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Week of November 6th

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Death to America’s policies
Wednesday marked the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran seizure, when Islamist students took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. In a surprising declaration, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the slogan “Death to America” was not directed at the American people, but at U.S. policies.
 
To commemorate the Iran Hostage Crisis, the Iranian government unveiled a number of new billboards and signage.
 

Five American hostages
For some, the imprisonment of five Americans in Iran is the new hostage crisis. Besides businessman Siamak Namazi and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Iran is also holding Christian preacher Saeed Abedini as well as former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati.

Lebanese-American Nizar Zakka was also recently arrested in Tehran. Zakka was invited for a state-sponsored conference on entrepreneurship only to disappear before boarding his flight on September 18. State media claims he has “deep links” to the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, citing what they believe is a photo of him in U.S. army personnel uniform. According to the website of Georgia’s Riverside Military Academy of Gainesville, Zakka is an alumnus and described as “an internationally recognized expert in information and communications technology (ICT) policy.”

Way to treat a guest.
Zakka
Some members of Congress are calling for more sanctions on Iran after the detainment of Siamak Namazi. “This arrest is just to embarrass President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, and to discourage young Iranians with dual nationality from going to Iran and being a bridge,” explained Haleh Esfandiari, the former director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Middle East Program.
 
 
Witch hunt for spies
During the past week, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested at least five local journalists—including Afarin Chitsaz, Ehsan Mazandarani, Isa Saharkhiz, and Saman Safarzaee. State media described them as “several members of an infiltration network linked to hostile Western governments who were working in the country's media and social networks."
 
President Hassan Rouhani criticized the recent arrest of journalists. “We shouldn’t detain one or two people, here and there, while exaggerating the case and saying there is a ‘current’ (US) infiltration in Iran,” he said. Rouhani suggested the arrests were linked to the February parliamentary elections, in an effort to intimidate reformists.

“It feels like a witch hunt,” described an anonymous Iranian-American businessman in Tehran. “It’s pretty scary.”

Political dissident and writer Akbar Ganji argues 'A new wave of repression is imminent in Iran'.
 
 
Throwing diplomatic shade
Iran and Saudi Arabia bumped heads repeatedly during the Syria talks in Vienna this past week. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Saudi Arabia of terrorism, reminding delegates that the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. The room reportedly went quiet after his remark. FM Zarif confirmed his comment to Bloomberg and that his charges for culpability in the September 11 attacks were not aimed at the Saudi government, but its citizens.
 
Supreme Leader Khamenei expressed discontent at the lack of Syrian presence during the talks. “This is a dangerous initiative which no country in the world would accept to be done for itself,” he warned.
 
While visiting Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir condemned Iran’s involvement in Syria. His remarks prompted Tehran to threaten to withdrawal from the Vienna talks. Grow some thick skin already, Iran.
 
In an interview, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister also said there will be no solution for Syria’s crisis without the retreat of foreign forces and a “date and means for Assad’s departure.”
 
Perhaps it’s time Iran and Saudi Arabia brokered peace to begin stabilizing the Middle East.
 

Educated Iranians, the new threat for Israel
Israel is having a “technological war with Iran,” according to the head of the country’s Military Intelligence Directorate. Major General Herzl Halevi explained that while Tel Aviv currently has the upper hand, Tehran was closing in with more turnover of engineers, mathematicians, and scientists.
 
Halevi noted, “Since the 1979 revolution, the number of universities and university students in Iran has increased twentyfold, compared with three and a half times for Israel.”
 
Meanwhile, Israel is also concerned about "Iranian-backed terrorist attacks" in the Golan Heights. As if fighting ISIL and anti-Assad forces weren’t enough for Iran to deal with while in Syria.
 
 
Kentucky not-so-fried chicken
A “Halal KFC” opened in Tehran this week, only for it to get shut down days later. Police reportedly closed the fast-food restaurant for operating under a false license. However, its manager Abbas Pazuki claims the police thought the restaurant was an American branch of KFC, even though it was a bootleg franchise.
 
Interestingly, KFC isn’t the first fake American franchise to get shut down in Iran. In 2010, attorney Shirin Salamat single handedly closed five bootleg Baskin-Robbins for trademark infringement. “There is a huge misconception about the power of brands in protecting themselves in Iran,” says Salamat. “The Patent and Trademark Office of Iran is part of the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Madrid Protocol, and there is a specific court that handles these infringement cases. They are fairly knowledgeable about international brands, international best practices and regulations.”
 
Sources say Sephora may open in Tehran. Still, it’s just a rumor for now, makeup lovers.
 
 
The Canada model
A group of Iranian women’s rights activists and intellectuals are campaigning to bring a greater female presence in parliament for the February election. Out of the 290 seats, only nine are held by women. The campaign, Changing The Parliament's Male Face, includes publisher Shahla Lahiji and author Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani, a leading figure in the women's movement in Iran. Organizers hope the number of women in parliament eventually grows to at least 50 women or 30 percent. They also intend to promote candidates of both sexes who support greater women’s rights and also “name and shame” those who don’t, through a system of “red cards” as well as reports on their performance in gender equality.
 
Check out Changing The Parliament’s Male Face campaign video (in Persian).
 

Iran's future 
TIME’s new cover "Iran 2025: How its next decade will change the world" features the work of photographer Newsha Tavakolian.

Here's fashion designer Salar Bil and his models before a runway show. The Iranian government has only recently allowed fashion shows in the country.
Other stories that made headlines
 
-- Per the Iran Deal, Tehran begins decommissioning enrichment centrifuges.
 
-- Iranian MPs say Tehran won’t comply with JCPOA until sanctions are removed.
 
-- How the Iranian government will use sanctions relief for the economy.
 
-- The Iranian people's patience is wearing thin for the economic situation to change.

-- Treasury Department publishes updated list of medical supplies for export to Iran.

 
-- U.S. defense firm provided bandwidth to Iran's state-owned telecom company.
 
-- Some Iraqis are cheering for Iran, after it defeated ISIL in Beiji.
 
-- Bahraini officials accuse Iran of training and providing militants with weapons.
 
-- Iran still searching for missing ambassador after stampede in Mecca.
 
-- Massachusetts family sues Iran over killing of man during Israel-Hezbollah War.
 
-- Iran hosts conference on U.S. police brutality and racism; 20 Americans attend.
 
-- Can women travel ban laws be reformed? An interview with MP Laleh Eftekhari.
 
-- After Berlin, Tehran’s modern art collection could be heading to America next.
 
-- Iranian-American immigration judge wins lawsuit against Department of Justice.
 
-- Iran to provide universal public healthcare to registered refugees.

Events

...تا هفته بعد
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