Archive for Middle East
An Iranian man arrested on suspicion of planning an attack on the Israeli embassy in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan denies the allegation, an Iranian diplomat said. Hassan Faraji, 31, is the latest in a number of Iranians to be accused of criminal plots in recent years in Azerbaijan, which has tense ties with its larger southern neighbor. Faraji was detained near the Israeli embassy in the capital Baku on October 31 but his arrest was made public on Wednesday, when state TV showed footage of police raiding an apartment. “Faraji had a detailed plan of an attack on personnel of the Israeli embassy…He put up a resistance to the police during a detention,” police said in a statement. A court in Azerbaijan sentenced him to one month pre-trial detention, while Azeri and Israeli media reported that he had connections with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, an allegation an Iranian official denied. “This information does not correspond to the reality,” the Iranian embassy spokesman, who did not want to be named, told Reuters. Iranian embassy officials met Faraji in custody. The case is a part of wider diplomatic tensions between the neighbors, which share a religion but have sharply different political systems. Iran has accused Azerbaijan of assisting Israel in the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists. Azerbaijan, for its part, has arrested dozens of people last year on suspicion of connections with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and of plotting attacks, including on the Israeli ambassador to Baku. Iranian citizen Phaiz Bakhram Hassan was sentenced last month to 15 years in prison for an attempt to attack the Israeli embassy in Baku. He was arrested last year.
Israeli officials denied their country was involved in the twin bombings morning outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, which left 23 dead and 146 others injured. Following the explosions, Iranian embassador to Lebanon said it was “without any doubt” that the “Zionists” were behind the deadly attacks. But the ambassador revised his statement shortly after, saying when he said “Zionists”, he meant “those who serve the Israeli interests.” Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset’s (parliament) Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, said he completely denies Israel’s possible involvement in such an act. “We are blamed for everything that happens in the Middle East. Sometimes there are things we take responsibility for, because they have to do with Israel’s security, … but Israel’s security gains nothing from the bloodshed in Beirut,” the lawmaker from the Likud party said. “This is a result of the tensions in Lebanon following the Hezbollah’s decision to participate in Assad’s efforts to survive in Syria,” he argued. Another Israeli official who asked to remain anonymous reiterated his stance to Xinhua that “Israel is not behind these attacks and has nothing to do with it… We will never carry out such attacks in an Arab capital and when we do mark targets. They are weapons, not innocent civilians.”
Iran and Syria were quick to point the finger at Israel as bearing the primary responsibility for the suicide bombings. They both believe that Israel has taken sides with Sunni Arab states against the Shiites in the proxy war raging in Syria and extending into Lebanon. Iran and Hezbollah are Shiite. Assad’s Alawite sect derives from Shiite Islam. The jihadist rebels, along with their state sponsors Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf nations, are Sunnis. “The terrorist bombing in front of Iranian Embassy in Beirut is inhuman and vicious act perpetrated by Israel and its terror agents,” the spokeswoman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry Marzieh Afkham said. “Tehran will seriously follow up the criminal act with due consideration.” Iran’s ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi said that those who carried out the attacks “were serving the interests of the Zionist entity.” He added a warning: “We will never retreat one fingertip from our positions. We have ideals and principles, and in Syria we are pursuing interests. We are leading the confrontation line for anti-Zionist and anti-arrogance projects in the region.” Syria’s UN Ambassador H.E. Bashar Ja’afari claimed to reporters at UN headquarters in New York that Israel has acted in concert with Saudi Arabia and Qatar to support foreign agents in their launch of terrorist attacks inside of Syria. The latest suicide bombings in Beirut were a continuation of this pattern, he claimed, with absolutely no concrete evidence to back up his accusation.
Deadly twin blasts in Lebanon’s capital Beirut claimed 23 lives, including that of an Iranian diplomat, and injured 146, with an Al Qaeda-aligned group claiming responsibility. Ali Hassan Khalil, Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, said that the toll from the blast, which took place near the Iranian embassy in the suburbs, could rise, Xinhua cited the state-run National News agency (NNA) as saying. Earlier, the NNA said a suicide bomber blew himself up in a parking lot near the embassy at 10.15 a.m. followed by another suicide bomber who blew up a bobby-trapped car near the embassy. A security source estimated that around 100 kg of TNT was used in the explosions. Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ghadanfar Roknabadi and conveyed his condolences over those killed. Roknabadi confirmed Tuesday the killing of the embassy’s cultural attache Sheikh Ibrahim Al Ansari in the explosions.
Palestinian Ambassador Mai Al-Kaila has called on Italy to boycott products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The request was made in responding to journalists’ questions as part of celebrations for the 25th National Palestinian Day, which marks the PLO declaration of Palestinian independence in 1988. ”Italy is a sovereign nation and it is clearly free to do what it wants, but we ask that – in compliance with international law – it refrain from purchasing products made in (Israeli) settlements” in the Palestinian Territories. The celebrations were held at Palazzo Ferrajoli in the Italian capital, with Senate speaker Piero Grasso attending. The Palestinian ambassador said the Israeli government ”is to blame for the failure of the peace processes and for impeding any agreement through the planning of new settlements”.
A Dhaka court revised the death sentence of four among the five convicted in the Saudi Arabia embassy official Khalaf Al Ali murder case. The convict on the run was acquitted while the death sentences of three others were revised to life sentences. The death sentence of one other was upheld. The High Court bench of Justice Md Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo delivered the verdict on Monday morning. In December last year, a lower court sentenced Saiful Islam Mamun, Al Amin, Akbar Ali, Rafiqul Islam and absconding Selim Chowdhury to death. They were convicted of shooting dead Khalaf Al Ali, 45, a diplomatic official, in the Gulshan area on the night of March 5 last year. The High Court upheld the death sentence for Saiful Islam Mamun. Absconding Selim was acquitted while Al Amin, Akbar Ali and Rafiqul Islam were given life sentences. Disappointed with the verdict, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told Dhaka Tribune that the government will appeal against the verdict.
The Ethiopian Police clamped down on protesters outside the Saudi Embassytoday, blocking off routes leading to the building and inspecting photos taken by reporters, according to a report by the Associated Press. The protests come after the government of Saudi Arabia officially began an exercise to expel all illegal immigrant. Earlier in the year the Saudi government issued a directive giving all illegal immigrants 7 months to straighten out their papers—this ‘amnesty’ period expired earlier in the month. At least one Ethiopian national is reported to be dead and several others mistreated as Saudi security agencies try to round up immigrants without proper papers. The first set of Ethiopians repatriates arrived in the country on Wednesday, amid growing fears of increasing mistreatment of Ethiopians in the Middle Eastern kingdom. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government has vowed to stop the violence against her citizens. Last month, Ethiopian officials held a meeting with Saudi diplomats over reports that Ethiopian workers are mistreated by their employees.
A man wearing a knife was recently arrested before the entrance of the Israeli embassy in Brussels, Belgian press reports said. Police and public prosecutor confirmed the reports. The man, a Belgian converted to Islam and who appeared to be mentally unstable, was stopped by security agents and later turned to the Belgian police for questioning. A second man, of Iranian citizenship, was also arrested when he appeared to be monitoring activities around the embassy building located in Uccle, a Brussels municipality. The building houses the embassy to Belgium and the Mission to the EU. After being questioned by police on their possible links with terrorist operations, the two men have been released. Belgian police assured that there was no link between the two arrests but Israeli authorities reportedly expressed concern over the incidents and the release of the two men.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry has summoned Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Addis Ababa demanding explanation over the killing and ill-treatment of Ethiopian citizens in the gulf nation. An Ethiopian national was killed this week by Saudi police in Riyadh as the Kingdom conducts a nationwide crackdown against illegal expatriates who most are from Africa and Asia. Ethiopia has condemned the tough actions taken by the Saudi police. “Ethiopia would like to express its respect for the decision of the Saudi Authorities and the policy of deporting illegal migrants. At the same time, it condemned the killing of an Ethiopian and mistreatment of its citizens residing in Saudi Arabia” said the ministry of foreign affairs in a statement. Following the incident, Ethiopia summoned the Saudi diplomat, Muhammed Ibrahim Alshugairan as a formal protest over the killing of its citizen who allegdly was killed for resisting arrest and trying to grab a police man’s gun. Officials of the Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs have held discussions with the Saudi diplomat, Muhammed Ibrahim Alshugairan, over the issue and on ways how to jointly handle the situation with regard to Ethiopian migrants in Saudi.
Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowes, who managed to trick David Cameron and the International Criminal Court for their show The Revolution Will Be Televised, just couldn’t fool the Israelis. The British television show The Revolution Will Be Televised, airing on BBC Three Sunday, tried to pull a prank on the Israeli Embassy in London but was unsuccessful, the Jewish Chronicle Online reported. While in previous pranks the show’s stars comedians Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowes were able to trick U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and the staff of the International Criminal Court, where they put up wanted posters for Tony Blair and George Bush, they were unable to enter the Israeli embassy, the Jewish Chronicle said. Rubinstein and Prowes tried to enter the embassy in guise of building surveyors equipped with hard hats and uniforms, but the security team guarding the embassy spotted the cameras and wouldn’t let them in, the report in the Chronicle read. “The embassy was much harder to get into than all the other places we tried,” Rubinstein told the Chronicle, adding that the prank was not intended “to make light of the Israel-Palestine problem. We are drawing people’s attention to the issues.” Embassy spokesman Yiftah Curiel was critical of the show’s attempt, telling the Chronicle the embassy was “a sensitive location where terrorist attacks have taken place in the past,” adding that “the use of BBC public funding in order to create the appearance of a security threat at the gates of the Israeli embassy, is highly inappropriate.” On the other hand, the embassy did invite the duo to the embassy Purim party “so they can see what real dressing up is all about.”