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The News Line: Feature ‘The government is not afraid of US threats’ says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani has assured the Iranian nation of the government’s resolve to stand up to US threats, emphasising that his team will do all in its power to resolve the economic problems caused by American pressure.

‘November 4 this year translates into a new instance of oppression by America,’ he said, referring to the date, when Washington is set to reimpose sanctions on Iran’s energy sector.

‘Our people need to rest assure that the government is not afraid of US threats,’ he added, during his address to the weekly cabinet session on Wednesday. The president said that representatives of various countries, including Asian and European ones, had sent messages of assurance to the Islamic Republic ‘that they will stand by and continue their cooperation with Iran’.

‘We are certain that the Americans will fail in their new plot, and that they are actually in gradual retreat,’ the president asserted. President Rouhani recalled that US officials first claimed that they would reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero, but then retracted their statement, saying that the process could take two to three months.

‘We tell them that “you will not reach any of your goals with regard to Iran’s oil sales. You will neither be able to bring it to zero nor reduce it,”’ Rouhani stated.

As the administration of US President Donald Trump is preparing to impose sanctions against Iran’s oil exports within the next few days, indications are already appearing that certain countries are preparing to defy Washington’s pressures to halt purchases of Iranian oil.

By escalating psychological and economic pressure, the US has been seeking to anger the Iranian people, President Rouhani said, adding however that Iranians were and would be angry at Washington’s atrocities, rather than their own Islamic establishment, government, and country.

‘Because the nation loves its country Iran,’ the president said. Rouhani said that Iran could easily overcome the setbacks, because it enjoys lasting relations with its trade partners, whereas the US pressure is only temporary. ‘The US will raise hue and cry for a few days, but will have to eventually leave the region, because they cannot make decisions for the people of the region,’ Rouhani noted.

The United States exited a multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran in May, and threatened to reinstate all sanctions that had been lifted under the accord.
Washington re-introduced the first round of sanctions in August. The next round is bound to take effect as of November 4th.

Other parties to the deal – the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany – have collectively censured the US withdrawal, stressing that the agreement has been ratified in the form of a United Nations Security Council, and thus the US departure violates international law.

• Israel’s transportation and intelligence minister Yisrael Katz will visit Oman next week, his office said, days after a secret trip by the regime’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the Arab sultanate.

Arye Shalicar, an adviser to Katz, said last Sunday that the minister will travel to Oman to take part in an international transportation conference and present his plan for building a rail line between Israel and Persian Gulf Arab countries.

Katz’s visit comes after the two sides confirmed Netanyahu’s secret trip to Oman today with senior officials, including the head of the Mossad spy agency and his national security adviser.

It’s the first meeting of this kind since 1996. Oman and Israel reportedly had economic ties, but no diplomatic relations, in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Accord.
Among Arab countries, Israel has diplomatic relations only with Egypt and Jordan, but there have been numerous reports of growing contacts between Saudi and Israeli officials.

Netanyahu’s rare visit came days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made a three-day visit to Oman and met with Sultan Qaboos. Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, however, stressed that Oman was not mediating and just offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together.

In receiving Israeli leaders, Muscat was relying on the US and efforts by President Donald Trump in working toward the ‘deal of the century’, bin Alawi said. Abbas has already renounced the plan, saying it has been devised without consulting the Palestinians. He has also spurned any intermediary role by the US after Washington recognised Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s ‘capital’.

Several Palestinian officials last Sunday denounced attempts to normalise relations between Tel Aviv and Arab countries, with Hamas denouncing Oman’s hosting of ‘the head of Zionist crime’ as a ‘stab in the back’.

Palestinian officials have denounced recent attempts to normalise relations between Tel Aviv and Arab countries following Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu’s rare visit to Oman.

Tel Aviv has full diplomatic relations with only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, but reports suggest the regime is working behind the scenes to establish formal contact with Saudi Arabia and its allies.`

Netanyahu frequently boasts of warming behind-the-scenes ties with Arab countries. Last Sunday, Israel’s ‘national’ anthem was played for the first time at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli sports minister Miri Regev attended the tournament, marking the first time a minister from Israel attended a sports event in the Persian Gulf, according to Israeli officials. A footage broadcast on Israeli television reportedly showed Regev crying and singing along as the anthem played.

Meanwhile, an Israeli gymnastics delegation was in Qatar for the beginning of the world championships being held in Doha. On Monday, Israeli communications minister Ayoob Kara is to travel to Dubai to represent Israel at an international internet security conference, according to his office.

• Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi, however, said his country will not establish ties with Israel and that it supports the Palestinians because the Gaza Strip has also faced ‘unprecedented atrocities’ like Kashmir.

His remarks, made before departing to Ankara on a three-day visit, came amid speculation about the landing of an Israeli jet at an Islamabad airport, which Alvi rejected as baseless. On Thursday, an Israeli journalist claimed in a tweet that a private Israeli business jet had flown to Islamabad from Tel Aviv and remained in the Pakistani capital for about 10 hours. Several Pakistani ministers and the Civil Aviation Authority, however, rejected the allegation.

• A production line has been inaugurated in the UK for manufacturing 24 warplanes and nine trainer aircraft that Qatar had contracted Britain to build for it last year. Production of 17 Euro-fighter Typhoon combat jets and nine Hawk T2 advanced trainer aircraft for the emirate began in Warton, Lancaster in northwestern England last Friday, with Qatar’s Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah in attendance.

Al-Attiyah and his British counterpart Gavin Williamson had signed the contract to supply Doha with the twin-engine, multirole fighters and the trainer jets on December 10, 2017. The deal comes amid reports that the US and UK are exploiting the rift between several Arab countries through designating them as the ‘priority markets’ for their arms sales.

The daily also referenced the inauguration of a joint squadron run by the Qatari Air Force and the British Royal Air Force by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani last year. ‘The joint squadron will have a prominent and effective role in protecting the Qatari airspace during the FIFA 2022 World Cup’ – which the emirate has been chosen to host, the paper added.

British Ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma, who also jointed the inauguration of the production line, had told the paper back in April, ‘There will be Typhoons ready for the World Cup. We certainly see these jets as part of the way of securing the event.’

The military agreement was the second billion-dollar one of its own to be signed by Doha since Saudi Arabia led three of its allies – the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain – in breaking off diplomatic ties with the emirate and subjecting it to a blockade.

The quartet has accused Doha of supporting ‘terrorism’ but the emirate has roundly rejected the allegation. Shortly after the dispute erupted, the United States signed a $12 billion deal to sell F-15 fighter jets to Qatar.

Observers have accused the US and the UK of trying to exploit the diplomatic crisis towards their own financial interests, while publicly urging the regional countries to close up their rifts.
 
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