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The Iranist
Week of February 19th
Election campaign fever
Campaigning kicked off this week for Iran’s parliamentary election, which takes place exactly a week from today. There are over 6,200 candidates—including 586 women—running for the 290-seat parliament. The Guardian Council tried hard to block reformists from entering the election, but reformist candidates are asking the Iranian people to participate in elections despite their small numbers. According to Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, an Iranian reformist political activist now at Harvard University, “Reformists from all different parties have put aside their differences after many years to agree on a joint list of candidates in an unprecedented form of coalition aimed at blocking hardliners from entering the parliament.”
Meanwhile, journalist and political dissident Akbar Ganji called on Iranians not to vote for three leading hardline clerics running in next week’s Assembly of Experts election, known by the acronym, JYM: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the current Chairman of the Assembly, and Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi. The call quickly spread throughout social media and has since been taken up by reformists. It’s no surprise why hardliners renewed calls to slow down Internet speeds in the lead up to the elections.
Here’s some satire from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran: Ten reasons to disqualify all women candidates for the Assembly of Experts.

Let’s be friends, Riyadh
At the Munich Security Conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif publically acknowledged Tehran is willing to work with Saudi Arabia. “We are prepared to work with Saudi Arabia... I believe Iran and Saudi Arabia can have shared interests in Syria.” Referring to Riyadh as “our Saudi brothers,” Zarif added, “We have a common opportunity, common challenges, common threats,” and that it was time to “set aside the past and have a new narrative, a new paradigm for the future.”
Interestingly, the IRGC’s Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari argued that Saudi Arabia isn’t capable of a ground attack in Syria. “The Saudis dare not carry out a ground attack against Syria and will never do because they are not at the level of a ground entry into the Syrian territory and do not have the capability to act at this level,” he said.

With relations between Tehran and Riyadh deteriorated, Switzerland has offered to handle Saudi Arabia’s consular interests in Iran. Bern already handles Washington’s affairs in Iran as well.

Also, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon believes Arab states are seeking nuclear weapons to counter Iran. His comments come without evidence.

5 years of house arrest
February 14 marked the fifth anniversary of the house arrest of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi. The trio have not been formally charged with any crimes. The U.S. Sate Department issued a statement on the anniversary: “The United States will continue to urge the Iranian Government to respect its international obligations, including minimum fair trial guarantees and not subjecting its citizens to arbitrary arrest or detention. We repeat our appeal for the immediate release of these individuals and of all prisoners who are being held for their religious or political beliefs.”

Speaking of February 14, Iran banned Valentine’s Day, claiming it promotes the spread of “decadent” western culture. Although that didn't stop anyone from showing their love.

Eco-friendly taxis
Iranian officials unveiled a fleet of hybrid taxis to reduce Tehran’s Beijing-like pollution levels. The 10,000 eco-friendly taxis are supposed to make a debut in 2018.
Other stories that made headlines
-- Kish Island turned away female spectators despite prior assurances made to FIVB.

-- After prison, a tough-minded Saeed Laylaz looks to Iran's future.

-- If no findings presented, McCain says he will subpoena U.S. sailors held by Iran.

-- Tehran denies U.S. gave money in exchange for prisoners

-- U.S. had cyberattack plan if Iran nuclear dispute led to conflict.

-- According to recent Gallup poll, 3 in 10 Americans approve of Iran Deal

-- Apparently musical instruments are a crime on Iranian state television.

-- The ‘Patriot Fund’ promises to keep cash out of Iran’s hands.

-- Tehran-backed forces press assault in Aleppo, marking its regional ambitions

-- Iranian professionals abroad need to move back in order to rev up startup scene.

-- Qassem Soleimani: A new brand of Iranian hero for nationalist times.

-- China's Silk Road revival steams ahead as first cargo train arrives in Iran

-- How Tehran plans to crack down on property speculators.
-- Iran’s filtering committee tells Telegram: Follow our demands, or else.
-- To enlist Iran's youth, Islamic Republic adds a nationalist pitch with rap music.

-- Royal Dutch Shell begins repaying debts to Iran after sanctions

-- Tehran exports first oil to Europe since nuclear deal.

-- Oil prices get boost as Iran praises Saudi plan to freeze output.

-- Brazil could waive U.S. dollar to bolster Iran trade.

-- Iranian banks reconnected to SWIFT network after four-year hiatus.

-- Iran offers mining riches post-sanctions, but investors are cautious.

-- Spending Shabbat with the Iranian Jews of Tehran

-- How do Iranian pro-reform activists interpret the events of the Arab Spring?
-- The carpet weaver of Shiraz.

-- Iranian and Turkish women work together to fight for women's rights.

-- “Tehran Streetstyle” is challenging perceptions of beauty, identity and resistance.


...تا هفته بعد

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