A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of June 16th

Our policy towards Iran is to push back on this hegemony, contain their ability to develop, obviously, nuclear weapons and work towards support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.”

- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson,
in opening remarks at the Foreign Relations Committee hearing

Tehran called the statement “interventionist” and a clear violation of international law (IFP).

 Domestic Affairs

Iranian Kurds affiliated with ISIS were implicated in last week’s Tehran attacks (New York Times). The Ministry of Intelligence identified one gunman as Serias Sadeghi, an Iranian Kurd, who is said to have been a prominent recruiter for ISIS. Sadeghi is from Paveh, a city that lies near the border with Iraq. On Saturday, it was announced that Iranian intelligence operatives hunted down and killed the mastermind of the attacks (New York Times). While it was not mentioned where the operation took place, it seems to have happened near the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said on television that the suspect was captured and killed with “the help of intelligence services of allied countries.”

Since last week’s attacks, there have been major security operations underway. Iranian forces killed two militants in the Sistan and Baluchestan province and arrested five others (Reuters). Tehran has arrested almost 50 people with alleged connections to the attacks. Iranian forces also killed four suspected ISIS members in the Hormuzgan province (Reuters). Officials say two of the suspects were foreigners and that they seized explosives, guns, as well as an ISIS flag.

Only “selected” reporters could cover the Tehran attack (IranWire).

How ISIS infiltrated Iranian Kurdistan, according to a former Kurdish political prisoner (IranWire).

Iran’s response to terrorist attacks could lead to major rights abuses (CHRI).

How Tehran fights the Islamic State (Washington Post).

After the ISIS attacks on Tehran, some wonder if Iran will descend into chaos (New York Times).

 Foreign Policy

Tehran sent at least five planes filled with vegetables to Qatar this week (CNN). Iran also plans to send 100 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables every day to Doha. Iran has thus far cautiously stood with Qatar amid the GCC crisis, but there are indications that the Islamic Republic will provide increasingly assertive support (Al-Monitor).

The Qatar crisis is pushing Hamas back to Iran (The Atlantic).

Iran’s foreign minister accused Saudi Arabia of supporting militant groups inside the country (Reuters). Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a press conference, “We have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups operating on the eastern side of Iran in Baluchestan,” in reference to the Sunni-populated Sistan and Baluchestan province which has seen increased militant activity in recent years. Zarif said the groups were using Pakistani territory to launch attacks, including the killing of nine Iranian border guards last month. The foreign minister also called for an establishment of a regional forum, comparable to the 1975 Helsinki Accords, in order to resolve the ongoing GCC Crisis. 

Here's the real reason Tehran is pointing finger at Riyadh for ISIS attack (Al-Monitor).

Also, the supreme leader voiced pessimism about talks with Washington (Al-Monitor). Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged senior officials to “act vigilantly, meticulously and very cautiously wherever it is required to work with foreigners. Remarks should not be made in a way that implies trusting the enemy, as it will have a negative effect on both inside the nation as well as among the foreigners.” These comments seem to reflect Hassan Rouhani’s promise to hold talks with Washington over non-nuclear sanctions. The supreme leader added, “Many issues are not resolvable with the United States, because the United States is troubled not because of nuclear energy, human rights and the like, but because of the nature of the Islamic Revolution. They oppose the principle of independence for this country, and even if we were a nonreligious, and non-revolutionary, but independent state, there would be opposition and undermining [of Iran].” Khamenei also blamed the United States for the creation of ISIS (CNN).

An Iranian vessel shined a spotlight and laser at a Marine Corps helicopter accompanying two U.S. Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz (CBS News). The U.S. Navy called the incident “unsafe and unprofessional.” In 2016, there were 35 incidents with Iranian vessels.

A California congressman praised the Tehran attacks as “a good thing,” then suggested the U.S. should consider supporting ISIS (Think Progress).

 Iran Deal

The Iranian foreign minister said the Trump administration will end up abiding by the Iran Deal (Reuters). Mohammad Javad Zarif believes Washington will abide by the JCPOA because it is in the best interest of the United States “as well as the interest of international peace and security, to live up to its commitments.”

Check out these papers from the Atlantic Council analyzing the impact and trajectory of the Iran Deal with suggestions on ways to preserve and build on it (Atlantic Council).

Is Iran complying with the nuclear deal? For the most part, yes (PolitiFact).

Senator Rand Paul: Think twice before sanctioning Iran (National Interest).

What will Donald Trump, Gulf instability mean for the Iran Deal? (LobeLog)

 Economy + Trade

Tehran’s oil exports to the West surged in May, the highest level since sanctions were lifted in 2016 (Reuters). A source familiar with Iranian exports says they are almost on par with Tehran’s exports to Asian countries.

Western manufacturers are shying away from supplying equipment for an Iranian port that India is developing, fearing the U.S. may impose sanctions on Tehran again (Reuters). State-owned India Ports Global Pvt Ltd is unable to secure a tender for supplying cranes and forklifts for the Chabahar port, according to New Delhi government sources.

India's oil imports from Iran plunge over gas field row (Reuters).

Aseman Airlines finalized agreement to buy 30 Boeing 737 MAX jets for $3 billion (AFP).


Iran qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after beating Uzbekistan 2-0 (Reuters). Thousands of Iranians took the streets of Tehran and other cities to celebrate Team Melli’s win.

A brief history of Iran's World Cup adventures (IranWire).

The sad saga of Iran’s female foosball team while in Hamburg (IranWire)

The World Press Cartoon’s Grand Prix went to Iran’s Alireza Pakdel for “Immigrants” (Euronews).

From The Vastland’s Sina Winter spoke to The Iranist about starring in the Blackhearts documentary, the metal scene in Iran, and how ancient Persia inspires his music.


+ Human rights activist must serve additional year in prison on day of expected release.

+ A confession without consequences: “We wanted to kill a Baha’i”.

+ Parliament blocks security agencies’ attempts to delay death penalty amendment.

+ The Hampshire couple fighting for their loved-ones' return.

+ Daughter of imprisoned British-Iranian mother celebrates birthday without parents.

+ Iran soccer team captain asks Rouhani to let women in stadiums to watch men's games.

+ Some female fans allowed to watch men’s volleyball match in Tehran, but ban persists.

+ Iranian women get on their bikes to defy cycling fatwa


+ Khamenei ratchets up criticism of President Rouhani.

+ In slight to Rouhani, supreme leader forbids adoption of UNESCO guidelines.


+ Rafsanjani's son favorite in battle for Tehran mayorship.

+ Just how deep is Iran’s state? The battle over Khamenei’s successor.

+ Tehran bans women Zumba classes.


+ Surely some mistake. Why did ISIS attack Iran?

+ In the battle for Middle East supremacy, Tehran and Riyadh are pulling out all the stops.

+ Obama was under pressure from Middle Eastern leaders to bomb Iran.

+ America and Iran hurtle toward confrontation in Syria.

+ Tehran extends its reach in Syria.

+ Second-term Rouhani likely to move closer to Russia.

+ Amid pressure for Qatar to cut ties, Hamas delegation to visit Iran.

+ Fifteen fishermen held in Iran return.


+ Critics are wrong: Iran remains in compliance with nuclear accord.

+ This is why Iran should play a major role in the negotiations to ban nuclear weapons.


+ OPEC output jumps in May.

+ Iran's central bank must regulate unlicensed actors.

+ Rice mechanization plans making headway.
+ Biscuits earn $3.3 million in one month.
+ Pistachio exports up 20 percent.


+ Iran's tech boom: Amid blocks on Apple, Facebook, Google, new apps are emerging.

+ Four tips to get to know the Iranian tech market better.

+ Kashan Citizenship Card among WeGO Smart Sustainable City top 5.

+ A Tesla in Iran: First driverless car experience.


+ State Department finally releases updated official history of Mossadegh coup.


+ Interview with ultra-runner Kristina Paltén of "Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust".


+ Trump travel ban: U.S. visas to Iranians down 52 percent.

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