UK calls on Iran not to threaten regional security

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stands as army air force and air defense staff salute at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. (AP)
Updated 08 February 2018
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UK calls on Iran not to threaten regional security

PARIS: Britain on Thursday said Iran must avoid actions that threaten regional security.
Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, said the UK was working with its partners to tackle US concerns over the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, Reuters reported.
“We and our European partners are absolutely clear. We want the deal to succeed,” Burt told a Euromoney Iran conference in Paris.
“We don’t want to see the JCPOA (deal with Iran) go down and are working with our European partners to mitigate concerns the United States may have to ensure it continues.
Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by May if certain aspects of the deal are not made tougher.
The US is concerned that Tehran continues to develop its ballistic missiles despite the deal aimed at curbing Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon.
Arab Gulf countries have welcomed the US president’s tougher approach to the deal and say that since 2015, Iran has accelerated its aggressive policies in the region, particularly in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.
Iran insisted on Thursday there was no link between its role in the Middle East region and the nuclear deal.
“We have always fought against terrorism. Iran has always played a key role in bringing stability and peace to the region,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Reuters at the economy conference in Paris.


Russia: Extremist alliance will not withdraw from Idlib zone

Militants in Syria’s Idlib failed to meet a deadline to leave a planned buffer zone ringing the country’s last rebel bastion. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Russia: Extremist alliance will not withdraw from Idlib zone

  • Sporadic fighting continued to be recorded in places with a residual terrorist presence, primarily in Idlib: Russia
  • Turkey has designated HTS, which is led by the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham (JFS), a terrorist organization

ANKARA: Turkey has failed to persuade the rebel alliance Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) to withdraw from a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib province that was agreed by Ankara and Moscow in September, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
“Sporadic fighting continued to be recorded in places with a residual terrorist presence, primarily in Idlib… Militants continued shelling western Aleppo,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
On Thursday, Turkish and Russian officials met in Ankara ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Istanbul on Nov. 19.
Timur Akhmetov, a researcher at the Russian International Affairs Council, said although there are serious problems with implementation of the Idlib agreement, Russian officials stressed that the process requires time and effort.
“Russia doesn’t want to push Turkey because there’s a much more important thing: Constitutional dialogue between the Syrian opposition and government, where Turkish-Russian dialogue plays a decisive role,” he told Arab News. 
“(Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan publicly undertook obligations to clear the (Idlib) zone from terrorists,” Akhmetov said. 
“Ankara is also having a hard time with the US regarding the Syrian Kurds. I think Russia will find ways to exploit this situation.”
Turkey has designated HTS, which is led by the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham (JFS), a terrorist organization.
Under the Turkish-Russian deal, rebel groups, including HTS, were to withdraw from the demilitarized zone by mid-October.
Ankara has repeatedly indicated its readiness to use force against radical groups if they refuse to withdraw.
Turkey has reinforced its military presence in Idlib with armored vehicles and equipment. It has 12 military posts in the province.
Enes Ayasli, a research assistant and Middle East expert at Sakarya University in Turkey, said the most obvious setback of the Idlib deal is that moderate rebel groups in the province now back HTS if there is a clash between it and Syrian regime forces.
“Their focus is now on repelling regime forces even if it means violating the deal,” he told Arab News. 
“Turkey in this sense seems to have failed to separate moderate groups completely from extremists.”
An intensification of fighting between the regime and extremists may cause the deal to collapse completely, Ayasli said.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an increased rate of violations of the Idlib demilitarized zone.