Iran Still Smuggling Weapons, Narcotics To Yemen, U.S. Envoy Says | Reuters
Iran has continued supplying weapons and drugs that fuel the Yemen war despite its agreement to restore diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen Tim Lenderking said Thursday. The Chinese-brokered accord reached in March, talks between Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis, and a cease-fire that largely has held despite expiring in October have boosted prospects for an end to the conflict. But Lenderking told reporters in an online briefing on his latest visit to the region that Iran is still supplying arms and drugs that help fuel the war, which erupted in 2014 and has created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
What Is Behind Iran’s Execution Spree, As Tehran Hangs 10 Prisoners This Week? | Al-Monitor
Iran executed on Wednesday seven people on rape and drug-related charges, bringing the total to at least 10 confirmed cases of prisoners hanged this week, as rights groups sound the alarm over the “chilling” execution spree in the Islamic Republic. Iran Human Rights (IHR) said in a report that four people convicted of rape were hanged at the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, 36 kilometers (22 miles) west of Tehran. The Oslo-based group could not identify the identity of the men. It said that in most rape cases, confessions are obtained under torture and defendants do not have access to a lawyer. Iranian authorities did not confirm the rape-related executions.
Rocket That Killed Israeli Citizen Was Made In Iran: i24news Source| i24 News
The Boraq 85 is a relatively new weapon system fielded by Gaza's Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A source in the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group told i24NEWS that the rocket that hit the central Israeli city of Rehovot, killing one person, was Iranian-made. Police said four others were also wounded, and six people were being treated for anxiety. The same source also said that the rocket intercepted the day before by Israel's David's Sling air defense system was the Iranian Boraq 85 model.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Sweden-Iran Ties Strained Even More After Resolution To Blacklist IRGC | Al-Monitor
In a further sign of strained bilateral relations, the Swedish parliament adopted on Wednesday a proposal by its Foreign Affairs Committee calling on the government to push an EU decision to blacklist the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Swedish parliament urged the government in Stockholm to work for a consensus within the EU to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization. A similar resolution was adopted by the European Parliament in Brussels last January calling on EU leadership to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. At the time, EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell argued that the EU can only proceed with such a move if at least one EU member country designates first the IRGC as such.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Leaders Of Iran’s ‘London Office’ Are Stripped Of Powers | Jewish Chronicle
The leaders of the alleged “London office” of Iran’s brutal Islamic Revolution Guards Corps have been stripped of their powers by the Charity Commission. The charity watchdog has appointed an “interim manager” to run the organisation behind the Islamic Centre of England, which senior MPs have described as an “outreach centre” for the Islamic regime. A long running investigation by the Commission found the centre’s trustees failed to comply with their legal duties and responsibilities and to protect the charity’s assets.
German-Iranian Citizen Charged With Arson Attempt Near Synagogue On Iran’s Orders | Al-Arabiya
German prosecutors on Thursday charged a German-Iranian dual national for an attempted arson attack near a synagogue on the orders of the government in Tehran. Babak J. was instructed by an intermediary “acting on behalf of unknown Iranian state agencies” in November 2022 to carry out an arson attack on a synagogue in the region of North Rhine-Westphalia, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Subsequently, the accused is said to have sought to convince an acquaintance to set fire to a synagogue in Dortmund using a Molotov cocktail but was refused.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran Slams Sullivan’s Remarks Vowing To Respond To Israeli Military Action | Iran International
Iran has stressed its right to retaliate against any Israeli action on the country’s nuclear program, threatening to hold the US accountable. In a letter Tuesday, Iran's permanent representative to the UN, Saeid Iravani, made the comments to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council's president. The ambassador's threats came after US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington stood ready to do whatever it could to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and that "freedom of action" was given to Israel.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran Secures Top Spot At UN Human Rights Council After Hanging 2 Men For Blasphemy | Fox News
Iran secured a senior role at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Thursday, despite hanging two men on charges of blasphemy earlier this week. Iran will serve as chair of the Human Rights Council Social Forum for the next year, which is set to be focused on how technology can be used to promote human rights. The announcement came just days after Iran executed two men for participating in a social media discourse titled "Critique of Superstition and Religion." Yousef Mehrad and Sadrollah Fazeli Zare were executed at Arak Prison in central Iran on Monday after being arrested in May 2020 for the crime of blasphemy.
Female Iranian Artists Offer Subtle Subversion | Financial Times
In “Listen”, a six-channel video installation by the Iranian artist and documentary photographer Newsha Tavakolian, female vocalists appear to sing ecstatically, but their voices are inaudible — a reminder that women are not legally permitted to perform solo in public in Iran. “They’re singing their heart out, but the sound is muted,” the artist says, speaking from Tehran. For the original installation in 2010, she made cover portraits for imaginary CDs; the 8,000 cases they adorned were empty. Tavakolian, born in 1981, grew up wanting to be a singer, but discovered photography aged 16 and became the country’s youngest photojournalist.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
America And Iran Are Already At War – Over Oil Tankers | The Telegraph
Two oil tankers recently seized by Iran are just the latest sign of building tension with the US as the two countries engage in a tit-for-tat tanker war with vessels and cargoes of oil used as hostages to gain negotiating advantage. More such incidents will likely follow as the two nations are deadlocked over the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons programme. Aggressive moves at sea have replaced talks at the table, with the US seeking to impose sanctions on Iranian oil exports and Iran aiming to counterbalance US-ordered seizures. In the latest Iranian moves, the US Navy says the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Advantage Sweet was seized on 27 April by the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy while transiting international waters in the Gulf of Oman.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Bipartisan Congressional Group Calls For US Allies To Label Iranian Army As Terror Group | The Hill
A bipartisan coalition of congressional lawmakers on Thursday sent letters to the heads of Australia, India, the U.K. and Canada to urge the U.S.-allied nations to designate the Iranian army as a terrorist group. Twenty-two Republican and Democratic lawmakers signed the letters, which were addressed and sent individually to the four countries. The letters put renewed pressure on the allied countries to officially join the U.S. in labeling the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety as a terrorist organization. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and the IRGC is the central core of the country’s terrorist operations at home and abroad,” lawmakers wrote.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Iran Minister Visits Saudi Arabia In First Official Visit Since China-Brokered Deal | Al-Arabiya
Iran’s finance minister arrived in Jeddah on Thursday, Iranian state media reported, marking the first visit by an Iranian official to Saudi Arabia since Riyadh and Tehran agreed to resume diplomatic relations. According to the semi-official ISNA news agency, Ehsan Khandouzi arrived in Jeddah leading an economic delegation. During his visit, he is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with Saudi officials and speak at the meetings of the Islamic Development Bank, ISNA said. Khandouzi is the first Iranian government official to visit Saudi Arabia since the two countries agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a China-brokered agreement in March.
Gulf States Reevaluate Iran Policy As U.S. Focuses On China And Russia | Haaretz
Viewers from the region who watched the appearance of U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy did not get much satisfaction. Sullivan, who devoted his remarks to the Biden administration’s policy in the region, first mentioned Iran at about minute 22 of the address. His tone was not especially threatening. When asked about the conciliation agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a development that is worrying Netanyahu a great deal, Sullivan offered a relatively positive response. The administration, he said, discerns in this a positive potential for regional restraint.