A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of July 21st

“[U.S. President Donald Trump] ought to seek the reason for subversion and rebellion in his own arbitrary and conflicting policies and actions, as well as those of his arrogant, aggressive and occupying allies in the region.”

- Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi, during a press conference

 Domestic Affairs

President Hassan Rouhani’s brother was released on bail after being detained for two days over corruption allegations (BBC). Hossein Fereidoun is a confidante to his brother and a leading diplomat on the nuclear negotiating team that was involved in the 2015 Iran Deal. Fereidoun has been a target of hardliners in the past. They have accused him of money laundering and misappropriation of government funds. Conservative websites, some affiliated with the country’s security agencies, have accused Fereidoun of economic corruption (Al-Monitor).

Fereidoun’s arrest happened in the weeks leading up to his brother’s second term and was meant to discredit the Rouhani administration. Rouhani was born Hassan Fereydoun before adopting his current surname.

Iranians around the globe mourned the death of 40-year-old mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani (AFP). In 2014, Mirzakhani, a Stanford University professor, became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, which is informally known as the Nobel Prize for mathematics. Mirzakhani died in a California hospital after her breast cancer spread to her bone marrow. She leaves behind a husband and son. State media newspapers broke with Iran’s strict rules on female dress to show Mirzakhani without a veil (The Guardian).

Police shot and killed a man who attacked a cleric and other people with a knife at a Tehran metro station (Reuters). The unidentified man was said to be mentally “unbalanced.”

Contradictory laws exasperate debate over women’s observance of hijab in cars (CHRI).

 Foreign Policy

Kuwait has ordered Iran’s ambassador to leave and for its cultural mission and other affiliate offices to be shut down, following a final ruling in an espionage case which implicated “Iranian parties” (Reuters). Last year, the Gulf Arab state convicted 23 men—one Iranian and the rest Kuwaitis—for spying on behalf of Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as concealing arms and explosives for an attack. Kuwait's supreme court overturned the death sentence and reduced prison terms while increasing others in the so-called “Abdali cell” last month.

Rather than perpetuating mantras about Iranian expansionism, the U.S. and regional allies should take a closer look at the origins of Iranian threat perceptions (Al-Monitor).

Many analysts and journalists on social media ripped into this article about Iran’s involvement in Iraq (New York Times).

There is fresh speculation that Israeli spies have infiltrated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IranWire).

The Editorial Board writes that Trump would make a grave mistake by not working with Iran's moderate forces (New York Times).

Regime change in Iran would be a disaster for everyone (Foreign Policy).

 Iran Deal

July 14 marked the second anniversary of the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and five world powers (The Atlantic).

Donald Trump reluctantly certified that Iran has been in compliance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and waived nuclear-related sanctions on the country (New York Times). This is the second time the Trump administration certified Tehran’s compliance, although the U.S. president spent hours arguing against it with top national security advisors as the deadline loomed. By law, the White House is required to notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is living up to the deal. Iran’s foreign minister said the Trump administration seems to have realized that scrapping the deal would isolate the United States globally (Al-Monitor). Mohammad Javad Zarif also said he and his new U.S. counterpart have not communicated yet.

FM Zarif tells Fareed Zakaria that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, but the U.S. defied it by trying to dissuade nations from doing business with Iran (CNN).

British foreign secretary penned op-ed, suggesting that without the nuclear agreement, the world would be in supreme danger (Washington Post).

Is the nuclear deal with Iran slipping away? (New Yorker)

The Iran nuclear deal has been a blessing for Israel (Foreign Policy).

Meanwhile, Washington imposed new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program as well as 18 entities and people for supporting “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity” (Reuters). The Trump administration is putting pressure on Tehran, while keeping the nuclear deal in place.

The head of Iran's armed forces warned that sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) would make U.S. bases in the Middle East unsafe (Al-Monitor). Major General Mohammad Bagheri added, “The Islamic Republic’s missile strength is for defense and is never negotiable at any level. Iran has always stood up against arrogant powers, especially America, and day by day becomes more resistant. Therefore, the next sanctions are another opportunity for growth and self-sufficiency for domestic capacities.” FM Zarif accused Washington of trying to “poison the atmosphere” with “Illegal” sanctions (RFERL).

In reaction to new sanctions, President Rouhani urged domestic friends and foes against falling into Washington’s “trap” (Al-Monitor).

Upset by sanctions, Iranian MPs agreed to fast-track anti-American bill meant to confront allegedly “adventurist and terrorist” U.S. actions in the region (AP).

 Human Rights

Iran sentenced a Chinese-American graduate student from Princeton University to ten years in prison for espionage (IranWire). Xiyue Wang, 37, who specializes in 19th and early 20th century Eurasian history, was in Iran conducting academic research on the history of the Qajar dynasty. Wang is accused of “spying under the cover of research” and digitally recording 4,500 pages of official documents from Tehran libraries to create an archive for the State Department and Western academic institutions. Wang was active at Princeton's Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies, which state media claims has links to Western intelligence agencies and Israel. Wang was arrested in August 2016 and news of detainment was only made public when the sentence was announced. Wang’s wife describes him as “one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and most loving men I have ever known.” (CBS News). The couple has a four-year-old son.

With the U.S. scholar’s conviction, a power struggle escalates between Iran’s president and hardliners (Washington Post).

The U.S. Department of State has called on Iran to release its citizens (Al Jazeera). At least 12 foreign nationals are currently imprisoned in Iran, including three with U.S. citizenship: Iranian-American art gallery manager Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife Afarin Niasari; Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namaz and his father, Baquer Namazi.

American colleges should stop recklessly sending students to Iran (Washington Post).

An award-winning Iranian children’s illustrator was denied a British visa to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival amid growing criticism of the UK's handling of Iranian visas (The Guardian). Ehsan Abdollahi, a lecturer at Tehran’s top Art University, has illustrated a number of children’s books published in English by Tiny Owl and was scheduled to host several children’s events and art workshops with the publisher. Abdollahi's visa was denied on the basis of a bank balance statement, despite his publisher providing correct information.

Columbia University’s Gary Sick spoke to The Iranist about conspiracy theories pertaining the Islamic Republic, Tehran’s trajectory, and Donald Trump’s Iran policy.


+ Pro-Rouhani journalist tortured by IRGC acquitted of anti-state charges.

+ Mother of slain protestor summoned same day intelligence minister denounces arrests.

+ Human Rights Watch calls on Iran to halt drug-related executions.

+ Why is Iran’s judiciary rushing to execute more people?

11 Christian converts issued long prison sentences in sham trials

Iran cracks down on Sufis.

+ Rights activists call Evin Prison visit a crude propaganda stunt.

+ Activists push President Rouhani to appoint women ministers.

+ Lebanese held in Iran hospitalized after hunger strike.

+ Why isn’t the British Government doing more to free its jailed citizens in Iran?

+ Boris Johnson has still not met family of jailed British-Iranian.


+ New Tehran mayor likely to be President Rouhani ally.

+ Basij denied entry to U.S. last week claims his political past isn’t why he was sent back.

+ Iranians pushing boundaries in 'private sphere' debate.

+ Tehran struggles to address smuggling in Kurdish areas.
+ Iran increases range and accuracy of sea-launched cruise missiles.


+ Why is the CIA director weighing in with policy advice on Iran?

Why regime change in Iran wouldn't work.

+ War with Iran is back on the table–thanks to Trump.

+ Two Iranians charged with hacking U.S. defense contractor.

+ Tehran sees liberation of Mosul as victory for Iraq and Iran.

+ Syrian cease-fire a delicate balance of vastly different goals.

+ Iran aims to boost prestige of beleaguered Afghan proxy force in Syria.

+ U.S., Russia and Iran battle to build bases in Syria as ISIS falls.

+ “Israel may need to take out Iranian bases in Syria.”

+ Iran state media accuses Saudis of planting false news story.


+ We shouldn’t defend the JCPOA at the expense of the Iran Deal.

+ Understanding the Iran Deal through the lens of the Iran-Iraq War.

+ Did an elderly Korean-American salmon exporter become a money launderer for Iran?


+ This London-based investor says Iran holds huge promise—and it's not just in energy.

+ Foreign food chains brave risks for a bite of Iran.

+ Iran has more than 47 million social media users.

+ easyHotel signs agreements to open hotels in Iran.


+ Kazan festival to screen six films from Iran.
+ ArtAsiaPacific interviews Iranian artist Fereydoun Ave.

+ How Afghani rapper Sonita Alizadeh's song 'Brides for Sale' changed her fate.

+ In hot water: Iran through the ages–in pictures.

+ An Iranian woman finds love in the Japanese Lesbian drama.

+ Sabian Mandaeans perform new year rituals in Iran.


Iran's newest robot is an adorable dancing humanoid.

Remains of velociraptor dinosaur found in Iran.


+ Nazarian family donates $17 million to CSUN’s Valley Performing Arts Center.

+ Watch fisherman ‘surf’ on top of a whale shark across the Persian Gulf.

+ Agents of Mayhem includes Iranian inspired assassin called ‘Scheherazade’.

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