Insider news & Analysis in Iran

In October, Iraqi forces supported by local Iranian proxies and operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force stormed the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding area in order to retake it from Iraqi Kurds, who had driven Islamic State militants out of the region during the multilateral conflict against the self-proclaimed Sunni caliphate.

For months, reports in the international media have been highlighting the growth in tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. These tensions have been amplified by their competing interests in a number of other countries of the region, including Yemen and Syria, both of which have been severely damaged by civil wars. Both Saudi and Iranian officials have been making efforts to respond to that reporting in a way that ascribes to the other side the greater share of blame for the discord.

On Tuesday, CNN published a profile of Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of a dual national who has been imprisoned in Iran for the past 19 months on fabricated charges of spying. The article suggested that Ratcliffe’s campaign for his wife’s freedom may have hit a milestone in recent days, following the international attention that has emerged from a clumsily worded statement by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, which was also the first public statement the British government had made about the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Since it struck on Sunday night, there have been numerous reports on the 7.3 magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border, which indicate that it is the deadliest earthquake this year. As of Monday evening, official figures from inside Iran indicated that 413 deaths had been confirmed, while more than 7,000 people had been injured. Furthermore, some relief agencies were indicating that an additional 70,000 people had been displaced and were in need of shelter.

On Monday it was widely reported that the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had launched their farthest-reaching missile strike against targets in Saudi Arabia. According to Al Jazeera, Houthi officials quickly took credit for the missile launch, identifying the weapon as a Burqan 2H ballistic missile, which has a range of over 500 miles. The Saudis launched a SCUD missile to intercept, but the Houthi weapon was not destroyed until it was over King Khaled International Airport outside the capital city of Riyadh.

Last week it was reported that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had finally spoken out on the case of imprisoned Iranian-British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe but had also made several questionable comments within his public statement. The entire British government had been sharply criticized by Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s advocates for its refusal to make a public appeal for the British national’s release from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. But upon finally bowing to this public pressure, Johnson made the mistake of mischaracterizing Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employment at the time of her arrest last year.

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