A bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives is cosponsoring H.Res.374 - Condemning Iranian State-sponsored Terrorism and Expressing Support for the Iranian People's Desire for a Democratic, Secular, and Non-nuclear Republic of Iran. Congressmen across the political spectrum, from Tom McClintock (R-CA) to Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), touted the legislation at a Wednesday virtual conference hosted by the Organization of the Iranian American Communities (OIAC), a People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK)-linked advocacy group. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi also addressed the conference.
China delivered a 5-page statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Thursday warning that the passage of a resolution by the IAEA Board of Governors admonishing Iran for blocking inspectors' access to two sites could demolish "the entire global non-proliferation regime." Britain, France, and Germany drafted the resolution with US support for the IAEA's virtual Board of Governors meeting between June 15 and June 19. On Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi threatened, "Iran may show a proportionate reaction if the IAEA makes a non-constructive decision." The IAEA's Board of Governors has not issued a resolution against Iran since 2012. During his opening remarks, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated, "I note with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied us access to two locations and that, for almost a year, it has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify our questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities."
At a Wednesday-Thursday videoconference of NATO defense ministers, France accused Turkish naval vessels of threatening to attack the French frigate Courbet on June 10 when the latter sought to search a Turkish civilian ship, the Cirkin, suspected of violating the UN arms embargo on Libya. French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said the Cirkin raised suspicion by turning off its transponder, failing to identify itself, and not providing its final destination. To ward off an inspection, the three Turkish warships escorting the Cirkin carried out radar targeting on the Courbet three times, suggesting an imminent missile strike and prompting the Courbet to withdraw. Around the same time, the Turkish military escort also prevented a Greek vessel from inspecting the Cirkin as part of Operation IRINI, an EU naval mission to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg assured reporters that "NATO military authorities are investigating the incident to bring full clarity into what happened." A senior Turkish official Wednesday denied that the warships acted aggressively, but admitted that the French attempt to search a Turkish vessel in international waters "was not permitted."
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) published a statement Thursday expressing concern that Russian aircraft sent to Libya last May, including at least 14 MiG-29s and several Su-24s, to support Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) "are being flown by inexperienced, non-state PMC [private military company] mercenaries who will not adhere to international law." AFRICOM estimates that around 2,000 personnel from the Russian government-backed PMC Wagner Group are active in Libya.
Iraq submitted a plan to the OPEC+ alliance on how it will cut oil output in coming months to comply with its quota going forward and offset past overproduction. April's OPEC+ agreement committed members to slash production collectively by 9.7 million bpd in May and June before raising output by 2 million bpd in July. Earlier this month, OPEC+ decided to extend the 9.7 million bpd cut to July if all members stick to their quotas and make up for past overproduction. Traditionally the least compliant OPEC+ member, Iraqi oil exports fell by 300,000 bpd in the first two weeks of June compared to May, suggesting a shifting attitude towards adhering to the deal. A Thursday OPEC+ teleconference did not resolve whether to extend the 9.7 million bpd cut into August. The next policy meeting is scheduled for July 15.
Baghdad Thursday summoned the Turkish and Iranian ambassadors over their separate military operations in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region (KRI). The Iraqi foreign ministry issued a statement stressing "the necessity of the Turkish side's commitment to stop the bombing and the withdrawal of its forces from Iraqi territories that it penetrated yesterday." Turkey launched "Operation Claw-Tiger" against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) yesterday, deploying commandos in KRI and bombing more than 150 targets. The Turkish defense ministry attributed the move to a "recent upsurge in attacks on our police stations and military bases" near the Iraqi border. A PKK roadside bomb killed four civilians in Turkey's southeastern Sirnak province late on Wednesday. Despite the Iraqi government protesting Turkey's military incursion, a senior Turkish official informed Reuters that Ankara plans to establish more temporary military bases in northern Iraq to prevent the PKK from reestablishing itself in cleared areas. Iran separately bombarded with artillery unidentified "anti-revolutionary" groups in KRI on Tuesday and Wednesday. Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry Thursday insisted that "Turkey must stop its bombardment and withdraw its attacking forces from Iraqi territory" and likewise urged Iran to "respect Iraq's sovereignty and stops these types of actions."
Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly proposed four annexation scenarios, ranging from annexing 30 percent of the West Bank to a symbolic gesture, in a Wednesday meeting with Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White), and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud). One bone of contention between Netanyahu and his Blue and White coalition partners was whether to grant citizenship to Palestinians in annexed parts of the West Bank. While Netanyahu opposes giving them citizenship, Gantz and Ashkenazi believe Israel would be obligated to do so and therefore reject annexing areas with many Palestinian residents. Meanwhile, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi visited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday to coordinate steps to prevent any annexations.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum