U.S. Urges MEK to Leave Camp Ashraf Ahead of Iraqi Deadline
The Obama administration has increased pressure on the Mujahadeen-e Khalq (MEK) to leave its paramilitary base in Iraq. On Friday, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s special adviser on Camp Ashraf said, “It is past time for the M.E.K. to recognize that Ashraf is not going to remain an M.E.K. base” (Reuters 7/6). Benjamin said, “MEK leaders appear to believe that the Secretary has no choice now but to delist them,” but added, “That conclusion is quite
P5+1 Talks with Iran to Resume July 24th
Deputy nuclear negotiators for Iran and the P5+1 will meet again in Istanbul on July 24th announced an EU spokesman. The spokesman said, “The objective for the meeting of [Helga] Schmid and [Ali] Bagheri is to look further at how existing gaps in positions could be narrowed and how the process could be moved forward,” (Al Monitor 7/9).
In the interim, diplomats have indicated that the P5+1 and Iran went into the Moscow talks with “maximalist” proposals (Christian Science Monitor 7/9).
Iran MPs Propose Tariff on Ships Passing Through Strait of Hormuz
Iranian lawmakers have proposed a bill to impose tariffs on ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, reports Shargh. The tariff targets “ships of certain countries [which] transit the waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf ‘under pretexts such as security,’” to pay for the environmental damage they cause, said Alireza Khosravi, a member of the Iranian parliament, (Bloomberg 7/9).
State Department Welcomes Italian Energy Company’s Withdraw from Iran
The U.S. State Department has welcomed a move by Edison Energy of Italy to withdraw from Iran’s energy sector, cancelling a $107 million contract to explore Iran’s Dayyer natural gas field. The State Department said, “As long as the company continues to act in accordance with its assurances, under the law it will not be subject to an investigation into past Iran-based activities” (Reuters 7/6).
Iran Is Producing New Laser-Guided Anti-Tank Missiles
Modeled on Russia’s Kornet, Iran is producing new laser-guided anti-tank missiles, say defense analysts in Moscow and London. The design is potentially copied from non state actor, Hezbollah which used Russia’s Kornet at war with Israel in 2006, or Syria and Hamas (Bloomberg 7/9).
plainly wrong” (Al-Monitor 7/6).
Iranian Foreign Minister on Assad: “No ruler is an eternal ruler”
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with Reuters in Dubai that, “”No ruler is an eternal ruler, so in the case of Mr. Bashar al-Assad, by 2014 there are presidential elections in which we will have to let the events take their normal course.” He added, “My message to all countries that can play a role in this regard is to be very prudent and wise not to worsen the situation” (Reuters 7/9).
Annan Flies to Iran After Speaking with Assad
U.N. peace envoy, Kofi Annan, is arriving in Iran after meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to discuss the domestic crisis there. Annan said, “I just had a positive and constructive discussion with President Assad,” adding, “we agreed an approach which I will share with the opposition,” (Reuters UK 7/9).
Syria’s main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, rejected the Kofi Annan’s suggestion that Iran play a role in resolving the country’s crisis, saying Iranians “cannot be part of the solution unless their positions change radically” (Bloomberg 7/9).
Iranian Inflation Estimation Significantly Higher Than Officially Reported
Gholamreza Kateb, a spokesman of the Iranian parliament’s planning committee, rejected Iran’s official inflation figure of 22.5 percent, claiming the current rate is 33.5 percent (Bloomberg 7/8).
Iran Claims a Private Consortium Could Circumvent Sanctions
Iran claims to have reached agreements with European refiners to sell 20 percent of its oil through a private consortium, in an attempt to avoid sanctions (Reuters 7/7).
Iranian Threats Fail to Stir Hesitant Market
Even though Iran staged missile tests and renewed threats to block key oil shipments out of the Persian Gulf, oil feel this week by $2.77, or 3.2 percent, suggesting Iran is less able to rattle oil markets because of growing concern for the world economy (AP 7/6).
US Naval Presence in Gulf Increases with USS Ponce’s Arrival
The USS Ponce has arrived in the Persian Gulf, joining four news minesweepers which had arrived in the Persian Gulf last month to support the Fifth Fleet (Reuters 7/7).
Notable Opinion: “The Last Time We Fought Iran”
Bruce Riedel discusses the lessons the US should have learned from the last time we fought Iran:
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Many Israeli security professionals quietly told their American counterparts in the 1980s that they thought Peres’ dream of rebuilding the alliance with Iran was crazy and foolish. They whispered to American intelligence officers that it would end in disaster. They were right.
Today many former Israeli intelligence officers are warning America not to listen the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to avoid a military clash with Iran. Yuval Diskin, the retired head of the Shabak, the Israeli internal security service, has said Bibi is guided by “messianic feelings” which impair his judgment. Meir Dagan, his counterpart at the Mossad, the external security service, has said a military attack on Iran would be “stupid.” This time the warnings from our professional Israeli allies are not quiet.