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.


Israel frees Turk after charging her with aiding Hamas

Updated 16 July 2018
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Israel frees Turk after charging her with aiding Hamas

  • Israel releases Ebru Ozkan, accused of helping Hamas
  • Turkey threatened retaliation after Ebru Ozkan’s detention last month

JERUSALEM: Israel has released a Turkish woman who had been arrested while visiting on a tourist visa and accused of helping the Palestinian group Hamas, in a case that angered Ankara and Israel, her lawyer said on Monday.
Turkey threatened retaliation after Ebru Ozkan’s detention last month. The ex-allies have long been at loggerheads over Israeli policy toward the Palestinians and Jerusalem’s status.
Ozkan’s lawyer, Omar Khamaisi, said she flew to Istanbul on Sunday, a week after an Israeli military court indicted her. An appeals court had ordered her freed and returned her passport, he told Reuters, adding: “The indictment still stands, but I think that will be canceled too.”
The Turkish news agency Anadlou quoted Ozkan, upon landing, as thanking President Tayyip Erdogan for having been “kind enough to be very interested in my case.”
Commenting on the decision to release Ozkan, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “There are a number of factors behind this decision, including the amount of time she had already spent in detention and the fact that the charges weren’t especially grave in the first place.”
The official declined to be drawn on whether Turkish diplomatic pressure might also have been a factor.
Ozkan was held at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport last month while trying to board her original flight home after a visit that took her to Jerusalem, whose Al-Aqsa Mosque draws pilgrims from the few Muslim countries that have relations with Israel.
She was charged with helping smuggling money and packages to Hamas, which is classed as a terrorist group in Israel and the West, but not by NATO-power Turkey. Ozkan’s lawyer dismissed the charges as baseless and, potentially, politically motivated.
Hamas did not comment on the case.
Turkey’s government had cited Israel’s treatment of Ozkan and several other detained Turkish visitors as among “inhumane policies” that were souring bilateral ties.
Turkey vocally opposed a US decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinians want a state with a capital in eastern parts of the city where Al-Aqsa, as well as major Jewish and Christian shrines, are housed.