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Iran and Afghanistan

Stories under this heading cover Iran and Afghanistan.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday night at the age of 63. This was reported by Iranian state television. After a multi-hour search, the helicopter wreckage was found near the village of Tavil in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, a mountainous area where there was bad weather at the time of the crash. A period of five days of mourning has been declared in Iran, during which time the country's vice president has been appointed interim president.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi killed in helicopter crash

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday night at the age of 63. This was reported by Iranian state television. After a multi-hour search, the helicopter wreckage was found near the village of Tavil in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, a mountainous area where there was bad weather at the time of the crash. A period of five days of mourning has been declared in Iran, during which time the country's vice president has been appointed interim president.
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US sees Iran moving military equipment including drones and cruise missiles

US sees Iran moving military equipment including drones and cruise missiles

The US has observed Iran moving military equipment, including drones and cruise missiles, around the country, signalling that it may be preparing to attack Israeli targets from within its own territory, two intelligence officials told CNN reporters. However, it is not clear whether Iran is preparing to strike from its soil as part of an initial attack, or whether it is posturing to try to deter Israel or the US from a possible counterstrike on its territory.  One of the intelligence officials said the US had observed Iran preparing as many as 100 cruise missiles.
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5th European Union-Central Asia meeting on Afghanistan held in Bishkek

5th European Union-Central Asia meeting on Afghanistan held in Bishkek

The fifth European Union-Central Asia meeting focusing on Afghanistan took place in Bishkek on 14 February. Discussions centred around the situation in Afghanistan, with particular emphasis placed on finding effective ways to interact with the country’s de facto government. Participants praised the recent United Nations (UN) report on Afghanistan and endorsed UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s initiative to establish the position of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan. Roza Otunbayeva, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, also attended the meeting.  The European Union was represented by the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Terhi Hakkala.
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Who is trying to set the Middle East on fire?

Who is trying to set the Middle East on fire?

It seems someone is trying to add fuel to fire in an already tense Middle East. A terrorist attack in Iran's southern city of Kerman on Wednesday (3 January) left nearly one hundred people dead, and many more injured. The victims were in a massive crowd participating in an event commemorating Revolutionary Guards general Qasem Soleimani four years after his death in a US strike. The two explosions came amid high Middle East tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the killing of a Hamas senior leader in Lebanon on Tuesday. The unclaimed attacks, which sparked fears of a widening conflict in the region, and sparked global condemnation.  The United Nations, European Union, and several countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey. Russia, Jordan, Germany and Iraq denounced the blasts. UN chief Antonio Guterres “strongly condemns” the blasts, his office said, and the EU said: “This act of terror has exacted a shocking toll of civilian deaths and injuries.” The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said that he spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to “convey condolences” and “condemned this terrorist attack in the strongest terms and expressed solidarity with the Iranian people.”
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In the absence of Georgia, the 3 + 3 meeting in Tehran was again incomplete

In the absence of Georgia, the 3 + 3 meeting in Tehran was again incomplete

The foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Turkey, met in Tehran on Monday 23 October in the second meeting of the 3 + 3 format, which however is only 2 + 3 since the third South Caucasus country, Georgia, refuses to participate in the process because of its problems with Russia. Recently, Turkey and Iran have made statements that they prefer this format of interaction with the South Caucasus countries since it excludes external players. Some Azerbaijani officials have expressed similar views. At the end of their meeting in Tehran, the foreign ministers issued a nine-point statement, in which amongst other things, they said that "expressing their positions on various international issues, they discussed the most important issues in the region and emphasized the importance of such platforms as the regional consultative "3+3" platform to provide opportunities for constructive dialogue and establish mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries of the region". commonspace.eu political editor said that the absence of Georgia in the 3 + 3 format hugely reduces the significance of the initiative since it is difficult to discuss regional issues without that country being present. However, the format is important, particularly for Iran, which has been desperately trying to have a role in the region. For the Turks, this is an opportunity to share a platform with Armenia, even as discussions on the normalisation of relations continue. The meeting between the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers, on the margins of the main event, was perhaps the most significant event in the one-day diplomatic extravaganza in Tehran. For the Russians, such a meeting has limited use. They would prefer to deal with the Armenians and the Azerbaijanis on their own, separately or together. But given that their monopoly over dealings with the two countries, especially on the issue of normalisation of relations, has now been lost, Moscow wants to make sure it is present whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
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Iranian female activist wins the Nobel Prize

Iranian female activist wins the Nobel Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Iranian women's rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi. The committee says she received the prize for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her efforts for promoting human rights and freedom for all. Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian campaigner and deputy head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, which was founded by fellow Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi. Mohammadi has received several jail sentences since 2011 and is currently being held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison for "spreading propaganda". In awarding her the prize, the Nobel committee said Mohammadi's "brave struggle has come with tremendous personal cost". "Altogether, the regime has arrested her 13 times, convicted her five times and sentenced her to a total of 31 years in prison," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo. Narges Mohammadi is "still in prison as I speak", she adds.
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Iranian political point scoring mars process of reconciliation with Saudi Arabia

Iranian political point scoring mars process of reconciliation with Saudi Arabia

Football, it is often said, can unite nations in love with the game. But in Iran, it appears they see things differently. Saudi Arabia and Iran were at loggerheads for years, but in March, with much fanfare, the Chinese announced they had brokered a deal between the two countries. Diplomatic relations were restored. And from last month, football matches could start being played on their home grounds, instead of in third party venues. But for Iran, political scoring is all important. A furious row erupted on Monday after an Iranian football club tried to use a match against Saudi opponents for political propaganda. The AFC Champions League match at the Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium in Isfahan between Sepahan and Jeddah team Al-Ittihad was called off when the Iranian club refused to remove political banners and busts of the late Revolutionary Guard warlord Qassem Soleimani from the edge of the pitch. Soleimani ran the overseas arm of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was a blunt critic of the Saudi government and the kingdom’s ruling Al Saud family. He was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020. The Iranians refused to remove the bust. After requesting a delay of half an hour to assess the situation, the Saudi team and staff left the stadium to head to the airport and back to Saudi Arabia.