Iran has announced the imposition of retaliatory sanctions against a number of European Union (EU) and British individuals and entities.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry announced the countermeasures in a statement on February 21.
The ministry had warned on February 20 that it would retaliate against similar moves taken earlier by the Council of the European Union and the UK against scores of Iranian individuals and entities over what they call the Islamic Republic’s approach towards foreign-backed riots that erupted in some Iranian cities in September.
The ministry’s statement referred to the reciprocal measures as “counteraction” approved by the Islamic Republic’s “relevant authorities” and authorized by the country’s “counter-sanction mechanisms.”
It specified some of the reasons for the enactment of the reciprocal measures as the EU and UK’s “support for terrorism and terrorist groups” and their “incitement to acts of terror and violence against the Iranian people.”
Iran’s intelligence bodies have found footprints of American and other Western spy agencies in the violent riots. The rioters went on a rampage, brutally attacking security officers and causing massive damage to public property. Dozens of people and security personnel were killed as a result of the violence.
The ministry further denounced the bloc and Britain for their “interference in the Islamic Republic’s internal affairs,” their “propagation of falsehood and misinformation about Iran.” It also condemned them for their cooperation with the American sanctions against the country, which amounted to “economic terrorism.”
The statement considered the EU and the UK’s facilitation of acts of terrorism and destruction against the Iranian nation as their “violation of international commitments in the field of fighting terrorism.” It also condemned their collaboration with the anti-Iran sanctions as an “egregious contravention of fundamental principles of human rights that are mentioned in the United Nations Charter.”
According to the ministry, Iran’s reciprocal measures mandate the prohibition of the issuance of visas for those sanctioned and the prohibition of their entry into the Islamic Republic. The measures also order bank accounts and asset freeze against the designated individuals and entities.
The counter-sanctions list features 15 current and former European officials, including France’s Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity, and Equal Opportunities, Isabelle Lonvis-Rome; French Minister Delegate for Industry, Roland Lescure; President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster; Director at Europe Israel Public Affairs, Alex Benjamin;
President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Jamie M. Fly, and head of Germany’s National Command and General Space Operations Division, Major General Michael Traut as well as three German parliamentarians and two European Parliament lawmakers.
It also names 13 European entities, including the European Coalition for Israel, the Center for Information and Documentation Israel, Christians for Israel, the Eurospike arms company, and six German military industry companies.
The list further features eight British individuals, including Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations within the Metropolitan Police Service, Matthew Jonathan Jukes; member of the Board of Directors at The Jewish Chronicle, Alan Jacob, and six military officials. (PressTV.ir)
Bulgaria: 43 migrants found in van days after 18 found dead
SOFIA, Bulgaria—Bulgarian police discovered 43 migrants, including 10 children, hidden in a van in the West of the country, officials said Feb. 20, just days after authorities found the bodies of 18 migrants concealed in a lumber truck.
Prosecutor Natalia Nikolova said the 43 migrants appear to be in good health, despite being squeezed into a tight space. She didn’t provide the migrants’ nationalities.
Recently, the bodies of 18 migrants were found suffocated inside a secret compartment under a load of lumber on an abandoned truck near Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. Another 34 migrants on the truck survived the ordeal but were dehydrated, wet and frostbitten. All were Afghans who had entered Bulgaria from Turkey, hoping to reach Western Europe, authorities said.
Borislav Sarafov, director of Bulgaria’s National Investigation Service called the incident the country’s deadliest involving migrants. He said the people were “pressed against each other like in a tin can” which had caused their slow and painful deaths, calling the incident “an extraordinary human tragedy.”
He added that the migrants perished 10-12 hours before the truck was found and that the smugglers had fled the scene after they noticed the deaths.
Bulgarian authorities have charged five suspects with involuntary manslaughter, participation in a criminal organization and people trafficking. They could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The alleged ringleader is in police custody in Greece where authorities have yet to decide on his extradition.
The suspects belong to an organized crime ring smuggling migrants from the border with Turkey to the Bulgaria-Serbia border, Sarafov said. Passengers paid 5,000-7,000 euros each, he said.
Bulgaria, a Balkan country of seven million and the poorest member of the European Union, is located on a major route for migrants from the Middle East and Afghanistan seeking to enter Europe from Turkey. Most of them are using Bulgaria as a transit corridor on their way westward. (AP)
African Union says Israel’s observer status suspended, was not invited to recent summit
The African Union (AU) says Israel’s observer status at the 55-nation bloc has been suspended and the regime was not invited to the union’s recent summit from which its delegation was kicked out.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, made the remarks on Feb. 19, a day after an Israeli delegation was forced out of the opening ceremony of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa.
Faki had granted the Israeli regime the status in 2021, sparking an outcry across the pan-African bloc and vehement protests from key members, Algeria and South Africa.
As a result, last year’s AU summit suspended a debate on whether to withdraw the accreditation of Israel, and established a committee of heads of state to address the issue.
“That means that the [observer] status [of Israel] is suspended until such time as this committee can deliberate … and so we did not invite Israeli officials to our summit,” Faki said, adding that an investigation was being conducted.
The Israeli regime has shown a fiery reaction to the Feb. 18 incident that has gone viral across the social media showing security guards approaching the Israeli delegates and escorting them out after several minutes of argument.
The regime accused what it called a “small number of extremist states like Algeria and South Africa” of being behind the move.
South Africa, however, has roundly rejected the claim, saying Tel Aviv’s application for observer status at the AU has not been decided upon by the bloc.
“Until the AU takes a decision on whether to grant Israel observer status,” it cannot have the regime “sitting and observing,” Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy in South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told Reuters.
“So, it’s not about South Africa or Algeria, it’s an issue of principle,” he added. (PressTV.ir)