John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, arrived in London on Sunday for talks at which he is expected to urge Britain to toughen its stance on Iran and Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei. As the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union on Oct. 31, its biggest geopolitical shift since World War Two, many diplomats expect London to become increasingly reliant on the United States.
Iran's supreme leader called on all Muslims to support the Palestinian people in their opposition to the Trump administration's "deal of the century" Middle East peace plan. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a letter Saturday marking the Islamic hajj pilgrimage, said the still-unreleased U.S. plan was a "ruse" that's "doomed to failure." He also called for "active participation" in efforts to block the U.S. plan, which faces deep skepticism from the Palestinians because of policies they see as biased toward Israel.
A federal appeals court in the United States has overturned a previous ruling by a lower court that had ordered the seizure of an Iran-linked skyscraper in Manhattan, New York City. Some 60 percent of this $1 billion skyscraper belongs to the Alavi Foundation, a U.S. based entity, which has been also charged with an accusation of money laundering.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) continues to be in the spotlight of global politics. And even though the "Iranian problems" go beyond the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it is the "dying" JCPOA that is the main cause of tensions in and around Iran, be it the financial and economic blow of the United States, which uses the "oil baton" to strike at the Iranian economy, the threat of war in the Persian Gulf and tanker conflicts, or Iran's geostrategic and regional position in general.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The energy-rich Central Asian nation of Turkmenistan is hosting an economic forum intended to bolster cooperation between Caspian Sea nations. Last year, leaders of the five countries along the Caspian Sea signed a convention aimed at ending decades-long uncertainty over exploitation of its resources. The agreement between Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan establishes rules for declaring each country's territorial waters and fishing zones, but the issue of dividing seabed that contains rich oil fields is subject to further negotiations.
American and Venezuelan oil exports to India have surged as a result of U.S sanctions against Iran. By targeting the Islamic Republic's lucrative oil sector, sanctions have impaired the longstanding energy trade between New Delhi and Tehran, forcing India to diversify its energy suppliers. Iran has long played a role in ensuring India's energy security. India's rising energy consumption coupled with its falling domestic oil output has preserved its status as one of the world's largest importers of oil.
Iran unveiled on Saturday a locally upgraded radar system with a range of 400 km that could help defend against cruise and ballistic missiles and drones. The "Falaq" defense system is a locally overhauled version of the imported "Gamma" surveillance radar, the semi-official ISNA news agency said, in an apparent reference to a Russian-made system, which wasn't used by Iran due to sanctions imposed, lack of spare parts and the inability of foreign engineers to carry out repairs.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A photo that went viral on social media in Iran last month epitomized the sad state of affairs for women who simply want to watch a male sports event in person. It showed a group of men watching the Esteghlal soccer team play in Tehran's Azadi Stadium, with a woman standing on her toes behind a metal fence far behind the men and clapping enthusiastically while cheering on the players.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
An Iranian mother at the centre of a legal and political tussle between Australia, Britain, the US and Iran has pleaded guilty in a Minneapolis court to being part of a conspiracy to evade US sanctions and "illegally export controlled technology". Negar Ghodskani, 40, was pregnant when arrested on a US warrant in Australia in 2017. She gave birth to a boy in custody in Adelaide, South Australia, while fighting extradition to the United States.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The commander of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) navy has said Iran will assure the security of the Strait of Hormuz as long as it is able to export oil. Since May, U.S. sanctions on Iran have virtually halted the country's oil exports, which provide most of the money for its government budget and military expenditures. Alireza Tangsiri who was appointed commander of the IRGC navy this year in an interview with Al-Mayadin network accused the United States and the United Kingdom of designing scenarios for their presence in the Persian Gulf.
Iran unveiled on Saturday what authorities said was a locally upgraded radar system with a range of 400 km (250 miles) that could help defend against cruise and ballistic missiles and drones. The announcement comes at a time of rising tension between Iran and United States. Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone in the Gulf with a surface-to-air missile in June. Tehran says the drone was over its territory, but Washington says it was in international airspace.
Political rivalry among Iran's various factions is nothing new. Ever since the 1979 revolution and particularly after former President Mohammad Khatami's unexpected electoral victory in 1997, moderate officials-including reformists and centrists now associated with Hassan Rouhani's administration-have been vying with hard-liners and traditional conservatives known as "principalists" for a greater share of clout and resources in Iran's labyrinthine system of governance.
On July 18, an Iranian drone approached the U.S. Navy ship USS Boxer in international waters while it was on its way to the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The drone ignored multiple calls to stand down and came close to around 1,000 yards from the American ship, prompting the Marines on board to shoot it down. A statement by chief Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said the drone approached the ship and "closed within a threatening range" and that "[we] took defensive action against the [drone] to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew."
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
An official with Palestinian terror group Hamas on Saturday told a Lebanese newspaper that in the next major conflagration, should the Gaza rulers feel that Israel is trying to "break" the group, its regional allies will join forces with Hamas. This was one of the understandings reached between Hamas and Iran during a high-level meeting last month in Tehran, the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese paper al-Akhbar reported (in Arabic) on Saturday.
CHINA & IRAN
Two reports out this week worth paying attention to which could greatly impact oil prices at a crucial moment in which leaders in Tehran are desperately urging China to purchase more Iranian crude: First, Reuters notes China continued importing Iranian oil in July for the second month since a US sanctions waiver ended, though at greatly diminished levels compared to the year prior, citing numbers from three data firms.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
One of America's staunchest allies in the Middle East and a driving force behind President Trump's hard-line approach to Iran is breaking ranks with Washington, calling into question how reliable an ally it would be in the event of a war between the United States and Iran. In the weeks since the United States dispatched naval reinforcements to the Persian Gulf to deter Iranian threats to shipping, the government of the United Arab Emirates has sent a coast guard delegation to Tehran to discuss maritime security, putting it at odds with Washington's goal of isolating Iran.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran's armed forces chief of staff on Saturday cautioned Pakistan and India to avoid any "hasty decision" in Kashmir without considering the wishes of the region's people, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. Pakistan reacted with fury this week after India revoked the special status for the portion of Kashmir that it controls, calling the action illegal, a claim New Delhi denies. "The parties are expected to refrain from any hasty decision on the fate of the (Kashmir) region, without regards to the people's will," Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted by Fars as telling Pakistan's army chief by telephone.