Friday, October 28, 2016

Eye on Iran: U.S. Officials: Iran Supplying Weapons to Yemen's Houthi Rebels

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U.S. officials tell NBC News that they believe Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthis in Yemen - including coastal defense cruise missiles like the ones that were fired at US Navy ships earlier this month. "We believe that Iran is connected to this," Vice Admiral Kevin Donegan said. The head of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, who is tasked with securing the waters off of Yemen, disclosed today that the U.S. and partner nations have intercepted five weapons shipments from Iran that were headed to the Houthis in Yemen... Donegan said the first intercept occurred in April 2015 when seven ships guarded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy attempted to move weapons to Yemen... Donegan believes other shipments from Iran did make it into Yemen and into Houthi hands. "We did not catch or pick up all the ships," he said, adding, "It's fortunate we were able to find [these ships]. There certainly are others."

Iranian energy companies including one linked to the Revolutionary Guards will be allowed to bid for major oil projects previously earmarked for foreign firms, the oil minister said Sunday. The move follows complaints from conservatives that foreign energy companies are being allowed to take the lead on major projects as Iran emerges from international isolation following its nuclear deal with world powers. Companies linked to two major Iranian conglomerates -- Khatam Al Anbia, which is controlled by the elite Revolutionary Guards, and Setad, which is supervised by the supreme leader's office -- both said they wished to enter bids to develop the huge South Azadegan oil field in southwestern Iran. "They asked us to give them a three-month period to bid for this field and we agreed," Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said at a conference in Tehran, according to the ministry's news agency Shana... Zanganeh also said that a long-awaited new model for oil contracts had not been completed. "The text has not been finalized yet. It's going through its final stages and we are currently verifying the qualifications of foreign companies," said Zanganeh.

Stepping up their challenge to the Rouhani Government, the Revolutionary Guards have publicly criticized a new oil contract with foreign companies which is vital to Iran's economic recovery... On Wednesday, the commander of the Guards' engineering branch, Khatam al-Anbia, said that it "is a shame for the Islamic Republic that talented and capable individuals who 37 years ago were in the Islamic Revolution" are now involved in oil projects with foreigners. Brigadier General Abdollah Abdollahi added, "No one is denying that there is cooperation with foreigners, since we are in contact with others in a society. But this contact must be defined and specified within a framework, and we should possess control." He assured that the Guards are "completely ready" to take on the upstream projects, for exploration and production of new fields, that would be given to foreign investors.


The west risks breaching the landmark nuclear agreement if it fails to give Iran proper access to the international financial system, a former British ambassador to Iran has argued. Sir Richard Dalton, who served in Tehran between 2003 and 2006, said in a report published this week in the journal of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in London that the US and its allies had made "some potentially significant mistakes" in respect to reconnecting Iran to global banks after the deal... According to Dalton, the US and its partners have notably failed to re-authorise Iran's access to U-turn transactions [used by Iranian banks to avoid US sanctions] in dollars, or to reassure non-US banks on handling Iranian payments, or to give general licences allowing non-US entities to use US software in their businesses dealings in Iran. Banks have remained reluctant to enter Iran despite attempts by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and his European counterparts. Among other impediments are "unwillingness [by the west], apparently, to use governmental influence with state-owned banks to get them to help carry out government policy" such as "providing clearing facilities in London", Dalton said.


Cargolux (CV, Luxembourg) is in talks with Iran Air (IR, Tehran Mehrabad) over possible cooperation in the future an airline spokeswoman has confirmed to ch-aviation. The cargo specialist sent several representatives to Iran last week as part of a forty-strong business delegation led by Luxembourg's Economy Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider to explore possible investment opportunities. "We are in discussions with them to explore if there [are] business opportunities," Cargolux's Head of Corporate Communications, Moa Sigurdardottir, said in an emailed statement. "At this stage nothing has been signed." Local press reports have indicated Cargolux will likely resume its Iranian operations with charter flights which, if successful, could lead to scheduled services. The carrier withdrew from the Iranian market in 2007.

Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed met with SAIPA CEO Mehdi Jamali in Tehran on Monday. The Malaysian minister said expansion of bilateral ties is the main goal of the visit and that SAIPA and Proton have been negotiating for some time, Persian Khodro reported. Mohamed added that Proton has a long history in Iran and "Malaysia is looking forward to expand industrial and financial ties with the country in the post-sanctions era". "Three new models of Proton products are to be offered in Iran in the near future," he added.


Hassan Firouzabadi, senior military advisor to the supreme leader and former chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, told the Iranian Fars news agency that the presence of Iranian advisors in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's support for Yemen and Hezbollah, manifested its revolutionary and religious ideology. He denied, however, that Iran meddled in other countries' internal affairs or sought to extend its territorial control. He confirmed Iran had sent advisors to the Gaza Strip and provided the Palestinians with guidance and technology.


Yemeni rebels have launched one of their longest-range strikes against Saudi Arabia, firing a ballistic missile that was shot down near the holy city of Mecca, the Saudi-led coalition fighting them said Friday... The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council condemned the attack which it described as "clear evidence" that the rebels are not willing to accept a political solution to Yemen's 19-month-old conflict. The United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan went further, criticising Iran for the attack. "The Iranian regime backs a terrorist group that fires its rockets on Mecca... Is this an Islamic regime as it claims to be?" he wrote on Twitter.


Iranian authorities executed three Turkish nationals for drug trafficking last year only 11 days after a high-profile visit to Tehran by Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it has emerged. Iran - which executed nearly 1,000 people last year, more than any other country apart from China - usually refrains from sending foreign nationals to the gallows, especially in cases involving countries with which Tehran has maintained friendly relations.

Iranian police on Wednesday launched a campaign demanding a ban on buttonless coats for women, saying the latest fashion trend was considered "un-Islamic." Police began confiscating the coats from several shops in the city of Isfahan, under the pretext that it was "western-like" and "against Sharia law." ... So far, 580 coats have been confiscated by police from shops in Isfahan, the head of the Control and Inspection Department told Mehr news agency. Police have also threatened shops who refuse to turn in buttonless coats with "strict legal and judicial measures."


The recent missile attacks attributed to Yemeni Houthi rebels, with assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, demonstrate Iran's classic use of proxies to promote its political agenda. The Houthi rebels denied any involvement in the missile attacks. However, they certainly were not fired by camel herders. The Houthis never would have launched an attack on the U.S. Navy without being ordered to do so by their Iranian sponsors. To think otherwise would be delusional. Iran has the failed to honor the Obama administration's nuclear weapons agreement. There is actually no agreement, since nothing has been signed. With Russia's support in Syria, Iran clearly feels emboldened to challenge the United States directly. And with the $150 billion sanctions relief windfall, plus planeloads of hard cash totaling more than $33 billion, Iran can easily expand its role as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, which is what we are witnessing in Yemen. The Iranian use of proxies has cost thousands of American lives, but, fortunately, this time they failed. Clearly, Iran wants to be able to control the strategic Bab al Mandab Strait, which would give it de facto control of the Suez Canal. More than 10 percent of the world's maritime shipping passes through that strait on a daily basis. Such control, when combined with control of the Strait of Hormuz, would give Iran control of all Arab oil shipments as well as all Israeli shipping emanating to and from the port of Eilat in the Red Sea. Iran would also like to see our 71-year alliance with Saudi Arabia terminated.

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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