Frankly Speaking: Iranian opposition group NCRI urges Biden, EU to ‘stand with Iranian people, support their demands for change’

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Updated 17 October 2022

Frankly Speaking: Iranian opposition group NCRI urges Biden, EU to ‘stand with Iranian people, support their demands for change’

Frankly Speaking: Iranian opposition group NCRI urges Biden, EU to ‘stand with Iranian people, support their demands for change’
  • Dowlat Nowrouzi, NCRI’s UK representative, accuses the Tehran regime of stealing national revenue. spending it on exporting terror and destruction
  • She says European nations can side with the people by taking such steps as recalling their ambassadors and shutting down Iran’s embassies

DUBAI: As an unprecedented wave of civil unrest sweeps Iran, it is crucial that the world community, particularly Europe and the US, lends its support to the Iranian people and imposes greater sanctions on the regime in Tehran, according to the UK representative of an Iranian political opposition group.

“No matter what the mistakes, strategic mistakes, made by the United States, it is now time for the administration (of American President Joe Biden) to correct them and change its policy.

“It should stand with the Iranian people and support the demands of Iranian people for change,” Dowlat Nowrouzi, UK representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, told Katie Jensen, host of “Frankly Speaking,” the Arab News talk show which engages with leading policymakers and business leaders.

Dowlat Nowrouzi, shown on screen, being interviewed by Katie Jensen on Frankly Speaking. (AN photo)

The NCRI, founded in 1981, is a political coalition made up of various groups that aim to overthrow the Iranian regime. Most of its members have been forced into exile due to political persecution and operate out of Europe and other Western countries.

Nowrouzi’s plea for support for the Iranian people comes as the Islamic Republic continues to be rattled by protests triggered by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the morality police’s custody on Sept. 16.

Amini was detained for allegedly improperly wearing her headscarf, which is mandatory in Iran, and was pronounced dead at Tehran’s Kasra hospital two days later. While the authorities claimed she died of pre-existing medical conditions, her family, fellow detainees, and leaked medical records indicated that she was severely beaten.

What started as isolated protests during her funeral in her native Kurdistan province spread rapidly across Iran, snowballing into a nationwide uprising which has the potential to topple the Iranian regime.



According to Nowrouzi, more than 400 protesters have been killed by Iranian security forces, and the 20,000 people, including children, who have been arrested by the regime face horrific conditions amounting to torture and extrajudicial execution in prisons and detention centers.

Amid the state-orchestrated campaign of intimidation, Nowrouzi claimed that protesters remained resolute and committed to their goals.

She said: “Just a few days ago, we received information that 2,000 of them, especially youngsters and university students, were taken to a very notorious detention center called B Gate No. 6. In that detention center, they do all sorts of deadly torture against political prisoners as well as protesters.

“So, despite all that, they know what they are (engaged in) and they know that they’re going to have to sacrifice all that it takes in order to win back their country.


“I can assure you what is happening now is not going to stop. Iranians are on their way for a new democratic revolution in their country soon.”

Nowrouzi pointed out that although there had been other instances of nationwide civil unrest, most notably the protests of November 2019 and January 2020, which saw Iranian security forces kill thousands of protesters and arrest tens of thousands, “this one is absolutely different.”

She added: “It is a nationwide uprising movement. It has been able, it is mobilized. Some 178 major cities are engulfed in the protests and uprising. And I have to say, it covers almost all the 31 provinces throughout Iran. And this time you are seeing different sectors of Iranian society involved (in the uprising).”



Nowrouzi noted that the policy of appeasement that the US and other Western nations had adopted toward Iran had to change in order to ensure the success of the ongoing peaceful resistance.

“Unfortunately, this policy of appeasement has affected the ruling government. They have to realize it is now time for a very sharp change. As far as the US Congress is concerned, I can tell you it’s a different case because, particularly in the recent resolution 118, 260 members of Congress strongly supported Iranian people’s protests,” she said.



Resolution 118, which was introduced in Congress in February 2021, condemns what it calls Iran’s state-sponsored assassinations and terror attacks against US officials and Iranian dissidents, and expresses support for popular protests against the regime in Tehran.

Though such measures are certainly a step in the right direction, Nowrouzi added: “As far as the government is concerned, they have to do much more, (including meeting) some of the demands of the Iranian community and the opposition.”

She noted that depriving the Iranian regime of financial sources was crucial.

“They’re exporters of terrorism (and) they’re acquiring nuclear weapons, all of it by stealing the money and the national revenue of the Iranian people’s oil and gas, which are being spent by the mullahs on destruction rather than construction,” she said.



Protests and worker-led strikes have shut down major petrochemical facilities in Iran’s oil- and gas-rich southern provinces, which Nowrouzi sees as a significant development.

“It plays a very important role because it can (shut down) the mullahs’ economic (lifeline), particularly as far as money and trade is concerned,” she added.

This image grab from a UGC video made available on Oct.15, 2022, shows Iranian students protesting at Tehran University over the death of Mahsa Amini. (AFP)

Such actions, she said, took away the regime’s ability to finance their brutal acts against protesters. She noted that the mullahs acknowledged that 80 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, even though the country was enormously wealthy in terms of reserves of oil and gas.

Western countries, particularly the EU, could also play a critical role in shutting down the regime’s ability to crush any form of resistance, Nowrouzi said.



“I think they can play a very important role in order to actually side with the Iranian people and their major demands for freedom and democracy.

“In order to do that, in our view, Europeans have to do a lot more than just issue verbal condemnations of the atrocities of the mullahs, both in terms of the executions as well as the arbitrary arrests that they have been involved (in) during the past several weeks in this recent protest. We think they can, and they should, (recall) their ambassadors,” she added, referring to EU members.



“They have to close down the Iranian embassy in their countries, because as far as we know, in reality, they are used by the mullahs for all sorts of espionage, as well as for exporting terrorism and providing logistics, money, financial aid, and even military weapons, to their terrorist networks in Europe.”

Nowrouzi highlighted a terror plot in which Asadollah Asadi, the third diplomat of the Iranian embassy in Austria, brought a highly sophisticated bomb in his own personal suitcase through several European countries in order to target a rally held by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in Paris.

Demonstrators rally in Paris on Oct. 9, 2022, in support of Iranian protests against he death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in Iran. (AFP)

“Thousands of government officials from over 70 countries were in attendance, and luckily, the plot was foiled, and Asadi and his co-conspirators arrested.”

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the country has carried out more than 50 attacks, assassinations, and bombings on four different continents, killing hundreds of foreign officials, Iranian diplomats, and ordinary civilians. Intervention and concrete measures on the part of the US and EU, Nowrouzi said, could help to put an end to the state-sponsored terrorism. 



“We are asking them to impose all sorts of comprehensive sanctions against the mullahs, especially the officials and the (Islamic) Revolutionary Guard Corps that are very much responsible for the executions and torture of our youngsters and women.

“We are also asking them to recognize the legitimate right of Iranian people to defend themselves and actually to continue their support, and to stay on the side of millions of Iranians demanding change and hope,” she added.

Nowrouzi pointed out the determination and resolve of the Iranian people to bring about change in their country.

“What I can assure you is that the Iranian people will continue to (protest) because they know what happened to Mahsa. It was not only Mahsa; the same thing could have happened to anybody else’s sister, wife, mother, or any other close brother.



“They know that the regime has been involved in all sorts of crimes against Iranian people. So, I can tell you that the vast majority of Iranian people are determined, and this determination will persist until we see the downfall of the regime,” she said.

She added that the protests had shown the world community that “the Iranian people, particularly women, who are the prime victim of this misogynist, brutal regime, are very much determined to bring about the change.

“They are fed up. They want democracy, a democratic republic with separation of religion from the state. And so, there is no way that any longer they would tolerate the inhumanity, barbarism, depression, and aggression of the mullahs.”


Israel tensions ease as Netanyahu pauses judicial overhaul

Israel tensions ease as Netanyahu pauses judicial overhaul
Updated 28 March 2023

Israel tensions ease as Netanyahu pauses judicial overhaul

Israel tensions ease as Netanyahu pauses judicial overhaul
  • Embattled leader acknowledges divisions roiling the nation, announces delay for the legislation
  • Critics say the legislative package would hobble the country’s system of checks and balances

TEL AVIV: Israel’s political factions opposed to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began setting up negotiating teams Tuesday after he paused a controversial judicial overhaul plan that had set off unprecedented street protests and a spiraling domestic crisis.
But compromise seemed elusive as the standoff remains over the fundamental issue of what kind of country Israel should be — and positions only appear to have hardened. Three months of demonstrations against the overhaul plan intensified this week and Israel’s main trade union declared a general strike, leading to chaos that shut down much of the country and threatened to paralyze the economy.
Netanyahu in a prime-time speech on Monday night acknowledged the divisions roiling the nation and announced a monthlong delay for the legislation.
He said he wanted “to avoid civil war” and would seek a compromise with political opponents. Netanyahu spoke after tens of thousands of people demonstrated outside the parliament building in Jerusalem.
His announcement appeared to calm some of the tensions that have fueled months of unrest. But it failed to address the underlying issues that have polarized Israelis. Netanyahu leads the most right-wing government in Israeli history and and his allies have vowed to enact the legislation.
A flurry of phone calls between rival opposition leaders followed Netanyahu’s announcement and lasted into Tuesday morning, with several working groups named as the protests subsided and Israel’s largest labor union called off its general strike.
“When there’s an opportunity to avoid civil war through dialogue, I, as prime minister, am taking a timeout for dialogue,” Netanyahu said in his speech. He vowed to reach a “broad consensus” during the summer session of parliament, which begins on April 30.
The country’s figurehead president, Isaac Herzog, said pausing the legislative blitz was “the right thing” and offered to oversee the negotiating teams. He spoke in separate phone calls with Netanyahu, opposition leader Yair Lapid and National Union Party Chairman Benny Gantz, his office said.
“This is the time for frank, serious and responsible discussion that will lead urgently to calming spirits and lowering the flames,” Herzog said.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist who has pushed for quick passage of the package, said it ““will pass,” though he would respect the delay. “No one will scare us,” he tweeted.
Critics say the legislative package would hobble the country’s system of checks and balances. Protesters vowed to intensify their demonstrations.
The overhaul would give Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption charges, and his allies the final say in appointing the nation’s judges. It would also give parliament, which is controlled by his allies, authority to overturn Supreme Court decisions and limit the court’s ability to review laws.
Netanyahu has argued that the overhaul is needed to rein in a liberal and overly interventionist court of unelected judges. But his opponents say the package would concentrate too much power in the hands of Netanyahu’s allies. They also say that he has a conflict of interest as a criminal defendant.
Large swaths of Israeli society and governments around the world condemned the overhaul. Business leaders, top economists and former security chiefs have all come out against the plan, saying it is pushing the country toward an autocracy. Fighter pilots and military reservists have threatened not to report for duty, and the country’s currency, the shekel, has tumbled in value.
Tens of thousands of people, largely secular, middle-class Israelis, have regularly joined mass protests against it.
The situation escalated on Sunday night after Netanyahu abruptly fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who had urged him to put his plan on hold, citing concerns about damage to the Israeli military.
Chanting “the country is on fire,” furious protesters lit bonfires on Tel Aviv’s main highway, closing the thoroughfare and many others throughout the country for hours. Demonstrators continued Monday outside the Knesset, or parliament, turning the streets surrounding the building and the Supreme Court into a roiling sea of blue-and-white Israeli flags dotted with rainbow Pride banners.
Departing flights from the main international airport were grounded, stranding tens of thousands of travelers. Large mall chains and universities closed their doors, and the union called for its 800,000 members to stop work in health care, transit, banking and other fields.
Israel’s Palestinian citizens have largely sat out the protests. Many say Israel’s democracy is tarnished by its military rule over their brethren in the West Bank and the discrimination they themselves face.
Even with the big issues standing, officials inside and outside Israel signaled relief that the pause had bought some time.
“I had a nice night of sleep last night, thank God,” US Ambassador Tom Nides said Tuesday on Israel Army Radio. “This morning I’m optimistic and I applaud the move.”

Photographer Platon and UN produce film to humanize refugees and shed light on their plight

Photographer Platon and UN produce film to humanize refugees and shed light on their plight
Updated 28 March 2023

Photographer Platon and UN produce film to humanize refugees and shed light on their plight

Photographer Platon and UN produce film to humanize refugees and shed light on their plight
  • The 18-minute movie, ‘Portrait of a Stranger,’ features interviews with more than 20 refugees who fled conflicts and persecution in various parts of the world
  • It premiered at the Movies That Matter International Human Rights Film Festival, which is taking place this week in The Hague

THE HAGUE: British photographer and storyteller Platon and the UN Refugee Agency have unveiled a collaborative film and multimedia project that explores the plight of refugees.

“Portrait of a Stranger,” an 18-minute film that features interviews with more than 20 refugees who fled conflicts and persecution around the world, premiered at the Movies That Matter International Human Rights Film Festival, which is taking place this week in The Hague, the Emirates News Agency reported.

Its creators said it seeks to reframe the narratives surrounding people who are forced to flee their homes, while also examining the universal desire to be free, safe, respected and valued, and to belong.

The refugees who appear in the film represent a diverse range of ages, nationalities, ethnicities and personal circumstances. Audiences are asked to look beyond the differences between people and instead focus on what we have in common.

“Living in exile may be their life circumstance but it is not what defines them,” said Platon. “I hope the images and voices of the refugees in this film will help audiences focus on the shared humanity that unites us, rather than the barriers that divide us — not only for these particular refugees but for all people forced to flee around the world.”

In 2022, more than 100 million people were displaced, globally.

“This film and these images are powerful reminders of who refugees really are,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “They are people like your neighbor, your friend, your colleague, like you and me, each with our own personality, our hopes, our dreams.

“By amplifying the voices of refugees, the film offers an important reality check to counter the negative public discourse we often hear about people forced to flee.”

US will not back off Syria mission despite deadly attacks – White House

US will not back off Syria mission despite deadly attacks – White House
Updated 28 March 2023

US will not back off Syria mission despite deadly attacks – White House

US will not back off Syria mission despite deadly attacks – White House
  • Syria’s foreign ministry on Sunday condemned the US air strikes
  • ‘There’s been no change in the US footprint in Syria as a result of what happened the last few days’

WASHINGTON: The United States will not back away from its nearly eight-year-old deployment to Syria, where it is battling the remnants of Daesh, despite attacks on US forces there last week by Iran-backed militia, the White House said on Monday.
A one-way attack drone struck a US base in Syria on March 23, killing an American contractor, injuring another and wounding five US troops.
That triggered US retaliatory air strikes and exchanges of fire that a Syrian war monitoring group said killed three Syrian troops, 11 Syrian fighters in pro-government militias and five non-Syrian fighters who were aligned with the government.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said he was not aware of any additional attacks over the past 36 hours but cautioned, “We’re going to stay vigilant.”
Kirby also referred to President Joe Biden’s remarks on Friday, in which Biden warned Iran that the United States would act forcefully to protect Americans.
“There’s been no change in the US footprint in Syria as a result of what happened the last few days,” Kirby said, adding the mission against Daesh would continue.
“We’re not going to be deterred ... by these attacks from these militant groups.”
Syria’s foreign ministry on Sunday condemned US strikes, saying Washington had lied about what was targeted and pledging to “end the American occupation” of its territory.
Iran’s foreign ministry also condemned the strikes, accusing US forces of targeting “civilian sites.”
US forces first deployed into Syria during the Obama administration’s campaign against Daesh, partnering with a Kurdish-led group called the Syrian Democratic Forces. There are about 900 US troops in Syria, most of them in the east.
Prior to the latest spate of attacks, US troops in Syria had been attacked by Iranian-backed groups about 78 times since the beginning of 2021, according to the US military.
Iran has been a major backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad during Syria’s 12-year conflict.
Iran’s proxy militias, including the Lebanese group Hezbollah and pro-Tehran Iraqi groups, hold sway in swathes of eastern, southern and northern Syria and in suburbs around the capital, Damascus.


Yemeni leaders vow to resist renewed Houthi assault 

Yemeni leaders vow to resist renewed Houthi assault 
Updated 28 March 2023

Yemeni leaders vow to resist renewed Houthi assault 

Yemeni leaders vow to resist renewed Houthi assault 
  • International envoys criticize militia attacks and call for de-escalation

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Yemen’s presidential council has promised to confront the “terrorist” Houthis and called for resistance as international envoys criticized the militia’s renewed assault.

The council, chaired by Rashad Al-Alimi, said the latest Houthi attacks, primarily in Marib and Shabwa, demonstrated that the militia had no wish to end the war. It promised to thwart their advances and said it would help people in Houthi-controlled areas to resist their domination.

“The council urged the international community to recognize the gravity of this terrorist escalation, with the continuous smuggling of additional Iranian weaponry to militias, and the disastrous consequences for world peace and security,” the council was quoted by the SABA news agency as saying.

It did not specify how it would respond but pledged to “take all steps necessary to protect public interests and deter terrorist groups.”

The eight-man presidential council has faced increasing public pressure to launch counter-strikes since the militia attacked oil installations in Hadramout and Shabwa provinces last year.

The Houthis have made minor advances in Shabwa and Marib since early last week, targeting government forces with heavy weaponry and explosive drones.

The Houthis seized some villages in Marib’s Hareb and Shabwa’s Merkhah Al-Ulya districts before government troops received reinforcements and pushed them back.

The militia also attempted to assassinate Taiz Governor Nabeil Shamsan, targeting his car with artillery and missiles on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Western ambassadors in Yemen have condemned the renewed attacks and urged the Houthis to de-escalate and comply with efforts to end the war.

Richard Oppenheim, the British ambassador, said the militia must “cease their provocative actions and show genuine commitment to peace in Yemen.”

Steven Fagin, the US ambassador, said: “We condemn the recent Houthi escalation in Taiz and Marib, which led to fatalities, and express our condolences to the victims' families. 

“The Houthis must stop exacerbating Yemenis’ suffering and support a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Yemeni government officials say that the Houthi escalation coincided with the eighth anniversary of the Arab coalition’s military intervention to show that they had not been defeated.

“The Houthis took advantage of the anniversary of Decisive Storm and Ramadan to demonstrate their might,” a Yemeni government official, who wished to remain anonymous, told Arab News.

2,000 mummified ram heads uncovered in Egypt’s Abydos

2,000 mummified ram heads uncovered in Egypt’s Abydos
Updated 28 March 2023

2,000 mummified ram heads uncovered in Egypt’s Abydos

2,000 mummified ram heads uncovered in Egypt’s Abydos
  • New light shed on King Ramesses II and Ptolemaic era from 332 B.C. to 30 B.C.
  • These and other animals found may have been sacrificed to the gods

CAIRO: The American archaeological mission affiliated with New York University, working in the area of ​​the temple of King Ramesses II in Abydos, southern Egypt, has uncovered more than 2,000 mummified ram heads dating back to the Ptolemaic era (332 B.C. to 30 B.C.), in addition to a huge building from the Sixth Dynasty.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, an institution entrusted with the protection of Egyptian heritage, said the find was important because it reveals more details about the history of the Temple of King Ramesses II in Abydos Sohag governorate and the surrounding area.

He said the mission also uncovered a number of mummified animals next to the heads of the rams, including ewes, dogs, wild goats, cows, deer and mongooses. They were found in one of the newly discovered storage rooms inside the northern area of the temple.

Sameh Iskandar, the head of the mission, said the mummified rams are thought to have been used as votive offerings in Abydos during the Ptolemaic period.

Meanwhile, the huge uncovered building, which dates back to the era of the Sixth Dynasty, is characterized by a unique architectural design. It is distinguished by huge, thick walls, which are about five meters wide.

Iskandar said the study of this building would contribute to the research being undertaken about the activities and architecture of the Old Kingdom in Abydos.

Mohamed Abdel Badei, head of the central department of Upper Egypt Antiquities at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the mission also succeeded in uncovering parts of the northern wall of the edifice surrounding the temple and its appurtenances.

The team also uncovered fragments of statues, papyri, remains of ancient trees, clothing and leather shoes.

Abydos is one of the oldest ancient cities in Upper Egypt, and contains many important structures, including the Temple of Seti I and the Temple of Ramses II.