Why a terrorist designation is the latest sticking point in US-Iranian talks

Iran’s insistence on rescinding the IRGC’s designation as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) appears to be the latest major sticking point in the talks, with neither side showing new signs of compromise.

But on Saturday, the Houthis said they were suspending missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia for three days as part of a peace initiative they said could be a lasting commitment if the Saudi-led coalition Saudi Arabia halted airstrikes and lifted port restrictions in Yemen.

An elite wing of the Iranian military, the IRGC was established after the country’s revolution in 1979 and is today at the forefront of Iran’s military operations in the region, notably in Iraq and Syria. . His animosity toward the United States runs deep.
The group was designated FTO by the United States in 2019 as part of then-President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, which aimed to limit Tehran’s power in the region after the states withdrew. States of the nuclear agreement in 2018.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian appeared to hint at a compromise on Saturday before backtracking. He said in a state television interview that senior IRGC officials had urged him not to delay a nuclear deal over “the IRGC issue”. It would be a “self-sacrifice” that the group is making, he said.

Amir-Abdollahian’s remarks were met with strong reaction in Iranian media. Later he seemed to backtrack, saying “there is no crossing or compromising on red lines [on delisting as an FTO] at all.”

When pressed to do so on Sunday, Malley did not rule out debarment, saying only that sanctions against the group would remain “no matter what happens.”

Some analysts said the terrorist designation had little more than symbolic value for both sides.

The implications of delisting from the IRGC are only symbolic, as sanctions prior to the 2015 deal will continue to stifle the group economically, said Mehran Haghirian, director of regional initiatives at the Exchange & Bazaar Foundation.

“The FTO designation is superfluous,” added Ali Vaez, Iran Project Director for the International Crisis Group. “It doesn’t help the United States, it doesn’t hurt Iran.”

“It’s an absurd non-issue,” he said. “No other entity is as sanctioned by the United States as the IRGC,” he said.

Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, said the designation is important because it gives the United States a pretext to target the group militarily.

“When the United States and Iran are both present [in the Persian Gulf] and both sides view the other navy as a terrorist organization, so there are no lines of communication, and that could create major problems,” he said.

The Trump administration killed the head of the elite IRGC Quds Force Qassim Soleimani during a military operation in Iraq in 2020, less than one year after designating the IRGC as FTO. Soleimani himself was designated “global terroristby the United States in 2011.

“The United States assassinated a senior Iranian military official…then for them to keep Iran on a list of terrorist organizations – this is unacceptable to Iran,” Marandi said.

Tehran is unlikely to accept anything other than a complete reversal of the FTO designation, Vaez and Marandi said. “There is no middle ground on the issue,” Vaez added.

Iran realizes that sanctions and the FTO designation are separate issues, the latter a legacy from the Trump era, analysts said. “It was symbolically imposed by Trump,” Haghirian said. “They knew it wouldn’t have much impact.”

The Iranian foreign minister’s comments on state television that later warranted clarification were likely to say that the IRGC “has no problem staying sanctioned – they will do what they have to do”, he said. said Marandi. “The FTO is a different problem.”

With additional reporting by Adam Pourahmadi and Abbas Al Lawati, CNN

Other news from the Middle East

UAE says energy market needs Russian oil; says stick to OPEC+

UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said Monday that Russian oil is needed by energy markets and no producer can replace its production. He said OPEC+, an alliance of major crude oil producers that includes Russia, needed to stay united, stay focused and not let politics distract the group.

  • context: The United Arab Emirates sent confusing messages earlier this month about whether or not it supported higher production when its ambassador in Washington said his country would encourage OPEC to consider higher production. The Department of Energy has since repeatedly stated that it approves of OPEC+ decisions and only acts within them.
  • why is it important: The minister’s comment comes days before the OPEC+ group is due to meet on Thursday to discuss renewing an agreement to gradually increase production. Consumer states have called for a faster ramp-up of production to rein in rising prices.

Warring sides in Yemen discuss possible prisoner swap, including 16 Saudis

Houthi official Abdul Qader al-Mortada said on Twitter that a deal could release 1,400 Houthi prisoners in exchange for 823 prisoners from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in the country. It could include 16 Saudis and three Sudanese prisoners. The release of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s brother and the country’s former defense minister is also under discussion, he said. A Saudi-backed Hadi government official said no final deal had been reached.

  • context: On Saturday, the Houthis said they were suspending missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia for three days. Saudi Arabia is also due to hold a meeting on Tuesday with the participation of several Yemeni parties.
  • why is it important: A deal between the Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement could help defuse violence and boost UN efforts to broker a truce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in April.

Islamic State attack kills two, wounds six in Israel

ISIS operatives killed two people and wounded six in a shootout on Sunday in the Israeli town of Hadera, about 50 km north of Tel Aviv, Israeli officials said. It was the second such attack in a week.
  • context: On Tuesday, an Arab-Israeli assailant killed four people in a stabbing attack in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba before being shot dead by a bystander, according to Israeli police. The attacker had already been arrested for supporting ISIS, according to Israeli justice.
  • why is it important: The attack coincided with a historic regional summit in Israel’s Negev desert, where senior diplomats from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt, Israel and the United States met to discuss security issues. It was the first time since June 2017 that ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Israel, according to SITE.

What to watch

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin speaks with Becky Anderson about sticking points between Russia and Ukraine ahead of talks between the warring sides in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Around the region

From leftovers on our plates to an environmentally friendly product. Shrimp shells have found a new destination in organic farming.

In a small laboratory in Giza, Egypt, researchers have found a way to use shrimp to create organic products from their shells.

Every year, the nation throws away thousands of tons of shrimp waste that pollutes the environment. Shrimp is abundant in the country and is the key ingredient in a product that could potentially change the way Egyptians farm.

This ingredient is chitosan, the sugar that comes from the outer skeleton of shellfish.

Shahira Yehia’s biotech startup, Chitosan Egypt, gathers shrimp waste from about five or six local hubs across the country, extracts the chitosan and processes it into unique formulas that can replace man-made synthetic fertilizers that can be harmful to the environment. ‘environment.

It does this by separating the minerals from the shells, drying them and grinding them into an organic product for agriculture.

It works as a natural resource that boosts plant immunity, Yehia said. “It targets more than 70 pests in 20 strategic crops, ranging from potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries.”

Like many developing countries, the agricultural sector is a significant contributor to gross domestic product in Egypt, accounting for over 11%. Yehia says that in addition to being environmentally friendly, her product is 20% cheaper than what Egyptian farmers are used to.

By Yara Enany, CNN

Photo of the day

Speeding vehicles are seen racing on March 27 during the 2022 Formula One STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah corniche circuit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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