Iran’s officials put out a series of statements on Wednesday declaring support for Iraq’s al-Maliki Government against “terrorists”, following the insurgency’s capture of the cities of Mosul and Tikrit.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif led the Iranian moves, phoning Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari.
The Foreign Ministry called for an international response, as Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian blamed “foreign sides” for the insurgency and promised, “Terrorists and their supporters should know that as they suffered a major defeat in Syria, their measures in Iraq will also yield no result but defeat.”
The Foreign Ministry expressed deep concern over the insurgency’s takeover of the Turkey Consulate in Mosul and the abduction of 49 staff and dependents.
The head of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, linked Iran’s backing of Baghdad with its support of the Assad regime in Syria. He told the Syrian Ambassador to Iran, “The expansion of terrorist elements from Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham) and their violent measures in Iraq has been a warning call for regional security. It requires attention and serious measures from international organizations and governments.”
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chair of Parliament’s National Security Committee, also tried to turn Iraqi developments into advantage over the “West” in Syria. He said Iraq’s insurgency was “the reaction to the defeat of America and its regional allies in Syria”, adding that Iraqi security forces would “crush” ISIS.
The head of Iran’s police, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, announced increased security measures on the Iraqi border. He said Tehran may cancel travel by pilgrims to Shi’a holy shrines in Iraq.
Filmmaker Mohammadi Begins Serving 5-Year Sentence
Documentary filmmaker, actress, and women’s rights activist Mahnaz Mohammadi has begun serving a five-year prison sentence on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state”.
Before going to Evin Prison, Mohammadi said she had been summoned for making a film for BBC Persian, even though the documentary was never broadcast. She said she was also “charged with having relations with Aljazeera English, German and American media, Radio France International, and Voice of America”, as well as attending protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election and memorial services for demonstrators killed by security services.
Mohammadi was first arrested on July 30, 2009 after her participation in a memorial service for Neda Agha Soltan, a young woman killed during protests 40 days earlier. The filmmaker was arrested again in June 2011 and sentenced in late 2012 to five years in prison.
Mohammadi described her interrogation:
My interrogator wanted me to confess to receiving money from BBC Persian in return for working against the Islamic Republic of Iran, but because I had never done this and had no ties to the BBC at all, I didn’t confess….
My interrogator told me, “When we shape you up, the other documentary filmmakers will get the message….Just say that you got paid from the foreign networks for espionage and we will release you.” He wanted me to confess and I angered him when I resisted.
Mohammadi award-winning films include Travelogue (2006), Ephemeral Marriage (2011), and Crossing the Line [(2012).
Iran Prepares for Visit of Foreign Minister Zarif to Saudi Arabia
Tehran announced preparations on Wednesday for the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Riyadh.
“Iran and Saudi Arabia will start their negotiations at the level of deputy foreign ministers as a prelude to the Iranian foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Riyadh,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said.
The Rouhani Government, pursuing its foreign policy of “engagement”, has been trying for months to arrange a high-level visit. Last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal reportedly invited Zarif to come to the Kingdom.
Amir Abdollahian said on Wednesday, “Iran and Saudi Arabia have high capabilities and on the same basis the two countries should work to resolve the Middle East’s problems.”
The Deputy Foreign Minister said he had a “constructive” meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Salman in Cairo, after the two officials took part in the inaugural ceremony of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Monday.
Iran Says Nuclear Talks With Russia “Fruitful”
Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, said on Wednesday that bilateral nuclear talks with Russian officials in Rome were “fruitful”.
Preparing for next week’s high-level negotiations with the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) in Vienna, Iran is meeting almost all of the countries and the European Union in bilateral and trilateral sessions.
The two sides are seeking a comprehensive deal before an interim Joint Plan of Agreement expires on July 20.
The Iranians met the US on Monday and Tuesday in their first scheduled bilateral talks since 1979. The European Union also participated, and Iran’s delegations later saw French representatives.
Araqchi said the “helpful” talks were held in a “positive atmosphere”.
The Iranians will meet German counterparts in Tehran on Sunday.
By EA WorldView
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