UAE minister blames Iran for heightened tensions in the region 

UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash gives a press conference in Dubai on May 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019

UAE minister blames Iran for heightened tensions in the region 

  • Anwar Gargash says attack on oil tankers a 'very serious incident because it affects maritime commerce'
  • 'Iranian behaviour over the last decade or two has led us to where we are today'

LONDON: Iranian behavior has led to the current heightened tensions in the region, a UAE minister has said, reiterating comments made earlier this week. 

In an interview with CNN aired Thursday, Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said a sabotage attack against four oil tankers off the Emirates’ coast had come at a “sensitive and difficult period in the region.”

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“We are where we are largely because of Iran behaviour,” Gargash said. “This is a behaviour that is not new to the region. This is a behaviour that has been basically compiling and clearly right now that – American sanctions on Iran are biting.”

The attacks on the tankers came amid escalating rhetoric between the US and it Gulf allies on one side and Iran on the other. The US has deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in response to an unspecified Iranian threat.

Saudi Arabia said Iran-backed Houthi rebels on Tuesday attacked an oil pipeline in the Kingdom with drones.

The investigations into the tanker attack were on going, Gargash said, adding that in a few days “we should know what took place.”

“We are collaborating with France, and the United States, and other friends are also offering their help,” he said. “Clearly this is a very, very serious incident because it affects maritime commerce, and it comes also at a very very, what I would call a very sensitive and difficult period in the region.”

The minister said all parties have an interest in deescalating the situation and “dealing with things in a mature, rational way.”

But he added the onus was on Iran, not Washington, to deescalate the situation.

“Iranian behaviour over the last decade or two has led us to where we are today,” he said. “There’s very little trust in the region.”


Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

Updated 15 November 2019

Former finance minister Mohammad Safadi put forward to be next Lebanese PM

BEIRUT: Three major Lebanese parties have agreed on nominating Mohammad Safadi, a former finance minister, to become prime minister of a new government, the Lebanese broadcasters LBCI and MTV reported on Thursday.
The agreement was reached in a meeting on Thursday between outgoing Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni politician, and senior representatives of the Shiite groups Amal and Hezbollah.
There was no official comment from the parties or Safadi. The broadcasters did not identify their sources.
Hariri quit as prime minister on Oct. 29 in the face of an unprecedented wave of protests against ruling politicians who are blamed for rampant state corruption and steering Lebanon into its worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.
Hariri remains caretaker prime minister for now.
Since quitting, Hariri, who is aligned with the West and Gulf Arab states, has been holding closed-door meetings with parties including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, which had wanted him to be prime minister again.
Lebanon’s prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim according to the country’s sectarian power-sharing system.
Mustaqbal Web, a Hariri-owned news website, said a meeting between Hariri, Ali Hassan Khalil of the Amal Movement and Hussein Al-Khalil of Hezbollah had discussed recommending Safadi for the post.
MTV said the government would be a mixture of politicians and technocrats. Mustaqbal Web said the type of government was not discussed, and neither was the question of whether Hariri’s Future Movement would be part of the Cabinet.
LBCI said the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to Hezbollah, had also agreed to Safadi’s nomination.
They did not identify their sources.
Safadi is a prominent businessman and member of parliament from the northern city of Tripoli. He served previously as finance minister from 2011-2014 under prime minister Najib Mikati.
Prior to that, he served as minister of economy and trade in the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who was backed by the West. He held that post again in the Hariri-led Cabinet that took office in 2009.
Hariri had said he would only return as prime minister of a Cabinet of specialist ministers which he believed would be best placed to win international aid and steer Lebanon out of its economic crisis, sources close to Hariri have said.