Iran accused of hiding COVID-19 deaths as police arrest 320 for ‘spreading rumors’ 

Iran accused of hiding COVID-19 deaths as police arrest 320 for ‘spreading rumors’ 
According to the latest figures released by the health ministry, the number of infections in the country has risen to 106,000, with a total of 6,589 deaths. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 May 2020

Iran accused of hiding COVID-19 deaths as police arrest 320 for ‘spreading rumors’ 

Iran accused of hiding COVID-19 deaths as police arrest 320 for ‘spreading rumors’ 
  • The official number of cases and deaths published by Iran’s Health Ministry has been questioned
  • The real number of coronavirus cases in the country could be 10 times higher

DUBAI: Iranian police have arrested 320 people accused of spreading rumors on social media about the coronavirus, with many questioning the official numbers of infections and deaths.
The official number of cases and deaths published by Iran’s Health Ministry has been questioned by lawmakers, city councilors and the public, according to Iranian daily Raido Farda.
Many believe, according to the report, that Iranian authorities hid the outbreak of the virus in the country before admitting on Feb. 19 that it had spread in Qom, Iran’s religious capital, killing two people.
The health ministry only announces the total numbers of cases for the country and does not disclose information for individual provinces or cities. 
According to the latest figures released by the health ministry, the number of infections in the country has risen to 106,000, with a total of 6,589 deaths.
The real number of coronavirus cases in the country could be 10 times higher than the cases identified by the ministry and the death toll nearly twice the official figure, an advisory report by the Iranian parliament’s research center estimated last month.


US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’

US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’
Updated 17 January 2021

US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’

US designates Bahrain, UAE ‘major security partners’
  • Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and hostssome 5,000 American troops
  • UAE hosts 3,500 US troops and its Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the US

DUBAI: The US called Bahrain and the UAE “major security partners” early on Saturday, a previously unheard of designation for the two countries home to major American military operations.
A White House statement tied the designation to Bahrain and the UAE normalizing ties to Israel, saying it “reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership.” It also noted the two countries long have taken part in US military exercises.
It’s unclear what the designation means for Bahrain and the UAE.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, while the UAE’s Jebel Ali port is the busiest port of call for American warships outside of the US. Bahrain hosts some 5,000 American troops, while the UAE hosts 3,500, many at Al-Dhafra Air Base.
Already, the US uses the designation of “major non-NATO ally” to describe its relationship with Kuwait, which hosts the forward command of US Army Central. That designation grants a country special financial and military considerations for nations not part of NATO. Bahrain also is a non-NATO ally.
The US military’s Central Command and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The 5th Fleet referred queries to the State Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The White House designation comes in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump forged close ties to Gulf Arab countries during his time in office in part over his hard-line stance on Iran.
That’s sparked a series of escalating incidents between the countries after Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
It also comes after Bahrain and the UAE joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in beginning to resolve a yearslong boycott of Qatar, that houses Al-Udeid Air Base.