Iran moved on Tuesday to enforce a single exchange rate to the dollar, banning all unregulated trading after the rial hit an all-time low.
A senior Iranian foreign policy official warned Israel on Tuesday that its strike on an air base in Syria that killed several Iranians would “not remain without a response,” the Lebanese news channel Al Mayadeen reported.
A Qatari business delegation visited Tehran to seek ways of bolstering economic and commercial ties between the two countries,Qatari and Iranian media reported… Relations between Doha and Tehran have notably improved since Saudi Arabia, followed by several other Arab nations, severed diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar last June to protest Doha’s alleged support for terrorism and close relations with Iran. Tehran was quick to exploit the crisis by offering assistance to Doha… This year, Iranian non-oil exports to Qatar have gone up by more than 100 percent, and air traffic between the two countries have gone up sharply as well. The growing relations between Doha and Tehran have raised concerns in the United States, which has military bases in Qatar. Qatar's Al Udeid Air Base hosts thousands of American personnel and is one of Washington's largest military bases in the Middle East. The base has been crucial for US counterterrorism operations in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday it was unclear whether talks between Europeans and the United States would be enough to fix the Iran nuclear deal’s shortcomings, and that Tehran’s “vision of darkness” had to be stopped.
President Donald Trump recently made clear his eagerness to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, effectively ceding the country to Iran, more chemical attacks and further conflict. However mistaken that would be, he is inclined to confront Iran through a different withdrawal — from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, unless it is “fixed” by May 12. Since the fundamentally flawed agreement cannot be truly rectified, and U.S. credibility is at stake, that would be the right policy.
SYRIA, ISRAEL & IRAN
Israel’s military has been put on high alert amid heightened tensions along the northern border and with Iran threatening to avenge an airstrike on a Syrian air base believed to have killed at least 14 people, including 7 Iranian military personnel.
The Syrian air base near Homs that sustained an airstrike Monday night is where Iran is trying to set up a large air force compound under its exclusive control.
Iran said Tuesday the number of its soldiers killed in an air strike in Syria this week had risen to seven and that it would not go unanswered.
IRGC-affiliated outlets, including Fars News Agency’s Farsi service, initially published photos and short biographies of Iranians killed in the raids but later deleted the reports… There may be several reasons for IRGC outlets deleting reports about its casualties in Syria. The IRGC may not want to disclose information about its operations, particularly its drone activities in Syria. Admitting casualties in Syria, particularly in alleged Israeli attacks, is also a bitter pill to swallow for Iran’s elite force. Losing men in Israeli raids without the ability to directly retaliate against Israel diminishes the prestige of the Guards both at home and among its regional proxies. Iranian leaders frequently threaten to demolish Israeli cities if there is a war between the two countries, but the fact that Israel hit Iranian targets inside Syria at will demonstrates to the Iranian people that their leaders’ rhetoric is all bluster.
U.S. allies France and Saudi Arabia may be joining President Donald Trump in an upcoming attack on Syria, defying Russia, China and Iran, which support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and question his role in a recent chemical weapons attack.
Israel does not acknowledge or confirm the attack in Syria at the T4 base near the city of Homs. At the same time, it seems that the US and Russia have completely shattered Israel's ability to deny the action. While the public debate and the struggle for national interests and prestige are increasingly heated between Trump and Putin, they may also have implications for Israel's security.
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, said on Tuesday that the kingdom strongly condemns the chemical attack on Douma this week… “This barbaric attack is a continuation of crimes committed by the Assad regime and his main backers; the Iranian regime and its proxies (Hezbollah, other Iranian backed sectarian militias). We must stand against their aggression in the region; Syria, Yemen and other countries,” he added.
The latest reported chemical attack on Saturday evening, in the rebel-held town of Douma, came just days after President Donald Trump said the U.S. mission in Syria would end “very soon.” This was no coincidence. A lack of coherent strategy toward Syria is strengthening our adversaries and weakening our allies, risking an outright strategic collapse in a region long deemed vital to U.S. interests. The power vacuum would immeasurably strengthen Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his evil regime propped up by his patrons Iran and Russia. Likewise, it would give oxygen to the Islamic State terrorist group, which is looking for an opportunity to re-emerge.
Russia is considering replacing the U.S. dollar in crude oil payments on deals with Turkey and Iran, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said as quoted by RT. According to Novak, “There is a common understanding that we need to move towards the use of national currencies in our settlements. There is a need for this, as well as the wish of the parties. This concerns both Turkey and Iran – we are considering an option of payment in national currencies with them. This requires certain adjustments in the financial, economic and banking sectors.”
Russian aluminum giant Rusal has activated a contingency plan asking customers to pay in euros instead of dollars to try to skirt round U.S. sanctions, a source close to the matter said. The plan follows the example of Iran, which a few years ago opted to use gold, oil and the Japanese yen to pay for goods that would typically be priced in dollars.
Iranians flocked to foreign-exchange houses after authorities vowed to halt a currency slump by eliminating black-market rates, only to be turned away by currency traders awaiting instructions from the central bank.
A prominent Iranian member of parliament's recent statement about a significant outflow of capital from the country has raised eyebrows. Commenting on the foreign exchange fluctuations in March, parliamentary economic commission head Mohammadreza Pourebrahimi said some $30 billion of capital had fled Iran in the final months of the last Iranian year, which ended March 20. To assess such a phenomenon, it is necessary to grasp the parameters that lead to capital flight and their impact on the Iranian economy.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The Trump administration is scrambling to mend a diplomatic rift between Qatar and its Persian Gulf neighbors and has grown increasingly worried that the emirate is drifting into Iran’s political and economic orbit, according to U.S. officials. Such a shift, U.S. officials fear, would represent a major political realignment and a potential national security threat as Tehran challenges America and its Middle Eastern allies in the region, heightening the stakes of the Gulf dispute.
Iranian authorities should immediately release Golrokh Iraee, a human rights defender hospitalized in Tehran, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraee was sentenced to six years in prison in April 2015 on charges solely related to her peaceful activism, after an unfair trial. Iraee was transferred to a hospital from prison on April 3, apparently suffering medical complications from a hunger strike.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
As the Iranian rial hit a record low, trading above 60,000 against the US dollar on April 9, criticism against President Hassan Rouhani and Central Bank Gov. Valiollah Seif has intensified.
RUSSIA & IRAN
Russia's special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev visited Iran on Tuesday for an unannounced meeting, Iranian state media reported, with both sides criticising Western reactions to an alleged chemical attack.
CHINA & IRAN
A remote Iranian port could be the next trigger for geopolitical tensions between rivals China and India. India has pledged more than $500 million to develop the strategically located port of Chabahar -- roughly 1,800 kilometers (1,110 miles) from the capital Tehran -- since it first expressed interest in 2003. Yet repeated delays have prompted Iran to turn to China in the hope of speeding up construction.
Last week Putin, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Turkey’s strongman Tayyip Erdogan completed a successful summit in Ankara by announcing their new partnership to establish a ceasefire in Syria and to start rebuilding the war-ravaged land that is ravaged in large part by their own forces.