Talks accelerate on a potential embargo on Iran
In what could be a precursor to an embargo on Iran, a “coalition of like-minded countries” including U.S., EU, Arab, and Asian states will meet in Rome tomorrow for talks on how to maintain stable global energy markets in the midst of increased Iran sanctions (Wall Street Journal 12/19).
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran has prepared for “the worst case scenario” and has a “road map” circumvent Western sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and oil exports(AFP 12/16).
U.S. drone saga continues
U.S. cyber-warfare experts have questioned Iran’s ability to hijack the spy drone by overwhelming the drone’s GPS signal (Christian Science Monitor 12/16). Additionally, U.S. officials say the drone actually crashed, further refuting Iran’s claims (Wall Street Journal 12/16). On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister said that Iran deliberately delayed its announcement that it had captured the American surveillance drone to test U.S. reaction (Huffington Post 12/17).
Human rights watch
The execution of Pastor Youcef Naderkhani, who faces the death penalty for the crime of apostasy, has been delayed (International Business Times 12/17).
Imprisoned Iranian Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki is in poor health since embarking on a hunger strike ten days ago (Iran Human Rights 12/17).
Student activist Setareh Elyasi, accused of disobedience and causing disorder in school, has been expelled from her university (Iran Human Rights 12/17).
M.E.K. investigation findings
As part of a five-part series, a National Post investigation has concluded that the Mujahedin-e Khalq recruited teens in Canada and sent them abroad to overthrow the Iranian government by force (National Post 12/16).
Iran arrests suspected spy
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said its agents have arrested a person of Iranian origin on suspicion of spying for the United States (Huffington Post 12/17). Iran has broadcasted the alleged spy’s confession (CBS 12/19).
Jasmin Ramsey writes in her IPS News Agency op-ed that the U.S.’s latest sanctions on Iran may end up helping U.S. adversaries and raising global oil prices.
Nuland said Thursday that the administration was studying how to apply sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank “while causing minimum disruption for friends and allies of the U.S.” This begs the question of how that’s possible when enforcement requires U.S. punishment of foreign banks that do business with Bank Markazi. While Asian allies are scrambling for ways to cope with the U.S.-led initiatives, China and Russia are reportedly looking forward to exploiting them for their own benefit. (Meanwhile China and Iran are gaining in Iraq.)
Fears have long been raised about the economic repercussions of targeting Iran’s Central Bank and its oil exports. Iran could respond by blockading the world’s most important oil-shipping route, the Strait of Hormuz. Yesterday a discussion on National Public Radio also highlighted how Iran could actually gain from higher oil prices caused by a reduction in global supply
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Additional Notable News:
On Saturday, nine people died and hundreds were injured at clashes outside the military-controlled parliament building in Egypt. Egypt’s military council is describing the protestors as paid vandals.
The Syrian government has agreed to an Arab League initiative aimed at observing and ending the nine-month violent crackdown against protestors.