Tag: Iran

Leader of Iranian opposition killed in Istanbul
Middle East & Africa

Leader of Iranian opposition killed in Istanbul

Two senior Turkish officials told press that two intelligence officers at the Iranian consulate in Turkey incited on the killing of an Iranian dissident in Istanbul last November, he was criticizing the Islamic Republic’s military and political leaders.

Masoud Maulvi Wardanjani was shot dead on a street in Istanbul on November 14, 2019, just over a year after he left Iran, according to the Turkish officials.

A police report on the killing, published two weeks ago, stated that Wardanjani was working in the electronic security of the Iranian Defense Ministry and turned into a strong critic of the Iranian authorities.

The report added that Wardanjani posted a message on social media criticizing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in August, three months before he was killed.

“I will eradicate corrupt mafia leaders,” the message said. “I hope they won’t kill me before I do so.”

The situation of Wardanjani at the Iranian Defense Ministry or his posts on social media could not be verified. No one at the Iranian embassy or consulate in Turkey responded to calls to comment on the background or the killing of Wardanjani.

In response to a question about the possible involvement of the Iranian government in his killing, a spokeswoman for the Istanbul police said the investigation was continuing. She declined to comment further.

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The Turkish government has not openly accused Iran of involvement in the killing of Wardanjani. But the two senior Turkish officials have said that the government will talk to Iran about his death. One of them said that Turkish prosecutors were also following the case.

The first official said that the suspected gunman and several other suspects, including Turks and Iranians, had been arrested in the weeks following the incident, informing the authorities that they had acted on the orders of two intelligence officers at the Iranian consulate.

The second official said that evidence that included the suspects’ accounts indicates that “Iranian citizens played a dangerous role in incitement and coordination” in the killing.

The officials said that Ankara would soon provide Iran with an official response regarding the killing of Wardanjani and the role played by officials holding diplomatic passports.

Two Iranian security sources said that Wardanjani defied a Revolutionary Guards warning against cooperating with Turkish companies in projects related to drones, without further details. They said he also called the United States and European countries to work with them.

One of the Iranian sources said that Wardanjani published documents on the Internet that he carried out as an electronic infiltration or obtained information from contacts in Iran and that he ignored requests to contact the Iranian embassy in Ankara and met with Americans and an Israeli diplomat. The source did not give details about the documents or its meetings.
The second Iranian source also said that Wardanjani had been warned about the consequences of his contacts with foreign diplomats.

The Turkish officials said that the companion who was walking with Wardanjani established friendship with him after his arrival in Istanbul from Tehran in June 2018 and conveyed information about him to Iranian intelligence.

The morning before his death, this friend, who reports to the Turkish police and two Turkish officials that his name was Ali Esfanjani, went to the Iranian consulate. The two officials said that he later met with the gunman to discuss the details of the operation.

The police report describes Esfangani as the team leader who carried out the assassination of Wardanjani.

The first Turkish official said that Esfangani was transported across the border to Iran three days later, as a copy of a bus ticket he used under a pseudonym appears to reach the AGRI area on the eastern border of Turkey. He was transferred with the help of an Iranian smuggler.

French researcher Roland Marshall freed.
Europe, Middle East & Africa

French researcher Roland Marshall freed.

A French presidential official said that the Iranian authorities had released French researcher Roland Marshall, who had been imprisoned in Iran since June 2019. The official added that Roland is scheduled to arrive in France around noon on Saturday.

He indicated that French President Emmanuel Macron urged the Iranian authorities to also release French citizen Fariba Adelkha, who is still imprisoned in Iran. Adelkhah also holds Iranian citizenship.
Iranian media said that Iran and France had agreed to swap Marshall Mahbous for an Iranian convicted in Paris on violating US sanctions on Tehran’s charges.

Iranian state radio and television said that France had released Jalal Ruhullah Ahmadinejad, an Iranian engineer wanted by the US authorities, on charges of violating the sanctions.

France had called on Iran to release Marshall, a senior researcher at the Paris Institute for Political Studies (Science Po), and Paris announced his arrest in mid-October.
In May, a French court agreed to surrender Ruhullah Ahmadinejad to the United States to face charges of attempting to illegally transfer US technology for military purposes on behalf of an Iranian company, which US officials say is linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

This complicated much more the relations between France and Iran at a time when Macron was seeking to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The Revolutionary Guards have arrested scores of dual nationals in the past few years, most of them on espionage charges.

America continues sanction tactic to penalise Iran

America continues sanction tactic to penalise Iran

Despite the world doused in the fear of the coronavirus pandemic, the US has no plans of relaxing its sanction tight noose over Iran, the Trump administration has communicated this to the media recently.

As economies worldwide are pumping in resources to keep themselves afloat and not sink in despair, the Trump administration has sent a stark message to Iran in three new rounds of sanctions. America has been getting calls to ease off its pressure on Iran which has reported the worst management strategy of handling the widespread pandemic as more than 10,000 prison inmates were severely infected in the matter of days of being exposed.

However, this week, the Treasury Department went ahead and sanctioned five firms, adding to actions earlier in the week by the State and Commerce Departments. This time, the US has come down heavily on all those who have been instrumental in exporting petroleum products and nuclear operations despite the previous sanctions.

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As it stands now, the new U.S. steps has systematically and collectively blacklisted more than a dozen companies and executives and five nuclear scientists for allegedly helping export petroleum products, a critical revenue source.

This has been done because it is the belief of American sources that the Iranian regime has made use of revenues from petroleum and petrochemical sales to fund its terrorist proxies, instead of using it for the health and well-being of the Iranian people. Iran has constantly increasing cases of infection and has decided to keep its economy open and running, unlike other nations which have resorted to a complete lockdown to contain the spread of the contagious virus.

With its economy further sinking into an abyss, Iran has, in the first time in six decades as for an emergency credit line from the International Monetary Fund. America’s recent sanctions has also been frowned at by hopeful Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders along with others who feel this is too severe a blow and will ultimately affect the common Iranian.

In response, Trump administration officials might be right is saying that Iran’s woes are actually in large part, the result of the government’s policies, systemic corruption and mismanagement, including its handling of the pandemic.

United States imposed fresh sanctions on Iran
Middle East & Africa

United States imposed fresh sanctions on Iran

According to ‘Reuters’, the United States imposed fresh sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, keeping up its economic pressure campaign even as it offered to help Tehran cope with the coronavirus pandemic and called on the Islamic Republic to release detained Americans. Iran is considering freeing some U.S. citizens, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference where he made clear Washington will maintain its maximum-pressure campaign to choke off Tehran’s ability to export its oil. The campaign, instituted after US President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran struck with six major powers, aims to force Iran to limit its nuclear, missile and regional activities.

Pompeo on Tuesday stated that the US State Department is blacklisting nine organizations based in South Africa, Hong Kong and China, as well as three Iranian citizens, for engaging in “significant transactions” to trade in Iranian petrochemicals. While he didn’t name them, Pompeo said the step included banning Iran’s armed forces social security investment company and its director for investing in sanctioned entities. The Commerce Department also said it will add six people – including five Iranian nuclear scientists – and 18 corporations to the U.S. “Entity List” for aiding Iran’s nuclear program, Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear and missile programs, and Russian military modernization efforts.

The Commerce Department said the move covers one corporation in Iran, two entities in China, nine in Pakistan, and five in the United Arab Emirates and will constrict the export of certain items to them. The Entity List names foreign parties that are banded from receiving some or all items subject to U.S. export regulations unless the exporter secures a license, according to the department. Earlier on Monday -Reuters add – sources familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the file said the United States was unlikely to ease sanctions on Iran despite a demand from China to don’t do it because of the pandemic. Pompeo urged Iran to free American citizens detained as a humanitarian gesture because of coronavirus. Iran has recorded 16,169 coronavirus cases and 988 deaths.

UAE sends aid to Iran to fight the COVID-19 outbreak
Middle East & Africa

UAE sends aid to Iran to fight the COVID-19 outbreak

The UAE has sent two planes stacked with an essential medical aid to Iran to help the nation battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over 32 tons of medical supplies have been sent to Iran, where 15,000 cases have been recorded, and 853 people have died.

On Monday, two airplanes took off from Abu Dhabi containing more than 32 tons of supplies, including a large number of sets of gloves, protective equipment, and surgical masks.

It was the second batch of help to be sent to Iran from the UAE this month. On March 3, the Emirates helped Iran in collaboration with the World Health Organization, sending a UAE airplane conveying 7.5 tons of medical supplies and five WHO professionals to help 15,000 medical care workers.

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Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation, stated, “The UAE’s attempts in carrying out a second medical aid flight to Iran are steady with our country’s establishing humanitarian policies, which direct our conviction that supplying life-saving assistance to those undergoing crisis is fundamental to serving the common welfare,” The National detailed.

“The COVID-19 emergency has declared the viability of the UAE’s aid approach, wherein the administration and individuals stand together with countries in their period of need,” she included.

After the underlying Covid-19 episode in Wuhan, the UAE sent medical supplies, including gloves and masks, to China. It additionally sent a necessary medical aid shipment containing 20,000 medical testing kits and equipment to Afghanistan too.

The UAE additionally helped flew 215 people from various nations out of Wuhan to Abu Dhabi, and they are under medical isolation at Emirates Humanitarian City and will be sent to their countries of origin when they are in sound health.

On Monday, Iran announced a rise in number of deaths from the coronavirus reaching to 129 and around 15,000 affirmed cases. Official leading Iran’s response to the pandemic stated concerns that medical services frameworks could be overwhelmed if the pace of new cases continued to rise.

Article Credit: The National/Reuters

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How Ratcliffe might be freed over Debt transaction with Iran
Europe, Middle East & Africa

How Ratcliffe might be freed over Debt transaction with Iran

In a bizarre change of events, it has been revealed that the illegal imprisonment of British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe by Iran could have been actually a pressure tactic on the UK to repay a long pending loan of £400million.

It is the first time that a UK or Iranian official has admitted in public that talks on the matter are underway, including the possibility of the debt being paid off through medicines and humanitarian goods. Ratcliffe is a professor by profession and was illegally detained in Iran since April 03, 2016. In early September 2016, she was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment allegedly for ‘plotting to topple the Iranian government’.

Iran is known to be skeptical and intolerant about anyone from the academia who might research, investigate or even utter a word against its running government, invariably terming such individuals as spies from the nation of their origins.

While both sides are not opening admitting the transaction might be in play, Britain’s PM has taken a different stand to the whole thing. According to him, the UK says it cannot make the payment since the Iranian ministry of defence, to which the sum is owed, is subject to EU sanctions. Similarly, the pervasive US sanctions make it difficult to make a payment to Iran’s central bank.
Meanwhile, Ratcliffe’s family has been pushing for her temporary release in the wake of the fact that coronavirus has been hitting Iranian prisoners dearly. However, reports have been shared that her condition is stable despite the widespread outbreak in the Iranian prisons.

On the issue of legitimizing the payment of the debt, The Iranian Ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad has shared that the long drawn case that has been pending for close to 50 years come to an end, as the court has ordered the British government to pay the Iranian debt plus interest “This cannot be changed. At the same time, the opposing lawyers have tried to use every legal opportunity to delay the practical execution of the court’s decision,” he said in an official statement.

In order to cut the deal, Britain might want to settle its dues over kind while Johnson calmly and comfortably takes a diplomatic stand and said that Ratcliffe’s release should be sought by her family, on basis of sincere time served in prison and reduction of sentence is viable under good Iranian judicial system.

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How Iraq continues to be bombed amidst virus spread
Middle East & Africa

How Iraq continues to be bombed amidst virus spread

While the world is busy tackling the pandemic like situation created by the Coronavirus, America has yet again busied itself with some more military offensive. The United States waged a series of precision air strikes against an Iran-backed militia in Iraq itself. Apparently, the US has blamed the militia for having been responsible for a major rocket attack a day earlier that killed two American troops and a 26-year-old British soldier.

The US strike seems to have been in low intensity, targeting the five weapon storage facilities used by Kataib Hezbollah militants, including stores of weaponry for past attacks on U.S.-led coalition troops, the Pentagon reports have confirmed.
However, the Iraqi counterparts have blamed the US for heavy attack that hit four locations in Iraq that housed formal Iraqi police and military units, in addition to the paramilitary groups.

While Iraq has said that the attack was nowhere of low intensity, the pentagon said it was not aware of the kind of damage due to the fact that it was carried out by a piloted aircraft. According to Iraqi religious authorities too, one strike hit an Iraqi civilian airport under construction in the holy Shi’ite Muslim city of Kerbala and killed a worker.

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Iraq is currently reeling under severe economic crises. It is also battling the onset on the Coronovirus, but the skirmish between the militia and American forces continues to torture the civilian population too. This is for the third time in recent months the U.S. military has lashed out against Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian backed militia. It killed more than two dozen militants in December in response to an attack on an Iraqi base that killed a U.S. contractor.

Sadly, as Iran and the US are busy keeping their people safe, their ego wars are being fought on Iraqi soil. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have therefore mostly been played out on Iraqi soil in the recent months. Iran-backed paramilitary groups have regularly been rocketing and shelling bases in Iraq that host U.S. forces and the area around the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Some prominent Iraqi clerics mislead masses and did not cooperate with the civic authorities when sparing cases of infection were reported in the country. They went onto remind Muslims that the Quran promises a martyr’s reward for the faithful who trust in Allah despite pestilence like Covid-19. A similar situation was faced in Iran as well.

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Pompeo ask Iran to liberate US citizens from prisons due to coronavirus outbreak

Pompeo ask Iran to liberate US citizens from prisons due to coronavirus outbreak

On Tuesday, the United States called on Iran to immediately release detained US prisoners with news of the spread of the new Corona virus in its prisons. “The United States will hold the Iranian regime directly responsible for the death of any American citizen,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, warning of a decisive US response to this event.

Pompeo added: “The reports on the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Iranian prisons are worrying and the least they require is the complete and immediate release of all US citizens. Their detention amid increasingly deteriorating conditions defies basic human decency.”

According to CNN, at least four Americans are imprisoned in Iran, which has had more than 8,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 300 deaths. Courts across Iran have granted eligible convicts’ furlough as part of the measures to contain coronavirus in the country, said Judiciary Chief Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Raeisi. Pompeo reaffirmed the furlough of tens of thousands of prisoners demonstrated Iran’s ability to grant clemency and show mercy. “Any nation considering whether to provide Iran with humanitarian assistance because of COVID-19 should seek a reciprocal humanitarian gesture by the regime: release all wrongly detained dual and foreign national citizens. This request is well within the regime’s power to grant,” he added. “The United States will not rest until all Americans wrongfully detained abroad are returned home.”

Last week, the family of American prisoner Siamak Namazi asked in a statement for help getting him a temporary furlough as a fellow prisoner had tested positive for the Chinese virus COVID-19, countless others are sick and there are no treatments for the new virus. Previously, Iran announced it would release 70,000 prisoners resulted negative to COVID-19 tests, but Namazi was not among them. US president Donald Trump has offered assistance to the Iranian people, and the US State Department said it would consider support to Iranian administrators if they requested for it.

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America Retracts Troops Over Coronavirus Distraction

America Retracts Troops Over Coronavirus Distraction

We could thank the coronavirus for certain kind of calm that has dissented over the US –Iran war like possibilities which have currently died down. This is one reason that the U.S. military has begun to draw small numbers of troops out of the Middle East. The US military has been able to conclude that the threat of reprisal attacks from Iran or its proxies are going to continue to subside.

It has been confirmed troops that were deployed in Kuwait days after a key Iranian military individual was assassinated on the directions of the US President Donald Trump. About 1,000 combat troops have now been called back. The transition has happened over a span of two weeks. An additional 2,000 members of the same brigade are expected to leave the region in the weeks ahead, according to official statements.

America is known to provide a lot of military support to its military partners worldwide. Military support comprised combat troops, jet fighter squadrons, missile-defense systems, an American aircraft carrier and other warships. It is now confirmed that these all have left the region.

Political analysts believe that America’s strike over Iran’s top military official is a sign of their increasing irritation over Iran’s number of attacks that began last year, including attacks on commercial vessels, the downing of an American drone, and a drone and missile attack against an oil facility in Saudi Arabia.
Iran had denied the attacks and has been now busy trying to traverse its economy through the precarious waters of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Iran’s economy had been severely hit due to stringent economic sanctions levied on it by the US. he coronavirus has affected Iran’s ability to respond to the January strike, some Pentagon officials have concluded. “Their focus is internal,” one official said. Critics warned that it might be too early to conclude that Iran and its proxies won’t respond further.

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IAEA head calls on Iran to provide access to undeclared nuclear facilities
Middle East & Africa

IAEA head calls on Iran to provide access to undeclared nuclear facilities

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) calls on Iran to provide access to facilities for the possible storage of undeclared nuclear material. This was announced on Monday by the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi at a meeting of the Agency’s Governing Council in Vienna.

“The Agency identified a number of issues related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear activities at three sites that were not declared by Iran. The Agency requested access to two facilities. Iran did not provide access to these facilities and did not participate in substantive negotiations to clarify the agency’s issues.” – said Grossi.

“This negatively affects the ability of the agency to clarify and resolve these issues, to ensure confidence in the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran. I urge Iran to immediately and fully cooperate with the agency, including providing quick access to facilities designated by the agency,” he stressed.

Grossi also said that the IAEA did not record changes in Iran’s fulfillment of its obligations under the nuclear deal after Tehran’s announcement of the fifth step of deviation from the implementation of this agreement.

“To date, the agency has not recorded any changes in Iran’s implementation of its nuclear obligations under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for the Iranian Nuclear Program) due to its earlier announcement, as well as in the level of cooperation of Iran regarding the agency’s verification and monitoring the implementation of the JCPOA, ”said Grossi.

According to him, the IAEA continues to ensure that nuclear materials declared by Iran in accordance with the Safeguards Agreement are not sent for other purposes. “The ongoing verification of the absence of undeclared nuclear materials in Iran and other activities,” Grossi added.

On March 3, the IAEA sent a report on the status of nuclear inspections in Iran to countries participating in the Board of Governors of the Agency, which indicated that the amount of enriched uranium in Iran was more than five times the limit set by the nuclear agreement. The IAEA criticized Iran for refusing to provide experts with access to two nuclear facilities for conducting inspections, as well as unwillingness to answer questions related to the possible presence of undeclared nuclear materials.

The next day, the Permanent Representative of Iran to international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Garib Abadi, said that the United States and Israel are trying to put pressure on the IAEA. According to him, Tehran is not obliged to consider the IAEA requests for access to its nuclear facilities based on fabricated information.

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While corona virus pandemic has put people worldwide into a lockdown, water shortage is making a lot of people in Middle East frustrated and angry.
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