Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media

Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media
Mostafa Tajzadeh earlier made an unsuccessful bid for presidency as a reformist. (AFP)
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Updated 14 August 2022

Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media

Iran puts on trial reformist Mostafa Tajzadeh: state media
  • Mostafa Tajzadeh was arrested in 2009 and again this year
  • He was previously convicted of harming national security and spreading propaganda against the state

TEHRAN: Iran has put on trial the reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, who was previously jailed and arrested again last month on charges of undermining state security, local media reported.
The 65-year-old — who last year made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency as a reformist and “political prisoner for seven years” — went on trial in Tehran on Saturday, said the judicial authority’s news agency Mizan Online.
“Mostafa Tajzadeh’s hearing was held at Branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court” before judge Abolghassem Salavati, it said.
Tajzadeh had served as deputy interior minister during the 1997-2005 tenure of reformist former president Mohammad Khatami.
He was arrested in 2009 during protests disputing the re-election of then president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, which was contested by an opposition backing unsuccessful reformist candidates Mehdi Karoubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Tajzadeh was convicted the following year of harming national security and speading propaganda against the state, and released in 2016 after serving his sentence.
Since his release, Tajzadeh has often called on authorities to free Mousavi and Karoubi, who have been under house arrest for more than a decade over the protests.
He submitted his candidacy in May 2021, having long campaigned for democratic and “structural changes” in the Islamic republic.
He was again arrested on July 8 this year at his home and also faces accusations of “publishing lies to disturb public opinion,” the Mehr news agency has reported.
According to Mizan, Tajzadeh in court faced “three counts, including conspiracy against national security.”
The defendant declined to speak in court, the report added.
His lawyer, Houshang Pourbabai, was quoted as telling the reformist newspaper Etemad that “three days ago, I went to Evin prison to meet my client with the permission of the court.”
“My client refused to meet me because he could not talk to me face to face,” he said, adding that Tajzadeh had also announced that he “would not appear in court.”
Etemad quoted Tajzadeh’s wife as saying the activist “was forced to appear in court against his will.”
Mizan said that, “given Tajzadeh’s refusal to answer questions, the judge announced that he would give his verdict within the legal time limit.”


Egypt, Greece reject Turkish-Libyan MoU for oil-gas exploration

Egypt, Greece reject Turkish-Libyan MoU for oil-gas exploration
Updated 8 sec ago

Egypt, Greece reject Turkish-Libyan MoU for oil-gas exploration

Egypt, Greece reject Turkish-Libyan MoU for oil-gas exploration
  • The dispute between Egypt and Greece on one side and Turkey on the other dates back to November 2019
  • Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNU, whose legitimacy is contested by the Libyan parliament

CAIRO: Egypt and Greece have rejected a memorandum of understanding signed in Tripoli between Libya’s Government of National Unity and Turkey for gas and oil exploration in Libyan waters.

Libya is split between two rival administrations. One is the Government of National Unity of Abdul Hamid Dbeibah in Tripoli, who refused to step down after Libya failed to hold elections last year.

A second administration is led by Fathi Bashagha who operates from the eastern city of Benghazi after failed efforts to install his government in the capital.

Turkey supports the Tripoli-based GNU, whose legitimacy is contested by the Libyan parliament.

At a joint press conference with GNU counterpart, Najla El-Manqoush, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced the signing of a “memorandum of understanding for oil and gas exploration in territorial waters and on Libyan territory by joint Turkish-Libyan companies.”

Cavusoglu stressed that the MoU is “an affair of the two countries, and no country has the right to interfere,” noting that his country “does not suffer from any shortage of energy,” and expecting that “the trade exchange between Libya and Turkey will increase to $4 billion.”

El-Manqoush said the MoU between the two countries “is in their interests.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received a phone call from his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias to discuss regional issues. They stressed that the regime in Tripoli does not have the authority to conclude any international agreements or memoranda of understanding, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Dendias later tweeted: “Ι spoke with Egypt counterpart Shoukry regarding the recent developments in Libya. We both challenged the legitimacy of the Libyan Government of National Unity to sign the said MoU.”

He said he will visit Cairo on Sunday for further consultations.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ahmed Abu Zeid, said Dbeibah does not have the authority to sign new agreements, especially about the future of the Libyan people and the management of their resources.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said that Greece is “closely following developments in Libya, particularly signing of an MoU on hydrocarbons between the Government of National Unity of Libya and Turkey.

“Greece has sovereign rights in the area, which it intends to defend using all legal means, with full respect for the international law of the sea,” it added.

It said Greece “will continue to inform its partners and allies about Turkey’s destabilizing role.”

The dispute between Egypt and Greece on one side and Turkey on the other dates back to November 2019, when the Turkish government and the Libyan Government of National Accord signed an MoU on sovereignty over the maritime areas in the Mediterranean.

Greece said: “It is noted that the Turkish-Libyan memorandum of 2019 is illegal, invalid and non-existent. Therefore, no one has any right to invoke it.”

A high-level Turkish delegation arrived on Monday in Tripoli, headed by Ibrahim Kalin, the chief adviser to the Turkish president.

The Speaker of the Libyan House of Representatives Aguila Saleh said that “any agreement, treaty or MoU made by the PM of the Government of National Unity is rejected and illegal due to the expiry of her mandate on Dec. 24, 2021.”

Saleh also warned that the signing of any MoU, treaty or agreement by the Dbeibah regime “is not binding on the state of Libya and the Libyan people.”

Saleh pointed out that any MoU signed must be made through the head of state or parliament, or through the legitimate government that has won the confidence of parliament, represented by the government of Bashagha.

Greece welcomed the statement.

The Bashagha government said that it “will begin direct consultations with national, regional, and international partners to respond appropriately to these abuses.”

It described the MoU as “threatening the interests of peace and security in Libya and the region.”

The spokesman for the GNU, Mohamed Hammouda, said the MoU between the Libyan and Turkish sides strengthens cooperation.

The political deadlock over control of the government has frustrated efforts to hold national elections in Libya and raised fears that the country could return to conflict.


Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt

Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt
Updated 55 min 36 sec ago

Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt

Schoolgirls across Iran remove hijabs in protest against govt
  • Viral videos show girls waving headscarves, chanting slogans against authorities
  • Protests began shortly after supreme leader blamed riots on US and Israel 

LONDON: Iranian schoolgirls have joined demonstrations against the death of Mahsa Amini, sparking Iran’s largest civil uprising in three years. 

A series of videos, verified by the BBC, show teenage students across Iran waving their headscarves in the air and chanting anti-government slogans. 

In a viral video, groups of hijab-less girls in Karaj were filmed chasing an alleged government official out of their school on Monday. 

The girls appeared to be throwing empty water bottles at the man while yelling “shame on you” until he retreated through a gate. 

In another clip from Karaj, a city west of Tehran, young students can be heard shouting “If we don’t unite, they will kill us one by one.”

On the same day, dozens of schoolgirls in Shiraz blocked traffic on a main road by waving their headscarves in protest against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “Death to the dictator,” they chanted. 

Similar protests were reported on Tuesday in Tehran and the northwestern cities of Saqez and Sanandaj. 

Meanwhile, a group of girls in their classrooms were photographed hijab-less and making obscene gestures at images of Khamenei and the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The protests by the schoolgirls began swiftly after Khamenei broke his silence on the nationwide unrest by accusing arch-foes the US and Israel of instigating riots in the country.

The supreme leader also backed the security forces, who have reacted to the dissent with violent crackdowns. 

Demonstrations have entered into their third week in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Amini, who fell into a coma while in the custody of morality police in Tehran after allegedly breaking the hijab law. She died three days later in hospital.


EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France

EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France
Updated 04 October 2022

EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France

EU to target Iranian officials with travel bans, asset freezes: France
  • Colonna suggested the new measures could target repressive regime figures who send their children to live in Western countries
  • Diplomats say the measures are expected to be rubber-stamped at an EU foreign ministers meeting on Oct. 17

PARIS: France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that the European Union was looking to impose asset freezes and travel bans on a number of Iranian officials involved in the crackdown on protesters.
“France’s action at heart of EU ... (is) to target those responsible for the crackdown by holding them responsible for their acts,” Catherine Colonna told lawmakers in parliament, adding that the EU was looking at asset freezes and travel bans.
The bloc last agreed human rights sanctions on Tehran in 2021. No Iranians had been added to that list since 2013, however, as the bloc has shied away such measures in the hope of reviving a nuclear accord with Iran after the United States withdrew in 2018. Those talks have now stalled.
It currently has an array of sanctions on about 90 Iranian individuals which have been renewed annually every April.
Colonna suggested the new measures could target repressive regime figures who send their children to live in Western countries. Diplomats say the measures are expected to be rubber-stamped at an EU foreign ministers meeting on Oct. 17.
The United States and Canada have already imposed sanctions on Iran’s morality police over allegations of abuse of Iranian women, saying they held the unit responsible for the death of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
Amini, a Kurdish woman, was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire” and fell into a coma while in detention. The authorities have said they would investigate the cause of her death.
Iran’s supreme leader on Monday gave his full backing to security forces confronting protests ignited by the death of Amini, comments that could herald a harsher crackdown to quell unrest more than two weeks since she died.
Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group, has said more than 100 people have been killed. Iranian authorities have not given a death toll, while saying many members of the security forces have been killed by “rioters and thugs backed by foreign foes.”


Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation

Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation
Updated 04 October 2022

Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation

Little success seen in Algeria dialogue for Palestinian reconciliation
  • Algeria has held separate dialogues with officials from Fatah and Hamas to discuss the outlines of a paper prepared by an Algerian team for Palestinian reconciliation
  • Last January, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune launched an initiative to unite the Palestinians and end the split between Fatah and Hamas

GAZA CITY: Fourteen Palestinian factions, led by Fatah and Hamas, have received an invitation from Algeria to start a dialogue next week for Palestinian reconciliation, but doubts have overshadowed the gathering as few expect a significant breakthrough.

Various Palestinian forces announced that they had received Algerian invitations to participate in the two-day dialogue on Oct. 11-12.

Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said at a Cabinet meeting on Monday that “the government will be ready for any step that supports reconciliation efforts and ends the division.”

Saleh Al-Arouri, deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, said that the group has a principle that it does not miss any opportunity to achieve reconciliation and end the division, indicating that it informed Algeria of its readiness and seriousness to participate in the meetings.

Algeria has held separate dialogues with officials from Fatah and Hamas over the past few days to discuss the outlines of a paper prepared by an Algerian team for Palestinian reconciliation.

Last January, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune launched an initiative to unite the Palestinians and end the split between Fatah and Hamas, commissioned by the Arab League, provided that a final solution is reached before the Arab summit in November. 

The Algerian team, which briefed the leaders of the two movements on the reconciliation paper, which will be presented during the next expanded meeting, asked them to avoid escalation during the current period, and to stay away from bickering, especially in the media, as this could thwart efforts to heal the rift.

The Palestinian factions have engaged in various dialogues to reach reconciliation during the many years since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-2007.

The two movements concluded more than one agreement, the most prominent of which was in Makkah under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Cairo Agreement brokered by Egypt.

Algeria is considered one of the Palestinian government’s most financially supportive Arab countries.Despite the positive public statements from the Palestinian factions toward the Algeria dialogue, ordinary Palestinians have cast doubt on its relevance.

Mahmoud Al-Rabi, 45, said: “Hamas and Fatah do not look at the Palestinian people or their need for reconciliation. They only want to achieve their own interests. What is different about this dialogue from previous ones? Nothing.”

Al-Rubai, who works as a history teacher in Gaza, added: “Will Algeria have the ability to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, as it is far from the Palestinian issue, in light of the two sides’ unwillingness to achieve reconciliation?”

Taghreed Toman, 29, said there was nothing new about the Algerian dialogue.

“This dialogue will be recorded in the files within the long list of dialogues that the Palestinians have engaged in to achieve reconciliation, and it will not have any impact on the ground, whether in Gaza or the West Bank,” Toman said.

Hamas and Fatah had agreed to hold the general elections for the Legislative Council, the presidency, and the National Council of PLO in succession, starting in May 2021, before the Palestinian President announced that they were canceled because Israel did not allow them to be held in the city of Jerusalem.

Palestine’s Ambassador to Algeria Fayez Abu Aita said that President Tebboune asked the two factions to develop a clear and practical vision for implementing and handing over reconciliation and working to find a solution to implement it.

Hamas proposed making fundamental amendments to the Palestinian political system, based on the principle of participation, adopting a unified political program for all Palestinians that recognizes all types of resistance, building Palestinian institutions on national foundations away from partisanship, and timetables for ending the division and the elections.

The Fatah proposal summarizes the formation of a national consensus government that accepts the Palestine Liberation Organization’s political program and meets international acceptance.  

Hani Al-Masri, a Palestinian political analyst based in Ramallah, does not expect Algeria to succeed in achieving Palestinian reconciliation.

Asked if the Algeria dialogue has a chance of success, he said: “No, for a very simple reason, which is that the obstacles that prevented the success of previous dialogues and agreements still exist and have even become more rooted.”


Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security

Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security
Updated 04 October 2022

Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security

Jordan hosts regional workshop on nuclear safety, security
  • Jordan Atomic Energy Commission hosts workshop in collaboration Arab network of Nuclear Regulators and IAEA
  • Event aims to give participants a deeper understanding of nuclear safety and security through exchanging expertise

Amman: Jordan has signed and ratified relevant international instruments that govern nuclear safety and security, according to the chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission.
Speaking on the sidelines of a regional workshop on nuclear safety and security organized in Amman, Khaled Toukan said the move was essential for the successful and sustainable use of nuclear power.
In collaboration with the Arab network of Nuclear Regulators and the International Atomic Energy Agency, JAEC organizes the regional workshop from Oct. 3-6, reported Jordan News Agency, Petra, on Tuesday.
The workshop aims to give participants a deeper understanding of nuclear safety and security through exchanging expertise and practices that meet the IAEA’s standards, said a statement published in Petra.
Toukan gave a briefing on the achievements of the Jordanian nuclear program, which include an infrastructure of a 5 megawatts research atomic reactor, a 2.5 GeV third generation synchrotron light source, and the Jordanian uranium mining project working at full capacity.
Meanwhile Zia Hussain Shah, the IAEA’s representative, praised Jordan’s nuclear program and expertise in nuclear practices, saying: “IAEA intends to organize many regional workshops and events in Jordan.”
ANNuR coordinator Daw Mosbah said the network was established to boost regulators’ infrastructures to protect against radiation and be efficient and internationally recognized as a forum for Arab regulators in light of the increasing use of nuclear power in Arab countries, particularly in medicine, industry, agriculture, electricity generation, water desalination, radioactive material transport, and disposal of radioactive waste.
The four-day workshop brings together 17 of the Arab state members at the IAEA.