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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of September 8th

“The comments of the [Iranian] foreign minister are laughable. If Iran wants to have good relations with Saudi Arabia, it has to change its policies. It has to respect international law. At this time, we do not see that they’re serious about wanting to be a good neighbor.”

- Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir 
on Mohammad Javad Zarif’s comments about a possible rapprochement



GOOD GENES OR, GOOD OL' NEPOTISM?
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

The son of a prominent reformist politician ignited a firestorm on social media when he said he owes his successes in life to “good genes” (RFERL). The comments were made by Hamid Reza Aref, the son of former Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref, currently the head of the reformist faction in parliament. The MP evaded the question about his son, instead praising him and saying he had always been “at the top the class” during his school days. The comments inspired the hashtag #good_genes (#ژن_خوب), which Iranians used to criticize Aref, as well as the many other aghazadehs—children of the elite—that benefit from privileged family ties and connections.

Here is a list of Iranian officials who benefit from nepotism (IranWire)

Meanwhile, Iran has tested its domestically made long-range missile defense system (Independent). Work on the new Bavar 373 system is underway and will be fully functional by March 2018. Tehran already has an S-300 Russian-made defense system, designed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles. Last month, parliament voted to increase funding of its ballistic missile program and military, in retaliation to new ballistics-related sanctions implemented by the Trump administration.


Iran’s new defense minister said their priority is to boost the country’s missile program and export weapons to shore up neighboring allies (Times of Israel).

Tehran showed off a previously unknown Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) base in a new video (Arutz Sheva).

Iran is said to have issued two warnings to U.S. spy aircraft approaching Iranian airspace in past six months (AP). Chief of air defense, Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, said, “We do not allow such rabid aircrafts to enter our territory and if necessary, will not hesitate to destroy them.” He also said that the country’s air defense delivered a warning when an American drone came near Iranian airspace on August 26.


MECCA PEACETIME
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

Iranian pilgrims returned to the hajj as Tehran-Riyadh rivalry eases (Washington Post). More than 80,000 Iranian pilgrims are now in Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest sites, after they were barred last year from making the trip. The return of Iranian pilgrims followed painstaking negotiations between officials from the two countries, after relations deteriorated sharply over the past two years.

The Saudi-Qatar crisis amounts to a big win for Iran (National Interest).

Also, Lebanon’s prime minister denied allegations that Tehran is building weapons facilities in his country (Israel Hayom). Saad Hariri said that Israel is used to “running these disinformation campaigns. The Israelis know very well that there are no missile factories in Lebanon.”


Going DACA ON IRAN DEAL?
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal

Appearing at a Washington think tank, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations laid out what appeared to be rationale for the Trump administration to walk away from the Iran Deal (Atlantic Council). Nikki Haley said, “Our European allies want us to stay in the deal,” but suggested that was not a major consideration for the Trump administration. She added, “This is about U.S. national security, this is not about European security.” Haley also painted a harsh picture of Iran, which was not entirely unfounded, given that Tehran continues hold American hostages and supports militant groups that have killed U.S. military personnel. Haley didn’t mention the harm that previous U.S. administrations have caused Iran, including the 1953 coup d’état of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who had nationalized Iran’s oil. Haley’s speech was delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, the same think tank that pushed for the 2003 Iraq War (LobeLog).

Many analysts critiqued Haley’s speech harshly, but this one stands out the most (LobeLog).

If Trump punts the Iran issue to Congress, the result will likely be similar to what we are seeing with DACA: confusion, uncertainty about the path forward, and a risk that congressional inaction could have drastic, unintended consequences (Washington Post).

The New York Times Editorial Board writes about a devious threat to a nuclear deal (NYT)

How mistranslation could threaten the Iran Deal (The Atlantic).


LET THEM IN!
FILED UNDER:
 Rights

Iranian women were barred from entry to their national football team’s World Cup qualifier against Syria (BBC News). Women are banned from attending men’s football matches in Iran. However, several women were able to buy tickets online a week earlier, when an option for women’s tickets appeared on the ticketing website. Iran’s football federation later said the tickets were sold by mistake and promised to refund those who had bought them. Some women with tickets still went to the stadium, curious to see if they could get in. Reports emerged that some women had snuck into the stadium by carrying Syrian flags and pretending to be foreigners, but were later detained. Other women were not let in and threatened with arrest. Some female members of parliament were given permission to attend, but turned down the offer given the “selective approach” taken by authorities. A number of female MPs called for a change in the practice (The Guardian). In 2006, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried to lift the ban, but faced heavy criticism from hardliners, forcing him to drop the conversation. FYI: Iran and Syria tied 2-2.

The Azadi Stadium website was hacked, a day after the football match against Syria (AFP). A banner was placed on the front page for several hours: “Let Iranian women enter their stadiums.”

Many Iranian women took to social media to express their anger over the long-standing ban on women entering stadiums (RFERL). One user tweeted, “It’s like our parents allowing the neighbor’s daughter to use our house’s facilities but banning us from doing the same.”

Twitter campaign exposes Iranian gender clichés (IranWire).


OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS
+ Imprisoned labor activist on hunger strike needs hospital treatment, wife says.
+ Journalist loses eye, part of face to cancer untreated while in prison.
+ Columnist serving 10 years protests illegal prison sentence extension.
+ Iran left imprisoned reporter Alireza Rajaei’s cancer purposely undetected.
+ Tehran dismisses “biased” UN human rights report
+ Who are the four Americans currently detained in Iran?
+ Iran says jailed U.S. student, dual nationals lose spying appeal.
+ Campaigning to free Kamal Foroughi, the longest imprisoned EU citizen.
+ Campaign to stop destruction of mass grave of those killed in 1988 prison massacre.
+ Iranian workers, pensioners protest months of delayed wages.
+ Protest against killing of couriers in Kurdistan Province attacked by security forces.

DOMESTIC ISSUES
+ Khamenei calls for unity and an end to discrimination—but is he sincere?
+ Rouhani government remains on sidelines amid house arrest controversy.
+ Losing faith in President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian women are ever defiant.
+ Iranian Foreign Ministry set for sweeping change
+ Rouhanicare: The president’s healthcare success that has given coverage to millions.
+ Family of four launched symbolic protest over concerts cancelled by hardliners.
+ Candlelight tribute held for Iranian schoolgirls killed in bus accident
+ Over 52,000 foreign students on scholarship in Iranian universities.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS
+ According to Iran’s military chief, the country sees little chance of enemy attack.
+ Americans largely support using nukes on Iran and North Korea, even against civilians
+ Iran expresses sympathy with Hurricane Harvey victims.
+ Tehran prepares aid for Myanmar Rohingyas.
+ Iranians are trolling the Dalai Lama over the massacre of Rohingyas.
+ Iran cracks down on ISIS suspects as the extremist group intensifies threats.
+ Israel’s president calls Iran a threat to the world.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS
+ Consequences of not certifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.  
+ Swayed by Israel, Lithuanian minister urges EU rethink on nuclear deal.  
+ Somalia seeks U.S. help, says militants plot to supply uranium to Iran.  
+ AEOI to begin reconstruction of Arak reactor in 2019.  
+ Ex-Turkish minister charged in U.S. on Iran sanctions.  
+ Google terminates Iranian accounts from its analytics service.
+ Dutch firm collectively punishing Iranian websites.

ECONOMY + TRADE 
+ Tehran’s gas exports rise 64 percent during the past five months.
+ Iran reports 18 percent rise in condensate exports.
+ An undersea line from Iran to India to port cheap gas?
+ Germans sign Iran’s first methanol sales deal
+ Three scenarios to develop Farzad-B gas field
+ Iran predicts 5 percent economic growth this year.
+ Oberbank set to finance Austrian projects in Iran with new deal.  
+ New industrial policy poised to transform Iran’s political economy.  
+ South Africa to work toward Iran’s BRICS accession.  
+Tehran exports $75 million in saffron during four months.
+ Cargo line between Qatar and Turkey through Iran opened.  
+ Iran's tourism industry is booming.
+ After years of sanctions, Persian rugs back to brighten world markets.
+ Making video games in Tehran: A massive market, disconnected.

ART + CULTURE
+ Sote is helping the electronic music scene become a powerful force.  
+ Thousand-year-old antiquities found in ancient cemetery.

OTHER
+ How the travel ban left a family of Iranian refugees stranded in Turkey.  
+ ADL hires Jewish-Iranian academic to head anti-Semitism unit.

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