Out in the cold: Iran faces anger of US, Europe, Saudi Arabia

A Saudi soldier stands guard next to a Saudi air force cargo plane delivering aid at an airfield in the northern Yemeni province of Marib on Monday. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2018

Out in the cold: Iran faces anger of US, Europe, Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Iran came under sustained diplomatic attack on three fronts on Monday over its destabilizing activities in the region, its ballistic missile program and the “ill-conceived” nuclear deal with world powers.
In Brussels, the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused Iran of not respecting part of a UN resolution that calls on Tehran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
Speaking at a European foreign ministers’ meeting, he said the 28 ministers would restate their concerns over Iran’s activities in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, which he described as destabilizing.
In Jerusalem, US Vice President Mike Pence said Washington would withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran unless its flaws were fixed.
“The … deal is a disaster and the United States will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement,” he told the Israeli parliament.
Washington was working to effectively curb Iran’s nuclear and ballistic programs, Pence said.
In Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of supplying Houthi militias in Yemen with more than 60 ballistic missiles that have been fired at Saudi Arabia.
“The Houthis are responsible for the destruction and devastation in Yemen,” Al-Jubeir said at a meeting of ministers from the Saudi-led Arab coalition supporting Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
The coalition said on Monday it would commit $1.5 billion in new humanitarian aid for Yemen. It will also “lead the expansion of additional Yemeni ports” to receive cargo and humanitarian assistance, ensure several daily flights of cargo planes carrying aid from Saudi Arabia to Marib province, and establish “safe passage corridors” to ensure the delivery of aid to non-governmental organizations inside Yemen.
The expansion of ports will be supported with up to $40 million from the coalition, which will also allocate up to $30 million to cover transport costs of non-humanitarian shipments intended for the port of Hodeidah, in Houthi-held territory, to “their intended destinations in Yemen.”
Additionally, Saudi Arabia will make a donation of up to $2 billion in fuel for the transport of humanitarian aid.
“When the Houthis launch missiles at Saudi Arabia they expect a big reaction, and that is true, our reaction is huge — and that is to increase our help and aid to the Yemeni people,” said Mohammed Al-Jaber, the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said: “The Houthis try to provoke the coalition through their missiles and their attacks, but we fight back with giving more humanitarian aid.
“The coalition is placing its military resources at the disposal of these broad-ranging humanitarian operations. We are backing a professionally planned and detailed humanitarian mission with military power and precision to guarantee that the humanitarian aid reaches the people who need it, to ease their suffering.”
Saudi Arabia and its embassies abroad have been keen to promote humanitarian efforts in Yemen, including a deposit of $2 billion in Yemen’s Central Bank last week to support the Yemeni riyal. The currency slid further against the dollar late last year after the coalition blocked access to all of Yemen’s ports for several weeks in response to a Houthi missile launched at Riyadh.


Prisoners riot in Iran, region’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Prisoners riot in Iran, region’s worst COVID-19 outbreak

  • Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic
  • Prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals
TEHRAN: Prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported Monday, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East.
Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties.
Families of detainees and Western nations say Iran is holding those prisoners for political reasons or to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations.
The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Gov. Enayatollah Rahimi of the southern Fars province as saying a riot broke out at Adel Abad Prison, the main lockup in the city of Shiraz. Rahimi said prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals. No one was wounded and no one escaped.
IRNA reported Friday that 70 inmates had escaped Saqqez Prison in Iran’s western Kurdistan province. Prisoners beat guards during the chaos, a local prosecutor said. Several inmates later returned on their own to the prison.
Since the beginning of the year, riots have broken out in prisons in Aligudarz, Hamedan and Tabriz as well, with some prisoners escaping, IRNA reported.
Iran has reported more than 38,000 infections and 2,640 deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
The virus causes mild symptoms, including fever and cough, in most patients, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by people showing no symptoms. It can also cause severe illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.
The virus has infected more than 720,000 people worldwide, causing more than 34,000 deaths, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. More than 150,000 have recovered.