Connect with us

Published

on

China has been branded “a bully” and an international lawbreaker after its ships blasted Philippine vessels with water cannon in the South China Sea.

Sky News was on board the BRP Bagacay when a Chinese vessel fired water at it, causing significant damage.

Philippine coastguard spokesman Jay Tarriela told Sky News that this week’s confrontation was the first time China had used “such aggression” against their ships.

“The metal parts and the railing were bent. The canopy was also destroyed. So this came as a surprise for us that China never hesitated to use brute force,” he said.

“It completely justifies us calling The People’s Republic of China a bully country.”

Jay Tarriela, a spokesman for the Philippine Coastguard, told Sky News that China is a "bully"
Image:
Jay Tarriela, a spokesman for the Philippine Coastguard, told Sky News that China is a ‘bully’

The Philippine coastguard was on a resupply mission to the Scarborough Shoal to deliver food and fuel to Philippine fishermen when they were struck.

The submerged reef lies in disputed waters. China claims sovereignty over the reef but it is much closer to the Philippines and lies within its legally recognised exclusive economic zone.

More on China

The vessel Sky News was on board was the closest the coastguard had ever been to the shoal – just 600 metres away from it.

Asked if the mission to the shoal was a provocative move by the Philippine coastguard, Commodore Tarriela denied they were “poking the bear” but rather “driving the bear out of our own territory”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky witnesses China-Philippine confrontation

The Philippines has been stepping up its patrols in the area under the instruction of President Bongbong Marcos, and reasserting its claim to the shoal in recent months.

It has raised the spectre of open conflict. While neither side currently wants that, there is now a greater threat of open conflict.

Asked what the end game was for the Philippines, Commodore Tarriela said their priority was to “tell the world” about China’s aggression.

China's coastguard fired water at Philippine Coastguard Vessel- BRP Bagacay while Sky was onboard.
Image:
China’s coastguard fired water at Philippine coastguard vessel BRP Bagacay while Sky was onboard

He said their secondary goal was to ensure “like-minded states” also made China “fall in line and respect international law”.

“Otherwise, it’s everybody’s loss,” he added.

Read more:
US accuses Beijing of ‘bullying’ in South China Sea
China building airstrip on disputed island, satellite images suggest

Philippine government policy is not to resist using water cannon against Chinese vessels – and Commodore Tarriela insisted that policy remains in place after the confrontation.

The government also remains intensely determined to protect the waters it believes it has every right to operate in.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

“We’re not going to yield and we’re not going to surrender a square inch of our territory,” Commodore Tarriela insisted.

Beijing has called the action its own coastguard took as “necessary”.

Speaking at the Chinese foreign ministry’s daily news conference, spokesperson Lin Jian described the coastguard’s conduct as “professional, proper, and lawful”.

Continue Reading

World

President Raisi’s death a perilous moment for Iran regime – but don’t expect a change to foreign policy

Published

on

By

President Raisi's death a perilous moment for Iran regime - but don't expect a change to foreign policy

This is a delicate time for Iran. President Raisi was the second most important man in Iran, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

His death, now confirmed, will have far-reaching consequences.

Although Khamenei has tried to reassure the country in recent hours, the regime will know this is a perilous moment that must be handled carefully.

Live updates – Iranian president killed in crash

There are mechanisms to protect the regime in events like this and the Revolutionary Guard, which was founded in 1979 precisely for that purpose, will be a major player in what comes next.

In the immediate term, vice-president Mohammed Mokhber will assume control and elections will be held within 50 days.

Mokhber isn’t as close to the supreme leader as Raisi was, and won’t enjoy his standing, but he has run much of Khamenei’s finances for years and is credited with helping Iran evade some of the many sanctions levied on it.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Drone footage of helicopter crash site

Raisi’s successor will most likely be the chosen candidate of the supreme leader and certainly another ultra-conservative hardliner – a shift back to the moderates is highly unlikely.

Likewise, we shouldn’t expect any significant change in Iran’s foreign activities or involvement with the war in Gaza. It will be business as usual, as much as possible.

However, after years of anti-government demonstrations following the death of Mahsa Amini in 2022, this might be a moment for the protest movement to rise up and take to the streets again.

Read more:
Who was hardliner Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi?
‘Butcher of Tehran’ had fearsome reputation – many will fear instability
Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi wins landslide victory

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

Islamic State may seek to take advantage

There are also many dissident groups inside Iran, including an off-shoot of Islamic State – they might seek to take advantage of this situation.

Raisi became president in 2021 at the second time of asking and only with a turnout of 41%, the lowest since the 1979 revolution.

The president is seen as a frontrunner to replace Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured) when he dies. Pic: Reuters
Image:
The president was considered one of the two frontrunners to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamanei (pictured). Pic: Reuters

He was not a universally popular figure and many inside Iran will celebrate his death.

Consequences for supreme leader

Longer term, Raisi’s death will have consequences for the supreme leader.

He was considered one of the two frontrunners to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamanei on his death – the other being Khamanei’s son Mojtaba.

For religious and conservative Iranians, Raisi’s death will be mourned; for many though, it will be the passing of a man who had blood on his hands.

Continue Reading

World

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead in helicopter crash after charred wreckage found

Published

on

By

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi confirmed dead in helicopter crash after charred wreckage found

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has died after the helicopter he was travelling in crashed in a mountainous area of northwest Iran.

Rescuers found the burned remains of the aircraft on Monday morning after the president and his foreign minister had been missing for more than 12 hours.

President Raisi, the foreign minister and all the passengers in the helicopter were killed in the crash,” a senior Iranian official told Reuters, asking not to be named.

Live updates – Iranian president killed in crash

Iran‘s Mehr news agency reported “all passengers of the helicopter carrying the Iranian president and foreign minister were martyred”.

State TV said images showed it had smashed into a mountain peak, although there was no official word on the cause of the crash.

“President Raisi’s helicopter was completely burned in the crash… unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead,” an official told Reuters.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

President of Iran killed in crash

Image:
The crash happened in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province

As the sun rose, rescuers saw the wreckage from around 1.25 miles, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Kolivand, told state media.

Iranian news agency IRNA said the president was flying in an American-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Read more:
Who is Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi?
Many will be fearing instability after ‘butcher of Tehran’ killed

Iranian TV showed the president on board the helicopter
Image:
Iranian TV showed the president on the helicopter during a trip to Azerbaijan

TV picture showed thick fog at the search site. Pic: IRNA
Image:
TV pictures from Sunday showed thick fog at the search site. Pic: IRNA

Mr Raisi, 63, who was seen as a frontrunner to succeed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Iran’s supreme leader, was travelling back from Azerbaijan where he had opened a dam with the country’s president.

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, also died in the crash.

The governor of East Azerbaijan province and other officials and bodyguards were also said to have been on board when the helicopter crashed in fog on Sunday.

Iranian media initially described it as a “hard landing”.

The chief of staff of Iran’s army had ordered all military resources and the Revolutionary Guard to be deployed in the search, which had been hampered by bad weather.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to react to the news of Mr Raisi’s death.

“India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow,” he said in a post on X.

Continue Reading

World

Ebrahim Raisi: Who is hardliner Iranian president?

Published

on

By

Ebrahim Raisi: Who is hardliner Iranian president?

A helicopter carrying Iran’s president crashed during bad weather on Sunday.

But who is Ebrahim Raisi – a leader who faces sanctions from the US and other nations over his involvement in the mass execution of prisoners in 1988.

The president, 63, who was travelling alongside the foreign minister and two other key Iranian figures when their helicopter crashed, had been travelling across the far northwest of Iran following a visit to Azerbaijan.

Follow live: Rescuers search for president after helicopter crash

Mr Raisi is a hardliner and former head of the judiciary who some have suggested could one day replace Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Because of his part in the sentencing of thousands of prisoners of conscience to death back in the 1980s, he was nicknamed the Butcher of Tehran as he sat on the so-called Death Panel, for which he was then sanctioned by the US.

Raisi and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on Sunday. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Raisi and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Sunday. Pic: Reuters

Both a revered and a controversial figure, Mr Raisi supported the country’s security services as they cracked down on all dissent, including in the aftermath of the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini – the woman who died after she was arrested for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly – and the nationwide protests that followed.

More on Iran

The months-long security crackdown killed more than 500 people and saw over 22,000 detained.

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, 2022. Pic: Reuters
Image:
People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, 2022. Pic: Reuters

In March, a United Nations investigative panel found that Iran was responsible for the “physical violence” that led to Ms Amini’s death after her arrest for not wearing a hijab, or headscarf, to the liking of authorities.

The president is seen as a frontrunner to replace Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured) when he dies. Pic: Reuters
Image:
The president is seen as a frontrunner to replace Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured). Pic: Reuters

The president also supported Iran’s unprecedented decision in April to launch a drone and missile attack on Israel amid its war with Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza responsible for the 7 October attacks which saw 1,200 people killed in southern Israel.

Involvement in mass executions

Mr Raisi is sanctioned by the US in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 at the end of the bloody Iran-Iraq war.

Under the president, Iran now enriches uranium at nearly weapons-grade levels and hampers international inspections.

Iran has armed Russia in its war on Ukraine and has continued arming proxy groups in the Middle East, such as Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

He successfully ran for the presidency back in August 2021 in a vote that got the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history as all of his potentially prominent opponents were barred from running under Iran’s vetting system.

A presidency run in 2017 saw him lose to Hassan Rouhani, the relatively moderate cleric who as president reached Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

‘Very involved in anything’

Alistair Bunkall, Sky News’s Middle East correspondent, said the president is “a major figure in Iranian political and religious society” but “he’s not universally popular by any means” as his administration has seen a series of protests in the past few years against his and the government’s “hardline attitude”.

Mr Raisi is nonetheless “considered one of the two frontrunners to potentially take over” the Iranian regime when the current supreme leader dies, Bunkall said.

He added the president would have been “instrumental” in many of Iran’s activities in the region as he “would’ve been very involved in anything particularly what has been happening in Israel and the surrounding areas like Lebanon and Gaza and the Houthis over the last seven and a bit months”.

Continue Reading

Trending