MESOP NEWS : Trump expected to waive Iran sanctions today

WASHINGTON — The Donald Trump administration is expected to waive relevant sanctions on Iran today, as called for under the landmark nuclear deal, a US official tells Al-Monitor. Author Laura Rozen Posted May 17, 2017  AL MONITOR

Notification of the waivers is expected to be made in statements from the State and Treasury Departments. The administration is still conducting a broader National Security Council-led interagency review of its policy to Iran, however, including determining whether the deal negotiated under President Barack Obama is in the national interest.

US officials said that until the review is completed, the administration will continue to adhere to the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).“We are continuing to review the JCPOA,” a State Department official speaking not for attribution told Al-Monitor. “While that review in underway, we continue to implement our commitments.”

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Record number of candidates run for city councils in Iran’s Kurdistan

14 May 2017 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— Over 83,000 candidates have registered in Iran’s Kurdistan to run for offices in city and provincial councils as the country goes to polls on Friday.The number of the registered candidates is considerably larger than in previous elections when hopefuls were often blocked to run, according to data from the last elections. An increasing number of candidates have been cleared to run for offices this year, a break from previous years’ strict regulations set by the powerful Guardian Council which supervises elections and approval of candidates.

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MESOP NEWS INSIDER : No Mercy for Iran’s Baha’I – What Their Repression Reveals About the Regime

By Elliott Abrams  Foreign Affairs – 9 May 2017 – Iran will elect a new president on May 19. But the real event will take place days before, on May 14, and it will offer more insight into the nature of the regime than managed elections ever could provide.May 14 will mark the ninth anniversary of the arrests of the Iranian Baha’i leadership, known as the Yaran. These seven men and women managed the religious and worldly needs of Iran’s Baha’i, who make up the country’s largest non-Muslim minority. Iranian authorities condemned them to 20-year prison terms for their alleged misdeeds—charges that included “corruption on earth,” “insulting religious sanctities,” “espionage for Israel,” and “propaganda against the system.” The group’s secretary was arrested on March 5, 2008, and was also sentenced to 20 years in prison.

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MESOP NEWS FOCUS OST KURDISTAN / IRAN : Tehran’s Curious Silence on Syria Agreement

5 May 2017 – Despite signing an agreement with Russia and Turkey to establish four “de-escalation zones” in the 73-month Syrian conflict, Iran’s regime is being very reserved about the development.

On Thursday, a Russian proposal was signed by Moscow and Tehran — both essential backers of the Assad regime — and by Turkey, which has been a supporter of elements of the Syrian opposition since the uprising began in March 2011. The Syrian opposition objected to the initiative, both because of Iran’s role as a guarantor and because of the prospect of a partition of Syria leaving President Assad in power.However, Iran’s English-language media ignore the news. The Persian-language version of Tasnim has only a brief, dry report, and State outlet IRNA summarizes UN envoy Staffan de Mistura’s expectations for a proposal but not the agreement itself.

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MESOP NEWS TODAYS OPINION : Final Chapter of Dialogue with Iran – By Salman Aldosary / Former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

4 May 2017 – Asharq al Awsat – While Iran is fighting Saudi Arabia and Gulf states through its militias in Yemen and directly in Bahrain, and combats for its interests in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, reconciliation and peacemaking attempts continued between Iran and the Gulf States, prominently Saudi Arabia.

Occasionally, calls for negotiations would come from former US President Barack Obama, or through European foreign ministers, and sometimes – shockingly – through Gulf countries’ efforts.

Each party credits itself for strengthening their positions even if it came on the expenses of Arab and Gulf states, though these calls would benefit Iran.Everyone knows that Iran can’t go on with a reasonable dialogue while executing its expansion and interference in internal affairs policy.

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Iran’s Ambitions in the Levant / Why It’s Building Two Land Corridors to the Mediterranean

By Ehud Yaari – Foreign Affairs – In the words of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the administration of President Donald Trump is currently “reviewing ways to confront challenges posed by Iran.” This most likely means looking for ways in which to curb Iran’s expansionism in the Middle East. But for any containment plan to be effective, Washington must examine Iran’s newly emerging strategy in the Levant and must understand that although Tehran still hopes to achieve regional hegemony in the long term, its current plan is to focus on obtaining and maintaining a predominant position in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. The bloody quagmire involving those three countries offers more opportunities to consolidate power than what would surely be a riskier confrontation in the Gulf, where Iran would have to contend with the United States and its allies. Success in the narrower approach, moreover, could ultimately strengthen Tehran’s hand against Saudi Arabia and those in the Sunni bloc.

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MESOP NEWS UPDATE IRAN / SYRIA Tehran Displays Cooperation with Syria’s Assad Regime

By Scott Lucas –  May 2, 2017 – eaworldview – Following consultations with Russia, Iran has displayed its military cooperation with the Assad regime in Syria’s 73-month conflict.

The Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, met Syrian counterpart General Ali Abdullah Ayoub in Tehran on Monday. No details of the discussion were given, with Baqeri issuing Tehran’s standard rhetoric that “the Syrian Army and nation have put up brave resistance in the face of crimes by Takfiri terrorists and regional aggression and intervention”.

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Third Kurdish party joins armed struggle in Iran

By Rudaw 47 minutes ago – 1 Mai 2017 – SORAN, Kurdistan Region— The Kurdistan Communist Party of Iran (IKCP) has mobilised its Peshmerga troops along the Iranian borders in a bid to resume armed struggle against the Islamic Republic, following two other Kurdish parties that broke a decade-long ceasefire with Tehran last year.Party officials told Rudaw their armed forces were now based some three kilometers away from the Iranian army posts near the borders with the Kurdistan Region.

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HUMIRE: Iran propping up Venezuela’s repressive militias – The Islamic regime’s tactics for crushing dissent reach the Americas

By Joseph Humire – – Monday, March 17, 2014 –  THE WASHINGTON TIMES

ANALYSIS/OPINION:  The death of 22-year-old Venezuelan student Genesis Carmona at the hands of armed pro-government civilian militias, called “colectivos,” bears a striking resemblance to the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, the Iranian student who was shot and killed in a similar fashion on the streets of Tehran during the Green Revolution of 2009. This has led many analysts to begin comparing the colectivos’ tactics to those used by Iran’s Basij paramilitary force.

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MESOP NEWS TODAYS ESSAY : Iran’s Next Supreme Leader / The Islamic Republic After Khamenei –

– By Sanam Vakil and Hossein Rassam – FOREIGN AFFAIRS –

On July 17, 2016, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, turned 77. Rumors that he suffers from cancer have circulated for over a decade, and in 2014, the state-run news agency published photos of him recovering from prostate surgery. Although Khamenei’s prognosis remains closely guarded, the Iranian government is evidently treating his succession with urgency. In December 2015, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and a kingmaker, broached the usually taboo subject when he publicly admitted that a council within the Assembly of Experts, the body that selects the supreme leader, was already vetting potential successors. And last March, after new members of the assembly were elected to an eight-year term, Khamenei himself called the probability that they would have to select his replacement “not low.”

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