Iran’s Khamenei welcomes better ties with Egypt

Iran’s Khamenei welcomes better ties with Egypt
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq in Tehran. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 May 2023
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Iran’s Khamenei welcomes better ties with Egypt

Iran’s Khamenei welcomes better ties with Egypt
  • Relations between Egypt and Iran have often been fraught in recent decades
  • Group of hackers claimed responsibility for defacing websites associated with Iran’s presidency

DUBAI: Iran’s supreme leader said Monday he’d “welcome” the restoration of full diplomatic ties between Egypt and the Islamic Republic, raising the prospect of Cairo and Tehran normalizing relations after decades of strain.
The comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei came as a series of websites linked to Iran’s presidency bore the images of two leaders of an exiled opposition group Monday, with others showing the pictures of Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi crossed out.
Iranian state television quoted Khamenei’s comments as coming from a meeting he held with the visiting sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq. Sultan Haitham’s trip to Tehran, his first since assuming power in 2020, comes as Muscat long has served as an interlocutor between Tehran and the West.
There have been growing signs of Egypt and Iran potentially restoring ties, particularly as Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a détente in March with Chinese mediation after years of tensions. Cairo relies on Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf Arab states for economic support.
“We welcome this issue and have no problem in this regard,” Khamenei reportedly said.
There was no immediate reaction from Egypt to Khamenei’s comments. Officials in Cairo did not respond to a request for comment.
Egypt under Anwar Sadat cut ties to Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Sadat had been a close friend to the deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, welcomed him to Egypt just before his death and hosted his state funeral in 1980. The shah’s remains are entombed at Cairo’s Al-Rifai Mosque. Egypt’s peace deal with Israel also angered Iran’s theocratic government, which views Israel as its top regional enemy.
Meanwhile Monday, an Internet account describing itself as a group of hackers claimed responsibility for defacing websites associated with Iran’s presidency. The account GhyamSarnegouni, whose name in Farsi means “Rise to Overthrow,” previously claimed hacking websites associated with Iran’s Foreign Ministry earlier this month.
Iranian state media and officials did not immediately acknowledge the apparent hack. However, Associated Press journalists accessing the sites found them defaced with images of Massoud Rajavi, the long-missing leader of the Iranian exile group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, and his wife Maryam, who is now the public face of the group.
One site bore the slogan: “Death to Khamenei Raisi- Hail to Rajavi.” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi both were targeted similarly in the previously claimed hacked in May.
Iran has been targeted by a series of embarrassing hacks amid the rising tensions over its rapidly advancing nuclear program. That’s included the signal of Iranian state television being targeted, gasoline pumps that provide subsidized fuel being targeted in a cyberattack and government surveillance camera imagery being released, including from a notorious prison.
The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, known by the acronym MEK, called the hack “very extensive” when reached, but did not claim credit for it. The MEK had angrily condemned a prisoner swap Belgium conducted with Iran on Friday to free an aid worker that saw an Iranian diplomat convicted of being behind a bomb plot targeting the group released.
The MEK began as a Marxist group opposing the shah’s rule. It claimed and was suspected in a series of attacks against US officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.
It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon had a falling out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against the cleric. It carried out a series of assassinations and bombings targeting the young Islamic Republic.
The MEK later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s. That saw many oppose the group in Iran. Although largely based in Albania, the group claims to operate a network inside Iran.


EU agrees sanctions framework for key actors in Sudan war — sources

EU agrees sanctions framework for key actors in Sudan war — sources
Updated 58 min 33 sec ago
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EU agrees sanctions framework for key actors in Sudan war — sources

EU agrees sanctions framework for key actors in Sudan war — sources
  • EU foreign ministers still need to give a final sign off later this month
  • The United States, Britain, Norway and Germany plan to submit a motion to the UN Human Rights Council

BRUSSELS: European Union ambassadors agreed a framework of sanctions that will be used to target key actors in Sudan’s war and impose asset freezes and travel bans, sources familiar with the matter said.
War broke out in Sudan in April this year between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, who ousted longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, and a paramilitary force led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.
The fighting and bloodshed has continued to escalate despite international attempts to forge a lasting ceasfire. The war has uprooted more than 5 million people from their homes and created a humanitarian crisis with local medics warning of spreading cholera and dengue fever.
The sanctions proposal was sent in July but not approved until Monday. EU foreign ministers still need to give a final sign off later this month before the bloc can start adding individuals and entities to the list.
The United States, Britain, Norway and Germany plan to submit a motion to the UN Human Rights Council to set up an investigation into alleged atrocities in Sudan, including ethnically motivated killings, a draft motion showed on Friday.


Turkiye detains dozens of people in raids following suicide bomb attack

Turkiye detains dozens of people in raids following suicide bomb attack
Updated 03 October 2023
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Turkiye detains dozens of people in raids following suicide bomb attack

Turkiye detains dozens of people in raids following suicide bomb attack
  • On Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an entrance to the Interior Ministry
  • Two police officers were slightly injured in the attack

ANKARA: Police detained at least 67 people across Turkiye on Tuesday in a sweep targeting people with alleged links to Kurdish militants, days after a suicide bomb attack in the Turkish capital.
Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said police carried out raids in 16 Turkish provinces, detaining 55 people suspected of being part of the “intelligence structure” of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. At least 12 other suspected PKK members were rounded up in a separate operation in five provinces, Yerlikaya wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
The PKK has led a decades-long insurgency in Turkiye and is considered a terror organization by the United States and the European Union. Tens of thousands of people have died since the start of the conflict in 1984.
On Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an entrance to the Interior Ministry hours before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was set to address Parliament as it returned from its summer recess. A second would-be bomber was killed in a shootout with police.
Two police officers were slightly wounded in the attack. The suspects arrived at the scene inside a vehicle they seized from a veterinarian in the central Turkish of Kayseri after shooting him in the head, officials said.
The PKK claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a news website close to the group, while Turkish authorities identified one of the assailants as a PKK militant. Hours later, Turkiye’s Air Force carried out airstrikes on suspected PKK sites in northern Iraq, where the group’s leadership is based. The Defense Ministry said a large number of PKK militants were “neutralized” in the strikes.
Yerlikaya did not clarify whether the people rounded up on Tuesday were suspected of direct involvement in Sunday’s attack.


’Probable’ Israel strike kills six Syria fighters: monitor

’Probable’ Israel strike kills six Syria fighters: monitor
Updated 03 October 2023
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’Probable’ Israel strike kills six Syria fighters: monitor

’Probable’ Israel strike kills six Syria fighters: monitor
  • Syrian defense ministry said an Israeli strike on army positions elsewhere in the province had wounded two soldiers late on Monday
  • “Six pro-Iranian fighters were killed in a probable Israeli strike” on Monday evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said

BEIRUT: A “probable Israeli air strike” on Syria killed six pro-Iranian fighters in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the border with Iraq, a war monitor said Tuesday.
Separately, the Syrian defense ministry said an Israeli strike on army positions elsewhere in the province had wounded two soldiers late on Monday.
“Six pro-Iranian fighters were killed in a probable Israeli strike” on Monday evening, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Israeli strikes targeted “three sites belonging to Iran-backed groups” close to the border city of Albu Kamal, the Britain-based monitor said.
Militias linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have a heavy presence across Syria, especially around the border with Iraq.
During more than a decade of conflict in Syria, neighboring Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its territory, targeting Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.
Separately, the Syrian defense ministry said that shortly before midnight (2100 GMT) on Monday, an Israeli air strike had wounded two soldiers near the city of Deir Ezzor.
“The Israeli enemy carried out air strikes on some of our armed forces’ positions near the city of Deir Ezzor,” leaving “two soldiers wounded,” a ministry statement said.
Israel rarely comments on individual strikes it carries out on targets in Syria, but it has said repeatedly that it will not allow its arch foe Iran to expand its presence.
Last month, Israeli air strikes killed two soldiers on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, state media said.
In March, US strikes on Iran-linked groups in eastern Syria killed 19 people, including both Iran-backed fighters and Syrian soldiers, the Observatory said.
The war in Syria has killed more than half a million people since it broke out in 2011, following the bloody repression of pro-democracy protests.
It quickly escalated into a broader conflict that pulled in jihadists and foreign powers.


Tunisia rejects EU financial aid, casting doubt on an immigration deal

Tunisia rejects EU financial aid, casting doubt on an immigration deal
Updated 03 October 2023
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Tunisia rejects EU financial aid, casting doubt on an immigration deal

Tunisia rejects EU financial aid, casting doubt on an immigration deal
  • The July deal included a pledge of 1 billion euros in aid to Tunisia to help its battered economy, rescue state finances and deal with the migration crisis

TUNIS: Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday rejected financial support announced by the European Union in September, saying the amount is small and goes against a deal signed three months ago.
Saied’s move could undermine the “strategic partnership” from July that includes measures on combating human traffickers and tightening borders, and which came during a sharp increase in boats heading to Europe from the North African nation.
The European Commission last month said it would disburse 127 million euros ($133 million) in aid to Tunisia as part of the deal to fight illegal immigration from Africa to Europe.
“Tunisia rejects what the EU announced, not because of the small amount ... but because the proposal conflicts with the memorandum of understanding signed in July,” Saied said.
The July deal included a pledge of 1 billion euros in aid to Tunisia to help its battered economy, rescue state finances and deal with the migration crisis.
The smaller amount announced by Europe 10 days ago, however, has frustrated Tunisian authorities struggling to improve public finances and raised fears among credit rating agencies that the government could default on foreign debts in coming months.
The dispute between the two parties has coincided with the arrival of record numbers of migrants from Tunisia and North Africa to Italy’s island of Lampedusa.
Tunisia last week postponed a visit by a delegation from the European Commission to discuss the details of the migration agreement.
Last month it also denied the entry of five members of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee for meetings over the political situation in Tunisia, saying it would not allow interference in its affairs.
Some European countries, including Germany, oppose the immigration deal, saying it does not address human rights issues and the political situation after Saied seized power, shut down the Tunisian parliament and began ruling by decree in what the opposition says was a coup.


UN migration chief voices concern over Mediterranean deaths, pledges new solutions

UN migration chief voices concern over Mediterranean deaths, pledges new solutions
Updated 02 October 2023
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UN migration chief voices concern over Mediterranean deaths, pledges new solutions

UN migration chief voices concern over Mediterranean deaths, pledges new solutions
  • US former White House adviser Amy Pope started as head of IOM on Oct. 1 at a time of record forced displacement around the world and high political tensions over irregular immigration

GENEVA: The new head of the UN migration agency has voiced concern that the deaths of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean were being “normalized” and vowed to work with governments to provide options for economic migration to address the crisis.

US former White House adviser Amy Pope started as head of the International Organization for Migration or IOM on Oct. 1 at a time of record forced displacement around the world and high political tensions over irregular immigration.

Recently, an Italian minister and billionaire Elon Musk have criticized Germany for backing charities helping distressed migrants on the world’s most dangerous Mediterranean route, where 22,000 people have died or gone missing since 2014. Germany’s foreign ministry defended its policies.

Asked to comment on the debate, Amy Pope said: “Our biggest concern is that the deaths in the Mediterranean have been normalized and that people take for granted that this is just a cost of human movement.”

“If we are really going to stop people crossing the Mediterranean on rickety boats and dying as they do, we need to approach the situation far more comprehensively,” she said. 

She declined to comment directly on Musk’s remarks. Pope, who wants to build partnerships with private companies to manage migration better, won a tense election in May against her then-boss, becoming the first female head of the UN agency since it was created in 1951. 

IOM seeks to ensure humane and orderly migration and intervenes where needed. In her first press conference,  she vowed to work with countries that want to renew their labor forces like Spain.

“The evidence is fairly overwhelming that migration actually benefits economies,” she said, especially in wealthy countries with aging populations and low birth rates.

Pope said her first trip will be to East Africa to meet with the African Union Commission in Ethiopia and then to Brussels where she will meet with senior European officials as they search for a deal on handling irregular migration.