Iran just endured the longest gap without sending oil to its biggest customer in at least three years as imminent U.S. sanctions pile pressure onto Tehran.
Iran’s falling currency is causing many Iranians to cancel vacations, business trips, college studies and medical treatment abroad, a retreat in consumer spending that is weighing on the country’s troubled economy.
Unlike the 2012-2015 Western sanctions on Iran, this time around only the United States is slapping sanctions on Iran’s economy and oil industry. But unlike in the previous round of sanctions, the U.S. Administration has now expanded the scope of the petroleum products that fall under sanctions. This time, not only crude oil, but oil products will be affected.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
For traders in Afghanistan’s main currency exchange, U.S. sanctions against Tehran have created the ultimate arbitrage play -- one that involves frequent trips to neighboring Iran with smuggled cash.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A top adviser to Iran’s president on human rights said that the government “failed” to help a US permanent resident imprisoned over spying allegations that she personally invited to the country for a conference.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
United States President Donald Trump will later this month chair a high-level United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, in a bid to tighten the diplomatic screws on Iran. The American leader is expected to use the session to focus the spotlight on Tehran's regional expansionism through its proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen; its ballistic missile program; and its global arms sales—all of which, according to the Trump administration, violate existing UNSC resolutions.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo blasted Iran’s top leader for failing to speak out over China’s reported detention of large contingents of its Muslim minority population.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry should not try to undermine President Trump’s Iran strategy through his own outreach to the regime, a senior State Department official warned Thursday.
President Trump blasted former Secretary of State John Kerry for meeting with foreign diplomats after he left the State Department.
Stealing documents off President Trump’s desk isn’t the only way his top aides are trying to prevent him from taking action on foreign policy. Several administration officials claim that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has found another way to “resist” the president’s maximum-pressure strategy on Iran: simply neglect to give the president a document he requested several weeks ago.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN.
The U.S., France and the U.K have begun discussing a plan to attack Syria, should chemical weapons be used in an upcoming military offensive. This is a rhetoric the Syrian government, Russian and Iranian allies claim is an indication that the Western trio would go so far as to fabricate a pretext to intervene in the war-torn nation.
Hundreds of US soldiers and Syrian rebel fighters on Thursday wrapped up a week-long military exercise, with an anti-regime commander claiming the US could hit Iranian forces in the country in a bid to force them out, Reuters reported.
Companies from dozens of countries have been showing their wares at the Damascus International Fair this week, but those from two in particular are getting special treatment – Russia and Iran. Firms from the top two wartime allies of Syria’s government are set up in an entirely separate building, hinting at the preferred status they hope to enjoy as the country tries to transition into reconstruction.
The Trump administration has made clear that its top priority in the Middle East is to thwart Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions. So why is it so reluctant to lift a finger against Tehran’s most audacious gambit in Syria? That gambit is the reconquest, by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies, of Idlib Province, the last major rebel holdout in western Syria and home to about three million people.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
A senior advisor to Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has confirmed that Iran has been holding "intensive dialogues with the four European states and EU to pave the way for solving the crises in Yemen and Syria." Hossein Jaber Ansari told Iranian official news agency IRNA that Iran has been in talks with European states on Yemen over the past months.
IRAQ & IRAN
The UK has condemned in “the strongest terms” an Iran attack on an Iranian Kurdish opposition base in north-east Iraq that killed at least 17 people. It follows a US rebuke of the missile assault, that officials insist came from inside Iran, that targeted The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan at its base in northern Iraq. “The UK further condemns in the strongest terms any violence directed against diplomatic missions, including those of the US, as we have witnessed in Basra and Baghdad in recent days,” a government spokesman said.
The chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said on Thursday that Tehran’s missile attack on an Iranian Kurdish rebel base in northern Iraq last week was a warning to hostile powers, Iranian state television reported.
A man wearing a white surgeon's mask sprays red paint at pockmarks left in a white wall by shrapnel -- honouring comrades who died in an Iranian missile attack in Iraqi Kurdistan. The man is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, a rebel group based in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, whose headquarters were targeted by the missile attack on September 8.
Now the US risks losing in Iraq again as enemies of Washington seek to form a government coalition and Congress seeks to sanction militias that hold sway in Baghdad.