Argentina asks Russia to arrest aide to Iran’s Khamenei over Jewish centre bombing

Velayati says Iran would leave Iraq and Syria only if their governments want Tehran to.
Friday 13/07/2018
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran. (AP)
Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Tehran. (AP)

LONDON - Argentina has asked Russia to arrest former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati for extradition in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires, Argentinian the foreign ministry said.

Velayati is in Russia as a special advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and will travel to China on Friday, so the same request has also been made to Chinese authorities, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Argentina is awaiting a response from Russia to the request, which was made “within the framework of the extradition treaty between the two countries,” the statement said.

Velayati was foreign minister when a bomb destroyed the headquarters of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) on July 18, 1994 leaving 85 dead and 300 people wounded.

He is charged with “committing the crime of homicide, classified as doubly aggravated for having been committed with racial or religious hatred and a suitable method to cause widespread danger,” according to the judge responsible for the case.

Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah group is accused of the carrying out the bombing of the Jewish centre and an attack on Israel’s embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier at Iran’s demand.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Ali Akbar Velayati, a special advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at the Kremlin in Moscow, in 2015. (AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Ali Akbar Velayati, a special advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at the Kremlin in Moscow, in 2015. (AFP)

Velayati says Iran would leave Iraq, Syria only if their governments want 

Separately, Velayati said that Iran would immediately withdraw its “military advisers” from Syria and Iraq only if their governments wanted it to.

“Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria will continue to protect the country against terrorist groups and America’s aggression … We will immediately leave if Iraqi and Syrian governments want it, not because of Israel and America’s pressure,” said Velayati in a conference in Moscow.

Iran and Russia back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war. 

US rejects French request for Iran exemptions

The United States has rejected a French request for waivers for its companies operating in Iran that Paris sought after President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Figaro.

Paris had singled out key areas where it expected either exemptions or extended wind-down periods for French companies, including energy, banking, pharmaceuticals and automotive.

French officials had expressed little hope for securing the waivers, which were critical for oil and gas major Total to continue a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran and for carmaker PSA Group to pursue its joint venture.

“We have just received Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s response: it’s negative,” Le Maire told Le Figaro in an interview.

Le Maire said Europe needed to react quickly and protect its economic sovereignty.

“Europe must provide itself with the tools it needs to defend itself against extra-territorial sanctions,” Le Maire added.

Washington announced in May it was imposing new economic penalties on Tehran after pulling out of a multilateral 2015 agreement, under which Tehran had agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

Trump’s sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to negotiate a new agreement to halt its nuclear programmes that might include Tehran’s regional activities and ballistics development. In particular, Washington wants to curtail the oil exports that are key to Iran’s economic revival.

Earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from its neighbours if Washington pressed ahead with trying to force countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Iranian killed as police disperse protest over water scarcity

Iran’s state-run news agency says police killed a man while trying to disperse a protest over water scarcity.

IRNA quoted Col. Mohammad Ebadi Nejad, a local police chief in southern Iran, as saying police fired shots in the air after ordering a crowd to disperse. He says the man was shot in the neck and taken to a hospital, where he died.

IRNA says the clashes began after authorities removed illegal water-pumps from a river.

Protests have been held across southern Iran in recent weeks over water scarcity. Much of the country is suffering from drought, and in some areas tap water has turned muddy or salty. 

(The Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)