Trump warns UN diplomats of Iran-Houthi weapons

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Metal debris at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. US officials say it is from arms that Iran provided to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. (US Mission to the UN)
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Metal debris at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. US officials say it is from arms that Iran provided to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. (US Mission to the UN)
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Metal debris at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. US officials say it is from arms that Iran provided to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. (US Mission to the UN)
Updated 30 January 2018
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Trump warns UN diplomats of Iran-Houthi weapons

NEW YORK: United States President Donald Trump urged UN Security Council envoys to clamp down on Iranian aggression on Monday after they were shown what US officials say are debris from an Iranian-built missile fired at Saudi Arabia.

Trump dined with diplomats from the UN’s decision-making body at the White House after they toured Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington to see the twisted metal fragments from a weapon that Tehran allegedly provided to Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The billionaire said the 15-nation body has “much work” on its agenda, including “countering Iran’s destabilization activities” in the region as he seeks to tighten a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other world powers.

He mentioned the “display of Iranian missiles and arms that the regime has transferred to its militant allies in Yemen” that envoys saw earlier on a tour, escorted by Washington’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley.

“We believe what the Council saw today makes it clear that the evidence continues to grow that Iran is blatantly ignoring its international obligations,” Haley said.

“Iran’s aggression is a threat not just to its neighbors, but to the entire world – it cannot get away with this lawless behavior any longer. We will continue to call out Iran’s actions every chance we can until they change course and abide by their commitments.”

US officials say the wreckage displayed at the 905-acre military base comes from an Iran-made short-range ballistic missile provided to Houthi rebels in Yemen, who fired it at an international airport near Riyadh in November.

The missile was shot down and caused no casualties. Iran denies arming the Houthis.
UN Security Council investigators reported this month that Iran had violated UN sanctions on Yemen because “it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of short-range ballistic missiles and other gear to the Houthis.

The independent experts said they had “identified missile remnants, related military equipment and military unmanned aerial vehicles that are of Iranian origin and were introduced into Yemen after the imposition of the targeted arms embargo”.

On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif chided the Trump administration for spreading “fake news” about Tehran’s activities in Yemen.

US-Iran relations have worsened under Trump, who threatens to leave the nuclear deal unless it is rewritten to permanently block Tehran from building nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Haley seeks to persuade UN Security Council members to act against Iran, possibly via sanctions. She faces opposition from Russia, which has better ties with Tehran, and Washington’s European allies, who want the 2015 deal to stick.

In particular, Trump has criticized Tehran for backing Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are locked in a grinding war with forces from a Saudi-led coalition backing Yemen’s government.


Jordan weighs up Russian offer for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

Destroyed buildings following an explosion on Aug. 12 at an arms depot in a residential area in Syria’s Idlib province city of Sarmada. (AFP)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Jordan weighs up Russian offer for voluntary return of Syrian refugees

  • Russia has offered to repatriate the Syrians by the end of 2018 but Jordan does not want to force displaced Syrians to return to their homeland
  • Jordan would benefit from reopening its border with Syria, but also carried risks of terrorists enter the country with fake IDs

AMMAN: Russia will help Jordan repatriate more than 150,000 Syrian refugees who fled fighting with the Assad regime in the country’s south, a Jordanian official said.

The official said Russia will repatriate the Syrians by the end of 2018 following the establishment of a center near the border with Syria to process their paperwork.

Jordan’s Minister for Media Affairs Jumana Ghneimat said the Russian proposal has been under discussion.

The Jordanian government refused to force displaced Syrians to return to their homeland, she said.

“It is up to the refugee to decide whether he wants to return, although the presence of large numbers of Syrians has become a burden for Jordan.”

The refugees are mainly from the war-ravaged provinces of Daraa, Quneitra and Sweida, the scene of fierce clashes between rebels and Assad government forces. 

Ghneimat said the establishment of a processing center nine kilometers from the border with Syria was part of Russia’s larger proposal for the return of the refugees.

Asked about the reopening of the Nassib border crossing, the minister said it was up to Syria to decide if the crossing would be operational.

The Assad regime had not asked Jordan to reopen the border, she said.

The Jordanian border crossing of Jaber is ready to operate and roads leading to the site are secure, Ghneimat said.

A technical team, including several ministry representatives, visited the crossing last week on a tour of inspection.

Jordan would benefit from reopening the border, which is an important avenue for trade with Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and several European countries, a transport ministry official said.

But reopening the border carried risks, including a fear that terrorists would enter the country with fake IDs, the official said.

The closure of the Jordan-Syrian border had severely affected Jordan’s transport sector, the head of the Syndicate of Jordanian Truck Owners said.

But he said that Jordanian trucks are ready to carry goods to Syria as soon as the border crossing is reopened. Before the Syrian crisis erupted in 2011, about 7,000 trucks drove through the crossing each day.