Eye on Iran: Iran's Rial Hits New Lows on Trump Worries

TOP STORIES

Iran's Rial Hits New Lows on Trump Worries | Reuters

Iran’s currency fell at least 5.5 percent on Sunday, extending a slide to a new record low on continued concerns over a return of crippling sanctions.

Day One in Trump's White House: John Bolton Comes Prepared | UANI Chairman Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman & UANI CEO Amb. Mark D. Wallace for the Hill

In our judgement, Ambassador Bolton has a breadth and depth of experience in national security, and a reputation for knowing the ins and outs of Washington. These qualities will make him an effective national security advisor… .After his tenure [as U.S. permanent representative to the U.N.], Ambassador Bolton joined us at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a bi-partisan advocacy group, to highlight the danger the Iranian regime poses to the international community. Alongside UANI, Ambassador Bolton worked with experts from both sides of the aisle, fostering dialogue and debate, and proposing actionable ideas to combat the threat posed by Iran.

Israel Accused of Bombing Syrian Air Base After Attack in Douma | New York Times

Syria and Russia blamed Israel on Monday for early morning airstrikes on a Syrian military base that a conflict monitoring group said killed 14 people, including fighters from Iran.

UANI IN THE NEWS

UANI Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman discusses Iran | Fox and Friends

The world pulled back, including the U.S. under President Obama, let this country [Syria] go wild, [let] Assad do whatever he wanted. Iran was already in there, increased its presence. They have tens of thousands there. And then ussia saw an opening and moved in. And Assad now he can do whatever he wants with his people, including breaking that line of civil behavior and using gas.

NUCLEAR DEAL

Iran Tells Trump He Would Regret Dropping Nuclear Deal | Reuters

Donald Trump will regret it if he pulls out of the nuclear deal with Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, warning the U.S. president that Tehran’s response would be stronger than he thinks.

NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS

Iranian President Lashes Out at US As Iran Marks Nuclear Day | Associated Press

Iran’s president has lashed out at the United States as Iran marked “National Nuclear Day,” dedicated to the country’s achievements in nuclear technology.

Iran Says It Can Enrich Uranium to 20 Percent in Days | Al Jazeera

President Hassan Rouhani has declared that Iran's nuclear industry is advancing at a faster pace, as one of his senior cabinet officials warned the country could ramp its uranium enrichment to 20 percent on short notice, if the United States withdraws from the nuclear agreement.

CONGRESS & IRAN

How Congress Can Help Trump Outmaneuver Iran | Lincoln Bloomfield for Foreign Policy

With the Trump administration’s two top foreign policy positions in transition and a May 12 deadline — which requires that the White House either renew an Iran sanctions waiver or withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord — fast approaching, the United States has urgent need of an approach that addresses the deal’s shortcomings without creating new foreign policy headaches. Congress should remove this artificial deadline and allow the administration to focus on the range of Iranian threats and how best to counter them.

SYRIA & IRAN

Trump: Putin, Russia, Iran ‘Responsible’ for ‘Animal Assad’ | Daily Beast

President Trump on Sunday lashed out at Russia and Iran for “backing animal Assad” in Syria following a suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians.

Iran Says Syria Gas Attack Reports 'Excuse' For Military Action | Reuters

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday reports of a gas attack in Syria were not based on facts and were an “an excuse” by the United States and Western countries to take military action against Damascus, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

 

Pulling All US troops Out of Syria Would Be a Gift to Iran | The New York Post Editorial Board

President Trump reportedly has ordered the Pentagon to withdraw all US troops from Syria as soon as possible — within months. That risks giving a giant gift to Iran.

Rep. McCaul: Russia And Iran Complicit in Syria Chemical Attack | Fox News

House [Homeland Security Committee] Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said there must be consequences after a reported chemical attack killed dozens in Syria.

Assad's Horror, and Those Who Enable It | Thomas Joscelyn for the Weekly Standard

Russia, Iran, and North Korea all play a role in the Syrian regime's chemical attacks on its own people.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Absence of Russia, Iran Mars US-Held Wrestling World Cup | Associated Press

This year’s freestyle World Cup could have been one of the most intriguing wrestling tournaments outside of the Olympics in years. The powerhouse Russian and Iranian teams were looking to topple the Americans — last year’s team winner at the world championships — in Iowa’s fabled Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Unfortunately for fans, the Russians and Iranians failed to show up and the U.S., fresh off its first world team championship in 22 years, appears to be in position for a crown that likely would ring a bit hollow.

BUSINESS RISK

Donald Trump Has a Potent Weapon Against Iranian Oil | Julian Lee for Bloomberg

Even if Europe doesn't restore sanctions, banks and insurers won't want to end up on the wrong side of a presidential tweet.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

Turkey Slams U.S. Iran Sanctions Case As 'Legal Scandal' | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman has condemned a recommendation by U.S. prosecutors that a Turkish Halkbank executive get 20 years in prison for helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

Sudden Rise Of Dollar In Iran Stops Currency Trading On Free Market

Iran’s currency took another big hit, falling between 6-9 percent on Sunday, extending a slide to a new record low on continued concerns over a return of crippling sanctions if U.S. President Donald Trump carries out his threat to exit a nuclear deal with Tehran. The U.S. dollar jumped to as much as 58,000 rials on the open market in the capital Tehran, according to some reports. Parliament on Sunday invited the economy minister and the central bank governor to attend a closed session on Tuesday to discuss the accelerating fall of the national currency, Iranian news agencies reported. Local media reports on Monday indicate a freeze of trading on open market. Exchanges are displaying 55,000 rials to the dollar on their screens but actually they are reluctant to buy and sell.

What's Really Driving Currency Depreciation in Iran? | Esfandyar Batmanghelidj for Al Monitor

The Iranian rial has lost about a third of its value over the last year, burnishing claims that the economy is stumbling. But while the devaluation is concerning, it does not point directly to real economic weakness. As such, it looks less like a hedge to protect assets and more like a bubble in which Iranians are investing enthusiastically.

CYBERWARFARE

Iran Hit by Global Cyber Attack That Left U.S. Flag on Screens | Reuters

Hackers have attacked networks in a number of countries including data centers in Iran where they left the image of a U.S. flag on screens along with a warning: “Don’t mess with our elections”, the Iranian IT ministry said on Saturday.

 

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

UAE Official Calls for International Action to End “Iranian Occupation” of Disputed Islands | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

A senior official of the United Arab Emirates has called on Iran to end its “occupation” of the three islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and the Lesser Tunb, the Arab press reported.

Iran-Backed Houthis Step up Missile Attacks | Voice of America Editorial

On the eve of the third anniversary of the war in Yemen, Houthi rebels fired a barrage of missiles into Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s airports were targeted. An Egyptian national in Riyadh was reportedly killed and at least two other civilians were injured. The United States strongly condemned the attacks.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Hundreds Put To Death in Iran Last Year | Radio Farda

Hundreds of people were executed in Iran last year, including some who were minors at the time of their alleged crimes, and the grizzly practice of public executions continues, according to a report from the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC).

HEZBOLLAH & LEBANON

Top Iranian Cleric Warns Hezbollah Can Raze Haifa and Tel Aviv to the Ground | Times of Israel

A top Iranian cleric warned that Hezbollah now has powerful weapons and if Israel were to attack the Lebanese terror group, it could raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Iranian Arabs Incensed Over Omission of Their Ethnic Dress in TV Show | Radio Farda

Protests in the mainly Arab-populated regions of southwestern Iran entered their second week April 5, with at least 160 people detained in the oil-rich Khuzestan province. According to local reports, anger flared after a TV show aired on state-run media showing a child fixing dolls dressed in different traditional garments onto a map of Iran without a doll representing Arab dress.

Cleric Seeks Apology from Iran State TV for Insulting Arabs | AP

An Iranian cleric said Friday the state-sanctioned broadcaster owes an apology to the country's Arab minority for insulting them in a recent program.

What If Your Favorite App Got Banned? That's Becoming a Reality for Millions in Iran | Los Angeles Times

Telegram, the most popular social media app in Iran, will be blocked nationwide, state media reported Sunday, a move expected to deal a severe blow to communications and commerce across the Islamic Republic. The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, the telecommunications minister, as saying the app used by an estimated 40 million Iranians — half the population — would be blocked effective 10 a.m. Monday.

Iranians Pushing for Regime Change | Eli Lake for the New York Post

Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer, has had enough. For years she represented her country’s dissidents in the Islamic Republic’s corrupt courts. She spoke out for the rights of women, minorities and students abroad. But she never called for the end of the regime she was fighting to reform. Until now.

The Most Important Speech of the Year in Iran | Patrick Clawson for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

The most important annual speech in Iran is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's lengthy address to pilgrims in Mashhad on March 21, Nowruz Day (not to be confused with his less significant midnight television address marking the beginning of the holiday). Over the years, the Mashhad speech has been the best indicator of what Khamenei has in mind for either domestic policy, foreign affairs, or both over the coming year.

Iran Is On The Brink of A New Popular Uprising | Huda Al-Husseini for Al Arabiya

Iran seems to be “working as usual” as it’s using the Houthis in Yemen to launch missiles that target Riyadh upon Soleimani’s orders… However, Iran cannot continue to pursue this policy of “working as usual” for a long time because the political campaign launched by some European countries is tantamount to issuing a warning to Tehran to decrease Soleimani’s military activity which may reignite the problems that Iran suffered from before the nuclear deal was sealed – or perhaps cause even worse problems.

 

RUSSIA & IRAN

Russia's Rosneft Interested In Oil, Gas in Iran's Zagros Province: Document | Reuters

Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft is interested in oil and gas projects in Iran’s Zagros province, after signing a deal last year to do business in the country, an official document showed on Friday.

IRAQ & IRAN

Iranian-backed PMF leaders Gearing up for Elections while Keeping Military Roles | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

Hadi al-Amiri, the head of the Badr Organization, has said that an alliance of Shiite militia forces that fought against the Islamic State will now shift attention to politics and will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections. In an interview with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV, Amiri said that the Fateh Alliance, a coalition of Iranian-supported Shiite units within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), will take an active part in the elections and expressed the hope that it can play a major role in the next government.

Why Did Iran’s Basij Force Commander Hold a High-level Meeting in Iraq? | Hussein al-Saydy for Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

The commander of Iran’s paramilitary Basij Force Gholamhossein Gheybparvar held a meeting with Iraqi political figures in Baghdad this week under shrouded circumstances. The meeting was attended by the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, as well as members of the Fatah Alliance - a political coalition in Iraq formed to contest the 2018 general election. The main components of the alliance are former groups involved in the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units.

Tehran’s Envoy to Baghdad Meets Iraqi Leaders In Run-up to Parliamentary Vote | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

Iraj Masjedi, Tehran’s ambassador to Baghdad, held separate meetings with Iraqi President Fuad Masum and prominent Shiite leaders in the run-up to the Iraqi parliamentary elections slated for May 12, Iranian and Arab media outlets reported.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Summit Meeting in Ankara Between Russia, Turkey, Iran: What It Means for The Region | Melik Kaylan for Forbes

The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran convened for a summit in Ankara on April 4 ostensibly to discuss Syria. (Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani). Most pundits noted two salient inferences, that the US was conspicuously absent and the conclave would lead to nothing longterm since the countries involved had divergent goals in Syria. Ergo the whole thing served as little more than a grand photo-op.