Trump vows ‘support’ for Iran protesters

Republican U.S. Presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio August 1, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Trump vows ‘support’ for Iran protesters

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump pledged unspecified support for Iranians trying to “take back” their government Wednesday, extending a drumbeat of encouragement for countrywide protests.
“Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday.
“You will see great support from the United States at the appropriate time!” he said, without offering any specifics on what or when that might be.
Trump has sought to ramp up pressure the Iranian regime, which has struggled to contain a week of protests across the country.
But so far his administration’s input has been rhetorical and diplomatic.
Trump on Tuesday described the regime as “brutal and corrupt,” ignoring warnings that his intervention could backfire.
Trump’s administration also demanded a snap UN Security Council meeting to debate unrest that has killed 21 people — mostly protesters.
His top diplomat at the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley, used her public platform to recite protesters’ slogans and declared that “the people of Iran are crying out for freedom.”
Trump — flanked in the White House by a coterie of former generals who spent a career fighting Iranian proxies from Beirut to Baghdad — has taken a hard line against Iran since coming to office.
He has abandoned Obama-era diplomatic overtures and embraced allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia who are keen to confront Iran’s growing regional power.
Much of Trump’s response has focused on playing up perceived errors by the Obama administration, not least a deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Trump — who built his broader political fortunes around opposing America’s first black president — has, for now, left the fate of that deal with Congress while he continues to oppose it.
But he must soon decide where to extend sanctions relief. If he declines, the deal could effectively be dead.
Obama’s muted support for 2009 protests in Iran has also appeared to play a role in the Trump administration’s’ more vocal response.
Protests began in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad and quickly spread to become the biggest challenge to the Islamic regime since mass demonstrations in 2009.
“President Trump is not going to sit by silently like President Obama did. And he certainly supports the Iranian people and wants to make that clear,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday that the unrest that rocked Iran over several days was at an end, and claimed that a maximum of 15,000 people had taken part nationwide.
“Today we can announce the end of the sedition,” said Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Revolutionary Guards.


Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

Smoke and flames rise from an oil storage tank that was set on fire amid fighting between rival factions at Ras Lanuf terminal, Libya. Reuters
Updated 1 min 5 sec ago
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Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports

  • The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias
  • The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr

CAIRO: Libyan forces carried out airstrikes against a militia attacking key oil ports in the east, a spokesman said as Libya’s national oil firm warned on Monday of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination in the north African country.
A militia, led by Ibrahim Jadhran who opposes Libya’s self-styled national army commanded by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, attacked the oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr on Thursday forcing the National Oil Corporation to suspend exports and evacuate its employees.
The airstrikes late Sunday targeted fighters loyal to Jadhran, who are trying to seize the oil terminals, said Ahmed Al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the LNA.
He said warplanes carried out airstrikes against “terrorist positions and gatherings in the operational military zone stretching from Ras Lanuf to the edge of the city of Sirte.”
Al-Mesmari called on residents in the oil crescent area to stay away from “areas where the enemy gathers, munition storages and sites with military vehicles.”
Jadhran said in a video circulated on social media on Thursday that he had formed an alliance to retake oil terminals. “Our aim is to overturn the injustice for our people over the past two years,” he said.
The attack by Jadhran’s militia caused “significant” damage to at least two storage tanks, the NOC said Monday in a statement. It warned of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination.
The firm called for an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Jadhran’s forces, adding that the closure meant the loss of 240,000 barrels per day in oil production. It advised two tankers scheduled to arrive at the ports to remain at sea until the situation was under control.
The UN Support Mission in Libya condemned the assault on the ports of Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidr. “This dangerous escalation in Oil Crescent area puts Libya’s economy in jeopardy and risks igniting a widespread confrontation,” UNSMIL tweeted on Thursday.
Jadhran is a rebel commander who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed dictator Moammar Qaddafi. In 2013, he proclaimed himself the guardian of Libya’s oil crescent including the ports of Al-Sidr, Ras Lanuf and Brega, which represent about 60 percent of Libya’s oil resources. His actions cost the oil-rich country billions of dollars.
He lost control of the oil crescent to Haftar’s forces in 2016.
Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising. The country is now split between rival governments in the east and west, each backed by an array of militias. Haftar is allied with the east-based administration that is at odds with the UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli.