Iran asks UN to hold US accountable for plane interception

The Iranian passenger plane was flying over Syria when this happened. (File/AFP)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Iran asks UN to hold US accountable for plane interception

  • Iran’s UN ambassador said the plane “had to change altitude abruptly, causing injuries to the passengers onboard”
  • US official said the US fighter jets “conducted a standard visual inspection” of the Iranian plane “at a safe distance”

UNITED NATIONS: Iran is urging the United Nations to hold the United States accountable for the interception of an Iranian passenger plane by two US fighter jets in the skies over Syria last month, which it called an “unlawful” and an “adventuristic act.”
Iran’s UN ambassador, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said in identical letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council circulated Friday that Iran “expresses its strongest objections against this violation of international law and will pursue the issue through relevant international bodies.”
Ravanchi said a Mahan Airlines Airbus A310 en route from Tehran to Beirut on July 23 “was aggressively and unexpectedly intercepted” by two US F-15 fighter jets while traveling through internationally specified air corridors in Syria’s airspace.
“In reaction to the offensive and hazardous manouverings of the United States fighter jets and in order to save the civil aircraft and passengers’ lives, the airliner had to change altitude abruptly, causing injuries to the passengers onboard,” the ambassador said.
US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a Central Command spokesman, told The Associated Press at the time of the incident that a US F-15 “conducted a standard visual inspection” of the Iranian plane “at a safe distance of approximately 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) from the airliner.”
He said the inspection was meant to ensure the safety of US coalition troops in Al-Tanf in Syria as the plane was flying over that area. He said once the aircraft was identified as a passenger plane, “the F-15 safely opened distance from the aircraft.”
The Iranian ambassador said that in line with provisions of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Iran’s civil aviation organization contacted Syrian authorities and called for “a prompt and accurate investigation of the incident.” He said Iranian authorities also launched an investigation after the plane returned from Beirut.
The results of both investigations will be released “after the revision and finalization of the collected data and information” by both teams, Ravanchi said.
“It is obvious that the act by the United States fighter jets is a flagrant violation of the aviation security and freedom of civil aviation reflected in the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and its relevant annexes as well as an infringement of the 1971 Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation,” he said.
Ravanchi said: “It is incumbent upon the United Nations to reject such an unlawful and yet adventuristic act and hold the United States accountable for this irresponsible behavior.”


Lebanese Christian party offers idea to resolve dispute over new cabinet

Updated 19 September 2020

Lebanese Christian party offers idea to resolve dispute over new cabinet

  • The proposal, put forward on Saturday, involved handing major ministries to smaller sectarian groups in a country where power is shared between Muslims and Christians
  • A Sept. 15 deadline agreed with France to name a cabinet has passed

BEIRUT: A party founded by Lebanon’s Christian president made a proposal to end a dispute that has blocked the formation of a new cabinet and threatened a French drive to lift the country out of its worst crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.
The proposal, put forward on Saturday, involved handing major ministries to smaller sectarian groups in a country where power is shared between Muslims and Christians.
There was no immediate comment from Shiite Muslim groups, which have insisted they choose who fills several posts. But a political source familiar with the thinking of dominant Shiite groups said the idea was unlikely to work.
Lebanon’s efforts to swiftly form a new government have run into the sand over how to pick ministers in a country where political loyalties mostly follow sectarian religious lines.
A Sept. 15 deadline agreed with France to name a cabinet has passed. Paris, which is leading an international push to haul Lebanon back from economic collapse, has voiced exasperation and told Beirut to act “without delay.”
The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the party founded by President Michel Aoun and allied to Hezbollah, proposed “undertaking an experiment to distribute the so-called sovereign ministries to smaller sects, specifically to the Druze, Alawites, Armenians and Christian minorities.”
The statement was issued after Gebran Bassil, FPM head and son-in-law of the president, chaired a meeting of the party’s political leadership. Bassil is a Maronite, Lebanon’s largest Christian community.
Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, a Sunni Muslim under Lebanon’s sectarian system of power sharing, wants to shake up the leadership of ministries, some of which have been controlled by the same factions for years.
Lebanon’s main Shiite groups — the Amal Movement and the heavily armed, Iranian-backed Hezbollah — want to select the figures to fill a number of positions, including the finance minister, a top position often called a “sovereign” ministry.
An FPM official said the party had not discussed the idea about distributing ministries with Hezbollah or Amal. “We are proposing an exit strategy for those who are stuck up a tree without a ladder,” the official told Reuters.
With the nation buried under a mountain of debt and with its banks paralyzed, the finance minister will play a crucial role as Lebanon seeks to restart stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund, one of the first steps on France’s roadmap.