Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Iran

UN members prepare to vote on British-drafted resolution condemning Iran for supplying missiles to Yemen. (Screenshot)
Updated 27 February 2018

Russia vetoes UN resolution to condemn Iran

UNITED NATIONS: Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations, lashed out at Russia and threatened “to take actions” against it on Monday, after Moscow vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Iran for supporting Houthi militia in Yemen.
Haley blasted Russia for blocking censure of Tehran, saying it flew in the face of a report by a panel of UN experts, which found that Iran had failed to stop the transfer of drone and ballistic missile technology to the Houthis.
“If Russia is going to use its veto to block action against Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing conduct, then the United States and our partners will need to take actions against Iran that the Russians cannot block,” Haley warned, after the vote.
Although the British-drafted document was blocked on Monday, the 15-member council unanimously adopted a rival, Russian-proposed text that did not name Iran and extended a targeted sanctions regime over Yemen’s civil war until 2019. 
The British-drafted document won 11 favourable votes at the 15-member Security Council but was blocked by Russia’s veto. China and Kazakhstan abstained, while Bolivia joined Moscow in voting against the measure.
The 329-page report by a UN panel of experts was formally released this month and concluded that Iran had violated a 2015 arms embargo after determining that missiles fired by the Houthis at Saudi Arabia last year were made in Iran.
Russia says the report’s findings are not conclusive enough to justify censure of Iran. While the report found that Tehran had broken the embargo by not blocking shipments, the experts said they could not identify the supplier.
“We cannot concur with uncorroborated conclusions and evidence which requires verification and discussions within the sanctions committee,” Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told council members after deploying the veto.
“There’s a grave danger of toying with geopolitical maps, including with the use of the most volatile material, namely relations in the Islamic world, and relations between the Sunnis and Shiites,” he added, referencing two branches of Islam.
Saudi Arabia leads an Arab coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's internationally recognized government against the Iran-allied Houthi militia.
Sigurd Neubauer, a Washington based Gulf expert, told Arab News the spat between Russia and the western council members was a “game-changer” for the UN council, as it marked the first major division on Yemen.
“Until recently, the council was not divided on Yemen. Now that US President Donald Trump is pushing Iran and not accommodating Russia, the Yemen issue is becoming part of the wider US-Russia strategic competition,” Neubauer said.
“Going forward, this new dynamic between Washington and Moscow will complicate the already difficult UN peace process for Yemen. It marks a strategic failure on the part of Trump administration.”
James Farwell, a former Pentagon advisor, told Arab News that Britain, the US and other western powers were getting behind Riyadh with a view to constraining Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East.
“The Western partners are falling in behind Saudi Arabia out of concern that the Houthis do have a closer relationship with Iran,” Farwell said. “It’s about what can be done to checkmate Iranian expansion.”
Russia, which is aligned with Iran in its support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, shows no signs of getting seriously involved in Yemen, but is seizing an opportunity to thwart its western rivals without investing any resources, Farwell, an expert connected with the Middle East Institute, said.
“Moscow is happy to sew chaos and disrupt what the US and its allies are doing,” said Farwell.
“But they are also treading careful because they’re wooing Saudi Arabia, which is a potential market for their arm sales and a country they could forge a stronger relationship with by raising suspicion that the US is not a reliable ally.”


Jailed academic rejects offer to spy for Iran

Updated 21 January 2020

Jailed academic rejects offer to spy for Iran

LONDON: An academic currently imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage has reportedly refused an offer to become a spy for Tehran in return for her freedom.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a UK-Australian dual national, made the revelation in a series of letters handed to The Times that were smuggled out of Evin prison, located in the north of the capital, where she is serving 10 years.

In the letters, addressed separately to a Mr. Vasiri, believed to be a deputy prosecutor in the Iranian judiciary, and a Mr. Ghaderi and Mr. Hosseini, who are thought to be officers in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Moore-Gilbert stated in basic Farsi that she had “never been a spy, and I have no intention to work for a spying organization in any country.” 

She added: “Please accept this letter as an official and definitive rejection of your offer to me to work with the intelligence branch of the IRGC.”

Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne in Australia, was arrested in 2018 after attending a conference in Tehran. 

She was tried and convicted in secret, and her letters implied that she had been kept in solitary confinement in a wing of Evin prison under the IRGC’s control.

It is reportedly the same wing being used to detain UK-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, also incarcerated for espionage, and away from the all-female cellblock that Moore-Gilbert was meant to have been housed in.

The letters catalog a series of other mistreatments and inhumane conditions, suggesting she had been permitted no contact with her family, and that, having been denied access to vital medication, her health was deteriorating.

She also suggested that she had been subjected to sleep deprivation methods, with lights in her cell kept on 24 hours per day, and that she was often blindfolded when transported. 

“It is clear that IRGC Intelligence is playing an awful game with me. I am an innocent victim,” she wrote.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in India last week, where the case was discussed.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry later issued a statement claiming that the country would not “submit to political games and propaganda” over the issue.

This comes at a time when international pressure has ratcheted up on the regime in Tehran following the downing of a Ukrainian passenger plane over the capital on Jan. 8. 

Mass demonstrations nationwide followed the news that the plane had been shot down by Iranian forces. 

Olympian defects to Germany

Meanwhile, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, Kimia Alizadeh, announced that she would not return to the country, citing her refusal to continue to be used as a “propaganda tool.”

She wrote of her decision on Instagram: “I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated. None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”

It was revealed on Jan. 20 that the taekwondo martial artist, who had been living and training in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, had elected to move to Hamburg in Germany, for whom she will now compete.

Alizadeh’s defection is just one in a series of high-profile acts of defiance by Iranians outraged by the actions of the regime.

At least two journalists working for Iranian state-owned TV channels are known to have resigned their positions in protest.

One, news anchor Gelare Jabbari, posted on Instagram: “It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed. Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”