Iran could use nuclear deal to fund terrorist militias, Israeli diplomat warns

A renewed nuclear deal with Iran will channel billions of dollars into funding the regime’s militias, spreading terror across the region and beyond, an Israeli diplomat has warned. (OISL)
A renewed nuclear deal with Iran will channel billions of dollars into funding the regime’s militias, spreading terror across the region and beyond, an Israeli diplomat has warned. (OISL)
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Updated 21 March 2022

Iran could use nuclear deal to fund terrorist militias, Israeli diplomat warns

A renewed nuclear deal with Iran will channel billions of dollars into funding the regime’s militias, spreading terror across the region and beyond, an Israeli diplomat has warned. (OISL)
  • Israeli government ‘extremely troubled’ over new deal with West, says Joshua Zarka, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry
  • ‘Money could basically be used to allow Hezbollah to have the run of Lebanon,’ he adds

LONDON: A renewed nuclear deal with Iran will channel billions of dollars into funding the regime’s militias, spreading terror across the region and beyond, an Israeli diplomat has warned.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Joshua Zarka, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, said the Israeli government was “extremely troubled” by the possibility of Iran using funds from the deal to arm proxy militias to carry out attacks.

He added that sanctions being lifted from Tehran would lead to tensions rising between Iran and Israel, with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz saying the country could strike Iran militarily if it was left with “no choice but to act.”

Analysts have said that a new Iran nuclear deal is on the horizon, which would see Washington’s sanctions on Tehran lifted in return for the regime agreeing to return to limits on its nuclear plans.

That would release billions of dollars of funding and allow Iran to enhance its oil exports to Western countries, with many major powers struggling with an energy crisis made worse by the cuts to Russian oil and gas products.

“Our assessment is that a large part of the money that the Iranians will receive as a result of the agreement is going to be spent on its proxies. On arming its proxies and financing its proxies. Lebanon is in a significant crisis. The money could basically be used to allow Hezbollah to have the run of Lebanon, which is extremely troubling,” Zarka said.

“Then we have Syria. Iran is going to double its efforts to entrench itself in Syria militarily. On the one hand Iranian militias will be encouraged because of the agreement and Iran will have much more money. Clearly the tensions between us and Iran in that region are going to grow significantly.”

He warned that “there is going to be significant growth in Iranian involvement” in Iraq, where Iran-backed militias have caused havoc, which he said would lead to more violence.

“And of course there’s the Houthis. They have targeted Saudi, UAE and others and will have the backing of a country that is more stable, has more money and that is going to try to continue destabilizing the region,” Zarka said.

“In 2023 a sunset clause is going to be hit, therefore it’s going to be legitimate for Iran to import and export missiles and missile technology. So clearly we are very much worried about that.”


Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians
Updated 57 min 55 sec ago

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians
  • Iran called on President Joe Biden’s administration to “act instead of performing theatrical shows”

DUBAI: Iran is ready to swap prisoners with the United States, its foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Wednesday, calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to “act instead of performing theatrical shows.”
Tehran has sought the release of over a dozen Iranians in the United States, including seven Iranian-American dual nationals, two Iranians with permanent US residency and four Iranian citizens with no legal status in the United States.
“We are ready to swap prisoners with Washington ... The US must release jailed Iranian citizens without any conditions,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani as saying.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that Siamak Namazi had now spent 2,500 days “wrongfully detained” in Iran and Washington was determined to secure the freedom of all Americans held by its Middle East adversary.
Kanaani spoke as Tehran and Washington sought to revive a 2015 nuclear pact after lengthy negotiations. The European Union and United States said on Tuesday they were studying Iran’s response to what the EU has called its “final” proposal to save the deal, after Tehran called on Washington to show flexibility.


Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations

Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations
Updated 38 min 55 sec ago

Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations

Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations

JERUSALEM: Israel and Turkey have decided to restore full diplomatic ties and will return ambassadors to each other’s country following a steady improvement in relations, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said on Wednesday.
“Upgrading relations will contribute to deepening ties between the two peoples, expanding economic, trade, and cultural ties, and strengthening regional stability,” the statement said.


Egypt’s FM addresses Caribbean meeting on climate change

Egypt’s FM addresses Caribbean meeting on climate change
Updated 17 August 2022

Egypt’s FM addresses Caribbean meeting on climate change

Egypt’s FM addresses Caribbean meeting on climate change

CAIRO: In his capacity as president-designate of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference, Egypt’s foreign minister delivered a speech via video at the opening of a Caribbean regional meeting on climate change, hosted by the Bahamas.

Sameh Shoukry presented Egypt’s vision for the UN conference and the most prominent topics on its agenda.

He stressed the importance of shifting from promises to implementation, and of mobilizing the necessary support for global climate action.

Shoukry highlighted the need to support developing countries, including island nations, against the repercussions of climate change.

Before participating in the meeting, he held a video conference call with the Bahamas’ Prime Minister Philip Davis.


Syria denies holding US journalist Tice captive

Syria denies holding US journalist Tice captive
Updated 17 August 2022

Syria denies holding US journalist Tice captive

Syria denies holding US journalist Tice captive
  • US is certain Tice is being held by the government of President Bashar Assad

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government on Wednesday denied holding American nationals captive, including journalist Austin Tice who was abducted a decade ago in Damascus.
It issued a statement in response to US President Jo Biden saying last week that he knows “with certainty” that Tice “has been held by the Syrian regime,” and calling on Damascus to help bring him home.
The foreign ministry denied the accusation in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency.
“The Syrian Arab Republic denies that it has kidnapped or forcibly disappeared any American citizen who entered its territory or resided in areas under its authority,” the statement said.
It said it would only accept “official dialogue or communication with the American administration if the talks are public and premised on a respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”
Tice was a freelance photojournalist working for Agence France-Presse, McClatchy News, The Washington Post, CBS and other news organizations when he disappeared after being detained at a checkpoint near Damascus on August 14, 2012.
Thirty-one years old at the time he went missing, Tice appeared blindfolded in the custody of an unidentified group of armed men in a video a month later, but there has been little news of him since.
Biden’s statement came on the tenth anniversary of Tice’s disappearance.
“There is no higher priority in my administration than the recovery and return of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” Biden said.
The previous administration under Donald Trump sent a White House official on a rare mission to Damascus in 2020, aiming to seek Tice’s freedom.
But that mission yielded no visible results.
In 2018, US authorities announced a $1 million reward for information that would lead to the journalist’s recovery.


Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report
Updated 17 August 2022

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

Egypt to release 25 pretrial detainees: report

CAIRO: Egypt will release 25 pretrial detainees pending investigations on Wednesday, according to a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee. 

The group of pretrial detainees are to be released within around 24 hours, said Tarek El-Kholy, as quoted by Ahlam Online.   

This will be the latest batch of pretrial detainees released pending investigations.

The Presidential Pardon Committee is mandated to review the cases of pretrial detainees for political crimes.

El-Kholy previously noted in an interview with The Africa Report that only individuals who have not participated in violent acts or killed military personnel or civilians will be considered for pardon.  

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi re-affirmed on several occasions that Egypt holds no political prisoners and that the government promotes respect for human rights.