Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they struck a Saudi oil facility in the port city of Jiddah early Monday with a new cruise missile, just hours after the kingdom finished hosting its virtual Group of 20 leaders summit. The kingdom acknowledged the attack hours later. Videos of a small explosion at a Saudi Arabian Oil Co. facility in Jiddah had circulated on social media all day and a satellite photo confirmed damage at the site. A projectile struck a fuel tank at the Jiddah distribution station and ignited a fire around 3:50 a.m., an unnamed Energy Ministry official said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
Iran expects foreign companies to return to the country if U.S. sanctions are lifted under President-elect Joe Biden and some firms have made initial contacts already, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday. Major foreign companies left Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump two years ago abandoned Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and restored economic sanctions. Washington has since blacklisted dozens of foreign companies accused of cooperating with Iran.
Iranian forces continue to expand their military presence in parts of eastern Syria, a move, analysts say, that could undermine U.S.-led efforts in the fight against the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) terror group. Iran, a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, controls parts of the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, particularly areas along the border with Iraq. With the help of thousands of foreign and local militiamen, Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has consolidated its hold over a large territory in Syria since the beginning of the country's civil war in 2011.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Former U.S. Ambassador for U.N Management and Reform Mark Wallace, who serves as CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran, told JI that while he opposed the 2015 nuclear deal and supported the Trump administration’s maximum-pressure campaign on Iran, he sees the Biden team as “talented, thoughtful and reasonable.” “I think that they’re both pragmatic, self-aware to see what we see,” he explained. “And to the extent that they want to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement, that they understand their negotiating counterparty better, and the leverage and the tools that we have in our toolkit to bring about a successful negotiation.”
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
After Jan. 20, what will happen to U.S. policy on Iran? On the campaign trail, Joe Biden said he would return the United States to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran so long as Tehran does the same. Iran has made a mirror-image pledge to roll back its nuclear program and return to compliance once Washington lifts sanctions. In theory, then, returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed by China, France, Germany, Iran, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia — should be straightforward. Biden could make that decision on his first day in office.
Germany sees a chance to return to a joint transatlantic approach in tackling Iran’s nuclear programme once the new U.S. administration under President-elect Joe Biden takes office, a German official said on Monday. In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump quit a deal with Tehran that sought to limit Iran’s nuclear programme to prevent it from developing atomic weapons in return for the easing of economic sanctions. While the United States restored sanctions and announced a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, the other signatories - Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China - upheld the agreement with Tehran.
The German government says the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany are meeting in Berlin on November 23 for talks focusing on the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, days after the UN's atomic watchdog said Tehran had again breached the agreement. "Together with our partners, we strongly call on Iran to stop violating the deal and return to fulfilling all its nuclear obligations completely," a German government spokeswoman said on November 23.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Activists say Iranian security forces have raided the homes of dozens of Baha’is in several cities across the country, confiscating their personal belongings. The reason for the raids on November 22 was not immediately clear and authorities did not comment on reports of the action. Simin Fahandej, a spokesperson for the Baha'i International Community, told the BBC that the homes of at least 20 Baha’is in the cities of Tehran, Karaj, Kerman, Isfahan, and Mashhad had been targeted.
The Islamic Republic of Iran deprived a former champion Greco-Roman wrestler of his efforts to make ends meet as a street peddler. Mohsen Madhani says in a video posted on social media that "An athlete and a world champion doesn't deserve to be a street vendor." He complains that Iran's government doesn't even let him to sell goods on the sidewalk and make money for his life. He is speaking from Andimeshk, a city in the Khuzestan Province.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday in the kingdom's mega-city, Neom, to discuss Iran, as the Trump administration enters its final weeks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the meeting, a supposedly secret mission that was quickly leaked to the press. Pompeo and the Saudi leader talked about “the need for Gulf unity to counter Iran’s aggressive behavior in the region,” according to a State Department readout, which did not mention Netanyahu.
As the United States begins to transition away from the Trump administration, there is already great concern when it comes to the future Biden administration and Iran. Whether or not one supports President-elect Joe Biden, every American – and Israeli – should be concerned at the idea of a US president who is unwilling to see Iran for the sinister player in the Middle East it is. For years, Iran has been meddling in Syria (and the rest of the Middle East) and serving as a destabilizing and violent force – by funding and aiding terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, training Syrian forces to carry out their strategic operations, and setting up military bases.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The political disputes and religious differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran tend to be magnified rather than an acknowledgment of the common interests between these regional powers. Exchanges of harsh rhetoric between officials make it easy to consider Saudi Arabia and Iran only as “archenemies” and “geopolitical rivals.” However, the example of Iraq—with which Iran fought a devastating war in the 1980s that cost one million casualties and billions of dollars—shows that, when it comes to mutual geopolitical and economic interests between states, differences—including a history of armed conflict—can be put aside.
IRAQ & IRAN
President Trump’s decision to withdraw additional troops from Iraq risks expanding Iran’s influence in Baghdad by undercutting the prime minister’s efforts to counter Tehran’s proxy fighters. “Iran and its militias are going to be the primary beneficiaries of any prompt drawdown or withdrawal,” the Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior analyst Behnam Ben Taleblu said. “It puts pressure on those who Washington will be predisposed to work with to begin to hedge closer towards Iran.”
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The terms of the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict agreed between Armenia and Azerbaijan represent a grave threat to Iran’s long-term strategic interests. The effects of this are likely to influence the Iranian people’s perception of their regime, as well as alter Iran’s policy toward Azerbaijan and Syria. Azerbaijan now is in control over the entirety of its border with Iran along the Aras River. While this may be a cause for celebration in Baku, it is viewed with alarm in Tehran. This is because an extension of Azerbaijan’s border with Iran will give Israel access to more territory from which to keep tabs on Tehran.
Germany has warned citizens who also hold Iranian nationality against travelling to Iran after a dual national was arrested in October. The foreign ministry did not name the detained citizen, but she has been identified as Nahid Taghavi by her daughter Mariam Claren. "There have been several arrests of German-Iranian dual nationals in the past - including most recently in October 2020, often without comprehensible reasons," said the German foreign ministry in an online update of its travel warning.