Saturday’s Iran Mini Report – May 25, 2019

• Analysis: Iran Supreme Leader Comments Signal Strategy Shift

Associated Press: For years, Iran’s supreme leader only criticized the West over Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Now, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is publicly chastising the country’s elected president and his foreign minister as the accord unravels amid heightened tensions with the U.S. By naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as failing to implement his orders over the deal, Khamenei is signaling a hard-line tilt in how the Islamic Republic will react going forward.

• Pompeo On Tensions With Iran: ‘The Threat Is Real’

Fox News: secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an interview Thursday with “Fox & Friends,” addressed mounting tensions between the United States and Iran — saying the threat from the regime is “real” and “credible.” “Without getting into specifics, you can be sure that President Trump will ensure that we have all the resources necessary to respond in the event that the Islamic Republic of Iran should decide to attack Americans or American interests,” Pompeo said.

• Iraq Urges Iran To Respect Nuclear Accord

AFP: Iraq’s top diplomat Friday called on Iran to respect the landmark deal covering its nuclear program, which has been weakened by the U.S. decision to withdraw from it and Tehran’s backing away from certain commitments. “We think the JCPOA is a good agreement,” said Iraq’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by Iran in 2015 with Russia, China, Germany, Britain and the United States.

• Khamenei Evades Responsibility for Nuclear Deal, Having Endorsed It At Every Turn

Iran regime’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said once again that he did not agree with the way the nuclear deal with the West was implemented. “I have repeatedly warned the president and the foreign minister about it,” he said during a May 22 meeting with students. This is not the first time Khamenei evades his responsibility about the 2015 nuclear agreement also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), although he has played the main part in forging the deal at five different points.

• Iran Stores More Oil On Land And At Sea As Exports Slump

Reuters: Iran’s oil storage on land and at sea is on the rise as US sanctions on exports bite and Tehran battles to keep its ageing fields operational and crude flowing, according to data and industry sources. Washington announced in May the end of sanctions waivers for foreign countries importing Iranian oil, hitting Tehran’s biggest source of income.

• French Report: US Sanctions Choke Off Iran’s Aid To Hezbollah

Asharq Al-Awsat: A French newspaper has found that crippling US sanctions on Iran have choked off Tehran’s financial support to Hezbollah, one of the country’s most important proxies in the Middle East. Le Figaro’s report entitled, “Hezbollah put on diet due to the fall of Iranian aid”, emphasized that Iran has cut its transfers to the Lebanese group by half, reducing the salaries of party members.

• India Has Ended All Oil Imports From Iran

Oil Price: India has officially ended all oil imports from Iran, India’s Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has managed to emerge victorious from India’s elections, according to the Daily Mail. Shringla was reluctant to say whether India agreed with the United States’ stance on the sanctions, but did say that the sanctions have hurt India, who relies on Iran in particular for a sizeable chunk of its crude oil.

• Iran’s Cyber Police Goes After Street Musicians

The Islamic Republic Cyber Police have blocked several accounts owned by Iranian street musicians on Instagram, local reports say. Two female musicians, Naghmeh Moradabadi and Aso Kohzadi, along with Mehrdad Ahmadi, are among the buskers whose pages on Instagram have been blocked, allegedly for publishing “criminal contents.” Iranian cyber police, known by its Persian acronym as “FATA” in Iran, has not elaborated on the nature of the “contents” presumed “criminal.”

• Iranian Journalist Kazemi Jailed On New National Security Charges

Radio Free Europe: The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Iranian authorities to release journalist Masud Kazemi and explain or drop the new charges he is facing. “This is yet another clear example of mistreatment of journalists by the Iranian state and specifically the country’s judiciary that consistently shows itself to be biased,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement on May 22.

• Iran Summons Female Singer to Court for Performing Solo in Public

An Iranian female singer has been summoned by the Islamic republic to appear in court following a public solo performance in the Abyaneh village that was swiftly cut short by the local Cultural Heritage Organization, according to a BBC report. Tasmin News confirmed that the chief prosecutor of the Iranian province opened an investigation into the reports, adding that the woman has not been arrested on the matter yet, but that the case will be pursued by the prosecutor’s office.

• Amid Tensions With Iran, White House Mulls U.S. Military Request To Send More Forces To The Middle East

The Washington Post: The U.S. military is presenting options to President Trump that would enhance the protection of American forces in the Middle East in response to rising tensions with Iran, and potentially involve sending more troops to the region, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan said Thursday. Shanahan’s comments came as U.S. military leaders were expected to propose during a meeting Thursday to send thousands of additional troops to the Middle East for security reinforcement, according to U.S. officials.

• Trump Says Willing To Consider Sending More Troops To Counter Iran

Reuters: US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he was willing to consider sending more US troops to the Middle East to counter Iran. He said he doubted that the US needs to send additional troops, as he prepared to meet Pentagon officials to discuss it later in the day. US military leaders have discussed sending some 5,000 troops to the region with tensions running high with Iran.

• Iran Rejects Talks With US ‘Under Any Circumstances’

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iran announced Thursday that it will not hold talks with the United States “under any circumstances.” “We have said clearly… as long as the rights of our nation are not satisfied, as long as words don’t change into action, our path will stay the same as now,” said Keyvan Khosravi, spokesman of the Supreme National Security Council. “There will be no talks under any circumstances,” he was quoted as saying by the official state news agency IRNA.

• Khamenei Defends The Constitution After Rouhani Asks For More Powers

Iran’s supreme leader has defended the Islamic Republic’s controversial constitution, saying that politicians and officials are responsible for the shortcomings of the system. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was asked in a meeting with students on Wednesday, May 22 whether the problems Iran faces might be due to its constitution – which was adopted by a referendum in December 1979. “The structure of the constitution is good, but structures need to be studied and rectified,” Khamenei said, leaving some room for change.

• Iran Building New Crossing On Syria Border That Would Let It Smuggle Weapons, Oil, Experts Say | Fox News

New satellite images indicate Iran is building a border crossing at the Syrian-Iraqi border, which would open up a coveted land route from Iran to Lebanon, according to Western intelligence sources. The images, obtained exclusively by Fox News and captured earlier this week, show a new construction in the Albukamal Al-Qaim crossing. The area is under the control of Pro-Iranian Shiite militias. Last summer, Iran increased its presence in the area.

• Saudi Arabia Urges Int’l Community To Take Firm Stand Against Houthis

Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia has called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities by taking a firm stand against the Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militias after targeting vital populated areas in the Kingdom with ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. Such attacks are a flagrant violation of international and humanitarian law and relevant Security Council resolutions, said Acting Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations Dr. Khaled Manzlawiy.

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