Turkey voices concern over Iran protests, calls for violence to be avoided as death toll continues to grow

People protest in Tehran, Iran Dec. 30, 2017 in in this picture obtained from social media. (Reuters)
Updated 02 January 2018

Turkey voices concern over Iran protests, calls for violence to be avoided as death toll continues to grow

Istanbul: Turkey on Tuesday said it was “concerned” by days-long protests that have engulfed neighboring Iran, warning against any escalation in the unrest.
“Turkey is concerned by news the protests in Iran... are spreading, causing casualties and also the fact that some public buildings were damaged,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, adding “common sense should prevail to prevent any escalation.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has tried to play down the unrest, which began over economic grievances in second city Mashhad last Thursday but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole with chants of “Death to the dictator.”
The five-day unrest, the biggest challenge to the Islamic regime since the 2009 mass demonstrations, has so far claimed 21 lives.
Turkey — which was hit by protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then premier) in 2013 — said it “attaches the utmost importance to the maintenance of peace and stability in friendly and brotherly Iran.”
The ministry said Rouhani’s statements warning against violation of laws and damage of public property should be adhered to.
“We believe that violence and provocations should be avoided,” it said, warning against “external interventions.”
Turkey, whose rivalry with Iran goes back to the regional battle for supremacy between the Ottoman Empire and imperial Persia, has had on occasion tricky moments in relations with Tehran.
Erdogan has repeatedly railed against “Persian imperialism” in the Middle East but relations have warmed in the last months as Moscow and Tehran work tightly with Ankara to bring peace to Syria.
Turkey’s conservative press on their front pages sounded grave unease over the protests, which the pro-government Yeni Safak daily described as a “dangerous escalation.”
It accused the United States of being behind the violence with the aim of the “Syria-ization” of Iran. “The Pentagon has started its 2018 chaos plans from Iran.”
“The dirty game is now in Iran,” added the Star daily on its front page. “The West is behind the sedition in Iran... if it’s successful there, the target will be Turkey,” added the Yeni Akit daily.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

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The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.