Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Eye on Iran: Iran's Oil Exports Hit New 2019 Low So Far In April: Sources

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Iran's crude oil exports have dropped in April to their lowest daily level this year, tanker data showed and industry sources said, suggesting buyers are curbing purchases before Washington clamps down further on Iranian shipments as expected next month.  The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran in November after pulling out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and six world powers. Those sanctions have already more than halved Iranian oil exports, the country's main source of revenue. 

Iran's lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill labeling U.S. forces in the Middle East as terrorist, a day after the U.S. terrorism designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guard formally took effect, state TV reported. Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami introduced the bill authorizing the government to act firmly in response to "terrorist actions" by U.S. forces. It demands authorities use "legal, political and diplomatic" measures to neutralize the American move, without elaborating.

Iranian authorities have a new target in their bid to calm the country's economic turmoil: meat-market manipulators. During the two-week celebration of the Persian New Year that ended April 5, Iranians found that putting food on their tables is far more expensive than before. The price of veal and beef increased 67% last year, while mutton had jumped 52% and chicken had become 63% more expensive, the Central Bank of Iran said.

This was a very good move, a very important move, the first time that part of a government has been named a terrorist organization. But the IRGC deserves it. They are a terrorist organization. They have the blood of hundreds of Americans on their hands, more than 600 Americans that they or the people they trained killed in Iraq, the Khobar Towers and a lot of other terrorist places. 


Turkey expects the United States to extend a waiver granted to Ankara to continue oil purchases from Iran without violating U.S. sanctions, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday.  The U.S. reimposed sanctions in November on exports of Iranian oil after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. Washington is pressuring Iran to curtail its nuclear program and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East. 

Iran has shut around a dozen oil wells in its oil-rich southwestern Khuzestan province because of massive floods, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Wednesday, leading to a drop of up to 20,000 barrels per day in crude production.  Iran's worst flooding in 70 years, which started on March 19, has killed at least 76 people, forced more than 220,000 into emergency shelters and caused an estimated $2.5 billion in damage to roads, bridges, homes and farmland.

With about two weeks left to the expiry of the US waiver on imports of Iranian crude oil, concerns are growing about whether the six-month exemption will be extended. South Korean officials have been trying to convince Washington to extend the waiver, but say there has been no clear response. "Seoul and Washington had shared an understanding of extending the exemption on Iranian oil imports, but the US stance has changed recently," a senior official at South Korea's Foreign Ministry said on April 12.


Statements by the leader of Iran's Ansar-e Hezbollah organization on training armed radical groups, including al-Qaeda in Bosnia under cover from the Iranian Red Crescent, have sparked widespread controversy in Tehran. The Red Crescent announced Tuesday it will sue Said Qassemi for his remarks, according to Iranian media. Ansar-e Hezbollah is classified as a hardline group formed mainly of IRGC leaders from the Iran-Iraq war.


The Gulf state of Bahrain Tuesday jailed 138 people and revoked their citizenship for plotting to form a "terror" group with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the public prosecutor said. The verdict was swiftly condemned by the Bahraini opposition, while human rights group Amnesty International decried the "mockery of justice" and "mass arbitrary denaturalization."


Iranian lawmakers approved a measure Tuesday designating U.S. forces in the Middle East as terrorists, The Associated Press reported. The bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Iranian parliament, comes a day after the U.S.'s terrorism designation for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officially took effect, the news service noted.


In the week that the Trump administration labelled Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation, volunteers from the elite force showed a different side as they pitched up in rural Khuzestan province to provide aid to victims of the recent floods. Abbas Parsaei, who runs a medical facility in the city of Mashhad, travelled more than 1,000km across Iran to the stricken village of Dehlavieh, joining dozens of other volunteers from the guards to dig trenches and deliver supplies to families in need.


The Iranian parliament (Majles) has approved new regulations that will impose further restrictions on Iran's strictly controlled media ahead of parliamentary elections slated to be held on February 21, 2020. The regulations, which are part of the bill to amend the election law, defines new punishments for those who might ignore or undermine them. The punishments particularly target the media and election administrators, Iranian media reported on Tuesday April 16.

Sadaf Khadem, who on Saturday became the first Iranian woman to contest an official boxing bout, has cancelled her return to Tehran after an arrest warrant was issued for her there, her representative said on Wednesday.  An arrest warrant was also issued against Mahyar Monshipour, the Iranian-born former boxing world champion who set up the bout in western France and was planning to travel back to Iran with Khadem this week, the representative, Clara Dallay, told Reuters. 

A supervisory body affiliated with Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has imposed a sudden ban on "Rahman 1400," a satirical movie that has achieved extraordinary box office success in the past few weeks. The decision was made after the ministry found the movie in breach of common censorship rules that include strict script-vetting procedures. 


Syria and Iran said Tuesday the United States is waging "economic terrorism" against countries that have different opinions and should pursue its aims through diplomacy instead. Syrian state news agency SANA quoted President Bashar Assad as saying the Trump administration's decision to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization was an "irresponsible move." Assad spoke at a meeting with Iran's visiting Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said the U.S. move was "stupid."

The representative of the Lebanese Hezbollah in Iran says a significant number of young Lebanese are currently in Iran, helping relief operations for the flood-stricken people. Speaking to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnin news agency, Sheik Mo'ein Daqiq said on Tuesday that the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has called upon all young Lebanese and members of the armed group to join Iranian Armed forces, "jihadi" elements, and Iranian Red Crescent to help the flood-hit Iranians.

Since 2005, the US has supplied the Lebanese army with over $2.3 billion in assistance The United States on Tuesday delivered radios, night vision devices, and other equipment worth $14.3 million to the Lebanese army in an ongoing military aid effort aimed at supporting Beirut's armed forces against Iran-backed Hezbollah. Photos of the delivery were posted to the US Embassy in Beirut's Twitter page.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Damascus on Tuesday ahead of a fresh round of talks next week in Kazakhstan towards ending Syria's eight-year civil war. Iran and Russia are key allies of the Damascus regime, and along with rebel backer, Turkey, have sponsored the so-called Astana negotiations track to end the conflict. Kazakhstan is to host a fresh round of talks on April 25-26 in its capital, last month renamed from Astana to Nur-Sultan.

Syrian Minister of Transport Ali Hammoud met with Chinese Ambassador to Syria Qi Qianjin in Damascus on April 10. Hammoud stressed the importance of his country's incorporation into Beijing's One Belt, One Road initiative - an ambitious plan to recreate the modern-day analogue of the Silk Road. Hammond invited Chinese investors to participate in commercial projects on Syrian soil, including the City of Marine Industries, to be established on the coast between Latakia and Tartus; the development of international transport routes; and the launch of railroad projects in rural Damascus.


Yemen's parliament on Tuesday referred a draft bill to designate Houthi rebels as a "terrorist group" to a higher committee for revision. Members of the Parliament loyal to President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi held their first session on Saturday for the first time in four years. The session was held in the town of Sayoun in Hadramawt province because Houthi rebels control the capital Sanaa.

Ninety per cent of Qatari funds to the EU were channeled to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated projects, two French authors have confirmed, supporting claims made since the summer of 2017 by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. One of the authors-prominent investigative journalist George Malbrunot-spoke to Gulf News about his new book Qatar Papers: How the State Finances Islam in France and Europe.


The Instagram accounts of at least three commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were suspended on Tuesday, only a day after the US officially designated it as a foreign terrorist organization. The accounts that were suspended included those of Major-General Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander-in-chief of the IRGC, and Brigadier-General Mohammed Pakpour, the commander of the IRGC Ground Forces.

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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