Here is a list of stories within the past 24 hours concerning the Middle East:
Speaking at World Economic Forum in Davos, defense minister calls for tougher sanctions against Islamic Republic; IAEA chief Amano says he is convinced Iran working to develop nuclear explosives.
The Majlis is drafting a bill to ban the sale of oil to Europe, spokesman of the Majlis Energy Commission told Mehr News Agency. Seyyed Emad Husseini predicted that the bill will be debated in the Majlis on Sunday, January 29. He said once the Majlis passes the bill, the government will be barred from selling oil to Europe before the EU oil embargo against Iran takes effect.
South Korea’s imports of Iranian crude surged 20 percent in 2011, data showed on Wednesday, the latest indication of Korea’s dependence on oil despite pressure from its ally the United States to cut back.
The rise in Iranian crude imports was over three times more than the increase in Korea’s overall oil purchases in 2011 and some refineries have indicated they will buy more, not less, from the OPEC producer this year, Reuters reported.
Security forces killed 37 people in Syria on Friday, activists and residents said, as people in Homs mourned 14 members of a family they said were slain by militiamen in one of the worst sectarian attacks in a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
The U.N. Security Council was to meet later in the day to discuss Syria before a possible vote next week on a new Western-Arab draft resolution aimed at halting 10 months of bloodshed.
A lengthy article, “Will Israel Attack Iran,” published in this week’s New York Times magazine confirms that Israel has made advanced preparations for military strikes on Iran. The author—Ronen Bergman, a well-connected political analyst with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth—concluded: “After speaking to many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012.”
USA plans to send a third aircraft carrier to the area of the Persian Gulf, the Enterprise based in Norfolk (Virginia State). Moreover a missile cruiser and three missile destroyers are to be sent there as well, they will arrive in March.
Two American aircraft strike groups are already positioned there. Abraham Lincolnaircraft carrier arrived to the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormutz on the 22nd of January, which is accompanied by a missile cruiser and two torpedo boats of the US Navy Force and one ship from the British Navy and one from France, Interfaxreports.
Another aircraft carrier strike group of the US Navy Force, with the nuclear powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in charge, is positioned to the East of the Strait of Hormuz.