Posts Tagged ‘Hassan Rouhani’

Regime change in Iran possible, but won’t be to US liking

January 17, 2019

Regime change in Iran has long been an ideal scenario for conservatives in America’s foreign-policy circles. A confluence of factors currently playing out in Iran may dovetail into a situation where the country will indeed go through a regime change, but not of a type aligned with US interests.

Protests against a worsening economic situation roiled Iran’s towns and cities throughout 2018, and are likely to be exacerbated by the reimposition of US sanctions. Unlike earlier protests in 1999 and 2009, which were led by the urban middle class and mostly located in Iran’s major cities, the current protests vary widely in their social composition and geographic spread.

These protests have been led by those long considered loyal to the regime – the blue-collar and bazaari, or merchant, classes. The protests have also been more geographically dispersed – in small towns and villages as well as important pilgrimage centers like Mashhad, the hitherto stability of which has helped confer clerical legitimacy upon the Iranian regime.

Now, in many instances, protests against the deteriorating economy have metamorphosed into demonstrations against the regime itself. The most recent protests erupted in December and were led by different groups – steelworkers in Ahwaz, teachers’ unions in Isfahan, and students in Tehran.

Senior government figures in Tehran have publicly voiced concern that the protests are likely to continue this year as the government struggles to respond to a worsening economy. This is likely to be accompanied by continued infighting within Iran’s political class.

Senior government figures in Tehran have publicly voiced concern that the protests are likely to continue this year as the government struggles to respond to a worsening economy. This is likely to be accompanied by continued infighting within Iran’s political class

Indeed, the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord and the lack of foreign investment from Europe has politically weakened President Hassan Rouhani, who had cited the nuclear deal and expected economic windfall as one of his government’s principal foreign-policy achievements.

Iranian conservatives, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have sharpened their political attacks on Rouhani and his moderate faction, accusing them of naïveté in their understanding of foreign policy.

The political mudslinging between Iran’s political factions is likely to continue just as the Iranian polity is poised to enter a period of volatility, with parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2020 and 2021 respectively, and with no clear successor in sight to Khamenei, 79. Political instability and the resultant policy paralysis could sharpen ongoing protests in the county and threaten to delegitimize the entire Iranian political class in the eyes of ordinary citizens.

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Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

This is unlikely, however, to lead to an overthrow of the Iranian regime in favor of something palatable to the US. Even as Washington has reimposed sanctions on Iran, leading to much economic difficulty in the country, US strategic choices in terms of a broader disengagement from the Middle East are likely to benefit Iran.

Even without US President Donald Trump’s recent announcement of a troop withdrawal from Syria, the eight-year civil war has been slowly but surely coming to an end chiefly in favor of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This is being viewed as a significant strategic victory in Tehran and will greatly strengthen the already much-lionized Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, the foreign arm of Iran’s Islamic  Corps (IRGC).

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, (r), Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, (c), and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani pose for the media members in Sochi, Russia, November 22. 2017. (Kayhan Ozer/Pool via AP)

Soleimani, who has been the subject of many fawning documentaries and songs in Iran, enjoys near-rock-star status. He is viewed as the architect of Iran’s successful campaigns against Islamic State (ISIS), and responsible for turning the tide of the Syrian civil war in favor of the Assad regime, thereby achieving a major Iranian strategic goal.

Soleimani has twice before, in 2013 and 2017, been touted as a potential presidential candidate, only to turn down the offer to focus on military campaigns in Iraq and Syria instead.

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Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari

This does not mean, however, that Soleimani is unlikely to intervene decisively in the Iranian political sphere, should ongoing protests spiral out of control. He has in the past threatened to intervene in Iran’s domestic politics. In 1999, when massive anti-government student protests erupted in Tehran, he co-wrote a letter to the president at the time, Mohammad Khatami, obliquely warning of a coup against the elected government if it did not crush the protests.

Soleimani is also a skilled political operative, having played a key role in Iraq after its recent general elections in cobbling together a coalition of pro-Iranian political parties to counter the electorally victorious nationalist-communist bloc.

Should the situation arise, Soleimani’s giant stature in Iranian politics, his outsized role in shaping its foreign policy and his popularity in Iranian society will render an ailing Khamenei’s acquiescence to a Soleimani-led military intervention a moot point.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a session of the Doha Forum in the Qatari capital on December 15, 2018. (AFP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a session of the Doha Forum in the Qatari capital on December 15, 2018. (AFP)

An Iran with a military-dominated government is likely to come up with coherent short-term policy responses to the country’s economic situation. This is because the IRGC will be more amenable to bypassing Iran’s sclerotic constitutional policymaking process, and because its already dominant position in the economy will make it better able to marshal economic reform.

On the foreign-policy front, however, a Qasem Soleimani-led Iran is likely to entrench itself into ongoing Middle East conflicts even further. It is incumbent upon the US and regional governments to factor this distinct possibility into their strategic calculations for 2019 and beyond.

This article was provided to Asia Times by Syndication Bureauwhich holds copyright.

http://www.atimes.com/regime-change-in-iran-possible-but-wont-be-to-us-liking/
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US says satellite attempt shows Iran threat

January 16, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of posing a missile threat after Tehran defied his warnings and tried to put a satellite into orbit, albeit unsuccessfully.

Pompeo renewed his charge that the launch defied UN Security Council resolution 2231 of 2015, which endorsed an international agreement, from which the United States has withdrawn, on ending Iran’s nuclear weapons.

“In defiance of the international community & UNSCR 2231, Iran’s regime fired off a space launch vehicle today,” Pompeo tweeted.

“The launch yet again shows that Iran is pursuing enhanced missile capabilities that threaten Europe and the Middle East,” he wrote.

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Another satellite, named Doosti, was waiting to be launched.

Under the nuclear deal – which Washington pulled out of last spring before reimposing sanctions – the country is “called upon” to refrain from work for up to eight years on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

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Former Iranian President and father of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President Hassan Rouhani said Washington was waging an economic war against Tehran in order to get concessions on the missile program, but “is not able to build a wall around Iran”.

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Iran-backed Houthis fighters in yemen launch a ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia

The reaction was relatively muted for a member of President Donald Trump’s administration, which has ramped up pressure for months on Iran in hopes of crippling its economy and scaling back its influence in the region.

Iran’s telecommunications minister said the country successfully launched the Payam satellite but that it failed to be placed into orbit.

The United States and Israel say Iran can use technical know-how from satellite launches to develop long-range missiles, an opinion not shared by all Western experts.

Iran says it has the right to satellite launches as well as missile tests, saying it needs to defend itself against real threats and that the activities do not involve a nuclear component.

AFP

Related:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria hundreds of times. (AFP)
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Iran’s three options for surviving US sanctions

December 10, 2018

Last week I wrote of the current impact of the US sanctions imposed on Iran. The scope of the sanctions, their effect on some economic sectors and the continuous economic decline over the past three months, as well as the swift impact of the second phase of sanctions, were all reviewed. Now I will review the options that Iran may resort to in order to mitigate the impact of the sanctions.

The first option centers on the regime adopting a strategy of escalation by several means. This includes targeting US and Western interests in the region through groups and militias affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), such as Hezbollah, the Houthis and the Popular Mobilization Forces. This step could be taken directly by the IRGC through the harassment of oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and by an escalation in Afghanistan or on the Israeli-Lebanese front by using Hezbollah or Hamas. This would serve as a warning to Washington to pressure it to reconsider the policies that aim to tighten the economic noose around the Iranian regime’s neck.

The US move would be strengthened by the EU adopting a similar position on the Iranian missile program, or by imposing sanctions on Tehran, even while retaining a commitment to the nuclear pact. This option would be costly for Iran diplomatically, politically and militarily. Furthermore, the Western response may be larger than the initial action. Some countries may find that the time is ripe for them to carry out military operations against Iranian sites both inside and outside the country.

Commentary
By Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

The second option for Tehran lies in maintaining its current policy of “resistance” and “resilience” domestically, while working to buy time over the next two years until it becomes clear which party will be in office in the US after the next elections in 2020. It is possible for the Iranian regime to continue exporting oil on a smaller scale, with the US granting exemptions to eight countries, allowing them to import oil during the sanctions period. This could enable the regime to endure sanctions for several years through the restructuring its economy, adopting austere economic policies, raising non-oil exports, improving the role of the IRGC’s “parallel economy” and the charitable associations linked to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office, as well as by reviving its dormant economic sleeper cells, including entities and individuals, to help the Iranian economy survive this testing period.

President Hassan Rouhani speaking during a rally in the city of Shahrud, around 400 kilometres east of the capital Tehran. (AFP)

This option could be introduced over the short and medium terms, especially if Washington softens in the implementation of its policies. Iran’s adoption of this option would be conditional on the willingness of other regional nations, particularly its neighboring states, to help Iran circumvent sanctions.

The third option would see Iran’s leaders conclude that the two previous options are high-risk gambles, as their economic and political costs could be too high to countenance. This would lead them, however begrudgingly, to accept the need to renegotiate the terms of the nuclear deal with the US administration, since the problems resulting from the other possible scenarios could further undermine the already unpopular regime domestically, as it faces worsening protests and demonstrations across the country.

Due to this pressure, the regime might negotiate with the US administration to cut a deal simply to bring a swift end to the economic losses it is already incurring, particularly if the eight countries temporarily exempted from US sanctions decide instead to abide by the sanctions and cease economic dealings with Iran. The regime could gain more time by conditional negotiations, which would include the lifting or freezing of part of the sanctions.

Whilst this option is likely to be strongly opposed by the IRGC, Khamenei is likely to be more pragmatic, and President Hassan Rouhani’s government would probably support it. Iran will ultimately find itself pushed toward begrudgingly accepting this option, especially if the popular protests at home continue and the regime falls short of meeting most of its financial commitments at home and abroad.

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Regarding this last option, Iran could well show some flexibility on regional and international issues that it deems to be low priority. This will not happen at the outset of any negotiations, but the regime would keep any such concessions as its trump card that it can use if the negotiations reach an impasse. In my view, this option is the most probable if the US continues to pressure Iran and works to convince its neighbors to cease cooperation with the regime to circumvent sanctions, as well as tracking all Iran’s violations, and penalizing and blacklisting firms and individuals helping Iran to evade the sanctions.

In conclusion, the success or failure of the US strategy on Iran depends primarily on Washington’s seriousness in implementing its sanctions and the extent to which its allies are willing to cooperate. Yet it also depends to some degree on the US providing alternatives to cover shortages in the energy market, attracting countries currently importing Iranian oil, and Washington offering services better than those provided by Iran, as well as swiftly identifying and closing any loopholes in the sanctions and subjecting any agreement to continuous assessment.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1418521

  • Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami

Iran’s Rouhani says sanctions may lead to a “deluge” of drugs, refugees, terrorism for U.S., the West

December 8, 2018
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted a “deluge” of drugs, refugees and attacks on the West if U.S. sanctions weaken Iran’s ability to contain them.

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“I warn those who impose sanctions that if Iran’s ability to fight drugs and terrorism are affected … you will not be safe from a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live on state television.

Separately, Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying that the United States is selling more arms into the Middle East than the region needs, making it a “tinderbox”.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a public speech during a trip to the northern Iranian city of Shahroud, Iran, December 4, 2018. Official President website/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran in May and reimposed sanctions on Iran’s vital oil industry last month.

Drug trafficking is a serious challenge for Iran as it borders Afghanistan – the world’s largest opium producer – and Pakistan, a major transit country for drugs.

In 2012, Iran accounted for two thirds of the world’s opium seizures and one fourth of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures, a U.N. report published in 2014 showed.

“Economic terrorism means creating horror in a country and create fear in other countries that intend to invest (there). America’s withdrawal from the (nuclear accord) is undoubtedly a clear example of economic terrorism,” Rouhani told a meeting of heads of parliaments of China, Russia, and four other countries.

Zarif warned about the dangers of large U.S. arms sales in the Middle East, where Iran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia is a major buyer of Western weapons.

“The Americans have turned the region into a tinderbox. The level of arms sales by the Americans is unbelievable and much beyond regional needs and this points to the very dangerous policies followed by the Americans,” IRNA reported Zarif as saying.

Reporting by Dubai Newsroom; Editing by Alexander Smith

Reuters

Iran’s Rouhani: US sanctions are ‘economic terrorism’

December 8, 2018

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said US sanctions were “economic terrorism”, as he sought to foster a united front from visiting regional officials on Saturday.

“America’s unjust and illegal sanctions against the honourable nation of Iran have targeted our nation in a clear instance of terrorism,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani (file photo)

Hassan Rouhani

He was speaking at a conference on terrorism and regional cooperation attended by parliament speakers from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey.

“Economic terrorism is designed to create panic in the economy of a country and fear in other countries in order to prevent investment in the target country,” Rouhani said.

“We are facing an all-out assault which is not only threatening our independence and identity but also is bent on breaking our longstanding ties.”

AFP

Iran’s Rouhani threatens to cut off Gulf oil

December 4, 2018

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani struck a defiant stance against US sanctions on Tuesday, renewing his threat to cut off international oil sales from the Gulf.

“America should know… it is not capable of preventing the export of Iran’s oil,” Rouhani said at a televised rally in Semnan province.

“If it ever tries to do so… no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf,” he added.

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since the 1980s, Iran has said repeatedly it would blockade the Gulf in response to international pressure but has never carried out the threat.

Washington has reimposed sanctions, including an oil embargo, since withdrawing from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers in May.

It has vowed to reduce Iran’s oil sales to zero, but has granted temporary waivers to eight countries.

Rouhani last threatened to close the Gulf in July when he warned the US “should not play with the lion’s tail.”

The president downplayed the economic impact of sanctions, accusing the media of exaggerating the country’s problems.

“No hyperinflation, no massive unemployment will threaten us. People should stop saying such things in the papers,” he told the crowd.

The latest inflation report from Iran’s central bank says food prices rose 56 percent year-on-year in October.

Rouhani acknowledged there were “some problems”, but said these would be addressed in the new budget plan to be presented on December 16.

He said the government would maintain subsidies on essential goods and increase public sector wages and pensions by 20 percent.

AFP

Iraq Refuses to Comply With U.S. Sanctions on Iran

November 22, 2018

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Accordingly, Nearat concluded that Washington will be outraged by Iraq’s maneuvering, however, he does not believe that the US retains enough leverage to alter Baghdad’s course.

BY DIMA ABUMARIA/ THE MEDIA LINE
 NOVEMBER 22, 2018 04:26

 Iraq has a new government. Now what?

Iranian rials, U.S. dollars and Iraqi dinars at a currency exchange shop in Basra, Iraq, November 3,

Iranian rials, U.S. dollars and Iraqi dinars at a currency exchange shop in Basra, Iraq, November 3, 2018. Picture taken November 3, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ESSAM AL-SUDANI)

The Iraqi government is refusing to comply with a second round of United States economic sanctions targeting Iran’s crucial energy, shipping and banking sectors. “The decision isn’t international, Iraqi, or part of a United Nations resolution—it’s an American one,” Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi explained in reference to Baghdad’s position to not “respect” the financial penalties. He added that Iraq “does not accept dictates” and is not obligated to fall in line with US foreign policy or any “aggression” against another country.

The announcement comes after Iraqi President Barham Salih over the weekend visited Tehran, where he discussed with his counterpart Hassan Rouhani ways to enhance bilateral ties as well as the potential establishment of free trade zones along the shared border. The trip raised eyebrows in Washington, which fears growing Iranian influence over Baghdad could offset a fifteen-year military and diplomatic effort to rebuild Iraq in its image.

“Tehran is a key player in Iraq in terms of ideology,” Raed Nearat, a Professor of International Relations at al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus, conveyed to The Media Line. “In recent days the Iraqi-Iranian coziness is obvious, which explains the public shift in rhetoric and now policies.”

Moreover, he elaborated, US President Donald Trump has upended his predecessor Barack Obama’s courtship of the Islamic Republic, which has caused confusion Baghdad. In this respect, the Trump administration in May nixed the 2015 nuclear deal and subsequently ratcheted up the pressure by nurturing a coalition of Sunni Arab nations, in addition to Israel, whose aim is to roll back Iran’s expansionism and prevent its nuclearization.

Accordingly, Nearat concluded that Washington will be outraged by Iraq’s maneuvering, however, he does not believe that the US retains enough leverage to alter Baghdad’s course.

Indeed, the White House is walking a tightrope, having previously granted Iraq a 45-day waiver to wean itself off of Iranian energy products. Presently, the US has thousands of troops in Iraq that recently played an instrumental role in liberating major cities from the Islamic State terror group. The situation on the ground is complicated by the existence of Shiite fighting groups loyal to Tehran that likewise took part in the battle. Some of these forces have since been incorporated into the Iraqi national army, thus providing Iran with leverage over security issues.

“Iran is a malicious neighbor,” asserted Taybeh, an Iraqi commentator who spoke to The Media Line on condition of anonymity. “Our political arena is extremely unstable because of the external interference experienced every time when forming a government.” This, in turn, has left the country “vulnerable to Iran’s power, which in many cases goes against the will of the people.

“Let’s not forget how angry the Iranian reaction was when Baghdad showed acceptance of the American sanctions at the beginning,” Taybeh noted.

Iraq imports gas from Iran as part of the country’s plan to secure fuel for power plants, in addition to a wide range of goods that includes food, agricultural products, household appliances, air conditioners and auto parts. The volume of trade exchange between the two countries reached $12 billion in 2017.

It would be viewed as a major geopolitical defeat for the US if Baghdad were to be pulled deeper into the Islamic Republic’s orbit.

Iran ‘feeling the strain’ as sanctions bite

November 9, 2018

As the US vows to inflict “relentless pressure” on Iran with sanctions, analysts have questioned Tehran’s ability to withstand more blows to its already stricken economy.

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Credit Al Bawaba

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Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and also its ambassador to the UK, this week insisted the country was well able to “manage” sanctions, having lived through eight years of restrictions during the Iran-Iraq war.

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Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour

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But experts on regional politics and economics said Sajjadpour was merely posturing.

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“Iran’s public rhetoric about withstanding sanctions does not square with its economic reality,” said Dr. Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (also known as Chatham House), where the ambassador addressed a gathering on Tuesday.

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“Iran is already under financial strain due to both its adventurism in Syria and the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which reduced the Western private sector’s interest in Iran,” she said. “The reinstated sanctions will further erode Iran’s economic stature despite its claims of resilience.”

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Iran has plunged into economic crisis since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — better known as the Iran nuclear deal — earlier this year.

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READ MORE ON IRAN SANCTIONS

US accuses Iranian oil tankers of turning off maritime transponders

Facing new sanctions, Iranians vent anger at rich and powerful

OPINION: Mullahs’ policies exacerbating Iran’s financial crisis

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With little or no purchasing power and almost no foreign suppliers prepared to deal with them, Iranian businesses have been crippled. Customers struggle against the rising cost of goods and exorbitant prices demanded by black marketeers, and there is a growing trade in human organs.

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The banking system has all but stagnated and Iran’s currency has lost more than two-thirds of its value against the US dollar since March.

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On Wednesday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton warned of additional sanctions on Iran, but gave no details, while Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, admitted that the nation faces a “war situation” and compared Trump to Iran’s old enemy, Saddam Hussein.

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But despite all the evidence of the hardship suffered by ordinary Iranians, Sajjadpour insisted the country was on the up, pointing out that it has 4.5 million university students, still produces 200,000 engineers each year and was continuing to build institutions.

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“Iran is a confident nation,” he said.

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Special Rep. Hook: We want to alert nations of the risk of doing business with ’s shipping sector. If Iranian tankers make calls to your ports or transit through your waterways, this comes at great risk…Protect your port, protect your business, and promote maritime safety.

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Gulf expert Dr. Neil Quilliam does not entirely dismiss Sajjadpour’s assessment, but said that the challenges today were different.

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“Sajjadpour quite rightly pointed out that Iran has had bigger challenges in the past, including the eight-year Iran-Iraq war and previous rounds of sanctions to which all major powers signed up. Nevertheless, times have changed and the Iranian economy is more fragile than at any time before, so the government will come under considerable domestic pressure to negotiate with the US,” he said.

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The likelihood of that happening rests very much on the midterm elections in the US, he said. Trump’s Republican party has retained control of the Senate, but the Democrats now hold a majority in the House of Representatives.

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Success for Trump would encourage a move toward the negotiating table, said Quilliam.

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“But if the Democrats do well, then the Iranians will do their best to hold out for two years and try to draw the EU further away from the US.”

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It is no secret that the European backers of the Iran nuclear deal were dismayed when Trump announced he was pulling the US out.

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Sajjadpour, who was formerly his country’s ambassador to the UN and is currently president of the Institute for Political and International Studies, the research branch of Iran’s foreign ministry, accused the Trump administration of treating Iran like a plaything while ignoring its own “political civil war” at home.

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He insisted Iranian politics was focused inward — “We don’t worry about who is in the White House” — and denied the nation posed a threat. Iran has repeatedly been accused of being the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1401506/middle-east

Turkey’s Erdogan: US sanctions on Iran wrong, will not abide by them

November 7, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday hit out at new sanctions on Iran imposed by the administration of President Donald Trump, saying they were aimed at upsetting the global balance and against international law.

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Washington on Monday announced the sanctions on the Islamic Republic that aim to isolate the country’s banking sector and slash its oil exports. Turkey was one of eight countries exempted from the demand to stop buying Iranian oil.

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President Hassan Rouhani with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

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“We don’t find the (Iran) sanctions appropriate,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

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“Because to us, they are aimed at upsetting the global balance,” he added. “They are against international law and diplomacy. We don’t want to live in an imperial world.”

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Erdogan’s comments came after his Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that isolating Iran was “dangerous.”

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“While we were asking (for) an exemption from the United States, we have also been very frank with them that cornering Iran is not wise. Isolating Iran is dangerous and punishing the Iranian people is not fair,” he told a press conference during a trip to Japan.

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“Turkey is against sanctions, we don’t believe any results can be achieved through the sanctions,” he added. “I think instead of sanctions, meaningful dialogue and engagement is much more useful.”

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Washington has imposed two sets of sanctions this year after pulling out of a nuclear pact agreed between world powers and Iran that President Donald Trump slammed as “defective”.

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The latest round went into effect on Monday.

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Washington has granted eight countries, including Turkey and Japan, waivers to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil without facing diplomatic consequences.

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Mainly Sunni Turkey has a complex relationship with Shiite Iran that has seen disputes notably on what Ankara has seen as moves for domination of Iraq by the majority Shia community.

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But the two countries are also working closely on a host of issues, notably ending the conflict in Syria even though both Ankara and Tehran are in theory on opposite sides of the civil war. Iranian oil and gas exports are also crucial for resource-poor Turkey.

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The new sanctions have sparked furious reactions from Iran, whose President Hassan Rouhani said the country would “proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions”.

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On Monday, Washington vowed to be “relentless” in countering Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the US wanted Iran to make a “180-degree turn” and abandon its “current revolutionary course”.

AFP

Turkey Says US Iran Sanctions Are ‘Dangerous’ — Continues To Criticize U.S. and Saudi Arabia Over Khashoggi Killing — Trump Is Turning The World Against America

November 6, 2018

Turkey has warned Washington against its new sanctions on Iran, saying isolating the Islamic Republic is “dangerous”, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday.

Washington this week imposed a second set of sanctions on Iran that aim to isolate the country’s banking sector and slash its oil exports.

Eight countries including Turkey have received a US waiver to continue importing Iranian oil.

“While we were asking (for) an exemption from the United States, we have also been very frank with them that cornering Iran is not wise. Isolating Iran is dangerous and punishing the Iranian people is not fair,” he said at a press conference during a trip to Japan.

© AFP | Don’t isolate Iran, warns Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

“Turkey is against sanctions, we don’t believe any results can be achieved through the sanctions,” he added.

“I think instead of sanctions, meaningful dialogue and engagement is much more useful.”

Washington has imposed two sets of sanctions this year after pulling out of a nuclear pact agreed between world powers and Iran that President Donald Trump slammed as “defective”.

The latest round went into effect on Monday.

Washington has granted eight countries, including Turkey and Japan, waivers to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil without facing diplomatic consequences.

The new sanctions have sparked furious reactions from Iran, whose President Hassan Rouhani said the country would “proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions”.

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On Monday, Washington vowed to be “relentless” in countering Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the US wanted Iran to make a “180-degree turn” and abandon its “current revolutionary course”.

UN inspectors say Iran is abiding by an agreement reached with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama to draw down its nuclear programme. That deal was backed by European powers, Russia and China and sealed by a UN Security Council resolution.

Those other parties to the nuclear deal have vehemently opposed the US move and vowed to keep alive the accord, technically known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

AFP

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A makeshift memorial for Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. He was last seen there Oct. 2. CreditYasin Akgul/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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Saudis sent chemist, toxicologist to clean up Khashoggi murder: report

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES

Saudi authorities sent a chemist and toxicologist to Istanbul nine days after the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to get rid of his body and hide the evidence, Turkish newspaper Sabah reported Monday.

The report said chemist Ahmed Abdulaziz Aljanobi and toxicologist Khaled Yahya Al Zahrani were a part of the 11-member Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 11, according to “reliable sources.” The newspaper alleged that while the Saudi team’s declared intent was to investigate the murder, it actually intended to cover-up the deed.

Photo: Sabah

Photo: Sabah

Aljanobi and Zahrani, who were staying at a luxury hotel in Beşiktaş district, went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul – where Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 after he entered to collect a document he needed to marry his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz – every day for a full week.

The two “wipers” went to the consulate every day from Oct. 12 to Oct. 17, leaving Turkey on Oct. 20, the newspaper said.

Turkish police units were given permission by Saudi authorities to search the consulate on Oct. 15 and 16, and searched the residence of Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi on Oct. 17.

An official cited by Sabah said the fact that a clean-up team was dispatched suggests that Khashoggi’s killing “was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules.

The report also cited Turkish experts who suggested the claim that acid was used to eliminate Khashoggi’s body or render it unidentifiable is likely.

“We believe that the two individuals came to Turkey for the sole purpose of covering up evidence of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder before Turkish police were allowed to search the premises,” the official was quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) Monday on condition of anonymity.

“The fact that a clean-up team was dispatched from Saudi Arabia nine days after the murder suggests that Khashoggi’s slaying was within the knowledge of top Saudi officials,” added the official, according to AFP report.

Vice President Fuat Oktay said Monday that reports of acid being used to get rid of Khashoggi’s body need to be investigated.

“Turkey approaches the Khashoggi killing with transparency and in a serious manner,” Oktay said, adding that Turkish authorities are now seeking the person who ordered the killing on Turkish soil.

Istanbul’s Chief Public Prosecutor Irfan Fidan, who is leading the investigation, announced last week that Khashoggi, who lived in exile in the United States, was strangled immediately after he entered the consulate as part of a premeditated killing and that his body was dismembered before being removed.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in an op-ed in the Washington Post last week that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest level of the Saudi government and added that the international community had the responsibility to “reveal the puppet masters” behind the slaying.

Turkey is seeking the extradition of 18 suspects who were detained in Saudi Arabia so they can be put on trial in Turkey. They include 15 members of an alleged Saudi “hit squad” that was sent to Istanbul to kill the Washington Post columnist who had written critically of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A Saudi diplomat told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday that the kingdom’s prosecutors are investigating Khashoggi’s death and will prosecute the perpetrators.

“The leadership in the kingdom expressed their pain for the murder of citizen Jamal Khashoggi,” Bandar al-Aiban, the head of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, said in Geneva.

As per instructions by King Salman, Saudi “prosecutors started investigations in the case to reach all truths and present all defendants to justice and sentence those proven guilty of this crime,” al-Aiban added.

Meanwhile, two of Khashoggi’s sons appealed Monday for his remains to be returned so that he may be buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

https://www.dailysabah.com/investigations/2018/11/05/saudis-sent-chemist-toxicologist-to-clean-up-khashoggi-murder-report

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