Members of the European Parliament demanded that trade conditions with Iran should only be enabled once the Iranian government had addressed its dire human rights record. Alessandra Moretti MEP said, “Iran is a country where women are imprisoned for being women,” and business deals with the regime should be “conditioned on respect for human rights.”
In a bid to ease tensions in the Middle East, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. While the U.S. has deployed at least 3,000 additional military troops to Saudi Arabia, the removal of forces from northeastern Syria caused confusion this week, and raised concerns over whether the withdrawal had offered Iran a strategic advantage in the region.
Elsewhere, a Russian hacking group was accused of hijacking an Iranian cyber-espionage operation which targeted government and industry organizations around the world. British security officials said the group had infiltrated Iranian computer software and hardware to hack into entities from at least 20 different countries.
And finally, Iran has been banned indefinitely from competing in international judo events until it allows its athletes to face Israeli opponents in the sport. The International Judo Federation (IJF) made the decision after Iran was subjected to protective suspension by the Federation for placing pressure on its athletes to bow out of world championships so that they would not compete against Israeli judoka.
- After the attack on Iranian-flagged oil tanker the Sabiti, the Iranian government may be considering retaliating with a tanker war aimed at U.S. forces and their allies in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
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- The Iranian government is set to send thousands of clerics from Qom to army barracks in a bid to offer emotional and mental health support, but critics say the initiative is more about stemming dissent.
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- Iranians could be going up into space – Morteza Barari, the director of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) said Iran would be launching a human spaceflight program in the near future, with Russia’s help.
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- Iranian officials said they foiled an assassination plot by “Israeli-Arab intelligence agencies” targeting Major-General Ghasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force (IRGC-QF). Israel denied the allegations.
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