Iran opens new consulate in Iraq’s Basra after attack

Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) members secure the street close to the Basra International Hotel where Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi stays in Basra. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Iran opens new consulate in Iraq’s Basra after attack

BASRA: Iran’s ambassador to Iraq opened a new consulate for his country in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, four days after its old mission building was torched by protesters.
Basra has seen a surge in deadly protests in the past week, with demonstrators angry about poor public services setting alight several key buildings.
“I’m here to inaugurate the new premises of our Iranian consulate in Basra... because we don’t want lose a single day of services for the people of Basra,” said ambassador Iraj Masjedi.
The envoy was speaking at a news conference before the Iranian flag was hoisted outside the building now operating as the Islamic republic’s consulate in the city.
Iran is one of two major powers present in neighboring Iraq, along with the United States.
Many pilgrims from Iran are expected to travel to Iraq in around 10 days for the Ashura rituals and in October for the Arbaeen commemorations.
The Iranian consulate building in Basra was torched by demonstrators on Friday, with its documents and equipment going up in smoke. None of its staff were injured.
Iran said the responsibility for any negligence over the incident lies with the Iraqi government, which announced an investigation into the security forces responsible for protecting the mission.


UK to send third warship to Gulf

Updated 5 min 59 sec ago
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UK to send third warship to Gulf

  • HMS Kent will take over from HMS Duncan later this year
  • Last week a Navy ship warned off Iranian gunboats that were trying to “impede” the progress of a British supertanker

LONDON: Britain will send a third Royal Navy warship to the Gulf, the defense ministry announced Tuesday, while insisting that it did not “reflect an escalation” of tensions with Iran in the region.
Britain has already sent the HMS Duncan, an air defense destroyer, to cover for frigate HMS Montrose while it undergoes maintenance in nearby Bahrain, and will also send frigate HMS Kent “later this year.”
Reports said it would head to the Gulf in mid-September.
HMS Montrose last week warned off three Iranian gunboats that UK officials said were trying to “impede” the progress of a British supertanker through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf.
The defense ministry said the HMS Kent would be “taking over” from HMS Duncan, but added that an “occasional overlap of ships when one deployment begins and another ends... is not uncommon,” suggesting that all three could be in the region at some point.
The ministry said the deployments were “long-planned” to ensure “an unbroken presence” in the crucial waterway and “do not reflect an escalation in the UK posture in the region.”
Iranian officials have denied last Wednesday’s incident in the Strait of Hormuz ever happened.
The British government has in any case raised the alert level for ships traveling through Iranian waters to three on a three-point scale, indicating a “critical” threat.
HMS Duncan is an air defense destroyer that carries a set of heavy Harpoon anti-ship missiles and has a company and crew in excess of 280.
Tensions have been escalating in the region for weeks, with US President Donald Trump last month calling off at the last minute an air strike on Iran over its downing of a US spy drone.
The Strait of Hormuz episode occurred a week after UK Royal Marines helped the Gibraltar authorities detain an Iranian tanker that US officials believe was trying to deliver oil to Syria in violation of separate sets of EU and US sanctions.
Iran has bristled at the arrest and issued a series of increasingly ominous warnings to both the United States and Britain about its right to take unspecified actions in reprisal.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt sought to ease tensions on Monday by saying the tanker would be released if Tehran guaranteed it was not heading to Syria.