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Week of August 31st

“[America’s] focus is on a psychological war against Iran and its business partners. From the time that Trump announced the withdrawal from the nuclear deal, America has not been able to reach its goals.”

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, during an interview


DOMESTIC POLITICS

Impeached minister: Iran’s parliament impeached the minister of economic affairs and finance (New York Times). The sacking of Masoud Karbasian—over problems with the banking system, tax regulation, and his failure to fix the economy—was the latest move in a number of shakeups of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet. Earlier this month, lawmakers impeached the minister of labor, and last month President Rouhani replaced the head of Iran’s central bank.

Rouhani under fire: Parliament summoned President Rouhani to answer questions about Iran's economic crisis, and then voted to reject his explanation (New York Times). The Iranian president blamed U.S. sanctions, not his cabinet on the mismanagement of the country’s economic problems. After Rouhani answered five questions
on high unemployment, the collapsing value of the Iranian rial, cross-border smuggling, slow economic growth, and the lack of access by banks to global financial services—the majority of lawmakers voted that they were “not convinced” by four of his answers. Iranian officials said the matter could be referred to the judiciary, which could potentially be grounds for impeaching Rouhani.

We didn’t choose: Iran’s The Iranian foreign minister is being ridiculed over a comment on state television that Iranians chose their country’s path (RFE/RL). On Sunday, Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared on a talk show in which he was asked, “why Iran faced more international pressure than other countries?” Zarif replied: “We have chosen to live in a different way [compared to other countries]. We do not want someone telling us how to live. We want to secure our people’s rights based on our laws. We want a system of government that we prefer.” Iranians responded on Twitter to Zarif’s comments using hashtags #I_didn’t_choose and #We_didn’t_choose in Persian to express their anger and frustration about Iran’s struggling economy, the reimposition of sanctions, freedom of expression, and the country’s hijab law.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami (left) meeting with his Syrian counterpart in Damascus. (Sana)

New Syria deal: Iran agreed to a deal to develop its military cooperation with Syria (Wall Street Journal). The deal was reached following a meeting in Damascus between Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and senior military officials. The move reaffirms Tehran’s intention to remain in Damascus despite opposition from the United States and its allies. Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister made a surprise visit to Turkey (AFP). Zarif’s visit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was ahead of a Tehran-Moscow offensive against a major rebel stronghold along Turkey’s border. Next week, President Erdoğan will visit Iran on September 7 (Reuters). The trip will include a three-way summit with Iranian and Russian leaders. 

Spies arrested: Iran’s intelligence minister said that tens of spies have been arrested in the Iranian government (Reuters). Mahmoud Alavi did not elaborate when the arrests were made and which countries these spies allegedly worked for, other than that many were dual nationals.


IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

Nuclear report compliance: According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s quarterly report, Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement (Reuters).

The Hague: Iranian lawyers asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order the United States to lift sanctions on Tehran (Reuters). Iran filed the lawsuit in July, claiming that the U.S. sanctions violate terms of a 1955 Treaty of Amity between the two countries. Iran wants the ICJ to order Washington to suspend the sanctions temporarily while it hears Iran’s case in full, a process that could take years. Over the past four decades, both the United States and Iran have sued on several occasions over the basis of the treaty. U.S. lawyers argued that the sanctions were legal and justified a national security measure (Reuters). A provisional ruling is expected in September, though no date has been set. The ICJ’s rulings are binding, but does not have the power to enforce them. The United States and Iran have both ignored its decisions in the past.
 
Aid package criticism: The U.S. special representative for Iran criticized the European Union for deciding to give Tehran a $20.7 million aid package (Reuters). Brian Hook said. “Foreign aid from European taxpayers perpetuates the regime’s ability to neglect the needs of its people and stifles meaningful policy changes.” Meanwhile, President Rouhani spoke to his French counterpart about saving the Iran deal (Reuters). During a phone call, Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron that Iran wanted the Europeans to give guarantees on banking channels and oil sales as well as insurance and transportation. Iran’s Supreme Leader said that Tehran could abandon the nuclear agreement if it does not serve its interests (Reuters). 


HUMAN RIGHTS
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe says goodbye to her four-year-old daughter, Gabriella. (Free Nazanin)

Nazanin back in prison: A British-Iranian woman was taken back to prison after a three-day furlough (The Guardian). Only days after Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to Evin Prison, she suffered two panic attacks, which led to her being taken to the prison clinic after fainting. She has been serving a five-year sentence for spying, in a high-profile case that has overshadowed British-Iranian relations for nearly two years since she was arrested in April 2016. On the last day of her furlough, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was informed that her extension request had been approved before learning later in the day that an unnamed authority had not signed off on it (CHRI).

Sotoudeh hunger strike: A prominent human rights lawyer attorney started a hunger strike (CHRI). Nasrin Sotoudeh also refused to appear at a court hearing to protest her unjust detainment in Evin Prison, and the harassment of her family members by intelligence agents. At the hearing, Sotoudeh was slapped with three new charges: organizing protests, urging a referendum, and assisting the formation of churches inside homes.


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS
Over 200 dervishes convicted in Iran
Kurdish death row inmate sews lips shut in hunger strike against denial of rights.
Four Christians appeal prison sentences for alleged missionary activities.
Iranian activist jailed over hijab protests goes on hunger strike.
Imprisoned Iranian-American Baquer Namazi on medical leave.
For foreigners imprisoned by Iran, an uncertain plight.
 
DOMESTIC ISSUES
Hardline Qom seminary official reiterates opposition to Rouhani.
Ghalibaf retools image to lead Iran's new conservatives.
No turban, no sermon, just books for kids: meet Iran's traveling cleric.
Strong earthquake hits northwest Iran, killing two and wounding 241.
Iran forces kill two militants, seize 14 near western border.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iranian hackers targeted over 76 universities to steal secret research.
Volunteers found Iran's propaganda effort on Reddit—but their warnings were ignored.
Iranian commander: “Belligerent” forces in Persian Gulf might face IRGC “action”.
Iran has full control of Gulf and Strait of Hormuz.
Declassified interrogation reports show how much Iran shaped Iraq War.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS
Iran says some OPEC members act in accordance with U.S. policy.
Sinopec says some refineries would be hit by a halt in Iran crude oil buying.
India expects clarity on Iran oil cut after U.S. meeting.
Standard Chartered may face another fine for Iran sanctions breaches.
Iraqi Kurds throw lifeline to Iranian Kurds as sanctions begin to bite.
Iran doctors: U.S. sanctions endangering patients’ lives.
Iran’s only Jewish hospital grapples with fallout of U.S. sanctions.

ECONOMY + TRADE
Tehran turns to economic zones to encourage balanced growth.
Iran yanks favored exchange rate from students abroad.
...تا هفته بعد
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