Pompeo talks tough on Iran while visiting the Emirates

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, speak at the Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday. (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Updated 10 July 2018
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Pompeo talks tough on Iran while visiting the Emirates

  • Pompeo’s comments came during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates
  • Pompeo mentioned recent threats by Iran’s President Rouhani over the Strait of Hormuz

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that America and its Gulf Arab allies want to show Iran that its actions have “a real high cost,” stepping up his warnings after Tehran threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies.
Pompeo’s comments came during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates, a staunch US ally that hosts some 5,000 American forces at a crucial air base and the US Navy’s busiest foreign port of call.
He stopped short of offering any specifics during an interview with Sky News Arabia.
However, his message undoubtedly reached receptive ears. The UAE long has been suspicious of Iran and its nuclear deal with world powers, from which President Donald Trump recently pulled out.
“The one that we are most focused on today is ... that we deny Iran the financial capacity to continue this bad behavior,” Pompeo said. “So it’s a broad range, a series of sanctions aimed not at the Iranian people, but rather aimed at the single mission of convincing the Iranian regime that its malign behavior is unacceptable and has a real high cost for them.”
Pompeo made a point to mention recent threats by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the Strait of Hormuz, through which a third of all oil traded by sea passes. While in Europe last week, Rouhani said any disruption to Iran’s oil exports would result in the whole region’s exports being disrupted.
Iran “should know that America is committed to keeping sea lines open, keeping the transit of oil available for the entire world,” Pompeo said. “That’s the commitment we have had for decades. We continue under that commitment.”
In Tehran, Iran’s deputy parliament speaker Ali Motahari praised Rouhani for making the threat.
“The American are not ready for any new war in the Arabian Gulf so the president’s remark was a good threat which will have positive impacts and will be a deterrent factor against cutting Iran’s oil export,” Motahari said, according to a report on parliament’s website.
Global oil prices have risen on the expectation that the United States will push its allies to stop importing Iranian crude oil, further tightening the world energy supplies. While allies like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait say they are willing to increase their own production as necessary, additional output may not be enough to satiate demand.
Already, regular gasoline prices in the US are $2.86 a gallon, up from $2.26 the year before, according to AAA. Trump himself has been tweeting that oil suppliers must do more to lower prices ahead of midterm elections this fall.
US benchmark crude traded near $75 a barrel on Tuesday, while Brent crude traded near $80.
While State Department officials earlier acknowledged that some allies will get waivers to continue importing Iranian oil, Pompeo seemed to strike a harder line Tuesday. He warned such imports largely would be “sanctionable activity and we will enforce those sanctions.”
“We will consider (waivers) but make no mistake about it: We are determined to convince the Iranian leadership that this malign behavior won’t be rewarded and that the economic situation in the country will not be permitted to be rectified until such time that they become a more-normal nation,” he said.
Among the top importers of Iranian oil are China, India, Turkey and South Korea.
Pompeo met Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan while on his short trip to the UAE. He also stopped by the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Pompeo, who earlier visited Afghanistan, Japan, North Korea and Vietnam on his trip, left the UAE heading for a NATO summit in Brussels that Trump will attend.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.