7 January 2020
In the news
The news has been nothing if not dramatic this week. US President Donald Trump arranged for the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by drone strike on Friday. At Soleimani’s state funeral in Tehran, the streets were filled with crowds chanting ‘death to America!’, and a weeping Ayatollah Khamenei promised that a ‘harsh retaliation’ would come to the USA. The media is full of geopolitical speculation: some say that this amounts to a ‘declaration of war’ by the USA on Iran, and will lead to World War III, while others worry about the possibility of nuclear escalation. The BBC has published this relatively deflationary overview of the risks, as the situation stands.
British-Iranian dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was imprisoned in 2016 for allegedly ‘plotting to topple the Iranian regime’ and ‘spreading propaganda against Iran’, remains in prison in the country. Her husband has called for an urgent meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In light of Mr Johnson’s previous mishandling of the situation as Foreign Secretary, and his refusal to condemn the killing, saying on Sunday “we will not lament his death”, Richard Ratcliffe may well consider that he is entitled to a meeting.
International concern continues, too, over the 19-year-old UK citizen held in Ayia Napa in Cyprus, who says that she was compelled to withdraw her allegations of gang rape against a group of Israeli nationals under duress from Cyprus police. She was convicted in 2019 for ‘wilfully indulging in public mischief’, and is now pursuing an appeal process which could take up to three years. Dominic Raab this week urged the Cypriot authorities to ‘do the right thing’ in deciding her case.
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