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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of March 3rd

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever. Thank you on behalf of Mr. Farhadi.”

                                   - Director Asghar Farhadi’s acceptance speech, read by
                                     Anousheh Ansari at the 89th Academy Awards


Farhadi won for Best Foreign Language Film for 'The Salesman'. Read more about it in CARTOON OF THE WEEK.


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: REZA ASLAN

The internationally renowned scholar of religions and writer spoke to The Iranist about his new show on CNN, sectarianism, and what it’s like being Iranian-American under a Trump presidency.


ROUHANI RUNNING FOR A SECOND TERM
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

A top Iranian aide announced pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani will be running for a second term during the May 19 election (AFP). Per the Iranian Constitution, presidents can serve a maximum of two four-year terms in office. The hardliners have yet to announce their candidate for office. However, there are rumors circulating that the Guardian Council may disqualify the incumbent president for re-election (Al-Monitor).

During a speech, President Rouhani warned military institutions against interfering in the upcoming presidential election and rigging the vote in their favor (Al-Monitor). On February 25, the Iranian president said, “We all have to be careful that government resources are not used in favor of one individual or party. This is a sin. By government, I mean the executive, the judiciary, the armed forces. I mean all the organizations that use public funds. No one has a right to use a public platform, public media, newspaper or website that uses public funds in the election.” Rouhani did not make specific allegations, but there have been accusations that the 2009 presidential election was rigged in favor of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This sparked the post-election protests known as the Green Movement—the largest demonstrations since the 1979 revolution.

Rouhani also accused hardliners of wanting to deprive the Iranian people of joy and isolating Iran (Reuters). The Iranian president’s remarks were made during a meeting on public health.

Meanwhile, Iran held naval war games in the Strait of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean on Sunday (Reuters).


IRANIAN PRESIDENT IN PAKISTAN
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Islamabad to attend the 13th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) summit hosted by Pakistan (PressTV). The ECO was established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey to promote economic, cultural, and technical cooperation among the member states. The organization was later expanded to include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. During a meeting with Turkey’s president at the ECO Summit, Rouhani urged respect for the sovereignty of regional countries, including Iraq and Syria (PressTV).

Also, hardline MP Javad Karimi Ghoddousi claims the Iranian foreign minister wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Al-Monitor). The Foreign Ministry released a statement on February 28: “The wrong, baseless and again new claim of Javad Karimi Ghoddousi that Foreign Minister of our country has had correspondence with the US Secretary of State is strongly rejected.” There hasn’t been any proof, but Ghoddousi and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have a history of being political opponents.


TEHRAN COMPLYING WITH THE DEAL
FILED UNDER:
 IRAN DEAL

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report said Tehran is complying with the nuclear deal (AFP). Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium was 101.7 kilos (225 pounds), well below the agreed level of 300 kilos.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s proposal to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization has stalled over warnings that it could backfire (Reuters). Defense and intelligence officials warned the Trump administration that it could undermine the fight against ISIS, bring about opposition from allies, terminate U.S.-Iran diplomatic prospects, and complicate enforcement of the Iran Deal.


ECONOMIC GROWTH
FILED UNDER:
 ECONOMY + TRADE

The International Monetary Fund says Iran’s economy has had an “impressive recovery” following sanctions removal last year (Bloomberg). Economic growth is expected to be at 6.6 percent by the end of March, the end of the Iranian calendar year. However, uncertainty regarding relations with the U.S. and the nuclear deal threaten to undermine such growth and put the country into a recession.

France’s Total is in talks to buy Iran’s partly-built liquefied natural gas export facility in South Pars, according to sources (Reuters). The French company hopes to enter at a discounted pre-sanctions price in exchange for reviving the stalled project.

Iran regains its OPEC market share, exporting at levels that existed prior to sanctions in 2011 (Mehr News Agency).

Imports of Iranian crude by Asia’'s four main oil buyers rose about two-thirds in January from a year ago (Reuters). Iran’'s top four Asian buyers—China, Japan, India, and South Korea—imported 1.64 million bpd last month. This number is up 67.6 percent from a year earlier, according to government and ship-tracking data.

Iran needs foreign investment, but they're not making it easy (The National Interest).


CARTOON OF THE WEEK

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi did not attend the Oscars in protest of Trump’s Muslim ban. Instead, he sent former NASA scientist Firouz Naderi and the first female space tourist Anousheh Ansari to represent him. His choice of Farhadi and Ansari delivered a subtle, but powerful message about a world without borders (The Guardian).

Firouz Naderi Tweeted this cartoon by Behnam Mohammadi with the caption: “Sadly true!!”. In the cartoon, Naderi says, "Asghar dear! You know we can't come to Iran either (as you can't come to U.S.)! How can I send you the award?"


The U.S. State Department @USAdarFarsi account Tweeted, then deleted congratulations for Iran Oscar win (Reuters).

An Iranian news agency gave actress Charlize Theron a polo neck in altered Oscars footage (The Guardian).

Hardliner newspapers criticized Farhadi’s Oscar win, claiming he won because of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban (Al-Monitor).

On the day of the Oscars, Trafalgar Square in London held a free screening of ‘The Salesman’ (IranWire).


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS
 
A professor at Imam Khomeini Int'l University was arrested for "insulting sanctities".
 
Former political prisoner Majid Asadi arrested by “unidentified agents” without a warrant.
 
Iranian-Kurdish activist lured to government office and arrested by Intelligence Ministry.
 
Daughter of imprisoned rights lawyer accuses intel minister of blocking his release.
 
Editor of state-funded news agency remains detained without access to due process.
 
Filmmaker Keyvan Karimi attacked in prison.
 
Former MP demands Iran implement right of ethnic minorities to preserve languages.
 
Torture: From prisons into the streets.

+ Self-censorship is more painful than censorship.
 
I watched the SOTU address from prison in Iran. This year, I attended it as a free man.
 
Can Donald Trump bring American hostages and prisoners home?

DOMESTIC ISSUES

Five allies of President Rouhani in the crosshairs of Iran's hardliners.
 
Iranian MPs move to hand control over bond market to Central Bank.
 
Iran devotes complex to housing families of fallen Afghan troops in Syria.
 
Tehran taxi drivers rise up against taxi apps.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Iran’s FM praised the IRGC for providing “utmost support” to neighbors to fight terrorism.


+ Trump's "moderate" defense secretary has already brought us to the brink of war.

Hassan Rouhani says Iran opposed to incursions into Syria and Iraq.
 
How Washington should deal with Tehran's leverage in the Middle East.
 
What is behind the hostility between Iran and Turkey?
 
Why Iran wants Palestine back on regional agenda.
 
Saddam Hussein's grandson asks Trump for help against Iran.
 
Bahrain's assistant foreign minister called on Tehran to improve ties with all Gulf states.
 
Egyptian-Iranian détente a boon for the region and beyond.
 
Two new border crossings on Iran-Pakistan border.
 
IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

Iran plans to buy Kazakh uranium ore and seek Russia help to make nuclear fuel.

Iran's navy to benefit from an expiring UN ban, says U.S. study.

ECONOMY + TRADE

Iran’s non-oil trade exceeds $76 billion.
 
Indonesia seeks exploration of two oil fields in Iran.
 
China's Telecom giant allowed to export to Iran until March.
 
Ramee Group eying Iran hotel market.
 
U.S. receives first caviar cargo from Iran after sanctions eased.
 
New Zealand seeks stronger trade ties with Iran.
 
Iran and Malaysia integrating banking transactions.
 
Russia speculates on Iran’s interest in Sukhoi superjets.
 
Thailand seals Iran rice deal.  

ART + CULTURE

Censored Iranian film by Mohsen Makhmalbaf to be released after 26 years.
 
Stanford’s Iranian Studies Program highlights Iran’s art, culture via new initiatives.
 
Why does Iranian artist Mahmoud Bakhshi panic in cinemas?
 
Curating the forgotten gallery of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art.

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT

Overfishing and pollution are threatening production of Iran’s prized caviar.
 
Iran to host 2018 International Association of Science Parks World Conference.
 
Iran seeking world expertise in water treatment.

SPORTS

The fear of competing against Israel in sports.
 
Zahra Nemati is 2016’s best Paralympics archer.

OTHER

Iranian-born dentist claimed he was kicked off flight for arguing with cabin about Trump.

Thieves at airport steal life-saving meds from 12-year-old Iranian girl hurt by Trump ban.

+ Suspect thought he shot 'Iranian people' in Kansas bar attack that killed Indian man.

+ Iranian baby impacted by Trump’s travel ban doing well after life-saving surgery.

+ Bahai's are largest religion in South Carolina, after Christianity.

EVENTS
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