Eye on Iran: Saudi Arabia Blames Iran for Missile Attack

TOP STORIES

Saudi Arabia Blames Iran for Missile Attack | Wall Street Journal

Yemeni rebels’ missile attack on the Saudi capital Saturday could be considered an Iranian act of war, Saudi Arabia said—a statement likely to further stoke tensions between the archrivals. Saudi Arabia intercepted the ballistic missile east of Riyadh’s main airport after it flew more than 500 miles from Yemen, fired by Houthi rebels, seen by Saudi Arabia as proxies of Iran… Debris from the missile showed it was made in Iran, the statement said, adding that the coalition “reserves its right to respond to Iran in the appropriate time and manner, in accordance with international law and based on the right of self-defense.”

Saad Hariri Quits as Lebanon Prime Minister, Blaming Iran | New York Times

Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon said on Saturday that he had quit his post, blaming Iran for interference in Arab affairs and throwing his country, already awash with tensions and regional rivalries, into deeper uncertainty. Mr. Hariri, speaking in a televised address from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, issued a blistering condemnation of Iran and its growing power and influence in the region. He also assailed Iran’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and political party that is part of the national unity cabinet he led.

Iran Displays Missile during Anniversary of Embassy Takeover | Associated Press

Iran on Saturday displayed a surface-to-surface missile as part of events marking the anniversary of the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis amid uncertainty about its nuclear deal with world powers. Thousands gathered at the former U.S. embassy in downtown Tehran where a missile, believed to be a 1,243-mile-range solid-fuel Sejjil, was on display. It was the first time Iran displayed a missile during the annual gathering.

UANI IN THE NEWS

Treasury Deserves Commendation for Expanding Sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps | UANI Research Analyst Jordan Steckler for UANI Blog

On October 31, the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) updated its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, applying new sanctions to several individuals and entities affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for their role in supporting the IRGC’s terroristic and ballistic missile proliferation activities. The latest actions build upon the Trump administration’s announcement on October 13 that it was designating the IRGC as a terrorist group pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

It's Time to Put Trump's New Iran Policy into Action | Nader Uskowi for the Hill

President Trump decertified the Iranian nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in part because of the range of malign activities perpetrated by the Islamic Republic at home and in the Middle East. But if stopping Iran from destabilizing the region and continuing its development of nuclear-capable missiles were easy, it would have already been accomplished. Fulfilling the president’s objectives will take some heavy lifting.

BUSINESS RISK

France's Total Opens Washington Office as Iran Risks Loom | Reuters

Total (TOTF.PA) has opened an office in Washington in a bid to strengthen relations with the U.S. administration as the French oil and gas company prepares to invest billions in Iran.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

Erdogan Links Alleged in U.S. Documents Before Iran Trial | Bloomberg

A trader accused of helping Iran evade sanctions invoked the name of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as part of a scheme that U.S. prosecutors say was supported by Turkey’s government, according to court documents.

TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM

What Team Obama Didn’t Want You to Know about the Al Qaeda-Iran Alliance | New York Post Editorial Board

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has just released hundreds of thousands of documents, long withheld by the Obama administration, that were seized in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. There are no surprise revelations — but they more fully document the years-long extensive cooperation between al Qaeda and Iran that was still ongoing when bin Laden met his end.

Report: Hamas Reps in Iran for Memorial of Rev. Guard Commander's Father | Jerusalem Post

A high-ranking Hamas delegation arrived in Tehran on Saturday to participate in a memorial service for the father of Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, a Hamas-linked media outlet reported on Sunday. Suleimani’s father, Hassan, died last Tuesday in the southern Iranian city of Kerman.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Family of Americans Imprisoned in Iran Press Trump Admin for More Direct Action | Washington Free Beacon

Family members and advocates for a father and son imprisoned in Iran are pressing the Trump administration to take urgent action and set up a separate humanitarian channel with Tehran to specifically negotiate the safe return of the pair. Siamak and Baquer Namazi, a father and son who are citizens of both the United States and Iran, have been held for more than a year and a half in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

RUSSIA & IRAN

Russia's Gazprom, Iran Fund in Initial Deal - Agency | Reuters

Russian gas giant Gazprom signed an initial agreement with Iranian state-run investment fund IDRO to cooperate in unspecified oil, gas and energy projects, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported on Sunday.

Iran’s Khamenei Has Three Main Messages for Putin at Summit | Al Monitor

On Nov. 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin went on a working visit to Tehran for the second trilateral Caspian Summit. His busy one-day agenda included encounters with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. This is Putin’s third visit to Iran — the last time being November 2015, two months after the start of Russia’s military campaign in Syria. Although this time the issue of energy cooperation was central at the trilateral meeting, it was Putin’s discussions of Syria with Khamenei and Rouhani that for many outside observers was the most intriguing part of the talks. Over the course of the Syrian war, Russia and Iran have been crucial to one another both politically and on the ground, with intelligence sharing and the number of military contacts unprecedented in the modern history of the two countries.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Bahrain Orders Citizens to Leave Lebanon as Saudi Arabia and Iran Spar for Influence in Beirut | The Telegraph (U.K.)

Bahrain has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon amid mounting tensions between regional Sunni powers and Iran that have left the government in Beirut on the brink of collapse. The order from Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry reflects growing fears for Lebanon’s stability following the shock resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri on Saturday.

Netanyahu: Hariri’s Resignation A ‘Wake-up call’ on Iran Threat to the Region | Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday warned that Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s resignation should be a “wake-up call” to the international community to the threat posed by Iran’s regional ambitions, which he said endanger not only Israel but the entire Middle East. “The resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri and his remarks [on Iran] are a wake-up call to the international community to take action against the Iranian aggression, which is turning Syria into a second Lebanon,” tweeted Netanyahu from London.

MILITARY MATTERS

Did Iran Sanctions Make the Revolutionary Guard Stronger? | Megan Reiss for Foreign Policy

Did the sanctions regime that preceded the Iran nuclear deal enable the Iranian regime’s most notorious actor, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)? That’s among the implications of a recent New York Times piece by Thomas Erdbrink, which notes that by hobbling the private sector, the sanctions bolstered the IRGC’s relative power within Iran… But a deeper look at the IRGC efforts abroad instead suggests that the Revolutionary Guard largely continued its normal activity during the sanctions period, advancing longstanding Iranian objectives. Similarly, structural changes in the Iranian economy to make it resistant to external pressures have gone, and will likely continue to go, unrealized… In fact, it was only after the JCPOA led to an infusion of cash back to Iran that Rouhani increased the IRGC’s budget by 145 percent, not during the sanctions. The Revolutionary Guard’s budget doesn’t tell the full story of its relative power before and after sanctions. But it does suggest that it was constrained during sanctions, just as policymakers would have hoped.

Iran's Supreme Leader Appoints New Navy Chief | Associated Press

Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's Supreme Leader has appointed a new navy chief. The Sunday report by the TV's website said that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Admiral General Hossein Khanzadi as Iran's new navy commander. His predecessor, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, served in the post for 10 years. Brigadier Khanzadi was a deputy commander in the Iranian Navy Forces before the appointment.

SYRIA CONFLICT

Syrian Government Forces Will March to Raqqa Soon, Iranian Official Says | Reuters

Syrian government forces will advance soon to take Raqqa city, which U.S.-backed fighters seized from Islamic State last month, a senior Iranian official said on Friday. Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, also accused the United States of seeking to divide Syria by stationing its forces east of the Euphrates river.

IRAQ CRISIS

Iran-backed Shi’ite Groups Seek Institutionalized Role in Post-IS Iraq | Voice of America

As the Iraqi forces come closer to expelling the Islamic State (IS) terror group from their last remaining enclaves inside Iraq, Shi’ite paramilitary groups aligned with Iran are attempting to retain their power by integrating into the Iraq’s political system.

Why the Kurds Are Paying for Trump’s Gift to Iran | Peter Galbraith for the New York Review of Books

Najmaldin Karim, the governor of the Kirkuk governorate, was at his official residence on October 16 when American special forces showed up. They warned him that the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi Shiite militia controlled by Iran, was on its way to the building. Karim, an ethnic Kurd who had twice been elected governor of this ethnically mixed province, understood that they were not coming to oust him or even to arrest him. They were coming to kill him.

GULF STATES & IRAN

Iran-Saudi Cold War Intensifies as Militant Threat Fades | Wall Street Journal

A cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, fought with proxies seeded across the Middle East, is sharply escalating as the two powers jockey to shape a regional order devoid of Islamic State. With the extremist group’s once-sprawling caliphate shrunk to a few towns around the border between Syria and Iraq, the region is turning its focus to the long-running Iran-Saudi struggle, as each strives to carve out a dominant role based on divergent political and religious visions. Iran is the main Shiite Muslim power in the Middle East. Its vision of governance includes a blend of a parliamentary system overseen by religious authority. Saudi Arabia, like other Sunni countries in the Persian Gulf, has a monarchical system. The latest salvo in the Iran-Saudi struggle came Saturday, when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri abruptly resigned while in Saudi Arabia.