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Iran’s president has warned Western nations to stay away, claiming their presence has brought “calamity” to the Gulf region.

Hassan Rouhani was speaking as the country carried out military parades as part of “Holy Defence Week” which marks the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980.

He told crowds in Tehran: “If they (US and Western countries) really want security for the region, they should distance themselves from here.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during the National Army Day parade
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for “cooperation” with countries in the region

“Your presence has always been a calamity for this region and the farther you go from our region and our nations, the more security would come for the region.”

Mr Rouhani also announced Iran is to present a plan to the UN, which it says will bring an end to insecurity in the Gulf region, with the help of other countries.

He wrote on his website: “We will present a plan to the world at the United Nations that the Islamic Republic of Iran, in cooperation with the countries of the region, can create security for the Persian Gulf and the Oman sea with the help of the countries of the region.”

Iran has boosted its naval cooperation with China, India, Oman, Pakistan, and Russia in recent years.

Workers at the damaged site of Saudi Aramco oil facility in Khurais, Saudi Arabia

‘War is always the last option’

In the last few months, Iran has seized or attempted to seize several ships in the Strait of Hormuz that it accused of violating the rules of “safe passage” or smuggling fuel, prompting the US and UK to send more ships and military personnel to the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia and the US have also accused Iran of launching drone attacks on a Saudi oil refinery.

Iranian Turkmen popular armed company parade during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran,Iran September 22, 2019
Iranian Turkmen march during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade

Tehran has denied involvement in the attack on 14 September, which was initially claimed by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

The US plans to send additional troops to the region over the rising tensions.

A senior Saudi official said late on Saturday that if an investigation shows that last week’s attack on the Saudi oil facility was launched from Iranian territory, the kingdom would consider it an act of war, but Riyadh was seeking a peaceful resolution.

“We hold Iran responsible because the missiles and the drones that were fired at Saudi Arabia… were Iranian-built and Iranian-delivered,” minister of state for foreign affairs Adel al Jubeir told CNN late on Saturday.

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Earlier, he told Sky News his country would do whatever it takes to defend itself against Iran.

He told Sky’s Mark Stone: “Will do whatever it takes to prevent our country from sustaining damages. Preparing for war? War is always the last option.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country would not be joining the US, UK, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab nations in a coalition to secure the area’s waterways and vital oil trade routes.

Boris Johnson discussed Iran with the Emir of Qatar in Downing Street on Saturday, and also pledged commitment to Qatar’s security.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “They agreed the war in Yemen must come to an end. They also discussed the recent attacks on the Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

“Additionally they shared concern over Iran’s destabilising behaviour and agreed the importance of negotiation in de-escalating regional tensions.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ envoy for Yemen has welcomed the Houthi rebels’ vow that they will stop attacking Saudi Arabia, saying it “could send a powerful message of the will to end the war” in the country.

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Donald Trump ‘losing leverage’ in Syria after diplomatic U-turn | US News



President Trump’s goal to end “endless wars” and bring his troops home is laudable – who doesn’t want world peace?

But the confused way he’s attempted to achieve this in Syria could fundamentally reshape global alliances, while simultaneously breathing life into Islamic State.

Barely a week since Donald Trump flipped US foreign policy on its head:

  • Kurdish forces, a key counter-terrorism ally, have sided with arch foe President Assad and Russia
  • Iranian and Russian-backed Syrian regime forces are gaining ground in Syria as US and British special forces prepare to withdraw
  • A Turkish cross-border offensive against the Kurds has killed hundreds and displaced hundreds of thousands
  • Several Islamic State fighters and hundreds of IS supporters have escaped Kurdish-run detention camps
  • The US has imposed sanctions on NATO ally Turkey

When it came, the handbrake U-turn in American strategy on the Middle East was a two-paragraph statement released by the White House on 6 October.

Alex Crawford interviews the Turkish vice president Fuat Oktay

Turkey VP: ‘You want us to talk with terrorists?’

“Today, President Donald J Trump spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey by telephone,” it read.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into northern Syria.

“The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

It is no secret that Mr Trump wanted to pull troops out of Syria – he had already tried and failed to do so last December, losing his highly-regarded defence secretary in the process.

Fighting between Kurds and Turkish backed militia intensifies in northeast Syria

Hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape during fighting

That meant at least the shock of the announcement when it came a second time around had already been factored in and the ramifications gamed out by his military and security chiefs, as well as close allies such as Britain.

What left officials bemused was the curious way the decision emerged, following a telephone call seemingly initiated by the Turkish rather than the US side.

President Trump is currently at the heart of an impeachment investigation but denies any wrongdoing
President Trump says he wants to end ‘endless wars’
An American officer speaks with a fighter from the Kurdish People's Protection Units near northeastern Syrian town of Derik
Kurdish forces say they feel abandoned after the US withdrawal

The president used a series of tweets to back up his move, saying it was time to pull US troops out of Syria because Islamic State’s so-called caliphate had been defeated.

He justifiably vented anger at the dereliction of duty by European countries – including Britain – to take charge of captured IS suspects who came from their respective states, instead letting them languish in a string of detention camps in northern Syria.

“It is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Mr Trump wrote.

“WE WILL FIGHT WHEN IT IS IN OUR BENEFIT, AND FIGHT ONLY TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out… We are 7,000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!”

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters battle in Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain
Turkish-backed Syrian fighters battle in Syria’s northeastern town of Ras al Ain

Then came a diplomatic wobble.

Hours after taking his dramatic decision on Syria, the president blinked.

An outburst of horror and anger from Republicans and Democrats alike appeared to prompt him to dilute his plan – evidence perhaps of an absence of understanding of the consequences of what he had by then already unleashed.

“If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey,” President Trump wrote on Twitter.

But he did not specify what off-limits meant.

I asked the Turkish ambassador to London whether he knew – he didn’t. Either way, the threat had no impact on Turkey.

Within 48 hours President Erdogan had begun his long-planned ground and air offensive across the border into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces – a pivotal ally of the US, Britain and others in the years long fight against Islamic State.

A top Kurdish general warned the United States to halt the Turkish assault or else he would have no choice but to strike a deal, brokered by Russia, with the Assad regime to fend off Turkey.

On Sunday, with no US support forthcoming, the Kurds made good on their threat – a devastating move for all those who had fought the Syrian government since 2011.

Within hours, regime forces were moving back into parts of the north that had been off limits, in support of Kurdish fighters facing off against Turkey and its proxies.

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters fire a truck mounted heavy gun near the town of Tukhar, north of Syria's northern city of Manbij, on October 14, 2019, as Turkey and it's allies continues their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria. - Turkey wants to create a roughly 30-kilometre (20-mile) buffer zone along its border to keep Kurdish forces at bay and also to send back some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it hosts. (Photo by Aref TAMMAWI / AFP) (Photo by AREF TAMMAWI/AFP vi
Turkish-backed Syrian fighters fire a truck mounted heavy gun in northern Syria

A week after effectively making way for Turkey’s military action, the United States then imposed sanctions on Ankara.

France, Germany and other NATO members halted arms sales, while Britain too followed suit in a slightly more limited way.

These are significant steps to take against a NATO ally and could test the durability of an alliance that has been the cornerstone for European and US defence for 70 years.

What happens next in Syria is unclear.

President Erdogan’s gamble to continue his cross-border attack, despite world leaders urging him to stop, could spectacularly backfire if his forces end up clashing with the Russian military, also active on the ground and in the air in support of President Assad.

Russia and Turkey are supposed to be close allies.

The Turkish leader will doubtless be hoping some kind of deal can be struck between Ankara, Damascus, Moscow and Tehran that satisfies his demands for a secure border and perhaps unites the whole of Syria back under the regime.

The only certainty as things stand is that the United States is losing its leverage, losing its Kurdish allies and losing its ability to secure dozens of the most dangerous Islamic State fighters who are still being held by the Kurds.

Mr Trump had claimed that the US took charge of the worst of the militants, but as of Monday they had only actually transferred two British members of the IS “Beatles” – accused of killing Western hostages – to a secure facility in Iraq.

The long-term, wider, international implications of this past week are impossible to predict.

But if it signals the moment Turkey breaks with Europe and the United States to turn fully towards Russia, while President Assad regains control of his whole country, supported by Iran, then Western allies will be left marginalised, undermined and weaker.

They may also have to confront a newly revived terrorist threat if Islamic State is able to exploit the confusion to its advantage.

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Dutch family living in isolation discovered by police after nine years | World News



A family living in isolation on a farm in the Netherlands have been discovered by police after nine years.

The seven adults are receiving medical treatment after police acted on a tip-off and found them locked away in a secret room on the premises, officials said on Tuesday.

Mayor Roger de Groot said six young adults, aged 18 to 25, and their ailing father were found near Ruinerwold – 130km (80 miles) northeast of Amsterdam.

They had apparently not been in contact with the outside world for nine years.

The small property also appeared to be ringed by a fence and largely obscured by trees

Mr de Groot said a 58-year-old man, who is not the father of the children, was arrested at the farm. His role was unclear.

The mayor added: “As far as I know their mother died before they arrived there.

“Police found makeshift living quarters where the family was living in hiding.”

The family had reportedly lived in a hidden cellar and survived on vegetables and animals tended in a secluded garden, TV RTV Drenthe reported.

Other local news reports said the family were discovered after one of the siblings escaped and sought help at a nearby cafe.

An employee at the cafe told RTV Drenthe that a 25-year-old man had come in looking scruffy and bewildered with long hair – and said he had not been outside for nine years.

“You could see he had no idea where he was or what he was doing,” the cafe owner, Chris Westerbeek, told the broadcaster.

“He said he had run away and that he urgently needed help.”

The siblings and their father, who was reportedly bedridden after a stroke, were being treated at an undisclosed location, the mayor said.

Drone images of the farm showed a cluster of buildings with a large vegetable garden on one side.

The small property also appeared to be ringed by a fence and largely obscured by trees.

Officers investigating the farm found “a number of improvised rooms where a family lived a withdrawn life”, Mr de Groot said in a statement.

He added that the police investigation is looking into “all possible scenarios”, but didn’t elaborate.

He said the family was now “in a safe place receiving appropriate care and attention”.

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UEFA brings charges after England stars racially abused | World News



UEFA says it has opened disciplinary charges after England players were subjected to racist abuse during an away game in Bulgaria.

The European football governing body has charged the Bulgarian Football Union with four offences: racist behaviour including chants and Nazi salutes, the throwing of objects, disruption of the national anthem, and replays on a giant screen.

Two charges have also been brought against the English Football Association: disruption of the national anthem and an insufficient number of travelling stewards.

The case is going to be dealt with by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body, and the date of a meeting about the charges is yet to be confirmed.

Bulgaria head coach Krasimir Balakov says he did not hear any racist chanting during Monday's match against England

Bulgaria’s head coach ‘did not hear’ racist chanting

It came hours after police raided the headquarters of the Bulgarian Football Union – with its president, Borislav Mihaylov, resigning from his post after being ordered to by the prime minister.

Bulgaria has come in for heavy criticism for the conduct of home fans during the Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday night, which was played in a partially closed stadium as punishment for “racist behaviour” by fans during a previous match against Kosovo in June.

Monday’s game was temporarily halted twice after England players were subjected to monkey chants and Nazi salutes by home fans.

Following UEFA’s anti-racism protocols, an announcement was made in the 28th minute warning fans that any further incidents could result in the match being abandoned, while another pause before half-time only added to the nasty spectacle.

Under the rules, a third incident could have seen officials abandon the game, but England decided at half-time to play on.

Bulgarian fans show their disdain towards UEFA's anti-racism campaign
Bulgarian fans show their disdain towards UEFA’s anti-racism campaign

England went on to win the match 6-0 – but some, including team captain Harry Kane, have questioned whether UEFA’s protocols are strong enough.

FA chairman Greg Clarke called it “one of the most appalling nights” he has ever seen in football, and called on UEFA to investigate the “abhorrent racist chanting” as a matter of urgency.

England manager Gareth Southgate called the situation “unacceptable” but said his players made a “major statement” on and off the pitch by refusing to let the racists win.

SOFIA, BULGARIA - OCTOBER 14: Raheem Sterling of England leaves the pitch after being substituted during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Bulgaria and England on October 14, 2019 in Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Raheem Sterling said he felt sorry for the Bulgarian players ‘to be represented by such idiots’

He said: “Sadly, my players, because of their experiences in our own country, are hardened to racism. They also know they’ve made a statement and they want the focus to be on the football.”

England star Raheem Sterling said he felt sorry for the Bulgarian players “to be represented by such idiots in their stadium”.

Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov pleading with the home fans to stop the racist chanting
Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov pleading with the home fans to stop the racist chanting

Meanwhile, debutant Tyrone Mings revealed he heard racist abuse in the warm-up ahead of the game.

“I think everybody heard the chants, but we stood together and we made certain decisions,” he said.

Bulgaria’s captain Ivelin Popov was seen remonstrating with home supporters at half-time, prompting England’s Marcus Rashford to praise him on Twitter.

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