Tensions Rise Over Iranian Hostages
Iran Envoy Casts Syria as Part of Wider Conflict
Regulators irate at NY action against Standard Chartered
Storming British embassy in Iran was not right, says supreme leader
Hush Now, Mitt: A Nuclear Iran Is Not the World’s Greatest Threat
S.Korea to resume buying Iranian crude in Sept –sources
Asia takes record W.Africa oil as buyers shun Iran
Iran preparing for post-Assad era in Syria
Iran To Start First Natural-Gas Storage Facility
Notable Opinion: Israel’s diplomatic scare game

Wall Street Journal: “Tensions Rise Over Iranian Hostages
The kidnapped 48 men traveled to Damascus on Saturday as part of a large contingent on a trip organized by a Revolutionary Guard Corps travel agency, according to people familiar with the trip… The reason for their journey, at the height of one of the most violent periods in Syria, is not clear. But the people familiar with the trip said the men were active members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, on a mission to train Syrian forces in counterinsurgency methods as its armed forces fight a decisive battle in Aleppo.
New York Times: “Iran Envoy Casts Syria as Part of Wider Conflict
With Mr. Assad’s hold on power appearing more tenuous by the day, the visit underscored Iran’s increasingly dogmatic view of the conflict. “What is happening in Syria is not an internal Syrian issue but a conflict between the axis of the resistance and its enemies in the region and the world,” Mr. Jalili [a top diplomat who is also the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council] said in comments reported on Syrian state television.
Reuters: “Regulators irate at NY action against Standard Chartered
The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve were blindsided and angered by New York’s banking regulator’s decision to launch an explosive attack on Standard Chartered Plc over $250 billion in alleged money laundering transactions tied to Iran, sources familiar with the situation said. By going it alone through the order he issued on Monday, Benjamin Lawsky, head of the recently created New York State Department of Financial Services, also complicates talks between the Treasury and London-based Standard Chartered to settle claims over the transactions, several of the sources said.
The Guardian: “Storming British embassy in Iran was not right, says supreme leader
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has finally given his verdict on the last year’s storming of the British embassy in Tehran, saying it “was not right” to carry out the attack that provoked a diplomatic crisis between the two capitals. “On the recent occupation of the evil embassy [of Britain], the sentiments of the youth were right but entering [the embassy] was not right,” he said, according to the monitoring website Digarban, citing conservative news website baztab-e-emrooz.
The Atlantic: “Hush Now, Mitt: A Nuclear Iran Is Not the World’s Greatest Threat
Three-quarters of National Journal’s National Security Insiders disagreed with a recent statement by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said a nuclear Iran represents the greatest threat to the world. If Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, Romney told Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, it would pose the most serious threat to the world, to the United States and to Israel’s existence. Not so, said 73 percent of NJ’s pool of national-security experts, even as they acknowledged that a nuclear Iran could have a destabilizing effect on the Middle East and erode international nonproliferation efforts.
Reuters: “S.Korea to resume buying Iranian crude in Sept –sources
South Korean refiners plan to resume buying crude from Iran in September after a two-month hiatus due to a European Union embargo that made shipping the oil difficult, government and refining sources said on Wednesday. The refiners have, like their Chinese and Indian counterparts, asked Iran to deliver crude on Iranian tankers, government and industry sources said. This shifts the responsibility to Iran for insurance, sidestepping a ban in the EU on insurers from covering Iranian shipments.
Reuters: “Asia takes record W. Africa oil as buyers shun Iran
Africa’s two biggest oil producers, Nigeria and Angola, have been well placed to meet this extra consumption and exports from the West African region to Asia have risen by more than 50 percent over the last five years, Reuters data shows. “Asian buyers are also replacing Iranian oil with West African barrels because, with all the political problems and the extra insurance costs associated with Iranian oil, it is much easier for them to look elsewhere.”
Haaretz: “Iran preparing for post-Assad era in Syria
The political campaign recently launched by Iran could be evidence that Iran is also preparing for a post-Assad era in Syria. On Tuesday, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili visited Beirut, as Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials. Interestingly, the meeting is not being defined as a conference for keeping President Bashar Assad in power.
Bloomberg: “Iran To Start First Natural-Gas Storage Facility, Shana Reports
Iran will officially start a natural gas storage facility in its central Qom province, the first in the Middle East, the Oil Ministry said. The Sarajeh site, which consists of nine wells, will store 1.5 billion cubic meters (53 billion cubic feet) of gas during summer months and supply some 4 million cubic meters of fuel a day to the national network in winter, according to a report published yesterday by the Oil Ministry’s news agency, Shana, citing National Iranian Gas Co. Managing Director Javad Owji said in the report.
Notable Opinion: “Israel’s diplomatic scare game”- Salon
Trita Parsi examines the effect of Israel using threats of war to mobilize international action against Iran:

Imagine Iran pointing to Israel’s violations of UNSCR 242 and 338 and demanding that the Great Powers impose crippling sanctions on the Jewish state in order to enforce the resolutions, or else Iran would take unilateral military action… Would the great powers sanction Israel’s access to the financial world in order to appease Iran and prevent it from taking illegal military action? Would the Security Council impose unprecedented sanctions on Israel since the only viable options would be war or sanctions, as the current stalemate with Iran is presented?
Of course not. That would be absurd. It would be preposterous. Rather than sanctioning Israel, the great powers would (correctly) punish Iran for its threats to take illegal military action. Iran could not blackmail the Security Council into adopting sanctions in order to prevent itself from taking illegal action.
Yet, that is exactly what is happening now with Israel’s decade-long campaign to threaten military action in order to push the U.S. and the EU into economic warfare with Iran. This is not to say that Iran’s nuclear challenge doesn’t need to be dealt with or that Iran is without guilt in the current standoff. On the contrary, Iran bears great guilt for the current deadlock. But if threatening illegal military action to pressure the Security Council into action becomes common, acceptable practice, the world will become much more unstable and much more unjust.

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