Posts Tagged ‘United Nations Security Council’

Iran Calls UN Session on Protests Another Trump ‘Foreign Policy Blunder’

January 6, 2018

Iran’s UN envoy says country has ‘hard proof’ of foreign intervention in protests ■ Russia: ‘Let Iran deal with its own problems’

Reuters and The Associated Press Jan 06, 2018 12:43 AM
Haaretz

(L to R) Member of the Iranian delegation Javad Safaei and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attend a U.N. Security Council meeting concerning the situation in Iran, January 5, 2018

(L to R) Member of the Iranian delegation Javad Safaei and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley attend a U.N. Security Council meeting concerning the situation in Iran, January 5, 2018 Drew Angerer/AFP
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A United Nations Security Council meeting that centered on Iran’s anti-government protests was another foreign policy blunder of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, Iran’s foreign minister wrote on his Twitter account.

Javad Zarif

@JZarif
The UNSC rebuffed the US’ naked attempt to hijack its mandate. Majority emphasized the need to fully implement the JCPOA and to refrain from interfering in internal affairs of others. Another FP blunder for the Trump administration. Iran’s statement: http://goo.gl/CE84yi

4:35 PM – Jan 5, 2018
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read more: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.833292

“The UNSC rebuffed the naked [American] attempt to hijack its mandate … Another FP [foreign policy] blunder for the Trump administration,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted. Meanwhile, Iran’s ambassador to UN told the Security Council that his government has “hard evidence” that recent protests in Iran were “very clearly directed from abroad.”

People protest in Los Angeles, California, U.S., in support of anti-government protesters in Iran,  January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People protest in Los Angeles, California, U.S., in support of anti-government protesters in Iran, January 3, 2018. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Iranian Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo also said the U.S. had abused its power as a permanent member of the Security Council by calling for a meeting to discuss the protests.

 

“It is unfortunate that despite the resistance on the part of some of its members, this council has allowed itself to be abused by the current U.S. administration in holding a meeting on an issue that falls outside the scope of its mandate,” Khoshroo said.

Russia’s UN envoy said the U.S. is “abusing the platform of the Security Council” by calling an emergency meeting on the protests that have roiled Iran in recent days.

Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the demonstrations are a domestic matter, not an international security issue warranting the attention of the UN’s most powerful body. “Let Iran deal with its own problems,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said at the meeting that the United States stood “unapologetically with those in Iran who seek freedom for themselves, prosperity for their families, and dignity for their nation.”

“We will not be quiet. No dishonest attempt to call protesters ‘puppets of foreign powers’ will change that. The Iranian people know the truth. And we know the truth,” she said.

“They are acting of their own will, on their own behalf, for their own future. Nothing will stop Americans from standing in solidarity with them. In 2009, the world stood by passively while the hopes of the Iranian people were crushed by their government. In 2018, we will not be silent,” Haley added.

At least 21 people have been killed amid the anti-government rallies and unrest that began last week. Iran has also seen three days of large pro-government demonstrations.

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https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/1.833292

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China Exposed: Resists U.S. Efforts in the U.N. to Blacklist Ships Doing Business With North Korea

December 29, 2017

Washington wants vessels be formally designated as North Korean sanctions violators

Image result for Lighthouse Winmore, ship, photos

Ship Lighthouse Winmore

China Resists U.S. Efforts to Blacklist Ships Through U.N.

WASHINGTON—China has pushed back against a U.S. proposal that the United Nations Security Council blacklist 10 ships for violating international sanctions against North Korea, diplomats said.

Sharing declassified intelligence reports, American officials urged that all of the vessels be formally designated earlier this month as sanctions violators, a move that would require U.N members to deny them entry to their ports. South Korea disclosed Friday that it had seized one of the ships on the proposed list, a Seoul official said.

But China informed a United Nations sanctions committee on Thursday that it would agree to list only four of the 10 ships targeted by the U.S., according to diplomats familiar with the Chinese notification. The remaining vessels, China told the panel, should be stricken from the proposed sanctions list.

China’s stance comes amid mounting concern about maritime violations of sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea as a result of Pyongyang’s nuclear and long-range missile tests.

The detained ship, the Hong Kong-registered Lighthouse Winmore, is suspected of transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in violation of a Security Council resolution establishing strict limits on the amount of refined petroleum that can be provided to North Korea.

The Winmore is alleged to have transferred up to 600 tons of oil to a North Korean ship on Oct. 19, days after loading the fuel at Yeosu, South Korea, the official said. The ship was held by South Korean customs officials on Nov. 24 after it returned to Yeosu, the official said. The Winmore isn’t included China’s list of four ships.

The disagreement comes amid an escalating war of words between President Donald Trump and Beijing over China’s willingness to tightly enforce international sanctions. A post to President Trump’s Twitter account on Thursday accused China of violating sanctions on North Korea, saying the president is “very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea.” China denies it has violated sanctions.

China’s position is crucial because the sanctions committee operates by consensus and reports to the Security Council, where Beijing holds a veto. Chinese officials at the U.N. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The four ships the Chinese agreed to list includes three vessels that operate under the North Korean flag: the Ul Ji Bong 6, Rung Ra 2 and Rye Song Gang 1. The fourth is the Panamanian-flagged vessel Billions No. 18. According to the American information presented to the U.N., the ship’s registered owner is Bunker’s Taiwan Group Corp. and its beneficial owner is Billions Bunker Group Corp.

The ships the Chinese didn’t agree to designate as sanctions violators are the Lighthouse Winmore, Xin Sheng Hai, Kai Xiang, Yu Yuan, Glory Hope 1 and Sam Jong 2, whose registered owner is China Dandong Xianghe, according to the U.S. submission to the U.N.

Chinese deputy ambassador to the United Nations Wu Haitao speaks at the Security Council on Friday, Dec. 22.Photo: Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

The declassified American intelligence, which has been presented to the U.N., includes a series of photos taken Oct. 19 showing the Lighthouse Winmore side-by-side with the Sam Jong 2, allegedly engaged in an illicit ship-to-ship transfer of petroleum. Other photos show the Yu Yuan taking on a load of coal at Wonsan, North Korea on Aug. 12 and unloading it on Sept. 5 at Kholmsk, Russia. Some of the declassified intelligence was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

In their formal communication to the sanctions committee, a Chinese official said Beijing’s decision on which ships to list was based on the evidence but didn’t discuss the cases in detail. Western experts say China’s approach may reflect a broader strategy of agreeing to tough-sounding Security Council resolutions while modulating how strictly sanctions are actually enforced. U.S. officials, speaking earlier this month, said at least one of the ships targeted by the U.S. is owned by a Chinese company.

South Korean officials described the Lighthouse Winmore as a textbook case of sanctions busting. “This case is representative of how North Korea tries to tactically go around U.N. Security Council sanctions using illegal networks,” a South Korean official said. “Seoul authorities will report to the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee after taking relevant action.”

The Lighthouse Winmore’s crew members will be allowed to return to their home countries after investigations are completed, the official said. He couldn’t confirm a report from South Korea’s semiofficial Yonhap news agency that said the Winmore had 25 crew members who were Chinese and Myanmar nationals.

The ship operates as a Hong Kong-flagged vessel. Its registered owner is Win More Shipping Ltd. and beneficial owner is Lighthouse Ship Management Ltd. The South Korean government official said the ship was being rented out to the Taiwanese entity Billions Bunker Group at the time of the suspected violation. The entity is also linked to Billions No. 18, according to the American data.

A Security Council resolution passed last week gives member states more authority to seize the ships that have breached international sanctions and ban them from their ports.

The current violations pertain to two earlier resolutions. One resolution, which was approved in September after North Korea conducted a nuclear test, restricts the amount of refined petroleum that can be provided to North Korea, among other measures. The other resolution, which was adopted in August after North Korea carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile tests, imposed a ban on North Korea’s exports of coal, which American officials say have been the largest source of its external revenue.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com and Andrew Jeong at andrew.jeong@wsj.com

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Iran Allies Hezbollah and Hamas Likely To Combine Forces Against Trump Jerusalem Move

December 28, 2017

BY  

Lebanese Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah and Palestinian Sunni Muslim group Hamas, two influential political and paramilitary organizations opposed to Israel, have apparently joined forces in response to President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize the contested, holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Hezbollah and Hamas, which both support an independent Palestinian state and have clashed with Israel on various occasions, found themselves on opposite sides of a civil war in neighboring Syria where Hezbollah mobilized on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hamas supported opposition groups trying to oust him since 2011. As Assad, an ally of Russia and Iran, re-consolidated control over much of the territory he had once lost, however, Hamas has grown closer to the so-called axis of resistance formed between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, and Trump’s recent controversial ruling on Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claimed as their capital, has reportedly brought the two militant groups and other allies together.

Related: Iran says Arabs and Muslims must defend Jerusalem as rockets target Israel

“There could be an official announcement soon from the axis of resistance that it is coming together to confront Israel and Trump’s decision,” Lebanon’s The Daily Star cited a Lebanon-based security source described as being close to both groups as saying Tuesday.

GettyImages-890295566

Lebanese demonstrators march with Lebanese flags, Palestinian flags and Hezbollah flags during a protest against President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Beirut on December 11 as Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is seen on a giant television screen giving an address.JOSEPH EID/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The alleged gathering, which also was mentioned by Iran’s semi-official Press TV, also would include several other groups active in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank as well as the Iran-backed, mostly Shiite Muslim Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq. Whereas Hezbollah took on the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and rebel groups in Syria and the outskirts of Lebanon, the Popular Mobilization Forces played a key role in defeating the jihadis from their country of origin.

The Popular Mobilization Forces fought alongside the U.S.-backed Iraqi military, but their opposition to the U.S.’s 14-year military presence in Iraq has recently landed some of their member militias on the State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations. There they join Hezbollah, Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions potentially considering involvement in the axis of resistance, a partnership formed in opposition to the U.S, Israel and Saudi Arabia, a former ally of Hamas and bitter enemy of Iran.

Image may contain: 1 person, beard, hat and closeup

Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called on Muslims and Christians earlier this month to unite in opposition to Trump’s historic decision to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel along with plans to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv. The city, which is considered sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims, was given international status ahead of Israel’s creation in 1948, but was divided between Israel and Jordan amid the conflict and mass displacement of Palestinians that followed. Israel later seized the whole city after a second Arab-Israeli conflict in 1967 and annexed the eastern half in 1980, a move not recognized internationally and viciously opposed by Arab and Muslim countries that view the city, or at least East Jerusalem, as the capital of a Palestinian state.

“The stance of the Palestinian people is the key to all the coming period,” Nasrallah said during a speech, adding: “We renew our vow to stay with Palestine, Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and all the Islamic and Christian sanctities, as we are witnessing today a true intifada [uprising] in which Muslims and Christians are all united to defend the sanctities,” according to Lebanon’s Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar.

GettyImages-892231342

 Hamas supporter holds a miniature replica of the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine located in Jerusalem, as she takes part in a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Sunni Muslim movement, in Gaza City, on December 14, 2017.MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Nasrallah said Hezbollah, which Iran helped establish in the middle of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war and is often considered one of the world’s most powerful non-state armies, could focus on supporting Palestinians now that ISIS had collapsed. Hezbollah fought two major wars with Israel, both of which resulted in Israeli withdrawals in 2000 and 2006. Hamas also emerged in the 1980s, but with the backing of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas played a key role in the anti-Israel intifadas of the late 1980s and early 2000s, but its rivalry with longtime, left-wing Palestinian resistance vanguard Fatah has alienated the two Palestinian movements and has potentially led to Fatah’s exclusion from the upcoming meeting.

Facing an overwhelmingly negative international reaction to Trump’s decision, the U.S. used its privilege as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to veto a resolution last week condemning it. Days later, the U.N. General Assembly put up another resolution, which the U.S. couldn’t veto, and, despite Trump’s threats to cut off financial aid to any country that voted against his announcement, the resolution passed 128-9.

In a separate development, Iran’s parliament voted Wednesday in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the U.N.-recognized “State of Palestine.”

WORLD, IRAN, HEZBOLLAH, HAMAS, LEBANON, IRAQ, SYRIA, DONALD TRUMP, ISRAEL, JERUSALEM

http://www.newsweek.com/iran-allies-hezbollah-hamas-unite-against-israel-trump-jerusalem-decision-761045

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U.S. Urges UN To Punish Iran Over Missile Activity; Russia Rules Out Sanctions

December 20, 2017

December 20, 2017 04:17 GMT

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (right) speaks with Vladimir Safronkov, Russian Deputy UN Ambassador

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (right) speaks with Vladimir Safronkov, Russian Deputy UN Ambassador

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has urged the United Nations Security Council to punish Iran for what she called “destabilizing behavior” and “dangerous violations” of UN arms embargoes, but Russia ruled out sanctions and said dialogue is needed.

Speaking before the council late on December 19, Haley said a ballistic missile strike on Saudi Arabia by Shi’ite Huthi rebels in Yemen earlier in the day was “a flashing red siren for this council.”

She also said the strike had “all the hallmarks of previous attacks using Iranian-provided weapons.”

Riyadh said it intercepted the missile, which had targeted the palace of Saudi King Salman, and accused Iran of supplying it to the rebels.

Predominantly Shi’ite Iran denies arming Huthi rebels who are fighting Yemen’s government and a military coalition led by Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.

“It is only a matter of time before one of these missiles hits the target,” said Haley. “If we don’t do something, we will miss the opportunity to prevent further violence from Iran,” she said.

‘Undeniable Evidence’

Haley last week presented reporters in Washington with what she called “undeniable evidence” that Iran had supplied missiles for two previous Huthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, and said she would bring the matter before the UN.

Haley told the council on December 19 that it should consider sanctions over what she called Iran’s “clear violation” of a UN embargo on weapons sales to Yemen, and she said it should also hold the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps accountable for violating numerous council resolutions.

Other options for pressuring Iranians “to adjust their malign behavior,” she said, include adopting a resolution prohibiting all Iranian ballistic missile activity, and strengthening a UN council resolution implementing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to prohibit ballistic missile activity.

But Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov quickly ruled that out, urging the council instead “to abandon the language of threats and sanctions, and to start using the instruments of dialogue.”

Safronkov said the council should “concentrate on broadening cooperation and mutual trust” with Iran.

Guterres’ Report

The council meeting had been called to discuss a report this month from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that found Iran was complying with the nuclear deal, which requires curbs on its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

But the report said Tehran may be defying the UN council’s call for Iran to halt ballistic missile development, which was included in the resolution carrying out the nuclear deal. Iran and Russia have maintained that part of the deal was not binding on Tehran.

Guterres said the UN is investigating whether Iran provided the ballistic missiles that the Huthi rebels in Yemen have used in strikes against Saudi Arabia.

Safronkov accused the UN Secretariat of carrying out investigations without prior council approval, saying it “has neither the authority nor the expertise.” He also said the information obtained “cannot be considered accurate.”

After the Huthi missile strike on December 19, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying it was “deeply disturbed by aggressive Huthi actions supported by Iran’s provision of advanced weapons, which threaten regional security and prolong the Yemen conflict.”

With reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP

https://www.rferl.org/a/us-urges-un-security-council-punish-iran-ballistic-missile-activity-russia-rules-out-sanctions/28928240.html

Libya strongman says UN-backed government’s mandate expired

December 17, 2017

AFP

© Tunisian Presidency/AFP | A handout picture released by the Tunisian Presidency Press Service shows Libyan General Khalifa Haftar speaking during his meeting with the Tunisian president on September 18, 2017 at Carthage Palace in Tunis

BENGHAZI (LIBYA) (AFP) – Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar insisted Sunday that the mandate of the country’s UN-backed government has run out after what he said was the expiration of a tattered 2015 political deal.The UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco on December 17, 2015 established Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) for a one-year period, renewable only once.

Despite that deal, Libya has remained divided between the GNA government in Tripoli led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and a rival administration backed by Haftar in the east.

In a televised speech Haftar, who has never recognised the GNA’s authority, said the “expiry of the Libyan political accord” marked a “historic and dangerous turning point”.

“All bodies resulting from this agreement automatically lose their legitimacy, which has been contested from the first day they took office,” he said.

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday insisted the 2015 deal remains the “only viable framework” to prepare for elections next year.

The UN in September launched a fresh push to agree a new accord aimed at bringing stability to Libya, which has been in chaos since the 2011 ouster of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

One of the main stumbling blocks is the inclusion in any potential government of Haftar, whose Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east.

In a statement on Sunday the UN’s special representative to Libya Ghassan Salame said Libyans were “fed up with violence” and hoped “for a political solution, for reconciliation and for harmony”.

“I urge all parties to heed their voices and refrain from any actions that could undermine the political process,” the statement said.

str-ila/del/hkb

Fourteen of 15 Security Council Members Denounce U.S. Stance on Jerusalem

December 9, 2017

Council diplomats said Jerusalem is a contested city under international law

UNITED NATIONS—Fourteen of the 15 members of United Nations Security Council on Friday condemned President Donald Trump’s decision this week to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, saying it was in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law.

The Council held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss Jerusalem at the request of several members. The Council didn’t issue a statement, which would have required U.S. endorsement. Members also didn’t propose a resolution, because it could be vetoed by the U.S.

 

Instead, in a rebuke to Mr. Trump, diplomats for nearly three hours discussed the U.S. stance and said that their countries don’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They agreed Jerusalem was a contested city under international law and represents the future shared capital of both Jerusalem and Palestine, once a two-state solution is reached.

“The statement by the United States president goes against the plea of many friends of the United States and Israel, “ said Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog.

Egypt, as only Arab member of the Council, said the U.S. decision “set a dangerous precedent” for disregarding international laws and Council resolutions.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley defended Mr. Trump’s decision and said he had acted according to the wish of the American people.

“Our actions are intended to help advance the cause of peace. We must recognize that peace is advanced, not set back, when all parties are honest with each other,” said Ms. Haley.

Three U.N. Security Council resolutions and a resolution by the General Assembly specify Jerusalem as one of the core issues—along with Jewish settlements, borders and right of refugees to return—that must be negotiated in the final stages of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Critics said Mr. Trump’s declaration on Wednesday was the equivalent of a unilateral U.S. determination of the fate of Jerusalem. Trump administration officials, along with allies in Israel, maintain that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government and therefore the de facto capital of the Jewish state. Ms. Haley said the U.S. “recognizes the obvious.”

European Union countries France, U.K., Sweden and Germany issued a statement afterward and said the EU doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

“It [U.S. position] is not in line with Security Council resolutions and it is unhelpful in terms of prospects of peace in the region,” the statement said.

The Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors were both in attendance and spoke to the Council. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon called on all countries to follow the U.S.’s footsteps and move their embassies to Jerusalem. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour praised the Council’s unity against the U.S. position and called for firm action such a resolution on Jerusalem’s status.

Mr. Mansour called the decision “illegal, irresponsible and provocative” and questioned whether or not the U.S. could be an effective peace broker if it openly taking sides with Israel on such a heated issue as Jerusalem.

Some Council diplomats said the U.S.’s wider standing and credibility was at stake. They said the U.S., along with European members of the Council, has historically upheld international order and advocated for all member states abiding by Council resolutions.

The U.S. routinely criticizes Russia, China and Iran for violating resolutions pertaining to Syria, North Korea and missile programs, respectively. Now, critics say, the U.S. is among the violators.

“It’s not good for us collectively,” said a Council diplomat. “Others would blame America and say America is in violations of Security Council resolutions, which in objective terms is very true, which is not very good for the message we want to send to the world.”

Beyond clashes and protests in the Middle East, the U.S. decision on Jerusalem has prompted action by Arab and Muslim leaders. The Arab League will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo with Arab foreign ministers on Saturday. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation will convene in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss Jerusalem.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at farnaz.fassihi@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/fourteen-of-15-security-council-members-denounce-u-s-stance-on-jerusalem-1512777971

United Nations Security Council will meet Friday to address President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

December 7, 2017

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Jerusalem. Credit Getty Images
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By BRETT SAMUELS – 12/06/17 06:37 PM EST
The Hill
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The United Nations (U.N.) Security Council will meet Friday to address President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv, a move that drew statements of concern from multiple world leaders.

Arab leaders warned the decision could doom the fragile Middle East peace process, and Palestinians called for three “days of rage” in response.

Eight countries on the 15-member Security Council asked for a special meeting: France, Bolivia, Egypt, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, Britain and Uruguay. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to speak on Friday to address concerns.

Guterres said following Trump’s announcement that he has “consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”

The militant Palestinian group Hamas said Trump’s decision “opens the gates of hell.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May called Trump’s decision “unhelpful,” while French President Emmanuel Macron said “France does not approve.”

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan warned of potentially violent demonstrations following the announcement.
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http://thehill.com/policy/international/363658-emergency-un-meeting-called-after-trumps-jerusalem-announcement-report

 

Saudi Arabia, Arab allies in Cairo talks on Iran, Hezbollah

November 19, 2017

By Patrick Markey

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and other Arab foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss ways to confront Iran and its Lebanese Shi‘ite ally Hezbollah, who the Arab allies say are interfering in their internal affairs.

Regional tensions have risen in recent weeks between Sunni monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shi‘ite Islamist Iran over Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s surprise resignation and after an escalation in Yemen’s conflict.

Hariri, a long-time Saudi ally, resigned on Nov. 4 in an announcement made from Riyadh. Hariri cited fear of assassination and accused Iran and Hezbollah of spreading strife in the Arab world.

Hezbollah, both a military force and a political movement, is part of a Lebanese government made up of rival factions, and an ally of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Aoun has accused Saudi Arabia of holding Hariri hostage. Senior Lebanese politicians close to Hariri also said he was coerced into resigning. Saudi Arabia and Hariri both deny those accusations.

“What Iran is doing against some Arab countries calls for taking more than one measure to stop these violations, interferences and threats, which are carried out through many various means,” Hossam Zaki, Arab League Assistant Secretary, told Asharq al Awsat newspaper in an interview.

“Stopping them requires a joint Arab policy.”

He said the meeting would send a “strong message” for Iran to step back from its current policies.

Egypt’s state-owned newspaper Al Ahram cited an Arab diplomatic source saying the meeting may refer the matter to the United Nations Security Council.

The emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting was convened at the request of Saudi Arabia with support from the UAE, Bahrain, and Kuwait to discuss means of confronting Iranian intervention, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters last week the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were only a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran.

“Unfortunately countries like the Saudi regime are pursuing divisions and creating differences and because of this they don’t see any results other than divisions,” Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iranian state media Sunday on the sidelines of a meeting in Antalya with his Russian and Turkish counterparts about the Syria conflict.

Lebanon’s state-run NNA media said the country’s the foreign minister would not attend the Cairo meeting. Lebanon will be represented by its representative to the Arab League, Antoine Azzam, it said.

After French intervention, Hariri flew to France and met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Saturday.

Speaking in Paris, Hariri said he would clarify his position when he returns to Beirut in the coming days. He said he would take part in Lebanese independence day celebrations, which are scheduled for Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia also accuses Hezbollah of a role in the launching of a missile at Riyadh from Yemen this month. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Iran’s supply of rockets to Houthi militias was an act of “direct military aggression”.

Yemen’s civil war pits the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and its allies, against the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Iran denies charges it supplies Houthi forces.

Additional reporting by Arwa Gaballa in Cairo; Sarah Dadouch and Babak Dehghanpisheh in Beirut; Editing by Mark Potter

Saudi-led Coalition closing land, sea and air ports in Yemen to stop Iranian arms smuggling

November 6, 2017

 

Weapons and equipment, believed to be from Iran, are displayed aboard the deck of USS Forrest Sherman after they were seized from a smuggling boat on Sept. 27, 2015 off the coast of Yemen. The Saudi-led Coalition on Sunday said Iran has stepped up its smuggling of weapons, including ballistic missiles, for Yemen’s Houthi insurgents. (Combined Maritime Forces photo via AP, file)

JEDDAH: The Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s UN-recognized government on Sunday said it was temporarily closing all land, sea and air ports in Yemen to stop Iranian weapons from reaching Shiite Houthi insurgents.

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A press statement by the Coalition Command said the decision was made after experts ascertained that the ballistic missiles being fired by Houthis from Yemen toward Saudi Arabia, including the one intercepted over Riyadh on Saturday night, were manufactured in Iran.
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“A thorough examination of the debris of these missiles, including the missile launched on July 22, 2017, has confirmed the role of Iran’s regime in manufacturing these missiles and smuggling them to the Houthi militias in Yemen for the purpose of attacking the Kingdom, its people, and vital interests,” said the statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
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Saudi air defense forces shot down the ballistic missile before it could hit the airport in the national capital on Saturday night.
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“The Coalition’s command considers the Iranian regime’s action in supplying the Houthi militias that it commands with these missiles to be a blatant violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions that prohibit nations from arming these militias, specifically UNSC Resolution (2216),” the statement said.
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It also said it considers “Iran’s role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy” a “blatant act of military aggression by the Iranian regime, and could be considered as an act of war against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
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While closing all points of entry to Yemen, the Coalition command said it will “take into consideration the continuation of the entry and exit of humanitarian supplies and crews in accordance with the Coalition’s updated procedures.”
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It urged Yemeni civilian and humanitarian crews and diplomatic missions to avoid areas of combat operations, areas populated by the Houthi armed militia, smuggling routes of Houthis, and missile launch sites of Houthis.
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Western analysts have said the smuggling of Iranian weapons to Houthi insurgents have continued despite efforts to stop them since the Coalition sent forces to Yemen to restore the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in March 2015.
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A Reuters report on March 23, 2017, had said that from September 2015 until March 2016, “the French and Australian navies frequently intercepted “weapons which officials said were most likely bound for the Houthis.”
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It also quoted a US defense official as saying Iranian weapons smuggling to the Houthis had continued since March 2016, and that the equipment included “long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching deep into Saudi Arabia.”
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Nic Jenzen-Jones, a military arms specialist and director of Armament Research Services, which has tracked Iranian equipment ending up in Yemen, also said quantities had increased, the same report said.
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The Conflict Armament Research (CAR) had also said in a study that it had evidence showing that the Qasef-1 UAV drone that Houthis claimed to have made were actually traced to Iran.
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Syria Calls On UN To Halt Israeli Attacks

November 2, 2017

 

BY REUTERS
 NOVEMBER 2, 2017 17:59

Israel and Syria have exchanged fire on numerous occasions in recent months.

An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jet flies during an aerial demonstration

An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jet flies during an aerial demonstration. (photo credit:AMIR COHEN – REUTERS)BEIRUT – Syria’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday called on the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel’s attacks on Syria after an Israeli strike late on Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry asked the Security Council to take “strict and immediate” measures to stop such Israeli attacks, in a statement carried on the state-run SANA news agency.

Wednesday’s strike hit a copper factory in the industrial town of Hisya, 35 km (21 miles) south of Homs and 112 km north of Damascus, SANA reported.

In Jerusalem, Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment. On Wednesday, Israel’s Channel 10 said the aircraft were not hit and returned safely to base.

The Israeli air force says it has struck arms convoys of the Syrian military and its Lebanese ally, the Iran-backed Hezbollah, nearly 100 times in recent years.

Israeli officials have expressed alarm at Iranian influence in Syria where Iran-backed groups have played a critical role fighting in support of President Bashar Assad during the conflict that erupted in 2011.