New UK govt urged to impose sanctions on Tehran

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Boris Johnson leaves his campaign office in central London on July 23, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 28 July 2019

New UK govt urged to impose sanctions on Tehran

  • Iranian opposition leaders demand world action to rein in Tehran

LONDON: The new British government, led by Boris Johnson, should do more to support the Iranian opposition and the “UK and Europe should impose sanctions on the malicious regime.”

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a rally in London on Saturday, as part of a last leg of a series of protests held across Europe and in Washington, DC to pressure governments to follow the Trump administration’s decisive policies against Iran and its threatening aggressions that undermine the security of the Middle East and the Gulf in particular.
The event coincided with the recent seizure of a British-owned oil tanker and it demonstrated the opposition's commitment to pressure the UK government to do more to stop the Iranian regime.
Dr. Matthew Offord, prominent Conservative MP for Hendon, said “the interest of the international community converges today with the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, which simplifies in an Iran without the absolute rule of the theocracy.”
Speaking to Arab News, Brian Binley, former Conservative MP said the Iranian government is one of the most dangerous governments in the world, operating in one of the most concerning areas.
“I promise that I will do my best to arrange a meeting with Boris Johnson, the new prime minister, and I will arrange that meeting in conjunction with my colleagues, in order to speak to him and attempt to get a better reaction to the Iranian situation than we've had before from previous governments. I've been disappointed with my government's reaction,” Binley said to Arab News.
Meanwhile, Roger Lyons, former TUC president raised the issue of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a duel British-Iranian citizen who has been detained in Iran since 2016 and said the UK would not abandon her cause, again pressuring Johnson to do more to secure her release.
On the other hand, Lyons told Arab News that Labour leader “Jeremy Corbyn has been on the payroll of Iran's Press TV for far too long and he has been taking the side of the ayatollahs, rather than the Iranian people.”
Lastly, Struan Stevenson, coordinator of the campaign for Iran Change, said around 3,000 people attended the rally, in central London’s Trafalgar Square.
“We want regime change, we want to get rid of this evil regime. We're here appropriately underneath the statue of Admiral Nelson. What would Nelson make of a British flag ship being seized by pirates, a case of international criminal piracy in the Straits of Hormuz. He would be turning in his grave!”
“So our message today to the new British prime minister Boris Johnson is to be tough on this regime as they are spreading terrorism and war across the Middle East and the world,” he told Arab News.


UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

A Palestinian refugee holds a placard at a school belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the town of Sebline east of the southern Lebanese port of Saida, on March 12, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

UN agency for Palestinian refugees on tenterhooks over probe

  • UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses

BRUSSELS: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is waiting anxiously on the outcome this month of a probe into alleged mismanagement that has dented its already severely depleted funding, one of its top officials said Monday.
The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.
UNRWA’s director for West Bank operations Gwyn Lewis told AFP in Brussels: “We’re waiting with bated breath because it obviously has financial implications.”
She said the conclusions of the probe are expected to be delivered “around the end of October” to UN chief Antonio Guterres, who would then issue public and internal “follow-up steps.”
The timing is crucial as the agency’s three-year mandate is up for renewal this month, and money is tight.
UNRWA has been skating on very thin financial ice since last year, after US President Donald Trump decided to suspend, then yank entirely his country’s contribution to the agency’s budget, robbing it of its top donor.
Those woes were compounded by the allegations of abuse by the agency’s management, leading other key donors — the Netherlands and Switzerland — to snap shut their purses.
That has left the agency struggling to provide the schooling, medical and sanitary programs it runs for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.
According to a copy of an internal UN report obtained by AFP in July, senior management at UNRWA engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain.”

FASTFACT

The UN Relief and Works Agency hopes the results of the investigation will enable it to get past the scandal that has worsened a cash crunch threatening the school and health services it provides to 5 million Palestinians.

Lewis did not confirm those allegations, noting only “rumors” and leaks to the media.
“None of us have actually seen it,” she said of the report, adding: “Our sense is that it’s not about financial misappropriation or corruption, it’s linked to management and human resources issues.”
She did note that the agency’s deputy chief, Sandra Mitchell, had been replaced in August by an acting deputy commissioner-general tasked with strengthening human resources and financial oversight.
Lewis said she was in Brussels for two days of meetings with European Commission officials to shore up UNRWA’s mandate renewal and, importantly, to maintain funding.
Despite program cutbacks, the agency faces an $89 million shortfall for the rest of this year, she said, and “financial uncertainty” beyond that.
UNRWA’s budget for this year is $1.2 billion, with around 90 percent of that being linked to paying for the 30,000 staff it employees, most of them teachers, doctors and nurses. Making up for the pulled US funding was a “challenge,” she said.