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. 


Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

Updated 58 min 1 sec ago
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Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to impose sanctions on the country’s supreme leader and other top officials permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

US President Donald Trump earlier signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.