Iran Digest Week of October 26th - November 2nd

Iran Digest

Week of October 19th - October 26th

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 Communications Associate Shahab Moghadam. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.


US-Iran Relations

Two Iranian boats approached US ship with top general on board

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Two Iranian fast attack boats came within 300 yards of USS Essex in the Persian Gulf Friday while the four star head of the US Central Command was on board, according to two US defense officials.

General Joseph Votel, commanding general of CENTCOM, was observing routine flight operations on board the Essex when the incident happened.

The encounter with the two Iranian boats was ruled to be "safe and professional" by the Navy because the Iranians did not demonstrate hostile intent, the officials said. (CNN)


Economy

Iran Sanctions Kick in, Bringing Biggest Oil Disruption in Years

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Midnight on Sunday will mark a dividing line in the world of oil. Beyond that point, anyone unloading a tanker from Iran risks the full wrath of the U.S. government.

The Middle East’s third-biggest oil producer has already seen many buyers flee, with sales tumbling 37 percent since President Donald Trump announced that he’d reimpose sanctions. Once those restrictions formally kick in on Nov. 5, the overall supply disruption could become the biggest since Libya erupted in civil war at the start of the decade.

There are signs the impact will be mitigated, as some buyers look set to win partial exemptions while other producers -- particularly Saudi Arabia -- pump more to fill the gap. Still, there are doubts about their capacity to do so and the global nature of the oil market means nobody is fully insulated. Even U.S. drivers, whose engines haven’t seen a drop of Iranian crude for decades, have felt pain at the pump. (Bloomberg)

US agrees to grant India waiver from Iran sanctions

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The US has broadly agreed to grant India a waiver from Iran sanctions, which would allow Indian oilNSE 3.60 % companies to continue to import about 1.25 million tonnes of oil a month till March from Tehran, sources familiar with the matter said, adding that an official announcement could come over the next few days.

The US plans to re-impose oil-related sanctions on Iran on November 4 to choke the Islamic Republic’s biggest source of income and pressure it to renegotiate a new nuclear deal. Any country, or company, trading with Iran without US consent after sanctions kick off risks getting cut off from the American financial system.

The US has insisted all along that it wanted everyone to reduce oil imports from Iran to zero eventually, but was open to country-specific waivers that would allow limited imports by those pledging ‘significant’ cut. India and other key importing countries have been engaged for months with the US for a waiver. (Economic Times)

IMF says Iran should safeguard stability in face of U.S. sanctions

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The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that Iran should implement policies to safeguard its macroeconomic stability in the face of reimposed U.S. sanctions that will cut Iranian economic growth by reducing oil exports.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice also told a regular media briefing that the Fund was urging Iran to strengthen its anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing frameworks to comply with international standards by a deadline in February 2019.

“The reimposition of U.S. sanctions will reduce economic growth by restricting Iran’s oil exports and Iran should implement policies to safeguard macrostability,” Rice said, particularly “the most vulnerable groups.” (Reuters)


Inside Iran

Rouhani tells Iranians to brace for hard times under U.S. sanctions

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned Iranians they face hard times when new U.S. sanctions take effect on Sunday but said the government would do its best to alleviate them.

Washington reimposed a number of sanctions on Iran in May after pulling out of an international 2015 agreement intended to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. U.S. officials have said they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) news agency on Wednesday quoted Rouhani as calling the move “a new injustice” which the government did not fear. (Reuters)

Facebook finds more fake accounts from Iran

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Facebook has uncovered and removed dozens of pages, accounts and groups linked to Iran that the firm says coordinated "inauthentic behaviour", targeting people in the US and UK.

The affected posts focused on divisive topics such as race relations, opposition to President Donald Trump and immigration, it said.

The social network revealed that it uncovered the activity a week ago. (BBC News)


Regional Politics

Iran Accused of Plot to Assassinate Dissident in Denmark

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Iran tried to assassinate an Arab separatist leader living in Denmark, the Danish authorities claim, adding that a suspect in the “unusual and very serious” plot was in custody.

The accusations have set off anger and concern in Denmark, a nation that has experienced little political violence in recent years. Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called the plot “totally unacceptable,” Denmark recalled its ambassador to Iran, and potential joint European action is on the agenda for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on Nov. 19.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated the Danish government on Twitter on “its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin.” (NYT)

Israel says Iran is behind rocket barrage from Gaza

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An Israeli military spokesman on Saturday accused Iran of orchestrating a rocket barrage from Gaza into Israel, saying Gaza militants were carrying out the launches "under guidance, instructions and incentives" given by the Islamic Republic.

The Israel Defense Forces said more than 30 rockets had been fired into Israel since late Friday. The IDF said its Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted more than a dozen of the launches.

The rocket fire prompted a series of Israeli airstrikes against targets in Gaza. Israel has said it blames Islamic Jihad, one of the coastal enclave's two main Islamist militant factions, for the rockets. (CNN)

Pakistan Mediating Between Saudi Arabia, Iran to End Yemen War

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Pakistan is mediating between Iran and Saudi Arabia in an effort to end the conflict in Yemen, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in a televised address Wednesday night.

“We are acting as a conciliator between the two countries to end the war,” he said.

The idea for Pakistan to mediate was first floated by Khan in a previous trip to the kingdom soon after his election as prime minister, according to Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s information minister. (VOA)


Analysis

Is Oman Helping Netanyahu Make Peace With Saudi Arabia And Iran?

By: Sigurd Neubauer

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Sultan Qaboos Al-Said seemingly took the world by surprise when he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat last week. The British-educated Qaboos, who is also the Arab world’s longest serving monarch, has played an indispensible role since assuming power in 1970 to narrow differences between Washington and Teheran and between Israel and the Arab states.

For instance, amid rumors of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran in 2011, Qaboos helped the Obama administration with facilitating a secret backchannel with Iran, which led to the Interim Agreement of 2013, the precursor of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 2015. (LobeLog)