Tag Archives: iranian army

Chomsky: Obama ‘Dangerously Escalating Tensions Along the Russian Border’

In a new interview, linguist Noam Chomsky warns that US President Barack Obama’s military buildup in Eastern Europe is threatening to destabilize the region.

“He has been more reluctant to engage troops on the ground than some of his predecessors and advisers, and instead has rapidly escalated special operations and his global assassination (drone campaign), a moral disaster and arguably illegal as well,” Chomsky said during a recent interview with Truthout, referring to Obama’s foreign policy.

“On other fronts, it is a mixed story,” he adds. “Obama has continued to bar a nuclear weapons-free (technically, WMD-free) zone in the Middle East, evidently motivated by the need to protect Israeli nuclear weapons from scrutiny.”

“By so doing, he is endangering the Nonproliferation Treaty, the most important disarmament treaty, which is contingent on establishing such a zone.”

But the biggest problem may be Washington’s actions in Eastern Europe.

“He is dangerously escalating tensions along the Russian border, extending earlier policies,” Chomsky said.

The United States has spearheaded NATO’s gradual buildup in Poland and the Baltic states, citing “Russian aggression.” Upcoming military drills have been criticized by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov.

“We are convinced that these exercises carry a serious destabilizing component,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Their main goal is to continue the aggravation of tensions along the Russian borders.”

Obama’s policy on nuclear weapons is also worrying to Chomsky.

“His trillion-dollar program for modernizing the nuclear weapons system is the opposite of what should be done,” he said.

While treaties forbid the United States from expanding its nuclear arsenal, the upgrades include improved targeting systems, as well as adjustable yields, which could, in theory, make the weapons easier to use.

“These and other moves amount to a mixed story, ranging from criminal to moderate improvement,” Chomsky said.

While a new President will take office after the November elections, the philosopher doesn’t have much hope that things will change.

“Financialization has of course exploded during the neoliberal period, and the general policies, pretty much global in character, are designed to enhance private and corporate power,” he said. “That sets off a vicious cycle in which concentration of wealth leads to concentration of political power, which in turn yields legislation and administrative practices that carry the process forward.”

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Telephone conversation with President of Syria Bashar al-Assad • President of Russia

The two presidents discussed the implementation of the joint statement by Russia and the United States, in their capacity as co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group, on cessation of hostilities in Syria. They share the view that the ceasefire has made possible a dramatic reduction in the bloodshed in the country and improved the humanitarian situation. It has also made it possible to put in place conditions for starting a peace process under UN aegis.

The two leaders noted that the operations conducted by Russia’s Aerospace Forces have brought about a real turnabout in the fight against the terrorists in Syria, throwing their infrastructure into disarray and causing them substantial damage.

In this context, Mr Putin said that Russia’s Armed Forces have fulfilled their main mission in Syria and a timetable for the withdrawal of the Aerospace Forces’ main air grouping has been agreed. Russia will maintain an aviation support centre in Syria in order to monitor compliance with the ceasefire.

The President of Syria noted the professionalism, courage and heroism of the Russian service personnel who took part in the military operations, and expressed his profound gratitude to Russia for providing such substantial help in fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population.

Mr al-Assad said that he is ready to help organise a political settlement in the country as soon as possible. The two presidents expressed the hope that the full-format talks between Syrian Government officials and opposition representatives under UN aegis in Geneva will produce concrete results.

Source:  • President of Russia

‘Iran, Russia the Most Stable and Independent Players in the Middle East’

With Syria plunged into civil war and the terrorist threat in neighboring Iraq high, Sputnik discussed the situation in the region with Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, a senior adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“The current instability in the Middle East is reflecting very negatively on the situation in the rest of the world. The region is infested with terrorists from Finland, France, Britain, Russia and Central Asia and this is the new challenge and the new geopolitical reality Iran is facing today,” Mr. Sajjadpour said.He mentioned what he described as “trans-regional players” impacting the situation in the region, above all the US, Britain, France and Germany.

There is also a second group of players, namely Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. The Saudi policy is shortsighted and erratic. Turkey is in political turmoil over its meddling with the crisis in neighboring Syria.

“And last, but not least, it is Daesh, which is both a transnational and internal player,” Seyed Sajjadpour noted.
He described Iran as a strong and influential player, with a high degree of political and social security.

“Millions of Iranians took part in the recent parliamentary elections ensuring a peaceful handover of political power fully in line with the constitution and without violence and conflicts like is often the case with our neighboring countries,” the diplomat said.

He heaped praise on Russia for its role in the settlement of regional conflicts, especially in tandem with Iran.

“We are opening a new chapter in relations between our two countries, which are based on respect for each other’s national identity and independence. Our concerted effort has helped to change the course of the civil war in Syria. Many countries now believe that Russia and Iran can stabilize the situation in the Middle East,” the diplomat emphasized.

When asked whether Moscow and Tehran had different views on who is a terrorist and who is not, Seyed Sajjadpour said: “For us anyone engaged in an armed struggle with the legitimate Syrian government is a terrorist and we see eye to eye with Russia on the need to fight terrorists in Syria… It is our firm belief that it is up to the Syrian people to decide their country’s future.”

Baghdad promises revenge after ‘600 wounded,’ 3yo girl killed in ISIS chemical attacks on Iraq

A three-year-old girl has been killed and 600 more people injured after Islamic State militants reportedly carried out two chemical attacks in northern Iraq, local authorities say. The Iraqi government vows that the attackers will pay for the atrocity.

The attacks, which forced hundreds to flee for safety, took place in the city of Kirkuk and the village Taza, according to an AP report citing Iraqi officials.

“What the Daesh [Arabic derogatory term for IS] terrorist gangs did in the city of Taza will not go unpunished. The perpetrators will pay dearly,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said.

Hundreds of wounded are now suffering from chemical burns, suffocation, and dehydration, according to Helmi Hamdi, a Taza-based nurse, who added that eight people had even had to be sent to Baghdad for treatment.

“There is fear and panic among the women and children. They’re calling for the central government to save them,” Adel Hussein, a local official in Taza, said.

Hussein confirmed that German and US forensics teams had arrived in the area to test for the presence of chemical agents.

Sameer Wais, father of three-year-old Fatima Wais, who was killed in the attack, fights for the local Shiite forces. After learning of the tragedy, he ran home and took his daughter to a clinic and then a hospital in Kirkuk.

The girl seemed better the next day, and the family took her home. However, things took a terrible turn in the evening.

“By midnight she started to get worse. Her face puffed up and her eyes bulged. Then she turned black and pieces of her skin started to come off,” Sameer said, as cited by AP.

The girl died early in the morning. Hundreds of people reportedly attended Fatima’s funeral, some showing their discontent with the government and calling on authorities to protect the population from IS attacks.

Fatima’s father said that he was returning to the frontline as soon as possible.

“Now I will fight Daesh more than before, for Fatima.”

Last month, US special forces reportedly detained the head of an IS unit that attempted to develop chemical weapons. The US-led coalition also reportedly began conducting airstrikes and raids on chemical weapons infrastructure two months ago.

The chemicals used by IS so far include chlorine and a low-grade sulfur mustard.

On Friday, when asked how big of a hazard such substances present, US Army Colonel Steve Warren told journalists, “It’s a legitimate threat. It’s not a high threat. We’re not, frankly, losing too much sleep over it.”

The latest attacks come just a few days since Taza was shelled with “poisonous substances,” after which dozens suffered from choking and skin irritation.

Iraq isn’t the only country that Islamic State has attacked with chemical weapons recently. Syrian Kurdish fighters came under a chemical attack by jihadists on Tuesday.

Last month, some 30 Kurdish militia members were injured in a mortar attack that supposedly involved shells armed with chlorine.

مصر تحافظ على “شعرة معاوية” مع الخليج إزاء ملفات الشرق الأوسط العالقة

 

الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسى وخادم الحرمين والرئيس الباكستانى نواز الشريف والسودانى عمر البشير – الاربعاء 9 مارس 2016

استقبل خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود في مدينة الملك خالد العسكرية في حفر الباطن مساء الأربعاء الرئيس عبد الفتاح السيسي والرؤساء والمسؤولين الذين قدموا لحضور المناورة الختامية لتمرين رعد الشمال والعرض العسكري للقوات المسلحة السعودية والقوات المشاركة في التمرين

وقالت مصادر مصرية إن السيسي سيشهد الخميس 10 مارس/ آذار العرض مع خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز وعدد من قادة الدول، منهم أمير دولة الكويت الشيخ صباح الأحمد الجابر الصباح وعاهل الأردن الملك عبدالله الثاني بن الحسين وملك البحرين الشيخ حمد بن خليفة والشيخ محمد بن زايد ولي عهد أبوظبي والرئيس السوداني عمر البشير وعدد من الرؤساء ووزراء الدفاع ورؤساء الأركان وكبار المسؤولين بعدد من الدول الإفريقية والعربية والإسلامية

وأضافت أنه من المقرر أن يعقد خادم الحرمين الشريفين الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز جلسة مباحثات ثنائية مع الرئيس المصري لبحث تعزيز التعاون الثنائي، ومناقشة قضايا المنطقة، وفي مقدمتها الأوضاع في سوريا ومنطقة الخليج واليمن وجهود مكافحة الإرهاب

وأكدت الرئاسة المصرية، على لسان المتحدث الرسمي باسمها علاء يوسف، أن حرص مصر على المشاركة في مناورات “رعد الشمال” جاء في إطار دورها لتعزيز أمن المنطقة العربية ومنطقة الخليج العربي، الذي تعُدُّه مصر جزءاً لا يتجزأ من أمنها القومي، والتزاماً بتعزيز روح التعاون الإيجابية البناءة بين الدول العربية في هذه المرحلة الدقيقة، التي يمر بها عدد من الدول العربية، والتي تستدعي تحقيق وحدة الصف والتضامن العربي

وتعكس المشاركة المصرية سعيها الحثيث لتشكيل القوة العربية المشتركة، التي عطلتها الرياض فعليا حتى الآن، على أمل أن تكون نواة لقوات تتحرك لتحقيق مهمات داخل منطقة مضطربة، بقيت مصر حتى اللحظة منها استثناء، بينما تسعى قوى غربية للدفع بالخليج العربي في اتجاه حرب طائفية بين أحد أطرافها بزعامة سعودية-خليجية-تركية، والآخر بقيادة إيرانية قد تنجر إليها سوريا والعراق ولبنان

وعلى الرغم من عدم اتفاق مصر مع كثير من وجهات نظر قادة الخليج في قضايا مختلفة، بشكل واضح، ومن بينها الملف السوري، حيث يريد بعضهم حل الأزمة السورية عسكريا، بينما ترى مصر، بتنسيق كامل مع روسيا، وقوى كبرى في العالم، أن الحل يجب أن يكون سياسيا، وأن الشعب السوري هو من سيحدد مصيره، مع الحفاظ على مؤسسات الدولة هناك

ومن الواضح أن الملف السوري لا يمثل الخلاف الوحيد مع دول الخليج، إذ لا تتفق القاهرة معها أيضا بشأن الملف الليبي، حيث تساند مصر الجيش ومؤسسات الدولة الليبية، بينما تهمل دول الخليج هذا الملف، باستثناء قطر، التي تخدم الأجندتين التركية والغربية في ليبيا، وفق مراقبين

وعلى الرغم من ذلك كله، فإن القاهرة لا تريد أن تخسر الخليج، وتحديداً السعودية، ولذا تحافظ معها على “شعرة معاوية”، وخاصة فيما يتعلق برؤيتها المختلفة، والأكثر شمولا لملفات الإرهاب، التي تحيط بالمنطقة العربية من كل جانب، وهو الأمر، الذي سيكون محل نقاش في جلسة مباحثات، تجمع الرئيس السيسي بالملك سلمان

ولا شك في أن مصر محطة حاسمة في كثير من ملفات الشرق الأوسط، وهذا ما يبدو واضحا عبر تنسيق دول عظمى معها في الملفين الأخطر الآن على الطاولة الدولية. ففي سوريا يظهر تقارب مصري-روسي بشأن مكافحة الإرهاب، وسبل حل الملف السوري سياسيا، وهي الرؤية، التي تدعم الحل السياسي، وتؤمن بضرورة القضاء على الإرهاب في كل أرجاء العالم باستراتيجية موحدة ومشتركة

أما في ليبيا، فهناك تنسيق مع روسيا، وهو الأمر، الذي كان محورا لمحادثات هاتفية أجريت بين الرئيسين المصري والروسي، حيث أكد فلاديمير بوتين، وفق بيان للكرملين، أن الالتزام بشروط الهدنة يعدُّ العامل الرئيس لتطبيع الوضع الداخلي في سوريا، وتحسين الظروف الإنسانية، بينما أيد السيسي إطلاق عملية سياسية لتسوية الأزمة السورية، تحت رعاية الأمم المتحدة، في أقرب وقت ممكن. وقد اتفق الرئيسان على مواصلة التعاون الوثيق في إطار المجموعة الدولية لدعم سوريا، كذلك شدد الطرفان على ضرورة مواصلة الحرب بصورة فعالة ضد الإرهاب الدولي، ليس في سوريا فحسب، بل وفي ليبيا واليمن أيضاً

وقد أعقبت المكالمة الرئاسية، التي جرت منذ يومين، محادثات هاتفية بين وزيري الخارجية المصري والروسي أمس الثلاثاء 8 مارس/ آذار، حيث أعرب الجانبان عن ارتياحهما للتقدم في سير تنفيذ الاتفاقات بشأن الهدنة، مع تشديدهما على ضرورة إطلاق الحوار سريعا بين الحكومة السورية والمعارضة في جنيف برعاية أممية، وكذلك على تبادل وجهات النظر حول سبل المساعدة في تسوية الأزمة الليبية والصراع في اليمن

الخبير العسكري والاستراتيجي اللواء حسام سويلم، رأى أن لمشاركة الرئيس السيسي، في ختام فعاليات “رعد الشمال” – أكبر مناورات العرب – دلالات، أهمها: تكذيب كل ما روج له الإعلام في الفترة السابقة عن خلافات بين القيادتين المصرية والسعودية، والتمهيد لزيارة الملك سلمان إلى مصر في أبريل/نيسان المقبل، ودعم السعودية في مواجهة التدخلات الإيرانية، وتأكيد التزام مصر بالمسؤولية تجاه الأمن القومي العربي والخليجي

وختاما، إن القاهرة التي تجمعها علاقات استراتيجية بالخليج وموسكو وعدد من القوى المؤثرة عالمياً، والتي تحسم في إطارها كثيرا من الملفات الساخنة، تحافظ على صلات قوية بالخليج، من دون التأثير على توجهاتها ورؤاها فيما يرتبط بمحاربة الإرهاب، والحفاظ على الأمن القومي العربي

Moyen-Orient – Riyad ou Téhéran ? Entre les deux rivaux, les intérêts de la France balancent

AFP (archives) | Le roi Salmane et le président François Hollande, à Riyad, en mai 2015.

Le prince héritier d’Arabie saoudite s’est entretenu avec François Hollande, vendredi, à l’Élysée. L’occasion de rassurer le précieux partenaire saoudien, après l’ajustement de la diplomatie française en faveur de l’Iran.

Mohammed ben Nayef, le prince héritier du royaume d’Arabie saoudite, s’est entretenu vendredi 4 mars à l’Élysée avec le président François Hollande, qui avait, au début de son mandat, fait de la pétromonarchie wahhabite le pilier de la diplomatie française au Moyen-Orient.

Officiellement, il était prévu qu’ils discutent de la situation régionale, notamment des guerres qui font rage au Yémen et en Syrie, dans lesquelles les Saoudiens jouent un rôle majeur. Mais le Président français aura surtout eu à cœur de rassurer la famille royale saoudienne, qui n’a pas vraiment apprécié de voir Paris recevoir avec les honneurs, fin janvier, Hassan Rohani, le président de l’Iran, grand rival chiite honni par Riyad.

Cette visite avait été suivie par la proclamation, fin juillet, “d’une relation nouvelle” entre Paris et Téhéran à la faveur de la signature de l’accord sur le nucléaire en juillet.

Ce dégel franco-iranien a jeté un doute sur l’idylle diplomatique, militaire et économique en vigueur entre Paris et Riyad depuis l’arrivée au pouvoir en mai 2012 de François Hollande. À l’époque, ce dernier avait décidé de miser sur un partenariat franco-saoudien, rompant ainsi avec la politique arabe de son prédécesseur, Nicolas Sarkozy, très alignée sur celle du Qatar. Symboliquement, François Hollande avait d’ailleurs effectué son premier voyage dans la région en tant que chef d’État en Arabie saoudite.

Un rapprochement scellé sur fond de contrats juteux

Mais c’est surtout la reculade de son allié historique américain sur la question des armes chimiques syriennes, en 2013, doublée de la main tendue de l’administration Obama à Téhéran dans le cadre des négociations sur le nucléaire iranien, qui avaient poussé Riyad à se rapprocher encore plus de la France, qui était prête à frapper le régime de Bachar al-Assad, l’allié de l’Iran chiite.

Cette alliance a fait alors les affaires, au sens propre et figuré, de Paris, qui multiplie les contrats avec l’Arabie saoudite, devenu “le premier client de la France au Moyen-Orient” selon les propres termes du président français. En 2013, les échanges entre les deux pays ont dépassé les 8 milliards d’euros. En novembre 2014, un contrat de livraisons d’armes françaises au Liban d’un montant de 3 milliards de dollars est signé, avant d’être suspendu par Riyad le mois dernier.

Autre conséquence de cette logique d’alliances : en février 2015, l’Égypte du président Sissi, forte d’un budget généreusement alimenté par les pétrodollars de son allié saoudien, commande 24 Rafale ainsi qu’une frégate pour 5 milliards d’euros à la France. En octobre de la même année, une série d’accords, de contrats et de lettres d’intention représentant 10 milliards d’euros est signée par le royaume, à l’occasion de la visite à Riyad du Premier ministre Manuel Valls.

En retour, coïncidence ou pas, le gouvernement français ne décevra pas le royaume saoudien. Sur le dossier syrien, la France affiche les mêmes positions que Riyad en réclamant le départ du président Assad. De même, sur le volet du nucléaire iranien, elle adopte, avant la signature de l’accord, les positions les plus intransigeantes à l’égard de Téhéran, non sans agacer au passage ses partenaires occidentaux pressés de clore le dossier. Enfin au Yémen, Riyad, qui conduit une coalition arabe contre la rébellion chiite houthie, a toujours pu compter sur le soutien de la France.

Une idylle très critiquée

En janvier 2015, l’arrivée sur le trône du roi Salmane pour succéder au roi Abdallah ne change pas la donne, au contraire. En mai, les pétromonarchies de la région déroulent le tapis rouge au président Hollande, invité d’honneur d’un sommet extraordinaire du Conseil de coopération des États arabes du Golfe (CCG) réunissant l’Arabie saoudite, Bahreïn, les Émirats arabes unis, Oman, le Koweït et le Qatar. C’est une première pour un chef d’État occidental.

Depuis, les critiques n’ont cessé de pleuvoir au sujet sur cette relation privilégiée entre un pays qui se veut le champion des droits de l’Homme dans le monde et une pétromonarchie wahhabite qui applique implacablement la charia et qui finance le salafisme depuis plusieurs décennies, ainsi que les mouvements islamistes, armés ou pas, les plus sectaires. Mais confronté à la crise économique, le gouvernement français, qui n’est pas dupe, préfère placer ses considérations géostratégiques et économiques au-dessus d’autres principes.

La donne va changer après les attentats de Paris. Alors que la France déclare la guerre au terrorisme islamiste, des voix s’élèvent à nouveau pour dénoncer les liens entre la France et l’Arabie saoudite, et le Qatar, fréquemment accusés de soutenir financièrement le terrorisme en Syrie et de propager sa vision fondamentaliste de l’islam. “La France n’est pas crédible dans ses relations avec l’Arabie saoudite”, avait notamment protesté l’ex-juge antiterroriste Marc Trévidic, interrogé par les Échos. “Nous savons très bien que ce pays du Golfe a versé le poison dans le verre par la diffusion du wahhabisme. Les attentats de Paris en sont l’un des résultats”, avait-il asséné.

Manuel Valls avait alors assuré qu’il n’avait aucune “raison de douter aujourd’hui de l’engagement” de Riyad et de Doha, qui luttent de manière “incontestable” contre l’organisation de l’État islamique. Toujours est-il que peu après le 13-Novembre, au nom de la guerre contre le terrorisme, la France s’est rapprochée de la Russie, l’autre allié indéfectible de Damas.

Par conséquent, d’aucuns pourraient penser que la suspension du contrat de vente d’armes françaises au Liban est une sorte d’avertissement saoudien, par ricochet, au rééquilibrages diplomatiques de la France. Même si, officiellement, Riyad assure avoir pris cette mesure pour protester contre des prises de position “hostiles” par le Liban, inspirées selon elle par le Hezbollah, le mouvement chiite pro-iranien. Toujours est-il qu’au final, c’est une belle opportunité qui risque de s’envoler pour la vingtaine de sociétés françaises qui étaient censées participer à ce contrat qui portait sur des équipements terrestres, maritimes et aériens.

 

UN Syria Envoy Travels to Saudi Arabia and Iran for Talks

The UN special envoy to Syria headed off to Saudi Arabia and Iran on Monday for talks to diffuse tensions between the two countries.

The United Nations special envoy for Syria traveled to Saudi Arabia on Monday, from where he will head to Iran for talks with the countries’ leaders, the UN spokesman said on Monday.

Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric led to violent protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which led to a breakdown of relations between the two countries. The UN envoy for Yemen also intends to travel to the two countries, according to the spokesman.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had phone calls with both countries’ foreign ministers in an effort to diffuse tensions.

“The Secretary-General reiterated that the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran was deplorable, but added that the announcement of a break in Saudi diplomatic relations with Tehran was deeply worrying,” UN spokesman spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a press briefing.”The Secretary-General urged both Foreign Ministers to avoid any actions that could further exacerbate the situation between two countries and in the region as a whole. He stressed the importance of continued constructive engagement by both countries in the interest of the region and beyond,” a statement from the Secretary-General’s office said.

The spokesman added that there are currently no plans for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to visit the region, although he is concerned about the situation.

Saudi Arabia previously cut air traffic with Iran, and said that it intends to cut all commercial ties. Saudi allies in the region followed in breaking diplomatic relations or reducing embassy staff. Bahrain said that it does not intend to completely break off relations.

 

Bahrain, Sudan sever ties with Iran, UAE reduces number of diplomats

Bahrain and Sudan have announced they are cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran following the storming of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran, while the United Arab Emirates said it was reducing the number of Iranian diplomats in the country.

Bahrain authorities said they have demanded that Iranian diplomats leave the country within 48 hours.

The decision was announced by Bahraini Media Minister Isa al-Hamadi.

“Bahrain decided to break off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and calls upon all members of the mission to leave the kingdom within 48 hours,” Bahrain state news agency BNA said.

The Sudanese Foreign ministry also announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with Iran.

“In response to the barbaric attacks on the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad … the government of Sudan announces the immediate severing of ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Angry Iranian protesters stormed and set ablaze the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Saturday night during a rally to condemn Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Nimr was among 47 prisoners beheaded or shot by firing squad across Saudi Arabia on Saturday – the largest number of individuals executed in the Gulf kingdom in a single day since 1980.

The Saudi consulate in the city of Mashhad in northwestern Iran was also attacked by protesters on Saturday, with police intervening after rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the building.

 

Iranians storm & set ablaze Saudi embassy in Tehran to protest Shiite cleric’s execution

Police used tear gas in Tehran after a crowd of angry protesters broke into the Saudi embassy, ravaging its offices and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building. The mayhem broke out at a rally set off by Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Police used tear gas in Tehran after a crowd of angry protesters broke into the Saudi embassy, ravaging its offices and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building. The mayhem broke out at a rally set off by Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Footage uploaded on Twitter by Iranian journalist Sobhan Hassanvand showed angry protesters pillaging the ground floor of the Saudi embassy, tearing apart furniture, flags, and documents. It was then engulfed in one big blaze, seemingly after the angry mob, outraged over the Saudi execution of prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh al-Nimr, threw Molotov cocktails at the building.

One of the protesters was also pictured holding a torn Saudi flag, which was reportedly brought down at the compound, outside the embassy.

Police eventually resorted to tear gas to scatter the protesters and managed to force the crowd out of the building and cordon it off again.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries due to the violence. Photos from inside the ravaged ground floor appear to show it is now empty.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement early on Sunday calling for calm and asking protesters to respect the property of diplomatic premises, the Entekhab news website reported.

A ministry’s spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, then said there should be no further demonstrations around the Saudi embassy, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Meanwhile, local journalists have been reporting that the Saudi Arabia’s embassy staff will be evacuated out of Iran tonight.Earlier, images of fire breaking out at the embassy building were shared on Twitter. A Mehr editor has reported a gas explosion, while photos from the scene show the building engulfed in flames.Iran’s security forces had cordoned off the area around the embassy. Photos from the scene showed a heavy police presence.

Protesters gathered in several cities across Iran on Saturday angered by the Gulf kingdom’s execution of al-Nimr, who was put to death along with 46 other prisoners.

Nimr had been the most vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family prior to mass protests that erupted in 2011. He called for regular demonstrations against the ruling elite. Shiites have long complained that they are victims of discrimination in the Sunni powerhouse. Nimr had often called for better protection for the country’s Shiite minority.

Protesters in the city of Mashhad in northwestern Iran gathered on Saturday near the Saudi consulate, throwing Molotov cocktails at the building.  Photos showed several protesters trying to climb the fence around the building. There were reportedly some clashes with police.

The predominately Shiite Iran has bashed Riyadh, accusing the Kingdom of supporting terrorism and executing its opponents. Iran said it has summoned the Saudi charge d’affaires in Tehran.

The Saudi government supports terrorists and takfiri [heretic] extremists, while executing and suppressing critics inside the country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said, as cited by state news agency IRNA.

In the wake of the execution, Iranian lawmakers asked the Foreign Ministry to downgrade diplomatic ties with the Saudi government, FARS news agency reported. They proposed reducing the number of Saudi diplomats and consulates in Iran.

In turn, Saudi Arabia summoned the Iranian ambassador in Riyadh over Iran’s “hostile” remarks on executions, according to the state news agency SPA.

The ministry expressed “astonishment and its utter rejection of these hostile statements, which it deemed a blatant intervention in the kingdom’s affairs.”

 

Daesh Leader’s Mobile Phone Holds Proof of Turkey’s Support

An Iraqi volunteer force commander said a mobile phone found on the person of a deceased Daesh militant proves that Turkey’s intelligence agency is providing support for the group.

“The mobile phone was found with one of the killed ISIL leaders in the Northern parts of Salahuddin province two days ago,” Jabbar al-Ma’mouri told Soumeriya news on Monday.

He said the phone contains messages from Turkish intelligence proving that Ankara supports Daesh, also known as ISIL/Islamic State, by providing security at the points used by militants traveling from Turkey to Iraq.

“The mobile phone also contains other important information which cannot be disclosed now, and it has been delivered to the specialized security groups for further scrutiny,” Ma’mouri said.

Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov in November revealed that Turkey has played an “ambiguous” role in the campaign against Daesh while acting as an accomplice to the terrorist group’s activities.

Last month, former US State Department senior advisor David Phillips said Turkey provided material support to Daesh because Ankara shares an ideological connection with the group, along with a mutual enemy in Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Turkey’s role has not been ambiguous – it has overtly supported the ISIL,” said Phillips, who currently serves as director of Columbia University’s Peace-building and Rights Program. “It has provided logistical support, money, weapons, transport and healthcare to wounded warriors.”

Phillips said Turkey has been supporting Daesh to remove Assad from power and because of a “spiritual bond” that exists between Turkey’s governing party and the jihadists.