Canadian authorities in Vancouver have arrested Huawei Technologies Co.'s chief financial officer at the request of the U.S. government for alleged violations of Iranian sanctions, the latest move by Washington to crack down on the Chinese cellular-technology giant. A spokesman for Canada's justice department said Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1 and is sought for extradition by the U.S. A bail hearing has been tentatively scheduled for Friday, according to the spokesman. Ms. Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei, serves as the company's CFO and deputy chairwoman.
A wealthy businessman who until recently was head of the company that feeds American troops in Afghanistan has been charged in federal court with violating sanctions against trade with Iran, along with other offenses. The federal indictment charged Abul Huda Farouki, 75, a Jordanian-American and philanthropist from Virginia with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, with conspiracy to commit money laundering, violating sanctions against Iran, and fraud.
The UN Security Council will hold a meeting in the coming days on the uncovering of Hezbollah terror tunnels that have penetrated into Israel, the country's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said on Wednesday. Danon said the meeting will deal with Hezbollah's infringement of Israeli sovereignty, as well as the violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from 2006 that called for southern Lebanon - the area from the Litani River to the border with Israel - to be free of foreign forces.
UANI IN THE NEWS
...Analysts have taken a more cautious tone, pointing out that the identity of the man in the video is not clear and that the tunnel shown was very likely not just discovered. "It could be Hezbollah checking on its tunnels, but it could just be two curious guys who decided to go and have look at what's going on," David Daoud, Lebanon and Hezbollah research analyst at United Against Nuclear Iran, told TRT World. "I don't think they [the Israelis] discovered it today. There is a propaganda dimension to this war. Hezbollah plays it much better. The Israelis occasionally know how to make something look good, and this is 'Oh, look what we found.' They've probably been aware of this tunnel for some time - they probably have a map already laying this out. I doubt the IDF is going into this blind."
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran is looking to be exempted from any OPEC oil output cuts because of U.S. sanctions, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters ahead of Thursday's OPEC meeting. "We should be excluded from any decision about the level of production in the future till the lifting of the imposed illegal sanctions," Zanganeh told reporters upon arriving in Vienna.
On the eve of the OPEC meeting, the senior U.S. official overseeing sanctions on Iran made a rare foray into the group's home turf, for a discreet Viennese breakfast with the cartel's most powerful member. Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, met one-on-one with Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih on Wednesday morning in the Austrian capital, said a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the talks were private.
It's no secret that Iran and Saudi Arabia are not the best of friends on the global geopolitical stage, but the arch-rivals have to share a space when the influential oil producing group OPEC meets Thursday. CNBC spoke to oil market experts to get their take on how and whether Saudi Arabia and Iran manage to keep OPEC talks strictly professional when they clash so frequently in the real world and over oil.
The Trump administration on November 20, 2018 announced new sanctions designed to disrupt an alleged Iranian and Russian scheme to ship oil to Syria, billing it as part of Washington's "maximum pressure" campaign on Tehran and a push to cut off fuel supplies for Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
U.S. banks are pushing for changes to the Treasury Department's Iran sanctions language to allow them to avoid a conflict between European Union law and the stringent financial penalties aimed at Iran and businesses that work with it. The banks' concern comes from a side effect of the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Iran deal without coordinating an agreement with the EU.
The Iranian government has lost two thirds of its funding, according to statements from the head of the Islamic Republic's Planning and Budget Organization (PBO) that were quickly removed from official websites. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht painted the dire fiscal picture December 4 while speaking at a gathering of representatives of disabled people assembled at the PBO to protest cuts to government funds allocated to support them.
A prominent Iranian economist says selling essential goods to foreigners in Iran's border area markets is "looting" and should not be counted as "export". "This is not export, it is indeed looting local people's essential goods by foreigners", Hossein Raghfar told the state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) December 5, adding, to call the sweeping of people's essential goods by foreigners is a tragedy that cannot be mitigated by labeling it as "export".
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
In recent weeks, moral outrage has been stirred by the barbaric war that Saudi Arabia has waged in Yemen, by the Saudi government's brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and by President Trump's failure to condemn and sanction these offenses, out of concern for damaging economic interests, real or exaggerated. At the same time, however, another human tragedy has been gathering in Iran, and it is one we might still avert, before it is too late.
The family of former FBI agent Robert Levinson and the relatives of nearly a half dozen others held captive in Iran say they "shall remain quiet no longer" about demands for world governments to help secure the release of those hopelessly detained in the Islamic Republic. The declaration came in an open letter addressed to "World Leaders, Rights Organizations and Media Outlets" that was published by the group earlier this week. The families have "banded together now to come to you as one voice," the letter stated.
Iranian authorities are continuing to commit crimes against humanity by concealing the fate and whereabouts of thousands of political dissidents who were secretly executed in prison 30 years ago, according to Amnesty International. In a report published on December 4, the London-based human rights group called on the United Nations to establish an "independent, impartial and effective international mechanism" to help bring those responsible for the extrajudicial executions to justice.
A population expert at the University of Melbourne has been detained in Iran. Dr Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, a dual Iranian-Australian citizen who works at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, was in the capital Tehran when she was reportedly arrested. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was offering assistance to the family of an Australian "who has been detained in Iran". "As the travel advice has noted for some time, Iran does not recognise dual nationality and it is highly unlikely Australian officials will be given consular access to dual nationals," DFAT said in a statement.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
The U.S. government confirmed that Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met with U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook in Vienna on Wednesday, contradicting a Saudi denial that the talks had taken place. Sources familiar with the meeting said earlier that Hook, a senior policy adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had spoken with Falih a day before the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was due to debate oil output cuts.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
At least three people died and 24 others were injured in a suicide car bomb attack on the police headquarters in Iran's southeast on Thursday, state media reported, adding that the perpetrator was killed. Television also reported shooting in the area, located in the region of Sistan-Baluchestan, which is home to a Sunni Muslim minority in the largely Shi'ite country and has long been plagued by violence from both drug smugglers and separatists.
Despite mounting criticisms, member of parliament Mohammad Reza Aref - a one-time presidential candidate - was recently re-elected as the chairman of the Reformists' Supreme Council for Policymaking, an appointment that may widen the gaps within the Reformist camp and further diminish its social capital. The council was formed in 2015 with the aim of organizing and mobilizing all Reformist groups.
The Iranian government implemented a new retirement law in September intended to abolish a decades-long practice of re-employing public sector managers already past retirement age, making room for young Iranians in the sector. From the outset, controversy surrounded the law and its implementation as it excluded the president, presidential deputies, the judiciary chief, lawmakers, members of the Guardian Council, top military commanders and those who could win a special exemption from the country's supreme leader.
In the past few months, Iranian women have been arrested for dancing and detained for riding bicycles. Why do women's seemingly benign actions generate such backlash from the Iranian government? Women's bodies are supposed to be subjects of the state-used by the government to project a desired societal image. But women in Iran are increasingly defying restrictive laws and fatwas-and leveraging the power of social media to challenge state control. Regulating women's bodies is a common practice internationally. In a number of European countries, there is an effective ban on niqabs and burkas.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The Tri-Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay has long been a safe haven for transnational crime and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. Weak border enforcement, corruption and lack of government presence have given criminal groups free reign to operate virtually unchecked for years. The U.S. maintains strong security relations with the governments of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, but the effectiveness of our cooperation has been limited. As a result, illicit activities in the TBA have spilled over into other parts of Latin America, impacting regional security, breeding greater levels of corruption and crime, funding drug consumption around the world, and enabling Hezbollah to carry out terrorist attacks to support Iran's geopolitical objectives.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
As the Jewish community around the world celebrates Hannukah this week, a state-run book fair in Qatar has raised eyebrows among Jewish organisations in the United States for promoting anti-Semitic textbooks and publications that incite hatred. The annual Doha International Book Fair, which is in its 29th year, is coming under attack for promoting anti-Semitic content. The exhibition that runs until Friday is carrying Arabic books that spread conspiracies and falsehoods about the Jews, and air denials about the Holocaust while also promoting authors affiliated with bigoted and racist organisations.
A U.S. grand jury indicted two Iranian nationals over claims they carried out a March ransomware attack against the city of Atlanta, crippling its computer systems and causing millions of dollars in losses. Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammed Mehdi Shah Mansouri used ransomware known as SamSam to infect about 3,789 servers and workstations in Atlanta, the Justice Department said Wednesday in a release citing the indictment. The cyberattack took place from around March 10 until March 22.