If Iran's oil exports are cut to zero, international waterways will not have the same security as before, its president said on Wednesday, cautioning Washington against raising pressure on Tehran in an angry confrontation between the longtime foes. The comment by President Hassan Rouhani coincided with a remark by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that Tehran might act "unpredictably" in response to "unpredictable" U.S. policies under President Donald Trump.
The US blamed Iran on Tuesday for the shooting down of a US MQ-9 drone over Yemen by a surface-to-air missile, an apparent escalation of tensions between Washington and Tehran. The US believes the missile was provided to Houthi rebels by Iran, a US official said, adding that it was not immediately clear if the drone was being operated by the US military or the intelligence community. The rebels, however, said the missile used was "developed locally" and appeared to suggest it was not provided to them by Iran.
Iran's president struck a muscular tone on dealings with the U.S., saying Thursday that "talks are useless" as Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers crumbles further. President Hassan Rouhani made the comment in a speech in Tehran during the unveiling of the Bavar-373, a long-range surface-to-air missile system that he described as an improvement to the Russian S-300. "Now that our enemies do not accept logic, we cannot respond with logic," Rouhani said in the televised speech.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
New details about the U.S. sanctions-busting case against Huawei Technologies Co. emerged in court filings in Canada, including about the Chinese telecom giant's alleged dealings in Iran, Syria and Sudan. The filings also detailed discussions Huawei held with Citigroup Inc. and BNP Paribas SA about its Iran business. The hundreds of pages of court documents released in Vancouver on Tuesday shed new light on the U.S. case against Huawei and its finance chief, Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested in Canada in December at the behest of the U.S. and is fighting extradition.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the "easy" income from crude oil exports is a "longstanding problem" in the Iranian economy that has hindered the country's progress. During a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and members of his cabinet, Khamenei called for an economy independent of crude exports and encouraged a closer focus on domestic productivity.
Iran displayed what it described as a domestically built long-range, surface-to-air missile air defense system on Thursday, at a time of rising tension with the United States. Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. It says the drone was over its territory, but the United States says it was in international airspace.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The Appeals Court has upheld a preliminary court verdict against a former supporter of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for disseminating dissident information. Based on the new ruling, the civil activist and retired university lecturer in the city of Mashhad, Kamal Jafari Yazdi, should serve a minimum of ten years of his thirteen-year sentence.
Iran's government has been criticised for failing to guarantee women can attend official football matches as the new season kicks off. A deadline looms from Fifa - football's world governing body - for Iran to lift its long-standing ban on women's entry to the country's stadiums. Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said procedures were being worked out to allow women to attend national team games. "Social issues need to be resolved considering cultural principles and the existing regulations," he said.
Reformist lawmaker Mahmoud Sadeqi put forward a motion on Saturday to summon Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi for questioning on forced confessions in Iranian prisons, according to Radio Farda. The move followed an interview aired on BBC Persian during which Maziar Ebrahimi, a former inmate, detailed how he and 11 others were tortured into confess that they had assassinated a nuclear scientist in coordination with Israeli secret agents.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The Iranian has hailed achievements in the country's defense industry, proclaiming its power unparalleled in the region as the United States attempted to assemble an international coalition to isolate the Islamic Republic. A day ahead of Iran's National Day of the Defense Industry, the Iranian Defense Ministry published a statement Wednesday saying the country's indigenous military-industrial complex had become "the pillar of the powerful defense force and a magnificent symbol of self-sufficiency, self-esteem and national self-reliance" instilling "panic and terror among the enemies of Iran."
The Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' (IRGC) Ground Force disclosed on Wednesday, August 21, that his men held a military drill in Buralan heights, near the city of Maku, West Azarbaijan. Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour in announcing the wargames underscored that the goal was confronting Anti-Islamic Republic Kurdish armed groups. Without elaboration on the details of the drill and the date it was conducted, Pakpour described the war games as a "real" one.
The Iranian air force on paper is one of the biggest air arms in the world. Its order of battle includes around 350 fighters, more than twice as many as the Royal Air Force possesses. But most of Iran's fighters are old and outdated. The ones that aren't old are just new copies of old designs. The air force's squadrons fly American-made F-14s, F-5s and F-4s dating from the 1970s, some 1980s-vintage MiG-29s and Sukhoi fighter-bombers and a few J-7s that the Islamic Republic bought from China during the 1990s.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency says two lawmakers have been arrested for unspecified actions described as "disrupting" the country's car market. The report says the two lawmakers - Fereydoun Ahmadi and Mohammad Azizi - were initially taken to the Evin prison in Tehran but they were later released for about $85,000 in bail. The report didn't specify if the two have been charged with any financial crimes. Iran is trying to crack down on corruption and has arrested several persons since 2018.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
No one can secure the Gulf other than Iran and countries of the region, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, a deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, said on Wednesday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. "Securing the Persian Gulf is the responsibility of Iran and the countries of the region," Fadavi said. "Other than us, no one can secure the Persian Gulf."
Iran will not start a war in the Gulf but it will defend itself, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday. "Will there be a war in the ... Gulf? I can tell you that we will not start the war... but we will defend ourselves," he said at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
News has been confirmed on Israel's bombing of Iranian weapons and missile warehouses in Iraq three times over the past few weeks thanks to a US-Russian understanding. The understanding stipulates that "Israel's security is a priority as well as pursuing Iran in Iraq and Syria," according to Western diplomatic sources. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the understanding stresses that Tel Aviv should not officially declare its raids, in order to control regional tension.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iranian-backed militias in Iraq warned Wednesday that foreign aircraft flying over the country may be treated as "hostile" amid growing suspicions that Israel is responsible for mysterious explosions at militia bases. The warning came in a statement issued by Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the deputy commander of the powerful coalition of Shiite Muslim militias known as Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which includes paramilitary groups that owe allegiance to Iran.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Adrian Darya 1's plan to unload its oil cargo and collect fresh supplies in Greece is hitting a snag, people familiar with the tanker's operations said, as the U.S. pressures Athens to avoid any dealings with the Iranian vessel. The ship, previously called the Grace 1, left Gibraltar on Sunday after the British overseas territory rejected a U.S. request to seize the ship. The Greek government is reluctant to host the ship in its waters, a senior European diplomat said.
Greece said on Wednesday it won't endanger its relations with the United States by aiding an Iranian supertanker sought by the U.S. but released by Gibraltar that's currently in the Mediterranean Sea, believed heading for a Greek port. Deputy Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis said Athens is under pressure from U.S. authorities, which claim the Iran-flagged Adrian Darya 1 is tied to a sanctioned organization.
France's President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday he would meet Iranian officials ahead of this weekend's G7 summit and make proposals aimed at de-escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran. European leaders have struggled to tamp down the brewing confrontation since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of Iran's internationally-brokered 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.
Iran is prepared to work on French proposals to salvage the international nuclear deal that Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday. "There are proposals on the table... and we are going to work on those proposals," he said at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.