Eye on Iran: Israeli Bomber Jets 'Kill 12 Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard' in Syrian Airstrike

TOP STORIES

Israeli Bomber Jets 'Kill 12 Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard' in Syrian Airstrike | Daily Mail (U.K.)

Twelve members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard have been killed in an Israeli airstrike over Syria, according to Arabic media.

CIA Chief Sends Letter to Iranian General over Threats to U.S. Forces in Iraq | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The director of the CIA says he sent a letter to a top Iranian general warning him that Washington will hold Tehran responsible for any attacks on U.S. interests by Iran-backed forces in Iraq.

Iran Inaugurates New Extension to Its Main Arabian Sea Port | Associated Press

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated on Sunday a newly built extension to the country’s main Arabian Sea outlet, the strategic Chabahar Port on the Gulf of Oman, which more than triples its capacity and poses a challenge for a port under construction in neighboring Pakistan. The $340 million project was constructed by a Revolutionary Guard-affiliated company, Khatam al-Anbia, the largest Iranian contractor of government construction projects. It involved several subcontractors, including a state-run Indian company, and brings the capacity of the port to 8.5 million tons of cargo annually, from the previous 2.5 million tons.

NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS

Iran Rejects France’s Proposal for Missile Talks, Threatens Europe | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

Senior Iranian officials have reiterated that the country will not negotiate with the United States and Europe powers over its missile program, the Iranian media reported. “It is Iran’s permanent policy not to negotiate over its missile power,” Alauddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said today. “Iran under no circumstances will allow other countries, including America, to interfere in the country’s missile program,” he added.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

What The Iran Sanctions Case In New York Means For Turkey And Erdogan | Washington Post

In an ongoing federal trial in New York, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accused of personally approving a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

SANCTIONS RELIEF

China Pushing Billions into Iranian Economy as Western Firms Stall | Reuters

China is financing billions of dollars worth of Chinese-led projects in Iran, making deep inroads into the economy while European competitors struggle to find banks willing to fund their ambitions, Iranian government and industry officials said. Freed from crippling nuclear sanctions two years ago, Iran is drawing unprecedented Chinese funding for everything from railways to hospitals, they said. State-owned investment arm CITIC Group recently established a $10 billion credit line and China Development Bank is considering $15 billion more.

Iran Signs 720m Euro Rail Deal with South Korea Firm | Agence France-Presse

South Korea’s Hyundai Rotem signed a 720-million-euro ($856 million) deal with Iran on Saturday to manufacture 450 railbuses for suburban trains, Iranian state media reported.

Iran, Oman Sign Deal over Ambitious Gas Export Project | Press TV (Iran)

Iran says it has signed an agreement with Oman that could take both countries closer to an ambitious project to jointly export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to international markets. Iran’s Petroleum Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted by media as saying that he had signed the agreement with Oman’s Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhi on the sidelines of this past week’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Iran, Netherlands Sign Economic Plan of Action | Financial Tribune (Iran)

Senior ministerial officials of Iran and the Netherlands signed a joint plan of action on expansion of bilateral economic ties in the coming year. In a meeting in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Friday, Iran’s Deputy Economy Minister Mohammad Khazaei and his Dutch counterpart, Martin Van den Berg, signed the plan of action for 2018, which entails cooperation in the fields of energy, water management, agriculture, shipping, banking, technology and airport development, Tasnim News Agency reported.

TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM

Analysts: Pro-Iran Remarks May Trigger Regional Rivalry in Afghanistan | Voice of America

Recent pro-Iranian and Syrian regime remarks by an Afghan Shiite leader may attract regional sectarian rivalries to Afghanistan, and incite more violence and terror by the Islamic State terrorist group in the war-torn country, analysts warned.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Wife of Princeton Scholar Held in Iran Implores Trump to Intervene | Voice of America

The wife of Princeton student Xiyue Wang, imprisoned in Tehran on spying charges while conducting dissertation research in Iran, is imploring U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene in her husband’s case, saying the White House is the focus of “all my hope.”

Iran Claims Jailed British Woman Ran Spy Ring | National (UAE)

Iran state television has aired a new video about imprisoned British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, accusing her of running a global spy network. The broadcast was part of an “aggressive propaganda campaign” by Iran to blacken Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s name ahead of a new court appearance on December 10, her husband Richard Ratcliffe told The National.

Saudi Reforms Put Spotlight on Iran's Women's Movement | Al-Monitor

Saudi Arabia attracted significant media attention when it announced that it would finally allow women to drive as of June 2018. It was also announced later that women will be allowed into some of the country’s sports stadiums next year. Many have since drawn comparisons between Saudi Arabia and Iran, where women have long been allowed to drive but face difficulties entering stadiums.

Iranian Broadcast Censors World Cup Program Over Host’s Clothing | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Portions of the 2018 World Cup draw broadcast were censored in Iran because authorities decided co-host Maria Komandnaya's clothing was too revealing. I

Fit To Be Tied: Thai Coach 'Upset' He Had To Wear Head Scarf At Iranian Tournament | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

In Iran, it’s more often women disguising themselves as men to sneak into sporting events, where they are banned. But in a reversal of sorts, the male coach of the Thai women's national kabaddi team wore a head scarf to the Asian Kabaddi Championship in the Iranian city of Horgan on November 26 to evade a ban on men attending women's sporting events.

RUSSIA & IRAN

Iran and Russia, Growing Apart | Alex Vatanka for Foreign Affairs

Today, the latest round of UN-brokered Syria peace talks begins in Geneva, with the goal of bringing President Bashar al-Assad and various armed opposition factions to a political settlement that could put an end to half a decade of civil war in the country.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Kushner Says Mideast Peace Is Essential to Thwarting Iran and Islamist Extremism | Washington Post

President Trump’s push for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians stems from a belief that his broader goals of stopping Iranian aggression and Islamist extremism will not be possible without it, presidential adviser Jared Kushner said in a rare public appearance Sunday.

Iran, Estonia Stress Promotion Of Bilateral Cooperation | Iran Daily

Iranian Vice-President for Women and Family Affairs Massoumeh Ebtekar and President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid met in Iceland on Thursday calling for expansion of mutual relations and cooperation.

SYRIA CONFLICT

Airstrike On Iranian Base in Syria Raises Questions | Seth Frantzman for the Jerusalem Post

In the early hours of December 2, reports claimed that a base or ammunition warehouse south of Damascus had been hit by missiles from an airstrike. Foreign media has alleged that Israel was behind that strike. However, unlike previous airstrikes on Syria, some of which Israel has taken credit for, this one was conducted against a site that was well known. It raises questions as to the timing of the attack and what it was meant to achieve.

Rouhani Government Tasks I.R.G.C. to Spearhead Reconstruction Projects in Syria | Ahmad Majidyar for Middle East Institute

The chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards corps (I.R.G.C.) has revealed that the Guards, rather than the Iranian private sector or other state-run companies, will spearhead Syria’s reconstruction efforts, Tasnim News Agency reported.

Iran Appears Unwilling to Withdraw Its Forces from Southern Syria | Ahmad Majidyar for Middle East Institute

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said today that Iran is not obliged to abide by any agreement between the United States and Russia about southwestern Syria.

US ‘Has Reassured Israel It Won’t Abandon Syria to Iran’ | Times of Israel

Washington has sought to calm Israeli concerns that Iran will take advantage of a Syrian ceasefire to cement its presence along Israel’s northern border, assuring Jerusalem that it will maintain its activities in the country until a permanent solution is reached, Channel 10 reported Saturday. “We’ve made it clear to Israel that we are not pulling out of Syria, we are staying there until the end of the civil war,” an unnamed administration official told the Israeli TV station.

IRAQ CRISIS

France's Macron Calls For Iraqi Dialogue, Dismantling of Iran-Backed Militia | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Iraq to dismantle all militias -- including an Iran-backed military force – and for the government in Baghdad to open dialogue to ease tensions with Iraqi Kurdish leaders. Macron on December 2 told a news conference in Paris that "France calls for a constructive national dialogue to engage in Iraq." Macron made the comments in a joint news conference with Iraqi Kurdish leaders, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.

Iran-Backed Groups Form “The Mujahideen Alliance” to Contest Next Iraqi Elections | Ahmad Majidyar for Middle East Institute

With the fight against ISIS in Iraq almost over, Iran’s allies within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (P.M.F.) are gearing up for next year’s parliamentary elections. In the latest effort, several Iranian-backed P.M.F. groups led by the Badr Organization  have formed a new political bloc, tentatively called the "The Mujahideen Alliance." In addition, the new alliance consists of pro-Iranian and anti-American groups Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Harakat al-Nujaba, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Kata’ib Jund al-Imam, Kata’ib al-Tiar al-Rasali. It will also try to incorporate Sunni tribal groups from western Iraq.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, LEBANON, AND IRAN

Iran-backed Rebels Clash with Former Ally in Yemen’s Capital | Associated Press

Violent clashes between rival factions in Yemen’s rebel-held capital continued Saturday for the fourth straight day as forces loyal to a former president and Iran-backed Shiite rebels known as Houthis faced off in the streets of Sana’a, signaling disintegration in the rebel alliance at war with a Saudi-led coalition for nearly three years.

Saudi and Iran Trade Insults at Conference on 'Positive Agenda' | Agence France-Presse

Saudi Arabia and Iran have exported their bitter regional tussle to Rome, accusing each other of villainous meddling in the Middle East during diplomacy talks in the Italian capital.

Why Is Iran and Its Media Ignoring Latest Developments in Yemen? | Ramadan Al-Saadi for Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

Usually the Iranian media compete to broadcast news of Houthi infiltrations against the Yemeni people or the Arab countries, starting from besieging Yemeni cities and starving people there, to the launch of Iranian-made ballistic missiles against Saudi Arabia. But with the latest developments during the past 24 hours in Sanaa, the media and its officials are keeping silent, specially after residents of the Yemeni capital refused to obey the Houthis’ orders in an incident described as cleansing of the first Arab capital occupied by Iranian militias since 2014.

IRANIAN DOMESTIC ISSUES

Iran Moves to Stamp Out Corruption Opportunities in Customs | Al-Monitor

Government officials and investors all agree that Iran needs to improve its business climate to attract the needed investment for job creation. One of the phenomena that can help ease the process of doing business is the country’s customs organization. Incidentally, Iran’s current minister of economic affairs and finance, Massoud Karbassian, was promoted from his previous position as head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA). During his confirmation debate in parliament, there was broad agreement that in his four-year term in that position he managed to improve customs regulations as an important step in fighting corruption in the Iranian economy.