Eye on Iran: Israeli Defence Chiefs Warn Iran, Syria after Air Strike

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TOP STORIES

Israeli Defence Chiefs Warn Iran, Syria after Air Strike | AFP

Syria's army accused Israel of hitting one of its positions, killing two people in an attack earlier the same day that a monitor said targeted a site where the regime allegedly produces chemical weapons. "We are determined to prevent our enemies harming, or even creating an opportunity to harm, the security of Israeli citizens," Avigdor Lieberman said in Hebrew, in remarks broadcast on Israeli television. "We shall do everything in order not to allow the existence of a Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus." The site struck near Masyaf, between the central city of Hama and a port used by the Russian navy, is reportedly used by forces from Syria's allies Iran and the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. Israel has long warned it would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and has accused Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon.

Iran Deal Opponents Pave New Path for Trump to De-certify | Axios

Within recent days, prominent opponents of the Iran nuclear deal have begun quietly briefing Trump administration officials on a new argument they say makes it impossible for the president to re-certify the deal… The new argument rests on technical disclosures the Obama administration made to Congress under the Corker-Cardin law — the 2015 legislation that established congressional oversight over the Iran deal… The argument: The certification language requires the president to certify that Iran is both complying with the nuclear deal and with "all related technical or additional agreements." Influential opponents of the deal say that because the Obama administration sent Congress a draft of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 as part of its package of documents submitted under the law, that therefore makes the Resolution a "related" agreement.

Ruthless Iranian Militia Vows to Turn against U.S. Troops once Islamic State Is Defeated in Iraq | Washington Times

The U.S. military is keeping a wary eye on Iran’s most violent proxy militia in Iraq, which has vowed to start killing Americans again once the Islamic State is expelled. With the Islamic State’s defeat in Iraq coming closer — the U.S. estimates that the once 25,000-strong terrorist group is down to a few thousand followers at most holding only pockets of resistance — the danger from the Hezbollah Brigades is fast approaching. A commander in the Shiiite battalion, also known as Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) and the largest and most ruthless Iranian-trained militia fighting in Iraq and Syria, warned Americans on Sunday that they must leave Iraq or face a new war, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

Head of NY Metals Company Sentenced to Prison over Iran Exports | Reuters

The head of a New York-based metallurgy company was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison on Thursday for conspiring to illegally export missile-grade metallic powder to Iran. Erdal Kuyumcu, 45, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry in Brooklyn after pleading guilty in June 2016 to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, court records show.

SANCTIONS RELIEF

Oberbank Set to Finance Austrian Projects in Iran with New Deal | Reuters

Austria’s Oberbank will sign a deal with Iran this month enabling it to finance new ventures there, its chief executive said, among the first European lenders to do so since sanctions were eased. The deal Tehran struck in 2015 with six major powers lifted many sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities and technically paved the way for international business deals with Iran. However, many banks have stayed away for fear of inadvertently breaking remaining U.S. sanctions, which could lead to huge fines.

EXTREMISM  

Iran Arming Taliban, Says Top Afghan General | Arab News

Iran provides arms and military equipment to Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan, an army chief has claimed, marking the first confirmation from a high-ranking official of the war-torn country.
President Ashraf Ghani raised the matter with his Iranian counterpart during his recent visit to Tehran, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Sharif Yaftali, chief of general staff for the Afghan National Army, told the BBC Persian Service.

IRAQ CRISIS

Kurds in Iraq Shrug Off Turkey-Iran Threats | Daily Star (Lebanon)

Plans for an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan have angered Ankara and Tehran, but little has changed for Iranian Kurdish rebels at rear bases in the mountains of northern Iraq. A spokesman for the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) said reports of a joint Turkish-Iranian military operation against Kurdish rebels in Iraq were mainly intended to unsettle Iraqi Kurds.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Protest Against Killing of Couriers in Iran’s Kurdistan Province Attacked by Security Forces | Center for Human Rights in Iran

A protest was met with tear gas in the city of Baneh in northwestern Iran on September 5, 2017, after people gathered in front of the local governor’s office to demonstrate against the killing by Iranian border guards of two “kulbars,” the Farsi word for border-crossing couriers. Ghader Bahrami (45) and Heydar Faraji (21) were transporting goods by foot through a mountainous trail near Iran’s border with Iraq when they were shot and killed by a border guard unit near Baneh in Iran’s Kurdistan Province on September 4. Kulbars are forced into the dangerous work out of necessity. High unemployment has forced them to brave the elements and conduct unofficial cross-border trade between Iran and Iraq for minimal income.

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Iranian Foreign Ministry Set for Sweeping Change | Al-Monitor

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is planning to implement some structural changes in the Iranian Foreign Ministry as he begins his second term in office — and it is not clear how successful these changes will be. A great part of Zarif’s first four years as foreign minister was spent resolving Iran’s nuclear file, a task that also engaged two of his key deputies, namely Majid Takht-Ravanchi, the deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, and Abbas Araghchi, the deputy for legal and international affairs.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

The Right Way to Pressure Iran | UANI Senior Advisor Dennis Ross for New York Daily News

[S]hould the Trump administration go ahead and not certify — essentially, setting the stage to walk away from the deal — it will isolate the United States from the IAEA and the other nations that negotiated the nuclear understanding with Iran. Sending a signal of unhappiness with Iran is understandable, particularly given what Iran is doing in Syria and throughout the Middle East. But our aim at this point should be to isolate Iran, not ourselves. We want the world riveted on Iran’s bad behaviors, and not what some of our allies will see as ours.

Israel's Airstrike Message to Syria, Iran, and the US | Tom Rogan for Washington Examiner

Israel has previously targeted Iranian and Syrian rocket supplies to the Lebanese Hezbollah, but this attack is far more aggressive than usual. And in that sense, I believe Israel is sending two different messages; one to Iran and Assad, and one to the United States. Israel's message to Iran and Assad is clear: "Do not think we will sit idle as you develop advanced weapons with which to threaten us."

Perfect Partners | Reul Marc Gerecht for Weekly Standard

Putin’s Russia is the perfect partner for the Islamic Republic. Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia today doesn’t pose an ideological temptation for Iranian youth and intellectuals. It no longer poses a geographical challenge. Iranians may whimper endlessly about the injustice of czarist conquests, ignominiously imposed by the Treaties of Gulistan (1813) and Turkmenchay (1828), but there is no sentiment for recapturing lands all Iranians know are lost to Persian culture. There is no more friction, except for the occasional spat on the Caspian Sea, over who has done more to ruin caviar production. Iranian nationalism is real and vibrant, stronger today than it was in 1979, in great part because theocracy has been so unpleasant and Islamic brotherhood beyond Iran’s borders has proven so illusory. The more nationalist Iranians are, the more they flinch when it comes to strategic Iranian-Russian cooperation. But for the ruling elite, who are the ones that matter, the Islamic-Iranian mélange, which is the building block of the modern Persian identity, focuses religious-nationalist anger overwhelmingly in one direction: against the West and its cutting edge, the United States.

Iran: Policing the Internet and Social Media | Michael Rubin for American Enterprise Institute

Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was not only a political revolution but also an ideological one. Adherence to the Islamic Republic’s values and morals is mandatory, and the Iranian government has inaugurated multiple security agencies to ensure that Iranians obey and submit to the ideology of the regime. The expansion of the internet, particularly social media, however, poses an increasing challenge to Iranian security forces. To deal with this challenge, the Iranian government set up a cyber-police force charged with policing the internet and social media.

Iran: IRGC Training in China | Michael Rubin for American Enterprise Institute

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has, like last year, sent a team to participate in the International Army Games, an annual exercise and competition founded by the Russian Ministry of Defense which this year Russia and China jointly host. Numerous teams participate, most of which tend to be in the Chinese and Russian policy orbit, including Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Angola, South Africa, Laos, and Iran. The excerpted article from a news portal closely aligned with the IRGC discusses the Iranian special operations airborne team’s departure for China and its first days drilling with the Chinese.

ANALYSIS: Iran’s Deft Use of ‘Politics of the Apocalypse’ | Tony Duheaume for Al-Arabiya (UAE)

Before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took power in Iran through a violent revolution in 1979, his plan was in place for his own form of Shiite utopia, which would be led by clerics that adhered to the Twelver Shiite Muslim tradition of Muhammed al-Mahdi… Adding his accumulated knowledge to that of past Persian dynasties, Khomeini knew exactly how to manipulate the Iranian masses, and exploiting their jealously guarded perception of their Persian identity, and that of the misrule of Mohammed Reza Shah, he propelled himself to power.