Iran - New jet-powered version of Shahed drones used by Russia in Ukraine attacks unveiled by Iran

Protesters condemn Iran prisoner swap as Raisi speaks to UN

The Independent

23-09-19 23:30

Protesters gathered outside the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday to call for the arrest of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi over alleged human rights abuses. The US government typically ensures that visiting heads of authoritarian regimes can address the UN without fear of arrest. However, Raisi’s address coincided with the release of seven Americans from Iranian custody after being held on charges the US government said were false. The prisoner swap, which saw $6bn in funds released to Iran, has been criticised by opponents who argue that the money will bolster the authoritarian government.
Saudi Arabia reaffirms its commitment to promoting dialogue among all parties in Yemen -defence minister


23-09-19 23:16

Saudi Arabia's defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, has reaffirmed the kingdom's commitment to promoting dialogue among all warring parties in Yemen. This comes after the Houthi envoys left Riyadh following a five-day round of talks with Saudi officials. Progress has been made on key issues such as a timeline for foreign troops exiting Yemen and a mechanism for paying public wages. The sides are expected to hold further talks after consultations. The conflict in Yemen, which began in 2014, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and left 80% of the population dependent on humanitarian aid. The talks are focused on reopening Houthi-controlled ports and Sanaa airport, as well as rebuilding efforts and a timeline for foreign forces to leave Yemen.
Trudeau’s ‘credible allegations’ against India part of another sordid Canadian chapter in a decades-old conflict

The Toronto Star

23-09-19 23:12

The death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh activist from Canada, has sparked tensions between India and Canada. Indian authorities considered Nijjar to be the head of a listed terrorist group and wanted him for involvement in various crimes, including the 2021 murder of a Hindu priest in India. However, in Canada, Nijjar was a free man until his untimely death on June 18. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suggested that the Indian state may be behind Nijjar’s killing, leading to anger and surprise in India. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has denied any involvement in Nijjar’s death. However, the Indian government’s alleged involvement in an extraterritorial killing would place India alongside countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The Indian intelligence officer expelled from Canada in response to the incident was identified as the Canadian station chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency. The RAW was created in the late 1960s and has focused on Pakistan, as well as Sikh militants, over the years.
Neither Biden nor Netanyahu Can Afford a Bad Meeting


23-09-19 22:14

When U.S. President Joe Biden sits down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly opening, their private thoughts might not exactly reflect their public talking points.

“I wish Trump were president,” Netanyahu might be thinking.

“I can’t believe this guy’s still around,” Biden may muse. “Can’t Israel come up with a better prime minister?” Aaron David Miller Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy. More >

Smiles and warm words will almost certainly be on display. But those gestures will mask a growing divergence between a staunchly pro-Israel U.S. president and an Israeli prime minister. The latter is the longest serving in the country’s history, who is on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust and who has become desperate to remain in power even at the expense of presiding over the most extreme and fundamentalist government in Israel’s history.

Nonetheless, Biden—driven by his own personal regard for Israel, domestic politics, and matters of state—isn’t prepared to go to war with Netanyahu or to fully embrace him. Indeed, Biden is the only president since Jimmy Carter who has not met an Israeli prime minister at the White House during an Israeli leader’s first year. A White House meeting might be possible by the year’s end if the judicial overhaul Netanyahu is pursuing goes into a deep freeze or if the Biden administration’s megadeal normalizing Israeli-Saudi relations—requiring Netanyahu’s close cooperation and concessions—moves forward.

For the Biden administration, after a rather easy relationship with the Bennett–Lapid rotational Israeli government, the inauguration of Netanyahu’s government in December was an unwelcome surprise. The Bennett–Lapid government— composed of parties from the right to the left, including the participation of an Israeli Arab party formally within the government—was risk-averse and cautious. Now, the new Netanyahu government is risk-ready in the extreme.

Netanyahu put together a coalition of right-wing religious Zionists and ultra-Orthodox parties, enabling him to return to power and perhaps find a way to undermine or even cancel his ongoing trial. His government—largely driven by the agendas of three right-wing extremist ministers—set into motion a series of radical policies designed to create and ensure permanent Israeli control of the West Bank and Jerusalem. On the domestic side, the coalition aimed to restructure the balance between the government and the judiciary, effectively ending any judicial oversight and an independent judiciary.

The threat to the judicial system produced the largest, most organized, and most sustained protests—now in their eighth month—in the history of Israel. Once seen as a cautious and careful reader of public opinion, Netanyahu now seems unchained, desperate, and hostage to a government he is responsibile for creating. Polls indicate that if elections were held today, Netanyahu could not form a government. He knows he has little choice but to go with the radicals—at least for now.

The last thing the Biden administration needed—given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a muscular China, and a busy legislative agenda—was a disruptive Israeli government, serious violence in the West Bank, or a major crisis with Iran on the nuclear issue. In several rare, public interventions and at least one more pointed call with the prime minister, Biden spoke out in favor of the common democratic values that bound Israel and the United States, in an implicit criticism of the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. But by and large, the president allowed the Israelis in the streets to do the walking and the talking on what was seen to be a domestic issue.

Biden isn’t looking for a fight with Netanyahu but isn’t prepared to embrace him either. Three reasons stand out.

First, the president’s persona. The model here for Biden isn’t Barack Obama but Bill Clinton. Support—even love—of Israel is deeply embedded in Biden’s emotional DNA. His first instinct isn’t to confront Netanyahu but to find a way to work with him.

Second is domestic politics. Presidents don’t like to fight with Israeli prime ministers. It’s distracting, messy, awkward, and potentially politically costly. The Republican Party has set itself up as the Israel-Right-or-Wrong Party and is eager to paint Biden as anti-Israel. This is the last place the president wishes to be, especially entering what will likely be a close election running against a former president who styles himself as the most pro-Israel president ever.

And finally there’s policy. Netanyahu stands at the center on two issues: the Iran nuclear issue and Israel–Saudi Arabia normalization. One is potential crisis, and the other a major opportunity. And Biden needs Netanyahu’s cooperation on both.

All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion. Despite what divides them, neither Biden nor Netanyahu can afford a bad meeting. Netanyahu will press Biden on toughening U.S. policy on Iran, and Biden will look for Israeli concessions on the Palestinian issue that will help him sell a Saudi deal. Biden will also remind Netanyahu that his judicial overhaul needs to find a compromise solution, lest it impact the shared democratic values that bind the two countries together.

But all of this is largely performative. The readouts of the meeting may differ slightly, with the Israeli leader putting out a warmer, more effusive to tone. But no one will be fooled. Biden is increasingly frustrated and annoyed with Netanyahu, but the U.S.–Israel relationship is too big and important to fail. In the end, it seems Biden can’t live with Netanyahu, but he can’t live without him either.

Lazio goalkeeper scores late to earn draw. Barca, Man City and PSG start Champions League with wins

Associated Press

23-09-19 22:05

Barcelona, Manchester City, and Paris Saint Germain all won their opening matches in the Champions League. Barcelona's João Félix, Manchester City's Julián Álvarez, and Paris Saint Germain's Kylian Mbappé were among the goal scorers. The most dramatic moment of the night came in Rome, where Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel scored a header in the fifth minute of injury time to secure a 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid. This marked the first time since 2002-03 that the Champions League group stage began without Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Saudi Arabia praises ‘positive results’ after Yemen’s Houthi rebels visit kingdom for peace talks

Associated Press

23-09-20 02:27

Saudi Arabia has praised the positive results of negotiations with Yemen’s Houthi rebels that took place in the kingdom. While few details were released, the talks represented the latest attempt by Saudi Arabia to end the years-long coalition war that it launched on Yemen. The conflict became enmeshed in a wider regional proxy war with Saudi Arabia’s long-time rival, Iran, with which Riyadh reached a détente earlier this year. The US has also supported efforts to end the war, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that there is now an opportunity to chart a path towards peace.
South Korea must stay grounded after thrashing Kuwait, says coach


23-09-20 02:18

South Korea's men's football team got off to a strong start in their bid for a third consecutive gold medal at the Asian Games with a 9-0 victory over Kuwait. However, coach Hwang Sun-hong is not allowing his players to become complacent and is focusing on the challenging matches ahead. South Korea will face tougher competition from teams like Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and hosts China. They could also potentially face North Korea in the last 16. Hwang emphasized the need for his team to work even harder and not let the big win against Kuwait affect their performance in future matches. South Korea's other Group E rivals, Thailand and Bahrain, drew 1-1 in their match. The team will also have additional attacking options with the arrival of Lee Kang-in from France. The opening ceremony for the Asian Games is scheduled for Saturday.
Trump ex-aide claims he wrote ‘to-do lists’ on classified documents

The Independent

23-09-20 08:37

Former President Donald Trump allegedly tried to silence a former aide who knew about boxes of classified documents he kept at Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, according to a report by ABC News. Molly Michael, who worked as an assistant to Trump at the White House and after he left office, reportedly told federal investigators that he told her to stay quiet when he learned they wanted to speak to her. Trump denied the claims, with a spokesperson stating that he "did nothing wrong." It is also reported that Trump responded to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's challenge during his speech at the UN General Assembly to reveal his plans to end Russia's war with Ukraine in a single day by joining in the far-right outrage over the US's spending on Ukraine.
Ukraine latest: Zelenskyy blasts Russia for abusing U.N. veto power

Nikkei Asia

23-09-21 02:26

The war in Ukraine continues to escalate as both sides intensify attacks to gain control of contested regions. On September 21, Russian anti-aircraft units destroyed 19 Ukrainian drones over the Black Sea, Crimea, and other parts of Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for United Nations reform to stop Russia's abuse of its veto power and urged world leaders to stand united against Russia's invasion. In addition, Ukraine appealed to three neighboring European Union countries to engage in "constructive dialogue" to end a dispute over agricultural trade. Meanwhile, Russia's President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation to visit China in October during the Belt and Road summit.
Irish border rules challenged by migrant charity


23-09-21 05:48

A migrant charity is urging the Irish government to review rules around freedom of movement within the Common Travel Area (CTA) for migrants. UK and Irish citizens can travel freely between the two countries under the CTA, but this does not extend to migrants living in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The charity argues that this policy is discriminatory and is leading a delegation to Dublin to challenge the border legislation. The Irish Department of Justice has said that visa requirements are “under review”.
Syria's Assad arrives in China for opening event of Asian Games


23-09-21 05:45

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has arrived in China for his first visit to the country since 2004, as he works to end more than a decade of diplomatic isolation. Assad will attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games and lead a delegation for a series of meetings in several Chinese cities, including a summit with President Xi Jinping. China's association with the Syrian leader should add legitimacy to Syria's attempts to return to the world stage. Syria joined China's Belt and Road Initiative in 2022 and was readmitted to the Arab League in May.
Saudi-Israel deal getting closer, prince says


23-09-21 12:44

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that the country is getting closer to normalizing ties with Israel. In a rare interview with Fox News, bin Salman stressed the importance of solving the Palestinian issue as part of the negotiation process. The Wall Street Journal reported that Israeli and US officials were working on a plan that could see Saudi Arabia openly enriching uranium, sparking concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation in the region. Saudi Arabia is seeking major military support from the US, cooperation in establishing its own civilian nuclear program, and significant Israeli concessions to the Palestinians in exchange for normalizing ties with Israel.
Don’t be surprised if Xi is a no-show at US Apec summit

South China Morning Post

23-09-21 12:30

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's recent speech on American foreign policy, titled "The Power and Purpose of American Diplomacy in a New Era," has been described as idealistic and self-righteous. Blinken declared the end of the post-Cold War period and highlighted Russia and China as the most immediate threats to the international order. His speech also warned against dangers posed by elected leaders who exploit resentments and stoke fears. The article suggests that Blinken's speech is consistent with President Joe Biden's views and does not bode well for improved Sino-US relations.
China has silently taken over South America


23-09-21 17:00

China has shown its support for the developing world at the recent G77+China summit in Havana. The conference, attended by more than 100 countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Nicaragua, called for a new world order where China leads and the US follows. China’s interest in the meeting is significant, given that President Xi Jinping did not attend the recent G20 summit in New Delhi. China has also upgraded its relationship with Venezuela to an “all-weather strategic partnership,” and announced plans to build a military facility in Cuba.
Ukraine latest: Russia slaps 'temporary' ban on diesel, gasoline exports

Nikkei Asia

23-09-21 16:51

Russia has imposed temporary restrictions on the export of diesel and gasoline as global oil prices rise. The move is expected to increase diesel prices in Europe. Russia is one of the largest exporters of diesel fuel. The export curbs are intended to reduce fuel prices in the Russian market. Meanwhile, the prime minister of Poland has said that his country will no longer transfer weapons to Ukraine and is instead arming itself. Poland has already supplied Ukraine with tanks and fighter jets and has little more to offer.

Japan is planning its first summit meeting with the five countries of Central Asia in 2024. This move is aimed at strengthening ties with the resource-rich region that China has also been courting. The five countries of Central Asia are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, all of which are rich in oil, natural gas, and gold. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa confirmed the plans during a meeting with Kazakh Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Iranian women face 10 years in jail for inappropriate dress after ‘hijab bill’ approved


23-09-21 16:34

Iran's parliament has passed "draconian" new legislation imposing harsher penalties on women who do not follow the country's conservative dress code. The "hijab bill" sets out regulations around the wearing of clothing with penalties of up to 10 years in prison for violations. The bill also includes penalties for celebrities and businesses who do not comply. The bill is currently awaiting approval from Iran's Guardian Council. Critics have said the legislation could constitute "gender apartheid".
Israel strikes alleged Syrian military structures. It says the buildings violated a 1974 cease-fire

The Toronto Star

23-09-21 16:09

Israeli tanks have targeted two structures in Syria that the Israeli army said violated a 1974 ceasefire between the two countries. The structures were being used by the Syrian military, which constitutes a “clear violation” of the agreement, according to the Israeli army. The army did not detail the nature of the structures or when they were built. The 1974 ceasefire ended the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and a UN peacekeeping force has been stationed in the separation zone ever since.
Saudi Arabia to enrich own uranium under nuclear deal with US and Israel


23-09-21 16:00

Israel is reportedly working with the US on plans to help Saudi Arabia enrich uranium, as part of a broader deal to normalise relations between the two countries. The proposal would make Saudi Arabia the second Middle Eastern country, after Iran, to openly enrich uranium. The plan has caused controversy in Israel, with opposition leaders warning against nuclear proliferation in the region. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has given positive signals about normalisation with Israel, but stressed that progress would also require steps towards resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Ukraine latest: Zelenskyy urges U.S. to keep aid flowing

Nikkei Asia

23-09-21 20:13

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged US congressional leaders to continue providing aid to Ukraine, as some Republican lawmakers call for limitations on further assistance. Zelenskyy met with Senate and House leaders in Washington ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden. He emphasized the importance of air defense and urged unity in the face of Russian aggression. In a separate meeting with senators, Zelenskyy acknowledged concerns about the transparency and accountability of US aid money and stressed the importance of oversight. The Biden administration requested an additional $24 billion in aid for Ukraine in August, which is currently caught up in a broader fight over the federal budget.
Iran stops families marking protesters' deaths


23-09-21 19:50

The families of those killed in Iran's protests last year have said that authorities have prevented them from holding memorials on the anniversaries of their deaths. Nasrin Shakarami, whose daughter Nika was killed, said she was forced to cancel a vigil after being warned she would be arrested if she attended. Shakarami's daughter was filmed at a protest in Tehran setting fire to her headscarf before being chased by police. Hundreds of people have been killed in a violent crackdown since the protests began last year.