A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of July 20th

“I know [Iran is] having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing. But I will tell you this, at a certain point, they’re going to call me and they’re going to say, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ and we’ll make a deal. They’re feeling a lot of pain right now.”

- U.S. President Donald Trump, during the NATO Summit in Brussels

 Domestic Affairs
Women watching Iran versus Portugal at Tehran's Azadi Stadium. (Radio Farda)

In response to a report filed by the sports minister, President Hassan Rouhani suggested that women’s access to Tehran’s main stadium should continue (Radio Farda).

The day before, the manager of Tehran’s Azadi Stadium said that he had been dismissed (Twitter). Nasser Mahmoudifar speculated that it was because he allowed women and families into the stadium to watch two World Cup screenings.

A comprehensive timeline on the women’s stadium ban (Atlantic Council).

 Foreign Policy

A Kuwaiti newspaper claimed that indirect talks took place in Moscow between Iran and Israel to explore solutions for a number of regional issues (Middle East Monitor). Al-Jarida newspaper revealed that last week’s visit to Russia by the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not a coincidence, and that they had indirect talks about Tehran’s nuclear program and Iranian presence in Syria.

Syrian rebel forces claimed that 22 people, including nine Iranians, were killed in an overnight Israeli strike in Syria (Times of Israel). The figure, which could not be confirmed, was much higher than an earlier report of nine deaths.

Syrian rebels and Iranian-backed negotiators have reached a deal to evacuate thousands of people from two rebel-besieged Shia villages in return for the release of hundreds of detainees in state prisons (Reuters). The negotiators from the IRGC and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a rebel coalition spearheaded by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda offshoot Nusra Front, had agreed all residents would be evacuated from the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province.

Trump’s national security advisor said that U.S. troops would remain in Syria as long as Iran continues to “menace” the Middle East (Times of Israel). John Bolton made the comment to ABC News’ “This Week,” which contradicts a promise by the White House to pull out of Syria.

Iranian and Russian officials have insisted that despite pressure from outside countries, the two will continue supporting the Syrian government (Al-Monitor).

Israel is broadening its attacks against Iranian supply lines in Syria to block the flow of weapons to Hezbollah and other Tehran-backed militias (Wall Street Journal).

How Israel, in the dark of night, torched its way to Iran’s nuclear secrets (New York Times).

After new details emerged about Mossad’s raid of Tehran’s nuclear archives last winter, Iran denied the claim again as “laughably absurd” (New York Times).

Meanwhile, prominent members of the Iranian-American community have been invited to a gathering with the U.S. secretary of state, where he will deliver a speech and engage in a Q&A (Politico).

2016 democratic vice presidential candidate pens op-ed, “don’t let Trump go to war with Iran.” (The Atlantic)

 Iran Deal
The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said that if U.S. President Trump wants to negotiate after pulling out of the nuclear deal, he’ll have to initiate the call (AP).

According to President Rouhani’s chief of staff, Tehran rejected eight requests from the United States for a meeting between the presidents at the 2017 United Nations General Assembly (New York Times). The assertion, if confirmed, suggests a previously unknown eagerness by the Trump administration for dialogue.

Iran’s president claimed that the United States is more isolated than ever due to sanctions on the Islamic Republic (Reuters). Referring to the protests against Trump’s visit to Britain, President Rouhani said during a speech, “America’s illegal actions . . . have even isolated it among its own allies as we just saw.”

The Supreme Leader called on state bodies to support the Rouhani administration in fighting looming U.S. sanctions, saying America’s “conspiracy” could be defeated (Reuters).

Israel’s prime minister boasted in a video that his country was responsible for U.S. President Trump’s decision to withdrawal from the Iran deal (Times of Israel).

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state and treasury secretary rejected a request from European leaders for broad-based waivers from impending sanctions on Iran (Bloomberg). In a letter, Mike Pompeo and Steven Mnuchin told the finance and foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany that the U.S. is seeking to apply “unprecedented financial pressure’’ on the Iranian government now that it has quit the JCPOA, and won’t relent until it sees a “tangible, demonstrable and sustained shift’’ in Iran’s policies. Waivers will only be given on national security or humanitarian grounds. However, the U.S. treasury secretary said that Washington will consider waivers for countries that need more time to wind down their oil imports from Iran (Reuters).

Still, the United States rejected a request by France for waivers for its companies operating in Iran (Reuters). Paris had singled out key areas where it expected either exemptions or extended wind-down periods for French companies, including the energy, banking, pharmaceuticals and automotive industries.

Also, Iran has sued the United States at the International Court of Justice in a new strategy to nullify the sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration (New York Times). The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, confirmed that Tehran filed the lawsuit  based on a treaty signed by Iran and the United States before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. An anonymous State Department official said, “Iran’s application is baseless and we intend to vigorously defend the United States before the ICJ.” The day before, Iran’s foreign minister tweeted, “Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of U.S. contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations. It’s imperative to counter its habit of violating international law.”

The British, French, and German central banks are exploring the possibility of activating accounts for the Iranian central bank (Wall Street Journal). The three European governments hope that this will open a financial channel for Iran and keep the nuclear deal alive. But the president of the European Investment Bank said that the institution is putting its global operations at risk by investing in Iran, calling into question the EU plan to help save the JCPOA (Reuters).

Iran’s representative to OPEC urged Trump not to use the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to push prices lower, and instead drop sanctions on Iran’s crude exports (Bloomberg). Hossein Kazempour Ardebili said, “Mr. President, as I have foreseen earlier, it seems you are resorting to the SPR due to the fact that there is no spare capacity to cover for Iranian exports— but there will be many repercussions.”

Winding-down news
The U.S. expects China to buy even more Iranian oil after sanctions (Wall Street Journal).

Kazakhstan and Russia are cutting back sales of hot-rolled steel coils to Iran in part because of looming U.S. sanctions (Reuters).

Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group plan to halt all transactions with Iran as early as August (Bloomberg).

New U.S. sanctions are likely to prevent the use of a Lloyd’s of London IT platform for any insurance services in Iran, making it more difficult for European firms to provide coverage (Reuters).

Iran’s businesses begin to buckle under sanctions threat (Wall Street Journal).

Trump sanctions bolster influence of Iran’s revolutionary guards (Financial Times).

Man sentenced to death for “corruption” after selling access cards for satellite TV.
Hundreds of dervishes given harsh sentences.
Leading teachers’ rights activist refusing food to protest “unjust” sentence.
Iran arrests 46 fashion workers including eight models in Hormozgan province.
International Bar Association condemns jailing of Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Sons of environmentalist who died in state custody suing IRIB for slander
Rouhani facing widespread outrage as student protesters remain behind bars.
Journalism in exile: Iranian journalist Omid Rezaee believes storytelling can save us.

Drought and inefficiency lead to major power shortage in Iran.
Rivers dry and fields dust, Iranian farmers turn to protest.
‘Desperate to find a way out’: Iran edges towards precipice.
Is Iran’s youngest minister biting off more than he can chew?
Meet the new generation of Iranian hardliners.
Why Iran needs reform before a revolution.
Iran says three militants killed near Iraqi border.

Iran to manufacture and upgrade up to 800 tanks.
Abbas Amir Entezam, Iranian official jailed as a spy, dies at 86.
Tehran’s newest cafe offers glimmer of hope for disabled Iranians.
Iran’s jamming of foreign TV signals harmful to people’s health.

The danger of Donald Trump’s course in Iran.
This think tank is pushing regime change in Iran.
Regime-change advocates are ignoring the warnings of history.
To understand Iran’s foreign policy, you need to learn a little Farsi
+ Mideast risks escalation as Iran ponders response to U.S.
IRGC commander says U.S. cannot fight us.
Iranian assassins are back with a vengeance, or so it seems.
The Supreme Leader criticized Saudi Arabia over the management of the haj pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia calls for Iran policy change.
Attacks in Azerbaijan: Manipulation of a “Shiite threat” and Iran.
In parched Afghanistan, drought sharpens water dispute with Iran.

Iran builds new centrifuge rotor factory: nuclear chief.
Iran’s renewable energy outlook dims after U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal
U.S. lifts ban on ZTE over alleged Iran sanctions violations.
Iran railroad projects endure despite sanctions.
Imminent change in Iran’s travel currency policy.

Momentum builds for Iran to meet global financial watchdog requirements.

An Irish bodhran player meets the hidden drummers of Iran

Nauru asylum seeker’s body flown to Brisbane after emotional standoff.
...تا هفته بعد
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