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Media Summary

Iran detains UK ambassador

The Guardian, The Independent, Reuters and Sky News report that Iran was facing a renewed crisis on Sunday night with authorities using tear gas to break up a second straight day of protests in Tehran and demonstrations spreading to other cities.

BBC News and The Telegraph report that Britain has condemned the arrest of the UK ambassador to Iran as a “flagrant violation of international law”, as Ambassador Rob Macaire was detained for a short time on Saturday night after attending a vigil for those who died when Iran’s military shot down a passenger plane. The Guardian reports that Macaire’s arrest prompted a new diplomatic row between London and Tehran, as anti-government protests engulfed Iran over the weekend. The Times reports that protesters burnt both the Union Jack and Israeli flag outside the British embassy in Tehran as a diplomatic crisis over the arrest of the UK ambassador grew.

The Telegraph reports Richard Ratcliffe said the detention of Rob Macaire during anti-government protests in Tehran did not bode well for his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held “essentially as a hostage” by Iran for almost four years.

BBC News and The Guardian report that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will seek “justice” for those killed on board a Ukrainian passenger plane downed by Iran. Reuters reports that Iran has issued eight more visas to a team of Canadian officials and most members of the group should be in Tehran on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Sunday.

The Independent reports that least four Iraqi soldiers were wounded after rockets struck the Balad airbase north of Baghdad housing US forces.

The Financial Times reports that Iran’s most senior Revolutionary Guard commander was summoned to a closed session of parliament on Sunday as public feeling in the Islamic republic turned against the regime over the role played by the elite security force in the downing of a passenger aircraft that killed 176 people including 82 Iranians.

The Times reports that President Trump has tweeted in Farsi to tell Iran “the world is watching” its treatment of protesters, as senior officials struggled to back up his claim that Qasem Soleimani was plotting to attack four US embassies. The Financial Times and Reuters report that US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, said he “didn’t see” specific evidence that Iran was preparing to attack four US embassies in the Middle East before the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, as claimed by President Donald Trump.

BBC News reports that the two sides in Libya’s civil war have accused the other of breaking an internationally brokered ceasefire within hours of it taking effect, as both the UN-backed government and forces loyal to Russian ally Gen Khalifar Haftar say there has been fighting around the capital, Tripoli. The Financial Times reports that Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel made a joint plea for a ceasefire in Libya hours before a Russian-engineered truce was scheduled to come into effect, amid a last-minute push to convince a Moscow-backed militia to comply. Reuters reports that Libya’s warring rival leaders will hold peace talks in Moscow on Monday alongside representatives from Russia and Turkey, Russian news agencies cited the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying.

The Telegraph reports that the Israeli military will soon begin testing a new laser weapon to shoot down incoming missiles and drones, the Israeli ministry of defence has announced.

Reuters reports that Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Sunday it was time for Iran’s allies to begin working to retaliate for the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani though it would be a “long path” to the goal of ejecting U.S. forces from the region.

The Financial Times reports that as Saudi Aramco sold an additional 450m shares to increase the proceeds from its recent stock market debut to $29.4bn, meaning the world’s biggest public offering got even bigger over the weekend.

Sky News and The Independent report that Boris Johnson and Prince Charles are in Oman to meet the country’s new leader, Sultan Haitham, who has pledged to follow the non-interference policy that made the kingdom a vital mediator under his late cousin.

The Independent reports that Britain must be prepared to fight future wars without the US, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned, after admitting the UK is currently “dependent” on the American military.

The Independent reports that Israel’s education minister has sparked fury by implying it is unnatural and unhealthy not to be heterosexual. Rafael Peretz, an Orthodox rabbi, drew condemnation from his colleagues and fresh calls to resign.

In The Independent, Borzou Daragahi argues Iran has ‘no choice’ but to de-escalate its campaign of revenge for the death of Qassem Soleimani, as continuing to fight will ‘contradict any expression of remorse’ for shooting down Ukraine Airlines Flight 752.

The Israeli media report that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon will retire from politics and not run in the 2 March election. Kahlon kept a low profile after his Kulanu party only won four Knesset seats in the April election. After the September election Kulanu merged with Likud and Kahlon retained his post as finance minister, a move which drew criticism from his party’s supporters.

Ynet reports that the Ministry of Defence has conducted a series of successful trials to test a new upgrade of the Iron Dome missile defence system. Defence officials report a 100 per cent success rate in trials testing the system’s newly developed capabilities. The Defence Ministry did not reveal any details about the nature of the upgrade. According to their statement. Since Iron Dome’s first interception over the southern city of Ashkelon in April 2011, more than 2,400 successful interceptions have been recorded, with an average success rate of 85 per cent.

Channels 12 and 13 News reported that the Israel Air Force has admitted that eight F-16 fighter jets were damaged by the rain in storms last week. According to a senior Air Force officer, 50 million litres of rain fell on the air force base in southern Israel in the early hours of Thursday morning, flooding aircraft runways and two hangars.  The water levels reached one-and-a-half meters inside the hangars leading to several mechanics needing to be rescued. The official admitted, “We were wrong to not evacuate those hangars.  It was a mistake and we will investigate the incident and learn lessons in order to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” The damaged planes are expected to be repaired and return to operational duty by next week.