A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of June 9th

“The U.S. president stands alongside the leaders of a tribal and backward system and does the sword dance, but criticizes an Iranian election with 40 million votes. Even with a multi-billion dollar bribe to America, the Saudis cannot achieve their goals in the region.”

- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
in a speech commemorating Khomeini’s death anniversary

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.

 Domestic Affairs

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks on Iran’s parliament and the Imam Khomeini mausoleum, which killed at least 12 and wounded more than 40 (AP). The terrorist attacks hit symbols of the Islamic Republic and shattered the notion Tehran was free of regional turmoil. Six attackers were killed in the hours-long assaults, while five suspects have been rounded up, including one terrorist. The terrorists were Iranian nationals that fought for ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa (Al-Monitor). It was the first time that ISIS—a Sunni terrorist group fighting Iranian-backed militias in Syria—has attacked predominantly Shiite Iran.

Rather than showing fear, parliament continued its session and MPs took selfies during the terrorist attack (RFERL). Iranians in Tehran reported that other than increased security at metro stations, it was like any other day in the capital.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) released a statement indirectly blaming Saudi Arabia and Donald Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh (New York Times). The statement also said, “spilled blood of the innocent will not remain unavenged.” Whereas the minister of Intelligence said it was too early to blame Riyadh for the terrorist attacks (ISNA). 

The White House issued a controversial statement in response to the terror attacks: “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Twitter: “Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship.”

ISIS propaganda increasingly targeting Iran and its Sunnis (RFERL).

Road ahead unclear in aftermath of Tehran attacks (Al-Monitor)

A dramatic split in Iranian public opinion after the terror attacks (RFERL).

What happens in Tehran doesn’t stay in Tehran (New York Times).

Terrorist attacks pour gas on Saudi-Iranian rivalry and Gulf tensions (New York Times).

Barbaric terrorist attacks in Iran no excuse for crackdown on civil liberties (CHRI).

 Foreign Policy

Five Arab countries accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and cut diplomatic ties, triggering the Middle East’s worst diplomatic crisis in years (Washington Post). Led by Saudi Arabia, four other nations—Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and the internationally backed government in Yemen—halted all air, land, and sea traffic to Doha on Monday, in addition to ejecting their diplomats. All but Egypt, which has over 20,000 citizens working in Qatar, ordered their citizens to leave the gulf Arab nation. Tensions have been building for years as Doha expanded its reach through the Al Jazeera channel, conducting business with Tehran, and backing Islamist fighters in Libya and Syria, while harboring the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which are banned by other Arab nations. Many believe the Arab countries ganging up on Doha were emboldened by Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi-led rupture with Qatar is pushing the nation into Iran’s embrace (Bloomberg). Since the siege, Doha flights have used Iranian airspace, and Tehran even offered to send food since Riyadh has blocked shipments into Doha.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry urged Qatar and its neighboring gulf Arab countries to resolve their disputes through diplomacy and explicit dialogue (PressTV).

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif spoke to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini about the Saudi-Doha row (Fars News Agency). Zarif also spoke to his counterparts in Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Turkey, and others about regional issues.

Interestingly, hacked emails show a top UAE diplomat coordinating with a pro-Israel think tank against Tehran (The Intercept).

A former IRGC general said Saudi Arabia was emboldened by Israel and the United States, and plans to impose guardianship on Qatar, just like Bahrain (Mehr News Agency).

Iranian society extended its hand to the world, but the governments in Washington, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv responded with threatening clenched fists (Huffington Post).

Iranian hackers targeted Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Athletics (Twitter).

Meanwhile, the CIA’s “Dark Prince” will run Iran-related operations, signaling a tougher stance toward Tehran (New York Times).


The U.S. senate voted 92-7 to push for an Iran sanctions resolution, while a separate resolution is still being put together to condemn the Tehran Attacks (The Intercept). The vote for sanctions—on Tehran’s human rights violations and support of designated terrorist groups—happened despite warnings from former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that a new bill could hurt the nuclear deal. Right before the vote, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) issued statements saying it was the wrong time to vote because of the recent terrorist attacks in Tehran. Sanders said, “On a day when Iran has been attacked by ISIS, by terrorism, now is not the time to go forward with legislation calling for sanctions against Iran. Let us be aware and cognizant that earlier today the people of Iran suffered a horrific terror attack in their capital, Tehran.”

Meanwhile, Tehran’s nuclear activities have stayed within limits imposed by the Iran Deal (Reuters).

Paris, London, and now Tehran by Behzad Ghafarizadeh.


+ Political activist detained without charge subjected to “illegal” interrogations.

+ Political prisoner with MS refused medical furlough.

+ Imprisoned teachers’ rights activist returned to Evin after three-day hospitalization.

+ Supreme Leader says 1988 executions of political prisoners “unfairly judged”.

+ Another student expelled from university in Iran for Baha’i faith.

+ Teaching of gender equality sparks infighting in Iran.


After Iran election, a bigger question looms: Who will be the next supreme leader?

+ Re-elected Rouhani now stuck in 'middle-class trap'
Iran mourns anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini's passing

+ Rouhani government “closed seven million” websites in first term.

+ Supermarket blast in Shiraz injures 37 people.

He wants to change Iran from his street stall

+ Cleric's comments likening loosely veiled women to prostitutes spark backlash.

+ ‘Spy’ arrested; used to work at presidential advisor’s office.


How designating IRGC a terrorist organization will undermine struggle against ISIS.

As ISIS retreats in Syria, U.S. and Iran scramble for control.

Despite deadly border clash, Iran-PKK war unlikely
Why Iran won't bring the Israelis and Arabs together

+ Iran says London attacks 'wake up call', urges uprooting terrorism sources.


+ Iran asks Russian Gazprom to develop gas field.

+ Tehran says Trump’s climate pact withdrawal will isolate U.S.

+ Financial market reforms in Iran can validate Rouhani’s victory.

+ Iran faced with return of double-digit inflation.

+ Isolation by the West fuels a tech startup boom in Iran.

+ China says Iran membership of Shanghai security bloc to be discussed at summit.

+ Tehran in talks with Russia-Led EEU on free-trade pact-state media.


The complex story of Polish refugees in Iran.


Iranian-American selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

+ Yara Shahidi is officially joining Malia Obama at Harvard University.  

+ 4,000 women train in desert to become 'ninja rangers'.

+ Why travel to Iran should be next on your bucket list.

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