Deadline midnight: Iran on the brink of international isolation

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A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Nov. 3, 2018 shows a crowd cheering as he delivers a speech during a meeting with Iranian students in the capital Tehran. (AFP PHOTO / Handout by the khmanenei.ir site)
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Motorcyclists wait for customers in front of the grand bazar in the Iranian capital Tehran on Nov. 3, 2018. As the deadline for US sanctions neared, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
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Iranians shop in the Tehran's grand bazar on Nov. 3, 2018. As the deadline for US sanctions neared, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
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Iranians shop at a market street in the capital Tehran on November 3, 2018. As the deadline for US sanctions neared, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Deadline midnight: Iran on the brink of international isolation

  • US sanctions will decimate Tehran’s oil export trade and deny its banks access to global finance
  • “I will stand against you,” Iran's international terror campaign architect tells Trump

JEDDAH: When the clocks strike midnight on the US east coast on Sunday, Iran will become the world’s economic pariah state.

US President Donald Trump will reintroduce tough sanctions on Iran’s vital oil sales and banking sectors to try to force Tehran into negotiations to scrap its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and end its regional meddling.

Most international sanctions were lifted in 2016 in a deal Iran signed with world powers the year before to curb its uranium enrichment program, widely seen as a disguised effort to develop a nuclear bomb.

But Trump denounced the deal as flawed in Iran’s favor, and withdrew in May. His decision was welcomed throughout the Middle East.

Iran’s “aggressive policies” were “largely responsible” for the reimposition of US sanctions, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Saturday.

In Iran, the sanctions were greeted with boastful defiance. “The world opposes every decision made by Trump,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. “America’s goal has been to re-establish the domination it had before 1979 but it has failed.”

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, which runs the foreign operations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responded to a Game of Thrones-inspired tweet by Trump on Friday that warned: “Sanctions are Coming.”

“I will stand against you,” Soleimani said on Instagram.

Iran has been trying for six months with the EU to create a financial mechanism to avoid the sanctions. Diplomats said the new EU mechanism to pay for Iranian exports should be legally in place by Nov. 4, but not operational until next year. In addition, no country has volunteered to host the entity, which is delaying the process.

A senior French diplomat said on Saturday there was no way any trade with the mechanism could be conducted before the end of 2018, and no other countries, including China, would be part of it.

The US has given eight countries — including India, Japan and possibly China —waivers to continue importing Iranian oil to avoid upsetting the global market.

Turkey said on Saturday it had received initial indications from Washington that it would be granted a waiver, but is awaiting clarification on Monday.

The sanctions are “aimed at depriving the Iranian regime of the revenues it uses to spread death and destruction around the world,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country.”


Libyan commander marching on capital dismisses negotiations

Updated 20 June 2019
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Libyan commander marching on capital dismisses negotiations

  • Khalifa Haftar vows that his fighters will get rid of ‘terrorist militias’

CAIRO: A Libyan commander, whose forces are fighting to take the country’s capital of Tripoli from militias allied with a UN-backed government based there, has dismissed an initiative by its prime minister for negotiations to end the crisis.

Instead, Khalifa Haftar vowed in comments to a news website on Wednesday that his fighters would press on with the weeks-long offensive until Tripoli is rid of what he described as “terrorist militias.”

“Our military operations will not stop” until Tripoli is taken, Haftar told almarsad.co.

“The situation is excellent and I call on the Libyans to ignore rumors about our withdrawal,” Haftar said in interviews with Libyan news websites The Address and The Observer published overnight Wednesday to Thursday.

The offensive to seize the capital “will not stop before all its objectives are reached,” he said.

The campaign by Haftar’s Liberation National Army has raised fears of another bout of violence after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi. Since then, the country has sunk into chaos, with rival administrations in the east and the west, and an array of forces and militias allied with either side.

On Monday, the World Health Organization reported the latest casualty tolls for the fighting in and around Tripoli, saying 691 people have been killed so far, including 41 civilians, and 4,012 wounded, 135 of them civilians.

The head of the Tripoli-based government, Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, told a news conference on Sunday he is proposing a “Libyan forum,” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The talks would draw up a roadmap for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held before the end of 2019, Al-Sarraj said. 

In his remarks to the news website, Haftar dismissed Al-Sarraj’s initiative and criticized him as an ineffective leader.

“Initiatives have no meaning unless they are brave and carry clear clauses that address the causes of the crisis and its very roots,” Haftar said.

Haftar has presented himself as someone able to restore stability. In recent years, his campaign against militants across Libya won him growing international support from world leaders who say they are concerned the North African country has turned into a haven for armed groups, and a major conduit for migrants bound for Europe.