Jordan army begins delivering aid to Syrians stranded near border

Syrians displaced by government forces' bombardment in the southern Daraa province countryside drive near the town of Shayyah, south of the city of Daraa, towards the border area between the Israeli-occupied Golan heights and Syria on June 29, 2018. (AFP )
Updated 01 July 2018

Jordan army begins delivering aid to Syrians stranded near border

AMMAN: The Jordanian army began delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced Syrians who took shelter near its border when major fighting broke out in southern Syria this month, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.
"This is in line with Jordan's stance to help our Syrian brothers," Jumana Ghunaimat told the state news agency.
Several thousand Syrians had gathered near a closed border crossing earlier on Saturday pleading to enter Jordan, which closed its borders after the Syrian army launched a major offensive this month, uprooting tens of thousands of people.
Social media footage showed large crowds of civilians, many children and women thronged facing Jordanian troops and tanks stationed along the heavily sealed border with Syria.
Tens of thousands of the more than 160,000 civilians who have been displaced, according to U.N. figures, have given up on entering Jordan and have instead headed westwards to the Israeli border.
Heavy fighting has taken place in Deraa city where rebels control its the border stretch with Jordan and several mortars have fallen in Jordanian territory but no casualties have been reported.
Public pressure is piling on Jordan to ease restrictions on entry of refugees where some have criticised the kingdom's stance towards Syrians many of whom have close kinship with Jordanians on the border
"We are continuing to do give everything to help civilians in the south on their land. We are moving in all directions to bring a halt in fighting and protect civilians," Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted on Saturday.


Iran nuclear deal commission meets to try to save 2015 accord

Updated 26 February 2020

Iran nuclear deal commission meets to try to save 2015 accord

  • Landmark agreement pact has been crumbling since the US withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran
  • Renewed US sanctions have almost entirely isolated Iran from the international financial system

VIENNA: The remaining parties to the faltering Iran nuclear deal will meet in Vienna on Wednesday in their first gathering after Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute process over Tehran’s successive pullbacks.
The meeting comes as the parties try to find a way to save the landmark 2015 agreement, which has been crumbling since the US withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
The Europeans hope to persuade Tehran to come back into line with the deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program after Tehran made a series of steps away in protest at the US pull-out.
Wednesday’s meeting at political directors’ level, convening the commission set up by the deal, will be chaired by EU senior official Helga Schmid.
“This is a chance though not of 100 percent to stop escalation before it is too late,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Russian Embassy in Vienna on Twitter.
In its last announcement in early January, Tehran said it would no longer observe limits on the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
It was its fifth step away from the deal since US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal and led to Germany, Britain and France triggering the dispute process on January 14.
The process spells out several steps, the last one of which is notifying the UN Security Council. UN sanctions would then automatically “snap back” after 30 days unless the Security Council voted to stop it.
A diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity said that no time table had been fixed for solving the dispute, adding “we are still far from a result.”
“We all want to save the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is known) so that the inspectors can continue their work in Iran,” the diplomat said, referring to the inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Vienna-based UN nuclear agency has been tasked with monitoring the deal’s implementation and issues regular reports, the latest of which is expected within days.
Western diplomats recognize it is highly unlikely Iran will heed calls to come back into full compliance without substantial concessions in return — such as an end to US sanctions or Europe taking measures to offset their economic impact.
But they hope the use of the dispute process will convince Iran not to make any more moves away from the deal, giving space for back-channel diplomacy aimed at bringing Washington and Tehran back into alignment.
The diplomat said that Iran could also “at least freeze its uranium stocks” as a possible positive outcome of the current discussions.
At a major international security conference in Munich earlier this month, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would be prepared to move back toward the deal if Europe provides “meaningful” economic benefits.
Europe has set up a special trading mechanism called Instex to try to enable legitimate humanitarian trade with Iran, but it has yet to complete any transactions and Tehran regards it as inadequate.
The renewed US sanctions have almost entirely isolated Iran from the international financial system, driven away oil buyers and plunged the country into a severe recession.