Iran is forgoing plans for now to transfer about 300 million euros ($347 million) in funds held in Germany to Iran after strong opposition from the United States, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday. The funds are held at the Hamburg-based Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (eihbank).
The Iranian Parliament's Research Center has forecast two dystopian economic growth rates for Iran by the end of the Iranian year (March 20, 2019) as a result of the U.S. pull-out from the nuclear deal with Tehran.
America's allies in Europe are plotting ways to bypass President Donald Trump's sanctions on Iran as they work to keep the nuclear deal alive without the United States.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Japanese news media are reporting that the country's major oil wholesalers are preparing to suspend crude imports next month.
Iran’s state-run oil company is in talks to salvage a $1 billion oil deal with Swiss trader Vitol Group as companies sever ties with the Islamic Republic ahead of U.S. sanctions.
President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that Iran will continue exporting crude oil despite U.S. efforts to stop it through sanctions.
Oil reserves in western Europe, Africa and Mediterranean region are rapidly falling since major buyers are scared by the US sanctions imposed on Iran, reports say.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iranian authorities have detained Reza Khandan, the husband of prominent jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Khandan's arrest early on September 4 comes just hours after he raised concerns in a Facebook post about human rights violations in Iran, including the imprisonment of human rights defenders and the prosecution of women who have campaigned against the Islamic hijab.
An Iranian police officer has deserted his post and fled Iran, saying his life was in danger for refusing orders to suppress anti-government protests that have swept the country this year.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
President Donald Trump will lead a United Nations Security Council session on Iran later this month, and could find himself seated in the historic chamber across from the Islamic Republic’s president or foreign minister, according to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of an Iran Action Group (IAG) on August 16. The new group is a substantive departure from the current policies, which have been disparate and poorly coordinated. The new policy is not only an outgrowth of President Donald Trump’s desire to withdraw from the Iran Deal, it has also been driven by Congress and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was signed on August 6.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The military balance between Iran, its Arab neighbors, and the United States has been a critical military issue in the Middle East since at least the rise of Nasser in the 1950s. Iran, Iraq, and the other Gulf states have been the scene of a major arms race since the mid-1950s.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Mohammad Javad Zarif has been Iran’s foreign minister for the past five years… Over the past two years, however, Zarif’s power has dramatically waned. Although he has continued his speaking tours in the West, he has been supplanted on the regional policy portfolios that most matter to Tehran—including Iran’s presence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen—by a quieter but far more influential figure: Ali Akbar Velayati, the longtime foreign-policy advisor to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had a busy August. He released a controversial video in which he condemned his successor Hassan Rouhani’s handling of the economy and published an open letter to US President Donald Trump, urging him to release the names of relatives of Iranian officials who hold green cards.
Iran officially inaugurated Tuesday two petrochemical projects -- the Marjan petrochemical plant, with capacity to make 1.65 million mt/year of methanol, and the third phase of the Pardis petrochemical plant, with capacity to produce 1.755 million mt/year of urea and ammonia.
A leading Iranian reformist has called upon the panel of conservative clerics tasked with supervising the work of Iran's supreme leader to hold Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accountable instead of showering him with "praise." Reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi, who's been under house arrest since 2011, said Iran's Assembly of Experts should hold Khamenei responsible for three decades of policies that he says have brought Iran to its current "regrettable" situation.
Censors for Iran's state-controlled broadcasters routinely go to considerable lengths to prevent audiences from seeing anything they might consider un-Islamic, offensive, or politically sensitive. Women and the female form, including the ears, are one of the most frequent targets, say actors and actresses who have taken to social media in response to a recent push from a well-known thespian and screenwriter to highlight censorship on state television.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN.
Israeli jets attacked military targets in the northwestern Syrian city of Hama on Tuesday, Syrian state media reported, adding that one person was killed and 12 others were wounded.
Israel has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday, in a rare summary of its campaign.
Israel’s defense minister described Iran on Friday as having slowed down its long-term force deployment in Syria, attributing this to Israeli military intervention as well as an economic crisis gripping Tehran as U.S. sanctions are restored.
President Donald Trump needs to take a side seat when it comes to Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. “Mr. Trump needs to stand aside and allow those who battled terrorism in Syria to do their work,” Zarif told reporters according to state-run Mehr news agency. “The U.S. doesn’t have a good track record confronting radicalism and terrorism.”
Iran is making efforts to remove militants from Idlib in Syria with the least human cost, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday. Iran supports President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war. Idlib, in northwest Syria, is the last major enclave held by rebels.
Russia announced in early August that it had convinced Iranian forces in Syria to keep away from the Israeli border by about 85 kilometers (53 miles)... However, if Lebanese history has taught us anything, Iranian retreat from southwest Syria will be short lived. It will be more a tactical maneuver by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to ease tension and consolidate its gains rather than a permanent retreat.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
A number of Houthi leaders, Iranian experts, and Hezbollah fighters have been killed during battles in the last two days against the Yemeni army in the Marran district in Saada, according to a Yemeni military source.
IRAQ & IRAN
The U.S. sent a message to Israel warning it not to attack Iranian targets in Iraq, the Kan public broadcaster reported, citing Western sources.
Iraq says its senior military commanders have met in Baghdad with their counterparts from Russia, Iran, and Syria to discuss regional security and the fight against Islamic State (IS) and other militants.