Qassemi: Iran’s presence in Syria at Damascus’ request
Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Monday emphasized that Iran’s presence in Syria is at the request of the Arab country, saying that no one can force Tehran to do something.
Speaking to reporters during his weekly press conference, Qassemi noted that Iran’s goal of presence in Syria is fighting terrorism, stressing that as long as the threat of terrorism exists and the Syrian government demands, Iran would continue to help the country, IRNA reported.
“Those who entered Syria without the permission of the Syrian government are the ones who must leave the country.”
“No one can force Tehran to do something, because Iran has its own independent policies, the spokesman said in response to a question about reports that Russia has urged Iran to leave Syria, which was later denied by Moscow.
Russia and Iran have been supporting the Arab country in its fight against terrorist groups during past seven years.
Ties with Baghdad after polls
Qassemi also hailed the growing relations between Tehran and Baghdad and expressed optimism that the ties would further develop with the formation of a new government in the Arab country after the recent parliamentary polls, Tasnim News Agency reported.
“Given the good relations with Iraq, we will not have a problem with this country’s (future) government,” he said, adding, “I am optimistic about the (recent) elections and the formation of the government…”
“We regard Iraq as an independent country and respect the votes of the Iraqi people, and anyone who takes the helm of the government (in Iraq), we will have no problem...” the spokesman stated.
On May 12, Iraqis voted in the first parliamentary election since the country declared victory over the Daesh terrorist group at the end of 2017.
The Iranian official also dismissed accusations that Iran has been helping a Taliban push in an Afghan province bordering Iran, saying the claim is instigated by US commanders who try to divert public opinion from the real cause of the flare-up in violence, Press TV reported.
Fighting has continued in Farah Province on the border with Iran where the insurgents came close to overrunning the provincial capital, prompting its police chief to echo US claims that Iran was supporting the Taliban.
“The Taliban’s attack on Afghan cities and their recapture by government forces is not a new thing and is not related to good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Qassemi said.
Taliban militants with heavy weapons and night-vision equipment fought their way close to the center of the western city of Farah last week.
Local residents had for months warned that the city was vulnerable and the attack threatened a repeat of the Taliban’s capture of the northern city of Kunduz in 2015.
Taliban fighters on Sunday closed in on another district in the Afghan Province of Ghazni, which is far from the Iranian border.
On Saturday, top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson visited Farah. Local officials complain about the failure to protect the city and the province, where the Taliban control many areas.
Qassemi said, “US commanders who have been unable to establish security in Afghanistan after years of massive military presence and shedding the blood of thousands of innocent people are trying to deflect the public opinion of Afghanistan from the real reasons behind the perpetuation of the war by accusing the Islamic Republic of supporting the Taliban.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has been standing for nearly four decades alongside the friendly and brotherly government and people of Afghanistan to defend their sovereignty and independence, and the statements made to satisfy outsiders and invaders have no congruity with these friendly relations,” he added.
Iran copper oncentrate production up
Domestic Economy Desk
Iran produced 107,795 tons of copper concentrate during March 21-April 20, which indicates a growth of 15 percent compared to the figure for the same month last year which was 94,116 tons.
A report released by Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) on Monday noted that Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex and Meyduk Plant produced 24,761 tons of anode copper and 14,211 tons of copper cathode during the one-month period.
The report added that Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex produced 357 tons of molybdenum concentrate during the period while 131 tons of molybdenum concentrate were produced in Sungun Complex.
Iran holds an estimated four billion tons of copper reserves, according to Geological Survey of Iran.
Iran’s rich deposits of zinc, copper, gold and other minerals are tempting for international investors.
IMIDRO has announced that the mining sector needed $20 billion in investment by 2025.
Although mineral development may take years, Iran’s bounty and low energy costs will eventually turn it into a substantial player in the global metals industry, analysts say.
Iran has 68 types of minerals, including iron ore, coal, gold and copper with total reserves of 43 billion tons.
Iran’s envoy to China urges Beijing to help safeguard nuclear deal
Iran called on China to help safeguard the nuclear deal it reached with other major world powers, saying Tehran will resort to “other options” if its interests are threatened by US sanctions.
In in an interview with the South China Morning Post last published on Monday, Iran’s Ambassador to China Ali Asghar Khaji said Beijing had a positive role to play in upholding the deal, and should boost economic cooperation with Tehran.
He also said the Iranian foreign minister chose Beijing as his first stop on a whirlwind diplomatic tour last week because of China’s “importance” to Iran.
“We expect other remaining members of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), including China, to help implement and continue this deal, and fulfill their commitment and obligations according to this deal,” Khaji said, referring to the plan reached in 2015 that will see Iran significantly reduce its uranium stockpile by 2030 in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
“If we could gain these rights and benefits from this deal we will stay in it. If these Iranian rights were not satisfied, and our interests were not reached, we will think about other options,” he said, without specifying what the other options were.
The nuclear deal reached between Iran, Germany and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States – was once seen as a consequential accord that would reshape Middle East politics.
But US President Donald Trump called the agreement “a horrible, one-sided deal” and announced the US would withdraw, leaving Iran vulnerable to a new wave of sanctions, while companies with business ties to Tehran may face US penalties.
Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met his counterparts from China and Russia, as well as Britain, France, Germany and the European Union, in a bid to rescue the deal. Despite Washington’s withdrawal, all the other signatory nations have vowed to keep the pact alive.
“So with this positive atmosphere, we believe that, and we hope that, we can continue the JCPOA without the United States,” Khaji said.
Khaji said Zarif “intentionally” made Beijing his first destination on the trip, before Moscow and Brussels, because China is Iran’s top trading partner, the top oil and non-oil buyer, as well as a major investor.
“This decision was made because of the importance of China for us,” he said.
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Venezuela’s Maduro reelected amid outcry over vote
Venezuela’s leftist President Nicolas Maduro won a new six-year term on Sunday, but his main rivals disavowed the election alleging massive irregularities.
Venezuela’s election board said he took 5.8 million votes, versus 1.8 million for his closest challenger Henri Falcon, a former governor who broke with an opposition boycott to stand, Reuters reported.
“They underestimated me,” Maduro told cheering supporters on a stage outside Miraflores presidential palace in downtown Caracas as fireworks sounded and confetti fell on the crowd.
Victory for the 55-year-old former bus driver, who replaced Hugo Chavez after his death from cancer in 2013, may trigger a new round of western sanctions against the socialist government as it grapples with a ruinous economic crisis.
Turnout at the election was just 46.1 percent, the election board said, way down from the 80 percent registered at the last presidential vote in 2013. The opposition said that figure was inflated, putting participation at nearer 30 percent.
“The process undoubtedly lacks legitimacy and as such we do not recognize it,” said Falcon, a 56-year-old former state governor, looking downcast.
Maduro had welcomed Falcon’s candidacy, which gave some legitimacy to a process critics at home and around the world had condemned in advance.
Falcon’s quick rejection of Sunday’s election, and call for a new vote, was therefore a blow to the government.
Falcon, a former member of the Socialist Party who went over to the opposition in 2010, said he was outraged at the government’s placing of nearly 13,000 pro-government stands called “red spots” close to polling stations nationwide.
A third presidential candidate, evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci, followed Falcon in slamming irregularities during Sunday’s vote and calling for a new election.
Maduro benefited on Sunday not just from the opposition boycott but also from a ban on his two most popular rivals and the liberal use of state resources in his campaign.
His tally, however, fell short of the 10 million votes he had said throughout the campaign he wanted to win.
Maduro, the self-described “son” of Chavez, says he is battling an “imperialist” plot to crush socialism and take over Venezuela’s oil. Opponents say he has destroyed a once-wealthy economy and ruthlessly crushed dissent.
Many Venezuelans criticize Maduro for economic hardships and the opposition for its dysfunctional splits.
Reeling from a fifth year of recession, falling oil production and US sanctions, Venezuela is seeing growing levels of malnutrition and hyperinflation, and mass migration.
Maduro faces a Herculean task to turn around the moribund economy, with the bolivar currency down 99 percent in the past year and inflation at an annual 14,000 percent, according to the National Assembly.
MP: US bid to build int’l consensus on Iran doomed to failure
By Sadeq Dehqan
Iran’s ‘hasty’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal can harm national interests and bring about consequences, Jalal Mirzaei, a member of the Energy Commission of the Iranian Parliament said in an interview with Iran Daily.
On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced he is quitting the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was signed between Tehran and the P5+1 group of world powers — the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany — in 2015.
While Trump supporters praised him for abandoning the accord, other signatories to the JCPOA, particularly the European ones, which are among Washington’s closest allies in the West, condemned his move. In Iran, opponents of the government of President Hassan Rouhani demanded that the Islamic Republic reciprocate Trump’s decision and abandon the deal.
“Some domestic opponents have hastily called for leaving the deal after the US walked away from it. This is while these opponents do not think about the national interests and the harms that this sort of withdrawal can cause,” Mirzaei said.
The lawmaker said the Rouhani government is still dealing with ‘broadsides’ of the deal’s opponents inside the country.
“Some opponents repeatedly say Iran must quit the JCPOA. Let’s imagine that we left the agreement, then what would happen if US sanctions became effective and an international consensus was built on our country?”
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Syria says capital ‘completely secure’, Daesh ousted
Syria’s Army said Monday it was in full control of the capital Damascus and its outskirts after ousting the Daesh terror group, marking a major milestone in the seven-year war.
“The Syrian Army announces today that Damascus, its outskirts and surrounding towns are completely secure,” it said in a statement carried on official media.
The development came after troops had captured a key southern portion of Damascus from Daesh, the statement said, including the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk and the adjacent district of Hajar al-Aswad.
“The wheel of our progress on the battlefield will not stop until all Syrian land is purified,” it added.
The gains by President Bashar Assad’s troops bring greater Damascus — including its far-flung suburbs — fully under government control for the first time since the war began in 2011.
“Damascus and its surroundings are completely secure,” Gen. Ali Mayhoub said
The fighting in southern Damascus has left scores of dead on both sides and caused massive destruction in the Yarmouk camp, which was a built-up residential area, and its surroundings.
The army’s announcement came hours after saw hundreds of Daesh terrorists and their relatives quit Yarmuk, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The government said a brief cease-fire had allowed one convoy of women and children to leave the pocket in southern Damascus.
The observatory said Monday that a new batch of terrorists and their families left late Sunday, heading east toward the Syrian desert. It added that Daesh terrorists have been setting their offices and vehicles on fire so that government forces would not be able to seize equipment or documents belonging to the terror group. Government troops and allied Palestinian militiamen have fought since April 19 to recapture the area. Since last year, Syria’s government has cleared swathes of territory around Damascus from its armed opponents through a blend of military pressure and evacuation deals.
Trump weighing political risks of North Korea meeting
President Donald Trump is becoming increasingly worried about the political risks of the US-North Korea summit in Singapore next month, the US administration and foreign officials told The New York Times.
The officials told the Times that the president is becoming concerned that the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “could turn into a political embarrassment” if negotiations to rid the North of its nuclear capabilities fall through and that he “has begun pressing his aides and allies” as to whether he should proceed. However, the Times reports that there is no indication that Trump is considering pulling out of the Singapore summit.
Aides told the Times they’re also concerned with the president’s lack of knowledge about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Monday dismissed reports suggesting that Trump is thinking of backing out of the North Korea talks.
“I don’t think the president gets cold feet about anything. So I think, as the president has said, right now it’s still on. If that changes, you’ll find out about it,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House.
Trump’s newly reported hesitation came after North Korea released statements last week rejecting the US call for immediate nuclear disarmament. Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton outlined some of their potential bargaining chips – building an energy grid, supplementing agriculture and developing infrastructure.
After the statements by North Korea, administration aides told CNN last week that US officials largely determined that Kim was posturing ahead of talks and that they didn’t believe the meeting is in real jeopardy. But they expected the warnings, which threaten to chill US-North Korea relations ahead of the talks, to continue in the weeks ahead.
Asked about North Korea’s threats to cancel the summit, Trump said on Wednesday that he hadn’t received any information that would put the talks in jeopardy.
On Sunday, Trump held a call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. South Korean officials said in a statement that the two leaders spoke about the North’s recent statements.
Officials speculated to the Times that the pre-arrival call “was a sign of Mr. Trump’s discomfort.”
Moon and Trump are set to meet today in Washington before Kim meets with Trump on June 12 in Singapore.
A historic inter-Korean summit in late April had raised hopes of reconciliation.
But following US-South Korean air combat drills known as Max Thunder, North Korea’s chief negotiator Ri Son-gwon said on Thursday it would not hold talks with South Korea unless their demands were met.
It came a day after it threatened to pull out of the summit with the United States.
Nadal back on top ahead of French Open
Rafa Nadal returned to the top of the world rankings on Monday after winning his eighth Italian Open title at the weekend to confirm once more his status as the king of the clay court.
Sunday’s 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 victory over German Alexander Zverev on the Rome dirt ensured the 31-year-old would leapfrog Roger Federer and become world number one for a sixth time ahead of the French Open, Reuters reported.
If the rankings were based solely on clay-court play, however, the Spaniard would rarely have left the pinnacle in the 13 years since he won the first of his 10 Roland Garros crowns.
With Federer skipping the clay-court season and top seeding long assured, Nadal will head to Paris next week a strong favorite to get his hands on the Coupe des Mousquetaires for a record-extending 11th time.
“Everything will be different in Paris,” Nadal said somewhat disingenuously after his victory at the Foro Italico.
“Of course a win like this helps but in Paris the conditions will be different in every respect. Today is the time to enjoy this victory, not for thinking about Roland Garros.”
Despite losing his first service game on Sunday, Nadal removed any doubts over his fitness and form for the year’s second major in the opening set.
“I played one of the best sets that I played on clay this year. First set was fantastic, in my opinion, in terms of everything,” he added.
“Feeling, good shots, tactically — everything was, in my opinion great in the first set, no. Returning great. All the things that I wanted to do happened. So, it was a great set.”
Zverev, who had won back-to-back clay-court titles over the previous two weeks in Munich and Madrid, hit back to win the second set but a rain delay disrupted his rhythm and Nadal reeled off the last five games to seal his 78th career title.
The 21-year-old German will be second seed at Roland Garros and he took some positives from his performance in Rome.
“I was not far away from beating Rafa on a clay court in a Masters final,” he said.
“So I guess I can take that to Paris.”
Molla Sadra in the limelight today
Compiled from Dispatches
May 22 is observed as Molla Sadra Day in Iran to commemorate the influential Islamic philosopher, theologian and mystic who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century.
Sadr al-Din Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Yahya Qawami Shirazi (ca. 1571–1636) is arguably the most significant Islamic philosopher after Avicenna. Best known as Molla Sadra, he was later given the title of Sadr al-Muta’allihin (Master of the Theosists) for his approach to philosophy that combined an interest in theology and drew upon insights from mystical intuition.
He championed a radical philosophical method that attempted to transcend the simple dichotomy between a discursive, ratiocinative mode of reasoning and knowing, and a more intuitive, poetic and non-propositional mode of knowledge.
He became famous as the thinker who revolutionized the doctrine of existence in Islamic metaphysics and extended the shift from an Aristotelian substance metaphysics to a (Neoplatonic) process metaphysics of change, from a metaphysics grounded in the primacy of substances as the stuff of existence to a metaphysics founded upon and moved by acts of being.
A keen thinker who wrote over 45 works in philosophy, theology, mysticism and scriptural exegesis, he attempted a wide-ranging synthesis of approaches to Islamic thought and argued for the necessity of the method of understanding reality through a mixture of logical reasoning, spiritual inspiration and a deep meditation upon the key scriptural sources of the Shia. A key figure of a group of thinkers whom Nasr and Corbin referred to as the ‘School of Isfahan’, he played a major role in intellectual life during the revitalization of philosophy under the Safavid Shah Abbas I (r. 996–1038 AH/1588–1629 CE) and later on in life was the most important teacher at the philosophical seminary known as Khan School in his hometown of Shiraz.
His magnum opus, ‘Al-Hikma al-muta’aliya fi-l-asfar al-’aqliyya al-arba’a’, known as ‘al-Asfar al-arba’a’ (‘The Four Journeys’), is a large compendium of philosophy and theology that, instead of following the traditional divisions of logic, physics, and metaphysics, maps intellectual inquiry upon a mystical metaphor of the soul’s journey in this world.
Hence it is popularly known as the ‘Four Journeys’. He began writing it in 1015 AH/1606 in Kahak and completed it in Shiraz in 1038 AH/1638. The first journey from this world to God provides the seeker with the intellectual principles for understanding philosophy such as the basic definition of philosophy and metaphysics, the significance of metaphysics and the question of being for this study.
In this journey, the seeker moves away from multiplicity and phenomenal deception towards unity and an awareness of the underlying nature of reality. The second journey in God with God is a discourse on the nature of God, the divine attributes and significantly including his famous proof for the existence of God. It is the stage of the mystic’s absorption in the divine essence and his effacement of the self. The third journey from God to this world explains the God-world relationship, nature, time and creation and ontological categories in this world. For the mystic, this is the return to sobriety and a realization of the duties of moral agency in this world. The final journey in this world with God is a description of human psychology focusing on soteriology and eschatology and reveals most clearly the significance of Twelver Shi’ism to his thought. This is the final stage of the mystic’s journey, a recognition that everything as a unified whole reflects the ontological unity of the divine and that the realized human recognizes a desire to return to the principle, the one who is the source of being, God.
‘The Four Journeys’ is a major source for the history of Islamic philosophical traditions: It reveals the strong influence of an Avicennan structure with major contributions from the critiques of Avicennism by Sohravardi and the Sufi metaphysical monism of Ibn Arabi (d. 1240). But it is not just the arguments of thinkers, well known in academic and scholarly circles, who are considered. He also addressed the positions of some major philosophers of Shiraz, who remain little known even to specialists studying Islamic philosophy, such as Mir Qiyath ad-Din Mansur Dashtaki (d. 948 AH/1541) and Shams al-Din Muhammad Khafri (d. ca. 957 AH/1550).
His other works mainly deal with philosophical theology, such as ‘Wisdom of the Throne’ and ‘Divine Witnesses’. One work, ‘Inspired Recognitions’ stands out as a dense epitome of his doctrine of being as expressed in the first part of the ‘Four Journeys’ on the semantics of existence. As a religious thinker, Molla Sadra was also keen to come to terms with his scriptural heritage, and he wrote three works on the hermeneutics of the Qur’an as a preparation for his own incomplete mystical and philosophical commentary on the text: ‘Keys to the Unseen’, ‘Secrets of the Verses/Signs’, and ‘Allegories of the Qur’an’.
Pompeo offers concessions if Iran makes changes
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered a series of dramatic potential US concessions to Iran if it agrees to make “major changes.”
In his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the CIA, Pompeo on Monday called for a stronger nuclear agreement with Iran following the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal.
He said if a deal was reached that satisfies the administration of President Donald Trump, the US would be willing to lift all economic sanctions.
He made the comments at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington as he outlined the new US strategy on the Islamic Republic, including 12 tough conditions from Washington for any “new deal” with Tehran.
He noted the Trump administration prefers for it to be a treaty that is ratified by Congress.
The top diplomat added the US would restore full diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran and allow it to access advanced technology.
Pompeo said the US would even support the modernization of Iran’s economy and help it reintegrate into the global financial system.
He also threatened to place “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran if it doesn’t change course.
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