Iran warned U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday against being dragged into all-out war in the Middle East following an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blame on Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has described the weekend strike that initially halved Saudi oil output as an act of war and has been discussing possible retaliation with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies.
Trump on Wednesday struck a cautious note, saying there were many options short of war with Iran, which denies involvement in the Sept. 14 strikes.
He ordered more sanctions on Tehran.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, responded by telling CNN that the Islamic Republic “won’t blink” if it has to defend itself against any U.S. or Saudi military strike, which he said would lead to “all-out war”.
Zarif said Pompeo was part of a so-called “B-team”, which Tehran says includes Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and is trying to dupe Trump into opting for war.
Pompeo said on Wednesday the attack was an act of war against the Saudis.
Riyadh, which called the assault a “test of global will”, on Wednesday displayed what it described as remnants of 25 Iranian drones and missiles used in the strike, saying it was undeniable evidence of Iranian aggression.
The United Arab Emirates on Thursday followed its ally Saudi Arabia in announcing it was joining a global maritime security coalition that Washington has been trying to build since a series of explosions on oil tankers in Gulf waters in recent months that were also blamed on Tehran.
Pompeo, who arrived in the UAE from Saudi Arabia on Thursday, welcomed the move on Twitter: “Recent events underscore the importance of protecting global commerce and freedom of navigation’’.
Britain and Bahrain previously said they are participating but most European countries have been reluctant to sign up for fear of stoking regional tensions.
Iraq said it would not join the mission and also rejected any Israeli role in it.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is battling a Saudi-led military coalition, claimed responsibility for the assault on two Saudi oil plants, including the world’s largest processing facility.
The U.S. and Saudi officials rejected the claim, saying the attack had not come from the south.
Kuwait, which said earlier this week it was investigating the detection of a drone over its territory, has put its oil sector on high alert and raised security to the highest level as a precautionary measure.
Oil prices, which soared following the attack, steadied after Saudi Arabia pledged to restore full oil production by the end of September.
Proof of Iranian responsibility and evidence that the attack was launched from Iranian territory could pressure Riyadh and Washington, which want to curb Iranian influence in the region, into a response.
Pompeo said the attacks would be a major focus of next week’s annual U.N. General Assembly meeting and suggested Riyadh could make its case there.
Iran’s Zarif accused Pompeo of trying to “dodge a U.S. obligation” to issue visas for Iran’s U.N. delegates.
Tehran says the U.S. accusations were part of Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran to force it to renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which Trump exited last year, re-imposing sanctions to choke off Iran’s oil exports.
Tehran, which has gradually scaled back its nuclear commitments, has rejected any talks unless sanctions are lifted.
“The United States is now using oil as a weapon; oil is not a weapon,’’ Iranian Oil Minister, Bijan Zangeneh, said.
France, which is trying to salvage the deal, said the New York gathering presented a chance to de-escalate tensions.
“When missiles hit another country, it is an act of war, but we have to go back to the principle of de-escalation,’’ French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said.
“There is an international investigation, let’s wait for its results.’’ (Reuters/)
Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde
Ondo governorship: PDP aspirant pledges to harness aviation, mechanised farming potentials
Mr Tony Erewa, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant for Ondo State governorship, has pledged to harmonise opportunities in aviation and agricultural sectors to boost the state’s economy if elected.
Erewa made the pledge in an interview with newsmen shortly after obtaining his expression of interest and nomination forms at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that as a technocrat, he had successfully run different businesses and organisations and would use his experiences and capability to turn the fortune of the state around.
“I have knowledge of modern agriculture and I will ensure that mechanised farming takes centre stage when I become governor.
“This will be better than the white-collar job that people are seeking.
“I will build a stadium in each of the three senatorial districts that will attract investors and attract international matches,’’ Erewa said.
He also pledged to transform the domestic airport at Akure, the state capital into an international one so as to make it possible for international flights to land and take off from there.
“This will bring a lot of international businesses into the state.
“It will also interest you to know that Ondo state has the largest coastal land (onshore) in the whole of West Africa and we will convert this into a tourist attraction.’’
Erewa, who expressed optimism that PDP would win the state governorship election, however, promised that all aspirants would work together for whoever emerged as the party’s candidate.
He also expressed optimism that he had what it takes to deliver Ondo state to the PDP at the Oct. 10 poll.
“We will put everything in place, put all hands on deck, move to all nooks and crannies of the state to propagate the story and sell our manifesto to the electorate.
“I believe they will vote for us and the PDP will win the forthcoming election in Ondo state.
“I know we are an opposition party but I have what it takes to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and give our people better lives,’’ he said.
Ondo 2020: Okunomo, PDP governorship aspirant, picks party’s nomination form
Mr Banji Okunomo, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirant in Ondo State, has picked a nomination form ahead of the party’s primaries scheduled for July.
Okunomo made the disclosure in a statement issued made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Okitipupa.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the nomination form was also in preparation for the governorship election slated for Oct. 10 in the state.
NAN also reports that Okunomo, who picked his form at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, was the first among the array of the PDP governorship aspirants in the state to do so.
Okunomo, a former PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, said that he dedicated the form to God and the people of the state, who, he said, he intended to serve as governor.
“I picked the nomination form of N21m at Wadata House in Abuja today and this has made me the first among the PDP aspirants to purchase the form.
“I also dedicate the form to God and the good people of the state, whom I intend to serve meritoriously, if I am elected the party’s flag bearer.
“I also promise to eradicate poverty, generate employment, create wealth and enhance the livelihood of the several millions of Ondo State residents, if elected governor,” he said.
NAN recalls that Okunomo was also the first aspirant, who collected the expression of interest form at the PDP secretariat in Akure last week.
Iran’s energy minister visits Iraq on boost of cooperation
Ardakanian met new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad on Wednesday and urged for development of mutual ties in the field of electricity exchanges despite pressures of the United States.
During another meeting with his Iraqi counterpart earlier on the day, Ardakanian also discussed “synchronization of Iran-Iraq electricity network” and cooperation in the field of education in the electricity networking.
Iraq is under the U.S. pressures to reduce its reliance on energy imports from Iran.
COVID-19 tally in Iran exceeds 160,000 amid recent spike in new cases – Ministry
The number of COVID-19 cases in Iran has increased by 3,134, an upward trend compared to the previous day, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said on Wednesday.
This takes infections beyond 160,000, with the death toll now exceeding 8,000, Jahanpur said.
, the daily increase was at 3,117.
“The country has a total of 160,696 coronavirus infection cases.
“The good news is that 125,206 people have recovered,” Jahanpur said on the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network channel.
to him, 70 new fatalities from COVID-19 have been detected in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 8,012.
In the past month, the spread of COVID-19 in the country was marked by an ebb-and-flow dynamic, with spikes in new cases followed by lulls and vice versa.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Iran reports 3,134 new COVID-19 cases, 160,696 in total
Kianush Jahanpur, head of Public Relations and Information Center of the Iranian health ministry, said during his daily briefing that 70 people died of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 8,012.
Out of the new cases, 493 were hospitalized, he added.
So far, 125,206 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals and 2,557 remain in critical condition.
The country imposed a comprehensive lockdown in late February, and has started to gradually ease restrictions since late April.
5-magnitude earthquake in western Iran causes no casualties
The Crisis Management Bureau of the province is on alert, he said, adding the authorities are assessing the damage to the infrastructures and buildings.
5-magnitude earthquake hits western Iran
The focus of the earthquake was at the depth of 11 km, 33.524 degrees north latitude and 45.997 degrees east longitude.
No immediate reports are available about the possible casualties or injuries.
Urgent: 5-magnitude earthquake hits western Iran
Turkey’s pandemic slowdown continues, while Iran sees record daily rebound in COVID-19 cases
Turkey’s COVID-19 pandemic continued to slow down on Tuesday, with 786 new cases of infections registered. Meanwhile, Iran set a new record in daily cases in two months amidst a resurgence of the pandemic.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reported 786 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of confirmed cases in Turkey, the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, to 165,555.
At the same time, 22 more people died from the respiratory virus, taking the death toll in Turkey to 4,585, Koca tweeted.
“The lifting of the curfew does not mean that everything is back to normal,” Koca said.
Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 cases rose to 89,011, after 1,869 new infections were registered.
The kingdom recorded 24 more fatalities, bringing the death toll to 549, while the total recoveries increased to 65,790 after 1,484 new recoveries were added.
A total of 2,599 more people recovered from the disease, bringing the total recoveries to 36,036, while three patients died, raising the death toll to 43.
The ministry also announced the recovery of 1,382 more patients, raising the total recoveries in the country to 14,281.
The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention said 388 more patients made full recovery from the virus, taking the tally of the UAE‘s recoveries to 18,726. The death toll in the UAE rose to 269, after three more fatalities were added on Tuesday.
Oman’ Ministry of Health announced 576 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases to 12,799. Nine new deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 59.
It also said that 20 people died from the virus, in the highest single-day rise, bringing the death toll in the country to 235.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Minister of Health Hassan al-Tamimi reiterated his call on the citizens to cooperate with the health authorities through abiding by the measures of the full curfew to avoid catastrophic consequences.
The Israeli Ministry of Health on Tuesday reported 116 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily rise since May 1 when 155 infections were confirmed.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israel’s Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Israel would expand the number of coronavirus tests, including tests for asymptomatic people.
A total of 1,152 new cases were recorded, raising the total infections with the coronavirus in Egypt since mid-February to 27,536. It is the sixth consecutive day for Egypt’s COVID-19 daily infections to surpass 1,000.
Lebanon’s number of COVID-19 infections increased on Tuesday by nine cases to 1,242, while the death toll remained unchanged at 27.
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