Some lo­cal me­dia act­ing like ‘se­cret po­lice’: Iran pres­i­dent

Iran to at­tend next round of Syria peace talks

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

TEHRAN: Iran’s Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani yes­ter­day ac­cused lo­cal me­dia out­lets op­posed to his poli­cies of be­hav­ing like “a se­cret po­lice”. Iran’s most con­ser­va­tive news­pa­pers have strongly crit­i­cized the mod­er­ate pres­i­dent elected in 2013 whose for­eign pol­icy in July led to Tehran sign­ing a land­mark nu­clear deal with world pow­ers. The ac­cord seeks to curb Iran’s atomic drive in re­turn for lift­ing sanc­tions that have crip­pled its econ­omy.

The me­dia ben­e­fits from “a per­ma­nent se­cu­rity mar­gin... so that not only can they say what­ever they want, but they also some­times act like the se­cret po­lice,” Rouhani told rep­re­sen­ta­tives of around 600 me­dia out­lets at a press event in Tehran. “You learn from some pub­li­ca­tions who will be ar­rested to­mor­row, what is go­ing to be closed down to­mor­row, which in­di­vid­ual’s rep­u­ta­tion should be dam­aged,” he said, with­out giv­ing any names. The speech came sev­eral days af­ter the ar­rest of three pro-re­form jour­nal­ists, one of whom had re­cently been crit­i­cal of Iran’s Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, ac­cord­ing to news agen­cies.

State tele­vi­sion said the elite Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards had ar­rested “sev­eral mem­bers of an in­fil­tra­tion net­work linked to hos­tile Western gov­ern­ments who were work­ing in the coun­try’s me­dia and so­cial net­works.” Rouhani told the press “some claim to be rev­o­lu­tion­ary” but “be­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary means not to lie... it means not to ac­cuse oth­ers.”“Be­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary means giv­ing hope to the peo­ple... re­as­sur­ing peo­ple,” he said. Yet “from one part of the es­tab­lish­ment, we at­tack the other part of the es­tab­lish­ment.” “The gov­ern­ment must be crit­i­cized, the ju­di­ciary must be crit­i­cized, the par­lia­ment must be crit­i­cized,” the pres­i­dent said. “But crit­i­ciz­ing does not mean... smear­ing, in­sult­ing or ly­ing.”

Also this week, state tele­vi­sion re­ported the ar­rest of a Le­banese- Amer­i­can, Nezar Zaka, on sus­pi­cion of hav­ing links to the US in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. The US State Depart­ment, while not of­fi­cially con­firm­ing the ar­rest, said the sus­pect was Le­banese with per­ma­nent US res­i­dency pa­pers. There are also four Ira­nian-Amer­i­cans be­ing held in Iran, in­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton Post cor­re­spon­dent Ja­son Reza­ian, who has been de­tained since July last year on spy charges.

Syria peace talks

Mean­while, Iran will at­tend the next round of Syria peace talks, a top ad­vi­sor to Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei was quoted as say­ing yes­ter­day, a week af­ter Tehran threat­ened to with­draw from the process. World and re­gional pow­ers in­clud­ing Iran met in Vi­enna on Oct 30 to dis­cuss a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion to Syria’s civil war. Days later, Iran threat­ened to pull out of the next round of talks, blam­ing the “neg­a­tive role” played by re­gional ri­val Saudi Ara­bia.

“Iran will be ac­tively present in (Syria peace) talks, while an­nounc­ing its stan­dards and pre­serv­ing its red lines,” Ali Ak­bar Ve­lay­ati, Khamenei’s top for­eign pol­icy ad­vi­sor, was quoted as say­ing by the Tas­nim news agency. “We will sup­port our ally, Syria, not only in de­fense field, but also in po­lit­i­cal arena,” he added. Iran sup­ports Syria’s Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad against rebels backed by re­gional pow­ers in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia, Qatar and Turkey.

Diplo­mats have said the next round of in­ter­na­tional talks is likely to be­gin later this week. The Oct 30 talks, which failed to reach a so­lu­tion, marked the first time Iran and Saudi Ara­bia were at the same ta­ble to dis­cuss Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 250,000 peo­ple and dis­placed mil­lions over nearly five years. The war has evolved into a wider proxy strug­gle be­tween global pow­ers, as Rus­sia has joined the As­sadIran axis and Western pow­ers have stepped up sup­port for Gulf Arab­backed rebels. Iran has said it could sup­port As­sad’s de­par­ture only if he is ousted in elec­tions held af­ter a cease­fire. Western and Gulf Arab pow­ers say the Syr­ian strong­man, whose crack­down on ini­tially peace­ful protests in 2011 trig­gered the war, must leave power as part of any cred­i­ble peace process. —Agen­cies

TEHRAN: A hand­out photo pro­vided by the of­fice of Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani shows him (right) meet­ing with South Korea’s For­eign Min­is­ter Yun Byung-se in Tehran yes­ter­day. —AFP

MARIB: Armed Ye­meni tribes­men from the Pop­u­lar Re­sis­tance Com­mit­tees, sup­port­ing forces loyal to Ye­men’s Saudi-backed Pres­i­dent Abedrabbo Man­sour Hadi, fire from a tank in the area of Sir­wah, West of Marib city. —AFP

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