Iran promises “follow up” after investigating incident in Persian Gulf
Saudi Arabia’s coastguard has killed an Iranian fisherman, further elevating the surge of tension between Riyadh and Iran.
A senior official in Iran’s Interior Ministry said the incident occurred when two Iranian boats fishing in the Persian Gulf were thrown off-course by large waves.
“Accordingly and without establishing whether the Iranian boats had crossed Saudi borders, the coastguard of this country opened fire on the Iranian boats and an Iranian fisherman was killed due to a bullet hitting him in the waist,” Majid Aqa-Babaei said.
Aqa-Babaei said Iran is trying to determine whether the boats had entered Saudi territorial waters, adding, “This Saudi move is not compatible with human principles and even assuming that the boats had crossed Saudi borders due to sea waves, they were not authorized to shoot at the Iranian boats.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry later confirmed the investigation, with spokesman Bahram Qassemi promising, “After the results become apparent, this bitter incident will be seriously followed up.”
Saudi Arabia broke relations with its long-time regional rival in January 2016, following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric and a Tehran crowd raiding and burning the Saudi Embassy. In the past month, a war of words has grown more intense: Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman said Saudi Arabia would ensure battles took place inside Iran, while Iran’s top religious and military officials — including the Supreme Leader — have accused Saudi Arabia of plotting with the US and Israel to support “terrorism” and topple the Islamic Republic.
Labor Activists Banned from Travelling to International Conference
Iranian authorities have banned two prominent labor rights activists from attending an international labor conference in Switzerland.
Reza Shahabi and Davoud Razavi of the Tehran Bus Drivers Union were prevented from travelling to the 106th session of the International Labor Organization in Geneva.
Shahabi was imprisoned for more than four years for his activism before he was released in September 2014. Davoudi was sentenced to five years in prison and banned from traveling in February 2016 for “acting against national security” and “disturbing peace and order”. He remains free while awaiting a hearing at the Appeals Court.
Deputy Head of Military Warns of “More Drastic Steps” Against US & Israel
The deputy head of Iran’s armed forces has warned of retaliation against the US and Israel over a prospective escalation of US sanctions on Tehran.
The US Senate approved more restrictions on Thursday on Iran, citing its ballistic missile program, support of “terrorism”, and repression of human rights. The message now goes to the House of Representatives for confirmation before being sent to Donald Trump.
“If the Americans and the Zionists do not change their manners, we will take more drastic steps — hereby announcing that we have the means of punishment at our disposal,” Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said. “Of course, America has to change its manners, or we will force the Americans to do that.”
Labelling the US and “international Zionism” as “the godfathers of terrorism”, Jazayeri repeated the Iranian regime’s claim that Washington is behind the rise of the Islamic State: “Evidence suggests that Daesh and other terrorist groups have been raised in the lap of America and the reactionary regimes of the region.”
He insisted that the new sanctions “will make us fight the Great Satan with a more determined spirit”.
The Secretary of the National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, echoed Jazayeri’s denunciation, “US hardliners and ISIS are two sides of the same coin. Both pursue common objectives by different tools to leave adverse effects and securitize the internal sphere of Iran.”