Iran postpones debate on terror financing

Fighters from the Iraqi Shiite Hezbollah Brigade walk into the Wadi al-Salam cemetary in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on December 10, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2018
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Iran postpones debate on terror financing

TEHRAN: Iran's parliament voted Sunday to suspend discussion of joining the UN Terrorism Financing Convention for two months, while it waits to see whether its nuclear deal with world powers will survive.
There has been an often furious debate among Iranian lawmakers over whether to join the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which requires members to pass numerous laws against terrorism financing and money-laundering.
Iran and North Korea are currently the only countries on the FATF black-list, adding to their difficulties in accessing global banking.
But many conservative lawmakers argue the new laws -- in the works since last year -- will cut off Iranian support to Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas -- whose military wings are designated as terrorist organisations by the United States and European Union, among others.
They say the legislation will also condemn members of the Revolutionary Guards listed as terrorists by the US, including the head of its external operations, Qassem Soleimani.
But Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister, defended the efforts to join the FATF, saying it was firmly in Iran's interests.
"This very parliament was the victim of Daesh terrorism this time last year... Without international cooperation and joining international conventions, it is impossible to confront it," said Aragchi.
"Inside the country there are some holes and weaknesses in banking networks, which unfortunately facilitates terrorist groups and drug-smuggling," he added.
Daesh carried out twin attacks last June on Iran's parliament and the tomb of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini, killing 17.
Iran, a majority Shiite country, is considered a primary enemy by extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh -- and has directly fought these groups in Syria and Iraq.
But with the US pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal last month and ordering full sanctions to be reimposed on Iran, many say it is pointless to join the FATF.
The other parties to the nuclear deal -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- are working to salvage the deal and maintain trade ties, but most international banks already refuse to work with Iran for fear of US penalties.
On Sunday, lawmakers voted 138 to 103 (with six abstentions) on suspending the discussion around the Terrorism Financing Convention for two months, while they wait to see how the nuclear deal discussions play out, according to ISNA.


UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

Khalifa Haftar. (Supplied)
Updated 21 August 2018
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UN calls on Libya to crack down on violent militias

  • Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar
  • Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees

TRIPOLI: The UN has called on Libya’s internationally recognized government to crack down on armed groups obstructing the work of state institutions in the chaos-wracked country.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) late on Sunday night expressed its “strong condemnation of the violence, intimidation and obstruction to the work of Libya’s sovereign institutions by militiamen.”
It called on the UN-backed Government of National Accord to “prosecute those responsible for these criminal actions.”
The GNA’s military and security institutions have failed to place limits on the powerful militias that sprung up in the turmoil that followed the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Several state institutions, including those in Tripoli, have been regular targets of harassment and intimidation by armed groups technically operating under the GNA’s Interior Ministry.
Members of militias “nominally acting under the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord are attacking sovereign institutions and preventing them from being able to operate effectively,” UNSMIL said.
Last week, the GNA’s National Oil Corp. said men from the Interior Ministry had forced their way into the headquarters of Brega Petroleum Marketing Company — a distribution outfit — to “arrest” its chief.
The Libyan Investment Authority, the GNA-managed sovereign wealth fund, recently moved from its downtown Tripoli office to a more “secure” location after threats from militiamen against its employees.
UNSMIL said it would work with the international community and the GNA to “investigate the possibility of bringing sanctions against those interfering with or threatening the operations of any sovereign institution.”
Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
A myriad of militias,terrorist groups and people traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the North African country.