Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s nuclear chief and former foreign minister, has warned that Iranians are running out of patience with the European Union’s pledge to maintain trade with Tehran despite ramped-up U.S. sanctions against its oil and banking sectors. “If we cannot sell our oil and we don’t enjoy financial transactions, then I don’t think keeping the deal will benefit us anymore,” Salehi said ahead of a Nov. 27 meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.
The disappearance and possible murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has cast a long shadow over Saudi Arabia’s global image. If the Saudi government did in fact kill or kidnap him, the crime would have significant implications for Middle East politics.
The messages from Tehran are stark. On October 1, Iranian forces fired six missiles at Islamic State positions in eastern Syria. The weapons landed within three miles of U.S. troops in the country; one missile shown on Iranian state television carried the slogan: “Death to America, “Death to Israel, Death to al Saud.” A statement by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said the missile strike was retaliation for a September 22 shooting attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, that killed at least 25 people.
In a rare admission, Israel has broken its “no-comment” policy on air strikes to confirm that it has carried out over 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria over the last two years. In addition to those attacks, a new report claims that Israel has secretly armed and funded at least 12 Syrian rebel groups in southern Syria since 2013. Israel reportedly stopped its transfer of weapons and money in July, after the Bashar al-Assad regime regained control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
The first round of what U.S. President Donald Trump called “the most biting sanctions ever imposed” against Tehran went into effect on August 7. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” Trump continued, in a tweet posted that morning. An even more damaging second round of U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic, reinstated after Washington pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, is expected to take effect in November.
The exodus of international firms from Iran is accelerating as the August deadline for the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Tehran approaches. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the multinational Joint Comprehensive Place of Action, which lifted international sanctions against Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, has left the 2015 accord hanging dangerously in the balance.
In an ironic twist, President Donald Trump’s diplomatic progress in North Korea may have played a major role in his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. The decision to withdraw the United States from the hard-won multinational Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “sends a critical message,” the U.S. president said on Tuesday. “The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them.”
In a last-ditch attempt to save the Iran nuclear deal ahead of President Donald Trump’s May 12 deadline, Washington’s European allies have rushed to address the U.S. administration’s main objections to the historic agreement. One of the most contentious of these is the accord’s “failure” to restrict Iran’s ballistic missile program; critics of the deal say that allowing Tehran to continue developing non-nuclear missiles could enable it to deliver atomic warheads sooner once nuclear restrictions expire.
Shortly after Iranian protesters took to the streets on Dec. 28, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video on his Facebook page wishing “the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom.” In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, state-run media hailed the protesting Iranians with such joyful hysteria that Saudis could be forgiven for believing that the regime in Tehran was on the verge of collapse.
Shortly after Saad Hariri unexpectedly announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister in a speech from Saudi Arabia last month, French President Emmanuel Macron made a surprise trip to Riyadh. Regional tensions were escalating, with Lebanese leaders accusing the Saudis of holding Hariri hostage and Riyadh accusing Lebanon of declaring war against it.