A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of October 7th

“I stopped [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu from attacking Iran… I don’t want to go into details, but I can tell you that he was ready to launch an attack and I stopped him. I told him the consequences would be catastrophic.”

                                                 – Deceased Israeli former President Shimon Peres 
                                                            during an interview with the Jerusalem Post 

                                                            (Peres said to report this story when he died)

 Domestic Politics

Calls for a boycott of the 2017 Women's World Chess Championship in Iran, over the country’s strict Islamic dress code, have prompted a large debate (BBC). One side argues equal participation for women in sport, while another argues for women to resist the country's compulsory headscarf.

The controversy started when Iran was named host country and a number of players called for a boycott, including U.S. champion Nazí Paikidze. Georgian-born Paikidze wrote on her Instagram account: “I think it's unacceptable to host a women's World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens.” In an interview with My Stealthy Freedom, an online campaign against Iran's compulsory Islamic dress, Paikidze said she would rather sacrifice her career than wear the headscarf (Facebook).

Iranian champion chess players and activists inside the country believe the boycott “would hurt women in Iran” (The Guardian). Marzieh Azarafza, an activist from Tehran said: "There's no need for boycotting campaigns and making headlines. Our society is gradually solving conflicts between religious fundamentalism and modernity. Iranian women will gradually change the situation from within, so why should we stop that from happening?"

Many pointed out that chess was once banned in Iran following the 1979 revolution, so the fact Tehran is hosting a women's chess championship is already a significant step forward.

 Foreign Policy

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was at the center of controversy during a two-day visit to Tehran (Al-Monitor). Gabriel made remarks both before and during the trip, in which he addressed Iran's support for the “terror regime” of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, the country's human rights abuses, and “unspeakable” anti-Israel stance. This wasn’t the first time Gabriel made such comments. He also said Tehran should recognize Israel during his first trip to Iran in 2015.

Before his visit, Der Spiegel quoted Gabriel saying Germany will only have friendly relations if Tehran accepts Israel’s right to exist. This prompted Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht to say, “No country can set preconditions for Iran. We live with our beliefs. Tehran will never recognize Israel.”

The minister was accompanied in Iran by a delegation of 100 business executives including Siemens AG and automaker Daimler seeking agreements after last year’s nuclear deal.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, canceled a meeting with the German economy minister (Reuters). No reason was given. Larijani’s brother and head of Iran's judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, criticized Gabriel for his comments. He said, “If I were in the government's position or in the foreign minister's shoes I would never let such a person come to Iran.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also canceled his meeting, apparently due to a busy schedule. However, Gabriel had a meeting with Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, who is close to pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani.


 Iran Deal

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s real estate organization once rented New York office space to Iran’s Bank Melli (NBC News). From 1998 to 2003, the Iranian bank rented office space from the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The Trump Organization kept the bank on as a tenant for four more years after the U.S. Treasury Department designated Bank Melli in 1999 as "owned or controlled" by the Iranian government and subject to U.S. economic sanctions. Bank Melli eventually moved out in 2003.
Iranians see Donald Trump as dangerous—but to Iran or the U.S. (Al-Monitor)?


 Trade + Economy

The National Iranian Oil Company signed a $2.2 billion contract with Persia Oil & Gas Industry Development Company under the country’s new oil model (Bloomberg). The new Iran Petroleum Contracts (IPC) were designed to attract foreign investors and boost oil production. The IPC between the National Iranian Oil Company and Persia Oil & Gas will boost output at three fields along Iran’s western border with Iraq.

Persia Oil & Gas is linked to Setad Ejraiye Farman-e Emam, or Setad, a secretive and powerful business organization overseen by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (Reuters). In 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Setad and 37 other companies it oversees, but were removed as part of the Iran Deal.

Iran's oil sales likely reached around 2.8 million bpd in September (Reuters). It was 2.5 million bpd in August.

Meanwhile, Iran sells fuel condensate to British Petroleum and another firm.

 Human Rights

The former Washington Post Tehran bureau chief and his family filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government (The Washington Post). Jason Rezaian claims he was taken hostage and psychologically tortured during his 18 months in Evin Prison as an effort to influence negotiations for the Iran Deal. Rezaian; his brother, Ali Rezaian; and their mother, Mary Rezaian, are asking for an unknown compensation for damages under the “terrorism exception” to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who also was detained for more than two months, is not a plaintiff in the suit.

At Iran's Foreign Ministry: "You're going to Majlis (parliament), don't you need this smile?!"

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif replies, "That's only for foreign visits!"

(FM Zarif is known for his smiles during the Iran nuclear talks)

This cartoon is about the foreign minister's first appearance at the 10th parliament that was inaugurated in May. FM Zarif lashed out at a hardliner for questioning the intentions of the country's foreign policies (Al-Monitor).

Check out Orkideh Behrouzan's "Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran"
Looking for more books on all things Iran?


+ Journalist Sadra Mohaghegh released on bail.
+ Guard attacks jailed journalist Ehsan Mazandarani.
Help end the imprisonment of Iranian web developer Saeed Malekpour.
+ Writer in Iran faces six years for her unpublished fictional story about stoning.

+ Iranian Labour News Agency CEO Masoud Heydari charged with “spreading lies”.
+ UN secretary general troubled by lack of progress on human rights in Iran.
+ Tehran dismisses latest United Nations human rights report as "Invalid".
+ U.S., EU call on Tehran to free jailed death penalty activist Narges Mohammadi.
+ Parliamentary bill aims to remove drug smuggling from list of capital offenses.
+ The forgotten prisoner: Gholam Hossein Kalbi,15 years without a furlough.


+ Why Iran's hardliners are ripping into President Hassan Rouhani over NY visit.
+ Reformists send clear support for President Rouhani.
+ President Rouhani in firing line again as Qom clergy lash out at “sinful” concert.
+ Of lies, jokes, and the Shiite clergy.
+ Iranian film festival screens "anti-Iranian" film Rosewater.
+ Iran intelligence now says they kept Utah state senator under surveillance during visit.
+ Tehran to prosecute 400 officials over high salaries.
+ With civilian drone competition, Iran battles against brain drain.
+ Car crash in Iran kills 14 illegal Afghan migrants.
+ Iranian theme park teaches children war tactics.
+ Tehran says it has built attack drone based on captured U.S. craft.
+ Iran arrests terrorists on eastern and western borders, says police chief.
+ Giant Iran Mall in Tehran is one of the new shopping centers under construction.
+ Iran lays groundwork for regional airport hub in Tehran.


+ IRGC tells Saudi navy vessels not to get close to Iranian waters during military exercises.
+ Amid war games, Iran general hints Saudi King Salman might be killed by his son.
+ Iran causes panic after firing three mortar shells into Pakistan.
+ Turkey and Iran draw closer, despite Syrian War.


+ IMF says Iran economy 'rebounded strongly' following lifting of sanctions.
+ Germany tells Iran it will push U.S. to ‘dismantle sanctions’.
+ Iranians are cut off from the internet economy, even with lifted sanctions.
Turkish gold trader pushes for dismissal of U.S. sanctions case.

+ Billions in Brazilian jets, buses for Iran stall on U.S. sanctions.

+ J Street spots push back on GOP Iran Deal advertising.


+ Peugeot Citroen reached deal with Iran's biggest carmaker to open plant.
+ Iran attracts $7 billion of foreign investment after sanctions lift.
+ Iranian saffron fuels growth of German food business.
+ Iran offers hotel tax breaks in bid to boost tourism.
+ Siemens to upgrade Iran’s rail infrastructure.
+ New trade ties brings Persian rug resurgence.
+ India slow to expand Iran port as China races ahead at rival hub.
+ Switzerland’s Reyl Bank open for Iranians.             
+ Iran denies it made power plant deal with Swiss MECI for 370 megawatts.
+ Tehran denies talks with 'Israel-linked' Turkish energy firm.


+ Celebrated abroad, Oscar-winning Iranian director comes under fire at home.
+ Iran commemorates National Day of Hafez.
+ Pop stars, wrestlers and poets: Artist Afsoon celebrates Iranian icons.

+ Bijan Roghanchi documents road from Maplewood to Iran and back in book, NYC Show.

+ Apple opened up its App store to Iran again.


+ Could Iran's space program work with NASA?
+ Why renewable energy is booming in Iran.
+ This is what climate change is doing to Iran.
+ Iranians help starving animals amid severe drought in different regions of Iran.
+ Anti-plastics campaign in Esfahan: Propaganda or the real thing?


Iran launches women's beach football teams.
+ Iranian female billiards player makes history at asian championships.
+ Controversy erupts as soccer, religion clash in Iran.
+ Iran lands in 3rd place at 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup.


+ Going off the grid in Iran: Head west, to go dancing with nomads in the mountains.
+ Skiers get a glimpse at the complex living in Iran.
+ Bet you didn't know this about Iran.
+ Beatles' Paul McCartney getting down to Persian music during a Rosh Hashanah party.
+ Disco-taxis and pretty girls: in search of the world’s oldest windmills in Iran.

...تا هفته بعد
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