Iran’s lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved a motion in response to recent US sanctions, voting to boost spending on Tehran’s missile program and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ defense mechanism.
In a session Sunday, 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, with only one abstention, to confront “America’s terrorist and adventurous actions” in the region.
The measure came after President Donald Trump signed into law a bill passed by US Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran over its missile program in early August.
Washington’s new sanctions violate a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran both “in letter and spirit.” Tehran says its missile program does not breach a UN resolution which endorsed the nuclear deal.
Devising the Sunday motion, the Parliament took great care not to violate the nuclear accord and provide excuses for opposing sides, spokesman for Parliament’s Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy Hossein Naqavi Hosseini said.
The plan would require Iran’s government and armed forces to draw up a strategy to counter US violations of human rights around the world, and to support Iranian bodies and individuals affected by US sanctions.
The measure would also allocate over $260 million each to Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Quds Force – the external arm of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which has sent military advisers to Iraq and Syria to fight terrorists.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who is the head of an Iranian commission tasked with monitoring the agreement’s implementation, told MPs that the government backed the bill which he described as “very strong.”
He said Iran has many devices at its disposal apart from the nuclear agreement to confront the United States.
The motion was designed in view of continued bellicose policies of the US towards Iran, and its persisting measures aimed at endangering peace and security in the region, it said.
It also took into account America’s enmity towards the Iranian government and people and their interests through supporting terrorism and violent extremism, as well as taking adventurous actions, creating divisions, and stoking sectarianism.
The bill tasks Foreign, Intelligence, and Defense Ministries, Iran’s Army, and its Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and its Quds Force to produce a comprehensive strategy aimed at countering US threats.
It considers the entirety of the US military forces and intelligence operatives in the region to be supporters of regional terrorist groups, and subject to punitive measures.
The blacklisted individuals will be denied Iranian visas, their assets will be frozen by Iran’s Judiciary, and their bank accounts blocked by its Ministry of Economy.
A parliamentary committee is also tasked with monitoring US government and congressional moves and and proposing appropriate reciprocal measures to the Parliament.
To counter US economic sanctions, the government has been ordered to provide a comprehensive plan on expanding economic cooperation with world countries, especially Iran’s neighbors and friends as well as countries which have likewise been subject to Washington’s embargoes.
The government must also use all available international capacities, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, to take action against the US over its human rights violations, “like its crimes against humanity in Yemen.”
Turkey Ending Support for Syrian Rebels ‘Goodwill Gesture Towards Damascus’
Turkey has stopped supporting the Syrian coalition of opposition forces. According to analyst and journalist Musa Özuğurlu, this decision is likely to contribute to normalization between Ankara and Damascus.
Turkey has decided to end its support for the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (aka the Syrian National Coalition), which encompasses various opposition groups fighting in the Syrian conflict, the Syrian news outlet Zaman el-Vasl reported citing a source in the coalition.
Founded in November 2012, the Syrian National Coalition received $320,000 in annual support from Turkey.
According to Turkish political analyst and journalist Musa Özuğurlu, the decision to stop this support was prompted by Ankara’s unwillingness to give funds to an opposition organization “capable only of talking at press conferences and useless in combat actions on the ground.”The journalist pointed to the fact that currently the coalition does not have the instruments to influence the course of events in Syria.
“This organization now is rather symbolic. It can operate only under the aegis of its leaders based in Ankara and Istanbul. After five years, everyone sees that the Syrian National Coalition has no future. The Turkish government realized that funding the group made no sense and decided to end its support,” Özuğurlu told Sputnik Turkey.
The expert pointed out that Turkey is focused on neutralizing the security threats coming from Kurdish units involved in the Syrian conflict.
“While the US decided to cut off support for Syrian opposition fighters in order to focus on military assistance for Kurdish forces, Turkey’s decision [to end support for the Syrian National Coalition] is a signal that Ankara will focus on countering Kurdish forces in Syria,” he said.At the same time, Özuğurlu underscored that the move would be very important in the future since it is a positive step in relations between Ankara and Damascus.
“By abandoning support for the Syrian opposition, Turkey is making a goodwill gesture towards the Syrian government. This decision may help break the ice between Damascus and Ankara,” he said.
According to Özuğurlu, the possible cooperation between Turkey and the Syrian government would be mutually beneficial.
“Kurdish forces are the key problem on the ground for Turkey. Possibly, the decision was prompted by Ankara’s intention to coordinate actions [on the Kurdish problem] with Damascus. When it comes to the Kurdish problem, Ankara and Damascus have common interests,” the expert said.Özuğurlu, however, assumed that there would be no quick normalization between the two sides.
“They are likely to continue attacking each other with harsh statements. However, the fact that Turkey has ended support for the Syrian National Coalition means that Ankara doesn’t recognize the opposition forces anymore. This may lead to a new phase in Ankara-Damascus relations,” he concluded.