US government accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism

Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity, U.S. Defence Secretary, James Mattis, said on Friday in London.

Asked about comments he made in 2012 that the three primary threats the U. S. faced were “Iran, Iran, Iran,” Mattis said that Iran’s behaviour had not changed in the years since.

“At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of U.S. central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism.

“Frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behaviour today,” Mr. Mattis said.

Mr. Mattis also said that North Korea was acting in a reckless manner and must be stopped.

“This is a threat of both rhetoric and growing capability, and we will be working with the international community to address this, we are doing so right now,” Mr. Mattis said in reply to a question about the potential threat to the U.S. from ballistic missiles.

“Right now, it appears to be going in a very reckless manner in what its conduct is portraying for the future and that’s got to be stopped,” Mr. Mattis said.

He also said that the U. S. was concerned about Russia’s presence in Afghanistan and its interactions with Taliban fighters.

“We have seen Russian activity vis-à-vis the Taliban,” Mr. Mattis said during a news conference in London.

“I’m not going to say at this point if that has manifested into weapons and that sort of thing, but certainly what they’re up to there in light of their other activities gives us concern.”

Mr. Mattis added that he had not yet decided whether to recommend an increase in U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan.


Source: Reuters/NAN

Iran reacts to Trump’s new immigration order, to block US citizens.

Iran will not issue visas to Americans as long as the US refuses to do the same to Iranians, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, deputy foreign minister, said on Tuesday.

Takht-Ravanchi said his country was unperturbed by the renewed ban on Iranian visitors under President Donald Trump’s revised executive order.

“The new executive order is also worthless from a judicial point of view,” Takht-Ravanchi said.

“As long as Iranians were barred from entering the US, US citizens would be barred from entering Iran; as soon as the US lifts the ban, as it was forced to do at the end of February, Iran would respond in kind.”

Takht-Ravanchi said Iran had never been involved in “any terrorist attack” on US soil, and accused Trump of targeting countries that were not involved in such attacks.

Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday, halting new visas for 90 days for people from six predominantly Islamic nations – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and also suspending refugee admissions for 120 days.

The new order takes effect from March 16.

Iraq was on the previous 90-day ban order but the White House said it removed the country from the list due to “enhanced cooperation” with the government in Baghdad.


Source: NAN

US congress ready to sanction Iran over missile test.

US senators are set to initiate a legislation that will impose sanctions on Iran for its recent test of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

Republican senators who are championing the move insist that by testing the ballistic missiles, Iran was acting to “destabilise” the Middle East, a US senator said Sunday.

“I think it is now time for the Congress to take Iran on directly in terms of what they’ve done outside the nuclear program,” said Lindsey Graham, a member of the senate armed services committee, told the Munich security conference.

Graham said he and other Republicans would introduce measures to hold Iran accountable for its actions.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since an Iranian ballistic missile test which prompted US President Donald Trump’s administration to impose sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the country’s Revolutionary Guards.

“Iran is a bad actor in the greatest sense of the word when it comes to the region. To Iran, I say, if you want us to treat you differently then stop building missiles, test-firing them in defiance of U.N. resolution and writing ‘Death to Israel’ on the missile. That’s a mixed message,” Graham said.

Senator Christopher Murphy, a member of the senate foreign relations committee, told the same panel there was nothing preventing congress from imposing sanctions beyond those that were lifted as a result of the 2016 nuclear agreement with Iran.

Murphy, a Democrat, told the panel that he had backed the nuclear deal in the explicit understanding that it would not prevent congress from taking actions against Iran outside the nuclear issue.

“There’s going to be a conversation about what the proportional response is. But I don’t necessarily think there’s going to be partisan division over whether or not we have the ability as a Congress to speak on issues outside of the nuclear agreement,” he said.

Murphy said the United States needed to decide whether it wanted to take a broader role in the regional conflict.

Iran To Continue Commitment On Nuclear Program Deal.

Iran is implementing the deal on its nuclear program agreed with world powers, the head of the U.N. atomic energy watchdog said on Tuesday, amid concerns the United States will try to alter the terms.

The United States has taken a tougher stance on Iran since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, including saying it had put the Islamic Republic “on notice” last month over carrying out a ballistic missile test.

Under the 2015 accord between Tehran and six world powers, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some U.S., European and U.N. economic sanctions. Iran has always said its program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Trump’s administration is considering insisting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) toughen its policing of Iran’s compliance, including demanding access to military sites, sources have told Reuters.

The United States would need support from the 34 other countries who sit on the IAEA board of governors for military site inspections.

But the new administration has so far not contacted the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog responsible for verifying Iran’s adherence to the deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said.

“This is a very early stage of the Trump administration but we are very willing to have interaction with them as soon as possible,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a summit in Dubai.

The IAEA remains in “constant interaction” with U.S. civil servants.

Amano said “Iran is implementing the JCPOA” apart from some breaches that saw its stock of heavy water slightly exceed the limit set under agreement which have been rectified.

Under the deal, Iran is allowed to have 130 tonnes of heavy water. Heavy water reactors can more efficiently produce plutonium, which can be used in weapons.

Iran retaliates, denies US wrestling team visas after Trump ban

Iran has refused visas for US athletes due to compete in an international wrestling tournament in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, the foreign ministry said Friday.

“Considering the policies adopted by the new US administration, the foreign ministry was inevitably forced to refuse travel by the US wrestling team to Iran,” spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

The team was due to take part in the event in western Iran from February 16-17.

Trump signed an executive order a week ago barring entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocking citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry for 90 days.

The order, which caused mayhem worldwide and has been met with legal challenges, was later clarified to say that green card holders were not targeted by the ban.

Iran on Thursday rejected a warning from Trump over its latest missile test as “baseless and provocative”, reflecting growing tensions between Tehran and the new US administration.

“Iran is playing with fire” – President Donald Trump lashes out on Twitter.

The 45th President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to lash out at Iran over the nuclear deal the Obama-led US government sealed with Iran.


The tensions between the two countries have been simmering since the election of Trump, a harsh critic of the nuclear deal with lran that the Obama administration brokered. Last week, Trump announced a temporary travel ban on nationals from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries, barring them from entering the United States.

Speaking to reporters Thursday in Tehran, the Iranian adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, dismissed what he called the US leader’s “baseless ranting” and said that even Americans were not satisfied with “Trump’s extremism,” according to Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency.
Velayati blasted Trump as lacking sufficient experience, saying he should take lessons from his predecessor, Barack Obama. Those who threaten the Muslim world should take a look at US failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, he added.
Mr Trump has however taken to social media to put out a stern warning to the Iranian Government.
Take a look at the Tweet below:

US to halt visa applications from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen for 30 days

President Donald Trump is on Thursday poised to suspend the US refugee program for four months and to halt visas for travellers from seven Muslim countries, according to US media.

A draft executive order published in the Washington Post said refugees from war-torn Syria will be indefinitely banned, while the broader US refugee admissions program will be suspended for 120 days as officials draw up a list of low risk countries.

Meanwhile, all visa applications from countries deemed a terrorist threat — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — will be halted for 30 days.

Alongside this, the Pentagon will be given 90 days to draw up a plan to set up “safe zones” in or near Syria where refugees from its civil war can shelter.

It is unclear whether the published draft is the final version, or when Trump will sign it, but it would make good on his campaign promises.

Trump told ABC News late Wednesday that his plan to limit the entry of people from Muslim countries was necessary because the world is “a total mess.”

“No it’s not the Muslim ban, but it’s countries that have tremendous terror,” Trump said. “And it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.”

Trump refused to say which countries were on the list, but he did say he believed that Europe “made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries,” describing it as “a disaster.”

Trump was asked if he worried that the limits would anger Muslims around the world.

“Anger? There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?” he said.

“The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place. … We went into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out. The world is a total mess.”

– Playing into IS hands? –
Trump’s hardline attitude towards what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism” was one of the most controversial themes of his election campaign.

Rights groups have accused him of stigmatizing a global faith, and some experts warn that offending America’s Muslim allies will hurt the fight against extremism.

“Turning our back on vulnerable refugees doesn’t protect the United States,” said Michael Olsen, former director of the US National Counterterrorism Center.

“In fact, it plays into ISIS’s false narrative that we are at war with all Muslims instead of terrorist organizations,” he told watchdog Human Rights First.

Trump also vowed to “eradicate ISIS from the face of the earth”, which proved popular with US voters.

Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, told the group that the executive order would threaten refugees who risked their lives to help US troops.

“Banning the admission of Syrian refugees contradicts American values, undermines American leadership and threatens American security by making the ISIS case that we are at war with Islam,” he argued.

– No ‘major negative’ in Trump refugee plan –
Other former officials, however, were not worried by the pending order — suggesting that while it has little use as a security measure, anger would blow over.

James Jeffrey, who was deputy national security adviser under former president George W. Bush, said: “I don’t think there’ll be much of a change in anything.”

Jeffrey argued that even under former president Barack Obama, the United States had allowed in very few Syrian refugees — only 18,000 since the war began in 2011.

Meanwhile, allies in the Sunni Muslim world are far more concerned by the immediate threats posed by Iran and the Islamic State group than by US visa law.

“So I don’t see a major negative in foreign affairs from this,” said Jeffrey, now a fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“We had a bad reputation no matter what we did even when we were being at our very very tippy-toe best with Barack Obama. It doesn’t matter,” he told AFP.

“In populations there is a great deal of skepticism about the United States. It’s hard-wired, regardless of the president, no matter what we do.”

The possible draft signing on Thursday would be the latest in a daily series of executive orders rolled out by Trump’s administration since he took office on Friday — touching on national security, immigration, and health care.

Also Thursday, Trump is to speak before Republican lawmakers at their winter retreat in Philadelphia — an opportunity for him to reassure some of his party faithful about the actions of his provocative first week at the White House.

U.S. ship fires warning shots at Iranian Guard boats

A U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at several patrol boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Gulf, the U.S. Defence Department said on Monday.


The shots were fired Sunday after four fast boats approached the U.S. destroyer Mahan at high speed, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis said.


Before firing the three warning shots, the crew of the U.S. ship attempted to make contact with the Iranians over the radio, but received no response, Davis said.


Davis accused the Iranian Guard of actions that were “unsafe and unprofessional.’’


White House spokesperson Josh Earnest echoed Davis’ comments, saying that “the behaviour is unacceptable.’’


There have been multiple incidents involving the U.S. military and the Revolutionary Guard in the Gulf.


The Pentagon said there were 35 such incidents last year, 23 in 2015.


State Department spokesperson John Kirby said there had been no communication between the U.S. and Iran on the diplomatic front.

Former Iran president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dies of heart attack at 82.

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died on Sunday at the age of 82, a big blow to moderates and reformists deprived now of their most influential supporter in the Islamic establishment.

He had been described as “a pillar of the Islamic revolution”. His pragmatic policies – economic liberalisation, better relations with the West and empowering elected bodies – appealed to many Iranians but were despised by hardliners.

Few have wielded such influence in modern Iran but since 2009 Rafsanjani and his family faced political isolation over their support for the opposition movement which lost a disputed election that year to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani headed the Expediency Council, a body which is intended to resolve disputes between the parliament and the Guardian Council.

He was also a member of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that selects the supreme leader, Iran’s most powerful figure. His absence from that debate, whenever it happens, means the chances of a pragmatist emerging as the next supreme leader are reduced.

His death ahead of May’s presidential elections is a blow to moderate president Hassan Rouhani who allied himself with Rafsanjani to win the 2013 election and went on to resolve Iran’s long standoff with the West on the nuclear programme.

“The soul of the great man of the Revolution, symbol of patience and resistance has gone to Heaven,” Rouhani tweeted.

Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University, said his death could not have come at a worse time, as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office.

“With what is happening in the U.S. and the possible instability that is going to come in U.S. policy you needed a voice of reason and pragmatism that had some heft to it. He was that voice.”

“Losing that voice is going to make it more likely that any mishap or miscalculation by the Trump team will beget a more unreasonable, more radical, more potentially destructive response by the Iranian regime,” he added.

Trump had said during his campaign for the White House that he would scrap Iran’s pact with world powers – under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for lifted sanctions – describing it as “the worst deal ever negotiated”.

He also said he would not “rip up” the nuclear deal, but that he would “police that contract so tough they don’t have a chance.”

A U.S. State Department official on Sunday described Rafsanjani ?as a “prominent figure” throughout the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. “We send our condolences to his family and loved ones,” the official said in a statement.

Rafsanjani’s body was taken to Jamaran prayer hall, the famous residence of the founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini, where many politicians and religious figures gathered to pay their last respects.

A crowd also gathered outside the hospital in northern Tehran where Rafsanjani was first taken.

“Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was taken to hospital after a heart attack and more than an hour long efforts by doctors to revive him were not successful,” deputy health minister Mohammad Aghajani was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.


His belief that reforms would help prolong Iran’s Islamic governance contrasted with those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who fears such changes could hasten its demise.

Voicing his condolences, Khamenei said that political differences never overshadowed his nearly 60 years of friendship with Rafsanjani.

“Attempts by wicked people who tried to take advantage of our differences of opinion never affected his deep personal warmth towards me,” Khamenei said in a statement.

Rafsanjani’s funeral will be held in Tehran on Tuesday. Iran has announced three days of mourning including a public holiday on Tuesday, for Rafsanjani, who was president from 1989 to 1997.

Rafsanjani championed improved relations with Gulf Arab states, was known to have good ties with senior Saudi officials and was seen as a key figure who could have resolved rising tensions between the regional rivals in coming years.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, whose country has tense relations with Iran, voiced condolences on Twitter over Rafsanjani’s death.

Nigeria, two others get special concessions as OPEC agrees to cut oil output.

Nigeria, Iran and Libya got special concessions Wednesday, as the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, reached the much-sought consensus to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day, effective January 1, 2017.

The cut, which is the first after eight previous attempts since 2008, is considered a massive boost to efforts by the global oil cartel to shore up oil prices and end a record glut that has paralyzed economies.

It is also seen as a major achievement by OPEC’s Secretary General, Nigeria’s Mohammad Barkindo, whose diplomatic shuttles since assumption of office in August, led to the “Algiers Accord” that sought to stabilize the market and boost price.

OPEC President, Mohammed Al-Sada, who announced the resolution on Wednesday at the end of the body’s 171st meeting in Vienna, Austria, said the adjustment in output would be shared among all members of the group, to bring their ceiling to 52.5 million barrels per day.

The cut is subject to a review after six months, with a possible rollover for another six months on the recommendation of a ministerial monitoring committee of three OPEC counties, namely Kuwait, Venezuela and Algeria. The countries are to closely monitor the implementation and compliance with the agreement.

Mr. Al-Sada, who is also Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry, said the latest output cut was subject to another 600,000 barrels expected to be cut by non-OPEC oil producers who have agreed to support the effort to re-balance the market and restore stability.

The OPEC president said the Russian Federation has agreed to take responsibility for about 300,000 barrels per day out of the non-OPEC volume, with final decision expected during a December 9 meeting in Dorha.

The 1.2 million BPD cut followed an agreement by members to implement a deal proposed during the last September meeting in Algiers to reduce crude oil production by at least one million barrels by November.

During the September resolution, three countries, namely Nigeria, Iran and Libya were proposed as candidates for exemptions in consideration of their peculiar circumstances.

Nigeria was recommended for exemption to enable it recover from the negative impact of incessant attacks on its oil facilities by armed militant groups in the Niger Delta region, which resulted in a massive cut in its production and exports capacities.

Libya was equally proposed for special consideration on similar grounds, following series of attacks on its oil facilities by terrorists groups operating in that region in recent months.

But, Iran was to be excluded to allow the country settle down and recover, after serving years of U.S.-imposed sanctions, including restrictions on its oil production and exports.

Although details of each country’s output adjustments were yet to be released by the OPEC secretariat, Mr. Al-Sada said Saudi Arabia, the group’s biggest producer, agreed to the biggest slice of about 486,000 BPD.

At the opening session, OPEC President, Mohammed Al-Sada, said the current situation in the global oil market required urgency in “bringing forward the re-balancing of the fundamentals and returning sustainable stability to the market.”

He said members considered all factors and processes in arriving at the decision, which he said would ultimately help revive the industry and boost reinvestment efforts to raise oil production capacity to secure the mid to long term security of supply

“We knew re-balancing the market will need courageous decisions from OPEC, with the support of some key non-OPEC countries. We agreed to share the reduction among OPEC countries, taking into consideration that some countries needed to be given special considerations because of their peculiar circumstances,” he explained.

The monitoring committee is expected to submit a report to the next meeting of the group scheduled for May 25, 2017.

“This a major step forward to re-balance the market and reduce the stock overhang, will be fair to both consumers and suppliers and ensure that the economy is moved to a healthier level of inflation and growth,” Mr. Al-Sada said.

Iran warns of retaliation if U.S. breaches nuclear deal

Extending U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach Iranian nuclear agreement, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday, warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved.

The U.S. House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years.

The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry and deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear agreement, also known as JCPOA, last year.

It imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have badly hurt its economy.

“The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei said, addressing a gathering of members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to his website.

“The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the nation would definitely react to it.”

The U.S. lawmakers passed the bill one week after Republican Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

Republicans in Congress unanimously opposed the agreement, along with about two dozen Democrats, and Trump has also criticized it.

Lawmakers from both parties said they hoped bipartisan support for a tough line against Iran would continue under the new president.

President-elect Trump once said during his campaign that he would “rip up” the agreement, drawing a harsh reaction from Khamenei, who said if that happens, Iran would “set fire” to the deal.

The House of Representatives also passed a bill last week that would block the sale of commercial aircraft by Boeing and Airbus to Iran.

The White House believes that the legislation would be a violation of the nuclear pact and has said Obama would veto the measure even if it did pass the Senate.

Iran, China Sign Agreement To Boost Defense-military Cooperation

Iran and China have signed an agreement to boost defense-military cooperation and fight terrorism.

The agreement was inked by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan in Tehran on Monday at the end of an earlier meeting between the two sides.

“The development of [Iran’s] long-term defense-military relations and cooperation with China is among the top priorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defense diplomacy,” Dehqan said in the meeting.

He added that the two countries’ defense-military cooperation would guarantee regional and international peace and security.

He emphasized that all countries in Asia and the Oceania shoulder the responsibility to maintain peace and stability.

“Today, foreign meddling and lack of respect for the national sovereignty of countries have turned the Middle East region into a hotbed of crisis and insecurity in the world and led to [the emergence of] terrorism and its spread throughout the world,” Dehqan said.

He added that the US and some regional countries are supporting terrorism and the scourge is overflowing into Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus as well as other regions.

“Today, the threat of Daesh and terrorism has turned into an important regional and international challenge,” the Iranian defense minister said.

Read More: presstv

Extremism: FG urged to stop Nigerians travelling to study in Iran.

Africans studying various higher institutions in Cyprus under the banner of African Students in Cyprus have called on the Nigerian government to stop Nigerian youths traveling to the republic of Iran to study, warning that some of them end up being radicalized.

The students during a march to against terrorism and extremism at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus, said Nigeria faces future security risk if it continues to allow youths travel to countries where they end up being radicalized.

The President of the student group, Jeremiah Omadachi, who addressed the protest, said some youths who travel to Iran under the guise of studying are also shipped off to other countries such as Yemen and Somlia where the same fate awaits them.

The students warned the Nigerian authorities and foreign affairs ministry that the threat of radicalization by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzakky’s Islamic Movement in Nigeria is real and should not be taken for granted by the country.

The students cited the example of underwear bomber, Abdul Mutalab.

They said it was an embarrassment to the country.

Omadichi said: “As Africans living here in Cyprus, we have followed events in Nigeria and must confess that we have great concerns about the growing sectarian division there. The names of several sects are coming up in the daily accounts being rendered online but the name of Shiite sect, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has remained a constant.

“We are aware through contacts with other communities and nationals here that the cover that IMN and Iran use is to make youths pretend they are travelling to get education.

“The frightening reality however is that young Nigerians that travel to Iran end up being radicalised and indoctrinated into extremism. There has been indications that they are also getting military training provided by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”

Omadichi said the Nigerian Government and other African leaders must do everything possible to prevent Iran from expanding the Middle East crisis to Africa by using IMN as a front.

According to him, the Islamic Republic must be told in very clear terms that it should sort out its problems with its regional neighbours and not attempt opening a new front in its war of attrition in Nigeria.

He said: “Our continent is too dear to us to keep quiet while Iran stokes the fire of sectarian strife.

“We appeal to the Nigerian government to immediately mount an enlightenment campaign that would educate Nigerian youths on the danger of travelling to Iran of all places in the erroneous impression that they will get useful education. They must be told of the reality of the harrowing experiences of those that have made the perilous journey.

“Some of the youths who think they will be getting education as professionals have ended up finding themselves as unwilling recruit into the Iranian terror infrastructure. Some have died in the course of being trained as terrorists while those that managed to return home to Nigeria often discover they have been fashioned into misfits.”

Sheik Zakzaky: The Face of Iran’s dangerous plan in Africa.

Just as Nigeria is winning the battle against the ISIS-aligned Boko Haram terrorist organization, it faces an even greater threat from Iran.

The Iranian-financed and trained Shiite movement, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), has pledged a “tragedy of monumental proportions” if the fanatic group’s jailed leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, continues to remain in custody.

This week, the radical Shiite movement, estimated at over four million, intends to descend on Abuja to instigate a Khomeinist uprising. It claims it will be peaceful, but the Iranian-backed group resorts to violent confrontation with non-Shiite residents to assert control over the streets. Many fear bloody chaos as Shiite radicals pledge to “storm” the capital.

Imposing ‘Khomeinism’ on Nigeria

Zakzaky has been held in custody since December 2015 following clashes between the army and IMN’s armed Shiite thugs, who blocked and attacked a convoy carrying an army chief. Sunnis living in IMN’s stronghold areas accuse the group of running a parallel government that uses extortion and terror.

A judicial commission of inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government to investigate the clash blamed Zakzaky for the incident which led to the loss of 348 Shiite lives. The inquiry reported that “The IMN is notorious for engaging in hate and dangerous speech that provoke other Muslims … Members of the IMN owe absolute loyalty to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.

He therefore bears responsibility for all acts of lawlessness committed by the organization and should therefore be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted.”

Nigerian Shiite Muslims take to the street to protest and demanded the release of Shiite leader Ibraheem Zakzaky in Cikatsere, Nigeria. (AP)

But the incident is minor compared to the capabilities of the four million-strong Shiite extremist group, which plans to emulate the Islamic revolution in Iran. Iran co-opted Zakzaky – an Islamist under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood – soon after the 1979 Revolution and he has formed a key part of the regime’s strategy to identify recruits and create and expand militant cells.

Iran’s soft power in Africa

The leverage Iran has gained within Nigeria is the result of over three decades of the Islamic Republic’s use of soft power in Africa.

Iran needs diplomatic allies as a counter-weight to Western and Arab states. With 54 states, the continent also carries with it UN votes that can be wooed with sufficient encouragement. Africa accounts for half the members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has influence within the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, both of which are highly important in Iran’s strategic considerations.

Some of Iran’s long-term partnerships in Africa, whether with local radical groups or governments such as Sudan, specifically aim at exporting the Islamic Revolution by exploiting the potential in Muslim countries and communities on the continent.

Support for insurgent or militant groups is driven by Article 154 of the Iranian constitution which states that the government will support “the just struggles of the mustad’afun (oppressed) against the mustakbirun (oppressors) in every corner of the globe.” The notion of “oppression” is defined according to the strategic interests of the Iranian government, which notoriously executes political dissidents for “waging war on Allah”.

By building a bridgehead into Nigerian society, Iran seeks to attack social pressure points in order to weaken the regional role of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest and most populous economy. Nigeria’s position as a major crude oil supplier, particularly to Canada and Europe, and the importance of its sea ports also give it a pivotal role in the global economy. By creating chaos in Nigeria, Tehran can target Western economic interests.

Iran also seeks to undermine the power of President Muhammadu Buhari, under whom Nigeria has formed closer relations with Saudi Arabia. Nigeria joined the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), formed in December 2015, and provides pan-Islamic unity behind Saudi efforts to quash the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency in Yemen. It was at this time that IMN launched its road blockades in Kaduna state and attacked the army chief, putting in motion the campaign for the planned uprising in Abuja.

Arming Nigerian Shiites

With the resources of a government behind it, the IMN would not require clandestine involvement in the kinds of criminality associated with terrorism and insurgency. As such, much of its activities remain under the radar of the civilian police. Iran is able to export large amounts of weapons via its own regional trade networks and can facilitate financing through diplomatic channels and using its banking network as well as the illicit trade in diamonds and gold and exploiting poor levels of governance and corruption.

Iran is keen to militarize its Nigerian proxy. Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, insisted during the P5+1 negotiations that Iran should be able to purchase and ship military hardware at any time and from any place. Araghchi vowed: “Whenever we consider it necessary for our own security, [or] to help our allies … we will provide weapons. … We don’t feel shy. We will provide weapons to whomever and whenever we consider appropriate. And we will buy weapons from wherever we can.”

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a Shiite group, praying at a mass grave in the outskirts of northern Nigerian city of Kaduna. (AFP)

Iran has already established terrorist operations in Nigeria in association with local Shiite radicals, overseen by the Hezbollah network in the region’s influential Lebanese community as well as Qods Force commanders in the Iranian Embassy in Abuja. Nigeria has tolerated the presence of Hezbollah operatives, which has given Iran the opportunity to use the country for illicit arms shipments, espionage and the preparation of terrorist attacks.

In 2013, the Nigerian authorities arrested a Hezbollah cell that had been storing an arms cache in a residence owned by the Lebanese consul to Sierra Leone. Although the cell had planned to attack Western targets, a judge declared that Hezbollah was not recognized as a terrorist organization and charges of terrorism were dropped.

In the same year, Nigerian Shiite preacher Abdullahi Berende and his accomplice Shaeed Adewumi were charged with membership of a “high profile terrorist network” that is planning possible attacks on foreign targets on behalf of the Iranian government. The men were accused of travelling to Tehran and Dubai to receive cash and had been spying on foreign cultural and commercial interests.

The Iranian government has also conducted arms smuggling operations through Nigeria using the CMA CCG shipping company, owned by the French Lebanese shipping magnate Jacques Saadé. In 2010, the company breached UN sanctions by shipping 13 containers of illegal Iranian weaponry, including 107 mm artillery rockets (Katyushas), explosives and rifle ammunition, into Lagos’ Apapa Port.

The MV Everest originally picked up the containers from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Two Nigeria-based members of the Qods Force, an elite unit of the IRGC, were implicated in the arms shipment and fled the country. One was Qods Force commander for operations in Africa Ali Akbar Tabatabaei, who operated under diplomatic immunity and was reassigned to Venezuela to oversee the unit’s Latin American operations. It is inconceivable that the Iranian arms smuggling and espionage network has no relationship with the IMN.

Waging instability for Islamic Revolution

While the IMN is a violent organization, it has so far avoided overt terrorist or guerrilla tactics to advance its aims. This is a strategic rather than an ideological position. Zakzaky has made clear his intent to lead an Islamic revolution and the militaristic nature of the IMN’s hierarchical structure with strong loyalty towards its leader means it is capable and willing to wage a guerrilla war when required.

With its uniformed and regimented paramilitary cadre, IMN could unleash Nigeria’s greatest existential threat since the Biafra War in the 1960s. A further knock to the federal government’s hold in the Muslim north risks upsetting the fragile peace of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, which is faced with deadly tribal rivalries in the middle belt and resurgent militancy in the overwhelmingly Christian oil-rich Delta region.

Prompted by Iran, a Shiite uprising could potentially destabilize the north of the country in a bloody sectarian clashes, drawing troops away from battle against Boko Haram and leading to a domino effect of instability across Africa’s most populous country.
Daniel Brett is a British journalist specializing in the politics and economics of Africa and the Middle East. His LinkedIn profile is:

Iran Condemns Attack on Nigerian Shia Muslims.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned deadly attacks on Shiite Muslims attending religious mourning processions in Nigeria, stressing the Nigerian government’s responsibility to ensure security for people.

Following Wednesday’s attacks on Shiite mourners in Nigeria’s cities of Kaduna and Funtua, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi called for efforts to end “cruel and violent acts by extremist and Wahhabi-affiliated forces that are, unfortunately, either supported or ignored by the Nigerian police.”

He underscored the need for the perpetrators of the bloody shootings to be immediately arrested and brought to justice.

Qassemi also highlighted the Abuja government’s responsibility for protection of Shiite mourners and ensuring security of the religious rites.

At least nine Shiite mourners were killed in Kaduna and Futuna on Wednesday after troops opened fire on them at Ashura processions, an event marking the anniversary of martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam.

Tensions have been running high between the regime and Nigeria’s Shiite Muslims who have been demanding the release of prominent cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky from prison.

The confrontation follows a spate of arrests over recent days of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, the mainstream Shiite group led by Sheikh Zakzaky.

The government has imposed a ban to prevent the movement’s supporters from attending ceremonies marking the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (AS).

Jordanian Writer who Posted Cartoon Mocking ISIS and Muslims Killed Outside Courthouse

A prominent Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar standing trial for sharing a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam was shot dead by an lone gunman outside a court house in Amman, the capital of Jordan. 56 year old Hattar was struck by three bullets as he made his way into the court house yesterday Sept. 25th.

He was preparing to enter the courthouse for a hearing when the gunman shot him at close range.

Hattar, a Christian, was arrested on August 13th after posting a caricature on his Facebook account that depicted a bearded man in heaven smoking in bed with women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews. He removed the cartoon shortly thereafter, saying “it mocks terrorists and their concept of God and heaven. It does not infringe God’s divinity in any way”.

It is not known who produced the cartoon. Many Jordanian Muslims found the cartoon offensive and against their religion. Authorities said Hattar violated the law by widely sharing the caricature. He was charged with inciting sectarian strife and insulting Islam before being released on bail in early September. Spokesperson of the Jordanian government, Mohammad Momani, condemned Hattar’s killing as a “heinous crime”.

“The government will strike with an iron hand all those who exploit this crime to broadcast speeches of hatred to our community,” he told the Petra agency.

The gunman who shot him has been arrested and is to face investigation and trial.

Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning journalist and director of Community Media Network, told Al Jazeera Hattar’s killing represents a “scary situation where people with opinions we don’t like or the government doesn’t like become susceptible to assassination”.
“It’s a clear case of intellectual terror,” said Kuttab.
“The omen is that many people are now going to be worried about what they say … It’s a scary situation for people who believe in the freedom of thought and opinion and the right of expressing their opinion.”

Iran Oil Exports At Highest Level Since 2012

The latest shipping data show that Iran’s exports of crude oil in August increased 15 percent from July and exceeded 2 million barrels per day (mb/d) – the highest level in almost five years.

Reuters quoted an unnamed source with knowledge of Iran’s tanker loading schedule that the country’s oil exports in August had reached as high as 2.11 mb/d. The figure, the source added, is almost double the volume for the country’s exports over the same period last year.

Iran’s crude exports in August climbed from 1.9 million bpd in June and 1.83 million bpd in July, Reuters added.

The Agency further emphasized that Iran’s oil exports currently stands at the highest level since 2012 and is close to the volumes of pre-sanctions years.

Iran’s exports of oil stood at 2.35 m/bpd before the sanctions were imposed against the country in 2011.  The sanctions restricted the country’s oil exports to around 1 m/bpd among other economic bans – already described by analysts as the toughest the world has ever seen.  They were lifted in January after a deal that Iran reached with the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – over the Iranian nuclear energy program became effective.

Read More: presstv

Vatican: Iran Must join Fight Against Terrorism

Pope Francis held talks with Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, at the Vatican Tuesday, calling on Tehran to play a key role in stopping the spread of terrorism as Iran tries to improve its image in the global arena following an agreement on its nuclear program.
Hassan Rouhani made the first state visit to Europe by an Iranian president in almost two decades this week, following the lifting of sanctions against his country.

The pontiff warmly clasped the hand of President Hassan Rouhani in the first official call paid on a pontiff by an Iranian president since 1999. They held 40 minutes of private talks before Rouhani met with other top Vatican officials.

The talks “delved into the conclusion and application of the nuclear accord, and the important role that Iran is called upon to play, together with other countries of the region, was highlighted,” the Holy See said.

It added that that role should “foster adequate political solutions to the issues plaguing the Middle East, fighting the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking.”
The “cordial” talks also stressed common spiritual values, the statement said.

Usually it’s the pope who asks his audience to pray for him. This time, after the two men spoke with the help of Italian and Farsi language translators, it was the guest who asked the pope for prayers. “I ask you to pray for me,” Rouhani said.

The Vatican meeting was a key part of the Iranian effort to take a more prominent place on the world stage after the nuclear deal with Western powers.

Iran, which agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for an end to economic sanctions, is eager to carve out a bigger role in mediating Middle East conflicts. Francis’ papacy has emphasized mediation and conflict-resolution, including his role in helping Cuba and the United States to normalize their relations.

Rouhani heads to France today on his four-day European trip seeking to boost Iran’s image abroad as well as to rehabilitate economic ties with a continent that had been a big trade partner before the sanctions.

Francis gave Rouhani a medal depicting St. Martin giving his cloak to a poor man in the cold, describing the saint’s act as “a sign of unsolicited brotherhood.”
Rouhani brought a gift of a hand-made rug that he said was made in the Iranian holy city of Qom.

Before going to the Vatican, Rouhani told a forum of business leaders in Rome that “Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region.”
Italy also sees Iran as a potential peacemaker in Syria’s civil war, as the Italian government fears the warfare will further destabilize Libya — just across the Mediterranean from southern Italy — fuel terrorism and jeopardize energy security.

“Italy has always backed the role of Iran as a regional player in resolving tensions in the area, starting with the Syrian crisis,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said after meeting his Iranian counterpart, according to his office.

Rouhani has described the political talks leading to the nuclear deal as a potential blueprint for pursuing peace in the Middle East.

Nigeria, Iran Clash Over OPEC Emergency Meeting

With the global economy reeling from plunging oil prices occasioned by massive over production, Nigeria, a key member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which depends hugely on oil revenue for its foreign exchange, has requested an emergency meeting to discuss steps to possibly cut down oil production and prop up oil prices.

But Nigeria’s call has been opposed by Iran, another prominent OPEC member, which claimed that the time is not yet right for such an intervention.

Minister of state for petroleum resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, made the call for an OPEC emergency while speaking at a panel session at the ongoing World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, adding Nigeria’s voice to those of OPEC members, such as Venezuela, that are requesting an emergency meeting of the oil-producing nations to address the current oil crisis.

Speaking at the session, Kachikwu stated that with the oil industry in its current state, the members of the OPEC, which produce about one-third of the world’s oil, needed to do something proactive soon.

He said, “There is a lot of energy around trying to meet earlier. Obviously, some of that is a panic reaction. Do we just sit back and watch? Or do we put more efforts in talking to countries, like Russia, to try to get some consensus of what we need to be doing?”

However, Iran disagreed with the premise of an emergency meeting as the country’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, stated that the organisation currently has little intention of making a drastic change.

“There should be an intention to make a firm decision in such a meeting; otherwise, the meeting will have negative impacts on world oil markets. The important thing is that there must be an intention for change, but we have not yet received such a signal,” the oil minister said, according to Reuters.

Credit: Leadership

South Africa To Stop Buying Crude Oil From Nigeria, Opens Talks With Iran

Nigeria’s woes in the area of dwindling revenue from crude oil sales is expected to heighten in the next couple of days, as the South African Petroleum Industry Association, SAPIA, yesterday, stated that South Africa would likely stop importing crude oil from Nigeria following the lifting of the sanctions on Iran.

fuel-pump Executive Director of the SAPIA, Avhapfani Tshifularo, told journalists that the potential return of Iranian oil exports to South Africa threaten to displace barrels from Saudi Arabia and Nigeria that plugged the supply gap when sanctions were imposed on Iran, which is OPEC’s fifth biggest producer.

He said: “The re-emergence of Iranian crude oil provides options for those willing to buy from Iran.
Iranian imports are likely to displace the Nigerian and Saudi Arabian crudes, since they seem to have filled the gap since South Africa stopped importing Iranian crude oil.”

Furthermore, data compiled by SAPIA from refiners showed that South Africa stopped importing crude oil from Iran in 2013, following which its oil imports from Nigeria rose significantly, with Saudi Arabia emerging the highest exporter of crude to the country.

Recent data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, had showed that a sharp decline was recorded in revenue accruable to the Federal Government from the petroleum sector, as the country’s earnings from crude oil export dropped to N5.271 trillion for the nine month period, January to September 2015.

The NBS, in its Foreign Trade Statistics for the Third Quarter of 2015, had noted that the value of Nigeria’s crude oil export for the nine month period 2015, represented a decline of 45.39 per cent or N4.381 trillion when compared to crude oil export of N9.652 trillion recorded in the same period in 2014.

It also represented a decline of 55.67 per cent or N6.62 trillion when compared to total crude oil earnings of N11.891 trillion recorded in 2014.

Giving a breakdown of Nigeria’s crude oil earnings in nine-month 2015, the NBS data revealed that the country earned N1.675 trillion from crude oil export in the first quarter of 2015, N1.984 trillion and N1.611 trillion in the second and third quarters respectively.

This was in contrast to crude oil export earnings of N3.234 trillion, N3.269 trillion and N3.149 trillion for the first, second and third quarters respectively, while in the fourth quarter of 2014, the country earned N2.239 trillion from the export of the commodity in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Further breakdown of the 2015 figures showed that the country earned N505.898 billion, N591.964 billion, N577.361 billion, N698.387 billion and N668.526 billion in January, February, March, April and May respectively.

In the months of June, July, August and September, Nigeria’s crude oil export stood at N617.364 billion, N572.813 billion, N512.823 billion and N525.857 billion respectively.

Source: Vanguard

Fear Grips OPEC Over Iran’s Threat To Increase Production By 500,000bpd

Members of Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, are beginning to panic after Iran declared on Saturday that it would increase its oil export production by 500,000 barrels per day.

Since the sanction was lifted, oil prices hit their lowest since 2003 on Monday.

The United States and European Union on Saturday revoked sanctions that had cut Iran’s oil exports by about 2 million barrels per day (bpd) since their pre-sanctions 2011 peak to little more than 1 million bpd.

Despite repeated warnings and pleadings by OPEC, Iran, also a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), insisted on Sunday that it would go ahead with export increase.

Worries about Iran’s return to an already oversupplied oil market drove down Brent crude LCOc1 to $27.67 a barrel early on Monday, its lowest since 2003. The benchmark was at $28.59 by 0921 GMT, down 38 cents from its settlement on Friday.

As at Friday, January 15, OPEC’s daily basket price stood at $24.74 a barrel, and analysts still predict a drop to $10 as Iran starts pumping more oil into the market.

U.S. crude CLc1 was down 38 cents at $29.04 a barrel, not far from a 2003 low of $28.36 hit earlier in the session.
“Iranian export is coming at a very bad time,” analysts at Barclays said.

The ban cut the country off with nearly 80 million population from the global financial system, drastically reduced the exports of a major oil producer and imposed severe economic hardship on ordinary Iranians.

In retaliation, Iran wants the world to feel the hardship it suffered through the years of denial, as the country sees its recent freedom as a means of making more money and boosting the economic standard of its people through increased export.

What this means for OPEC members, is untold hardship as it is presently being experienced, with members countries already cutting down on developmental projects and continuous fall in the value of their currencies. For, instance the official value of the naira, Nigeria’s currency is presently N196.5k to one dollar but it traded at about N297 to the dollar in the parallel market.



Credit :

Nigeria Faces Further Revenue Slump As Iran Returns To Oil Market

Nigeria’s dwindling oil revenue is expected to fall further as Iran is set to commence immediate exports of at least 500,00 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd) following the lifting of international sanctions against the country at the weekend, thus worsening the oil glut in the global market.

The federal government’s 2016 budget, which is predicated on an oil price of $38 per barrel, is already under threat as crude oil prices fell below $30 last week due to an estimated 1.5mbpd excess inventory in the oil market.

With the lifting of sanctions against Iran, the additional one million barrels per day that the country is expected to add to the global market this year will depress prices further, thus worsening Nigeria’s already precarious economic situation.
The United Nations Nuclear Agency on Saturday certified that Iran had met all of its commitments to curb its nuclear programme, and the United States immediately revoked sanctions that had slashed Iran’s oil exports by around 2mbpd since their pre-sanctions 2011 peak to a little more than 1mbpd.
There were strong feelers a month ago that the removal of sanctions would occur earlier than oil traders initially expected.
This fuelled a sell-off which sent the price of Brent crude tumbling 24 per cent since the beginning of the year, the biggest fall since the financial crisis of 2008.

Credit: ThisDay

Kuwait Recalls Envoy To Iran As Saudi, Iran Crisis Deepens

Kuwait on Tuesday became the latest Gulf Arab state to recall its ambassador from Iran to protest attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in the Islamic republic, according to AFP report.

It did not, however, expel Tehran’s ambassador or downgrade the level of diplomatic relationship with Iran.

The announcement comes after Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed ties with predominantly Shiite Iran this week.

And the United Arab Emirates has recalled its ambassador and downgraded ties with the Islamic republic.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, along with Oman and Qatar.

The attacks “represent a flagrant breach of international agreements and norms and a grave violation of Iran’s international commitments for the security of diplomatic missions and the safety of diplomats,” the official KUNA news agency cited the foreign ministry as saying.

Kuwait has maintained good relations with Tehran despite busting in August a cell allegedly spying for Iran.

Around a third of Kuwait’s native population of 1.3 million is Shiite.

Relations between Riyadh and Tehran were already strained over their support for opposite sides in conflicts in Syrian and Yemen, and were exacerbated over Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Oil Prices Rise After Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties With Iran

Oil prices rose Monday on Middle East supply risks after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

At about 1230 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in February climbed 30 cents to $37.34 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for February won 59 cents to stand at $37.87 a barrel compared with Thursday’s close.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, noted that “geopolitical tensions in the Middle East are adding to existing volatility in the price of oil”.

Tensions between major crude producer Iran and its Sunni Arab neighbours reached new heights Monday as the world’s biggest pumper of oil Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies cut or downgraded diplomatic ties with Tehran in a row over the execution of a Shiite cleric.

Angry exchanges following Saudi Arabia’s execution Saturday of prominent Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr erupted into a full-blown diplomatic crisis as Riyadh and then ally Bahrain severed their relations with Tehran.

“Oil started the new year on the mend, as… markets reacted to fears that geopolitical tensions in the Middle East may threaten the supply of oil,” said Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG Markets in Singapore.

Despite the rise, Aw said the persistent global crude oversupply would continue to weigh on prices over the longer term.

“Unless we see a convincing drop in oil output from these two nations, and the broader oil-producing community, the supply glut issue will persist, which means oil prices would remain under pressure for a longer period,” he told AFP.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, whose 13 members include Saudi and Iran, decided last month against cutting output levels despite a plunge in oil prices — in a bid to maintain market share faced with competition from North American shale oil output.

Credit: Vanguard

Iran Summons Nigerian Ambassador To Protest Shi’ite Clashes In The North

Iran has summoned the Nigerian Charge d’Affaires in Tehran to protest against deadly clashes between Shia Muslims in the country’s north and the army.

Iran’s foreign ministry called the violence between the military and followers of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) “unacceptable”, the official ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif had earlier contacted his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama to express his “deep concern” about Saturday’s events in the city of Zaria.

ISNA said at least 12 people were killed, with both sides blaming each other.

The Nigerian military said one of its convoys was attacked by followers of Ibrahim Zakzaky, the leader of the IMN.

“The sect numbering hundreds carrying dangerous weapons, barricaded the roads with bonfires, heavy stones and tyres,” an army statement said.

“The troops responsible for the safety and security of the Chief of Army Staff, on hearing explosions and firing, were left with no choice than to defend him and the convoy at all cost.”

Credit: Aljazeera

Envoy Assures Of Improved Trade Relations Between Nigeria, Iran

Dr Ali Magashi, the Nigerian Charge de Affairs in the Islamic Republic of Iran, has said that efforts are being made to improve trade relations between Nigeria and that country.

Magashi made this known to newsmen on the sideline of the just concluded 3rd Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Tehran, Iran.


“Countries normally have relations for much more than economic reason. We have relations for political reasons, for other reasons.

“But, economically, Nigeria and Iran I can say that our relations are very good, we have interaction economically.

They sell products to us and we also sell some things to them. But we learnt a lot from them. In terms of balance of trade, the balance of trade is against Nigeria.

“They sell more to us than we sell to them and that is what the mission is trying to adjust, that is what Nigeria is now trying to address so that Iranians can buy more from Nigeria so that the difference in the balance of trade will not be so much.’’


Magashi, however, said that relationships between countries should not be evaluated solely on the basis of the balance of trade.

He stressed the need for the retention of the Nigerian mission in Iran so that some other benefits can accrue to Nigeria.

The Charge de Affairs explained that Nigeria stands to gain from the technical and technological advancement of Iran, in view of the latter’s status in global politics.

According to him, the cooperation between Nigeria and Iran, especially in the area of technology transfer, remains laudable.

“It is desirable for Nigeria to maintain its Embassy in Iran because Nigeria and Iran have a very good relation.

“And if you look at the position of Nigeria vis-a-vis West Africa or Africa, Nigeria is a leader in the region.

“Iran is also a leader in the Middle East region or the Gulf region.

“So, it is good to keep relations with Iran, especially, now that we have a large population of Nigerians, those who are studying and those who are here privately.

“And also because this mission is in charge of other countries; we have concurrent accreditation with three other countries.

“So, if you close this mission, you are closing all Nigerians that need assistance from these three countries, namely; Kazakhstan, Armenia and Azerbaijan.’’

On President Buhari’s visit to Tehran, Magashi said that all the Nigerian leader’s scheduled programmes and appointments were carried out diligently.

“I can say that the visit was very successful.

“The President came, all his programme were on time; all what he needed to do he has done them and I can tell you that he had been here before and he has compared his recent visit with the time when he came before the revolution.

“He has seen great developmental efforts that had been made by his host country.

“They have really developed both in terms of technology and otherwise.’’




Iran Sentences US Journalist To Prison

Iran has sentenced detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage, Iranian state TV reported Sunday.
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, the spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, announced the punishment in a statement on the TV station’s website.

“In brief, it is a prison sentence,” he said. The verdict is “not finalized,” he added, referring to an expected appeal.

Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told The Associated Press she had not been informed of the verdict — let alone details of the sentence.

“I have no information about details of the verdict,” she said. “We were expecting the verdict some three months ago.”

Rezaian was detained with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All were later released except Rezaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen.

Rezaian went on trial in four closed-door court hearings at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court over the past months. Last month, he was convicted of spying and other charges.

The Post has vigorously denied the accusations against its correspondent.
Rezaian, who has covered Iran for the Post since 2012, grew up in Marin County, California and spent most of his life in the United States. The Post, U.S. officials and Rezaian’s family have all called for his release. Iran does not recognize dual-nationality.

Iran’s state media, citing the indictment, have said Rezaian collected information on Iranian and foreign individuals and companies circumventing sanctions and passed them on to the U.S. government. Iranian state TV has repeatedly called Rezaian an “American spy.”

Earlier this month, the intelligence department of the powerful elite Revolutionary Guard claimed in a report to parliament that Rezaian is an agent seeking to “overthrow” Iran’s Islamic ruling system.

His incarceration and trial played out as Iran and five world powers, including the U.S., negotiated a landmark agreement in which the Islamic Republic agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Source: AP

Buhari In Iran For Gas Exporting Countries Forum (PHOTOS)

President Muhammadu Buhari Of Nigeria is in Tehran, the capital of Iran, to participate in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) holding on Monday.

The President was received at the Mehrabad International Airport by the Iranian Deputy President, Mr Shariat Mardi around 4.44pm Nigerian time.

Others at the airport to welcome the President were Officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Iran, led by the Charge de Affaire, Dr Ali Magashi, the Minister of foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and the National Security Adviser, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, were also at the airport to welcome the President.


He will hold bilateral talks with other participating heads of state and government on the sidelines of the GECF.

President Buhari and the leaders of Iran, Russia, Qatar, the Netherlands, Venezuela, Oman, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Bolivia and other member-countries of the GECF are expected to review the current market outlook on gas and discuss strategies for boosting gas production during their meeting.

Credit: ChannelsTv

Hundreds Of Muslims Convert To Christianity To Win Asylum In Germany

Hundreds of Muslim migrants  are converting to Christianity hoping that act would give them more chances to win an asylum in Germany.
German officials have begun registering 20,000 and distributing migrants and refugees across the country who have arrived in Munich in over the weekend. The majority of migrants are from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and civil-war-torn Syria. Some of them, mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers have changed faiths at the evangelical Trinity Church in Berlin.

Many claim true belief prompted the move, but the decision undoubtedly improves their chances of
staying in Germany. Moreover, conversion to Christianity by a Muslim in Afghanistan and Iran could
be punished by death or imprisonment, that’s why refugees believe that Germany wouldn’t deport them back home.

Austria and Germany open borders to migrants offloaded by Hungary

Austria and Germany open borders to migrants offloaded by Hungary

Pastor Gottfried Martens from the evangelical Trinity Church recognises that some convert in the hope it will give them chance of winning asylum – but for the pastor motivation is unimportant. According to Martens, many are so taken by the Christian message that it changes their lives and only about 10% of converts do not return to church after christening.

Conversion to Christianity by a Muslim in Afghanistan and Iran could be punished by death or imprisonment

Conversion to Christianity by a Muslim in Afghanistan and Iran could be punished by death or imprisonment

“I know there are – again and again – people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum. I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged,” he said. However, being Christian alone does not help an applicant, as usually priority given to those who already have relatives in the country.

Iranian asylum seekers Aref Movasaq Rodsari (left) and Vesam Heydari stand in the Trinity Church in Berlin

Iranian asylum seekers Aref Movasaq Rodsari (left) and Vesam Heydari stand in the Trinity Church in Berlin

No fewer that 340,000 arrivals have been accepted into Germany during the last 12 months. The 2015 European migrant criss arose through the rising number of refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and South Asia, coming to the European Union and applying for asylum. The majority of the refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

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Iran Relaxes Jail Sanction For Men Who Can’t Pay Dowry

Hard up Iranian husbands will no longer face jail for failing to pay dowries that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, following passage of a new law, it was reported Wednesday.

But spouses who claim to be impecunious yet are then proven to have the means to pay can still look forward to prison.

In the Islamic republic, the families of brides-to-be negotiate fiercely to get the top amount of what is known as Mehrieh, payment in gold coin-like tokens known as bahar azadi (spring of freedom in Farsi).

There are even trendy ways of doing it. A family can ask for one coin for the total number of years in the date she was born, according to the Iranian calendar.

So the dowry of a 24-year-old woman born in 1370 (1991) would be 1,370 coins worth $367,000 (334,000 euros) at the current gold price.

Read More: ngrguardiannews

Abandoning Iran Nuclear Deal Could Mean War – Obama

US President Barack Obama has defended the international nuclear agreement with Iran and warned the US Congress that blocking the pact could spark a war in the Middle East.

Obama’s speech at a Washington university came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a campaign on Wednesday to mobilise Jewish Americans to urge the Republican-led Congress to thwart the historic agreement.

“It is a very good deal,” Obama said.

“Every nation in the world that has commented publicly with the exception of the Israeli government has expressed support,” Obama said.

“I recognise (Israeli) Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees, disagrees strongly – I do not doubt his sincerity – but I believe he is wrong.”

Under the agreement reached between Iran and a group of six world powers known as the P5+1, the countries agreed to lift economic sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Obama warned that abandoning the July 14 pact could accelerate Tehran’s path to a bomb and America’s credibility around the world would be seriously damaged if it refused to abide by the terms of the deal in lifting sanctions against Iran.