Iran’s Raisi not coming to Turkiye on Tuesday: Ankara

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Turkiye comes with efforts focused on extending a truce that has seen dozens of Israeli hostages freed in return for the release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 November 2023
Follow

Iran’s Raisi not coming to Turkiye on Tuesday: Ankara

  • Analysts believe that Raisi will pressure Turkiye to move past the rhetoric and cut its blossoming trade and energy relations with Israel

ANKARA: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will not be making a previously announced visit to Ankara on Tuesday, the Turkish presidency said, without providing a reason.

The visit had been announced earlier this month by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said the two leaders would focus on forging a joint response to the Israel-Hamas war.

Erdogan has emerged as one of the Muslim world’s most vocal critics of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in response to Hamas militants’ October 7 attack.

He has branded Israel a “terrorist state” and called Iran-backed Hamas “a liberation group.”

Erdogan has also suggested trying Israeli politicians and military commanders in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

But past meetings between Muslim and Arab leaders — including talks this month in Riyadh — have failed to find common ground over what immediate economic and political steps to take.

Analysts believe that Raisi will pressure Turkiye to move past the rhetoric and cut its blossoming trade and energy relations with Israel.

“Iran expects Turkiye to end its direct and indirect trade with Israel,” Istanbul’s Center for Iranian Studies director Hakki Uygur said.

“Turkiye, on the other hand, has taken an attitude that cares about separating political and commercial issues.”

According to Gaza’s Hamas-led government, nearly 15,000 people — mostly civilians and including thousands of children — have died since Israel began to retaliate for Hamas’s unprecedented cross-border attacks in which Israel says 1,200 people, mostly civilians, died.

Raisi’s visit comes with efforts focused on extending a truce that has seen dozens of Israeli hostages freed in return for the release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners.

Iran and Turkiye share a 535-kilometer border and a complex history of close economic relations and opposing views on regional disputes.

Turkiye backed rebel efforts to topple Iranian and Russian-backed President Bashar Assad during Syria’s civil war.

Ankara’s support for Azerbaijan’s two victorious wars over Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh also created deep unease in Iran.

Tehran fears that Baku’s resurgence in the Caucasus region could feed the separatist ambitions of Iran’s large ethnic Azerbaijani minority.

Iran is also anxious about a proposed trade route running along its northern border between Azerbaijan and Turkiye that could potentially complicate its access to Armenia.

“The most important conflict between Turkiye and Iran was over the Caucasus and Karabakh,” Ankara-based Iran expert Arif Keskin said.

“With the Gaza conflict, this issue was pushed to the back burner, but it still remains there as an important issue,” Keskin said.

The Turkish presidency said Erdogan discussed finding “a common stance against Israel’s brutality” by phone with Raisi on Sunday.

Analysts believe that Iran is trying to calibrate the extent to which it uses groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon to pressure Israel and the United States.

“Iran has been wary of intervening in the ongoing Middle East crisis and is likely to avoid any action that might escalate the conflict,” the Eurasia Group said in a report.

“As Iran does not have total control over its allies, there is a risk that unintended actions bring US retaliation and escalate the conflict,” it said.

Erdogan has also voiced repeated worries about the spread of war.

“Iran and Turkiye will continue to work in unity to make the temporary ceasefire permanent and achieve permanent peace,” Erdogan’as office said after his call with Raisi.


Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

Updated 15 April 2024
Follow

Israeli military official says four Israeli soldiers wounded in blast inside Lebanon

  • Injuries as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border

JERUSALEM: Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in an explosion hundreds of meters inside Lebanese territory, an Israeli military official said on Monday.
Earlier, the military said four soldiers were injured overnight, one severely, as a result of an explosion of an unknown source during activity along the northern border and that the incident was under review.


US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

Updated 15 April 2024
Follow

US CENTCOM forces intercept four Houthi UAVs, statement says

  • Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile with no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships

DUBAI: The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Monday its forces destroyed four uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on April 14, acting in self-defense.
CENTCOM added in a Red Sea update that Houthi militants launched an anti-ship ballistic missile toward the Gulf of Aden from a Houthi controlled area in Yemen on Saturday and that there were no injuries or damage reported by US, coalition, or commercial ships.


Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

Updated 15 April 2024
Follow

Iran says MSC Aries vessel seized for ‘violating maritime laws’

  • MSC leases ship from Gortal Shipping, affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer

DUBAI: A Portuguese-flagged container ship, the MSC Aries, was seized by Iran on April 13 for “violating maritime laws,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on Monday, adding that there was no doubt the vessel was linked to Israel.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz days after Tehran vowed to retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1. Iran had said it could close the crucial shipping route.
“The vessel was diverted into Iran’s territorial waters as a result of violating maritime laws and not answering calls made by Iranian authorities,” spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.
Iran launched a barrage of missiles and explosive drones on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a strike that Tehran said was self-defense after the bombing of the consulate.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded the MSC Aries and taken it into Iranian waters.
MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.
MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.
Tensions have soared across the Middle East since the start of Israel’s campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
In response to reports of the seizure, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the leading seafarers’ union, said that “innocent seafarers must be protected from escalating conflicts they have no role in instigating, nor power to resolve.”
The International Chamber of Shipping called the seizure a “flagrant breach of international law and an assault on freedom of navigation.”
Recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis have also affected the global maritime transport chain, as well as trade and port activities in and around the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Patrick Verhoeven, managing director of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, said the seizure of the MSC Aries “has the potential to further disrupt cargo transits in and out of the region, which will impact all of our member ports, one way or another.”


Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

Updated 15 April 2024
Follow

Israeli authorities release 150 Palestinians detained from across Gaza

  • Palestinian detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom border crossing into Rafah in southern Gaza Strip

GAZA: Israeli authorities released on Monday morning 150 Palestinian detainees who had been arrested in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

The detainees were delivered to Kerem Shalom, a crossing on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, into Rafah in southern Gaza, according to an Arab News reporter in the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Among the released detainees is Sufian Abu Salah, who told local reporters he was arrested “perfectly healthy” and “walking on both legs” but has had his left leg amputated in detention due to torture and neglect.

A video circulated on social media showed Abu Salah skipping on one leg with the support of a wooden stick he used as a crutch.

He told local journalists that while in detention, his foot became infected but Israeli soldiers refused to send him to a hospital. Within seven days, the infection had spread, and he had his leg amputated.

Abu Salah lost his leg due to torture followed by medical neglect in detention. (Supplied)

An internal UN report compiled last month by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees described widespread abuses of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

Methods of abuse include “physical beatings, forced stress positions for extended periods of time, threats of harm to detainees and their families, attacks by dogs, insults to personal dignity and humiliation such as being made to act like animals or getting urinated on, use of loud music and noises, deprivation of water, food, sleep and toilets, denial of the right to practice their religion (to pray) and prolonged use of tightly locked handcuffs causing open wounds and friction injuries,” according to the UNRWA report.  

“The beatings included blunt force trauma to the head, shoulders, kidneys, neck, back and legs with metal bars and the butts of guns and boots, in some cases resulting in broken ribs, separated shoulders and lasting injuries.”

The prisoners released on Monday also include a child and a doctor. 

According to UN figures, Israeli authorities have arrested at least 4,000 Palestinians, including women and children, since the onset of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza on October 7, which was triggered by a surprise Hamas attack on southern Israel.


Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

Updated 15 April 2024
Follow

Kuwaiti ruler names Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister

  • Kuwaiti Emir also tasks the new prime minister to form a government

DUBAI: Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has appointed Ahmad Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah as prime minister, state news agency KUNA reported on Monday.

The Kuwaiti ruler also tasked the new prime minister to form a government.

The Kuwaiti ruler last week accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, after elections were held to choose new members of the National Assembly.

He also instructed the cabinet to act as caretakers until the formation of a new government.