Week of November 3 - 10
AIC’s Iran digest project covers the latest developments and news stories published in Iranian and international media outlets. This weekly digest is compiled by Research Fellow Shiva Darian and Research Associate Bryan Falcone. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.
Saudi Accuses Iran Of Potential 'Act Of War'
Saudi Arabia has lashed out at Iran over the firing of a ballistic missile towards Riyadh by Houthi rebels in Yemen, citing evidence that Tehran was behind the attack and labeling it a potential "act of war".
A statement issued on Monday via the state news agency SPA denounced the "flagrant military aggression by the Iranian-controlled Houthi militias" and said that an examination of the debris "confirmed the role of Iran's regime in manufacturing [this and a previous missile] and smuggling them to the Houthi militias in Yemen for the purpose of attacking the Kingdom, its people, and vital interests".
The statement accused Iran of violating the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, which prohibits states from supplying weapons to Yemeni armed groups. "Iran's role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally," the SPA statement noted. (Al Jazeera)
Rouhani Urges Saudi Arabia To Avoid Teaming Up With U.S. And Israel
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, invoking his country’s might, advised Saudi Arabia not to team up with the U.S. and Israel against it, striking a defiant tone as hostility escalates between the regional rivals.
“You are well aware of the power of the Islamic Republic, and those bigger than you haven’t been able to do much against the Iranian nation,” Rouhani told his cabinet, according to state-run Mehr news agency. “If you think that the U.S. and Israel are your friends,” it’s a “strategic mistake,” he added.
A siege feeling is starting to emerge in Iran as relations with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. worsen, unifying moderates and hardliners in the fractious nation of 80 million. Tensions deepened over the weekend, with a failed missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s international airport by Iranian-backed Yemen rebels, and the Lebanese prime minister’s surprise resignation in a statement from the Saudi capital, which faulted Iran and its militant Hezbollah proxy. (Bloomberg)
Iran's President Defends Yemeni Rebel Attack On Saudi Capital
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran stood his ground on Wednesday in an escalating regional showdown, defending a Yemeni rebel missile attack on the Saudi capital that Saudi Arabia has denounced as an Iranian "act of war."
Saudi forces were "constantly bombing" Yemen, Mr. Rouhani said, adding: "What reaction can the nation of Yemen show toward this amount of bombardment? They say that they should not use weapons? Well, you stop the bombs, and then see if you don't get a positive reaction from the nation of Yemen."
The conflict in Yemen, described by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, is one of several proxy battles between the two powers, with Iran supporting Houthi rebels who have controlled much of Yemen since 2014 and Saudi Arabia fighting to restore the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. (The New York Times)
Israel Planning U.N. Action Against Iran
Following the surprising resignation of Lebanon's prime minister, Israel is planning a diplomatic offensive to step up pressure on Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah at the United Nations, a senior Israeli government minister said Thursday.
Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told The Associated Press that he believes conditions are ripe to take a stand against Iranian actions in the region, including its support for the Lebanese Shiite militant group.
In particular, he said that Israel wants the world, after years of inaction, to tightly enforce a 2006 cease-fire agreement that called on Hezbollah to disarm and stay away from Israel's border. "The resignation of Lebanon's Prime Minister (Saad) Hariri exposes Hezbollah's real face," Katz said. "Iran is taking over Lebanon. Hezbollah is taking over Lebanon." (ABC)
U.S. Lawmakers Aim To Comply With Iran Nuclear Deal: EU
U.S. lawmakers signaled they plan to ensure the United States complies with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s misgivings about the pact, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Tuesday.
“I got clear indications that the intention is to keep the United States compliant with the agreement,” the EU’s Federica Mogherini said at a press conference on a visit to Washington.
Trump on Oct. 13 dealt a blow to the pact by refusing to certify that Tehran was complying with the accord even though international inspectors said it was. Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions. (Reuters)
Iran Remains Open To Reconnecting To World Economy
Despite years of sanctions and the fact that Iran was isolated from the international trade, Iranians managed to survive, where many others would not have managed.
Thanks to the Iran deal, aka Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the lifting of sanctions against Iran has drawn the attention of foreign companies that want to enlarge the market.
The United States’ recent strategy to the Iran deal, which allowed the removal of sanctions, does not translate into big challenges in the economy sector and should not concern foreign companies seeking ties with Iran, according to Dr. Siamak Goudarzi, the CEO of Open Iran Group, an investment consulting firm. (Azer News)
JICA To Help Reduce Water Loss In Isfahan
Iran and Japan on Saturday signed a basic agreement to cut water loss in central Iran with an eye on reducing the wastage of dwindling water resources across the national supply system.
Signed by the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company, Tehran Province Water and Wastewater Company and Japan International Cooperation Agency in Tehran in the weekend, the agreement is aimed at reducing the drainage of "non-revenue water"—water that is pumped and then lost or unaccounted for before reaching consumers, IRNA reported.
As per the agreement, the joint program will be piloted in the city of Khansar in the central Isfahan Province where water wastage is three times the average in major Iranian cities. The average amount of non-revenue water in Iran's big cities is around 20% but stands at around 60% in Khansar, the report said, adding that the agreement comes on the back of three years of studies on water loss in Khansar by the Japanese agency. (Financial Tribune)
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Arrest More Dual Nationals
Iran's Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least 30 dual nationals during the past two years, mostly on spying charges, according to lawyers, diplomats, and relatives, twice as many as earlier reported by local or international media.
The number marks a sharp rise since 2015 when an international nuclear deal raised hopes of detente with the West. In the years before that, the number of dual nationals detained at any given time was in single figures.
It also points up a new trend as a majority of those arrested since then, 19 out of the 30, have citizenship in Europe. Previously most of the detainees were Iranian Americans. Detainees' relatives and lawyers said the Guards were using them as bargaining chips in international relations and to put off European firms that sought business in Iran after the government agreed to the deal with world powers to lift sanctions. (US News)
Iranian State TV Welcomes Boris Johnson's 'Confession' Over British Prisoner
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is facing further pressure after Iranian state TV claimed that his statements on the plight of a British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Tehran on charges of espionage confirmed her guilt.
Johnson has already been forced to correct remarks he made to a British parliamentary committee last week when he said that Nazanin Zagahri-Ratcliffe, who has been in jail since she was detained at Tehran airport in April 2016, had been teaching journalism during her visit to the country.
After Johnson's original comments, authorities in Iran filed further charges against Zagahri-Ratcliffe, prompting fears her five-year sentence could be extended. On Wednesday, Iranian state TV IRIB said Johnson amounted to an unintentional confession. (CNN)
The Last Thing Iran Wants Is Full-On War With Saudi Arabia. Here's Why
By: Kay Armin Serjoie
On the day Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman jailed rival princes and gathered about his robes the trappings of power, a missile screamed toward the airport of Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital. It was shot down before it could reach the earth, but the Saudi government claimed to know every detail about where it came from.
“It was an Iranian missile, launched by Hizballah from territory occupied by the Houthis in Yemen,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir declared to CNN three days later, on Nov. 6, naming allies of Tehran. “Direct military aggression by the Iranian regime,” the Crown Prince added a day later.
So it goes between the two great Muslim powers of the Middle East, the Sunni kingdom and the Shi’ite republic, locked in a rivalry only rarely declared so nakedly. Most of the time, especially in recent years, Saudi Arabia and Iran fight through proxies. And Iran is winning most of them, on evidence less dramatic than a missile launch.