Ultra-conservative cleric appointed head of Iran’s judiciary

Ebrahim Raisi is a mainstay of the conservative establishment, having served as attorney general, supervisor of state broadcaster IRIB and prosecutor in the Special Court for Clerics. (Reuters)
Updated 07 March 2019
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Ultra-conservative cleric appointed head of Iran’s judiciary

  • Ebrahim Raisi, who currently heads the holy shrine of Imam Reza, was the leading rival to President Hassan Rouhani at Iran’s 2017 election and has close ties to the supreme leader
  • During his 2017 campaign, Raisi took a tough line on Rouhani’s ‘weak efforts’ in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that brought the Islamic republic sanctions relief

TEHRAN: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday appointed ultra-conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, a one-time presidential hopeful, as head of the judiciary, the leader’s website said.
Former judge Raisi, who currently heads the holy shrine of Imam Reza, was the leading rival to President Hassan Rouhani at Iran’s 2017 election and has close ties to the supreme leader.
Khamenei said in a statement that he appointed Raisi to bring about a “transformation (in the judiciary) in line with (its) needs, advancements and challenges” on the 40th year of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“For carrying out this crucial act, I have chosen you who have a long track record in different levels of the judiciary and are in touch with its nuances,” he said in the statement.
He called on Raisi to be “with the people, the revolution and against corruption” in his new role.
Raisi is a mainstay of the conservative establishment, having served as attorney general, supervisor of state broadcaster IRIB and prosecutor in the Special Court for Clerics.
He bears the title of Hojjat Al-Islam, which is a rank under Ayatollah in the Shiite cleric hierarchy.
Raisi became deputy prosecutor at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
Human rights organizations, opposition members and dissidents have accused the tribunal of overseeing the execution of political prisoners without due legal process during his tenure.
He was chosen by Khamenei in 2016 to head Iran’s Imam Reza Shrine and lead its huge business conglomerate, Astan Qods Razavi, with interests in everything from IT and banking to construction and agriculture.
During his 2017 campaign, Raisi took a tough line on Rouhani’s “weak efforts” in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that brought the Islamic republic sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump last year withdrew Washington from the pact and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.


Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, in Israel May 24, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 May 2019
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Palestine, Egypt offer air support as Israel battles wildfires

  • Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes on Thursday as fires raged
  • The fires were fueled by high temperatures and dry condition

JERUSALEM: Egypt and four European countries sent aircraft to help Israel battle wildfires that have forced the evacuation of some small towns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday, as a record heatwave looked set to worsen conditions.
At an emergency briefing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had appealed for international help to combat the fires, and that firefighting planes were coming in from Greece, Croatia, Italy and Cyprus.
Egypt, on the orders of President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, had also sent two helicopters to assist Israel, Netanyahu told reporters.
The Palestinian Authority and Russia had also offered help, Netanyahu said.
Israel braced for wildfires on Friday amid a major heat wave that shows no signs of abating.
Israel “really appreciates” the help, Netanyahu said, singling out El-Sisi for sending aid.
“I am deeply thankful for the readiness of neighbors to help us in a time of crisis, just as we help them,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Service said blazes in a key corridor between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were mostly under control but difficult weather remained a conflagration risk.
“As of this moment, this (containment) is being done in the best possible way, but the challenge is yet ahead of us given the weather conditions, the winds and the extreme heat,” Netanyahu said.
Some 3,500 residents of small towns in the path of the fires were evacuated on Thursday, officials said. Dozens of homes have burned down.

Evacuations
Thousands of people were evacuated from towns and dozens of homes were burned on Thursday as fires raged, fueled by high temperatures and dry conditions. Over 500 acres of woodland have burned, said Nitai Zecharya, an Israeli official from the Jewish National Fund, known for planting forests in the country.
Zecharya said that while firefighters had brought most of the blaze under control, officials remained “very stressed” about strong winds fanning flames and “spreading fires to other fronts.”
The cause of the fires remains unclear, but they erupted following the Jewish festival of Lag Ba’Omer, which observers mark with bonfires.
A sweltering heat wave is pushing temperatures in parts of the country up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or 43 Celsius.