BAGHDAD, February 4 -- Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission for U.S. troops stationed there to "watch Iran."
Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump's comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to "watch" Iran. U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that. Trump said it was important to keep a U.S. military presence in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran "because Iran is a real problem," according to a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday. "Don't overburden Iraq with your own issues," Salih said. "The U.S. is a major power ... but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here." Iraq is in a difficult position as tensions between its two biggest allies, the United States and Iran, increase. "It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran" and other neighbouring countries, Salih said.
TEHRAN, February 3 -- Iran announced the “successful test” of a new cruise missile with a range of over 1,350km, coinciding with celebrations for the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
“The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 kilometres (840 miles) and accurately hit the set target,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said, quoted on state television which broadcast footage of its launch Saturday. “It can be ready in the shortest possible time and flies at a very low altitude,” he said. Hatami described the Hoveizeh as the “long arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran” in defending itself. It is part of the Soumar group of cruise missiles, first unveiled in 2015 with a range of 700km, according to the minister. The Hoveizeh unveiling was part of an arms exhibition dubbed “40 years of defensive achievements” and held in Tehran. Friday marked the beginning of 10 days of celebrations of the Islamic revolution that ousted the pro-Western shah.
On Thursday, thousands of Iranians had packed the mausoleum of the Islamic republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran has voluntarily limited the range of its missiles to 2,000km, but this is still sufficient to reach Israel and Western bases in the Middle East. Washington and its allies have accused Tehran of pursuing enhanced missile capabilities that also threaten Europe. Iran has “no intention of increasing the range” of its missiles, the country’s Supreme National Security Council secretary, Admiral Ali Shamkhani, said Tuesday. Iran reined in most of its nuclear programme under a landmark 2015 deal with major powers but has kept up development of its ballistic missile technology.
NEW YORK, February 1 -- The administration of social network Twitter announced in its statement on late Thursday that it registered attempts to influence mid-term elections in the United States in 2018 by means of accounts, which allegedly originated from Russia, Iran and Venezuela.
The statement said that after a thorough analysis of the activities on the social network during the elections, attempts were registered to convince Americans against voting, however, most of the Tweets originated in the United States. "… we removed content that attempted to influence an election by deterring groups of eligible voters, particularly through voter intimidation or providing false information about voting or registering to vote," the statement reads. "The number of problematic examples was relatively small. We took action on nearly 6,000 Tweets we identified as attempted voter suppression, much of which originated here in the United States."
The document states that "In contrast to 2016, we identified much less platform manipulation from bad-faith actors located abroad." "That said, as part of our ongoing review we found limited operations that have the potential to be connected to sources within Iran, Venezuela, and Russia," the statement reads. "The majority of these accounts were proactively suspended in advance of Election Day due to the increasingly robust nature of our technology and internal tooling for identifying platform manipulation."
Twitter also added in its statement that "In September 2018, Jack Dorsey testified on Capitol Hill on recent activities affiliated with the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), disclosing that Twitter had suspended a total of 3,843 accounts." "Our ongoing efforts have uncovered an additional 418 accounts. We cannot render definitive attribution to the IRA for these accounts, although most appear to originate in Russia, and much of the behavior mimics the activity of prior accounts tied to the IRA," the statement added.
SHANGHAI, January 19 -- This is the first time China exported its commodities via land to Iran through the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan to be later sent by sea, Trend reports citing IRNA.
The first cargo shipment sent from the far-eastern China has made its way to Iran through Kazakhstan. The cargo that includes bicycle and industrial machinery parts, wallpaper, brake pads, among other items, was sent from the Ningbo Port in the East China Sea on December 18. It was put on freight trains towards the Khorgos on the border with Kazakhstan. The shipment continued its journey through the Kazakh territory via raidroad to Port of Aktau on the eastern bank of the Caspean Sea. From there, it was loaded into 42 containers on Diba bulk carrier heading for the Caspin Port in Anzali Free Zone. This is the first cargo that arrives in from the eastern-most part of China through the Kazakhstan corridor. Previous shipments used to be sent via the Indian Ocean arriving at the southern Iranian Port of Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf.
Ningbo is a city in the northeast of Jijiang Province of China, 25 kilometers east of the Sea of China as one of the most important industrial and commercial ports of the country. It is considered as a small sample of Shanghai in the Chinese economy and its port has been ranked second in terms of operational capability in commercial shipments. The capacity of the multi-modal transit route is estimated to be at 10 million tons of cargo. It also cuts short both the distance and the costs incurred.
Anzali is Iran's only free zone in the north and connects the country to the Commeanwealth of Independent States (CIS), Russia and other Caspean Sea nations. 'This is a great opportunity for Iran,' Said Mostafa Salari, governor of the norther Iranian Gilan Province, who received the ship accompanied by local officials and some lawmakers.
'The Caspian Port in Anzali is exempt from the problems that southern coasts are facing,' added Salari, referring to the difficulties in port use and other maritime services that have been caused by renewed US sanctions on Iran when Donald Trump Administration walked out of the 2015 international nuclear treaty with Iran. The Caspea Sea is shared by Russia, Kazakhistan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, all of which have reiterated their support for the nuclear deal in the face of the unilateral US sanctions that went into effect last November. The Iranian official siad he hopes cargo transit through this new route increases so Tehran can upgrade its foreing trade.
TEHRAN, January 4, -- Deputy Chief of Navy Force of the Iranian Army announced that the army's naval fleet will enter the Atlantic Ocean in early 2019 on a five-month voyage.
Admiral Touraj Hasnai Moqaddam said in an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Friday that the trip will be conducted in accordance with the order of the hierarchy of command.
'The Atlantic Ocean is a long route, and it is likely that this Iranian mission would take five months to complete,' he added. The deputy commander of the Navy, arguing that the Iranian navy would rotate the planet Earth, said, 'A member of the Iranian navy will be the Sahand destroyer.' Sahand, the most advanced destroyer of West Asia, joined the Navy’s south fleet in Bandar Abbas on December 1. This four-engine destroyer has been designed and made more advanced than its predecessor, Jamaran destroyer, with radar-evading capabilities.
TEHRAN, December 30 -- Iranian government is expected to appoint two females as ambassadors to foreign countries.
'Two more female ambassadors will be introduced in the near future,' Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a meeting with Women Fraction in the Iranian parliament. Hamideh Zarabadi, the spokesperson for Women Fraction in the Iranian parliament said that during the meeting, Zarif has stressed improvement of role of women in the Foreign Ministry. Lots of measures have been adopted to prepare the grounds for presence of women in the ministry, she quoted the Iranian foreign minister as saying.
Marzieh Afkham who was the first female spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry was appointed as ambassador to Malaysia on November 8, 2015. During the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani, many women took high-level governmental positions.
ANKARA, December 22 -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country would postpone a military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.
He "cautiously" welcomed Washington's decision to withdraw its troops in the area. Speaking during a speech in Istanbul, Erdogan said the US decision meant Turkey would "wait a little longer" before launching the operation. "Of course, this is not an open-ended waiting period," he warned, adding that Turkey was working on plans to "neutralise Daesh elements" that still exist in Syria. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Erdogan had announced on December 12 that Turkey would start an offensive in northern Syria in "the next few days", but on December 14, he spoke to US President Donald Trump in a phone call. According to Turkish daily Hurriyet on Friday, Trump decided to pull out of Syria during that call with Erdogan and ordered his national security adviser John Bolton to "start the work" to prepare withdrawing troops.
Clear ISIL, Kurdish armed groups
Erdogan also promised on Friday to clear Syria of US-backed Kurdish armed groups after the US decision to pull troops out. "In the next months, we will see an operational style aimed at removing the YPG (Kurdish People's Protection Units militia) and Daesh (ISIL) elements on the ground in Syria," Erdogan said. The Turkish government views the US-backed YPG as an extension of an armed group fighting inside Turkey.
Although Erdogan welcomed Trump's decision to leave Syria, he said he remained "cautious" because of "past negative experiences", referring to Ankara's continued disappointment over the US administration's failure to stop providing military support to the YPG in their fight against ISIL. In November last year, Turkish officials said Trump had promised not to supply weapons to the YPG, although the White House was not as explicit about its intentions. American support of the YPG, which spearheaded Washington's battles in Syria to eliminate armed groups, has long been a source of tension between the NATO allies. Meanwhile, on Friday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish groups, said they may not be able to hold ISIL prisoners if the situation in the region gets out of control.
Ilham Ahmed of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned that the Trump administration's decision to withdraw all of its forces would have dangerous repercussions and a destabilizing effect on the entire region.
NEW YORK, December 18 -- Oil prices fell more than 4 per cent on Tuesday as planned production curbs by global producers.
Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, producers failed to allay concerns about renewed oversupply stoked by swelling US shale output. Fears about weaker oil demand amid a potential slowdown in the global economy have also added to worries about how effective the supply cuts will be. The fall in oil prices comes amid a broader sell-off in the global equities market due to persistent worries centred on how the US-China trade spat could hit economic growth. Prices“Prices are continuing to nose-dive,” said Carsten Fritsch at Commerzbank. “The effect of the announced production cuts after Opec’s meeting [earlier this month] has evaporated entirely.”
International benchmark Brent crude fell $1.70 (€1.50) a barrel to $57.91 in mid-morning trading in London, having fallen as low as $57.20 – marking the third consecutive day of declines.
West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, fell $1.51 a barrel to $48.37, the lowest level since September, 2017.
Global producers have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day (b/d) to halt a more than 30 per cent slide in oil prices, since hitting $86 a barrel in October. The move came in defiance of US president Donald Trump who had called for the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to keep output elevated and prices low. But record output from Saudi Arabia above 10 million b/d since July coincided with news that the US would issue waivers to buyers of Iranian oil – at the same time as imposing sanctions against Tehran’s economy – allowing more oil than anticipated on to the market.
Still, Iranian output and exports have fallen sharply this year and other producers such as Venezuela have seen a slide in their supplies because of turmoil in their countries. Production and exports from Libya’s largest oilfield, El Sharara, have also been halted due to security issues. Still, this has not been enough to help firm up oil prices as hoped by global producers, which largely rely on revenues from crude exports to support their economies. Data from the US energy department showed that the US has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer, with overall crude production climbing to a weekly record of 11.7 million b/d.
This has fuelled doubts about the effectiveness of the supply curbs and raised questions among traders and analysts about how long Opec and its allies will be willing to trim its supplies to benefit US rivals. Market participants are also questioning how much Russia will pull back on its production, after also hitting a record level above 11.4 million b/d in December. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018
NEW YORK, July 23 -- Protesters have poured into New York's Times Square to denounce the Iran nuclear deal as a threat to Israel and global security, demanding that the US Congress reject the pact.
Speakers at Wednesday's rally, including Republican politicians, called on the US Congress to throw the deal out, whipping up the crowd on that included supporters of right-wing Jewish and evangelical Christian groups. The protest came as US Secretary of State and other senior officials briefed members of Congress about the deal behind closed doors.
Reports from Washington where the talks were held, said that some members of Congress came out from the discussions and told reporters that they were still very sceptical about the deal. In New York, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, co-organiser of the Stop Iran Rally, claimed that there were 10,000 people in the crowd. Protesters held up US flags and placards denouncing the deal.
"We're here as Americans to speak with one voice to say stop Iran now, reject this deal," said George Pataki, the former three-term Republican governor of New York. "This is a God-awful deal, this must be rejected. Congress must do its job and stand up for the American people, stand up for our safety and say no to this Iranian deal," he said.
WASHINGTON, April 6 -- United States President Barack Obama has defended a framework nuclear understanding with Iran as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prevent a nuclear bomb and bring longer-term security to the Middle East, insisting the US will stand in defense of Israel.
In an interview with The New York Times, published on Sunday night, Obama argues the risks of a deal are far outweighed by potential gains if it deters Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations, since the US is a far superior military power who can protect its core security interests.
He said the US will make sure the deal does not threaten Israel's own military advantage.
The notion that Iran is undeterrable is "simply not the case," Obama said.
"And so for us to say, 'Let's try' - understanding that we're preserving all our options, that we're not naive - but if in fact we can resolve these issues diplomatically, we are more likely to be safe, more likely to be secure, in a better position to protect our allies."
'Committed to Israel'
Obama added that he was "absolutely committed" to making sure Israel maintains "their qualitative military edge" and was willing to make clear that "if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them."
Obama expressed concern about how the talks have strained US-Israel relations, indicating how he takes it personally when he's accused of being anti-Israel.
"Part of what has always made the US-Israeli relationship so special is that it has transcended party, and I think that has to be preserved. There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as ... opposing Israel."
Obama's comments came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the US on Sunday to seek a better deal to curb Iran's nuclear programme and US Senate Republicans pressed their demand that the US Congress be allowed to vote on the agreement.
Netanyahu engages in US
Netanyahu has been strongly critical of the deal struck on Thursday in Switzerland, saying it threatens the survival of Israel. Netanyahu said he has spoken with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress - nearly two thirds of House of Representatives members and a similar number in the US Senate - about the Iran nuclear issue.
In appearances on US television on Sunday, Netanyahu did not repeat his assertion on Friday that any final agreement should include a commitment by Iran recognising Israel's right to exist.
But, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" programme, he said of the deal, "This is not a partisan issue. This is not solely an Israeli issue. This is a world issue because everyone is going to be threatened by the pre-eminent terrorist state of our time, keeping the infrastructure to produce not one nuclear bomb but many, many nuclear bombs down the line."