MAY 17 – A report of a revised military document prepared for the White House claiming Iran posed an escalated threat to U.S. personnel in the Middle East was published by the New York Times this week. The report’s existence was not confirmed though images of missiles seen being loaded onto boats by Islamic Revolutionary Guards by U.S. intelligence officials are thought to have prompted the revised military document. The development follows the discovery of four tankers moored near the Strait of Hormuz which appeared to have been sabotaged, as well as drone strikes on Saudi oil pipelines which the U.S. has blamed on Iran.
The existence of conclusive evidence around a perceived increased threat from Iran left politicians and analysts divided. U.S. Congress demanded to see the revised report’s contents and called on the White House to make the information public. Meanwhile, the U.S. and the U.K. carried out separate assessments which led both countries to decide that the threat level in the region had increased. The U.S. pulled its non-emergency staff from Iraq in response to the findings. Tehran, Baghdad and Washington continue to insist that a war in the region is not on the cards.
- The White House’s revised military document, if it exists, is nothing more than a precaution, Dr. Michael Rubin a former Pentagon official told Kayhan Life. The New York Times said the report confirmed that the U.S. government was getting ready to send an additional 120,000 troops to the Middle East to protect against what it sees as mounting aggression by Iran and Iran-backed militia groups. While most analysts agree that a war is unlikely for the moment, Dr. Rubin told Kayhan Life that the start of any military conflict in the region was likely to be instigated at sea.
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- U.S. sources said the Iranian government had encouraged Houthi or Hezbollah militants in Iraq to carry out attacks, calling the alleged attacks a serious provocation. Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the chairman of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Yemen countered the claims this week, saying that the drone attacks were carried out by Yemeni forces acting independently of Iran, as an act of self defense against an ongoing Saudi-led invasion of Yemen. Deputy Representative to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen rejected the claim.
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- Men should not look at girls or women during Ramadan, Gholamhossein Esmaili Iran’s newly appointed Director General of Tehran Province Justice Department told Iranians. He added that anyone falling foul of the regulations would be arrested by police and prosecuted by the judiciary. Esmaili also commented on the execution of two young men convicted of rape who were thought to be minors at the time of their death, charges against actress Mahnaz Afshar and dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. → Link to source
- Videos on social media allegedly showing girls in elementary schools singing and dancing to a new pop song by a U.S. based Iranian artist led the chairman of Iran’s Council of Religious Committees to call for the impeachment of Minister of Education Mohammad Bathaei, and the establishment of ethical committees in elementary and high schools. Commenting on the videos, Nowshad Nowshadi said, “We have been witnessing a dangerous cultural movement that aims to undermine our Islamic values, derail our education system and corrupt our young and impressionable students.”
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Natasha is Kayhan Life’s managing editor and journalist writing on foreign affairs, Iran, and human rights.
She is a regular commentator on BBC, Sky News, London Live, France 2, RFI and RTL.
Natasha runs a child rights project called Researching Reform which aims to improve legislation and policy for children around the world.