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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of March 24th
Happy Nowruz from The Iranist! 🌷

“…Cyrus the Great, a leader of the ancient Persian Empire, famously said that ‘freedom, dignity, and wealth together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.’ To the Iranian people and all those around the world celebrating Nowruz: On behalf of the American people, I wish you freedom, dignity, and wealth. Nowruz Pirouz (Happy Nowruz).”

  - Donald Trump’s statement on Nowruz, which came two days later     


Unfortunately, Trump used a fake Cyrus the Great quote to wish Iranians happy new year (Mic).

The five-paragraph statement went through multiple drafts, according to two people involved in the process (New York Times).


PARTY LIKE IT'S 1396
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

The Spring equinox on March 20th marked Nowruz, the Persian New Year in Iran, which dates over 3,000 years to the time of ancient Persia (IranWire). Nowruz, which has over 20 different spellings, is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iraq and other countries.

Here's a holiday that's perfect for Americans (New York Times).

Want to know what it's like celebrating Nowruz in Iran(Roads & Kingdoms)


Iran’s supreme leader delivered his annual Nowruz message (Reuters). Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei acknowledged President Hassan Rouhani’s progress in opening the economy after signing the nuclear deal. However, he also said the president’s efforts to open the economy to international markets had fallen short. The supreme leader named 1396 the “year of the economy of resistance: production and employment,” expressing hope it will be “accompanied by security and welfare.”

According to the Statistical Center of Iran, unemployment is at 12.4 percent, up 1.4 percent from the previous year.
That means 3.2 million out of 80 million Iranians are jobless. As a result, gloom surrounds Rouhani’s budget for new Iranian year (Al-Monitor).

Khamenei also warned that he would confront any interference in this May’s presidential election (VOA). The supreme leader said, “I will confront anyone who wants to tamper with the results of the people's vote. In previous years and previous elections... it was the same. Some of it was in front of people's eyes and they became aware of it. And some of it they were not aware of but I was informed about it.” He then added, “It was revealed in 2009—they came out and drew battle lines. And in other years in other ways, but in all these years I stood against them and said whatever the results of the election are, they must be carried out.”

In 2009, presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hussein Mousavi claimed election fraud, which marked the post-election protests known as the Green Movement. Both are currently under house arrest since 2011, including Mousavi’s wife Zahra Rahnavard. 

Can Iran's conservatives agree on candidate for upcoming vote? (Al-Monitor)

Iran is one country where hardliners might not be poised for election success (Los Angeles Times).

Evolution, not a new revolution, in Iran (National Interest).



HAJJ BACK ON FOR IRANIANS
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

Riyadh and Tehran came to an agreement that Iranian pilgrims can go on the Hajj pilgrimage this year (New York Times). Iran had stopped pilgrims from traveling to Mecca and Medina after a stampede killed more than 2,400, including 464 Iranians. The Iranian government deemed that until Riyadh guaranteed the safety of its citizens, it would not allow them to go on pilgrimage. 

The move is seen as an improvement after the countries ceased ties in 2016 when Iranians stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad over the execution of a Shiite cleric.

A report released by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center assesses Iran has lost 2,603 fighters in the Syria and Iraq wars (Jerusalem Post). The Israeli center broke down the numbers: 511 actual Iranians, 1,045 Lebanese Hezbollah, and 1,047 Afghan and Pakistanis–all under Iranian command. Tehran also lost 10 generals.
 
Iranian state television to air documentary glorifying fallen fighters in Syria (VOA).


DEAL TO STAY, FOR NOW
FILED UNDER:
 IRAN DEAL

RAFSANJANI'S DAUGHTER SENTENCED, AGAIN
FILED UNDER:
 HUMAN RIGHTS

The outspoken daughter of Iran's late President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been sentenced to six months in prison for “spreading lies against the judiciary and the IRGC” (RFERL). Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, a women’s rights activist and former member of parliament, has served a prison sentence before. She was sentenced to six months in 2011 on charges of propagandizing against the ruling system. Faezeh also received a six-month suspended sentence in 2014 on charges of slandering top officials. She has 21 days for an appeal.

Meanwhile,
Rouhani’s Intelligence Ministry and Khamenei’s IRGC widen crackdown ahead of election (CHRI).


CARTOON OF THE WEEK
Happy Nowruz from all of Iran's ethnic groups! By unknown.
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.

OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

+ Journalist Morad Saghafi arrested after criticizing Tehran mayor.
 
+ Activist Kianoush Sanjari released on bail.
 
+ Prominent politician demands answers on arrests of reform journalists.
 
+ “There is no justice in Iran’s justice system”.
 
+ Amendment could save thousands of drug traffickers on death row in Iran.
 
+ Family of CIA consultant Robert Levinson sues Iran over his disappearance.
 
+ Family gather for Nowruz to support Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe held in Iran.
 
+ UK woman jailed in Iran: Government 'should condemn sentence'.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

+ Khamenei says objectification of women a ‘Zionists’ plot.
 
+ The real reason former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still covets media attention.
 
+ Iran pre-nups land thousands of men in jail.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

+ Iran rejects U.S. terror allegations as bogus and political.
 
+ The coming U.S.-Iran confrontation in Iraq.
 
+ Tehran steps up support for Houthis in Yemen's war.
 
+ Russia must limit Iranian power in Syria: Israeli intelligence director.
 
+ Iran says Israel, not Tehran, biggest threat to global security.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

+ Congress races to craft Iran sanctions bills ahead of AIPAC conference.
 
+ Senate introduces sanctions bill called "Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act".

ECONOMY + TRADE

Can Iran continue playing nicely with OPEC?

+ Iran and Iraq to lead Middle East oil growth.
 
+ Why Donald Trump doesn't have to do anything to stop Iran's gas plans.

Trump policy uncertainty clouds Iranian-Americans' investment plans.
 
+ India tries to fix Iran trade payments as Trump hardens line.
 
+ Iran struggles to coax Bank of England to open clearing accounts.
 
+ Why French carmakers are real winners of Iranian protectionism.
 
+ Tehran makes first Thai rice buy in 10 years.
 
+ Exporters losing out on Iranian rice market.
 
+ Iran’s carpet exports to U.S. at $80 million.

ART + CULTURE

+ Iranian art market branches out.
 
+ Author Fatemeh Zarei requests support to write and translate her 3rd book, The Loader.

OTHER

+ Colin Farrell to Star as Oliver North in Iran-Contra Series for Amazon.
 
+ Many Iranian-Americans afraid to travel under Trump travel order.
 
+ This crispy Persian rice dish puts casseroles to shame.

EVENTS
...تا هفته بعد
Something we missed? Have an event?
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