Washington wants to build a global "coalition" against the Tehran regime and its "destabilizing activities," the State Department said on Thursday, after pulling out from the Iran nuclear accord to the anger of US allies. The plan is to be detailed on Monday by the top United States diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his first major foreign policy address since taking office in April.
The United States sought on Thursday to further choke off funding sources for Iranian-backed Hezbollah, imposing sanctions on its representative to Iran, as well as a major financier and his five companies in Europe, West Africa and the Middle East.
A violent protest in the city of Kazeroon in southwestern Iran has left at least one person dead and six others injured, Iranian media report.
UANI IN THE NEWS
The reality is that we're still the strongest economy in the world. And whatever the political elites in Europe, for instance, are trying to do now to save the Iran nuclear deal, their businesses are speaking—with their feet, with their wallets, with whatever.
European investment in Iran is about 10 to 20 billion dollars overall. To risk the massive exposure that would follow with sanctions against the United States just does not seem logical to protect such a modest amount of investments, particularly when countries are walking away from the market themselves.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
A top European Union official slammed President Donald Trump over his decision to end the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday morning. “Looking at latest decisions of [Trump] someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies,” wrote Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. “But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful to President Trump. Because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions. He made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.”
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The European Commission said on Friday it had started the process of renewing a sanctions-blocking measure to protect European businesses in Iran, after the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled Thursday that it won't be feasible to offer wide-ranging compensation to European companies affected by U.S. sanctions over Iran's nuclear program.
The Latest on the fallout from the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (all times local): French President Emmanuel Macron says his country will not get into a trade war against the United States over Iran, despite France's disapproval of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal. Macron said Thursday in a news conference in Sofia, Bulgaria: "We're not going to choose one camp over another. We're not going to be the allies of Iran against the United States of America."
Total SA’s decision to stop investing in Iran shows that international companies are going to have trouble doing any business with the Persian Gulf nation, including buying its oil.
The United Nations (UN) has opened an investigation into Turkey allegedly selling electronic equipment to Iran included in a list of items banned for export to the Islamic republic, thereby violating a Security Council resolution on the matter.
Facing renewed economic sanctions from the United States and the possible knock-on collapse of its business dealings with Europe, Iran is looking to Russia and China to expand trade. And Moscow and Beijing, embroiled in their own economic disputes with Washington, are well-positioned to oblige.
President Trump faces a difficult juggling act as he tries to persuade China, India and other countries to join in oil sanctions against Iran while also pressuring Venezuela. Since the two oil-producing giants compete for the same markets, squeezing one may end up helping the other. Squeezing both may send oil prices soaring.
The European Union (EU) is considering switching to euros instead of U.S. dollars in the oil trade with Iran, Sputnik reported on Wednesday, quoting a diplomatic source.
Iran is expecting to see a decline in its crude oil exports to South Korea as a result of U.S. sanctions on tanker transport, the managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company, Ali Kardor, said as quoted by S&P Platts.
Oil prices rose Friday, with Brent crude trading close to the $80-a-barrel threshold, in anticipation of renewed U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.
[T]he Trump administration’s confidence in European acquiescence to renewed U.S. sanctions may be misplaced. While officials are correct that large European companies will generally comply with U.S. sanctions absent countervailing measures by Brussels, if the European Union is prepared to risk a major rift with Washington over Iran, member governments have tools to block U.S. sanctions. The administration should seek a diplomatic resolution to the brewing conflict if the alternative is watching Europe take steps that will undermine U.S. sanctions around the world.
Just as French oil major Total announced it was likely to pull out of Iran, a UK-based consortium has signed a deal which could pave the way for a ten-year commitment to the country. The contrasting decisions highlight how, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, a battle is underway to decide whether Iran’s oil industry will slink back into isolation or whether it will remain integrated into international markets.
Iran's economy is already a mess, but it will likely get a lot worse.
The determination of European nations, Russia and China to keep the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran alive isn’t necessarily futile. Europe has more influence than the U.S. on SWIFT, the Brussels-based global payments network.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Congressional efforts to update the president’s ability to battle terrorist groups are running into resistance from Democrats and anti-war groups worried about the Donald Trump administration’s hawkish turn. While lawmakers of both parties have long sought to update the 2001 law that has served as the legal underpinning for war on terrorism operations around the globe, critics worry the latest effort inadvertently increases rather than limits the president’s military powers.
SYRIA, RUSSIA, ISRAEL & IRAN
President Bashar al-Assad has said about Syria’s bloody civil war that “things now are moving in the right direction” and that “the worst is behind us.” Senior officials from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and the UN and former U.S. diplomats have gone even further, proclaiming Assad the victor and urging rebel groups and the U.S. government to reconcile with this unpalatable “reality.” An analysis of regional conflict dynamics, however, reveals a more complicated picture, which indicates that Syria’s agony may be far from over, and that its military gains may be more tenuous than they appear.
The shadow war with Iran in Syria is politics by other means because the grand strategy is to evict Iran from Syria.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani must apologize to the people of Iran for signing the Iran nuclear deal, the country's conservative Assembly of Experts said in a statement released Sunday.
CHINA & IRAN
The US decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran could scare off European investors but oil-thirsty China may step into the void and ramp up business links with the country.
HEZBOLLAH & LEBANON
A Pentagon source Thursday confirmed Washington will maintain its support for the Lebanese Army and state institutions even after Hezbollah cemented its place in Lebanon’s legislature in the May 6 parliamentary elections. Ahead of elections, reports emerged that the Pentagon informed Congress of $90 million in military aid to Lebanon and its Army.
A senior U.S. official Thursday described Hezbollah as a “cancer” that must be removed, urging the Lebanese government not to include the party's members in the new Cabinet.
A Christian party that made big gains in Lebanon’s general election says it will use its stronger position to press for Hezbollah’s weapons to be brought under government control and to root out corruption in the heavily indebted state.
With leaders under fresh sanctions, a 2010 investigation shows how the group's finances can be hit.
It is time the group curtailed its military activities and acted in service of the Lebanese people.
As a Middle East policy analyst, observing Lebanon’s parliamentary elections gave me a worm’s eye view of the contending forces seeking to shape politics not only in Lebanon, but across the Arab world… Here are three insights I took away from my time in Lebanon, and from conversations there with Lebanese voters, analysts, politicians, and activists.
IRAQ & IRAN
The final results of Iraq's first post-Islamic State (ISIS) election, held last weekend, have revealed a shock win for controversial anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Now in a position to potentially determine much of the country's future, the Shia leader, who has railed against both U.S. and Iranian influence, could dramatically change the landscape for major powers that have invested heavily in Iraq.
Iran appears to be in a hurry to strike a deal between its loyalists for fear of Sadr's success in dominating the next government, which would curb its influence in Iraq.
President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal has fueled angst in European capitals but new hopes in the Iranian periphery.
Hours after President Donald Trump exited the Iran deal last week, Israel and Iranian-led forces exchanged tit-for-tat rocket fire and airstrikes over the increasingly dangerous Golan Heights border. It seemed like a specific spark spawned by a specific event, and attention quickly moved to Israel's crackdown on protesters in Gaza. But now, one week later, Western defense officials are increasingly worried that Israel is facing a new intractable stalemate with its bitter enemy Iran that could expand rapidly into a dangerous regional war.