US Iran envoy Brian Hook standing down, Elliott Abrams to take on the role

Brian Hook, left, will be replaced by Elliot Abrams as America's pointman for Iran. (AP/Reuters)
Updated 07 August 2020

US Iran envoy Brian Hook standing down, Elliott Abrams to take on the role

WASHINGTON: Iran envoy Brian Hook is leaving his post and US Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams will add Iran to his role "following a transition period" with Hook, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.
Hook's departure comes as the United Nations Security Council prepares to vote next week on a U.S. bid to extend an international arms embargo on Iran. Some diplomats have said the measure lacks support.

 


Pompeo did not give a reason for Hook's decision to leave. It was not immediately clear when Hook would finish, but the announcement comes at a crucial time for U.S. diplomacy on Iran.
If the United States is unsuccessful in extending the arms embargo on Iran, it has threatened to trigger a return of all UN sanctions under a process - known as snapback - agreed in the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Some diplomats have suggested the United States will likely start the snapback process, which could take up to 30 days, by the end of August.
Abrams, a Republican foreign policy veteran, was named US special representative for Venezuela in January of last year and has led a hardline approach aimed at ousting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
US officials have said privately that President Donald Trump has been frustrated by the failure to remove Maduro, who retains the support of the Venezuelan military, as well from Russia, China, Cuba and Iran.

 


Doha faces diplomatic row after women strip-searched at airport

Updated 3 min 38 sec ago

Doha faces diplomatic row after women strip-searched at airport

LONDON: Australia’s government has registered “serious concerns” with Qatar following a strip-searching scandal at Doha airport.
A flight to Sydney from Hamad International Airport was due to leave on Oct. 2, but was delayed by more than four hours after authorities allegedly discovered a deceased new-born infant in the airport. 
All the female passengers on board the aircraft were ordered to disembark. A doctor on the flight told Guardian Australia that the women returned some time later and that “most of them were very upset.”
Dr. Wolfgang Babeck added: “At least one of them was crying, they were discussing what had happened and saying it was unacceptable and disgusting.” 
The flight took off after the women returned. Babeck said he spoke with some of the passengers, who told him they were taken to a private area of the airport and subject to intrusive examinations.
“They were taken by security personnel into the cellar, not knowing what was going on. And then they were presented to a female doctor and they were basically strip-searched and had to take everything … off, all their clothes, even their underwear,” he added.
“And then the doctor would try to feel in the uterus and stomach area or lower abdomen to see whether they may have given birth recently. Someone had been told that a baby had been found in the toilet and they were trying to find out who the mother was.”
Other reports say the inspections took place in an ambulance on the runway, and 13 Australian women were strip-searched.
A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told Guardian Australia that it was “aware of concerning reports regarding the treatment, in Qatar, of passengers on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney. DFAT is seeking further information from the Qatari authorities and Qatar Airways.”
On Sunday, DFAT issued an updated statement saying Australia’s government had “formally registered our serious concerns regarding the incident with Qatari authorities and have been assured that detailed and transparent information on the event will be provided soon.”