Iran’s former foreign minister dies

In this file photo, Ebrahim Yazdi. (AP)
Updated 28 August 2017

Iran’s former foreign minister dies

TEHRAN: Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran’s first foreign minister after the 1979 Islamic revolution, who later went on to become an opposition figure, has died aged 86, Iranian media reported on Monday.
He died late on Sunday in Izmir, Turkey, where he underwent surgery after the US refused his request for a medical visa.
Yazdi was an old companion of Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic republic, and became foreign minister in the provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan after the revolution.
He resigned in November 1979 in protest at a group of students taking American diplomats hostage in Tehran.
The hostage crisis, which lasted 444 days, led to the severing of diplomatic ties with Washington.
Since 1995, he had headed the Freedom Movement of Iran, a small liberal party that is banned and has little influence in Iranian politics.
Yazdi was arrested several times after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi, two reformist candidates in that election, claimed widespread fraud and led street protests against the results.
Thousands were arrested and dozens killed during the regime’s crackdown on the protests, known as the Green Movement.
Yazdi and his party were close to the reformists, and he endorsed President Hassan Rouhani’s bid for presidency in 2013 and this year.
His body will be repatriated to Iran for burial in the coming days, the ISNA news agency reported those close to him as saying.


Rockets hit Iraq base hosting US troops, stoking concerns

Updated 58 min 30 sec ago

Rockets hit Iraq base hosting US troops, stoking concerns

  • Security sources said they believed Kataib Hezbollah was responsible
  • More than a dozen rockets hit the Qayyarah airbase in northern Iraq last month

BAGHDAD: Two rockets hit the Al-Balad air base, north of Baghdad, late Thursday, Iraqi security forces said, the latest in a flurry of attacks on bases hosting US troops that has alarmed US officials.
It came as Washington considers deploying between 5,000 and 7,000 fresh troops to the Middle East to counter its arch-foe Iran, a US official told AFP.
Thursday’s attack with Katyusha rockets did not cause any casualties or material damage but “came close,” a US official told AFP.
Washington has been concerned by a recent spate of attacks on Iraqi bases where some 5,200 US troops are deployed to help Iraqi forces ensure militants do not regroup.
The attacks, targeting either bases or the US embassy in Baghdad, have averaged more than one per week over the past six weeks.
“There is a spike in rocket attacks,” a second US official said, adding that although they had caused no US casualties and little damage, they were increasingly worrying.
Five rockets hit Al-Asad airbase on December 3, just four days after Vice President Mike Pence visited troops there.
Security sources said they believed Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction close to Tehran and blacklisted by Washington, was responsible.
More than a dozen rockets hit the Qayyarah airbase in northern Iraq last month, one of the largest attacks in recent months to hit an area where US troops are based.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks and Washington has not blamed any particular faction.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed similar attacks on Iran-aligned groups.
Iran holds vast sway in Iraq, especially among the more hard-line elements of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force largely made up of Shiite militias backed by Tehran.
Asked whether the repeated rocket attacks made the Hashed a bigger threat to US troops than the Daesh group, the official agreed.
“It is. The question is, when is someone going to call BS?” he said.
Multiple US diplomatic and military sources have told AFP of their growing frustration with such attacks.
They say they are relying on their Iraqi partners to play a “de-conflicting” role between them and the Hashed to prevent any clashes.
That is a complicated task, as the Hashed has been ordered to integrate with the regular security forces but many of its fighters continue to operate with some independence.
“We all recognize the danger out here. Sometimes our Iraqi partners say, well what can I do?” the official said.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have soared since the Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.
Baghdad — which is close to both countries and whose many security forces have been trained by either the US or Iran — is worried about being caught in the middle.