Key Points

The Trump administration has not shied away from aggressive diplomacy to go after Mahan Air. It should redouble its efforts now to ensure that Tehran’s attempt to offer a lifeline to the Maduro regime fails completely.

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This, then, should be Pompeo’s message to Paraguay: Support on Venezuela deserves credit. It cannot come at the price of letting Hezbollah launder billions in the Tri-Border Area while shielding its financiers from U.S. justice.

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On Friday, a Miami court sentenced Ali Nasreeddine Kassir, a Miami-based Lebanese businessman and suspected Hezbollah facilitator, who pleaded guilty to passport fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering totaling over $70 million. Kassir’s conviction is the opening salvo in a string of interconnected cases implicating alleged Hezbollah financiers Nader Mohamad Farhat and Mahmoud Ali Barakat, and their U.S.-based business counterparts. When combined, these cases involve money transfers worth hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system, allegedly for laundering criminal proceeds, including from drug trafficking, and terror finance.

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The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long way to go before it’s ready to launch a national cryptocurrency. Tehran’s central bank has that ambition, but the effort remains at the experimental stage. Some recent media reports claim that Iran has “launched” a state cryptocurrency based on gold called the Peyman. What really is happening, however, is less dramatic. It has few immediate implications for Iranian sanctions evasion, but does signal Iran’s strategic intent to use blockchain technology to develop long-term sanctions resistance.

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Projects