Asia’s August Iran oil imports jump 81% from a year ago
Imports of Iranian oil by four major buyers in Asia in August jumped 81 percent from a year earlier, the biggest percentage gain since April 2014, as the producer recoups market share from rivals Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Economic sanctions against Iran were lifted in January, and it has been battling since then to regain market share lost during the previous four years that the sanctions were in force, Reuters reported.
The No. 3 OPEC producer increased crude oil exports last month to more than 2 million barrels per day (mbd), according to a source with knowledge of its tanker loading schedule, closing in on Tehran’s pre-sanctions shipment levels of five years ago.
The top four Asian buyers, South Korea, Japan, China and India, imported 1.84 mbd in August, government and ship-tracking data showed. That would be the highest in at least five-and-a-half years.
Japan’s Trade Ministry on Friday released official data showing its imports rose 31.4 percent from a year earlier to 235,612 bpd last month.
India’s imports nearly tripled from a year earlier to 575,900 bpd — the highest in at least 15 years. Imports by South Korea more than doubled, while Chinese imports also jumped 48 percent.
President criticizes opponents of FATF
President Hassan Rouhani, in a Twitter message on Thursday, criticized opponents of Iran’s engagement with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requiring Tehran to set standards to combat money laundering in the country.
“While we start measures to fight money laundering, some try to demonstrate the FATF as an unclean issue,” President Rouhani wrote in his Twitter post, IRNA reported.
“‘We don’t want money laundering in the country”, he underlined.
The Financial Action Task Force is an intergovernmental organization founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies against money laundering.
On June 24, the world’s anti-money laundering body recently suspended some of its restrictions against Iran, citing the country’s commitment to legitimate business.
FATF hailed Iran’s adoption of an action plan to address shortcomings in its anti-money laundering policies and its decision to seek assistance with implementation.
In its plenary meeting in South Korea, the international body took into account Iran’s implementation of an anti-money laundering law and its membership at the Eurasian Group, an FATF-style regional body.
Iran, however, will remain on the FATF blacklist until the full implementation is complete, the body said.
Renault to enter new joint venture in Iran
Peugeot seeks 150,000 sales in Iran this year
French car manufacturer Renault (RENA.PA) said on Friday it has signed a deal to enter into a new joint venture in Iran that would allow it to strengthen its presence in the country after most trade sanctions were lifted earlier this year.
In a statement, Renault said it would be the majority shareholder in the joint venture with Iranian investment fund IDRO, Reuters reported.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said there is “undeniable” potential in the Iran market. The joint venture will include a new manufacturing plant with a capacity to produce 150,000 vehicles per year. The carmaker already has an annual capacity of 200,000 vehicles in Iran.
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US Congress may rewrite Saudi 9/11 law after veto override
US House Speaker Paul Ryan and US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said they’re prepared to rewrite legislation allowing victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia – less than 24 hours after Congress took the extraordinary step of overriding President Barack Obama’s veto of the measure to make it law.
The two top Republicans in Congress said that the measure could have unintended consequences – including the fact that it could leave US soldiers open to retaliation by foreign governments.
“I would like to think there’s a way we can fix so that our service members do not have legal problems overseas while still protecting the rights of the 9/11 victims,” Ryan told reporters Thursday, one day after his chamber voted 348-77 to override the veto, Bloomberg reported.
McConnell also said he was worried about unintended consequences of the measure, saying changes to the law might be needed.
“It’s worth further discussing,” he told reporters Thursday. “It was certainly not something that was going to be fixed this week.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the episode an “abject embarrassment” and said that officials warned lawmakers about the possible consequences multiple times.
“What’s true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress,” Earnest told reporters Thursday. “Ignorance is not an excuse.”
On Wednesday, the Senate overrode the veto in a 97-1 vote. The original measure passed both chambers on voice votes.
Obama on Wednesday night called the override “a mistake” at a town hall event at Fort Lee, Virginia hosted by CNN. Other countries, he said, may respond by allowing their citizens to sue the US for actions by American soldiers, diplomats or corporate executives, who are usually protected from litigation by the concept of sovereign immunity.
Lawmakers said their priority wasn’t Saudi Arabia, but the 9/11 victims and their families who continue to demand justice 15 years after attackers killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, the Washington, D.C., area, and Pennsylvania. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis.
The Senate passed the bill by voice vote in May. The Obama White House then made the mistake of thinking the bill would stall in the Republican-controlled House. In August, 9/11 families pressured Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., while he was on a campaign swing in New York. On Sept. 9, two days before the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the House passed the bill by voice vote with little debate.
The legislation gives victims’ families the right to sue in US court for any role that elements of the Saudi government may have played in the 2001 attacks. Courts would be permitted to waive a claim of foreign sovereign immunity when an act of terrorism occurred inside US borders, according to the terms of the bill.
Philippine president draws Hitler parallels in war on drugs
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday likened himself to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on Friday and said he would “be happy” to exterminate three million drug users and peddlers in the country.
Duterte also railed against Western critics of his unprecedented law-and-order crackdown, which has left more than 3,000 people dead in three months and raised concerns about a breakdown in the rule of law in one of Asia’s most chaotic democracies.
“There are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte told reporters in his home city of Davao shortly after returning from Vietnam, AFP reported.
“If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have...,” he said, pausing and pointing to himself. “But you know my victims. I would like (them) to be all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.”
Duterte, 71, won elections in May in a landslide after a campaign dominated by his pledge to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.
The lawyer and former city prosecutor promised immunity for security forces if they were charged with murder, and on his first day in office urged residents of a Manila slum to kill drug addicts within their own community.
His police chief also urged addicts to burn down the homes of drug traffickers and kill them.
Since Duterte came to power on June 30, police have killed more than 1,200 people and about 1,800 others have died in unexplained circumstances, according to official figures.
Duterte on Friday also criticized the European Union and the United States for alleged inaction on the migrant crisis emanating from the Middle East.
“There are migrants escaping from the Middle East. You allow them to rot and then you’re worried about the deaths of about 1,000, 2,000, 3,000?”
UN: 700,000 will need aid once Mosul operation starts
The UN said Thursday it expected at least 700,000 people in Iraq’s second city of Mosul would need assistance once an expected offensive on the Daesh terrorist group stronghold begins.
“Mosul has the potential to be one the largest... disasters of many, many years,” warned Bruno Geddo, the United Nation’s refugee agency’s main representative in Iraq, AFP reported.
Iraq is already facing one of the world’s biggest displacement crises, with around 3.3 million people forced to flee their homes in the country since 2014.
Daesh seized Mosul along with other areas in June 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground from the terrorists and are preparing a drive to retake the city by the end of the year.
In a sign the battle could happen soon, Washington said this week it would send some 600 extra troops to train local forces for the offensive.
Geddo warned that more than one million people might be displaced during that offensive.
“We are planning for at least 700,000 who will be in need of assistance, shelter food, water, everything that you need in a situation of humanitarian disaster,” he told reporters in Geneva.
Geddo said that Daesh has resorted to tactics like using civilians as human shields, calling for sustained international support to help the Baghdad government overcome the terrorist group and stabilize the war-ravaged country.
“This war now, 2016-2017, might with luck mark a turning point for the country,” he said.
“The international community should not succumb to fatigue, should stay the course, should continue to support Iraq as much as we can, so that Iraq can mark the turning point,” Geddo said.
French fighter jets took off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean on a so-called mission against Daesh terrorists in Mosul.
On Friday, eight such warplanes were flown towards Mosul to purportedly support the Iraqi Army in its push to liberate the embattled city, AFP reported.
The Charles de Gaulle returned to the sea earlier this week, and is currently on its third mission since February 2015, when it joined the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh. Paris later expanded its airstrikes to Syria.
AP also quoted an unnamed French Defense Ministry official as saying that the dispatch of the warplanes “in no way” marked the beginning of the long-awaited battle for Mosul.
Washington and dozens of its allies have been conducting military operations in Syria and Iraq since September 2014. The campaign has fallen severely short of its avowed aim of dislodging Daesh.
UNHCR has already begun building camps in anticipation of the exodus, but as it races against the clock, it is struggling to find available land and funds to build others, Geddo said.
The UN agency is hoping to have 11 camps finished by the end of the year with the capacity to hold 120,000 people, while Iraqi authorities expect to be able to house 150,000 more, he explained.
“This is the plan.... The capacity is much lower,” he warned.
Even if the plan works, an estimated 430,000 displaced people would be left without accommodation.
To avoid leaving them without shelter, UNHCR is aiming to build a number of “emergency camps” located near the city and the surrounding villages where the battle is expected.
People would only stay at these sites for very short periods of time, he said, pointing out that once a village or an area was secured, people could hopefully return to their homes.
Iran qualifies for AFC U-16 Championship final
Goalkeeper Ali Gholamzadeh was the hero as Iran booked a date with Iraq in Sunday’s AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 final after claiming a 6-5 penalty shootout win over defending champion DPR Korea following a 1-1 draw in Thursday’s semifinal.
Iran dominated the first half at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and took a one-goal lead into the break thanks to captain Mohammad Sharifi before Kye Tam levelled the scores from the spot to take the semifinal to penalties, the-afc.com reported.
With the shootout at 5-5 Gholamzadeh scored his spot kick before returning to his line to save from Kim Kyong-sok as the 2008 champion advanced to the final for only the second time.
After starting the stronger, Abbas Chamanian’s team came close on 16 minutes as Allahyar Sayyad’s cross-goal shot evaded an outstretched Sin Tae-song in the Korean goal only to come back off the right post.
As one-way traffic ensued Iran took a deserved lead on three minutes later after Sin was penalized for picking up a back pass on the edge of the six-yard box.
Mohammad Ghaderi rolled the ensuing free-kick to Sharifi and the skipper fired in low and hard at the near post.
Iran showed no sign of letting up as Sayyad headed Amirhossein Esmaeilzadeh’s corner from the right just wide midway through the half before the frontman was again off target with a header.s
The holder remained a threat, though, and substitute Kim Hwi-hwang forced Gholamzadeh to tip round the right post after the ball broke kindly for him in the box two minutes before the interval.
DPR Korea came out with renewed purpose after the restart and captain Kim Pom-hyok drilled in a free-kick from fully 35 yards that was well dealt with by the Iran custodian before Cha Kwang was narrowly off target from the right side of the Iranian penalty area.
With the tie firmly in the balance Iran sought to give itself breathing space and substitute Alireza Asadabadi saw his powerfully struck effort from distance on 55 minutes tipped over the crossbar.
As the half wore on, though, Yun Jong-su’s team took firm control of proceedings. Kim Hwi-hwang should have done better than head into Gholamzadeh’s arms from seven yards after being teed up by Paek Kwang-min.
The Koreans’ superiority paid off with 11 minutes remaining when Yun Min’s free-kick was handled by Amir Khodamoradi in the Iranian wall and, after the referee pointed to the spot, Kye made no mistake in dispatching beyond the reach of Gholamzadeh.
But substitute Younes Delfi should have won for Iran with three minutes remaining only to side-foot inches wide when one-on-one with Sin and Asadabadi did likewise in stoppage time.
With no extra time at the AFC U-16 competition the game went to penalties and Sharifi opened the scoring before Kye evened things up. Esmaeilzadeh netted but Yun Min again levelled, before both Saeid Ahani and Kim Chung-jin scored.
Sin then saved from Khodamoradi only for Gholamzadeh to tip Cha’s effort onto the upright. Asadabadi coolly slotted home and, after the Iranian ‘keeper was adjudged to have come off his line to save from Kim Pom-hyok, the Korean captain scored the retake.
Taha Shariati and Paek scored before Gholamzadeh side-footed home and returned to his line to save from Kim Kyong-sok and send his side through to Sunday’s finale.
Iran’s Coach Abbas Chamanian hailed his side’s fighting spirit after it ousted holder DPR Korea on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Thursday’s semifinal to set up a date with Iraq in Sunday’s final.s
Iraq saw off Japan 4-2 in Thursday’s earlier semifinal.
“DPR Korea is a very strong team and our players had to fight hard to win this match,” said Chamanian.
“We played very well in the first half but they began to control the midfield in the second half and we lost our confidence.
“Then DPR Korea scored the equalizer so we had to try and fight back again and at the end we had two great chances that the players didn’t take.”
Iran had earlier topped Group A ahead of United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and host India after two wins and a draw were enough to see it advance to the last eight above the Emiratis on goal difference.
Then with a place at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup at stake, the Iranians produced a dominant performance to defeat Vietnam 5-0.
“We have been practicing penalties for three months, but it is also very important at this age to take first as it allowed us to control the shootout,” added Chamanian.
“We are very, very happy to win this game and now we can look forward to the final.”
DPR Korea, meanwhile, had been looking to become the first side to claim back-to-back titles as well as win an unprecedented third AFC U-16 Championship.
But the East Asians endured an indifferent tournament and, despite booking their return ticket to India for next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup, needed a penalty shootout to edge past Oman in the last eight.
“After we conceded early it became very tough for us as it affected the players psychologically,” said coach Yun Jong-su.
“They tried their best to get back into the game in the first half but they were not playing well.
“At halftime I told them to calm down, not to worry about the first goal and play with confidence. We played much better after that.
“We were confident before the penalties because we won the last one but in the end you need some luck and we didn’t get it like in the last game.”
South Korea, Iran to enhance literary exchanges
The Literature Translation Institute of Korea will sign a memorandum of understanding with Art Bureau of Iran today to expand cooperation on translating literary works of the two countries to Korean and Persian.
Art Bureau, an art subdivision of Islamic Development Organization of Iran, is an institute devoted to promoting arts, Mehr News Agency reported.
The document — a follow-up to the event named: ‘South Korea-Iran literary night’ held in Tehran in May to coincide with the visit of President Park Geun-hye to Iran — aims to enhance mutual understanding through cultural exchanges.
With the agreement, the two countries can now look forward to more vigorous exchanges by translating and publishing quality literary works produced in each other’s country and co-hosting literary events.
The Iranian institution is in overall charge of artistic segments such as fine arts, music, film and publishing.
It runs its own publishing house, which translates literary works into foreign languages.
A proposal for encouraging writing, sending letters
By Hassan Faramarzi
At present, social entrepreneurship is gaining more importance globally. The main difference between social and commercial entrepreneurship lies in the fact that the former, unlike the latter, does not assign priority to profit generation, capital return and, in general, trade objectives.
In fact, social entrepreneurship mainly focuses on a cultural knot or challenge and employs all entrepreneurial techniques and methods, such as encouraging creativity, ideation and promoting group work to overcome the challenge.
The plan ‘Hi, where are you?’ presented by Reza Nazifi is an example of social entrepreneurship aiming to revive and encourage letter writing and improve writing skills among Iranians. The plan was registered as a compiled work at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in 2015. To carry out the first phase of the plan, Nazifi gained the consent of Tehran Province’s education officials and the Islamic Republic of Iran Post Company to initiate the project in 300 schools in four municipal districts of Tehran by distributing 140,000 envelopes, papers and letters among students. He, himself, covers all the costs involved in the project. He has passed courses in Master of Business Administration and implemented a large number of projects in the fields of network, office automation and data center.
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Zanganeh: OPEC makes exceptional decision
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Thursday that OPEC’s Algeria meeting had made an exceptional decision.
“Today, an exceptional decision was made at OPEC,” Zanganeh told reporters following the OPEC consultative session, voicing pleasure with the outcome, Shana reported.
He said after two years and half, OPEC reached a consensus on market management.
He added that on the proposal of the OPEC Secretariat, oil and energy ministers from member states decided to fix production at the ceiling of 32.5 to 33 million barrels per day with the level being divided among members.
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Russia: US protecting Syria terror group
The US is trying to spare a terror group in its attempts to unseat Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, Russia’s foreign minister told the BBC on Friday.
Sergei Lavrov said the US had broken its promise to separate the powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) and other terror groups from foreign-backed militants. Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is linked to Al Qaeda.
Lavrov, who was speaking on the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian air campaign in Syria, defended the bombardment of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian forces.
“They [the US] pledged solemnly to take as a priority an obligation to separate the opposition from Nusra,” he said.
“They still, in spite of many repeated promises and commitments, are not able, or not willing to do this and we have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare Nusra and to keep it just in case for Plan B or Stage Two, when it would be time to change the regime.”
A recent US-Russian deal was meant to lead to joint Russian-US airstrikes on the Daesh terror group and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
But many armed groups that the US backs have formed a strategic alliance with the more powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and now fight alongside it.
Lavrov said: “We believe that the Russian-American deal must be put into effect. For this, the only thing which is necessary is to separate the opposition from Nusra. If it is supported by the United States, not on paper but in real life, then we will insist on an immediate cessation of hostilities.”
Lavrov insisted Russia is helping President Assad’s forces to “fight terrorists”.
And he accused the West of staying quiet about civilian suffering in Aleppo when it was expecting the city to fall to the militants after the Nusra group moved in and cut supply lines to the civilian population.
“We had many pauses, many humanitarian pauses during this year... 48 hours, 72 hours, at the request of the United Nations.
“Every time, these pauses have been used by Nusra to get from abroad more fighters, more ammunition and more weapons. There must be some first step, and we have to get our priorities right.
“Humanitarian things are very important and we are doing everything now, together with the Syrian government, to help the United Nations to get weekly pauses in Aleppo to deliver humanitarian goods. It’s the Nusra-controlled people in eastern Aleppo who refuse to do this.”