Iran accused of hypocrisy over ‘absurd’ terror financing vote

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard listen to a speech in parliament in Tehran over the a bill to counter terrorist financing. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018
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Iran accused of hypocrisy over ‘absurd’ terror financing vote

  • 'Top state sponsor of terrorism' joins global pact to curb it
  • Vote in the Iranian parliament is thought to be an effort to avoid further international sanctions

JEDDAH: Iran was accused of hypocrisy on Sunday after its parliament voted to join a global convention to cut off terror financing.

The regime in Tehran is routinely accused of being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and boasts of its support for groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, which are widely viewed as terrorist organizations.

“This is an absurd and preposterous move by the Iranian leaders,” the Iranian-American Harvard scholar Dr Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“Economic sanctions have put significant pressure on the regime. This is a cosmetic and superficial move to declare that Tehran combats terrorism in the hope that the international community will help the ruling mullahs financially. It is also a tactic to deflect attention from the regime’s activities in promoting terrorism.

“The undeniable fact is that the Islamic Republic remains the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Based on my research at Harvard, the Iranian regime supports — financially, militarily or politically — roughly 40 percent of militias and terror groups in the world. 

“Iran’s move also highlights the regime’s hypocrisy and double standards as it continues to support designated terrorist groups across the globe.” 

Sunday’s vote in the Iranian parliament is thought to be an effort to avoid further international sanctions as the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program  unravels.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said 143 out of 268 members of parliament voted to join the Combating the Financing of Terrorism agreement, or CFT. The bill must be ratified by the Guardian Council to become a law.
President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal with world powers in May and has vowed to ramp up sanctions unless Iran dramatically changes its policies, including halting its support for regional militant groups.
By joining the CFT, Iran would be required to comply with some ideas offered by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental organization that targets money laundering around the world.
Hardliners opposed the bill and said it would erode Iran’s sovereignty, and hundreds of hard-line students protested outside parliament on Sunday. 
But Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was a “historic decision” that would make it easier for Russia and China to continue doing business with Iran. 


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.