Iran’s envoy summoned
Britain summoned the Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad to convey London’s objections to the arrest of British envoy to Tehran Rob Macaire for his attendance at illegal rallies in Tehran, Reuters reported.
Republican CNN host says Trump is ‘more and more ignoring Congress,’ suggests he’s ‘acting like a king’
By Jason Lemon
Conservative CNN host S.E. Cupp said on her Saturday evening show that President Donald Trump continues to disregard the constitutionally mandated role of Congress, despite his impeachment by the House of Representatives in December.
Cupp, who identifies as a Republican, discussed Trump’s controversial decision to kill Iran’s military commander Qassem Soleimani in a January 3 drone strike after he arrived in Iraq. The president’s unilateral decision has been strongly criticized by Democrats in Congress, as well as some Republicans.
Trump made the decision without consulting Congress and his legal justification for the strike has drawn an outcry, as lawmakers have questioned the administration’s assertion that Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks against US interests in the Middle East.
“Here’s the deal, Trump might be impeached, but he also seems unleashed,” Cupp said during her CNN show ‘S.E. Cupp Unfiltered’. “And it’s only gonna get worse guys,” suggesting that it was “certainly a possibility” that there could be war with Iran.
“I mean more and more [Trump is] going it alone,” the host explained. “[He’s] more and more ignoring Congress, the Constitution, the constraints meant to keep a president from acting like a king.”
“Expect more of this defiance in foreign affairs and in his domestic agenda,” Cupp said.
While Republicans have largely backed Trump’s decision to take out Soleimani, some prominent GOP senators and representatives have rebuked the administration. A War Powers resolution, intended to restrain Trump’s ability to escalate tensions with Iran, passed in the House of Representatives last week, with most Democrats voting in favor, along with three Republicans and the body’s lone independent, conservative Representative Justin Amash of Michigan.
“The administration has provided no evidence to qualify its recent military action as a necessary defensive response to an imminent attack. Moreover, it absurdly relies on the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force and Article II of the Constitution as legal justifications,” Amash, who was elected as a Republican but declared his independence last July, wrote on Twitter.
“The 2002 AUMF provides for war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq regime. It is not a valid authorization for any current engagement in Iraq, and it certainly does not apply to actions against Iran,” he added.
GOP Senator Mike Lee of Utah expressed anger at the Trump administration’s closed-door briefing last week about the attack. He explained to reporters that no clear evidence was provided to justify the attack and that lawmakers were told to simply support the president.
“It is not acceptable for officials within the executive branch of government...to come in and tell us that we can’t debate and discuss the appropriateness of military intervention against Iran,” he said. “It’s un-American. It’s unconstitutional and it’s wrong.”
Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, has raised similar concerns. In an interview with Fox News last week he noted that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal – has made the situation worse with Iran.
“I hate this. I hate that this is where we are going...There was much less killing, much less violence after the Iran agreement,” Paul said.
Lee has also partnered with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, to put forward a Senate measure to constrain the president’s ability to launch acts of war against Iran.
“I am proud to partner with Republican Senator Mike Lee to pass our No War Against Iran Act,” Sanders tweeted on Saturday. “Defending the Constitution is not a partisan issue.”
Several polls conducted by various media outlets and Ipsos over the last week show that the majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s actions towards Iran, with a majority also believing his decision to kill Soleimani made the US less safe.
The above article was first published in Newsweek.
Iran VP orders urgent relief operations in flood-hit areas
Iran VP orders urgent relief operations in flood-hit areas
Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri on Monday ordered aid organizations to mobilize all facilities to render services to flood-stricken people in the country’s south.
Jahangiri issued instructions after he was briefed on the latest situation in the provinces of Kerman, Sistan and Baluchestan and Hormozgan, IRNA reported.
The VP urged provincial governors to do their best to provide essential aid and to repair roads so that relief assistance could reach remote villages as well.
Sistan and Baluchestan Province was affected in the most severe way due to record rainfall in years, which started on Thursday.
Heavy rainfall has caused seasonal rivers to inundate towns, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and homes.
Morteza Salimi, the head of Rescue and Relief Organization of Iran, said one person has died and several others have been wounded while another person remains missing.
At least 1,248 people trapped in the floods were rescued in some 40 town and villages in Sistan and Baluchestan.
The unprecedented flash floods have hit 350 villages in recent days, damaging thousands of residential buildings.
Severe flooding in Sistan and Baluchestan caused damage to more than 20,000 residential buildings, Abbas-Ali Arjmandi, director-general of the provincial Crisis Management Center said on Sunday.
The flash floods also blocked rural roads leading to more than 500 villages and closed schools, Arjmandi said.
He added that heavy rains in southern areas of the province triggered flooding, which have also caused blackouts in several villages in the southeastern province.
Also, floods in Kerman Province blocked roads between 363 villages, Majid Saeidi, head of the provincial crisis management center said on Sunday.
In the southern province of Hormozgan, four villages were evacuated in the city of Jask on Saturday to prevent casualties.
On March 19, heavy downpours swept the country, with raging currents battering houses, washing away cars and killing scores of people countrywide.
The rainfalls eventually caused rivers to burst their banks triggering the worst flooding in decades in 25 of the country’s 31 provinces.
According to estimates, the deluges caused an estimated $2.9 billion in damage to roads, bridges, homes and farmland. They affected 4,400 villages, damaged 14,000 kilometers of roads and destroyed more than 700 bridges.
Estimates by government agencies suggest that the floods have taken the lives of nearly 80 people and destroyed over 25,000 houses around the country.
Iran’s reaction to Trump tweet: Do not dishonor our language!
Iran’s reaction to Trump tweet:
Do not dishonor our language!
Iran has called President Donald Trump’s bluff on expressing support for Iranian protesters in Persian after he threatened to attack the country’s cultural heritage, asking the US president not to defile the language.
“Hands and tongues smeared with threatening, sanctioning and terrorizing the #Iranian nation, are not entitled to dishonor the ancient #Persian_language,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi tweeted late Sunday, Press TV reported.
Trump’s tweet came after a protest rally outside a university in downtown Tehran to denounce officials’ belated confirmation of a Ukrainian passenger plane unintentionally downed on the outskirts of the capital.
“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you. We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” wrote Trump.
The US president had uncharacteristically remained silent as several million Iranians took to streets for days to honor General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated on Trump’s order in Baghdad.
“By the way, are you actually “standing by” millions of Iranians whose hero you just assassinated or “standing against” them?!,” Mousavi asked.
Trump’s reference to the suffering of the Iranian people was also ironic because it has largely been caused by his tough sanctions on the country.
On Friday, his administration announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s construction, manufacturing, textiles, mining, aluminum, copper, iron and steel industries.
Apart from threatening to attack sites “very important” to the Iranian culture, the US president has described Iran as a “terrorist nation” and outraged Iranians by referring to the Persian Gulf as “Arabian”.
Trump’s tweet in Persian also drew denunciation from Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi.
“The Farsi language is a symbol of the Iranian culture. Until yesterday, the repeated threat of Iranian cultural sites and today dialogue with Iranians in Persian!” he tweeted.
Iran summoned the Swiss envoy representing US interests in Tehran this month to protest against Trump saying Washington would target Iranian sites if Tehran attacked Americans.
Trump wrote in a series of tweets that “if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites ... some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
The US president’s appeal to protesters came after Iran defied those threats and made good on its promise to hit two American military bases in Iraq with a volley of ballistic missiles.
On Sunday, the Trump administration tried to stoke and amplify protests in Iran by suggesting that the Islamic Republic was under internal threat.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper said the protest in central Tehran which marked tearing up posters of General Soleimani showed “the Iranian people are standing up and asserting their rights, their aspirations for a better government — a different regime”.
He appeared on two news shows Sunday while Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, was interviewed on three others — pressing the White House’s campaign to bring “maximum pressure” on Tehran.
O’Brien suggested that the United States saw the protests as an opportunity to further intensify pressure on Iran which is already under enormous strain from unilateral American sanctions.
The tearing up of the pictures of Gen. Soleimani has shocked many Iranians and raised question marks about the instantaneous protest which came while the nation was mourning its national hero and celebrating Iran’s retaliation.
In a message to Oman’s new sultan: Rouhani calls for all-out expansion of Tehran-Muscat ties
In a message to Oman’s new sultan:
Rouhani calls for all-out
expansion of Tehran-Muscat ties
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a message on Monday congratulated Sultan Haitham bin Tariq on his appointment as the new monarch of Oman, expressing hope for the two nations to witness expansion of all-out relations during his reign, according to IRNA.
President Rouhani said the ties between Iran and Oman under the late ruler Sultan Qaboos Al Said were based upon “mutual trust”, adding, “I hope that bilateral relations during the era of your leadership would grow further in all fields, with wisdom and discernment.”
Rouhani also wished good health and success for the new sultan and prosperity for the “brotherly” nation of Oman.
The message came a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Oman’s new sultan in the Arab country’s capital, Muscat.
Zarif arrived in Muscat on Sunday morning to attend the commemoration ceremony of the late monarch, Sultan Qaboos, who died on Friday, at the age of 79.
Sultan Haitham, 65, has had a long career in public life, working in Oman’s Foreign Ministry, assisting with programs aimed at diversifying the country’s economy away from oil and, most recently, serving as the culture minister.
He is a cousin of the late sultan.
Oman’s new monarch pledged on Saturday to follow the non-interference policy that made the kingdom a vital regional mediator under Sultan Qaboos who reigned for half a century.
As the Persian Gulf’s discreet go-between, Oman played a role in Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Venezuela FM due in Iran next Sunday
Venezuela FM due in Iran
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela Jorge Alberto Arreaza Montserrat will travel to Iran next Sunday.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Arreaza, a former vice president, is scheduled to pay a three-day visit to the Islamic Republic from January 19-21.
He is expected to hold meetings with senior Iranian officials during the visit, according to Tasnim News Agency.
In October 2019, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.