embassy on Saturday, then hurled Molotov cocktails, and eventually stormed the building, smashing furniture and setting fires. The protesters burned pictures of the Saudi king. A slightly less violent riot broke out the following day at the Saudi Consulate in Mashhad, in the Khorasan province of Iran.

The governments of both countries verbally attacked the other for supporting terrorism and being oppressive regimes. Each government has executed hundreds of prisoners over the past several years.

The Egyptian, Jordanian and Kuwaiti governments condemned the breaches of the Saudi diplomatic compounds, and the United Arab Emirates summoned the Iranian Ambassador to protest Iran’s “interference in Saudi internal matters,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

And Iranian supporters such as Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, criticized Saudi Arabia for executing Nimr, which he said “shows the real oppressive, terrorist and criminal face of the Saudi regime.”

Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, described Nimr’s execution as an “unjust aggression,” and the former prime minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki, said that Nimr’s will be the downfall of the Gulf kingdom’s government.

Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei called Nimr a “martyr” who acted peacefully.

The United Nation’s top human rights official, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, also criticized Saudi Arabia for the 47 executions which took place on Saturday, including Nimr’s.

There have been more than 750 executions in Iran since the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013.

Nimr had been sentenced to death by a Saudi court in October of last year. He was arrested in 2012 for his role in anti-government protests, including at the start of the Arab Spring protests. His trial began in the spring of 2014.

In response to the executions in Saudi Arabia and the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Iran, the U.S. called for restraint.

The State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. government “reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases.” He expressed concern that the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric would “exacerbate sectarian tensions” at a time when they “urgently need to be reduced.”

The statement ended with a predictable exhortation to all “leaders throughout the region to redouble efforts aimed at de-escalating regional tensions.” No doubt that will do the trick.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Thousands of Trucks Enter Gaza Weekly From Israel – No Excuse for Turkish Freeze

Monday, December 28th, 2015

The Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories reported last week 3,750 trucks with 127,623 tons of goods entered Gaza through Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing.

“There were 35 crossings of ambulances between Gaza and Israel last week,” according to a tweet by the COGAT.

Last Thursday alone, 24,629 tons of goods in 744 trucks were delivered to Gaza through Israel via the overland crossings. In addition, 2.2 million liters of fuel were delivered as well.

Delivery statistics at Kerem Shalom Crossing Dec. 20-24 2015

Delivery statistics at Kerem Shalom Crossing Dec. 20-24 2015

Can Turkey Justify Its Continued Diplomatic Freeze?

Turkey has used the so-called Israeli “blockade” of Gaza as its excuse for refusing to normalize its diplomatic ties with Israel. But the truth is, the crossings between Israel and Gaza are open every day and for a long time now, active commerce has been taking place.

What is not being allowed to enter the region are materials that can be used to manufacture weapons with which to attack the Jewish State – and which have been used for that purpose in the past.

In this regard Turkey is no different in its own methods of self-defense and controlling terror within its borders. In fact the Ankara government is more aggressive: Turkey has no problem attacking PKK terrorists when it perceives a threat.

For Ankara to suggest it has a right to dictate a domestic security policy to another sovereign nation is pretentious, if not outright chutzpah.

Since Israel has already opened the crossings on a daily basis – which by the way, even Egypt does not do with the lone Rafah crossing on its border – Turkey has no reason to complain. But Israel does: Hamas still operates its terrorist organization freely and maintains an active international office within Turkey’s borders, despite a request from Israel to close its doors.

Perhaps Turkey is simply searching for excuses not to formally renew its ties with the Jewish State? There would certainly be many reasons it might be reluctant to do so, beginning and ending with its oily handshake in Tehran. At least the Arab nations in the region are far more honest in their anti-Semitism…

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/thousands-of-trucks-enter-gaza-weekly-from-israel-no-excuses-for-turkish-freeze/2015/12/28/

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