Out in the cold: Iran faces anger of US, Europe, Saudi Arabia

A Saudi soldier stands guard next to a Saudi air force cargo plane delivering aid at an airfield in the northern Yemeni province of Marib on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Out in the cold: Iran faces anger of US, Europe, Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Iran came under sustained diplomatic attack on three fronts on Monday over its destabilizing activities in the region, its ballistic missile program and the “ill-conceived” nuclear deal with world powers.
In Brussels, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Iran of not respecting part of a UN resolution that calls on Tehran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Speaking at a European foreign ministers’ meeting, he said the 28 ministers would restate their concerns over Iran’s activities in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, which he described as destabilizing.
In Jerusalem, US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington would withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran unless its flaws were fixed.
“The … deal is a disaster and the United States will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement,” he told the Israeli parliament.
Washington was working to effectively curb Iran’s nuclear and ballistic programs, Pence said.
In Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of supplying Houthi militias in Yemen with more than 60 ballistic missiles that have been fired at Saudi Arabia.
“The Houthis are responsible for the destruction and devastation in Yemen,” Al-Jubeir said at a meeting of ministers from the Saudi-led Arab coalition supporting Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
The coalition said on Monday it would commit $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid for Yemen. It will also “lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports” to receive cargo and humanitarian assistance, ensure several daily flights of cargo planes carrying aid from Saudi Arabia to Marib province, and establish “safe passage corridors” to ensure the delivery of aid to non-governmental organizations inside Yemen.
The expansion of ports will be supported with up to $40 million from the coalition, which will also allocate up to $30 million to cover transport costs of non-humanitarian shipments intended for the port of Hodeidah, in Houthi-held territory, to “their intended destinations in Yemen.”
Additionally, Saudi Arabia will make a donation of up to $2 billion in fuel for the transport of humanitarian aid.
“When the Houthis launch missiles at Saudi Arabia they expect a big reaction, and that is true, our reaction is huge — and that is to increase our help and aid to the Yemeni people,” said Mohammed Al-Jaber, the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said: “The Houthis try to provoke the coalition through their missiles and their attacks, but we fight back with giving more humanitarian aid.
“The coalition is placing its military resources at the disposal of these broad-ranging humanitarian operations. We are backing a professionally planned and detailed humanitarian mission with military power and precision to guarantee that the humanitarian aid reaches the people who need it, to ease their suffering.”
Saudi Arabia and its embassies abroad have been keen to promote humanitarian efforts in Yemen, including a deposit of $2 billion in Yemen’s Central Bank last week to support the Yemeni riyal. The currency slid further against the dollar late last year after the coalition blocked access to all of Yemen’s ports for several weeks in response to a Houthi missile launched at Riyadh.


Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

Updated 22 July 2018
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Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

  • Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad
  • Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people

BAGHDAD: Fresh protests hit southern Iraq Sunday as medical sources put at 11 the number of demonstrators killed in two weeks of unrest sparked by ire over corruption and lack of public services.
Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad after struggling Friday to disperse crowds of angry protesters who took to the streets.
Demonstrations have roiled swathes of southern and central Iraq since erupting in the oil-rich port city of Basra on July 8, when security forces opened fire killing one person.
Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people, three in each of the cities Basra, Samawah and Najaf, and one in both the cities of Diwaniyah and Karbala.
Most of them were killed by gunfire from unidentified assailants, while one person suffocated to death on tear gas used to disperse the demonstrators.
Protesters on Sunday took to the streets in the cities of Samawah and Nasiriyah, chanting “no to corruption,” a scourge Iraqis say has long blighted their country.
Since the start of the demonstrations those involved have focused their anger on the political establishment, with government buildings and party offices being sacked or set ablaze.
The Iraqi authorities have scrambled to halt the unrest and have blocked social media sites online to try to prevent the spread of protests.
Iraq is in a state of political limbo with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi overseeing a caretaker government as wrangling to form a new government drags on after elections in May.
A coalition headed by populist cleric Moqtada Sadr topped the polls, campaigning on an anti-graft ticket to claim the most seats in parliament.