Arab League to boycott Labour conference over Corbyn snub

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's opposition Labour party Leader Jeremy Corbyn as he speaks during Prime Mininster's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London, in this September 13, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2017

Arab League to boycott Labour conference over Corbyn snub

LONDON: Arab ambassadors canceled a reception at next week’s Labour party conference after claiming that Saudi and Sudanese representatives were barred from attending.
The row comes just days before Labour party members gather in Brighton.
In a letter sent to all UK MPs on Thursday, The League of Arab States said: “Unfortunately, the Council of Arab Ambassadors has taken the decision to cancel its annual reception and buffet dinner and boycott the Labour Party conference this year, due to the rejection of the application of both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Sudan to attend the conference.”
The reception is an annual event and is usually hosted by the Council of Arab Ambassadors, including all Arab ambassadors in the UK.
The Arab Ambassadors meet regularly to discuss Arab-British relations.
A Labour spokesperson confirmed in a statement to Arab News that its national executive committee had refused to accept the Saudi Embassy’s application to attend the event because of the country’s military campaign in Yemen.
But there was confusion over whether Sudan had applied to attend the event. While the Arab League claimed Sudan’s application was rejected, Labour said it was not received.
The Embassy of Sudan was not immediately available for comment.
However, an embassy spokesman was quoted by Al-Hayat saying: “The Labour Party decision is part of a clear pattern of double standards and the Arab decision was taken unanimously.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is known for his hostile stance toward Saudi Arabia, has publicly called for the UK to stop selling arms to the Kingdom, most recently in an interview with the BBC on Sept. 11.
He told the World At One that the UK should stop supplying weapons that are being used in the war in Yemen.
“We are selling arms to Saudi Arabia — and at the same time we are sending aid in, we should not be doing both,” he said.
He added it was it was important to ensure there was “a political process to bring about a cease-fire”.
Labour’s annual conference — which is expected to be its biggest ever — is being held from Sept. 24 over four days at the Brighton Center.


UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

Updated 52 min 6 sec ago

UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

  • Husband Richard Ratcliffe: Iran has ordered Nazanin to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen”

LONDON: Britain on Friday warned Iran against throwing detained woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back in jail, after hauling in Tehran’s envoy for a dressing-down over her emotive case.
The Foreign Office summoned Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad on Thursday to hear renewed demands from a senior official for an end to the British-Iranian captive’s “arbitrary detention.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in a “horrific position,” after her husband said Iran has ordered her to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail.
Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen,” Raab said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who will turn 42 on Boxing Day, has been on temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016 while visiting relatives with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016. (AFP)

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said this week that the Foreign Office’s handling of the case “seems disastrous,” and that “the UK is dancing to Iran’s tune.”
Raab told the BBC: “We’ve made it very clear we want to try to put the relationship between the UK and Iran on a better footing.
“If Nazanin is returned to prison, that will of course put our discussions and the basis of those discussions in a totally different place. It is entirely unacceptable.”
Richard Ratcliffe linked the latest development to the postponement of a hearing that was due to take place on Tuesday in London to address Iran’s longstanding demand for the repayment by Britain of hundreds of millions from an old military equipment order.
“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years,” he said, accusing Iran of “hostage diplomacy.”