A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of December 16th

“Don’t threaten us, we are not a rabbit, we are a tiger. If you threaten us you endanger yourself.”

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns Tehran 
during visit to Kazakhstan 

(The Iranian president is set to visit Almaty next week)

 Foreign Policy

President Hassan Rouhani congratulated Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on what he called the “liberation” of Aleppo (PressTV). He said it was Iran’s duty to support the “flag-bearers” of the fight against terrorism, adding that Tehran would stand by the Syrian government “until terrorists are fully forced out of the country.” Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan and Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani also congratulated the Syrian president (The Guardian).

Amidst continued fighting, eight Iranian parliamentarians will visit Syria in coming days to renew Tehran's support (Fars News).

Conservative news outlets in Iran celebrated the victories of the Syrian army in Aleppo (Al-Monitor).

Some think all Iranians are pro-Assad. This video of a student activist questioning the deputy parliament speaker counters that notion (ICHRI).

What has been Iran’s involvement in Syria since the outbreak of civil war (IranWire)?

“Are you truly incapable of shame?” The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations criticizes Syria, Russia and Iran over Aleppo (CNN).

Also, Iran’s defense minister warns a Donald Trump presidency could cause a world war (Independent). Hossein Dehghan said it seemed unlikely Trump would take action against Tehran, but that enemies might still consider a war. The Iranian defense minister then added, “Such a war would mean the destruction of the Zionist regime [Israel] and will engulf the whole region and could lead to a world war." He also noted some of the consequences of such a war would be the destruction of Gulf countries since they “lack popular support.”


Even though President Barack Obama didn't sign the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) renewal, it still became law (AP). The White House initially said the president would veto the bill, but later said he’d sign the renewal if it passed in Congress. President Obama’s actions were seen as a symbolic attempt of disapproval and to alleviate Tehran’s concern that the United States violated the Iran Deal by imposing sanctions. The Associated Press reports, “Under the Constitution, the president has 10 days after Congress passes a bill to sign it, veto it or do nothing. If Congress has adjourned, failing to sign it is a ‘pocket veto’ that prevents the bill from becoming law. But if Congress is still in session, the bill becomes law with no signature.”

A senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader says Tehran has prepared contingency plans for responding to any violation of the nuclear deal (Press TV).

In response to the sanctions renewal, President Rouhani wrote two letters, one asking for a plan to design a nuclear-powered ship and another to see whether the U.S. violated the Iran Deal (Reuters). In the first, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi was asked to come up with a plan for nuclear-powered marine vessels and to produce fuel for them. Rouhani reportedly was referring to a power-supply unit, not highly enriched uranium, which would violate Tehran’s commitments. The White House said it is aware of the order and that the Iranian president said it’d be done within the framework of the nuclear deal. In a separate letter, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was asked to follow up on the U.S. violations of the nuclear deal. In the letter, Rouhani claimed “the measures were warranted in light of the United States’ foot-dragging in fulfilling its commitments under the multilateral nuclear deal ... and the recent ratification of anti-Iran legislation in the U.S. Congress.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s prime minister has continued his attacks on the Iran Deal (Reuters). PM Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS's 60 Minutes that "there are ways, various ways of undoing" the JCPOA. When asked what the Israeli prime minister was considering, Netanyahu replied, "Yeah, I have about five things in my mind." Then when asked for specifics, he said, "I'll talk about it with President [Donald] Trump." (Watch the interview)

An Israeli opposition politician Yair Lapid questioned dismantling the Iran Deal (AP). The head of the centrist Yesh Atid Party said that while he disagrees with the deal, the United States isn’t the only player involved. Lapid noted there are other signatories including Britain, China, Germany, and Russia. He added, “It needs to be determined whether it is even possible to cancel the Iranian nuclear deal.”

Also, Iran Air and Boeing signed an deal for the sale of 80 airplanes at a total cost of $16.6 billion (New York Times).

The New York Times Tehran correspondent on Iran’s race to finish deals before Obama leaves office (NPR).

 Economy + Trade

Iran and Russia signed an initial agreement to study two oil fields (Reuters). Russia's Gazprom Neft and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) will conduct a study in Western Iran on the Cheshmeh-Khosh and Changuleh oil fields.

Iranian officials say Russia’s role in an OPEC deal was very important (RT).

 Human Rights

Karroubi, Rahnavand, and Mousavi

The son of one of the Green Movement leaders currently under house arrest says Iran should put his father on trial (ICHRI). Mehdi Karroubi was one of the presidential candidates in the disputed 2009 presidential election that led to the post-election protests known as the Green Movement. Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest since 2011. In a Facebook post, Mohammad Taghi Karroubi, the candidate’s son, responded to Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei’s suggestion that Karroubi could finally be tried:

“Since the 2009 crisis, my father has directly and indirectly asked 11 times to be put on trial based on Article 168 of the Constitution. For the umpteenth time my father asks [Ejei] to definitely act on this promise—or threat.”

The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Green Movement leaders would be released if they repented. Ending their house arrest was one of Rouhani’s campaign promises when elected in 2013. He has since avoided the controversial topic.


What Tehran thinks President Obama has nightmares about: A Bashar Al-Assad win in Aleppo against ISIS. (Read more about Iran's support of the Syrian president under Foreign Policy)

+ Tehran bus drivers beaten up during protests.

Rouhani supporter imprisoned for activism critically ill after 43-day hunger strike.

Imprisoned Azeri rights activist loses 44 pounds 50 days into hunger strike.

+ Mother begs IRGC not to return her activist son to prison in video.

+ Cyber police tries to control social media app Telegram with hacking and permits.
+ Laureate Shirin Ebadi: Rouhani directly responsible for all intelligence ministry abuses.
+ The ban on learning: How Iran silences student activists.
+ Teachers are better off under Rouhani, but
+ The crush continues: Rouhani and the ban on Baha’i education.
+ Downing Street carol protest for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Iran.
+ Iran's moderates must stand on right side of history.
+ Iran authorities break up party, arrest 120.


+ Presidential election could let Iranian pollsters shine.
+ Iran may spare businessman Babak Zanjani if he pays back debt.
+ Rouhani’s budget proposal reverses declining reliance on oil.
+ Common sense lost in Iranian race for ultimate selfie.

+ Revolutionary Guard faces new foe in Iran's opening economy

+ Tehran has designed an anti-drone rifle.
+ Iran tests new Toophan anti-tank missiles in ground forces drills.


+ Trump’s foreign-policy appointees are set to provoke war with Iran.
+ Rouhani to Sunnis: Iran not seeking 'Shiite crescent'.
+ Iran proposes regional anti-terror bloc to fight terrorism, boost economic cooperation.
+ Egypt’s foreign minister denies rift with Saudi and drift toward Iran.
+ Iran and Turkey's secret talks on Syria revealed.
+ Tehran summons British envoy over PM’s meddlesome remarks.


+ Former IAEA head Hans Blix warns of disaster if Trump tears up Iran Deal.
+ How Rex Tillerson's oil industry politics could boost the nuclear deal.

+ Bloomberg writes Trump can crackdown on Iran without shredding nuclear deal

+ Blow to Iran as EU bans Aseman Airlines from flying in Europe.


+ Why Iran is moving to halt exports of raw minerals.
+ Hyundai Heavy gets $700 million deal to build 10 ships for Iran shipping lines.


+ 'World's oldest rock drawings' uncovered in Iran by archaeologist despite U.S. sanctions.
+ Iranian architects fight to save Gio Ponti villa from bulldozers.
+ Why Iran is opening its doors to bold architecture.
+ Farhadi’s “The Salesman” receives nomination at the Golden Globes


+ Iranian-American diplomats, White House staffers take center stage at women’s panel.


+ Memories of the Peace Corps: John Limbert in Tehran.


+ A locally-engineered car platform was unveiled at a university in Iran.


+ What skiing in Iran is like.
+ Iranian approved recipe: Super easy holiday pistachio brittle.
+ ‘Jingle Bells’ Persian Style.

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