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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of June 2nd

“The Saudi rulers are harsh on Muslims, yet kind to the disbelievers. They are giving special handouts to the United States. To whom does all this wealth belong? This is the [Saudi people's] wealth, which they give away to disbelievers and their people’s enemies. The fools actually think they can gain the friendship of Islam’s enemies by providing them with money and assistance. There is no friendship there; as they say themselves, they are ‘milking them’ like cattle. [The Saudis] oppress their own people in this manner, and oppress the people of Yemen and Bahrain in other ways. They’ll certainly collapse.”

- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a speech marking Ramadan


ZARIF ACCUSED OF TREASON
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

Hardliners attacked Iran’s foreign minister again by indirectly accusing him of treason (IFP). In an audio file circulating on social media, former lawmaker Mahmood Navabian accused Mohammad Javad Zarif of promising to hand over Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani to the United States in exchange for the removal of banking restrictions. Foreign Minister Zarif called the remarks “shameful” and urged the former MP to apologize. Zarif also said he wouldn’t file a lawsuit if Nabavian apologies. Iranian media circulated a short clip of Zarif speaking of his over two-decade relationship with the Qods Force commander as well as a picture of the two (Twitter).

Also, the Guardian Council confirmed the results of Hassan Rouhani’s re-election (Reuters). By doing so, the council dismissed claims by defeated hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who had asked for investigation into alleged widespread fraud. This young rapper may have cost Raisi the presidency (Al-Monitor).

Ignore Donald Trump, Iran has something to celebrate (The Guardian).

Major questions remain about Rouhani’s foreign policy approach for the next four years (Al-Monitor). 

Rouhani battles the shadow government after the election (Foreign Affairs).


IRAN IS TO BLAME
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

The U.S. secretary of defense said Iran is at the center of dysfunction in the Middle East and remains a threat around the world (CBS News). In an interview with CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation,’ James Mattis said he stood by comments he made in 2011 that Iran was a top priority. “Wherever there is chaos, wherever there is violence, whether it be in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, the attempts to unsettle Bahrain. We always find Iran and the IRGC at it.” He added, “It’s not the Iranian people. We are convinced it’s a regime that is conducting itself in order to stay in power in Tehran as a revolutionary regime, not as a proper nation-state. They are not looking out for the best interests of their own people.” Mattis also resurrected the story of an assassination attempt of the Saudi ambassador to Washington by an Iranian-American (Al-Arabiya).

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are going through a “severe” crisis with Qatar over its ties to Tehran (Bloomberg). Tension rose when a state-run Qatar News Agency carried remarks criticizing efforts to isolate Iran after Donald Trump’s Riyadh trip last week. Qatari officials said hackers put out the statements, which have since been removed. The denial didn’t stop the Emirati and Saudi media from accusing Doha of breaking away from the GCC’s position against Iran.


According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Tehran decided to resume financial backing for Hamas (Jerusalem Post). Hamas’s refusal to support Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad, Iran’s ally, prompting Tehran to cut off its financial and military aid to the Gaza-based group.

A State Department official pauses 20 seconds to create a non-response to why Iran’s elections are bad and Saudi's monarchy is good (Slate).


Why dialogue is both possible and necessary for Iran and Saudi Arabia (Lawfare Blog).

PAID MY DUES
FILED UNDER:
 Economy + Trade
The UAE’s national oil company has paid its dues to Tehran (Al Jazeera). ENOC has paid $4 billion as part of its debts owed to Iran for pre-sanction oil and gas purchases.

Seismological surveys of the Central Kavir desert have revealed a new oil deposit in Iran (Oil Price).


GREEN MOVEMENT CONTROVERSY
FILED UNDER:
 Human Rights

After criticizing the judiciary and the IRGC while campaigning, Rouhani supporters think it’s time to deliver on human rights (Reuters). At numerous gatherings around the country, Iranians chanted various slogans including, “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,” in reference to Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of the Green Movement leaders under house arrest since 2011. Rouhani had promised to resolve the house arrest of Mousavi, his wife Zahra Ranavard, and Mehdi Karroubi. He has failed to do so thus far, fearing backlash from hardliners. Rouhani's supporters also expect him to fight for basic rights, such as preventing the judiciary from cancelling concerts or security forces from harassing women for the way they dress.

Iran’s judiciary chief attacked Rouhani over his promise to free the leaders of the Green Movement (Al-Monitor). Sadegh Larijani said, “It has been cited that a [presidential] candidate addressed his supporters, saying he has come to lift the house arrests. Who are you to lift the house arrests?” Larijani added, “We are warning the media and those who are reiterating such issues in concert, imposing pressure, to stop this lest the judiciary itself step in to put a firm halt to this.” Larijani was just elected speaker of the parliament for the tenth consecutive year (Tasnim News Agency).


Iran’s top Sunni cleric urges President Pouhani to appoint religious minorities to cabinet (CHRI).


CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Donald Trump is milking Saudi Arabia of billions (Tasnim News Agency).

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Haleh Esfandiari spoke to The Iranist about the upcoming Iranian presidential election, imprisonment of dual nationals, and words of wisdom for the next generation.

OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

+ Iran hangs renowned Kurdish wrestler after ten years in prison

+ Top reformist campaign staff member arrested in front of children without warrant.

+ Nasrin Sotoudeh: to improve women’s rights, Rouhani must curb security agencies.

+ Imprisoned for “waging war against God.”

+ Politicians appeal for release of Telegram administrators.

+ Well-known cleric urges Rouhani to drop justice minister for role in 1988 massacre.

+ Desecrating 1988 mass grave site would destroy crucial forensic evidence.

+ Artists send letter to Rouhani demanding release of imprisoned music producers.

+ Iranian anti-hijab campaign ‘hit by government cyber attack’.

+ Nazanin denied right to vote in UK election.
 
DOMESTIC ISSUES

+ Iran's politics color Ramadan prayer dispute.

+ Police disperse protesters outside central bank, demanding money back from creditor

+ Iran's housing crisis aggravated by reluctant sellers.

+ Iran is reinventing itself – but the change is too fast for some.
 
+ Inside a women-only seminary in Iran.

+ Iranian Himalayan climber returns home to hero's welcome.

+ Iran ignored safety recommendations for ransomware now 4,000 computers are infected.
 
+ Tehran mass-producing Shaher sniper rifle.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

+ Will America once again undermine Iran’s pro-democracy movement
 
+ When Zbigniew Brzezinski almost became Iran’s foreign minister.

+ America’s Iran hysteria: the irrationality of Iran vilification.

+ Trial kicks off in U.S. case over Iran-linked New York office tower.

+ Hezbollah’s head says dialogue with Iran is only way forward
 
+ Iran-backed Iraqi force takes ISIS villages near Syria.

+ Syrian rebels say U.S., allies sending more arms to fend off Iran threat.

+ Iran to bankroll pro-government militia fighters in Syria.

+ U.S. sees a vital Iraqi toll road, but Iran sees a threat.

+ The Saudi-Iran factor in Pakistan’s Sunni-Shia conflict.

+ Iran has started giving 250, 000 iftars around the Gaza Strip.

+ Iran questions U.S. pivot back to region as Europe embraces Rouhani.

+ The Donald Trump effect on EU-Iran relations.

+ Why Iran represents an opportunity for Europe.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

Rouhani vows to shed sanctions as Trump piles on more.

ECONOMY + TRADE

+ As Iran and U.S. leaders trade barbs, big deals proceed.

+ Tehran sees breakthrough in oil deals following Rouhani re-election.
 
+ Iran’s economy grew 8.3 percent in the last fiscal year.

+ Tehran is the second Biggest FDI destination in MENA.

+ Turkish banking team plans Iran visit to resolve Halkbank dispute
 
+ Bank Melli Iran is revamping its European branches

+ Could Tehran be a future knowledge hub to match Beijing or Delhi?  

+ Long shunned by foreigners, Iran looks to tourism to boost ailing economy

+ Iran’s startups promise paradise for country’s unemployed youth
 
+ Auto industry tries to persuade Iran to change the meaning of luxury.

SCIENCE + ENVIRONMENT

+ Tehran cancels project for sending human into space.

ART + CULTURE

+ Iranian state TV uses green screen to bypass hijab rules for Ramadan series.

+ Animation helps reveal Iran's taboo topics at Cannes.

+ Iranian film ‘A Man of Integrity’ wins ‘Certain Regard’ competition at Cannes.


+ ‘Radio Dreams’ builds a spiritual home for stateless souls.

+ ‘When God Sleeps’ chooses stereotypes about Iran over good storytelling

OTHER

+ See the ancient water tunnels below Iran's desert.

+ The story behind an Oregon pinot noir made by an Iranian immigrant.

+ A bizarre six hours in Iran (Well, the airport).

EVENTS
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