Time shrinking for Iran nuclear deal, US envoy warns

Time shrinking for Iran nuclear deal, US envoy warns
US Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley speaks during a media briefing on the sidelines of the opening of the 17th IISS Manama Dialogue in the Bahraini capital Manama November 19, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 19 November 2021

Time shrinking for Iran nuclear deal, US envoy warns

Time shrinking for Iran nuclear deal, US envoy warns
  • Robert Malley said Iran risked making it “impossible” to gain any benefit from resuming the agreement
  • This week, the IAEA said Tehran had again increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium

MANAMA: The US envoy for Iran warned Friday that Tehran was approaching the point of no return for reviving a nuclear deal after it boosted its stocks of enriched uranium before talks resume this month.
Robert Malley said Iran risked making it “impossible” to gain any benefit from resuming the agreement, which has been on hold since then president Donald Trump walked away in 2018.
This week, with Iran set for talks with world powers in Vienna on November 29, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tehran had again increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium.
“The time will come if Iran continues at this pace with the advancements they’ve made, (it) will make it impossible even if we were going to go back to the JCPOA to recapture the benefits,” Malley told the Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was the agreement struck in 2015 under which Iran agreed to clear limits on its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions.
“Iran’s advances are spreading alarm across the region... that’s what’s making the clock tick faster and making all of us say that the time is short for a return to the JCPOA,” Malley said.
On Wednesday, the US and its Gulf Arab allies accused Iran of causing a nuclear crisis and destabilising the region with its ballistic missile program and support for armed militias.
Malley said the US shared a “commonality of purpose” with rivals Russia and China “because we want to avoid that crisis, all of us, the crisis that would be sparked if Iran continues on its current path.”
“And I want to be clear, because there’s no ambiguity about what they seem to be doing now, which is to drag their feet on the nuclear talks and accelerate the progress in their nuclear program.”
The US envoy said he was not encouraged by the statements from the new Iranian government of President Ebrahim Raisi, which earlier on Friday accused Washington of conducting a “propaganda campaign” against the country.
“If they stick to their public pronouncements, unfortunately we’re not headed in the right direction... but let’s wait to see what happens,” he said, pledging that President Joe Biden would honor a revived deal.
“Our intent, our clear intent in coming back into the deal is to stick with the deal because we don’t want to see a nuclear crisis,” Malley said.
Iran had reacted angrily to a US pledge to take its Gulf Arab allies’ interests into account in any revived nuclear deal with their arch rival.
“The US government, which is responsible for the current situation after withdrawing from the nuclear deal, is once again trying to provoke a crisis,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh charged.


Britain’s Prince William to visit Dubai next month

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, delivering a speech at the Tusk Conservation Awards in London on November 22. (Reuters/File Photo)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, delivering a speech at the Tusk Conservation Awards in London on November 22. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 15 sec ago

Britain’s Prince William to visit Dubai next month

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, delivering a speech at the Tusk Conservation Awards in London on November 22. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • The prince will travel to the UAE on Feb. 10 at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office

LONDON: Britain’s Prince William will visit Dubai next month as part of Expo 2020’s UK National Day, Kensington Palace has announced.

The Duke of Cambridge will travel to the UAE on Feb. 10 at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

His trip, which coincides with the UAE marking its 50th year, will be his first to the emirates and his first major overseas visit since a 2019 tour of the Middle East.

“The bond between the UK and the UAE is deep and strong and Prince William’s visit will highlight and build upon these links as he has the opportunity to engage with young Emiratis, leaders from government and committed conservationists,” the palace statement said.

During the UK National Day at Expo 2020, the Commonwealth Games 2022 baton relay, launched by Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace last October, will parade through the site while stopping at the national pavilions of Commonwealth nations.


UN Security Council condemns ‘terrorist’ attacks on UAE by Yemen’s Houthis

The UNSC statement on the Houthis came after a drone attack by the Iran-backed Houthis near oil storage facilities in Abu Dhabi left two Indians and a Pakistani dead. (Reuters/File Photo)
The UNSC statement on the Houthis came after a drone attack by the Iran-backed Houthis near oil storage facilities in Abu Dhabi left two Indians and a Pakistani dead. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 44 min 52 sec ago

UN Security Council condemns ‘terrorist’ attacks on UAE by Yemen’s Houthis

The UNSC statement on the Houthis came after a drone attack by the Iran-backed Houthis near oil storage facilities in Abu Dhabi left two Indians and a Pakistani dead. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • UNSC underlined need to hold perpetrators, organizers and financiers accountable, bring them to justice

NEW YORK: The UN Security Council has unanimously condemned the deadly attacks on Abu Dhabi by Yemen’s Houthi militia as “heinous terrorist attacks” and called to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The statement on the Houthis came after a drone attack by the Iran-backed Houthis near oil storage facilities in Abu Dhabi left two Indians and a Pakistani dead and caused a fire to break out at the UAE capital’s airport.

Abu Dhabi Police said “small flying objects” were found at both sites, pointing to a deliberate attack using drones — a hallmark of the Houthis.

Eight others were injured in the attacks.

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attacks in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Monday, 17 January, as well as in other sites in Saudi Arabia,” the council said.

“The members of the Security Council underlined the need to hold perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism accountable and bring them to justice.”

UAE's representative Lana Nusseibeh said more international action was needed to hold the Houthis accountable, especially considering their actions not only threaten Emiratis, but also citizens from every UN member state.

“The UAE cares deeply about our citizens and about millions of citizens from around the world who have made our country their home,” she said.

She also said that as the Houthis themselves claimed responsibility for the attack, there was no question as to who must be held to account. She added the UAE was “strongly encouraged” that the council had joined more than 100 coutnries and international organizations in strongly condemning the attack, errorist attack.

She stressed the UAE’s soverign right to defend itself, its people and its way of life as any nation in the same situation would do. 

* With AFP


At least 11 migrants drown off Tunisia in shipwreck

At least 11 migrants drown off Tunisia in shipwreck
Updated 21 January 2022

At least 11 migrants drown off Tunisia in shipwreck

At least 11 migrants drown off Tunisia in shipwreck
  • He added the coast guard had recovered five bodies, while the search was still under way for six more drowned

TUNIS: At least 11 migrants drowned in a shipwreck off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, while 21 others were rescued by the coast guard, the army spokesman said on Friday.
He added the coast guard had recovered five bodies, while the search was still under way for six more drowned.


Daesh attacks Syria jail, military base in Iraq in deadly escalation

Daesh attacks Syria jail, military base in Iraq in deadly escalation
Updated 21 January 2022

Daesh attacks Syria jail, military base in Iraq in deadly escalation

Daesh attacks Syria jail, military base in Iraq in deadly escalation
  • The brazen Daesh operation sewed chaos in Hasakah, forcing people to flee the area around Ghwayran prison
  • The attack marked the jihadists’ deadliest operation in Iraq this year

HASAKEH, Syria: Daesh group on Friday attacked a Syria prison housing fellow jihadists and a military base in Iraq in near simultaneous deadly operations that revived fears of a Daesh resurgence.
The jihadist group has yet to comment on the attacks and there is no indication that they are coordinated but, according to analysts, they strongly suggest Daesh is trying to boost its ranks and arsenal in an attempt to reorganize across both countries.
In Syria, an ongoing Daesh attack on a northeast Syria detention facility holding the largest number of Daesh suspects killed at least 20 Kurdish security forces and set several Daesh fighters free, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The prison break that began late Thursday was one of the group’s most significant attacks since its “caliphate” was declared defeated in the war-torn country nearly three years ago.
As Daesh operatives launched their bid to free some of the estimated 3,500 fellow fighters jailed at Ghwayran prison in the Syrian city of Hasakah, the jihadists killed 11 soldiers in an attack on an army base in the east of neighboring Iraq.
The attack marked the jihadists’ deadliest operation in Iraq this year.
While the Iraq operation quickly came under wraps, Kurdish forces in Syria continued to battle jihadists in Hasakah, hours after the prison attack began with a Daesh car bomb late Thursday, the Observatory said.
“The number of those killed among Kurdish internal security forces and prison guards stands at 20,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The war monitor, providing figures that were not immediately confirmed by the authorities of the autonomous Kurdish region, also said at least 16 jihadists were killed in the ongoing fighting.
The brazen Daesh operation sewed chaos in Hasakah, forcing people to flee the area around Ghwayran prison.
Daesh fighters hunkered down in homes around the facility, sometimes using residents as human shields, as Kurdish forces fought to retake full control of the neighborhood and hunt down prisoners on the loose.
Daesh has carried out regular attacks against Kurdish and regime targets in Syria since the last rump of its once-sprawling proto-state was defeated on the banks of the Euphrates in March 2019.
Most of their guerrilla attacks have been against military targets and oil installations in remote areas but the Hasakah prison break could mark a new phase in the group’s resurgence.
The Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurds’ de-facto army in northeast Syria, said it had recaptured 89 Daesh detainees in its sweep of the area.
“Clashes continue in the vicinity of the prison,” the SDF said in a statement.
The US-led international coalition formed to battle Daesh acknowledged the attack and added that the SDF had suffered casualties but did not say how many.
Daesh “remains an existential threat in Syria and cannot be allowed to regenerate,” the coalition said.
The Kurdish authorities have long warned they did not have the capacity to hold, let alone put on trial, the thousands of Daesh fighters captured in years of operations.
According to Kurdish authorities, more than 50 nationalities are represented in a number of Kurdish-run prisons where more than 12,000 Daesh suspects are now held.
From France to Tunisia, many of the Daesh prisoners’ countries of origins have been reluctant to repatriate them, fearing a public backlash at home.
A UN report last year estimated that around 10,000 Daesh fighters remained active across Iraq and Syria, many of them in Kurdish-controlled areas.
Prison breaks have been a recurring part of jihadist groups’ strategy in both Iraq and Syria for over a decade.
Before becoming the world’s most wanted man, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of what was later to become known as the “Islamic State,” had launched a campaign in 2012 focused on releasing prisoners.
His proclamation of Daesh’s so-called caliphate in 2014 across swathes of Iraq and Syria came a wave of operations in Iraq during which several hundred fighters were freed, including from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.
“Jailbreaks and prison riots were a central component of Daesh’s resurgence in Iraq and is a serious threat in Syria today,” said Dareen Khalifa, senior Syria analyst at International Crisis Group.
She pointed out that many of the prisons in the Kurdish-run areas of Syria where much of the Daesh caliphate’s former “army” is being held were converted schools ill-suited to holding high-risk detainees for long periods.
Since Kurdish forces backed by the US-led coalition flushed out the last die-hard jihadists holding out in the village of Baghuz in 2019, Daesh has been patiently rebuilding.
The confusion and corruption that are rife in the vast desert expanses on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border have allowed Daesh remnants to lie low and plot their next moves.
 


Gargash: UAE will exercise its right to defend itself against Houthis

Gargash: UAE will exercise its right to defend itself against Houthis
Updated 21 January 2022

Gargash: UAE will exercise its right to defend itself against Houthis

Gargash: UAE will exercise its right to defend itself against Houthis

LONDON: The UAE will exercise its right to defend itself against the acts of the Houthi militia, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President Anwar Gargash said on Friday.

The UAE has the legal and moral right to defend its lands and residents, he said in a statement published by Al Arabiya. 

The Houthi militia rejected all calls for a ceasefire, and their attack on the UAE Rwabee ship prove their rejection of a political solution, the adviser said. 

The Houthis have turned the port of Hodeidah into a port for maritime piracy, he claimed, and are using it to finance the war.

The UAE will do everything necessary to prevent the danger of terrorist acts on its soil, he said.

Houthi rebels claimed credit for a cross-border drone strike on Monday that killed three migrant workers in the UAE. This lead to international condemnation. 

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he is considering re-designating Yemen’s Houthi militia as an international terrorist organization after the attack.