Iran has committed ‘serious’ breaches of international law, says UK foreign secretary Raab

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Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks at the parliament on Iran. (Reuters)
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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York. (Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2019

Iran has committed ‘serious’ breaches of international law, says UK foreign secretary Raab

  • FM cited recent attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities
  • Raab used his speech to urge an end to Iranian interference in Yemen

LONDON: Iran has undertaken “serious and systemic” breaches of international law, the UK’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday.

Raab said he hoped Britain could still work with Iran, but that could only happen if Iran “showed the respect required for the basic principles of the rules-based international system.”

The foreign secretary cited the recent attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities to highlight how Iran’s behavior destabilizes the region.
“Iran’s violations are not mere technical breaches of international rules. They are serious and systemic, destabilising actions, which undermine the international rule of law. And those actions must have consequences,” he said.

“Iran’s record of respect for the basic rules of international law is woeful and it is getting worse,” he told UK’s parliament.

“Take the recent attacks on the Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia, eighteen drones and seven cruise missiles hit an oil field and a processing facility.

“As the UK government, we took our time to assess the facts carefully and independently. We are now confident that Iran was responsible. The evidence is clear, and there is no plausible alternative explanation.

“We have condemned the attacks in coordination not just with Saudi Arabia and the US but also with our European partners,” he added.

Addressing the UK’s House of Commons, Raab said the attack on Aramco also reiterated the need to prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s attacks on the Aramco facilities are a reminder of the importance of ensuring that Iran never gains access to nuclear weapons,” he said.

The foreign secretary also mentioned the Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), and the UK’s work with the US, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

“And, as the attack on Aramco demonstrates, we must also bring into scope Iran’s wider destabilising activities. That includes putting an end to Iran’s violations of the freedom of navigation, which are disrupting shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, and undermining the international law of the sea,” he said.

Raab used his speech to urge an end to Iranian interference in Yemen, which he said has led to the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world and which has stoked further conflict through support for the Houthi militia.

“A political solution is the only viable way to bring peace to that terrible conflict. Iran must start to play a constructive instead of a destructive role in that conflict,” he said.

Raab also made reference to the number of UK dual-nationals imprisoned in Iran, confirming that prime minister Boris Johnson raised the issue with Iranian president Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“Today, there are a range of UK dual-nationals languishing in jail in Iran, typically arrested on spurious charges, denied due process and subject to mistreatment contrary to the basic tenets of international human rights law. This practice causes great anguish and suffering not just to those detained, but also to their families.

“Iran’s behavior is unlawful, cruel and it is totally unacceptable. I have raised all of these cases, along with Iran’s wider conduct with Foreign Minister Zarif,” he said.

“So, Iran’s record of respect for the basic rules of international law is woeful. And it is getting worse. Let’s be clear about this and the Iranian government’s responsibility for the plight of its own people. It is a matter of political choice. Their government’s choice,” he added.

Dick Cheney: Upcoming decade bleak if US adopts ‘disengagement’ policy

Updated 10 December 2019

Dick Cheney: Upcoming decade bleak if US adopts ‘disengagement’ policy

  • Former US vice president sounds warning during panel discussion on ‘The global order 2030’
  • Remarks seen as indirect criticism of President Trump’s pledge to pull forces out of Syria

DUBAI: Dick Cheney, one of the most influential vice presidents in US history, has warned that “American disengagement” from the Middle East would only benefit Iran and Russia.

The 78-year-old politician’s warning came during a speech at the Arab Strategy Forum (ASF) in Dubai, an annual event in which the world’s leading decision-makers address global challenges and opportunities in “a precise, balanced and politically scientific manner.”

Cheney’s remarks could be seen as indirect criticism of US President Donald Trump’s pledges to pull forces out of northern Syria.

Addressing conference delegates, he cited the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and the 2015 lifting of sanctions against Iran during Barack Obama’s presidency, as events that amplified instability in the region.

“Our allies were left abandoned, and no one wants to feel that way again,” said Cheney, who was chief executive of Halliburton between 1995 and 2000 and held high posts in several Republican administrations.

The former VP’s remarks came during the forum’s concluding session titled, “The global order 2030: The Unites States and China,” which was attended by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

Joined by Li Zhaoxing, a former Chinese foreign minister, in a candid panel discussion, Cheney offered his views on the world order in the next decade within the context of Iran’s regional ascendancy, China’s rise and Russian ambitions in the Middle East.

“I am not here to speak on behalf of the US government, or to speak to it,” Cheney said, adding that his talking points reflected concerns he suspected everyone shared.

“For decades, there’s been a consensus of America’s influence in the world and how to use it,” he said, citing instances where US disengagement had caused the political situation in the Middle East to implode.

“Humanity has benefited from America’s protectionism of the world and its relationship with its allies in the region.”

According to him, the upcoming decade would be bleak should the US adopt a disengagement policy, with the pressures most felt by supporters and partners in the Middle East.

Turning to the role that the US and China would play in the global status quo by 2030, Cheney said there were still concerns over China’s reputation.

“We had hoped that there would be a political evolution in China, but that hasn’t happened yet,” he added.

Li said: “China will never learn from a world superpower and will never try to be hegemonic,” citing as examples China’s strong relations with the UAE and the wider Arab world, and the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (a global development strategy) on Chinese foreign policy.

“History is the best teacher, but the US has forgotten its own history. You don’t keep your promises,” added Li, directing his statement at Cheney.

Cheney said that since the end of the Cold War, the US had expected that its policy toward China would have had a beneficial effect on its behavior and helped to deepen bilateral relations.

“It was disappointing to see that these expectations were not borne out – China has only grown richer, the regime has become more oppressive, and instead of evolving, it became more assertive,” he said.

In a separate ASF meeting at the Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Center, Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, discussed Iran’s policies in a session titled, “The race for relevance and influence in the region: GCC, Iran, Turkey and Russia.”

Sadjadpour said he expected in the next 10 years to see the arrival of “an Iranian Putin” with a military background as the country’s next leader.

“After 40 years of a clerical regime and a military autocracy, there is now a rise of Persian nationalism. This is a shift from the sheer revolution ideology,” he said.

Sadjadpour said there had been an evolution of “Shiite Arab” identity during the past two decades, with the focus more on religion than nationality.

Under the circumstances, he noted that Sunni Arab powers had an important role to play in welcoming Shiite Arabs into their fold “and luring them away from Iran.”

The analyst added that the future of the Arab world could not be explored and forecast without considering a growing mental health crisis. “Today, hundreds of millions of people in the region suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and the effects of this will be with us for decades to come, resulting in issues like radicalism.”

He said there was a need for training thousands of counselors in the field of mental health in order to reach out to those whose lives had been robbed by extreme violence and conflicts.