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

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. 

Bahrain says conference co-hosted with US aimed at helping Palestinians

Updated 9 min 54 sec ago

Bahrain says conference co-hosted with US aimed at helping Palestinians

DUBAI: Bahrain said Tuesday a peace conference it is co-hosting next month with the US is aimed at helping the Palestinians, who have criticized the kingdom for failing to consult them about the event.
The conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources,” said Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
The kingdom “remains supportive of the brotherly Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate rights on their land as well as establishing an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Bahrain’s top diplomat said in a statement.
The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference with Bahrain focusing on economic aspects of the long-delayed US peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.
“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement.
“We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf.”
The Palestinians have boycotted the US administration since President Donald Trump broke with decades of consensus and recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
They consider the eastern part of the city the capital of their future state and have shown little interest in the US peace plan, which they fear will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.
Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.
Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity... to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”
The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.
“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” Erekat said.