Iran's foreign minister delivered a blunt challenge to the US on Saturday, saying Tehran is willing to help US troops withdraw from neighboring Iraq but only if Washington makes some tough policy changes.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki claimed US troops were responsible for at least half the violence tearing apart Iraq and that their departure would pay security dividends for the entire region.
"If the US changes its attitude the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help with the withdrawal from Iraq," Mottaki told an International Institute of Strategic Studies conference. "Fifty percent of the problem of insecurity in Iraq is the presence of foreign troops."
Mottaki echoed calls made last week by Iran's top national security official, Ali Larijani, for Gulf Arab countries to eject US bases in their countries and establish a regional security pact with Iran. Mottaki went further and offered deeper cooperation with the six Gulf Arab states on energy, tourism, business and counter-narcotics.
Iran's offers do not seem to have tempted neighbors worried about the dangers of living near Iran's nuclear facilities, especially amid threats by Washington and Israel to use military force to destroy them.
Mottaki's forceful speech was a blunt challenge to US interests in the Persian Gulf, and a strong display of the country's rising assertiveness in the face of US failures in the region.
At one point, Mottaki addressed an audience that included US Vice Admiral David Nichols, the deputy chief of US Central Command, a member of the US delegation, and said the regional chaos sparked by the US President George W. Bush's twin wars demonstrated that US military force was no longer a real-istic policy option in the Middle East.
"Today the time of threats is over. The period of unilateralism is over," Mottaki said. "Look at Iraq. Look at Afghanistan. That gives us a very important lesson."
Iran's proposal for a Gulf security alliance shows no sign of gaining traction among the region's Arab leaders. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa said security of the oil-rich region depends on the US, the EU and other major oil-importing countries.
Much of the discussion at the security conference centered on the US Iraq Study Group report, and its recommendation that Washington seek Iran's help in steering Iraq away from civil war.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative