A top Senate Republican is shelving draft legislation that would have triggered nuclear-related sanctions back on Iran over its ballistic missile activity, acknowledging it cannot garner the 50 votes required for passage and would ostracize foreign allies, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, continues to work with members of his own party, Democrats, European envoys and the Trump administration hoping to construct legislation that will send a message of toughness to Tehran while keeping the nuclear accord intact. But the amendment he initially previewed one month ago with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), alongside President Donald Trump’s national address on Iran policy, will not advance as planned.
As the war against Islamic State winds down, older fault-lines are resurfacing -- along with some new alliances. Many signs point to a deepening understanding, encouraged by the U.S., between Israel and an Islamic kingdom it doesn’t even have diplomatic relations with: Saudi Arabia. The two countries share a common enemy in Iran. They’re both urging action against the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah -- and increasingly taking action themselves… And they’re both central to the new American strategy for the Middle East outlined, if not yet detailed, by Donald Trump.
Following the surprising resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister, Israel is planning a diplomatic offensive to step up pressure on Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah at the United Nations, a senior Israeli government minister said Thursday.
UANI IN THE NEWS
[Iran and North Korea] have a common interest and it's not a coincidence they need each other. They’re both outlaw nations, they’re two-thirds of which George Bush correctly called the Axis of Evil and their cooperation on nuclear weapons development really is now an axis of evil because together they represent a security threat to the rest of the world. The development, the pace of development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program has been stunning, it’s been so quick and it worries me that they’re not doing it alone… The worst interpretation — again I’m theorizing — while they were complying with the technical requirements of the JCPOA [the Iran deal], Iran is effectively outsourcing their nuclear missile program to North Korea.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
The European Union will make sure that the Iran nuclear deal “will continue to be fully implemented by all, in all its parts”, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Friday.
NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS
US pressure to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal could push Tehran into deciding to build its own nuclear weapons, French President Emmanuel Macron warned in an interview published Thursday.
When he's not taking orders from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is trolling people on Twitter. Here's what he's been up to over the past couple of weeks. On Oct. 22, Zarif claimed that the U.S. is stealing Iraq from its people. This is a popular Iranian claim, but one with a simple, sustaining purpose: to distract from Iran's effort to steal Iraqi and Lebanese democracy. The next day, Zarif claimed that U.S. policy is driven by the arms trade and Iran's policy by the pursuit of mutual understanding. What he neglected to mention, however, is that Iran's notion of dialogue has a distinctly explosive character.
CONGRESS & IRAN
During a visit to Washington, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday argued for maintaining the international accord intended to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. Johnson met with Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of strictly enforcing the pact that President Donald Trump has derided.
French President Emmanuel Macron hinted at the possibility of imposing sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, while stressing the need to add to the Nuclear Deal two clauses pertaining to Tehran’s ballistic activity and discussions on curbing its control over the region.
TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM
Millions of gallons of fuel illegally exit Iran each month—some 26.4 million from Sistan and Baluchestan province alone, according to state media. The government has tried a number of measures to stop the flow, like slashing fuel subsidies, erecting fences and walls along the border, and imposing steep fines on smugglers who get caught. But they don’t address the underlying problems that cause people to smuggle in the first place. "Drought, unemployment, and low fuel prices in Iran are the main cause of fuel smuggling, which has caused most of the youth in this province to perform this risky and lucrative job," Souri says.
A movie about a young girl whose fantasy world helps her escape the hard realities of growing up in the countryside near Tehran in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution is Iran’s first-ever submission for the Academy Awards’ foreign film directed by a woman. But not everyone is celebrating.
A diplomatic battle is under way to prevent Iran’s election to the post of UNESCO Executive Board chairman to replace Michael Worbs of Germany.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards established a new militia named Brigade 313 in South Syria, it has been revealed. Syrian opposition figures warned that the militia, which consists of young men from Daraa and which is trained and funded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, aims to sabotage the de-escalation agreement in South Syria.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, AND IRAN
[T]he reaction from the Islamic Republic to Saudi bellicosity has been uncharacteristically muted. While strongly denying any role in arming the Houthis, Tehran has limited itself to calling for peace and unity and blaming Mohammad bin Salman’s accusations on problems inside the kingdom… For Iran, an escalation of the proxy wars into a direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia would be counterproductive to say the least, especially since events on the ground are going their way, at least for the time being.
Saudi Arabia would like to see sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism and for violating the ballistic missile resolutions of the United Nations, foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir has said.
Saudi Arabia advised its nationals to leave Lebanon, further fueling fears of a heated confrontation with Iran in a country long known for being a battleground for proxy wars in the Middle East.
Rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as the kingdom's weekend crackdown, have rattled markets in the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Russia, Kuwait and Qatar next week to press for a more robust diplomatic response to the escalating crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia that Turkey fears could unleash chaos throughout the region.
French President Emmanuel Macron held talks late Thursday with Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince as tensions between Tehran and Riyadh soar over crises in Yemen and Lebanon.
It's not only struggles for political office or military dominance that are rocking Saudi Arabia and Lebanon this week. Increasingly, Saudi officials and their Lebanese allies are banking on the idea that control over financial levers of power is the key to achieving their foreign-policy objectives and domestic political ambitions.