Hezbollah Launches Major Barrage On Israeli After Senior Commander Killed

TOP STORIES 

Hezbollah Launches Major Barrage On Israeli After Senior Commander Killed | The National 

Hezbollah launched a major barrage of rockets on Israel on Wednesday in response to the assassination of a senior commander from the Lebanese armed group overnight. Israel said about 90 projectiles were fired from Lebanon, while Hezbollah said it had launched dozens of rockets at various targets. The Israeli military said that several were intercepted but others fell inside the north of the country, sparking fires in some areas. The Iran-backed group named the commander as Sami Abdallah – also known as Abu Taleb. That Hezbollah referred to him as a “commander” – a rare acknowledgement – underlines his seniority. A Lebanese military source told AFP that the commander was “the most important in Hezbollah to be killed up to now since the start of the war”. Mr Abdallah, who Hezbollah said was 55, was killed in the village of Jouaiya, about 15km from the Israeli border. Another three fighters were also killed in the attack.  

Iraq Sees Lull In American Restaurant Attacks After Apparent Iranian-Backed Assailants Arrested | Voice Of America 

Baghdad has gone a week without reports of American restaurants being damaged by apparent Iran-backed mobs, an indication that the Iraqi government is curbing a recent wave of assaults that have dented its projected image as welcoming to Western investment. After the last reported mob assault, damaging a restaurant of U.S. chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) on Baghdad’s Palestine Street on June 3, Iraqi authorities reported arresting several rioters. Armed Iraqi security personnel were seen guarding the restaurant the next day. The mob attacks began in the Iraqi capital in late May and involved masked men vandalizing and setting off small bombs outside American restaurants, including a branch of U.S. chain Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken and a branch of American-style Jordanian chain Chili House. No injuries were reported. Some other U.S. and British businesses also were targeted.  

Retired Teacher Denied Medical Care In Iranian Prison | Iran Wire 

Nejat Anwar Hamidi, a 68-year-old retired teacher, has been imprisoned in Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz since March 2019 on charges of supporting an opposition group. During her over five years in prison, Hamidi has been deprived of adequate medical treatment despite suffering from multiple health conditions, according to the Coordinating Council of Cultural Organizations of Iran. The council states that Hamidi, who is serving a 15-year sentence, has not had a single day of medical leave from the prison. She suffers from thyroid dysfunction, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic headaches, and cataracts in both eyes that are bleeding due to lack of care. The council considers the "denial of medical services" to inmates like Hamidi as "a form of systematic torture to harass prisoners" by Iranian authorities as a means of intimidation. Hamidi's family has repeatedly requested she be transferred to a hospital for urgently needed heart surgery recommended by doctors, but prison officials have refused.  

UANI IN THE NEWS 

Iran’s Foothold In Venezuela Requires A Tougher Response | UANI Senior Advisors Jeb Bush And UANI Advisory Board Member Norm Roule For The Hill 

In April, President Biden wisely chose to revoke temporary sanctions relief against Venezuela’s energy sector. But in the six months while sanctions were waived, Washington discovered that Nicolás Maduro’s regime was allowing Iranian agents to use Venezuela as a staging ground to plan attacks on U.S. soil. So far, the Biden administration has failed to warn Venezuela that sanctions will be maintained, sharpened and fully enforced until this unacceptable risk to U.S. national security ends. In February, the FBI issued an alert for an Iranian spy who had plotted assassinations against U.S. government officials and worked to gather intelligence on domestic targets. The FBI noted that the Iranian intelligence operative “has ties to or may visit Iran and Venezuela,” and was recruiting individuals to kill current and former American officials as revenge for the U.S. killing Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani, and for “surveillance activities focused on religious sites, businesses, and other facilities in the United States.”  

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS 

The Stark Reality Of Salaries In Tehran Amidst Economic Crisis | Iran International 

The economic landscape for workers in Tehran is marked by severe hardship, with annual inflation hovering above 40% for five years while wages have only risen marginally. As reported by the Tehran-based Fararu website, job listings for average workers in the city offer salaries ranging from a meager $116 (70 million rials) to $300 (180 million rials) for a grueling 12-hour workday. These figures highlight the harsh economic conditions faced by Iranian workers, reflecting the broader economic crisis gripping the country. In March of this year, the Iranian government announced a 35% increase in the basic minimum wage, raising it to 110 million rials (approximately $186) with benefits. Despite this increment, the new minimum wage remains woefully insufficient, covering only almost half of the monthly $400 that the average household of three requires for basic food and necessities in Tehran.  

TERRORISM & EXTREMISM 

US Military Destroys Two Missile Launchers In Houthi-Held Area Of Yemen | Al Arabiya News 

The US military said on Tuesday that its forces had destroyed two anti-ship cruise missile launchers in a Houthi-controlled area of Yemen. US Central Command said on the social media site X that the missile launchers “presented an imminent threat to US and coalition forces and to merchant vessels transiting the region.” The report comes one day after the Houthis said they had arrested a “spy network” operating under the cover of humanitarian organizations. The Iran-backed group claimed the network was linked to the CIA and had been carrying out “espionage” activities in Yemen for years, initially through the United States embassy before it suspended operations in Sanaa in 2015. The Houthis control the most populous parts of Yemen and have attacked merchant ships since November in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The militants have sunk one ship, seized a different vessel and killed three crew members in a yet another attack.  

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS 

Iranian Dissident Alleges Sexual Assault Threat By Security Forces | Iran International 

Former political prisoner Hossein Ronaghi has alleged that security forces threatened him with sexual assault and confiscated his belongings while he was traveling from Tabriz to Tehran on Sunday. In a social media post on Monday, the activist described the incident: “What stood out for me was the public threat of rape by a young man in plain clothes at the Tabriz airport, along with the deputy prosecutor of Tabriz breaking the law and stealing my belongings!” As he described on X, the national emblems of the Lion, Sun, and "Woman, Life, Freedom" movement caught the attention of agents, who ridiculed him. Woman, Life, Freedom became the slogan for the nationwide protest in Iran in 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody. Over 550 protesters were killed during the uprising. 

Crackdown On Dissent Intensifies Ahead Of Presidential Polls In Iran | Iran Wire 

As Iran prepares for its upcoming presidential election, the Islamic Republic is intensifying its crackdown on dissent through a wave of new executions and heavy prison sentences. Despite needing to portray a veneer of legitimacy during the election process, the Islamic Republic appears equally worried about potential protests or factional rifts flaring up. Its strategy has been a dual-track approach - allowing some political theatre around the polls while doubling down on repression. Last week alone, at least 8 prisoners were executed for various alleged crimes. Political prisoner Sunni cleric Mohammad Khezrnejad also received a death sentence for his involvement in the 2022 protests defending people's rights. Iran accounts for 75 per cent of all executions carried out globally, making it the world's top practitioner of capital punishment, according to the Human Rights Council. In response, prisoners across multiple Iranian jails have launched a hunger strike campaign every Tuesday for the past 20 weeks. 

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS 

Two US Men Jailed For Conspiracy To Sell Iranian Oil To China | Reuters 

Two Texas men convicted by a US jury in November of trying to sell Iranian petroleum in violation of sanctions imposed by Washington and of conspiracy to commit money laundering were sentenced on Tuesday to 45 months in prison, the Justice Department said. Zhenyu Wang, 43, a Chinese citizen, and Daniel Ray Lane, 42, of McKinney, Texas, schemed with co-conspirators to evade US economic sanctions against Iran from July 2019 to February 2020 by facilitating the purchase of sanctioned oil from Iran, masking its origins and then selling it to a refinery in China, the department said in a statement. Lane was president of privately held Stack Royalties, a Texas-based company that sells oil and gas mineral rights to investment funds and private equity groups. Lane’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, told Reuters late last year that the case was based on undercover government agents who offered Lane “millions of dollars in profits” if he took part in the scheme, after initially rebuffing their approaches. The attorney had called the case “an outrageous example of government overreach.” 

What Iran's Elections Mean For Biden And Khamenei | Newsweek 

The hasty race to elect Iran's next political leader following the sudden death of President Ebrahim Raisi last month has entered a decisive campaigning phase with the potential to significantly shape the nation's domestic and foreign policies at a crucial period. Most of the six candidates approved out of more than 80 initial hopefuls reflect the nation's consolidation of power in the hands of conservative religious and military circles under the ultimate authority of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and an increasingly influential Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). But how the race plays out could indicate power shifts taking place at the heart of the Islamic Republic. While, unlike Raisi's widely foreseen 2021 win, there is no clear front-runner for this year's election, two men have emerged as the strongest candidates in the eyes of many observers. They are Saeed Jalili, a member of the Khamenei-appointed Expediency Discernment Council and the supreme leader's representative to the Supreme National Security Council, and Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, a well-known former IRGC commander who serves as speaker of the nation's parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly.  

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS 

Iranian Presidential Vote: Lone Reformist Candidate Faces Uphill Struggle | The Guardian 

The one reformist candidate in Iran’s presidential election, a 69-year-old doctor who raised his three children alone after his wife died in a car accident, faces an uphill but not impossible battle to convince a disenchanted Iranian electorate that he represents a chance for credible change. Masoud Pezeshkian, an MP for 20 years, was given clearance to stand by the 12-strong Guardian Council on Sunday and has until 28 June to reach the second round of the elections called after president Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash. No reformist was allowed to stand in the presidential election three years ago. His best chance is that the ideological splits among the five other permitted candidates continue and ultimately divide their vote. The cardiac surgeon from West Azerbaijan province was the health minister under the previous president Mohammad Khatami from 2001 to 2005 and tried to improve rural medical services. Before this, he was president of the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences.  

Iran's Election Campaigns Kick Off With TV Broadcasts | Iran Wire 

Television campaigns for Iran's presidential election kicked off Monday evening with state TV broadcasts showing the campaigns of three candidates. Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, hardliner Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, and conservative Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi were on state TV Monday night. According to state TV's unannounced schedule, five debates between the candidates are planned during this election cycle. But the first night put the spotlight only on Pezeshkian, Ghalibaf, and Ghazizadeh Hashemi delivering separate interviews. Unlike past reformist candidates, Pezeshkian did not promise sweeping changes, instead emphasizing implementing existing laws and policies, especially on economic issues. He cited enacting anti-money laundering reforms in line with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards as a priority. "I don't care if we accept FATF or not, at least we should have a domestic FATF to understand where the money is going," Pezeshkian said.  

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN 

Iran Hopes To Finalize 20-Year Pact With Russia As Bagheri Kani Meets Lavrov | Al Monitor 

Iran's ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, said on Tuesday his country is working hard to finalize a long-term partnership deal with Russia by the end of 2024, as Moscow and Tehran grow closer in the aftermath of the Ukraine war and the Western sanctions imposed on both. Jalali, according to an interview published by the official IRNA news agency, said that different Iranian authorities were reviewing the draft agreement before it was to be ultimately signed. The envoy was responding to questions in Iran regarding Russian media reports that the agreement was hanging in the balance due to delays in Tehran. He said the original Russian reports had not used the word "suspension" and instead accused Iranian outlets of "hastily mistranslating and reporting fake news." Earlier that the same day, Russia's state news agency, Ria Novosti, cited senior Foreign Ministry official Zamir Kabulov as saying that "the process of work on the agreement has been suspended due to problems with Iranian partners." Kabulov had added, however, that "the work will be completed."  

Thousands Of Launches Per Day: What Does Hezbollah's Arsenal Look Like Today? | The Jerusalem Post 

Hezbollah’s weaponry has seen significant developments in its arsenal of rockets, UAVs, and precision missiles, the Alma Research and Education Center stated in its report on Monday. According to updated estimates, Hezbollah now possesses a few thousand precision missiles and rockets out of a total stockpile of 75,000. This precision arsenal is not restricted to the Fateh-110 missiles but includes various types of rockets undergoing precision enhancement processes. The number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Hezbollah's possession has also increased. In 2021, the estimate was around 2,000 UAVs. The current estimate suggests approximately 2,500 UAVs, though questions remain as to whether this may be an underestimate, the Alma Center’s report noted. Hezbollah’s close connections to Iran remain critical, as well, as the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS) plays a crucial role in developing arms.  

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN 

UN Chief Demands Release of Aid Workers in Yemen | Voice of America 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for the immediate release of all staff held in Yemen by de facto Houthi authorities. The Iran-backed rebels on Monday announced that they’d arrested 13 U.N. staffers, claiming that their employer was linked to the CIA and that they had been conducting "espionage" operations in the country for years. Four other U.N. personnel have been detained in the country since they were arrested in 2021 and 2023. They have had no access to their agency or families. Meeting with Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg on Tuesday, Guterres said that he rejects the allegations and is deeply worried about the conditions the detainees are being held in. “This is an alarming development that raises serious concerns about the Houthis’ commitment to a negotiated solution to the conflict. The United Nations condemns all arbitrary detention of civilians,” Guterres said in a statement. “I demand the immediate and unconditional release of all detained U.N. personnel.”  

IRAQ & IRAN 

Iran Seeks Release Of IRGC Officer Held In Iraq For Murder Of American | Iran International 

Iran says Iraq has rejected US request to extradite Mohammadreza Nouri, a Revolutionary Guard officer who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of an American in Iraq. Kazem Gharibabadi, the deputy of Iran's Judiciary for International Affairs denied the allegations against Nouri on Monday, describing the member of IRGC’s extraterritorial Quds Force as "defender of the shrine." The Islamic Republic refers to its forces sent to Syria as defenders of the shrine of Zeynab, the sister of the third Shiite Imam. Nouri also holds Syrian citizenship , where he was known by his nom de guerre "Abu Abbas." According to Iran International's sources, after the war in Syria, Nouri went to Iraq, where he used his connections to secure commercial contracts for companies affiliated with the IRGC. Nouri, along with a member of the Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militant group, pressured businesses into cooperation with the IRGC, threatening them that if they did not sign contracts, they would face repercussions from Nujaba.