Iran has no proxies but it has friends, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, a day after US President Donald Trump alleged Tehran or its “proxies” planned a sneak attack on US targets in Iraq.
“Don’t be misled by usual warmongers, AGAIN, @realDonaldTrump: Iran has FRIENDS: No one can have MILLIONS of proxies. Unlike the US – which surreptitiously lies, cheats & assassinates – Iran only acts in self-defence,” tweeted Zarif on Thursday.
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“Iran starts no wars, but teaches lessons to those who do.”
Don’t be mislead by usual warmongers, AGAIN, @realDonaldTrump: Iran has FRIENDS: No one can have MILLIONS of”proxies” Unlike the US—which surreptitiously lies, cheats & assassinates—Iran only acts in self-defense. Openly Iran starts no wars, but teaches lessons to those who do
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 2, 2020
Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday that Iran is planning a “sneak attack” on US troops or “assets” in Iraq, warning the country will pay a “heavy price” if this happens.
The president made the abrupt announcement amid lingering tensions between the two countries over past confrontations, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2020
Trump’s tweet coincided with US officials saying intelligence suggested that Iran or its Iraq-based proxies were planning an attack on US personal in the country, reported the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
“We’ve been seeing something brewing and developing pretty seriously,” an unnamed US official told the Journal, adding that intelligence has mounted over a two-week period. “We expect something soon.”
The US official said he expected the potential attack to be more menacing than previous rocket attacks.
Another American official told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity that intelligence about a potential Iran-backed attack in Iraq suggested it would likely be a deniable attack. The official did not disclose intelligence on the timing or precise locations of any attack.
Meanwhile, senior Democrats have advised Trump against attacking Iran without consulting Congress. In a letter on March 27, they called on the US president to discuss any potential military action overseas with lawmakers.
News reports suggest the US deployed Patriot air defence systems to an Iraqi military base as a precaution against attacks by Iran-backed armed groups. One of the Patriot batteries was reportedly deployed to the Ain al-Asad facility.
While the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers offered a period of detente, relations have deteriorated with Trump’s decision nearly two years ago to abandon that multilateral agreement and reimpose US sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Tensions worsened after a January 3 US drone attack in Iraq killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, as well as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who founded Iraq’s Shia Kataib Hezbollah militia after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on Iraq’s Ain al-Asad base where US forces were stationed on January 8. No US troops were killed or faced immediate bodily injury, but more than 100 were later diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
The US has blamed Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah for a March 11 rocket attack that killed two American troops and a 26-year-old British soldier in Iraq and, a day later, carried out air raids against its fighters in Iraq.
Phillip Smyth, an analyst who tracks Shia militias at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think-tank, said he believed Trump’s warning was prompted by the emergence of the League of the Revolutionaries, a group he said was formed to give Kataib Hezbollah deniability to attack US targets.
US denounces arrest of Hong Kong media mogul |NationalTribune.com
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denounced China for the arrest of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who he called a “patriot”, and said the move indicated that Beijing is unlikely to change its position on the financial hub. Lai’s arrest under a sweeping new security law comes amid Beijing’s crackdown against pro-democracy…
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denounced China for the arrest of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who he called a “patriot”, and said the move indicated that Beijing is unlikely to change its position on the financial hub.
Lai’s arrest under a sweeping new security law comes amid Beijing’s crackdown against pro-democracy opposition in the city and further stokes concerns about media and other freedoms promised when it returned to China in 1997.
China imposed the law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
“Lai was nothing more than a patriot who wanted good things for the people of Hong Kong,” Pompeo told the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“I’m not optimistic given what we saw this morning … that they’re going to change what they’re doing,” he added, referring to the Chinese government.
Aside from Lai, two of his sides were also arrested, as well as a freelance television producer and a member of the pro-democracy movement, Agnes Chow. Lai’s media company, including his newspaper, Apple Daily, was also raided.
Tensions between the world’s top two economies have been increasing daily.
Later on Monday, Pompeo took a fresh swipe at Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok, repeating that it presented a national security threat to Americans due to what he said was the obligation of all such companies to the Chinese Communist Party.
“The United States is aware that these companies are being used for China’s national security purposes,” Pompeo said in an interview on Newsmax, without offering concrete evidence of such use.
President Donald Trump has unveiled sweeping bans on US transactions with the Chinese owners of TikTok and messaging app WeChat.
Pompeo said the US would take action to ensure that Hong Kong is treated as an extension of China after Beijing passed its national security legislation in June, prompting Washington to end the territory’s special status.
He said he feared that Hong Kong might have had its last democratic election, in an apparent reference to 2019’s lower-level district council elections.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last month postponed a September 6 election for seats in the city legislature for a year because of a spike in novel coronavirus cases. The US said it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy in the territory.
Since then, Lam and several Hong Kong officials have been targeted with US sanctions. In response, China slapped sanctions against US officials, including two senators: Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
Libya denounces Egypt’s ‘will not stand idle’ threats |NationalTribune.com
Libya has condemned the Egyptian president for recent comments suggesting Cairo “will not stand idle” against threats to national security and could arm Libyan tribes against the internationally recognised government. During a meeting in Cairo with tribal leaders from the eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle in…
Libya has condemned the Egyptian president for recent comments suggesting Cairo “will not stand idle” against threats to national security and could arm Libyan tribes against the internationally recognised government.
During a meeting in Cairo with tribal leaders from the eastern city of Benghazi on Thursday, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Egypt “will not stand idle in the face of any moves that pose a direct threat to the national security not only of Egypt but also that of Libya” and the region, according to a presidency statement.
In response, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Foreign Ministry spokesperson criticised the statement as “blatant interference in Libyan internal affairs”.
“El-Sisi’s talk is a repeat of his previous statements, which is a blatant interference in Libyan affairs,” Mohammed Al-Qablawi told Al Jazeera, adding that el-Sisi’s speech was “not aimed at peace as he said, but it is he who is fueling the [Libyan] conflict.”
The Egyptian president’s comments came days after the eastern-based Libyan parliament, aligned with renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, gave in-principle support to a threatened Egyptian military intervention in the country.
In June, el-Sisi suggested that Cairo could launch “external military missions” into Libya, saying “any direct intervention in Libya has already become legitimate internationally”.
He threatened to send in his army if GNA forces captured Sirte, located more than 800km (500 miles) from the Egyptian border.
The GNA, which has been pushing to take the strategic city from Haftar, denounced Sisi’s statements as a “declaration of war”.
Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.
Since 2014, it has been split between rival factions based in Tripoli and in the east, in a sometimes-chaotic war that has drawn in outside powers and a flood of foreign arms and mercenaries.
Haftar is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia, while the GNA is backed by Turkey.
Haftar’s eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army has been on the back foot after Turkish support helped the GNA turn back his 14-month assault on the capital, Tripoli.
In June, Cairo proposed a peace initiative calling for a ceasefire, withdrawal of mercenaries and disbanding militias in the neighbouring country.
The GNA and Ankara dismissed the plan, which el-Sisi unveiled with Haftar at his side.
Earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the United Nations Security Council that the conflict in Libya has entered a new phase “with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels”.
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