Iran appeals to people not to travel for Eid holiday to avoid COVID-19 spike

Iranians wear protective face masks against the risk of coronavirus contagion as they ride in the metro, in Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Iran appeals to people not to travel for Eid holiday to avoid COVID-19 spike

  • Iranians often travel to different cities around the country to mark the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan
  • Infected cases have been on a rising trajectory for the past two weeks

DUBAI: Iran’s top health official appealed to Iranians to avoid traveling during the Eid Al-Fitr religious holiday later this month to avoid the risk of a new surge of coronavirus infections, state TV reported on Thursday.
Iranians often travel to different cities around the country to mark the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, something Health Minister Saeed Namaki said could lead to a disregard of social distancing and a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.
“I am urging you not to travel during the Eid. Definitely, such trips mean new cases of infection...People should not travel to and from those high-risk red areas,” Namaki was quoted by state television as saying.
“Some 90% of the population in many areas has not yet contracted the disease. In the case of a new outbreak, it will be very difficult for me and my colleagues to control it.”
Confirmed cases in Iran of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, rose by 2,346 to 126,949 on Wednesday, the health ministry said. The death toll is 7,183, the highest in the Middle East region.
A report by parliament’s research center suggested that the actual tally of infections and deaths inn Iran might be almost twice that announced by the health ministry.
However, worried that measures to limit public activities could wreck an economy which has already been battered by US sanctions, the government has been easing most restrictions on normal life in late April.
Infected cases have been on a rising trajectory for the past two weeks. However President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran was close to curbing the outbreak.


‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”