Sanctions on Iran spy unit over terrorism in Europe

The Dutch intelligence service "has strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin, in Almere in 2015 and in The Hague in 2017," Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2019

Sanctions on Iran spy unit over terrorism in Europe

  • Dutch police have previously named the two victims as Ali Motamed, 56, and Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52
  • Denmark had led efforts for sanctions after allegations that Tehran tried to kill three Iranian dissidents on Danish soil

JEDDAH: The EU on Tuesday froze the assets of an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff and designated them as terrorists over Tehran’s role in assassinations and other attacks in Europe.

It is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on Iran since they were lifted three years ago after the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.

Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said the decision at a meeting in Brussels was “a strong signal from the EU that we will not accept such behavior.”

France accused Iran of a plot to carry out a bomb attack last summer at a rally near Paris organized by an exiled Iranian opposition group. Denmark says it foiled an Iranian intelligence plan to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition figure on its soil. The Netherlands said Iran was behind the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin in 2015 and in 2017.

“Iran was informed that involvement in such matters is entirely unacceptable and must be stopped immediately ... further sanctions cannot be ruled out,” the EU said.

Tehran’s conduct “shows a pattern of destructive and terrorist behavior,” the Iranian-American Harvard scholar Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“These assassinations and attacks show that the Iranian regime is increasingly targeting political dissidents abroad, particularly in Europe, in spite of the fact that the EU is attempting to help Iran by sustaining the nuclear deal and the sanctions relief.

“Iran’s increasing attacks and assassinations on European soil highlight the fact that the regime continues to prioritize its revolutionary ideology and principles, which were set by its founding father Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

“The EU should take a firm stance against Iran, otherwise Tehran will be more emboldened and encouraged to increase its attacks on European soil.”

Yemen combatants start talks in Jordan on prisoner swap deal

Updated 29 min 38 sec ago

Yemen combatants start talks in Jordan on prisoner swap deal

  • The agreed prisoner swaps are planned to take place at two airports
  • As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap

AMMAN: Yemen’s warring sides started talks in Amman on Wednesday on how to implement a prisoner exchange that will allow thousands of families to be reunited as part of UN-led peace efforts, UN officials and delegates said.
Delegates from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government met in the Jordanian capital to discuss the swap, which was agreed in UN-led talks in Sweden in December.
“The two parties exchanged the list of prisoners in Sweden and they’re now discussing steps to implement it,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, have pressed the two sides to agree confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people.
As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap that delegates said would be conducted via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.
The measures also included a plan to withdraw from the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.
Hadi Haig, the head of the Yemen government delegation, said the two sides were verifying the prisoner lists as part of a five-stage process before the swap takes place.
The swap would be overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The operation will require the Saudi-led coalition to guarantee that air space is secure for flights, the ICRC said.