Eye on Iran: Iran Extends Islamic Volunteer Force to Region, Commander Says

TOP STORIES

Iran Extends Islamic Volunteer Force to Region, Commander Says | Bloomberg

Citizens of six countries have joined an auxiliary force that supports Iran’s world view, and have sworn an allegiance to the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, according to a top Iranian military commander.

Iran’s New Videos of U.S., British Prisoners Show Tehran Angling for Influence | Washington Post

Two videos that aired on Iranian television over the weekend suggest Tehran is trying to pressure the United States in advance of a potential decision on sanctions and push Britain to repay more than a half-billion dollars for undelivered weapons.

Why Iran’s Spies Are Hacking Hariri’s Account | Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

Iran has embarked on a large-scale cyber piracy operations in an attempt to expand its influence over the Middle East, especially in Lebanon, according to a new report. A group of Iranian hackers backed by Iran, attacked the servers of the offices of the Lebanese president Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri after his resignation, according to French newspaper Le Figaro. The attacks also targeted the Lebanese ministries of justice, foreign affairs, the army and several banks, according to Western intelligence.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

Turkish Gold Trader A No-Show At U.S. Trial over Iran Sanctions | Reuters

A Turkish gold trader will not go on trial this week on charges of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran in a case that has strained Turkish-U.S. ties, a U.S. judge in New York said Monday. Reza Zarrab, 34, stopped appearing in court in the two months leading up to his scheduled trial, prompting Turkey’s prime minister to suggest he has reached a plea deal with U.S. authorities.

Iran-Sanctions Trial To Open After Jury Selected in New York | Bloomberg

The trial of a Turkish banker charged with helping Iran evade economic sanctions is set to begin Tuesday after a jury was selected in New York. The banker, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, will be the only defendant on trial, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman told jurors in court on Monday. That still leaves unanswered whether the main defendant, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, has struck a deal with the U.S. and will testify against Atilla.

HUMAN RIGHTS

American Student Xiyue Wang’s Wife Begs Trump to Speak with Iran | NBC News

The wife of an American graduate student who is behind bars in Iran pleaded with the Trump administration to do more to secure his release Tuesday. In an exclusive broadcast interview with NBC News, Qu Hua revealed that her husband, Xiyue Wang, has attempted suicide during his almost 16 months in prison. "Only the U.S. government can sort this out, only the U.S. government can help us," she said. "I hope President Trump can open up a dialogue with Iranian authorities to discuss a resolution of my husband's case."

SYRIA CONFLICT

Without A Syria Policy, Trump Has No Iran Policy | Jennifer Rubin for the Washington Post

A sobering report on the Trump administration’s nonexistent Syria policy is out from the Iran task force of the Gemunder Center of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). While the administration has been playing games with “decertifying” but not negating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the real fight against Iranian aggression is being lost on the ground.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, AND IRAN

Oil Sleeps Through Saudi-Iran Spat And Imminent OPEC Meeting | Bloomberg

With tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran ratcheting up and OPEC about to announce its plans for global crude supply, investors would be forgiven for anticipating a few gyrations in oil prices. The opposite has happened: the market is the calmest it’s been for almost nine months.

IRANIAN DOMESTIC ISSUES

Earthquake Response Shows Iranians' Nationalism — And Mistrust of Authorities | Al Monitor

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck an area straddling the Iran-Iraq border on Nov. 12. Iran’s western province of Kermanshah was the hardest hit with over 400 fatalities. Sympathies immediately began pouring in from across Iran, with many taking direct measures to help the victims. Many of these efforts, however, only created more difficulties in the delivery of aid to quake-stricken regions. Iran’s social media networks were abuzz from the initial hours after the earthquake, with people asking how they could help. Very few suggested government-affiliated organizations, such as the Iranian Red Crescent Society, which, at times of disaster, is the largest entity involved in providing relief efforts in the country. Instead, most Iranians seemed interested in finding nongovernmental organizations that could deliver their aid and donations to victims.

Iran Prosecutor Gets Two Years For Being 'Accessory To Murder' of Protesters | Al Monitor

Saeed Mortazavi, a former judge and prosecutor in Iran, has been sentenced to two years in prison for the deaths at a notorious detention facility during the 2009 postelection protests. An appellate court in Tehran upheld the sentence for Mortazavi for “accessory to murder” in the death of Mohsen Ruholamini, the son of a conservative politician who was on the campaign staff for 2009 conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei.

Iran Wrestler Throws Bout to Avoid Fighting Israeli | Agence France-Presse

Iran's government has paid tribute to one of the country's wrestlers who threw an international bout when he was ahead because winning would have meant fighting an opponent from Israel.