US exempts Indian-backed port in Iran from sanctions

A general view of an oil dock is seen from a ship at the port of Kalantari in the city of Chabahar, 300km east of the Strait of Hormuz January 17, 2012. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 November 2018

US exempts Indian-backed port in Iran from sanctions

  • “This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief,” the spokesperson said
  • India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led overthrow of the extremist Taliban regime, which was also opposed by Iran

WASHINGTON: The United States said Tuesday it would exempt Iran’s Indian-backed port of Chabahar from new sanctions on Tehran, recognizing the value of the project to Afghanistan.
Iran late last year inaugurated the port on the Indian Ocean which provides a key supply route to landlocked Afghanistan and allows India to bypass its historic enemy Pakistan.
The United States will exempt from sanctions the development of Chabahar along with an attached railway project and Iranian petroleum shipments into Afghanistan, the State Department said.
President Donald Trump’s “South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan’s economic growth and development as well as our close partnership with India,” a State Department spokesperson said.
“This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief,” the spokesperson said.
The United States, which has been building closer relations with New Delhi since the late 1990s, earlier exempted India from sanctions that took effect on Monday.
The Trump administration has vowed to exert maximum pressure on Iran to end its support for regional proxies, exiting a denuclearization agreement that brought sanctions relief.
Trump’s decision has been opposed by European powers as well as other nations including India, which has largely warm relations with Iran and accuses Pakistan of fomenting attacks on its soil.
India has poured $2 billion into Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led overthrow of the extremist Taliban regime, which was also opposed by Iran.
India has seen Chabahar as a key way both to send supplies to Afghanistan and to step up trade with Central Asia as well as Africa.
Iran has plans to link the port by railway to Zahedan on the Pakistani border up to Mashhad in the northeast.


First direct commercial flight from Israel lands in Bahrain

Updated 23 September 2020

First direct commercial flight from Israel lands in Bahrain

  • Flight data showed an Israir Airlines Airbus A320 landed at Bahrain International Airport after a nearly three-hour flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion
  • The flight was made without ceremony, in sharp contrast to the first El Al flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates at the end of August

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The first known direct commercial flight between Israel and Bahrain landed Wednesday in the island kingdom, just a week after it signed a deal alongside the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations.
Flight data showed an Israir Airlines Airbus A320 landed at Bahrain International Airport after a nearly three-hour flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport.
There was no immediate acknowledgement of the flight from the Israeli government, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke by telephone to Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
Bahrain’s state-run media did not immediately acknowledge the flight. Officials on the island off the coast of Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The US Embassy in Manama similarly did not respond to a request for comment.
The flight was made without ceremony, in sharp contrast to the first El Al flight from Israel to the United Arab Emirates at the end of August. That plane carried US and Israeli officials, including President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as media.

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The flight Wednesday comes as Israel has gone back into a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic. In Bahrain, civil society groups have criticized the move to normalize relations with Israel, saying that recognition should come only after Palestinians obtain their own independent state.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and a British naval base.
Bahrain and the UAE signed normalization agreements Sept. 15 with Israel at the White House, part of a US diplomatic push as Trump seeks re-election.
The UAE and Israel have moved quickly to explore commercial ties after their normalization deal, bringing to light a relationship previously kept quiet.
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa previously had been quoted as saying he believed Arab countries should drop their boycott of Israel.