With ISIS militarily defeated, Iran’s militia allies in Iraq are increasingly threatening violence against American troops and calling for the US withdrawal from the country. On February 7, Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-supported unit within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), issued a statement, warning that its fighters will begin to militarily confront American troops “at any moment” if Washington decides to keep a long-term military footprint in Iraq. Several other Iranian-backed PMF groups have made similar threats against US troops, which are training and advising the Iraqi security forces. In an interview with the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV yesterday, Jafar al-Hussaini, the spokesman for Kata’ib Hezbollah, described the American military in Iraq as an “occupation force” and called for their immediate exit. “Iraq will not see stability with America’s presence. The Americans have not entered Iraq based on the Iraqi government’s consent. Our combatants have limited weapons but a confrontation with the American forces may begin at any moment. Unlike in the past, the Americans this time will not benefit from any mediation.”.
Rouhani rules out nuclear deal renegotiation, missile talks – Iran will not negotiate with America and European countries over its ballistic missile program, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a press conference in Tehran today. “We will not negotiate about our defense and missiles,” he emphasized, adding that Tehran will continue to boost its defense power by producing more planes, missiles and submarines. Rouhani also ruled out renegotiation of the 2015 nuclear agreement with the West. “Nothing will be added or subtracted from the JCPOA. No single line will be added or removed from it,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action also known as the Iran nuclear deal. “As long as our interests are served, we will remain in the JCPOA. America’s decision to remain or leave in the JCPOA will not affect our position,” he added.
The growing threat of Iran’s speedboats – Iran’s Defense Ministry today unveiled a new propulsion system for military speedboats, Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported. “The maritime propulsion system, which allows military speedboats to reach higher velocities, leads to lower fuel consumption, and increases maneuverability in shallow waters, is also equipped with automatic running systems,” Brigadier General Qassem Taqizadeh, the deputy minister, pointed out. The system has a mobile shaft for transmission of power as high as 1,800 horsepower. The ministry also introduced a protection system for military and civilian vessels.
Afghan intelligence chief warns Iran and Russia against aiding Taliban – The head of Afghanistan National Directorate of Security (NDS) has said that Iran and Russia are in contact with the Taliban and are supporting the militant group in Afghanistan. In an interview with the BBC Persian, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai pointed out that Tehran and Moscow provide assistance to the Taliban under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State, which has gained a foothold in South Asia in recent years. The Afghan intelligence chief, however, cautioned that such a policy is ill-advised as the Taliban and ISIS are two sides of the same coin. He pointed out that the Kabul government has evidence the Taliban are importing foreign fighters, including ISIS militants, into northern Afghanistan and Central Asia. He rejected the allegation that certain Afghan officials support the Taliban.
The Houthi rebels in Yemen have fired a ballistic missile into the Saudi mainland, Iranian and Arab media outlets reported today. The spokesman for the Saudi-led Coalition Forces supporting the Yemeni government said the Saudi Royal Air Defence Forces this morning intercepted the missile reportedly launched from Houthi-held Sa’ada Governorate of Yemen toward the Saudi city of Khamis Mushait. Col. Turki al-Maliki said the Coalition held Iran responsible for continuing Houthi missile attacks into the kingdom. He emphasized that the Houthi missiles indiscriminately target civilian population centers and accused Iran of continuing to aid the Yemeni rebels in defiance of the UN Security Council Resolutions 2216 and 2231. The spokesman further called on the international community to take concrete steps to stop Iran’s “continuing smuggling and transferring of ballistic missiles and weapons to terrorist groups and non-state actors.
Iran’s minister of communication and information technology has said that the country is making the final preparations for the launch of four satellites into space, Mehr News Agency reported. Speaking at a conference on space technology, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi explained that one satellite produced by Sharif University of Technology is ready to be dispatched into orbit, while the other three are in the final pre-launch stages. He also emphasized that Iran’s “space missions” should be handled by a “single institution” and called on the country’s armed forces not to carry out “parallel” space work and maintain the country’s space missions peaceful. He also reported on a 20 percent increase in the budget for Iran’s space activities.
Iran’s militia allies gearing up for Iraq’s parliamentary elections – Iraj Masjedi, Tehran’s ambassador to Baghdad, met with Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq’s National Alliance, to discuss the latest security and political developments in Iraq. According to Iranian and Iraqi media, Masjedi, the former deputy chief of Iran’s Quds Force, and Hakim, a prominent Iraqi politician and cleric who recently established the Wisdom Party, also explored ways of further boosting ties and cooperation between the two countries. According to a statement released by the National Alliance, the meeting took place in Hakim’s office in Baghdad, and other key issues discussed at the meeting included Tehran-Baghdad cooperation on regional conflicts and the Iraqi reconstruction process. It was not clear what Masjedi said at the meeting as the statement only quoted Hakim’s remarks. Masjedi is the third consecutive Quds Force commander appointed as Iran’s ambassador to post-Saddam Iraq.