U.S. Centcom Says Its Forces Seized Iranian Arms Shipment Bound For Houthis On Jan. 28


U.S. Centcom Says Its Forces Seized Iranian Arms Shipment Bound For Houthis On Jan. 28 | Reuters 

U.S. forces seized advanced conventional weapons and other lethal aid from Iran that were bound for Houthi-held areas of Yemen on a vessel in the Arabian Sea on Jan. 28, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Thursday. Over 200 packages containing medium-range ballistic missile components, explosives, unmanned underwater/surface vehicle (UUV/USV) components, military-grade communication and network equipment, anti-tank guided missile launcher assemblies, and other military components were discovered on board, it said. 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard On The Ground In Yemen To Assist Houthis, U.S. Official Says | Forbes 

In a bombshell revelation, a U.S. Navy official revealed on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops are working on the ground with Houthi rebels in Yemen, providing assistance to the group that has escalated attacks on U.S. military targets in the region and shipping vessels in the Red Sea, as U.S. forces step up counter-measures amid fears of an escalating Middle Eastern conflict. 

U.S. Conducted Cyberattack On Suspected Iranian Spy Ship | NBC News 

The U.S. recently conducted a cyberattack against an Iranian military ship that had been collecting intelligence on cargo vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, according to three U.S. officials. The cyberattack, which occurred more than a week ago, was part of the Biden administration’s response to the drone attack by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that killed three U.S. service members in Jordan and wounded dozens of others late last month, the officials said. The operation was intended to inhibit the Iranian ship’s ability to share intelligence with Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been firing missiles and drones at cargo ships in the Red Sea, the officials said. U.S. officials say Iran uses the ship to provide targeting information to the Houthis so their attacks on the ships can be more effective. One of the U.S. officials with knowledge of the cyberattack said the operation was conducted on an Iranian ship named the MV Behshad. The other officials declined to disclose the ship’s name. 


The $2.8 Billion Hole In U.S. Sanctions On Iran | New York Times 

… Last week, Bloomberg reported that the American Club had insured more ships suspected of violating sanctions than other comparable insurers, according to data from United Against Nuclear Iran, a privately funded group advocating stronger sanctions on Iran.  

Western Universities Collaborated With Sharif University On Drone Technology Research | Iran Focus 

The United Against Nuclear Iran organization (UANI) disclosed a study in which researchers from universities in Britain, Australia, and the United States collaborated with Sharif University on drone technology. The Guardian also investigated the dimensions of this research collaboration in a report. The research, published in 2023 on the platform of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), involved the participation of the University of Southampton in Britain, the University of New South Wales in Australia, University of Houston in the United States, and Sharif University in Iran. Financial backing for this research came from research councils associated with the European Union, as well as the governments of Britain and Australia. 


Iran's IRGC Claims Developing Stealth Drones That 'Can Hit Any Vessel' | Al-Monitor 

Iran's Aerospace Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on Thursday that Tehran-made stealth drones are capable of targeting any moving vessel within any range, as tensions at sea continue to heighten due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The naval forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are also "advanced enough" to successfully conduct reconnaissance operations at any point, according to Hajizadeh, whose comments were reported by the state broadcaster's IRIB news agency as he addressed officials at an IRGC exhibition in Tehran. Hajizadeh claimed that the Islamic Republic currently stands among the world's leading powers when it comes to defenses, including missile and drone technologies. "We have now reached a point where the terrorist military of the United States openly admits that it is not seeking a conflict with the Islamic Republic because it is unable to resist the Iranian defense prowess," he said. The statement was made as tensions continue to rise in the Red Sea, with Tehran-backed Houthi militants from Yemen targeting international vessels. The group says the attacks will continue as long as Israel is bombarding the Gaza Strip. 


Iran Continues Persecuting Members Of Baha’i Religious Minority | Iran International  

Amid the Iranian regime’s systematic persecution of the Baha’i religious minority, a Baha’i citizen has been sentenced to nine years in prison, as others languish in prison. According to reports on Thursday, Tehran's Revolutionary Court headed by notorious Judge Abolqasem Salavati sentenced Kayvan Rahimian to five years of imprisonment, six years of the deprivation from social rights and a total fine of 500 million rials ($1,000). He was accused of engaging in “deviant education or propaganda activities that contradict or disrupt the sacred law of Islam.” Moreover, he was handed down another 4-year sentence over the allegation of “assembling and conspiring to commit a crime against national security.” Karimian has been in Evin Prison since July 18, 2023, when he was arrested by security forces. A translator, psychologist and professor at the Baha’i virtual university, he had already served a 5-year sentence for teaching young Baha’i students. He was released six years ago. The Iranian regime has barred the Baha’i community, which it labels as heretics, from studying at universities and academic institutions. 

Dissident Directors Hold Up 'Mirror' To Iranian Women's Desire | AFP 

Two Iranian directors said they have been barred from travelling to the Berlin film festival for their new movie's premiere Friday for breaking one of their country's biggest taboos: showing a woman pursuing a "normal life". Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha told AFP from Tehran that they knew they were playing with fire with "My Favourite Cake", one of 20 films vying for the Golden Bear top prize. Nevertheless the crackdown came as a shock last autumn. "They raided our editor's place and took all the hard drives and computers of the project," Sanaeeha, 43, said by videolink, calling the last months "the most stressful time of our life". "Then when we wanted to leave Tehran to go to Paris to finish the post-production, at the airport they took our passports." Moghaddam, 52, said their crime was, with the film, "crossing so many red lines which have been forbidden in Iran for 45 years.” 


Iran’s Rise As Global Arms Supplier Vexes U.S. And Its Allies | Wall Street Journal 

Iran’s arms industry is growing rapidly, turning the country into a large-scale exporter of low-cost, high-tech weapons whose clients are vexing the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East, Ukraine and beyond. The transformation of the industry, accelerated by Russia’s 2022 purchase of thousands of drones that altered the battlefield in Ukraine, has helped Tehran scale up its support of militia allies in Middle East conflicts that have intensified alongside Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. One of Iran’s top arms exports, a Shahed suicide drone, designed to carry explosives and crash into its target, was used to kill three American servicemembers in Jordan in an attack by an Iraqi militia group on Jan. 28, U.S. officials said. The same day, the U.S. Coast Guard confiscated over 200 packages of weapons originating from Iran and bound for Yemen, the U.S. said Thursday. U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East, said the shipment was headed for territory controlled by Iran’s Houthi allies, a group whose attacks on Red Sea shipping lanes have disrupted global commerce and drawn airstrikes by the U.S. and U.K., including on a drone-control station in Yemen. 


Huge Explosion Hits Chemical Factory Near Tehran | Iran International 

A huge explosion has occurred at a chemical factory, apparently a solvent manufacturing facility, in Shahriyar, west of Tehran, Iranian state media reported Thursday night. According to Fars news agency, the explosion took place at Salar Chemistry Company, about 30 kilometers west of the capital Tehran. Mohsen Hamyani, the CEO of the Qods Municipality Fire Department, said that several fuel tanks exploded at the factory, adding that firefighters are currently extinguishing the fire and preventing it from spreading to other tanks.Confirming that the fire is very large, he said that the cause of this explosion is currently unclear, and determining its cause requires the assessment of experts. Earlier in the week, Iran's main gas pipeline network was struck by at least two explosions at different locations, with government officials labeling it as "sabotage". The scale of damage and disruption caused by multiple gas pipeline explosions became increasingly apparent the following day, as homes and industries in several large provinces were impacted. 


Kennedy Backs Bill To Require Biden Admin To Enforce Sanctions On Iranian Oil | US Senator John Kennedy 

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has supported the End Iranian Terrorism (End IT) Act, which would require President Joe Biden to enforce sanctions on Iranian oil. On Jan. 28, Iran-backed forces killed three U.S. military members in a drone strike in Jordan while affiliated terrorist groups continue to target U.S. bases across the Middle East. “Iran financially supports the terrorist organizations responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and the deaths of three American service members in Jordan with the money it’s making off selling oil to China. The End IT Act would make President Biden enforce the sanctions that already exist on Iranian petroleum products so that the U.S. can help prevent Tehran from funding more militias dedicated to terrorizing America and our allies,” said Kennedy. 

US Congress Passes Bill Outlawing Ties With Syria, 'Patron Of Iran | Iran International 

The US House of Representatives passed a bill which outlaws the normalization of ties between Washington and Syria in protest of the brutal regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Written by Joe Wilson (R-SC), the “Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act” was passed by a vote of 389-32. “This bill prohibits federal officials or employees from taking any action to recognize a Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad. The bill also expands existing sanctions related to the Syrian conflict to cover additional activities and persons,” the Congress announced. Talking during the House session to discuss the draft law, Wilson said, “What happened in Syria was a merciless massacre, systematic rape, and chemical warfare used against the Syrian people.” Assad’s “ability to kill the opposition and regain territory was made possible thanks to the support of like-minded war criminals … such as Putin and the Iranian regime," added Wilson, who serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Middle East Affairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress. 


Iran's FM Calls For Islamic Emergency Meeting Over Gaza | Iran International 

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has called for an urgent meeting of the Council of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address the situation in Gaza. He made the plea during a phone conversation with OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha on Thursday, Iranian state media reported. The call for the meeting comes amid mounting international apprehension over Iran's backing of militant groups exacerbating tensions in the region. Iran-backed Hamas launched an invasion of Israel on October 7, resulting in the deadliest single day for Jews since the Holocaust. The subsequent retaliation by Israel, backed by US support for its right to self-defense, has escalated into a regional proxy conflict. 

Yemen Rebels Claim Strike On 'British Ship' Off Aden | AFP 

Yemen's Huthi rebels said they fired missiles at a "British ship" passing though the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, after two maritime security agencies reported an explosion near a vessel in the area. The Iran-backed rebels carried "out a military operation targeting a British ship... while it was sailing through the Gulf of Aden", Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said on social media, claiming the missiles had made a "direct" hit. 


The Road To Deterring Iran Goes Through Iraq | Providence Magazine 

As U.S. foreign policy adapts to Israel’s continued efforts to destroy Hamas and Iran’s escalating campaign of terrorism, other policy priorities in the region must not be forgotten. One such top priority is ensuring the permanent defeat of ISIS by working with local security partners in Iraq and Syria. Iran’s growing influence across the region, especially in Iraq, imperils this important mission and poses a broader threat to American national security beyond the region. Before the October 7th terror attacks, the approximately 2,500 U.S. troops based in Iraq frequently came under attack by local Iran-backed militias. These same militias were formed primarily out of Iraqi Shia to fight as insurgents against the U.S. after the 2003 U.S. invasion. After years of terrorism and sectarian violence, these militias were formally absorbed into the Iraqi security forces under the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), granting them some protection and authority within Iraq to enact Iran’s agenda. Since October 7th, U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Syria have faced over 120 attacks from these militias. 


Canada Opposition Leader Denies Role In Visa Case Of Iran Speaker’s Son | Iran International 

The office of Pierre Poilievre, Canadian lawmaker and the leader of the opposition Conservative Party, has told Iran International that he has provided no recommendation letter in support of granting visa to the son of Iran’s parliament speaker. Earlier in the week, a Canadian Federal Court document emerged on social media indicating that in 2022, Es’haq Ghalibaf, the son of Iran’s parliament speaker and former IRGC commander, Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, filed for the judicial review of the processing time of his immigration application and the federal court ruled that his application should be granted. The document also revealed that Ghalibaf and Polivier's office made "repeated inquiries" about the progress of his application. They were reports that the lawmaker provided him with recommendation letters. Many Iranians have demanded an explanation from Poilievre, questioning why the lawmaker intervened in this case. Poilievre’s office rejected the allegation, saying “no offers or letters of support were ever provided” for Es’haq Ghalibaf.