Tehran fails in court bid to overturn US sanctions

Mohsen Mohebi, representative of Iran during the opening of the case between Iran and the US at the ICJ. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2018

Tehran fails in court bid to overturn US sanctions

  • ‘Defeat for Iran’ as UN judges reject ‘baseless requests,’ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says
  • Trump slapped the first round of sanctions on Iran in August, with the second round of punitive measures scheduled in November

JEDDAH/THE HAGUE: Iran failed on Wednesday to persuade the UN’s highest court to overturn punishing US economic sanctions that have brought the country’s economy to its knees.  The court ordered the US to lift only those measures that affect imports of medicine, food and civilian aircraft parts, leaving most of the new sanctions regime in place.

Further penalties aimed at Iran’s energy sector, including the crucial oil trade, come into effect on Nov. 4.

US President Donald Trump reimposed the sanctions in May after withdrawing from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran had challenged the move in a case filed in July at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

The US described the court’s ruling on Wednesday as a defeat for Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out that the court had not ruled more broadly against US sanctions, and in any case the US already exempted humanitarian goods.

“The court’s ruling today was a defeat for Iran. It rightly rejected all of Iran’s baseless requests,” he said.

Pompeo accused Iran of “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes,” and announced that the US was ending a friendship treaty with Iran signed more than 60 years ago.

“This is a decision, frankly, that is 39 years overdue,” he said. “Given Iran’s history of terrorism, ballistic missile activity and other malign behavior, its claims under the treaty are absurd.”

The ICJ unanimously ruled that Washington “shall remove by means of its choosing any impediments arising from the measures announced on May 8 to the free exportation to Iran of medicines and medical devices, food and agricultural commodities” as well as airplane parts, judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

The court said sanctions on goods “required for humanitarian needs... may have a serious detrimental impact on the health and lives of individuals on the territory of Iran.

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US sanctions on aircraft spare parts also had the “potential to endanger civil aviation safety in Iran and the lives of its users,” the ruling said.

The ICJ rules on disputes between United Nations member states. Its decisions are binding and cannot be appealed, but it has no mechanism to enforce them.

The Treaty of Amity with Iran, signed in 1955 and ratified by the US Senate a year later, lays out practicalities for unlimited economic relations and consular rights between the two countries.

The US withdrawal will have no practical effect, since the two countries no longer have diplomatic relations.

However, Iran has repeatedly quoted the treaty in previous attempts to press other claims against the US, and used it to justify its appeal to the ICJ. Oubai Shahbandar, a Syrian-American analyst and fellow at the New America Foundation’s International Security Program, told Arab News the UN “perhaps ought to focus more on enforcing Security Council resolutions on the proliferation of Iranian ballistic missiles throughout the region.”

Shahbandar said: “Once President Trump’s directed sanctions take full effect on the Iranian oil sector by November, Tehran is going to face the specter of economic calamity. “The International Court of Justice should also take Tehran to task for the continued illegal detainment of US hostages like Robert Levinson, whose family has been waiting 11 long years to gain his freedom.”


Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

Lebanese anti-government protesters flash victory signs as they head to the south of Lebanon on a 'revolution' bus from central Beirut on November 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

  • The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest

BEIRUT: A Lebanese “revolution bus” traveling from north to south to unite protesters was halted by troops outside the city of Sidon on Saturday.
The army set up a road block to prevent the bus and a large protest convoy entering Sidon, the third-largest city in the country.
Local media said that the decision had been made to defuse tensions in the area following widespread protests.
Lebanese troops blocked the Beirut-South highway at the Jiyeh-Rumailah checkpoint over “security concerns,” a military source told Arab News.
“Some people in Sidon objected to the crossing of the bus and we feared that problems may take place,” the source added.
A protester in Ilya Square in Sidon said: “Those who do not want the bus to enter Sidon should simply leave the square because there are many who want to welcome the bus.”
The army allowed the bus to enter the town of Rumailah, 2 km from Sidon. “The bus will stop here after nightfall because of security fears and the risk of an accident,” the military source said.
The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest.
Activists said the protest bus “is spreading the idea of a peaceful revolution by unifying the people.”
“The pain is the same from the far north of Lebanon to the south and the only flag raised is the Lebanese flag,” one activist said.
Organizers of the protest convoy rejected claims that the cities of Sidon, Nabatieh and Tyre were reluctant to welcome the bus, and voiced their respect for the Lebanese army decision.

After leaving Akkar the bus passed through squares that witnessed protests in Tripoli, Batroun, Jbeil, Zouk Mosbeh, Jal El Dib and Beirut. Protesters chanted “Revolution” and lined the route of the convoy, turning it into a “procession of the revolution.”
The bus paused in Khalde, where the first victim of the protests, Alaa Abu Fakhr, was shot and killed a few days ago by a Lebanese soldier. The victim’s widow and family welcomed the convoy and protesters laid wreaths at the site of the shooting.
Activists’ tweets on Saturday claimed that life in Beirut’s southern suburbs is as difficult as in other areas of Lebanon.
“As a Shiite girl living in the heart of the southern suburbs, I deny that we are living well and not suffering. We are in a worse position than the rest of the regions,” said an activist who called herself Ruanovsky.
“No one is doing well,” said Wissam Abdallah. “The suburbs have external security and safety, but unfortunately there is a lot of corruption. There are forged car van plates, motorcycle mafia, Internet and satellite mafia, royalties mafia, and hashish and drugs mafia. Municipalities have to deal with these things as soon as possible.”