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Week of November 10th

“Visits to the belligerent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have proved hazardous to regional health. [Donald] Trump visit led to Bahrain repression followed by Qatar debacle. Visits by [Jared] Kushner and Lebanese PM led to [Saad] Hariri's bizarre resignation while abroad. Of course, Iran is accused of interference. Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen to smithereens, killing thousands of innocents including babies, spreads cholera and famine, but of course blames Iran. Saudi Arabia is engaged in wars of aggression, regional bullying, destabilizing behavior and risky provocations. It blames Iran for the consequences.”

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Twitter


HOSTAGE CRISIS ANNIVERSARY
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

Iran marked the 38th anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover by displaying surface-to-air missiles near the site in Tehran (CNN). Thousands of demonstrators gathered to mark the event that triggered the 444-day hostage crisis and sparked the decades-old rift in U.S.-Iran relations. It was the first time Tehran displayed a missile—believed to be a Sejjil with a 1,243-mile (2,000 km) range—during the annual gathering. The former embassy compound is known locally as the “den of espionage,” and protests take place in front of it annually. During the rally, a senior Iranian official called U.S. President Donald Trump a “crazy individual who is taking others toward the direction of suicide.” (Reuters)

Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani declared that a Zoroastrian city councilor’s suspension is “illegal” and asked the supreme leader to intervene in the dispute (CHRI). The spokesman of the Tehran City Council said the Iranian president had written a letter “stating that the suspension is against the law and national interests, and expressed hope that the matter could arrive at a final resolution.” Many members of parliament protested when the Guardian Council upheld the court’s decision to suspend Sepanta Niknam (IranWire). Yazd’s MP Reza Rabbani said the decision to suspend Niknam “paves the way for more manipulation of people's votes.” The most prominent figure to criticize the move was the Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani, who is the brother of Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary.


The hardliners are using Trump’s rhetoric to target rivals at home (Washington Post).

What is the legacy of Iran’s Islamic revolution and how does it affect Iranian society more than three decades later? (Al Jazeera)


A BUSY WEEK FOR SAUDI ARABIA
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

Lebanon’s prime minister quit his post while on a trip to Saudi Arabia, and indicated that he was facing threats of assassination, while blaming Iran for interfering in his country’s affairs (New York Times). Prime Minister Saad Hariri, speaking in a televised address from Riyadh, said, “Wherever Iran settles, it sows discord, devastation and destruction, proven by its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.” Hariri added that Iran’s “hands” in the region “will be cut off.” The surprise announcement—which even shocked members of his own staff—was a sign of escalating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman dismissed Hariri’s remarks that accused Tehran of meddling in Arab countries (Radio Farda). Bahram Ghasemi said that Hariri’s sudden resignation was a “plot jointly designed by Saudi Arabia and Israel. The sudden resignation of Mr. Hariri and its announcement in another country is not only a matter of surprise and regret, but also an indication of his play at an arena concocted by the region’s ill-wishers.”

Hours after the speech, a ballistic missile fired from Yemen was intercepted over Riyadh’s international airport (New York Times). It was the first time such an attack had come close to the center of Riyadh in the two years since Saudi Arabia started a war in Yemen. Yemen’s Houthi-controlled Defense Ministry said its forces had targeted the airport with a long-range missile called the Burqan 2H, in response to an attack by the Saudi-led coalition that killed 26 people in a hotel and a nearby market last week. Several hours after the missile attack, the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, was hit by the worst barrage of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in more than a year.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister blamed Iran for the attempted missile attack, saying it could be considered an “act of war” (New York Times). Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN in an interview, “Iran cannot lob missiles at Saudi cities and towns and expect us not to take steps.” The crown prince of Saudi Arabia echoed this statement, adding that supplying missiles to Houthi rebels “is considered a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime.” (The Guardian)

Trump also blamed Tehran for the missile attack, while on his tour of East and Southeast Asia (RFERL). President Trump told reporters, “A shot was just taken by Iran, in my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. And our system knocked it down,” referring to the Patriot missile batteries Riyadh had purchased from Washington.

President Rouhani accused Riyadh of sowing hostility in Yemen, strengthening ISIS, and orchestrating the “unprecedented” resignation of a Lebanese prime minister (The Guardian). The Iranian president said Saudi Arabia was not in a position to threaten Iran, saying that “those bigger than you have not been able to do anything against the Iranian nation” and that Riyadh was trying to shift the blame to distract from the war in Yemen.

The head of the IRGC denied claims that Tehran was responsible for the missile attack (Al-Monitor). “Trump has made many unaccountable, false and untrue statements and this is also one of those accusations,.” Mohammad Ali Jafari said. “Shipping missiles to Yemen is not even possible, and these missiles that are being launched belong to Yemen, which are rebuilt and have had their range increased to pursue revenge for the blood of their martyrs.”

A hardline Iranian newspaper was suspended for two days after it published a controversial article that said after Riyadh, Dubai was the next target (RFERL). On November 6, Kayhan printed on its front page that Dubai could become the next target of a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthis after Riyadh. The newspaper is known for making inflammatory statements that often go against the government’s official line. State media immediately offered its criticism. Many called Kayhan’s statement foolish and unwise, while warning that Iran should not provide its enemies with “an excuse” at a sensitive time. Iran’s Press Supervisory Board quickly issued a warning that the headline “Ansarollah Missile struck Riyadh, Next Target: Dubai” countered Iranian national security and the country's interests.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations accused Iran of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile and called on the UN to hold Tehran accountable for violating two UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions (Reuters). Nikki Haley said information released by Saudi Arabia showed that the missile fired was an Iranian Qiam, which she described as “a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict.” Riyadh also called on the UNSC for action against Iran (Al Arabiya). Riyadh said it would act appropriately to aggression from Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Saudi-led forces closed air, sea, and land access to Yemen to hinder flow of arms from Iran (Reuters).

Also, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called for sanctions on Iran for its “support of terrorism.” (CNBC)

Tehran submitted a letter to the UNSC on Saudi provocations (Twitter). The letter states that the threat to use of force against Iran is in clear defiance of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.


JCPOA ADVOCACY
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal

The European Union’s top diplomat was on Capitol Hill to lobby lawmakers to preserve the Iran Deal (Al-Monitor). Speaking at a press conference, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini expressed confidence that U.S. lawmakers would not kill the hard-fought agreement. Although Congressional sources said otherwise. Mogherini was also joined by the head of the IAEA (Washington Post). Yukiya Amano, head of the IAEA, rebutted criticism that Tehran may be engaged in prohibited activities at military sites where inspectors are denied access. While Amano declined to specifically address access at military locations, he said Iran has not blocked inspectors.

The U.K. foreign secretary will fly to Washington in an attempt to persuade the U.S. not to abandon the nuclear deal (Bloomberg). It is Johnson’s first trip to Washington since President Trump’s announcement that he won’t certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Johnson will hold two days of talks on Capitol Hill, and is scheduled to meet with members of Congress.

France’s president said he wanted to remain firm with Iran regarding its ballistic missile program and influence in the Middle East, but warned regional countries against exacerbating rising tensions (Reuters).


A GAFFE THAT'LL COST MORE YEARS
FILED UNDER:
 Human Rights

The British foreign secretary made a misleading statement that might lead to a longer prison sentence for a British mother of Iranian heritage (The Guardian). Boris Johnson condemned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s conviction for spying in Iran last week as a mockery of justice, adding that she was “simply teaching people journalism”—a statement her employer and family both said was false. Three days after Johnson’s statement to a parliamentary committee, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned before an unscheduled court hearing in Tehran, where the foreign secretary’s comments were cited as proof that she was engaged in “propaganda against the regime.” Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, released a statement to clarify she was not working in Iran, but was on holiday to introduce her daughter, Gabriella, to her grandparents. The UK Foreign Office said Johnson planned to call his Iranian counterpart to “ensure his remarks are not misrepresented.” Johnson was grilled over his remarks in Parliament, but refused to apologize (Washington Post). He conceded that he “could have been clearer.” Johnson also said he hoped to meet Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin's husband, before visiting Iran in the next few weeks (The Guardian).

Iranian state television said Johnson's remarks confirmed claims that Nazanin had come to Iran to promote a “Western-style democracy.” (CNN)

More than 72,000 have signed a petition calling on the foreign secretary to step down after his damaging comments (IB Times).

Boris Johnson isn’t responsible for Nazanin’s ordeal—it’s Iranian authorities who are acting “entirely illegally.” (IranWire)

The IRGC have arrested at least 30 dual nationals during the past two years, mostly on spying charges (Reuters). This number—provided by diplomats, lawyers, and relatives—is twice as many as what was previously reported by the international media.

Here is a list of publically known nationals currently detained by Iran:


Kamal Foroughi (British-Iranian), since May 2011
Nizar Zakka (Lebanese, U.S. permanent resident), since September 2015
Siamak Namazi (Iranian-American), since October 2015
Kamran Ghaderi (Austrian-Iranian), since January 2016
Baquer Namazi (Iranian-American), since February 2016
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (British-Iranian), since March 2016
Ahmadreza Djalali (Iranian, Swedish permanent resident), since April 2016
Karan Vafadari (Iranian-American) along with Iranian wife, since July 2016
Robin Shahini (Iranian-American), since July 2016
Xiyue Wang (American), since August 2016
Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani (Canadian-Iranian), since October 2017


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS
+ Poet sentenced to prison and flogging for the charge of “insulting the sacred”.
+ Relatives of slain Kurdish separatists slapped with long prison sentences.
+ After 10 years in prison, faith leader Fariba Kamalabadi says Baha’is hope to serve Iran.
+
34 NGOs urge UN member states to support resolution on human rights in Iran.
+ Political prisoners urge NGOs to investigate case of inmate with suspected cancer.
+ Family of Americans held in Iran hopes for direct talks between DC and Tehran.
+ British Baha’is with Iranian background deported from U.S.
+
Ahwaz separatist murdered in Netherlands.
+ IRGC hackers target Iranian journalists based abroad with malware campaign.


DOMESTIC ISSUES
+ Rouhani forced to take back bill restricting free journalism.
+ The supreme leader appointed a new navy commander.
+ At least 14 dead and 18 injured in road accident.
+ IRGC has squadrons of crazy sea-skimming flying boats.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS
+ CIA director keen on drawing connections between Al-Qaeda and Iran—but to what end?
+ Iran’s foreign minister shrugged off the Iran-Al Qaeda collusion claims.
+ The FBI blindly hacked computers in Russia, China, and Iran.
+ Conservative Canadian senator won't apologize for calling Iran a 'malign' nation.
+ History is on the side of the Persian, rather than Arabian, Gulf.
+ We've entered the post-ISIS phase in the Middle East.
+ The other Iranians fighting in Iraq.
+ Iran-backed Shiite groups seek institutionalized role in post-ISIS Iraq.
+ Iraqi VP calls Iran-backed militias his nation’s top threat.
+ Iranian Wi-Fi confiscated by Iraqi security centers.
+ In Sunni North Africa, fears of Iran’s Shi’ite shadow.
+ Egypt’s president to Iran: Stop ‘meddling’ in the region.

+ Netanyahu warns Iran over Mediterranean military bases.
+ Putin and Khamenei agree they need each other.
+ Tehran drawing closer to Azerbaijan.
+ Pakistan's military chief in Iran for security talks.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS
+ Notice regarding the continuation of the national emergency with respect to Iran.
+ U.K. House of Commons publishes briefing paper on JCPOA and ‘Decertification’.
+ Qods Force list entities as private to avoid international sanctions.
+ Did Iran sanctions make the Revolutionary Guard stronger?
+ Erdogan links alleged in U.S. documents before Iran trial.


ECONOMY + TRADE
+ France's Total opens Washington office as Iran risks loom.
+ Tehran urges Europe to push business ties as U.S. brings nuclear deal into doubt.
+ Iran’s debt market emerges as key to economic future.
+ Iranian government plans new infrastructure for Bitcoin users.

+ How Iran can address its informal economy.
+ All that glitters is not gold: Unveiling Iran’s economic recovery.  


ART + CULTURE
+ Khruangbin returns with 'Maria Tambien,' celebrating Iran’s lost female artists.

OTHER
+ Iranian forces plane to land after discovering her husband cheated.
+ This app is helping women tackle domestic violence in Iran and worldwide.

EVENTS
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