A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of January 20th

"I do not see any reason why Iran and Saudi Arabia should have hostile policies towards each other. We can in fact work together to put an end to miserable conditions of the people in Syria and Yemen and Bahrain and elsewhere in the region. Iran and Saudi Arabia were able to actually stop impeding the process of the presidential election in Lebanon. We have a success story."

      – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarifat the World Economic Forum in Davos

While at Davos, Zarif also said Tehran would "wait and see" how a Trump administration would carry itself on the global stage (Wall Street Journal).

 Domestic Affairs

The iconic 17-story Plasco Building in Tehran caught fire and collapsed, killing at least 20 firefighters (New York Times). The building had a shopping center and housed garment manufacturers. Many shopkeepers rushed back inside to collect their money and valuables, despite calls for evacuation. Firefighters struggled to bring them back out before the collapse. It’s feared as many as 50 firefighters and shopkeepers could still be trapped inside. The cause of the fire is still unknown, however it started in the top floors where tailors often used old kerosene heaters for warmth and to cook.

Plasco was built in 1962 by Jewish Iranian businessman Habib Elghanian, deriving its name from his plastics manufacturing company. At the time, it was the tallest structure in Tehran and the first to have an escalator. After the 1979 Revolution, Elghanian was accused by Khomeini’s regime of being a spy for Israel and was executed.

The Iranian government plans to investigate the collapse, but Iranians are already calling for the resignation of Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf for mismanagement (Al-Monitor).

Meanwhile, anti-aircraft guns targeted a drone flying over restricted airspace in the capital (New York Times).

The threat of Donald Trump hangs over Iran’s presidential election in May (Bloomberg). The Iran Deal has so far failed to deliver benefits to the Iranian people. However, most disconcerting to Iranian moderates is that Trump’s CIA director and defense secretary are hawks.

More great reads on Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the future of Iranian politics:

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps positions for power after Rafsanjani’s death (Reuters).

Rafsanjani’s life and death highlight what’s at stake in Iran today (Jacobin Magazine).

 Foreign Policy

President Hassan Rouhani said 10 countries offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran (Reuters). The Iranian president said Tehran has no plans to remove Riyadh from regional politics and would offer to help if Saudi Arabia “takes the right decision" by silencing claims that Iran is meddling in Bahraini affairs and agreeing to end military intervention in Yemen.

Iraq’s foreign minister claims to be relaying oral messages between Iran and Saudi Arabia to help bring an end to regional tensions (Hurriyet Daily News). Ibrahim al-Jaafari said, “The [mediation] steps have continued since last year, and I have exchanged messages between the two countries ... because any crisis in Iranian-Saudi relations affects Iraq as well, and a rapprochement between them would also benefit Iraq.”

Is Rafsanjani’s death the nail in the coffin of Saudi-Iran dialogue? (Al-Monitor)

Tehran agreed to Riyadh’s invitation to hold bilateral talks for the 2017 Hajj pilgrimage with conditions (Mehr News Agency). Iranians did not participate in last year’s Hajj pilgrimage.

Also, Iran does not want the United States at the Syria talks in Astana (Reuters).


This week marked the one-year anniversary of the Iran Deal’s implementation. President Rouhani said Donald Trump couldn’t unilaterally call off the nuclear deal and that any talk of renegotiating was “meaningless” (Reuters). At a press conference, the Iranian president stated, “The president-elect has shown he is not happy about the nuclear deal, calling it the worst deal ever signed. This is only empty talk.” He added, “I am optimistic about the future of the nuclear deal ... [It] is good for the United States, but [Trump] doesn't understand.”

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator also said Tehran would not renegotiate the nuclear deal (Reuters). Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi attended a news conference in the capital and said, “We and many analysts believe that the [agreement] is consolidated. The new U.S. administration will not be able to abandon it.”

U.S. President Barack Obama marked the first anniversary of the JCPOA’s implementation by emphasizing its “significant and concrete results,” and warned against undoing an agreement supported by key world powers (AFP).

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations echoed similar sentiments about the Iran Deal (Reuters). Ambassador Samantha Power said, “We who see the threat that Iran poses, through its destabilizing actions in the region and through its support for terrorism, would be very wise to preserve an agreement that denies it a weapon of mass destruction.” She added that the U.S. and other world powers were successful at ensuring Tehran does not develop nuclear weapons.

The Iran nuclear deal is a success—and the whole world is safer for it, writes EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (The Guardian).

However, incoming White House chief of staff said the Iran Deal is on life support, but did not elaborate on whether President-elect Trump would rip it up (The Hill).

As it turns out, the nuclear deal faces bigger threats than Trump's tough campaign trail talk (CNBC).


Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh is confident OPEC and non-OPEC members would commit to output cuts agreed upon in November, noting oil prices would rise further (Reuters).

Iranian condensate oil exports are set to fall 17 percent this month (Financial Tribune). Loadings are set to reach about 385,000 bpd, down from an estimated 462,000 bpd in December.

Meanwhile, India’s annual oil imports from Iran surged to a record high in 2016 (Reuters). New Delhi, the world’s third largest oil consumer, purchased about 473,000 bpd from Tehran. In 2015, imports were 208,300 bpd.

South Korean imports of Iranian oil have more than doubled since 2015 (PressTV). Seoul imported 281,187 bpd from Tehran in 2016, up from 114,595 bpd in 2015.


The "helping" hands by Touka Neyestani. Many onlookers pulled out their smart phones to take selfies and videos of the Plasco Building fire and its eventual collapse.


IRGC blocking temporary release of imprisoned Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour.
+ Lebanese-US permanent resident Nizar Zakka punished for going on hunger strike.
+ Award-Winning Kurdish filmmaker denied urgent hospitalization by Evin Prison.
+ Ailing political prisoner Issa Saharkhiz on hunger strike against additional sentence.
+ Judiciary cites “lost” case files in denying man imprisoned for 23 years medical care.
+ Khatami, former political prisoners and mother convince Ali Shariati to end hunger strike.
+ Court rejects some new charges by IRGC against activist Atena Daemi.
+ Saeed Shirzad ends hunger strike after officials pledge to end rights abuses at prison.
+ Two journalists sentenced to flogging for “spreading lies”.
+ Female bodybuilders face bans and arrests.
+ IRGC arrest former reformist MP’s sister on unspecified “security charges”.
+ Tehran prosecutor goes on the defensive over hunger-striking political prisoners.

+ Wave of floggings, amputations and other vicious punishments in Iran.

+ Ordinary Iranians rally to save death-row prisoners.
+ Political prisoners on death row in Iran fear reinstatement of long-term visitations ban.
+ Studying at the Baha'i secret university.


+ Iran moderates hope Rafsanjani’s death can soften attitudes.
+ Iranian hardliners take a stand in Islamic Republic’s second city, Mashhad.
+ Turkic speakers join forces in Iran's parliament.
+ Revelers enjoy the Fajr International Music Festival in Tehran.
+ Iran plans to boost bandwidth to 30Tbps by 2021.
+ New planes won't solve Iran's aviation dilemma.
+ Al Arabiya claims Iran's cyber army hacked Saudi banks, caused power cut in Turkey.

+ Iranians stage protest rally against execution of Shiites in Bahrain and Nigeria.
+ The world of Christian Iranians.


+ Will Rafsanjani’s death bring about change in Iran’s regional policy?
+ Former U.S. officials urge Trump to talk with former terrorist organization, the MEK.

+ Trump pivots from Muslim registry, but targeting Iranian visitors remains on the table.
+ Iran to operate mobile service network in Syria.
+ Tehran signs five documents of cooperation with Damascus.
+ Foreign Minister Zarif to visit Switzerland and Malaysia.
+ Can Tehran and New Delhi turn the page? Rising powers have common interests.
+ Iran and Syria ordered to pay $178 million for infant killed in Jerusalem terror attack.


+ Why coercion is a recipe for failure with Iran.
+ Can Europe save the Iran Deal?
+ Congressman renews push that could kill Iran jet deals.
+ Rex Tillerson couldn’t recall ExxonMobil subsidiary’s work with Iran. Here’s proof.
+ TD Bank to settle over possible violations of Iran and Cuba sanctions rules.
+ Outgoing U.S. envoy says UN needs to 'push' Iran on arms embargo.
+ Iranian entities delisted from EU sanctions.
+ Post-sanctions deals with Iranian firms linked to Supreme Leader Khamenei.


+ Iran’s economy a year after sanctions.
+ How Polish businesses are doing in Iran a year after the nuclear deal.
+ Kenya Tea Development Agency found new markets for tea post-sanctions.
+ After Tehran's nuclear pact, state firms win most foreign deals.
+ Sri Lanka interested in buying oil from Iran.
+ Bank Melli launches international money transfer.
+ Tehran looks to open foreign funding sources for local firms.
+ Iranian VLCC fleet return to the market in force.
+ Global ship insurers to resume near full coverage for Iranian oil.
+ Iran introduces €10 billion railway projects in post sanctions era.
+ Renault hits sales jackpot in Iran after sanctions lift.


+ DW interviews Iran's former empress Farah Diba Pahlavi about art.
+ Bringing together past and current generations of Iranian artists through works on paper.


+ President Rouhani test-drives homegrown electric car.


+ A Q&A with Iranian chess player Sara Khadem.


+ The man who sued Iran.

...تا هفته بعد
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