Middle East Premium Politics News (Page 6)

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Iran and EU

European countries said on Thursday they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.

Iran announced steps on Wednesday to ease curbs on its nuclear programme, in response to new U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington abandoned the deal a year ago.

Experts say the new moves announced by Tehran so far are not likely to violate the terms of the deal immediately.

But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers find a way to protect Iran’s banking and oil industries from U.S. sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits allowed in the deal.

“We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

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Hamas - Gaza - Palestine

The military wing of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement Hamas says it successfully “overcame” Israel’s so-called Iron Dome missile system during its recent confrontation with the Tel Aviv regime thanks to its new rocket-launching tactic.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a social media post on Monday that the fresh rocket-launching tactic had overwhelmed the so-called Iron Dome missile system, leading to the deaths and injuries of numerous Israelis in two days.

“The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst,” he said.

“The high intensity of fire and the great destructive ability of the missiles that were introduced by the Qassam [Brigades]… succeeded in causing great losses and destruction to the enemy,” Obeida noted.

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Iran Nuclear Deal

Iran will on Wednesday announce “reciprocal actions” on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Monday, quoting “knowledgeable sources.”

The Islamic Republic itself is not planning to pull out of the landmark nuclear agreement, the report noted, without spelling out what action Tehran intended to take. Some European Union leaders had been unofficially told of Iran’s decision, the report said.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. pullout on May 8 last year and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran, including on its lifeblood oil exports with the stated intent of reducing them to zero and starving Iran’s economy.

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Hamas - Gaza - Palestine

A surge in deadly violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel petered out overnight with Palestinian officials reporting that Egypt had mediated a ceasefire on Monday ending the most serious spate of cross-border clashes for months. The latest round of fighting erupted three days ago, peaking on Sunday when rockets and missiles from Gaza killed four civilians in Israel. Israeli strikes killed 21 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, over the weekend.

Two Palestinian officials and a TV station belonging to Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist rulers, said a truce had been reached at 0430 a.m. (0130 GMT), apparently preventing the violence from broadening into a conflict neither side seemed keen on fighting.

Israel did not formally confirm the existence of a truce with Hamas and its allied Gaza faction Islamic Jihad, militants that it, like much of the West, designates as terrorists.

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Palestinian Militants Rockets Inflict Injuries On Israeli Civilians

Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired scores of rockets into southern Israel on Saturday, wounding at least two Israeli civilians and triggering retaliatory airstrikes and tank fire against militant targets in the blockaded enclave and shattering a month-long lull in violence.

Israeli officials said a 50-year-old woman was severely wounded by rocket fire, while a teenage boy was mildly hurt as he ran for cover. Gaza's Health Ministry said a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli airstrike, and seven other Palestinians were wounded. Israeli police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged.

The outbreak of fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad were in Egypt for talks with mediators aimed at restoring a fraying cease-fire. Hamas leaders have hoped the recent calm would pave the way for a deeper, longer-term cease-fire.

Tensions have been rising in recent days amid allegations from Hamas that Israel has been delaying implementation of last month's cease-fire understandings.

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Iran Missile

Iran's envoy to the UN has denounced US attempts to portray Tehran's conventional missile program as a breach of Security Council Resolution 2231 that endorsed a 2015 nuclear deal, saying Washington must first explain why it has, itself, violated that international document by abandoning the landmark agreement.

Majid Takht-e Ravanchi said Thursday that American officials are after creating a negative atmosphere against Iran's missile work at the world body, reaffirming that Iran's missile activities are not inconsistent with Resolution 2231 contrary to what the US claims.

He added that a US State Department official has met with members of the UN Security Council and the world body's Secretariat about Iran's missile activities with the intention of promoting Washington's false allegations against Tehran

"Our stance is clear; [the issue] of our missiles does not fall at all within the framework of Resolution 2231," Takht-e Ravanchi stressed.

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Russian armoured personnel carriers supporting Syrian government troops

Russian and Syrian forces intensified air strikes and shelling in rebel-held northwestern Syria overnight, the heaviest assault since the area was declared a demilitarized zone under a Russian-Turkish deal, residents and medics said on Thursday. The targeted villages and towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib fall within a buffer zone agreed last September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area.

Schools, health facilities and residential areas have been hit, United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis told Reuters on Thursday. “The barrel bombing is the worst we have seen for at least 15 months.”

He added that 300,000 people live in the buffer zone where there are hostilities. Earlier this week, the United States warned violence in the buffer zone “will result in the destabilisation of the region”.

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Hundreds Of Migrants Held In Chain-Link Enclosure In Texas

Young migrants in New Jersey who are seeking legal status in the United States after allegedly suffering abuse or neglect in their home countries sued the Trump administration on Monday, saying it is unfairly denying their claims.

It is the fourth such lawsuit of its kind around the country filed since last year over rejections of so-called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions, which have increasingly been denied to migrants as President Donald Trump’s administration tightens immigration policy.

Monday’s lawsuit was filed on behalf of four anonymous people from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who say they were victims of family abuse and gang violence in their home countries but that their applications for immigration status were unfairly denied because they are between the ages of 18 to 21.

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USA vs Iran

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani says Iran no longer holds value for Europe’s demands as European governments have let it down in fighting hostile US policies, pledging that the Islamic Republic will “get even" with the US on its own.

“We are trying to find out why European leaders and the European Union only support us in rhetoric or only [use words] to express regret at America’s actions,” Larijani said during a meeting with Wolfgang Gerstl, the head of Austria-Iran parliamentary friendship group in Tehran on early Monday.

“Sure you might say there are problems because of US pressure and it might sound logical but we look at this from our own point of view and the most important thing for us is that this behavior has raised questions about EU’s credibility and it means that the EU lacks the weight to solve problems,” he asserted.

Larijani said Europe has yet to deliver on the promises it made to Tehran to save the 2015 nuclear deal in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon it last year.

“The European Union, too, has taken certain measures but we are yet to see any results,” Larijani said.

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Iran Missile

Iran said on Sunday it could quit a treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons after the United States tightens sanctions, while an Iranian general said the U.S. Navy was interacting as before with an elite military unit blacklisted by Washington. Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions.

Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions.

“The Islamic Republic’s choices are numerous, and the country’s authorities are considering them ... and leaving NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) is one of them,” state broadcaster IRIB’s website quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying.

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