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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be Granted ‘diplomatic protection’ says Jeremy Hunt

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt declared to provide “diplomatic protection” to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual UK-Iranian national imprisoned in Iran since 2016.

 “I have today decided that the U.K. will take a step that is extremely unusual and exercise diplomatic protection,” Hunt said in a statement.

“This represents formal recognition by the British government that her treatment fails to meet Iran’s obligations under international law and elevates it to a formal state-to-state issue.”

However, Hunt added, it was “unlikely to be a magic wand that leads to an overnight result,” and he has repeatedly asked Tehran authorities to release the dual citizen.

“No government should use innocent individuals as pawns for diplomatic leverage so I call on Iran to release this innocent woman so she can be reunited with her family,” Hunt said.

The foreign office said that this diplomatic move would allow the UK to seek protections of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on the basis that she has been dishonoured by another state. According to The Financial Times, no other British national has been granted diplomatic protection in the past few years.

The foreign secretary further said that he had “not taken this decision lightly” but considered the “unacceptable treatment” that Nazanin had to witness during her detention in Tehran.

“We have not even been able to secure her the medical treatment she urgently needs despite assurances to the contrary.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 on charges of spying and is serving a five-year prison sentence. She has since then denied the charges.

In August last year, Nazanin was granted a three-day release from the jail, but her appeal for extension was rejected.

In December, fresh calls for her release were ignored by Tehran. Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe had appealed for her release on Boxing Day that happened to be her birthday.

In January, Ratcliffe said that Nazanin was denied proper medical treatment, when she complained of numbness in her arms and legs, and detected a lump in her breast.

Iran’s ambassador to London Hamid Baeidinejad took to Twitter saying that the UK government’s decision “contravenes” international law.

“Govts may only exercise such protection for own nationals. As [the] UK Govt is acutely aware, Iran does not recognize dual nationality. Irrespective of UK residency, Ms Zaghari thus remains Iranian,” he tweeted.

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Cricket World Cup Final Winner Was New Zealand; Proves Picture

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New Zealand

Nerve wrecking Cricket World Cup final that had all the flavours of a cricket match, the 12th edition of the tournament that crowned England as the champions, for the first time in 44 years, should have actually gone otherwise.

In a quest for World Cup glory at Lord’s, Mecca of cricket, as both sides traded sweat for sweat – the Kiwis’ should have emerged out as winners; with England falling a run short of their original target.

One of the vital moments of the game in England’s innings came off the third-last bowl from Trent Boult, when Martin Guptill’s throw accidentally deflected from Ben Stokes’ bat to reach the boundary, whilst he was rushing back to complete his second run.

The event meant that English Lions were awarded six runs in all- two for the runs completed by Stokes and Adil Rashid, and four for the deflected overthrow. The incident reduced the equation for England to three runs off two balls, with the home side going on to tie both the match and super over, and eventually winning the match via margin of boundaries (26-17) in their favor.

However, it has now come forward that England should have actually banked 5 runs and not six from the dramatic delivery. As per the MCC Rule 19:8, in an event of overthrow, the runs scored are the allowance for the boundary and “the runs completed by the batsmen, together with the run in progress if they had already crossed at the instant of the throw or act,” should add up to form the total number of runs scored.

As per the proofs available, Stokes and Rashid did not cross each other when the Kiwi fielder, Guptill, threw back the ball from the boundary, meaning England were awarded an extra run in the event.

“It’s a clear mistake, it’s an error of judgment,” said former international umpire Simon Taufel, in an interview with Fox Sports Australia. “In the heat of what was going on, they thought there was a good chance the batsmen had crossed at the instant of the throw. Obviously TV replays showed otherwise.”

“The difficulty umpires have here is you’ve got to watch batsmen completing runs, then change focus and watch for the ball being picked up, and watch for the release of the throw,” he added.

Though the Cricket World Cup final result cannot be changed now, but it raises a serious question on umpires who could have made use of the available technology before awarding a crucial extra run to England.

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UK to Release Iranian Oil Tanker Following No Law Violation Guaranty

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Iranian oil tanker

The UK on Saturday attempted to ease off the increasing Iranian tensions that have intensified due to various sanctions imposed on Iran. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s comments of possible attempts to progress the release of a captured Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, in return of an assurance that the ship would avoid breaching the European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria, brought a relief to the Iranians.

The Iranian super tanker was carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil, when the British Royal Marines seized it off from Gibraltar earlier this month.

Hunt claimed that the UK would resolve the situation by following due process in Gibraltar courts, only if they could get sufficient guarantees from Iran. “This was about the enforcement of EU Syria sanctions: action was taken because of where the oil was going – a sanctioned Syrian entity – – not because it was from Iran,” Hunt said.

The news came amid European nations’ calls for new talks to de-escalate the growing tensions in the Persian Gulf. Troubled by the attacks that have led to the deterioration of the security in the Gulf, the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany called for talks to end “the escalation of tensions” on Sunday.  

Post the seizing of the Iranian oil tanker, the Iranian paramilitary attempted to hinder the British oil tanker’s path, which was travelling through the Strait of Hormuz. However, the verbal warnings from British navy, accompanying the ship forced the Iranian vessels to turn away.

In an effort to ease up the chaos created by seizing of the Iranian oil tanker, Hunt held a “constructive call” with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, reassuring him by saying, “our concern was the destination, not the origin, of the oil”.

In return, Zarif also cleared the false beliefs saying Iran also wants to end the ongoing rifts in the Gulf.

Describing his talks with Zarif, Hunt wrote, “Was told by FM Zarif that Iran wants to resolve issue and is not seeking to escalate. Also spoke to [Gibraltar’s chief minister] Fabian Picardo who is doing an excellent job coordinating issue and shares UK perspective on the way forward.”

The Iranian tensions have been escalating after US’ withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal, wherein the latter failed to keep its promise of halting the production of enriched uranium.

The threatening circumstances advanced by the US sanctions have not only affected the Iranian economy but also severed Iran’s relations with other nations. Furthermore, seizing of the Iranian oil tanker by the UK was seen as an act of adding fuel to the fire.

The UK’s attempt to resolve the issues have been highly appreciated by other nations. Though the question remains as to whether these steps would permanently bring an end to the intensified situations in the Gulf, improving the UK-Iran relations or vice-versa.

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Is HMS Ducan Moving to Relieve or Stay with Montrose?

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HMS Duncan

In a sign that the UK is not going to back off its presence in the Gulf, the nation might further aggravate a conflict with Iran; via its recent move to send a second warship to the region. HMS Ducan, a type 45 destroyer, is due to sail to the strategic waters of the Persian Gulf in coming days and its progress is highly likely to ignite UK-Iran tensions.

The move comes after the UK government said that Iranian boats tried to hinder a British oil tanker in the Gulf on Wednesday.

On the other hand, Iran has called the UK to repatriate its warships, and not enter a “dangerous game”. The warning comes after HMS Montrose was forced to drive off Iranian patrol boats to impede the progress of a British tanker.

HMS Ducan, which is being sent to the region to relieve the HMS Montrose, is expected to “overlap” and work together with the other warship, as per the cabinet sources.

Movement of the ship also follows the decision by Prime Minister Theresa May of entering talks with the US about building a presence in the Gulf, especially as diplomatic tensions vow to become an obstacle.

The Prime Minister’s deputy spokeswoman said the UK had been holding talks with a number of countries. “We are talking to the US about building on our presence in the face of recent threats to shopping in the area,” the spokeswoman said. She added: “We are concerned about the threats that they are making to disrupt shipping in the area and we have been urging them to de-escalate the situation in the region.”

The situation in the Gulf waters has been destabilizing in recent days after an Iranian tanker was barred by Royal Marines from moving to Syria. The oil vessel was suspected of violating the European Union sanctions, and is seen as a catalyst of UK-Iran tensions.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme: “We have a responsibility to protect British shipping and, with our allies, to protect the waterways and seaways of the world, so we have to react according to the threats that we face.

“But this is not an Iran-specific issue – notwithstanding the broader tensions in the region – this is about Syria and about a breach of the sanctions against Syria, which of course is a country that Iran is active in,” he added.

Iran-US and now the UK entering the conundrum suggests that despite demands for de-escalation, the conflict will only multiply in near future. Besides, with the intense pressure applied on Iran, the nation might crumble to a further low or even retaliate with continuous enrichment of uranium. Also, if HMS Ducan stays back and to work together with HMS Montrose, Iran’s retaliatory moves might exceed all limits to put backward pressure.

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Kim Darroch’s Resignation Raises Eyebrows at Tory Front-runner Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson

It has been days since the onset of the controversy due to the leaked emails of Sir Kim Darroch, UK’s ambassador to the US. The controversy that does not seem to end anytime soon, has now raised eyebrows at Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson for not supporting Darroch that led to the latter’s resignation on Wednesday.

Reportedly, Darroch’s resignation came when Johnson denied backing him during a debate on Tuesday night.

During the debate with another Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt, Johnson refused to answer his question in regards of supporting the UK ambassador.

When Kim Darroch resigned, Johnson termed him as “a superb diplomat” and said that the reason of not being more supportive towards him prior to his resignation was because he wanted to avoid “to drag civil servants into the political arena”.

However, Johnson is now being criticised by the Tory and Labour MPs for not standing in support of Sir Darroch. Apart from calling Johnson “spineless”, the MPs also said that the ousting of Sir Darroch from the office of the UK ambassador under the pressure of US President Donald Trump is a huge blow to British diplomacy and power.

Johnson said it is “bizarre” for holding him responsible for the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch, “I can’t believe they’re trying to blame me for this. I’m a great supporter of Kim’s. I worked very well with him for years.”

Earlier, while criticising Darroch, Trump said, “No I haven’t seen it, but, you know, we’ve had our little ins and outs with a couple of countries and I would say that the UK, and the ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that.”

Trump further went on to criticise outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May for her Brexit handling approach, after May came out in support of Darroch.

Also, as per the latest reports provided by Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan, the hack was not the cause behind the leak of the email in which Kim Darroch called Trump “inept”, “insecure” and “incompetent”.

“We do not, at the moment, have any evidence that this was a hack so our focus is on finding someone within the system who has released illicitly these communications,” Duncan said.

“It is an outrage that a selection of his very professional reports back to London should have been leaked. In an act of selfless duty, Sir Kim made the decision to resign in order to relieve the pressure on his family and colleagues and to protect the UK-US relationship.”

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Same-sex Marriage and Abortion Legal in NI because of Conor McGinn, Stella Creasy

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Conor McGinn

The bills, proposed by Labour MPs Conor McGinn and Stella Creasy, to extend access to abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has been approved in the House of Commons.

The approval on both the bills happened within a short interval of each other. Both the bills will be legalised unless and until power-sharing is restored in Northern Ireland by October 21.

The bills are said to be a part of the debate in the House of Commons to manage Northern Ireland during the unavailability of devolved government. However, the prime reason for introducing the bill might be to enhance the legal power of government so that the possibility for the fresh Stormont Elections could be delayed.

While presenting his bill to legalise same-sex marriage, Labour MP Conor McGinn said, “This House has failed LGBT people in Northern Ireland before. Tonight, we have a chance to do the right thing. People in Northern Ireland – and indeed across Britain and Ireland – are watching.”

“I for one am not going to let them down and I hope colleagues in this House don’t let them down.”

The House approved McGinn’s bill of with a vote of 383 to 73. Following the extension of same-sex marriage bill in Northern Ireland, McGinn appreciated the efforts of campaign by Love Equality.

Soon, another Labour MP Stella Creasy presented a bill, calling for the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

Prior to presenting the bill, Creasy said, “All those concerned about human rights violations in Alabama need to look closer to home and that’s not just what I think. It’s time this government stopped hiding behind devolution to defend this situation and please the DUP.”

Both the bills gained appreciation from the campaigns and rights group, including Amnesty International. The bills’ extension to Northern Ireland shows the persistence of MPs like Connor McGinn and Stella Creasy.

Even though the introduction and the approval of the bills might indicate towards bigger issues such as fresh elections, the news is surely a relief for the people of Northern Ireland.

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