Iranians head to the polls today to choose between “bad and worse” in yet another unfair-and-unfree presidential election. The primary challenger, Ebrahim Raisi – who is considered a frontrunner to succeed Khamenei – has received the support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – the protector of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution who have long cast a dark shadow over the country.
Qatar recently secured the release of Qatari hostages, including members of the royal family. But its diplomatic victory was marred by reports that a multi-million dollar ransom was paid to a US-designated terrorist group and al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria.
Iran’s political elite have weighed-in on the recent US cruise missile strikes in Syria and used the opportunity to plug their regime’s narrative. While time will tell if Iran will ultimately read the strike as a show of American resolve or indecision, Iranian officials have fallen back on gloating, intimidation, and misinformation tactics that so often characterize Persian-language reporting.
Iranian authorities have confirmed that at least two Iranians were killed in combat in Syria’s Hama province. Pro-Assad regime forces have been fighting a major insurgent offensive that was launched by a number of groups in Hama earlier this month.
Hezbollah may have begun receiving weapons shipments at Palmyra’s T-4 airport in an attempt to avoid Israeli detection.
On March 9, Thomas Joscelyn testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The hearing, “Resolving the Conflict in Yemen: U.S. Interests, Risks, and Policy,” was called to explore the political dynamics of the ongoing war in Yemen, as well as the roles played by foreign actors and al Qaeda.
The US killed al Qaeda veteran Abu al Khayr al Masri in a drone strike in Idlib, Syria in late February. Masri was identified as al Qaeda’s “general deputy” in July 2016. He worked to unite Syrian rebel groups under a common banner.
Testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee Counterterrorism and Intelligence, on the future of counterterrorism and addressing the evolving threat to domestic security.