Eye on Iran: Iran Set to Launch Four New Satellites Despite International Concerns

TOP STORIES

Iran Set to Launch Four New Satellites Despite International Concerns | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

Iran's minister of communication and information technology has said that the country is making the final preparations for the launch of four satellites into space, Mehr News Agency reported... US officials have expressed the worry that Iran's satellite and space work may function as a cover to produce intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Saudi Arabia Intercepts Another Missile Launched from Yemen by Iran-backed Houthis | Fox News

Saudi Arabia's air force intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Kingdom's military said Monday.

Ex-Consultant to Iran's U.N. Mission Gets Three Months Prison | Reuters

A former consultant to Iran's mission to the United Nations was sentenced to three months in prison on Friday for evading taxes by concealing his income and helping family and friends make money transfers that violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.

UANI IN THE NEWS

Commentary: Lesson From The Hawaii False Alarm: We Need To Do More Than 'Duck And Cover' | UANI Advisory Board Member Senator Mark Kirk for The Chicago Tribune

Panicked Hawaiians abandoned their cars and prepared to evacuate their homes last month after a false alarm warned of a ballistic missile heading for the islands. This incident hit home for me, as I had just left Hawaii after visiting with family on Oahu over the holidays. My family in Hawaii spent 38 panicked minutes wondering what they should do in the event of a nuclear missile strike. Now, they've started preparing for the worst - just in case. Some of us remember a time when all Americans knew exactly what to do in the event of a nuclear attack on our soil. In school, kids learned from "Bert the Turtle" to duck and cover. Families built fallout shelters in their homes and backyards and stocked them with canned goods to last for months. Nuclear preparedness may seem like an antique relic of yesteryear, but is it?

Here's Where Advocates and Critics of the Iran Nuke Deal Can Agree | UANI Advisory Board Member Michael Singh for Foreign Policy

President Donald Trump's threat that the United States could withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement unless it is strengthened has alarmed the accord's advocates. Yet the danger to the deal is not new - the seeds of its possible demise were sown in 2014 and 2015, during its negotiation in Europe and the attendant debate in Washington. Trump's critics are right that the administration's gambit could kill the deal. Yet Trump's position also represents an opportunity to stabilize and strengthen the agreement - a chance both its advocates and critics would be wise to seize.

MILITARY MATTERS & PROXY WARS

Iranian-armed Yemen Rebels Now Threaten One of World's Busiest Shipping Routes, Israeli Navy Says | Haaretz

"The entrenchment of Iran in Yemen and the transfer of advance weaponry to the Houthi forces in the region constitutes a threat to merchant ships making their way to the Mediterranean Sea" via the Bab al-Mandab crossing, a senior Israel Navy official said...

Iran 'Mass Producing' Drones Strapped with Smart Bombs | Washington Free Beacon

Iran announced on Monday that it has begun mass-producing a new weaponized drone that carries smart bombs capable of precision strikes, according to the Islamic Republic's military leaders.

IRAN PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Number of Torture Deaths following Iran Protests Rises to 11 | Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

Another Iranian protestor, Khalid Kayseri, who served 20 days in detention in Kermanshah prison died after being tortured by the intelligence service there, Iranian human rights groups have reported. This brings the number of demonstrators who have died in Iranian prisons to 11 since the start of the uprising on December 28.

Stockholm Academic's Death Sentence in Iran 'Definitive': Lawyer | Local News (Sweden)

Iranian emergency specialist Ahmadreza Djalali, who is a resident in Sweden, was arrested during a trip to the Islamic republic in April 2016. He was found guilty in October 2017 of passing information about Iranian nuclear scientists to Israel's Mossad intelligence agency... An initial appeal was rejected in December, and his lawyer now says a further request to have the sentence overturned has been denied.

Iran Publishes Report Saying 49% Of Iranians against Compulsory Veil | CNN

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has waded into a highly charged debate over the country's mandatory hijab law, abruptly releasing a three-year-old report suggesting that nearly half of Iranians were opposed to the government dictating what women should wear.

Iran Officials Trying To Explain Away Widespread Protests | Radio Farda

Ali Younesi, President Hassan Rouhani's special assistant for ethnic groups and religious minorities affairs, says the main objective of recent protests in Iran was to topple the Rouhani administration... The speculations appear to be part of Iranian officials trying to explain what drove the protests that spread to over 100 cities and small towns across Iran in late December 2017 and early January.

Why Is Iran Persecuting Followers of the Gonabadi Sufi Order? | Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

Iranian security forces besieged on Sunday the house of Noor Ali Tabandeh, one of the most prominent leaders of Shiite Sufism in the Iranian capital Tehran... The Iranian regime holds a religious doctrine based on its own reading of Shi'ism, which calls for the acceptance of the ruling and pledging allegiance to the Wali al-Faqih who has the duty to apply the sharia. Therefore, the Sufis who reject the interference of religion in politics pose a danger to the Wilayat al-Faqih known in English as the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist.

She Refused To Wear a Hijab in Prison. Now Nasrin Sotoudeh Is Defending Women As They Remove Their Headscarves Across Iran | Telegraph (U.K.)

From her cell inside Tehran's Evin prison, Nasrin Sotoudeh took a small stand against the Iranian regime that jailed her: she refused to wear a hijab... Guards would come to her, sometimes pleading and sometimes threatening, to try to make her put on a prison-issue chador, a full length garment that leaves only a woman's face uncovered. She resisted, even when authorities extended her sentence for bad behaviour.  Nearly a decade later, Ms Sotoudeh is fighting a new and larger battle as she represents young women arrested for taking off their headscarves in public to protest against laws that force them to wear a hijab.

What Washington Can Learn From the Iran Protests | Behnam Ben Taleblu for Foreign Affairs

More than a month has passed since protests in Iran's northeast metastasized into anti-regime demonstrations across the entire country. This outpouring of discontent, which took the United States almost completely by surprise, should help lay to rest a range of tenuous assumptions about Iranian politics that had become conventional wisdom in Washington-namely, an underestimation of the Iranian people's willingness to oppose the regime and an overestimation of Iran's reformers. Now, as Washington weighs how to address the multitude of challenges emanating from Iran, it must also reconsider the foundations of its knowledge about the country.

Iranian Women Protest the Mandatory Hijab | Tzvi Kahn for the Foundation for Defense of Democracy

Iran has now arrested at least 29 women for refusing to wear the hijab, or headscarf. These acts of defiance reflect women's second-class status in the Islamic Republic, where they face a range of discriminatory laws aimed at reducing their perceived threat to the sexual and religious norms championed by the regime.

How Iran's Ruling Clerics Distort Facts About Hijab | Radio Farda

An increasing number of young women have been hoisting their headscarves on sticks in the streets of Tehran and other major Iranian cities all this week in protest to mandatory veil regulations. Here are five points about the kind of dress code and veil requirement the fundamentalists have imposed not only on Iranian women, but also on foreign female diplomats visiting Iran.

Iran's Religious Minorities Continue to Suffer | Voice of America Editorial Board

The Secretary of State recently re-designated Iran as one of ten "Countries of Particular Concern" for engaging in or tolerating "systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom." The state of religious freedom in Iran remains extremely poor.

CONGRESS & IRAN

Iran Transparency Aim of U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's Bill | Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who has repeatedly clashed with Iran's ayatollahs, wants to make it harder for them to hide their financial assets from public scrutiny. The Republican from Dardanelle on Monday introduced the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, which would "require the Secretary of the Treasury to report on the estimated total assets under direct or indirect control by certain senior Iranian leaders and other figures."

IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION

Iran's Imperial Ambitions Challenge Middle East Borders | Elliot Abrams for the Council on Foreign Relations

In May, 2017 Major General Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' foreign operations branch known as the Qods Force, visited the Iraq/Syria border in the company of an Iran-backed Shia militia... Now, it is reported that one of Iran's hardest-line leaders, Ibrahim Raisi, has visited the Israeli-Lebanese border... Like Soleimani's Iraq/Syria border visit, Raisi's Lebanon/Israel border visit delivers several messages. First, borders have no meaning for Iran; the Islamic Republic is determined to be the dominant player in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Second, the governments of those countries have no control of their own borders and territory; Iranian military and terrorist leaders can come and go as they please. Third, whether Lebanon gets into a conflict with Israel will be determined by decisions made in Tehran, not in Beirut.

HEZBOLLAH & LEBANON

Putting the Squeeze on Iran via Hezbollah | Kimberly Dozier for the Cipher Brief

From selling drugs to profiting from a pig farm, Lebanese Hezbollah's hypocrisy knows no bounds - a political party with a military army that does the bidding of the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That was the description of the group by Trump administration officials who announced new sanctions Friday - little noticed during the brouhaha over the Nunes memo. The sanctions are meant to delay the flow of illicit cash to Hezbollah's coffers, and frustrate its support of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad, as the group fights alongside Iranian volunteers at the behest of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Did the Next Iranian Supreme Leader Just Visit South Lebanon? | Shimon Shapira for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

At the end of January 2018, in the midst of the warnings by the Israeli prime minister, defense minister, and military spokespersons against Iran and its plan to build facilities in Lebanon for manufacturing precision weapons, Sayyed Ebrahim Raisi came for a visit to Syria and Lebanon. Raisi is a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts and is thought to be the designated successor of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

OTHER TERRORISM & EXTREMISM

Abbottabad Files Reveal How Iran, Assad Recruited Al-Qaeda Militants | Al-Monitor

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard helped relocate al-Qaeda members and leadership by providing them with new clothes, shoes, Iranian passports and money. These details were discovered in a series of letters from the al-Qaeda communication officer Atiyyatullah al-Libi, whose real name is Jamal Ibrahim al-Shtaiwi al-Musrati. He was appointed by Osama bin Laden himself as an al-Qaeda envoy in Iran.

Coalition: Iran Supplied Houthis with Weapons to Target Bab el-Mandeb | Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

The spokesman for the Arab Coalition in Yemen confirmed at a press conference in Riyadh on Monday that humanitarian aid is still entering Yemen through all entry ports, also revealing that Iran has supplied Houthi militias with weapons to target the international shipping in Bab al-Mandeb strait.

Afghan Intelligence Chief Warns Iran and Russia against Aiding Taliban | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

The head of Afghanistan National Directorate of Security (NDS) has said that Iran and Russia are in contact with the Taliban and are supporting the militant group in Afghanistan. 

Greenblatt: Iran Gives Hamas $100 Million Annually for Terrorism | Yedioth Ahronoth

US President Donald Trump's special Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited Israel's communities on the Gaza perimeter and toured the terror tunnel the IDF exploded, claimed Sunday that Iran provided $100 million annually to Hamas.

Anti-Hamas Editorial Exposes Schism in Iran | Adnan Abu Amer for Al-Monitor

Ghanoon, an Iranian newspaper with ties to Iran's Reformists, attacked Hamas Jan. 21, publishing a photo of the movement's political chief Ismail Haniyeh holding the flag of the Syrian revolution. The newspaper presented Hamas' project and positions as no longer compatible with Iran's policy in the region. .. [A] member of the Iranian Islamic Shura Council told Al-Monitor...  "There is no absolute consensus in Iran on supporting Hamas, amid declining interest by Iranian circles in the Palestinian issue. The priority is now on internal issues. The newspaper's attack on Hamas does not represent the official Iranian position toward Hamas, but exposes a muffled disagreement in some Iranian circles on the need to support Hamas in light of the economic crisis Tehran is battling."

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Here are Macron's Three Conditions before Visiting Iran | Al Arabiya

An Iranian member of parliament has revealed that French President Emmanuel Macron has sent a message setting three conditions ahead of his upcoming visit to Iran. The first demand was that Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei should accept the negotiations, secondly, that Iran should accept negotiations over Tehran's missile programs. The third conditions reportedly focused on Iran's interferences in the region, its regional war and support for extremist groups.

SYRIA & IRAN

Germany Sold Technology to Iran for Use in Syrian Chemical Attacks | Jerusalem Post

Germany's Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control approved a license for a company to sell military applicable technology to Iranian companies that subsequently was used in Syrian regime chemical weapons attacks, reported the German publication Bild on Monday. The German company Krempel, located near the southern city of Stuttgart, sold electronic press boards to Iranian companies that were used in the production of rockets.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

Iran Could Be Winner, U.S. a Loser from UAE-Qatar Tensions | Reuters

A rise in tension between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in a row over military flights threatens U.S. strategic interests in the Gulf and could benefit regional rival Iran. 

IRAQ & IRAN

Iraq Plans Military Operation to Secure Oil Route to Iran: Security Sources | Reuters

Iraqi forces are preparing an operation to consolidate control of an area near the Iran border to be used for the transit of Iraqi oil, two officials said on Monday, highlighting concern about mountainous terrain where two armed groups are active.

Iran's Militia Allies Gearing up for Iraq's Parliamentary Elections | Ahmad Majidyar for The Middle East Institute

Iraj Masjedi, Tehran's ambassador to Baghdad, met with Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq's National Alliance, to discuss the latest security and political developments in Iraq. According to Iranian and Iraqi media, Masjedi, the former deputy chief of Iran's Quds Force, and Hakim, a prominent Iraqi politician and cleric who recently established the Wisdom Party, also explored ways of further boosting ties and cooperation between the two countries... Masjedi is the third consecutive Quds Force commander appointed as Iran's ambassador to post-Saddam Iraq.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

After Public Humiliation by the IRGC, Is It The End of Khamenei's Era? | Ali Alfoneh for the Arab Weekly

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's more than 28-year rule came to an end on January 23. Unlike his predecessor, Khamenei's rule was not cut short by nature, nor was it due to an abdication. Khamenei reached the end of his rule as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) publicly humiliated him by disobeying his decree to give up its economic interests.

Dropping Interest Rates Could Increase Inflation in Iran | Al-Monitor

Real interest rates in Iranian money markets have risen to all-time highs under the administration of President Hassan Rouhani. This is due to the sharp reduction in inflation, which the administration boastfully declares as its cornerstone achievement. Nonetheless, the rise in real interest rates has mostly occurred on the back of lackluster growth given macroeconomic fluctuations both at home and abroad.