DUBAI: Iran on Tuesday rejected a US call to grant UN inspectors access to a nuclear site, saying Washington was not qualified to demand inspections without condemning a sabotage attack on the facility, Iranian state media reported.
“Countries that did not condemn terrorist acts against Iran’s nuclear site are not qualified to comment on inspections there,” Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said during a visit to Moscow, according to Iranian state news agency IRNA.
The United States said on Monday that Iran must stop denying the UN nuclear watchdog access to a workshop making centrifuge parts as agreed two weeks ago or face diplomatic retaliation at the agency’s Board of Governors meeting.
The workshop at the TESA Karaj complex makes components for centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, and was hit by apparent sabotage in June in which one of four International Atomic Energy Agency cameras there was destroyed. Iran removed them and the destroyed camera’s footage is missing.
European court raps Turkey over presidential ‘insults’ law
Thousands have been charged and sentenced over the crime of insulting President Erdogan in 7 years
Updated 31 sec ago
STRASBOURG, France: Europe’s top human rights court on Tuesday called on Turkey to change a law regarding insulting the president under which tens of thousands have been prosecuted, after ruling that a man’s detention under the law violated his freedom of expression.
Vedat Sorli was given a suspended 11-month jail sentence in 2017 over a caricature and a photograph of President Tayyip Erdogan that he shared on Facebook, along with satirical and critical comments.
There was no justification for Sorli’s detention and pre-trial arrest or the imposition of a criminal sanction, the European Court of Human Rights court said.
“Such a sanction, by its very nature, inevitably had a chilling effect on the willingness of the person concerned to express his or her views on matters of public interest,” it said.
The criminal proceedings against Sorli were “incompatible with freedom of expression,” the court added.
Thousands have been charged and sentenced over the crime of insulting Erdogan in the seven years since he moved from being prime minister to president.
In 2020, 31,297 investigations were launched in relation to the charge, 7,790 cases were filed and 3,325 resulted in convictions, according to Justice Ministry data. Those numbers were slightly lower than the previous year.
Since 2014, the year Erdogan became president, 160,169 investigations were launched over insulting the president, 35,507 cases were filed and there were 12,881 convictions.
In a prominent case earlier this year, a court sentenced pro-Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas to 3-1/2 years for insulting Erdogan, one of the longest sentences over the crime, according to Demirtas’ lawyer.
The court said Turkey’s law on insulting the president affords the head of state a privileged status over conveying information and opinion about them.
It said the law should be changed to ensure people have the freedom to hold opinions and impart ideas without interference by authorities in order to put an end to the violation it found in Sorli’s case.
10 diplomat summoned
Separately, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of the US and nine other countries to protest a statement they issued that called for the release of imprisoned philanthropist and civil rights activist Osman Kavala.
Kavala, 64, has been kept behind bars for four years, accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government through the 2013 nationwide demonstrations that started at Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He has also been charged with espionage and attempting to overthrow the government in connection with a failed military coup in 2016.
The ministry said the ambassadors were told that “the impertinent statement via social media regarding a legal proceeding conducted by independent judiciary was unacceptable.” Turkey rejects the attempt to “politicize judicial proceedings and put pressure on (the) Turkish judiciary,” it continued.
“Turkey is a democratic country governed by the rule of law that respects human rights, and it was reminded that the Turkish judiciary will not be influenced by such irresponsible statements,” the ministry added.
Israel violates international law ‘because it can,’ UN Security Council told
US/Middle East Project called for the Palestinian leadership to stop repressing ‘their own people’
Israel PR slammed the security council meetings on the Middle East and said the focus should be on Iran instead
Updated 20 October 2021
NEW YORK: Israel pursues policies in violation of international law and of UN resolutions “Because it can — no tangible cost or consequence is attached,” the UN Security Council heard on Tuesday.
Daniel Levy, president of US/Middle East Project, told council members of the need to address what he called “an accountability deficit when it comes to Israel’s action” as it is one of the core understandings that should guide the peace process forward.
“If the unlawful and peace negating politics of Israel continue to be met with impunity, there should be no expectation of positive change.
Also to be considered is “a legitimacy deficit in Palestinian politics,” Levy said.
“The Palestinian Liberation Organization must become fully representative, inclusive and by extension better able to demonstrate strategic agency and to negotiate.
“Palestinians have a right to elect representatives to their national institutions. That requires a Palestinian leadership decision, as well as supportive, not preventive, steps by Israel and the International community.
“We also cannot ignore or condone when existing Palestinian self-governing authorities on the ground with their limited mandate repress their own people.”
Palestinian politician, activist, and scholar Hanan Ashrawi told the ambassadors that everything must be viewed in the context of occupation.
The security council’s inability to assert its authority, Ashrawi said, has allowed “this injustice to become a perpetual tragic, human modern political and legal travesty.”
She discounted talk of confidence-building between Israel and the Palestinians as “there can be very little confidence under occupation.
“The policy of confidence-building measures is misguided because occupation brings only contempt, distrust, resentment, and resistance. The oppressed cannot be brought to trust or accept handouts from their oppressor as an alternative to their right to freedom.”
Another attempt at spreading misconception is the constant call for “balance in an unbalanced situation,” Ashrawi said.
“The mindless refrain that Israel has a right to defend itself while the Palestinian people are denied such a right is perverse, and that the occupier’s violence is justified as self-defense while the occupied are stigmatized as a terrorist.
“Peace is not achieved by normalizing the occupation, sidelining the Palestinian question, or rewarding it by repositioning Israel as a regional superpower.
“Such an approach maintains in place the causes of regional instability while enabling Israel as a colonial apartheid to superimpose greater Israel on all of historic Palestine.”
Israel’s permanent representative to the UN Gilad Erdan strongly criticized Ashrawi’s presence at the security council meeting.
“A spokesperson for Palestinian leadership was invited to represent civil society,” giving a platform to what he called “Palestinian rejectionism.”
Erdan slammed security council meetings on the Middle East for what he called disregarding “the real threat to regional and global security: Iran.
“Iran has assembled six armies of terrorist proxies in the region and by allowing the Ayatollah regime to continue with the severe violation of their international commitments, these six terror armies will soon have an Iranian nuclear umbrella.”
Before the meeting began, Erdan told reporters in New York that such meetings have the sole aim to “bash Israel” and are a “waste of everyone’s time.
“The security council members help dig the ditch of conflict deeper,” he said.
Erdan called on council members to “stand up to Iran and demand that Palestinian leadership abandon their culture of hate. This is the only way to transform the region into a paradise of progress, prosperity, and peace.”
UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office James Cleverly meets with Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League. (Twitter/@JamesCleverly)
UK, Arab League concerned over Iran’s nuclear program
UK minister for Middle East and North Africa met separately with Arab League secretary-general and Egyptian foreign minister
All sides also affirmed their countries support the Libyan political process
Updated 20 October 2021
LONDON: The UK shares concerns over Iran’s nuclear program with Arab countries, a government official said on Tuesday.
Tehran has stopped honoring some of its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal and has been holding up negotiations aimed at reviving the landmark accord that scales back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, sparking concern from the UN nuclear watchdog agency.
The comments were made during a meeting in London between the UK Minister for Middle East and North Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, James Cleverly, and Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the Arab League.
The meeting dealt with developments in the region, including Iran, Syria and Libya, where Cleverly affirmed his country supports the Libyan political process.
I met too with @arableague_gs Aboul Gheit, to discuss recent developments in the region, including Iran, Libya and Syria.
The Arab League shares our concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme and, like us, also supports the political process in Libya. pic.twitter.com/ZyCWgLEDAA
Earlier on Tuesday, Cleverly met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, where he praised Egypt’s role as “a key mediator in regional conflicts, and a leading partner on climate” change.
He also congratulated Shoukry on Egypt’s nomination to host the next UN climate change conference (COP27), adding he looked forward to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi attendance at the upcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow next month, and his meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“I also thanked Shoukry for Egypt’s ongoing engagement in Hamas-Israeli talks,” which “played a leading role in securing the cease-fire,” Cleverly said.
The UK and Egypt also agreed on the importance of Libya sticking to its elections timetable, he added.
I also thanked FM Shoukry for 's ongoing engagement in Hamas-Israeli talks. Egypt played a leading role in securing the ceasefire.
48 Houthi militants killed near Yemen’s Marib: Arab coalition
Arab coalition says airstrikes hit 14 Houthi targets, also destroying six military vehicles
Updated 19 October 2021
RIYADH: The Arab coalition in Yemen said on Tuesday it carried out 14 attacks targeting Houthi militia members in two districts near the strategic city of Marib in the last 24 hours.
The coalition said 48 Houthis have been killed and six military vehicles were destroyed in the military operations in Al-Jawba and Al-Kassara.
“We will continue to provide support to the Yemeni National Army to protect civilians from Houthi violations,” the coalition said in a statement.
This is the ninth consecutive day that the coalition has announced strikes around Marib, reporting a total of more than 1,200 Houthi fatalities.
The previously announced bombings were in Abedia about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Marib — the internationally recognized government’s last bastion in oil-rich northern Yemen.
The strikes reported Tuesday were closer to Marib.
Al-Jawba lies about 50 kilometers from the city and Al-Kassara is about 30 kilometers northwest.
According to a government military official on Tuesday, fighting between the two sides “continues on a number of fronts but there are no major advances or changes on the ground in recent hours.”
The Houthis began a major push to seize Marib in February and have renewed their offensive since September after a lull. (With AFP)
Blinken says Yemen conflict is top US foreign policy priority
The US secretary of state congratulates UN envoy to Yemen on his new role during call
Updated 19 October 2021
LONDON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday reiterated that resolving the conflict in Yemen remains a top US foreign policy priority.
His comments came during a phone call with the newly-appointed UN envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg.
Blinken congratulated Grundberg, who was appointed in August to replace Martin Griffiths, on his new role, the State Department said in a statement.
During the call, they “discussed efforts to engage all parties without preconditions and secure a cease-fire, address urgent humanitarian priorities, restart the political process in Yemen, and ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses.”
UN Special Envoy Grundberg spoke today to @SecBlinken and discussed efforts to urgently find a way forward towards an inclusive, comprehensive political solution to end the conflict in #Yemen.
Blinken also welcomed collaboration on the common goal of reaching an “inclusive, durable solution” to end the conflict in Yemen and bringing relief to Yemenis, the statement added.
On Monday, Grundberg ended a visit to Oman, where he met with Omani officials, Houthi representatives, and representatives of the international community about reaching a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Yemen.