A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of July 28th

“I am strongly supportive of sanctions on Russia and North Korea. However, I worry very much about President Trump’s approach to Iran.”

- Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), in response to the passing of a House sanctions bill

 Domestic Affairs

Iran successfully launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space (New York Times). The Simorgh, Phoenix, rocket is capable of placing satellites weighing up to 550 pounds into a 310-mile low earth orbit. Tests of carrier rockets are not prohibited under the nuclear deal. Nader Karimi Joni, a journalist close to President Hassan Rouhani’s government, said the launch was a reaction to the U.S. House of Representatives vote approving the new sanctions (Read more under Iran Deal). The State Department said Tehran's launch was a “provocative action” that violated a UN resolution on ballistic missiles and the spirit of the nuclear deal (Washington Post).

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders met with President Rouhani, fueling speculation that they are reconciling after months of public feuding (Al-Monitor). During the meeting, General Mohammad Ali Jafari congratulated Rouhani on his second term, saying, “The IRGC is ready for comprehensive cooperation with the administration in the realization of the goals of the revolution.” Rouhani said he appreciated the IRGC’s efforts and hopes there will be coordination with all the armed forces to meet the Iranian people’s demands.

 Foreign Policy

A U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots at an Iranian military ship in the Persian Gulf (Washington Post). The unidentified IRGC vessel came within 150 yards (137 m) of the U.S.S. Thunderbolt and ignored radio calls and the ship’s whistle. The Iranian ship stopped after the warning shots. In January, the U.S.S. Mahan destroyer fired three warning shots at approaching Iranian fast-attack vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

The IRGC detained a Saudi fishing boat and arrested its Indian crew, after it crossed Iranian territorial waters (Reuters). This is the second time in the past month that a Riyadh boat and its crew were detained. Similarly, Iranian state media reported last month that Saudi border guards had opened fire on Iranian fishing boats, killing a fisherman and arresting three others. The Saudis claim the boat had explosives and the group had planned to carry out a terror attack. Tehran denies the allegation.

Iran is the world’s “foremost” state sponsor of terrorism in 2016, according to an annual State Department report (PBS). The Country Reports on Terrorism suggests that Tehran continues to back anti-Israel groups and proxies in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Tehran denied reports that indicate that the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait had been expelled (Reuters). Last week, Iranian and Kuwaiti media reported that Kuwait City had ordered the expulsion of Iran’s ambassador and 14 other diplomats over a supreme court ruling.

An Iran-linked cyber-spying group targeted numerous countries for the past four years (Reuters). According to a new study by cybersecurity firms ClearSky of Israel and Trend Micro of Japan, “CopyKittens” has been targeting countries including Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. The group targets victims by sending Microsoft Word attachments with malicious code and creating fake Facebook pages. They often impersonate BBC News, Twitter, YouTube, and even computer firms such as Intel and Microsoft.

For China’s global ambitions, “Iran is at the center of everything” (New York Times).

 Iran Deal

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Iran, North Korea, Russia sanctions bill (Al-Monitor). The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act was held up in the House after Republicans proposed including North Korea sanctions in the bill. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi decried the bill as “a completely clear hostile act” that “will be met with a definitive response.” He did not specify what the actions would be. U.S. lawmakers are near an agreement that would pave the way for an updated Senate vote (Reuters).

President Rouhani said Tehran would reciprocate if Washington imposes new sanctions on Iran (Reuters).

Can Iran avoid taking the sanctions bait? (LobeLog)

According to anonymous senior U.S. officials, the Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal (AP). If Tehran refuses inspections, the argument goes, Donald Trump will finally have a solid basis to say Iran breached the deal—leading to a pull-out.

Three strikes against claims that Iran is violating the nuclear accord (IISS).

U.S. lawmakers want fresh sanctions on Hezbollah to curb the influence of Iran (Reuters).

 Human Rights

The White House threatened “new and serious consequences” for Tehran unless it releases all detained U.S. citizens (AP). The Trump administration says it is prepared to act, but hasn’t provided any specifics about potential consequences. At least 12 foreign nationals are currently imprisoned in Iran, including four with U.S. citizenship: Iranian-American art gallery manager Karan Vafadari and his Iranian wife Afarin Niasari; Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namaz and his father, Baquer Namazi; and Chinese-American Xiyue Wang (holds only U.S. citizenship). Tehran responded that Washington should release its citizens held in jails and billions of dollars in Iranian assets (Reuters).

On the ten-year anniversary of a former FBI agent’s disappearance in Iran, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said Tehran must face “consequences” if he is not returned (Fox News). In an interview with Fox News, the Florida senator said that Iran knows Robert Levinson’s whereabouts and should be held responsible for his fate. He added, “It should influence everything we do with Iran moving forward. How this case is handled up to this point and from this point forward will in many ways determine U.S. policy towards Iran.”

In a testimony before a House committee, Levinson’s youngest son urged greater sanctions on Iran if Tehran does not account for his father and release imprisoned U.S. citizens (Washington Post).

She does something else by Mana Neyestani (IranWire). 

The cartoon depicts presenter-turned-actress Azadeh Namdari with a sign saying “respect your hijab sisters,” while on her backside she cheers friends with wine sans chador. The Iranian television personality who promoted compulsory Islamic dress is under fire over photos of her on vacation (RFERL). Namdari wears the chador, but photos recently emerged of her unveiled in public and possibly drinking beer in Switzerland. The images prompted a backlash online with many Iranians accusing her of being a hypocrite.

Columbia University’s Gary Sick spoke to The Iranist about conspiracy theories pertaining the Islamic Republic, Tehran’s trajectory, and Donald Trump’s Iran policy.


+ Iranian MPs request to visit imprisoned opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi.

+ Prisoners’ families plead for stays of executions until vote on amendment.

+ Sunni Council suspends operations amid ongoing arrests and intimidation.

+ Sufi denied “urgent” medical care in Bandar Abbas Prison.

+ Downgraded sentence for teachers' rights activist issued amid labor leader prosecution.

+ 1,600 teachers demand judiciary free imprisoned rights activist.

+ Political prisoners hidden from ambassadors during Evin Prison visit.

+ Women gain foothold at Iran's seminaries.

+ State censorship body blocks websites belonging to persecuted Sufi Gonabadi order.

+ Telecommunications minister pledges to “get rid of” social media despite failed attempts.

+ Telegram’s efforts to increase download speed in Iran raises questions.

Turkey to deport Iranian journalist who wrote for Israeli site.

+ The menace of censorship.


+ Meet Mia Ash, the fake woman Iranian hackers used to lure victims.

+ A new Persian-language ISIS video shows a young boy explicitly threatening Iranians.  

+ Impoverished children without identification documents deprived of education.

+ The ayatollah’s favorite rapper: Amir Tataloo.

+ ‘Shahrzad’ TV series dogged by real-life drama: corruption.

+ The lost youth of Iran-Iraq War child soldiers.

+ Alcohol poisoning kills three in southern Iran, 48 hospitalized.

+ 5.4 magnitude earthquake jolts southern Iran.

+ Iran showcases latest military hardware at air show.

+ IRGC kills three terrorists, wounds four in north on border.

+ Iran confiscates 30 horses, mules carrying weapons.

+ Tehran inaugurated a new version of its air defense missile dubbed Sayyad-3.


+ Echoing the Iran's president, a top diplomat said Tehran is open to dialogue with Riyadh.

+ Iran and Iraq sign accord to boost military cooperation.

+ Engaging with PMU necessary to check Iran's influence in Iraq.

+ Netanyahu accidentally reveals Israel struck Iran-backed fighters in Syria.


Iran’s FM discusses economic impact of nuclear deal.

CSE Global to pay $12 million to settle apparent violations of Iran sanctions.


+ In the wake of the Saudi-led blockade, Qatar warms up to Tehran on natural gas.

+ Why do hardliners hate Iran’s deal with French Total?

+ France's Alstom in deal to build metro carriages in Iran.

+ Tech sector blooms under shield of sanctions.

+ Without reforms, Iranian banking crisis looms.

+ Iran fast emerging as an economic power and player.

+ Tehran needs a new development vision.

+ New beginning for Iran’s economy.

+ Inflation likely to rise in President Rouhani’s second term.


+ Iran's complex identities speak through photography like once through poetry.

+ See inside the most beautiful homes in Iran with this new book.


+ Iranian-American survey shows community under duress due to rising discrimination.

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