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The Iranist
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Week of August 10th

“Iran, and it’s [sic] economy, is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter—it is up to them!”

- U.S. President Donald Trump, on Twitter


Rouhani-Trump Meeting? On Monday, the Iranian president dismissed Trump’s calls for talks during a speech, hours before sanctions were reimposed (Reuters). President Hassan Rouhani said, “We are always in favor of diplomacy and talks . . . But talks need honesty. Trump’s call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America ahead of elections . . . and to create chaos in Iran.” However, a senior UN official claimed that Trump may hold a meeting with his Iranian counterpart during next month’s United Nations General Assembly (Jerusalem Post).

Sanctions are back: On Monday, the United States reimposed sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (New York Times). The sanctions are a consequence of President Trump’s decision in May to withdraw from the international accord that sought to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The Trump administration believes backing out of the JCPOA will force Iran to shut down its nuclear enrichment efforts, curb its ballistic missile program, and end its regional intervention. The European Union foreign policy chief and foreign ministers of the E3 (Britain, France, and Germany) issued a joint statement condemning the reimposition of sanctions (UK Government).

Now what? The European Union is attempting to protect its businesses from sanctions (The Guardian). European firms have been instructed that they should not comply with demands from Washington to pull out of Iran. Those who decide to leave because of U.S. sanctions will need to be granted authorisation from the European commission, without which they face the risk of being sued by EU member states. A mechanism has also been opened to allow EU businesses affected by the sanctions to sue the Trump administration in the national courts of member states. On Monday, Trump warned U.S. trading partners that anyone who does business with Tehran will not being doing business with the United States, after sanctions were reimplementated (The Guardian). In a tweet, Trump described the sanctions as “the most biting ever imposed.” Within hours of the sanctions taking effect, German carmaker Daimler said it was halting its business activities in Tehran. Responding to Trump’s threat, China’s Foreign Ministry said its business ties with Iran are open, transparent and lawful (Reuters). The EU foreign policy chief said Brussels would not let the 2015 nuclear accord die, and urged Europeans to make their own investment decisions (The Guardian). Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister said that the United States will not be able to prevent the country from exporting oil (BBC News).

How Iranians are reacting: Many Iranians blame their own government for the return of U.S. sanctions, but they also fear it could be the “final nail in the coffin” for the economy (AFP). Iranians are hoarding gold as a safeguard against a collapsing rial and soaring cost of living, pushing the metal’s price to records in Tehran (Wall Street Journal). The price of many medicines has increased, and some are already becoming hard to find (The Guardian). The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs said that a million Iranians could lose their jobs due to sanctions (Rudaw).

 A cleric speaks to a crowd of protesters demonstrating in Mashhad on August 3. (Nasim News Agency)

Ongoing protests: Last Friday, some 500 protesters attacked a seminary in Karaj, breaking windows with bricks and stones (AP). Fars News Agency reported that a man participating in a protest in Alborz province was shot dead. Local authorities said they will investigate the protester’s death (CHRI). According to videos posts on social media, on Saturday, hundreds of Iranians protested against high inflation caused in part by a collapse in the rial currency over fears of the reimposition of sanctions (Reuters). Demonstrations took place in cities including Mashhad, Shiraz, Tehran, and Qom. These gatherings are the largest since the December-January protests, although they have not reached the same size and geographical spread. The Iranian interior ministry blamed the latest round of protests on a foreign plot, but offered no further details (Wall Street Journal). Though many members of the middle class are discontent, they mostly watch from the sidelines, adverse to uncertainty (New York Times).

Learn more about Iran’s latests protests (RFE/RL).

Changes in the exchange: Iran announced a relaxation of foreign exchange rules to counter U.S. sanctions (Financial Times). The Central Bank of Iran is allocating subsidized hard currency, including euros and U.S. dollars, for trading in basic commodities and pharmaceuticals, and to allow unlimited inflows of currencies as well as gold without taxation. The bank will also reopen the currency markets after a crackdown, which prohibited exchange offices from buying or selling currencies. This will allow importers of non-essential goods to gain access to the hard currency brought into the country by exporters, with exchange rates determined in the open market. Meanwhile, the central bank’s top foreign exchange official was arrested (AFP). Ahmad Araghchi, who was a vice governor at the bank in charge of forex, was arrested along with several other unnamed individuals, including a government official and four currency speculators. Araghchi, the nephew of deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, was fired by the new governor of the central bank over his handling of the currency crisis. Similarly, Iran’s labor minister was impeached after months of growing anger over the government’s handling of the economic crisis (AFP). Ali Rabiei lost a confidence motion in parliament, giving President Hassan Rouhani three months to replace him. Meanwhile, the Assembly of Experts called on President Hassan Rouhani to be accountable for the country’s “chaotic economic situation,” and demanded an overhaul of his cabinet (Radio Farda). Hardliners are increasingly putting the blame on the Iranian president and demanding action.

President Khatami steps in: Former President Mohammad Khatami issued a statement on his website apologizing to Iranians for “the country’s current situation” (RFE/RL). He also said that the Iranian government was not on the verge of collapse, and that it was part of a psychological offensive by “foreign enemies”. Khatami’s statement was unexpected, given that he is banned from appearing in the media due to his support of the 2009 post-election protests known as the Green Movement.


Pyongyang visits Tehran: North Korea’s foreign minister visited Iran (Reuters). Ri Yong Ho met with his Iranian counterpart. He later met with President Rouhani, who called the United States “untrustworthy and unreliable.” Ri told Rouhani that Washington’s pullout from the Iran nuclear agreement and the reimposition of sanctions was an “action against international rules and regulations,” and that Pyongyang’s “strategic policy is to deepen relations.”


Abdolfattah Soltani with his family. His daughter, Homa (right), passed away on August 4. (CHRI)

Furlough for rights activist: A prominent human rights lawyer was granted furlough from Evin Prison to attend his daughter’s funeral (CHRI). It is unclear how long Abdolfattah Soltani’s temporary release will last for. His surviving daughter claims that Soltani has been eligible for release since 2014, but the Intelligence Ministry, which operates under the president, blocked it. Soltani co-founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center, received a human rights award, and conducted media interviews about his clients’ cases. These activities made him a focus of the government’s attention, and he received a 13-year prison sentence.

Desperate families call on state heads to release detained environmentalists
Child protection bill includes kids with disabilities, but fails to close legal loopholes.
State TV must end its use of families to discredit journalists, dissenters.
Iran’s authorities should denounce threat to BBC made in Iranian news agency.
Journalists’ Day in Iran is a joke that isn’t funny.
Parliamentary group reports drop in support for strict hijab.
In Iran protests, women stand up, lift their hijab, for their rights.
Iranian Christians are victims of Trump’s refugee policy.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad weighs in on Trump, LeBron James spat.
Iranian MPs, activists lobby to force government hire young managers.
Tyranny of numbers: Food consumption of the poor in Iran.
Drought devastates Iran’s Baluchistan province.

U.S. military warns Iran over naval activity in the Strait of Hormuz.
U.S. braces for possible cyberattacks after Iran sanctions.
Trump administration accuses Iran of terror plots in effort to sway Europe.
Why Iran isn’t concerned over US plans for Arab NATO.
How regional politics is restraining Kurdish militancy in Iran.

Iran’s oil-market realities: How buyers are positioning for U.S. sanctions.
After sanctions, Iran’s economy is nearing a crisis.
Which countries do business with Iran?
Iranian media stunned by Iraqi PM’s compliance with U.S. sanctions.
IranAir gets five more ATR regional planes before sanctions.
China set to fill vacuum left by French carmakers exiting Iran.

A life in focus: Shapour Bakhtiar, the last prime minister of Iran’s Pahlavi era.
The world’s oldest ice cream is in Iran.
...تا هفته بعد
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