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Iran in December 2023

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December 1, 2023

  1. U.S. House Approves Bill to Halt Release of Iranian Prisoner-Swap Funds.  The U.S. House of Representatives passes a bill to permanently freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds exchanged for American prisoners. Concerns about the potential use of the money for malign activities, especially after recent terrorist attacks, lead to bipartisan support for blocking the funds.
  2. Iran Objects to Israel’s Presence at COP28 in UAE. Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian opposes Israel’s participation in COP28, expressing concern about recent Israeli actions in Gaza. Emirati officials assure efforts for a Gaza ceasefire and humanitarian aid.
  3. Iran’s Assembly of Experts Contemplates Deputy Supreme Leader for Aging Khamenei. Iran’s Assembly of Experts is reportedly deliberating the appointment of a deputy supreme leader for 84-year-old Ayatollah Khamenei, raising questions about succession. The committee, shrouded in secrecy, includes President Raisi and others, aiming to address potential instability after Khamenei. Calls for constitutional changes and public discontent add complexity to the decision-making process.
  4. Iran’s Economic Crisis: Mullahs Face Challenges from Within. Iran grapples with economic turmoil as mullahs neglect internal issues and rely on blame-shifting. The growing influence of oligarchs, who exploit privatization and amass wealth, exacerbates inflation and poverty. The mullahs must address economic mismanagement, discrimination, and corruption to secure the benefits of global alliances, as the youth protests reflect dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.
  5. Iranian Delegates Boycott COP28 Over Israeli Participation. Iranian representatives exit UN climate talks in the UAE, citing opposition to Israel’s presence at COP28. The move reflects Iran’s stance on the inclusion of Israeli representatives, deeming it inconsistent with the conference’s objectives.
  6. IRGC Commander Issues War Threat Amidst Israel-Hamas Truce Extension. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander, Hossein Salami, renews threats of war against the United States and Israel amidst the Israel-Hamas truce extension. The ongoing conflict, marked by proxy attacks and criticism of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Iran policy, remains a volatile geopolitical issue.
  7. Iran Dominates Middle East Merchant Fleet. A CIA economic analysis reveals that Iran boasts the largest maritime trade fleet in the Middle East, owning 942 ships in 2022. This significantly surpasses other regional countries, positioning Iran as a maritime trade powerhouse with over one-third of the total commercial ships in the Middle East.
  8. Iran’s Supreme Leader Calls for ‘De-Americanisation’ of the Middle East. Supreme Leader Khamenei emphasizes the need to counter U.S. influence in the Middle East, citing the Gaza conflict as a catalyst for the “de-Americanisation” of the region. He highlights the failure of U.S. plans in Lebanon and expresses Iran’s commitment to a new political geography, including Palestinian sovereignty and renaming the region “West Asia.”

December 5, 2023

  1. Chosen Ayatollah Khamenei Meets Handpicked Cuban President.  Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, met with Cuban President Díaz-Canel today to discuss forming an international coalition against Western domination. Both Iran and Cuba, subject to Western sanctions, seek to strengthen their alliance, focusing on scientific collaboration. They expressed mutual concern over global matters, especially the Palestinian situation. President Díaz-Canel condemned Israeli actions in Gaza, labeling them as genocide, and urged for global unity against such double standards.
  2. Iran Vows Revenge After Israeli Strike Kills IRGC Officers in Syria. Iran threatens retaliation against Israel following the death of two IRGC officers in a recent Israeli airstrike in Syria. Tensions escalate amid the ongoing conflict, with Tehran emphasizing its commitment to defending its interests and advisory forces in Syria.
  3. Iran-Russia Alliance Strengthens with President Raisi’s Moscow Visit. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi‘s diplomatic visit to Moscow on December 7 marks his second since taking office, signifying a deepening Iran-Russia alliance. The visit, encompassing discussions on economic ties and regional issues, including Palestine and Gaza, coincides with the signing of a pact against unilateral coercive measures. This agreement, criticized for countering U.S. sanctions, was formalized at a Caspian countries’ meeting in Moscow. It underlines both nations’ commitment to resist illegal sanctions, with Russia supporting Iran’s BRICS membership and promoting the North-South Corridor.
  4. Iran and Russia Forge Alliance Against Unilateral Coercive Measures. Iran and Russia, in a joint move, signed a pact to counter unilateral coercive measures, criticizing U.S. sanctions. The agreement was inked by the foreign ministers during a Caspian countries’ meeting in Moscow. Lavrov emphasized standing against illegal sanctions, supporting Iran’s BRICS membership, and promoting North-South Corridor activities. Amirabdollahian highlighted the review of past agreements and praised fruitful diplomatic interaction.
  5. Iran Urges Caspian Consensus and Action Against Gaza Atrocities. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian calls for consensus among Caspian littoral countries and proposes a secretariat for joint administration. Emphasizing the need for economic cooperation, he condemns Israeli atrocities in Gaza and advocates for international action, urging a unified message to the US and a boycott on Israeli goods.
  6. Iran Rejects Baseless UK Accusations on Red Sea Attacks. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, dismisses the UK’s unfounded claims linking Iran to recent Red Sea attacks. Kanaani condemns the accusations as politically motivated and influenced by third parties, urging UK officials to focus on condemning Israeli crimes and supporting humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza.

December 6, 2023

  1. IRGC Conducts Maritime Seizure: Captures Two Ships in International Gulf Waters. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy detained two ships in the Persian Gulf for alleged fuel smuggling, capturing 34 foreign sailors. The ships carried around 2.28 and 2.3 million liters of fuel, respectively. The identities of the sailors and the ships’ flags remain undisclosed. This incident highlights Iran’s fuel smuggling issue, driven by low fuel prices from subsidies and currency devaluation. Smuggling, often to neighboring countries and across the Gulf, is linked to Iran’s efforts to bypass oil sanctions and is believed to be the work of organized smuggling rings rather than ordinary smugglers.
  2. Iranian Court Demands $49bn from US for Soleimani Assassination. An Iranian court has ordered the United States government and various American individuals and entities to pay $49 billion in damages for the 2020 airstrike assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. The Tehran-based 55th Branch of the Legal Court of International Relations, led by Judge Hosseinzadeh, convicted 42 US government departments, military units, and individuals in this case. The judgment was based on complaints from 3,318 claimants involved in 114 cases across Iran, claiming compensation for the loss caused by Soleimani’s assassination. 
  3. Iran and Russia Unite Against Sanctions with Joint Declaration. Iran and Russia have signed a significant joint declaration to collaborate in counteracting sanctions and mitigating the impact of unilateral coercive measures. This agreement, penned by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, was finalized in Moscow during the annual ministerial meeting of Caspian Sea nations. 
  4. IRGC Downplays Israeli Strikes in Syria. Fars Newspaper, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, minimizes Israeli attacks on Iranian forces in Syria, contradicting a history of frequent strikes. Iran attempts to defend its reputation amid the Gaza conflict but faces challenges to its credibility.
  5. Iran Successfully Launches Indigenous Bioscience Capsule with Salman Launcher. Iran achieves success in launching its latest bioscience capsule using the indigenous Salman launcher. The milestone aligns with Iran’s commitment to advancing its space sector, specifically in bio-science, and marks a significant step toward future human space exploration. The 500-kilogram capsule, developed by the Aerospace Research Institute, underwent rigorous testing of various space mission technologies, showcasing advancements in propulsion, recovery, and control systems. The Salman launcher, a domestically produced vehicle, played a crucial role in this achievement.
  6. Iran Rejects PGCC Summit Criticism, Asserts Sovereignty Over Disputed Islands. The Iranian Foreign Ministry, through spokesperson Nasser Kanaani, has forcefully rejected the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s (PGCC) statements from their recent summit. The PGCC had raised concerns about Iran’s control of three islands in the Arabian Gulf and broader regional issues. Kanaani reiterated Iran’s claim to the islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb, dismissing any external claims as infringement on Iran’s sovereignty. 
  7. Rampant Sexual Violence by Iranian Forces Against Protesters. Amnesty International’s recent report accuses Iranian security forces of committing extensive sexual violence, including rape, against protesters detained during the September 2022 demonstrations. Detailing 45 cases of sexual assault across various provinces, the report suggests a systemic pattern of abuse, with victims as young as 12. The organization highlights the use of sexual violence as a means of torture and punishment, causing long-term harm. Despite informing Iranian authorities in November, no response has been received. These revelations follow the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, leading to hundreds of deaths, thousands of arrests, and several executions. 

December 7, 2023

  1. Iran’s Threat of the Day: Foreboding Warnings and Condemnations. In a recent phone call, Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian forewarned Qatar’s Prime Minister of “very frightening” days ahead for Israel, condemning its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. The officials, united in their stance, called for an immediate cessation of Israeli war crimes and emphasized the need for humanitarian aid to Palestinians. 
  2. Iran’s Major Corruption Scandal Reveals High-Level Complicity. A $3.5 billion corruption case involving government officials, including ministers and Central Bank governors, shocks Iran. The scandal implicates top figures, such as Vice President Mokhber. Critics question Supreme Leader Khamenei’s silence. 
  3. Raisi’s Russian Rendezvous: Gaza Talks and Trade in Focus. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s journey to Moscow centers on discussions about the Gaza crisis and bolstering Iran-Russia ties. His visit, the second since his inauguration in August 2021, aims to address the urgent situation in Gaza, focusing on ending bombings, lifting blockades, and advocating for Palestinian rights. Concurrently, Iran and Russia are deepening their economic relationship, conducting a significant portion of their trade in national currencies. This move towards de-dollarization, highlighted by Ambassador Jalali, accompanies Iran’s expansion of exports to Russia, including diverse products from agricultural goods to medical equipment.

December 8, 2023

  1. Iran Justifies Seizure of Vessels in Persian Gulf for Alleged Smuggling. Iranian authorities announced the seizure of two vessels in the Persian Gulf for alleged fuel smuggling. Mojtaba Ghahrami, Hormozgan’s chief justice, reported the capture near Qeshm Island, with 210,000 liters of fuel and 14 crew members detained. The incident follows a pattern of Iranian naval forces seizing foreign-flagged vessels in the region for similar reasons. Recent seizures include two vessels near Abu Musa Island and two oil tankers under Panama and Tanzania flags. These actions occur amidst rising tensions between Iran and the US, with frequent confrontations in Arabian waters.
  2. Iran’s AI-Driven Gender Repression: A Threat to Women’s Rights. Iran intensifies its crackdown on women’s rights using AI, notably in enforcing hijab laws. Following Mahsa Amini’s death, which sparked protests, the government increasingly uses facial recognition and geolocation for repression. Over a million women received hijab violation warnings through surveillance, impacting businesses serving non-compliant women. Supported by technology from China, this trend reflects a broader Middle Eastern pattern of using surveillance to enforce gender restrictions, underscoring the global need to counter AI-enabled gender repression.
  3. US Sanctions Iran for Funding Houthi Aggression. The US has sanctioned various individuals and entities for their role in channeling Iranian funds to Yemen’s Houthi group, which is accused of attacking Israel and maritime targets. This action highlights the complex, multi-country network behind the Houthi attacks and Iran’s direct involvement. The US National Security Council is also concerned about Iran acquiring advanced Russian military assets, potentially destabilizing the region. These developments come as the Iran-Russia defense alliance strengthens, with Iranian President Raisi’s recent meeting with Putin, and increased sanctions in response to Iran’s support for Houthi activities in the Red Sea.

December 12, 2023

  1. Iran-Israel Relations: Foreign Minister Highlights Rare Common Ground. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian asserts a singular point of agreement with Israel during a forum in Doha: both countries reject the two-state solution. Amir-Abdollahian reiterates Iran’s call for a referendum on the “fate of Palestine,” limiting voting to pre-1948 residents’ descendants.
  2. Iran’s First Lady Challenges Tradition. Jamileh-Sadat Alamolhoda, wife of President Ebrahim Raisi, breaks the mold by promoting her views on women’s roles and education. A professor and author, she engages with foreign media, writes to world leaders’ wives, and addresses contentious issues like the hijab law. While critics demand her withdrawal from politics, supporters see her positive influence in a role previously unexplored since the Islamic revolution.
  3. Iran’s Strategic Calculations in Geopolitics. Examining Iran’s involvement in the Hamas attack on Israel, Tehran strategically benefits from disrupting Israel-Saudi Arabia ties, enhancing its role as a Palestinian advocate, and navigating delicate regional relations. While linked to Hamas, Iran demonstrates a nuanced approach, avoiding direct confrontation. Tehran seeks to balance its regional influence amid internal challenges and economic crises, playing a calculated long-term game in the complex Middle East dynamics.
  4. Switzerland Seeks Arrest of Iran’s President for ‘Crimes Against Humanity’. A legal complaint urges Swiss authorities to arrest Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during his expected visit, connecting him to crimes against humanity during a 1988 purge. Raisi’s alleged role in the crackdown on dissidents raises international concerns, leading to a petition against his participation in the U.N. Global Refugee Forum.
  5. Trial Begins for Austrian Accused of Spying on Iran TV in UK. An Austrian national, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, faces trial in London for alleged spying on an Iranian TV station, Iran International. The prosecution claims he engaged in “hostile reconnaissance” on the channel, which reported on Iranian human rights violations.
  6. EU Sanctions Target Iranians Involved in UAV Production for Russia. The EU imposes sanctions on six individuals and five entities in Iran involved in manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) used by Russia in Ukraine. This marks the first application of measures under a new framework aimed at restricting Iran’s military support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, aligning with previous sanctions on Iranian drone-related activities.
  7. Iran Vows to Expel U.S. Aircraft Carriers Amid Regional Tensions. Iranian Navy Commander Shahram Irani declares the imminent expulsion of U.S. aircraft carriers from the region, accusing them of inciting unrest. This follows the recent deployment of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, with Iran rejecting foreign military presence in the area.
  8. Iran Urges Ban on Israeli Goods, Citing Constitutional Provisions. Iranian Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf calls for a government-led prohibition on Israeli goods, citing constitutional principles. The move aims to align with Iran’s longstanding opposition to Israel, emphasizing the need to support Palestinians.
  9. Iranian Regime Escalates Propaganda Against MEK Amidst Internal Challenges. Faced with internal turmoil and international criticism during the Gaza crisis, Iran’s regime intensifies efforts to vilify the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK). Propaganda includes a state-produced movie and plans for a dubious trial, revealing the regime’s desperation to divert attention from its domestic crises.

December 13, 2023

  1. Billions Vanish: Iran’s Ongoing Saga of Financial Corruption. Iranian officials have allegedly embezzled staggering amounts, with recent cases totaling $94.3 billion, revealing a pattern spanning multiple administrations. Lack of transparency and international sanctions contribute to the complexity of these cases.
  2. Europe Imposes New Sanctions on Iranian Drone Program. The European Union adds six individuals and five entities linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to its sanctions list for supporting Russia in the war against Ukraine. The sanctions target companies involved in drone manufacturing, signaling Europe’s response to Iran’s military support for the Russian invasion.

December 14, 2023

  1. Iran Asserts Red Sea Control Amid Houthi Assaults. Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani has issued a stark warning against the formation of a U.S.-backed multinational force to protect Red Sea navigation, emphasizing Iranian control over the region. This comes as Houthi rebels in Yemen escalate their activities in the Red Sea, creating a tense international situation. Their aggressive tactics include seizing an Israeli billionaire’s cargo ship, launching missile attacks on Red Sea-bound vessels, and attempting to intercept a European-bound chemical tanker. These actions have intensified maritime security concerns and led to direct confrontations with U.S., UK, and French naval forces. In response to these threats, the US Navy successfully thwarted a Houthi attempt to seize a Marshall Islands-flagged tanker in the Red Sea. The USS Mason destroyer intervened after a distress call, preventing the Houthi attack and neutralizing a drone launched by the rebels. Amidst these rising tensions, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has called for the formation of an international coalition to counter the Houthis’ threat to global navigation. 
  2. Iran’s IRGC Conducts Extensive Military Exercises. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces recently held large-scale military exercises in the western province, focusing on countering security threats. The drills included electronic warfare simulations, reconnaissance operations, and the deployment of drones and armored units. Additionally, the regular army’s air defense force received Karrar drones equipped with air-to-air Majid missiles, enhancing Iran’s air defense capabilities.
  3. Iran Bypasses US Sanctions; EU Sanctions Iran Over Drone Sales. The United States and the United Kingdom have imposed sanctions on individuals linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, freezing assets and banning travel to isolate these groups. This move coincides with the US Treasury Department targeting key officials for implementing Hamas’ violent actions abroad. Meanwhile, Iran, having accessed $10 billion from an Omani escrow account through sanctions waivers, faces criticism for the potential misuse of these funds. The Biden administration’s perceived lenient enforcement of sanctions against Iran has led to a significant increase in its oil revenue. China’s involvement in purchasing Iranian oil and the operation of Iran’s “ghost fleet” of oil tankers, which bypass US sanctions, exacerbate concerns. Additionally, the European Union has sanctioned six individuals one of which is Isamail Qaani, the leader of the IRGC and five Iranian companies for supplying drones to Russia, further illustrating Iran’s deviation from international standards. Lawmakers are urging for stronger sanctions enforcement and the implementation of advanced technology to track and curb Iran’s illicit financial activities. The UK’s sanctions on key Iranian figures, including a travel ban and asset freeze, aim to curb human rights abuses and destabilize activities. These measures symbolize global disapproval and aim to isolate the sanctioned individuals internationally.
  4. Iran Faces Bread Crisis Amid Economic Woes; Channels Funds to Expand Radiopharmaceuticals. As Iran grapples with a severe bread affordability crisis, highlighted by Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi, the government’s focus seems misaligned. Iranians struggle with a 50% inflation rate, making basic necessities like bread unaffordable, while the government proposes only a 20% pay raise for civil servants, inadequate in addressing the 50% budget deficit. Concurrently, amidst these economic hardships and rising public unrest, Iran’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, announces a significant expansion in radiopharmaceutical production. This move raises questions about the allocation of funds, especially considering recent accesses to $10 billion under sanction waivers, purportedly for humanitarian purposes, yet seemingly diverted to areas like petrochemical advancement rather than addressing the pressing needs of its population.
  5. Exiled Iranian Prince Alarmed Over Political Prisoner’s Safety. Prince Reza Pahlavi expresses concern for political prisoner Zohreh Sarv, fearing for her life after a reported suicide attempt. Pahlavi holds the Islamic Republic responsible and calls for international pressure on Iran to release not only Sarv but all political prisoners. Sarv, on hunger strike in Evin Prison, protests rights violations and faces continued legal challenges.
  6. Iran Calls for Global Support in Hosting Afghan Refugees. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian urges international assistance for Afghanistan’s infrastructure development to facilitate the return of Afghan refugees. Speaking at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva, he emphasizes the unequal distribution of refugee responsibilities and the strain on Iran’s resources, hosting over 5 million Afghan refugees amid economic sanctions.
  7. Second Iranian Official Faces Deportation from Canada Under Sanctions. Canada initiates deportation proceedings against Iranmanesh Majid, the second alleged senior Iranian official discovered residing in the country. The case, under Canadian sanctions prohibiting senior Iranian government members, is part of efforts to remove individuals associated with the Iranian regime. The move follows a similar case involving Seyed Salman Samani.

December 15, 2023

  1. Iranian Hackers Strike Again: Advanced Cyberattacks on Israeli Targets. The Iranian hacker group OilRig, also known as APT34, has ramped up its cyber offensive against Israel. Utilizing newly developed malware, they have infiltrated Israeli healthcare, manufacturing, and government sectors. These sophisticated attacks, identified by cybersecurity firm ESET, are conducted through cloud service providers, making them hard to trace. Active since 2014, OilRig initially targeted Middle Eastern entities in finance, energy, and telecommunications. However, their operations have now expanded globally, focusing on organizations linked to Israel. A notable attack disrupted an Irish water facility using Israeli technology, highlighting the increasing threat posed by these Iranian hackers to Israeli security and interests on a global scale.
  2. Iran Ranks Third in Oil Production Among OPEC Countries Despite U.S. Sanctions. Despite facing U.S. sanctions, Iran holds the third position in oil production within OPEC, as per the latest report. The country’s output rose to 3.128 million barrels per day in November 2023. This increase, surpassing 7,000 barrels from the previous month, marks a significant climb from fourth to third place, overtaking the UAE. Leading the list are Saudi Arabia with 8.998 million barrels per day and Iraq with 4.278 million, while the UAE and Kuwait follow Iran in the rankings.
  3. Shiite Clerics’ Stance Against the U.S. and Sunni Militants’ Response in Iran. Senior Shiite clerics in Iran, exemplified by Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, have declared opposition to the U.S. as a religious duty, advocating for cutting ties with Western countries. This stance is part of a broader shift towards strengthening ties with Eastern powers like Russia and China, as seen in Iran’s support for Russia in the Ukraine conflict. In contrast, Sunni militants, particularly Jaish al-Adl, are actively opposing Iran’s Shiite clerical rule through armed attacks, such as the recent assault on a police station in Rask, which resulted in numerous casualties. This militant response highlights the deepening sectarian divide and the Sunni community’s push for greater rights and better living conditions in regions like Sistan-Baluchistan Province.

December 19, 2023

  1. Tehran Warns Against Cooperation with “Maritime Coalition to Deter Houthis”. Iran cautions against collaboration with the U.S.-led maritime coalition to counter Houthi threats, warning of a new regional map after the Gaza war. Iranian officials defend Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, emphasizing their strategic significance against Israel. The statements mark Tehran’s first response to Houthi strikes on commercial ships, reflecting heightened tensions amid the formation of a naval alliance.
  2. IRGC Navy Mobilizes Ocean-Going Volunteer Forces. Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy establishes a naval Basij unit, comprising local volunteer sailors with rocket-equipped vessels, capable of ocean missions. The initiative follows the successful experience in the Persian Gulf, with plans to expand to the Caspian Sea. The mobilization forces showcase bravery, having thwarted Somali pirates in a previous incident.
  3. E3 Expresses Concern Over Iran’s Nuclear Activities at UN Security Council. The UK, France, and Germany, collectively known as the E3, issued a joint statement at the UN Security Council, expressing deep concern over Iran’s nuclear violations. They highlighted Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium, missile proliferation, and lack of cooperation with the IAEA. The E3 stressed the need for Iran to reverse its nuclear escalation and urged diplomatic solutions to address the crisis.
  4. Russia Advocates JCPOA Restart for Global Security. Russian UN Representative Vasily Nebenzya stresses the vital need to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran’s nuclear program, emphasizing its significance for international security. Nebenzya urges a prompt restart, stating it’s the only path aligning with regional and global security interests. He cautions against introducing contentious elements in UN reports, aiming to safeguard the delicate prospects of fully restoring the Vienna agreements.
  5. West Accuses Iran of Nuclear Violations, Russia of Drone Transfers. Western powers, including the UK, France, and Germany, accused Iran of violating the 2015 nuclear agreement by testing missiles, enriching uranium to 60%, and transferring drones to Russia. Despite denials from Iran and Russia, the U.S. and European nations emphasized the severity of the violations, urging Iran to reverse its nuclear escalation.
  6. Ultra-Hardliners in Iran Advocate for Ahmadinejad’s Political Comeback. Iran’s Paydari Party, led by ultra-hardliner Sadegh Mahsouli, is reportedly working to bring former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad back to the political scene. Ahmadinejad’s former aide, Abdolreza Davari, claims that Mahsouli signaled Ahmadinejad’s willingness to re-enter politics with a share in power. Despite past criticisms, Mahsouli recently praised Ahmadinejad’s charisma and management skills.
  7. Breaking Free: Iran’s Call to Liberate Its Economy from Dollar Dependency. Iran seeks to reduce its economy’s reliance on the US dollar due to recent fluctuations affecting goods and services. The country’s oil-based economy and import-heavy practices contribute to the dollar’s dominance. Experts argue that diversifying away from the dollar would enhance economic resilience, reduce sanctions impact, and strengthen bargaining power.
  8. Iran’s Dams Depleted as Hydroelectric Overuse Deepens Water Crisis. Iran faces a critical water crisis as official statistics reveal a 22% increase in dam water discharge to compensate for a severe electricity deficit. Despite targeting 6,000 megawatts of new power plants, only 15% has been achieved, mainly thermal plants with low efficiency.
  9. Iran Urges Pakistan to Designate Rask Attack Perpetrators as Terror Group. Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian calls on Pakistan to identify the Jaish-ul-Adl terrorist group responsible for the Rask attack. He emphasizes the necessity of bilateral cooperation to enhance border security and prevent future acts of terrorism. Pakistan reaffirms its commitment to collaborating with Iran against terrorism, expressing condemnation for the recent terrorist attack.
  10. Iran’s Customs Chief Touts Success in Making Iraq a Non-Producing Importer. Iran’s Customs Chief, Mohammad Reza Pour-Mohammadi, declared that Iraq is among the top importers of Iranian goods. Pour-Mohammadi boasted about Iran’s efforts, involving popular mobilization, parties, and the Iraqi government, in transforming Iraq into a non-producing, importing country. He noted that Iran’s exports to Iraq exceeded $6 billion in the past eight months, with expectations of further growth under the Sudanese government.

December 20, 2023

  1. The Apocalyptic Threat of Iran’s Mahdism Doctrine. The radicalization of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), particularly evident since the post-2009 period under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has significantly aligned the country’s military strategies, including its nuclear program, with the objectives of Mahdism. Mahdism, a core belief among Iran’s Twelver Shi’a sect, centers on the Mahdi, a prophesied figure expected to establish Islamic rule. This doctrine has not only shaped Iran’s military and foreign policies but also pushed the nation towards more confrontational stances, especially against the United States and Israel. The IRGC, considered an ideological force, embodies this radical shift, intensifying the potential for actions driven by these eschatological beliefs. Such developments underscore the profound impact of Mahdism on Iran’s approach to global security dynamics.
  2. New “Basij” Unit and Missile-Equipped Boats to Monitor US Ships. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has equipped boats with smart missiles to track US ship movements, in response to the Pentagon’s Red Sea naval force against attacks on Israel-related vessels. Concurrently, Iran launches a new “Basij” unit with 55,000 men and 33,000 rocket-launching vessels, intensifying Persian Gulf naval tensions and expanding Iran’s maritime defense capabilities amid escalating encounters with American forces.
  3. US Sanctions Drone Supply Network to Iran; Aging Iranian Air Force Remains a Threat. The US has targeted a network with sanctions, including ten entities and four individuals across Iran, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, for illicitly supplying drone components to Iran, aiding its globally utilized drone program. Simultaneously, despite an outdated air fleet, Iran’s air force, rumored to acquire Russian Su-35 jets, retains potential regional conflict advantages due to its strategic location, experienced crews, and advanced missile capabilities.
  4. Iran’s Role in Global Insecurity Affecting Western Nations. As the Houthis follow Iran’s directives in the Red Sea, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is exacerbating instability and security risks in Western nations. In Germany, a plot to burn a synagogue, reportedly directed by an Iranian state agency and involving a German-Iranian individual, led to the summoning of Iran’s chargé d’affaires. In Sweden, Hamid Nouri, an Iranian national, received a life sentence for his involvement in the mass executions of 1988 in Iran, convicted for grave violations of international humanitarian law. The E3 countries (UK, France, and Germany) expressed serious concerns at the United Nations Security Council about Iran’s nuclear program, citing its enrichment of uranium to 60% and ballistic missile tests as breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA). Across the Atlantic, Canada is contemplating designating the IRGC as a terrorist organization, reflecting growing apprehensions about Iran’s influence and activities within Canada, and their impact on national security.
  5. Iran-Linked Network Stirs Social Media Unrest in Israel. A recent investigation by Fake Reporter has unveiled a complex disinformation campaign driven by an Iran-affiliated network in Israel, active since 2021. This network has adeptly employed fake profiles and bots across popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook, and Instagram. Its operations have been centered around disseminating deceptive content and fueling societal discord. Among its tactics are the distribution of misleading videos depicting protests, the impersonation of prominent personalities, and the amplification of contentious topics, particularly regarding LGBTQ+ rights and religious conflicts. The network also went as far as establishing counterfeit organizations and news sites to propagate its false narratives. This concerning discovery highlights the escalating challenges of digital misinformation and its profound capacity to sway public sentiment and destabilize social unity.
  6. Iran Issues Stern Warning to Pakistan, Demands Border Control. Iran has sternly warned Pakistan following a deadly attack on a police station in Sistan and Baluchestan province, which resulted in 11 officer fatalities. Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, during his visit to Rask city, highlighted evidence suggesting the assailants originated from Pakistan. Vahidi urged Islamabad to intensify border controls and accused Israel of supporting terrorist groups near Iran’s borders. Despite ongoing discussions on border security, Pakistan’s efforts remain inadequate in addressing Iran’s concerns. The region has witnessed unrest due to drug-smuggling, insurgency, and religious extremism. The United Nations has also called for justice against the perpetrators. This incident is part of a series of attacks, with the militant group Jaish Ul-Adl, active since 2013 and based in Pakistan, frequently targeting Iranian forces.
  7. Iran and Turkmenistan Strengthen Ties in Energy and Transportation. Presidents of Iran and Turkmenistan, Ebrahim Raisi and Serdar Berdimuhamedow, discuss enhanced economic cooperation, focusing on energy and transportation. They emphasize the importance of implementing agreements from the Joint Commission of Economic Cooperation, with Iran expressing readiness to collaborate on electricity, gas, and transportation using its southern ports.
  8. Iranian Foreign Minister Visits Doha to Discuss Israeli Aggression on Gaza. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hussein Amir Abdollahian, arrives in Doha for discussions on the latest developments in the Israeli aggression on Gaza. Abdollahian meets with Qatari officials and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. The visit coincides with Qatari efforts to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, aiming to facilitate a prisoner exchange.

December 21, 2023

  1. Israel Targets Syrian Army Sites in Quneitra Countryside. Israel launched missile strikes on Syrian army positions near the villages of Arnah and Hadar in the Quneitra countryside in southwestern Syria. In response, Syria reportedly fired four missiles towards the occupied Golan Heights.
  2. Russian-Syrian Joint Military Exercises at Aleppo’s Kuweires Airport. Russian and Syrian Pro-Iran forces are preparing for joint military exercises at Kuweires Airport in northeastern Aleppo. Recent activity at the airport involved the transportation of military equipment and ammunition. These exercises aim to enhance the capabilities of participating units in utilizing advanced weaponry.
  3. Assad Approves Law Regulating the Entry of Raw Gold into Syria. Bashar al-Assad has approved Law No. 34 for the year 2023, which regulates the entry of raw gold into government-controlled areas. The law allows both Syrian and foreign residents and non-residents to import raw gold under specific conditions. It also imposes fines on those who delay processing raw gold into finished products.

 

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