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Iranian press review: Turkey’s new foreign minister under spotlight in Iran

Meanwhile, bootleg alcohol claims lives, climate migration hits poorest province, and neighbouring countries put a halt to buying Iran’s exported petrol
Turkey's newly appointed foreign affairs minister, Hakan Fidan, waves goodbye to his predecessor after a handover ceremony in Ankara, 5 June 2023 (AFP)
By MEE correspondent in Tehran

Turkey’s Hakan Fidan is focus of interest in Iran

Speculation continues in Iran over Turkey’s new policies toward its neighbouring countries, just over one month after the re-election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Last week, Farsi media focused on Turkey’s newly appointed foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, and his role in shaping Ankara’s foreign policy in recent years.

Before his appointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fidan served for 13 years as the director of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation.

The Telegram channel, Afsaran_ir, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), welcomed the new appointment in Turkey, highlighting Fidan’s anti-Israel policies.

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The channel claimed that Fidan had developed close ties with the IRGC after Israel’s forces raided the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010.

However, other analysts underlined Fidan’s role in the annexation of parts of northern Syria by Turkey.

Islam Zolqadrpour, a columnist for the Iranian Diplomacy website, warned Iranian officials of believing “Fidan’s alliance with Iran".

“Between 2010 and 2020, under Fidan’s leadership, Turkey deployed security and intelligence strategies which were all against Iran’s interests in the region,” wrote Zolqadrpour.

“Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation is the main sponsor of terrorist and warmonger organisations in northern Syria, and Fidan is the main figure organising their policies,” he added.

Bootleg booze kills 12, blinds four

Twelve people in the city of Karaj have died from bootleg alcohol over the past week, while over 120 have been hospitalised, and four have gone blind.

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Local media reported the first hospitalisation cases on Friday in Karaj’s Eslam Abad and Hesarak neighbourhoods, about 50 kilometres west of the capital Tehran.

A day later, the first deaths were reported by Etemda daily. Unofficial reports put the death toll even higher at 14 in one of the worst cases of alcohol poisoning the country has seen.

Following the 1979 revolution, the production, trading and consumption of alcoholic beverages were criminalised and made punishable with prison terms and flogging.

The government ban on alcoholic drinks has assisted in the flourishing of an illegal market in which non-standard beverages are widely traded across the country.

According to official data, in the previous Iranian year, which ended on 21 March, at least 644 people died in Iran due to alcohol poisoning. In most of the cases that resulted in death, the bootleggers mixed the methanol alcohol with bleach and fruit flavours.

Thousands of families flee drought

More than 10,000 Iranian families have left their homes in the southeastern city of Zabol over the last Iranian year due to droughts and water shortages in Sistan and Baluchistan, Iran’s most impoverished province.

Mahdi Zarghami, an academic at the University of Tabriz, made this announcement, adding that the pace of internal displacement caused by climate change has increased since August 2021 when the Taliban established a new government in Afghanistan.

Zabol is about 1,400 kilometres from Tehran and 45 kilometres from Zaranj in Afghanistan.

The Ham Mihan daily, which reported the story, quoted Bahram Salavati, the director of Iran Migration Observatory, as saying that climate migration was as serious a threat to Iran as the brain drain.

“We are losing time to respond to the migration crisis, and when we warn about the situation, we are being ordered to remain silent,” said Salavati, who was banned last year from releasing data about migration in Iran.

Iran loses its petrol market in Iraq and Afghanistan

The director of Iran’s Union of Petroleum Products Exporters said that Tehran has lost its petrol market in neighbouring countries due to low production quality.

On Monday, Hamid Hosseini told the Mehr news agency that the Taliban had returned several petrol tankers to Iran because the product did not meet the required standards.

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The report added that Iraq had also stopped importing petrol from Iran for the same reason.

“The high quality of petrol that these countries can buy from other producers has made Iran’s export market smaller,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News. This led to Russia and Uzbekistan taking over Iran’s fuel market in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“These countries no longer accept low-quality products,” he added.

Due to US sanctions on Iran’s petroleum products, Tehran has become heavily dependent on exports to its neighbouring countries.

When the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, Iran was the leading fuel supplier to the country. At the time, many criticised Tehran for providing a crucial energy lifeline to the militant group.

The news about losing its fuel market due to quality concerns came a few days after Tehran announced new projects to improve petrol production in Venezuela.

*Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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