The Trump administration has implemented an unprecedented pressure campaign on Iran's leaders with two objectives: First, to deprive the Iranian regime of the money it needs to support its destabilizing activities. Second, to force the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the negotiating table to conclude a comprehensive and enduring deal. The comprehensive deal we seek with the Iranian regime should address four key areas: its nuclear program, its ballistic missile development and proliferation, its support for terrorist groups and proxies, and its treatment and illegal detention of U.S. citizens.
Two weeks after a visit to Tehran by representatives from HAMAS, Israeli media on Tuesday August 6 reported an eye-catching increase in Iran's financial assistance to this Palestinian group. Quoting unnamed Israeli government sources, these reports say Iran has increased its usual annual $100 million aide to HAMAS to $360 million after the visit. The Jerusalem Post and Israel's Channel 12 TV say the 3.5 fold rise in aide to HAMAS is aimed at meeting certain demands by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. According to these reports, Iran has asked HAMAS to provide Tehran with information about Israel's missile capabilities.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a chilling warning in a speech broadcasted live on state-television on Tuesday. "Peace with Iran is the mother of peace," Rouhani said. "War with Iran is the mother of all war." Tensions with Iran have steadily increased since U.S. President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iranian Nuclear Agreement and re-imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran. Rouhani and other Iranian officials accuse the United States of engaging in "economic terrorism." Iran, according to Rouhani, is willing to talk with the United States - if all sanctions are lifted.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had another telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron August 6, to discuss issues surrounding U.S. sanctions on Iran and related tensions. Rouhani and Macron have been reportedly discussing ways to reduce heightened tensions in recent weeks, with several telephone contacts between the two. Rouhani's office quoted him as having told Macron, "Concurrent with attempts by Iran and France to reduce tensions and create helpful conditions for lasting coexistence in the region, we are witnessing provocative actions by the Americans."
Iran asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday to push back against the United States after it imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, describing the move as a "a dangerous precedent." In a letter to Guterres, Iran's U.N. Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the United States of a "brazen violation of the fundamental principles of international law" and urged the international community to condemn the U.S. behavior.
Iran has unveiled three new precision-guided missiles on Tuesday amid tensions between Iran and the US and European countries in the Strait of Hormuz. The air-to-air missiles revealed by Tehran are called the "Yasin" and the "Balaban," as well as a new series of the "Qaem" missile, and were developed jointly by the Iranian Defense Ministry and Sa Iran (Iran Electronics Industries). According to Iran's Mehr News Agency, the Yasin is a smart guided missile with folding wings that can be fired from a range of 50 km. of its target from manned or unmanned aircraft.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Iran has agreed to increase Hamas' monthly payments in exchange for "information about Israel's missile capabilities," an Israeli report said on Tuesday. The Israeli Channel 12 said that Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, during a recent meeting in Tehran with nine Hamas officials, expressed his readiness to raise the movement's monthly allocated financial support to $30 million. Iran has long provided financial support to Hamas, but has decreased it sharply in recent years because of differences over the Syrian crisis. The new Iranian support is a powerful boost to Hamas, which is suffering a severe financial crisis in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the West Bank and abroad.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
In an open letter to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, fourteen women's rights activists have called upon him to step down and pave the way for a transition towards a new political system for Iran. Referring to a similar demand presented by fourteen political activists last month, the signatories to the new letter published August 5 have also protested what they described as "gender apartheid" and "patriarchal approach" dominating the country.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Iran on August 6 asked the UN to push back on U.S. sanctions and the Islamic republic's President Hassan Rohani said restrictive measures must be lifted first before negotiations can start about the country's nuclear program. Tension between the two countries stems from last year when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and imposed new and harsher sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors. Iranian state TV showed Rohani meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif, who both are on a U.S. sanctions list, while reiterating that the restrictive measures are an act of "economic terrorism."
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday threatened the United States and the United Kingdom with reciprocal action, saying "peace for peace, war for war and oil for oil". In a speech he delivered at Iran's foreign ministry, where he praised the foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who has been sanctioned by the U.S., Rouhani also declared, "Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars". He added, "We are for negotiations. If America is really ready for talks it should dismantle all its sanctions and refrain from criminal actions and economic terrorism. The path for America is real repentance."
In a speech replete with both bellicose and conciliatory impulses, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic favored talks with the US administration if the latter lifted all the sanctions it reimposed following its withdrawal in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). "Before everything else, they need to remove all of the sanctions regardless of whether they want to return to the deal or not, which is up to them," Rouhani told senior officials at the country's Foreign Ministry headquarters Aug. 6. The comment demonstrated an apparent shift from Rouhani's earlier adamant stance that pinned any potential rapprochement to the US reentry in the JCPOA. "What they are doing today is but economic terrorism," the Iranian president noted in reference to the sanctions, which Tehran has repeatedly lamented as a campaign targeting the livelihood of ordinary citizens.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
The continued detention of British-flagged tanker Stena Impero is "unacceptable and unjustifiable" and there are concerns for the welfare of the crew after 19 days in confinement, the vessel's owner said on Tuesday. Iran's Revolutionary Guards on July 19 seized the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz waterway for alleged marine violations. That came two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar, accusing it of violating sanctions on Syria. Britain has repeatedly ruled out any swap of tankers.
Iran has seized another oil tanker in the Persian Gulf - this one, it says, was smuggling oil to Arab nations - weeks after it detained a British-flagged tanker and attacked several others. So far, the United States has not succeeded in building a Western-led coalition to respond in the gulf; Germany initially declined to join the U.S. last week but said it is consulting, considering and "reviewing ... in close cooperation" with Britain and France. Thus, it seems time to consider a time-honored tactic to respond to Iran's belligerence: Decoys.
Russia and Iran are to hold joint naval exercises around the Strait of Hormuz, raising the risk of a dangerous confrontation with western forces in the Gulf. They have pledged to stage the war games by the end of the year, even as Britain and the United States step up their military presence in Gulf waters with a new joint task force to protect commercial shipping. The announcement marks a milestone in improving relations between Tehran and Moscow, former rivals who have found common ground in Syria's civil war where both are supporting the Assad regime. Tensions in the Strait of Hormuz have increased since the US pulled out of a 2015 deal curbing Iran's nuclear activities and reimposed punishing sanctions that have cut off...
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Israel is playing a role in a US-led coalition to secure the Persian Gulf from the threats posed by Iran, the Jewish state's foreign minister revealed on Tuesday. The Israeli news site Mako reported that Foreign Minister Israel Katz confirmed the cooperation at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Katz said Israel was a participant in a dialogue on the Gulf situation with the US and its allies, and was also involved in intelligence operations. He said that such collaboration was very much in Israel's interest, as it helped curb Iran's power and aggression while strengthening burgeoning ties with Gulf Arab states.
The US Treasury has added Lebanese businessman Fadi Hussein Serhan to a list of sanctioned foreign nationals for providing material support to Hezbollah. The US government has accused Serhan of aiding the militant group through his Beirut electronics store.
Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based political party, is facing huge political and financial challenges because of the increased U.S. sanctions against Iran and the party's military involvement in different parts of the Arab world, analysts told Xinhua "To start with, salaries of Hezbollah's fighters who are at the forefront of any military confrontation have dropped by around 30 percent," Youssef Diab, political analyst, told Xinhua. Since U.S. President Donald Trump introduced new restrictions on trade with Iran last year, Iran's ability to finance allies such as Hezbollah has been reduced.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih met U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday in Washington and said both sides expressed concern over threats targeting freedom of maritime traffic in the Arabian Gulf. "The meeting... dealt with the two countries' concern over threats targeting freedom of maritime traffic in the Arabian Gulf. We affirmed our determination to work together to ensure the security of global energy supplies," Falih said in a series of tweets.
Operating in plain sight for years: that's the claim behind calls for an investigation into a Qatar state-owned bank in the UK with reported links to terror and extremist groups. The British-registered bank Al Rayan has been linked to at least 15 controversial entities - four of whom were banned by British high street banks - but had accounts with the Qatari institution. The clientele included people linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, proscribed a terrorist organisation by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood was accused of the deaths of 20 people in a car bombing near a cancer hospital in Cairo.
IRAQ & IRAN
Rhetoric by pro-Iranian groups in Iraq, as well as the threat from Iranian-backed militias operating there, have increased in the last several months, according to a US report. The quarterly Lead Inspector General Report covers incidents from April to the end of June and examines the US-led anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria.