UAE and Iranian officials meet in Tehran to discuss ‘maritime affairs’

Fishermen in waters off Fujairah, UAE. The UAE's foreign ministry said it was satisfied after a meeting with Iranian officials on maritime affairs. (AP/File photo)
Updated 31 July 2019

UAE and Iranian officials meet in Tehran to discuss ‘maritime affairs’

  • The Emirates’ foreign ministry said the meeting on Tuesday was a routine gathering of a joint committee
  • Official says joint committee aims to ensure the safety of UAE citizens and fishermen

DUBAI: The UAE and Iranian officials have met in Tehran to discuss maritime affairs.

The Emirates’ foreign ministry said the meeting on Tuesday was a routine gathering of a joint committee, which was formed to discuss maritime connections, illegal entries and smuggling, fish ing and shared borders.

Salem Mohammed Al Zaabi, director of the UAE’s International Security Cooperation Department, said he was satisfied with how the meeting went.

“The objective behind the meeting is to ensure the safety of UAE citizens, including the country's fishermen,” he said.

The aim of the meeting was to address routine maritime agenda issues between the two countries, he said.

The meeting comes after heightened tensions between Arab Gulf countries and Iran as the US intensifies economic sanctions against Tehran. 

Iran has been accused of attacking shipping in and around the Strait of Hormuz - the narrow waterway which marks the entrance to the Arabian Gulf and through which around a fifth of the world’s oil is transported.

 


Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

Updated 18 min 45 sec ago

Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

  • Reports are credible, expert tells Arab News
  • Hospitals report spike in burns victims

ANKARA: Accusations that Turkey has used banned incendiary weapons against civilians in its invasion of northern Syria are credible, a leading security analyst told Arab News on Saturday.

Kurdish leaders said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fighter jets had dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus on civilian targets in the border town of Ras Al-Ain, a key objective for Turkish troops.

“The Turkish aggression is using all available weapons against Ras Al-Ain,” the Kurdish administration said. “Faced with the obvious failure of his plan, Erdogan is resorting to weapons that are globally banned, such as phosphorus and napalm.”

Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for New American Security, told Arab News: “There are now multiple credible reports that Turkey has used white phosphorus munitions in its campaign in northeast Syria, and especially against the stubborn defenders of the city of Ras Al-Ain.”

The attacks on Ras Al-Ain are being investigated by UN chemical weapons inspectors, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and Human Rights Watch. 

OPCW said it had “not yet determined the credibility of these allegations,” and its inspectors were monitoring the situation.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Erdogan’s jets ‘dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus in Ras Al-Ain.’
  • The attacks are being probed by UN chemical weapons inspectors and Human Rights Watch.
  • A video posted on social media shows children with burns that a doctor says were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

If the use of banned incendiary weapons were proved, it would be a grave violation of Turkey’s pledge to wage war with concern for civilian lives, Heras said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there had been a spike in burn wounds treated at the Syrian-Kurdish hospital at Tal Tamir, mostly casualties brought in from the Ras Al-Ain area. 

The Kurdish Red Crescent said at least six people were being treated in hospital for burns. 

Kurdish officials posted a video on social media showing children with burns that one doctor in Hasakeh province said were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert, told the UK newspaper The Times that the burns appeared to have been caused by white phosphorus.

The substance may be used to create a smoke screen, or as a battlefield marker, especially at night, but its use as an incendiary weapon is prohibited under international law.

Since 1997, Turkey has been a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

Dr. Willem Theo Oosterveld, a senior fellow at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, said the deployment of white phosphorus was not explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. 

However, he said, under humanitarian law “the use of means and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is prohibited.”