Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court informed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Tuesday that she faces a new, unspecified indictment and will appear in court next Sunday. Iranian authorities first arrested the British-Iranian dual national employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the news agency's charitable arm, during an April 2016 visit with her family and a court sentenced her to five years in prison for allegedly trying to overthrow the Iranian government. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace hinted that the new charges might be a tactic to pressure the UK to pay Tehran £400 million for Chieftain tanks purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Of the 1,500 tanks purchased, only 185 were delivered. While Wallace has long advocated compensating Tehran, the British government is wary of violating US sanctions on Iran. Similarly, in January 2016, the same day that the Obama administration airlifted $400 million to Iran in compensation for undelivered military equipment purchased before the revolution, Tehran released American hostages and described the payment as a ransom.
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi announced Tuesday that, due to the sabotage-induced July 2 explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, "It was decided to build a more modern, larger, and more comprehensive hall in all dimensions in the heart of the mountain near Natanz" for making advanced centrifuges and that its construction is already underway. At the time of the explosion, the AEOI stated that the damage could set back the country's nuclear program by months. The Israeli-American Stuxnet computer worm targeted the facility in 2010.
Abdelkerim Déby, who is Chadian President Idriss Déby's son and chairman of the country's cabinet, traveled to Israel Tuesday with Ahmed Kogri, the director of Chad's national security agency. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement saying the three of them "discussed the appointment of ambassadors and the opening of missions, including the possibility of opening an embassy in Jerusalem." Chad agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel, severed in 1972 due to Libyan pressure, during a January 2019 meeting between Netanyahu and Idriss Déby. Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen added that he and the Chadian delegation discussed "strengthening cooperation in intelligence, security, and economics" as well as forming an Israeli business delegation to advance agricultural projects in Chad.
European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said Monday in reaction to Serbia and Kosovo last Friday stating their intention to open embassies in Jerusalem, "Any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU's common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret." Since the governments of Serbia and Kosovo each want to join the EU, Stano's statement appeared to warn that locating embassies to Israel in Jerusalem could jeopardize their hopes EU membership. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has already walked back Belgrade's promise to move its embassy from Tel Aviv, saying a final decision remains subject to government discussions and depends on "a number of factors." Turkey, traditionally one of Kosovo's closest allies, also expressed opposition to Kosovo opening an embassy in Jerusalem.
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef al-Hajraf Tuesday called on Palestinian leaders to apologize for "provocative and false statements" made during a September 3 virtual meeting hosted by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and attended by representatives from 14 Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). PFLP Deputy Secretary-General Abu Ahmad Fouad urged the Arab League to expel members that normalize relations with Israel and for Palestinians to boycott them. Later Tuesday, Palestinian Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Mahmoud Abbas will not accept insulting the national symbols of any of the Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates. The Palestinian Authority also reportedly amended a draft resolution on the UAE normalizing relations with Israel to be debated by the Arab League Wednesday, removing language condemning the UAE and advocating punitive action.
A Saudi court sentenced Monday eight anonymous defendants convicted of involvement in Jamal Khashoggi's October 2018 murder. Five were sentenced to 20 years in prison, one to ten years, and two to seven years. The first five were initially sentenced to death. However, since the Saudi judiciary classified the Khashoggi killing as a retribution case, any of the victim's heirs could pardon the killers, leading to their death sentences' commutation. Jamal's son Salah, who according to the Washington Post is the only one of the slain journalist's four children still living in the kingdom, pardoned the five in May. While the CIA concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of the regime insider-turned-critic, Riyadh maintains it was a rogue operation.
Yahya Sarea, a spokesman for the Iranian-backed Houthi movement, declared Monday it disrupted traffic at Saudi Arabia's Abha International Airport for several hours through an attack by "a number of Samad-3 drones." The Houthi militia regularly attacks the airport with cruise missiles and drones, launching a successful drone strike on Sunday while Saudi Arabia intercepted and destroyed another one on August 31, causing shrapnel from the drone to land on the airport.
On Tuesday, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on two former Lebanese government ministers for providing material support to Hezbollah and engaging in corruption. Yusuf Finyanus, Minister of Transportation and Public Works (2016-2020), received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Hezbollah for political favors, intervened to ensure Hezbollah-owned companies won government contracts, and passed on legal documents related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon investigating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri's assassination. The tribunal last month convicted in absentia Hezbollah member Salim Ayyash of participating in the assassination. Ali Hassan Khalil, Minister of Finance (2014-2020), helped Hezbollah skirt US sanctions and evade taxes on electronics imports.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum