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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of June 22nd

“They are the ones who won tonight. Hopefully the first of many.”

- Spanish footballer Sergio Ramos, on Twitter after Iranian women were allowed into stadiums to watch Iran play against Spain


41 GIRLS KIDNAPPED AND RAPED
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs
People of Iranshahr protest alleged rapes. (Radio Farda)

Iran’s prosecutor-general threatened to prosecute a local Sunni Imam in the Sistan and Baluchestan province for disclosing that 41 girls were kidnapped and raped (Radio Farda). Mawlavi Tayeb Mollazehi, a Friday prayer leader, revealed the incidents in a June 15 sermon and urged the city’s governor to find those responsible. Mollazehi’s speech stirred controversy in the Sunni-populated province and has put Tehran’s Shiite judicial officials on the defensive. Officials do not acknowledge rape cases because they are concerned that these examples might undermine claims of high moral standards by the Islamic Republic.

After three victims filed complaints, medical examiners were able to confirm at least one victim was raped (VOA).

Security forces arrested one of the men suspected of the kidnappings, according to a local prosecutor in Iranshahr (Radio Farda).


A WIN AND A LOSS
FILED UNDER:
 Sports
Iranian men and women watch World Cup match on screens in stadium (Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

Iran’s football captain said the World Cup was not the place to discuss the issue of Iranian women being allowed into stadiums as spectators of football matches (Reuters). Masoud Shojaei said,“We are a family, we are a nation when we are out on the pitch. These are not just empty words. To talk about this issue now would be disrespectful to the tournament. I prefer to solve our problems within our family and if we have the opportunity to talk about this later, we will.” Shojaei had previously voiced his support for lifting the ban.

Iranian women entered Tehran’s largest stadium to watch a screening of a football match for the first time since the 1979 revolution (Washington Post). Tehran’s provincial council made the last-minute decision to allow women to attend the broadcast.

Iranian women were finally let into stadiums and they celebrated by taking selfies (BuzzFeed).

An Iranian women’s activist said she was stripped of a banner at the World Cup and blocked from a stadium for two hours after an earlier demonstration drew international headlines (Reuters). Maryam Qashqaei Shojaei said she was held for two hours by security officials at the Kazan stadium  ahead of the Iran and Spain match, having planned to raise a banner to protest Iran's ban on women attending stadium matches.

Barred from stadiums at home, an Iranian activist enters a new world in St. Petersburg (New York Times).

Meanwhile, Nike responded defiantly following criticism over its refusal to provide cleats for the Iranian football team due to U.S. sanctions (USA TODAY). Following Iran’s victory over Morocco, several players and head coach Carlos Queiroz criticized the American sportswear giant over its stance. In an e-mail to USA TODAY, Nike claimed that it had been “complying with this legal requirement for many years,” and emphasized that due to government restrictions, being unable to send footwear to the squad was “not a choice.”

Scores:

Iran 🇮🇷 1 – Morocco 🇲🇦 0 (Check out this great video of Iranians celebrating in Iran)

Iran 🇮🇷 0 – Spain 🇪🇸 1

Iran 🇮🇷 versus Portugal 🇵🇹 on June 25h


SPY GAME
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy
Gonen Segev (Reuters)

Israel’s former energy and infrastructure minister, who served jail time a decade ago for smuggling ecstasy, was arrested and charged with spying for Iran (New York Times). Israel’s security agency, Shin Bet, said Gonen Segev was allegedly providing Iranian intelligence agents with sensitive information connected to Israel’s energy market and security sites. Segev has been living in Nigeria, and it’s believed that agents from the Iranian embassy in Abuja approached him for recruitment. Though Segev is the most prominent Israeli to be publicly suspected of espionage for the Islamic Republic, it’s unclear whether he had much to offer. Iranians on social media made fun of the incident by using hashtag #FreeGonenSegev.

Iran scores PR win in intelligence wars with Israel (Al-Monitor).

Also, the Iranian foreign minister responded to his U.S. counterpart's 12 demands for Tehran (Iran Daily).

Meanwhile, a resolution passed by the Canadian House of Commons called on the Trudeau government to cease “negotiations or discussions” to restore diplomatic relations with Iran, and labeled the IRGC a terrorist organization (VOA). Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the decision “regrettable,” adding that “although the government has changed in Canada and a new administration has stepped into the political fray with a new approach toward the world, the radicals are still active in the country, exerting their political pressure on the Trudeau government.”


Jordan recalled its ambassador from Iran in protest over Tehran’s interference in the affairs of Arab countries in the region (Times of Israel). A senior Jordanian official told Al Arabiya television network that there was “no intention to name another Jordanian envoy in Tehran at this time.”

Saudi-led coalition in Yemen displayed weapons captured on the battlefield that they say show Iran’s role in arming Houthi rebels (Washington Post). Arms shown to reporters in Abu Dhabi and later at an Emirati military base during a government-sponsored tour included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat,” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate. Tehran has long denied arming the Shiite group, despite reports by the United Nations and outside groups linking it to the rebels’ arsenal.

Last week, a United Nations report was not able to determine whether missiles, components, or related technology were transferred from Iran to Yemen and if they violated UN restrictions (Reuters). According to the bi-annual report on the implementation of UN sanctions on Iran, debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels since July 2017 “share key design features with a known type of missile” manufactured by Iran. Some of the components were manufactured in Iran. However, it’s unclear whether Tehran provided the hardware.

Airstrikes in Syria and Yemen are being accompanied by diplomatic efforts to curb Iranian influence (Haaretz).


TALK TO AMERICA 
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal

Over 100 Iranian activists, most of whom are based overseas, issued a joint statement calling for direct talks between Washington and Tehran in the wake of the Trump-Kim summit (Al-Monitor). The statement urged the Iranian government to enter talks with the United States despite the “psychological war waged by the White House,” and asked Iran to “bravely” announce unconditional negotiations as a step toward resolving differences. The head of the IRGC rejected the activists’ statement (RFERL). General Mohammad Ali Jafari said the activists have “sided with the U.S., the enemy of the people.” He added that, “striking an understanding with the United States means the death of the Islamic Republic.”

Winding down
France’s finance minister said that French companies hope to keep doing business in Iran, but will find it impossible to do so due to U.S. sanctions (AFP). Bruno Le Maire told BFM television, that these companies “won’t be able to stay because they need to be paid for the products they deliver to or build in Iran, and they cannot be paid because there is no sovereign and autonomous European financial institution” capable of shielding them.

Spain’s Repsol has hired Malta-flagged suezmax tanker Mabrouk to ship the first batch of Iranian oil for export (Business Recorder). This move seems to be in response to looming U.S. sanctions on Iran.

French carmaker Renault will maintain its presence in Iran while taking measures to avoid the risk of penalties for breaching renewed U.S. sanctions (AFP).

Iran’s state rail company signed a memorandum of understanding with Switzerland’s rail tracks maintenance machines manufacturer Matisa (PressTV).

Germany established a special Iran sanctions office to advise companies that are concerned about their business dealings with Tehran, addressing fears of being penalized by U.S. sanctions (PressTV).

Iran preps for sanctions by expanding Chabahar port project (Al-Monitor).

OFAC off: The European Union needs to defend its economic sovereignty from U.S. overreach (Foreign Policy).


SUFI EXECUTED
FILED UNDER:
 Human Rights
Mohammad Salas at court (Amnesty International)

Iran executed a member of a Sufi order convicted of killing three police officers during clashes (Amnesty International). The Iranian judiciary’s official website said Mohammad Salas was hanged early Monday after he was convicted in the deaths of three police officers who were run over and killed by his bus. Salas had testified in March that he was trying to get away from the clashes and had not intended to harm anyone. The clashes broke out in February when supporters of Sufi leader Nourali Tabandeh rallied outside his home, fearing his possible arrest.

Iranian authorities buried Salas’ body without his family’s permission (CHRI).

The Center for Human Rights in Iran released a new report titled, Closing of the Gates: Implications of Iran’s Ban on the Telegram Messaging App (CHIR). The group interviewed dozens of Iranians across the political spectrum about the costs of banning Telegram, which over half of Iran’s 80 million population uses.


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS
UN experts urge Iran to halt “arbitrary” execution of juvenile offender.
Iran: Stop imminent execution of Kurdish prisoner.
Protesters demand release of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.


DOMESTIC ISSUES
Supreme Leader advises parliament to pass own anti-money-laundering law.
Advisor to Supreme Leader says state institutions ‘infiltrated’ by foreign intelligence.
Is Rouhani all talk, no action on hints at Cabinet shake-up.
Revolutionary Guard chief says Iran won’t increase its missile range.
The late shah's son wants a democratic revolution in Iran.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Does Iran hold key to Dutch murder mystery?
Why has the Iranian public remained silent on Syria?
Why Iran won’t leave Syria just yet.
Kurdish rebels move to gain U.S. support for operations against Iran.


IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS
Iran’s Rouhani in Europe in July to seek backing for nuclear deal.
A German “Iran bank” could save the nuclear deal.
Iran postpones key bank reforms over fate of the nuclear deal.
Israel forms team with U.S. to enforce Iran sanctions.
Let Italy help broker a new deal with Iran.
Follow the money: Three billionaires paved the way for Trump’s withdrawal.

ECONOMY + TRADE
Iran rules out OPEC deal as Russia and Saudi push for oil output hike.
OPEC meeting likely to end with no agreement on oil output, Iran minister says.
Iran oil exports slide in early ship data after U.S. sanctions.

ART + CULTURE
Can art help us understand Iran? A new LACMA exhibit misses the mark.

OTHER
Iranian researchers design new seawater desalination machine.

EVENTS
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