Israel free to make decisions it deems appropriate on Iran: White House

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a "collective response" to Iran, which had warned adversaries against reprisals after Tehran was blamed for an attack on an Israeli-linked tanker. (AFP)
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Updated 03 August 2021

Israel free to make decisions it deems appropriate on Iran: White House

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday renewed his vow of a "collective response" to Iran, which had warned adversaries against reprisals after Tehran was blamed for an attack on an Israeli-linked tanker. (AFP)
  • US, Britain and Israel blame Iran for fatal attack on Israeli-linked oil tanker off coast of Oman
  • Secretary of State Blinken said “there will be a collective response”

WASHINGTON D.C.: Israel was “free to make the decisions it deemed appropriate” on Iran after an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman last week which has been blamed on Tehran, Asharq Al-Awsat quoted the White House as saying on Monday.

The US, Britain and Israel have blamed Iran for the fatal attack on the Israeli-linked oil tanker. Iran denies involvement.

The White House added that Iran’s steps posed a challenge and a threat in light of an unrestricted nuclear program.

In Washington on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was “confident that Iran carried out this attack.”

Meanwhile, Israel's defense minister also said Monday that Iran's alleged attack on the ship was “a stepping-up of the escalation” of hostilities by Iran, and called for international action.

Benny Gantz addressed Israel's parliament, the Knesset, and said the drone strike on the Mercer Street that left two crew members dead — one from the UK and one from Romania — was “in violation of international law and human morality.” He charged that Iran was behind at least five attacks on international shipping in the last year.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Iran and its militia allies have used so-called “suicide” drones in attacks previously. The region has seen a rise in attacks on commercial vessels in the aftermath of the disintegration of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

“This is exactly the reason why we must act now against Iran, which is not only striving toward nuclear arms, but is also bringing about a dangerous arms race and intends to destabilize the Middle East with terrorist militias who are armed with hundreds of drones in Iran, Yemen, Iraq and other countries in the region,” Gantz said.

He added that any future agreement between world powers and Iran to rein in its nuclear program must also address Iranian's “aggression in the region and harming both innocent people and to the global economy.”

He also said that it was not a future threat, rather a “tangible and immediate danger.”

As well as his comments on Israel, also reported by Al Arabiya, Blinken said the US was in close contact with the Israelis, the UK and Romania and "there will be a collective response.” He did not elaborate on what that response might be.

“It follows a pattern of similar attacks by Iran, including past incidents with explosive drones,” he told reporters at the State Department. “There is no justification for this attack on a peaceful vessel on a commercial mission, international waters rise action is a direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce, took the lives of innocent sailors.”

* With AP


Salih calls for respect for Iraqi sovereignty

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R), and Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq, meeting during the the 76th session of the UNGA. (AP)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R), and Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq, meeting during the the 76th session of the UNGA. (AP)
Updated 14 sec ago

Salih calls for respect for Iraqi sovereignty

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R), and Barham Salih, President of the Republic of Iraq, meeting during the the 76th session of the UNGA. (AP)
  • President: Iraq, Iran should maintain ties based on mutual respect
  • Concerns raised over hardships caused by Iranian, Turkish dams

WASHINGTON D.C.: Iraqi President Barham Salih said his country should not be used as a proxy by its more powerful neighbors Iran and Turkey to settle regional conflicts.

Speaking at an event hosted on Wednesday by the Council on Foreign Relations, he added that Iran might be wary of Iraq’s reemergence as a regional power in the future, but that both countries should maintain ties based on mutual respect.

Iran maintains a powerful influence on Iraqi domestic politics through political parties and militias that receive political and financial support from Tehran.

Salih, who is attending the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, said Iraq and Iran should treat each other as “sovereign states.”

He added that he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UNGA, and discussed bilateral relations and Ankara’s incursions into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants.

Salih said recent droughts and the loss of agricultural land, mainly due to dams built by Turkey and Iran that restrict the flow of water downstream to Iraq, are causing severe problems for his country.

Iraq depends for its agriculture on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which flow downstream to Syria and Iraq from Turkey.

An extensive Turkish dam system has restricted the flow of the rivers downstream, causing severe droughts in both Arab countries.

Similarly, Iranian dams have caused drought and economic hardship in Iraq, especially in the Kurdish region.

Salih said the situation will worsen as Iraq’s population of around 40 million is projected to double by 2050.

He stressed the need for Iraq to establish long-term economic planning to address an eventual drop in its oil sales — which represent the majority of its income — due to emerging technologies that do not depend on oil.

Salih discussed Iraq seeking stronger economic ties with Jordan and Egypt, including connecting the three countries with a common electrical grid and building an Iraqi oil pipeline that goes through Jordan.


Ethiopia will ‘pay price’ for Renaissance Dam: Arab League chief

Ethiopia will ‘pay price’ for Renaissance Dam: Arab League chief
Updated 23 September 2021

Ethiopia will ‘pay price’ for Renaissance Dam: Arab League chief

Ethiopia will ‘pay price’ for Renaissance Dam: Arab League chief

Ethiopia will “pay the price” for constructing the Renaissance Dam, which has caused a crisis between Addis Ababa on the one hand, and Cairo and Khartoum on the other, said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

“It is a dam of ruin for two Arab countries (Egypt and Sudan),” he said, adding that the “tragic situation” facing the Arab world in recent times has given Turkey, Iran, Israel and Ethiopia an opportunity to interfere in the region’s affairs.

Aboul Gheit said his priority at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly is to focus on the Palestinian issue again, to which he “will demand a political solution.”


Israeli court hears custody fight over cable car survivor, 6

Israeli court hears custody fight over cable car survivor, 6
Updated 23 September 2021

Israeli court hears custody fight over cable car survivor, 6

Israeli court hears custody fight over cable car survivor, 6
  • Eitan Biran’s relatives on both sides attended the session in Tel Aviv
  • Eitan’s immediate family was among 14 people killed when the cable car carrying them crashed into a mountainside in May

JERUSALEM: The bitter custody battle over a 6-year-old boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy inched forward in Israel on Monday with a hearing in family court.
Eitan Biran’s relatives on both sides attended the session in Tel Aviv, in a legal fight that spans both countries where his remaining relatives reside. Eitan’s immediate family was among 14 people killed when the cable car carrying them crashed into a mountainside in May. The child’s survival sparked an immediate international dispute between his maternal and paternal families.
Members of both families met in family court in Tel Aviv on Monday, a next step in the dispute. Those present included Eitan’s aunt Aya Biran, who lives in Italy and has filed a formal request with the Italian court system seeking Eitan’s return to Italy. Also attending Monday’s hearing was the child’s grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, who spirited the boy away to Israel.
Eitan’s relatives in Italy say he was taken without their knowledge and are seeking his return. The child’s relatives in Israel have denied to local media that they abducted Eitan and insist they are acting in his interest.
Peleg has acknowledged driving the child from Italy into Switzerland before flying him back to Israel, telling Channel 12 that “we departed in a totally legal way.”
Peleg was questioned by Israeli police on kidnapping suspicions and placed under house arrest pending an ongoing investigation.
Italian authorities also have opened an investigation. Peleg told Israel’s Channel 12 that he had given up on contesting custody in the Italian court system and said he expected the boy to understand once he got older.
“I believe that one day Eitan will grow up and say grandfather, you did everything for me, you saved me,” he said, breaking into tears. “And my daughter, who one day will meet me in heaven, will be proud of me that I saved her son.”


Houthis must be re-designated a terrorist organization: senior Yemeni official

Houthis must be re-designated a terrorist organization: senior Yemeni official
Updated 23 September 2021

Houthis must be re-designated a terrorist organization: senior Yemeni official

Houthis must be re-designated a terrorist organization: senior Yemeni official
  • The US State Department early this year lifted a terrorist designation against the Houthis

DUBAI: The Houthi militia must be re-designated as a terrorist organization to curb its violence-driven ambitions in Yemen and force it to talk peace in the war-torn country, a senior Yemeni official said.

The brief designation of the Houthis as a terrorist organization during former US President Donald Trump’s tenure was a positive step, Muammar Al-Eryani, the minister of information, was quoted by state news agency SABA as saying.

And he added that during the designation period, the Houthi’s efforts declined and its various military operations stopped.

In a virtual meeting with Peter Derrek Hof, the Dutch ambassador to Yemen, Al-Eryani called on the international community and the European Union to take serious steps to re-designate the Iran-backed group as a terrorist organization.

The US State Department earlier this year lifted the terrorist designation against the Houthis that the Trump administration issued during its final days on the grounds that it would cause more suffering to millions of Yemenis than the militia force.

Al-Eryani emphasized that the Yemeni government made concessions to various peace efforts to ‘reach peace and in order to end the war imposed by the Iran-backed Houthi militia.’

Meanwhile, foreign affairs minister Ahmad Awadh bin Mubarak and his Irish counterpart Simon Coveney met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s meetings to discuss latest developments in Yemen.

The two discussed the Houthi militia’s military escalation in Marib and targeting populated areas, Iran’s role in destabilizing Yemen and the region, as well as how the UN Security Council could help achieve lasting peace in the country.


Sudan’s military strikes out at civilian politicians after coup attempt

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan Abdelrahman
Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan Abdelrahman
Updated 23 September 2021

Sudan’s military strikes out at civilian politicians after coup attempt

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan Abdelrahman
  • Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan said the military was the group most interested in the transition to democracy and elections, scheduled for early 2024

KHARTOUM: Sudanese military leaders said on Wednesday the civilian politicians they share power with had opened the door to a coup attempt by neglecting public welfare while they were consumed by internal squabbles.
A body known as the Sovereign Council has ruled Sudan under a fragile power-sharing deal between the military and civilians since the overthrow of Omar Bashir in 2019 but their relationship has remained fractious since then.
Military authorities said on Monday they had detained 21 officers who had attempted to take power in the early hours of the day. The threat appeared to have escalated the tensions between the partners.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia condemned the coup attempt Al-Arabiya TV reported on Wednesday, citing the country’s Foreign Ministry.
Egypt also condemned the coup attempt and stressed its support for its neighbor’s transitional government.
In a statement on its official Facebook page, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry affirmed its support for efforts by Sudan’s government to meet the aspirations of its people at this important stage in the country’s history.
Cairo stressed its keenness to see stability and security in Sudan, and condemned any attempt to obstruct development efforts there.
Speaking at a military graduation in Omdurman, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, head of the Sovereign Council, and his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, accused the civilian politicians of seeking personal gains and forgetting the aims of the revolution.
“The politicians gave an opportunity for the coup because they neglected the citizen and his livelihood and basic services and were occupied with fighting over seats and divvying up positions,” Dagalo said, in unusually strong criticism of the civilian team.
After the coup attempt, civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok reiterated calls to restructure the military and bring its business interests under civilian oversight, a key source of dispute, in a speech that did not emphasize military-civilian unity as he has done previously.
Political parties called on citizens to reject military rule and protect the revolution. Burhan called such statements “unacceptable.”
“Who should they rise to protect the revolution against? From us, the military? We are the ones who are protecting it from them, the ones who want to steal it.”
Burhan said the military was the group most interested in the transition to democracy and elections, scheduled for early 2024.
“They are occupied with fighting and yelling and are directing all their arrows at us,” he said.
Both men said they felt their forces were unappreciated.
“The military is met with humiliation and insults day and night, so how can there not be coups,” said Dagalo.