Eye on Iran: U.S. Sanctions Iran's Central Bank Governor, Alleges Hezbollah Ties

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U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Central Bank Governor, Alleges Hezbollah Ties | Wall Street Journal

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions Tuesday on the governor of Iran’s central bank and another senior bank official, accusing them of funneling millions of dollars to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia designated as a terror group by the U.S.

Allianz Making Plans to Wind Down Iran Business | Reuters

German insurer Allianz is preparing to wind down Iran-related business due to possible U.S. sanctions, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Hezbollah Said to Be Laundering Money in South American Tri-Border Region | Wall Street Journal

Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia designated as a terror group by the U.S., is tapping a money-laundering ministate in Latin America that poses an escalating risk to U.S. national security, according to a report published Tuesday… The report was prepared by political risk consultancy Asymmetrica, funded and jointly published by the Washington-based nonprofit Counter Extremism Project.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM

Europe Offers No Guarantees but Vows to Keep Iran Deal Alive | Reuters

European powers vowed to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive without the United States by trying to keep Iran’s oil and investment flowing, but admitted they would struggle to provide the guarantees Tehran seeks. British, French and German foreign ministers, along with the EU’s top diplomat, discussed the next steps with their Iranian counterpart, a week after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the pact he branded “the worst deal ever” and reimposed U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Europeans Must Guarantee Benefits to Iran of Nuclear Deal: Zarif | Reuters

European powers must give Iran guarantees that it will receive the economic benefits of the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, warning that there was not much time for them to deliver those assurances.

Boris Johnson Cautions against Regime Change amid Scramble to Save Iran Nuclear Deal | Telegraph (U.K.)

Boris Johnson has cautioned against seeking regime change in Tehran and warned the United States not to target British businesses in its quest to sink the Iran nuclear deal.

Khamenei Aide Casts Doubt on Talks with Europeans to Save Iran Nuclear Deal: FARS | Reuters

The top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday he doubted Tehran’s talks with European nations to save the nuclear deal after U.S. withdrew from it would be fruitful. “I doubt that the talks with the Europeans will be fruitful. I hope we see good results, but .... we should become self-sufficient,” Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

The economic gut punch to Europe of ending the Iran deal, charted | Quartz

When international sanctions against Iran were lifted at the start of 2016, Europe was fast to revive economic relations with the country. This blossoming of trade and investment might soon be cut short.

Iran Says U.S. Sanctions Intended to Derail Efforts to Save Nuclear Deal | Reuters

Iran said on Wednesday that new sanctions imposed on it by Washington were an attempt to derail efforts to save the 2015 nuclear deal by its remaining signatories following the U.S. withdrawal from the accord.

Trump's Cave to China’s ZTE Hurts His Iran Strategy | Eli Lake for Bloomberg

Why should Europeans fear sanctions now? All they have to do is bluff, and the U.S. will bend.

Turkish Banker In Iran Sanctions Case Faces Sentencing | Washington Post

Defense lawyers say a Turkish banker convicted of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions deserves leniency, but prosecutors want him locked up for at least 15 years.

Trump's Sanctions on Iran May Be Creating An Oil Trading Boom — In China | CNBC

Trade in Chinese yuan-denominated crude oil futures has surged since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran Asks Chinese Oil Buyers to Maintain Imports after US Sanctions: Sources | CNBC

A senior official at Iran's state-owned oil supplier met Chinese buyers this week to ask them to maintain imports after U.S. sanctions kick in, three people familiar with the matter said, but failed to secure guarantees from the world's biggest consumer of Iranian oil.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Contain Iran? Trump Should Copy Reagan | David Ignatius for the Washington Post

Arab leaders love the idea that President Trump is ready to give Iran a punch in the nose. But is this White House truly serious about challenging Iranian power in the Middle East? The evidence is mixed, at best. I heard passionate enthusiasm for Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal from prominent Arabs gathered here last weekend for a conference sponsored by the Beirut Institute. They know that scuttling the nuclear deal could be dangerous and that the region is already a powder keg. But many Arab leaders don’t seem to care.

The Iran Deal Didn't Change Tehran's Behavior | Edward Chang for the National Interest

America has options that do not involve taking a hands-off approach to Iran or invading and occupying it.

SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL & IRAN

Countering Iranian Influence in Syria and Iraq: Three Possible Paths | Bipartisan Policy Center

President Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal makes it even more urgent and necessary for the United States to develop a regional strategy to cope with Tehran’s ambitions in the Middle East. A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Managing Disorder in the Middle East offers three strategic policy options for the United States to address Iran’s destabilizing regional behavior. The report, U.S. Policy Toward Iran: Strategic Options, concludes that if the United States were to pull up stakes and leave Syria, pro-Iranian elements would gain a greater foothold and Iran would be able to position forces and advanced weapons on the borders of American allies.

Iran in the Nuclear Realm and Iran In Syria: A New State of Play | Assaf Orion and Amos Yadlin for the Institute for National Security Studies

Despite the two blows Iran sustained last week, Israel cannot afford to be complacent or overly satisfied. It will need to follow meticulously the updated policies adopted by each of the theater’s involved actors. Thus far, Israel has held separate policies regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the Iranian proxy war and malevolent influence. Now, it must develop an integrative long term policy and strive for coordinated efforts and meaningful cooperation with the United States, European countries, and the countries of the region. Operational and strategic coordination with Russia remains essential.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

Beyond The Proxy Powder Keg: The Specter Of War Between Saudi Arabia And Iran | Bilal Y. Saab for Middle East Institute

An Iran-Saudi Arabia war is unlikely, but it is now more likely than ever before.

HEZBOLLAH & LEBANON

Pentagon OKs $90 Million For Lebanese Army Amid Hezbollah Gains | Al Monitor

The Donald Trump administration is sending more than $90 million worth of military equipment to help the Lebanese army protect its borders, the latest sign that the United States is sticking by Beirut despite Hezbollah’s growing influence. The Pentagon notified Congress on April 25 that it would be providing the Lebanese Armed Forces with 7-ton and 2.5-ton trucks as well as US Army Humvees mounted with .50-caliber machine guns, according to documents reviewed by Al-Monitor. The aid package draws from the Pentagon’s $1.4 billion global train-and-equip fund.

Lebanon Longer-Dated Dollar Bonds Fall To Record Lows On Regional Tensions | Reuters

Lebanon dollar bonds fell on Tuesday, hit by escalating tensions across the Middle East where violence flared following U.S. decisions to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

Hezbollah’s Presence in Donald Trump’s Backyard | Tony Duheaume for Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia / UAE)

Now that Donald Trump has pulled America out of the Iran deal, he must remember that close to home, he is being faced across the Mexican border by Hezbollah, one of the deadliest non-state adversaries to threaten the US in recent times, a terror group that is a solid proxy of the Iranian regime.

TERRORISM & EXTREMISM

Haley: Iran Is the 'Common Thread' in Mideast Violence | Hill

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, lashed out at Iran on Tuesday, calling the country the "common thread" that connects violent incidents in the Middle East.

IRAQ & IRAN

Iran-Backed Militia Leader: “The Iraqis Will Be The First To Enter Jerusalem” | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

The secretary-general of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian-supported Iraqi militia group, has threatened that its forces will fight Israel to seize Jerusalem, according to Shafaaq, an Arab outlet.

Shi'ite Cleric's Election Win Puts Iran to The Test in Iraq | Reuters

Already pressured by the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran faces a major test in managing Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a formidable opponent who beat Tehran’s longtime allies to achieve a shock victory in Iraq’s parliamentary election. But If Tehran overplays its hand by squeezing Sadr out of a coalition government dominated by its allies, it risks losing influence by provoking conflict between Iranian-backed Shi’ites and those loyal to Sadr.

Iran Calls Iraq’s Election Results "Very Good": Tasnim | Reuters

The top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that the election results in Iraq were “very good” and said Tehran respects the will of the Iraqi people.

Iraqi Kurds Look To Open New Chapter with Iran | Al Monitor

Iraqi Kurds are opening a new chapter in their relations with Iran, seven months after Tehran sided with Baghdad in crushing their ambition for independence following a 2017 referendum in which nearly 93% of Kurds opted to secede from Iraq.

AFGHANISTAN & IRAN

Afghans Blame Iran And Pakistan For Taliban’s Rapid Gains In Farah Province | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

With Afghanistan’s western Farah Province on the verge of falling to the Taliban, Afghan officials and tribal leaders in the province accuse neighboring Iran and Pakistan of aiding the insurgents for political and economic ends.