Trump continues to give Iran sanction waiver; wants changes in agreement

US President Donald Trump has announced that he will continue with extending key sanctions to Iran under the Iran nuclear deal formed in 2015. This will keep refrain from jeopardizing the accord. However, Trump is expected to give a deadline to the European allies to make marked improvements to the deal, barring which the US will withdraw from the agreement.

Trump was on the fence about whether he would approve the sanctions or not. His disapproval to offer sanctions would have effectively ended the deal. The deal is between Iran and six powerful nations to limit Iran’s nuclear powers. However, he will possibly form a fresh set of sanctions for other Iranian companies or groups of people.
The current President, a Republican has always been vocally critical of the agreement which had been entered into by his predecessor Barack Obama. In the past, Obama had been widely appreciated for having preventing Iran from realizing its nuclear programme fully. Other members of this deal are China, Russia, France, Germany, the UK and the European Union.
Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency stating that Tehran is keeping in line with the deal, Trump is the opinion that the US has been handed a raw end. In the end, he succumbed due to facing a huge amount of pressure from Europe to comply.
Sources – Reuters, BBC

Chabahar Port Phase One launched

President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, inaugurated the first phase of the Chabahar port on December 3rd. This advantageous port will provide an alternative route to the land-locked boundaries of Afghanistan and allow it open doors to global markets. It is also an important passage between India and Afghanistan, detouring the hindrances triggered by Pakistan. According to Hindu, the capacity of this new leeway extends from 2.5 million tons to 8 million tons. Through the construction of this port in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran; India, Afghanistan and Iran have reconfirmed their allegiance in ensuring peaceful bilateral trade and economic development. The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed that the three countries are committed to solving disputes regarding regional connectivity.

Reports from The Times of India recognized the Chabahar port as a challenge to the Gwadar port of Pakistan, located 80 km away. This port developed by China is crucial to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. One of the key benefits of Chabahar port is that it will equip India is guarding Chinese activities in the Arabian Sea.

The first phase of the Chabahar port project – Shahid Beheshti port, will not only enhance India’s entry to Iran, but will also act as a chief pathway to the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), the water, railway and road links shared by Europe, India, Iran Russia and whole of Central Asia.

Sources: The Hindu, The Times of India 

Refugee ban granted by US Supreme Court

By the decision of lower court and the justice department, 24,000 additional refugees, who were granted an allowance to enter the US before October, were banned due to Supreme Court Justices grant on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. This was done on the basis of a request from the Trump administration block.

On March 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump had signed a revised order banning travelers and refugees from six Muslim majority countries, namely, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, for 90 days and 120 days respectively. Trump claimed that the reason for this ban was to prevent terrorists. Though there had been no definite information regarding the permanence or the expansion of the limit of the ban.

As the Lower Courts argued that this ban goes against the constitution and feudal immigration law, the High Court agreed to look into the matter, but did not came up with anything constructive. After the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, it has been decided that, people having authentic relationships with legal US residents or with entities in the US, will be exempted from the travel ban. But, nothing has been specified about the refugee allowance.

As reported by Reuters, senior director of campaigns, Naureen Shah of Amnesty International of USA said, “The Supreme Court today had dealt yet another devastating blow to vulnerable people who were on the cusp of obtaining safety for themselves and their families. They continue to be subjected to unimaginable violence and fear while their lives are in limbo.”

Sourced from Reuters and Al jazeera


Pune professor arrested for molesting student

A 52-year-old Pune college professor and Ph.D. guide, Dr. Shivaji Borhade, was taken into custody by Kothrud police for allegedly molesting and sexually harassing a female Iranian student in his college room. She had asked the professor for help on getting through a Ph.D. program in accounting.

The police believe that the student was promised a seat by him if she ‘slept’ with him. The 30-year-old Iranian lodged a FIR at the Kothrud police station against the accused. She came to Pune in December 2016 on a student visa.

Police sub-inspector Shankar Khatale told Asian Age, “The accused is a professor in Yashwantrao Mohite College of Arts, Science and Commerce, affiliated to the Bharati Vidyapith. He is a married man with two kids.”

Police say he has been arrested under Section 354 (molestation) of the Indian Penal Code.

When the student came to Pune in December 2016 for pursuing a doctorate in accounting, Pune university admissions were closed and she started looking for seats in other colleges. It was during this time that she had come across Dr. Borhade, who was ready to be her Ph.D. guide and she met him on quite a few occasions in the Bharati Vidyapith campus.

With the help of a friend, the victim lodged an official complaint on Tuesday night. The accused was then arrested by cops on Thursday. He was produced before a Pune sessions court and will remain in custody for a day.



Image source: Asian Age

Iran says IS leader Baghdadi ‘definitely dead’

The Iranian State media has quoted Ali Shirazi, a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini, as saying Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “definitely dead.”

According to a report by The Hindu, “Terrorist Baghdadi is definitely dead,” Islamic Republic News Agency (INRA) quoted Shirazi on June 29. Shirazi, a representative of the foreign branch of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Cops, known as the Quds force, ascertained that Baghdadi was dead without elaborating further. The Quds force is responsible for Iran’s extraterritorial operations.

Russia, on June 17, 2017, had surmised that their forces had killed the elusive IS leader in an air-strike in Syria. However, the US, on June 29, did not validate the reports citing lack of information on the matter. Iraqi officials have also been sceptical on the issue. It also is unclear whether Shirazi’s claim was related to the Russia.

Baghdadi has frequently been reported killed or wounded since he declared a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from a mosque in Mosul in 2014. The said declaration by Baghdadi came after IS fighters occupied large areas of northern Iraq.


Sources: Reuters, The News week, The Hindu


Qatar receives list of demands from GCC to end crisis

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have sent a series of demands to Qatar which it must meet in order to lift the current sanctions placed.

 The list, submitted by an undisclosed official, has come through one of the countries that severed ties with Qatar. The list comprises 13 demands, primary ones including that Qatar shut down its Al Jazeera Network, sever alleged ties with Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and ISIS, scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and shut down a Turkish military base in the country.

 The provisions related to Qatar’s Shiite neighbour Iran additionally demanded that they remove any member from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, trade and commerce is to only be conducted by complying with the US’s sanctions.

 The country has been given 10 days to accept the demands including paying a sum of money, and if it complies, will be audited in the beginning of every month, every quarter from the second year and then annually for the next ten years.

 The list of 13 demands can be found here:  Al Jazeera 

 Qatar is facing one of the worst political crisis in years, after UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with it alleging that it was funding terrorism. It has however denied all allegations of funding terror.

Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC and CNBC

Oil prices slide as OPEC struggles over targets

On Wednesday, oil price saw a considerable fall from the previous sessions after Saudi Arabia ruled out production cuts. The industry data also showed a build in US crude stocks.

However, Iran on the other side has made it a point that it will not restrain the production of oil after the international sanctions against it were lifted. It further called the joint Russian-Saudi proposal of output freeze, ‘laughable’.

Bijan Zanganeh told the Iranian news agency ISNA that some of Iran’s neighbours have increased their production to 10 million barrels a day in recent years and export this amount, and now they have the nerve to say everyone should freeze production together. While they freeze their production at 10 million barrels, Iran is to freeze at 1 million barrel, which is a laughable proposal.

The falls in U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures and International benchmark Brent futures were due to lack of cooperation between Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members. They were unable to decide whether to freeze or cut production to control oversupply that has kept the prices low by 70 per cent since 2014.

Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi was of the view that a coordinated production cut by OPEC and non-OPEC exporters was not something that would happen because not many countries are going to deliver.

Russia, a non-OPEC member has tentatively agreed on freezing its output at January levels, which was when they hit a post-Soviet record.

To cope with falling oil revenues, even poorer OPEC nations like Nigeria have been forced to adopt austerity measures.


Sources: Reutersarabnews, The Economic Times