London-based TV channel sparks Iranian leaders’ ire amid protests

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Abu Dhabi

A prime Iranian army official issued a warning to Saudi Arabia final week as his authorities continued to face off in opposition to protesters at residence. “You are involved in this matter and know that you are vulnerable, it is better to be careful,” he mentioned on the sidelines of a army drill.

Main Normal Hossein Salami, the pinnacle of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was referring to what state information shops known as a “media war” that they are saying is being waged in opposition to “the Iranian youth and nation” by international conspirators searching for to create unrest within the nation by supporting protesters there.

Then, on Thursday Iran once more warned Saudi Arabia, in addition to the USA and the UK, to “stop interfering in the country’s internal affairs.”

Iran final week mentioned it sanctioned a lot of media shops within the UK for “supporting terrorism” and “inciting violence”, reported Tasnim information company The sanctioned entities embody, amongst others, Volant Media, World Media, and DMA Media, in addition to the “anti-Iranian TV channels” that the businesses assist, equivalent to Iran Worldwide, reported Tasnim company.

Now of their sixth week, protests have swept by way of the Islamic Republic following the demise of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died on September 16 after being detained by “morality police” and brought to a “re-education center,” allegedly for not abiding by the nation’s conservative gown code.

Because the protests rage, Iran is popping up the warmth on its adversaries, primarily the USA and Israel. However final week, Saudi Arabia discovered itself within the line of fireside, which dangers additional complicating makes an attempt by the 2 regional rivals to fix ties.

Riyadh hasn’t publicly commented on the protests. The dominion’s international minister refused to present his view when requested to throughout an interview with Al Arabiya information channel on October 12.

“Saudi Arabia has a fixed policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of states,” he mentioned. “Surely, we are following [the situation] and we wish Iran and its people the best.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia severed ties in 2016 and each events have backed reverse sides in proxy conflicts throughout the Center East. Final 12 months, they started direct talks in an try to enhance relations. Baghdad has hosted 5 rounds of talks up to now, the final of which was held in April.

On the coronary heart of Iran’s most up-to-date accusations in opposition to Saudi Arabia could also be Iran Worldwide, a Persian-language information channel that broadcasts from London. The channel has grow to be one of many go-to sources for a lot of Persian audio system in search of information on the protests. It has been on the forefront of overlaying the demonstrations, getting breaking information and unique footage of the occasions on the bottom. Its Twitter account has over 1,000,000 followers.

Based in 2017, Iran Worldwide has beforehand come underneath scrutiny by the Iranian authorities. Some say it is because of their protection of the protests at residence, which in current weeks have rocked the Islamic Republic.

Salami didn’t title the channel in his warning, however government-backed Iranian media final week accused Saudi Arabia of funding it. Saudi Arabia has not addressed the allegations. Karim Sa djadpour, a senior fellow on the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace assume tank in Washington DC, said on Twitter that Iran has demanded the shuttering of the channel in talks with Saudi Arabia, citing a senior Gulf official.

In 2018, Iran Worldwide launched a press release denying connections to any authorities, together with Saudi Arabia or Iran after The Guardian reported that it was funded by a agency whose director has ties to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia didn’t touch upon the Guardian report. The Saudi authorities didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark.

“We have heard these accusations before most often promoted by those in whose interests it is to deny a free press,” a spokesperson for Volant Media informed CNN.

“Iran International and its sister channel, Afghanistan International, are editorially independent television channels owned by Volant Media, a company based in London owned by a Saudi Arabian/British citizen; it has no state backing or affiliation,” added the spokesperson.

Azadeh Moaveni, affiliate professor of journalism at New York College, described the channel as “one of the most pernicious and damaging forces to enter the Iranian media sphere,” calling it an arm of Saudi international coverage. “I would not describe Iran International as pro-reform, or organically Iranian in any manner,” she informed CNN.

Mohammad Marandi, a professor on the College of Tehran who was additionally an adviser to the Iranian nuclear talks negotiating crew, mentioned there’s “no doubt” that Iran Worldwide is funded by Saudi Arabia. A outstanding determine on state-funded Iranian shops, Marandi added that Iran Worldwide spreads rumors, ethnic and sectarian strife “and it tries to use misinformation to create fear, chaos and promote violence.”

Saudi Analysis and Advertising Group, a media conglomerate with ties to the Saudi ruling household, has run the Persian language web site of the UK’s Impartial newspaper since 2018. Its account on Instagram, the place many Iranians get their information, has over 600,000 followers.

CNN’s guardian firm is Warner Bros. Discovery, which has a partnership with Saudi Analysis and Media Group, a Saudi joint inventory firm.

Saudi Arabia has for years accused Iran of doing the identical with its personal Arabic-language information channels: focusing on Arab audiences with propaganda. State-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting runs Al Alam TV, an Arabic information channel that has interviewed Saudi opposition figures and has been blocked by Arab states. Iran-backed Hezbollah’s Al Manar channel has additionally been blocked.

“It’s about time Iran gets a taste of its own medicine,” mentioned Ali Shihabi, a Saudi creator and analyst. “Iran has spent decades inciting and funding instability in the Arab world so having them pay the price of such behavior themselves is certainly a source of satisfaction to a lot of people,” he informed CNN.

The channel “is making an impact on public behavior in Iran and they are nervous about their domestic situation,” added Shihabi.

Analysts say that Iran’s tight grip on home media shops and its lack of freedom of expression have created “fertile ground” for anti-establishment platforms equivalent to Iran Worldwide to flourish.

“It is not so much the broadcasters themselves, but the situation in Iran has provided the possibility for broadcasters outside of Iran to gather a certain degree of popularity in the Iranian context,” mentioned Gholam Khiabany, a reader in media and communications at Goldsmiths, College of London.

Harun Najafizada, a former journalist at Iran Worldwide who’s now a director on the sister Afghanistan Worldwide information channel, mentioned the guardian firm Volant Media is privately funded however “I don’t care as long as they do not influence my editorial take,” including that shareholders by no means intrude in resolution making.

Iran Worldwide stood out from different Western-backed Persian language information shops “by taking the side of the disenchanted, oppressed, voiceless people,” whereas competitor Persian channels within the West have been centered on bringing stability by giving the Iranian authorities a voice, he informed CNN.

“They have a vision, of course – they don’t do it for God,” mentioned Najafizada, referring to the shareholders. “That vision is democracy.”

Simply two days after Salami’s first warning, nevertheless, Ali Akbar Velayati, a prime adviser to Iran’s supreme chief, was quoted saying that the 2 international locations ought to reopen their embassies to facilitate a rapprochement, in line with the semi-official Iranian information company ISNA.

“We are neighbors of Saudi Arabia and we must coexist,” he was cited as saying by ISNA. “The embassies of the two countries should reopen in order to solve our problems in a better way.”

Enterprise house owners and manufacturing unit staff in Iran’s Kurdish area went on strike over the weekend as anti-government protests continued.

Video shared with CNN by pro-reform activist outlet IranWire exhibits Sanandaj, the capital of the Kurdish area, quiet initially of the work week as shops stay shut.

The Norway-based Iranian rights group Hengaw mentioned shopkeepers have been on strike in Bukan, Sanandaj and Saqez, in addition to Marivan. Strikes and protests have grow to be widespread in cities and cities throughout Iran as folks unite in opposition to the regime.

The nationwide protests at the moment are of their fifth week, triggered by the demise of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died three days after being arrested by the nation’s morality police and brought to a re-education heart.

Right here’s the most recent on this growing story:

  • Iran will file a lawsuit in opposition to the USA claiming the US had direct involvement in current riots, Kazem Gharibabadi, the deputy head of the Iranian judiciary and secretary of the nation’s Excessive Council for Human Rights, mentioned on Saturday, in line with state information company IRNA.
  • The Coordinating Council of Iranian Lecturers’ Commerce Associations (CCITTA) on Saturday known as for a nationwide strike in protest on the current deaths and detention of scholars within the nation, in line with a press release revealed on Telegram. The council additionally introduced a interval of public mourning for college kids who’ve died in current weeks from Thursday by way of Saturday, and known as for a sit-in on Sunday, October 23 and Monday, October 24.
  • Protests came about in central Berlin on Saturday, with near 80,000 folks standing in solidarity with Iran, German state broadcaster RBB reported, citing police officers.

Israel and Lebanon may signal maritime border settlement on Thursday, Biden power adviser says

Senior US adviser for international power safety Amos Hochstein mentioned on Sunday that Israel and Lebanon may signal their historic maritime borders settlement as early as Thursday.

  • Background: “We’re going to have a deal. We’re going to sign it hopefully this Thursday,” Hochstein mentioned on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And I hope that this continues our commitment to stability in the region and prosperity for both countries,” he added.
  • Why it issues: The US-brokered settlement settles a years-long maritime border dispute involving main oil and gasoline fields within the Mediterranean. Nonetheless technically at struggle, Lebanon and Israel each have a lot to achieve. Not solely does the settlement quiet down current safety tensions, it additionally permits Israel to start drilling and exporting gasoline to Europe and presents potential financial reduction to Lebanon.

Human Rights Watch says LGBTQ folks subjected to arrest and mistreatment in Qatar forward of World Cup

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Qatar’s safety forces of arbitrarily arresting lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folks and subjecting them to ill-treatment in detention forward of the FIFA World Cup.

  • Background: HRW mentioned in a report issued Monday that it documented six instances of “severe and repeated beatings and five cases of sexual harassment in police custody between 2019 and 2022,” the newest of which came about in September. Safety forces arrested folks in public locations based mostly solely on their gender expression and unlawfully searched their telephones, the HRW report mentioned, including that as a requirement for his or her launch, safety forces mandated that transgender ladies detainees attend “conversion therapy sessions” at a government-sponsored “behavioral healthcare” heart. Homosexuality is against the law in Qatar and punishable by imprisonment. A Qatari official informed CNN that the HRW allegations “contain information that is categorically and unequivocally false.”
  • Why it issues: Forward of the FIFA World Cup, which begins November 20, Qatar has mentioned it will welcome LGBT guests, after issues have been raised from the LGBT group over how protected they are going to be on the event.

Egypt has ordered the discharge of outstanding activist, presidential pardon committee member says

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Monday pardoned a outstanding activist and former parliamentarian, Zyad el-Elaimy, in line with a presidential pardon committee member.

  • Background: Jailed since 2019, el-Elaimy was one of many key members within the 2011 uprisings that led to the downfall of former longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. His launch is “in response to calls by political parties and forces,” presidential pardon committee member Tarek el-Khouly wrote on Fb. Younger members of political events, politicians and the presidential pardon committee additionally coordinated to assist safe his launch, added el-Khouly. El-Elaimy was given a five-year sentence final 12 months on costs of spreading false information.
  • Why it issues: The discharge comes two weeks forward of November’s COP27 summit in Egypt. The nation has are available for sharp criticism in current months, with activists denouncing international leaders’ attendance within the gentle of Sisi’s questionable human rights report. Egypt has been selling strikes to enhance its rights report, however activists and critics have described current reforms as principally beauty.

United Arab Emirates: #Diwali

Often known as Deepavali, the vacation is extensively trending throughout social platforms within the United Arab Emirates, with many flooding Twitter with colourful photographs of candles and wishing pleasure and prosperity to the world.

Some are additionally posting photographs of themselves in conventional celebratory clothes. Diwali is without doubt one of the most vital festivals in Hinduism, the biggest faith in India. This 12 months, it falls on October 24.

India and the UAE share a robust political and financial relationship, one which has grown nearer in recent times.

The Indian expatriate group within the UAE is round 3.5 million, in line with the Indian embassy within the UAE, including that it’s reportedly the biggest ethnic group within the oil-rich Arabian Gulf state. Roughly 15% of the diaspora are within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, added the Indian embassy, whereas the remainder are in six northern Emirates, together with enterprise hub Dubai.

The UAE additionally accounts for 33% of international remittances to India, at greater than $20 billion a 12 months.

Diwali can also be important for Sikhs and Jains. It’s celebrated in India, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore and different international locations with South Asian diasporas.

Palestinian girls wearing traditional embroidered dresses perform during a ceremony marking the start of the olive harvest season in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza on Sunday.