Eye on Iran: Trump Calls For Keeping Troops In Iraq To Watch Iran, Possibly Upending ISIS Fight

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Trump Calls For Keeping Troops In Iraq To Watch Iran, Possibly Upending ISIS Fight | The New York Times

President Trump plans to keep United States troops in Iraq to monitor and maintain pressure on neighboring Iran, committing to an American military presence in the region's war zones even as he moves to withdraw forces from Syria and Afghanistan. "I want to be able to watch Iran," Mr. Trump said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." "We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do."

While E.U. Tries To Bypass U.S. Sanctions On Iran, Trump Administration Amps Up Pressure | The Washington Post

To be a European company with links to Iran in the age of American sanctions can mean dealing with challenges that, every day, verge on the existential. Suppliers cut off their shipments with little warning. Phone lines get disconnected. Even having the elevators repaired can be an ordeal, with service contracts canceled. It is all related to the Trump administration's extraordinary campaign to choke off not only American trade with Iran, but European commerce with the Islamic republic as well. 

Iran Unveils Long-Range Cruise Missile On Revolution Anniversary | Reuters

Iran displayed a new cruise missile with a range of 1,300 km (800 miles) on Saturday during celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, state television reported. Iran has expanded its missile program, particularly its ballistic missiles, in defiance of opposition from the United States and expressions of concern by European countries. Tehran says the program is purely defensive. 

UANI IN THE NEWS

Designate IRGC's Quds Force As A Foreign Terrorist Organization | UANI Policy Director Jason Brodsky For The Cipher Brief

Last month, the U.S. Department of State marked the 35th anniversary of the U.S. designation of Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism. Tehran is part of an exclusive club-partners in crime with other designees North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Indeed, since at least 1996, in one country report on Terrorism after another, the State Department has dubbed Iran as the "leading" or "primary" state-sponsor of terrorism.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM

UN Nuclear Watchdog Warns Against Meddling Over Iran | Bloomberg

A veteran CIA officer was discussing Iran's future at an international security forum in Israel on Tuesday when the moderator cut him off to cue up a breaking news bulletin on the giant monitor overhead. Iran, Israel's Channel 2 announced, had just abandoned its landmark nuclear deal with world powers and will start kicking out inspectors immediately. 

Can Europe's New Financial Channel Save The Iran Nuclear Deal? | Financial Times

Germany, France and the UK have created a special financial channel to enable trade with Iran to continue despite the reimposition of US sanctions on Tehran. The new mechanism, unveiled by the so-called E3 last week, is an attempt to save a landmark international nuclear deal after Donald Trump pulled the US out of it last May. The Financial Times looks at the measures announced by the Europeans, what's at stake - and whether they are likely to succeed.

MISSILE PROGRAM

Iran Releases Video Of Long-Range Missile Test, Tasnim Reports | Bloomberg

A video released by Iran's Revolutionary Guards shows the apparent test-firing of the nation's latest long-range cruise missile, the semi-official Tasnim news reported, citing the ministry's public affairs office. The missile has a range of up to 1,350 kilometers (839 miles), Tasnim said, adding that the video, published online alongside its report, shows the device was successfully fired and reached a distance of 1,200 kilometers.

Three Iranian 'Missile Researchers' Killed In A Fire As Netanyahu Warns Iran | Radio Farda

Iran's Minister of Telecommunications, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi says three Iranian aerospace researchers have died in a fire that broke out at the Iranian Space Research Center affiliated with the ministry. Jahromi said that the fire at the Space Research Center broke out while elsewhere at the center others were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran and did not notice what happened. However, he did not elaborate on the reason for the fire and the names of those who lost their lives in the incident.

Could Iran's Missiles Do The Unthinkable: Sink A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier? | National Interest

On the morning of January 20, 2019, a six-by-six Mercedes-Benz truck in al-Kiswah, Syria crewed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps began elevating a missile mounted on its back into firing position. Once the nearly nine-meter long missile attained a roughly seventy-degree angle, it solid-fuel rocket blasted it on an arcing trajectory towards Mount Hermon, twenty-miles to the west on the Israeli-controlled portion of the Golan Height. 

Iran Said To Put 'Guided Warheads' On Missiles That Can Reach Israel | Times Of Israel

Iran has equipped its most advanced, longest-range missiles, which can hit Israel and US bases in the Gulf, with new precision guided warheads, state media reported Sunday. According to the unsourced report in the Fars news agency, the new home-made guided warheads have now been attached to the Khoramshahr, a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles.)

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Report: Iran Sentences 13 Protesters To Jail | Associated Press

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency is reporting that a court has handed down prison sentences for 13 protesters arrested during the August 2017 demonstrations over economic hardships. The Sunday report said that Tehran's Revolutionary Court sentenced eight of the defendants to six months and the others to one year in prison for "acting against national security by attending illegal gatherings." IRNA's report said that five of protesters are women.

Iran Hangs Man On Anti-Gay Charge - As Europe Turns Blind Eye To Human Rights Abuses And Tries To Circumvent US Sanctions | Fox News

The Islamic Republic of Iran executed a man in January for an alleged violation of the country's anti-gay law, a shocking capital punishment meted out as European countries implement a financial mechanism to evade U.S. sanctions against the mullah regime in Tehran. Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, a former Fox News contributor and a staunch critic of Iran, said Friday that Iran "publicly hanged a 31-year-old man for being gay should be a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights. 

Protests Are A Permanent Feature Of Iran | Atlantic Council

July 15, 2009 was a historic day in Iran's recent history. Some three million people marched in silence on Enghelab (Revolution) Street in the capital of Tehran to convey their anger at the Islamic Republic in the most peaceful manner. The regime had disconnected cell phone services in a failed effort to prevent the march, which followed the manipulated "re-election" of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and had announced in advance that any demonstrations would be deemed illegal. 

Iran Women See New Opportunities Alongside Old Barriers | Associated Press

Saba was just 25 when she left her design job in New York to work on a project renovating an art gallery back in her hometown Tehran. Within months, she won three more contracts to do up galleries and the lobby of an apartment complex. "I had dreamt of building my own company, but I hadn't expected it to happen any time soon. If I had stayed in New York, I wouldn't have had this chance," said Saba, now 27.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS

Iran's Foreign Minister Says Deals With U.S. "Not Worth The Ink" | Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif chided the United States on Friday for saying it may leave an arms treaty with Russia, and said on Twitter that "any deal with US (government) is not worth the ink".  Earlier on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia on Saturday and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged treaty violations.

Iran's Rouhani Slams 'Hegemonic' U.S. Over Venezuela | Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday accused the United States of seeking "world hegemony" and denounced Washington for trying to topple Tehran's ally, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, state media reported. "The Americans are basically against all popular revolutions and independent countries and seek world hegemony by suppressing them," Rouhani said in a meeting with Venezuela's new envoy in Tehran, the state news agency IRNA reported.

Iranian-Backed Militias Threaten US Forces In Iraq | The Jerusalem Post

Members of Hashd al-Shaabi, the Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias in Iraq, can be seen warning US troops near Mosul against "provocations," in a video posted over the weekend. US troops on patrol in eastern Mosul were confronted by gunmen who monitored their movements and blocked their movement by placing an armored jeep across a road. 

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS

One Guard Dead, Five Hurt In Attack As Iran Holds Anniversary | Reuters

One member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards was killed and five were wounded in an attack on a base in southeastern Iran on Saturday, Iranian media reported, as the country holds official celebrations on the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution.  "A (paramilitary) Basij base in Nik Shahr came under ... fire this morning and several from the Revolutionary Guards communications personnel who were wiring the base were hit," Mohammad Hadi Marashi, provincial deputy governor for security affairs, told the state news agency IRNA.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

Iran Parliament Approves New Health Minister | AFP

Iran's parliament Monday gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to President Hassan Rouhani's pick as health minister, after his predecessor resigned over budget cuts and criticism of the allocation of state funds. Saeed Namaki was voted into office with 229 votes out of a total 259. He had been appointed as caretaker by Rouhani after the former minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi resigned on January 3.

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN

Kremlin: Russia, Turkey, Iran Leaders To Meet In Russia On Feb. 14: RIA | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet the leaders of Turkey and Iran in the Russian Black Sea resort town Sochi on Feb. 14, RIA news agency reported on Sunday, citing the Kremlin. It gave no further details but Putin said last month he would convene such a gathering to discuss the situation in Syria, where Russia and Turkey have been trying to create a de-escalation zone.

GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN

Yemen Coalition Alarmed At Houthi Cease-Fire Violations | Associated Press

Yemen's government and its key coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates expressed "growing alarm" at what they say are "persistent, deliberate violations" by rival Houthi Shiite rebels of the December cease-fire agreement in the key port of Hodeida.

Qatar Harboring Islamists And Jihadists | Weekly Blitz

Despite international criticism, the small peninsula state of Qatar has long played an outside role in harboring Islamists, including violent jihadists - whether the political leadership of Hamas, or the "unofficial Embassy" of the Afghan Taliban. The recent decision by several Arab States to designate a number of Qatari-hosted Islamists as terrorist entities has once again raised the issue of Qatari's support for both violent and non-violent Islamists. And perhaps no individual sheltered by Qatar is as notorious or influential as the nonagenarian cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

Yemen: Triple Terrorist Threat Under Iranian Cover | Asharq Al-Awsat

The developments in Yemen in recent days have revealed that the terrorist Iran-backed Houthi militias are providing cover for the al-Qaeda and ISIS groups in the war-torn country through Tehran's direct backing. The Yemeni Interior Ministry had revealed the arrest of a Houthi terrorist cell that was operating under ISIS and Qaeda guise to destabilize Yemen and target state leaderships. The Yemen military also announced the launch of a wide-scale security operation to crackdown on ISIS and remaining members of al-Qaeda who are present in the western countryside of the southern Taiz province.

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS    

Iran Poses A Growing Threat To Europe | Tom Ridge For The National Interest

In January, German authorities arrested an Afghan-German dual national for spying on behalf of an Iranian intelligence agency. The incident was far from the first, and only underscored the potential threat lurking behind each new revelation. Last summer, four individuals were arrested in connection with an Iranian plot to set off explosives at a large gathering organized near Paris by the Iranian opposition. 

Report: Iran's President Supports Venezuela's Government | Associated Press

Iran's official IRNA news agency says President Hassan Rouhani has his expressed support for Venezuelan embattled President Nicolas Maduro. IRNA's report on Saturday says Rouhani met with the Venezuelan envoy to Tehran, Carlos Alcala Cordones, and voiced his support for Maduro's government. "We believe the people of Venezuela though unity and standing by the government will defuse the pressures by Washington," Rouhani is quoted as saying.