US slams Iran for ‘smuggling’ envoy into Yemen

Iranian groups have been sanctioned for interfering with the US election and US voters. (AP)
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Updated 23 October 2020

US slams Iran for ‘smuggling’ envoy into Yemen

  • US says Bayan Gostar, an alleged IRGC-Qods Force “front company” for propaganda, took the lead in the activities

WASHINGTON:  The United States on Thursday slapped new sanctions on five Iranian entities for what it called “brazen attempts” to interfere with the US election.
Stepping up pressure after US intelligence pointed the finger at both Iran and Russia, the Treasury Department accused the Iranian groups of seeking to spread disinformation and division ahead of the November 3 vote.
The Treasury imposed the fresh sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC-Qods Force, the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union and International Union of Virtual Media.
The groups have worked to “sow discord among the voting populace by spreading disinformation online and executing malign influence operations aimed at misleading US voters,” the Treasury said.
Bayan Gostar, which the Treasury called an IRGC-Qods Force “front company” for propaganda, took the lead in the activities, it said.
Ahead of the election, “Bayan Gostar personnel have planned to influence the election by exploiting social issues within the United States, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and denigrating US political figures,” it said.
“As recently as summer 2020, Bayan Gostar was prepared to execute a series of influence operations directed at the US populace ahead of the presidential election.”
The two media groups were part of that operation, it said.
The Treasury gave no specific details on what the Iranians had done, but US social media companies have blocked accounts and postings they determined were part of Iranian government-backed influence efforts related to the election and social issues.
The sanctions, which forbid Americans and US entities from doing business with the Iranian groups, likely have little real impact, as the IRGC and IRGC-Qods Force are already subject to other sweeping sanctions.
The announcement came one day after the US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe fingered Iran as behind recent emails addressed to US voters threatening them to support President Donald Trump and his Republican Party.
The emails appeared to have been sent by a right-wing US militia group, the Proud Boys, but Ratcliffe said Iran was behind them.
Trump stirred controversy in his first debate with his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, by equivocating on whether he condemns the Proud Boys.

Iran summoned the ambassador of Switzerland, who represents US interests in Tehran in the absence of diplomatic relations, to deny the “fabricated and clumsy” allegations.
US authorities “have put forward a baseless claim on the verge of the country’s election so that they would advance their undemocratic and predefined scenario through shifting the blame,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.
The accusations against Iran came after longstanding US concerns about the role of Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has acknowledged favoring Trump in the 2016 election and an investigation by former FBI chief Robert Mueller found evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Moscow, although he said he did not have enough to bring conspiracy charges.
Trump has repeatedly voiced anger at the “Russia hoax,” describing it as a way to discredit his election victory.
While Trump has spoken fondly of Putin, his administration has been a sworn enemy of Iran’s clerical regime, imposing overwhelming sanctions and withdrawing from a denuclearization accord negotiated by former president Barack Obama.
The Treasury Department separately Thursday imposed sanctions against Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, where the United States has been working to fight Tehran’s influence.
The Treasury alleged Iraj Masjedi was a “close adviser” to Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful general, who was killed in January by a US strike.


How the Arab News survey of French people of Arab origin was conducted

Updated 2 min 11 sec ago

How the Arab News survey of French people of Arab origin was conducted

  • Arab News en Francais-YouGov poll was based on sample of nearly 1,000 people spread across five age groups
  • A very large proportion of the respondents identified their country of origin as Algeria, followed by Morocco

DUBAI: As a wave of Islamist attacks hit France, Arab News en Francais commissioned YouGov, the leading online polling company, to conduct a study to provide answers to the recurrent phenomenon.

The survey was based on a sample of nearly 1,000 respondents living in France, spread across five age groups, six countries of origin, three types of residential areas, five categories of employment and three educational levels. The aim was to ascertain the sense of inclusion and level of integration of French Arabs and Muslims in French society.

The survey covered a sample of 52 percent of women and 48 percent of men, across five age groups: 18-24 years (15 percent); 25-34 years (31 percent); 35-44 years (32 percent); 45-54 years (14 percent); and 55 years or older (8 percent).

A large proportion of the respondents identified their country of origin as Algeria (43 percent). The other prominent countries of origin were Morocco (32 percent), Tunisia (14 percent), Lebanon (3 percent), Egypt (2 percent) and other Arab states (6 percent).

The working status of the respondents fell into the following categories: 65 percent employed; 10 percent unemployed; 8 percent students; 3 percent retired; and 14 percent others. Of the respondents, 49 percent live in large cities, 39 percent in medium cities and 12 percent in rural areas.

The sample included people of various education levels: 20 percent do not hold a bachelor’s degree; 24 percent hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent; and 55 percent hold a higher education degree.

The findings show that 65 percent said they would support the French values of secularism in their home country. An even higher number, 80 percent, of respondents over 45 years of age supported this opinion. If the majority of respondents defended the French secular model, less than half (46 percent) opposed the same model in Arab countries.