Tehran: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a US drone on Thursday amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over the collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident. The Guard said it shot down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone over Iranian airspace, while the US said the downing happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz. The different accounts could not be immediately reconciled. Also Read – Merkel warns UK Brexit deal ‘unlikely’ without compromise: LondonLater, the US military’s Central Command released a statement calling the downing an “unprovoked attack.” Previously, the US military alleged that Iran had fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The US blames Iran for the attack on the ships; Tehran denies it was involved. The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal a year ago. Also Read – India, China should jointly uphold peace and stability, resolve disputes through dialogues: Chinese ambassadorSeparately, Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels launched a rocket targeting a desalination plant in the kingdom the previous night. The White House said Trump was briefed about that attack. Iran has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, trying to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 nuclear deal. In recent weeks, the US has sped an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already in the region. From Yemen, the Houthis have launched bomb-laden drones into neighboring Saudi Arabia. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the US and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution. Thursday’s drone incident marks the first direct Iranian-claimed attack on the US amid the crisis. “We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address. Russian President Vladimir Putin called for caution, warning any war between Iran and the US would be a “catastrophe for the region as a minimum.” Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone on Thursday morning when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is some 1,200 kilometers southeast of Tehran and close to the Strait of Hormuz. The Guard said it shot down the drone at 4:05 am after it collected data from Iranian territory, including the southern port of Chahbahar near Iran’s border with Pakistan. Iran used its air defense system known as Third of Khordad to shoot down the drone a truck-based missile system that can fire up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) into the sky, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing the Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, which cost over USD 100 million apiece and can fly higher than 10 miles in altitude and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time. They have a distinguishable hump-shaped front and an engine atop. Their wingspan is bigger than a Boeing 737 passenger jet. The Guard described the drone as being launched from the southern Persian Gulf but did not elaborate. American RQ-4 Global Hawks are stationed at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, near the capital, Abu Dhabi. AP journalists saw the drones on the base’s tarmac during a March 2016 visit by then-Vice President Joe Biden. The CENTCOM statement said the RQ-4A Global Hawk maritime surveillance drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile while in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 per cent of all global oil moves. The US has been worried about international shipping through the Strait of Hormuz since the limpet mine attacks in May and June. “Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” CENTCOM said, adding that “this was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace.” In Iran, Salami, speaking to a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj, described the American drone as “violating our national security border.” “Borders are our red line,” Salami said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.” Iran’s Foreign Ministry separately protested the drone, saying it entered Iranian territory. Iran has claimed to have shot down American drones in the past. In the most-famous incident, in December 2011, Iran seized an RQ-170 Sentinel flown by the CIA to monitor Iranian nuclear sites after it entered Iranian airspace from neighboring Afghanistan. The Iranians later reverse-engineered the drone to create their own variants.
“Given the legacy bequeathed to the Libyan people by the former regime, the process of democratic transition will surely face an array of obstacles requiring long-term responses,” said Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).“The past few weeks have seen increased political polarisation in the debate over the draft political isolation law, and attempts to openly undermine the authority of the democratically-elected bodies and legitimate institutions of the State,” he added.A political crisis arose during recent weeks from the controversy over a proposed law on political isolation, proponents of which argue that it is a necessary tool to protect the revolution and ensure that those who corrupted public life in the past are excluded from holding public office.“While there is strong support for such a law in some quarters, the debate over its adoption has been politically divisive,” noted Mr. Mitri. “In its current form, the draft law contains an extensive list of criteria, many of them based on affiliation, and would apply to a wide range of public office holders at national and local levels, including elected officials and the judiciary. The draft law is also silent on how it is to be implemented.“The legitimacy of adopting measures to exclude individuals who committed serious human rights violations from holding public office constitutes a valid transitional justice measure,” he stated. “However, in meetings with political leaders and Congress members, we have consistently urged caution on the adoption of the law, and highlighted international standards that ought to apply to any vetting mechanism.”A special session last week of the General National Congress to discuss the draft law ended in “disarray” after protesters threatened to use force unless Congress members voted to adopt the draft law. This was followed by the attempted assassination of the head of the Congress, as well as other attacks and acts of violence. Libya has been undergoing a transition toward a modern democratic State, after decades of autocratic rule and the toppling of the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi. The former leader ruled the North African country for more than 40 years until a pro-democracy uprising in 2011 – similar to the protests in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa – led to civil war and the end of his regime.Mr. Mitri said that despite the fact that the Libyan people have come a long way since the liberation of the country 17 months ago, the security problem remains “formidable,” and is arguably the predominant concern for most Libyans. “Significant progress in improving the country’s precarious security situation remains hampered by weak state institutions and security coordination mechanisms, as well as continuing mistrust of the State’s security forces by many of those who fought during the revolution, most of whom remain armed,” said the envoy.“The country remains awash with unsecured weapons and munitions that continue to pose a regional security risk given Libya’s porous borders.”Mr. Mitri said that, in spite of these difficulties, the Government led by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan – who also addressed the Council’s meeting today – is resolved to move forward expeditiously to enhance security and address the various problems pertaining to the proliferation of weapons and continued presence of armed groups outside the legitimate control of the State. “UNSMIL will continue to provide assistance in this regard,” pledged Mr. Mitri. In addition to discussing the situation in Libya, the Council also adopted a resolution extending UNSMIL’s mandate for another 12 months, as recommended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his recent report. UNSMIL is tasked with continuing its assistance to the Government in defining the national priorities related to its democratic transition and efforts to build a modern, accountable State based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. By the terms of the resolution, the Council also extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the Libya Sanctions Committee for 12 more months. In addition, it decided to partially lift the arms embargo on Libya and gradually ease the asset freeze on some Libyan financial institutions.
(Parade and Concert 2013, St.Patrick’s Day Festival Berlin) O’Neill said “Demand is there so we’re planning to meet that demand”.The closer we get though there’s also that fear that nobody will turn up.Taking into account that the festival has gone from 150 attending in 2011 to 5,000 turning up in 2013…we have every faith that this year Saint Patrick’s Day parade will be the biggest Berlin has seen yet! IN 2011 ONE Irishman living in Berlin decided it was time he show the city how to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.Dara O’Neill originally from Waterford, but living in Berlin for the past eight years, began working on a Berlin St Patricks Day festival.He told TheJournal.ie “I started it for personal reasons so the first year it was really just a group of extended friends having a party.”“One hundred and fifty people turned up to celebrate in the first year in 2011 and the following year that jumped 10 fold when 1,500 people came out”.And so the party started…(Berlin Parade 2012, St.Patrick’s Festival Berlin) Last year it jumped dramatically again when 5,000 people turned up.“We didn’t realize how big it was going to be. We had booked a venue for the afterparty that held 1,500 people so we were really underestimating the growth.I think the rise of the festival over the past few years paints a picture of the mutual warmth between Ireland and Germany.“This year we went all out but we had a hard time with sponsorship. We almost cancelled it a few weeks ago but then we just decided we would make it work. We’ve asked bands to play for free and obviously we do all the work for free so now we’re just hoping it’s a success”. (Parade and Concert 2013, St.Patrick’s Day Festival Berlin)Read: Dublin Airport is asking tourists not to say ‘St Patty’s Day’Read: Tubridy’s threatening to wear this Paddy’s Day jumper on the Late Late>Read: Here’s how the Taoiseach and Tánaiste are spending the St Patrick’s Weekend>