The Oversight Board for Instagram-owner Meta Platforms (META.O) said on Thursday it was reviewing the app's decision to leave up, remove, and then reinstate, a post that showed a man confronting a woman in Iran for not wearing the hijab in public. The Oversight Board was created in late 2020 to review Facebook and Instagram's decisions on taking down or leaving up certain content and make rulings on whether to uphold or overturn the social media company's actions. The board can issue recommendations to Meta, which are not binding, but the company has to respond to them within 60 days.
Iranian pro-regime media is full of stories about everyday issues in Iran, such as tackling corruption. While Iran may prefer domestic bliss at home and doesn’t want the war to rock the boat in Tehran, it wants its proxies to carry out attacks on the US and Israel. Iran has used messaging since early October that this is a regional conflict. While Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen target Israel, Iran prefers that Iraqi and Syrian groups target the US. This is a clear strategy since early October. Iranian proxies have targeted US forces more than 50 times in Iraq and Syria. Towards this end, the pro-Iran Al-Mayadeen media said on Thursday that the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq - Kataib Hezbollah, affirmed its solidarity with the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian resistance in the battle of the ‘Al-Aqsa Flood,’ stressing its commitment to direct strikes in response to the crimes of the Zionist-American aggression.”
Today we have an interview with Iran’s top diplomat, who said Tehran had told the US through back channels that it did not want the Israel-Hamas war to spread further but that it also warned Washington that regional conflict could be unavoidable if Israeli attacks on Gaza continued. “Over the past 40 days, messages have been exchanged between Iran and the US, via the US interests section at the Swiss embassy in Tehran,” foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the Financial Times, while ruling out the possibility of direct talks between the two foes. “In response to the US,” he added, “we said that Iran does not want the war to spread, but due to the approach adopted by the US and Israel in the region, if the crimes against the people of Gaza and the West Bank are not stopped, any possibility could be considered, and a wider conflict could prove inevitable.”
UANI IN THE NEWS
…The session on Tuesday was organized by the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR) and featured lawmakers such as former Leader of the Conservative Party Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against A Nuclear Iran, and Vahid Beheshti, British-Iranian journalist and anti-regime activist were among the panelists. For months, Beheshti held a hunger strike for 73 days outside the UK Foreign Office in protest of the atrocities committed by the regime in the wake of the Women, Life, Freedom movement protests. Following the latest calls for designation, he told Iran International he is optimistic after earlier this week, more than 60 lawmakers urged the British Prime Minister to ban the IRGC, designated by the US in 2019.
…Since 2020, China has increased the volume of oil imports from Iran despite US sanctions. Small Chinese refineries buy the oil, which is shipped in illicit ways. Iran reportedly exported 1.4 million barrels of oil per day last month, mostly to China. This is almost twice as much as it averaged during Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign from 2018-2020, according to United Against Nuclear Iran. The Biden administration says it enforces existing sanctions, but the fact is that China's Iranian oil imports more than doubled sine President Biden took office.
…Yet Iran’s production has ramped up to 1.4 million barrels a day in October. Iran holds massive petroleum and natural gas reserves. “Since the start of the Biden Administration, Iran has exported well north of $80 billion worth of its oil. Billions are, in turn, given to terror proxies. Hamas alone receives $100 million each year from its Iranian patrons, with horrific results,” cites the monitoring group United Against Nuclear Iran. Such revenues support research and development of Iran’s long-sought nuclear weapons program.
…Iran exported nearly 1.4 million barrels of oil per day in October, sustaining its average for 2023. This is up 80% from the 775,000 barrels per day Iran averaged under the Trump Administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy, according to United Against Nuclear Iran, the group of former U.S. Ambassador Mark Wallace and Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose Tanker Tracker generates the best public data we have.
…Iran reportedly exported 1.4 million barrels of oil per day last month. This is almost twice as much as it averaged during Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, according to United Against Nuclear Iran.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
What Happened: The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iranian stockpiles of highly enriched uranium of up to 60% purity had increased by only 6.7 kilograms to 128.3 kilograms since the last quarterly report on Sept. 4, Reuters reported on Nov. 15. Why It Matters: Iran has slowed the rate at which it is increasing supplies of highly enriched uranium from early 2023, indicating that Tehran has not accelerated its nuclear program. As a result, the West is unlikely to pursue punitive measures against Tehran to avoid escalation in the Israel-Hamas war, despite tension between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, if Tehran accelerates its nuclear program by enriching uranium to weapons-grade 90% purity, the West would be more likely to take direct action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
United States and its allies have few routes left to rein in Iran's nuclear work with prospects for talks long buried and tougher actions against Tehran running the risk of stoking tensions in a region already enflamed by the Gaza war. With a U.S. election next year limiting Washington's room for manoeuvre, four serving and three former diplomats painted a bleak picture of efforts to curb Iran's nuclear programme, which according to U.N. nuclear watchdog reports continues to advance. The diplomats spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. According to one of the two confidential reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency and seen by Reuters, Iran now has enough uranium enriched up to 60% purity - close to weapons-grade and a level Western powers say has no civilian use - to make three bombs.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper said to defeat the militant Palestinian group Hamas fully, Iran must be confronted “once and for all.” “[T]o ultimately defeat Hamas, in the extent that we understand it [in] military terms, you have to prevent their ability to reconstitute their military forces,” Esper said in a Thursday interview on CBS. “To do that, that means you have to deal with Iran once and for all,” Esper continued. “You have to cut off the supply of arms and money and other support. And that’s the bigger issue that we’re not facing.” At the beginning of last month, U.S. deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer said Iran was “broadly complicit” in the attack by Hamas that began its current war with Israel. He noted the U.S. rival’s efforts to train and provide Hamas with arms.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Six Baha'i women in Hamadan, detained for the past 10 days, remain behind bars without any clear information from Iranian authorities about their exact whereabouts or the charges against them. The families of these detainees are growing increasingly concerned about their loved ones' well-being. According to a reliable source who spoke to IranWire, the six women, Zarin Dokht Ahadzadeh, Atefeh Zahedi, Nora Ayoubi, Farideh Ayoubi, Neda Mohebi, and Jaleh Rezaee, were only able to make a brief phone call to their families on the day of their arrest on November 7. Since then, all attempts to contact them have been unsuccessful. The families have appealed to judicial and security authorities but their inquiries have had few results.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The top commander of Iran's Quds force said the resistance front supported the Tehran-backed Hamas militant group in its war with Israel in Gaza. “Your brothers in the Axis of Resistance stand united with you … the resistance will not allow the enemy to achieve its dirty goals in Gaza and Palestine,” Esmail Qaani said in a message to the commanders of the Tehran-backed group on Thursday, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. Iran, which refers to its aligned armed groups around the Middle East as being part of the "Resistance Axis", has warned Israel of escalation if it failed to end aggressions in the Gaza Strip. The Quds Force is the arm of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that controls its allied militia in the region, from Lebanon to Iraq and Yemen to Syria.
France's foreign minister said she had told her Iranian counterpart on Thursday that Tehran would bear a heavy responsibility if the conflict in Gaza spreads across the region. "Meeting today with my Iranian counterpart in the form of a warning: the extension of the current conflict in Gaza would not benefit anyone, and Iran would have a heavy responsibility," Catherine Colonna said after a face-to-face meeting in Geneva with Hossein Amirabdollahian. The conversation was the latest between French and Iranian officials as Paris looks in particular to defuse tensions between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Hezbollah, Israel’s enemy on the northern front, is probably stronger than it’s ever been – which means it also has more to lose. That’s one reason why the Lebanese militant group wants to avoid getting drawn into a full-blown war with Israel, a reluctance shared by its patron Iran. Such calculations may decide how the latest war in the Middle East unfolds. Hezbollah and the Israeli military have exchanged almost daily fire since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. But those clashes across the Lebanese border have been relatively restrained, even as Israeli troops push into Gaza and casualties soar. A wider regional conflict -– which could upend oil markets and jolt the global economy — has been averted so far.
IRAQ & IRAN
An Iranian lawyer living in Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan sustained serious wounds on November 16 when unidentified assailants tried to assassinate him, reports say. After the attack, Sohrab Rahmati, a Kurdish political activist and member of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Bar Association, was hospitalized in Erbil, the region’s capital. Rahmati has recently disclosed he had received threats from the Iranian security institutions. The lawyer had taken on the murder case of Behrouz Rahimi, a member of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) who was assassinated in 2021 in Sulaymaniyah, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Last week, a court in the Iraqi city sentenced the primary suspect in the case to life imprisonment.