US Congress members speak during event organized by dissident Iranians

Special US Congress members speak during event organized by dissident Iranians
There was criticism from some of President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive the nuclear deal. (AFP/File)
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Updated 12 February 2022

US Congress members speak during event organized by dissident Iranians

US Congress members speak during event organized by dissident Iranians
  • The online conference was hosted by the Organization of Iranian American Communities to mark the 43rd anniversary of the Iranian Revolution
  • More than 50 Congress members took part and condemned Iran as the world’s “worst sponsor of terror,” while some criticized President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive Iran nuclear deal

CHICAGO: Leaders of the Organization of Iranian American Communities hosted an online conference on Friday to mark the 43rd Anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.
It included words of solidarity from more than 40 members of the US Congress, who condemned Iran as the world’s “worst sponsor of terror.” But there was criticism from some of President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
On Jan. 7, 1978, Iranians began to protest against the oppressive rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, eventually forcing him to flee to the US on Jan. 16, 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini, who had been exiled by the shah to France, returned to Iran soon after and took control of the country on Feb. 11, 1979. Since then, more than 120,000 Iranian protesters and dissidents have been murdered by the Mullah-led regime, according to resistance leaders.
Congressman Andy Barr, a Republican from Kentucky and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reflected the sentiment of many of the speakers when he highlighted House Resolution 118. Signed last year by 251 members of Congress, it condemns Iran’s “state-sponsored terrorism” and calls for American support for efforts to establish a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Republic of Iran.
“I am honored to address you and renew our shared support for a free Iran,” Barr said during the conference. “Thank you for all of the pro-democracy activists working tirelessly on behalf of this cause.
“I am also taking action to prevent the United States from rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.”
Barr introduced the Iran Nuclear Deal Advice and Consent Act of 2021, a law that prevents Federal funds from being used to rejoin what critics consider a flawed agreement, unless Congress ratifies the deal as a treaty. He said he and other representatives also introduced a law called the Maximum Pressure Act, which would reimpose Trump-era sanctions on the regime in Tehran.
“We know that tough sanctions work against Iran,” he said. “After the Trump administration implemented sanctions on the Iranian government, Iran’s foreign-currency reserves dropped 95 percent, the military budget dropped 25 percent and Iranian militia fighters had their pay cut in half.”
Greg Steube, a Republican from Florida and also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized Biden for adopting the “wrong approach to Iran.”
Congressman Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, accused Iran of being in “constant violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

 

He added: “It is my belief that it should be the policy of the United States to investigate and hold Iranian officials accountable for the extra-judicial killings of Iranian dissidents.”
Bacon noted that in recent years there have been hundreds of protests by citizens in Iran and the regime has responded to them with oppressive violence.
He said the US should investigate “the disgraceful actions of President (Ebrahim) Raisi and his involvement in the 1988 massacre (of political prisoners). He must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.”
Michigan Congresswoman Lisa McClain said: “This month marks the 43rd anniversary of Iran’s revolution, a revolution that began with the desire for religious freedom. Unfortunately, that revolution was usurped by a radical religious regime. I’m a proud cosponsor of House Resolution 118 and a proud supporter of the freedom of the Iranian people.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, quoted equality campaigner Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in demanding rights for people who promote democracy, freedom and human rights.
She said that King “had these words: ‘Why we can’t wait for democracy and justice.’ And he also had these words, and I remind you of them: ‘The Arc of the moral universe bends long but it bends towards justice.’”
She also noted that massacres took place in Iran in 1999, 2009, 2017 and 2019.
Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran opened the meeting by reminding participants and viewers that the revolution began with the overthrow of the shah and his “violent tyranny.”
She added: “But since the shah had practically destroyed all democratic movements, he paved the way for the reactionary mullah to take over. This mullah (Ayatollah Khomeini) stole the revolution’s leadership by resorting to religious deception. As a result, religious fascism replaced the shah’s dictatorship.”
The NCRI has adopted a 10-point plan that includes the right of Iranians to vote, free elections, a market-based economy, a rejection of nuclear technology and development, respect for human rights, and a call for an investigation into Raisi’s role in the massacres of 1988 and the killings of protesters during subsequent protests.
Rajavi warned that any lifting of sanctions on Tehran would “only lead to more conflict, carnage, and insecurity in the region.”
The conference also featured videos of incidents in which dissidents destroyed monuments and banners in praise of Raisi and the ayatollahs. Rajavi said the continuing protests at all levels show that a revolution for freedom continues on the streets of Iran.


Gulf Air steward dies mid-air after suffering heart attack

Gulf Air steward dies mid-air after suffering heart attack
Updated 28 November 2022

Gulf Air steward dies mid-air after suffering heart attack

Gulf Air steward dies mid-air after suffering heart attack
  • Plane landed in Erbil and was immediately met by medical team
  • Al-Yazidi was pronounced dead on arrival in nearby hospital

LONDON: Air steward Yasser Saleh Al-Yazidi died mid-air after suffering a heart attack on a Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to Paris on Tuesday, Mail Online reported. 

The Airbus A321 was flying at 34,000 feet over Iraq when Al-Yazidi became ill, Erbil International Airport Director Ahmed Hoshyar told Iraqi media.

The pilots were forced to make an emergency landing in Erbil, Kurdistan, so that the crew member could receive medical treatment, Mail Online reported.

When the plane touched down, a medical team immediately transferred Al-Yazidi to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The plane was grounded for nearly four hours in Erbil before continuing on its way to Paris.

In the wake of Al-Yazidi’s death, the Bahrain-owned airline issued a statement.

“The national carrier expresses its deepest condolences to the crew member’s family and loved ones and confirms that the flight resumed to Paris as scheduled,” it read.

“Gulf Air reassures that the safety of its passengers and crew comes at the top of its priorities and thanks the affected flight’s passengers for their patience and understanding.”

Flight attendants with Gulf Air go through an intensive eight-week program in which they are trained in first aid, safety and emergency procedures.

As most commercial flights do not carry specialized medical equipment, however, pilots are generally required to perform an emergency landing if any serious medical issues arise, Mail Online said.

 


Senate slams European Parliament decision criticizing Egypt’s human rights record

Senate slams European Parliament decision criticizing Egypt’s human rights record
Updated 28 November 2022

Senate slams European Parliament decision criticizing Egypt’s human rights record

Senate slams European Parliament decision criticizing Egypt’s human rights record
  • Senate Speaker Abdel Wahab Abdel Razek accused the European Parliament of continually adopting positions and policies based on ‘fragile assumptions and misconceptions’
  • Abdel Razek: ‘Unfortunately, these policies are outdated, reminiscent of a European colonial legacy, and reveal nothing but a hidden desire to spread the culture of a particular civilization’

CAIRO: The Egyptian Senate has branded a European Parliament resolution criticizing Egypt’s progress on improving its human rights record as being based on “fragile assumptions and misconceptions.”

Senate Speaker Abdel Wahab Abdel Razek told a House of Representatives plenary session that the decision was unacceptable and went against “international rules and norms.”

The European Parliament resolution highlighted what it described as a lack of improvement in Egypt’s human rights situation including on the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly or association, and media freedoms.

Calling for a review of the EU’s relations with Egypt in light of “very limited progress on its human rights record,” the European Parliament also demanded the “immediate and unconditional release of a number of political activists, journalists, lawyers, and social media influencers.”

In a speech, Abdel Razek said: “We all received with displeasure the decision issued by the European Parliament on Nov. 24 regarding the human rights situation in Egypt.”

He accused the European Parliament of continually adopting positions and policies based on, “fragile assumptions and misconceptions and an attempt to claim that it has the authority to evaluate and hold others accountable outside the borders of its members, in violation of international rules and norms.

“Unfortunately, these policies are outdated, reminiscent of a European colonial legacy, and reveal nothing but a hidden desire to spread the culture of a particular civilization. These are issues that no free country, particularly Egypt, will accept,” he added.

In a statement on Friday, the Egyptian Parliament said the resolution, “shows again that the European Parliament insists on adopting an arrogant approach toward Egypt, giving itself the right to use a host of sheer lies to deliver a judgement regarding some recent developments inside Egypt.”

Abdel Razek noted that Egypt had sought to strengthen efforts to improve the lives of its citizens.

He highlighted the Decent Life Initiative as one of the country’s most important projects bringing together the public and private sectors, and civil society, to help boost living standards for Egypt’s neediest groups.

He added that Egypt had launched a national dialogue to identify issues of concern to citizens and had also reactivated the Presidential Pardon Committee which had previously worked to grant amnesty to convicts and reintegrate them into society.

In addition, millions of refugees and asylum seekers had been welcomed to Egypt, Abdel Razek said, adding that efforts to promote and preserve all human rights within the framework of a national vision were ongoing.


Iran frees hundreds after World Cup win over Wales

Iran frees hundreds after World Cup win over Wales
Updated 28 November 2022

Iran frees hundreds after World Cup win over Wales

Iran frees hundreds after World Cup win over Wales
  • 709 detainees were freed from different prisons in the country
  • Prominent Iranian actor Hengameh Ghaziani had also been released on bail

TEHRAN: Iran has released more than 700 prisoners after the national team’s World Cup football victory over Wales, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said Monday.
It announced that “709 detainees were freed from different prisons in the country” following the 2-0 victory on Friday.
Among those are “some arrested during the recent events,” Mizan Online said, making indirect reference to demonstrations which have shaken Iran for more than two months.
It gave no further detail.
The ongoing protests were triggered by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest by morality police for an alleged breach of Iran’s strict dress rules for women.
Other Iranian media separately reported that prominent Iranian actor Hengameh Ghaziani had been released on bail after her arrest for having supported the protests.
Two of the most prominent figures detained over the demonstrations — former international footballer Voria Ghafouri and dissident Hossein Ronaghi — were also let out on bail, reports said.
State news agency IRNA reported on Monday that former state television host Mahmoud Shahriari, 63, had been released after two months in prison for “encouraging riots.”
Iran on Friday scored twice deep into stoppage time to stun Wales and breathe new life into its World Cup campaign ahead of a politically charged showdown Tuesday against the United States.
Iran lost its first World Cup match to England, 6-2.
Iran’s judiciary says more than 2,000 people have been charged since the start of the protests.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk last week said around 14,000 people have been arrested.

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Turkiye, Egypt to re-appoint ambassadors “in coming months”

Turkiye, Egypt to re-appoint ambassadors “in coming months”
Updated 28 November 2022

Turkiye, Egypt to re-appoint ambassadors “in coming months”

Turkiye, Egypt to re-appoint ambassadors “in coming months”

ANKARA: Turkiye and Egypt may restore full diplomatic ties and re-appoint ambassadors mutually “in coming months,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday.
Ankara and Cairo may re-start diplomatic consultations led by deputy foreign ministers as part of a normalization process “soon,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
After years of tension, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan shook hands with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in Qatar this month in what was described by the Egyptian presidency as a new start in bilateral relations.


Turkish forces nearly ready for a Syria ground operation – officials

Turkish forces nearly ready for a Syria ground operation – officials
Updated 28 November 2022

Turkish forces nearly ready for a Syria ground operation – officials

Turkish forces nearly ready for a Syria ground operation – officials
  • Eescalation comes after a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul two weeks ago that Ankara blamed on the YPG militia

ONCUPINAR, Turkiye: Turkiye’s army needs just a few days to be ready for a ground incursion into northern Syria and such a decision may come at a cabinet meeting on Monday, Turkish officials said, as Turkish forces bombarded a Kurdish militia across the border.
Howitzers fired daily from Turkiye have struck Kurdish YPG targets for a week, while warplanes have carried out airstrikes.
The escalation comes after a deadly bomb attack in Istanbul two weeks ago that Ankara blamed on the YPG militia. The YPG has denied involvement in the bombing and has responded at times to the cross-border attacks with mortar shelling.
“The Turkish Armed Forces needs just a few days to become almost fully ready,” one senior official said, adding that Turkiye-allied Syrian rebel fighters were ready for such an operation just a few days after the Nov. 13 Istanbul bomb.
“It won’t take long for the operation to begin,” he said. “It depends only on the president giving the word.”
Turkiye has previously launched military incursions in Syria against the YPG, regarding it as a wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkiye, the United States and European Union designate a terrorist group.
The PKK has also denied carrying out the Istanbul attack, in which six people were killed on a busy pedestrian avenue.
President Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkiye would launch a land operation when convenient to secure its southern border. He will chair a cabinet meeting at 3:30 p.m. (1230 GMT).
“All the preparations are complete. It’s now a political decision,” another Turkish official told Reuters, also requesting anonymity ahead of the meeting.
Erdogan said back in May that Turkiye would soon launch a military operation against the YPG in Syria, but such an operation did not materialize at that time.
The first Turkish official said a ground operation, targeting the areas of Manbij, Kobani and Tel Rifat, was inevitable to link up the areas brought under the control of Turkiye and its Syrian allies with incursions since 2016.
Ankara had been in contact with Moscow and Washington about its military activities, the person added.
The United States has told NATO member Turkiye it has serious concerns that an escalation would affect the goal of fighting Daesh militants in Syria.
Russia asked Turkiye to refrain from a full-scale ground offensive. It has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s 11-year war, while Ankara has backed rebels fighting to topple him.
On Monday, the defense ministry said Turkiye’s army had “neutralized” 14 YPG militants preparing to carry out attacks in Syrian areas under Turkiye’s control. It typically uses the term to describe casualties.
The defense ministry said on Saturday three Turkish soldiers had been killed in northern Iraq, where the military has been conducting an operation against the PKK since April.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, having traveled to the Iraqi border area, was quoted as telling military commanders on Sunday that Turkiye will “complete the tasks” of the mission.