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A weekly newsletter on all things Iran.
The Iranist
Week of June 30th

“Today, we find it with enormous influence, influence that far outstrips where it was six or seven years ago. Whether it’s the influence they have over the government in Baghdad, whether it’s the increasing strength of Hezbollah and Lebanon, their work alongside the Houthis in Iran, the Iraqi Shias that are fighting along now the border in Syria—certainly the Shia forces that are engaged in Syria. Iran is everywhere throughout the Middle East.”

- CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in an exclusive interview with MSNBC News


THE AMERICAN MULLAH
FILED UNDER:
 Domestic Affairs

Last Friday, hundreds of Iranians took the streets of Tehran and other cities to take part in state-sponsored Qods Day (RFERL). Arabic for “Jerusalem Day,” Qods Day is a pro-Palestinian holiday established by the founder of the Islamic Republic that is annually held on the last Friday of Ramadan. Some protesters set U.S. and Israeli flags ablaze, while others chanted and “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” The demonstrators also chanted against the Saudi royal family and ISIS.

President Hassan Rouhani was heckled at the Qods Day rally in Tehran (The Guardian). After delivering a speech, Rouhani was rushed to his car after protesters shouted, “Rouhani, Banisadr, happy marriage.” The slogan was comparing Rouhani to impeached President Abolhassan Banisadr, who was later exiled. Recently the supreme leader made comments that Rouhani shouldn’t try to polarize the country the way Banisadr did. There were also shouts of “Death to [the] liar, death to [the] American mullah.” Banisadr, now an exile in Europe weighed in on the incidents: “Mr. Khamenei has signaled that he would tolerate Rouhani if the president decided to keep a low profile, otherwise he’ll face the fate of Banisadr, my fate. The warning is serious.”

After the incident at the rally, tens of thousands of Rouhani’s supporters started a storm on Twitter that trended worldwide (CHRI). The tweeting began at 10:00 pm in Tehran, generating over 150,000 Tweets with the hashtag #ISupportRouhani (حامی_روحانى_ام#), with 70 percent originating from inside Iran, where Twitter is banned.
 Iranians also used the hashtag #TwoState (دوکشور#) to promote peace on Qods Day and to differentiate their opinions from the Iranian government (Twitter).

Citing U.S. talk of regime change in Iran, parliament looks to increase the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) $7-8 billion budget (Al-Monitor).

Here are the 19 points of contention between Rouhani and the IRGC (IranWire).


QATAR ULTIMATUM
FILED UNDER:
 Foreign Policy

After about a month of imposing the boycott of Qatar, four Arab states issued a 10-day ultimatum to Doha (Reuters). The ultimatum issued by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates is a 13-point list of demands aimed at dismantling Qatar’s interventionist foreign policy. Of the demands include shutting down the Al Jazeera media network, curbing its ties with Iran, closing a Turkish military base, and the termination of funding to designated terrorist groups. The Saudi foreign minister said there would be no negotiations over the list of demands (Al Jazeera).

Rather than force Doha to bow to its demands, the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar has split the region in two, bringing together the kingdom’s rivals Iran and Turkey (Al-Monitor).

President Rouhani condemned the “siege of Qatar” as unacceptable (AP). The office of the president’s website said Rouhani told Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani over the phone that “Tehran will stand by Qatar's government.” Adding that, “Iran's air space, ground and sea will be always be open to Qatar as a friendly nation.”

The Iranian foreign minister asked Europe to use its influence to help defuse tensions causing the Gulf Crisis (Reuters). In a speech given while visiting Germany, Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “One day it's Iran, today it's Qatar. It's an attempt to evade responsibility, escape accountability for this very fundamental failure of the state system to address, to respond to the demands of its populace.” While in Germany, Zarif said now is the best time for Berlin and Tehran to promote economic ties (Iran FrontPage)

Iran and Qatar expressed support for Saudi Arabia following a suicide bombing near Mecca’s Grand Mosque (Deutsche Welle). The terrorist planned to attack Islam’s holiest site, but detonated himself when he was surrounded by security forces. Riyadh never expressed condolences for the lives lost in the Tehran attacks.

Trump allies push White House to consider regime change in Tehran (Politico).

Iran is a vexing state to be smartly managed, not assumed to be an implacable enemy (New York Times).


BILL SLOWLY SINKING
FILED UNDER:
 Iran Deal

Some foreign diplomats and oil executives are asking Congress to water down a Russia-Iran sanctions bill (Washington Post). The bill will add to existing sanctions on Russia’s banking, defense, and energy sectors, which brings concern to U.S. companies participating in oil development ventures in Russia. The current bill will restrict participation in any potential oil project with any Russia energy company. It is unclear how this will impact the bill’s targeting of Iran. Democrats in Congress sought assurances that House Republicans will not try to water down the bill (Politico).

The White House plans to step up lobbying against the bill now stalled in Congress (Washington Post). According to an anonymous White House official, the Trump administration’s main concern is one of separation of powers and not policy toward Russia.


Meanwhile, the United Nations said Tehran is in compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal (VOA). However, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley disputed the Security Council saying Iran was a “destructive and destabilizing role in the Middle East.” She added that, “The United States is now undertaking a comprehensive review of this policy. Until that review is completed, we will comply with our JCPOA commitments and we expect Iran to do the same.”

“Give Iran a chance,” says BBC veteran correspondent Jeremy Bowen, while reflecting on Iran’s strategic position in the Middle East and its attitudes to the West (BBC). “The United States and its allies are easily strong enough to take action if it looks as if Iran is not keeping its nuclear promises. Show them it’'s in their interest to open up and do business.”


CARTOON OF THE WEEK
"The IRGC's response" by Mana Neyestani (IranWire).

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.

OTHER NEWS THAT MADE HEADLINES
RIGHTS

+ Azeri rights activist imprisoned despite posting bail one year ago begins hunger strike.

+ Relatives of armed Kurdish group member shot by IRGC and arrested.

+ Thirteen people arrested amid Arab ethnic rights protests in Khuzestan province.

+ Islamic feminist scholar: No better time for Rouhani to nominate women to his cabinet.

+ Reformist journalist, activist arrested in run-up to Iran’s 2017 election post bail.

+ Narges Mohammadi on voting for Rouhani: My vote was for Iran’s civil society.

+ Iran's foreign prisoners: Some are “free” but remain locked up.

+ UN Secretary General writes to Iran to free Baquer Namazi, a retired UNICEF official.

+ Officials warn punishment for women caught wearing “bad hijabs” as summer begins.
 
DOMESTIC ISSUES

+ Supreme leader pardons 1,049 prisoners on Eid Al-Fitr.

+ Reformist politician: Rouhani must stand up to supreme leader’s hardline policies.

+ Why Iran's brightest young graduates are leaving their country behind.

+ Iran's drug problem: Addicts 'more than double' in six years.

+ 16 tons of illicit drugs seized in southern Iran in three months.

+ Tehran is refusing to implement UNESCO's education agenda.

+ Iran detains Islamic State linked group.

+ Iran foils ‘plot to bomb religious centers’.

+ Fire breaks out at Esfahan refinery in Iran, injuring 10 workers.

+ Iranian city soars to record 129 degrees, nearing hottest on Earth today.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

+ Iran says Trump travel ban ruling is racist and unfair.

+ Parliament finalizing bill to confront U.S. measures.

+ Tillerson’s “peaceful” regime change for Iran: Really? And what comes next?

+ U.S. quietly publishes once-expunged papers on 1953 Iran coup.

+ Senator Tom Cotton wants 'regime change' in Iran to be official U.S. policy.

+ The risks of war in the Middle East, as the U.S. confronts Syria and Iran.

+ The growing danger of war with Iran.

+ Iran’s Strategic Goals in Post-ISIS Syria.

+ Qatar Looks to Iran and Iraq.

+ Is the Saudi boycott of Qatar driving it into the arms of Iran?

+ Jeering at Israeli experts, Iran mocks reports that its missile strike in Syria misfired.

+ Iran uses Star of David to mark target in ballistic missile test.

+ Iranian flag joins array of Hezbollah symbols planted on Lebanon border.

+ Hezbollah says future Israel war could draw fighters from Iran, Iraq, elsewhere.

+ Israel has warned Iran it won’t tolerate arms factories in Lebanon.

+ Will downing of Tehran drone hurt Pakistan-Iran relations further

+ Iranian Embassy shuts down its office in Tajikistan.

IRAN DEAL + SANCTIONS

+ The Iran nuclear deal faces ‘death by a thousand cuts’.

+ Iran nuclear chief urges West to ‘save’ 2015 deal.

+ Germany praises nuclear deal with Iran.

+ Financial watchdog drama provides ammunition for Iran's hardliners.

+ U.S. Supreme Court to consider lawsuit seeking Iranian assets.

+ U.S. jurors hear closing arguments over Iran-linked office tower.

ECONOMY + TRADE

+ Oil stays below $47 barrel.

+ A war between Saudi Arabia and Iran would make American frackers very rich.


+ Expensive deposits leave Iranian banks stuck with toxic assets.
 
+ Tehran trade with China up 41 percent.
 
+ Iran transport budget for current fiscal year tops $2 billion.

+ Thai rice prices rising as sanctions-free Iran gets its fill.

+ Cosmetics production and imports dwarfed by smuggling.

+ Telepizza celebrates the opening of its first store in Iran.

+ Tehran real-estate prices up, but sales are down.

ART + CULTURE

+ Design in Iran featuring Studio Melli.

+ ‘Beyond the Ban’ celebrates the contribution of immigrants to American arts and culture.

+ Why Iran has 16 different translations of one Khaled Hosseini novel.

+ U.S. travel ban will kick off 'summer of litigation', advocates warn.

+ Director Ana Lily Amirpour on cannibalism, psychedelics, and racism allegations.

SPORTS

+ Iranian sports are in danger.

OTHER

+ Grenfell Tower: 'I pray to God that people are brought to justice'.

+ From playing Dungeons & Dragons to working for Spielberg: Niloofar Howe's journey.

+ Former FN supporter on trial for smuggling Iranian refugee lover to UK.

+ Check out these female Iranian ninjas.

+ Houston surgeon set to visit Iran again under limited travel ban.

+ Freedom sculpture to be gifted to Los Angeles.

+ What I was afraid of when I was in Iran.

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