◢ Saudi Arabia and the UAE have sent 95 tons of humanitarian aid to their rival Iran as it reels from deadly floods, officials said Thursday, after Tehran complained US sanctions were obstructing relief. The aid, which includes food and shelter material, was authorized by Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince, it added.
◢ Turkey voiced hope Tuesday that the United States will extend an exemption in sanctions to allow it to keep buying oil from Iran, despite tensions between the allies on multiple fronts. Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak met President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday and discussed the range of disagreements.
◢ The Instagram accounts of several Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders have been blocked, the Tabnak news website reported Tuesday, with the photo-sharing website saying it was complying with US sanctions. The United States announced on April 8 that it has placed the IRGC, the ideological army of the Islamic republic, on their list of "foreign terrorist organizations.”
◢ The biggest buyers of Iranian oil are said to be putting their purchases on hold as they wait to see whether the White House will extend waivers allowing them to keep buying the crude. Most Asian buyers are avoiding imports for next month as it’s unclear what will happen to the exemptions that are set to expire in the first week of May, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
◢ A German unit of the Italian bank UniCredit SpA pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that it allowed Iranian customers to conduct transactions in violation of sanctions. As part of its settlement with several U.S. regulators, the bank will pay $1.3 billion and its Austrian unit will enter into a deferred-prosecution agreement.
◢ The devastating floods that have swamped many parts of Iran since March have left two million people in need of humanitarian aid, the Red Crescent said Monday. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies called the floods the "largest disaster to hit Iran in more than 15 years.”
◢ Floods in Iran have killed 76 people and caused more than USD 2.2 billion in damages in recent weeks, officials said Sunday, with warnings still in place for large swathes of the country. "With the death of five people in the Khuzestan province flood and another person in Ilam province the death toll has now reached 76" since March 19, according to a statement published online by the coroner's office.
◢ An Iranian exchange has offered investors as much as 6 million barrels of oil so far this year. Only a single deal closed, for the minimum 35,000 barrels. With foreign investors steering clear of the world’s fourth-largest holder of crude, it’s trying via the Iran Energy Exchange to offload some oil to domestic buyers.
◢ A fresh divide is emerging between some Trump administration officials and hard-line opponents of Iran in the Senate over how far to go in the White House’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic Republic. In a letter to President Donald Trump this week, a group of Republican senators demanded that Secretary of State Michael Pompeo stop letting Iran continue its limited civilian nuclear research program.
◢ US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday accused Iran of ties to Al-Qaeda and declined to say whether the Trump administration had legal authority to invade the country. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo hedged on whether the authorization of force by the US Congress days after the September 11, 2001 attacks would allow the United States to strike Iran.
◢ Authorities ordered tens of thousands of residents of the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz to evacuate immediately on Wednesday as floodwaters entered the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, state television reported. The province's governor, Gholamreza Shariati, said he ordered the evacuation of five districts as a "precautionary and preventive move to avert any danger.”
◢ A pair of Standard Chartered Plc bankers in Dubai went a long way to protect the lucrative business of a prized Iranian client. Now the cost of their actions is clear: The London-based bank just agreed to fines and penalties of more than USD 1 billion for failing to stop and disclose its work with the Iranian and several others.
◢ French leader Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday urged his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to avoid an escalation of tensions after Washington blacklisted Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. In a telephone conversation, Macron urged Rouhani to "avoid any escalation or destabilization of the region," the French presidency said in a statement.
◢ Baghdad tried to stop Washington from blacklisting Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a "terrorist organization," Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi said Tuesday, warning that the decision could further destabilize the region. The United States declared the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a "terrorist" group on Monday, prompting Tehran to quickly slap US troops with the same designation.
◢ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday accused the United States of being the real "leader of world terrorism", hitting back after Washington blacklisted Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. Tehran was quick to retaliate on Monday by declaring US troops "terrorists" following Washington's move, which was welcomed by Iran's regional arch-rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia.
◢ The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday worsened its forecast for Iran's recession as US sanctions bite, with Tehran's slump denting overall growth in the Middle East and North Africa. The global lender's World Economic Outlook projected Iran's economy will shrink by a massive 6.0 percent this year, its worst performance since it contracted by 7.7 percent in 2012.
◢ Standard Chartered will pay USD 1.1 billion to settle charges it processed transactions that violated US sanctions on Iran and other prohibited countries, US regulators announced Tuesday. The penalty covers some USD 600 million in US transactions from 2008 to 2014 that originated at Standard Chartered's London and Dubai offices.
◢ Iran's top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday urged President Hassan Rouhani to place US forces in the region on Tehran's list of "terrorist" groups, the foreign ministry said. The foreign minister requested the move against US Central Command (CENTCOM), which has forces stationed from Central Asia to Egypt, shortly after Washington announced it was designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.
◢ President Donald Trump on Monday announced the United States is designating Iran's elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a terrorist organization. Trump said in a statement that the "unprecedented" move "recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft."
◢ Iranian authorities on Monday evacuated patients from a hospital threatened by floodwaters in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. Iran has been hit by several weeks of unprecedented flooding across most of the usually arid country that has killed 70 people, according to the emergency services.
◢ Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Iraq to demand US troops leave "as soon as possible", warning that Washington is plotting to remove the Iraqi government. The remarks came during a visit to Tehran on Saturday by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, whose country is under pressure from the United States to distance itself from Iran.
◢ Flood damage in western Iran exceeds the government’s budget for disaster relief and officials will have to tap the country’s sovereign wealth fund to cover reconstruction costs, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported. Around IRR 9.5 trillion—equivalent to USD 230 million at Iran’s official exchange rate—of damage has been caused to agricultural fields in the southwestern province of Khuzestan alone.
◢ Iranian authorities ordered the evacuation of six cities along the Karkheh river in southwestern Khuzestan province on Saturday after more rain sparked fears of new flooding, state news agency IRNA said. Floods in Iran since March have killed 70 people the head of the emergency services said on Friday according to the official IRNA News Agency.
◢ The US government has interviewed one Schlumberger Ltd. worker and wants access to four other current and former employees as part of a probe into potential sanctions violations in Iran and Sudan, according to federal court documents. The unnamed worker for the world’s biggest oil-services provider was interviewed on March 8 about a matter related to a company Schlumberger acquired in 2014.
◢ Responding to the devastating floods that have recently affected northern and south western parts of Iran, the European Commission has announced an initial amount of EUR 1.2 million of emergency funding to assist the most vulnerable communities.
◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Wednesday European powers were incapable of bypassing sanctions imposed on Tehran by the US after it withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran and six world powers agreed on a deal in 2015 that severely restricted Tehran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief and economic incentives.
◢ The death toll from major floods swamping much of Iran over the past 15 days has risen to 62, the head of the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization told local media Wednesday. Ahmad Shojaee told the semi-official Fars news agency the southern province of Fars has been hit the hardest with 21 dead.
◢ Iraqi premier Adel Abdel Mahdi will travel to Iran on Saturday, a member of his office said, in his first official visit to the country rivalling Washington for influence over Baghdad. The US reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran's energy and finance sectors last year but has granted Baghdad several exemptions to keep temporarily importing Iranian gas and electricity, crucial to Iraq's faltering power sector.
◢ UniCredit SpA is nearing an agreement with US authorities over allegations that the bank provided dollar-clearing services to Iranian clients in violation of US sanctions, people with the knowledge of the matter said. The deal would cost the Italian lender about USD 900 million but spare it from criminal prosecution, the people said.
◢ Britain, France and Germany are accusing Iran of developing missile technology, following recent activities, that they said was inconsistent with a UN resolution, and are calling for a full UN report, according to a letter released Tuesday. The European trio cited Iran's launch of a space vehicle and the unveiling of two new ballistic missiles in February.
◢ Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the United States of impeding aid efforts and "economic terrorism" on Monday as authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of flood-stricken cities in western Iran. US sanctions are "impeding aid efforts by #IranianRedcrescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods," Zarif tweeted.