A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of September 23rd

"Undoubtedly, if the region is to reverse the current dangerous trend into one towards development and stability, certain countries must stop bombing their neighbors, and abandon supporting Takfiri terrorist groups [i.e. ISIS]; and, while accepting responsibility, try to compensate for past mistakes. If the Saudi government is serious about its vision for development and regional security, it must cease and desist from divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors, accept its responsibility for the protection of the lives and dignity of pilgrims and construct its relations with the nations in the region on the basis of mutual respect and accountability."

                                                     – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani 
                                                        from his United Nations General Assembly speech

Rouhani also accused the U.S. of lack of compliance on the Iran Deal (New York Times).

 Domestic Politics

To mark the 36th anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq War, Tehran showed off its latest military hardware, threatened Israel, and told the United States not to meddle in the Persian Gulf (Reuters). At a parade in the capital, the military displayed marching troops, tanks, long-range missiles, and the new Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system. A banner on the side of a truck carrying a new long-range "Zolfaqar" ballistic missile with multiple warheads and a range of 466 miles (750 kilometers) said: “If the leaders of the Zionist regime make a mistake then the Islamic Republic will turn Tel Aviv and Haifa to dust.” The missile is named after the legendary sword the Prophet Mohammad gave to Imam Ali, his cousin and the Caliph of the Shiites. At the Bandar Abbas port on the Persian Gulf, the Iranian navy showed off fast patrol boats, warships, helicopters, and submarines. During the exhibition, Russian-made Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets flew overhead.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, “We tell the Americans that it’s better that the capital and wealth of the American people should not be wasted on their inappropriate and detrimental presence in the Persian Gulf. If they want to extend their reach and engage in adventurism they should go to the Bay of Pigs”—a reference to the location in Cuba where the U.S. botched an attempt to overthrow Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1961.

Since the beginning of this year, U.S. officials say there have been over 30 close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the Persian Gulf—twice as many as the same period during 2015. These Persian Gulf incidents are a message from Tehran's hardliners (Christian Science Monitor).

Iran's Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said the $38 billion aid deal between the United States and Israel makes the country more determined to strengthen its military (Newsweek).

 Foreign Policy

During his fourth trip to New York to attend UNGA, President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran was following the U.S. presidential election and it didn’t matter who won, but whether the winner was willing “to respect the rights and dignities of nations,” particularly Iran (AP). He also said the Iranian people weren’t happy with the actions of most U.S. administrations and this caused distrust over the decades. The Iranian president added that he hoped the next U.S. president respected Iran’s national interests and would safe guard the nuclear deal.

After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a no-fly zone for northern Syria, President Rouhani said it wasn’t logical and would aid terrorists (Wall Street Journal).

In her first meeting with the Iranian president, British Prime Minister Theresa May raised the case of imprisoned dual-national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and pushed for progress (Sky News). When asked about the detainment of dual-nationals, the Iranian president explained Tehran doesn’t recognize dual nationals, adding that the country doesn’t use them as pawns.
The Iranian president also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Trend News Agency). Rouhani said, "Terror is a threat to all of us and the role of Tehran and Ankara in the fight against terrorism and insecurity in the region, especially Syria and Iraq is important." He also called the failed coup d'état against President Erdogan "very disturbing."
The Canadian government met for the first time with their Iranian counterparts since severing ties in 2012 (Trend News Agency). Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion discussed with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mutual relations and regional issues.

Iranians had high expectations for Rouhani's speech and hoped that he'd improve economic ties with the West while managing tensions with Arab World (Al-Monitor).

Before heading to UNGA, President Rouhani met with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and separately his brother President Raul Castro on a one-day state visit to Havana (AP). The meeting with the Fidel Castro was unusual given he receives only a few people. A government statement revealed they discussed threats to world peace and the importance of food production in a world threatened by climate change and population growth.
The Iranian president opened for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Venezuela earlier this week (PressTV). Rouhani held meetings on the sidelines with Bolivian President Evo Morales, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, and Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra. He called for “unity among independent states in pursuit of their common goals.”

 Iran Deal

After complaints from Tehran about obstacles in implementing the nuclear deal, the United States finally allowed Western aircraft manufacturers to sell planes to Iran (New York Times). The U.S. Treasury Department issued two licenses for Europe’s Airbus and American rival Boeing. Per the Iran Deal, international sanctions were to be lifted to allow Tehran the ability to buy passenger planes and replace its old fleet that predates the 1979 revolution. Over the past four decades, hundreds of Iranians have died in airplane crashes from the poorly maintained or malfunctioning aircraft.

Before the licenses were released, an Iranian official said that due to regulatory delays, a deal for 118 Airbus jets was cut to 112 and a deal to buy or lease 109 Boeing aircraft was also cut to 108 (Reuters). The Treasury-issued Boeing license covered the sale of 80 planes, while the Airbus license covered 17 of the 118 planes.

Meanwhile, Tehran denies the claim that the European Union is demanding Iran disclose full details to the IAEA about manufacturing parts for machines that could be used to make the core of nuclear arms (AP).

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said the nuclear deal may see tough days under the next U.S. president (PressTV).


 Trade + Economy

Six known fires at Iranian petrochemical plants and facilities over the past three months seem to have been caused by a cyberattack (AP). Initially, the Iranian government dismissed the possibility that a hack could’ve caused the fires. At the end of August, Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, who heads an Iranian military unit in charge of combating cybersabotage, acknowledged the petrochemical industry had been a target and blamed imported components that were installed at the facilities. This wasn't the first cyberattack on Iran’s facilities. The Stuxnet viruswidely believed to be an Israeli and American creationinfected uranium centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment plant at the height of tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran supports any move to stabilize the oil market and improve oil prices (AP). Tehran has reiterated in the past that it would attend an OPEC meeting to discuss an oil production freeze once its output reaches its pre-sanctions levels of 4 million bpd.

In our previous newsletter, we reported that Iran’s oil output stagnated in the last three months, now a source with knowledge of the country’s tanker loading schedule said Iran’s crude oil exports in August jumped 15 percent from July with over 2 million bpd (Reuters).

Iran’s daily oil exports to India surged to its highest in at least 15 years (Reuters). New Delhi received about of 576,000 bpd in August, up about 10 percent from July.

 Human Rights

Iran sentenced a U.S. permanent resident of Lebanese nationality to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine after he was found guilty of collaborating against the state (Reuters). Nizar Zakka, an information technology expert and advocate for internet freedom, was invited to Tehran by the country’s vice president for women and family affairs to attend a conference on women's entrepreneurship in September 2015, but disappeared afterwards. It was his fifth trip to the country. Iran state media reported in November the IRGC detained Zakka for being a spy and having “deep links” to U.S. military and intelligence services. Zakka is the CEO of the Arab ICT Organisation or IJMA3, an industry consortium from 13 countries that promotes information technology in the Middle East. IJMA3 received at least $730,000 in grants and contracts since 2009 from both the U.S. Department of State and USAID.

The Iranian Paralympic team finished 16th in the world for medal count at Rio de Janeiro and won more gold medals than any other Middle Eastern nation (Paralympics). Iran took home a total of 24 medals: eight gold, nine silver, and seven bronze.

On the final day of the Paralympics, the Iranian men’s sitting volleyball team beat Bosnia-Herzegovina for the gold medal (PressTV). Iran's volleyball player Morteza Mehrzadselakjani dominated with his height at 8ft 1in (2.46m) tall. He is the tallest Paralympian in history and second tallest man in the world.
Iranian Paralympics cyclist Bahman Golbarnejad died after losing control of his bike and crashing into a roadside fence on a mountainous stretch during a race (IranWire). The 48-year-old was the first Paralympian to die during a competition, according to the International Paralympic Committee. Golbarnejad lost his left foot and hearing in his left ear after stepping on a land mine while serving in the Iran-Iraq War.

President Rouhani expressed condolences over Golbarnejad’s death on Twitter (AP).

The Iranian Paralympics sitting volleyball team dedicated its gold medal to the deceased cyclist (The Guardian). The Iranian flag was raised to half-mast and there was a moment of silence observed before the final match with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Golbarnezhad was also commemorated with a moment of silence at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Paralympics (RFERL).

Here is a list of Iranian Paralympians that took home medals.

Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s Vice President and head of the Environmental Protection Organization, predicts a three-week to one month closure of schools in Tehran due to pollution (Fars News Agency). The Iranian capital is one of the most polluted cities in the world.
In the cartoon, Ebtekar holds a “vacation” sign as she approaches a school. The school then tells her, “This is beyond your reach!”


+ Journalist Sadra Mohaghegh arrested after reporting on corruption.
+ Afarin Chitsaz back in prison and banned from journalism.
+ Journalist Ehsan Mazandarani to begin hunger strike today.
+ Multiple arrests in Iran as Rouhani arrives in New York for UNGA.
+ Journalists, ask Foreign Minister Zarif about these Prisoners of Conscience!
+ The Iranian government should be ashamed of taking my wife and daughter hostage.
+ Shahrokh Zamani’s death in an Iranian prison must be investigated.
+ Transgender Iranians take to the stage to raise awareness.
+ Iranian mother and daughter defy fatwa on women cycling in video message.


+ Utah state senator’s summer visit to Iran sparks firestorm in Tehran.
+ Khamenei supposedly banned former President Ahmadinejad from running next year.
+ Can Iran hardliners make Rouhani a one-term president?
+ Khamenei says Iran must stand strong against U.S. in region’s conflicts.
+ Absolute distrust in U.S. is important part of Iran's soft power.
+ Iranian banks give Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps the cold shoulder.

+ Why are young Iranian couples not getting pregnant?
+ Friday isn't just for prayers in Iran. For car enthusiasts, it's also race day.
+ Air ambulance crash in Iran kills one, injures several people.
+ Soldier kills three comrades and himself in southern Iran.
+ Iran detained two Sunni militants near border with Pakistan.


+ Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir responds to Iranian counterparts' op-ed.
+ Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war—on Twitter.
+ Why Iran and Saudi Arabia will jaw-jaw but not war-war.
+ Are Iranian pilgrims really forsaking Mecca for Karbala?
+ Ending the Iran-Saudi Cold War.
+ Saudis urges UNSC to impose sanctions on Iran for supplying weapons to Houthis.
+ Saudi claim on arms transfer to Yemen dismissed.
+ Iran says the U.S. in cahoots with terrorists in Syria.
+ Iran strongly condemns U.S. air raids on Syrian army positions.
+ Vali Nasr writes about a Russian-Iranian Axis.
+ Why Iran never counted on U.S.-Russia agreement.

+ Number of Iranian tourists in Russia to break last year's record of 49,000.
+ Is this the end of Iran’s “Iraqi Hezbollah”?
+ Prisoner exchange may ease tensions over mistreatment of Iran's Afghan minority.
+ Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe willing to visit Iran.


+ Obama threatens to veto two Iran-related bills.

+ Washington’s hardliners are still helping Iran’s hardliners.
+ Iran deal remains issue in Maryland senate races.
+ Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) seeks answers from Obama on Iran payments.
+ Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) proposes renewal of Iran sanctions.
+ J Street and Americans for Peace Now warn Congress against obstructing the Iran Deal.
+ Iran’s last chance to seize the opportunities of the Obama administration.


+ End of Iran sanctions signals tougher times for India’s UCO.
+ Iran shouldn't be underestimated in two key oil markets.
+ Advertising giant WPP says Iran is a significant opportunity for investment.
+ Siemens gives Iran first post-sanction turbine for construction of power plant.
+ Can China capitalize on Iran's post-nuclear deal opening? Don't count on it.


+ Abdolhossein Sardari, the Iranian Muslim who saved Jews from the Holocaust.


+ Iran selects Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' for Oscar’s foreign-language category.
+ Iranian Horror Movie ‘Under the Shadow’ selected as U.K. foreign-language Oscar entry.
+ Iranian artist Iran Darroudi funds major new museum in Tehran—to show her works.
+ The subtle secrets of Persian home kitchens.


+ Environment official says Iran looking for more international cooperation.


+ Here is why a trip to Tehran will leave you in wonder.
+ Serving up a Parsi punch at the first Iranian restaurant in India.

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