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News | Foreign Minister Salehi Detained in Cyprus? Obama Sides with UAE


29 Jun 2012 03:30Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

SalehiMehr.jpg3:30 a.m. IRDT, 9 Tir/June 29 According to several reports, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was briefly detained at Cyprus's Larnaca International Airport when he arrived there for an official visit. It has been claimed that the reason was that Salehi is on a list of "undesirable" officials who are barred from entering the European Union. While the United Nations Security Council imposed a ban on Salehi traveling abroad when he was president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, since his confirmation as foreign minister in January 2011 there has been no restriction on his travel to the E.U. Majles deputy Esmail Kosari, a former top Revolutionary Guard commander, said that the arrest might have been a mistake, or intended as "psychological warfare" against the Islamic Republic. Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denied the report of the arrest; the Fars News Agency, which is controlled by a Revolutionary Guard foundation, issued its own denial.

Obama sides with UAE on Persian Gulf islands

On Wednesday, Crown Prince Mohammed ibn Zayed al-Nuhayan of the United Arab Emirates met with President Barack Obama at the White House. A joint statement issued after the meeting read in part,

The United States and United Arab Emirates remain deeply committed to close consultation and cooperation to promote peace and stability in the Gulf region and broader Middle East. In their meeting at the White House today, President Obama and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nuhayan reviewed the full range of regional security issues including Iran, Syria, terrorism, and energy security.

The President and Crown Prince discussed the ongoing negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program and the three Gulf islands whose sovereignty is disputed between the UAE and Iran. They called upon Iran to meet its international obligations under the Nuclear [Non-Proliferation] Treaty and relevant United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors resolutions. They also called for a peaceful resolution of the islands' status, regarding which the United States strongly supports the UAE's initiative to resolve the issue through direct negotiations, the International Court of Justice, or another appropriate international forum.

The UAE has been claiming the ownership of three Persian Gulf islands administered by Iran, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa, even though the UAE was founded only in 1971, whereas the islands have been associated with Iran for half a millennium or more. The UAE has demanded that Iran agree to have the International Court of Justice arbitrate the case, which Iran has rejected.

Hossein Amir Abdolahian, deputy foreign minister for Africa and the Arab states, denounced the joint statement as an "intervention in Iran's internal affairs." The three islands "have been and will always be inseparable part of Iran," he said, adding that U.S. intervention is intended to exacerbate tensions in the region.

Ahmadinejad fires provincial governors

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired the provincial governors of two important provinces on Wednesday: Aboutaleb Shafaghat, governor of Northern Khorasan province, and Mohammad Hossein Mousapour, governor of Qom province. They were replaced by, respectively, former Majles deputy Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash and Hamadan provincial governor Karam Reza Piriaei. It is not yet clear why Shafaghat and Mousapour were fired.

Meanwhile, the conservative website Bushehr News reports that six additional governors will be replaced. There have also been persistent rumors that Ahmadinejad has tried to fire several cabinet ministers, but has been blocked by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ejei criticizes Ahmadinejad's ministers

Prosecutor-General Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, minister of intelligence in the first Ahmadinejad administration, criticized the president during a national conference of prosecutors in Mashhad. Speaking about the struggle against narcotics trafficking and the fact that millions of Iranians are drug addicts, Ejei said, "The Ministry of Intelligence spends a huge sum to confront terrorism. Does it spend anything to fight narcotics?" Turning to a deputy of Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi, Ejei asked, "Which one hurts more, one [act of] terror or all the problems due to narcotics? Do we do to confront narcotics as much as what we do in fighting terrorism to make sure that the society is not hurt? I know that the Ministry of Intelligence is very active in this area, but does it do enough?"

Ejei continued, "Does the Ministry of Public Health dedicate a budget to constructing centers for addiction treatment when the national budget is proposed? Do we not recognize that the majority of prison cases are due to narcotics? Do we not recognize that most minor thievery cases are due to narcotics?" Ejei added that the fight against narcotics and their trafficking is not being pursued in a systematic and organized manner, and therefore "we need to think of new ways [to confront the problem] by evaluating our past performance."

Tavakoli: Judiciary protects Ahmadinejad administration

Majles deputy and Ahmadinejad critic Ahmad Tavakoli said that the judiciary has drawn a "redline" around the president and his team, suggesting that it is not willing to prosecute corruption cases against them. In an interview with Nasim Online, Tavakoli said, "The best present by the judiciary to the people is putting on trial the first vice president [Mohammad Reza Rahimi], so that people can see that the sharp knife of the judiciary does not recognize any exception [in fighting corruption]." Rahimi has been accused of involvement in a major embezzlement and financial corruption case involving a state-controlled insurance company. Tavakoli added, "Despite its proclamation that it has no redline in its investigation of banking fraud [another case, involving nearly $2.6 billion] and the insurance case, the judiciary has drawn a redline around Ahmadinejad and the people close to him." In turn, people close to Ahmadinejad have accused the Larijani brothers -- judiciary chief Sadegh Larijani; Mohammad Javad Ardeshir Larijani, head of the judiciary's human rights division; and Majles Speaker Ali Larijani -- of corruption, particularly involving the misappropriation of public lands. The speaker has rejected the accusations and has invited anyone to submit to the judiciary any document that offers evidence of corruption on his part or that of his brothers.

Ex-Guards, intel agents compose nearly fourth of Majles

Fars has published a complete list of former Revolutionary Guard officers and Ministry of Intelligence agents who are now Majles deputies. The list includes 66 names, almost 23 percent of the parliament's 290 deputies. The Majles commissions on which the 66 serve are listed here.

Jalili warns Ashton

In a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary-general of the Supreme National Security Council, warned the E.U. against pursuing what he called "unconstructive action" against the Islamic Republic. Ashton leads the P5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. New E.U. sanctions against Iran's oil exports, its Central Bank, and insurance for Iranian oil tankers will take effect Sunday. "The Islamic Republic is prepared to do its part and participate in successful and advancing negotiations," wrote Jalili.

Intelligence Ministry: "Terrorists" arrested

The Ministry of Intelligence issued a statement in which it claims that all the "terrorists" who took part in the assassination of Iran's nuclear scientists have been arrested, and their names will be released to the public in the coming days. The statement declared that the people detained have provided information on their organization and the support that they received from foreign nations. It accused Israel of being behind the assassinations, and claimed that those who have been arrested had also taken part in other operations.

Former Majles deputy on verge of execution

Samad Ghasempour, who served as a deputy from Tabriz, Oskoo, and Azar Shahr in the Fifth Majles (1996-2000), is on the verge of being executed after he was convicted of narcotics trafficking. He was reportedly arrested with a "very large" amount of narcotics. His sentence was confirmed both by an appeals court and Iran's Supreme Court.

Another embezzlement case?

Unconfirmed reports from Tehran indicate that a large case of embezzlement has been uncovered at the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic, the national radio and television network. The reports indicate that the total amount involved is about 60 billion tomans, roughly $50 million at the official rate of exchange.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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