Eye on Iran: Pompeo Sets Up 'Iran Action Group' to Press Sanctions Campaign

TOP STORIES

Pompeo Sets Up 'Iran Action Group' to Press Sanctions Campaign | Bloomberg

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced the creation of a group responsible for ramping up economic and political pressure on Iran now that President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear accord.

U.S. Signals It Could Sanction China Over Iran Oil Imports | Wall Street Journal

The new U.S. special representative for Iran said Thursday the Trump administration is prepared to impose sanctions on all countries that buy oil from Iran after a deadline in November, including China, the top importer of Iranian crude. Brian Hook, who has been appointed as special representative and chief of a new Iran Action Group at the State Department, said the U.S. would issue waivers from sanctions to countries that have made efforts to reduce their Iranian oil purchases.

Trump and Putin Agreed That Iran Should Exit Syria, Official Says | Bloomberg

President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin's July summit in Helsinki was largely dominated by discussion of the crisis in Syria and Iran's role in the conflict, according to a U.S. administration official familiar with the meeting. The two leaders agreed in principle that Iran should exit Syria, according to the person, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

New US Iran Policy Chief Lays Out Agenda | Voice of America

The Trump administration's new special representative for Iran says his team will focus most of its work on changing Tehran's behavior on issues of nuclear weapons, terrorism and detention of Americans. Brian Hook was speaking Thursday at the State Department, where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Hook's appointment to the role that heads a new U.S. team known as the Iran Action Group.

Iran Says German Oil Company Looking to Make Deal Despite Sanctions | OilPrice.com

German company ADL and Iran's Sepahan Oil Company (SOC) have signed an agreement to cooperate in technology transfer in oil and gas industry lubricants, Iranian media report. European embassies have put a lot of effort in paving the way for signing the cooperation agreement, Mohammad Ebrahimi, the chief executive officer of SOC, was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Iran's Passive Defense Organization: Another Target for Sanctions | Farzin Nadimi for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Despite its nominal defense role, the NPDO has helped the regime repress citizens online, a function that Washington should counter with sanctions.

Iraq, Turkey, European Allies Scheme to Skirt New U.S. Sanctions on Iran | Washington Free Beacon

Iran's regional allies and some European nations continue to form new plans to skirt a rash of upcoming sanctions on Tehran to keep the hardline regime afloat as protesters continue to push for regime change in the Islamic Republic, according to U.S. officials and experts.

Iran's Economy Can't Be Shielded from U.S. Sanctions | James Philips for the National Interest

EU efforts to protect Iran from U.S. sanctions are doomed to fail, but could help undermine the effectiveness of sanctions.

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Long Prison Terms For Editors Of Dervish News Outlet in Iran | Voice of America

An Iranian news outlet focusing on Iran's Gonabadi Dervish minority says two of its editors have received lengthy prison sentences for involvement in anti-government protests in February.

U.S. Expresses Concern over Persecutions in Iran | Radio Farda

The United States says it is "closely monitoring" reports of human rights abuses in Iran, the State Department confirmed Wednesday, August 15.

Can We Pursue a Victory Strategy Against Iran? | Frederick Kagan for Commentary

The attractiveness of applying to Iran the set of policies that caused the relatively peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 1990s, often called the "Victory Strategy," is obvious.

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS

The US Navy Faces 'a Huge Liability' In Countering One of Iran's Favorite and Most Dangerous Weapons | Business Insider

In the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal signed with Iran and five other countries in 2015, Tehran has responded with one of its most frequent threats: Closing the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 30% of world's oil flows... Coastal defenses and naval vessels would have a big role in that effort, but it would likely revolve around one of Iran's favorite military assets, sea mines - a vicious weapon that presents an acute challenge for the US Navy, which is in the process of shifting between old and new mine-countermeasure systems.

Why Iran Thinks It Has an 'Insurance Policy' against an Israeli or U.S. Strike | Amos Harel and Amir Tibon for Haaretz

Israeli and American officials think Iran is trying to 'wait out' Trump's first term, and is banking on the wounded nuclear deal to shield it from a military strike until then

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Khamenei Attacks Moderates As Source of Iran's Problems | Mehdi Khalaji for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Hardliners have been exploiting the recurrent unrest as an excuse to lambaste the government's economic track record, interfere with its prerogatives in various sectors, and double down on the Supreme Leader's 'resistance' strategy.

Iran Prosecutor Warns Ministers: No One Is Immune In Anti-Corruption Probe | Al Monitor

With Iran facing more US sanctions and a battered currency, the judiciary is charging aggressively into an anti-corruption probe in the hope that it will help stabilize the economic situation.

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN.

Bolton to Discuss Arms Control, Iran, Syria in Talks with Russian Counterpart | Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton will discuss arms control treaties and Iran's role in Syria in talks with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva next week, an administration official said on Thursday.

Hezbollah's Role Evolving in Syria As Assad Nears Victory | Al Monitor

As President Bashar al-Assad's regime consolidates its control over much of Syria - appearing ready to launch an offensive against Idlib, the last major insurgency stronghold - observers are wondering what the end to the war will mean for Hezbollah's involvement there in the wake of Assad's seemingly impending victory?

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

Trump Will Regret Changing His Mind About Qatar | Nawaf Obaid for Foreign Policy

The United States has the leverage needed to prevent Qatar from cozying up to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood-if it's willing to use it.

Khalid bin Salman: We Won't Allow Houthis to Become another Hezbollah | Al Arabiya

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman said on Thursday that the Kingdom won't allow the Houthi militias to be another Hezbollah, in reference to Lebanese pro-Iranian militia, stressing that this is what the Islamic Republic of Iran is seeking.