WSJ: Iran economy stabilizing as energy and auto companies scramble for entry


The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that delegations from energy and automobile companies have been become a near-daily presence in Iran since the easing of sanctions under the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA), with the outlet describing "global companies... fact-finding, meeting with potential Iranian partners and jockeying for position." Iranian outlets and officials had in recent weeks heavily emphasized the erosion of the international sanctions regime in precisely those sectors, claiming that Swiss businesses and off-shore energy companies were flocking to Iran, and that foreign shipping and auto exports were both booming. The Journal subsequently reported on Wednesday that Iran has managed to stabilize its economy, conveying figures from Iranian officials describing 'significant progress' in taming inflation and laying the groundwork for growth. Those figures are in line with a series of reports published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, stretching back to January, showing that the Iranian economy was recovering from contractions triggered by past international pressure. The straightforward diplomatic dynamic - under which the stabilization of the Iranian economy undermines Western leverage in the context of final status negotiations - has the potential to reverberate domestically. Top officials from the Obama administration, including the President himself, had been adamant and explicit that the sanctions regime was holding, and that therefore further congressional action to lock in potential future pressure - a move aimed at strengthening the hand of Western negotiators - was unnecessary. The administration is widely expected to respond to demands from both sides of the Iran debate, and to bring any nuclear deal with the Islamic republic to Congress for approval. Should the deal fail to meet long-time congressional demands - which include a demand that Iran roll back its uranium and plutonium infrastructure - lawmakers are likely to take a dim view of any hints that American negotiators lacked the leverage to do better.


The Daily Beast on Tuesday conveyed assessments from a range of Israeli officials and U.S.-based experts linking the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers to a top Hamas official who has reportedly been allowed to operate freely in Turkey, a dynamic that the outlet noted risked undermining efforts to bridge diplomatic gaps between Jerusalem and Ankara. Washington Institute Senior Fellow Matthew Levitt was quoted as explaining that while Saleh al-Arouri - who sits atop Hamas's terror infrastructure in the West – was not directly ordering the abductions, “kidnapping in general has been a key focus for Hamas operatives in the last two years and al-Arouri has been encouraging it." The piece also had Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, straightforwardly noting that "any attack that takes place in the West Bank will ultimately raise questions about [Arouri's] involvement." Earlier this month, an Israeli security official told veteran Arab affairs journalist Avi Issacharoff that Arouri was a key figure in the abductions of three Israeli teenagers who were subsequently murdered. Schanzer also on Tuesday blasted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who this week announced his candidacy for the country’s presidency, for among other things making Turkey a “safe haven for Hamas & other reckless activity.”


The global fish crisis that is meant to take trout, salmon and cod off the menu by 2050, may have been wrongly diagnosed. While a 2010 report by the United Nations Environment Program states that over-fishing and pollution have nearly emptied the world’s fish stocks, a new Israeli study says the reason behind why fish larvae are biologically doomed to die days after hatching is a more important reason as to why the taste of sushi could change forever. Dr. Roi Holzman and Victor China of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University’s George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences say the reason why 90 percent of fish larvae are biologically doomed to die mere days after hatching has to do with ‘hydrodynamic starvation.’ With this understanding of the mechanism that kills off the majority of the world’s fish larvae, leaving only a marginal proportion to populate the world’s oceans, “We can help find a solution to the looming fish crisis in the world,” said Dr. Holzman. The researchers say “hydrodynamic starvation,” or the physical inability to feed due to environmental incompatibility, is the reason so many fish larvae perish. “By focusing on the constraints placed on larvae survival, we have a better chance of producing higher quality mariculture,” a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, said Dr. Holzman. “If we can produce better fish, this will have huge implications for our ability to maintain fish populations.” The study was published in PNAS. (via Israel21c)

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