Swedish public prosecutors said Tuesday they have charged an Iranian citizen with committing grave war crimes during the final phase of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The Swedish Prosecution Authority said the suspect worked in July-August 1988 as an assistant to the deputy prosecutor in the Gohardasht prison outside the Iranian city of Karaj and allegedly took part in severe atrocities there. During the eight-year Iran-Iraq conflict, Iran was subjected to attacks by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, a political-militant organization, which advocated overthrowing the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and installing its own government.
Weekslong Iranian protests over water scarcity present an early test for incoming president Ebrahim Raisi, who takes office next week amid mounting challenges including a grinding economic crisis and stalled nuclear negotiations with the West. The protests, which began nearly two weeks ago in the oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, center on accusations that the Iranian government is diverting water to drill for oil, service other provinces and drive the area’s ethnic Arabs off the land. Protesters have shouted “We are thirsty,” while some chanted against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Republic.
Iran said on Tuesday its security forces had arrested a network of agents working for Israel and had seized a cache of weapons it said were planned for use during recent unrest sparked by water shortages in the Islamic Republic, state media reported. Iran often accuses its enemies or rivals abroad, such as Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia, of trying to destabilise the country by stoking protests and violence. Tuesday's announcement came after nearly two weeks of protests over water shortages, mostly in southwest Iran, which have turned political and spread to other areas.
UANI IN THE NEWS
This month the FBI revealed that they foiled a brazen plot by the government of Iran to kidnap Masih Alinejad from her home in New York. She is an American-Iranian journalist who is a vocal critic of the regime. This happened before the President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes over and while Iran’s current President Hassan Rouhani is still in office. If this is Iran with a so-called moderate like Rouhani in power, just imagine what Iran and the Middle East will look like after Ebrahim Raisi takes office.
Former German BND intelligence chief August Hanning opposes a return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, he has told The Jerusalem Post in an interview. In his conversation, he affirmed his participation in the group United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) saying, “a nuclear armed Iran is a threat for the whole region.” If Iran would get a nuclear weapon this would “lead to an arms race for the whole Middle East” which he said would be very bad news for the region.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday called the U.S. “stubborn” in stalled nuclear talks in Vienna for discussing Tehran’s missiles and regional influence, likely signaling challenges ahead in efforts to revive its tattered atomic accord with world powers. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks come as his hard-line protege, President-elect Ebrahim Raisi, is posed to be sworn in next week as the head of the country’s civilian government. While Raisi has said he wants to return to the deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, Khamenei seemingly called for a more-adversarial approach in his remarks.
“The international community has Iran on the ropes,” former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly in 2013. “If you want to knock out Iran’s nuclear weapons program peacefully, don’t let up the pressure. Keep it up.” The US, under president Barack Obama, did not listen and neither did the international community. And even though in 2013 Iran was feeling the weight of sanctions and had only recently emerged from a year of domestic protest and turmoil, the US lifted its foot off the gas and began negotiations with the Islamic Republic. According to Netanyahu’s analogy, it let Iran off the ropes.
Iran’s nuclear program poses a very serious threat to Israel, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday. Trajtenberg, accompanied by a team of researchers, was presenting the annual INSS report on the main challenges confronting Israel, along with recommendations for strategic positions that Israel should take in relation to these challenges. There is a sense that nuclear talks conducted with Iran in Vienna by American and European representatives will not lead to anything, because Tehran is accumulating more vital knowledge and experience in order to produce nuclear armaments, according to the INSS assessment.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The government of the United States is mulling a ban on Chinese imports of Iranian crude as it becomes increasingly clear that reaching a deal with Iran before the inauguration of its new government is unlikely. The oil markets see the U.S. somewhat unlikely to antagonize China further, yet Washington would be inclined to highlight that it has other options to opt for should the talks fail altogether. Verifiable Chinese imports of Iranian crude amounted to some 250kbpd over the course of H1-2021 according to vessel-tracking firm Kpler, a 130% increase year-on-year, largely coming on the back of Biden-era softening of rhetoric towards China.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Angry protests against water shortages and deteriorating economic conditions in Iran are continuing to expand, a day after demonstrators in Tehran made a rare display of open discontent with the country's Islamic leadership. Late on July 26, protesters in the city of Karaj, the capital of Alborz Province, chanted "Death to the dictator," the same slogan that was heard earlier in the day in the capital, as well as, "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, we are all together" and, "From Karaj to Khuzestan, unity, unity."
Saeid Mollaei, an Iranian defector who took Olympic silver in men’s 81kg judo Tuesday, dedicated his medal to Israel, where he trained for the Tokyo Olympics. "Thank you to Israel for all the good energy – this medal is dedicated to you as well and I hope Israel is happy with this victory, today," he said after his final match, according to the Jerusalem Post. Mollaei, the world champion in 2018, left his home country and went into hiding in 2019 after blowing the whistle on Iranian leaders who he said ordered him to throw the World Judo Championships in Tokyo to avoid the possibility of facing Israeli Sagi Muki.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran recorded over 34,900 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, setting the nation’s single-day record for cases as vaccinations lag, public complacency deepens and the country’s outbreak spirals further out of control. The previous record of 31,814 infections had been set only a day earlier, providing a sense of how quickly Iran’s latest surge, fueled by the contagious delta variant, is mounting. Health authorities recorded 357 COVID-19 fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to 89,479 — the highest in the Middle East.
IRAQ & IRAN
Several powerful pro-Iran groups in Iraq on Tuesday welcomed an announcement by Washington that US combat operations in the country will end this year, an outcome they have long demanded. US President Joe Biden declared on Monday that “we’re not going to be, at the end of the year, in a combat mission,” as he hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi for White House talks. US troops would continue to provide training and assistance to the Iraqi military, including intelligence cooperation, falling short of pro-Iran factions’ demands for a full withdrawal.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Olympics has an Iran problem. Or rather, it has a cowardice problem when it comes to Iran. Time and time again, the International Olympics Committee has refused to stand up to the regime, even though Iran continuously contravenes the Committee's own bylaws. This year's Olympics are no different. This week, Iran won its first medal in Tokyo, a gold in marksmanship. The champion, Javad Foroughi, is a 41-year-old member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Five secret documents allegedly showing Iranian plans to hack infrastructure in Western countries, including in Europe, were publicized by Sky News late Monday night. Although there have been reports of such hacks by Iran and others in the past, it is unusual for a media organization to obtain actual internal planning documents for Unit 13, the cyber unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Some of the potential hacks the IRGC cyber group might be planning would target a cargo ship’s ballast water system, which could cause irreparable damage, according to the report.