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Caspian Sea legal regime needs consensus, common understanding: Iran FM

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Caspian Sea's legal regime should be drawn up based on mutual trust, consensus, and understanding and must take into account the common interests of all involved countries. The Iranian minister made the remarks in an address to the 47th session of the special working group to draft the convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea in Tehran on Sunday. - 10/24/16

Iran supports measures aimed at stabilizing oil market: President Rouhani

- Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic supports any measures aimed at restoring stability to global oil markets. "Iran supports any measure in line with the stabilization of the oil market, fair prices and equitable quota for the producers," Rouhani said in a meeting with visiting Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Tehran on Saturday. - 10/23/16

Iran says will bring technicians back home from Kirkuk after deadly attack

- A senior Iranian diplomat says the Islamic Republic will bring its technicians back home from the northern Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk following a deadly attack by Daesh Takfiri terrorists on a power station and other buildings near the city. Speaking to IRNA on Friday night, Iran's Consul General in the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah, Sa'adollah Massoudian, said the toll for the Iranians killed in the terrorist attack stood at four. He added that four other Iranian nationals were injured in the terrorist attack. - 10/22/16

The Wheels Are Coming off the Saudi Operation in Yemen

- After initially denying that their aircraft had even been there, the Saudis finally admitted that they were responsible for the double-tap strike on the October 8 funeral of a major Yemeni notable. However, they denied culpability. According to the official Joint Incidents Assessment Team report-produced with US and UK oversight-the 140 victims of the murderous violation of a funeral were killed by faulty intelligence... -James Spencer, LobeLog - 10/22/16

Painting by Iranian artist Hossein Zenderudi sells for over $300K at Christie's in Dubai

- "De Chaque Cote, Les Etoiles Fusent" ("On Each Side the Stars Fuse"), a painting by Iranian artist Hossein Zenderudi was sold for $ 307,500 at Christie's Dubai sales of Modern and Contemporary Art on October 18. - 10/21/16

Report: Take More Risk to Find Common Ground with Iran

- Whoever moves into the White House next January should be willing to "take more risk to find some common ground with Iran," according to a new report released by the non-partisan Atlantic Council on October 19. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 10/20/16

Eight Lessons from Afghanistan

- Although President Obama slowed the drawdown in U.S. troops from Afghanistan, vowing to keep 8,400 troops there until the end of his term, the next president faces a major policy decision: will maintaining or enlarging the American military presence improve Afghanistan's prospects for long-term stability? Equally important, do the probable gains of a continued deployment outweigh the anticipated risks and costs? -Diana Ohlbaum, LobeLog - 10/19/16

Iran Navy foils pirate attacks on vessels in Gulf of Aden

- Iranian naval forces have successfully thwarted major pirate attacks on two merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden. The 44th flotilla of the Iranian Navy, consisting of Alvand destroyer and the Bushehr logistic vessel, saved two Iranian ships from three pirate attacks on Monday morning. - 10/18/16

4 Maps That Explain Iran's Place In The Middle East

- If you ranked the civilizations that have most affected the course of human development, Persia would be near the top of the list. We forget this because in recent centuries, the states that have ruled in Iran have been either weak or isolated from the rest of the world. -Forbes - 10/18/16

Iran's Navy fleet sets sail for Baku, Azerbaijan with message of peace and friendship

- A senior Iranian Navy official says a fleet, comprising a domestically-built destroyer and a missile-launching warship, has departed for Azerbaijan's port city of Baku on the Caspian Sea coast. Rear Admiral Afshin Rezaei Haddad told reporters on Sunday that Damavand destroyer and Joshan missile vessel with 200 navy forces on board headed to Baku in a 3-day operation. - 10/16/16

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif participates in Swiss Talks on Syria

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has held separate talks with his Iraqi and Russian counterparts in the Swiss lakeside city of Lausanne about a solution to the crisis in Syria. Zarif held meetings with the Iraqi and Russian foreign ministers, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of Syria talks in Lausanne on Saturday. - 10/16/16

Amid Saudi Row, Egypt Reasserts Commitment to Gulf Allies

- The Egyptian president said on Thursday that his country remains committed to close relations with Gulf Arab allies, but declared that Cairo would continue to independently pursue its own policies to safeguard Arab security. The remarks by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, delivered in a televised speech to army officers and government ministers, came against the backdrop of an escalating spat over Syria between Egypt and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia. - 10/16/16

Iran's Fatemeh Moqimi nominated for Asia-Pacific Women Entrepreneur Award

- Iranian female entrepreneur Fatemeh Moqimi has been nominated for the Asia-Pacific Women Entrepreneur Award. Moqimi, who also holds a seat at Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (TCCIMA), was chosen by the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) Women Entrepreneurs Council (CWEC) to vie with other nominees for the award - 10/15/16

Iran's oil output at 3.6 mb/d: OPEC

- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) says Iran's oil production has reached a new record high of 3.665 million barrels per day (mb/d). OPEC in a monthly report said it had recorded Iran's new oil production capacity for September. - 10/15/16

The Middle East and the Next Administration

- Osama bin Laden surely died happy. He devoted the last third of his life to creating animosity between the West and Islam and to driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Today, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey are all estranged from the United States. And, as an unexpected bonus, so is Israel. The U.S. is making enemies all over the Muslim world. And every day here at home, millions pay homage to the memory of Osama as they remove their shoes to pass through metal detectors and are stripped of their dignity by body-imaging devices at airports. -Chas W. Freeman, Jr., LobeLog - 10/15/16

Iran Disrupts IS Plot to Bomb Religious Commemorations, State Media Says

- Iran has disrupted an Islamic State bombing plot targeting the Shi'ite religious commemoration of Ashoura, according to state media reports on Thursday. "Intelligence ministry agents, with the cooperation of other security forces, succeeded to defuse one of the anti-security plots of the 'takfiri' terrorist groups and prevent an inhuman crime in the ceremonies," Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said, according to the official IRNA media outlet. - 10/14/16

Iran Sends Warships Off Yemeni Coast Amid U.S. Missile Strikes

- Iran has sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, where the United States conducted missile attacks. The announcement came after the U.S. military launched cruise-missile strikes to knock out radar sites in Yemen controlled by Iran-allied Huthi forces, after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer. - 10/14/16

Russia has fulfilled delivery of S-300 missile systems to Iran: Report

- Moscow has reportedly concluded the supply of the Russian-made S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Iran. Russia's RIA news agency quoted the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) as making the announcement on Thursday. "All divisions have been supplied," said FSVTS Director Alexander Fomin. - 10/14/16

Saudi Charm Offensive in Europe

- Saudi Arabia has launched what seems like a charm offensive following the historic vote by the European Parliament (EP) demanding an arms embargo on Riyadh because of the grave violations of the international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 10/14/16

Millions of Shia Muslims observe Ashura worldwide

- Millions of Shia Muslims in Iran and other parts of the world are commemorating Ashura, which marks the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam. The faithful have converged on the streets and in mosques with heavy hearts to honor Ashura, the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar Muharram, which is the climax of the mourning processions. - 10/12/16

Iran's President Rouhani raps 'utterly deplorable' conditions in Saudi-wrecked Yemen

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has condemned the ongoing Saudi military aggression against Yemen, saying the Yemeni people are going through "utterly deplorable" times. Rouhani made the remarks in reaction to the recent bloody Saudi airstrike on the Yemeni capital of Sana'a which killed more than 140 people and wounded over 525. - 10/11/16

Campaign Carnage and the Iran Nuclear Agreement

- Among the lingering effects of this awful election campaign season will be widespread misunderstanding of serious issues of foreign policy, beyond even the habitually low baseline public understanding of many such issues. Consider, as one such important foreign policy topic, the agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 10/11/16

Iranian coastal waters: New home to a rarely seen venomous sea snake

- Gunther's sea snake (Microcephalophis cantoris), a rarely seen venomous sea snake with distribution thought to stretch from the Malay Peninsula to Pakistan, has now been recorded from Iranian coastal waters off the western Gulf of Oman, more than 400 kilometers away from the westernmost boundary of its previously known range. - 10/10/16

President Rouhani visits Kuala Lumpur: Iran, Malaysia agree to deepen ties

- President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday that Iran and Malaysia reaffirmed to strengthen ties and restore economic transactions to the pre-sanctions time. During a joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur, Rouhani said, "We stressed that 2016 should be the year of expanding relations in political, cultural, scientific and economic areas." - 10/9/16

Ukraine and Syria: Linked Together by Russia

- The United States and Russia are now at daggers drawn over Syria. Following the collapse of the ceasefire negotiated last month by Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the United States has abandoned talks with the Russians on Syria. Meanwhile, in a supposedly unrelated part of the relationship, Russia has suspended the 2000 agreement between the two countries on ridding themselves of excess stocks of weapons-grade plutonium. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 10/7/16

Trade in focus as Iran's President Rouhani starts Asia visit

- President Hassan Rouhani, on a key visit to Asia, says Iran and Vietnam have decided to increase bilateral trade volume fivefold to over $2 billion per year. Rouhani made the remarks in a joint press conference with his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang in the capital Hanoi on Thursday. - 10/6/16

IRGC commander: Iran stopped Daesh from overrunning Syria

- Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani says that Daesh and other Takfiri terrorist groups were created to weaken Iran. The Commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) made the remarks in Tehran on Wednesday during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the killing of Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani by terrorists in Syria. - 10/6/16

What Tim Kaine Actually Got Wrong About the Iran Nuclear Deal During the Veep Debate

- An exchange about Iran during last night's vice presidential debate is getting a lot of attention from mainstream media fact-checkers. The discussion about the Iran nuclear deal came as Virginia Democratic senator was listing the national security bona fides of his running mate, Hillary Clinton. "She worked a tough negotiation with nations around the world to eliminate the Iranian nuclear weapons program without firing a shot," Tim Kaine boasted. -Ali Gharib - 10/6/16

IRGC warns Saudi Arabia's Navy to keep off Iran waters

- The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has issued a stern warning to all military vessels partaking in Saudi Arabia's ongoing wargames in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz, noting that any act of transgression into Iran's territorial waters shall be met with an immediate and befitting response. - 10/6/16

Iran's Zarif, Larijani cancel meetings with German Vice-Chancellor

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani have canceled a meeting with Germany's Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel. Ahead of his trip, Gabriel told online weekly magazine Der Spiegel that Iran could have normal and friendly relations with Germany "only when it accepted Israel's right to exist." - 10/5/16

Iran's Rohani Pushes For OPEC Action With Russia To Raise Oil Prices

- Iranian President Hassan Rohani told his Venezuelan counterpart that it is essential for oil-producing countries to take collective action to raise oil prices, Iranian news agencies reported on October 3. Iran and Venezuela are both members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which agreed at an informal meeting in Algeria last week on modest oil output cuts in the first such deal since 2008. - 10/4/16

Relations with Saudi Arabia are Risky as Well as Confused

- Mainly because of domestic American politics and the workings of the U.S. Congress, everyone has a right to be confused about U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, including the Saudis themselves. The first Congressional override of any veto by President Barack Obama has come on the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA); Saudi Arabia is the obvious, if unstated, target of this legislation, which permits private lawsuits against foreign governments on grounds of alleged involvement in acts of terrorism. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 10/4/16

America's Outdated Special Relationship with Saudi Arabia

- Like other longstanding American relationships in the Middle East, the ties between Washington and Riyadh have nothing to do with human rights or democracy. The alliance rests mostly on two key factors: natural resources and regional stability. -Ryan Suto - 10/1/16

PHOTOS: Iran's IRGC unveils new combat drone

- Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has unveiled the recently-manufactured combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called Saeqeh (thunderbolt). The drone was put on show on Saturday at an expo showcasing the latest achievements by the IRGC's Aerospace Division in the UAV industry. - 10/1/16

Bahrain: Anchors Aweigh? Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)More

- The government of Bahrain's unremitting repression and human rights abuses against its political opposition are leading the country down a road that over the coming years promises instability and a significant escalation of domestic conflict. The United States, with the headquarters of its Fifth Fleet located in Bahrain, has an important stake in how this situation plays out. -Richard Sokolsky, LobeLog - 10/1/16

OPEC Agreement Overcomes Saudi-Iran Rift, Spurs Rally On Global Markets

- OPEC's agreement to mend an internal rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran and curb production surprised global markets and sparked powerful rallies from Wall Street to Hong Kong. Oil analysts said the deal was a major breakthrough as it included a major concession by Saudi Arabia to let Iran keep increasing its production to levels that prevailed before international sanctions. - 9/29/16

Iranian Kurds Bolster Anti-IS Forces in Iraq, Syria

- Hundreds of Iranian Kurds are bolstering Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq as volunteers in the fight against the Islamic State, according to fighters and Kurdish sources in Iraq and Syria. The Iranian Kurds are choosing to volunteer, working outside Iran's official military involvement in the region. -Mehdi Jedinia and Sirwan Kajjo, VOA - 9/29/16

Oil Prices Plunge As Saudi-Iran Split On Output Freeze Resurfaces

- Oil prices plunged anew as signs of discord reemerged between Iran and Saudi Arabia over an oil production freeze being pushed by the Saudis and Russia. At a meeting of the OPEC oil cartel in Algeria on September 27, Iran rejected an offer by the Saudis to cut their oil production if Tehran agreed to freeze its output at its current level of 3.6 million barrels a day, OPEC officials said. - 9/28/16

Did AIPAC Pocket Its Iran Deal Fundraising Revenue?

- Last year, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) led the charge against the Obama administration's efforts to reach a diplomatic resolution to concerns about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. Indeed, in many ways, AIPAC became the face of the opposition to Obama's signature second-term foreign policy initiative. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/28/16

PHOTOS: Iran launches production line for Zolfaqar missiles

- Iran launched production line for its first solid-fuel pin-point precision and long-range missile dubbed Zolfaqar on Sunday. Zolfaqar missile is the first Iranian missile using solid fuel with a range of 700 kilometers and high-precision guide capability. - 9/26/16

Congress: DIY Approach to Saudi Arabia

- If there were a "basket of deplorables" for foreign countries, Saudi Arabia would surely be in it. The Saudi government holds one of the world's worst records on religious freedom and women's rights, and harbors one of the most repressive media environments. Saudi forces have committed "gross and systemic" violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen... -Diana Ohlbaum, LobeLog - 9/26/16

Defying prejudice, Islam's mystical, musical strain appeals to New Yorkers

- Every Thursday night, the music of a tanbour, a long-necked stringed instrument, resounds across the wooden floors of a Manhattan room, wrapped with warm Persian rugs. Barefoot men and women create circles and sway to the cadence of the melody. -Economist - 9/26/16

Italian Navy Ship Docks In Iran

- An Italian navy ship has docked in the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in the first official visit by a Western naval vessel to the country in 15 years. The Italian Navy said the visit comes as part of the resumption of "historic and excellent relations" between the two navies. - 9/25/16

Syria as Metaphor

- Syria is a nightmare for individuals, millions of them. But it's not just that. If states could dream, then Syria would be their nightmare as well. This scenario might seem unique. It isn't. Disharmonious pluralism has become the new global standard. Other countries - Turkey, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the EU, even the United States - gaze upon the Syrian example and tremble. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 9/25/16

US vows to change course on JCPOA: Iran's President Rouhani

- Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in Tehran from New York on Friday, Rouhani added that the ministerial meeting of a commission established to monitor the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) confirmed that the US is not complying with the nuclear agreement. "The Joint Commission verified the Islamic Republic of Iran's stance and did not see the US conduct as consistent with the JCPOA," the Iranian president said. - 9/24/16

Iran not interested in any provocation with US: FM Javad Zarif

- The Iranian minister made the remarks in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, on Friday, in response to a quote, raised by the interviewer, from US Republican presidential nominee Donald trump, who had said he would shoot the Iranian ships out of the Persian Gulf. - 9/24/16

Saudis offer oil production cut deal if Iran freezes output

- Saudi Arabia has reportedly announced that it is ready to reduce its oil production provided that Iran agrees to cap its own output over the remaining months to the end of 2016. Reuters has quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Saudi offer, which is yet to be accepted or rejected, was presented to Tehran earlier this month. - 9/24/16

Iran Complying With JCPOA: EU Foreign Policy Chief

- Speaking at a press briefing following a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and the P5+1 group of countries - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, Federica Mogherini said the common assessment was that Iran was living up to its commitments under the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). - 9/23/16

Iran's Nuclear Program and International Law

- Anyone who took an interest in the diplomatic twists and turns that finally resulted in last year's Iran nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) are likely to enjoy Iran's Nuclear Program and International Law by Daniel H. Joyner, professor of law at the University of Alabama. -Peter Jenkins - 9/22/16

UN aid covers less than 3% of Iran's spending on refugees: Interior Minister

- The Iranian interior minister says the UN has failed to provide Tehran with sufficient aid to help the country cover the expenses of the services it is offering to refugees on its soil, particularly Afghan nationals. Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli made the remarks in a Tuesday meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi in New York. - 9/22/16

Iran's President Rouhani demands political settlement of Syria conflict

- "What is of utmost importance is to understand that Syria doesn't have a military solution. And the Syrians' problems must certainly be resolved politically. Only politically," Rouhani said in an interview with NBC television news network on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. - 9/22/16

Iran Marks War Anniversary With Military Parades

- Various divisions of Iran's Armed Forces are holding annual military parades on the first day of the Sacred Defense Week, which marks the 36th anniversary of the eight-year Iraqi war on Iran. - 9/21/16

Mark Kirk's Surprising Disinterest In Boeing's Iran Sales

- Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) opposes pretty much anything that might take the pressure off Iran. He called Obama the "drug dealer in chief" for delivering $400 million in cash to the Islamic Republic as part of a settlement for money owed to Iran since 1979. He has gone so far as to say that "it's okay to take food out of the mouths" of the Iranian people to punish their government for its behavior. -Eli Clifton - 9/21/16

Our Hardliners Are Still Helping Iran's Hardliners

- The unrelenting urge among American politicians to keep punishing Iran--or more precisely, to be seen supporting steps with that objective--continues to work against sensible statecraft and U.S. interests in multiple respects. One of those respects concerns how measures taken by the United States affect political competition within Iran. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 9/21/16

Ending the Iran-Saudi Cold War

- In January, Saudi Arabia severed formal diplomatic ties with Iran after a row over its execution of a prominent Shia cleric ended with angry protestors attacking its Tehran embassy. Diplomacy has since been replaced by an ever-escalating war of words, and tensions have reached an all-time high. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Sina Toossi - 9/20/16

Iran Sentences Lebanese IT Expert To 10 Years In Prison

- A Lebanese information-technology (IT) expert detained in Iran for more than a year has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $4.2 million, his supporters say. Nizar Zakka, a Washington resident, was detained in September 2015 in Tehran after attending a government-organized conference on entrepreneurship and employment, where he was a panelist. - 9/20/16

Persian Gulf incidents spike, sending message from Iran hardliners

- Iran and the US have been provoking each other militarily for more than 30 years, engaging in a volatile tug-of-war in the Persian Gulf, where one-third of the world's seaborne oil supply travels through the Strait of Hormuz. But threatening incidents have spiked recently, with at least 32 reported so far this year, compared with 23 in all of 2015. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 9/20/16

Contesting the U.S.-Saudi Bromance With 1,000 Cuts

- On September 8, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced a bipartisan resolution, SJ Res 39, to disapprove the $1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia notified to Congress on August 8. New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich joined SJ Res 39 as a co-sponsor on September 13. -Robert Naiman, LobeLog - 9/20/16

NAM indisputable part of solutions to world crises: Iran's President Rouhani

- "At the current juncture, NAM member states more than ever require solidarity, convergence and coordination. The truth is that as a bloc that comprises about two-thirds of the United Nations members, we are an undeniable part of the solutions to the challenges facing today's world," Rouhani said at the opening ceremony of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit on Margarita Island, Venezuela, on Saturday. - 9/18/16

Absolute distrust in US important part of Iran's soft power: Supreme Leader

- Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says absolute distrust in hegemonic powers topped by the United States is an important component of Iran's soft power and this distrust must increase on a daily basis. The Leader made the remarks in a meeting on Sunday with commanders and high-ranking officials of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran on on Monday - 9/18/16

Powell Acknowledges Israeli Nukes

- According to hacked emails reviewed by LobeLog, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged Israel's nuclear arsenal, an open secret that U.S. and Israeli politicians typically refuse to acknowledge as part of Israel's strategy of "nuclear ambiguity." Powell also rejected assessments that Iran, at the time, was "a year away" from a nuclear weapon. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/18/16

Can International Cooperation Revitalize Wetlands on Afghanistan-Iran Border?

- Efforts to revive the Hamoun wetlands on the Iran-Afghanistan border are intensifying. A recent panel at the Atlantic Council described international involvement as vital both to help resolve this environmental challenge and to raise awareness about the devastating impact of climate change on the region. -Fatemeh Aman - 9/17/16

Israel Gives Up Little to Get Largest Ever U.S. Arms Deal

- Despite the tensions between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the United States and Israel have finally signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). After pushing off negotiations until the Iran deal concluded, Netanyahu has "settled" for the largest military aid package to any country in the history of U.S. security assistance. The deal will provide Israel $38 billion over ten years starting in 2019. -Seth Binder, LobeLog - 9/17/16

Trump: Americans Have 'Big Hearts' But Cannot Risk a Flow of Refugees

- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Tuesday that the American people have "big hearts" but cannot "take the risk of refugees." Trump answered questions before a primarily pro-military crowd in Virginia Beach, Virginia with retired General Michael Flynn, a strong Trump supporter, doing the asking. - 9/16/16

Soft Power is Key to Iran's Success

- While much is made of Iran's hard power, the recent nuclear deal hints at the prospect of the country's untapped soft power being far more central to its long-term success in the 21st century. As the 13th-century Persian poet, Jalal ad- Din Muhammad Rumi, wrote: "Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder." - Sam Sasan Shoamanesh, Huffington Post - 9/16/16


- To repeat, my main interest in the Clinton/Trump rivalry in their campaign for the presidency of the United States is how each candidate might affect the prospects of a rapprochement between the world's greatest economic and military superpower, and the Middle East's most consequential counterweight, Iran. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 9/15/16

Calling Iranians "Descendants of the Magi" Is Actually a Compliment

- Recently, the chief mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh, said that Iranians are Majus. This is the Arab name for Iran's Zoroastrians, who were the majority of the people at the time of the Arab invasion of Persia in the 7th century AD. The mufti was implying by this statement that Iranians are not Muslims. This belief is neither new nor limited to the Saudis or the Wahhabis. -Shireen T. Hunter - 9/15/16

Iranian Military Threatens To Shoot Down Two U.S. Planes Over Gulf

- Tehran's military threatened to shoot down two U.S. Navy planes over the Strait of Hormuz in the latest tense encounter in the Persian Gulf. Iranian air-defense stations warned the U.S. aircraft as they were flying in international airspace on September 10 that they were nearing Iranian airspace and "we will fire Iranian missiles" if they did not change course, U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Commander Bill Urban said on September 13. - 9/15/16

Is Wahhabism to Blame for al-Qaeda and ISIS?

- Late last month, Microsoft apologized after online users observed that Bing's translation of Daesh-what many Arabs call the Islamic State (ISIS or IS)-was "Saudi Arabia." According to Microsoft's official apology, Bing relies on a crowdsourcing translation method in which it promotes an alternative translation if at least 1,000 users suggest it. Despite Microsoft resolving the issue, which caused many Saudis to lash out against the multinational technology giant on social media, the episode highlighted an argument made by many pundits: Wahhabism (the kingdom's dominant sect of Sunni Islam) and IS/al-Qaeda's extremist ideology are one in the same. -Joseph Cozza and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 9/15/16

There Is No Military Path to Victory in Afghanistan

- Few will say it, but the facts are indisputable: America's war in Afghanistan has failed. There comes a time when persisting in a lost cause amounts to foolishness, indeed irresponsibility. That time has arrived. -Rajan Menon, LobeLog - 9/15/16

On the Eve of Hajj, Saudi and Iranian Officials Try to Define "Muslim"

- Top Iranian and Saudi officials traded barbs earlier this week over who is and isn't a true Muslim, deepening the Middle East's most prominent, longest-running, and deadliest diplomatic crisis. On September 6, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, pronounced that Iranians, no doubt to the great surprise of many of them, are not actually Muslim -Derek Davison - 9/14/16

Mohammad Javad Zarif: Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism

- Saudi Arabia's effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran. The fanciful notions that regional instability will help to "contain" Iran, and that supposed rivalries between Sunni and Shiite Muslims are fueling conflicts, are contradicted by the reality that the worst bloodshed in the region is caused by Wahhabists fighting fellow Arabs and murdering fellow Sunnis. -New York Times - 9/14/16

Ex-IRGC chief: Iran should not intensify tension with Saudis

- A senior advisor to the Supreme Leader on military affairs has urged elevated relations with the three Arab countries of Oman, Kuwait, and even Qatar amid reservations over already tense ties with Saudi Arabia. "We should increase our relations with Oman, Kuwait, and even Qatar while avoiding intensifying tension with Saudi Arabia," said Yahya Rahim Safavi - 9/14/16

Stealth Sectarianism

- Not a week goes by without Saudi Arabia and Iran ratcheting up their war of words. In the latest round of colorful insults, the Iranian leader called Saudi leaders "puny satans" incapable of managing Hajj while the Saudis retorted that Iranians are not real Muslims but, rather, Zoroastrians or "sons of Magi" (no mention was made of Iranian women). -Sanam Naraghi Anderlini - 9/13/16

IRGC Navy showcases long-range fast cruising vessel

- The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy has unveiled a domestically-designed and -manufactured long-range and fast cruising vessel with a helipad on its deck to accommodate a helicopter gunship. - 9/13/16
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