Iran rejects law banning terrorist financing

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Iran's Revolutionary Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks during a rally in front of the former US Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 2018, marking the 39th anniversary of the seizure of the embassy by militant Iranian students. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
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Iranian people burn the American flag as they mark the anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran Nov 4, 2018. (Tasnim News Agency /Handout via REUTERS)
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Demonstrators walk on a banner showing altered images of US banknotes with a picture of President Donald Trump on the ground during a rally in front of the former US Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Iran rejects law banning terrorist financing

  • As US sanctions begin, Tehran chooses to fund Hezbollah, Hamas
  • Previous legislation on money-laundering and organized crime has also been delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council, after being approved by Parliament

JEDDAH: Iran’s powerful Guardian Council on Sunday rejected legislation to join the UN convention against terrorist financing, just a few hours before the reintroduction of tough US sanctions on Tehran’s oil trade and banking sector.

Joining the convention is crucial to Iran’s hopes of obtaining European support in evading the sanctions, which came into effect at midnight on Sunday. But conservative hawks on the council fear it would prevent them from funding groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, by forcing greater financial transparency.

The council said aspects of the bill were against Islamic law and the constitution and sent it back to Parliament for revision. The legislation “has flaws and ambiguities,” spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaie said.

The bill, narrowly passed by Parliament last month, is one of four proposed by President Hassan Rouhani’s government to meet demands set by the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which monitors countries’ efforts to tackle money-laundering and terrorist financing.

Rouhani’s government says the law is vital after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions. The other parties to the deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have demanded that Iran accede to the FATF if it wants to maintain trade.

“Neither I nor the president can guarantee that all problems will go away if we join the UN convention, but I guarantee that not joining will provide the US with more excuses to increase our problems,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during the parliamentary debate last month.

Previous legislation on money-laundering and organized crime has also been delayed by higher authorities, including the Guardian Council, after being approved by Parliament.

The council is made up of six clerics appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six lawyers appointed by the judiciary.

Iran’s failure to pass the FATF “is only symptomatic of the larger issue of Iran’s support for extremist and terrorist groups and organizations,” the security analyst Dr. Ted Karasik told Arab News.

“The legislation is good for domestic consumption by particular groups of officials, but the whole process is of course a sham.

“Its funding for terrorist militias and its acts of espionage make Iran, and specifically the Quds Force, simply unqualified for FATF status.”


Kushner opens ‘Peace to Prosperity’ conference, says US has not ‘given up’ on Palestine

Updated 7 min 21 sec ago
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Kushner opens ‘Peace to Prosperity’ conference, says US has not ‘given up’ on Palestine

  • Jared Kushner to kick off the two-day workshop with a speech on the plan to create a million new jobs in 10 years
  • Palestinians reject the initiative as it does not address the key political aspects of a peace deal

MANAMA: The Trump administration convened an international conference on Tuesday to promote its ambitious, but heavily criticized, $50 billion economic support plan for the Palestinians.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, was to kick off the two-day workshop in Bahrain with a speech on the plan to create a million new jobs in 10 years.

The participants do not include official Israeli or Palestinian delegations, with Palestinian leaders rejecting the plan because it does not address the core issues of the conflict.

Saudi Arabia, which will be represented by its foreign minister, said it remained committed to a Palestinain state based on the border that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

See how the first day unfolded below *All times local (GMT +2)*

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20:05: The full details of the economic plan can be downloaded here.

Kushner briefly went through the main points and some of the figures, including the four overarching aims. They are doubling GDP, creating 1 million jobs, reducing unemployment and reducing poverty.

20:05: More from Kushner's speech earlier. When he moved on to outline the economic plan that was published Saturday, he addressed the absence of Palestinian business leaders at the Bahrain conference.

"A lot of the leading Palestinian business people who we speak to wanted to be here tonight. They were told by the (Palestinian) authority not to come and because they rely on them for their livelihood it’s not a free market where they can make those distinctions."

20:00: Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of the UAE’s Emaar Properties says the Palestinian cause is one close to the heart of all Arabs.

19:45: Some more details from Jared Kushner's speech. He painted a picture of what could be in Gaza and the West Bank:

"Imagine a new reality in the Middle East. Imagine a bustling commercial and tourist center in Gaza and the West Bank where international businesses come together and thrive. Imagine the West Bank as a blossoming economy, full of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and business leaders. Imagine people and goods flowing quickly and securely throughout the region as economics become more integrated and people more prosperous.

"This isn’t a stretch, this is actually the historical legacy of the Middle East, specifically of Gaza and the West Bank."

19:45: The first panel - The Time is Now: Building a Coalition for Middle East Prosperity - gets underway, hosted by Nik Gowing.

19:40: Kushner says Palestinian self-sufficiency is the key to helping them reach prosperity, and will be vital in helping create a better business environment climate in the Middle East as a whole...

19:30: Kushner is now summarizing what the "Opportunity of the Century" economic plan actually entails for the conference...

19:25: Kushner tells the conference that the US wants to see peace, security and prosperity for Palestinians, Israelis and all people around the world and that the US has not "given up" on the Palestinian people.

19:15: We are under way, and Jared Kushner is speaking...

18:45: We are still waiting for Jared Kushner's address, and we are being treated to some dramatic music and this holding screen on the live stream...stay tuned, we will have some action shortly...

18:20: Dignitaries for the conference are still arriving and registering and enjoying a welcome reception, so let’s take a look at what we can expect on tonight and tomorrow’s agenda…

- Donald Trump senior advisor Jared Kushner will deliver the opening remarks, with a panel discussion on what the US administration’s plans for “Middle East prosperity” will entail. The panel will be moderated by Nik Gowing, a UK-based professor, author & broadcaster and will include Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of the UAE’s Emaar Properties as well as Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone.

- Everyone will then enjoy an opening night dinner.

- Tomorrow, the highlights will be a panel entitled “Unleashing Economic Potential” — looking at how trade and job creation can help Gaza, the West Bank and the surrounding region — which will include Mohammed Al-Sheikh, Minister of State, member of Council of Ministers and member of Council of Economic and Development Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

- Kushner will hold a conversation with former UK prime minister Tony Blair, while just before lunch Arab News’ editor-in-chief Faisal Abbas moderates a panel on how to empower the Palestinian people to reach their full potential.