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Week of August 19th
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"As we said at the time, we deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously. It’s already publicly known that we returned to Iran its $400 million in that same time period as part of The Hague settlement agreement. With concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release given unnecessary delays regarding persons in Iran who could not be located as well as, to be quite honest, mutual mistrust between Iran and the United States, we, of course, sought to retain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released. That was our top priority."
 
                                                          – U.S. Department of State Spokesman John Kirby,                                                              in response to Wall Street Journal article
                                                             (Read it here)


 
THE AUDIO THAT WON'T GO AWAY
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Politics
The son of late Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri was summoned to the clergy court in Qom for releasing an audio file of his father's criticism of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners (BBC Persian). Montazeri reportedly said in an interview he had more material and would release it. The clergy court questioned him for three hours and then made Montazeri pledge he wouldn’t release anymore audio files.

Montazeri was asked by Iranian intelligence to take down the audio file (ICHRI). In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, he explained why he complied: “We’re talking about a request from the Intelligence Ministry of the Islamic Republic. We did it out of respect for [President] Hassan Rouhani and his government. Of course, their request was unreasonable because the file had already been downloaded and spread, so it doesn’t make a difference to us. But since they asked, we took it off the site.”



 
BOMBS BROUGHT TO YOU BY HAMADAN
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

Russia’s SU-34 fighter bombers used an Iranian air base in Hamadan for the first time to launch attacks on Syria (Wall Street Journal). Iran is the second nation that Russia is using as a staging ground for air strikes in Syria, with Syria itself being the first since September 2015. Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s Majlis (parliament), explained, “The fact that we cooperate with Russia as an ally on regional issues like Syria doesn’t mean that we have given a base to Russia military-wise.” His comment was to dispel historically rooted distrust of foreign interference in the country. The last time the Russian military had a presence in Iran was the Anglo-Soviet invasion during World War II. The latest wave of airstrikes marked the first time Iran allowed a foreign country to use its land for military operations since the 1979 revolution. The Iranian constitution prevents foreign militaries from having bases inside the country. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov rejected U.S. allegations that the use of Iranian military bases violated United Nations sanctions on Iran (Reuters). According to UN Security Council resolution 2231, the supply, sale, or transfer of combat aircraft to Iran is prohibited.

Bloomberg Columnist Eli Lake has an outlandish suggestion for how U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry can drive a wedge between Tehran and Moscow.

Cartoonist Mana Neyestani on Russia's use of an Iranian military base.

Meanwhile, Iran unintentionally revealed the number of Iranian brigades that died while fighting in Syria (AP). The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reported the families of at least 400 people killed while fighting on behalf of Iran were referred to the Martyr Foundation to provide financial support to their relatives. Over half are said to be of Afghan origin.
 


 
CREDIT CARD CONTROVERSY
FILED UNDER:
 Economy

MasterCard is to enter Iran for the first time, at least according to the Iranian government (Trend). The Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Mahmoud Vaezi, revealed Iran’s Post Company signed a deal with Vision Card Iranian—a supposed MasterCard representative—to provide credit card services inside the country in accordance with international trade rules. Vaezi added that the credit cards would have an initial credit limit of $10,000 and could be used in over 210 countries.

However, MasterCard spokesman Seth Eisen rejected reports the American multinational financial services company was entering Iran (Tasnim News Agency). “MasterCard does not have any activities in Iran, as sanctions have remained in place for US-based companies for some time,” he said.

Also, Tehran to allow iPhone imports to cope with rampant smuggling problem (AFP).



 
ANOTHER ARREST FOR THE COLLECTION
FILED UNDER:
 Human Rights

Another dual national was arrested in Iran for alleged ties to British intelligence (AFP). No further information was released about the individual except that he/she was “active in the economic field, related to Iran.” Since the Iran Deal, hardliners have been targeting dual nationals with supposedly suspicious ties to the West.

Here is a list of dual nationals currently detained by Iran:

Kamal Foroughi (British-Iranian), since May 2011

Nizar Zakka (Lebanese, U.S. permanent resident), since September 2015

Siamak Namazi (Iranian-American), since October 2015

Baquer Namazi (Iranian-American), since February 2016

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (British-Iranian), since March 2016

Homa Hoodfar (Canadian-Iranian), detained since June 2016

Robin Shahini (Iranian-American), since July 2016

Unknown (Assumed to be British-Iranian), since August 2016

On their 7th wedding anniversary, Richard Ratcliffe makes a plea for his wife Nazanin’s release (Telegraph).



 

IMPORTANT WINS AND ONE BIG LOSS
FILED UNDER:
 Sports
Kimia Alizadeh became the first Iranian woman to win an Olympic medal (AFP). 18-year-old Alizadeh won bronze for the women's under 57-kilogram Taekwondo at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. "I am so happy for Iranian girls because it is the first medal and I hope at the next Olympics we will get a gold," she said.

Kianoush Rostami won gold in the men's 85kg weightlifting and broke his own world record by lifting a total of 396kg (Reuters). The best part? Rostami coaches himself.

Sohrab Moradi won gold in the men's 94kg weightlifting with a total of 403kg (AFP). Moradi returned to weightlifting after a two-year suspension for doping. 

(Fun fact: Sohrab and Rostam are names from Poet Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, or “Epic of Kings”)

The arm of Behdad 'Salimi' Salimikordasiabi, the once strongest man in the world, was deemed not to be straight on his second 245kg clean and jerk attempt during the men’s super-heavyweights (Reuters). Salimi and the head coach of Iran's team, Sajjad Anoushrivani, angrily approached the jury—which is against Olympic rules—claiming there was a conspiracy led by an Iraqi juror. Security was called over their behavior and now the Iran weightlifting team faces sanctions at the Olympic games.

Watch this video and decide for yourself.

Over 5,000 Iranian supporters in the crowd booed Georgia's Lasha Talakhadze after he beat Salimi’s world record tally. After the loss, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) website was hacked (BBC News). The super-weightlifter’s name and photo dominated the homepage. One IWF Instagram image received over a million comments. An Iranian user wrote: “Behdad is winner in our hearts. God damn the Olympics."

Two other bronze medals were also won by Team Melli, bringing the total of medals to five (Olympics). Iran currently ranks 32 in the world for gold medal count.

Interestingly, former Iranian world champ Shahin Nasirinia helps coach U.S. weightlifters at the 2016 Olympics (Voice of America).

Activist Darya Safai was allowed to hold a protest banner during volleyball matches, despite International Olympics Committee’s ban on political statements (AP).



 
OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

+ Teenager Hassan Afshar was executed on rape charges.
 
+ Iran executes three men charged with killing several police officers.
 
+ Italy frees Iranian activist Mehdi Khosravi after Reza Pahlavi appealed for his release.
 
+ The secret unlicensed Afghan schools run by refugees in Iran.
 
+ Tehran slams U.S. criticism of religious freedom in Iran.
 
+ Pressure mounts in Iran for law against animal cruelty after videos cause outrage.
 
DOMESTIC ISSUES

+ After nuclear deal, will Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani deliver on reforms?
 
+ Is President Rouhani in trouble?
 
Iranian culture minister says BBC Persian won't be granted license to operate.
 
+ Iran’s tourism sector growing, but is it enough?
 
+ Iran is most secure country in Middle East despite massive terrorist attempts.
 
+ Iran says it dismantled a cell linked to ISIS in Iraq border province.

+ Iran plans to sell smuggled Mercedes, Porsche as scrap iron.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

+ Should the U.S. partner with Iran to counter ISIS?
 
+ Will a film on the 2015 Mecca stampede further tarnish Iran-Saudi relations?
 
+ KSA must come to terms with the fact Iran has increased its influence in the region.
 
+ Iranian fishing boats seized by Saudi Arabia.
 
+ Tehran will continue advisory assistance to Iraq and Syria, says Iranian official.
 
+ According to U.S. officials, up to 100,000 Iran-backed fighters now in Iraq.
 
+ Iranian military official says Tehran will 'uproot' Jabhat Al-Nusra.
 
+ Kuwait detains 10 Iranian 'infiltrators' accused of breaching border.
 
+ Why Tehran’s diplomatic success to its north isn’t replicated to its south?
 
+ President Rouhani visits Cuba, says countries plan to expand cooperation.
 
+ Post-nuclear deal, Iran looks to expand ties with Latin America.
 
+ Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with Venezuelan counterpart in Tehran.
 
+ Ankara, Tehran rekindle courtship but take things slow.
 
+ Belarusian, Romanian envoys meet Iranian foreign minister.

IRAN DEAL

+ President Rouhani says Iran trusts JCPOA, not US.
 
+ Iranian Judiciary's Human Rights Council chief warns Tehran to brace for sanctions.
 
+ Senior Obama admin official says Iran Sanctions Act extension "not necessary" yet.
 
ECONOMY + TRADE

+ Iran post sanctions: Oil surges, but people still suffer.
 
+ President Rouhani hails Iran’s 4.4 percent economic growth.
 
+ Boeing representatives in Tehran, according to Iranian minister.

+ Persian carpets recapture U.S. market.
 
+ Tehran’s oil exports at 2.1 million bpd in June.
 
+ Iran says gas exports to Iraq to start in next month after delay.
 
+ Norway opens $1 billion credit line for Iran.

HISTORY

Iran's forgotten American: The legacy of William Morgan Shuster.

SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY

+ Iran's business leaders must do more to protect the environment.

ARTS + CULTURE

+ Iranian director Amir Naderi to receive Venice Film Festival honor.
 
+ Iran's animated film 'Stripy' in finals of Italian film festival.
 
+ Mysterious village of “Lilliput” in eastern Iran.
 
DIASPORA

+ A product of three cultures, it took Muhammad Seven a while to find his voice.

SPORTS

Iranian girls in off-road motorcycle race.

+ Is a women's football team being persecuted for lesbianism

OTHER
 
Iran ranks second in index of countries with the worst reputation in the world.

Traveling to Iran? Top 9 reasons that your trip might not go as planned.
 
+ Anne Frank film shot during 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict secretly screened in Iran.
 
Iran police seize over a ton of drugs.
EVENTS
...تا هفته بعد
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