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24 Hours Across Africa

Iran wants dialogue over possible conflict.

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Source: Reuters

Iran’s top diplomat dismissed the possibility of war erupting in the region at a time of escalating confrontation with the United States, saying Tehran did not want conflict and no country had the “illusion it can confront Iran”.

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Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased in recent days, raising concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. Earlier this week the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in neighboring Iraq following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.

“There will be no war because neither do we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion it can confront Iran in the region,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Iran’s IRNA state news agency before ending a visit to Beijing.

President Donald Trump has tightened economic sanctions against Iran, and his administration says it has built up the U.S. military presence in the region. It accuses Iran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described U.S. moves as “psychological warfare” and a “political game”.

“The fact is that Trump has officially said and reiterated again that he does not want a war, but people around him are pushing for war on the pretext that they want to make America stronger against Iran,” Zarif said.

He told Reuters last month that Trump could be lured into a conflict by the likes of U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, an ardent Iran hawk.

In Tehran, Major General Hossein Salami, the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said on Saturday that Iran had nothing to fear from the United States, which he said was in decline, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

“The U.S. political system is full of cracks. Though impressive-looking, it has osteoporosis. In fact, America’s story is like the World Trade Center towers that collapse with a sudden blow,” Salami, known for his fiery rhetoric, was quoted as saying. He was referring to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Trump has said publicly he wants to pursue a diplomatic route with Iran after ratcheting pressure on Tehran.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday Iran would not be bullied into negotiating, IRNA reported.

“The (U.S.) claim that it is forcing us to the negotiating table is worthless… We are for logic, negotiation and dialogue …but we will never surrender to anyone who intends to bully us,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

A year ago Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 pact that limited Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions. Iran has continued to abide by the terms of the pact, although Rouhani said this month it would scale back some curbs on nuclear activity.

REGIONAL TENSIONS

In a sign of the heightened tension across the region, Exxon Mobil evacuated foreign staff from an oilfield in neighboring Iraq after days of sabre rattling between Washington and Tehran.

Elsewhere in the Gulf, Bahrain warned its citizens against traveling to Iraq or Iran due to “unstable conditions”.

In Washington, officials urged U.S. commercial airliners flying over the waters of the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to exercise caution.

A Norwegian insurers’ report seen by Reuters said Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were “highly likely” to have facilitated the attacks last Sunday on four tankers including two Saudi ships off Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

Iranian officials have denied involvement in the tanker attacks, saying Tehran’s enemies carried them out to lay the groundwork for war against Iran.

U.S. officials are concerned that Tehran may have passed naval combat expertise onto proxy forces in the region.

Following the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions, a senior Iranian maritime official said Iran had adopted new tactics and new destinations in shipping its oil exports.

Iranian crude oil exports have fallen in May to 500,000 barrels per day or lower, according to tanker data and industry sources, after the United States tightened the screws on Iran’s main source of income.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks

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Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.

Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.

Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.


“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.

The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

But protests have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Anger has been sharpened among protesters by the perceived heavy-handedness of the police who have used tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets in incidents that have pinballed across social media.

“The police are doing things that are totally unacceptable,” said Yim, who like many of the protesters gave only one name.

“They are hurting citizens, they aren’t protecting us.”

AFP / Manan VATSYAYANATorrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of protesters in Hong Kong

Communist Party-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city’s unelected leadership.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Samson Siasia ban for life by Fifa

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Former Nigeria coach Samson Siasia has been banned for life and fined $50,000 by Fifa for agreeing to ‘the manipulation of matches.’

Siasia was coach of Nigeria between 2010-2011 and for a spell in 2016 but the time period when Fifa believes he committed his infractions is unclear.

He has also served as coach of the country’s Under-20 and Under-23 sides.

In a statement, Siasia was found ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches.’

The sanction stems from an ongoing ‘large-scale investigation’ Fifa is conducting into the behaviour of Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore.

He is the third African to be banned by Fifa for his links to Perumal after former Sierra Leone FA official Abu Bakarr Kabba and former Botswana FA official Mooketsi Kgotlele were suspended in July for five years and for life respectively.

A former international, Siasia won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, for whom he played over 50 times while scoring 16 goals.

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