World Calls for tougher action, 2,000 days since UK dual national held in Iran
Iran-UN nuclear agreement signals 'very, very tempered optimism'
Naysan Rafati, a senior Iran analyst with the International Crisis Group, joined The World's Carol Hills to discuss a recent agreement between Iran and the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that will allow for the reset of monitoring devices at Iranian nuclear sites.Rafael Mariano Grossi, director-general of International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, center, attends a meeting with the Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami, in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 12, 2021.
The family of British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, on Thursday marked 2,000 days since her detention in Tehran, calling on the government in London to do more to secure her release.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, is one of a number of Western passport holders being held by Iran in what rights groups condemn as a policy of hostage-taking aimed at winning concessions from foreign powers.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and seven-year-old daughter, Gabriella, played a symbolic game of Snakes and Ladders on Parliament Square in a protest organised by Amnesty International to highlight the hopes and setbacks experienced by families of prisoners in Iran.
Why America should care about Israel's 'War Between the Wars'
The best hedge against the U.S. getting drawn back into a Middle East conflict is a militarily strong Israel.In 2012, Israel began targeting the transfer of missiles from Iran to Lebanon through Syria and Iraq. In response to Israel's success, Iran began building missile and drone factories throughout the region, which Israel subsequently also attacked. Preventing a permanent Iranian presence in Syria analogous to Iran's foothold in Lebanon is a "red line" that Israel will not allow Iran to cross again, or the War Between the Wars will turn hot very quickly.
"It's a tough landmark, but it's also a point when you feel not forgotten," Ratcliffe told AFP of the day's events.
His wife, who worked as a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency and data firm's philanthropic wing, was arrested in April 2016 while visiting family.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow the regime, a charge she denied.
She completed that sentence in March this year, only to be slapped with a fresh one-year jail term for "propaganda against the system", treatment that the UK says amounts to torture.
Iran looks east after China-led bloc OKs entry
Iran on Saturday hailed its acceptance into a China and Russia-led bloc, an eastward turn it sees as opening access to major world markets and a counter to crippling Western sanctions. Conservative and reformist newspapers showed rare unity in welcoming the outcome of a conference in Dushanbe on Friday at which members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation endorsed Iran's future membership in the bloc. The eight-member group, created two decades ago and which also includes India, promotes itself as an antidote to Western dominance. The bloc's decision on Iran comes with negotiations at a standstill on bringing Washington back into a 2015 nuclear accord.
Ratcliffe said he had spoken briefly that day to his wife, who is staying with her mother in Iran while she appeals against her second prison sentence and can make videocalls.
She watched Gabriella brush her hair during a "relatively upbeat" conversation, he said.
Ratcliffe urged the British government and its new foreign minister Liz Truss, who was appointed last week, to use tougher tactics against Tehran's use of "hostage diplomacy".
He and other campaigners say his wife and other dual nationals are being held as political hostages because of a long-standing dispute between London and Tehran over a failed arms deal.
"I think the current approach to dealing with hostage-taking doesn't work and our case is testament to that, the fact that it's been allowed to last for so long," he said.
- 'Appalling ordeal' -
The government should treat such cases as "a form of organised crime", he said, using legal systems and "individual human rights sanctions".
Taliban takeover leaves Iran and Turkey fearing refugee influx
The Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan has left regional heavyweights Iran and Turkey with a headache -- both countries may see an opportunity to boost their influence but neither wants a further influx of refugees. This is especially the case right now as both countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic and facing economic difficulties. Analysts say everything depends on the unknown factor -- whether the Taliban present a more moderate stance that allows for international cooperation or they return to the unbridled extremism that led to their overthrow in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"There's a policy gap there that needs to be addressed and part of that must be being tougher with those who are doing it," he said.
Ratcliffe said he had been reassured by attention from Truss, who this week raised the case with her Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
In a statement on Thursday, Truss condemned Zaghari-Ratcliffe's "appalling ordeal" and vowed to "continue to press until she returns home".
Truss was due to speak to Nazanin later Thursday, Ratcliffe said.
One of Truss' predecessors as foreign secretary, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was accused of jeopardising her case by mischaracterising her job.
Elika Ashoori, the daughter of another British national held by Tehran, 67-year-old Anoosheh Ashoori, said at the protest that Truss had also "called us almost immediately after she became foreign secretary".
But she added: "We have learned not to be too optimistic.
"I think this is now a time particularly for the new foreign secretary to put much stronger action behind some of the words that we've heard before," Sacha Deshmukh, interim head of Amnesty International UK, told AFP.
He urged the government to insist on the release of such prisoners as a condition for any further negotiations with Tehran, stressing that Nazanin and others held by Iran are "human beings, not pawns on a game".
Iran's SCO Entry Could Complicate U.S.-Israeli Strategic Options | Opinion .
With Iran's entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and growing military ties with China, will Beijing feel more inclined to come to Iran's defense?Iran's SCO entry comes as the Institute for Science and International Security, a leading nonproliferation think tank, reported that due to its aggressive nuclear enrichment of recent months, the Islamic Republic now has enough enriched nuclear fuel to produce a single nuclear weapon within no more than about a month—if it chooses to do so.