UK to reassess Iran nuclear deal after dual national’s execution

UK to reassess Iran nuclear deal after dual national’s execution
Iran said Saturday it had executed former high-ranking defense ministry official and dual Iranian-British national Alireza Akbari. (File/AP)
Short Url
Updated 15 January 2023
Follow

UK to reassess Iran nuclear deal after dual national’s execution

UK to reassess Iran nuclear deal after dual national’s execution

LONDON: Britain is reassessing its backing of the Iran nuclear deal after Tehran executed a British Iranian dual national, drawing strong condemnation from Western governments.

Alireza Akbari, 61, was hanged after being convicted of “corruption on earth and harming the country’s internal and external security by passing on intelligence.” When or where the execution took place is unknown.

The execution has led to a huge escalation in tensions between the West and Iran, which were already running high over Tehran’s crackdown on protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini and the regime’s military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The UK has been a key player in talks on reviving the nuclear deal, which placed significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Senior government sources said that the “landscape” has changed significantly since the negotiation process began and as such Britain is now reviewing its options regarding future involvement in reviving the deal, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

They said the relationship with Tehran has been under pressure in recent months because of the regime’s harsh repression of anti-government protests.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he was “appalled” by the execution.

“This was a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime with no respect for the human rights of their own people,” Sunak said.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned that the execution would not go unchallenged, before announcing sanctions on Iran’s prosecutor general to underline Britain’s “disgust.”

Britain said it would summon Tehran’s envoy and in response, Iran summoned the British ambassador to protest against what it described as “unconventional interventions.”

France’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the execution “in the strongest terms” and said that the killing “cannot go unanswered.” President Emmanuel Macron denounced Akbari’s execution as a “heinous and barbaric act.”

Tehran has been accused of using the talks as cover to ramp up work on its nuclear program with a view to obtaining a bomb — a charge that it denies.


Emirati and Malaysian trade ministers discuss boosting economic ties

Emirati and Malaysian trade ministers discuss boosting economic ties
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

Emirati and Malaysian trade ministers discuss boosting economic ties

Emirati and Malaysian trade ministers discuss boosting economic ties
  • Officials reviewed status of negotiations for a UAE-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
  • UAE is Malaysia’s second-largest commercial partner in the Middle East

LONDON: Thani Al-Zeyoudi, the Emirati minister of state for foreign trade, and Tengku Zafrul Aziz, the Malaysian minister of investment, trade and industry, discussed ways boost trade and investment ties between their countries. Their meeting took place during a visit to the UAE by a delegation of senior trade officials from Malaysia.

During the talks, Al-Zeyoudi praised the existing strong relations between the nations and reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to expanding the opportunities available to the business communities in both, the Emirates News Agency reported on Thursday.

They also reviewed the status of negotiations to develop a UAE-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The meeting was the second between the ministers since discussions about the agreement began during a visit by Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohammed, to Kuala Lumpur in May.

Their first meeting took place in Jakarta during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business and Investment Summit in early September, and the talks reflect the UAE’s desire to strengthen its ties with Malaysia and the wider ASEAN bloc, officials said.

“Malaysia is a valued partner for the UAE in an increasingly important region, one which shares our vision of leveraging global trade to accelerate growth and diversify the economy,” Al-Zeyoudi said.

“Malaysia’s support for open, rules-based trade, transparent dispute-resolution mechanisms and a greater voice for the developing world in trade policy will help deliver a conference of lasting impact,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul said: “We are keen to bolster our ties with the UAE, a nation that continues to gain importance as a strategic trading partner for Malaysia.

“Situated at the crossroads between East and West, the UAE offers immense opportunities for our exporters and their efforts to expand into global markets.”

The ministers commended recent growth in non-oil bilateral trade, which reached a total value of more than $2.226 billion during the first half of 2023. They also expressed the aim of increasing foreign direct investment.

The UAE is Malaysia’s second-largest commercial partner in the Middle East, accounting for 32 percent of its total trade with Arab countries.


 

 

 


US imposes fresh round of sanctions over instability in Sudan

US imposes fresh round of sanctions over instability in Sudan
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

US imposes fresh round of sanctions over instability in Sudan

US imposes fresh round of sanctions over instability in Sudan
  • Sanctions target former Sudanese official and two companies, including one based in Russia

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a former Sudanese official and two companies, including one based in Russia, that it accused of exacerbating instability in Sudan as fighting has killed thousands and displaced millions of civilians.
The action is the latest round of sanctions imposed by Washington after war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in mid-April over plans for a political transition and the integration of the RSF into the army, four years after long-time ruler Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in a popular uprising.
“Today’s action holds accountable those who have undercut efforts to find a peaceful, democratic solution in Sudan,” the Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.
“We will continue to target actors perpetuating this conflict for personal gain.”
The Treasury said it targeted Ali Karti, the foreign minister under Bashir, and became leader of the Sudanese Islamic Movement after Bashir was toppled in 2019.
He is a prominent figure among loyalists and veterans of Bashir’s rule who have maneuvered to protect their interests and regained some leverage after a 2021 coup by the army and the RSF.
Also hit with sanctions was GSK Advance Company, a Sudan-based company the Treasury said has been used as a procurement channel for the RSF.
GSK worked with Russia-based military supply company Aviatrade, also targeted on Thursday, to arrange the procurement of parts and supplies, as well as training, for drones previously purchased by the RSF, the Treasury said.


Syrian beekeepers battle both war and climate change

Syrian beekeepers battle both war and climate change
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

Syrian beekeepers battle both war and climate change

Syrian beekeepers battle both war and climate change
  • Rankus was once renowned for its honey, but was hard hit by fighting between government forces and rebels
  • Damiriya can barely afford to tend to his hives, donated by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) to help Syrian beekeepers

RANKUS, Syria: Syrian beekeeper Ibrahim Damiriya struggles to produce honey from his hives on parched land near the capital Damascus after years of war, economic collapse and worsening climate change impacts.
“The war bled us dry. We could barely keep our beekeeping business afloat, and then the insane weather made things worse,” the 62-year-old in a beekeeping suit told AFP as he examined meagre honey stocks inside the hives.
Before Syria’s conflict erupted in 2011, Damiriya owned 110 hives in Rankus, a village near Damascus that was once filled with apple orchards.
But now a combination of fighting, severe drought and a gruelling economic crisis have left him with a mere 40 hives in semi-arid lands, decimating his honey yield.
Rankus was once renowned for its honey, but was hard hit by fighting between government forces and rebels that caused widespread destruction, pushing many residents to flee.
Damiriya can barely afford to tend to his hives, donated by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) to help Syrian beekeepers.
“If we keep suffering from climate change and rising prices, I might have to abandon my profession,” Damiriya said with a sigh.
Since 2011, Syria’s war has killed more than half a million people and caused an acute economic crisis, exacerbated by severe Western sanctions.
Recent years have also battered Syria with heatwaves, low rainfall and more forest fires.
A 2019 United Nations report found that fighting had practically wiped out hives, with bombs contaminating the environment and pesticide misuse and a proliferation of parasites speeding up their decline.
Syria used to be home to 635,000 hives before the war, but their numbers had dwindled to about 150,000 at the height of the conflict in 2016, said Iyad Daaboul, the Damascus-based president of the Arab Beekeepers Union.
Today that number has risen back up to 400,000, he said. However, the hives yield only 1,500 tons of honey per year — half of the country’s pre-war production.
Unusually cold springs and drought have had an adverse effect on the flowers that bees feed on.
“Extreme weather conditions have greatly affected bees, especially during spring — the most important time in their life cycle,” said Daaboul.
The number of beekeepers has nearly halved from 32,000 before the war to around 18,000 today, he said.
Another threat to the bees is the forest fires which have become more common as temperatures rise.
Fires “have destroyed more than 1,000 hives on Syria’s coastal mountains and stripped bees of large foraging areas,” Daaboul said.
Rising temperatures and desertification have taken a toll on Syria’s greenery, destroying many of the plants on whose flowers the bees feed and squeezing the once-thriving agriculture sector.
Damascus ICRC spokesperson Suhair Zakkout told AFP that “Syria’s agricultural production has fallen by approximately 50 percent over the last 10 years” because of war and climate change.
Despite being one of the countries most badly affected by global warming, Syria has lacked the funds it needs to tackle environmental issues, Zakkout said.
Climate change has devastated farmer Ziad Rankusi’s apple orchards, which have also been greatly thinned by illegal logging as people struggle to keep warm during the winter amid recurrent fuel shortages.
Rankusi, who is in his 50s, used to tend more than 1,000 trees on his land, but just 400 survive, and they are drying out in the heat.
“For about five years, we have had unprecedented droughts and desertification, and this year the spring was unusually cold. The fruit perished,” said the farmer.
“When trees and flowers disappear, bees can no longer feed. They either migrate or die.”


World Court to hear Syria torture claims on Oct. 10-11

World Court to hear Syria torture claims on Oct. 10-11
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

World Court to hear Syria torture claims on Oct. 10-11

World Court to hear Syria torture claims on Oct. 10-11
  • The hearing at the Peace Palace will mark the first time an international court has looked at alleged abuses committed in Syria during 12 years of conflict

AMSTERDAM: The World Court will hear on Oct. 10 and 11 a request by the Netherlands and Canada that it orders Syria to cease all acts of torture and arbitrary detention, as part of a case alleging the country has breached a UN anti-torture treaty.
The hearing at the Peace Palace, the court’s seat in The Hague, will mark the first time an international court has looked at alleged abuses committed in Syria during 12 years of conflict.
Syria’s government and President Bashar Assad have rejected accusations of torture and extrajudicial killings in a war that the United Nations has said claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.


Iraq’s prime minister visits wedding fire victims as 2 more people die from their injuries

Iraq’s prime minister visits wedding fire victims as 2 more people die from their injuries
Updated 28 September 2023
Follow

Iraq’s prime minister visits wedding fire victims as 2 more people die from their injuries

Iraq’s prime minister visits wedding fire victims as 2 more people die from their injuries
  • Around 250 panicked guests surged for the exits on Tuesday night in the Haitham Royal Wedding Hall in the predominantly Christian area of Hamdaniya near Mosul
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s prime minister on Thursday visited injured patients and the families of victims in northern Iraq days after a deadly wedding fire killed around 100 people, as two more people died from their injuries.
Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani arrived in Nineveh province early Thursday with a delegation of ministers and security officials, state television reported. He met with the wounded and family members of victims at Hamdaniyah Hospital and Al-Jumhoori Hospital.
He later visited the Syriac Catholic Mar Behnam Monastery to express his condolences to victims.
A health official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, told The Associated Press that two critically burned victims — a 30-year-old woman and a 4-year-old child — died from their injuries.
Around 250 panicked guests surged for the exits on Tuesday night in the Haitham Royal Wedding Hall in the predominantly Christian area of Hamdaniya near Mosul after the ceiling panels above a pyrotechnic machine burst into flames.
Authorities said around 100 people died in the incident, and the death toll is expected to rise with at least 100 other people still injured, many of them critically burned.
The venue’s owners have been accused of violating safety protocols.
The Mosul Municipality on Wednesday called for the closure of hotels, restaurants, and other venues that don’t have safety approvals or have ignored warnings.
Funeral processions continued Thursday at the Saint Behnam Syriac Catholic Church. A video circulating on Iraqi media and social media showed the bride and groom among the crowd mourning.
The Interior Ministry said highly flammable building materials contributed to the disaster and accused the owners of violating safety and security protocols. The tragedy was the latest to hit Iraq’s Christian minority, which has dwindled to a fraction of its former size over the past decade.
A security official told the AP that one of the venue’s owners and 13 workers and employees are currently under investigation. The official said that negligence caused the incident and that the government is preparing to compensate survivors and the families of victims. He speak on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
A government spokesperson said the authorities will conduct strict inspections of hotels, schools, restaurants and event venues to make sure they are complying with safety standards.
One owner of the venue, Chonny Suleiman Naboo, told The Associated Press that an electrical fault caused the fire and denied that they had neglected safety procedures.