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Turkey calls on US to reverse decision on F-35 exclusion -

Turkey calls on US to reverse decision on F-35 exclusionThe U.S. decision to exclude Turkey from an American-led fighter jet program goes against the "spirit of alliance," the Turkish government said Thursday, and called on its NATO ally to reverse the decision. In a major break with a longtime ally, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday said Turkey is being kicked out of the F-35 program because it is buying the Russian S-400 air defense system. In a statement, Turkey's Foreign Ministry rejected that assertion.


Thu, 18 Jul 2019 11:52:32 -0400

Germany probes anti-Israel 'likes' by official account -

Germany probes anti-Israel 'likes' by official accountGermany's Foreign Ministry said Thursday it has opened an investigation after learning that the official Twitter account of the country's mission to the Palestinian territories had "liked" anti-Israel tweets. The comments came after top-selling Bild newspaper reported that the "likes" came from the verified Twitter account of German diplomat Christian Clages, @GerRepRamallah. The multiple "likes" included one for a video praising an attack on Israeli soldiers, and another for an exchange between American white supremacist David Duke and another user about an alleged massacre of Jews.


Thu, 18 Jul 2019 10:31:04 -0400

Russia considers joining EU payment system meant to save Iran nuclear deal -

Russia considers joining EU payment system meant to save Iran nuclear dealRussia has said it may join a European Union payment system aimed at salvaging the Iran nuclear deal if it is expanded to include oil purchases.  The system, called Instex, is designed to facilitate payments to Iran despite the US trade sanctions reimposed on the country after Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark agreement in 2018.  With its economy reeling from the US blockage of crucial oil exports, Iran said this month it would begin enriching more uranium than allowed by the “joint comprehensive plan of action”. Tensions with the United States and United Kingdom have risen following several attacks on tankers in the Gulf. Iran said on Thursday it had seized a foreign oil tanker that was “smuggling fuel”. In a not-so-subtle reference to the United States, Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Thursday called Instex an “important initiative” to protect European companies from “illegal attempts by third countries to limit their activities”. He said Russia was watching to see how well it functioned. “With consideration of the initial experience using this system when it is activated, we can't exclude our cooperation in this,” the spokesman said.  Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, however, complained on Wednesday that Instex was only covering deliveries of food, medicine and other humanitarian aid, “which aren't banned by the Americans anyway”. To bolster Iran's economy and ensure the survival of the deal, Instex would need to facilitate oil exports as well, he said.  “Payments of a few million dollars have been completed through this channel. That's nothing compared to the obligations that Iran's partners took on as part of the join comprehensive plan of action,” he said during a press conference with the foreign minister of Côte d'Ivoire. “These assume the unimpeded purchase of Iranian oil and the unimpeded transfer of payments for delivering this energy source.” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talk ahead a German-Russian forum on Thursday Credit: Marius Becker/AFP Another possibility for easing the situation around Iran emerged with reports this week that US senator Rand Paul, who is known for his opposition to US interventions abroad, had gotten Mr Trump's approval to sit down with Iran's foreign minister in an attempt to reduce tensions. Backed by 10 EU states, Instex was launched in January but only went online last month. It offers Iran a credit line of several million euros, far less than the €20bn in annual trade the EU did with Iran before the US sanctions. The EU has said it would welcome third countries to join Instex but is still deliberating over whether the system should include oil payments.  Saving the nuclear deal will require the continued support of Moscow, a key ally of Tehran that has fought alongside it to keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria. Russia is building two nuclear power plants in Iran and has sold it arms like surface-to-air missiles.  It is China, however, that may be able to do the most for Iran's economy by buying its crude oil in defiance of US sanctions. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attends a UN session on sustainable development on Wednesday Credit: Kena Betancur/AFP Mr Lavrov's comments echoed those of Iranian officials who said Instex was a positive development but insufficient to keep the county solvent.   The country's envoy to the United Nations called the system a “very lovely car but without any gasoline”. Russia was continuing talks with Iran, Europe and China to “find not symbolic but real ways of giving Iran the economic benefits that are an inherent part of the deal,” Mr Lavrov said.


Thu, 18 Jul 2019 10:24:07 -0400

Iran seizes oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz -

Iran seizes oil tanker in Strait of HormuzIranian Revolutionary Guards on Thursday said they had seized a foreign oil tanker in the Gulf, raising fears for maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz. The vessel, which was said to have been smuggling fuel to foreign customers, was intercepted south of Iran's Larak Island in the strategic Strait of Hormuz on Sunday and its 12 crew members arrested. “In a bid to identify and fight organised smuggling . . . the patrol boats of the Guards’ naval forces in the Persian Gulf abruptly stopped one of the foreign vessels which carried 1 million litres of smuggled fuel,” a statement by the Guards’ naval forces said.   However, mystery surrounded the capture of what was thought to be the Panama-flagged MT Riah, which went missing over the weekend, as no country came forward to claim ownership. Hormuz: the strategic strait that may plunge US and Iran into war The MT Riah, which began her journey on July 5 near a port off the coast of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, went missing on July 14. The UAE, where Riah is based, has denied she was their vessel. The vessel appears to have changed hands several times in the last few months. The last known manager, KBR Petrochem, could not be reached for comment. Around 30 per cent of global seaborne crude passes through the Strait of Hormuz She was then tracked near the coast of Ras al-Khaimah before changing course and travelling north towards Iranian waters, after which it stopped transmitting its signal on Sunday at about 4.30am local time. Iran claimed it came to the assistance of the disabled tanker after detecting a distress call. But no other nation has reported receiving such a call. It was also not clear where the oil had come from, or where it was ultimately heading. Tracker MarineTraffic.com did not have a destination port for the Riah. Giorgos Beleris, oil research manager at data firm Refinitiv, said her movements were suspicious: “The MT Riah has been fairly consistent with her Automatic Identification System (AIS) pings in the last three months so the fact that she went dark makes it very interesting. "Strangely, although she's small and can easily dock she appears to have been operating at anchorages possibly loading from other vessels via ship-to-ship. This could hint at something potentially shady - we can't be certain.” Refinitiv noted that Riah's last run indicated her destination was war-torn Yemen, where Iran and UAE support opposing sides. The UK Foreign Office said it was seeking further information on the ship and insisted that freedom of navigation was paramount. The latest incident could be seen as a tit-for-tat response to British authorities’ seizure of a Iranian supertanker off Gibraltar earlier this month. The UK claimed it was carrying oil meant for the sanctioned Syrian regime, claims Tehran has denied. Days after threatening a response, Revolutionary Guards harassed a British Navy ship in the Strait which had been shadowing a UK oil tanker.  Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary, appeared to attempt to de-escalate tensions by suggesting last weekend that the Grace 1 ship could be released if the Islamic Republic could prove its cargo would not end up in Syria. Mr Hunt is in talks with Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s first minister, today to discuss what should be done. President Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with hawkish advisers on Iran, also looked on Thursday to be trying to defuse growing tensions. Mr Trump appointed Senator Rand Paul, who is known for his opposition to US interventions abroad, as an emissary to Tehran and asked him to sit down with Mohammad Javid Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, in an attempt to reduce tensions. Mr Paul opposed the withdrawal of Washington from the nuclear agreement, while John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, has long wanted regime change in Tehran and has urged Mr Trump to keep up “maximum pressure”. It also came as Russia, a key ally of Iran, may join a European Union payment system aimed at salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal if it is expanded to include oil purchases. The system, called Instex, is designed to facilitate payments to Tehran despite the US trade sanctions reimposed on the country after Mr Trump pulled out of the landmark agreement. The EU has said it would welcome third countries to join Instex but is still deliberating over whether the system should include oil payments. Saving the nuclear deal will require the continued support of Moscow, a key ally of Tehran that has fought alongside it to keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria. Russia is building two nuclear power plants in Iran and has sold it arms like surface-to-air missiles.


Thu, 18 Jul 2019 09:54:52 -0400

Fox News Host: ‘I’d Grab My Wallet’ if I Met ‘the Squad’ -

Fox News Host: ‘I’d Grab My Wallet’ if I Met ‘the Squad’Fox News host Jesse Watters appeared to a make a racially insensitive joke about the Democratic representatives who are members of “the Squad” on Thursday. During a guest appearance on Fox & Friends, the anchor was asked by a member of the live audience what he would do if he had the chance to sit down with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).“First, I’d grab my wallet,” Watters said, eliciting laughter from the audience.It’s possible that Watters was referring to progressives’ proposals to raise taxes on wealthy Americans, rather than suggesting one of them might be willing to pick-pocket him. But the comment seemed to highlight negative stereotypes of people of color, the morning after President Donald Trump elicited chants of “Send her back!” pointed at Rep. Omar at a widely condemned rally in North Carolina.Watters went on to explain that he didn’t think he would “get along too well” with the four women.Trump attacked the four congresswomen in a series of tweets on Sunday, saying they could leave the U.S. and go back to where they’re from even though all of the congresswomen are American citizens. The House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to condemn the president’s comments as racist.Trump Rally Crowd Launches Into ‘Send Her Back’ Chant Over Ilhan OmarRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Thu, 18 Jul 2019 09:46:38 -0400


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