Opinion

The plan against Iran is working

The plan against Iran is working

Author
The Grace 1 was seized by British Royal Marines at Gibraltar. (Reuters)

Everything seems to be going according to plan so far — this is if we assume that there is actually a plan to confront Iran.
The imposition of further US sanctions has now been completed, and Iran is no longer able to export more than half a million barrels of oil per day, when it used to export up to 3 million.
Furthermore, due to the risks and bargains, Iran will sell its oil below market value. Sometimes, shipping the oil costs Iran more too. We have seen this with the discovery and detention of the oil tanker that sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, then through the Atlantic Ocean, until it reached the Strait of Gibraltar, where it was seized.
Had this oil tanker not been seized by the British, it was expected to reach the Syrian coast. True, the shipment was free, being a part of the Iranian support to the Syrian regime, but it was fabulously expensive and clearly reflects the state of frustration and failure of the leadership in Tehran.
Even if China bought a quarter of a million barrels, the quality is still small. Increasing Tehran’s pain is the addition of new sanctions that target its exports of petrochemicals and other products.
The “well-planned scheme” was based on the psychology of Iran. The scheme has predicted well how Iran would react, and has rarely erred. The imposition of the sanctions will push Iran into intransigence, so it threatens and goes back to enrichment. We know that it will go back to uranium enrichment and, thus, lose the support the rest of the states that signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. These states will also have to stand against Iran and this is exactly what has happened. Instead of negotiating, Iran has gone too far in its threats and announced its breach of the deal, prompting the EU countries, China and Russia to respond with denunciation. The EU countries are now under pressure to join the US in imposing sanctions on Iran.

By increasing its uranium enrichment, Iran has increased the threat against it, not the other way around.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Moreover, now that Iran has activated its nuclear project, Israel’s role in the crisis has become more central and effective, as it believes it — and not just the Gulf states — is a target for Iran’s nuclear and ballistic weapons.
Before the enrichment move, the dispute over Iraq and Yemen was of less importance to the Israelis. This also applies to Syria. Iran’s situation there is very bad, as Israel continuously attacks its military presence, despite the fact that Iran’s forces and militias have retreated outside of Damascus. The plight of the Iranians has also increased with Russia allowing Israel to target them in Syria without trying to intercept the Israeli missiles with its rocket launchers. By increasing its uranium enrichment, Iran has increased the threat against it, not the other way around.
What about the increasing Iranian hostile activity in the Arabian Gulf region by targeting ships, especially those coming from Saudi Arabia and the UAE? There is also Iran’s aggression through its Houthi agent, which has also increased. The Houthis have been using drones to attack Abha and Jazan airports in southern Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen.
There is another expected Iranian development that reflects the regime’s behavior and raises the threat level against Saudi Arabia. But, even if Tehran doubled or tripled its attacks, its effect would still be too small to provoke Saudi Arabia and its allies to go for a direct confrontation with Iran. No one wants to slip into war — not even the Iranians themselves. However, Iran wants to push things toward ending or curbing the US sanctions. This will never happen, with the US administration insisting on the implementation of the majority of its “scheme.” The sanctions will not be lifted, and negotiations are the only solution on the table. Iran has to make the expected concessions.

  • Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view

Iranian opposition urges Europe to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Tehran

Thousands of people, some of which are supporters of the National Council Of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leader Maryam Rajavi, gathered in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the German capital's Mitte district, in a protest against the current Iranian regime. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019
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Iranian opposition urges Europe to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Tehran

  • Calls come as Europe weighs how to respond to Iran breaching 2015 atomic deal
  • Iran said it is enriching uranium beyond the limit set by the accord

LONDON: European powers must reinstate sanctions against Iran in response to Tehran’s  breach of the international accord to curb its nuclear program, the Iranian opposition in exile warned.
Europe had been attempting to preserve the 2015 deal since Donald Trump withdrew the US last year. But Iran has reacted to heightened tensions with Washington by enriching uranium beyond limits set by the agreement.
The escalation has placed European leaders in a difficult position as they scramble to  salvage the agreement.
Speaking to Arab News in London, Hossein Abedini of the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) Foreign Affairs Committee, said the only choice now is for Europe to ramp up pressure on Iran.
“The Europeans must immediately snap back sanctions,” Abedini said. “The brazen actions to breach the nuclear deal ... clearly show that the mullahs’ regime never abandoned its nuclear projects and it is trying to capitalize on a placating policy to pursue it once again.”
The NCRI, a Europe-based umbrella bloc of opposition groups that seeks an end to Iran’s theocracy, has spent years warning about Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

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But its message now comes at a critical time as Iran demands that Europe must maintain economic relations even as the US moves to isolate the regime.
A diplomat sent to Tehran by Emmanuel Macron held talks Wednesday with Iranian officials in a bid to stop the deal collapsing.
But at a recent rally in Germany, the NCRI’s president elect Maryam Rajavi urged Europe to stop appeasing the Iranian regime.
“Each euro traded with the clerics is a euro for fueling the Khamenei repression and war machine,” she said.
Any concession to Tehran, she added, increases the prospect of a “catastrophic war” by the clerics.
The 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program and halt the country gaining a nuclear weapon. In response, world powers removed sanctions that had crippled the Iranian economy for years.
But many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, said the deal had merely allowed Iran to accelerate its missile technology and fund a foreign policy of stirring up trouble in the Middle East. Donald Trump agreed, and swiftly withdrew the US after he became president.

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He reinstated punishing sanctions on Iran’s economy, reducing its main income of oil exports to a trickle. In recent months the US also ramped up its military presence in the region and accused Iran of attacking oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned European signatories of the deal last week that Tehran would “take the next step” in growing its enrichment of uranium from Sunday.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed Monday that Tehran had enriched uranium to 4.5 percent purity, beyond the deal’s limit of 3.67 percent.
Abedini said the announcement proved the Iranian regime has never given up its nuclear projects.
“Past experience shows that the regime has always deceived the international community about its real intentions,” he said.
“It is high time that the whole nuclear infrastructure of the regime is totally dismantled.”
US sanctions have also targeted senior figures in the Iranian regime, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Last month, Trump said he was imposing hard-hitting new sanctions, including on the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in response to the shooting down of a US drone.
Abedini said sanctioning Khamenei and the IRGC are “the most imperative steps which will deny the regime funds it needs to continue its destabilising policies and repression at home.”


Tunisia toils to find final resting place for drowned migrants

Updated 22 July 2019
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Tunisia toils to find final resting place for drowned migrants

  • A string of deadly shipwrecks since May have left the North African country overwhelmed with bodies

GABES: A putrid odour lingers outside a morgue in Tunisia’s coastal city of Gabes as dozens of bodies of would-be migrants to Europe pulled out of the sea await burial.
A string of deadly shipwrecks since May have left the North African country overwhelmed with bodies and struggling to find them a final resting place.
More than 80 drowned migrants have been retrieved from Tunisian waters — most of them victims of a deadly July 1 shipwreck that left only three survivors.
Fished out of the sea between the port city of Zarzis and the tourist island of Djerba in the south, their bodies were brought to Gabes hospital — the only facility in the region capable of taking DNA samples.
Under pressure from civil society groups, Tunisian authorities have stepped up efforts to systematically collect the DNA of each unidentified drowned migrant, hospital director Hechmi Lakhrech told AFP.
The samples could well be the only hope of informing the victims’ families of their fate, he added.
In the basement morgue, staff use surgical masks or simple scarves to fend off the stench of bodies stacked one top of the other on the floor.
Since July 6, the numbers have “overwhelmed” the morgue’s 30-body capacity, said Lakhrech.
With just two forensic doctors and two assistants, not to mention a lack of equipment, the facility is struggling to keep them properly stored, he added.
After forensic tests, the bodies are kept at the morgue until a burial site is found, which in Tunisia is complicated, according to Gabes governor Mongi Thameur.
Many municipalities have refused to allow the drowned migrants to be buried in their cemeteries.
“Some fear the bodies carry cholera, and others refuse to bury people in Muslim cemeteries if their religion is unknown,” he told AFP.
It comes down to “a problem of mentality and also of humanity in some cases,” he said, adding that many people needed to be “sensitised.”
At the Bouchama cemetery, the only one in Gabes to have so far accepted migrant bodies, 16 graves dug off to the side lie empty.
“My parents are resting here, I don’t want non-Muslims to be buried by their side,” said one local resident.
In front of the hospital, the stifling midday heat beats down as 14 white bags are carefully loaded onto the back of a garbage truck.
Once loaded, it will make the two-hour journey to Zarzis, where an improvised cemetery flooded with the bodies of migrants for several years is now full, and a new one has just been opened.
Each grave is marked with a simple plaque bearing the victim’s DNA file number and burial date.
“On July 12, we collected 45 bodies in one day!” said Zarzis deputy mayor Faouzi Khenissi, calling it a “phenomenal problem.”
The city has taken in the bodies “because we have this culture, we can’t just leave the remains unburied,” he said.
Zarzis is a hotspot for illegal departures to Europe and Khenissi says some of the city’s own youth have also been victims of the wrecks.
Municipal workers and officials take shifts volunteering after work to conduct the burials.
After three hours of prep under the blazing sun, 14 bodies are buried alongside the 47 others already laid to rest at the new site, just outside a shelter for rescued migrants.
Mongi Slim of the country’s Red Crescent called for “international mobilization” to address the issue which “does not concern Tunisia alone.”
“The country is already struggling to take care of rescued migrants, but even more so for those who’ve died.”