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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of August 26th
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"If an American ship enters Iran's maritime region, it will definitely get a warning. We will monitor them and, if they violate our waters, we will confront them." 
                                             
                                       – Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, on the swarming
                                          of a U.S. navy warship in the Persian Gulf
 (Watch footage of it)

NO MORE RUSSIAN BOMBERS, FOR NOW
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Politics

Russia’s use of an Iranian air base has come to an end for the time being, but future usage depends on mutual agreement and circumstances (Reuters). Last week, Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers and Tupolev-22M3 bombers used Nojeh air base near Hamadan to launch strikes against anti-regime groups in Syria. The air base usage prompted criticism from hardline Iranian lawmakers and the U.S. Department of State.

Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan attacked the Russian press (Washington Post): “There has been a kind of showing-off and inconsiderate attitude behind the announcement of this news.” He added, “Naturally, the Russians are keen to show that they are a superpower and an influential country and that they are active in security issues in the region and the world.”

Defense Minister Dehghan also announced Tehran is beginning negotiations on a new deal to buy Sukhoi fighter jets (Moscow Times). Similarly, the Russians are in talks to sell Ansat and Ka-226T light helicopters to the country’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education (PressTV). 

Iran confirms new Kalashnikov import from Russia (Trend News Agency).

 

¡HOLA, AMIGOS!
FILED UNDER: Foreign Policy

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif kicked off his six-day tour of Latin America in Cuba (PressTV). Zarif met with President Raul Castro and discussed a “new path” in bilateral relations, then went on to discuss international affairs and the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Venezuela next month. Earlier, the Iranian foreign minister met with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez as well as the country’s Minister of Economy and Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas. FM Zarif and his delegation of officials, along with Iranian business executives, plan to visit Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Last week, Minister of Economy and Vice President Cabrisas met with President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran (Reuters).

While on a visit to Nicaragua, the Iranian foreign minister shared Iran's interest in a Chinese project to build a canal across the country to rival Panama’s (AFP). Work on the $50 billion Nicaragua canal was meant to start two years ago, but has not yet begun.


BEATING A DEAD HORSE
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal
The Obama administration also paid $1.3 billion in interest to Iran, two days after paying back $400 million in cash to Tehran in January (AP). The money was part of a decades-old dispute over an undelivered military sale that was withheld due to the 1979 revolution. U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said she couldn’t go into further details about the payment given the political sensitivities, but claimed the interest was paid in 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and one final payment of about $10 million. No explanation was given as to why the U.S. Department of Treasury kept the individual transactions under $100 million.

The New York Times Editorial Board tries to put to rest the $400 million ‘ransom’ story once and for all: “Where the administration went wrong was in not being more transparent sooner about how the detainees’ release unfolded. If the administration had handed over the funds and not brought the detainees home, what would the critics be saying now?”


TEHRAN'S POSSIBLE OPEC ATTENDANCE
FILED UNDER:
 Economy

Iran circulated a letter to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), indicating plans to attend informal talks in Algeria next month on oil production (Wall Street Journal). Other delegates were made aware of Tehran’s attendance by high-level OPEC officials. It seems that once Tehran reached its pre-sanctions oil output, it would cooperate with other members of OPEC on a production freeze. Oil prices reportedly rose after Iran announced it would join the talks (Reuters).

Meanwhile, a recent dispute in Majlis over the passing of a new oil and gas contract model seems close to resolution (Al-Monitor). Hardliner lawmakers argue the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) version approved by President Rouhani’s cabinet goes against the country’s national interest.  
 


SPY ON THE NUCLEAR TEAM?
FILED UNDER:
 Human Rights

A dual national arrested in Iran last week on espionage charges may be a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team and representative of the country's central bank during the P5+1 talks (IranWire). According to conservative media outlets in Iran, Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani is accused of receiving $35 million from the U.S. and Britain in exchange for sensitive information about Iran. Conservative website Nasim Online first broke news of his identity on August 23rd (Al-Monitor). The following day, Bank-e Mardom published an interview with Dori Esfahani from the Central Bank in which he denied being arrested, adding that, "I do not know why and with what goal they are doing this.” The interview was later pulled without explanation. Then Nasim Online quickly did a follow-up story claiming Dori Esfahani was released on bail.
 
When asked to confirm the reports of Dori Esfahani’s arrest, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi claimed he only heard rumors (Al-Monitor). “The [appropriate] officials should respond and explain if a spy has been arrested.” He added, “We cannot judge based solely on rumors. The security institutions should give answers, and I am not in a position to confirm whether someone has been arrested or not. Finding a spy is not our duty. The security and judicial authorities must tend to this, and I hope they answer soon.”


Iran has also arrested a Greek national (AP). Iranian officials accuse the unnamed individual of embezzling money from smuggled oil and selling three oil tankers for $100 million. 

News just emerged that the Japanese ambassador to Tehran was briefly detained and questioned in a raid at an Iranian national's dinner party in April (The Japan Times). Reasons are still unknown, but Ambassador Hiroyasu Kobayashi was only carrying a business card in lieu of his diplomatic identity card.



ANOTHER SOCIAL MEDIA BUST
FILED UNDER:
 Technology

Some 450 social media users were summoned, detained, and warned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) over the past few weeks (AFP). According to Gherdab, a website affiliated with the cyber arm of the IRGC, "These people were carrying out immoral activities, insulted religious beliefs, or had [sic] illegal activities in the field of fashion." The users had registered accounts on Instagram, Telegram, and WhatsApp.

The IRGC also arrested a woman for posting comments “against Islamic leaders and the Iranian regime” on Telegram (IranWire). It’s unclear whether the woman was part of the 450 social media users who were rounded up.

The wife of labor activist Mahmoud Salehi was charged with spreading “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the supreme leader” in her Facebook posts (IranWire). These accusations were made against Najibeh Salehzadeh even though she does not have a Facebook account.


RANKING 25TH AT RIO
FILED UNDER:
 Sports

The Iranian Olympic team finished 25th in the world for medal count at Rio de Janeiro (Olympics). Iran also won the most gold medals in the Middle East. Interestingly, the Iranian team opted not to participate in the Olympics closing ceremony, so a Canadian volunteer became its flag bearer (CBC).

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei welcomed and thanked the Iranian team (Tasnim News Agency). He made sure to address the women as well: “...to the sportswomen who demonstrated to everyone the proud symbol of Iranian women’s attire; to the brave lady who shone at the forefront of the (Iranian Olympic) squad in full Hijab...”

These are the Iranian athletes who took home medals:

GOLD

Kianoush Rostami, men’s 85-kilogram weightlifting

Sohrab Moradi, men’s 94-kilogram weightlifting

Hassan Yazdani, men's 74-kilogram freestyle wrestling

SILVER

Komeil Nemat Ghasemi, men's 125-kilogram freestyle wrestling

Kimia Alizadeh, women’s under 57-kilogram Taekwondo (First Iranian woman medalist)

BRONZE

Hassan Rahimi, men’s 57-kilogram freestyle wrestling

Saeed Abdevali, men’s 75-kilogram Greco-Roman wrestling

Ghasem Rezaei, men’s 98-kilogram Greco-Roman wrestling

Billboard in Tehran congratulates Kimia Alizadeh on her bronze win at Rio:
Crowds welcome home Iran's victorious wrestlers at the airport:

(Check out more photos!)

As reported last week, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) website was hacked by Iranian fans over Behdad Salimi’s loss (New York Times). “Due to the persisting attacks, we are unable to guarantee the origin and authenticity of some of the content being posted,” said the IWF.

A video spoofing censorship in Iran is frequently shared as real footage from a state-run sports network (Snopes).



OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

Here’s what it’s like to be a political prisoner in Iran.

Britain must help free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Afghan girl's death has Iranians questioning ban on organ transplants for foreigners.

Single women can now adopt—but not if they are from religious minorities.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

+ Iranian journalists alarmed as media legislation resurfaces.

+ Senior Iran cleric faces down culture minister over concerts.

Iran's language watchdog targets Nutella in fight against Westernization.
 
Leader of Sunni militant group in Iran killed, state media say.

Cross-border drug trafficking from Pakistan on the rise.

Iranian police arrest drug kingpin in southeastern province

Kidney-selling in Iran straddles line between efficiency, exploitation.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

 + U.S. strategies in Middle East have failed, according to Iran’s defense minister.
 
What's behind Iran's reported 'liberation force'?

Israeli think tank: Don’t destroy ISIS; it’s a “useful tool” against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria.
  
Iran renews NAM call for global nuclear disarmament.

Tehran condemns Israel’s attacks on Gaza, desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
 
Senior member of MEK escapes from Camp Liberty in Iraq.
 
What's behind the Turkey-Iran tango?
 

Why Iran isn't rattled by Turkey-Russia turnabout.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

Federica Mogherini issues statement on next steps for EU Sanctions on Iran.
 
ANZ refuses Australian customers transactions with Iran, fearing U.S. Treasury backlash.
 
Sanctions lifting is an “inescapable” necessity with the implementation of Iran Deal.
 
U.S. extends ZTE reprieve on alleged Iran sanctions violations.
 
Who holds the key to sanctions relief?

ECONOMY + TRADE

Iran’s foreign trade exceeds $35.8 billion in 5 months.
 
The overlooked potential of Iran's women entrepreneurs.
 
Sharing a pot of gold: Iran, Qatar and the Pars Gas Field.
 
Foreign investment rise indicates Iranian economic growth.
 
Tehran puts trust in market to deliver currency boost to recovery.

HISTORY

From Nayriz to New York: Hussein Ahdieh and the story of Harlem prep.
 
Movie on Iranian boy who joined school's wrestling team during hostage crisis.
 
What Turkey’s Erdogan and Ayatollah Khomeini have in common

ARTS + CULTURE

Iranian authorities summon popular rap singer Amir Tataloo.  

Middle Eastern actors seek roles beyond Hollywood stereotypes.

+ Shirin Neshat: Interpreter of contrasts

Tehran's famed modern art museum goes digital.
 
The last nomads of Iran.

SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY
 
+ Tehran releases first photos of new missile defense system.
 
Iran to build supersonic maritime cruise missiles soon.
 
Five American weapons of war Iran wished it had.
 
$153 million revenue from digital games in Iran.
 
Mobile payments based on USSD technology decreased.
 
Iranian mobile payment company Asan Pardakht preparing for IPO.
 
Apple won’t have an official reseller in Iran.

DIASPORA

An Iranian refugee on becoming American–legally, then in spirit.

+ U.S. Department of State issues new Iran travel warning for dual nationals.

OTHER

Tehran's answer to whiteflies: sticky tape.
 
“Are we German or German-Iranian?”: Identity in the wake of the Munich attack".
EVENTS
...تا هفته بعد
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