**NOTE: UANI’s Eye On Iran will be suspended on Monday, May 25 in observance of Memorial Day. It will resume Tuesday, May 26.**
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, launched into a lengthy anti-Israel diatribe on Twitter Friday as he marked Quds Day, a holiday held in Iran toward the end of the month of Ramadan meant to express support for Palestinians and opposition to Israel's existence. The leader, in 25-unthreaded tweets, compared Israel to a "cancerous tumor" and the coronavirus, as he called for the nation to be "uprooted and destroyed." The ayatollah, who wields complete control over the regime, made similar comments Friday in an in-person speech, according to the Times of Israel.
The US ambassador to the United Nations accused Iran of violating an international arms embargo as part of President Donald Trump’s push to persuade the Security Council to extend the restrictions, which are set to expire in October as the first sunset provision under the nuclear deal. “It is vitally important that people understand that they have not followed this embargo, and we have at every turn proof that they are not following it,” Ambassador Kelly Craft said in an interview with the conservative Hudson Institute today.
Iran is slowly pulling out of Syria in response to Israeli strikes, as well as growing domestic discontent linked to the economy and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli military said Thursday. Israel and Iran have for years been engaged in a shadow war that has recently been playing out in Syria, where Israel says Iran has been boosting its military presence along the frontier.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Despite signs of increased tensions and a public war-of-words between leaders, the US and Iran are moving away from the brink of direct military confrontation as Tehran scrambles for a way out of another costly crisis, according to recent reports. The change comes as Iran, hard-hit by US sanctions, the decline in oil revenue and the coronavirus pandemic, looks to avert another obstacle that could deepen public unrest at home and further alienate it from European countries ahead of a crucial UN vote in October.
Venezuela says it will use its military to escort Iranian fuel tankers nearing its shores. The South American country’s ambassador to the UN said Wednesday this comes amid threats from the United States against the vessels. “Today, the coercion has reached a new danger with the threat of military force against five Iranian tankers bringing gasoline to Venezuela,” Samuel Moncada said in a statement. The South American country and OPEC member once had a thriving oil industry, but years of political and economic chaos in the country have created dire fuel shortages, in part because of major issues involving its refineries.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The husband of one of Iran’s most prominent jailed dissidents has strongly criticized authorities for not furloughing her from a coronavirus-plagued prison where he says her health is in danger. In a Thursday phone interview with VOA Persian from Tehran, Reza Khandan faulted the Iranian government for temporarily freeing thousands of common criminals from jails since late February in part to protect them from the virus, while refusing to do the same for dissidents such as his wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
In April, Germany announced it was formally banning activities of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah from its soil. This historic development shows that the rest of the world is increasingly joining America's efforts to isolate and combat this violent organization, and we urge our allies and partners to follow Germany's example. The Trump administration has recognized from the outset that Hezbollah was the Iranian regime's most dangerous and capable terrorist proxy.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
The story of the biblical queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai is among the most dramatic and moving in the Old Testament: After the pair learn of a plot to destroy the Jews hatched by the evil vizier Haman, Esther uses her wiles and beauty to persuade her husband, the Iranian emperor Xerxes, to save her people. Two and a half millennia later, Jew-haters threaten a shrine and tomb dedicated to Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan, Iran, and there sadly is no Xerxes to protect Jewish memory. Last week, an assailant entered the tomb and attempted to set fire to it. Mercifully, the result was only minor smoke damage.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
The Arab League has condemned Iran’s continued interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries — both directly and through its proxies — which it said posed a risk to regional security and stability. It denounced Tehran’s constant aggressive behavior and provocative media activities, pointing in particular to the recent press appearance of a senior official from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, during which flags and banners of a number of militias as well as armed movements sponsored, financed, and backed by Iran, were displayed.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians on Friday to continue their uprising against Israel, suggesting the Israeli government was a “tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were liberated. Opposition to Israel is a touchstone of belief for Shi’ite-led Iran, which backs Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic militant groups opposed to peace with the Jewish state, which Tehran refuses to recognize. “The uprising by Palestinians should continue ... fight to liberate Palestine is an obligation and an Islamic jihad ... The Zionist regime (Israel) is a cancerous tumor in the region.” Iran’s top authority Khamenei said in an online speech.
The simmering cyber conflict between Iran and Israel reached a boiling point this week as the two enemies have been going tit-for-tat in an effort to quietly take down critical infrastructure that security analysts dub something of an electronic cold war. “The fact that Iran is behaving so aggressively, and trying to disrupt critical services in Israel, is very disturbing,” David Kennedy, founder/CEO of TrustedSec, and a former hacker for the NSA and U.S. Marine Corps told Fox News.
The Trump administration believes Iran has growing incentives to pull out of a multibillion-dollar military campaign in Syria as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the country, the U.S. State Department’s top official for Iran told Foreign Policy. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said the United States has seen “tactical displacement” of Iranian troops in Syria, where Tehran-backed militias have provided much of the firepower for the Bashar al-Assad regime’s assault on Idlib province, one of the last remaining opposition holdouts in the war-torn country.
Iran's supreme leader said it was an "Islamic duty" to fight for the "liberation of Palestine" in a landmark speech Friday amid rising tensions with regional arch-enemy Israel. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lashed out at Western nations and their Arab "puppets" for supporting the Jewish state, in his first ever address marking Quds (Jerusalem) Day. The 80-year-old leader also appeared to confirm for the first time that Iran has helped to provide Palestinians with arms.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel will not survive and will "be eliminated" on Twitter Friday morning. "First, I would like to highlight the magnitude of the tragedy of the occupation of #Palestine and the formation of the Zionist cancerous tumor in that country," Khamenei said. Among crimes against humanity in recent times, there is no crime that equals this crime in terms of scope and gravity".