Iran-Qatar alliance deepens, says Iranian naval official

File photo showing Deputy Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri. (MEHR)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Iran-Qatar alliance deepens, says Iranian naval official

LONDON: Qatar is once again seen as veering further toward Iran as the regime in Tehran this week announced its support for the Qatari government, according to media reports.
The Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri, who visited Doha has said Iran is “supportive” of Qatar’s government and citizens, UAE-based the National newspaper reported.
The “ground is ready for development of co-operation with Qatar and we are doing our best to have stronger relations with Doha,” the Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ told Iran’s news agency IRNA on Tuesday. The Revolutionary Guard is the primary force behind Iranian military presence in Syria, supporting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, while Qatar continues to support Syrian opposition.

Iran and Qatar restored full diplomatic relations last summer in defiance of the 13 demands put forward by the Arab quartet comprised of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain – including curbing ties with Iran and closing its diplomatic missions there. The Arab Quartet have voiced concerns about Iran’s military actions in Syria, Yemen and other parts of the Arab world.

The quartet has also demanded that Doha sever all ties to “terrorist organization”, specifically Daesh and Lebanon’s Hezbollah and shut down state owned Al Jazeera, which the quartet says provides a platform for extremists and dissidents.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut transport and diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017 over accusation of its support for extremist groups and interference in the affairs of other countries. Doha denies all allegations.


Iran govt faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

Since protests began in December, Iranians have had their internet access disrupted and have lost access to the messaging app Telegram. (Reuters)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Iran govt faces angry online backlash over activists’ abuse claims

  • The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government

GENEVA, LONDON: In early January, labor activist Esmail Bakhshi posted a letter on Instagram saying he had been tortured in jail, attracting support from tens of thousands of Iranians online.
Bakhshi, who said he was still in pain, also challenged the intelligence minister to a public debate about the religious justification for torture. Late last month, Bakhshi was rearrested.
Sepideh Qoliyan, a journalist covering labor issues in the Ahvaz region, was also rearrested on the same day after saying on social media that she had been abused in jail.
Bakhshi’s allegations of torture and the social media furor that followed led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to call for an investigation, and the intelligence minister subsequently met with a parliamentary committee to discuss the case, a rare example of top officials being prompted to act by a public backlash online.
“Each sentence and description of torture from the mouths of #Sepideh_Qoliyan and #Esmail_Bakhshi should be remembered and not forgotten because they are now alone with the torturers and under pressure and defenseless. Let us not forget,” a user named Atish posted on Twitter in Farsi on Feb. 11.
“When thousands of people share it on social media, the pressure for accountability goes up,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director at the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. “Sham investigations won’t put it to rest. Social media is definitely becoming a major, major public square in Iran.”
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said last month, without naming Bakhshi, that allegations of torture online constitute a crime.
His comments follow growing pressure from officials to close Instagram, which has about 24 million users in Iran. Iran last year shut down the Telegram messaging app, which had about 40 million users in the country, citing security concerns.
“Today you see in cyberspace that with the posting of a film or lie or rumor the situation in the country can fall apart,” Dolatabadi said, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency. “You saw in recent days that they spread a rumor and announced the rape of an individual or claimed suicide and recently you even saw claims of torture and all the powers in the country get drawn in. Today cyberspace has been transformed into a very broad platform for committing crimes.”
The arrests of Bakhshi and Qoliyan are part of a crackdown in Ahvaz, center of Iran’s Arab population. Hundreds of activists there pushing for workers’ and minority rights, two of the most contentious issues in Iran, have been detained in recent weeks.
The Arab minority in southwest Iran has long claimed that it faces discrimination from the central government.