Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah repeated calls on Monday for the cabinet to seek a U.S. sanctions waiver to import Iranian fuel and alleviate crippling shortages. Nasrallah said the government should make power shortages a priority, adding the total blackout that occurred on Saturday when Lebanon's two largest power plants ground to a halt was like a "clinical death" for the country. "Let the government ask for a sanctions waiver and let the Lebanese companies go and buy ... and then we will withdraw from this file completely," Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
Microsoft on Monday released evidence showing Iranian-linked hackers targeting and at times compromising systems of U.S. and Israeli defense technology companies. In a blog post, Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center and Digital Security Unit assessed that a new cyber “activity cluster” linked to Iran had targeted hundreds of Microsoft Office 365 accounts beginning in July tied to groups including U.S. and Israeli defense companies, Persian Gulf entry ports, and global maritime transportation companies.
Iran on Tuesday kicked off a massive, two-day air defense drill in the country’s sprawling central desert, state TV reported, the latest show of force by the Islamic Republic. The report said both the army and the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard were taking part in the annual maneuvers dubbed “Velayat.” It said elite air force and air defense units as well as the Guard’s airspace division would participate. Iran regularly holds such drills and says they assess the troops’ combat readiness and demonstrate the nation’s military capabilities.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran on Monday called on European countries to guarantee an existing nuclear deal that the parties are set to revisit during a planned resumption of talks in Vienna. “The European capitals, including Berlin, have been passive spectators,” foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters. “We therefore expect all parties, when they arrive in Vienna, to know that they have no choice but to adhere to their obligations under the nuclear deal,” he said during his weekly news conference.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
India's largest port operator Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSE.NS) said on Monday that its terminals would no longer handle export and import of container cargoes from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan from Nov. 15. "This trade advisory will apply to all terminals operated by (Adani Ports) and including third party terminals at any (company) port till further notice," Adani Ports, which is part of the Adani Group conglomerate, said in a statement.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the planned execution of a young man who was sentenced to death for a crime that took place when he was a child, following a grossly unfair trial marred by torture-tainted “confessions”, Amnesty International said today. Arman Abdolali was moved to solitary confinement in Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj in preparation for his execution on Wednesday 13 October. His execution was scheduled twice before – in July 2021 and in January 2020 – but was halted both times after an international outcry.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
One can draw a clear line between the increase of Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon and the consequent increase in economic and other crises affecting the country. It is true that not every time two things coincide there is necessarily a correlation. However, it appears that Hezbollah’s role is the key to the hollowing out and destruction of Lebanon. There are several facts here. Lebanon recently went days without power, and the army is now supplying fuel. However, that doesn’t solve the long-term energy problem and the country’s debts. Lebanon has trouble importing fuel supplies, and the power stations are out of fuel. This has set Lebanon on the path to constant and increasing crises. Yet it is not some blockaded country, such as the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
IRAQ & IRAN
An alliance of Iraqi candidates representing Shiite militias supported by neighboring Iran has emerged as the biggest loser in the country’s national elections, according to partial results released Monday. The results, posted online successively, also showed the bloc of Iraq’s populist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr maintaining the most seats in parliament, leading in several of Iraq’s 18 provinces, including the capital Baghdad. Al-Sadr, a maverick leader remembered for leading an insurgency against U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion, appeared to have increased his movement’s seats in the 329-member parliament from 54 in 2018 to more than 70.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
A picture is worth a thousand policy briefs. On Oct. 4, Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, mugged for the cameras. Beaming before reporters, he stroked, patted, and put a loving arm around a Harop, a kamikaze drone manufactured by Israel. Technically classified as a “loitering munition,” the Harop behaves, in the latter stages of its mission, like a cruise missile, crashing into its targets and exploding on impact. In the early stages, however, it functions as a drone, circling high above the battlefield, waiting for targets to emerge. The Harop is well known in Azerbaijan, thanks to the role it played in the victory last year against Armenia.
Facebook Inc. said it removed dozens of fake accounts seeking to influence Iranian politics. The social media giant said it removed 93 Facebook accounts and 194 accounts from its photo-sharing app Instagram for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior. The company said the influence network posted primarily in Farsi about local news and current events in the Lorestan province of western Iran. Some of accounts sought to encourage voter turnout in the 2020 Iranian elections while criticizing the Kurdish nationalist movement, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, Facebook said Monday in its report on the operation of such manipulation campaigns on its platforms.