U.S. Sanctions Chinese Company, Alleges Ties To Iran’s Mahan Air

TOP STORIES

U.S. Sanctions Chinese Company, Alleges Ties To Iran’s Mahan Air | The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. imposed sanctions on a Chinese logistics company that it says acted as a sales representative for blacklisted Iranian airline Mahan Air. The sanctions on Shanghai Saint Logistics Ltd., which has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, are part of ongoing efforts by Washington to shut down an airline it has accused of ferrying weapons and warriors to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad and providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

Venezuelans Clamor For Gasoline As U.S. Weighs Response To Iran Fuel Shipment | Reuters

With the United States weighing a response to a gasoline shipment from Iran to Venezuela, people waiting in line outside service stations in the country's capital said they were eager to fill their tanks, regardless of how the fuel arrived. OPEC members Venezuela and Iran both are U.S. adversaries. A Trump administration official said last week the shipment via five tankers - which are still underway to fuel-starved Venezuela - was "unwelcome." Some Venezuelan opposition politicians have criticized the shipment due to concerns over socialist President Nicolas Maduro's ties with Iran.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Releases Anti-Israel 'Final Solution' Poster | The Jerusalem Post

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei on Tuesday published an antisemitic poster evoking Nazi Germany’s “final solution” that destroyed European Jewry in order to advance Tehran's quest to abolish Israel. The poster’s language reads: "Palestine will be free. The final solution. Resistance is referendum." Khamenei displayed the antisemitic poster in English, Farsi and Arabic on his official homepage. The picture shows a conquered Jerusalem with photos of the late Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani.

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM

What Would Biden Rejoining The Iran Nuke Deal Mean? – Analysis | Yonah Bob For The Jerusalem Post

On Monday night, Tony Blinken, a key foreign affairs adviser for presumptive US Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden, gave the most detailed discussion yet of how Biden would handle the Iran nuclear standoff if elected. Blinken said that Biden would seek a new and improved deal with Iran. Yet, despite the greater detail, Blinken left key questions unanswered. He said that, “Iran would have to come back into full compliance with its obligations under the existing agreement.

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

U.S. Sanctions Chinese Company, Alleges Ties To Iran’s Mahan Air | The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. imposed sanctions on a Chinese logistics company that it says acted as a sales representative for blacklisted Iranian airline Mahan Air. The sanctions on Shanghai Saint Logistics Ltd., which has offices in Shanghai and Beijing, are part of ongoing efforts by Washington to shut down an airline it has accused of ferrying weapons and warriors to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad and providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, which the U.S. has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

Iran’s Chemical Weapons Survivors Struggle With Coronavirus — And U.S. Sanctions | Vice

Volunteers from the Iranian Red Crescent Society crisscross Tehran’s streets, distributing care packages of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “In the early days, we didn’t even have three-layer masks in our country,” Red Crescent Society President Dr. Karem Hemmati told VICE News. “We weren’t prepared for it.” Iran was an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained the hardest hit country in the Middle East.

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe To Stay Out Of Prison Until Iran Decides On Fate | The Guardian

The British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told she can remain out of prison until a decision is made on whether to grant her clemency. She was due to return to jail on Wednesday after being released on furlough in April but Iranian authorities said she would remain at her parents’ home on a tag pending a long-term decision on her fate. Many other Iranian political prisoners have been sent back to prison after they were temporarily released during the country’s coronavirus outbreak in March and April.

Iran: Details Released Of 304 Deaths During Protests Six Months After Security Forces’ Killing Spree | Amnesty International

Amnesty International has released details of the deaths of 304 men, women and children killed by Iran’s security forces during last November’s ruthless crackdown, six months after the protests. The organization found that more than 220 of the recorded deaths took place over just two days on 16 and 17 November. New and extensive research has again concluded that the security forces’ use of lethal force against the vast majority of those killed was unlawful.

Iran Courts Sentence Ten People To A Total Of 100 Years Prison For Supporting Monarchy | Radio Farda

A court of appeals in Tehran has upheld the verdict against ten citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for reportedly supporting monarchy. Documents exclusively received by Radio Farda shows some details of the legal case and the names of the convicted individuals who have been sentenced to a total of 100 years and four months. Speaking to Radio Farda, a human rights activist Haroun Askari who recently left Iran for Turkey said, the suspects were initially sentenced by the notorious hardliner Judge Abolqassem Salavati in Branch 15 of Tehran's "Revolutionary Court.”

COVID-19 Offers A Chance To Halt Iran’s Practice Of Taking Western Hostages | Trudy Rubin For The Philadelphia Inquirer

The COVID-19 pandemic has beamed a spotlight on Iran’s barbaric practice of hostage diplomacy. In this dirty game, U.S. and Australian citizens along with dual Iranian-European nationals are jailed in Tehran on trumped-up charges in hope of bargaining for some political gain. With COVID-19 running rampant in Iran, news reports claim that Tehran may be set to release U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, 48, a cancer survivor who contracted the virus in an Iranian prison.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS

US Navy Issues New Guidelines After Close Iran Encounters | Associated Press

The U.S. Navy warned Tuesday it will take “lawful defensive measures” against vessels in the Mideast that come within 100 meters (yards) of its warships, offering specific guidelines after a recent close encounter with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf. Defensive measures have typically included turning a ship away from the approaching vessel, sounding its horn, shooting off flares and ultimately firing warning shots to force the vessel away. But offering a specific distance is new for the Navy.

Iran Quietly Lowers The Temperature With U.S. | The New York Times

After years of increasing tensions that nearly led to war, Iran has moderated its approach to the West, shifting from a policy of provocation to one of limited cooperation. The change reflects an effort to avoid direct confrontation with the United States that the Iranians say could benefit President Trump in the November election. Nowhere is the shift more evident than in Iraq, where Iran has backed a pro-American prime minister and ordered its proxy militias to cease their rocket attacks on American forces. The Americans, while publicly dismissive of any change in Iranian posture, have quietly reciprocated in modest and indirect ways.

Enhance US-Israel Cooperation Against Iranian Belligerence | Michael Makovsky And Rep. Jack Bergman For Washington Examiner

Iran is still grappling with one of the deadliest coronavirus outbreaks in the Middle East and a collapse in oil prices upon which the regime depends on for revenue. Yet Tehran and its proxies aren’t diverted from their true focus — launching repeated rocket attacks recently that killed American and allied service members in Iraq. Tehran’s persistence confirms that its broader, decades long campaign against the United States will not wane.

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN

Iran Cancels Anti-Israeli Rallies Over Pandemic Fears | Al Monitor

After several days of intense deliberation and modifications of plans, the Iranian government ultimately swallowed the bitter pill and cancelled nationwide anti-Israeli rallies scheduled for May 22. The powerful Council for Coordination of Islamic Propagation cited worries about fresh spreading of the novel coronavirus that has gripped Iran for three months now. The decision was made after some Iranian provinces reported jumps in new infections following a fleeting period of respite.

Iran Refutes Reports Of Syria Withdrawal, Wants To Partner With Iraq To Expel U.S. From Middle East | Newsweek

Iran is refuting reports that it's reducing its presence in Syria and said it is seeking to bolster its ties with neighboring Iraq as the Islamic Republic pushes forward with a plan to expel the United States from the Middle East. Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency cited who they said was a well-informed official Tuesday who denied outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet's claim a day earlier that Iran "has begun the withdrawal process from Syria." His remarks followed reports earlier this month by other Israeli officials who argued Iran was gradually pulling out of the country, although Tehran disputed this.

Iran’s Leader Accuses UAE Of ‘Treachery’ After First Direct Flight To Israel | The Times Of Israel

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday accused the United Arab Emirates of committing “treachery” and “betrayal” after its Etihad Airways made history, flying the first known direct commercial flight between Israel and the UAE. The UAE-based airline sent the plane loaded with 16 tons of coronavirus aid for Palestinians on a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on Tuesday. “Today, some Persian Gulf states have committed the biggest treachery against their own history and the history of the Arab world,” Khamenei tweeted.

OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS

From Beirut To Bangui: Inside Iran’s Plan To Take Proxy Wars To Africa | The National

The Assaha Hotel is a tall traditional Lebanese stone building with a large swimming pool and tables for al fresco dining at the back. The rooms are painted gold and the beds satin sheeted. While the online booking websites list these amenities, they don't mention that the south Beirut hotel was owned, in part, by a man with familial ties at the top of Hezbollah. The mid-market, $60 a night hotel also hosted a prominent rebel from the Central African Republic on the payroll of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.

CYBERWARFARE

Israel Hack Of Iran Port Is Latest Salvo In Exchange Of Cyberattacks | The New York Times

Israel was behind a cyberattack on May 9 that disrupted operations at a major port in Iran, according to high-ranking intelligence officials and experts in the Middle East who are kept informed of covert Israeli actions in the region. The attack on the computer systems at the Shahid Rajaee port in the strategically important Strait of Hormuz was limited in scope, creating traffic jams of delivery trucks and some delays in shipments, but causing no substantial or lasting damage.