Eye on Iran: Iranian Drone Buzzes U.S. Fighter Jet over Persian Gulf

TOP STORIES

Iranian Drone Buzzes U.S. Fighter Jet over Persian Gulf | New York Times

An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. A statement released by the military’s Central Command said that despite repeated radio calls demanding that Iran keep the drone clear of American flight operations in the vicinity of the aircraft carrier Nimitz, the Iranian vehicle came within 100 feet of the fighter jet, which had to swerve to avoid a collision… “The dangerous maneuver created a collision hazard and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws,” the statement said. The American military said this was the 13th “unsafe” or “unprofessional” interaction between American and Iranian maritime forces this year.

Iranian President Rouhani Disappoints Reformers with Cabinet Picks | Financial Times

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has reappointed his foreign and oil ministers to his new cabinet but has disappointed reformers who backed him in this year’s election and expected changes to his government. In a list submitted to parliament, Mr Rouhani retained Mohammad Javad Zarif as his top diplomat and Bijan Namdar Zanganeh in the oil post, according to Iranian state media. But he frustrated reformists who helped him to a landslide victory in May by not including a woman nor anyone from Iran’s Sunni minority, who turned out in large numbers to vote for him.

Tajikistan Accuses Iran of Involvement In Killings | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

In a 45-minute documentary broadcast on Tajik state television, the Interior Ministry claimed that Tehran was interested in fomenting civil war in Tajikistan and provided financial assistance to the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and trained militants linked to the party on Iranian soil. According to the ministry, Iranian financial support and instructions to carry out assassinations were conveyed to IRPT militants through Khoji Halim Nazarzoda, a former deputy defense minister who was one of the Islamic opposition party's commanders in the 1990s. Nazarzoda was killed in September 2015 during an anti-coup operation near the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAM

North Korea, Iran to Continue Developing Missile Programs - Expert | Trend News Agency

North Korea and Iran will look for the ways to continue developing their missile programs in light of more sanctions aimed at preventing these regimes access to international suppliers, Amir Toumaj, research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies specializing in Iranian affairs, told Trend. He noted that, ties between the Islamic Republic and DPRK go back to the 1980’s and both countries are deeply hostile towards the United States.

SANCTIONS RELIEF

As US Deepens Rift with Iran, World Cements Business Ties | Financial Tribune

The US might neglect the hundreds of billions of dollars in export revenue that American businesses are missing due to Washington’s anti-Iran policy, but not world businesses. Just as US President Donald Trump seems to be hell-bent on scuttling the nuclear deal Iran reached with the country, as well as five other countries in 2015, other parties engaged in nuclear talks are planning long-term business cooperation made possible by the accord.

Ukraine Joins Iran’s Oil Customers: Report | Press TV (Iran)

Ukraine has joined Iran’s oil customers, making its first purchase in June, media reports cited the country’s State Fiscal Service as saying. According to the report, Ukraine bought $236,000 worth of crude oil from Iran in June but the purchase rose to $5.4 million in July which saw the East European country importing 152,655 tonnes of oil in total.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Report: Turkey Begins Building Border Wall with Iran | Associated Press  

The private Dogan news agency said the governor of Agri province, Suleyman Elban, inspected the construction of the security wall on Tuesday. The Turkish authorities are constructing the 2-meter wide, 3-meter high barrier with portable blocks, the report said. Turkey is building the wall along parts of the Iranian border to boost its security by halting the infiltrations of Kurdish militants and illegal smugglers.

TERRORISM

Arrests, Crackdown Put Spotlight on Islamic State Threat in Iran | Radio Free Europe /  Radio Liberty

A fresh wave of arrests of alleged Islamic State (IS) militants, while scant on details, is helping build the case that the extremist group's activities in Iran go beyond the recent deadly bombings in Tehran. That 10 of the 27 alleged IS members were arrested in another country revealed that the effort to clamp down on the militant group had expanded past Iran's borders. The authorities claimed the arrests resulted from intelligence sharing with a third country and they touted the operation as a success that was carried out as IS was planning further attacks on Iran.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Prisoner Hanged in Public While Crowd Watched | Iran Human Rights

A prisoner was reportedly hanged in public in front of a crowd of people in Farrokhshahr. According to a report by the state-run news agency IRIB, the prisoner, identified as A.R., 30 years of age, was executed on rape charges.

Iran Detains 64 Half-Naked Youths at Pool Party | Associated Press

Iran’s state TV is reporting that authorities have detained 64 youths at a pool party in central Isfahan province. The Wednesday report by the TV news website iribnews.ir says provincial Islamic Revolutionary Guard forces and local police arrested 64 “half naked” youths at a pool party on the outskirts of Isfahan city on Tuesday. The report said the youngsters were dancing and drinking alcoholic beverages. The state TV station also said some partygoers published video from the event on social networks to “encourage decadence.” Drinking alcohol and mixed parties of unrelated men and women are illegal and considered a sin under Islamic law in Iran.

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Iran's Rouhani Appoints Female Vice-Presidents after Criticism | BBC News

Masumeh Ebtekar has been named vice-president for family and women's affairs, Laya Joneydi is vice-president for legal affairs and Shahindokht Mowlaverdi is the president's assistant for civil rights. Ms Mowlaverdi had said the all-male cabinet showed that Iran was "treading water". Both she and Ms Ebtekar were vice-presidents in Mr Rouhani's previous government.

Iran President's Cabinet Cuts Guard from Defense Ministry | Associated Press

After decisively winning re-election almost three months ago, Iran's president on Tuesday proposed a new Cabinet for his second term that cuts out the hard-line Revolutionary Guard from controlling the Defense Ministry for the first time in nearly 25 years. However, Hassan Rouhani's Cabinet for now also fails to include women and his pick for the Justice Ministry is on a European Union sanctions list over human rights abuse allegations. The Cabinet selection shows Rouhani, a cleric whose stances are moderate compared to others in the Islamic Republic, remains pragmatic about how far he can push his administration that is under the ultimate control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rouhani's Cabinet picks ultimately must be approved by parliament, which is expected to take up the issue next week.

Rouhani Keeps Allies in Key Posts as Tensions With U.S. Grow | Bloomberg

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani kept top allies in key posts as he presented his proposed cabinet to parliament, unveiling the team he’ll depend on to pursue an agenda being buffeted by escalating tensions with the U.S. and opposition at home. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh were reappointed, as was Abbas Akhoundi, the minister for roads and urban development who oversaw multibillion dollar deals with Boeing Co. and Airbus SE following the sanctions-lifting 2015 nuclear deal. The proposed ministers need to be confirmed by lawmakers, with votes beginning next week.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Evaluating and Countering Threats from Iran | Editorial Board for Voice of America

At a briefing to reporters at the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration continues to evaluate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal with Iran known as the JCPOA: “In particular we’re working with the other parties to that agreement, our European allies in particular, to ensure that we are fully enforcing all aspects of that agreement, holding Iran accountable for its commitments, and challenging whether Iran is, in fact, living up to its commitments and the spirit of that agreement.” Iran is continuing to engage in destabilizing behavior in the region, however, and Secretary Tillerson emphasized that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is just one of many threats posed by the Islamic Republic.

I.R.G.C. Commander: Iran Won’t Repeat Libya’s Mistake of Giving up Its Military Assets | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

The chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) Aerospace Force has said that the Islamic Republic has stepped up its efforts to enhance its missile capability and emphasized that the country will not commit the mistake of the former Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi to surrender its military assets…. Iran’s missile activity has been a constant source of tension between Washington and Tehran in recent years. Although the Trump administration has warned Iran to halt its missile program and has imposed new sanctions on the country’s entities associated with the program, Tehran has only accelerated its drive to upgrade its missile capabilities. Last month, Iran launched its most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into the orbit, a move condemned by the United States, France, Germany and Britain, all signatories of the Iran nuclear deal. The described Iran’s launch as “inconsistent” with a U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the nuclear accord.

The Olympics Should Investigate Iran | Michael Rubin for Commentary Magazine

In the aftermath of the refusal of two Iranian soccer players on a Greek team to travel to Israel for a match, the Iranian Football Federation issued a statement: “Undoubtedly, proud Iranian athletes have always shown that they have no interest in competing against the occupying Zionist regime, even at the Olympic Games and World Cup.” Such a declaration seems to suggest a confession as to the real reason why Iranian athletes have withdrawn from the Olympics. If Iranian sporting officials are so bluntly acknowledging a violation of Olympic rules, perhaps it’s time for the International Olympic Committee to take long-overdue action.

Iran Isn’t an Israel Problem – It’s a Jewish Problem | Dani Dayan for The Forward

Iran is not an Israel problem. It’s a Jewish problem. It is a problem for every Jew capable of feeling solidarity with the Jews of Buenos Aires [regarding the 1994 Hezbollah attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA)]... Each of you must realize that you would make an equally suitable target for the Iranian regime. Was it not just this summer that federal prosecutors charged Hezbollah operatives with scouting out targets in Manhattan?... Jewish solidarity should not stop at international borders..