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.


Rockets hit Libya airport as UN, French officials visit to talk peace

Updated 54 min 35 sec ago
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Rockets hit Libya airport as UN, French officials visit to talk peace

  • One rocket hit an Airbus 320 and others struck the arrivals hall at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport.
  • A security group that controls the airport alligned to Libya’s government said the rockets were fired by men loyal to a militia leader known as Bashir “the Cow.”

Tripoli: Rockets hit Libya’s main airport and damaged a plane as it was waiting to take off early on Thursday, a security force said, the same day as the United Nations envoy and France’s ambassador were visiting the capital to discuss a peace plan.
One rocket hit an Airbus 320 and others struck the arrivals hall at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport at around 2 a.m. (midnight GMT), but no one was injured, a spokesman for the Special Deterrence Force (Rada) said.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame and French ambassador Brigitte Curmi arrived at the same airport — the only one operating in the city. Their offices did not immediately release a statement on the attack or say when they landed.
Tripoli has been controlled by a patchwork of armed groups since a 2011 uprising that toppled long-time leader Muammar Qaddafi and splintered the country.
There have been rival governments in Tripoli and the east since 2014, when most diplomatic missions evacuated to neighboring Tunisia.
Armed groups fighting for territory and power have regularly attacked Tripoli’s transport hubs — undermining the government’s efforts to persuade diplomatic missions to return to the capital.
Airlines have also struggled to maintain services and keep the oil-producing country connected to the outside world as attacks damage their planes.
Rada, a security group that controls the airport alligned to Libya’s internationally recognized government, said the rockets were fired by men loyal to a militia leader known as Bashir “the Cow,” a group it has clashed with before.
France’s Curmi met representatives of that govenrment in Tripoli at around 9 a.m., and the UN’s Salame held his meeting in the early afternoon.
When asked whether elections would be held this year, Salame said after meeting Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala: “Sure. We promised this the UN Security Council.” He did not elaborate.
The United Nations launched a new round of talks in September in Tunis between the rival factions to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018 but divisions have prevented reaching an accord.
Mitiga is a military air base near the center of Tripoli that began hosting civilian flights after the international airport was put out of service in 2014.