Senior Iran political figure breaks with regime in public criticism
Senior Iran political figure breaks with regime in public criticism/node/2180016/middle-east
Senior Iran political figure breaks with regime in public criticism
Thousands showed their support for Iranian protesters standing up to their leadership over the death of a young woman in police custody, during a demonstration in The Hague, Netherlands, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. (AP)
LONDON: Iran’s political elite appears to be split over their reaction to widespread protests in the country, with a senior figure stepping forward for the first time to question the country’s compulsory hijab laws.
Former parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani is the first figure to publicly deviate from the regime’s claims that the countrywide protests — which began after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — are the a result of US and Israeli intelligence efforts.
An Iranian news site interviewed Larijani at length. He warned that an “extremist” policy by the government has engendered an extremist counter-reaction by the Iranian public.
Larijani said: “The hijab has a cultural solution; it does not need decrees and referendums. I appreciate the services of the police force and Basij (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps paramilitary militia), but this burden of encouraging the hijab should not be assigned to them.
“Do not doubt that when a cultural phenomenon becomes widespread, rigid response to it is not the cure. The people and young people who come to the street are our own children.
“In a family, if a child commits a crime, they try to guide him to the right path; the society needs more tolerance.
“It’s like a person has a migraine, but we write a prescription for him like a person with a heart disease and all its arteries are closed. In the issue of hijab, we were in this situation.”
The former speaker noted that before the 1979 Iranian revolution, though wearing the hijab was not encouraged by the state, many Iranian women wore the religious garment by choice.
“Islamic government means that people manage their own affairs. It is the same in terms of social justice. If the affairs are managed by the people, their talents will flourish.
“The problem is that if in a society, young people do not implement one of the Shariah rulings correctly from an intellectual and social point of view, this is not 100 percent wrong.”
Though Larijani had operated as a senior figure in Iranian politics for several decades, he was prevented from standing for the presidency last year because the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei favored Ebrahim Raisa, the eventual victor.
Further public criticism of the regime has also been seen. An opinion piece in the daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami said: “What is currently happening on the level of governance in our country is based neither on the separation of powers nor a diversity of outlooks in management.
“We have witnessed the consequence of a non-inclusive view (of governance) in our country over the past 14 months.”
Turkiye strikes suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq after suicide attack in Ankara
Updated 58 min 27 sec ago
ANKARA, Turkiye: Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq on Sunday following a suicide attack on a government building in the Turkish capital, Turkiye’s defense ministry announced.
Some 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, were “destroyed” in the latest aerial operation, including caves, shelters and depots, the ministry said, adding that a large number of PKK operatives were “neutralized” in the strikes.
Earlier on Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an entrance of the Interior Ministry, wounding two police officers. A second assailant was killed in a shootout with police.
The PKK, which maintains bases in northern Iraq, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, according to a news agency close to the rebel group. Turkiye’s Interior Ministry also identified one of the assailants as a member of the outlawed group. It said efforts were still underway to identify the second attacker.
The attack happened hours before Turkiye’s Parliament reopened after its three-month summer recess with an address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Iraqi President Abdul-Latif Rashid stated that Iraq does not accept the repeated Turkish strikes or the presence of Turkish bases in the Kurdistan region and hopes to come to an agreement with Turkey to solve this problem, in an interview with Saudi Arabian state-owned broadcaster Al-Hadath. It is not clear if the interview was filmed before or after Turkey's latest strikes.
Attack on Turkish Parliament
The two assailants arrived at the scene inside a light commercial vehicle, which they seized from a veterinarian in the central province of Kayseri, according to the Interior Ministry. The pro-government daily Sabah reported that they shot the man in the head and threw his body into a ditch by the side of the road. They then drove the vehicle to Ankara, roughly 300 kilometers (200 miles) away.
“Our heroic police officers, through their intuition, resisted the terrorists as soon as they got out of the vehicle,” Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya told reporters. “One of them blew himself up, while the other one was shot in the head before he had a chance to blow himself up.”
“Our fight against terrorism, their collaborators, the (drug) dealers, gangs and organized crime organizations will continue with determination,” he said.
Police found plastic explosives, hand grenades and a rocket launcher at the scene, a ministry statement said.
Erdogan gave his speech in Parliament as planned and called the attack “the last stand of terrorism.”
“The scoundrels who targeted the peace and security of the citizens could not achieve their goals and they never will,” he said.
The president reiterated his government’s aim to create a 30-kilometer (20 mile) safe zone along Turkiye’s border with Syria to secure its southern border from attacks.
Turkiye has conducted numerous cross-border offensives against the PKK in northern Iraq. It has also launched incursions into northern Syria since 2016 to drive away the Daesh group and a Kurdish militia group, known by the initials YPG, and controls swaths of territory in the area.
Turkiye, YPG and PKK
Turkiye views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkiye, the United States and the European Union. The PKK has waged an insurgency against Turkiye since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.
Last year, a bomb blast in a bustling pedestrian street in Istanbul left six people dead, including two children. More than 80 others were wounded. Turkiye blamed the attack on the PKK and the YPG.
Security camera footage on Sunday showed the vehicle stopping in front of the Interior Ministry, with a man exiting it and rushing toward the entrance of the building before blowing himself up. A second man is seen following him.
Earlier, television footage showed bomb squads working near a vehicle in the area, which is located near the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other government buildings. A rocket launcher could be seen lying near the vehicle.
Turkish authorities later imposed a temporary blackout on images from the scene.
Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation has been launched into the “terror attack.”
“These attacks will in no way hinder Turkiye’s fight against terrorism,” he wrote on X. “Our fight against terrorism will continue with more determination.”
Police cordoned off access to the city center and increased security measures, warning citizens that they would be conducting controlled explosions of suspicious packages.
The two police officers were being treated in a hospital and were not in serious condition, Yerlikaya said.
Egypt, which has normalized ties with Turkiye after a decade of tensions, condemned the attack. A terse statement from the Foreign Ministry offered Egypt’s solidarity with Turkiye.
The US Embassy in Ankara and other foreign missions also issued messages condemning the attack.
Erdogan in his speech did not provide any indication as to when Turkiye’s parliament may ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO.
Stockholm applied for NATO membership alongside Finland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. While Finland has since joined, Turkiye blocked Sweden’s membership in the military alliance, accusing it of not doing enough to tackle groups like PKK from operating on its soil. In a posting on X, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Stockholm “strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Ankara.”
“We reaffirm our commitment to long-term cooperation with Türkiye in combating terrorism and wish for quick and full recovery of the ones injured,” he wrote, using the Turkish government’s preferred spelling for the country.
Egypt celebrates success of house, road-building programs
Ministers highlight achievements of past 9 years at ‘Story of a Homeland’ conference
Updated 02 October 2023
CAIRO: Egypt has spent millions of dollars on new urban communities over the past nine years, its housing minister said on Sunday.
Speaking at the “Story of a Homeland” conference in the New Administrative Capital, Housing and Urban Communities Minister Assem El-Gazzar said: “In the past nine years we have built 1.5 million housing units.
“We have worked to eliminate 357 unsafe areas by building more than 300,000 housing units at a construction cost exceeding 300 billion (Egyptian) pounds.”
El-Gazzar said 24 new cities that could accommodate 32 million people had been developed in the period.
The country’s Decent Life Initiative had been a major contributor to the increased urbanization, which in turn had had a significant impact on economic development, he added.
The three-day conference was attended by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and representatives from across Egyptian society.
It comprised several discussion sessions, at which the participants highlighted the government’s achievements and addressed the challenges that lie ahead.
The conference also provided a platform for political leaders to respond to citizens’ queries about political, social and economic issues.
Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir said that under the Decent Life Initiative 7,000 km of new roads had been built over the past nine years.
The national road network now spanned 30,000 km and served agricultural and industrial areas across the country, he said.
He added that on completion of the development plan, Egypt’s ports would have capacity for 400 million tons of goods and 40 million containers, and be able to handle 30,000 giant ships a year.
El-Sisi thanked the ministers for their efforts and said the success of the development program was testimony to their efforts and the will of the state to serve the people.
Iraqi central bank chief meets with Jordanian PM, counterpart
Al-Alaq also met with his Jordanian counterpart to discuss ways to boost banking and financial ties
Updated 01 October 2023
AMMAN: Ali Mohsen Al-Alaq, governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, met with Jordan’s Prime Minister Bishr Khasawneh on Sunday, Jordan News Agency reported.
Khasawneh stressed his commitment to expanding collaboration, notably in the economic and banking sectors.
Speaking about his visit to Baghdad in July, Khasawneh said the two countries had agreed to strengthen cooperation in several fields, whether through bilateral efforts or as part of the tripartite cooperation mechanism between Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt.
Earlier, Al-Alaq also met with his Jordanian counterpart Adel Sharkas to discuss ways to boost banking and financial ties.
The two addressed banking issues of mutual interest, developments in central bank work, and trends in global monetary policies. They also examined inflationary pressures that have led many central banks around the world to maintain tight monetary policies.
Sharkas and Al-Alaq signed an agreement that provides for cooperation and knowledge exchange in electronic payment systems and services, financial technology, cybersecurity, staff training, and combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
Sharkas emphasized the significance of the agreement at a time when economic relations between the two countries are advancing steadily.
He noted that Jordanian banks are looking to create a foothold in the Iraqi market, pointing to four Jordanian branches that have secured licenses to operate in Iraq, with two branches already active.
Al-Alaq praised the historical Jordanian-Iraqi ties, emphasizing the CBI’s desire to benefit from Jordanian experience in digitalization, financial innovations, and payment systems.
Iraq wedding fire caused by ‘gross negligence,’ government investigation says
Investigation results said owner of hall and three other staff members had allowed 900 people into venue when it was designed for a maximum of 400
Updated 02 October 2023
BAGHDAD: A fire that swept through a crowded wedding hall in a northern Iraqi town killing more than 100 people was blamed on “gross negligence” and lack of safety measures, the results of a government investigation into the disaster said.
The investigation results, announced at a news conference on Sunday by interior minister Abdul Amir Al-Shammari, said the owner of the hall and three other staff members had allowed 900 people into the venue when it was designed for a maximum of 400.
“The fire was accidental and unintentional and occurred due to gross negligence,” the investigation findings said.
“Using flammable decoration helped the fire to spread quickly and transformed the hall to a fireball,” Shammari said.
The blaze trapped people inside the wedding hall and rescue teams struggled to reach them because exit doors were few and small, Shammari said.
At least 150 people were injured in the fire, which was in the Christian town of Hamdaniya — also known as Qaraqosh.
The interior minister put the death toll at 107 and said the investigation panel had proposed that the government should provide financial support to families of the dead and injured.
The investigation also made recommendations that legal action should be taken against local officials.
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani visited victims of the blaze at two local hospitals on Thursday and pledged to hold those responsible to account.