Monday, October 23, 2017

Eye on Iran: Tillerson Warns Europe Against Iran Investments

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Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson warned Europeans on Sunday not to invest in certain Iranian businesses as the Trump administration considers walking away from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions against Iran. Speaking during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Tillerson said, "Both of our countries believe that those who conduct business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, any of their entities - European companies or other companies around the globe - really do so at great risk." 

A top Trump White House official ripped Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a "terrorist enabler" on Thursday and warned businesses against engaging with the freshly designated organization. The Treasury Department designated the IRGC for terrorism last Friday, citing its support for the Quds Force, the IRGC's overseas arm. The IRGC, which touts military, economic, political, and nuclear power, has a pervasive presence in Iran's economy. Trump's national security adviser strongly urged companies not to do business with IRGC-controlled entities. "Don't do business with the IRGC. Don't enrich the IRGC. Don't enable their murderous campaign," H.R. McMaster said... "We cannot afford to do business with the IRGC, because all of us, the world, will pay for it later."

A week after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered a blistering speech about Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the most powerful military and economic force in the Islamic Republic has shown it has no intention of curbing its activities in the Middle East. In defiance of other world powers, Trump chose in a speech last Friday not to certify that Tehran is complying with a pact to curb Iran's nuclear work and singled out the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), accusing Tehran of destabilizing the region. A senior IRGC commander said after the speech Trump was "acting crazy" and was following U.S. strategy of increasing "the shadow of war in the region". Iran's Shi'ite militia proxies have made formidable military gains in recent months in Syria as well as Iraq, stretching from northern Iraq to a string of smaller cities and this week, after the Trump speech, re-captured the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.


Russia's foreign minister says the landmark Iran nuclear deal can be amended only as long as his country and other signatories agree to proposed changes.


German security officials accused Tehran of trying to develop nuclear-tipped missiles on the same day President Trump decertified the Iran nuclear deal. After exclusively reported that Iran's regime made over 30 attempts in 2016 to buy nuclear and missile technology in Germany, security officials in the country told the Berlin-based "Der Tagesspiegel" paper"Iran has clearly not given up its long-term goal to become a nuclear power that can mount nuclear weapons on rockets." The security officials added,"Despite the nuclear agreement, Iran has not given up its illegal activities in Germany. The mullah regime also made efforts this year to obtain material from [German] firms for its nuclear program and the construction of missiles."


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took the Trump administration's case for isolating and containing Iran in the Middle East and beyond to two Gulf Arab nations on Sunday, pushing for Saudi Arabia and Iraq to unite to counter growing Iranian assertiveness. He also called for a quick resolution to the ongoing crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors, which he said was unintentionally bolstering Iran. In Saudi Arabia and later Qatar, Tillerson denounced Iran's "malign behavior" and urged nations of the region and elsewhere, notably Europe, to join the administration to halt any business they do with Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard. He also demanded that Iranian and Iran-backed Shiite militia in Iraq either return to their homes, integrate into the Iraqi army or leave the country.

As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits the Middle East this weekend, he'll hope to achieve something that has eluded top American diplomats for a generation: sealing a new alliance between Saudi Arabia and Iraq that would shut the doors of the Arab world to neighboring Iran. While the United States strives to heal the rift between the Gulf Arab states and Qatar, and resolve civil wars in Yemen and Syria, Tillerson is the Trump administration's point man on an even more ambitious and perhaps even less likely geopolitical gambit. U.S. officials see a new axis that unites Riyadh and Baghdad as central to countering Iran's growing influence from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, particularly as the Iraqi government struggles to rebuild recently liberated Islamic State strongholds and confronts a newly assertive Kurdish independence movement.

US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin will be visiting the Middle East this week to discuss the Terrorist Financing Target Center (TFTC) partnership and other matters on Iran. Accompanying Mnuchin is Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. The visit is set to take place from October 25 through to October 30. The US representatives will be stopping in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.

US President Donald Trump has slammed the nuclear deal which his predecessor Barack Obama sealed with Iran ever since he was a presidential candidate. Everything he said about this shameful and imperfect agreement is right. Trump thus recently announced a new strategy towards Iran and its Revolutionary Guards Obama's foreign policy was isolationist and this undervalued America's international status thus allowing its rivals to expand their influence zones and alter balances of power in sensitive areas, including the Middle East, which were out of their reach before Obama governed.


U.S. sanctions against Iran automatically would kick in if Tehran violates new constraints, according to a draft Republican bill sought by President Donald Trump as he tries to unravel the landmark 2015 international accord to prevent Iran from assembling an arsenal of atomic weapons. The draft bill, crafted by GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tom Cotton of Arkansas with input from the Trump administration, wouldn't necessarily violate the Iran nuclear deal if passed into law. But the measure, obtained by The Associated Press, could still end up derailing the agreement by holding Iran to a series of requirements not previously agreed to when the deal was forged by the U.S. and other world powers two years ago. 

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on new sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program and on Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah militia, senior House Republicans said on Friday, seeking to take a tough line against Iran without immediately moving to undermine the international nuclear deal. "It is Congress' responsibility to work with the executive branch on a clear-eyed strategy to stop Iran's reckless behavior," Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the number two House Republican, and Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a joint statement emailed to Reuters. "Immediate action towards this goal will come from the House next week .


The deputy head of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas vowed to keep close ties with Israel's arch-enemy Iran and to maintain its weapons, Iranian media reported on Sunday, rejecting Israeli preconditions for any peace talks.  Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by Western countries and Israel, signed a reconciliation deal this month with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.

Palestinian movement Hamas said on Sunday that a visit by its delegation to Iran was a "rejection" of the Israeli conditions on reconciliation with rival faction Fatah. The two largest Palestinian groups have agreed a deal that is supposed to see Islamists Hamas hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the Fatah-dominated West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. Israel has said it will reject any deal in which Hamas does not disarm and cut its ties with Iran, the Jewish state's longtime foe. Despite this, a delegation of senior Hamas leaders arrived in Iran on Friday for meetings with government officials. In a statement Hamas's deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri, who led the delegation, said "the visit to Tehran is a rejection of the Zionist entity's conditions to cut ties with (Iran)". The statement reiterated that Hamas would not be forced to give up its armed wing. Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.


France wants to take action to tackle Iran's missile program and "destabilizing" behavior, but believes scrapping the 2015 nuclear deal would help hardliners and be a step towards future war, France's defense minister said on Friday.  


From its nine-story headquarters in an upscale neighborhood of Tehran, a giant construction company directs its operations across Iran, building mosques, airports, oil and gas installations, hospitals, and skyscrapers. Armed guards stand watch at the doors, and small posters on its exterior walls honor Iranians who have died in the current wars in Syria and Iraq. But this is not just any company. Khatam-al Anbiya, whose name means "seal of the prophet," is the most important economic arm of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. It employs nearly 1.5 million people, including subcontractors, and is led by a military commander. Yet the company's outward signs of strength belie the powerful currents of change that are eroding its business. A crackdown is being led by Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, who ran for office promising to unleash economic growth by completing a nuclear deal and freeing the country from international sanctions.


Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pressed Saudi Arabia to counter Iran's influence in Iraq by deepening ties with Baghdad as Iraq looks to rebuild itself after a three-year war against Islamic State. The top U.S. diplomat met Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the three leaders held the first session of a new Saudi-Iraq Coordination Council aimed at counterbalancing Iran's sway in Iraq. Mr. Tillerson ended the visit by calling for Iranian-backed militias that have been operating in Iraq to go home, but he appeared to conflate Iranian militias with Iranian-backed Iraqi militias-a slip-up that Tehran quickly seized upon to criticize the secretary of state.

Raqqa, self-styled capital of the self-styled Islamic State's self-styled caliphate in eastern Syria, fell to Kurdish and Sunni Arab forces last week. The event was an indisputable success for the US-led anti-Isis international coalition... However, the one state that has so far gained more than it has lost in this multifaceted regional war is surely Iran. With its troops and its proxies deeply involved on the ground, Iranian sway has grown across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It has capitalised on chaos as well as on American errors and miscalculations.

It makes no sense for a nation to treat its enemies kindly and its allies harshly. Any nation that tries this foolish approach will see its enemies grow stronger and more dangerous, and will lose its allies when it abandons them. Yet for eight years, the Obama administration followed this upside-down policy, and received contempt and bad behavior in return from nations around the world. And now, unfortunately, the Trump administration is following this policy with Iran, by "not taking sides" to prevent the Iraqi government from using military force against our Kurdish allies.


Top US diplomat Rex Tillerson pursued efforts to curb Tehran's influence in talks with his country's Gulf allies Sunday, demanding that Iran pare down its involvement in Iraq as the fight against the Islamic State group draws to a close. Tillerson's visit to the Gulf, his third as secretary of state, also aims at persuading Qatar and a rival Saudi led-alliance to open the door to dialogue -- a goal he said had come to a deadlock Sunday. 

Yemen's foreign minister Abdulmalik Al-Mekhlafi reiterated accusations that Iran is threatening stability and spreading chaos in the entire region. During his meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield in Riyadh, Mekhlafi said Tehran seeks to replace the state with sects and armies with militias in order for its project to sow chaos lives on.

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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