Supreme Leader Khamenei endorses Ebrahim Raisi as new Iranian President…reports Asian Lite News

Ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi begins his term as President of the Islamic Republic. He replaces moderate president Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement was the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Raisi officially begins his four-year term after his election is endorsed by the Islamic republic’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Raisi won a presidential poll in June in which more than half the electorate stayed away after many political heavyweights were barred from standing.

A former judiciary chief, Raisi has been criticized by the West for his human rights record.

Raisi’s presidency will consolidate power in the hands of conservatives following their 2020 legislative election victory, marked by the disqualification of thousands of reformist or moderate candidates.

On July 27, he called on parliament for “cooperation” to increase Iranians’ hope in the future. “I am very hopeful for the country’s future and confident that it is possible to overcome difficulties and limitations,” he said in a statement issued by his office.

Raisi was elected by the Iranians as their eighth president since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 by promising to improve the economic conditions which have been seriously affected by US sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic. As for foreign policy, Raisi has announced his priority is to boost cooperation and interaction with the world.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz

Action Against Iran

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said that Tehran has been stepping up its aggression in the Middle East and called for “action against Iran” over its alleged attack on an oil tanker last week.

In a speech during a plenum session of the Knesset or Parliament, Gantz addressed the deadly drone attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman on July 29, reports Xinhua news agency.

Iran has denied any involvement in the attack on the Israeli-managed ship, but security officials in Israel, the UK and the US have estimated that Tehran is behind the assault.

“Iran’s aggression in the region in general, the maritime front in particular, is escalating,” Gantz said.

The attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street, which killed two crew members, was against international law and human morals, he noted, adding that “this is exactly the reason why we must act right now against Iran”.

He said that Iran poses “a tangible and immediate threat” to the region, warning that Israel has “a variety of tools and options to protect its citizens and we’ll settle the score with whoever seeks to hurt us”.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said “Iran carried out the attack against the ship”, adding that the Jewish state has intelligence evidence of Tehran’s involvement. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has dismissed the allegations, saying they were “baseless”.

Hijack bid onboard ship

A UK maritime security agency has said the potential hijacking of the Panama-flagged MV Asphalt Princess has ended after men who boarded and seized the ship in the Gulf of Oman left the vessel. All those remaining on board are safe, officials said. However, there has been no further details given to the media, according to a BBC report.

The bitumen tanker was seized on Tuesday heading into the congested approach to the Strait of Hormuz. It is not clear who seized the ship, but analysts suspected Iranian forces.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards dismissed the reports of possible involvement as a pretext for “hostile action” against Tehran.

The men who boarded the MV Asphalt Princess were reportedly armed and are said to have ordered it to sail to Iran.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) initially warned ships of an incident before declaring a “potential hijack” hours later.

On Wednesday, the UKMTO tweeted that those who boarded the vessel had left, adding: “Vessel is safe. Incident complete.”

The incident occurred less than a week after an oil tanker operated by an Israeli-owned company was attacked by a drone off Oman, killing two security guards — one British and the other Romanian.

The US, UK and Israel blamed Iran for the attack – a claim it strongly denies.

BBC Security Correspondent Frank Gardner said the MV Asphalt Princess is owned by a Dubai-based company that had one of its ships hijacked two years ago by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Gardner told BBC, according to reports, up to nine armed men boarded the vessel as it neared the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about a fifth of the world’s maritime oil supplies passes.

The UKMTO earlier advised shipping services near Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman to exercise extreme caution.

Earlier in the day, four oil tankers reported that they were “not under command”, which usually means that a vessel has lost power and cannot steer. One of the ships later began moving, media reports said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said reports involving several ships on Tuesday were “suspicious” and warned against any effort to “create a false atmosphere” against Tehran.

ALSO READ: US govt tells Israel is free to make decisions on Iran
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