Trump tells Iran’s supreme leader to be ‘careful with his words’

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According to Trump, Khamenei’s blistering speech was a mistake. (File/AFP)
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Iranian protesters gather around a fire during a demonstration in Tehran. The country has recently seen some of the acrimonious rallies against the regime. (AFP)
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Updated 19 January 2020

Trump tells Iran’s supreme leader to be ‘careful with his words’

  • “Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” Trump tweeted

WASHINGTON, TEHRAN: President Donald Trump on Friday warned Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to be “very careful with his words.”
“The so-called ‘Supreme Leader’ of Iran, who has not been so Supreme lately, had some nasty things to say about the United States and Europe,” Trump tweeted of Khamenei’s comments earlier Friday in Tehran.
According to Trump, Khamenei’s blistering speech, in which he attacked the “vicious” US and described Britain, France and Germany as “America’s lackey’s,” was a mistake.
“Their economy is crashing, and their people are suffering. He should be very careful with his words!” Trump tweeted.
Khameini lashed out at Western countries as he led Friday prayers in Tehran for the first time in eight years, dismissing “American clowns” who he said pretend to support the Iranian nation but want to stick their “poisoned dagger” into its back.

Khamenei used his rare appearance at the weekly prayers to deliver a fiery address in which he insisted Iran would not bow to US pressure after months of crushing sanctions and a series of recent crises — from the American killing of a top Iranian general to Iran’s accidental shoot-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane.
“These contemptible governments are waiting to bring the Iranian nation to its knees,” Khamenei said.
“America, who is your elder, your leader and your master, was not able to bring the Iranian nation to its knees. You are too small to bring the Iranian nation to its knees.”

Iranians unhappy
Some Iranians reacted angrily to the speech by Khameini, which they said sought to downplay days of protests after a tension-filled month in the Islamic republic.
“He didn’t even try to calm the people and totally ignored the protesters,” said one activist in Iran. Like other Iranians contacted by AFP from outside the country, she asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions.
Protests erupted after the Iranian government admitted to having accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jet on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people on board.
In the sermon, Khamenei called the downing a “bitter” tragedy.
But he said it should not overshadow the “sacrifice” of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq on Jan. 3.
“He openly declared that Qassem Soleimani was more important than the passengers of the Ukrainian plane,” the activist said.
To avenge Soleimani’s death, last week Iran launched a barrage of missiles on an Iraqi base housing US troops. Hours later, it downed the Boeing 737.
Another Iranian responded to the speech via the Telegram messenger app, saying Khamenei “said bluntly... the dead, whether on the ground or in the sky, are not important to me.”
Friday’s speech came after a traumatic month in which Iran appeared to be tipping toward war with arch foe the US in the wake of Soleimani’s killing.

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Iranians reacted angrily to the speech by Khameini, which they said sought to downplay days of protests after a tension-filled month in the Islamic republic.

Khamenei last led Friday prayers at Tehran’s Mosalla Mosque on the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in February 2012, at another time of crisis over the Iran nuclear issue.
On Friday, Khamenei insisted that demonstrations over the downing of the jet were not representative of the Iranian people.
“When he says these people are not one of us, it deepens divisions among people and widens the distance between the people and the government,” a 24-year-old artist in Tehran told AFP.
“And it makes someone like myself, who is not close to the regime, seek change even more aggressively,” he added.
One Iranian Twitter user posted that “ignoring the protesters and reducing them to a few hundred compared to Qasem Soleimani’s funeral is the perspective of the regime.”
Hundreds of thousands of people had filled the streets of several cities in Iran to mourn Soleimani in the days after his death.
“There was nothing new, just slogans, slogans and slogans. He didn’t even observe a minute of silence for the victims of the plane crash,” a 35-year-old woman told AFP.


Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

A Yemeni tries to catch locusts on the rooftop of his house as they swarm several parts of the country bringing in devastations and destruction of major seasonal crops. (AFP)
Updated 42 min 37 sec ago

Locust invasion in Yemen stokes food insecurity fears

  • Billions of locusts invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring seasonal crops

AL-MUKALLA: Locust swarms have swept over farms in central, southern and eastern parts of Yemen, ravaging crops and stoking fears of food insecurity.

Residents and farmers in the provinces of Marib, Hadramout, Mahra and Abyan said that billions of locusts had invaded farms, cities and villages, devouring important seasonal crops such as dates and causing heavy losses.
“This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters,” Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, an agricultural official from Hadramout’s Sah district, told Arab News on Sunday.
Images and videos posted on social media showed layers of creeping locusts laying waste to lemon farms in Marb, dates and alfalfa farms in Hadramout and flying swarms plunging cities into darkness. “The locusts have eaten all kinds of green trees, including the sesban tree. The losses are huge,” Abu Baker added.
Heavy rains and flash floods have hit several Yemeni provinces over the last couple of months, creating fruitful conditions for locusts to reproduce. Farmers complained that locusts had wiped out entire seasonal crops that are grown after rains.
Abu Baker said that he visited several affected farms in Hadramout, where farmers told him that if the government would not compensate them for the damage that it should at least get ready for a second potential locust wave that might occur in 10 days.
“The current swarms laid eggs that are expected to hatch in 10 days. We are bracing for the second wave of the locusts.”  
Last year, the UN said that the war in Yemen had disrupted vital monitoring and control efforts and several waves of locusts to hit neighboring countries had originated from Yemen.

This is like a storm that razes anything it encounters.

Hussein Ben Al-Sheikh Abu Baker, a Yemeni agricultural official

Yemeni government officials, responsible for battling the spread of locusts, have complained that fighting and a lack of funding have obstructed vital operations for combating the insects.
Ashor Al-Zubairi, the director of the Locust Control Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture in Hadramout’s Seiyun city, said that the ministry was carrying out a combat operation funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Hadramout and Mahra, but complained that the operation might fall short of its target due to a lack of funding and equipment.
“The spraying campaign will end in a week which is not enough to cover the entire plagued areas,” Al-Zubairi told Arab News. “We suggested increasing the number of spraying equipment or extending the campaign.”
He said that a large number of villagers had lost their source of income after the locusts ate crops and sheep food, predicting that the outbreak would likely last for at least two weeks if urgent control operations were not intensified and fighting continued. “Combating teams could not cross into some areas in Marib due to fighting.”
The widespread locust invasion comes as the World Food Programme (WFP) on July 10 sent an appeal for urgent funds for its programs in Yemen, warning that people would face starvation otherwise.
“There are 10 million people who are facing (an) acute food shortage, and we are ringing the alarm bell for these people, because their situation is deteriorating because of escalation and because of the lockdowns, the constraints and the social-economic impact of the coronavirus,” WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters in Geneva.