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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of February 10th

“Why should we be thankful to the previous U.S. administration? Because it imposed anti-Iranian sanctions? Because of the extremist Islamic State group? Setting the region on fire in Iraq and Syria? We are thankful to Mr. Newcomer [Donald Trump], of course, since he has shown the real face of the U.S. and proved what Iran has said for 38 years about the political, economic, social and moral corruption of the U.S. government.”

- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in response to Trump’s Tweet


WAR GAMES OUT OF SPITE?
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted a military exercise aimed at testing its missile and radar systems (Washington Post). A statement on the IRGC’s website said the aim of the exercise was “to showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions” that were imposed last week in response to a ballistic missile test (See IRAN DEAL). The exercise took place in a 35,000km2 (13,515 mi2) area in northern Iran’s Semnan Province. According to state media, all equipment used in the war games were designed and manufactured by Iranian scientists.
 
During the exercise, a senior IRGC commander warned enemies from attacking Iran (Reuters). Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Guard’s aerospace unit, said, “We are working day and night to protect Iran’s security. If we see smallest misstep from the enemies, our roaring missiles will fall on their heads.”
 
Also, Tehran conducted another missile test this week (CNN). The surface-to-air missile (SAM) was launched from the same pad Iran used to conduct its failed ballistic missile test the previous week.


TRYING TO DRIVE A WEDGE, BUT WITH NO AVAIL
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

During a news conference, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis called Iran the “biggest state sponsor of terrorism” (VOA). He also warned Washington that the world shouldn’t ignore the country’s actions.

The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran (Wall Street Journal). Officials say strategy marries Donald Trump’s vows to improve relations with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and to aggressively challenge Iran’s military presence in Middle East. However, Moscow disagrees with Trump’s assessment of Tehran (Reuters). Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “Russia has friendly partner-like relations with Iran, we cooperate on a wide range of issues, value our trade ties, and hope to develop them further.” He added that, “It's no secret for anyone that Moscow and Washington hold diametrically opposed views on many international issues.”

More on the Trump travel ban:
Several Iranian-American organizations file a federal lawsuit against Trump’s executive order (NIAC).

Iran reversed its ban on the entry of U.S. wrestlers for the Freestyle World Cup competition in Kermanshah, but Iranian archers will not be able to compete at the 2017 Vegas Shoot (Al-Monitor).

Iranians make ‘love’ between Iran and America go viral with #LoveBeyondFlags, as a response to Trump’s ban (Global Voices).

For Iranian-Americans, Trump has complicated an already tricky trip to motherland (Los Angeles Times).

Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad arrives in U.S. for life-saving heart surgery (AP).

Three Iranian couples recount their heartbreak during Trump’s travel ban (Al-Monitor).

Travel ban has 20 Iranian scientists at Harvard looking for new places to do research (CBC).


SANCTIONS FOR MISSILE TEST
FILED UNDER:
 IRAN DEAL

In response to last week’s missile test, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Iran (AP). The sanctions impacted two-dozen individuals and firms involved in procuring ballistic missile technology for Iran. This doesn’t include just Iranians, but Chinese, Emirati, and Lebanese entities as well. They are now prohibited from doing any business in the United States or with American citizens. The overall sanctions impact on Tehran is said to be minimal.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Iran Deal would likely remain, despite opposition in the republican party (CNN). Ryan told NBC's Meet the Press, “A lot of that toothpaste is already out of the tube. I never supported the deal in the first place. I thought it was a huge mistake, but the multilateral sanctions are done.” He also said it’d be hard to get the international community to agree to isolate Iran through sanctions while Tehran has not violated the nuclear deal.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer re-iterated Trump’s stance on Tehran (Telegraph). “I think the Ayatollah is going to realize there's a new president in office. This president's not going to sit by and let Iran flout its violations, or its apparent violations, to the joint agreement, but he will continue to take action as he sees fit.” Spicer added, “The president has also made clear time and time again that he's not going to project what those actions will be, and he's not going to take anything off the table. But I think Iran is kidding itself if they don't realize there's a new president in town.”

Deploring the Donald is the one thing that unites the mullahs and the middle class (The Economist).

Meanwhile, the Trump administration may put the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on a designated terrorist organization list (Reuters). The IRGC is Tehran’s most powerful security entity and answers to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The objective seems to be to dissuade foreign investment in Iran’s economy, since the IRGC’s is involvement in major sectors including transportation and oil. Iran denies being involved in terrorism.

Putting the IRGC on such a list is problematic due to the nuclear deal. It also complicates the U.S. fight against ISIS, since Shiite militias backed by Iran and advised by the IRGC are battling the Sunni jihadist group.

Also, Israel’s prime minister pushed for his British counterpart Theresa May to impose sanctions on Tehran, but she resisted pressure (The Guardian). Following the meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, May’s official spokeswoman said the prime minster had “made clear that we support the deal on nuclear that was agreed”. Before his United Kingdom visit, Netanyahu called for international unity against Iran’s recent ballistic missile test (AP).

Iranian MP blames Israel lobby for pushing for Washington’s plot to attack Tehran (Iran Frontpage).


TOTAL DEBATING INVESTMENT
FILED UNDER:
 ECONOMY + TRADE

France’s Total plans to make a final investment decision about Iran by the summer (Reuters). Total’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said a $2 billion gas project, the South Pars gas field, would be approved if U.S. sanctions waivers are renewed and if the nuclear deal isn’t torn up.

Tehran set to increase its crude oil output in March, amid fears its recent missile test would deter foreign companies from investing in the country (Wall Street Journal). Chairman Ali Kador of the National Iranian Oil Company said the country’s production would surpass 4 million bpd by the end of March.


CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Touka Neyestani’s the “revolution’s boat”.

Saturday, February 11th, marks the 38th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. However, today Iranians celebrate the day with nationwide rallies (AP).


Burn an American flag? Some Iranians are saying no this year (New York Times).

Gary Lewis, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iran, spoke to The Iranist about climate change, preservation efforts to save Lake Urmia, and what might surprise you about the Islamic Republic.


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

+ Disaster medicine scientist Ahmadreza Djalali sentenced to death in Iran.
 
+ Prominent dissident Mehdi Khazali arrested.
 
+ Ailing political prisoner imprisoned for Facebook posts denied medical care.
 
+ In Iran, Soheil Babadi from prison to exile for posting jokes on Facebook.
 
+ Dissident cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mekoonam transferred to hospital.
 
+ 129 Baha’is banned from education.
 
+ Former Kurdish political prisoner says torture destroys society.
 
+ Intelligence Ministry cracks down on alleged “anti-revolutionary” Telegram channels.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

+ Could Iran’s next president be former TV boss?

+ How Trump could spark ‘national reconciliation’ in Iran.

+ Why conservative-turned-moderate Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani will succeed Rafsanjani.
 
+ U.S. tour companies say American travel to Iran up in the air.
 
+ Gas explosion at an agricultural research site in southern Iran kills 5, injures 9.
 
+ Tehran-Barcelona flights as of June.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

+ How U.S.-Iran relations plummeted in a week.


Why Iran-U.S. war of words won't turn physical.
 
+ Norwegian ex-premier is stopped at Dulles Airport over Iran visit.
 
+ Trump cabinet pick for transportation secretary was once paid speaking fee by MEK.
 
+ Russia, Turkey, Iran further discuss Syria ceasefire in Astana.
 
+ A new security order needed in the Persian Gulf.
 
+ How Israel sold Russia drones to stop missiles from reaching Iran.
 
+ Mac malware, possibly made in Iran, targets U.S. defense industry.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

+ Iran says shipment will boost its supply of uranium.

Will new sanctions and statements escalate tensions with Iran?
 
+ Trump's move on Iran could cost jobs at Boeing.
 
+ China is in the crosshairs of some of the US’s new penalties for Iran.

ECONOMY + TRADE

+ Trade costs declining after sanctions relief.
 
+ Bank Tejarat to sue EU for loses during Iran sanctions.
 
+ Iran capital market value surpasses $165 billion.
 
+ Calls for border economic recovery.
 
+ Saffron exports reach 78 tons in eight months.

ART + CULTURE

+ 11 Iranian DJs that you need to know.
 
+ Iran displays ancient Persian artifacts returned from the U.S.

DIASPORA

Iranian-Americans you should know: Pardis Sabeti, geneticist and biologist at Harvard.
 
+ Iranian-Americans you should know: Cyrus Habib, Lieutenant Governor of Washington.
 
+ Iranian-Americans you should: Maryam Mirzakhani, Nobel laurate for mathematics.

EVENTS
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