Qasem Soleimani, the commander of IRGC Qods Force says Wahhabism is rooted in Judaism and it has killed hundreds of thousands.
On Thursday, in a speech in the city of Babolsar, Qasem Soleimani underlined the “threat of Wahhabism in the region” and said that “Wahhabism has roots in Judaism and in the name of ISIS they have destroyed two Muslims countries (Iraq and Syria) and killed hundreds of thousands of innocents and demolished over 3000 mosques.”
Soleimani claimed that Saudi Arabia is behind the recent terrorist attacks in Sistan and Baluchistan province and promised that the Islamic Republic will avenge the blood of those martyrs “in any part of the world”.
He also warned the Pakistani army “not to allow a Saudi murderer to undertake more terrorist operations in the region for just a few billion dollars.”
Israel Is Reluctant To Interfere With Iranian Fuel Shipments To Lebanon
Amid claims of victory by Lebanon’s Hezbollah to have imported Iranian fuel, Israeli sources and media said their country will not interfere to stop the shipments.
Tanker trucks carrying the fuel Syria, where it was unloaded from an Iranian vessel, began arriving in Lebanon, which is desperately short of essential fuel amid a serious economic crisis since 2019.
The shipment was arranged by Hezbollah in August, and it is not clear whether Iran is getting paid or is sending the fuel for free. In case of brokering free or very cheap Iranian fuel shipments through Hezbollah, the militant organization is poised to make large financial gains.
Israel’s Channel 12 has reported that if the Iranian shipping of fuel is stopped by Israel, it will be seen as harming Lebanon, with which Israel has a complicated relationship. While it is practically at war with Hezbollah, there are many other groups and communities in the small country that do not regard Israel as an enemy.
While Hezbollah blames US sanctions for the economic meltdown in Lebanon, local media, citizens and international experts say that decades of corruption in a sectarian political system drowned Lebanon in debt and empty government coffers.
The fuel delivery is also seen by many as a sign of more domination by Hezbollah, which is a state within a state, pulling multi-religion country more into Iran’s orbit.
Iran Says It Has Been Accepted As Full Member Of Shanghai Pact
Official government media report that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been accepted as a permanent member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Friday’s summit held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe.
The government’s IRNA official news website says that President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) in his speech at the summit thanked other members of the SCO, which includes Russia, China, four former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, India and Pakistan.
IRNA also reported that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Iran in his speech.
Iran’s admittance to the SCO is just the first step to its full membership that has a long process, but the Friday’s development is treated as a big victory for Iran’s new hardliner president who fully follows policies set by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Both Raisi and Khamenei have been emphasizing that Iran should “look East” to counter its economic isolation imposed by American and to a lesser extent, European sanctions. However, without a new agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and Iran acceding to international financial regulations set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) its isolation cannot be easily overcome.
Negotiations over the nuclear issue that started in Vienna in April came to a halt in June by Iran’s decision. Western powers have been urging Tehran to return to the talks in the past few weeks, as it continues to advance its uranium enrichment program, getting closer to accumulating enough fissile material for a bomb.
Iran's Raisi Will not Travel To NY For UNGA, Delivering Speech Via Video
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) will not travel to New York to take part in the 76th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Tehran’s ambassador at the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi has announced.
Raisi is under US human rights sanctions and his travel to New York will be potentially a complicated issue amid suspended nuclear talks between Tehran and the West. Instead, Raisi will address the annual gathering via video link next Tuesday, the UN ambassador was quoted by the official government news website IRNA. However, Iranian government-controlled media avoid mentioning Raisi's status as a sanctioned individual.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is scheduled to travel to New York, as his first trip to the West after assuming office in August.
In the previous decade, both former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hassan Rouhani attended the UNGA and delivered speeches in person.
Iranian Americans opposed to the Islamic Republic have appealed to the 192 UN members, President Joe Biden and the UN Secretary General to remind then that Raisi has a serious track record of human rights violations.
Farashgard, an opposition group has asked member states to leave the meeting when Raisi starts to deliver his speech.
Iran, Russia, China And Pakistan Discuss Afghanistan In Dushanbe
Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan have held talks on Afghanistan in recent days prior to and during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe, Iran’s foreign minister has announced.
The official IRNA news website quoted Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Friday as saying that the results of the talks will be announced in a communique later, and that the foreign ministers have confirmed the counties’ commitments to the results of the discussions.
The issue of Afghanistan and policy toward the new Taliban government dominates the 21st summit of SCO that will conclude on Friday. Iran also hopes its membership will be accepted in the organization where Tehran is currently an observer.
Amir-Abdollahian also met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the summit. IRNA says the Iranian foreign minister emphasized cooperation and mutual understanding between Moscow and Tehran specially on Afghanistan. Lavrov invited Amor-Abdollahian to visit Moscow and hold further talks.
Iran’s new president Ebrahim Raisi is participating in the summit with the official invitation of Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon.
Iran Calls IAEA 'Unprofessional' Before Upcoming Talks
Iran on Thursday dismissed the UN nuclear watchdog's work as "unprofessional" and "unfair" shortly before the two sides are due to hold talks aimed at resolving a standoff over the origin of uranium particles found at old but undeclared sites in Iran.
The issue is a thorn in the side of both Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since the particles suggest Iran once had undeclared nuclear material at three different locations, but the IAEA has yet to obtain satisfactory answers from Iran on how the material got there or where it went.
"The statement of the Agency in its report is completely unprofessional, illusory and unfair," Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, said in a statement to a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors.
Gharibabadi was referring to a passage in an IAEA report last week that said the lack of progress was seriously affecting the IAEA's ability to determine that Iran's program is entirely peaceful, as Tehran says it is.
Failure to resolve the issue complicates efforts to restart talks aimed at bringing the United States and Iran fully back into the fold of the 2015 nuclear deal, since Washington and its allies continue to pressure Iran to give the IAEA answers.
Having obtained concessions last weekend from Iran on another issue, keeping some monitoring equipment running, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is due to meet Iranian nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami in Vienna next week for talks on the particles.
Reporting by Reuters
Germany's Maas Says Nuclear Deal With Iran Could Allow Regional Talks
The German Foreign Minister on Wednesday urged the international community to increase its engagement in Yemen to avoid a further deterioration of the "humanitarian disaster that we are already in".
Heiko Maas made the remarks in a joint news conference with Yemeni Foreign Minister Bin Mubarak in Berlin.
Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, when the Iranian-backed Houthis swept across much of the north and seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government into exile.
The Saudi-led coalition entered the war the following year on the side of the government.
Maas also said that ongoing talks aimed at reviving Iran's tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers were the "right" move, welcoming the return of the U.S. to the table after then-President Donald Trump withdrew America from the landmark accord.
The German foreign minister added that a successful conclusion of those negotiations could also open the possibility to talk more about "Iran's regional role", including as one of the actors shaping the conflict in Yemen. Germany along with the United Kingdom and France are original signatories of the nuclear deal or JCPOA and are currently acting as mediators between Washington and Tehran.
Iran has been supporting the Houthi rebels in the war, with UN arms experts saying that many types of missiles and drones used by the Houthis are of Iranian origin.
The war has killed more than 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
With reporting by AP
Iran's Outgoing President Appoints New Central Bank Chief
A month after President Hassan Rouhani fired the former chief of the Central Bank of Iran, who was a candidate in the June 18 presidential vote, he has appointed Akbar Komeijani to the post, Iranian media reported on Wednesday.
"President Hassan Rouhani has appointed Komeijani today as the central bank chief," presidential chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi was quoted as saying. Rouhani’s term of office will end on August 5, but the official government news agency IRNA said that central bank regulations require a permanent chairman and not a caretaker.
Rouhani dismissed Abdolnasser Hemmati on May 30 after the former central bank chief registered to run in Iran's June 18 presidential election. Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi who won the election never resigned nor was he fired from his post as chief of the powerful Judiciary, under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Hemmati has complained about the way he was treated by Rouhani, saying this was his worst experience in various government posts in his career.
The central bank's deputy governor since 2014, Komeijani took over all responsibilities from Hemmati after his dismissal as a caretaker.
Komeijani has Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin in the United States.
Israel's Lapid Expresses Concern Over Revival Of Iran Nuclear Deal
The Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid in his first trip to the United Arab Emirates expressed concern Wednesday about reviving the Iran nuclear agreement being negotiated in Vienna.
"What we need to do is to make sure that what we are going to have on Iran is a good agreement," he said, adding that Israel was discussing the matter with the United States.
The UAE and Bahrain normalized ties with Israel under so-called "Abraham Accords" brokered by Trump's administration in 2020, creating a new regional dynamic based on mutual concern over Iran and Islamist groups. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.
Lapid declined to comment on whether Israel was coordinating with Gulf states over Iran, saying he did not want to "embarrass" his hosts by remarking on a neighbor while in the UAE, but noted his country was worried about the nuclear deal.
President Joe Biden’s administration opened indirect talks with the Islamic Republic aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 and imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. The talks since April still hinge on ironing out serious differences, which Washington says is now up to Iran to resolve. But if an agreement does take place, it would mean Washington will lift many sanctions.
Regional countries such as Israel and Persian Gulf Arab states are concerned that this would give a financial lifeline to Tehran, which can use the windfall to strengthen its regional influence by further supporting its proxies such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.
With reporting by Reuters
Iran's Currency Declines After Presidential Vote And No Deal With US
Iran’s battered currency rial has reached new lows since the election of Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner president, in a controversial vote which saw his main rivals barred from contesting the vote on June 18.
The rial on Wednesday was trading above 250,000 to the US dollar in Tehran’s unofficial exchange market. The currency’s fate is tied to the chances of a deal with the United States on lifting crippling sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump when he pulled of the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018.
President Joe Biden’s administration wants to return to the deal and has entered indirect talks with Iran in Vienna since April. As the talks were set to begin, the rial rose in April by 20 percent, nearing 200,000 to the US dollar, but as negotiations dragged out and presidential election neared, the currency again began losing value.
Before the Islamic Republic was established in 1979, the dollar was 72 rials and in 42 years it has declined 3,500-fold. But the fastest decline occurred in 2018 when Trump imposed sanctions and reduced Iran’s oil exports, a lifeline for its government, which resorted to printing money and fueling inflation. Prices are rising to the tune of 50 percent annually impoverishing millions of Iranians.
Labor strikes that started last week among oil and refinery workers threaten to spread to other sectors and put further pressure on the government. Many workers have not been paid for months.
US Tells UN That Weekend Airstrikes Aimed To Deter Iran
The United States told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that it targeted Iran-backed militia in Syria and Iraq with airstrikes to deter the militants and Tehran from conducting or supporting further attacks on US personnel or facilities.
Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, the 15-member Security Council must immediately be informed of any action that states take in self-defense against armed attack.
"This military response was taken after non-military options proved inadequate to address the threat, with the aim of deescalating the situation and preventing further attacks," US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield wrote in a letter, seen by Reuters.
President Joe Biden wrote a similar letter to Congress on Tuesday. "The United States stands ready to take further action, as necessary and appropriate, to address further threats or attacks," he said.
US troops came under rocket fire in Syria on Monday in apparent retaliation for weekend US air strikes. About 34 rockets were fired in the attack, but there were no injuries, a U.S. military official said on Tuesday.
While the Iraqi and US militaries coordinate closely in a separate battle in Iraq against remnants of the Sunni extremist group Islamic State, Iraq's government and military condemned the US airstrikes against the Iran-back militia.
Reporting by Reuters