News Digest: Week of August 23

August 23

Afghanistan: Iran announced that it would resume exporting fuel to Afghanistan at the Taliban’s request. The price of gasoline had exceeded $900 per ton in Afghanistan due to a spike in demand from Afghans fleeing Taliban-controlled cities.  

Diplomacy: Outgoing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shared a farewell speech on Instagram. "To protect national interests, I could not always speak as I liked, and I testify that in four decades of serving in foreign policy, I had no criteria other than the interests of the people of this region," he said.

Oil and Gas: Tehran was prepared to export additional fuel to Lebanon, according to the foreign ministry. “We sell our oil and its products based on our own decisions and the needs of our friend,” said spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh. “Iran is ready to send fuel again to Lebanon if needed.” The comments followed reports that a group of Lebanese Shiite businessmen linked to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia and political movement, had purchased fuel from Iran. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, said on August 22 that the first fuel-carrying vessel had already left Iran.

Regional: Iran, Russia and China will commence joint maritime exercises on shipping security and combating piracy in the Persian Gulf in late 2021 or early 2022, Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan said. He added that Russia would support Iran’s pending 2008 bid for full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) — an eight-member body that includes China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – during the September summit in Dushanbe.


August 24

Aviation: The Iranian and Ukrainian governments denied reports that a plane evacuating Ukrainian nationals from Afghanistan had been hijacked and rerouted to Iran. The Iranian Civil Aviation Authority said that the plane had simply refueled in Mashhad before flying to its destination, Kiev. 

Human Rights: Prisons Organization chief Mohammad Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi apologized for “unacceptable behavior” at Evin prison after leaked footage of detainee abuse circulated on Monday. Hacker group Edalat-e Ali (Ali’s Justice) released the surveillance footage, which exposed the physical abuse and poor living conditions of detainees, many of whom are political prisoners, foreign nationals, and/or dual nationals. “Evin Prison is a stain of shame on [President Ebrahim] Raisi's black turban and white beard,” read footage on one of the hacked prison screens. President Raisi was previously the head of the national judiciary from 2019 to 2021.


Nuclear: Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennet would propose an alternate strategy to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon during his meeting with President Joe Biden in Washington on August 26, The Times of Israel reported. Bennet’s proposal would not involve a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and instead would call for a broader regional strategy to confront Iran.


August 25

Politics: Parliament confirmed 18 out of 19 of President Raisi's cabinet nominees. The only pick who was not approved was Hossein Baghgoli, the nominee for education minister. 

Maritime: Israel claimed that the drone used to attack the Mercer Street, an oil tanker floating off the Omani coast, on July 29 was "launched from Iranian territory and approved by the Iranian leadership." Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz briefed foreign diplomats in Jerusalem on the drone attack, as well as Iran's doubling of military spending over the past five years.

Regional: Iraq and France invited officials from Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab a summit in Baghdad on August 28. The summit would focus on the war in Yemen, the situation in Lebanon and the regional water crisis, Reuters reported




Some of the information in this article was originally published on August 24, 2021.