Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Eye on Iran: Upcoming Poland Conference Not A Stage To 'Demonize' Iran, U.S. Says

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The U.S. said Tuesday that a controversial conference on Middle East stability next month in Poland, jointly hosted by the State Department, won't be focused on Iran and will have a broader agenda. The acting U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Jonathan Cohen, told the Security Council the meeting in Poland wasn't a "venue to demonize or attack Iran" or to reopen arguments about the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Iran has spent $7 billion annually on terror in the Middle East, including in the West Bank, where it wants to open a fourth front against Israel, Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told the Security Council on Tuesday. "The Iranian regime's obsession with Israel is not just well-known," he said. "It is expensive. Seven billion dollars annually are directed toward the never-ending attempts to destroy Israel." Danon spoke before the council's monthly meeting on the Middle East.

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday issued an emergency directive to all non-national-security agencies requiring them to take steps to protect their networks against a cyber-hijacking campaign that private-sector researchers suggest may be linked to Iran. According to a directive issued by Christopher Krebs, head of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, attackers have affected "multiple executive branch" agencies by redirecting and intercepting Web and mail traffic.


Iran has adequate currency supplies to cover trade, and the rial has stabilized after "a heavy attack" from the U.S.-led economic sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic, the head of the country's central bank said. Iranians need to adjust their spending habits and "take seriously" sustained efforts by the U.S. to destabilize the economy, while Iran has to confront "very high" levels of corruption that are exacerbated by exploitative currency trading practices, Abdolnaser Hemmati, the head of the Central Bank of Iran said in an interview with Iranian state television.

Iran has discovered oil in the southwestern Abadan region for the first time, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency on Wednesday.  The oil was found at a depth of 3,570 meters in an exploratory well and is "very light and sweet", Zanganeh reportedly said. "This is the first time we've reached oil in the Abadan region," the minister was quoted as saying.  

Iran's Foreign Ministry has denounced as "hasty and incorrect" a German ban on Iran's Mahan Air from landing in the country. The official IRNA news agency Tuesday quoted Bahram Ghasemi, ministry spokesman, as saying the ban on the airline was in defiance of "mutual relations" between the two countries. Mahan Air is on a U.S. sanctions list and Germany said Monday it banned the airline from landing in the country immediately, citing security concerns and the airline's involvement in Syria.

US Ambassador Richard Grenell is claiming a diplomatic victory after German officials decided to ban the Iranian airline Mahan Air from operating within the country. Grenell, who has ruffled a few feathers since President Donald Trump picked him for the post last May, told The Wall Street Journal that the move had come after "months of pressing" from the United States.

On Dec. 14, technical issues forced a Norwegian Air flight from Dubai to make an unscheduled landing at Shiraz International Airport in the south of Iran. No one was hurt. But the diversion launched a logistical and diplomatic quagmire that has left the aircraft, which had only been in operation for two months, grounded in Iran ever since. The incident is illustrative of the impact US sanctions on Iran can have on multinational companies. 


Two labour rights activists who were rearrested after speaking out about beatings and other abuse they suffered in detention last year are at grave risk of further torture, Amnesty International has warned. Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian were violently arrested in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, on 20 January in apparent reprisal for talking publicly about the torture they have said they endured in detention during November and December 2018, provoking a public outcry.


Iran said Tuesday it had formally protested the F.B.I.'s arrest of an American newscaster who works for the Iranian government's Press TV, and her family said rallies in Washington and elsewhere were planned if she was not freed. The arrested American, Marzieh Hashemi, has been held for more than a week as a material witness in an unspecified criminal case and has appeared before a grand jury in Washington twice. She has not been charged with a crime.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Swiss envoy in Tehran over the "illegal" detention of an American-born anchorwoman on Iranian state television. The Tuesday report by the official IRNA news agency quotes Bahram Ghasemi, ministry spokesman, as saying Tehran lodged a "strong protest" over the detention of Marzieh Hashemi in a meeting with the Swiss ambassador. The Embassy of Switzerland looks after Washington's interests in Tehran.

Branding the threat from Iran as "very real", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tehran was still striving to reduce Iraq's freedom and independence. Pompeo also said he was "very hopeful" that progress can be made towards ending Yemen's war. America's top diplomat said he would speak later Tuesday with UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, who has been trying to bridge gaps between its Saudi-backed, internationally recognised government and Iran-aligned Al Houthi militia.


The US Army has concluded that Iran was the only victor of the eight-year US campaign to remove Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and replace him with a democratic regime. That's one of the findings of a massive historical study released Jan. 17, the first major military review of the Iraq war's lessons. Commissioned in 2013 by General Ray Odierno, then the Army's top commander, it was conducted by half a dozen field grade officers at the US Army War College.

From the halls of parliament to the lightning-fast rumor mills of social media, pro-Iran factions are demanding US troops withdraw from Iraq in a challenge to the country's fragile government. The political wrangling is another indication of Iraq's precarious position as it tries to balance ties between two key allies - the United States and Iran. Calls for a US pullout have intensified since President Donald Trump's shock decision last month to pull troops from neighboring Syria, while keeping American forces in Iraq.


In his latest letter to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls the heads of all three branches of government a "gang," and accuses them of abusing their power to imprison his allies. The letter published January 21 on the pro-Ahmadinejad website Dolat-e Bahar (the Government of the Spring), was sent to the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei December 18.

Several ministers in the government of President Hassan Rouhani have signed and sent a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei requesting his help to finalize anti-corruption legislation related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The ministers demanded the urgent discussion of the government proposal by the Expediency Council, which has powers to approve Iranian bills.

"There are several pictures and videos showing the brutal treatment of citizens in the form of beatings in public. So, you can imagine the extent of torture that takes place in dark prison cells." This is how Kurdish activist and media personality, Hassan Karimi, explained his experience in Iranian prisons. Karimi was unfortunate enough to be imprisoned three times by the Iranian regime for the mere fact that he had a sectarian identity, as he put it.


Twenty-one people were killed by Israeli airstrikes Monday in Syria. The dead reportedly including 12 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The latest round of attacks between Israel and Iran began with a series of Israeli airstrikes Sunday on Iranian targets in Syria, attacks that have become almost routine. But this time the missile strikes took place during the day and Israeli officials openly took responsibility for them. Israel usually neither confirms nor denies these strikes.

With its troops and military infrastructure stationed just 50 kilometres from the Israeli border, Iran is threatening a military confrontation that could further destabilise the region, create a humanitarian catastrophe and send thousands more refugees fleeing for safety. Israel launched air strikes against Iranian military targets inside Syria on Sunday, killing four soldiers and injuring many more. They came after the Israeli Iron Dome defence system intercepted missiles fired towards the disputed Golan Heights.

Israel, in cooperation with the United States, has conducted a new test of its Arrow 3 ballistic missile defense system. Though both countries said this was a long-planned event, it is hard not to see it, at least in part, as a signal to Iran, which Israeli authorities blamed for a recent rocket launch at their territory from Syria. The Iranians also failed to put a satellite into orbit earlier in January 2019, a launch the U.S. and Israeli governments condemned as a cover for the development of long-range ballistic missiles.


Sudan's embattled president flew Tuesday to Qatar, the tiny but wealthy Gulf state that has offered him help as he faces protests initially sparked by the country's economic woes but which soon shifted to calling on him to step down. Qatar's official news agency said President Omar al-Bashir, in power since 1989, will meet Wednesday with the emirate's ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to discuss "brotherly relations and ways to bolster them."

It is time for the international community to "call a spade a spade" when it comes to Houthi violations of the Yemen peace deal, Dr Anwar Gargash, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday. The Houthis have reportedly been violating the Sweden Agreement made in December, which declared a ceasefire in the strategically important port city of Hodeidah. International organisations are attempting to maintain the peace as clashes continue breaking out.


Poland's President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday that the government had still not decided whether to invite Iran to a summit about the Islamic Republic. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced a global summit will be held in Poland mid-February to discuss issues in the Middle East, particularly in regard to Iran. 

The traffickers told Fardin Gholami that a fishing boat would take him from France to England at midnight, but when he and five other Iranian asylum seekers got to the beach, all they found was an inflatable dinghy with nobody to sail it. Gholami had paid 16,000 euros to human traffickers to take him from Kamyaran, in western Iran, to Britain. But on the seashore near Calais he realised he and his compatriots would now have to fend for themselves. 


In February 1979, the people of Iran threw off the rule of one dictator, only to watch as religious extremists installed another. Ayatollah Khomeini's rise to power had far-reaching consequences for the Iranian people and for much of the world. The 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution represents an important opportunity to examine those consequences and reassess collective approaches to dealing with the regime and helping its people.

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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