Political infighting among Iran’s ruling elite has moved on to a new battleground - the relief effort after an earthquake that killed at least 530 people and injured thousands. Hardline media are accusing the government of pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani of reacting too slowly to last weekend’s quake, while highlighting aid work by the Revolutionary Guards - a rival power center.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said on Thursday the kingdom’s actions in the Middle East were a response to what he called the “aggression” of Iran.
Israel's military chief of staff yesterday said in an interview that his country was prepared to cooperate with Saudi Arabia to face Iran's plans "to control the Middle East.”
CONGRESS & IRAN
In parallel with a visit this week by US national security officials to Israel to discuss Tel Aviv’s concerns over the US-Russia de-escalation deal and Iran’s presence in South Syria, a bipartisan group of 43 congress members sent a letter to US secretary of state Rex Tillerson echoing the same demands and calling for a change of strategy in Syria. The letter, dated November 14 and signed by members of both main parties after their trip to Israel, called for “a strategy for Syria that includes how the United States plans to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent foothold on Israel and Jordan’s doorstep and to block Iranian arms exports to Hizbollah”.
According to Iranian agencies, the black currency market in Tehran has stopped the selling and buying of foreign currencies because of a sharp rise in the price of the US dollar, the euro and the pound to levels that existed before the nuclear agreement was reached.
Behind the grimy frosted windows of an abandoned shopfront in the backstreets of central London lies a plush modern office, full of banks of computer screens monitoring Iran’s internet output. The office is one of many Western media projects working to outwit the censors who seek to suppress all but the official discourse of Iran’s Islamic Republic. Much of the funding comes from America’s Near East Regional Democracy programme, which allocates about $30m a year to promoting democracy and human rights in Iran.
Britain said on Thursday that moves toward paying half a billion dollars to Iran for a debt owed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution had nothing to do with a bid to secure the release of a jailed Iranian-British aid worker.
Iran accused France of fueling tension in the Middle East by taking a “biased” stance on Tehran’s regional policy, state TV reported on Friday… French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that France was worried about Iran’s involvement in the Middle East crisis and its disputed ballistic missile program.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri's older brother broke his silence Wednesday over the premier's mysterious resignation, saying he supports his brother's decision to step down over the "growing demands and actions of Hezbollah."
The Kremlin said on Thursday Russia would host a Syria summit on Nov. 22 involving officials from Iran and Turkey.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must disband the majority of the Iran-linked Shia paramilitary groups that fought alongside the army against the Islamic State or risk sparking an outbreak of sectarian violence following the terror group’s looming defeat, one of Iraq’s leading Sunni politicians warned Thursday.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, AND IRAN
Few things are as explosive as the combination of power, ambition and anxiety — and there is plenty of all three in Riyadh these days. Once a cautious and passive regional power, Saudi Arabia has found a new purpose in recent years. The ruthless ambition of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in full display at home with his crackdown on businessmen and members of the royal family, also radiates across the Middle East, driven by the urgency to check Iranian influence. Prince Mohammed has a point. Iran is set on becoming the dominant power from Iraq to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia may exaggerate Iranian intentions and power, but Western and Asian countries typically understate them. The Iranians themselves are clear about how they view the region: “No decisive actions can be taken in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, North Africa and the Gulf region without Iran’s consent,” Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, reportedly boasted last month.