US blames Iranian ‘mismanagement’ for slow deadly floods response

Areas affected by floods in the country's northeastern Golestan region. (AFP)
Updated 03 April 2019

US blames Iranian ‘mismanagement’ for slow deadly floods response

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says US ready to assist and contribute aid
  • Iran said the sanctions impeded Iran’s ability to provide aid helicopters

TEHRAN: The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blames Iranian "mismanagement" for hampering rescue efforts in flood-stricken areas. 

Mike Pompeo hit back at claims earlier from Tehran that US sanctions re-imposed by the Trump administration last year have been the major obstacle to successful rescue efforts.

Iran has been facing major flooding for the past two weeks and on Monday, the death toll in the disaster rose to 45. The floods have struck hundreds of villages as well as towns and cities in the western half of the country, where in some places an emergency situation has been declared.

"These floods once again show the level of Iranian regime mismanagement in urban planning and in emergency preparedness," Pompeo said. "The regime blames outside entities when, in fact, it is their mismanagement that has led to this disaster. They even jail environmentalists for attempting to help Iran prepare for these very issues.

"The United States stands ready to assist and contribute to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would then direct the money through the Iranian Red Crescent for relief."

Earlier, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that America’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran “is impeding aid efforts by Iranian Red Crescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods.”

He said the sanctions have prevented Tehran from getting badly needed equipment, including relief helicopters. “This isn’t just economic warfare; it’s economic terrorism.”

 

Local authorities in the stricken areas have repeatedly asked for more helicopters to reach remote and cutoff locations, AP reported. Iranian state media said on Tuesday that dozens of military and Iranian Red Crescent helicopters are taking part in the relief operation.

Britain and Germany have offered to send help, including boats and safety equipment.

Iranian media reports said the floods have cut off some 80 intercity roads, as well as roads to nearly 2,200 villages, and that electricity and communications with many places, including in western Ilam and Lorestan provinces, have been cut.

Authorities have issued evacuation warnings and state TV has broadcast footage showing inundated towns and villages in western and southwestern Iran. State media said officials have warned about the possibility of dams breaking and have ordered emergency water discharges from reservoirs to prevent a catastrophe.

Triggered by heavy rainfall, several rivers have burst from their banks. Emergency services are advising people to postpone unnecessary intra-city commutes as well as trips to western and southern Iran, including the oil-rich Khuzestan province which is expecting heavy flooding in the coming days as overflowing rivers from provinces upstream reach Khuzestan.

The floods have hit Iran particularly hard, coming against the backdrop of a spiraling economic crisis. President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers and restore crippling economic sanctions have caused the Iranian currency, the rial, to plummet in recent months, sending prices skyrocketing and wiping out many people’s life savings.

The floods first began in the second half of March in the northern provinces of Golestan and Mazandaran and later spread. Iran has seen a decades-long drought but the latest flooding has also been blamed on widespread disregard of safety measures and construction of buildings and roads near the rivers.

Last year, at least 30 people were killed by flash floods in East Azerbaijan province.

*With AP

 


Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

Updated 23 February 2020

Eastern Libya forces say 16 Turkish soldiers killed in fighting

BENGHAZI: Forces loyal to Libyan eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar said on Sunday they had killed 16 Turkish soldiers in recent weeks, a day after Turkey acknowledged it had lost several "martyrs" in combat in the north African country.
Khalid al-Mahjoub, a spokesman for Haftar's Libya National Army (LNA), said the Turks were killed in the port city of Misrata, in battles in Tripoli and in the town of al-Falah south of the capital.
Turkey backs Libya's weak internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and has sent Syrian soldiers along with some of its own soldiers and weapons.
Haftar's forces are backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday acknowleged some Turkish losses in Libya's "struggle".
"We are there (in Libya) with our (Turkish) soldiers and our teams from the Syrian National Army. We continue the struggle there. We have several martyrs. In return, however, we neutralized nearly a hundred (of Haftar's) legionaries," Erdogan said.
The Syrian National Army, also known as Free Syrian Army, is a Turkey-backed Syrian rebel group fighting against pro-Damascus forces in northern Syria, where 16 Turkish soldiers have been killed so far this month.
The deployment of Turkish soldiers and sophisticated air defences has erased small gains made by the LNA with the help of Russian mercenaries, returning the frontline roughly to where it was at start of Haftar's campaign in April 2019.
Ceasefire talks between Libya's warring sides resumed on Thursday after the GNA had pulled out of negotiations following the shelling of Tripoli's port by Haftar's forces.