Iran arms embargo lapse would ‘intensify’ regional violence: US envoy

Lifting the arms embargo on Iran would undermine peace and security in the Middle East, US Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook said on Sunday. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 27 July 2020

Iran arms embargo lapse would ‘intensify’ regional violence: US envoy

  • The United States has urged the UN Security Council to extend an arms embargo on Iran that expires in October
  • The extension is opposed by veto-wielding Russia and China

JEDDAH: The US ramped up pressure on Sunday over a UN embargo on arms sales to Iran that is due to expire in October.

Washington wants to extend the ban and failure to do so would make regional conflicts worse, the US special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said on a visit to Qatar.

“I’ve spoken with leaders here in the Gulf and around the world, and no one believes that Iran should be able to freely buy and sell conventional weapons such as fighter jets ... and various kinds of missiles,” he said.

“If the Security Council fails to extend the arms embargo by Oct. 18, Iran will be able to freely buy and sell these weapons.

“Imagine what the region will look like if this happens, conflicts in places like Syria and Yemen will certainly intensify.”

FASTFACT

Iran is a key player on the side of the Assad regime in Syria, and supports Houthi militias in Yemen against the internationally recognized government and the Arab coalition. It also arms and funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and paramilitary factions in Iraq.

Russia and China have a veto in the UN Security Council, and both are in the market for arms contracts with Iran. 

Washington has warned it could employ a disputed legal move to restore wide UN sanctions on Iran if the Security Council does not prolong the arms embargo.

Iran is a key player on the side of the Assad regime in Syria, and supports Houthi militias in Yemen against the internationally recognized government and the Arab coalition. It also arms and funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and paramilitary factions in Iraq.

Iran is also at the center of a dispute between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. The four countries severed diplomatic, economic and travel ties with Qatar in 2017 over Doha’s funding of terrorism and its close ties to Tehran.

Hook on Sunday urged an end to the dispute, which he said “has continued for too long and ultimately harms our shared regional interests in stability, prosperity and security.”

The US envoy will visit Kuwait on the next leg of his trip, having already visited Tunisia, a current member of the Security Council.


Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

Updated 22 September 2020

Turkey, Greece agree to resume talks to resolve disputes

  • Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots
  • The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey and Greece are ready to resume talks in a bid to overcome a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to exploit oil and gas resources, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said Tuesday.
The statement followed his video conference meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel.
During the meeting, Erdogan called for a regional conference that would gather all sides involved in the dispute — including Turkish Cypriots — and said the “momentum” for dialogue should be protected,” according to the statement.
The two neighboring NATO members have been locked in a tense standoff over energy exploitation rights in an area between Turkey’s southern coast, several Greek islands and the war-divided island of Cyprus. Turkey sent a research vessel into the disputed waters this summer.
Following mediation efforts by Germany and others, Turkey pulled back the research vessel to port and both countries eased their naval presence and halted military exercises, paving the way for a dialogue.
It was not clear when and how the talks would begin. Erdogan told Merkel and Michel that “steps to be taken by Greece” would determine the course of the talks.
Greek-Turkish talks to resolve disputes were last held in 2016.
The Turkish leader also said he hoped that the next European Union summit would breathe new life into Turkish-EU ties, including allowing Turkish citizens visa-free travel rights to Europe and sealing a new agreement on migration.
EU members Greece and Cyprus had been pushing for EU sanctions against Turkey at the Sept. 24-25 summit meeting to due Turkey’s search for energy inside Cyprus’ economic zone. But the summit has been postponed for a week because Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.