News Digest: Week of May 24

May 24

Diplomacy: President Hassan Rouhani spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the phone. The two presidents discussed the Vienna talks over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Tehran's need for COVID-19 vaccines and trade.  

Oil: The Syrian Foreign Minister accused Israel of attacking tankers carrying Iranian fuel to Syria. “There should be deterrence to Israeli attacks on ships,” Minister Faisal Mekdad told a Lebanese TV channel. 



May 25

Elections: Iranian lawmakers visited Syria to observe presidential elections scheduled for May 26. The three candidates were incumbent President Bashar al Assad, Socialist Unionist Party candidate Abdullah Salloum Abdullah, and head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights Mahmoud Ahmed Merei. The United States - along with Britain, France, Germany and Italy - denounced the election as neither "free nor fair." 

Nuclear: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Secretary of State Antony Blinken not to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal “because we believe that that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy.”



May 26

Accident: An explosion at a petrochemical plant on the Persian Gulf killed one worker and injured two, Tasnim News Agency reported. “The reason for the blast is under investigation and the fire has been extinguished, the governor of Assaluyeh province said

Finance: Iran banned cryptocurrency mining for four months due to the large amount of power it requires. "Any activity to mine cryptocurrencies, even by those who have a license, is illegal so that there is no problem in supplying electricity to the people," Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting. 

Iraq: Thousands of Iraqis protested in Baghdad's Tahrir Square over the killing of civil society activists allegedly by Iranian-backed militias.