Friday, January 24, 2020 | ePaper

US sending more troops to Gulf, Trump announces Iran sanctions

  • Print


US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Friday.



The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.
Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.
The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.
Those attacks, combined with an Iranian attack on an American spy drone in June, represented a "dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said.
The Pentagon chief announced that the United States would send military reinforcements to the Gulf region at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"In response to the kingdom's request, the president has approved the deployment of US forces, which will be defensive in nature, and primarily focused on air and missile defense," Esper said.
However Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford categorized the deployment as "moderate," with the number of troops not expected to reach the thousands.
Earlier in the day Trump attacked both critics who thought the mogul-turned-president would trigger war and hawks seeking a military response.
"The easiest thing I could do (is) knock out 15 different major things in Iran," Trump said.
"But I think the strong-person approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint," he said.
Trump in June authorized a military strike after Iran shot down the US spy drone, only to call it off at the last moment.
Saudi Arabia on Friday revealed extensive damage from the strikes on state giant Aramco's facilities in Khurais and the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq.
The attacks, which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production, have been claimed by Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels, but Washington has pointed its finger at Tehran, condemning the strikes as an "act of war."
Abqaiq was struck 18 times while nearby Khurais was hit four times in a raid that triggered multiple explosions and towering flames that took hours to extinguish, Aramco officials said.
Aramco flew dozens of international journalists to the two sites to show it was speeding up repairs, giving rare access to the nerve center of the world's largest oil producer as it seeks to shore up investor confidence ahead of a planned initial public offering (IPO).
Meanwhile, Yemen's Huthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted key Saudi infrastructure in recent months in cross-border attacks, unexpectedly announced late Friday that they planned to halt all strikes on the country.
The move, they said, was part of a peace initiative to end their country's devastating conflict which has killed tens of thousands of people - most of them civilians - and driven millions more to the brink of famine.
Iran denies US and Saudi accusations that it arms the Huthis. - New ground for sanctions .
The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution, due to Tehran's alleged nuclear program.
But the new sanctions Friday were imposed for the additional reason of "terrorism," Treasury said, adding that Iran's central bank had provided "billions of dollars" to two groups blacklisted by the United States.
"Treasury's action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Qods Force, Hezbollah and other militants that spread terror and destabilize the region," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The Qods Force conducts international operations for Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, while Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group and political party in Lebanon, is among Iran's closest regional partners.
Iran responded that the move showed that the United States was running out of options.
The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran's sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran's defense ministry.
Trump recently said that he hopes for talks with Rouhani, who responded that Trump must first ease sanctions.
Last year Trump pulled out of a nuclear accord with Iran negotiated under former president Barack Obama, sending tensions soaring as he tried to stop all countries from buying Iran's oil.

More News For this Category

Russian MPS give quick first approval to Putin reforms

Russian MPS give quick first approval to Putin reforms

AFP, Moscow  :Russian lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved a sweeping constitutional reform bill put forward by President Vladimir Putin in its first reading, after less than two hours of debate.All

Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary for  defamation, seeks $50m

Tulsi Gabbard sues Hillary for defamation, seeks $50m

Reuters, Washington :Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard sued Hillary Clinton for defamation on Wednesday, seeking at least $50 million in damages for harming her reputation by suggesting last year that

Brexit Bill clears Britain parliament, set to become law

Brexit Bill clears Britain parliament, set to become law

After years of acrimonious debate, British lawmakers on Wednesday finally approved the terms of their country's historic departure from the European Union-due in just nine days time.MPs in the lower

World leaders in Israel to recall horrors of Auschwitz

World leaders in Israel to recall horrors of Auschwitz

AFP, Jerusalem.:Israel hosts dozens of world leaders Thursday to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, the World War II death camp where the Nazis killed more than 1.1

A month of misery in Myanmar's Rakhine

Al Jazeera News  :Hundreds of people continue to cross the border into Bangladesh one month since the start of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state where raids by Rohingya

News In Brief

Trump to become first US President to attend anti-abortion rallyAFP, WashingtonUS President Donald Trump said Wednesday he plans to attend the March for Life rally this week and become the

Russia gets new govt in what  Putin calls ‘major renewal’

Russia gets new govt in what Putin calls ‘major renewal’

Reuters, Moscow :Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new government on Tuesday which he described as a break with the past, bringing in some fresh faces but retaining many senior

Venezuela intelligence agents raid Guaido offices: Opposition

Venezuela intelligence agents raid Guaido offices: Opposition

AFP, Caracas :Agents from Venezuela's Sebin intelligence service on Tuesday raided the offices of opposition leader Juan Guaido while he traveled in Europe, an opposition lawmaker said."We have just confirmed

Hillary Clinton says ‘nobody likes’ Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton says ‘nobody likes’ Bernie Sanders

AFP, New York :Hillary Clinton launched a scathing attack on presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, her rival for the 2016 Democratic nomination, telling a documentary that "nobody likes him."The former US

Ousted Grammy CEO files explosive discrimination complaint

Ousted Grammy CEO files explosive discrimination complaint

AFP, Los Angeles :The ousted chief of the organization behind the Grammys filed a complaint on Tuesday accusing the Recording Academy of putting her on leave after she raised concerns