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U.S. Crisis with Iraq Over Iranian Threat

September 30, 2020
Updated: November 25, 2020
Tensions between the United States and Iran created a political crisis in Baghdad in September after months of attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities by Iraqi militias armed, trained and aided by Tehran. The militias targeted U.S. bases, supply convoys and diplomatic facilities almost daily in…

News Digest: Week of September 28

September 30, 2020
September 28 Diplomacy: Iran pushed for an immediate ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan after fighting erupted over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif urged his Azeri and Armenian counterparts to exercise restraint during phone calls on Sunday.  Economy…

Saudi King Condemns Iran at U.N. General Assembly

September 25, 2020
On September 23, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz condemned Iran for spreading “chaos, extremism and sectarianism” across the Middle East and urged a “comprehensive” worldwide solution to prevent it from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. “Partial solutions and appeasement did not stop…

Abrams on U.S. Demands for New Iran Talks

September 25, 2020
Updated: November 16, 2020
On September 24, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Elliott Abrams said that any future agreement with Tehran would have to cover four areas — nuclear and missile programs, support for terrorism and American detainees — and be "legally binding." "The United States is open to negotiate with Iran…

Whither the Middle East: Peace or More Conflict?

September 23, 2020
On September 23, four experts – Robin Wright, Daniel Kurtzer, Vali Nasr and Maha Yahya – explored the future trajectory of the Middle East on U.S.-Iran tensions, Lebanon’s struggle to rebuild politically and physically, new peace agreements between Gulf countries and Israel, the end game in Syria…

News Digest: Week of September 21

September 23, 2020
September 21 Health: Iran recorded 425,481 cases and 24,478 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 361,523 patients had recovered from the virus. Sanctions: The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on Iran that targeted 24 government organizations,…

Khamenei on the 40th Anniversary of Iran-Iraq War

September 22, 2020
On the 40th anniversary of Iraq’s invasion of Iran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed on September 21 that the eight-year war was an Iranian victory against the major powers. The United States, Europeans and the Soviet Union had supported President Saddam Hussein—with arms, intelligence and…

Rouhani Speaks at His Last U.N. General Assembly

September 22, 2020
On September 22, President Hassan Rouhani told the 75th U.N. General Assembly that the United States could not impose negotiations or war on Iran. “Life is hard under sanctions. However, harder is life without independence,” he said in a defiant speech. “We are not a bargaining chip in U.S.…

Iran: Reaction to Snapback Sanctions

September 21, 2020
On September 20, Iran condemned the U.S. decision to reimpose U.N. sanctions that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The United States had no legal standing to invoke sanctions since it had withdrawn from the agreement in May 2018, officials said. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad…

Zarif on Nuclear Deal, U.S.-Iran Tensions

September 21, 2020
At the Council on Foreign Relations on September 21, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed broad new U.S. sanctions and stipulated that Washington would have to provide financial compensation “for damages incurred” by Iran if it wanted to reengage in the 2015 nuclear deal. “It’s nothing…

US: Snapback Sanctions Go Into Force

September 21, 2020
On September 19, the Trump administration formally reimposed U.N. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States unilaterally would reenact five sets of U.N. sanctions from 2006 through 2010, despite opposition…

Major Powers: On Snapback Sanctions

September 21, 2020
On September 19, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States had reimposed U.N. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The five other major powers that signed the original agreement –…

Iranian Media on Ginsburg's Death

September 20, 2020
Updated: September 29, 2020
On September 20, Sazandegi, a centrist daily, published a cover photo of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Death of U.S. Judge,” read the headline marking her passing on September 18 of pancreatic cancer. The newspaper also speculated on the political repercussions. “With the death…

U.S. Sanctions Iranian Hackers

September 17, 2020
On September 17, the Treasury sanctioned two groups for cyber espionage. The new sanctions covered Rana Intelligence Computing Company, an Iranian cyber firm, and a cyber espionage group dubbed “Advanced Persistent Threat 39 (APT 39)” by U.S. cyber security companies. The Treasury also designated…

Timeline: Iran's Assassinations and Plots

September 16, 2020
Updated: September 21, 2020
Iran has assassinated dozens of its enemies across four continents — in Asia, Europe, North America and South America — over the four decades since the 1979 revolution. As of September 2020, the Islamic Republic had reportedly assassinated at least 21 opponents abroad and killed hundreds in…

Trump on Future Deal with Iran

September 16, 2020
On September 15, President Donald Trump said that he could make a “good deal” with Iran if reelected in November. “I would say, right after the election — within a period of a week, maybe a month … you’ll have Iran coming back and saying, ‘Let’s get this whole thing worked out,’” he told reporters…

Iran on New Middle East Peace Deals

September 15, 2020
Iran vigorously condemned the new U.S.-brokered agreements—known as the Abraham Accords—between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed at the White House on September 15, 2020. The new Middle East peace deals, the first in more than a quarter century, dramatically changed the core…

Iran Executes Popular Wrestler

September 15, 2020
Updated: September 24, 2020
At sunrise on September 12, 2020, Iran secretly executed Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old champion wrestler, by hanging in Shiraz. Afkari had faced multiple charges, including “enmity against God,” insulting the supreme leader, and murder of a security officer during Iran’s 2017-2018 protests over…

Iran Tests Weapons During War Game

September 14, 2020
Between September 10 and 12, 2020, Iran tested cruise missiles and drones during an annual three-day war game. The Zolfaghar-99 exercise, named after Imam Ali’s sword, was held around three key waterways — the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean, an area totaling 772,200…

News Digest: Week of September 14

September 14, 2020
September 14 Health: Iran recorded the highest daily rise in COVID-19 fatalities since mid-August. More than 150 patients died in a single day which put overall official death toll at 23,313.    September 15 Health: Iran recorded 407,353 cases and 23,632 deaths from COVID-19.  Diplomacy: Iran…

News Digest: Week of September 7

September 9, 2020
September 7 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 388,810 infections, including 22,410 deaths from COVID-19. It was the highest daily increase in new cases in 10 days. Health/Education: Education Minister Mohsen Haji Mirzaei clarified that students were not quired to attend in-person classes…

Iran’s Troubled Provinces: Kurdistan

September 8, 2020
Among Iran’s 31 provinces, Kurdistan in the northwest is one of the most restive. It is one of three border regions—along with Khuzestan in the southwest and Sistan and Baluchistan in the east—with volatile ethnic issues that have led to protests, strife and calls for autonomy or independence.…

U.S. Sanctions Companies Transacting Iranian Oil

September 3, 2020
On September 3, the United States sanctioned companies based in Iran, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for deals involving Iranian oil. The State Department sanctioned five companies for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport and marketing of Iranian petroleum. The Treasury also…

Operation Sentinel Protects Gulf Shipping

September 2, 2020
In November 2019, the United States and six other countries—Australia, Bahrain, Britain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—launched Operation Sentinel in the Persian Gulf. Albania and Lithuania joined later, in November 2019 and in March 2020, respectively. Why? What are the…

News Digest: Week of August 31

August 31, 2020
Updated: September 2, 2020
August 31 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 375,212 infections and 21,571 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Lari announced that 3,231,110 Iranians, or less than four percent of the population, had been tested for the virus. Health/Education: Education Minister Mohsen…

In Washington, Iraqi Officials Discuss Iran

August 26, 2020
On August 19, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi arrived in Washington to meet with President Donald Trump and continue a U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue that kicked off in June. The talks between senior officials covered security and counterterrorism, economics and energy, political issues, and…

IAEA Presses Iran for Access to Nuclear Sites

August 25, 2020
Updated: August 26, 2020
On August 24, Rafael Grossi, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief, arrived in Tehran to press for access to two suspected former nuclear sites. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met with top officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif…

News Digest: Week of August 24

August 24, 2020
August 24 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 361,150 infections, including 20,776 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 311,365 Iranians had recovered from the virus. Politics: Iran’s Guardian Council set the date for the next presidential election…

U.S. Designates Human Rights Violators

August 21, 2020
Updated: August 25, 2020
On August 21, the United States imposed visa restrictions on 14 Iranian officials involved in “gross violations of human rights on behalf of the Iranian regime.” On the annual Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that 13 were assassins who…

U.S. Orders Snapback Sanctions on Iran

August 21, 2020
Updated: September 2, 2020
On August 20, the United States notified the U.N. Security Council that it would reimpose multilateral sanctions on Iran for violating terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Security Council President Dian Triansyah Djani…