UK considers deploying drones to the Gulf amid Iran tensions

UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) has a number of Reaper drones based in nearby Kuwait and flying over Iraq and Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 02 September 2019

UK considers deploying drones to the Gulf amid Iran tensions

LONDON: The United Kingdom is considering deploying British drones to the Gulf amid tensions with Iran, Sky News reported early on Monday.

UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) has a number of Reaper drones based in nearby Kuwait and flying over Iraq and Syria. These could be re-tasked if the decision to deploy drones to the Gulf is taken, Sky News said.

The drones will help with overhead surveillance as British warships are continuing to escort UK-flagged tankers through the Strait of Hormuz, according to the report.

On Friday, the UK called for broad support to tackle Gulf shipping threats after Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the strait in July and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

The captain of a Royal Navy warship based in the Gulf said his vessel has faced more than 100 confrontations Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps since the start of July, The Times reported Monday.

Commander Will King, 41, said Iran had “heavily” tested HMS Montrose almost daily, using fast attack craft boats and drones to for intimidation.


Iranian chess referee seeking asylum reveals second reason she can’t go home

Updated 3 min 3 sec ago

Iranian chess referee seeking asylum reveals second reason she can’t go home

  • Women are required to wear the hijab in public in Iran, and those who refuse can face prison
  • Bayat was declared a public enemy by Iranian hard-liners after photos of her emerged from a match with her headscarf around her neck

LONDON: The Iranian chess referee forced to seek asylum in the UK after letting her hijab slip during a match in Shanghai this year has revealed another reason she may never be able to return to her country — her secret Jewish heritage.
Shohreh Bayat told The Daily Telegraph that she had to conceal her family background in her native Iran.
“If they knew I had Jewish background, I would never be general secretary of the Iranian chess federation,” Bayat told the British newspaper.
The leading referee said she had heard anti-Jewish remarks made by chess officials in Iran.
Bayat was declared a public enemy by Iranian hard-liners and received death threats after photos of her emerged from the Women’s World Chess Championship in January with her red headscarf around her neck rather than covering her head.
“All my life was about showing a fake image of myself to society because they wanted me to be an image of a religious Muslim woman, which I wasn’t,” Bayat said, speaking about the Iranian regime.
The 33-year-old said she is not a fan of the hijab, but felt she had to comply — even if that meant covering only a tiny amount of hair.
Women are required to wear the hijab in public in Iran, and those who refuse can face prison.
After being photographed at the world championship match with her hijab around her neck, Bayat said she was warned by family and friends not to return home.
“My mobile was full of messages saying: ‘Please, don’t come back, they will arrest you’,” she told the newspaper.
“I woke up the following day and saw that the (Iranian) federation removed my picture — it was like I didn’t exist,” she said.
Despite death threats, Bayat continued refereeing the second leg of the tournament in Vladivostok, ignoring calls from Iranian officials for a public apology.
At the end of January, she changed her return ticket and traveled to the UK —  the only Western country where she held a valid visa — and applied for asylum. She is waiting for her application to be processed.
Last week, Bayat celebrated the Jewish New Year for the first time in her life.
“It was amazing. It was a thing I never had a chance to do,” she said.