Hunger and disease hit Yemen hard amid a ‘forgotten conflict’

While the international community is focused on resolving crises in Syria and Iraq, the conflict in Yemen is not receiving much attention. The war-ravaged country will have a million cholera cases by the end of year.

Cholera in Yemen (Reuters/K. Abdullah)

Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman recently censured the international community for ignoring the plight of the Yemeni people suffering from hunger and disease.

The Middle Eastern country has been torn apart by a protracted civil war between the internationally-recognized and Saudi Arabia-back government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Iran-aligned Shiite Houthi rebels.

Riyadh launched an air campaign against Houthis in March, 2015. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of backing the rebels, who have made significant territorial gains in the impoverished Middle Eastern country, capturing the capital Sanaa.

Over 10,000 people have been killed and more than three million displaced since the start of the conflict. Over 80 percent of Yemen’s population is in urgent need of aid, and millions of people have problems accessing water, according to the United Nations.

Read more: UN: Civilian death toll in Yemen exceeds 5,000

“The world doesn’t pay enough attention to Yemen. It is the forgotten land. There’s a lot of suffering in our country. There’s a big famine and cholera there,” Karman told the Reuters news agency last week.

Read more: War in Yemen: UN blacklists Saudi-led coalition for killing children

Watch video01:37

Cholera death toll rises again in Yemen

‘Worst cholera outbreak’

Aid organization Save the Children warned that Yemen’s cholera outbreak could reach more than a million cases, including at least 600,000 children, by the turn of year.

Health organizations say about 4,000 suspected cases of cholera are being reported in Yemen every day. As of October 10, the World Health Organization has reported 815,314 suspected cases and 2,156 cholera related deaths across the country since April 27.

“Cholera has been around in Yemen for a long time, but we’ve never seen an outbreak of this scale or speed. It’s what you get when a country is brought to its knees by conflict, when a healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, when its children are starving, and when its people are blocked from getting the medical treatment they need,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Country Director for Yemen.

Read more: Yemen’s cholera outbreak worsens as Oxfam projects 600,000 cases

“There’s no doubt this is a man-made crisis. Cholera only rears its head when there’s a complete and total breakdown in sanitation. All parties to the conflict must take responsibility for the health emergency we find ourselves in,” Kirolos added.

Officials have also sounded the alarm amid medical supplies shortages. Doctors without Borders has suspended its aid after two years, threatening the daily operations of Yemen’s national blood bank.

The Saudi alliance has also called on the UN to help reopen the airport in Sanaa – closed in August 2016 to hinder arms shipments to the Houthi movement – amid rising numbers of Yemenis without access to adequate medical care.

Read more: Yemen’s war explained in 4 key points

Watch video06:32

600,000 children could die of starvation

shs/jm (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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Europeans feel Donald Trump’s expected withdrawal from Iran deal threatens world peace

Most analysts expect US President Donald Trump to abandon the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran this week. Will he really do it? And if he does, what will it mean for Europe? Max Hofmann reports from Brussels.

An Iranian woman holds a placard showing a caricature of US President Donald Trump (Getty Images/AFP/A. Kenare)

In recent days, it has seemed as if President Donald Trump was ready to challenge Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to an IQ contest. Perhaps Trump should extend the same challenge to the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini. Who would win?

“That’s easy,” said Middle East expert Koert Debeuf, with a smile on his face. But such a victory wouldn’t be much comfort for Mogherini if the US ends up abandoning the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. Trump would essentially be killing the art of diplomacy in favor of nuclear saber-rattling. Thus, the great expertise Europe has shown in negotiating compromises would be of no use to anyone.

Read more

 Trump says Tehran not living up to ‘spirit’ of agreement

– What are Trump’s objections to the Iran nuclear deal?

To put it in the words of an EU diplomat who didn’t want to be named: “The message would be: ‘Do not negotiate! Especially not with the West, which doesn’t keep its promises anyway.'”

Watch video00:38

Trump slams Iran at United Nations

The West no longer exists

Europeans want to save the deal, no matter what the US does.

“The nuclear deal doesn’t belong to one country, it belongs to the international community,” said Mogherini after a highly unpleasant conversation with US representatives on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.

If Trump’s government withdraws from the deal and imposes new sanctions on Iran while Europe preserves the agreement, then an important aspect of the post-war world order would be lost: the unity of the West. Debeuf, director of the Brussels office of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, believes the EU should by no means give in to the US, as it has until now.

“Europe should invest more in Iran. This is important for Europe’s credibility and the reform forces in Iran,” he told DW. Of course, pressure from Trump can be expected, probably in the form of US sanctions against European companies doing business in Iran.

A stronger, weaker Europe

Politiker- DEBEUF Koert (ALDE)‘Europe should invest more in Iran’: Debeuf

Here’s something to think about: If the US withdraws from one of the greatest diplomatic successes of the past decades — a nuclear disarmament agreement that works — no one is likely to take the nation seriously any longer. Europeans, on the other hand, would end up being the only ones able to guarantee stability, integrity and credibility, and would surely be applauded for this around the world.

But harsh reality would eventually catch up. “Behind closed doors in Iran, no one believes that the Europeans can make a difference without US involvement,” said Jamsheed Faroughi, head of DW’s Farsi department.

Without the US and its military muscle, the value of Europe’s negotiating skills would drop considerably. The US and Europe work in tandem with each other. Europeans could gain more respect, but they would probably lose their influence.

Read more: Iran deal: Trump has Europe concerned

Mogherini’s greatest achievement at risk

At a press conference after the meeting on Iran during the UN General Assembly, Mogherini’s gestures revealed her underlying anger. Her team, however, chose to call it “determination.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini (picture-alliance/dpa/Y.Pingfan)Mogherini (right) worked closely with former US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) to secure the Iran deal

The EU’s highest-ranking diplomat is by no means the only one responsible for the 12 years of negotiations that led to the successful Iran deal, but she is nonetheless very proud of it. If her reputation is damaged, then the EU may no longer be perceived as a unified entity on the international stage.

“To put it quite simply, Europeans are currently the good guys and Americans are the bad guys,” said Faroughi, referring to the prevailing image of Europe in Iran.

However, if EU diplomacy fails, individual member states could rise to prominence once again.

No good neighbors

Flanked by Vladimir Putin’s Russia to the east, the Syrian conflict to the southeast and Libya to the south across the Mediterranean Sea, Europe has not been blessed with particularly pleasant neighbors in recent times. If Iran no longer feels obligated to abide by the nuclear agreement because the US is walking away from it, then the situation will become even more unpleasant.

As a consequence, the Iran deal would suddenly no longer be the blueprint for possible negotiations with North Korea. “What North Korea does is also a model for the Iranian government,” said Faroughi. In other words, nuclear disarmament would be replaced by rearmament and thus, be followed by further destabilization in the entire region. And not just Europe would be affected.

“This is about world peace,” said Debeuf, with a sigh. “We must take Iran very seriously and communicate with Tehran.” A message that doesn’t appear to have reached the US president.

Watch video02:00

Iranian-German entrepreneurs worry about access to US

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New US sanctions against Iran could rattle oil market

New US sanctions against Iran could rattle oil market
Crude prices could surge if the Trump administration chooses to dismantle the Iran nuclear deal on Thursday, according to RBC Capital Markets.

If the White House chose to annul the agreement sealed by the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US and the European Union in 2015, the US Congress would have 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions on Iran. Introducing sanctions would effectively end the agreement.

“The market, I think, will be concerned that we can get a return of the sanctions that required importing countries to make significant reductions in their Iranian crude imports every six months, and which bars foreign firms from investing in the Iranian upstream sector,” the global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets Helima Croft said in an interview with CNBC.

A year after the UN lifted economic sanctions, Iran has managed to reach the exports of at least 2.2 million barrels a day, according to an official at the National Iran Oil Company as cited by the media.

Analysts expect reinstated penalties would make oil demand a sensitive issue.

“To really move significantly higher, what we really need to see is clear indications that sanctions are coming back because right now there’s a view out there that the US just goes at it alone on sanctions. It won’t matter,’” said Croft.

‘You’ll be hearing about Iran very shortly’:  may de-certify the  by October 15 https://on.rt.com/8p4v 

Photo published for Trump to discuss Iran deal with military leaders — RT America

Trump to discuss Iran deal with military leaders — RT America

President Donald Trump will take up the issue of the Iran nuclear deal during a meeting with senior US military officials at the White House Thursday evening. According to the president, Iran has not…

rt.com

“What matters is how much does the US government, the White House, in particular, want to force foreign firms out of Iran. If they want to force them out, they can always threaten to lock them out of US capital markets. And that’s a pretty big stick,” the expert added.

Courtesy: RT

‘Rogue newcomer’: Rouhani calls Trump’s UN remarks over nuclear deal ‘ignorant & absurd’

‘Rogue newcomer’: Rouhani calls Trump’s UN remarks over nuclear deal ‘ignorant & absurd’
Iran will respond “decisively” to any violation of the 2015 nuclear deal by “any party,” President Hassan Rouhani said in his speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, as he hit back at US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump’s UN speech was a “violation” of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told journalists Wednesday, as cited by Reuters. He added that in case the deal collapses, Tehran could return to the high level uranium enrichment that is needed for its reactor fuel.

The leader of the Islamic Republic also said that his country has “various options” it could use to respond in case the US withdraws from the agreement, including resuming enrichment to satisfy the needs of the Iranian atomic energy industry, TASS reported.

Iran will respond “decisively” to any violation of the 2015 nuclear deal by “any party,” President Hassan Rouhani said in his speech at the UN General Assembly earlier on Wednesday, as he hit back at US President Donald Trump.

“I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement,” the Iranian president said, adding that Tehran “will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.”

He went on to say that “it will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by ‘rogue’ newcomers to the world of politics – the world will have lost a great opportunity,” apparently referring to Trump, who earlier called the Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” and an “embarrassment” to the US.

Rouhani then warned that “by violating its international commitments, the new US administration only destroys its own credibility,” and once again said that Tehran does not plan to withdraw from the deal and return to nuclear weapons development.

However, in August, Iran’s president warned that Tehran is ready to withdraw from the deal within “not a week or a month but within hours” and return to its nuclear program should Washington impose new restrictions against it.

The Iranian leader then criticized the US president’s Tuesday speech to the General Assembly, calling it “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations.”

In his speech, Trump called Iran a “depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” saying that it funds “terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.”

Last week, Trump hinted that the US might not re-certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement in October, adding that Tehran “violated the spirit” of the deal.

On Wednesday, the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, downplayed Trump’s statements by saying that the US president’s speech at the UNGA does not mean that the US plans to disown the deal.

At the same time, she said that the White House has “grounds” not to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement in October.

Courtesy, RT

What are Donald Trump’s objections to the Iran nuclear deal?

The US president is threatening to pull the country out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. DW examines why Trump is considering dropping the deal and who shares his concerns on Iran.

UN Generalversammlung in New York | Donald Trump, Präsident USA (Getty Images/AFP/T.A. Clary)

The “worst deal ever”: That is how US President Donald Trump describes the 2015 landmark Iran nuclear accord. He repeatedly has signaled that the United States will withdraw from or revise the agreement, a threat he reiterated most recently during Tuesday’s speech at the UN General Assembly. 

Both the US State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has abided by the agreement, and nuclear non-proliferation experts and other international powers that brokered the deal are pressing the White House to stay in.

So why is the Trump administration against the nuclear accord?

The answer lies with the deal’s alleged weaknesses and, equally important, non-nuclear related issues that the Trump administration would now like to bring onto the negotiating table, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Islamic republic’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

Watch video00:38

Trump slams Iran at United Nations

Read more: Donald Trump and the Iran nuclear deal – a crisis in the making

What does the Iran nuclear deal do?

Under the 2015 deal negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany), Tehran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crushing international sanctions and the unfreezing of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets. Under the deal, Iran is permitted to maintain a small amount of nuclear-related activity and uranium stockpiles for research and medicine purposes.

However, the quantities are far below any threshold that would allow the fast and unannounced development of nuclear weapons. In effect, Iran is allowed peaceful nuclear research just as any other country.

Objection: delay but not prevent

At the time of the deal, Western intelligence agencies estimated it would take Iran as little as one year to produce a nuclear weapon. The 2015 accord restricted Iran’s nuclear-related activities for 10 to 15 years. After this period expires, the deal will need to be renegotiated or Iran could theoretically restart its nuclear weapons program.

Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei (Irna)Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has accused Trump of unfair criticism of the country’s nuclear programs

If Iran then were to choose to pursue nuclear weapons, it would start from a lower starting point that would buy time for the international community to respond.

But the Trump administration finds this ‘sunset clause’ —  essentially the accord’s expiration date — to be problematic because it delays, rather than prevents, Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb. The White House’s concerns echo Israel’s, which has argued that the nuclear issue cannot be kicked down the road.

Read more: Ayatollah Khamenei slams US ‘bullying’ on nuclear deal

Objection: covert nuclear activity?

The deal also allows the IAEA inspections regime  to monitor declared nuclear facilities, storage facilities and supply chains.

However, the Trump administration argues that the nuclear accord does not provide access to restricted military sites that could be used for a covert weapons development program. It has demanded that inspectors gain access to these sites, something that Iran has rejected.

Supporters of the deal argue that any covert program would be spotted through existing monitoring provisions of existing facilities and supply chains.

Objection: ballistic missiles

The wording of UN resolution authorizing the nuclear deal is vague on ballistic missiles. It “calls upon” — but does not require —Iran not to carry out work “related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Iran says its ballistic missiles are conventional weapons that are not “designed to” carry nuclear warheads even if they are “capable of” delivering them. Since Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, Tehran argues, the UN resolution does not apply to its ballistic missile program.

But the Trump administration argues that the missile program violates the nature of the deal and views it as a threat to US Gulf Arab allies and Israel. The US has slapped a number of sanctions on Iranover the program, causing Tehran in turn to accuse the US of going against the spirit of the accord.

Iran makes missiles tests (picture-alliance/dpa/Defence Ministry Iran)Iran launches a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in March 2016

Objection: funds for ‘destabilizing activities’

Under the nuclear deal, a good chuck of Iran’s internationally frozen assets, valuing some $100 billion, were released. The Trump administration argues that is bad because this money can be used to fund Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the Middle East and support of terrorist groups.

US grievances include Iran’s hostility to Israel, its engagement in Syria and Iraq, and the Islamic Republic’s wide regional support for various Shiite militant groups including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as for Hamas, the militant Islamist organization in the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, Washington and Israel are concerned that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a security and military organization separate from the regular armed forces, and Hezbollah are setting up bases on Israel’s doorstep in southern Syria.

Read more: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad: Propped up by Tehran and Moscow

Trump visits Saudi Arabia (picture-alliance/abaca)In May, Trump opened a combating extremism center with Arab and Muslim allies in Saudi Arabia. At the time, he had sharp words for Iran.

Who objects alongside Trump? 

Internationally, Trump’s view of the deal reflects that of the Gulf Arab monarchies and the right-wing of the powerful Israel lobby in the US. Both the Gulf monarchies and Israel are concerned about Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East and the end of Iran’s international isolation through the lifting of sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly lambasted the nuclear deal and lobbied the Trump administration to pull out. However, current and former Israeli intelligence and military officials have said that while the deal is not perfect, Iran has not violated the agreement and a US withdrawal would backfire.

Netanyahu stands before the UNNetanyahu praised Trump’s hardline comments on Iran at the UN.

Domestically, critics of the Iran deal in Trump’s current administration include  US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, CIA chief Mike Pompeo and senior White House policy advisor Stephen Miller.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are reportedly in favor of the US staying in the deal, despite advocating a strong line against Iran.

How could Trump break the deal?

Trump faces an October 15 deadline to certify to the US Congress whether Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he does not certify compliance, Congress could impose nuclear-related sanctions, effectively killing the 2015 deal. However, it remains unclear how the Republican-controlled Congress would respond.

Read more: New US Russia sanctions bill risks EU anger

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Russia, Iran warn US against new Syria attacks

A week since the US launched airstrikes in Syria, Iranian, Syrian and Russian foreign ministers have met in Moscow. All three countries strongly warned the United States against launching new strikes.

Russland Treffen von Lavrov, Javad Zarif und Muallem in Moskau (Reuters/S. Karpukhin)

Hosting three-way talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (pictured above, left), and Iranian counterpart Mohammed Dschawad Sarif (pictured above, right) in Moscow on Friday, Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergey Lavrov denounced last week’s US attack on Syria and warned that any further such action would entail “grave consequences not only for regional but global security.”

Read: US skips out on Afghanistan conference in Moscow

Lavrov also told al-Moualem that Russia and the US have a shared understanding that such strikes would not be repeated.

The Interfax news agency reported that the Russian diplomat revealed this had been “concluded” during Wednesday’s visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow.

Watch video00:42

Lavrov: “Future of Syria has to be decided by Syrians themselves”

US ‘did not rule out any future action’

In Washington, however, the US State Department said Tillerson did not eliminate the possibility of the US maybe undertaking future strikes.

“The secretary explained there were no subsequent targets after the missile strike, but he did not rule out any future action,” State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

“He stressed that Russia is in a position to use its influence over the Assad regime to ensure it is never again necessary for the US to act,” Toner said.

US blames Assad regime

The US launched Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base near Homs last Friday, in response toa chemical attack in the northwestern Idlibprovince.

Washington has blamed Assad’s government for the deadly attack which killed more than 80 people. Damascus, however, has staunchly denied the accusation.

The Syria crisis is also set to be the focus of further talks planned for Saturday between Lavrov and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani.

 

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‘Ahmadinejad challenges Iran’s power structures’

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered to run in Iran’s presidential election, against the will of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This provocation harms the entire regime, says Iran expert Bahman Nirumand.

Iran Mahmud Ahmadinedschad Archiv (picture alliance/dpa/P. Foley)

DW: On May 19, presidential elections are set to be held in Iran. Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made an unexpected comeback by submitting his candidacy for the presidential election. Why is he throwing his hat in the ring again?

Bahman Nirumand: Actually, everyone in Iran is asking themselves the same question, as Ahmadinejad already declared in 2016 that he would forgo his candidacy because the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, advised him to do so. In the past weeks, Ahmadinejad has been campaigning for his erstwhile vice-president, Hamid Baghaei, whom he suggested as a candidate. But all of a sudden, Ahmadinejad himself registered as a candidate. It is clearly an act of defiance against Khamenei.

Does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have a realistic chance of being reelected?

I assume that the Guardian Council, which reviews the candidates’ suitability, will reject his application, it did with Baghaei. It is quite detrimental to the reputation of the regime to label a former president as “unsuitable.” But it will take this risk.

Bahman Nirumand (picture-alliance/dpa-Zentralbild)Iran expert Bahman Nirumand

Nevertheless, no one understands this move. He is running even though he must reckon with rejection. Many observers say he is not only harming himself but also the regime’s reputation; he is backstabbing his longtime vice-president Baghaei as instead of supporting him he is running himself. Everyone stands to lose something because of this move. Why is he doing this anyway?

The conservatives have isolated him throughout the years. He was no longer in the game and no longer on the political stage. I have the feeling that he wants to take revenge. He has already hurt Khamenei. Such open defiance of a recommendation made by the Supreme Leader – be it (founder of the Islamic Republic) Khomeini or (his successor Ali) Khameini – has never been seen before. I do not believe that Ahmadinejad expects that he will be admitted to the election or even have a chance of winning the election. He is probably not that unrealistic. But there is actually no plausible or logical reason why he has made this move now.

Iran Kritik an den US Wahlen (picture-alliance/AP Photo)Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameinei was likely not thrilled at ex-president’s move

The provocation seems to have been successful because his candidacy has certainly caused a stir in Iran.

Yes, he was successful in the way, and I am very eager to see how Khamenei will react. He will probably remain silent, as anything he says about this would harm him.

The question is how will this entire matter affect the elections? Ahmadinejad will surely harm the conservatives. After all, he still has a substantial number of followers in rural areas of the country. When he was president he gave many handouts to the poor in rural regions and he is still popular with certain parts of the population.

It is also possible that many who are against the regime support him because he basically challenges the power structures through his candidacy and because he disregards all the rules of the game. In all the speeches he has held in recent weeks, he has said time and time again that he is striving for a completely new order and that it is unacceptable that the people are not allowed to have their say. He has often made provocative remarks directed at the entire political system. That is why it is quite possible that some people who have long turned their backs on the state now support him as a means of harming the regime.

If Ahmadinejad were admitted to the elections, would he not indirectly help Iran’s current president, Rouhani, because he may be able to take away decisive votes from Rouhani’s main conservative rival Raeisi?

I think so. But the conservatives do not all agree. Raeisi’s candidacy is not without controversy; not all conservative groups support him. If Ahmadinejad were to be admitted, some of the votes for the conservatives could be lost. Rouhani would benefit from this. But that is certainly not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declared goal.

Watch video01:21

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants a third term as Iran’s president

Nevertheless, the divisions within the conservative camp seem greater than one thought them to be.

That is certain. That is why there will probably be attempts to cast a veil of silence over this matter.

It would surely be the smartest thing for the conservatives, so as not to trigger any discussions that would last for weeks until the election.

 

However, this whole matter has not hurt Hassan Rouhani’s chances of being reelected – on the contrary. If there is confusion among the conservatives, he can only benefit from it.

Bahman Nirumand is an Iranian and German journalist and author living in Berlin. He has written several books, including a political biography of Ayatollah Khomeini.

This interview was conducted by Thomas Latschan. 

 

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