Eye on Iran: U.S. to Decide on Iran Sanctions Waivers on Friday: State Department

TOP STORIES

U.S. to Decide on Iran Sanctions Waivers on Friday: State Department | Reuters

The Trump administration is expected to decide on Friday whether to continue to waive U.S. penalties on Iran, as agreed under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the State Department said on Tuesday.

Iran’s Leader Calls Trump ‘Psychotic’ and Warns of Revenge |  New York Times

In a furious series of Twitter posts and statements on his website on Tuesday, Iran’s supreme leader called President Trump “psychotic” and repeated accusations that the United States bore primary responsibility for instigating a week of protests that rocked Iran in recent weeks.

US House Cheers Iran's Protests, Condemns Human Rights Violations | Voice of America

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution Tuesday supporting the Iranian people's right to free expression while condemning the country's leadership for crackdowns on recent protests. 

UANI IN THE NEWS

UANI Chairman Senator Joseph Lieberman on Iran | Bloomberg TV

I think the administration should respond to the continued bad behavior by Iran by increasing sanctions. There is plenty of authority that the president has under existing law to impose sanctions on the Iranian government and the leaders of it, particularly for human rights violations and support of terrorism throughout the Middle East and frankly beyond.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

As Iran Deal Deadline Approaches, Trump Mulls Next Move | ABC News

In the coming days, President Donald Trump is up against another consequential deadline on the Iran nuclear deal, just months after vowing to tear it up if Congress didn't move to fix it. By Friday, the president must either once again sign waivers on Iranian sanctions -- and keep the nuclear accord alive -- or refuse to sign, effectively terminating U.S. participation in the agreement and setting off an international crisis.

EU to Host Meeting With Iran on Nuclear Treaty Thursday | Associated Press

The European Union is to host a meeting with the foreign ministers of Iran, France, Germany and Britain to discuss the state of a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran. 

Iran Leaders Shift Focus to Defending Nuclear Deal | Al Jazeera (Qatar)

Iranian officials have made various public appearances to criticise United States' policies towards Iran and reinforce their position on the 2015 nuclear deal, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort. 

Don’t End the Iran Deal, Fix It | Michael Doran for the Wall Street Journal

[N]ullifying the deal would not end the conflict with Iran, and it would risk undercutting domestic and international support for the administration’s approach… Mr. Trump does, however, have a third alternative: fixing the deal. As he suggested in October, he and Congress could eliminate the nuclear deal’s sunset clauses—its most dangerous provisions—by making restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program permanent in U.S. law and requiring more robust inspections. Failure by the Iranians to comply with such a law would bring about an immediate snap-back of the most debilitating sanctions.

IRAN PROTESTS

Iran Has Foiled Plot to Use Protests to Overthrow System, Leader Says | Reuters

Iran has foiled attempts by its foreign enemies to turn legitimate protests into an insurgency to overthrow the Islamic Republic, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday. Comments on his Twitter feed and in Iranian media underscored the establishment’s confidence that it has extinguished the unrest that spread to more than 80 cities in which at least 22 people died since late December.

Behind Iran Protest, a Post-Sanction Boom That Wasn’t: QuickTake | Bloomberg

Iran hasn’t reaped as large a dividend as many citizens expected when the country agreed in 2015 to limit its nuclear program and subject it to external inspections. One obstacle has been U.S. sanctions that remained even after every world power lifted its nuclear-related ones.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Points Finger At Saudi Arabia, US, Israel Over Unrest | Al-Monitor

In his first extensive comments on the recent protests in Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Jan. 9 pointed the finger at the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, saying they planned the unrest. 

Iranian Judiciary Official Calls For 'Maximium Penalty' For Protest Leaders | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

A top Iranian judiciary official has said antigovernment protest leaders should be handed the harshest possible sentences, while President Hassan Rohani suggested demonstrations were driven by opposition to his ultraconservative rivals in the ruling elite.

Despite Trump Tweet Storm, Mattis And McMaster Calling Shots In Iran Crisis | Newsweek

For now, Mattis and McMaster seem to be in control of the administration’s thinking on Iran, with Tillerson keeping European allies informed. So far, their mercurial boss hasn’t done or tweeted anything outrageous.

Now is the Time To Hit The Iranian Regime With Lower Oil Prices | David Rivkin, Jr. and Nawaf Obaid for USA Today

The United States can and should support Iranian freedom by pressuring the regime at its most vulnerable point, oil revenues. This strategy should have long- and short-term components, both designed to decrease global oil prices.

The Latest Iranian Protests Are Different | David Gardner for the Financial Times

Insofar as one can distil the angry message of the protesters who have taken to the streets across Iran over the past ten days, it is a demand for freer lives and the chance of a decent livelihood. 

How to Understand Iran | Firas Elias for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Following the eruption of the recent protests that began in Iran on December 28, 2017, due to growing inflation and unemployment, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused Iran's enemies of “trying to strike the Iranian nation.” Iran occupies an important position in the eyes of international and regional powers. A historical reading of the relationship of Iran to these powers shows an enduring yet rocky relationship governed by both mutual suspicion and mutual interests. But today Iran is living in a new environment in which the great powers are striving to contain and exclude their rivals to ensure a commanding position in the global order.

Iran's Protests and the Myth of Benign Silence | Shadi Hamid for the Atlantic

[Iranians[ need to know that the members of the international community, including America’s European allies, are paying close attention and not merely playing a delicate “both sides-ism” in the interest of an imaginary rapprochement with the Iranian regime. The conversation we need to prepare ourselves for—since this is more likely the beginning than the end—is what can be done to support the forces of reform in Iran, however limited America’s power and leverage might be. But, to prepare ourselves for that conversation, we need to do with away with convenient fictions—too often used as an excuse for inaction—that a better America is a quiet one.

Here’s How Iran’s Protesters Want Trump to Help | Benny Avni for New York Post

If we’re committed to helping Iran’s freedom-seekers, it’s time to hit the regime’s propaganda organs.

Iranian and Saudi Youth Try to Bury 1979 | Thomas Friedman for the New York Times

The biggest question about the recent protests in Iran — combined with the recent lifting of religious restrictions in Saudi Arabia — is whether together they mark the beginning of the end of the hard-right puritanical turn that the Muslim world took in 1979, when, as Middle East expert Mamoun Fandy once observed, “Islam lost its brakes” and the whole world felt it. The events of 1979 diminished the status of women, pluralism and modern education across the Arab-Muslim region, and they fueled religious extremist groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and ISIS, whose activities have brought ruin to so many innocent Muslims and non-Muslims alike — and so many metal detectors to airports across the globe.

Why Nonviolent Protest is the Best Hope for Iran | Maria Stephan for the Washington Post

The breadth and depth of the protests in Iran, which began on Dec. 28 in response to popular dissatisfaction with the poor economy and political repression in the country, are posing a serious challenge to the Islamic republic…  Most of the dissent has been nonviolent, though there have been some attacks on regime security personnel. Even so, the level of brutality exacted by the regime far exceeds that of the protesters. But there is a good reason for the opposition to avoid violent escalation. Its ability to achieve significant political change will be greatly enhanced if it maintains nonviolent discipline.

Exiled Iranian Royal Sees Chance to End the Islamic Republic | Associated Press

Reza Pahlavi concentrates intently on the little cellphone in his hand, scrolling through clips of chanting Iranians and explaining why the protests unsettling his homeland are different this time. Even as the latest reports suggest the unrest may be ebbing, the scion of Persia’s 2,500-year-old monarchy believes Iran’s people are writing a new future for themselves, and perhaps for their exiled son.

CONGRESS & IRAN

Corker: Scrapping Iran Deal Could Make North Korea 'More Difficult' | Hill

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) warned Tuesday that withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal could have consequences for the ongoing crisis with North Korea as President Trump faces critical deadlines on the accord.

Cotton: Trump ‘Should Certainly’ Impose New Sanctions on Iran for Treatment of Protesters | Washington Free Beacon

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said Tuesday that he and other lawmakers have been working on legislation that would "improve our position strategically against Iran," adding that President Donald Trump should impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic for its treatment of Iranian protesters.

Iranian Government’s Time of Reckoning May Be Near | U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan for he Hill

A government earns its legitimacy from the people it governs. This basic principle applies equally to free democracies like ours and to authoritarian regimes like Iran’s. Sooner or later, people will stand up to abuses. For Iran’s rulers – who have chosen to fund international terror organizations and other illicit activities instead of care for their people – its time of reckoning may be on the horizon.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Iran: Investigate Reports of Protester Deaths in Custody | Amnesty International

The Iranian authorities must immediately investigate reports that at least five people have died in custody following a crackdown on anti-establishment protests, and take all necessary steps to protect detainees from torture and prevent any further deaths, Amnesty International said today.  

Iran: Release Detainees, Uphold Citizens’ Fundamental Freedoms | Freedom House

“Iranian authorities should release the detainees, who were exercising their rights to freely assemble and express themselves,” said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Germany Tells Iran Not To Spy Against Israel on Its Territory | Reuters

Germany has summoned Iran’s ambassador to warn Tehran against spying on individuals and groups with close ties to Israel, calling such acts an unacceptable breach of German law. The move came after the March conviction of a Pakistani man for spying for Iran in Germany went into force.

Mossad: Israel Spies Have Eyes And Ears In Iran And Would Like To See Revolution | Newsweek

Israel’s spy chief has said in the wake of last week’s protests in Iran that the country’s external intelligence network Mossad has “eyes, ears and even more” trained on developments in the Islamic Republic. Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad, made the comments at a Treasury committee meeting Tuesday. He added that a revolution in Tehran would be a desirable outcome to the current unrest from an Israeli perspective.

SYRIA

Iran Eyes Major Role In Syria's Reconstruction | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

The Syrian prime minister reportedly told the visiting Iranian lawmakers that Damascus will give priority to Iranian companies in all rebuilding projects in the country. He added that the Syrian government will also provide “incentives” to the Iranian companies to take part in the reconstruction process and invest in the Syrian market.