Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the UN Security Council to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, scheduled to elapse on October 18 "because of the flawed nuclear deal negotiated by the previous American administration." Failure to act, Pompeo warned, would enable Iran to (1) "purchase Russian-made fighter jets that can strike up to a 3,000 kilometer radius, putting cities like Riyadh, New Delhi, Rome, and Warsaw in Iranian crosshairs;" (2) "upgrade and expand its fleet of submarines to further threaten international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea;" (3) "purchase new and advanced technologies for its proxies and partners throughout the Middle East, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis;" (4) "hold a sword of Damocles over the economic stability of the Middle East, endangering nations like Russia and China that rely on stable energy prices;" and (5) "become a rogue weapons dealer, supplying arms to fuel conflicts from Venezuela, to Syria, to the far reaches of Afghanistan." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded, "The international community in general — and the U.N. Security Council in particular — are facing an important decision: Do we maintain respect for the rule of law, or do we return to the law of the jungle by surrendering to the whims of an outlaw bully?" Russia and China will likely veto an American Security Council resolution, circulated Tuesday, which would extend the embargo indefinitely. Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia alleged America's aim "is to achieve regime change or create a situation where Iran literally wouldn't be able to breath."
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili announced Tuesday that a court has sentenced to death Ruhollah Zam for Mofsed-e-filarz (i.e. "spreading corruption on earth"). Zam's AmadNews on Telegram posted embarrassing videos and information about Iranian officials. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi successfully lobbied Telegram to close AmadNews for advocating armed resistance against security forces during Iran's 2017-2018 economic protests.
A day before Likud's coalition agreement with Blue and White permits the cabinet to bring annexing parts of the West Bank to a vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu signaled his government will not act immediately. After meeting Tuesday with US Ambassador David Friedman and US Special Envoy for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, Netanyahu said, "I spoke about the question of sovereignty, which we are working on these days and we will continue to work on in the coming days." The Trump administration reportedly wants Israel to compensate the Palestinians for any unilateral annexation. One option mentioned by the Trump administration involves transferring parts of the West Bank's Area C, where Israel exercises civil and security control, to Area B, where the Palestinian Authority exercises civil control, but Israel retains security control. Another possibility includes expanding the West Bank territory where Palestinians can build without restrictions. Simultaneously, Kan News reported that Netanyahu's government wants to amend the Trump Peace Plan's map to widen the connections between Israel and remote settlements in exchange for ceding Arab-inhabited areas inside Israel to the Palestinian state along with land in the Judean Desert. Netanyahu on Tuesday continued to criticize Defense Minister Benny Gantz's assertion yesterday that any annexation must wait until the COVID-19 pandemic passes. During a meeting with US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, Netanyahu stated, "We have very important topics to discuss, even ones that can't wait until after corona."
Bernie Sanders Tuesday became the first senator to sign a letter four House Democrats are circulating that calls on the US to respond to Israel annexing any West Bank territory by placing "conditions on the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel, including human rights conditions and withholding funds for the off-shore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them." The House signatories are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Betty McCollum (D-MN). AIPAC tweeted Monday, "Some in Congress are calling to reject the 2016 Obama-Biden security commitment to Israel. A letter in the House would: damage American interests, risk our ally's security, [and] make peace less likely." Democratic Majority for Israel also condemned the letter: "@DemMaj4Israel opposes annexation but we're urging @HouseDemocrats NOT to sign @RepAOC's letter. Unlike letter opposing annexation sent by 189 House Dems, this 1 is bad policy, bad politics, & counterproductive to the goal of stopping annexation & encouraging a 2-state solution."
A PA official told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, "We are calling for an international conference under the umbrella of the UN and with wide participation of international parties on the basis of international legitimacy and the  Arab Peace Initiative." However, he emphasized peace talks can only resume if Israel scraps plans to extend its sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
Counsel for Turkish state owned-Halkbank, charged with helping Iran evade US sanctions, requested presiding Judge Richard M. Berman of the Southern District of New York set a March 2022 trial date, instead of the February 2021 trial date proposed by prosecutors, due to the COVID-19 pandemic making travel to Turkey to meet with their client nearly impossible and needing more time to sort through language issues and interview potential witnesses. Assistant US Attorney Michael Lockard pressed for expeditiousness since the court is already familiar with the facts thanks the 2018 conviction of Halkbank deputy general manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla for facilitating Iran's access to billions of dollars of petrodollar funds held at the bank in violation of sanctions. Berman adjourned Tuesday's hearing without setting a trial date, but gave Halkbank's attorneys until July 14 to file their motion for the judge's recusal. The grounds for the recusal motion remain undisclosed.
Police killed a protestor in in Omdurman during nationwide demonstrations demanding the reform of the security agencies, the formation of a transitional parliament, and appointing civilian governors instead of the current military ones. Information Minister Faisal Mohamed Saleh issued a statement promising to carry out a transparent investigation and punish the perpetrators for attacking demonstrators "despite their peaceful nature."
Rioters blocked streets in Beirut on Tuesday after Economy Minister Raoul Nehme informed reporters that the government starting Wednesday will increase the price of 900 grams of bread from 1,500 Lebanese pounds to 2,000, the first change in eight years. Bakers implored the government to act as the Lebanese pound has lost 80 percent of its value since October. Electricity in Beirut Tuesday was cut for most of the day, hitherto being cut usually for only three hours a day.
Lebanese Judge Mohammed Mazeh resigned Tuesday after courting controversy last on Saturday by banning local and foreign media from interviewing US Ambassador Dorothy Shea for a year after she criticized Hezbollah in a Friday interview with Saudi broadcaster al-Hadath.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum