Noose tightens around Iran with sanctions threat by US

A woman looks at an electronic board showing stock prices at Tehran Stock Exchange in the Iranian capital on May 12, 2020. The US has threatened to trigger the restoration of all UN sanctions on Iran. (West Asia News Agency)/Ali Khara via REUTERS)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Noose tightens around Iran with sanctions threat by US

  • If arms embargo on Tehran is lifted, it will hit regional stability hard, expert tells AN

JEDDAH: The US has publicly threatened to trigger the restoration of all UN sanctions on Iran if the organization’s Security Council fails to extend an arms embargo on Tehran. 

It is due to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

Brian Hook, the US special envoy for Iran, confirmed the strategy on Thursday, two weeks after an American official said that Washington had informed Britain, France and Germany of its intentions.

Hook wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “one way or another” the US would ensure the arms embargo remains in force. He said Washington has drafted a Security Council resolution and “will press ahead with diplomacy and build support.”

Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-based Iran expert and Arab News columnist, said: “If the UN arms embargo on the Iranian regime is lifted as scheduled in October, it would have drastic implications on the security and stability of the region.

“The Iranian regime is the top state sponsor of terrorism in the world and it has already been caught several times smuggling weapons to its militias and terror groups, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”

He added: “Imagine how Iran would intensify its deliveries of weapons to militia groups if the arms embargo on the regime is lifted. In addition, Tehran would most likely send intelligence, military and training teams to set up factories in other countries to facilitate the sale and use of these weapons.

“This would provide Iran with the opportunity to better influence and control the security, intelligence and political systems of foreign nations.”

Earlier, Washington accused Tehran of defying the UN resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal by carrying out a satellite launch last month, and of continuing to violate a UN arms embargo.

The US Mission to the UN made the allegations during an informal meeting of experts from the Security Council committee that monitors the implementation of the resolution. The US said the satellite launch, carried out by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps on April 22, defies the terms of the 2015 resolution, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The US described the Revolutionary Guard Corps as “a terrorist organization” and added: “Its leading role in Iran’s space program puts to rest Iran’s absurd claims that its space program is solely civilian in nature. It is not.”

The US also highlighted Iran’s violations of the arms embargo by “reminding council members that Iran continues to funnel weapons to proxy forces and terrorist groups in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Bahrain.” 

It accused Houthi rebels of using Iranian technology several weeks ago “to again launch ballistic missiles and explosive drones into Saudi Arabia.”


Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

Turkish Cypriot politician Ersin Tatar celebrates his election victory in Turkish-controlled northern Nicosia, Cyprus October 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 41 min 27 sec ago

Turkish Cypriots elect Erdogan’s candidate amid east Med tensions

  • The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months

NICOSIA: Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus on Sunday narrowly elected right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar, backed by Ankara, in a run-off poll, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
Tatar, 60, clinched his surprise victory in a second round of presidential elections, winning 51.7 percent of the vote, official results showed.
He edged out incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, 72, a supporter of reunification with the Greek Cypriot south of the divided island, leaving attempts to relaunch long-stalled UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.
Tatar is an advocate of a two-state solution and held the post of premier in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized only by Ankara.
He controversially received the open backing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the election campaign.
In a victory speech to hundreds of cheering and Turkish flag-waving supporters, Tatar thanked Turkey’s head of state and said: “We deserve our sovereignty — we are the voice of Turkish Cypriots.
“We are fighting to exist within the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, therefore our neighbors in the south and the world community should respect our fight for freedom.”
There was no immediate official reaction from the Greek Cypriot government or ruling party in the south of the island, which is a European Union member state, although opposition parties were quick to lament the outcome.
Erdogan was swift to celebrate the victory, which followed a high 67-percent turnout at the polls.
“I congratulate Ersin Tatar who has been elected president ... Turkey will continue to provide all types of efforts to protect the rights of the Turkish Cypriot people,” he wrote on Twitter.

HIGHLIGHT

Ersin Tatar edged out incumbent Mustafa Akinc, leaving attempts to relaunch UN-brokered talks hanging in the balance.

In a telephone call the same night, Erdogan said he was confident the two leaders would maintain close cooperation in all areas, “starting with the hydrocarbon linked activities in the eastern Mediterranean,” his office said.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters.
The European Union has deplored Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in disputed waters and warned Ankara against further “provocations,” while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.
The second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on Oct. 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered just under 30 percent.
Akinci was tipped to secure a second term, having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow social democrat who came third last time around.
After his defeat, Akinci, who had accused Ankara of meddling in the polls, thanked his supporters and said: “You know what happened ... I am not going to do politics on this.”
The TRNC, with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.
Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyprus by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.
The reopening was announced jointly by Erdogan and Tatar at a meeting in Ankara just days before the first round of polling.
It drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island’s south, separated from the TRNC by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.
On the eve of Sunday’s vote, Greek Cypriot demonstrators massed at a checkpoint along the so-called “Green Line,” holding signs that read “Cyprus is Greek,” in protest at the reopening of nearby Varosha to the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots’ rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Akinci’s relationship with Ankara had come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north’s annexation by Turkey as “horrible” in February.
When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks.
But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over Greek Cypriot demands for the withdrawal of the tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers still stationed in the TRNC.