Iran’s Khamenei says Biden has same demands as Trump on nuclear issue

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi and his cabinet members, in Tehran, Iran August 28, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 August 2021
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Iran’s Khamenei says Biden has same demands as Trump on nuclear issue

TEHRAN:Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday accused US President Joe Biden of making the same demands as his predecessor Donald Trump in talks to revive a nuclear deal.
The multilateral deal that offers Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program was torpedoed by Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from it in 2018.
A last round of negotiations between Iran and the deal’s remaining parties to revive the 2015 accord concluded in June with no resumption in sight.
“America’s current administration is no different from the previous one, because what it demands from Iran on the nuclear issue is different in words, but the same thing that Trump demanded,” Khamenei said, quoted by his official website.
“The Americans truly have no shame on the nuclear issue, and even though they withdrew from the JCPOA... they now talk in a way and make demands as it was (Iran) that withdrew,” he added, referring to the deal by its official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Khamenei made the remarks during a meeting with President Ebrahim Raisi’s newly formed cabinet.
A year after Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal and impose sanctions on Iran, the Islamic republic retaliated by gradually waiving most of the key nuclear commitments that it had accepted under the agreement.
Six rounds of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers — with the United States taking part indirectly — were held in Vienna between April and June.
The last round concluded on June 20, with no date set for another.
In his speech, Khamenei also called on Raisi to “repair” the public’s damaged trust in government.
“It’s a great asset for a government to be able to attract the people’s trust, which has unfortunately been slightly damaged. You must repair this.”
He said the way to do it is “officials’ words and actions becoming one” and realizing promises made.
Iran has in recent years been hit by several protests over the economy and living conditions made worse by punishing US sanctions.
The latest was protests over water shortages that erupted in July in southwest Iran, where, according to Iranian media, at least four people were killed.
Human rights groups outside of Iran have previously accused the Islamic republic of using force against protesters.
Iran has denied the charges and blamed violence at protests on “opportunists” and “rioters” linked to its enemies.
 


Middle East and North Africa aid project set to kick off in Morocco

In September of 2023, Morocco was stricken with a deadly earthquake that left thousands injured and homeless. (Supplied)
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Middle East and North Africa aid project set to kick off in Morocco

DUBAI: UAE’s latest humanitarian project will kick off in Morocco to provide medical relief for over 25,000 people a year in earthquake stricken areas across the Middle East and North Africa. 
Asterians United, a mobile medical service unit, was recently launched by Aster Healthcare in collaboration with UAE Red Crescent. The first group of aid vehicles left UAE on Friday and is en route to Taroudant, Morocco.
Each team vehicle will have one doctor, a minimum of one nursing staff and a driver. The mobile medical vans will provide consultations, first-aid treatment and other essential medical services directly to communities in need.
The project will run for 10 years and is subject to renewal, according to a memorandum of understanding between Moroccan authorities and UAE Red Crescent officials.
Other aid missions will eventually be launched in the region, after the initial outreach activities in Morocco.
Morocco was hit by a deadly earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale, in September 2023 which left thousands injured and still battling the lack of stable shelter, clean water and essential sanitation facilities.


Iran’s acting FM heads to New York for key UN Security Council meetings

Updated 15 July 2024
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Iran’s acting FM heads to New York for key UN Security Council meetings

  • Bagheri, one of Iran’s top nuclear negotiators, will participate in two key meetings: one on Palestine and another on multilateralism

DUBAI: Iran’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Bagheri has departed for New York to head a delegation at the UN Security Council.

Bagheri, one of Iran’s top nuclear negotiators, will participate in two key meetings: one on Palestine and another on multilateralism.

The Palestine discussion will be part of the Middle East meeting on July 17, featuring Tor Wennesland, special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, as a briefer.

Bagheri is also expected to attend the UNSC meeting on multilateralism on July 16, which will focus on the “parameters of a just world order” and the possible role of the UN in its establishment and maintenance.

Both meetings will be chaired by Russia’s foreign minister, who is currently the rotating chairman of the UNSC.


Vessel reports being attacked off Yemen, UKMTO and Ambrey say

Updated 15 July 2024
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Vessel reports being attacked off Yemen, UKMTO and Ambrey say

  • Naritime agency and security firm Ambrey said the vessel fitted the Houthi target profile

A merchant vessel reported it had been attacked early on Monday by three small craft in the Red Sea about 70 nautical miles southwest of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah, Britain’s maritime agency and security firm Ambrey said.

An unmanned small craft collided with the vessel twice and two manned small craft fired at it, according to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

The vessel and crew were reported safe, and it was proceeding to the next port of call, it said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But since November, the Iran-aligned Houthi group in Yemen has launched drone and missile strikes in shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The group says these actions are in solidarity with Palestinians affected by Israel’s war in Gaza.

Ambrey said the vessel fitted the Houthi target profile.

The vessel conducted “self-protection measures,” then after 15 minutes the small craft aborted the attack, UKMTO said.

In dozens of attacks since November, the Houthis have sunk two vessels, seized another and killed at least three sailors.

The attacks have upended global trade by forcing ship owners to reroute vessels away from the Suez Canal, and drawn retaliatory US and British strikes since February.


UN official says worst scenes of Gaza war witnessed at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis

Updated 15 July 2024
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UN official says worst scenes of Gaza war witnessed at Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis

RIYADH: A UN official said he witnessed “one of the worst scenes he has seen in Gaza in the past nine months” during his visit to the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis on Saturday.
Scott Anderson, the director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, said that “many of the injured were receiving treatment on the hospital floor without disinfectants due to insufficient beds and a lack of essential cleanliness equipment and supplies.” 
Nasser Medical Complex is under tremendous strain and burden, with children who are amputees, others paralyzed and deprived of medical treatment, the Saudi Press Agency quoted Anderson as saying.
The UN official also noted how parents were in despair about the conditions of their children.
He added that the United Nations team provided referral services on Saturday, along with additional tents, beds, stretchers, supplies and medications.
He also pointed out the obstacles hindering humanitarian operations prevented aid from reaching people, SPA added.


Syrians vote for their next parliament, which may consider allowing Assad to extend his rule

Updated 15 July 2024
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Syrians vote for their next parliament, which may consider allowing Assad to extend his rule

  • Syrians are voting for members of a new parliament in an election that is expected to hold few surprises
  • Syrians who’ve left their country due to the war are not eligible to vote in parliamentary elections

DAMASCUS: Syrians were voting for members of a new parliament in an election Monday that was expected to hold few surprises but could pave the way for a constitutional amendment to extend the term of President Bashar Assad.
The vote is the fourth in Syria since mass anti-government protests and a brutal crackdown by security forces spiraled into an ongoing civil war in 2011.
There are 1,516 government-approved candidates running this year for the 250-seat People’s Assembly.
The number of eligible voters has not been announced. In parliamentary elections, unlike presidential elections, the millions of diaspora Syrians — whose numbers have ballooned since the civil war — are not eligible to vote.
Some 8,151 polling stations were set up in 15 voting districts in government-held areas.
In the Druze-majority southern province of Sweida, where anti-government protests have been taking place regularly for nearly a year, many called for a boycott of the polls. Videos posted online showed protesters seizing ballot boxes off a truck in an attempt to stop them arriving to polling stations.
Elsewhere, campaigning was low key and candidates’ campaigns largely revolved around general slogans such as national unity and prosperity.
Assad’s Baath Party won 166 seats in the 2020 elections, representing nearly two-thirds of its membership, in addition to 17 members from allied parties. Another 67 seats went to independent candidates.
Vladimir Pran, an independent adviser on transitional political and electoral processes, said the competitive part of the Syrian election process comes before voters go to the polls, during the Baath Party primary process, when party members vote on which candidates’ names are sent to the party’s central command to make the final list.
“Elections are really already finished... with the end of the primary process,” he said. Once the Baath party list is completed, “you can check the list and the results, and you will see that literally all of them will be in the Parliament.”
The number of incumbents who made the final list this year was relatively low, suggesting a reshuffling within the Baath party.
Maroun Sfeir, a consultant on transitional electoral and political processes, said the 169 candidates put forward by the Baath party alone is past the margin of 167 MPs needed to propose a constitutional amendment, protect the president from being accused of treason and veto legislation.
Adding to that 16 candidates from Baath-allied parties running on the same list, he said, “you’re only three MPs short of three quarters of the parliament, which is required for (passing) a constitutional amendment.”
While that leaves 65 slots open for independent candidates, Sfeir said they should not be expected to present a real opposition bloc.
“They are all pre-vetted... to ensure that they’re all loyal or without any threat,” he said.
With Assad facing term limits that would end his presidency in 2028, the next parliament is widely expected to try to pass a constitutional amendment to extend his term.