China to continue Iran trade despite new US sanctions

China to continue Iran trade despite new US sanctions
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China’s cooperation with Iran is “legal” and “legitimate.” (AP/File)
Updated 05 November 2018

China to continue Iran trade despite new US sanctions

China to continue Iran trade despite new US sanctions
  • Hua said Beijing is conducting “normal cooperation” with Tehran within the framework of international law
  • China is a signatory to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which Trump pulled out from earlier this year

BEIJING: China denounced new US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil and financial sectors as “long-arm jurisdiction” on Monday and vowed to continue its bilateral trade with the Islamic republic.
The measures, which took effect on Monday, follow US President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon a multi-nation nuclear deal with Tehran, which he said was flawed and does not adequately constrain Iran’s destabilising behavior in the Middle East.
The sanctions aim to significantly cut Iran’s oil exports — which have already fallen by around one million barrels a day since May — and cut it off from international finance.
“China opposes unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing.
“We believe that China’s normal cooperation (with Iran) within international law is legal and legitimate, and this shall be respected.”
The US has given temporary exemptions to eight countries — including India, Japan and Turkey — to continue buying oil in a bid to avoid disrupting their economies and global markets.
Asked whether China has been granted an exemption, Hua said Beijing is conducting “normal cooperation” with Tehran within the framework of international law.
China is a signatory to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — which includes Britain, France, Germany and Russia — that Trump pulled out from earlier this year.
The remaining members believe the agreement is working as intended and is keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons for now.
“Under the current circumstances, we hope all parties can bear in mind the larger picture and fulfil their duties and choose to stand on the right side of history,” Hua said, adding that China will continue to “uphold the objective and responsible attitude to uphold the agreement.”


Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings
Updated 10 min 32 sec ago

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza test patience of Hamas military wings
  • Tensions have remained high since the ceasefire on May 21
  • Latest Israeli airstrikes in Gaza brought back fears of a military escalation

GAZA CITY: Gazans had hardly recovered from the sound of the explosions during the 11-day war between Israel and the Gaza Strip when they returned less than a month later.

The Israeli bombing of Hamas military training sites in the Gaza Strip on Thursday night was in response to incendiary and explosive balloons launched toward neighboring Israeli towns. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The helium-filled balloons are intended to set fire to farmland and bush surrounding the Gaza enclave.

Tensions have remained high since the ceasefire on May 21.

The explosions in the Gaza Strip brought back fears of a military escalation, especially in light of the Israeli restrictions in place since May.

Israel have kept the two crossings with the Gaza Strip, Kerem Shalom for commerce and Erez for individuals, semi-closed, only allowing food and some other items, as well as medical emergencies.

The closure of the two crossings severely affected the daily lives of Gazans, stopping the flow of goods to shops of all kinds and mail between Gaza and the West Bank and the outside world, including thousands of passports printed in Ramallah, as well as visas, making it hard for merchants to travel.

Iman Shaheen, 33, who suffers from breast cancer, said: “I am waiting to get my passport, the application for which I sent to Ramallah before the war, but the mail has stopped since then, preventing me from completing the process of traveling to Jordan for treatment. I follow the news daily and wait impatiently for the crossing to be re-opened for mail.”

Israel also prevents construction materials from entering the Gaza Strip, which affects the reconstruction process war, prevents fuel from entering the power plant and blocks Qatari grants to poor families.

Hamas and Israel reached an agreement to facilitate the entry of Qatari funds and increase the capacity of the Kerem Shalom crossing, and to allow some materials that it classifies as dual-use in exchange for stopping the demonstrations along the border, known as the Great Return March, which lasted for about two years.

Hamas spokesman Hazim Qassem tweeted that the bombing of the Gaza Strip “is a failed attempt to stop the solidarity of our people and the resistance with the Holy City” (Jerusalem), and to “cover up the unprecedented state of confusion of the Zionist establishment” by organizing the so-called Flags March.

Hamas military wings seem to have limited patience over the Israeli bombing.

Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad official, said that “the resistance factions informed Egypt in a message that they would respond in kind to any upcoming military attacks, and would not allow the occupation government (Israel) to impose its conditions on the resistance or isolate Gaza.

“The joint operations room of the resistance factions has crystallized a final and unified position to deal with the repetition of Israeli behavior in the coming days, and it will not hesitate to confront it, whatever the results.

“The launching of incendiary and explosive balloons from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli towns is linked to the occupation’s continued imposition of the siege on the Gaza Strip and its closure of the crossings for more than a month and a half.”

However, commentators have said that Hamas and the other factions will not be in a hurry to return to war again.

Mukhaimar Abu Saada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said: “Hamas needs to restore what was destroyed in the last war, whether at the level of its military capabilities or the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and use this opportunity for funds to enter the Gaza Strip.”

Husam Al-Dajani, a political analyst, said: “The resistance factions do not want to return to military confrontation again, but if the reality remains unchanged on the ground, things may escalate in the Gaza Strip.”

Al-Dajani believes that Hamas’ failure to respond to the Israeli bombardment is “to give the mediators an opportunity to put pressure on Israel and improve living conditions in the Gaza Strip.”


Oman reinstates movement ban to curb coronavirus spread

Oman reinstates movement ban to curb coronavirus spread
Updated 19 June 2021

Oman reinstates movement ban to curb coronavirus spread

Oman reinstates movement ban to curb coronavirus spread
  • The ban will remain in place until further notice
  • Public spaces and commercial establishments will also remain closed

DUBAI: Oman’s Supreme Committee will reinstate a movement ban between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. starting June 20, state news agency ONA reported.

The ban will remain in place until further notice.

Public spaces and commercial establishments will also remain closed as a continuing precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

The committee also said that the national immunization program will continue as planned.

It has also called on the relevant target groups to take the initiative to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and the rest of the society from COVID-19.


Amnesty accuses Iran’s newly-elected president of ‘crimes against humanity’

Amnesty accuses Iran’s newly-elected president of ‘crimes against humanity’
Updated 19 June 2021

Amnesty accuses Iran’s newly-elected president of ‘crimes against humanity’

Amnesty accuses Iran’s newly-elected president of ‘crimes against humanity’

DUBAI: Amnesty International released a report Saturday saying that Iran’s newly elected leader Ebrahim Raisi is involved in crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and forced disappearances.

The report, which came out a few hours after Raisi was named the winner of the Islamic republic’s presidential election, denounces his rise to presidency instead of undergoing investigation.

Citing Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard, the report said: “Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran.”

“In 2018, our organization documented how Ebrahim Raisi had been a member of the ‘death commission’ which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988. The circumstances surrounding the fate of the victims and the whereabouts of their bodies are, to this day, systematically concealed by the Iranian authorities, amounting to ongoing crimes against humanity.”

The report also said: “‘As Head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi has presided over a spiralling crackdown on human rights which has seen hundreds of peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders and members of persecuted minority groups arbitrarily detained.

Dressed in a black turban and cleric’s coat, Raisi casts himself as an austere and pious figure and an corruption-fighting champion of the poor.

Critics charge the election was skewed in his favor as strong rivals were disqualified, but to his loyal supporters he is Iran’s best hope for standing up to the West and bringing relief from a deep economic crisis.

Raisi is not renowned for great charisma but, as head of the judiciary, has driven a popular campaign to prosecute corrupt officials.

Raisi is set to take over from moderate Hassan Rouhani in August.

(With AFP)


Battle for the Nile: How Egypt will be impacted by Ethiopia’s filling of GERD reservoir

Battle for the Nile: How Egypt will be impacted by Ethiopia’s filling of GERD reservoir
Updated 19 June 2021

Battle for the Nile: How Egypt will be impacted by Ethiopia’s filling of GERD reservoir

Battle for the Nile: How Egypt will be impacted by Ethiopia’s filling of GERD reservoir
  • For 10 years Ethiopia has failed to reach an agreement with Egypt and Sudan on how quickly the reservoir should be filled
  • On the eve of the summer rains on the Ethiopian Highlands, the dam is all but complete and filling is about to begin

LONDON: In the decade since Ethiopia announced it was going to build Africa’s biggest hydropower dam on the Blue Nile, the source of the bulk of Egypt’s water, the prospect has loomed over Egyptians as an existential threat.

For 10 years Ethiopia has failed to reach an agreement with Egypt and Sudan, its two downstream neighbors, on how quickly its vast reservoir should be filled, and how the electricity-generating Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be operated in the years to come. Now, on the eve of the anticipated annual summer rains that fall on the Ethiopian Highlands, the dam is all but complete and filling is about to begin in earnest.

DEEP DIVE: For a longer, interactive version of this story: https://www.arabnews.com/BattleForTheNile

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Ultraconservative cleric Raisi wins Iran presidential vote

Ultraconservative cleric Raisi wins Iran presidential vote
Updated 19 June 2021

Ultraconservative cleric Raisi wins Iran presidential vote

Ultraconservative cleric Raisi wins Iran presidential vote
  • Hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi was seen as all but certain to emerge victorious
  • Former populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad joined those who said they would not cast their ballot

TEHRAN: Congratulations poured in for Iranian ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday for winning presidential elections even before official results were announced.
Iran’s outgoing moderate President Hassan Rouhani said his successor had been elected in the previous day’s vote, without naming the widely expected winner, Raisi.
“I congratulate the people on their choice,” said Rouhani. “My official congratulations will come later, but we know who got enough votes in this election and who is elected today by the people.”
The other two ultraconservative candidates – Mohsen Rezai and Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi – explicitly congratulated Raisi.
“I congratulate ... Raisi, elected by the nation,” Ghazizadeh-Hashemi said, quoted by Iranian media.
And Rezai tweeted that he hoped Raisi could build “a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems”.
The only reformist in the race, former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati, also tweeted his congratulations to Raisi.
Raisi, 60, would take over from moderate Rouhani at a time the Islamic republic is seeking to salvage its tattered nuclear deal with major powers and free itself from punishing US sanctions that have driven a painful economic downturn.
Raisi, the head of the judiciary whose black turban signifies direct descent from Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, is seen as close to the 81-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate political power in Iran.
The moderate candidate in Iran’s presidential election has conceded he lost to the country’s hard-line judiciary chief.
Former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati wrote on Instagram to judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi early Saturday.
Hemmati wrote: “I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran.”
Voting on Friday was extended by two hours past the original midnight deadline amid fears of a low turnout of 50 percent or less.
Many voters chose to stay away after the field of some 600 hopefuls was winnowed down to seven candidates, all men, excluding an ex-president and a former parliament speaker.
Three of the vetted candidates dropped out of the race two days before Friday’s election, and two of them threw their support behind Raisi.
Former populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of those who were disqualified by the powerful 12-member Guardian Council of clerics and jurists, joined those who said they would not cast their ballot.
Raisi’s only rival from the reformist camp was the low-profile former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati, 65, who had polled in the low single digits before the election.
Iran’s electorate, of now almost 60 million eligible voters, has delivered surprise results before, observers warn. If no clear winner emerges, a runoff will be held next Friday.
On election day, pictures of often flag-waving voters in the country of 83 million dominated state TV coverage, but away from the polling stations some voiced anger at what they saw as a stage-managed election.
“Whether I vote or not, someone has already been elected,” scoffed Tehran shopkeeper Saeed Zareie. “They organize the elections for the media.”
Enthusiasm has been dampened further by the economic malaise of spiralling inflation and job losses, and the pandemic that proved more deadly in Iran than anywhere else in the region, killing more than 80,000 people by the official count.
Among those who lined up to vote at schools, mosques and community centers, many said they supported Raisi, who has promised to fight corruption, help the poor and build millions of flats for low-income families.
A nurse named Sahebiyan said she backed the frontrunner for his anti-graft credentials and on hopes he would “move the country forward... and save the people from economic, cultural and social deprivation.”
Raisi has been named in Iranian media as a possible successor to Khamenei.
To opposition and human rights groups, his name is linked to the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988. The US government has sanctioned him over the purge, in which Raisi has denied playing a part.
Ultimate power in Iran, since its 1979 revolution toppled the US-backed monarchy, rests with the supreme leader, but the president wields major influence in fields from industrial policy to foreign affairs.
Rouhani, 72, leaves office in August after serving the maximum two consecutive four-year-terms allowed under the constitution.
His landmark achievement was the 2015 deal with world powers under which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.
But high hopes for greater prosperity were crushed in 2018 when then-US president Donald Trump withdrew from the accord and launched a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against Iran.
While Iran has always denied seeking a nuclear weapon, Trump charged it is still planning to build the bomb and destabilising the Middle East through armed proxy groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
As old and new US sanctions hit Iran, trade dried up and foreign companies bolted. The economy nosedived and spiralling prices fueled repeated bouts of social unrest which were put down by security forces.
Iran’s ultraconservative camp — which deeply distrusts the United States, labelled the “Great Satan” or the “Global Arrogance” in the Islamic republic — attacked Rouhani over the failing deal.
Despite this, there is broad agreement among all the candidates including Raisi that Iran must seek an end to the US sanctions in ongoing talks in Vienna aiming to revive the nuclear accord

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