Iran jails British-Iranian researcher Kameel Ahmady for 9 years

Kameel Ahmady was convicted for conducting “subversive” research work. (Photo/Kameel Ahmady Facebook account)
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Updated 13 December 2020

Iran jails British-Iranian researcher Kameel Ahmady for 9 years

  • Ahmady, who had researched controversial issues, was detained in August 2019

DUBAI: A court in Iran has handed a nine-year jail sentence to British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, after convicting him of conducting “subversive” research work, the semi-official news agency Tasnim said on Sunday.
Ahmady was also fined 600,000 euros ($727,000) — the sum Iranian authorities said he received for his research from institutions accused of seeking to topple Iran’s Islamic government, Tasnim reported.
There was no immediate official confirmation of the sentence, which was also reported by other Iranian news agencies and a human rights groups.
“Ahmady was accused of acquiring illicit property from his cooperation in implementing subversive institutions’ projects in the country,” Tasnim said.
Ahmady, an ethnic Kurd who had researched controversial issues such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iran, was detained in August 2019 but released on bail three months later, according to human rights groups.
After his arrest, his wife told the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran that his work was independent and published with government approval.
Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting dozens of dual nationals to try to win concessions from other countries — a charge that the Islamic republic has regularly dismissed.


Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anniversary of 2019 anti-government protest

Updated 01 October 2022

Iraqis gather in Baghdad to mark anniversary of 2019 anti-government protest

  • In 2019, protests erupted against then prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government with demonstrators demanding an overhaul of political system

BAGHDAD: Hundreds of Iraqis gathered in Baghdad’s central Tahrir square on Saturday to mark the anniversary of anti-government unrest that erupted in 2019, amid tight security and prolonged political deadlock in the country.
With concerns about the risk of street violence, security personnel deployed checkpoints across the city, closed off bridges and squares and erected walls across some of the bridges leading to the fortified Green Zone that houses government headquarters and foreign embassies. Protesters waved the Iraqi flag and chanted “we want to overthrow the regime.”
“We took part in today’s peaceful protests because we want our demands to be met... we want security, jobs and our simple rights ... we are not here to fight or shed blood,” said Laith, a young protester from Baghdad.
A few meters from the square, security forces fired teargas to disperse stone-throwing protesters who had tried to tear down a wall blocking the Republic Bridge leading across the Tigris to the Green Zone, according to a Reuters reporter who witnessed the incident.
A military statement said some “infiltrated elements” were assaulting security forces using Molotov cocktails and hunting rifles.
In 2019, protests erupted against then prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government with demonstrators demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and keeping most Iraqis in poverty.
More than 560 people, mostly unarmed demonstrators but also members of the security forces, were killed in the spate of popular unrest as Iraqi security forces and unidentified gunmen cracked down.
Mahdi quit under pressure from the protests with powerful Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr the biggest winner in an election last October.
Sadr in June withdrew all his lawmakers, nearly a quarter of parliament, and resorted to whipping up street protests after his movement failed to form a government, leading to some of the worst clashes the country has seen in years.
Saturday’s gathering raised fears of more unrest and tension among power-hungry politicians that could further delay the formation of a government after Sadr quit politics at the end of August.
Four rockets landed in the Green Zone on Wednesday during a partial lockdown as parliament was convening, wounding seven security personnel, and another four rockets fired from eastern Baghdad landed around the zone on Thursday.


19 killed, including 4 IRGC members, in Iran attack

Updated 01 October 2022

19 killed, including 4 IRGC members, in Iran attack

  • The assailants in Friday’s attack hid among worshippers near a mosque in the city of Zahedan
  • Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini

TEHRAN: An attack by armed separatists on a police station in a southeastern city killed 19 people, including four members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported Saturday.
The assailants in Friday’s attack hid among worshippers near a mosque in the city of Zahedan and attacked the nearby police station, according to the report.
IRNA quoted Hossein Modaresi, the provincial governor, as saying 19 people were killed. The outlet said 32 Guard members, including volunteer Basiji forces, were also wounded in the clashes.
It was not immediately clear if the attack was related to nationwide anti-government protests gripping Iran after the death in police custody of a young Iranian woman.
Sistan and Baluchestan province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and has seen previous attacks on security forces by ethnic Baluchi separatists, although Saturday’s Tasnim report did not identify a separatist group allegedly involved in the attack.
IRNA on Saturday identified the dead as Hamidreza Hashemi, a Revolutionary Guard colonel; Mohammad Amin Azarshokr, a Guard member; Mohamad Amin Arefi, a Basiji, or volunteer force with the IRG; and Saeed Borhan Rigi, also a Basiji.
Tasnim and other state-linked Iranian news outlets reported Friday that the head of the Guard’s intelligence department, Seyyed Ali Mousavi, was shot during the attack and later died.
It is not unusual for IRG members to be present at police bases around the country.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly wearing her mandatory Islamic headscarf too loosely.
The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic. The nationwide demonstrations rapidly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since its 1979 Islamic revolution.
The protests have drawn supporters from various ethnic groups, including Kurdish opposition movements in the northwest that operate along the border with neighboring Iraq. Amini was an Iranian Kurd and the protests first erupted in Kurdish areas.
Iranian state TV has reported that at least 41 protesters and police have been killed since the demonstrations began Sept. 17. An Associated Press count of official statements by authorities tallied at least 14 dead, with more than 1,500 demonstrators arrested.
Also on Friday, Iran said it had arrested nine foreigners linked to the protests, which authorities have blamed on hostile foreign entities, without providing evidence.
It has been difficult to gauge the extent of the protests, particularly outside of Tehran. Iranian media have only sporadically covered the demonstrations.
Witnesses said scattered protests involving dozens of demonstrators took place Saturday around a university in downtown Tehran. Riot police dispersed the protesters, who chanted “death to dictator.” Some witnesses said police fired teargas.
Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, meanwhile, reminded Iran’s armed forces of their duty to people’s lives and rights, the foreign-based opposition Telegram channel Kaleme reported.
Mousavi’s Green Movement challenged Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election in unrest at a level unseen since its 1979 Islamic Revolution before being crushed by authorities.
“Obviously your capability that was awarded to you is for defending people, not suppression people, defending oppressed, not serving powerful people and oppressors,” he said.


Lebanon receives US mediator proposals for maritime border with Israel

Updated 01 October 2022

Lebanon receives US mediator proposals for maritime border with Israel

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has received a letter from US mediator Amos Hochstein regarding proposals for the demarcation of a maritime border with Israel, the presidency said on Saturday on Twitter.
A deal could defuse a potential source of conflict between Israel and the heavily armed, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has warned against any Israeli exploration and extraction in the disputed waters.


Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory

Updated 01 October 2022

Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory

  • Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it rejects Russia’s annexation of four regions in Ukraine, adding the decision is a “grave violation” of international law.
Turkey, a NATO member, has conducted a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. It has also criticized Russia’s invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine.
The Turkish ministry said on Saturday it had not recognized Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, adding that it rejects Russia’s decision to annex the four regions, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
“This decision, which constitutes a grave violation of the established principles of international law, cannot be accepted,” the ministry said.
“We reiterate our support to the resolution of this war, the severity of which keeps growing, based on a just peace that will be reached through negotiations,” it added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of the regions on Friday, promising Moscow would triumph in its “special military operation” even as he faced a potentially serious new military reversal.
His proclamation came after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.
The United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions in response.
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said on Friday his country had submitted a fast-track application to join the NATO military alliance and that he would not hold peace talks with Russia while Putin was still president.


Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

Updated 01 October 2022

Iran’s leaders ‘in disarray’ as protests grow

  • Nationwide unrest over Mahsa Amini's death coincide with new rumors about the supreme leader’s ailing health
  • The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi

JEDDAH: Iran’s clerical rulers are in disarray over how to crush mass anti-government protests amid rifts over security tactics and high-level maneuvering over who will succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, analysts say.
Nationwide unrest over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody has coincided with new rumors about the 83-year-old supreme leader’s ailing health, posing a threat to Iran’s religious establishment.
Although in theory, the 86-member Assembly of Experts will choose the next leader, jockeying for influence has already begun, making it difficult for the ruling clerics to unite around a set of security tactics.
“This race has caused disarray inside the leadership. The deepening rift is the last thing we need when the country is in turmoil,” one hard-line official said. “The main issue right now is the Islamic Republic’s survival.”

The two candidates viewed as favorites to replace Khamenei are his son Mojtaba and President Ebrahim Raisi. “Neither of them has popular support,” said Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But what keeps the Islamic Republic in power is not popular support, but repression — and both men are deeply experienced in repression.”
As the protests spread to 80 cities nationwide, Iran’s rulers have accused a coalition of “anarchists, terrorists and foreign foes” of orchestrating the troubles — a narrative few Iranians believe.
Alarmed by the depth of popular outrage, some senior clerics and politicians have appealed for restraint to avoid bloodshed that could galvanize and embolden protesters.
But that has not stopped hard-liners calling for tougher measures, despite the death of at least 75 protesters in the security crackdown. “A part of the establishment fears that this time using more lethal force can push the Islamic Republic to a no return point,” said a senior former Iranian official.