“[Bashar Al-Assad is] now also aligned with Iran, who we made very powerful. We gave them $150 billion back. We give them $1.7 billion in cash. I mean, cash. Bundles of cash as big as this stage. We gave them $1.7 billion."
– Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, during final debate
Iranian general seconds Trump’s claim that Mosul operation was timed to help Hillary Clinton (BuzzFeed).
If you didn’t know already, Iran is enjoying the U.S. presidential election (New Yorker).
The Islamic Republic of Iran's Air Force (IRIAF) launched three-day air defense drills in the central province of Esfahan to display capabilities to safeguard the country's airspace (Reuters). The maneuvers included fighter bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and home-built drones. Iranian F-7 fighters targeted mock targets with 2,000-pound laser-guided bombs on the last day of drills (PressTV).
Following speculation, three controversial members of President Hassan Rouhani's cabinet have stepped down (Al-Monitor). Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani and Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahmoud Goudarzi all resigned on the same day. Rumor has it Rouhani wasn't content with their work.
Syria talks convened in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday, but the involved parties were merely brainstorming and there was no breakthrough (Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and seven foreign ministers from the Middle East—Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar—weeks after the collapse of the U.S.-Russian ceasefire plan. Secretary Kerry said, "I would characterize this as an example of what we wanted, which was a brainstorming and a very candid first-time discussion." Adding that "a number of ideas came from the number of different ministers as we hoped that might be able to shape some different approaches."
Interestingly, emails show Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lobbied for Egypt to attend talks in Lausanne (The Guardian).
Could the conflict in Syria be pushing Cairo and Tehran closer (Al-Monitor)?
Meanwhile, officials tell Reuters that Iran has stepped up weapons transfers to the Houthis rebels in Yemen (Reuters).
Riyadh cares more about Tehran than Tehran does about Riyadh (National Interest).
Is Yemen an opportunity for Iran–Saudi dialogue (George Washington University)?
The National Iranian Oil Company has offered 50 oil and gas fields to international bidders, the first time since the nuclear deal (AP). Iran's Oil Ministry said foreign companies should submit applications by November 19th and that eligible bidders will be announced on December 7th. Tehran hopes to attract more than $150 billion foreign investment in its oil, gas and petrochemical industry by 2020. Still, foreign companies say they have little information about Iranian oil fields and contract terms, hindering investment decisions (Reuters).
After sanctions lifted, can the oil trade bridge ties between Iran and the West (Christian Science Monitor)?
Tehran wants to boost oil production to 4 million bpd in possible hitch to OPEC Deal (Bloomberg).
OPEC spat over oil production data grows as Iran becomes third nation to openly question estimates (Bloomberg).
Five Iranian nationals were sentenced to 10 years in prison over charges of espionage and collaboration with the U.S. government, including one Lebanese national (New York Times). The Tehran prosecutor, Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, identified the men as Baquer and Siamak Namazi, both of whom have dual Iranian-American citizenship; Lebanese national Nizar Zakka, who also holds a green card; Iranian-Austrian Kamran Qaderi; Farhad Abd-e Saleh and Alireza Omidvar. It is unclear whether the last two men hold dual nationalities.
A video posted online shows a montage of anti-American-themed images with dramatic music that included Siamak Namazi with his hands raised, along with his U.S. passport and UAE resident identification (New York Times).
Baquer Namazi is 80-years-old and has heart problems. His other son, Babak, wrote a written statement that called the sentences unjust and said: “My father has been handed practically a death sentence.” The widow of American boxing legend Muhammad Ali called on Iran’s supreme leader to free Siamak and Baquer Namazi (ICHRI).
Qaderi’s wife also proclaimed his innocence (RFERL).
Tehran rejected U.S. demand for release of dual nationals (Al-Monitor).
+ The future direction of Iran’s foreign policy is all about internal politics.
+ Iran claims to have intel on Israeli-Saudi plot to stir unrest in country.
+ Tehran demands halt in arms sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia, citing humanitarian law.
+ Saudi FM says Iran should reject violence and stop stirring sectarian strife.