According to reports, a Taliban delegation has met with Islamic Republic of Iran's officials in Tehran. The members of the Taliban political office arrived in Tehran after they visited Moscow.
Last week President Trump announced that the talks between the US and Taliban are dead after the terrorist attack by the Taliban in Kabul.
Report Of Incident Under Way Off UAE Coast
DUBAI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - A non-piracy incident is under way off the coast of the United Arab Emirates' Fujairah, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported on Tuesday.
The UKMTO warning notice, based on a third party source, advised vessels to exercise extreme caution in the area, around 61 nautical miles east of the emirate of Fujairah.
UKTMO provided no details regarding the vessel or vessels involved.
However on Tuesday afternoon a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker in roughly the same position off Fujairah named Golden Brilliant updated its AIS tracking status to "Not Under Command", according to Refinitiv ship tracking data.
This status indicates a ship is unable to manoeuvre due to exceptional circumstances.
Last week an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman killed two crew members and was blamed on Iran by the United States, Israel and Britain.
Iran denied involvement in that suspected drone attack and said on Monday it would respond promptly to any threat against its security.
The United States and Britain said on Sunday they would work with their allies to respond to last week's attack on the Mercer Street, a Liberian-flagged, Japanese-owned petroleum product tanker managed by Israeli-owned Zodiac Maritime.
Iran and Israel have exchanged accusations of carrying out attacks on each other's vessels in recent months.
Tensions have increased in Gulf waters and between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then U.S. President Donald Trump ditched Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.
Bennett Warns Israel Able To 'Act Alone' Against Iran Over Ship Attack
JERUSALEM, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Israel is rallying global action against Iran over an attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off Oman last week but is capable of responding on its own if necessary, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday.
The United States, Britain and Israel blamed Iran for the suspected drone strike on Thursday in which two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed. Tehran denies any involvement.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken predicted a "collective response" to the incident, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as an "outrageous attack on commercial shipping".
Standing alongside military generals during a tour of Israel's northern border with Syria and Lebanon, Bennett said Israel had shared intelligence with the United States, Britain and others tying Iran to the attack.
"We are working to rally the world, but at the same time we also know to act alone," Bennett said.
"Iran already knows the price we exact when someone threatens our security. The Iranians need to understand that it is impossible to sit placidly in Tehran and ignite the entire Middle East from there. That's over."
Iran said on Monday it would respond promptly to any threat against its security.
Iran and Israel have exchanged accusations of carrying out attacks on each other's vessels in recent months.
Tensions have increased between Iran and Israel since 2018, when then U.S. President Donald Trump ditched Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.
Officials In Iran Demolish Three Homes Belonging To Persecuted Baha'is
Officials of the Islamic Republic have demolished three homes on Monday belonging to members of the persecuted minority Baha’i sect in the Sari region of northern Iran.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reporting the development said, “The systematic effort to force Baha’is to leave this region was the result of a meeting held one year ago by several government security organs in the area.”
HRANA added, that the land on which the houses were built belonged to the three families since at least 1963, while the Department of Natural Resources has claimed that 14 parcels of land in the Roshankuh village were forests before. The ruling was used as an excuse to demolish the homes.
The human rights monitoring group also said that in recent years there have been many systematic and planned attempts to force the Baha’is out of the region.
This is not the first instance of Baha’i homes and cemeteries being destroyed or confiscated. The ruling Shiite clerical system in Iran does not recognize the Baha’i faith and since the establishment of the Islamic Republic it has persecuted members of the community. Hundreds have been jailed, refused work and university education in what amounts to official discrimination. In many instances, businesses belonging to Baha’is have been forced to shut down.
Iran Health Officials Warn Hospitals Reach Maximum Capacity
As health officials in Iran say that hospitals have reached the end of their capacity to help Covid-19 patients, the government’s official newspaper, Iran daily quoted reports Tuesday that in some provinces victims are being buried in mass graves.
A top doctor in Tehran’s large Masih Daneshvari hospital said the number of cases is unprecedented, all beds in his hospital are full and there is no further capacity to care for patients. The health system’s dam is about to break, he warned.
Many Iranians on social media have begun openly blaming Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for Covid “massacre”, since he banned the purchase of American and British vaccines in January and set back the national vaccination effort by at least six months.
Iran has so far administered around 11 million doses of Russian, Chinese and some Western vaccines acquired through the World Health Organization’s Covax mechanism and donated by Japan. But for a population of 85 million, the country is still far from inoculating a significant percentage of the populace.
Iran daily also wrote that the pandemic has reached a stage where the real number of deaths must be more than official figures announced by the government. Deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi had also admitted earlier that the real number of cases and deaths are more than what his ministry reports.
A Tehran city official said that the number of daily deaths in the capital has reached a daily average of 180. Iran on Monday reported over 400 deaths nationwide, while Tehran has around 10 percent of the total population.
Israel Lambasts EU Decision To Send Envoy To Iran Inauguration
Israel on Monday strongly condemned a European Union decision to send a senior diplomat to Iran for the inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi, the controversial new president implicated in the killing of thousands of prisoners in 1988.
The Israeli foreign ministry on Monday called the EU decision to send Enrique Mora, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service and EU’s representative in the Vienna talks on Iran’s nuclear issue, a “shameful” display of “poor judgement”.
International human rights organizations have accused Raisi, a former judge, of human rights abuses, having served on a Death Commission in 1988 which sent thousands of political prisoners to their deaths. Amnesty International has called for Raisi to be investigated for crimes against humanity.
The Israeli statement also pointed to last week’s fatal attack on a tanker off the coast of Oman that the United States, United Kingdom and Israel have blamed on Iran. “The participation of the EU representative in the ceremony comes just a few days after Iran killed two civilians, one of whom was from an EU member state, in an act of state terrorism against civilian shipping.”
Israel has vowed retaliation, while the US and the UK have also said “a collective” response is on its way.
“Flattery and subservience to violent totalitarian regimes only invites more violence and aggression,” the Israeli statement said.
Iranians Buy 30% Less Bread As Prices Increased In July
Iranians are buying less bread since the government raised prices in mid-July for subsidized flour and allowed bakeries to charge more for all varieties of bread, Hamshahri newspaper reported on Monday.
Two weeks after prices increased from 12 to as high as 30 percent in some regions, industry insiders say people are buying 20-30 percent less bread, while for wage earners it is an important food item.
There are two kinds of bread producers in Iran, those who receive subsidized flour and have to abide by government prices and those who produce for the high-end market and are free to set their own prices.
Most people from working classes and wage earners buy the cheaper bread from subsidized bakeries, and those are the ones who now have to pay much more for one of the main staples in the Iranian diet.
Hamshahri reports that for a family of five the monthly bill for bread can be $20. This seems very low compared with Western countries, but many wage earners in Iran barely make $100 a month. The family must also pay rent, buy other basic foodstuff, and pay other expenses.
Annual inflation for food items is more than 60 percent in Iran and millions of families cannot afford meat and even chicken that has almost tripled in price.
Two More Female Political Prisoners Contract Covid In Iran Jail
Two more female political prisoners in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison have contracted Covid-19, with one prisoner transferred to hospital and one housed in the prison’s quarantine ward.
Niloofar Bayani, an ecologist serving a 10-year sentence has been put in a ward where Covid patients are transferred without any medical follow-up. If a prisoner’s health worses, the patient is taken to the prison infirmary, where she receives an IV and left alone to improve. In cases when a prisoner’s health condition worsens further, she is transferred to a hospital.
Bayani in the past had written several letters to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei complaining of, “Intense psychological torture, threat of physical and sexual torture” during at least “1,200 hours” of interrogations by intelligence officers of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, IRGC.
The IRGC arrested several ecologists in 2018 and sentenced them to long prison terms on charges of spying, while the intelligence ministry said there was no evidence to justify their punishment.
In mid-July a female political prisoner informed her husband that many women have contracted Covid in Evin prison.
Another female political prisoner Monireh Arabshahi’s attorney tweeted that she has been transferred to hospital after developing severe symptoms of Covid-19. The attorney, Babk Paknia has asked the authorities to allow give her a temporary leave from prison to that her family could take charge of her care.
Arabshahi is an anti-compulsory hijab activist who was sentenced in early 2019 to almost ten years in prison. Her daughter was also arrested at the same time and is in prison.
No Official Explanation For Fire At Iran Oil And Gas Installation
The spokesman of Arvandan Oil and Gas Company (AOGC), a major subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) operating in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, confirmed a fire at one its storage tanks in Karun area Saturday.
Naser Farahani commented on the incident Sunday after a video was posted on social media showing a fuel tank and heavy smoke rising from behind it. Farahani, however, said the tank had been completely empty and the smoke seen in the video footage was rising from tires and a crane burning behind the tank but did not specify the cause of the fire.
The spokesman of AOGC also said the fire has caused no disruption in production. The company which has its headquarters at the strategic port of Khorramshahr, Khuzestan, is the main operator in oil and gas production from Azadegan, Yadavaran, Darquain, Jufeyr, Moshtagh, Khorramshahr, Arvand, Susangerd, and other fields, which are located in west of Karun River.
A similar incident but more extensive blaze at Tehran's Tondgooyan Refinery in June led to the explosion of one of the two LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tanks affected by the fire. The fire took two days to put out. Authorities said eleven were injured in the incident.
Since last summer, there have been multiple suspicious incidents at Iran’s nuclear, military and industrial sites. While Israel is suspected of launching sabotage attacks on some of these sites, it has not taken responsibility for any incident.
Iran Lawmaker Confirms New Bill Restricts Access To Instagram
One of the lawmakers behind a controversial bill setting new highly restrictive internet regulations in Iran confirmed that access to Instagram will be limited if parliament passes the legislation.
Speaking in a state-run television program Saturday evening, Abbas Moradi said the bill aims to make Iranian users of Instagram, the only major social network not blocked in Iran, to "emigrate" to a domestic platform. Moradi admitted that there is no domestic platform like Instagram at the moment but promised the launch of what he dubbed as "Instagram Plus" which he said would be "safe".
Moradi explained that to encourage developers, they would be offered tax exemptions. Bandwidth currently used by Instagram users will gradually be reduced in proportion to extent of its substitution by the domestic version.
In the same program, Mohammad Keshvari, an internet expert who opposes the planned legislation said reducing the bandwidth for Instagram means the speed of access to the platform will become so slow that people give up using it.
Keshvari pointed out that foreign companies operating social media platforms will not accept the fourteen conditions set for them in the bill to prevent them from being blocked in Iran, including compulsory registration of their subscribers, and providing their information to Iranian authorities on demand. This condition will completely prevent any anonymous posting on social media.
Another lawmaker participating in the program said lawmakers behind the bill were responding to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's concerns about the harms of unregulated internet access.
With Rising Inflation, Residential Rents Climb By 39% In Iran
Residential rents in Iran’s cities have risen almost by 39 percent in the last reporting month compared with the same period last year, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) reported on Sunday.
In the capital Tehran, rents increased by 35 percent as general inflation has reached nearly 50 percent amid depleted government coffers that leads to printing more money and creating excess liquidity. Rising inflation usually manifests itself in real estate prices and rents with a delay of a few months.
At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic the government set a limit of 25 percent annual rent increase for Tehran and 20 percent in other cities. The CBI report shows authorities were not able to enforce the regulation.
Iran’s currency has lost its value by more than eightfold since the end of 2017, when it became apparent the United States would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement. The currency rial steeply declined in 2018 as former US president Donald Trump abandoned the agreement and imposed heavy sanctions on Iran. Since then, rising inflation has pushed nearly 60 percent of the population into poverty, Iranian officials and media have said.
Real estate prices have kept their value in US dollars, while they have kept rising in the local currency as it has continued to decline. One square meter (11 sq feet) of a residential unit in Tehran costs an average of $1,200, with little change from three years ago, while in rials the price has more than tripled from 84 million rials to 300 million.