Egypt’s military kills 19, arrests 20 in Sinai operation

Vehicles of Egyptian Army and police special forces are seen in the troubled northern part of the Sinai peninsula (Ministry of Defense/Handout via Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Egypt’s military kills 19, arrests 20 in Sinai operation

  • The militants were killed in operations over the past few days
  • Hundreds have died since the military operations began in the troubled region

CAIRO: Egypt’s military and police forces have killed 19 militants in an exchange of gunfire and arrested 20 suspects, in a continuing crackdown in Sinai, the military said in a statement on Thursday.
Security forces launched a large-scale security operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of security forces and residents over many years.
The statement said the militants were killed over the past few days.
Their deaths bring the total of those killed since the beginning of the operation to at least 296 including 35 military personnel, according to Reuters calculations based on military statements.
Militants in Sinai intensified their attacks after the ousting by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the military in 2013 of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood
Defeating Islamists and restoring security after years of unrest that followed Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising has been a promise of El-Sisi, who was re-elected in March in a landslide victory against no real opposition.


Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

  • US Secretary of State laid out Trump administration’s strategy for constraining Iran’s nuclear program
  • US threatens "strongest sanctions in history" if Iranian government does not change course

WASHINGTON: The US told Iran on Monday to drop its nuclear ambitions and pull out of the Syrian civil war in a list of demands that marked a new hard-line against Tehran and prompted an Iranian official to warn that Washington seeks regime change.

Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse years of its foreign policies.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for proxy armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the US would “crush” Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the US demands. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the US was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

The speech did not explicitly call for regime change but Pompeo repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes I set forward,” said Pompeo.