On January 5, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told CNN that the United States wants to amplify the voices of Iran’s protestors. “We know the regime listens to the world, and that’s why we’ve been working diligently with others in the world, including our European partners, to also amplify these voices within the country to say to the regime, you must address these concerns of these people and you should be address[ing] it by beginning a process of reform,” he told Elise Labott. The following is a transcript of the interview.
Iran has increasingly used cyber operations to monitor and retaliate against foreign and domestic enemies, according to two new reports. "Iran has demonstrated how militarily weaker countries can use offensive cyber operations to contend with more advanced adversaries,” concludes a study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. It has conducted cyber-attacks against targets in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
On January 4, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned five Iran-based entities for ties to the country's ballistic missile program. The United States said the organizations were owned or controlled by an industrial firm responsible for developing and producing Iran's solid-propellant ballistic missiles. The sanctions freeze any U.S. property the entities hold and prohibit Americans from engaging with them.
On January 3, Iran charged the United States with "grotesque" interference in its internal affairs in a letter to the United Nations. The accusations came after the United States openly supported anti-government demonstrations in major cities, including Tehran, Masshad, Qom, and Hamadan. "Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government.
Since the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran has signed deals worth tens of billions of dollars—on oil, aviation, solar energy, health care, and consumer goods—with companies on four continents, including North America and Europe. Foreign companies have coveted the Iranian market since sanctions were lifted in January 2016. But they faced increasing uncertainty after the Trump administration reversed policy on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2017. He announced that Iran had violated the “spirit” of the accord—and refused to certify Tehran’s compliance to Congress.
The Carnegie Endowment has published a new study on Iran’s shifting demographics by Richard Cincotta, a global fellow with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, and Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace focusing on Iran and U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East. The following is the executive summary. Click here for the full text.
On December 18, President Trump unveiled his long-awaited National Security Strategy. “For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats,” the National Security Strategy said.
On December 14, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, presented what she referred to as "undeniable" evidence of Iran’s transfer of arms to Houthi rebels in Yemen. “It’s hard to find a conflict or a terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it,” she told reporters, standing in front of a missile allegedly fired by Houthis into Saudi Arabia.
On December 10, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged Europe to work with Iran and not follow in “lock step” behind the United States. In an op-ed published in The New York Times, he argued that the United States has proven unreliable on foreign policy since President Donald Trump took office.
On December 5, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to exchange views on recent developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. In remarks to the press, Mogherini reiterated that “continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal is a key strategic priority for European security but also for regional and global security.” Tillerson highlighted Iran’s regional activities and that he looked forward to working with European partners to address Tehran’s support of armed groups like Hezbollah.