Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls On Muslim Nations To Unite Against US

There is great tension between Iran and the United States and the recent call by Supreme leader Khamenei might have just poured fuel in the fire.

Recall that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani blasted US president Donald Trump dismissing him as a businessman who have no idea about international matters.

Rouhani spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to scrap the 2015 agreement – under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

“They say that with the certain leader of a European country we want to make a decision about a seven-sided agreement,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

“For what? With what right?”

“You don’t have any background in politics. You don’t have any background in law. You don’t have any background on international treaties,” Rouhani said.

“How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs,” he added referring to Trump’s career as a property developer.

Now according to state television Iran’s supreme leader has called on Muslim nations to unite against the U.S.,saying Tehran would never yield to its arch foe’s “bullying”.

“The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist.

“All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
said.

The other powers that signed the agreement with Iran – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, have all said they want to preserve it.

 

Iran’s Rouhan Publicly Insults US Trump

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has dismissed US President Donald Trump “tradesman” who lacked the qualifications to deal with a complex international publicly insulting him on live TV making reference to Trumps Career part over Tehran’s nuclear agreement.

Rouhani spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to scrap the 2015 agreement – under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions.

“They say that with the certain leader of a European country we want to make a decision about a seven-sided agreement,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

“For what? With what right?” he added.

He reserved particular scorn for the U.S. president, who has called the agreement one of the worst deals ever negotiated and has threatened to restore U.S. sanctions next month unless what he sees as severe flaws are fixed.

“You don’t have any background in politics. You don’t have any background in law. You don’t have any background on international treaties,” Rouhani said.

“How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs,” he added referring to Trump’s career as a property developer.

The other powers that signed the agreement with Iran – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, have all said they want to preserve it.

Many in the West see it as the best hope of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and heading off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

In a bid to salvage the deal while satisfying Trump’s call for tougher action, Macron’s has proposed that the U.S. and Europe block any Iranian nuclear activity until 2025 and beyond, address Iran’s ballistic missile programme and generate conditions for a political solution to contain Iran in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks with Trump in Washington on Friday.

Senior Iranian officials have said repeatedly that Iran’s ballistic missile programme is not up for negotiation.

Iran Increases Missile Production

A senior Revolutionary Guards Commander has revealed that Iran has increased its missile production three-fold.

He said this to the Fars news service, although he wasn’t clear about the period this increase had started.

Fars reported ” Brig.-Gen. Amir Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace division “ saying;

“In the past we had to do a lot of explaining to various bodies for our actions but it’s not like that anymore said”

“Our production has increased three-fold compared to the past,” he said, referring to missiles.

Hajizadeh said the government, parliament and other Iranian officials had, in particular, agreed on the need for ground-to-ground missiles.

Fars gave no further details.

France’s foreign minister visited Iran on Monday on a delicate mission to reaffirm Europe’s support for a nuclear deal that opened Iran’s economy, while echoing U.S. concern about its missile program and role in regional conflicts.

Jean-Yves Le Drian’s visit reflected French efforts to safeguard Iran’s 2015 accord with major powers.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the deal unless three European signatories help “fix” it by forcing Iran to limit its sway in the Middle East and rein in its missile program.

Senior Iranian officials told Le Drian on Monday that Iran’s ballistic missile program was not up for negotiation.

 

Plane crashes in Iran killing all 66 aboard

An Iranian passenger plane on a domestic flight crashed into the country’s Zagros mountains on Sunday killing all 66 people on board, officials said.

The Aseman Airlines flight left Tehran’s Mehrabad airport around 0800 (0430 GMT) for the city of Yasuj in Isfahan province, said Mohammad Tabatabai, director of public relations for the airline.

The plane crashed into Dena mountain, part of the Zagros range, around 23 kilometres (14 miles) from Yasuj, some 500 kilometres south of the capital, he told state broadcaster IRIB.

“After searches in the area, unfortunately we were informed that the plane crashed. Unfortunately, all our dear ones lost their lives in this incident,” said Tabatabai.

The plane was carrying 60 passengers, including one child, as well as six crew, he added.

A helicopter sent by Iran’s national emergency services was unable to land at the site of the accident due to severe weather, its spokesman said.

The Relief and Rescue Organisation of Iran’s Red Crescent said it had dispatched 12 teams to the region.

“Given the fact that the area is mountainous, it is not possible to send ambulances,” Mojtaba Khaledi, spokesman for the national emergency services, told ISNA news agency.

Decades of international sanctions have left Iran with an ageing fleet of passenger planes which it has struggled to maintain and modernise.

It has suffered multiple aviation disasters, most recently in 2014 when a Sepahan plane crashed killing 39 people.

Tabatabai said the plane that crashed on Sunday was a twin-engine turboprop ATR-72.

Aseman currently has a fleet of 36 planes — half of them 105-seat Dutch Fokker 100s.

Its three Boeing 727-200s are almost as old as the Islamic revolution, having made their first flights in 1980.

Lifting sanctions on aviation purchases was a key clause in the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015.

Following the deal, Aseman Airlines finalised an agreement to buy 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets for $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) last June, with an option to buy 30 more.

However, the sale could be scuppered if US President Donald Trump chooses to reimpose sanctions in the coming months, as he has threatened to do.

The US has maintained its own sanctions on Iran, which block almost all trade with the country, but plane manufacturers were given a specific exemption under the nuclear deal.

Boeing, which is also building 80 planes for national carrier Iran Air, faces heavy criticism from US lawmakers who say Iranian airlines have been used to ship weapons and troops to Syria and other conflict zones.

The US Treasury Department approved the sale of the 80 Boeing jets as well as 100 Airbus planes to Iran Air. The first few Airbus jets have already arrived in Tehran.

(AFP)

Attempted Entry Into President’s Office Foiled By Security Operatives

An unidentified man has been shot and arrested in Iran after he tried to break into the president’s office.

This was disclosed by the deputy governor of Tehran on Monday.  “We are trying to identify the person and find out his motivation,” Mohsen Hamedani added.

In June 7, 2017, Iranian officials said suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iran’s parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran, killing 12 people in a twin assault at the heart of the Islamic Republic.

Islamic State claimed responsibility and released a video purporting to show gunmen inside the parliament building and one body, apparently dead, on the floor.

The rare attacks were the first claimed by the hardline Sunni Muslim militant group inside in the tightly controlled Shi’ite Muslim country.

Islamic State has regularly threatened Iran, one of the powers leading the fight against the militants’ forces in neighbouring Iraq and, beyond that, Syria.

The raids took place at a particularly charged time, after Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups.

Attackers dressed as women burst through parliament’s main entrance in central Tehran, deputy interior minister Mohammad Zolfaghari said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

Zolfaghari said one of them detonated a suicide vest in the parliament.

About five hours after the first reports, Iranian news agencies said four people who had attacked parliament were dead and the incident was over.

At least 12 people were killed by the attackers, the head of Iran’s emergency department, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.

Soon after the assault on parliament, another bomber detonated a suicide vest near the shrine of the Republic’s revered founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, a few kilometres south of the city, Zolfaghari said, according to Tasnim.

 

Iran Minister Criticizes Trump Over Oil And Gas Minister

Iran’s oil minister lashed out at the United States on Sunday, saying that hostile comments by President Donald Trump had torpedoed new oil and gas contracts for the Islamic republic.

“Trump is trying to destabilise market conditions for those who want to work in Iran,” Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told a press conference.

“For the past year, every three or four months, he has destabilised the market. One cannot say that this is not without effect,” he said.

The agreement in July 2015 of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers sparked keen interest among international investors keen to focus on the country’s petroleum riches.

But Trump’s arrival in the White House a year ago, and his regular denunciations of the deal with Iran and the country in general, cooled their ardour.

Zanganeh revealed that Tehran was currently negotiating with “more than 20 foreign companies” to develop its oil and gas fields.

“But I dare not name the projects that are near to being agreed. If I do so, from tomorrow there will be pressure for them not to sign contracts with us,” he said.

Some countries “both at the international and regional level” are exerting pressure on European and Asian firms not to agree contracts with Iran, Zanganeh added, without naming them.

However, he did say he was optimistic about a $5-billion (four-billion-euro) contract signed last July with the French group Total, which heads a consortium with China’s CNPC to develop a gas field.

“I consider that Total is very serious… I hope it will implement the accord and I think that in a short period of time, it will sign agreements with subcontractors,” Zanganeh said.

He added that Iran had planned measures “if the deal ever runs into trouble” because of pressure from the United States.

Iran Suspends Execution Of Drug Criminals

Iran on Monday suspended the execution of all criminals sentenced to death for drug offences.

This was announced by the country’s Speaker of the parliament, Ali Larijani. He said all the cases are to be reviewed.

“A block has also been placed on planned executions,’’ the Isna news agency reported.

According to official statistics, 4,000 people are currently on death row in Iran for drug offences.

The Iranian government officially abolished the death penalty for some drug-related crimes in November.

Larijani had previously defended capital punishment for drug dealers, claiming they were responsible for the deaths of thousands of young people and a lifetime of suffering for their families.

“Without the death penalty and executions, drugs would be available in every supermarket,’’ he said.

In 2016, an inquiry found that, in spite of a high number of executions, the quantity and variety of drugs being smuggled into Iran was rising, rather than falling.

Iran has previously come under criticism from the international community for its stance on drug offences.

“The country’s legal authorities are currently considering which specific punishments would be appropriate as an effective alternative to the death penalty,’’ the local media report said.

Those convicted, for example, of small-scale dealing could be sentenced to several years in prison or community service.

Drug lords, however, are still expected to receive the death penalty.

 

Protesters Attack Police Stations In Iran

Media and News agency have reported that Iranian protesters attacked police stations late into the night on Monday.

Videos on social media showed an intense clash in the central town of Qahderijan between security forces and protesters who were trying to occupy a police station, which was partially set ablaze.

There were unconfirmed reports of several casualties among demonstrators. In the western city of Kermanshah, protesters set fire to a traffic police post, but no one was hurt in the incident, Mehr news agency said.

Some 13 people were reported killed on Sunday in the worst wave of unrest since crowds took to the streets in 2009 to condemn the re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The protests have put pressure on the clerical leaders in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

President Hassan Rouhani made a televised call for calm on Sunday, saying Iranians had the right to criticise but must not cause unrest.

In the central city of Najafabad, a demonstrator opened fire on police with a hunting rifle, killing one and wounding three others, state television said.

Earlier, state TV said armed demonstrators on Sunday had tried to seize police and military bases but were stopped by “strong resistance from security forces.”

It gave no further details and there was no independent confirmation.

State TV had reported that 10 people were killed in protests on Sunday.

On Monday, that death toll rose when the deputy governor of the western Hamadan Province, Saeed Shahrokhi, told ISNA news agency that another three protesters were killed on Sunday in the city of Tuyserkan.

Hundreds have been arrested, according to officials and social media. Online video showed police in the capital Tehran firing water cannon to disperse demonstrators, in footage said to have been filmed on Sunday.

Protests against economic hardships and alleged corruption erupted in Iran’s second city of Mashhad on Thursday and escalated across the country into calls for the religious establishment to step down.

Some of the anger was directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, breaking a taboo surrounding the man who has been supreme leader of Iran since 1989.

Video posted on social media showed crowds of people walking through the streets, some chanting “Death to the dictator!” Reuters was not immediately able to verify the footage.

The Fars news agency reported “scattered groups” of protesters in Tehran on Monday and said a ringleader had been arrested.

People protest in Tehran, Iran December 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

“The government will show no tolerance for those who damage public property, violate public order and create unrest in society,” Rouhani said in his address on Sunday.

Unsigned statements on social media urged Iranians to continue to demonstrate in 50 towns and cities.

The government said it was temporarily restricting access to the Telegram messaging app and Instagram. There were reports that internet mobile access was blocked in some areas.

Iran is a major OPEC oil producer and regional power deeply involved in Syria and Iraq as part of a battle for influence with rival Saudi Arabia.

Many Iranians resent those foreign interventions, and want their leaders to create jobs at home, where youth unemployment reached 28.8 per cent in 2017.

Among reported fatalities, two people were shot dead in the southwestern town of Izeh on Sunday and several others were injured, ILNA news agency quoted a member of parliament as saying.

“I do not know whether yesterday’s shooting was done by rally participants or the police and this issue is being investigated,” Hedayatollah Khademi was quoted as saying.

Regional governor Mostafa Samali told Fars that only one person was killed in an incident unrelated to the protests, and the suspected shooter had been arrested.

Iranian police arrested 100 protesters in capital on Monday, official told ILNA

Almost nine years since the “Green movement” reformist protests were crushed by the state, Iran’s adversaries voiced their support for the resurgence of anti-government sentiment.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years.

They are hungry for food and for freedom.

Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the “brave Iranians” taking to streets to protest a regime that “wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate”.

I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged “all sides (to) refrain from violent actions”.

 

Lebanese Prime Minister Resigns

Lebanese two-time Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose father Rafik was assassinated when he held the same position in 2005, has announced his resignation Saturday, citing Iran’s “grip” on the country and threats to his life.

 

“I announce my resignation from the post of prime minister,” he said in a speech broadcast from Saudi Arabia by the Al-Arabiya news network.

 

“I felt what was being covertly plotted to target my life,” Hariri said.

 

He accused Iran and its powerful Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah of seeking hegemony in the region. The 47-year-old Sunni politician’s resignation comes less than a year after his government, to which Hezbollah’s political wing belongs, was formed.

 

 

“Iran has a grip on the fate of the region’s countries… Hezbollah is Iran’s arm not just in Lebanon but in other Arab countries too,” he said. “In recent years, Hezbollah has used the power of its weapons to impose a fait accompli,” he said, reading a speech from behind a desk. Hezbollah is a vital ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war the Syrian regime is waging against the Islamic State group and armed opposition movements.

 

 

It enjoys broad support from Iran and is the only Lebanese party to have kept its weapons after the 1975-1990 civil war. Its arsenal has since grown exponentially and now outstrips that of the nation’s own armed forces. It claims it is the only credible rampart against neighbouring Israel and its refusal to disarm is the main political crux in Lebanon. Hezbollah members have been accused over the 2005 assassination in a massive car bomb blast of Rafik Hariri, the dominant figure of Lebanon’s post-war political landscape.

 

 

He made his fortune in Saudi Arabia, where his son Saad was born. Riyadh is Iran’s main regional rival and the two powers’ tussle for influence has played out in ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

 

OPEC: Iran Request To Address Nigeria And Libya’s Output

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its commitment of the to cutting production to clear a global glut are working, but the group needs to address rising output from Libya and Nigeria, Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has said.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries should focus on “the situation in Libya and Nigeria,” he said, referring to the two countries exempted from capping production due to their internal strife. Compliance with the output cuts is “acceptable,” Zanganeh told reporters in Tehran.

“OPEC’s actions are working and compliance is acceptable overall, although there needs to be some change,” Zanganeh said, referring to OPEC members’ compliance with their pledges to pump less. “Changes are really related to Libya and Nigeria and the 100 percent compliance of everyone.” He didn’t elaborate.

OPEC and other global producers including Russia agreed to maintain output cuts through March to end a price rout that has battered their economies since 2014. Iran was part of the deal reached last year, though it was given special permission to raise output by 90,000 barrels a day. Libya and Nigeria were not part of the deal and have since increased production, complicating the efforts of the suppliers to reduce the glut. Benchmark Brent crude has dropped by about half from its 2014 peak.

OPEC backs any action to help stabilize the oil market, and if a meeting is needed for the group to decide whether to extend the cuts that expire in March, “we’ll arrange it,” Zanganeh said.

Iran “will consider everything within the framework of our national interest and cooperation with OPEC,” he said when asked whether the country would adjust its output.

Iraq supports OPEC’s efforts to pare oil output and clears a global glut even as the group’s second-biggest producer plans to expand its own capacity to pump more, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabbar al-Luaibi said Sunday at a news conference in Baghdad.

The country’s plan to boost capacity to 5 million barrels a day by the end of the year won’t affect crude markets, he said. Iraq won’t export all of its additional output, he said. The nation pumped 4.49 million barrels a day in August, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“The oil market’s status is stable, and we don’t accept that any country exceeds its share” under OPEC’s deal to cut production, he said. “We support OPEC’s position to stabilize markets.”

Iraq is seeking to rebuild its energy industry after decades of conflict, and al-Luaibi sought to reassure oil markets a day before the country’s energy-rich, self-governing Kurdish area plans to vote on a referendum on independence. The central government opposes the vote, which many global powers say could create further instability in a region convulsed by war. The Kurds plan to include the disputed Kirkuk region, home to Iraq’s oldest producing oil fields, in the referendum.

Oil should be left out of the political wrangling over control of Kirkuk, al-Luaibi said. Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens are all competing to control Kirkuk, making it a potential flashpoint for conflict. The Baghdad-run North Oil Co. is currently pumping 500,000 barrels a day in northern Iraq, he said.

Iraq’s government is still in discussions with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which quit Iraq’s southern Majnoon field and plans also to withdraw from the West Qurna-1 deposit, al-Luaibi said. It’s not talking with any other oil companies about replacing Shell, he said.

“We have no problems in finding international companies” to replace the oil major, al-Luaibi said, adding that Iraqi staff are capable of taking over from Shell.

Iraq will soon sign a deal with Iran to jointly invest in two oil fields, he said, without giving a date. It’s also in talks with Kuwait to jointly develop four fields and to ship surplus natural gas to Kuwait, he said.

Israel’s Netanyahu Vows To Fight ‘Iranian Curtain’

 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, addresses the 72nd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 19, 2017.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Tuesday to fight an “Iranian curtain” descending on the Middle East, pledging to prevent Tehran from ever establishing a permanent foothold in Syria.

Netanyahu — who in recent years has coined his own sort of theater at the annual United Nations speech marathon with podium props and dramatic warnings — was in a lighter mood for 2017, cracking jokes and rejoicing over the rise of US President Donald Trump.

But his message was ultimately no less severe as he chose to echo Winston Churchill’s 1946 speech that declared that communist Eastern Europe had come under an “Iron Curtain” of Soviet subjugation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, addresses the 72nd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York September 19, 2017.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Tuesday to fight an “Iranian curtain” descending on the Middle East, pledging to prevent Tehran from ever establishing a permanent foothold in Syria.

Netanyahu — who in recent years has coined his own sort of theater at the annual United Nations speech marathon with podium props and dramatic warnings — was in a lighter mood for 2017, cracking jokes and rejoicing over the rise of US President Donald Trump.

But his message was ultimately no less severe as he chose to echo Winston Churchill’s 1946 speech that declared that communist Eastern Europe had come under an “Iron Curtain” of Soviet subjugation.

“From the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Tehran to Tartus, an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East,” Netanyahu warned the General Assembly.

“Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions.

“We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces,” he said, also vowing to prevent Iran from producing any weapons that could hit the Jewish state.

Iran has been aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iraq’s government in their fights against the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for a slew of bloody attacks around the world.

Iran’s ruling Shiite clerics have also sworn foes of Israel and have supported the militant movement Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu has long insisted that Iran, which also has tense relations with major Sunni Arab states, is the pre-eminent threat and unsuccessfully fought to scuttle Iran’s 2015 deal with global powers to give up its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

Netanyahu said he was proven right and that Iran since the agreement has been “like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations but devouring nations, one after the other.”

The right-leaning Israeli leader heaped praise on Trump, who in his own speech hours earlier said the deal with Iran championed by his predecessor Barack Obama was an “embarrassment” and separately threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if the regime attacks.

In years of listening to UN speeches, “none were bolder, none were more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump today,” Netanyahu said.

UN inspectors say Iran has fulfilled its commitments to give up its nuclear activities under the agreement, which was reached with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

Netanyahu has doubted Iranian intentions and voiced concern that some provisions on curbing uranium enrichment do not go beyond 2025.

Netanyahu directed his barbs at Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iranians in May overwhelmingly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who has campaigned on the nuclear deal and better relations with the West.

The Israeli leader drew a distinction between Iranians and their government, saying in Farsi to the Iranian people: “You are our friends.”

Netanyahu opened his speech not with his often booming voice but a grin. He boasted of further breaking his country’s diplomatic isolation by visiting six continents in the past year — a first for a prime minister of Israel.

“Now, it’s true, I haven’t yet visited Antarctica, but one day I want to go there too because I’ve heard that penguins are also enthusiastic supporters of Israel,” he said, explaining that the birds can see black-and-white moral distinctions.

 

 

Source: The Guardian