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Is Trump Administration Right In Blocking Iranian Aid Request Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic?



The Trump administration has made it clear that it will block Iran’s request for humanitarian aid of $5 billion from the International Monetary Fund claiming that the money will be spent by Iran, not on poor Iranians but to finance its vast network of proxies across the Middle East to further to destabilize the region.

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The Trump administration stated that Tehran has the funds to battle the pandemic, citing the billions of dollars in its sovereign-wealth fund; President Rouhani withdrew 1 billion euros from the fund for that purpose this week.

However, the expected block on loan has irritated prominent Iranian leaders’ who have called the blockade a crime against humanity. In fact, Rouhani has been busy reminding the world leaders of its humanitarian duty and has appealed to countries sympathetic to Iran to call America to lift its blockade.

However, that is easier said than done. The US has the support of Iran’s principal detractor Saudi Arabia and many other Arab countries in addition to more than 16.5% of the IMF’s voting shares which would make it difficult for even the combined efforts of European Union, China, and Russia to prevent the US from blocking the aid.

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Tehran’s behavior too has lent credence to America’s action as the Middle Eastern nation has not given its pursuit of nuclear arms, despite the pandemic killing scores in the country.

A month ago, not only did the country blocked efforts of the United Nations to inspect its nuclear activities but had also threatened to pull out of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty if its actions were reported.

Iran has further antagonized United States and its allies by ceasing to support terrorists’ organisations in neighbouring Iraq and other countries. Another factor likely to hamper Iran’s request for aid is the ransom demand of $5 billion Tehran has made for the release of American hostage Michael White.

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Furthermore, Iranians have themselves hurt their own chances by requesting assistance from the International Monetary Fund on the one hand while also claiming that Iran has not been affected by sanctions in general and especially in its fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Medicines and medical equipments have been exempted from the sanctions and the United States has also pointed out to the fact that Tehran had refused to accept $100 million American help in medical assistance earlier.

However, U.S. sanctions are hindering Iranian efforts to import medicine and other medical equipments to battle the pandemic, according to experts. “There are a lot of shortages, hospitals do not have sufficient diagnostic kits and there is also a shortage of masks,” said Nouradin Pirmoazen, a thoracic surgeon in Iran.

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According to the World Health Organization, the fatalities from the Covid-19 pandemic Iran could be five times as high as official figures show.

The Trump administration has continued exemption on the sale of humanitarian supplies to Iran. The US Treasury Department recently approved a Swiss-sponsored mechanism permitting for the trade of food, medicine and other supplies with Tehran.

“The whole world should know that humanitarian assistance to Iran is wide open. It’s not sanctioned,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to facilitate both the humanitarian assistance moving in and to make sure the financial transactions connected to that can take place as well,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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Many political opponents have also written to the IMF saying that financial assistance will not go to help the poor but instead it will be diverted by the regime for its own purposes.

Even as infections have spread rapidly in Iran, their parliament convened a session against the advice of their health officials with the result being that Ali Larijani – the speaker being the latest among the high profile figures to be quarantined.

The Ayatollahs have blamed the US for all their ills from the time they snatched power from the Shah of Iran in an Islamic Revolution almost 40 years back. To help the common Iranians, Tehran must come forward unconditionally to save the country from the deadly pandemic.

With Inputs From Bobby Ghosh, Bloomberg and Erin Cunningham, Washington Post. Edited By Xavier Francis, EurAsian Times.



US exasperated over Iran-China $400 billion pact

China’s 400 dollar deal is a breather for Iran’s economy which is hard hit by Trump “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic nation. Tehran has been hit hard by these sanctions reimposed following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018.



The US is fuming with China over a possible $400 billion deal with Iran. China and Iran are negotiating a 25-year pact which would get China a substantial discount on the Iranian oil. In return, Beijing will invest a whopping $400 billion in the Islamic nation over a period of 25 years.

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Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic coupled with severe US sanctions, Iran is seeing a looming economic crisis which has led to a destruction of the livelihood of millions of Iranian people.

China’s billion-dollar deal is a breather for Iran’s economy which is hard hit by Trump “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic nation. Tehran has been hit hard by these sanctions reimposed following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018.

Iranian crude exports have been severely curtailed by the US sanctions, as has much of the country’s foreign trade. “Every road is closed to Iran,” said Fereydoun Majlesi, a former diplomat and a columnist for several Iranian newspapers on diplomacy. “The only path open is China. Whatever it is, until sanctions are lifted, this deal is the best option.”

The deal is yet to be approved the Majles, Iran’s parliament. It is expected to expand economic development in a variety of fields, including banking and infrastructure, such as telecommunications and transport.

In return of this investment, Beijing is going to receive Iranian oil at a sharply reduced price for the next quarter-century. This would potentially help Iran roll out its 5G network through China’s global positioning system.

The deal also incorporates military cooperation between Iran and China including weapons development, combined training and intelligence sharing in order to combat “the lopsided battle with terrorism, drug and human trafficking and cross-border crimes”.

Unlike most of the countries, China has sensed the American weakness during the reeling recession amid the Covid-19 pandemic and is ready to defy the US by withstanding Trump’s penalties amid the US-China trade war.

Tehran and Beijing’s show of strength against their common foe, the US has evoked a bitter reaction. The expansion of military assistance, training and intelligence-sharing has alarmed Washington.

China and the US continue to tangle in the internationally disputed waters of the South China Sea while the US warships often challenge Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf. “The United States will continue to impose costs on Chinese companies that aid Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” a US State Department spokeswoman wrote in response to questions about the draft agreement.

“By allowing or encouraging Chinese companies to conduct sanctionable activities with the Iranian regime, the Chinese government is undermining its own stated goal of promoting stability and peace,” she added.

“Iran and China both view this deal as a strategic partnership in not just expanding their own interests but confronting the U.S.,” said Ali Gholizadeh, an Iranian energy researcher at the University of Science and Technology of China in Beijing. “It is the first of its kind for Iran which is keen on having a world power as an ally.”

Beijing’s indifference to regime transgression against the Iranian people and to keep the regime afloat has shattered Washington’s dream of any potential influence that it dreamt of through its maximum pressure campaign. After trying to cut off all of the options available to the regime, it is hardly a surprise if Tehran is willing to accept the way out offered by the Chinese.

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Turkey stands with Azerbaijan “with all it has” against clash with Armenia



Turkish foreign minister on Monday strongly denounced the deadly attack by Armenian armed forces on Azerbaijani troops.

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Mevlut Cavusoglu in a televised interview called on Armenia to “pull its head together” and noted that Turkey stands with Azerbaijan “with all it has”.

Cavusoglu’s remarks came shortly after three Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and four others injured in a border clash with Armenian troops on Sunday.

Regarding Turkey’s recent decision to reconvert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque after serving decades as a museum, the minister said the country strongly rejects comments that try to intervene with country’s the sovereignty rights on the decision.

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years.

The court ruled that the architectural gem was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque — a status that cannot be legally changed.

Furthermore, Cavusoglu reiterated Turkey’s aspirations of cease-fire in Libya and said: “We believe that a political solution is the only solution, but the necessary conditions must be met.”

Libya has been torn by civil war since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Libya’s new government was founded in 2015 under an UN-led agreement, but efforts for a long-term political settlement failed due to the military offensive by warlord Khalifa Haftar’s forces. The UN recognizes the Libyan government headed by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as the country’s legitimate authority.

Merve Aydogan, AA

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S-400 vs Rafale: Turkey to deploy Russian S-400 Missile to counter French Rafale Jets

India would be keeping a close eye as French-built Rafale jets could take on Russian-designed S-400 air defence systems in Libya. India is set to acquire both S-400s and Rafale jets as Turkey looks to protect its interest in Libya



S-400 missiles vs Rafale jets could soon be a reality as Turkey could possibly deploy Russian S-400 air defence systems in Libya to counter the French & Egyptian air force which includes the Mirage and Rafale jets. 

Rafale jets dodge all radars, air defence systems; bombs Turkish facilities in Libya

Turkey has been on the receiving end of attacks by Rafale jets in Libya and is looking to activate the Russian S-400 missiles as a countermeasure.

As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, Rafale jets dodged radars and Turkish air defence systems and bombed the Al-Watiya airbase in Libya. Al-Watiya airbase is used by Ankara and houses Turkish F-16s, Bayraktar B2, Anka S-drones and is defended by MIM-23 Hawk air defence system.

The fact that Rafale jets were able to bomb the Al-Watiya base with relative ease has generated discussions in Turkey to deploy the formidable Russian S-400 missiles in Libya.

As consistently reported by the EurAsian Times, the S-400 is one of the most advanced missile defence systems in the world that can detect, track and destroy aerial targets in a range of 400 km. It is designed to neutralize aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground installations.

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Although Turkey acquired the Russian S-400 air defence systems, Ankara has not decided to activate the missiles due to various geopolitical factors. Currently, Ankara has deployed a combination of medium-range U.S.-made MIM-23 Hawk missile systems, Hisar short-range SAMs, and Korkut antiaircraft guns in Libya.

The Turkish military build-up in Libya allowed the Government of National Accord (GNA), backed by Turkey, Qatar and Italy, to go on the offensive against Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalil Haftar and supported by France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the UAE.

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However, thanks to the advanced Rafale jets the bubble has burst and the limitations of current Turkish air defence systems have been exposed and the need for S-400s seems to be arising.

S-400 vs Rafale Jets

Basel Haj Jasem, an expert on Russian-Turkish relations believes that the deployment of S-400 in Libya would be a win-win for Ankara. Not only would the S-400 missiles be capable to neutralise the French Rafale’s, but it would also allow Turkey to evade U.S. sanctions.

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Washington has threatened Ankara with sanctions and suspended Turkey from the programme to build and operate the latest F-35 jets last year after Turkey bought the S-400s from Moscow. The US disapproves the S-400 purchase by Turkey and argues that it is not compatible with NATO systems and threatens the stealth capabilities of the new fighter jets.

The United States has asked Turkey to sell S-400 missiles to a third party, to deploy them in another country or pledge in writing not to activate the system.

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According to Jasem, one of the most beneficial scenarios that may be accepted by the three main parties is deploying the S-400 system in Libya in line with the security and military agreements between Ankara and Tripoli and after agreeing with Moscow and Washington.

He states that since there is more at stake than just a missile system, Turkey wants to maintain a balance between Russia and the US, preferring not to risk its relations either side at the expense of the other.

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The Libyan Civil War has descended into utter chaos. Countries which are otherwise allies are now enemies and countries which are otherwise enemies are now allies. What happens next in Libya is a hard guess, but defence experts would keep a close watch and see if the French Rafale jets dare to take on the ‘impregnable’ Russian S-400 air defence systems.

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