A British-Australian academic serving a 10-year sentence for espionage in Iran has been moved to a notorious prison where concerns for her well-being have escalated, the Australian government confirmed Wednesday. Kylie Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison in September 2018. She had been arrested at Tehran airport while trying to leave the country after attending an academic conference.
U.S. lawmakers expect to question Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on dealings with China and Russia, the decision to move troops out of Germany and weapons exports when the country’s top diplomat offers rare public testimony in the Senate on Thursday. Pompeo will testify at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request. Foreign Relations Committee Democrats released a report this week that harshly criticized Pompeo’s tenure at State, saying he had harmed the department’s ability to conduct diplomacy by leaving jobs open for months, treating career diplomats poorly and promoting a culture of retaliation.
Tehran wants an “endless war” in Yemen, the US special envoy to Iran said on Wednesday as he lobbied leaders in London to back an extension to the UN Security Council’s arms embargo on Iran. Brian Hook said a EU embargo that expires in 2023 was insufficient. The Security Council restrictions are set to end in October but the US has proposed extending it indefinitely. The move is unlikely to pass because Russia and China, which have the power of veto in the council, have indicated their opposition.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Foreign Policy Analyst and UANI Policy Director Jason Brodsky observed in a tweet that "The IRGC overhauled and upgraded10 Sukhoi SU-22 fighter jets in 2018.” He also cited DIA estimates that say Iran may purchase Sukhoi-30 fighters from Russia after the arms embargo against Iran expires. The highlight of the exercise, which is still in its second day, was a strike at a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Pictures released so far do not show any major strike although anecdotal accounts on social media say the strike took place but the model was not hit successfully.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
In a new report published on July 28, the Iranian Parliament's Research Center (MRC) has said that U.S. sections are expected to remain in effect in mid and even long terms, and longstanding strategies to cope with them are required. "The United States' sanctions target the key sectors of the Iranian economy earning foreign currency for the country, and obviously are [also] vulnerable," the report of the research and advisory arm of the Iranian Parliament says and adds: "The passing of time will not help as long as fundamental reforms are not carried out in the domestic economy".
The U.S. dollar has started rising again since Saturday in Iran after a central bank intervention last week briefly strengthened the Iranian currency. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) injected about $1 billion into the local exchange market from July 18 to 23. The dollar which had risen to 260,000 rials dropped to 210,000 last week. However, from the beginning of the new week in Iran (Saturday), the price of the dollar started to rise again, reaching 235,300 rials at the end of Wednesday, July 29.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran’s judiciary has blocked the bank account of prominent imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in a move aimed at adding pressure on her and her family. Speaking to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 27, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, said his wife's bank account with Pasargad Bank in Tehran has been blocked since May on the orders of the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
“This is exactly and undoubtedly an act of aerial terrorism,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in condemnation of the US interception of an Iranian Airbus A-310 passenger jet that was flying over Syrian airspace last week. In a strongly worded televised speech July 29, Rouhani added that the United States must be treated as a “terrorist state” because it “harassed passengers” on board the plane. He urged a reaction from the UN Security Council and the International Civil Aviation Organization against the “mischievous” and “unacceptable” move
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Iran claims to have used its first military satellite—the launch of which was condemned by President Donald Trump's administration—to publish detailed images of a U.S. air base in Qatar, according to state media. The state-backed Press TV channel reported Wednesday that Iran's Nour-1 satellite—operated by the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRCG)—took photos of the Al Udeid air base in Qatar, which hosts the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and the headquarters of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran is planning to allow annual university entrance exams and mass religious mourning ceremonies to take place this summer even as the coronavirus kills record numbers of people and cases continue to surge. President Hassan Rouhani said ritual public mourning processions, due at the end of August during the Shia holy month of Muharram, will go ahead “while implementing complete health protocols,” according to Iranian state media.
Public uproar over news that vast lands around Damavand Mountain, a national symbol was handed over to a religious endowment has forced the state to reverse its decision and return the land to government ownership. Hamshahri newspaper in Tehran reported on Sunday, July 26, that an official title deed had been issued to Iran's Endowment and Charity Organization (Owqaf) for one-eleventh (1/11th) of Mount Damavand and the slopes leading to the summit.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Twitter defended its decision to flag President Trump's tweet about violent demonstrations but not Iran's calls for violence against Israel, suggesting to Israeli's legislature on Wednesday that the latter fell under its protections for "commentary on political issues of the day." The exchange occurred during a Knesset hearing on antisemitism in social media. Human rights attorney Arsen Ostrovsky asked Twitter's Ylwa Pettersson: "You have recently started flagging the tweets of President Trump. Why have you not flagged the tweets of Iran's Ayatollah Khameini, who has literally called for the genocide of Israel and the Jewish people?"
CHINA & IRAN
As long-simmering U.S.–China tensions come to the boil, a sweeping bilateral accord being negotiated between Beijing and Tehran is ringing alarms in Washington. It has the potential to dramatically deepen the relationship between America’s principal global rival and its long term antagonist in the Middle East, undermining White House attempts to isolate Iran on the world stage. “Two ancient Asian cultures,” runs the opening line of a leaked 18-page Persian-language draft obtained by the New York Times earlier in July.
There are four key reasons why Iraq is increasing the pace of development on a number of its major oil fields right now. First, it needs the money; second, hitting its own output targets will allow it to challenge Saudi Arabia in Eastern markets; third, it will allow Iran to increase its own oil exports; and, fourth, it is what China wants. Last week’s announcement from Iraq’s Oil Ministry that its Gharraf oilfield has started preparatory works for restarting output – so quickly after the announcement that a major drilling progamme will soon begin on the Nasiriyah site – fits into all of these categories.
A Twitter spokeswoman has defended the company’s decision to block and restrict tweets from President Trump but not those of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which call for genocide of the Israeli people. The reason? Because the Iranian dictator’s tweets pass as “commentary on political issues of the day” while Trump’s could “inspire harm,” Twitter claims. During a hearing on antisemitism in front of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament in Jerusalem, lawmakers grilled a Twitter representative over why the platform was policing missives from Trump, but not other world leaders such as Khamenei calling Israel “a cancerous growth.”