US issues fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting state oil sector

The US Treasury blacklisted the minister of petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and National Iranian Tanker Company. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 26 October 2020

US issues fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting state oil sector

  • US blacklists minister of petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and National Iranian Tanker Company
  • Treasury Department said those targeted support the Quds Force

WASHINGTON: The United States on Monday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s oil sector, including the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, in Washington’s latest action to increase pressure on Tehran.
The US Treasury Department in a statement said it was slapping sanctions on key actors in Iran’s oil sector for supporting the Quds Force, the elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps blacklisted by the United States.
“The regime in Iran uses the petroleum sector to fund the destabilizing activities of the IRGC-QF,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor President Barack Obama and began reimposing US sanctions that had been eased under the accord.
The minister of petroleum, the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and National Iranian Tanker Company were also blacklisted alongside other individuals and entities in Washington’s move on Monday, which freezes any US assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
The Treasury also imposed sanctions on Mahmoud Madanipour and Mobin International Limited, accusing them of entering into an agreement with Venezuelan state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) to ship gasoline obtained from NIOC to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The British-based companies of Madanipour, Mobin Holding Limited and Oman Fuel Trading Ltd. were also blacklisted.
Mobin International and Oman Fuel have said they were the owners of the cargo aboard several tankers confiscated by US authorities in August.
The US Justice Department said the cargo was destined for Venezuela, whose oil industry is also under US sanctions, but the companies denied in court filings that Venezuela was the destination.
Iran has sent two other flotillas carrying fuel to gasoline-short Venezuela, and they entered the South American country without US interference.


Egyptian festival celebrates Aragouz traditions

Updated 25 November 2020

Egyptian festival celebrates Aragouz traditions

  • The festival this year sheds light on the creative icons that inspired the aragouz

CAIRO: The second Egyptian Aragouz Festival has opened on Nov. 24, at the ancient Bayt Al-Sinnari, in Cairo. The aragouz is a traditional puppet figure dressed in red invented by Egyptians to ridicule situations comically.

Khaled Bahgat, a professor of theater at Helwan University and the founder of the festival and the Wamda Troupe for Aragouz and Shadow Puppets, said the festival is part of the initiative to preserve the Egyptian aragouz, after it was recognized by UNESCO in 2018 as one of the most important Egyptian artistic elements. He said that he wants the Egyptian art of aragouz to reach the world because it is an ancient Egyptian art.

The festival this year sheds light on the creative icons that inspired the aragouz.

The festival opened with a tribute to the great Egyptian creator Abu Al-Saud Al-Abyari in a reading of his story “Aragouz, Author and Idea,” which he published in 1953. Al-Aragouz was an important source of creativity for Al-Abyari.

The reading was followed by entries exploring how the art of aragouz shaped Egyptian comedy in the twentieth century.

The day closed with puppet performances of “The social media aragouz,” which reflected the impact of social media, directed by Ali Abu Zeid, and “The aragouz in the city,” directed by Nabil Bahgat.

On the second day, Reem Heggab will honor her father the late Egyptian poet Said Heggab, reciting one of his poems on the aragouz. This will be followed by two aragouz shows, “The Take Away,” directed by Mahmoud Sayed Hanafi, and “Aragouz, the Land of Myths.”

On Thursday, the theater department of the University of Alexandria will celebrate the aragouz with a lecture by Hany Abou El-Hassan, the head of the department, a workshop and a performance titled “Lorca and the aragouz,” directed by Nabil Bahgat and presented by the Wamda Troupe.

The performance honors the creativity of the Spanish poet and innovator Federico García Lorca, and will be held in the presence of the Spanish cultural attache.

The fourth day of the festival will honor the poet Fouad Haddad, whose son Amin Haddad will recite several poems from his father’s book of poetry entitiled Al-Aragouz. The poetry reading will be followed by a discussion.

Then there will be performances of “Aragouz Al Sima,” directed by Mustafa Al-Sabbagh, and “Al-Aragouz in Danger,” which deals with the greatest challenges facing the art of aragouz.

On the last day, the Faculty of Arts at Helwan University and the Department of Theater Sciences’ troupe will hold an open seminar with the department’s students to discuss ways to preserve the Egyptian aragouz.