Confusion Surrounds Identity of Suicide Bomber in Bulgaria
Swedish and Israeli officials are denying Bulgarian reports that the suicide bomber who carried out an attack on a bus full of Israeli tourists Thursday, killing five Israelis, was Swedish citizen connected to al Qaeda (The Atlantic 7/19).
In an interview with MSNBC, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren insisted, “our sources confirm that Hezbollah was behind this. Hezbollah takes its marching orders directly from Tehran,” (NBCNews 7/19).
President Barack Obama said the U.S. would “stand with our allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators.” President Obama called Mr. Netanyahu to extend his condolences (WSJ 7/18).
State Department Official Calls Congressional Letter “Pandering” to Terrorist Group
State Department official Dan Fried called a Congressional letter supporting the MEK’s refusal of the to abandon its paramilitary base in Iraq “pandering of the worst sort and completely undermines U.S. policy.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) are spearheading the letter to Secretary Clinton. (Foreign Policy 7/18).
State Department Calls for Release of Iranian Activists
The State Department voiced “concern” in a press release yesterday for Kurdish activist Mohammed Seddigh Kaboudvand and human rights activist Nargess Mohammadi, who are serving prison sentences in Iran. Kaboudvand has been on hunger strike since May 26, after authorities precluded him from seeing his ill son, and Mohammadi has been denied proper medical attention. The press release says both “are suffering from rapidly deteriorating health” (State Department 7/18).
Yemen Warns Iran Against Meddling
Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said on state television that Iran would “pay the price” if it continues espionage activities and meddling in Yemen. He threatened, “We will embarrass them in front of the world,” (AP 7/18).
Ahmadinejad Says Sanctions Have Initiated “Heavy War”
Iranian press has quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that the West has begun a “heavy battle” with Iran by tightening sanctions, but insisted Iran “will not retreat one iota” from its conviction that it should be allowed a right to a peaceful nuclear program (AP 7/19).
Ecuador to Import Iranian Oil
Ecuadorian central bank President Pedro Delgado has said it is negotiating with Iran for a purchase of $400 million in fuel, in spite of U.S. and E.U. efforts to suppress Iranian crude sales. Delgado told reporters, “Ecuador is a sovereign nation and can have relations with any country in the world,” (Bloomberg 7/18).
Japanese-Insured Oil Tanker to Call En Route to Iran
A non-Iranian tanker will call at Iran’s largest crude-export terminal for the first time since June 19, according to Bloomberg. A Japanese ship, the Ryuho Maru, which is insured by the Japanese state, will be the first international ship to carry Iranian oil since the July 1 EU ban on insuring vessels carrying Iranian oil was implemented (Bloomberg 7/18).
Indian Refiner’s Imports of Iranian Oil Up 70 Percent from Last Year
The only private Indian refiner, Essar, which buys Iranian oil has increased Iranian imports significantly. Essar is imported 70 percent more oil this June than it did last June, and is expected to become the largest Indian importer of Iranian oil in July, overtaking Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd, which has been limited in its imports by insurance problems (Reuters 7/19).
Notable Opinion: “Brzezinski to Newsmax: War With Iran Could Last Years, Devastate Global Economy”
Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski discusses Iran:
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“A war in the Middle East, in the present context, may last for years,” Brzezinski, who served in the Carter White House, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview. “And the economic consequences of it are going to be devastating for the average American.
“High inflation. Instability. Insecurity. Probably significant isolation for the United States in the world scene,” Brzezinski says. “Can you name me any significant country that’s going to be in that war together on our side?
“That’s something no one can afford to ignore,” Brzezinski adds.