Wednesday's Iran Mini Report - January 9, 2019
• Exclusive: New Documents Link Huawei To Suspected Front Companies In Iran, Syria
Reuters: The U.S. case against the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in Canada last month, centers on the company's suspected ties to two obscure companies. One is a telecom equipment seller that operated in Tehran; the other is that firm's owner, a holding company registered in Mauritius. U.S. authorities allege CFO Meng Wanzhou deceived international banks into clearing transactions with Iran by claiming the two companies were independent of Huawei, when in fact Huawei controlled them.
• 'Unprecedented' U.S. Sanctions Are Pressuring Iran - Khamenei
Reuters: U.S. sanctions are putting pressure on Iran and its people, Iran regime’s Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, according to his official website. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. "The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people. The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history," Khamenei said.
• Is Iran Exaggerating The Demand For Its Oil?
Oil Price: After the United States pulled out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal and re-imposed and added to sanctions last year, the Trump administration granted waivers to eight countries who were already established buyers to continue buying specified amounts of Iranian oil for 180 days. Now, however, a senior Iranian energy official in Tehran says that these countries are not making use of the waivers and are instead complying fully with the strict zero-oil sanctions.
• Al-Qaeda Mufti Abu Hafs Sheds Light On Iran Influence On Extremist Groups
Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, known as "Abu Hafs al-Mauritani," the former Mufti of al-Qaeda, revealed in an interview with Al Arabiya English what he described as the balanced relationship pursued by the Iranian regime with armed extremist groups. According to his interpretation, Iran’s relations with al-Qaeda, the Takfir, Hijra, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and other armed groups are part of the agenda to maintain "political interests".
• Did Iran Plot Four Attacks In Europe? The Dutch Government Thinks So.
The Washington Post: The European Union imposed sanctions on Iran's intelligence ministry and two Iranian nationals on Tuesday as the Dutch government accused Iran of likely involvement in two assassination plots in the Netherlands. The allegations were contained in a letter released by the Dutch government to parliament. The letter indicates Iran is suspected in at least four assassination and bomb plots in Europe since 2015, which will probably bolster the Trump administration's calls for greater international isolation of Tehran.
• EU Adds Iran Intelligence Unit To Terror List Over Europe Attacks
Reuters; The European Union added two Iranian individuals and the directorate for internal security of the Iranian Ministry for intelligence to the bloc's terrorist list, it said in a statement on Wednesday. "These listings have been adopted by the Council as part of its response to recent foiled attacks on the European soil," the statement said.
• Family: Nizar Zakka Subjected To Torture In Iran
Asharq Al-Awsat: The family of Lebanese citizen Nizar Zakka, who was arrested in Iran in 2015, has said that a video report was recently broadcast on Iranian state television framing him. It said in a statement on Tuesday that Zakka has been moved to a Revolutionary Guard prison from Evin prison in Tehran. According to the statement, the video was a clear attempt by Zakka's "kidnappers" to convince the Iranian public that the detention was justified.
• Iran Judge Says Going To Islamic Prison Reduces Punishment 'In Afterlife'
Radio Farda: An Iranian cleric who is a judicial official has said that imprisonment in the Islamic Republic can reduce punishment in your afterlife. Ali Mozafari, who heads the Judiciary in Iran's Khorasan-Razavi province declared that being imprisoned in the Islamic Republic has "an impact on afterlife", including "avoiding punishment in hereafter".
• Family Seeks Return Of Navy Veteran Detained In Iran
Associated Press: A U.S. Navy veteran has been held in an Iranian prison since July after visiting his girlfriend there, according to his family. The New York Times reported Monday that Michael R. White's mother learned three weeks ago that her son is alive and being held at an Iranian prison. His arrest was first reported by an online news service by Iranian ex-patriots who interviewed a former Iranian prisoner who said he met White at Vakilabad Prison in the city of Mashhad in October.
• U.S.' Pompeo Says "Redoubling" Efforts To Put Pressure On Iran
Reuters: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the United States was "redoubling not only our diplomatic but our commercial efforts to put real pressure on Iran". He said the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Syria did not jeopardise efforts to counter threats in the region, which he characterised as coming from Islamic State and Iran.
• Intel: What The White House's Latest Hire Says About US Iran Policy
President Donald Trump has tapped Iran hawk Richard Goldberg to be director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction on the National Security Council, multiple media outlets reported on Monday. As a staffer for former Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Goldberg helped write legislation that served as the basis for the Barack Obama administration's sanctions regime on Tehran prior to the nuclear deal.
• Iran's Military Capabilities Exaggerated: Report
Gulf News: Iran's military is not as strong as previously believed, according to a US think tank. While Tehran has made major advances in building its ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as asymmetric forces, the report says Iran's conventional military is aging. "Sepending data shows that many of Iran's conventional military foces are equipped with aging, mediocre weapons," the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said.
• Gonen Segev: Israel Ex-Minister Admits Spying For Iran | BBC News
Former Israeli cabinet minister Gonen Segev is to be jailed for 11 years after he admitted spying for Iran, Israel's justice ministry says. Segev, who served as energy minister in the 1990s, was allegedly recruited while working as a doctor in Nigeria. He was accused of leaking details about Israeli officials and security sites. Segev was detained in Equatorial Guinea in May and extradited to Israel. He pleaded guilty to serious espionage as part of a deal with prosecutors.
• Qatari Ambassador To Russia: Iran Has Legitimate Interests In Syria | Al Arabiya
Iran has the right to defend its interests in Syria, Qatar's Ambassador to Russia, Fahd bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah told the Interfax News Agency on Sunday. "Iran just like any other country has legitimate interests," Al-Attiyah said. "We don't mind these legitimate interests to be protected."
GULF STATES, YEMEN & IRAN
• 15 Houthis Killed Attempting To Launch Ballistic Missile From Saada
Arab News: 15 Houthi militants were killed attempting to launch ballistic missile towards Saudi Arabia from Al-Tayyar district in Saada province on Wednesday, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya News Channel reported. The United Nations envoy for Yemen held talks on Tuesday with the country's president, as he sought to shore up a truce in key port Hodeidah.