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June 18 2019
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IN THE SHADOW OF PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY: Realities Don't Always Follow Common Sense

- The shape of Iran in geographic atlases resembles a sitting cat; perhaps sitting and waiting as cats often do. We all know how a cat behaves when cornered and threatened by some formidable enemy such as a large dog. The cat, not seeing some escape route, does not cower and crawl into a tight spot and plead for mercy! It puffs up, making itself look as big as possible, and attacks its adversary with fully spread claws. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 6/17/19

President Xi: China to promote ties with Iran no matter what

- Chinese President Xi Jinping says Beijing will continue to promote steady development of ties with Tehran no matter how the situation changes. He made the remarks on Friday during a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit underway in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, the official Xinhua news agency said. -Press TV - 6/14/19

What does the Trump administration want from Iran?

- The showdown in the Persian Gulf is not like the U.S. and the Soviet Union incrementally adjusting the balance of power, as they did during the Cold War. Mixed signals, bad timing and this kind of uncalibrated brinksmanship is how World War I began and spiraled out of control. It has brought the U.S. closer to the next Middle East war. -Noah Weisbord, The Conversation - 6/14/19

Iran's Supreme Leader to Japan's Prime Minister: Trump not worthy of exchanging messages with

- Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei dismisses US President Donald Trump as a person not worthy of a response or a message, stressing that negotiations with Washington cannot help solve any problem. Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks in a Thursday meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who told the Leader he was carrying a message from the US president. - 6/13/19

Tanker Crews Rescued Safely By Iran After Reported Attacks In Gulf Of Oman

- Dozens of crewmembers have been rescued after two tankers transporting petroleum products were reportedly attacked and caught fire in the Gulf of Oman. The June 13 incidents come a month after attacks on four tankers off the nearby United Arab Emirates increased tensions between Tehran and Washington and U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf. - 6/13/19

Japan's Abe On Tehran Mission To Help Ease U.S.-Iran Tensions

- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says a military conflict should be avoided at all costs amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran. Abe spoke in Tehran on June 11 following talks with Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who praised his meeting with the Japanese prime minister as successful and said that the two had discussed economic ties and the 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers. -RFE/RL - 6/13/19

Japan's Prime Minister Abe arrives in Tehran on historic visit

- Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has arrived in Iran on a first visit by a Japanese premier to Tehran in more than 40 years, with a plan to help ease tensions between the Islamic Republic and the United States. Prime Minister Abe arrived in Tehran on Wednesday morning. -Press TV - 6/12/19

Can Mediation Efforts Between US And Iran Succeed?

- The visit of the German foreign minister was not a resounding success, to say the least. First, prior to coming to Tehran, he visited some Arab states, including Jordan and the UAE, demonstrating where Germany's priorities were. Second, his tone during his talks, according to Iranian news outlets, was arrogant and hectoring. -Shireen T. Hunter - 6/12/19

200 Iranian Activists Call For Unconditional Talks With U.S.

- In a statement on Sunday, June 9, more than 200 civil and political activists living in and outside of Iran called for unconditional talks between Iran and the U.S. Referencing the Iranian people's desire for detente with forces around the region and world at large, 225 signatories to the statement called for the public and civil and political activists to urge the Iranian and American administrations to hold talks. -Radio Farda - 6/11/19

Russia And China Voice Support For Iran After Xi Visit To Kremlin

- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for Kremlin talks that reflected increasingly close ties between the two countries that were communist rivals during the Cold War. At the conclusion of the meetings a joint statement by Russia and China voiced support for Iran and commended Iran's implementation of the requirements of the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers, reported Russia's Interfax news agency. -Radio Farda - 6/6/19

Iran's Khamenei Speaks Softly About Trump, Lashes Out At Saudi Arabia, Bahrain

- An unprecedented change of tone about U.S. President Donald Trump turned out to be the highlight of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech on the 30th anniversary of his predecessor's death on Tuesday June 4. -Radio Farda - 6/5/19

My Pentagon Regret: As the U.S. Rattles Its Sabers at Tehran, Echoes of Sabers Past

- Earlier this month, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group -- the massive aircraft carrier itself with its dozens of warplanes and thousands of sailors and marines, a guided missile cruiser, and four destroyers -- suddenly began to make its way from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf, heading for the waters off Iran. Pentagon sources spoke of ominous but unspecified threats. The U.S. military moved into a showy state of readiness, with reports that a force of up to 120,000 troops might be mobilized and sent to the Middle East for a possible future war with Iran. -James Carroll, TomDispatch - 6/4/19

U.S. Displays Lack Of Understanding Of Iranian Politics And Society By Designating IRGC

- Trump is making a strategic mistake with significant consequences for Iran-West/US relations. The Guard has much domestic support in Iran due to its role in rebuilding the nation after its costly war with Iraq. Without the Revolutionary Guards, an indispensable part of the official army, Iran could not have defeated Saddam's invasion (1980-1988). Conservative estimates place casualties of Saddam's "imposed war" at around 1 million for Iran. -Younes Mahmoudieh - 5/30/19

Trump: U.S. Wants Iran Without Nuclear Weapons, Not Seeking Regime Change

- U.S. President Donald Trump, who is on a state visit to Japan, has said that the United States is not seeking regime change in Iran, amid heightened tensions between the two countries. "We're not looking for regime change, we're looking for no nuclear weapons," Trump said after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, adding that he thinks "we'll make a deal" with Tehran. -RFE/RL - 5/27/19

Iran's Zarif says finds no reason to answer Pompeo's phone call

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said because of the bad approach of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he finds no reason to answer the phone if he calls. "Pompeo makes sure that every time he talks about Iran, he insults me," Zarif said in a recent interview with Reuters. "Why should I even answer his phone call?" -Tehran Times - 5/26/19

Effort To Force Trump To Seek Congressional War Approval For Iran Fails

- An effort to force the Trump administration to seek congressional approval before taking military action against Iran has failed after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee turned down the bipartisan proposal tabled by Democratic senators Chris Murphy and Tom Udall. -Radio Farda - 5/24/19

Chabahar Port: U.S. geopolitical interests offer Iran sanctions loophole amid mounting tension

- The Indian-backed Iranian port of Chabahar has emerged as a major loophole in a tightening military and economic noose and ever harsher U.S. sanctions that President Donald J. Trump, reluctant to be sucked into yet another war, sees as the best way to either force Tehran to its knees or achieve regime change. - 5/24/19

U.S. Lawmakers Set Against Plans To Sell Offensive Arms To Saudi Arabia

- Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has warned of a White House plan to sell arms to Saudi Arabia in spite of a ban by Congress. "I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that would prevent Congress from objecting. Could happen this week," Murphy tweeted on Wednesday 22 May. -RFE - 5/24/19

62 Organizations Tell Congress: Halt a March to War with Iran

- We write to request that Congress take urgent action to halt a march to war with Iran. The Trump administration, spurred on by National Security Advisor John Bolton, has moved the U.S. into a war posture. Over the last few weeks, Bolton pushed through unprecedented sanctions and escalated the war of words intended to provoke retaliation from the Iranians. Now, Bolton has used a routine carrier deployment to the Middle East to threaten Iran with "unrelenting force" and has overseen the revision of war plans that would send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran takes his bait. - 5/23/19

There will be no talks with U.S. as long as it keeps mistreating Iran: National Security Council's spokesman

- Iran's top security body says the Islamic Republic will not hold any talks with the US as long as Washington sticks to its hostile approach in dealing with the Iranian nation. The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC)'s spokesman Keivan Khosravi said on Thursday that Tehran will not engage in any negotiations with this US "as long as there is no change in such behavior, the country's rights are not respected" and practical measures are not taken instead of mere rhetoric. "There will be no negotiations at all," he emphasized. -Press TV - 5/23/19

US grants sanctions waiver for Iraq to import energy from Iran: Official

- The US envoy to Baghdad says Washington has exempted Baghdad from some of its unilateral anti-Iran sanctions, allowing Iraq to continue importing energy from Iran. US charge d'affaires Joey Hood told reporters on Wednesday Baghdad can now buy energy from Iran, a report by Al-Alam news network said. The waiver will allow Iraq to continue buying gas and electricity from Iran. -Press TV - 5/23/19

Lessons From The Gulf Of Tonkin Incident: The Iran Script

- Disturbing similarities between the run-up to the Iraq War of 2003 and the Trump administration's bellicosity toward Iran keep accumulating. They include war-selling rhetoric seemingly derived from the same script. But in some respects, the more striking parallel to the present occurred over half a century ago, beyond the living memory of most Americans. The time was August 1964, and the place was the dark nighttime waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 5/22/19

Will The U.S Pressures Bring Iran To The Negotiating Table?

- It didn't require a crystal ball to predict that some false-flag incident might escalate tensions in the current display of hostilities between Iran and the United States or its regional allies. That was why in the final paragraph in my previous article I cautioned Iran to "...create closer dialog with the Arab counterparts to watch out for deliberate accidents that might ignite the powder keg and destroy both nations." Well, the incident happened the day after my post on Payvand, as it was obvious something like that would take place sooner or later, and likely would be repeated in days or weeks to come. -Kam Zarrabi - 5/17/19

What Makes Iran Look Like An Immediate Threat

- The current crisis atmosphere in U.S.-Iranian relations, in which the risk of open warfare appears greater than it has been in years, is solely and unequivocally due to the policies and actions of the Trump administration. To point this out does not mean that actions of the Iranian regime have not come to be part of the crisis atmosphere as well. It instead means that such an atmosphere would never have existed in the first place if the administration had not turned its obsession with Iran into the relentless campaign of hostility that has become one of the single most prominent threads of the administration's foreign policy. -Paul R. Pillar - 5/17/19

In Beijing, Iranian FM Zarif Calls For 'Concrete Action' To Salvage Nuclear Deal

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged China, Russia, and other "partners" to take "concrete action" to safeguard a nuclear deal that the United States exited a year ago. Zarif made the call on May 17 upon arriving in Beijing where he held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. -RFE/RL - 5/17/19

Iranian-American organizations campaign against U.S. war with Iran

- Iranian-American organizations are actively campaigning against a U.S. war with Iran encouraging members of community to write to their members of Congress urging them to support the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act. - 5/13/19

A Realistic Alternative To A War Between The United States And Iran: Let Someone Else Do It!

- Much to the delight of my regular detractors, I have cut back from writing my almost monthly opinion articles about the ongoing US/Iran tug-of-war. However, with the appointment of the warmonger neoconservative psychopath, John Bolton, as the national security advisor by the Clueless Clown-in-Chief, this decades-long almost ceremonial push and pull seems to be reaching, at least potentially, a disastrous flash point deserving of a bareknuckle commentary. -Kam Zarrabi - 5/11/19

The Looming War And Tehran's Ostrich Politics

- Last week, tensions between Iran and the United States reached even more alarming levels. First, Iran's Supreme Leader admonished Iranians that since the enemy-read America-is in war mode, Iran, too, should prepare for war (Arayesh Jangi Begirad). Then there was the news of the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln going to the Middle East, ostensibly because of threats posed by Iran. According to some reports, this move was triggered by intelligence that Iran was moving missiles to the Persian Gulf. -Shireen T. Hunter - 5/11/19

Grim Outlook For Iran Nuclear Deal

- Iran's patience with Europe's feeble submission to one of the most villainous U.S. administrations of all time finally ran out on May 8. That day President Hassan Rouhani told the European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), via remarks at a session of his Cabinet, that henceforth Iranian performance of certain of the agreement's commitments would be conditional on European performance of all its commitments. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 5/9/19

Iran giving remaining signatories chance to save JCPOA: Foreign Minister Zarif

- Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it is time for Tehran's remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal to uphold their end of the bargain following the US withdrawal, because Iran has provided them with a 60-day "opportunity" to salvage the landmark agreement. - 5/8/19

Bolton's War With Iran

- National Security Advisor John Bolton, aided by his comrade-in-arms Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is doing everything possible to instigate a war with Iran. Naked aggression as a means of starting such a war may be too much for even Bolton to pull off, so the strategy has been to try to pressure and goad Iran into doing something-anything-that could be construed as a casus belli. So far, no doubt to Bolton's frustration, Iran has exercised remarkable restraint in the face of unrelenting and escalating hostility from the Trump administration. -Paul Pillar - 5/7/19

Iran's Currency Drops To A Seven-Month Low In Tehran's Forex Market

- Iran's currency reached its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in the past seven months, according to reports from Iran on Tuesday, May 7. Foreign exchange websites reporting virtually live on actual free market rates, say that the Iranian rial reached a low of 154,000 against the greenback. - 5/7/19

European Deal Signatories Criticize U.S. Move On Iran Nuclear, Oil Sanctions

- The European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany expressed concern about the U.S. decision not to extend two waivers related to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and others regarding Tehran's oil industry. -RFE/RL - 5/6/19

Saudi Arabia Rescues Troubled Iranian Oil Tanker "Happiness I" In Red Sea

- Saudi Arabia says its coast guard has rescued a distressed Iranian oil tanker off the Red Sea port of Jeddah, raising concerns that the ship's cargo could be leaking. Officials said early on May 2 that it had received an emergency call from the Happiness I vessel regarding "engine failure and the loss of control." The location was described as 70 kilometers south of Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia. - 5/2/19

FM Zarif hails Persian Gulf as Iran's lifeline on national day

- Iran is commemorating the National Day of the Persian Gulf. Honoring the occasion, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has highlighted the significance of the strategic body of water, describing it as a "lifeline" for the country. Every year, Iranians observe the Persian Gulf Day on the 10th of Ordibehesht, the second month on the Persian calendar, which usually falls on April 30. -Press TV - 4/30/19

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: US Trying to 'Bring Iran to Its Knees'

- Zarif, in an interview broadcast on the U.S. cable show Fox News Sunday, said a "B team" of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, and leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is trying to push U.S. President Donald Trump "into a confrontation he doesn't want." "They have tried to bring the U.S. into a war," Zarif said, with the goal, "at least," of Iranian regime change. -Ken Bredemeier, VOA - 4/29/19

Iran's Quds Force chief: Negotiations with U.S. at current situation is equal to surrender

- Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC Qods Force, told a police gathering in Tehran on Monday that negotiations with the Trump administration at the current situation is equal to total surrender. "Through economic pressure the enemy wants to bring us to the negotiating table but such a negotiation would be an example of surrender; however, our people are vigilant and clever and believe that negotiation in the current conditions is pure surrender and we will not give in to such an indignity," the major general remarked. -Tehran Times - 4/29/19

Putin Says Russia Will Host Summit In August With Presidents Of Iran, Azerbaijan

- Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Iranian President Hassan Rohani at a summit in Russia during August. Putin made the announcement to journalists in Beijing on April 26 after meeting with Aliyev on the sidelines of China's so-called Belt and Road forum - an initiative aimed at building trade and transportation infrastructure that links China with South and Central Asia, Europe, and Africa. -RFE/RL - 4/26/19

Total Negligence of the role of the Iranians in Moslem (Islamic) Civilization in Cat Stevens - Yusuf Islam's book, Why I still Carry a Guitar

- As an old 'fan' of Cat Stevens, I do find myself indebted to his songs and music, and as a Moslem emotionally think the same with Yusuf Islam's book Why I still carry a Guitar. From one perspective he is telling Hadith Nafs (my story or my Ego's story) in this book; relieving an ignoramus' suppressed anger, resentment... piled up all these long years, in relation of how Moslems are depicted largely in the West, as some barbarous peoples, Pagans, terrorists and... and... and... Thanking the author again and again, for his hard endeavor to show the other face of Islam. Yet,... -Roya Monajem, Tehran - 4/24/19

Iran will not talk with US as long as it keeps lying: President Rouhani

- President Hassan Rouhani says Washington's claims of seeking negotiations with Iran are "mere lies" and that the United States, in fact, intends to force the Iranian nation to its knees. Contrary to what some are trying to promote, "the US does not possess the willingness for negotiations at all," the president told a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday. -Press TV - 4/24/19

Turkey Slams US as Tensions Escalate Over Iranian Sanctions

- U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to end waivers from sanctions for countries importing Iranian oil threatens to further escalate tensions with Turkey. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed Washington's latest move. "We support an international system and multilateralism established through legal rules. The fact that a country alone disrupts this and puts pressure on everyone to comply with its decisions is damaging and jeopardizing the international legal system," Cavusoglu said at a press conference Tuesday. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 4/24/19

Tehran Municipality negotiating to restore Taq Kasra in Iraq

- Tehran Municipality is in talks with Baghdad's urban planners and authorities to restore a number of aging monuments in Iraq including Taq Kasra, which is an architecturally-important Sasanian-era Persian monument. Taq Kasra, also called Ivan Madaen or the Archway of Ctesiphon, are names given to the remains of a circa 3rd-6th-century Sasanian-era Persian monument, which is located near the modern town of Salman Pak, a city located approximately 15 miles south of Baghdad. - 4/23/19

MPs Protest Iraqi Militia Commander's Presence in Iranian Crisis Management Meeting

- Two members of the Majlis (Iranian parliament) have bitterly protested the deployment of Hashd al-Shaabi (Iraq's Popular Mobilization Force or PMF) in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, southwest of the country. Foreign military forces may enter Iran only if the government or parliament issue an entry visa for them, the MPs have argued. - 4/19/19

Iran to host World Health Summit regional meeting in Kish Island

- Iran will host The World Health Summit (WHS), one of the world's most prominent forums for addressing global health issues, announced the Iranian deputy health minister for research and technology. The World Health Summit Regional Meeting 2019 is organized by Tehran University of Medical Sciences and will be held in Persian Gulf's Kish Island on April 29-30, IRIB quoted Reza Malekzadeh as saying. - 4/17/19

Iranian FM's reminder to E3: No prohibition on enrichment under JCPOA

- Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has reminded the Europeans that a 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, does not prohibit the country from enriching uranium. Zarif's reprimand in a Monday tweet came after French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud said Tehran should not need to be "massively enriching uranium after the JCPOA." -Press TV - 4/15/19

Iran to retaliate any US move against IRGC in Persian Gulf: Envoy

- Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran's envoy to the United Kingdom, has warned the United States that Tehran will "forcefully retaliate" any moves by the US military against the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which was designated as a terrorist organization by US President Donald Trump earlier this week. - 4/12/19

Iranian oil exports recover close to pre-sanction levels: S&P Global Platts

- Iranian exports of crude oil and condensate have surged to levels near before sanctions, surprising market observers and affording the country an important victory in a US "economic war" on Tehran. Iran exported 1.70 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil in March, the highest since October when shipments fell to 1.08 million bpd, data from shipping sources compiled by S&P Global Platts showed. -Press TV - 4/10/19

IAEA chief Amano reaffirms Iran's compliance with nuclear deal

- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reaffirmed Iran's compliance with its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). "In my regular reports to the board I have stated that Iran is implementing those commitments," IAEA Chief Yukiya Amano stressed on Tuesday. "Since January 2016, the agency [IAEA] has been verifying and monitoring Iran's implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA," he added. -Press TV - 4/3/19

Maximum Pressure On Iran Still Isn't Working

- Almost a year after President Trump reneged on U.S. commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, there is not the slightest sign that this move is achieving the declared objective of Iran crawling back to the negotiating table to negotiate a "better deal." -Paul R. Pillar - 4/2/19

Parliament Speaker Says Iraq Will Need To Buy Iranian Electricity For Three Years

- The speaker of Iraq's parliament wants the United States to extend a waiver that allows it to buy electricity from Iran for at least three years, saying it will take that long before the oil-rich country can manage on its own. "Hopefully, this waiver will be extended until Iraq can stand on its feet economically," speaker Muhammad al-Halbusi said on March 29 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. - 3/31/19

Tulsi Gabbard's Norooz Message: The Tropical Winds Of Hawaii

- Ms. Tulsi Gabbard, a House member from the state of Hawaii, and a Democratic candidate for the Presidential election of 2020 has issued a delightful message for Norooz. In her message, she says, " the beginning of Spring is such a beautiful metaphor for a new start and beginnings." Her positive initiative and outreach should be welcomed and celebrated by the Iranian community anywhere in the world. -Farid Marjai - 3/27/19

Turkey defies US with more imports of Iranian gas

- Iran is increasing its natural gas exports to a number of countries, including Turkey which plans to raise imports from its energy-rich neighbor, a senior official says. "Based on previous agreements, Iran is currently increasing gas exports to a number of countries including Turkey, Iraq, Armenia and Azerbaijan," head of the National Iranian Gas Company Hassan Montazer Torbati told IRNA. -PRESS TV - 3/26/19

Taq Kasra, A Sasanian-Era Persian Monument, Partially Collapses

- On 7 March 2019, parts of Taq Kasra collapsed only two years after the completion of a conservation operation by Avers. The Czech firm had been commissioned by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. Taq Kasra, also known as the Arch of Ctesiphon, is the world's largest brick vault and the symbol of the Persian Empire in the Sasanian era (224-651 AD). The monument is located about 35 km south of Baghdad, in modern-day Iraq, which was, at the time, part of Persia. - 3/25/19

Norooz Celebration Turns Into Disaster: Iraq Ferry Capsizes, Killing At Least 94

- At least 94 people were killed when an overloaded ferry capsized on the Tigris River near the Iraqi city of Mosul Thursday. Officials said more than 180 people were on board, celebrating the Kurdish New Year, Norooz, and Mother's Day. Most of the victims were women and children struggling to swim in the fast-moving current. -VOA - 3/22/19

Muslims countries hold emergency meeting, urge fight on Islamophobia and slam West after carnage in New Zealand

- Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says certain countries in the West must be held accountable for an attack on two mosques in New Zealand, which left at least 50 worshipers dead. "The terrorist attack in New Zealand represents a very dangerous tide in the West that is Islamophobia," he said in Istanbul where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an emergency meeting Friday. - 3/22/19

U.S. Extends Waiver To Allow Iraq To Buy Iranian Energy Supplies

- The United States is extending a waiver to allow Iraq to continue to buy electricity from Iran, despite sanctions imposed by Washington targeting Tehran's energy sector. The original waiver, issued in December 2017, expired on March 19. -RFE/RL - 3/20/19

Turkish President Claims Iran Joins Military Offensive Against Kurdish Separatists

- Turkey has repeated its claim that it and Iran are jointly carrying out a military operation against Kurdish separatists, although semiofficial Iranian media quoted the military as denying it was involved. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on March 18 said the operation was targeting militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), adding it was the first of its kind and that he hoped further missions would follow. -RFE/RL - 3/19/19

Defying US sanctions, Iran inaugurates new South Pars gas field phases

- Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has inaugurated four new phases of the huge offshore South Pars gas field in a move, which has been seen as a clear sign of the failure of US sanctions against the country. During an inaugural ceremony in the southern coastal city of Kangan on Sunday, Iran's president officially launched phases 13, 22, 23, and 24 of South Pars gas field, noting that despite all the US pressures on the Iranian nation, especially through the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions, Iranians remain steadfast and resistant and continue to progress. - 3/17/19

Good Iraqi-Iranian Relations Are Not A Reason To Worry

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been visiting Iraq this week-a friendly, extended visit that has yielded several bilateral agreements on trade and transportation. Such an event causes heartburn, of course, within the Trump administration and for others who believe that the only useful thing to do to Iran is to try to isolate and cripple it. -Paul Pillar - 3/17/19

AFC Beach Soccer Championship: Japan win epic clash against Iran

- Japan came from two goals down to secure a place in the AFC Beach Soccer Championship Thailand 2019 semi-finals, after earning a stunning 3-2 extra time win against defending champions Iran on Thursday. The loss comes as a crushing blow to Iran, who will miss the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after having qualified for seven of the last eight editions, and finishing third in 2017. -AFC - 3/14/19

Iran's President Rouhani meets Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf, Iraq

- President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday met with Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the holy city of Najaf on the last day of his historic visit to neighboring Iraq. Ayatollah Sistani welcomed any step toward expansion of Iraq's ties with its neighbors based on mutual interests, respect for the sovereignty and not interfering in the internal affairs of one another. -Tehran Times - 3/14/19

Iran's President Rouhani meets with Grand Ayatollah Sistani on final day of Iraq visit

- In a historic meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has held talks with Iraq's top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf on the final day of his landmark visit to the neighboring Arab state. Rouhani sat down with Ayatollah Sistani at his residence on Wednesday after visiting the shrine of Imam Ali, the first Imam of Shia Muslims. -Press TV - 3/13/19

Iran overtakes Qatar in South Pars with new gas phases

- Iran on Sunday will launch four new development phases of the world's largest gas field at South Pars with a capacity to produce 112 million cubic meters per day, the Ministry of Petroleum says. President Hassan Rouhani will travel to Bushehr in the Persian Gulf to inaugurate two refineries built with $10 billion of investment. With their launch, Iran's daily gas production will surpass that of Qatar with which it shares the offshore field. -Press TV - 3/13/19

AFC Beach Soccer Championship: Iran 3-4 Oman

- Oman confirmed themselves as Group D winners, and inflicted the first blemish to defending champion Islamic Republic of Iran's campaign, with a 4-3 win in a high-quality AFC Beach Soccer Championship Thailand 2019 clash on Tuesday. The result means Talib Hilal's side will face Bahrain in Thursday's quarter-finals, while Iran are set for blockbuster, win-or-go-home clash against FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup regulars Japan. - 3/12/19

Iran's President Rohani Kicks Off First Official Visit To Iraq, Hails 'Special Relations'

- Iranian President Hassan Rohani has arrived in Baghdad for his first official visit to Iraq, state television reported, as Iraq is under pressure from the United States to limit ties with its neighbor. Iraq, which receives financial and military support from Washington, has attempted to balance its relations with the United States and Iran, which carries significant influence with members of Iraq's Shi'ite population. -RFE/RL - 3/11/19

Iran-U.S. differences non-negotiable: President Rouhani

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that differences between Iran and the U.S. are non-negotiable. "The differences with the U.S. cannot be negotiated and compromised on, we should make the enemy back off and continue our path of glory," he said, addressing a gathering of people in Lahijan, Gilan province. - 3/6/19

IAEA head Yukiya Amano reaffirms Iran's compliance with nuclear deal

- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has once again reaffirmed Iran's compliance with its nuclear-related commitments under a 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Press TV - 3/4/19

Resignation Of Iranian FM Zarif: Foreign Betrayal, Domestic Infighting

- After Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced his resignation via Instagram shortly before midnight local time on February 25, many foreign pundits and officials celebrated his departure. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response was "Zarif is gone. Good riddance." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used even more insulting and undiplomatic language, and dismissed both Zarif and President Rouhani as "front men for a corrupt religious mafia." -Farhang Jahanpour - 3/3/19

American activists visiting Tehran slam Trump for scrapping Iran deal

- Visiting Tehran, members of an anti-war NGO based in the US criticize the Washington administration for abandoning the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal and re-imposing bans on Iran, saying such a move is the outcome of extensive lobbying by the Israeli and Saudi regimes, America's staunchest allies in the Middle East. - 2/28/19

Saudi gas export plans shine new light on efforts to isolate Iran

- Saudi plans to become a major gas exporter within a decade raise questions about what the real goal of the kingdom's policy, and by extension that of the United States, is towards Iran. Officially both Saudi Arabia and the US, which last year withdrew from the 2015 international accord that curbs the Islamic republic's nuclear program and imposed harsh economic sanctions, are demanding a change of Iran's regional and defense policies rather than of its regime... -James M. Dorsey - 2/28/19

Iran, Armenia sign two economic cooperation agreements during PM visit to Tehran

- Tehran and Yerevan have signed two economic cooperation agreements during a visit by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to the Iranian capital. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Pashinyan held talks on Wednesday and later attended a ceremony during which the two officials oversaw the inking of the agreements between the Armenian Ministry of Economic Development and Investments, and the Iranian National Standards Organization and the Supreme Council of Iran's Free Trade, Industrial and Special Economic Zone. -Press TV - 2/27/19

Iran fires anti-ship cruise missile from submarine during naval drills in Persian Gulf

- For the first time during naval drills in southern waters, the Iranian Navy fired an anti-ship cruise missile at mock enemy targets. Cruise missile was fired from a Qadir-class submarine. It took place on the third day of military exercises which started on Friday. -Tehran Times - 2/25/19

Iran's Supreme Leader receives Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran

- Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei received the visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Tehran on Monday morning. During the meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei hailed the Syrian people and government's resistance against the terrorist and their supporters in the region, saying the resistance by Syrian president and nation was the key to defeating the US and its regional hacks in the Arab country. -Mehr - 2/25/19

BASKETBALL: Iran defeats Australia, qualifies for 2019 FIBA World Cup

- Iran's men's basketball team booked a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup with a win over Australia. Team Melli defeated the Boomers 85-74 in Tehran's Azadi Hall on Sunday. Iran were paced by Behnam Yakhchali's 21 points, and Mitch Creek was Australia's top scorer with 20 points. Iran had lost to Australia 76-49 in the Melbourne in November. - 2/24/19

IAEA: Iran living up to nuclear deal terms despite US sanctions

- Iran continues to comply with the restrictions on its nuclear activities under a 2015 deal it signed with major global powers, a report by the UN nuclear agency says, even as the United States re-imposed sanctions against Tehran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a quarterly report on Friday that Iran remained within caps on the level to which it can enrich uranium and its stock of enriched uranium in accordance with the nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Press TV - 2/24/19

Apocalyptic Islam and Iranian Shi'ism

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