Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought to rally support for the country's leadership on the anniversary of the 1979 revolution, urging Iranians to turn out in large numbers to vote in parliamentary elections next week and bolster the government as it confronts the U.S. "Elections are one of the great achievements of the Islamic Revolution," Mr. Rouhani said in a speech in Tehran's Azadi Square on Tuesday, calling the revolution a "choice" of the Iranian people. "Let's not turn our back on the ballot box." Iranians are going to the polls on Feb. 21 to elect a new legislature.
Shortly after Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, the Tehran-backed Lebanese organization Hezbollah urgently met with Iraqi militia leaders, seeking to unite them in the face of a huge void left by their powerful mentor's death, two sources with knowledge of the meetings told Reuters. The meetings were meant to coordinate the political efforts of Iraq's often-fractious militias, which lost not only Soleimani but also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a unifying Iraqi paramilitary commander, in the Jan. 3 attack at Baghdad airport, the sources said.
The Trump administration is turning toward Africa in an effort to bolster its alliance against Iran. The U.S. is looking to Sudan and Morocco as key partners in the effort to counter Tehran, part of a larger American and Middle East alliance led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. And the administration is offering key incentives for the two African countries to soften relations with Israel to strengthen the alliance.
UANI IN THE NEWS
The Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif is expected to attend the Munich Security Conference on 14 February. He may skip the event, as he did with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last month. If so, the conversations will surely be more productive, being free from one of the most prominent sources of disinformation in the modern world. Given Zarif's role as an apologist for an Islamist theocracy, and the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, he should never be invited to such international gatherings.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it had charged five people in Texas and New York with conspiring to violate a law on international commerce by arranging to purchase sanctioned Iranian oil and sell it to a refinery in China. The defendants include Daniel Ray Lane, president of privately held STACK Royalties, LLC a Texas-based company that sells oil and gas mineral rights to investment funds and private equity groups.
Iranian free trade zones exported $1.1 billion worth of commodities during the last fiscal year (March 2018-19). According to a report by the Majlis Research Center based on data from the High Council of Free Trade Zones and Special Economic Areas, Anzali Free Trade Zone had the largest share of exports worth $386 million among Iranian FTZs. In terms of exports, Anzali was followed by Arvand with $240 million, Kish with $146 million, Aras with $117 million, Maku with $50 million, Qeshm with $41 million and Chabahar with $21 million.
It has now been over a year since the Trump administration began its "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, and almost two years since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out 12 demands upon the Iranian regime to change its behavior. For Iran, the "maximum pressure" campaign has been devastating. The economy is in recession, inflation is on the upswing, and the Iranian rial is increasingly worthless.
The Islamic Republic of Iran acknowledged its fourth failure in its space ambitions Sunday evening February 9, as the missile carrying Satellite Zafar [Victory] could not reach the required speed to put the satellite into orbit. The latest failure was similar to two previous cases, while in another attempt a major blast on the launch pad led to a technological fiasco.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of honing its ballistic missile skills through a satellite launch and vowed to exert more pressure. Iran, which is enemy number one for President Donald Trump's administration, said Sunday that it had successfully launched a satellite but that it failed to reach orbit. Pompeo said the technology involved in a space launch was "virtually identical" to the knowhow for a long-range ballistic missile.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, jailed in Iran since June, ended a six-week hunger strike on Wednesday, according to her lawyer. "Adelkhah responded to a written request from civil and political activists and ended her hunger strike at midday (0830 GMT) today," lawyer Said Dehghan told AFP. Dehghan expressed relief that Adelkhah had ended the hunger strike that she began on December 24, but said she remained fragile.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said Tuesday that border officials in Washington state "got a little overzealous" when they detained Iranian and Iranian-American travelers at the U.S.-Canada border last month. As many as 200 people of Iranian descent were held up for as long as 12 hours as they crossed the border from Canada into Washington state the weekend of Jan. 5-6, following a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. Many of those detained were U.S. citizens. Some had even been cleared to participate in a program for trusted travelers.
Commemorating the 41st anniversary of the 1979 revolution, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spend most of his speech Tuesday lashing out at the US administration for killing major general Qassem Soleiman. He also encouraged people to take part in the legislative elections expected in less than 10 days. His speech came amid a dispute over the eligibility of some candidates, including 90 current deputies. Most prominent reformists have been barred from running in the February 21 vote.
Over 100 American soldiers have been treated for traumatic brain injuries following Iran's missile strike on Al Asad Air Base in western Iraq. The strike came in retaliation for the killing of Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian Quds Force commander, which has become a rhetorical staple of President Trump's re-election campaign. At the time, most of the American reaction to the strike - which included about a dozen ballistic missiles, some carrying upward of 1,100 pounds of high explosives - was muted gratitude that it was limited, there were no American casualties, and there would be no spiral of escalation.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Tens of thousands of Iranians attended a pro-system demonstration on the streets of Tehran and other cities across the country to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The demonstrations marked an emerging a gap between the country and the United States with heightened tensions between the two countries. Slogans mostly reflected recent speeches given by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about the pointlessness of any negotiation with the U.S. or others over the country's nuclear and missile programs to solve economic problems of the Islamic Republic.
Iranian news agencies on Tuesday reported that "millions of Iranians" took part in nationwide rallies to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution "in a show of unity". President Rouhani, however, warned of instability if parliamentary elections in ten days are held in a one-sided manner. Rouhani is a master of making double-barrelled statements. His speech to thousands of people at Tehran's Azadi Square included a loosely veiled warning of a revolution-in-the-making if the Iranian people are not allowed to vote in "healthy and free national elections".
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marked 41 years since the Islamic Revolution in the country as tensions with the U.S. and the world remain high. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke in Tehran's Azadi Square Tuesday to denounce the United States. He also called on people to vote in upcoming elections. Last month, Iran's Guardian Council barred thousands of candidates from running, including about 90 current lawmakers. Iran considers many people voting in elections a show of confidence in the country's cleric rulers.
CONGRESS & IRAN
The Senate is set to pass a bipartisan resolution this week to limit President Donald Trump's authority to launch military operations against Iran weeks after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general. The War Powers resolution, introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), will come to the floor Wednesday with a final expected vote Thursday. While the measure is not likely to garner enough support to overturn a likely Trump veto, its expected passage in the Senate nevertheless illustrates a rare congressional effort to rein in the president's executive authority.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet on Monday said Israel will counter Iran in Syria and the United States in Iraq according to a division of work between Washington and Tel Aviv. "I met with my colleague the American defense secretary Mark Esper, and we sorted out the coordination exactly - they're taking Iraq, and we're taking Syria," The Times of Israel quoted him as saying on Saturday.
Recent threats of retaliatory cybersecurity attacks by Iran are spotlighting the need for bipartisan legislation that would provide states and localities with more federal cybersecurity advisers, a top federal cybersecurity official told a Senate panel Tuesday. "I am under-invested in cyber advisers and I have to get more resources out there," said Chris Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.