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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

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

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

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

AWAITING A HILLARY CLINTON PRESIDENCY

- 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

Afghan-Iranian joint production "Parting" represents Afghanistan at Oscars

- "Parting", an Afghan-Iranian joint production about love and migration, was submitted to the 89th Annual Academy Awards to represent Afghanistan in the best foreign language film category at the 2017 Oscars. - 9/12/16

US claims of warship harassment in Persian Gulf fictitious: Iran

- Iran's chief Armed Forces spokesman has dismissed as untrue US claims that an American warship patrolling the Persian Gulf was harassed by Iranian boats, saying the Islamic Republic's naval forces act according to international law. - 9/12/16

Congress Returns, Refocuses on Iran

- Congress returned this week from its summer recess -- coming back for a very brief session before it goes back into recess for the final period before November elections. Surprising no one, GOP leaders returned to Washington eager to score points against the Obama administration over its Iran policy - immediately introducing 6 pieces of Iran-focused legislation -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 9/12/16

Iran welcomes truce agreement in Syria: Foreign Ministry Spokesman

- Iran has welcomed a Russia-US mediated ceasefire agreement in Syria aimed at putting an end to more than five years of deadly conflict gripping the Arab country. "The Islamic Republic of Iran always welcomes a ceasefire in Syria and the facilitation of the access of all the country's people to humanitarian aid," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qassemi, said on Sunday. - 9/11/16

9/11 Anniversary: What could have been!

- Fifteen years ago on 9/11, Al Qaeda terrorists changed the course of history, and the consequences of what happened on that day are still very much with us, and are arguably even growing more complex and more dangerous. -Farhang Jahanpour - 9/11/16

IAEA: Iran Is Keeping Its End of the Nuclear Bargain

- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is reporting that Iran has so far complied with its obligations under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which went into effect in January and limits Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons. The IAEA report, which is confidential but was apparently shown to the Reuters news agency, "did not point to any violations in Tehran's observance of the deal" -Derek Davison - 9/10/16

Trump Vows To Destroy Iranian Boats That Harass U.S. Navy Ships

- At a rally in Florida on September 9, Trump said he would make the U.S. military "so strong that nobody's going to mess with us," and cited recent incidents where the Pentagon said Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps boats acted aggressively toward U.S. ships. - 9/10/16

Arrested Afghans Put On Display By Police In Iran, Sparking Anger

- Some Iranians and Afghans have taken to social media to condemn authorities in the Iranian city of Shiraz for putting arrested, blindfolded Afghan refugees on display. The criticism came after Iranian media, including the semi-official ISNA news agency, published a series of photographs of Afghans -- who had been detained on suspicion of illegally entering the country -- sitting behind barricade fences wearing white blindfolds. - 9/10/16

The Reconstruction of the Southeast and Turkey's War in Syria

- Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on September 4 that Turkey would make a massive investment of $3.4 billion to rehabilitate the heavily Kurdish-populated southeast. The inclusion of substantial economic incentives could push the total package to $140 billion over the coming years. The plan has the support of some of Turkey's largest companies. -Robert Olson, LobeLog - 9/10/16

Iran respecting commitments under JCPOA: IAEA

- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has once again confirmed Iran's commitment to a landmark nuclear deal it signed with six world powers last year. In another quarterly report on Iran on Thursday, the UN nuclear agency, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the nuclear deal, said Tehran has not exceeded the limits set in the accord on its low-enriched uranium and heavy water stockpile - 9/9/16

Muslim nations must unite against Saudi crimes: Iran's President Rouhani

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on the Muslim world to join forces and bring the Saudi regime to justice for its atrocities in Muslim countries of the Middle East. The Iranian chief executive highlighted Riyadh's support for terrorism, adding that the regime is "practically spilling the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen through its crimes in the region." - 9/8/16

Strained History: Iran-Saudi War Of Words Over Hajj

- An escalating war of words is reaching fever pitch between bitter regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia ahead of this year's hajj pilgrimage, from which Iranians have been excluded for the first time in decades. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL - 9/8/16

Promised Democracy: The Future of Iraq

- The current US presidential campaign debate on Middle East policy has focused disproportionately on the US response to the Islamic State (ISIS or IS). This series will focus instead on five alternative Middle East policy challenges facing the next president. This first part discusses the importance of the future of US policy toward Iraq. -Ryan J. Suto, LobeLog - 9/8/16

2018 FIFA World Cup: Iran, China play out goalless draw in qualifier match

- Iran's national football team, known domestically as Team Melli, has played out a goalless draw against China in its second encounter at the third round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament. - 9/7/16

Iranian Attack Boat Forces U.S. Navy Ship To Change Course

- A U.S. Navy ship had to change course to avoid colliding with an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps attack boat that came within 100 yards of it in the Persian Gulf, Pentagon officials said on September 6. The incident on September 4 was the fourth such encounter in a month. U.S. officials say they are concerned such incidents could lead to mistakes. - 9/7/16

Iran's Zarif Accuses Saudi Authorities Of 'Bigoted Extremism'

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused Saudi authorities of "bigoted extremism" in a war of words over Iran's exclusion from this year's hajj pilgrimage. "Indeed, no resemblance between Islam of Iranians and most Muslims, and bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric and Saudi terror masters preach," Zarif tweeted late on September 6. - 9/7/16

Iranian Minister Says Tehran Backs OPEC Moves Toward Stability

- Iran's oil minister says Tehran would support any decision by OPEC that would add stability to the international oil market. Bijan Namdar Zangeneh made his comments on September 6 after talks in Tehran with OPEC head Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Iranian state TV reported. - 9/7/16

Iran Rekindles Flap with Saudi Arabia Over 2015 Hajj Stampede

- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has once again questioned Saudi Arabia's ability to manage Islam's holiest sites, accusing the kingdom of murder in last year's deadly hajj pilgrimage stampede. - 9/6/16

The Gulf Arab States Buy Influence in Comoros

- Comoros, an impoverished West Indian archipelago nation known for its post-colonial history of political instability, rarely enters a discussion about Middle Eastern affairs. Early this year, however, the Arab League's southernmost member made headlines after Comoros expressed solidarity with Saudi Arabia by severing ties with Iran, which Comorian officials accused of waging "aggression" against the kingdom and its neighbors. -Emmaline Ivy Johnson and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 9/5/16

World knows Saudi Arabia is source of terrorism: Iran

- The world has learned that Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism, the radical ideology freely preached in the Arab country, are to blame for the violent acts of extremism in the Middle East region and elsewhere, says an Iranian official. - 9/3/16

Latest Anti-JCPOA Attack Fails to Make Its Case

- The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and its founder, David Albright, recently released a report on the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Over the years, the Institute has justifiably won the respect of members of Congress and nonproliferation analysts for its technical reports. This is not to suggest that the reports were without flaws - Jim Walsh, LobeLog - 9/3/16

Iran thrashes Qatar 2-0 in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier

- Iran's national football team, also known as Team Melli, has achieved a surprise victory over Qatar in its opening match at the third round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament. - 9/2/16

Russian President Putin urges compromise on Iran oil production

- Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a potential oil output freeze deal among oil-exporting countries should involve some compromise on Iran's production levels. "I think that from the point of view of economic expediency and logic, it would be right to find some sort of compromise" on the Iranian output level, Putin told Bloomberg. - 9/2/16

White House Disputes Report It Exempted Iran From Nuclear Limits

- The White House has disputed a think-tank report saying the United States and its negotiating partners agreed to secret exemptions for Iran in last year's landmark nuclear agreement. - 9/2/16

Why Are Afghan and Pakistani Fighters Deploying to Syria on Iran's Behalf?

- After long denying that it had deployed any foreign nationals to Syria, Iran now insists that Afghan and Pakistani Shia fighters have traveled to Syria in a spontaneous, voluntary display of religious and ideological conviction. -Fatemeh Aman, LobeLog - 9/2/16

Federalism and Regionalism in the Middle East, Not Territorial Disintegration

- Since the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2003, which exacerbated Iraq's ethnic and sectarian divisions and the manipulation of these divisions by regional and international actors, centrifugal tendencies in Iraq have become quite strong... The increasingly common talk of disintegration has not been limited to Iraq. In other Middle East states, similar trends are under way. -Shireen T. Hunter - 9/1/16

Iran considers WMDs as redline for its defense program: Ayatollah Khamenei

- The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran considers development of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear and chemical weapons, as redline for its defense program. - 9/1/16

Congressional Research Service Expert and Gulf Lobbyist Headline MEK Event

- By outward appearances, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the ex-terrorist Iranian opposition group hell-bent on regime change, appears to be losing their influence in the media. The group's allegations about Iran's nuclear program are met with increased skepticism after, for example, photographic evidence of "Lavizan-3," a secret uranium enrichment facility in suburban Tehran, was revealed to be a stock photo from an Iranian safe company. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 9/1/16

U.S. Commander Denounces 'Provocative' Iranian Guard Maneuvers in Persian Gulf

- A top U.S. commander sharply criticized recent high-speed maneuvers by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boats in the Persian Gulf that last week prompted a U.S. Navy ship to fire warning shots. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said on August 30 that these episodes are worrying because they risk triggering a dangerous escalation. - 8/31/16

Iranian General Killed During Battle In Aleppo, Syria

- Iranian state media reports say a retired Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) general has been killed while battling against Islamic militants in northern Syria. The Fars news agency, which is closely affiliated with the IRGC, reported on August 31 that General Ahmad Gholami was killed on August 30 while fighting against Sunni militants in Aleppo. - 8/31/16

Turkish Troops in Syria Deepen America's Quandary

- The Turkish military incursion into Syria is yet another chapter in the continuing tragedy for that country, for Syrians of all confessions and ethnicities, and indeed for most of the Middle East. Ankara is acting, it says, because of a threat from Kurdish fighters (which has a long history) and forces of the so-called Islamic State (a relatively new phenomenon). -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 8/31/16

Iran draws closer to OPEC's number 2 position

- Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says Iran's oil exports have risen to 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd), bringing the country closer to its former position as the second biggest OPEC producer. "Our crude oil and condensate exports have now reached 2.5 million barrels per day and crude oil (exports) have solely hit 2.1 million barrels per day," Zangeneh told the state television on Monday night. - 8/30/16

Iran Deploys Russian Long-Range Missiles At Nuclear Site

- Iranian officials say they have deployed a new Russian-made long-range missile system to protect its Fordo nuclear facility. General Farzad Esmaili, the commander of Iran's air defenses, told the state IRIB channel on August 28 that protecting the country's nuclear facilities is paramount "in all circumstances." - 8/29/16

CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran

- The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history -- and still gave him a hand. -Foreign Policy - 8/29/16

Burkas, Burkinis, Veils and Women's Rights

- Symbolism matters. Especially when it comes to other people's cultures. Most recently we see the old/new issue about Muslim women's dress, especially now grabbing headlines in France where "Islamic beachwear" or the "burkini" (burka-bikini), has been banned in several Riviera beach towns. France of course leads the world in its militantly secular posture on cultural and civic affairs. As well as the symbol of the bikini itself. (Topless--I won't even go there.) -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 8/28/16

For Hawks, Every American Captive Returned Home Diplomatically is a Failed Opportunity

- This month, opponents of the Iran deal have decided to run with the talking point that the delivery of $400 million to Iran in January was a "ransom payment" for the release of three American citizens. TheNew York Times editorial board concluded that their release was "pragmatic diplomacy not capitulation," not to mention the fact that the funds actually belonged to Iran... -Eli Clifton - 8/26/16

US: Navy Ships Fired Warning Shots After Encounters with Iranian Vessels

- U.S. Navy ships sailing in the Persian Gulf were forced to fire warning shots and flares after being harassed by Iranian vessels in recent close encounters, the Pentagon said. In one incident Wednesday, the patrol ship USS Squall fired three warning shots into the water in the direction of an Iranian boat that was approaching another American ship head-on. -VOA - 8/26/16

OVERCAUTIOUS OBJECTIVITY: Losing Perspective by Being Politically Correct

- I have often appreciated Mr. Gharib's articles and analyses of America's policies toward Iran in general, even though I do not always agree with all of his views. In his latest article appearing, he offers a careful and concise critique of the Wall Street Journal's chief foreign affairs reporter, Jay Solomon, addressing the historic P5+1/Iran nuclear agreement and its aftermath. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 8/26/16

Iran crowned Continental Beach Soccer Tournament champion

- Iran became the champion of the Continental Beach Soccer Tournament Ordos on Thursday, following an impressive win over 2015 Asian champion Oman. - 8/26/16

Iran Confirms It Will Join OPEC Talks To Support Oil Prices

- Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh confirmed that Iran will take part in an OPEC meeting next month in Algeria to discuss ways to support global oil prices. Zanganeh's remarks to the ministry's Shana news service on August 25 helped spur a jump in oil prices, with premium crude rising 62 cents to $49.67 a barrel in London trading. - 8/26/16

Armenia, Iran Creating Free Economic Zone To Expand Exports

- Armenia's government is working with Iran to create a free economic zone in the country's southernmost Meghri region, Economy Minister Artsvik Minasyan said on August 25. - 8/26/16

The International Community's Failure in Yemen

- This week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Riyadh amid renewed criticism of the ongoing Saudi-led military operations against the Al Saud ruler's adversaries in Yemen and the international community's failure to resolve the Yemeni Civil War. This meeting will hopefully begin the process of finding a new solution to what has been a devastating political and humanitarian crisis. -Joseph Cozza, LobeLog - 8/26/16

4 Iranian Vessels Sped Close to a US Ship in Strait of Hormuz, Navy Says

- Four Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels sped close to a U.S. guided missile destroyer in international waters Tuesday in an "unsafe and unprofessional" encounter, the U.S. Navy said Wednesday. - 8/25/16

Iran names Daesh leader killed in Kermanshah, says nothing is off the country's radar

- Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi revealed in a live TV program on Wednesday that Abu Aeshe Kurdi, commander of a Daesh brigade in Mosul, was one of those killed in recent clashes with a terrorist cell in Kermanshah province, western Iran. - 8/25/16
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