Shiite News

Al-Hashd al-Shaabi repulses IS Terrorists attack south of Shirqat

al-hashd-al-shaabi-repulses-is-terrorists-attack-south-of-shirqatPublished in: Iraq

The pro-government Shi’ite militias of al-Hashd al-Shaabi has thwarted an attack by the Islamic State south of Shirqat town, Salahuddin governorate.

“Troops of the 99th brigade spotted IS elements south of Shirqat town where they confronted and forced them to escape,” al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) said in a statement on Thursday.

Saudi Soldier Killed and Vehicle Destroyed in an Operation in Jizan

saudi-soldier-killed-and-vehicle-destroyed-in-an-operation-in-jizanPublished in: Yemen

A number of Saudi led troops were killed on Wednesday in an offensive attack by Yemeni army and popular committees on the enemy sites in Jizan, during which a military vehicle was destroyed and military equipment seized.

Military source said that the Yemeni army and popular committees carried out a large-scale attack on the Qamamah region in Ghawiyah military site, in which they killed several members of the Saudi led army and destroyed a military vehicles at the site, as well as seized large military equipment.

In a related context, the artillery of the Yemeni army and popular committees bombed the Dafinah Military site in Jizan, which led to the burning of the weapons store belonging to the Saudi led army site.

The brave men of Yemeni army and popular committees carried out earlier in the day, a qualitative military operation on the Ghawiyah site in Jizan and inflicted heavy losses in men and weaponry.

What’s Britain’s Link to Bahrain Torture Prisons?

what-s-britain-s-link-to-bahrain-torture-prisonsPublished in: Bahrain

British government contractors have been training Bahraini regime prison guards amid a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

Contractors for the Britain’s Foreign Office spent a total of 685 days in Bahrain training guards from 2015 to the end of 2016, making 28 visits to the country in 12 months, according to documents obtained by London-based rights group Reprieve.

The contractors are employees of NI-CO, a company owned by the Northern Irish government and appointed by the Foreign Office in Bahrain, which has trained more than 400 prison guards as part of a contract worth the equivalent of $1.2m.

According to the MEE website, calls for the Belfast-based company to halt training security forces in Bahrain have consistently fallen on deaf ears, despite claims that it is working with organizations linked to torture and mistreatment.

Britain protects repressive Bahraini regime

The previously unreported scale of British involvement with the Bahraini prison system, revealed after a Freedom of Information request, has angered rights campaigners, who say it allows the oil-rich state to "shield itself" from international criticism and to "act with impunity".

The training work carried out by NI-CO is thought to part of a controversial £2m-a-year British program of support for Bahrain's security and justice system.

The details of Britain's support for Bahrain, a key West Asia ally whose prisons have received millions of pounds worth of support from Britain since 2011, comes as a string of high-profile arrests and detentions of journalists and opposition figures has sparked international condemnation.

On Wednesday democracy activist Ebtisam al-Sayegh was charged under anti-terrorism laws after two weeks of interrogations, amid claims of torture and sexual abuse.

Bahrain says the charges relate to plots to attack members of the security forces and receiving funding from Hezbollah, which is prescribed as a terrorist organisation in Bahrain.

However, the day before Sayegh was charged, Dubravka Simonivic, the UN special rapporteur on violence against woman, condemned her "arbitrary detention" and called for an investigation into allegations of torture.

Last week Amnesty International said it was clear that the "Bahraini authorities will go to any length to silence criticism."

"The UK training has taught the Bahraini government how to shield itself from international criticism and emboldened it to act with impunity," Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of advocacy at the London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy told MEE.

UN condemns Bahraini regime

According to experts appointed by the United Nations office of the high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR), the Bahrain forces used “excessive and lethal force to disperse peaceful protestors” – not for the first time – resulting in five deaths which the OHCHR condemned as unlawful killings. Dozens more people were injured in the assault, and 286 people are said to have been arrested and detained. Grimly familiar accounts of torture by the security services have seeped out again from Bahrain’s police cells.

“Over the past year, there has been a sharp deterioration of the human rights situation in the country,” the OHCR experts said. “This has included unacceptable restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, aimed at muzzling any discordant voice and suppressing dissent … It is tragic that while security forces are meant to protect life, their actions have shown otherwise.

Masses demand ouster of tribal regime

Anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country on February 14, 2011. People have been demanding that the Al Khalifah tribal dynasty relinquish power and a just system representing all Bahrainis be established. Many people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or been arrested, illegally detained and brutally tortured while many have seen their citizenship revoked. In March 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — themselves repressive tribal Arab regimes — were deployed to aid Bahrain in its brutal crackdown.

Israel to build new field hospital in Syria to treat militants

israel-to-build-new-field-hospital-in-syria-to-treat-militantsPublished in: Middle East

Israel’s military says the Tel Aviv regime plans to build a new field hospital in Syria to treat what it generally named patients amid international concerns over the regime’s support for the Takfiri militants fighting in the Arab country.

Lieutenant Colonel Tomer Koler told reporters in a phone conference on Wednesday that the hospital would be located on the Syrian side of the fence but on the Israeli side of the demarcation line in the Golan Heights, which is Syrian territory occupied by Israel. The fence built by Israel does not always comply with the line precisely.

Koler expressed hope that the hospital would be operational in the next month.

He noted that Israel had delivered what he called “humanitarian aid” into Syria, including hundreds of tons of food and clothing, as well as fuel and equipment such as generators.

Israel reportedly had a field hospital in the area but shut it last year.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says Tel Aviv and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri militant groups, wreaking havoc in the country.

There have been reports that Israel offers medical treatment to terrorists, wounded while operating in Syria, in hospitals set up on the Golan Heights. Back on April 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tel Aviv would continue treating wounded militants from Syria as part of what he claimed to be a “humanitarian effort.”

Israel regularly hits positions held by the Syrian army in the Golan Heights, describing the attacks as retaliatory. Damascus says the raids aim to help Takfiri militants fighting against government forces. On several occasions, the Syrian army has confiscated Israeli-made arms and military equipment from terrorists fighting government forces.

Last month, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed concerns about a spike in contacts between Israeli armed forces and Syria militants in recent months, saying it could lead to escalation and cause harm to UN observers deployed to the Golan Heights.

Moreover, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that Israel has been providing Takfiri terrorists in Syria’s Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds and medical supplies.

In September last year, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted Israeli parliament member Akram Hasoon as saying that Israel was directly aiding the Takfiri terrorist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, another terrorist group operating in Syria. He revealed that an earlier attack by the Nusra group on the Druze Village of Khadr had the support of the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman.

Iran deputy FM discusses bilateral ties, anti-terror fight with Syria officials

iran-deputy-fm-discusses-bilateral-ties-anti-terror-fight-with-syria-officialsPublished in: Iran

The Iranian deputy foreign minister has held meetings with senior Syrian officials, including President Bashar al-Assad, for talks on the enhancement of bilateral ties as well as cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

On the second day of his visit to Damascus, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African Affairs, sat down with President Assad on Thursday to discuss the latest developments in crisis-hit Syria, among other issues of mutual and regional significance.

The senior Iranian official held separate talks on Wednesday with Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis , Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and his deputy, Faisal Mekdad.

During his talks with Muallem, Jaberi Ansari said Iran would keep up its support for the Syrian nation in all areas, including anti-terror battles, until the restoration of peace to the country, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.

The senior Iranian official further highlighted the importance of Iranian-Syrian-Russian coordination in efforts to achieve a political solution to the Syria crisis.

Muallem, in turn, thanked Iran for standing by his country and said the Syrian army, in cooperation with the allies and friends, will continue its fight against terrorism in parallel with the efforts on the diplomatic stage.

The Syrian minister also said any solution to the conflict in Syria should respect the Arab state’s “sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”

Speaking to reporters following his discussions with Muallem, Jaberi Ansari touched on the Syria peace process which has been underway since January in the Kazakh capital, Astana, with the mediation of Iran, Russia and Turkey.

He said the parties to the peace process, which has brought Syria’s warring sides to the negotiating table, are continuing their discussions on the four de-escalation zones created in the Arab state.

The four safe zones, the official said, had been formed with the aim of booting “effective fight” against terrorism and helping find a way out of the deadly crisis.

Jaberi Ansari further complained of truce violations by certain parties in southern Syria and said, “Unfortunately, certain guarantors of the ceasefire regimes have themselves failed to abide by them, and have until now violated almost all of those agreements.”

Such violations could serve as a prelude to “negative developments,” he added.

Also on Wednesday, Jaberi Ansari and Khamis exchanged views on ways of promoting bilateral relations, particularly in the economic and political areas.

Charities urge UN to blacklist Saudi Arabia over child killing in Yemen

charities-urge-un-to-blacklist-saudi-arabia-over-child-killing-in-yemenPublished in: Saudi Arab

Charity organizations have called on the UN to blacklist the Saudi-led coalition over serious violations of children’s rights in Yemen as statistics reveal massive child fatalities caused by the ongoing war against the impoverished nation.

According to a joint report prepared by Save the Children and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, the Saudi-led coalition committed “grave violations against children” in a series of 23 attacks on civilian sites, including hospitals and schools, in 2016, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

The campaigners urged the UN to highlight the crimes committed by the Saudi-led alliance, including massive killing and maiming of Yemeni children, in its annual report on child rights violations in conflict, expected to be released in August.

The annual UN report incorporates a blacklist of countries and groups that have committed violations such as killing or maiming children, recruiting children, abduction, sexual violence, or attacking schools or hospitals.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia forced the UN to omit the coalition’s name from the blacklist, after the annual report revealed that the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen in 2015. The decision drew criticism from rights groups which accused the UN of succumbing to Riyadh’s political pressure.

According to some statistics, as a result of the Saudi-led war on Yemen, over 4,000 children have been killed or injured, while a further 2.2 million under five are acutely malnourished. Meanwhile, a growing cholera epidemic has also affected over 118,000 children.

In a single Saudi-led airstrike on a market in Mastaba district in February 2016, 25 children were killed. In October, the Saudi warplanes targeted a funeral in the capital city of Sana’a, killing 100 people and wounding 500, with the number of children killed unknown.

Save the Children warned that the UN will set a dangerous precedent for international conflicts if it does not include the Saudi-led coalition on this year’s list.

“If there is no accountability, if groups that are fighting think they can use their political influence – and if they are powerful enough and rich enough, then they can get away with killing and injuring children, or bombing schools and hospitals – it sets a really dangerous precedent not just for Yemen but for conflicts around the world,” said Caroline Anning, senior conflict and humanitarian advocacy adviser at Save the Children.

“[Children] are facing threats from all sides, they have got the threat of airstrikes from above, which are continuous – just in the past few weeks we have seen [bombs] landing on marketplaces where civilians have been killed,” she added.

“Huge numbers of children are on the brink of starvation. The airstrikes have contributed to the collapse of the health system, there are huge numbers of kids who cannot get any healthcare, there is a massive cholera epidemic spreading across the country, millions of children are out of schools,” Anning pointed out.

The charities argue that inclusion of Saudi Arabia on the UN’s blacklist would make it harder for the US and the UK to continue arms exports or diplomatic support for Riyadh.

Last week, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) lost a high-profile case calling for UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia to be stopped over humanitarian concerns about civilian death toll in Yemen, after a high court in London ruled that the arms exports to Riyadh could continue.

“The government may have won a legal victory but the moral case is clear: the Saudi-led coalition is killing children, and Britain is supplying Saudi Arabia with arms,” said George Graham, Save the Children’s director of humanitarian and conflict policy.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a destructive military campaign against Yemen since March 2015 to reinstate former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Houthi movement.

The campaign has seriously damaged the country's infrastructure. Local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.

The conflict has also left more than 17 million people in the country food-insecure, with some 6.8 million of them in need of immediate aid.

The destruction of Yemen’s health sector during the war has made it difficult to deal with the growing cholera epidemic in the country.

The UN has warned that suspected cholera cases across Yemen has surpassed 320,000 while at least 1,740 had lost their lives after being infected.

On July 12, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs Stephen O'Brien blamed Yemen’s cholera crisis on the perpetrators and their foreign supporters of the ongoing war against the impoverished country.

The US and the UK have been the main purveyors of weapons, training and intelligence to Saudis during the course of the unprovoked war, which began in March 2015.

Syrian gov’t retakes 40 oil rigs from ISIS in Raqqa province

syrian-gov-t-retakes-40-oil-rigs-from-isis-in-raqqa-provincePublished in: Middle East

Syria’s government forces have retaken over 40 oil rigs from terrorists of ISIL in the country’s northern Raqqa province since the beginning of offensive to liberate the same name city from the militants, a representative of the Syrian oil industry said Thursday.

"Since the beginning of July, over 40 oil pumping stations have been retaken under the control of the Syrian government, all of them have been destroyed by the retreating ISIS terrorists," Ali Ibrahim, the petroleum engineer in charge for the restoration of oil production facilities in Raqqa province, told reporters.

Since the beginning of the Syrian government forces' offensive in early July on Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital, the militants have been expelled from the main oil producing areas of the province, the engineer added.

"After clearing of the ways to the oil fields off mines, the pumps will be demounted and taken to the city of Hama for reconstruction. The majority of the oil ‘spots’ will resume operation by the end of July," the engineer explained.

The ISIS terrorists dismantled a lot of oil rigs in Raqqa province. Particularly, around 50 facilities have been destroyed in the area of Tabqah oil field.
On Wednesday, a Syrian military source told Sputnik that Damascus forces have regained control over 15 oil wells, a gas field and pumping stations in the south of Raqqa province.

Syria has been engulfed in a civil war for over six years with the government troops fighting against numerous opposition factions as well as terrorist groups.

Bodies of two journalists killed by Islamic State in south of Mosul found

bodies-of-two-journalists-killed-by-islamic-state-in-south-of-mosul-foundPublished in: Iraq

Bodies of two journalists who were killed in an Islamic State attack against south of Mosul were found, Salahuddin Operations Command said.

In a brief statement on Thursday, Lt.Gen. Juma Anad said “security troops have found bodies of Houna Salahuddin channel’s correspondent Harb Hazzaa, and photojournalist, Sou’dad al-Tikriti.”

“The bodies will be transferred to Tikrit to be transferred to their families,” he added.

The two Iraqi journalists were killed earlier this month as IS militants attacked Imam Gharbi village in Qayyarah, south of Mosul. Iraqi forces were able to retake the village, which was re-invaded by the militants, just before the governmnet declared victory in Mosul on July 10.

The Federation of Arab Journalists said in a statement last week that 47 Iraqi journalists were killed, while 55 others were wounded while covering and accompanying security troops during battles in Mosul.

UN calls on Saudi Arabia to grant reporters access to Yemen

un-calls-on-saudi-arabia-to-grant-reporters-access-to-yemenPublished in: Saudi Arab

The United Nations has demanded access to the “man-made catastrophe" in Yemen after Saudi Arabia imposing a blockade on the war-hit country denied entry to three reporters traveling on a UN aid flight to the Yemeni capital Sana’a.

"We do want not just to be able to bring in aid, which is of course a crucial aspect of the work we do, but we also want the world to know what's going on. And so steps like this do not help, because again this has been a large man-made humanitarian problem, the world needs to know and journalists need to have access," said United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq on Wednesday.

Haq made the remarks after the Saudis blocked a United Nations charter flight carrying aid agency staff from landing in Sana’a, which is in control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement, on the grounds that it could not guarantee the security of three journalists working for British state-run broadcaster BBC on board.

"As our colleagues have said this partially explains why Yemen, which is one of the world's largest humanitarian crises, is not getting enough attention in international media. The lack of coverage is hindering humanitarian workers' efforts to draw the attention of the international community and donors to the man-made catastrophe that the country is experiencing," he added.

After blocking the flight, Saudi officials claimed that all inbound flights to Yemen must land in the country’s southern port city of Aden, which is under the control of the former government, headed by former President Abd Rabuuh Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

The Houthis took control of state affairs in 2014 after Hadi resigned, despite Ansarullah’s calls on him to review the decision. Hadi’s resignation created more chaos in a country already grappling with al-Qaeda terror threats.

A brutal Saudi aggression, launched to reinstate Hadi, has so far killed more than 12,000 people, most of them civilians.

The conflict has also left more than 17 million people in the country food-insecure, with some 6.8 million of them in need of immediate aid.

Palestinians urge ICC to expedite Israel war crime probe

palestinians-urge-icc-to-expedite-israel-war-crime-probePublished in: Palestine

Palestinian attorneys and civil society groups have strongly urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to speed up inquiries into Israeli abuses and war crimes against Palestinians.

Lawyers, representing 448 named victims mostly of Israel’s aggression against the Gaza Strip back in the summer of 2014, along with over 50 Palestinian trade unions and groups submitted a thick dossier to the ICC prosecutor’s office on Wednesday, showing “clearly that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed.”

The 50-day Israeli military aggression against Gaza killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children. Over 11,100 others — including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people — were also wounded in the war.

In February 2015, the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, appointed a 45-member committee, chaired by Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiator Saeb Erekat, to gather evidence of Israeli abuse and war crimes against Palestinians.

In June 2015, the committee formally handed over to The Hague-based ICC several dossiers on the Israeli war on Gaza, the regime’s illegal settlement construction in the occupied territories, and the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody.

However, almost no progress has been made in the process of examining the submitted documents and evidence by the ICC, which initially said it had launched a preliminary examination of the dossiers.

“For two years, Palestine is under preliminary examination,” said lawyer Gilles Devers in a press conference on Wednesday. “In Gaza, we think two years is too long.” He added that the Israeli military operations in the 2014 Gaza war constituted war crimes and the “ICC was competent” to handle the case.

Devers said the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had “an obligation” to turn the preliminary examination into a full probe.

Palestinian activists also told journalists that the long-awaited probe had stalled, calling on both the ICC and the PA to speed up the examining process.

The Israeli regime, which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, has already rejected that it has committed war crimes, saying the international court has no authority to hear Palestine’s allegations since “it is not a country,” and because Israel’s so-called judicial system is independent and can itself examine war crime accusations.

Over 30 lawyers in the Palestinian occupied territories helped draft the fresh dossier.

It was the first time that Palestinian civil groups, including physicians, farmers, fishermen, and educators, were appealing directly to the international tribunal.

They said they had stepped forward because of “the lack of political will on behalf of the Palestinian Authority,” which had not raised an official complaint as a state member of The Hague-based court.

Gaza, with a population of more than 1.8 million, has been under siege by the Israeli regime since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.

Furthermore, the occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since Israeli forces introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces in the ongoing tensions since the beginning of October 2015.

The Tel Aviv regime has tried to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population. Palestinians say the Israeli measures are aimed at paving the way for the Judaization of the city.

Abuses against children

On Tuesday, the rights group Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) said in a report that between January and May this year, the Israeli regime arrested some 331 Palestinian minors, marking a 62-percent increase compared to the same period in the years 2012 to 2015.

The NGO further said that the Israeli military forces regularly abused Palestinian children, denying them food, subjecting them to beating and other forms of coercion, and preventing them from accessing legal aid and counsel.

According to Ayed Abu Eqtaish, the DCIP’s accountability program director, Israel has systematically and extensively ill-treated Palestinian children in its military detention centers over the past decade.

“From the persistent and institutionalized ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children, to the systematic denial of their due process rights, emerges a system of control far removed from justice,” he said in the report.

The DCIP said that in 81 percent of the detention cases it had registered between January and June, the children arrested had been strip searched upon detention, and two thirds of them had been deprived of legal counsel prior to interrogation.

The Israeli regime prosecutes up to 700 minors in its military courts each year.

Trump to end CIA program to arm and train anti-Assad militants

trump-to-end-cia-program-to-arm-and-train-anti-assad-militantsPublished in: Middle East

The Trump administration has decided to end the CIA’s years-long covert program to arm and train what they call Syrian moderate opposition, militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Quoting two unnamed US officials, The Washington Post reported the suspension of the program on Wednesday, while the CIA declined to comment on the topic. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders also declined to comment at the White House briefing.

The CIA program began in 2013 as part of the efforts by the Obama administration to overthrow Assad but produced no tangible results. Another downside of the program is that some armed and trained rebels defected to Daesh and other radical groups.

According to the officials, the shuttering of the program shows Trump’s attempts to bolster closer relations with Russia. “It’s a signal to Putin that the administration wants to improve ties to Russia," one of the officials said.

The decision to scrap the CIA program was made about a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and before Trump's July 7 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany, according to the officials. They also said that it was not part of US-Russian negotiations on a ceasefire in southwestern Syria.

This is not the end of US involvement in Syria as Trump signed off in May on a plan to arm the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces -- a Kurdish rebel group -- using Department of Defense funds; and a separate effort by the US military to support other Syrian rebel groups with air strikes and other actions will continue, the officials said.

Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement that “the president authorized the Department of Defense to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIL in Raqqa, Syria.”

Since 2015, Russia has been conducting cruise missile strikes and aerial attacks against terrorist positions in Syria at a request from the Syrian government. The US has been leading dozens of its allies in a military mission purportedly aimed rooting out Daesh since 2014.

Blacklisting Iran’s IRGC to cost US dear: Top commander

blacklisting-iran-s-irgc-to-cost-us-dear-top-commanderPublished in: Iran

A top Iranian commander has warned against the repercussions of Washington’s possible designation of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, saying the move would cost the US dear.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Ja’afari said in the northeastern city of Mashhad on Wednesday that the US bases in the region would be insecure if Washington blacklisted the IRGC or imposed sanctions on Iran over its defense program.

“If the US seeks to pursue sanctions against [Iran’s] defense [program] and the IRGC, before that it should move its regional bases 1,000 kilometers away from Iran and it should know that it has to pay a high price for its miscalculation,” warned the top commander.

Underlining the significance of missile capabilities in promoting the country’s deterrence power, Ja’afari said that the IRGC was expanding the production of its missiles that could successfully hit targets with pinpoint precision, just as they did during a recent attack on the positions of Takfiri terrorists in Syria.

Last month, the IRGC fired six medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missiles at Daesh bases in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr, which killed more than 170 Takfiri terrorists, including a number of commanders and senior elements, and inflicted heavy damage on their equipment and systems.

The missile attack came after gunmen mounted almost simultaneous assaults on Iran’s Parliament and the Mausoleum of the late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini on June 7. The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the assaults, which killed 17 people and injured over 50 others.

“Iran’s missile power in air, sea and on land is rapidly increasing, and this is an inalienable principle for us,” the IRGC commander added, stressing that Iran’s missile might is not up for negotiations.

Ja’afari said that the enemy regards a new war as harmful to its interests as all military and warmongering acts of the enemies in the region have backfired so far.

On Tuesday, the United States slapped new economic sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program.

Iran has recently made major breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing important military equipment and hardware. The Islamic Republic says its military power poses no threat to other countries and is merely based on the doctrine of deterrence.

US officials have also said that President Donald Trump's administration was considering a proposal that could lead to categorizing the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

Qatar slams quartet of blockaders for making ‘conflicting statements’

qatar-slams-quartet-of-blockaders-for-making-conflicting-statementsPublished in: Middle East

Qatar has slammed the Saudi-led quartet of boycotters for their “disorganized” conduct and “conflicting statements” after they apparently backed down from a number of the terms on their list of demands aimed at ending the dispute with Doha.

On Wednesday, Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of Qatar’s government communications office, told The Associated Press that the four Arab countries have “regularly issued conflicting statements” since the outbreak of the diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf region last month.

The quartet comprising Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties and cut all land, sea, and air routes with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism -- allegations denied by Doha.

They later issued a list of 13 sweeping demands for Doha to meet in order for the relations to be normalized. Based on the list, Doha was asked to end its support for Egypt’s biggest banned opposition party Muslim Brotherhood, shut down Al Jazeera, close down a Turkish military base on its soil, limit its ties with Iran and “compensate” the sanctioning countries for unspecified harm.

Qatar dismissed the steep demands as an infringement of its sovereignty.

The Qatari official’s comments came hours after the quartet urged Doha to accept what they called six core “principles” already mentioned in the 13-point list. The bloc said Doha should commit to the principles on fighting terrorism and negotiate a plan to implement them.

“These latest comments are another example of the dangerous and disorganized manner in which the illegal blockade has been conducted,” said Sheikh Saif.
“At first there were no demands, but following pressure from mediating countries, the blockaders leaked a list of demands that was quickly deemed neither reasonable nor actionable,” he added.

‘Saudis must drop all demands’

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, whose country has sided with Qatar in the diplomatic row, called on Saudi Arabia to drop all the demands from Doha in an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

The interview came ahead of a visit next week by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia. He will later travel to Kuwait and Qatar amid his efforts to end the dispute.

“The president will listen to the parties but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia must give up the plan, which includes 13 demands and must reconsider it,” Kurtulmus said. “As for Qatar, it must take a positive stand that will open the way to stages of negotiations and Turkey can be a mediator.”
Kurtulmus further said Turkey had no plans to close down its military base in Qatar, adding that Ankara and Doha were planning to carry out military drills in coming days with the possibility of US forces to join in the maneuvers.

He also issued an implicit warning to the UAE and said Abu Dhabi “must show a stand that is in favor of peace and a settlement and this is in its interest too, otherwise every conflict breeds conflict and no one knows the outcome.”

‘Coup’ at midnight in the Arabian Desert

coup-at-midnight-in-the-arabian-desertPublished in: Saudi Arab

Mohammed bin Salman, a prince who rose from obscurity when his father became Saudi Arabia’s king in 2015 and who ultimately ousted an elder to become crown prince, gained that status in a secretive push that had been “planned out” in advance, a report has revealed.

Bin Salman, a brash 31-year-old son of King Salman, was on June 21 named the new crown prince of Saudi Arabia in what seemed like an abrupt decision upending the rules of succession in an ultraconservative society.

Saudi media said at the time that the so-called Allegiance Council, a body of princes who oversee succession changes, had voted 31 to 3 to approve bin Salman’s replacement of prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, a nephew of Salman who would have ascended to the throne after the ailing king, had he not been suddenly removed.

But in a report on Tuesday, The New York Times cited current and former United States officials and associates of the Saudi royal family as saying that the plot to oust Nayef had been “planned out.”

The report recounted how bin Nayef, then also the interior minister, had “one night in June” been “summoned to a palace in Mecca, held against his will and pressured for hours to give up his claim to the throne.”

‘Like a coup on Christmas Eve’

The king had earlier gathered “a group of senior princes and security officials” at the Safa Palace in Mecca.

“It was near the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, when Saudis were preoccupied with religious duties and many royals had gathered in Mecca before traveling abroad for the Eid al-Fitr holiday,” the report said. “That made it advantageous for a change, analysts said, like a coup on Christmas Eve.”

Bin Nayef was told before the midnight that he was going to meet the king. “Unaccustomed to being told what to do” as the crown prince, he “was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister.”

It was not clear if King Salman himself was in that room and was personally involved in coercing bin Nayef.

“At first, he (bin Nayef) refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired,” the report said. He yielded “sometime before dawn.”

The Saudi court royals were in the meantime calling the members of the Allegiance Council, telling some of them that bin Nayef had a “drug problem” and was “unfit to be king.”

A crown prince begs to differ, and is removed

Since his father’s assumption of power, bin Salman was being speculated to crave a rise to become next in line to the throne. He had been trying to raise his profile by trips overseas in the months before bin Nayef was removed.

There had also been talk of a power struggle between bin Salman and bin Nayef for some time.

But the report by The New York Times suggested that there was more than a father-and-son bond at play in bin Salman’s rise. Bin Nayef had apparently opposed a June 5 decision by Saudi Arabia and several of its vassal states to cut ties with and impose a blockade on Qatar, “a stand that probably accelerated his ouster.”

That diplomatic and economic war with Qatar has, along with several other key decisions, been attributed to bin Salman, whose king father reportedly suffers from partial dementia. As Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, bin Salman is also believed to have been largely responsible for a disastrous invasion of Yemen, where high civilian casualties and a cholera epidemic have raised international alarm.

Both the war on Yemen and the drama involving Qatar are believed to have been rash decisions for which the Saudi kingdom has had no clear exit strategy.

‘A transfer of power imminent’

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Tuesday that “one Saudi source” had quoted a “witness at the palace” as saying that King Salman this month prepared a statement announcing the transfer of the throne to his son Mohammed.

“The announcement could be broadcast at any time, perhaps as soon as September,” Reuters said.

Saudi Arabia has attempted to portray the removal of bin Nayef as a smooth transition in “the best interest of the nation.” At a meeting after the drama, bin Salman was seen kissing bin Nayef’s hand and telling him, “We will never dispense with your instructions and advice.”

“Good luck, God willing,” replies bin Nayef, according to footage of the encounter.

But the Tuesday New York Times report and an earlier one indicating that bin Nayef has been confined to his palace seem to expose a court at battle with itself.

Saudi officials have denied that bin Nayef is under house arrest.

Saudi ‘entities’ channeling money to terrorist groups: US State Dept.

saudi-entities-channeling-money-to-terrorist-groups-us-state-deptPublished in: Rest of World

The United States has praised Qatar's "strong partnership" in the fight against "terrorism,” but accused individuals and "entities" in Saudi Arabia of channeling money out of the country to "terrorist" organizations.

The State Department made the remakes in its annual "Country Reports on Terrorism" released on Wednesday, Al Jazeera reported.

Qatar had "maintained a strong partnership in the fight against terrorism in 2016 and collaborated to foster closer regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement and rule of law activities,” the State Department noted.

The department said Qatar has made "significant progress" in fighting terrorist financing but "terrorist financiers within the country are still able to exploit Qatar's informal financial system.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the tiny nation , accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, an allegation rejected by the Qatari government.

President Donald Trump had sided with the Saudi-led bloc, accusing Qatar of funding terrorism. "The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level," he said last month.

The comments came shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had urged Saudi Arabia and its regional allies to ease their blockade of Qatar.

Meanwhile, the State Department said that individuals and "entities" in Saudi Arabia had been providing money to "terrorist" organizations.

But it added Saudi Arabia is making efforts to stop the illegal outflow of funds to terrorists. "Saudi Arabia continued to maintain a strong counterterrorism relationship with the United States.”

Less than a year ago on the campaign trail, Trump vilified the Saudi influence on US foreign policy, openly accused the kingdom of being complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks, and demanded the US be paid for protecting the monarchy.

But Trump selected Saudi Arabia for his first overseas trip. According to observers, this signals that the US president is willing to embrace a country responsible for widespread human rights violations and an escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

The Saudi kingdom has been bombing Yemen for over two years and killing thousands of civilians there.

The US and Saudi Arabia, along with their some regional allies, stand accused of providing weapons and financial backing to various militant groups wreaking havoc in countries like Syria and Iraq.

Russia sending 2nd humanitarian aid flight to Yemen

russia-sending-2nd-humanitarian-aid-flight-to-yemenPublished in: Yemen

Russia says it is sending a new humanitarian aid flight to Yemen, where people have been dealing with famine and an outbreak of cholera following a months-long Saudi-led war.

"The Russian Emergencies Ministry has started loading the Il-76 aircraft with more than 23 tons of humanitarian supplies to be delivered to Yemen," the ministry told Russia’s TASS news agency on Wednesday.

Carrying tents and other necessities for the people of the war-torn country, the cargo plane was slated to arrive in Yemen later in the day.

On its way back, the plane would board Russian and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) citizens willing to leave the war zone and take them back to Moscow, the report noted.

This will be the second Russian aid flight to Yemen since Tuesday. The first flight delivered 20 tons of humanitarian supplies after landing in Sana’a International Airport and returned with 62 Russian and CIS citizens on board.

US sees Iran’s tactful, sensible policies threat to own profiteering plans: Official

us-sees-iran-s-tactful-sensible-policies-threat-to-own-profiteering-plans-officialPublished in: Iran

Iran has dismissed as “baseless” the recent US allegation that Tehran is undermining regional stability, saying American officials perceive the Islamic Republic’s “wise” policies vis-à-vis the developments in the region as a threat to their meddlesome policies.

“American officials see the independent and sensible policies of Iran... vis-à-vis the global and regional developments as a threat to their meddlesome and profit-oriented policies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Wednesday.

He noted that as one of the most ancient countries in the region, Iran has always regarded regional peace, stability, and security as its own.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the real, serious threat to the regional security, stability and development is the US interference in the affairs of other countries, which is aimed at stoking instability and insecurity” to achieve certain objectives, he added.

This came in response to remarks by US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who on Tuesday accused Iran of undermining stability and security in the Middle East and sponsoring terrorism.

Qassemi also rejected Nauert’s claim that Iran was violating the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries, including the US.

He said that Washington accuses Tehran of violating the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) while “the US government has, over the past two years, acted against its obligations under the JCPOA… through tension-provoking measures, decisions and policies,” adding that the US is expected to be committed to the “successful” implementation of the deal based on “goodwill.”

The US has tried, directly or indirectly, to prevent Iran from reaping the benefits of the JCPOA, Qassemi said, adding that Iran has on several occasions brought up the issue at the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, which monitors the implementation of the deal.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad said that the US was violating the spirit of the JCPOA after Washington said it was imposing new economic sanctions against Iran over the Islamic Republic’s missile program.

"It violates the spirit of the deal. We will look at it and see whether it violates the letter of the deal, and we will act accordingly," Zarif said on Tuesday in an interview with CBS.

Under the JCPOA, limits were put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all nuclear-related bans against the Islamic Republic.

The US-Saudi blockade and aggression on Yemen has created the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis

the-us-saudi-blockade-and-aggression-on-yemen-has-created-the-world-s-biggest-humanitarian-crisisPublished in: Yemen

On the humanitarian level in Yemen and the catastrophic consequences of the US-imposed embargo imposed on the Yemeni people, the humanitarian situation in Yemen has reached record levels in the number of victims of “Yemeni” civilians, women and children affected by the aggression and victims affected by the siege.

According to the United Nations in more than one session, Yemen is facing the biggest human catastrophe in the world, especially after the outbreak of cholera, which increased the magnitude of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

Incredibly, there are record numbers for civilian casualties affected by war and siege. According to UN statistics and the World Health Ministry
She explained that more than 6 million Yemenis are living below the poverty line today due to deteriorating living conditions.

As for the health and the situation of the patients, field sources confirmed that there are more than 500 thousand Yemeni children are threatened to die due to lack of food and relief resources in addition to the situation of chronic diseases, which lead to kidney failure and anemia and numbers tens of thousands and because of the interruption of electricity and prevent aggression from entering The therapeutic materials needed to combat these diseases have become the life of these patients on the brink of completion.

In the same context, the blood of the Kingdom and its allies has not stopped the siege and starvation of the Yemenis, but the death fighters of Saudi Arabia and the coalition forces are still committing mass acts of genocide against civilians around the clock. The international organizations said that the American air force killed more than 13,000 Yemenis and wounded 40,000, the majority of which are children and women, and with the deterioration of health conditions and lack of medicines in the Republic’s hospitals increased the gravity of the situation of the wounded especially those with in critical conditions.

The suffering of Yemeni citizens has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of cholera in 22 Yemeni provinces. In a record time, the death toll from the epidemic has been around 1,800 and around 300,000 people infected every 10 minutes.

The storm led by Saudi Arabia has caused enormous damage to Yemen’s infrastructure and economy. It has left innocent Palestinian children and women in Yemen and has prevented the entry of medicines and therapeutic supplies for Yemeni patients affected by air strikes, but has also prevented the entry of medical supplies to combat the cholera epidemic, which is spreading rapidly and dangerously. In this sense, it is possible to say that the Kingdom has made in Yemen the greatest humanitarian crisis known to the times and human history

Amnesty Int’l Condemns “Terrorism” Charges against Ebtisam Al-Sayegh

amnesty-int-l-condemns-terrorism-charges-against-ebtisam-al-sayeghPublished in: Bahrain

Amnesty International denounced charging Bahraini human rights activist Ebtisam Al-Sayegh with "terrorism," deeming it "a chilling blow to human rights in the country".

"Ebtisam Al-Saegh is a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released," said Samah Hadid, Director of Campaigns for the Middle-East at Amnesty International, adding that "her only ‘crime', is her bravery in challenging the government's appalling human rights record."

She stressed that by charging her with terrorism for her work on human rights, the Bahraini government is itself attempting to intimidate and silence civil society in Bahrain, noting that "Amnesty International has strong reasons to believe that Ebtisam al-Saegh is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment."

Hadid further stated that there must be public outcry over the deteriorating situation in Bahrain. "The silence of the UK government, which continues to insist that Bahrain is on a path to human rights reform, is deafening and shameful, and appears to have played a part in emboldening the Bahraini government to commit more human rights violations."

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