News Digest: Week of February 10

February 10

Economy: Iraqi officials said that the United States will grant sanctions waivers to allow Iraq to import gas and electricity from Iran. The previous waiver will expire on February 13. Iraq was heavily dependent on Iran to meet its domestic electricity demands, especially during the summer when consumption is higher due to the heat.  

Military: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Qods force general killed in a U.S. airstrike on January 3, was working to stabilize the Middle East. “Commander Soleimani was a man who was pursuing stability and calm in the region,” Rouhani said on state television. “If commander Soleimani wanted to kill American generals it would have been very, very easy for him, in Afghanistan, Iraq and any other place. He never did that.” U.S. officials had labeled him a terrorist and accused the Qods Force, along with Iran’s proxies, of destabilizing the region.

Military: The Pentagon announced that 109 service members sustained traumatic brain injuries during Iran’s missile during Iran’s strike on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops. Officials said that 76 of the troops had returned to active duty. The United States had previously reported in January that 50 service members had been injured.

 

February 11

Society: Hundreds of thousands of Iranians gathered to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Rallies were held in more than 5,000 cities, towns and districts, according to state media. Iranian leaders gave defiant speeches, condemning U.S. sanctions and touting the country’s resilience. “For a major power like America it is very hard to endure the Islamic Revolution and victory of a great nation that drove the superpower out of this land,” President Rouhani said at a rally in Tehran. “It is natural that they dream of returning to 41 years ago and returning to this land every night.”

 

 

Diplomacy/Technology:  U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran’s failed attempt to launch a satellite into space on February 9. “Each launch, whether failed or not, further allows Iran to gain experience using such technologies that could benefit its missile programs under the guise of a peaceful space program,” he said in a statement. The United States has long alleged that satellite launches are related to ballistic missile technology and would therefore be violations of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231.

 

February 12

Justice: The United States charged five individuals with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Justice Department alleged that the five defendants used a Polish shell company to illicitly purchase Iranian oil and sell it to a refinery in China. “With the goal of illegally enriching themselves, the defendants conspired for over eight months to devise a scheme to violate U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, particularly the ban on foreign oil sales,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers.

 

February 13

Politics: Candidates began campaigning for Iran’s parliamentary elections, slated for February 21. State television reported that 7,150 candidates had been approved for the race. The Guardian Council, a panel of twelve Islamic jurists and scholars, had disqualified more than 9,000 candidates out of around 16,000 who had initially registered for the election.

Updated