News Digest: Week of March 27

March 27

Diplomacy: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian agreed to meet during the month of Ramadan. The two discussed bilateral ties in a second phone call since Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic relations in March 2023. 

Diplomacy: President Raisi responded to an invitation from King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud to visit Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said in an interview. He added that Iran would offer to host the Saudi monarch in Tehran. 


March 28

Diplomacy: China would support further talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, President Xi Jinping told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. China had brokered the deal between the two countries to restore diplomatic ties.

International: Greek police arrested two men who were allegedly plotting attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets, including a Kosher restaurant in Athens, on behalf of Iran. The two men, aged 27 and 29, were reportedly born in Iran but were Pakistani nationals. They had entered Greece illegally from Turkey months earlier. Another operative based in Iran, who reportedly promised to pay the pair for carrying out the attacks, was charged in absentia. “Their aim was not only to cause the loss of life of innocent citizens, but also to undermine the sense of security in the country, while hurting public institutions and threatening [Greece’s] international relations,” the police said.

Israel’s Mossad assisted Greek authorities with the investigation, “which revealed that the infrastructure that operated in Greece is part of an extensive Iranian network run from Iran and spanning many countries,” according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.  

Human Rights: Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined U.S. support for women's rights movements in Iran. “In Iran, courageous women are marching in the streets, under great threat to themselves, to call for ‘woman, life, and freedom,’” he said in a speech. “The United States stands in solidarity with these women and all who are working for women’s full, free, and equal participation around the world. Through our diplomacy, we’re committed to supporting them and advancing gender equality worldwide.”


International: Azerbaijani parliament members and media outlets blamed Iran for the attempted assassination of Fazil Mustafa, a member of parliament, in Baku. Mustafa, a vocal critic of Iran, was shot outside of his home. The State Security Service called the shooting a “terrorist attack” but did not attribute it to a group or country.


March 29

Nuclear: Parliament could vote to impose a legal deadline on the nuclear negotiations, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian warned in an interview. “The window of the talks to return to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) won’t remain open forever,” he said.  

Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a multi-day in Moscow to discuss economic and security ties. Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran sought a long-term agreement with Russia. Lavrov said that there was “no alternative” to the 2015 nuclear deal and called on the United States to lift sanctions on Iran.


March 30

International: Israel reportedly launched a strike near Damascus, Syria that targeted Iran-backed militias. The attack reportedly injured two Syrian soldiers. 

International: Washington and Tehran both declared victory after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on disputed Iranian assets frozen by the United States. The top U.N. court rejected Iran’s bid to unfreeze some $2 billion in central bank funds held in a Citibank account in New York. But it also ordered the United States to compensate Iranian companies for illegally blocking other assets.


March 31

International: Israel launched a second round of strikes in Syria targeting Iran-backed groups. The strike near Damascus killed two members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Milad Haydari and Meqdad Meqdani. Meqdani reportedly died later due to injuries sustained from the attack, Iranian media reported on April 2. The IRGC threatened that Israel “will undoubtedly receive a response to this crime.” Israel had previously struck targets in Syria on March 30.


April 2

International: Israel launched a third round of strikes in Syria targeting Iran-backed groups. The strike injured five Syrian soldiers near Homs. Israel targeted the T-4 airbase near Palmyra and al Dabaa airport near al Qusayr, which reportedly hosted Iranian military personnel and Iran-backed groups. Israel also reportedly targeted an underground drone and missile development facility. It had previously struck targets in Syria on March 30 and 31. 

International: Israel intercepted a drone launched from Syria. It reportedly downed the drone electronically. On April 3, Israel blamed Iran for the drone, which did not cause any injuries. Israel had previously launched three rounds of airstrikes in Syria between March 30 and April 2.