November 22, 2011

Iran News Roundup 11/22

New Iran Sanctions
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced new sanctions against Iran’s petrochemical industry and classified Iran and its Central Bank as a “primary money laundering concern” (To read the full transcripts click here).  The U.K. announced their own sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), cutting off all financial ties with the country, and France called for the EU in its upcoming meeting on December 1 to freeze CBI assets and stop importing Iranian oil (Reuters 11/21).  Russia, however, warned the sanctions undermine efforts to negotiate with Iran , and Iran has called them “psychological warfare” (Christian Science Monitor 11/22).
Meanwhile, fears that the new sanctions may disrupt oil supplies led to a rise in oil prices (Businessweek 11/22).
Barbara Slavin writes that the primary motivation for the sanctions yesterday was domestic politics. She quotes Brookings’ Suzanne Maloney, a former State Department policy advisor, who says, “The administration is trying to buy off Congress, buy off pressure from Israel and make sure nothing will further erode the president’s chances for re-election.”  Maloney also expresses concern that the Administration “lacks adult supervision” on its Iran policy (Inter Press Service 11/22).
GOP’s continues to saber rattle on Iran
Think Progress posted a video of Republican primary candidate Rick Santorum saying that Iranian nuclear scientists should be considered enemy combatants and should be treated like “garden variety terrorists.” (Think Progress 11/21).  According to the Huffington Post, fellow Republican primary candidate Mitt Romney has decided that Obama is vulnerable on Iran, and that by highlighting Romney’s willingness to use military force against Iran, the Romney campaign hopes to make Obama look weak (Huffington Post 11/22).
More signs of political infighting in Iran
A melee broke out yesterday at the office of an Iranian newspaper when security officials attempted to arrest Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s media advisor and managing editor of IRNA, Ali Akbar Javenfekr. The Washington Post reported that security forces stormed office of the building using tear gas and electric batons as they arrested 33 people. Javenfekr sustained bruises to his face during the process, and was only freed after a personal call from Ahmadinejad (Washington Post 11/21).
Additional Notable Articles:
UN passed a Canadian sponsored resolution requiring Iran to allow the Special Rapporteur into the country to investigate alleged human rights abuses by the regime.
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam editorializes in the Guardian that contrary to the narrative often expressed in the West, Iran is not on the verge of political or economic collapse, and currently appears to be relatively stable.
U.S. asks the Iraqi government to make greater effort to fight Iranian backed militias as the U.S. continues its force draw down, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Washington is currently considering selling bunker busting bombs to the UAE, according to a Telegraph article.

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