Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Eye on Iran: Islamic State Claims Deadly Iran Attacks on Parliament and Khomeini Tomb

View our videos on YouTube


At least 12 people were killed and 42 others wounded Wednesday morning in a pair of devastating attacks on two of Iran's most potent symbols: the national Parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The Islamic State immediately claimed responsibility; if that is found to be true, the attacks would be the terrorist group's first major assault within Iran's borders. Suspicions in Tehran were also directed at Saudi Arabia, Iran's nemesis in the region, which has been newly emboldened by a supportive visit from President Trump last month. In the view of many in Iran, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is inextricably linked to Saudi Arabia. Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line analyst with ties to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, "ISIS ideologically, financially and logistically is fully supported and sponsored by Saudi Arabia."

Gunmen and suicide bombers struck Iran's Parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday, killing at least seven people in what officials called a rare terrorist attack in the country. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks via a statement posted to its official Amaq news agency. But the extent of its involvement-if any-couldn't be immediately verified. If confirmed, it would be the Sunni Muslim extremist group's first attack in Shiite-majority Iran. Tensions between Sunnis and Shiites-who are regarded by Islamic State as apostates-are currently high in the Middle East, as Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia vie for regional influence.

U.S. and Iran-backed forces are locked in a race to take Islamic State strongholds in southeastern Syria and seize a stretch of land that will either cement Tehran's regional ambitions, or stifle them.  The scramble for pole position in Deir al-Zour province is likely to be one of the most consequential fights against the extremist group in Syria, posing a regional test for President Trump as his administration turns up the rhetoric against Iran. While the battle for the Islamic State's most famous Syrian stronghold of Raqqa is heating up, there are signs that an offensive to seize Deir al-Zour will be tougher, and have greater consequences for the group's long-term survival as a force holding significant territory.


Iran told the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Tuesday it would ship 20 tonnes of heavy water abroad to avoid breaching a limit on its stock of that substance under a landmark deal with six world powers, officials said. Heavy water, a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium, is not the most sensitive part of Iran's nuclear program. But Tehran's stock of it is restricted to 130 tonnes under its 2015 deal with the major powers. Iran has already breached that limit twice since the deal imposed restrictions on its nuclear activities in January last year, when sanctions against Tehran were also lifted under the agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump has called the agreement "the worst deal ever negotiated" and Washington strongly criticized Iran when it breached its heavy water limit last year.


State Department officials determined that Iran hacked their emails and social media accounts during a particularly sensitive week for the nuclear deal in the fall of 2015, according to multiple sources familiar with the details of the cyber attack. The attack took place within days of the deal overcoming opposition in Congress in late September that year. That same week, Iranian officials and negotiators for the United States and other world powers were beginning the process of hashing out a series of agreements allowing Tehran to meet previously determined implementation deadlines. Critics regard these agreements as "secret side deals" and "loopholes" initially disclosed only to Congress. Sources familiar with the details of the attack said it sent shockwaves through the State Department and the private-contractor community working on Iran-related issues.


A group of leading senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have been negotiating a way to pass more stringent sanctions against Russia in the coming week, by piggybacking on an upcoming a measure cracking down on ballistic missile tests in Iran. The talks, which according to senior Senate aides involve the heads of at least the Banking and Senate Foreign Relations committees, plus Senate leaders and a handful of Congress' most outspoken Russia critics, are geared toward attaching Russia sanctions by amendment to a popular Iran sanctions bill the Senate is expected to take up Wednesday - just as intelligence and Justice Department officials head to Capitol Hill to testify about alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election. Former FBI director James B. Comey is expected to testify Thursday.


In its latest Global Economic Prospects report, the World Bank has slightly lowered its forecast for Iran's real GDP growth up until 2019, while putting the inflation rate at double digits for the current fiscal year that started on March 21.  According to the most recent flagship report released by the international financial institution, Iran's GDP will grow 4% in 2017 while the country will register a respective growth of 4.1% and 4.2% for the following two years. That is while in its previous report in January, WB had predicted a slightly better growth picture. The numbers in the June report indicate that the Washington-based institution has revised down its growth forecast for Iran in 2017 by 1.2%. The downward revision is attributed to a limited spare capacity in oil production and "difficulty in accessing finance which weigh on the country's growth".


American warplanes bombed an Iranian-backed militia that entered a supposed no-go zone near a U.S garrison in southern Syria on Tuesday, U.S. officials said. The strike marked the second by a U.S. aircraft in less than a month and signals a growing risk of direct conflict between American and Iranian forces and their partners in Syria. The air raid came after the militia aligned with the Syrian regime and Iran failed to heed a warning to leave the area. U.S. officials said that the force of about 60 fighters armed with tanks and anti-aircraft weapons entered an exclusion zone around the base at al Tanf, where American Special Operations Forces train Syrian rebels. Before unleashing their bombs, American military officials first contacted their Russian counterparts who are allied with the Iranian-backed force. But when the new column refused to leave, the Americans struck. It is unclear how many casualties resulted.

The United States counts on its regular communications with Russia to help avoid a conflict with Iranian-backed forces threatening U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in southern Syria, a U.S. envoy in Baghdad said on Wednesday. Brett McGurk, the American envoy to the international coalition against Islamic State, said a U.S. air strike on Tuesday against Iranian-backed fighters in Syria supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was meant to defend American forces there. "We really do depend upon the Russians through our de-confliction military channels ... to help work these things out, and so we hope obviously that will not happen again," he said, referring to the strikes on the Iranian-backed forces. The U.S. military launched a similar air strike on Iranian-backed forces in Syria on May 18.


Qatar is in talks with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water supplies amid concerns of possible shortages two days after its biggest suppliers, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, cut trade and diplomatic ties with the import-dependent country. "We are in talks with Turkey and Iran and other countries," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, adding that the supplies would be brought in through Qatar Airways cargo flights. The official said there were enough grain supplies in the market in Qatar to last four weeks and that the government also had large strategic food reserves in Doha.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is to visit Turkey on Wednesday at his own request, Turkish foreign ministry sources said, as a dispute between Gulf powers and Qatar escalates. The sources said Zarif would discuss bilateral and regional matters. Efforts to defuse the Qatar crisis -- prompted on Monday when the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others severed diplomatic ties with it over alleged support for Islamist groups and Iran -- have showed no immediate signs of success. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has been on a push to resolve the crisis, has said that isolating Qatar, including by the use of sanctions, would not resolve the rift. "It will not contribute to solving any problem to try and isolate in this way Qatar, which we know for sure has fought very effectively against terrorist groups," he said following a fast-breaking dinner for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday.


The Saudi-led rupture with Qatar is backfiring where Iran is concerned -- at least for now. If the severing of ties was intended to force the Gulf nation back into Saudi Arabia's fold and further isolate its key rival, Shiite Iran, then the opposite is happening. Qatar responded to the blockade by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt by rerouting flights to Africa and Europe via Iran, which has rallied to its ally's defense. "In terms of Realpolitik, this is good for Iran," said Foad Izadi, a member of the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran. Qatar is "blocked from all sides except the side that looks at Iran."

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir said Iran must be punished for its interference in the region and support for terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Al Arabiya News Channel reported him as saying early Wednesday. Jubeir, who is in Paris since Tuesday, said that Iran is a host for some Al-Qaeda leaders as well as other commanders from other terrorist organizations. The minister further urged Iran not to interfere, describing Tehran as the number one supporter for terrorism in the world. For Iran to be a "normal state," it must respect international law, he said. Jubeir also said that the Iranian regime's "political ideas" are completely rejected. The minister said the Iranian regime for the past 37 years attacked more than 12 embassies. Saudi Arabia alongside seven other countries, including Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Maldives, Mauritius and Mauritania, have recently severed its ties with Qatar.


After Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's electoral victory Saturday, what's next for the Islamic Republic? Here's some things to watch for: Those backing Ebrahim Raisi will accept the results. However, hard-liners within Iran's judiciary and security services will continue to pressure Rouhani in different ways. Even before the vote, hard-line elements routinely detained dual nationals, likely seeking concessions from the West. Artists, journalists, models and others have been targeted in crackdowns on expression. Hard-liners probably will challenge Rouhani in the country's parliament, especially over social issues or any measure that appears to be accepting or promoting Western culture. The paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will continue to launch ballistic missiles and have close encounters with U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf.


Given his past statements regarding Islam, his administration's mishandled rollout of the travel moratorium on certain Muslim-majority countries, and his general penchant for undiplomatic statements, President Donald Trump's first trip to the Middle East last month was a surprising success. Saudi Arabia rolled out the red carpet for him as it never had for his predecessor, he inked a $110 billion arms agreement with Saudi Arabia, and his speech in Riyadh to more than 50 leaders and representatives from across the Muslim world, calling for them to unite to resist Iranian aggression and fight the sources of extremism that have metastasized in the threat posed by the Islamic State, was generally well-received.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment