Iran began a major naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz Thursday, in an apparent response to rhetoric from President Donald Trump in recent days that he would ratchet up pressure against Tehran, U.S. defense officials said.
Anti-government protests by Iranians fed up with their nation's economic woes have spread to 10 major cities, posing the biggest challenge to Iran's Islamist rulers since January's nationwide demonstrations.
The U.S. has been unable to persuade China to cut Iranian oil imports, according to two officials familiar with the negotiations, dealing a blow to President Donald Trump’s efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic after his withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord. Beijing has, however, agreed not to ramp up purchases of Iranian crude, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified because discussions with China and other countries continue.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran’s foreign minister said on Friday China was “pivotal” to salvaging a multilateral nuclear agreement for the Middle Eastern country after the United States pulled out of the pact earlier this year.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo arrived in Singapore for a regional summit that will spotlight the challenges facing U.S. efforts to keep up international pressure against both North Korea and Iran.
Iranians are hunkering down for the return of US sanctions on Monday with a run on gold and hard currency as they scramble to protect their savings, and sporadic protests over the already troubled economy.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Feminists in Iran have expressed outrage after a video emerged showing a hijab-wearing woman attacking another woman for not covering up.
Iranian authorities should immediately release eight environmental activists detained for six months unless they can immediately charge them with recognizable crimes and produce evidence to justify their continued detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence organization has arrested at least 50 environmental activists across the country since January 2018.
A glimpse into the conspicuous "luxury" of the wedding of an Iranian ambassador's son has rekindled public criticism of the high times enjoyed by children of Iran's elite while many of the country's 82 million people face acute economic pressure.
Ordinary Iranians are mounting protests that refuse to go away, despite a sharp response from the authorities. The demonstrations began to make news late last year, focusing largely on economic hardship. As those protests continued in cities around the country, another movement re-emerged: young women standing up against the enforcement of conservative Muslim strictures on their dress and behavior.
Clearly, President Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian leaders wasn’t appreciated by the Islamic Republic. Contrary to what Iran’s defenders suggest, history has consistently shown that the nation’s leaders treat offers of accommodation with contempt – just as Jafari treated President Trump’s offer for a meeting. The Iranians negotiate faithfully only when they have no other recourse, and change their behavior only when diplomacy is backed by the credible imposition of costs for noncompliance.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Iran it would join military action to stop it blocking a key seaway after Yemen's Iranian-aligned Huthi rebels attacked two Saudi oil tankers.
Lebanon faces a political impasse three months after an election produced a parliament tilted in favor of the Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah, with no sign of compromises needed to form a unity government.
Fars News, a subset of the Iranian revolutionary guard corps, is crowing about the impending Syrian-Russian-Iranian axis assault on Idlib governate in Syria. While Fars News is only occasionally reliable, in this case, it is telling the truth. Axis ground and air forces have moved into position to smash their way into Idlib and pacify the province under Syrian President Bashar Assad's dictatorial banner.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
As a third day of protests erupted across major Iranian cities over the country’s worsening economic situation, the clergy in Iran is looking inward. Rather than only pointing the blame at US sanctions, the most senior clerics in Iran — often referred to as “grand ayatollahs” — are demanding that the administration and the judiciary take a harder line fighting economic corruption.
The nationwide drought in Iran is triggering internal migration and its water-rich areas are already suffering shortages.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
As far as the Iranian regime’s policies are concerned, they are based entirely on a revolutionary agenda, which is hell-bent on facilitating a series of wars and disputes close to its borders, which are designed to bring the targeted countries under its control, allowing the regime to attain an iron grip on the region, through a program of creeping hegemonic control.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The Saudi-led coalition denied any responsibility behind the air strikes on a fishing port and fish market that Yemeni medical sources said it killed 26 people in Hodeidah on Thursday… “Coalition did not carry out any operations in Hodeidah today,” the coalition spokesman, Colonel Turki al-Malki, told Alarabiya television. “The Houthi militia are behind killing of civilians in Hodeidah on Thursday,” he said.
The Yemeni theater has long since turned into a war of prestige, in which the two regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are trying to reap a political victory for themselves at the Yemenis’ expense.
IRAQ, TURKEY & IRAN
Since U.S. troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, American policy towards Iraq has focused narrowly on militarily defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with little attention to spare for Iraqi domestic politics. This has been a mistake… The jockeying for a position in the coalition government that inevitably follows Iraqi elections marks a dangerous period for Iraq’s stability but also provides an opportunity for the United States to engage constructively with Iraq’s future leadership, work to prevent the reemergence of extremist groups like ISIL, and push back against Iranian influence in Iraq.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Iranian government has summoned the Tajik ambassador to Tehran to protest allegations linking Iran to an attack that killed four foreign cyclists in Tajikistan.
The United States Department of Homeland Security has reopened the asylum applications of dozens of Christian refugees who were denied resettlement earlier this year. In compliance with a federal court order from last month, the agency is reevaluating the cases of 87 religious minorities who fled their homes in Iran to travel to Vienna, Austria on the invitation from the U.S. government to seek asylum through the U.S. Lautenberg-Spencer refugee resettlement program.