Palestinian president appoints ally Shtayyeh as new PM

Senior Fatah official Mohammad Shtayyeh receives a designation letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a new Palestinian government, in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in this handout picture released March 10, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 10 March 2019
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Palestinian president appoints ally Shtayyeh as new PM

  • Abbas asked Shtayyeh to form a new government
  • Some analysts view bringing in Shtayyeh to replace outgoing prime minister Rami Hamdallah as part of Abbas’s efforts to further isolate his political rivals

RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appointed longtime ally Mohammad Shtayyeh as prime minister on Sunday, a senior official said, in a move seen as part of efforts to further isolate Hamas.
Abbas asked Shtayyeh, a member of the central committee of the Palestinian president’s Fatah party, to form a new government, Fatah vice president Mahmoud Al-Aloul told AFP.
Official Palestinian news agency WAFA also reported the move.
Some analysts view bringing in Shtayyeh to replace outgoing prime minister Rami Hamdallah as part of Abbas’s efforts to further isolate his political rivals from Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip.
Shtayyeh, born in 1958, is a long-term Abbas ally, while Hamdallah was politically independent.
The previous government was formed during a period of improved relations and had the backing of Hamas.
This government is instead likely to be dominated by Fatah, though other smaller parties will be represented. Hamas is not expected to be included.


Iran lawmakers authorize firm action against US ‘terrorist’ acts

Updated 23 April 2019
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Iran lawmakers authorize firm action against US ‘terrorist’ acts

  • President Donald Trump on April 8 designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps a foreign terrorist group
  • Tehran reacted to the designation by naming the US Central Command a terrorist organization

DUBAI: Iran’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday requiring the government take firm steps to respond to “terrorist actions” by US forces, state TV reported, retaliating against Washington’s blacklisting of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
President Donald Trump on April 8 designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist group, in an unprecedented step that drew Iranian condemnation and raised concerns about retaliatory attacks on US forces.
Tehran reacted to the designation, which took effect on April 15, by naming the US Central Command (CENTCOM) a terrorist organization and the US government a sponsor of terrorism.
“The bill authorizes the government to take firm and retaliatory measures against terrorist activities of American forces that endangers Iran’s interests,” TV reported.
“The government should use legal, political and diplomatic measures in response to the American actions.”
Highly loyal to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the IRGC is a powerful force which controls much of the Iranian economy and wields political influence in the country’s faction-ridden clerical establishment.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency said some 168 lawmakers out of 210 present at the parliament voted for the bill.
Tensions have been on the rise between Tehran and Washington since last year, when Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers and reimposed sanctions on the country.
In recent years, there have been periodic confrontations between the IRGC and US military in the Gulf.
The new chief commander of the IRGC Hossein Salami, appointed after the US blacklisting, has warned in the past that Iran could use its cruise and ballistic missiles and drones, mines, speedboats, and missile launchers in the Gulf area to confront the United States.
The Trump administration, which has taken a hard line on Iran, said in a statement on Monday that the president has decided not to reissue waivers in May allowing importers to buy Iranian oil without facing US sanctions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the heightening economic pressure on Iran showed that Washington was in panic.
“Escalating #EconomicTERRORISM against Iranians exposes panic & desperation of US regime — and chronic failures of its client co-conspirators,” Zarif Tweeted on Tuesday.
A commander of Iran’s IRGC said on Monday that Tehran would block all exports through the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf if Tehran is barred from using the waterway, where a fifth of global oil consumption passes on its way from Middle East producers to major markets.