A weekly newsletter on all things Iran (in Beta).
View this email in your browser
The Iranist
Week of April 15th
Sorry, we're not friends
At the 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, much of the attention was turned to Tehran and Riyadh. The conversation on social media focused on whether President Hassan Rouhani and King Salman would shake hands. Instead, all they did was cross paths.
During his address at the OIC, President Rouhani said, “For everyone it is clear that for Saudi Arabia, Iran is not the problem and for Iran, Saudi Arabia is not the problem. The main problem is ignorance, extremism and violence.” Indirectly addressing Riyadh’s anti-Iranian resolutions, the president added, “The OIC summit was convened under the name of unity, no message that increases division between Muslims should be put out.”

Rouhani's comments come after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif publicly objected what was described as Riyadh's “four anti-Iranian resolutions and one resolution against Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the draft declaration of the OIC.” Zarif said such a statement contradicts the “spirit of Islamic unity and is in the interests of the Zionist regime" and warned such destructive actions would have consequences.

So, does Turkey courting Iran and Saudi Arabia simultaneously mean Ankara is moving away from Sunni-based policies?

Karroubi wants a trial
Five years after being under house arrest, Green Movement Leader Mehdi Karroubi wrote a letter to President Hassan Rouhani requesting to be given a public trial. The letter smuggled from his home said, “I am not asking you to lift my house arrest, nor do I believe that it is in your power to do so. But according to the responsibility assigned to you by the people and the constitution, I want you to ask the despotic regime to grant me a public trial based on Article 168 of the constitution, even if the court is constructed the way that the potentates want. With the help of God and working with my lawyer, we will hear the indictment and we will present our evidence to the public about the fraudulent [2005] presidential election, the rigging of the [2009] presidential election and what happened to the children of this country in legal and illegal detention centers. The outcome of this trial will show which side in the [2009] election dispute has turned its back on the revolution and which side is dishonorable. It will show which side continues in the path of the revolution and is honorable.” Read the rest of Karroubi’s letter to the president.
Hardliners took no time slamming Karroubi in the media. Under the headline “Be Thankful for House Arrest,” an author wrote for Javan that if Karroubi had expressed such sentiments when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was still alive, he would have been hanged. Mehdi Zarinnam, a journalist for conservative Vatan Emrooz, said, “If they had executed him in the first place, he wouldn’t have gotten on such a roll.”
Here is why Karroubi’s letter is important.

No to privatizing modern art scene
Protests kicked off after an alleged proposal from the Ministry of Guidance and Islamic Culture called for the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMOCA) to be transferred to another foundation. TMOCA is home to a modern art collection worth $3 billion, which includes works by Giacometti, Picasso, Pollock, Renoir, Rothko, Warhol, and other Western artists. The artworks were collected prior to the 1979 revolution. An official letter sent to the museum proposed it be transferred to the Rudaki Foundation, the same foundation that runs the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. At least 100 professors, students, artists and others from the art community gathered with signs saying, “Save TMOCA,” “The Museum is a National Treasure,” and “No to Privatization.”
The sign on the left reads: “The real owners of the museum and fine artworks are the people, not the private sector.”

Boeing stops by
After the United States approved talks, Boeing began preliminary meetings in Tehran with Iranian airlines about the potential sale of its airplanes and aircraft services. A Boeing spokesman said the company’s representatives “discussed the capabilities of its commercial passenger airplanes and aftermarket services with Iranian airlines approved by the U.S. government.” He added that no formal deals were made during the talks. If an agreement is made with Boeing, this could be the first sign of trade relations between the United States and Iran since the JCPOA was signed. While the U.S. government allowed talks with Tehran, delivering planes would require more clearance.

Rome visits Tehran
Tehran and Rome signed billions of dollars in bilateral trade agreements during Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's visit to Iran. The agreements included plans for cooperation between the National Iranian Gas Export Company and Italian electricity and gas company Enel, an agreement with Milan Airports company to renovate Tehran’s domestic airport, a car component agreement with Danieli Group, and an agreement to promote tourism. Deputy Energy Minister Ali Reza Daemi said the two countries also agreed to build several biomass, geothermal, and solar power plants. The Italian prime minister's trip follows a visit by President Rouhani to Rome earlier this year.

Iran also cut a deal with Italy’s fashion industry. Roberto Cavalli already opened its first shop in Iran and Versace is due to open a flagship boutique soon. French groups
such as Chanel, Gucci owner Kering, and LVMHare adopting a “wait and see” attitude until things become clearer. Other French brands like Longchamp and Lalique are looking for distribution partners, but have no plans to open boutiques.

First marathon, a flop?
Iran held the country’s first marathon called ‘I Run Iran’ in the outskirts of Shiraz, but not without controversy. Women weren’t allowed to participate alongside 158 male runners from 35 countries. Two hours before the race commenced, two Iranian women joined in on the sidelines to protest the rule. Masoumeh Torabi of Tehran finished in 5 hours, both she and a woman identified as Elham were handed medals. Torabi used the marathon to help train for next month’s Iranian Silk Road Ultramarathon, which does allow women.
In a show of solidarity for 10 Americans who were denied visas to participate, Iranian runner Akbar Naghd carried an American flag as a “sign of friendship.”
Other stories that made headlines

-- State Department published 2015 report on Iran human rights practices.
-- Iran under scrutiny for juvenile executions after scathing UN Report.
-- Saeed Malekpour: the prisoner left behind in Iran.
-- Hardliners react to possible Namazi prisoner exchange.
-- Lawyer refused access to Siamak Namazi’s case file.
-- Mostafa Azizi, Toronto-based filmmaker, released from Iranian prison.
-- Defected pilot threatens asylum in Israel, if Iran doesn’t leave his family alone.
-- These critics fled Iran for the same reason, but disagree on how to change things.

-- Iran’s intellectuals are going underground, according to Laura Secor’s new book.

-- Congressmen want answers on what happened to their visa to visit Iran.
-- Germany charges two for spying on MEK on behalf of Iranian intelligence.

-- Telegram cooperation with Tehran on filtering unethical channels satisfactory.
-- Gay Air France cabin crew also protest Iran flights.
-- Iran boasts it has developed 12 new nuclear products.

-- Former Iran negotiator says he would not have signed nuclear deal.

-- Conflicting reports on Iran receiving first part of S-300 air defense system.

-- Iran will remain a friend of Russia, says Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
-- Iran's Special Forces reportedly suffering heavy losses in Syria.

-- Iran says concerned by cracks in Syria ceasefire.

-- Al-Nusra Front releases video of Iranian forces fleeing from battlefield in Aleppo.

  -- IRGC held 3-Day military drill near Pakistan border.
-- Tajikistan and Iran: Bound by a shared heritage, torn by a shared mistrust.

-- Seven things preventing companies from doing business with Iran again.
-- Ex-U.S. negotiator doesn’t think companies should shun doing business with Iran.

-- Concerns mount that U.S. rules are impeding Western investment In Iran.

-- Swiss businesses are ready for Iran, but banks aren’t.

-- Speaker Paul Ryan opposes giving Tehran access to dollar.

-- India offers to invest $20 billion in Iran.

-- Iran revs up for auto revolution with international carmakers.

-- No barriers for Paymentwall in Iran after sanctions.

-- Is inequality rising in Rouhani’s Iran?

-- Iranian parliament cancels cash subsidies to 24 million people.

 -- Canada wants to revive diplomatic ties with Iran.

-- Kremlin sees hope for oil freeze deal regardless of Iran.

-- Murder conviction affirmed in Iranian student's death in Michigan.
-- Iran moves up two places in April 2016 FIFA rankings.
-- The unintended symbolism of the White House Haft Sin.
-- Traditional medicine retains a prominent status in modern Iran.
-- Photos: European luxury “Golden Eagle” train arrives in Esfahan.
-- Want to eat like the Shahs of Sunset? Check out these 10 Iranian dishes.
-- Tehran set to open world's largest bookstore at 45,000 square meters.
-- Learning to play the santur by ear, the story of an Iranian veteran.

-- Will Iran's king of singing come back to the Iranian stage?
-- Iran offers the chance to visit cities, historic sites—and the hottest place on Earth.
-- Every year, a doctor plants tulips in Tehran in memory of his mother.
-- Meet Ghasem Fathalipour, a taxi driver who is fighting to save Iran's dogs.
...تا هفته بعد

***Some of our readers are reporting The Iranist is ending up in spam. Please make sure to update your email settings so this doesn't happen to you.***

Something we missed?
Copyright © 2016 The Iranist (in Beta), All rights reserved.