Iran Digest Week of July 7 - 14

Iran Digest Week of July 7 - 14

Iranian cancer researcher denied U.S. entry accused of having militia ties

An Iranian cancer researcher who was denied entry to the United States previously headed a student branch of a volunteer paramilitary militia, according to footage aired on Iranian state television on Thursday. 
The TV also showed Mohsen Dehnavi arriving back in Tehran alongside his wife and children. In comments to the channel at the airport, he defended his travel to the United States as solely intended for science and research.
"The topic of our research was health and saving ill people fighting cancer from this dangerous disease, but they didn't allow us entry, despite, as I mentioned, all the efforts made by the American academic community," he said. (CBS)

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AIC Statement on the Death of Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani

AIC Statement on the Death of Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani

The American Iranian Council joins the world community in mourning the loss of Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani, the award-winning mathematician, professor at Stanford, and Tehran-native, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 40 after a four-year battle with breast cancer. AIC extends its condolences to her husband, daughter, extended family and colleagues.
 
AIC also celebrates Dr. Mirzakhani’s many contributions to mathematics and women’s equality. A pioneer in her field, Mirzakhani specialized in the geometric properties of curved surfaces and became the first and only woman, as well as the first Iranian, to receive the Fields Medal, often called “the mathematician’s Nobel Prize.”  Upon her passing, President Rouhani reflected that Mirzakhani “made Iran’s name resonate in the world’s scientific forums,” and that her work “was a turning point in showing the great will of Iranian women and young people on the path towards reaching the peaks of glory.”   

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AIC's Emad Kiyaei Talks about Entrepreneurship in Iran

AIC's Emad Kiyaei Talks about Entrepreneurship in Iran

AIC's Emad Kiyaei spoke with branding expert Brian Rashid about the tech scene in Iran in this 10 minute segment.

Some highlights are below:

On Iran's openness to external entrepreneurship in the country:

"Iran is very supportive of this.  Now, is it easy to get into Iran?  No, because of all of the regulations, especially for the Americans. The rest of the world has removed their sanctions to a large extent. I was recently in Iran and we couldn’t even stay in a hotel because there are so many delegations from Europe and Asia trying to get into literally the last frontier in an emerging market. So, whereas every other market has been saturated, Iran has a population of 80 million, a vast economy, with a huge market... wouldn’t you want to get into it? I would! If you are an entrepreneur you will have a bigger appetite for risk and if your product or service has a nuanced place in the Iranian market, there are ways to get in. Now, let me put in a little caveat. There are U.S. sanctions still in place on Iran so you have to be very careful. I am not saying just jump into the Iranian market. There are exemptions to the rules, and those can be identified. But as my lawyer would tell me right now, please consult your lawyer before you make any other moves."

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How a Solar Eclipse Got Me Interested in Iran

How a Solar Eclipse Got Me Interested in Iran

Dear AIC Community,

Unless you are a space geek like me, you might not be aware that the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse next month -- the first one to occur over the continental U.S. in over 38 years!  If you are in its path (or traveling to see it), I wish you clear skies!

For me, a total solar eclipse elicits memories of my first trip to Iran in 1999 when I traveled there to view the last total solar eclipse of the millennium with a group organized by Search for Common Ground.  The group was comprised of distinguished astronomers, diplomats, and myself – a sixteen-year-old aspiring scientist.  At the time, I thought the trip would propel me to a career at NASA; instead, it led me here, to the American Iranian Council.  During that trip I fell in love with the country of Iran and its people; and now, as Director of Operations at AIC, I believe that my experience demonstrates how intercultural understanding obtained early in life can have an impact years later.

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Why Iran Will Not Go the Way of the USSR

Why Iran Will Not Go the Way of the USSR

Originally published on The LobeLog
By Shireen T. Hunter, former AIC Board Member
                    

Since the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, articles have appeared in the West arguing that, sooner or later, Iran’s ethnic and linguistic diversity will lead it to go the way of the USSR and dissolve into several states. Moreover, subscribers to this theory believe that the United States should encourage such a disintegrative process by further isolating Iran economically and politically, while also supporting its separatist elements.

Others, meanwhile, talk about a wholesale rearranging of Middle East/West Asia borders along ethnic and sectarian lines. One such article was “Blood Borders” by Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, published in The Armed Forces Journal. Now that the Trump administration has again put regime change in Iran on the US agenda, similar articles have again proliferated.

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Iran Digest Week of June 30 - July 7

Iran Digest Week of June 30 - July 7

Trump Mocked in Iran Cartoon Competition

Hundreds of cartoonists from around the world have taken part in a competition in Iran attacking Donald Trump.
The winning image, by Hadi Asadi from Iran, shows the US president wearing a jacket of dollar bills and with burning yellow hair.
Organizers of the Trumpism exhibition in Tehran have held similar contests in the past on themes including the Islamic State group and the Holocaust. This year's logo is based on the Nazi emblem, with a T instead of a swastika. It encouraged many comparisons between the US president and Nazism.  (BBC)

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Reza Sixo Safai on his Film "The Persian Connection"

Reza Sixo Safai on his Film "The Persian Connection"

Samuel Goldwyn Films is releasing its first Iranian film, The Persian Connection this week on July 14th. This stylish neon-noir thriller is set in the opium underworld of "Tehrangeles" and features a protagonist who was a child soldier during the Iran-Iraq War.  The film premiered at TriBeCa 2106 to rave reviews. Reza Sixo Safai produced the film and plays the lead role; he spoke with us about it below.

Q:  The protagonist in this film was a child soldier in the Iran-Iraq war.  How much does that experience define the character?    Was it common for children to fight in the war?  Also - Does the fact that the protagonist experienced the Iran-Iraq war bring something to the story in a way that perhaps another war wouldn’t?

Safai:  That experience is everything, defines everything. Now as human beings we all do our best to live, no matter what tragedy strikes us, we still do our best to go on living. But that pain is always there somewhere underneath, waiting for the right moment when it can come rushing out.

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Iran Digest Week of June 23 - 30

Iran Digest Week of June 23 - 30

Iran Accuses U.S. of 'Brazen' Plan to Change its Government

Iran is accusing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of "a brazen interventionist plan" to change the current government that violates international law and the U.N. Charter.
Iran's U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated Tuesday that Tillerson's comments are also "a flagrant violation" of the 1981 Algiers Accords in which the United States pledged "not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs."
Tillerson said in a June 14 hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the 2018 State Department budget that U.S. policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons "and work toward support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government." (CNBC)

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Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. on Current Events in the Persian Gulf Region

Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. on Current Events in the Persian Gulf Region

Originally published on TheLobeLog
By Jim Lobe

Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. is a member of AIC's Board of Directors

Given the fast-moving events in the Persian Gulf region over the past two weeks, LobeLog decided to consult Chas W. Freeman, Jr., whose occasional lectures on key foreign policy issues have been featured on this site for several years. Washington’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, Freeman has a wide range of contacts in the region. One of the most highly decorated foreign service officers of his generation, he also served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs at the Pentagon, among many other posts. We conducted this interview by telephone Monday.

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Iran Digest Week of June 16 - 23

Iran Digest Week of June 16 - 23

The Trump Administration is Working to Free American Hostages in Iran

The Trump administration has quietly ramped up its involvement in trying to free two Iranian Americans being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, including one who is in very poor health.
The effort is now not only a focus of the administration’s approach to Iran, but also part of an overall increase of attention to the plight of Americans held unjustly abroad.
Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American businessman, was arrested in Tehran in October 2015 and charged with espionage and collusion with an enemy country — the United States. (The Washington Post)

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Iran Digest Week of June 9 - 16

Iran Digest Week of June 9 - 16

Senate Passes Sweeping Sanctions Bill Targeting Iran, Russia

A frequently polarized Senate found common ground Thursday as Republicans and Democrats joined forces to approve a sweeping sanctions bill that punishes longtime adversaries Iran and Russia, putting Congress on a possible collision course with President Donald Trump.
The bipartisan legislation passed overwhelmingly Thursday, 98-2, more than five months after U.S. intelligence agencies determined Moscow had deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign. Lawmakers have long sought to hit Iran with more sanctions in order to check its ballistic missile program and rebuke Tehran's continued support for terrorist groups. (ABC News)

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Iran Chat: Interview with Ultra-Runner Kristina Paltén of "Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust"

Iran Chat: Interview with Ultra-Runner Kristina Paltén of "Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust"

Our latest Iran Chat is with Swedish ultra-runner, coach and motivator, Kristina Paltén, who holds the World Record in 48 hour treadmill running, covering a distance of 322.93 kilometers. She is also the first woman to have run across Iran, and the star of a film that covers that journey called Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust.

We spoke with Paltén about her experience running across Iran, from Turkey to Turkmenistan, and how that experience, and now her film, are helping to challenge prejudices and misconceptions about the country and its people.  To download Alone Through Iran - 1144 Miles of Trust, you can visit the the film website www.alonethroughiran.com and request a private screening. For more information about Kristina Paltén, or to hire her for motivational coaching, you can visit her website www.palten.se.

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Iran Digest Week of June 2 - 9

Iran Digest Week of June 2 - 9

Iran FM Zarif Slams 'Repugnant' Trump Statement on Tehran Attacks
Iran's foreign minister has denounced as "repugnant" a White House statement on Wednesday's terror attack in Tehran that said Iran was a "terror sponsor"
President Trump had said he was praying for the victims, but added that "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote".
But Javad Zarif said Iran "rejected such claims of friendship" and claimed the attackers from so-called Islamic State had been "backed by US clients". (BBC)

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Dr. Amirahmadi Returns as President of AIC

Dr. Amirahmadi Returns as President of AIC

Dear AIC Leaders, Administrators and Friends,

As you were informed in April, I took a leave from the AIC to work on my campaign for President of Iran this May.  I was successful in officially registering my candidacy with the Interior Ministry but did not receive approval from the Guardian Council to stand for the vote. I believe if I had been given that chance, I would have won the election. I take this opportunity to congratulate President Hassan Rouhani for winning a second term.

During my absence, Mr. Michael Caridi, my great friend and a Board Member of the Council, served as Acting President. Now that I am back, he wishes me to return to the job and I am accepting his kind request. I remain deeply appreciative of Michael’s hard and strategic work during my absence. This transition has the approval of our Chairman, Senator J. Bennett Johnston.

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Iran Digest Week of May 26 - June 2

Iran Digest Week of May 26 - June 2

Rouhani Vows to Shed Iran Sanctions as Trump Piles on More

A day after winning re-election last month, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani reaffirmed a campaign pledge: that he’ll find a way to free his country from sanctions that hobble its economy.
That’s a vow President Donald Trump and U.S. lawmakers are making harder than ever to keep.Trump used his first overseas trip last week to portray Shiite-led Iran as the embodiment of evil, the common enemy that could bring America’s Sunni-led Gulf allies together with Israel to achieve Middle East peace.
In Washington, Republicans in Congress are also doubling down, pressing for legislation to add more sanctions, not lift those that remain after the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. (Bloomberg Politics) 

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AIC Statement on the Terrorist Attacks in Tehran

AIC Statement on the Terrorist Attacks in Tehran

The American Iranian Council joins the global community in strongly condemning the horrifying terrorist attacks perpetrated today in Tehran at the Parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. The AIC also sends its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who died or were injured in the attacks.

We appreciate the fact that the US State Department has joined in condemning these murderous acts and has expressed sympathies for the Iranian people.  During this difficult time, we also urge the government of Iran to be patient and perform a careful review of the evidence before making unproductive accusations against other countries in the region.  Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tehran, and the focus now should be on countering these radical extremists and on improving the safety and security of the Iranian people. 

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ISIS Claims Deadly Attacks in Iran

ISIS Claims Deadly Attacks in Iran

By Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times

Iran, one of the few countries involved in the Syria conflict not to have been affected by relentless terrorist attacks, woke up to a new reality on Wednesday, when armed men and perhaps one woman simultaneously staged attacks on the Parliament and on the landmark mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

At least two people were killed and 35 others wounded in the assaults, according to the state-sponsored Iranian Students’ News Agency. While the Islamic State immediately issued a claim of responsibility, suspicions in Tehran were also directed at Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional nemesis, newly emboldened by a supportive visit from President Trump last month.

Saudi Arabia recently raised the volume of criticism against Iran, and the country led a regional effort on Monday to isolate Qatar, the one Persian Gulf country that maintains relations with Tehran.

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AIC's President: 'CIA's New Iran Chief Appointment is Bad News for Iran-US Ties'

AIC's President: 'CIA's New Iran Chief Appointment is Bad News for Iran-US Ties'

Originally published on Trend News Agency
By Hooshang Amirahmadi, AIC President

The appointment of Michael D' Andrea, a professional CIA field operator, is certainly a bad news for US-Iran relations and signals a determined shift in Washington D.C. towards regime destabilization and possible change in Tehran.

US President Donald Trump himself was not originally for regime change in Iran but the team he has created in CIA, National Security Council, Pentagon, and to some extent in the State Department, is all extremely hawkish towards Iran.

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AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Interviewed by Tehran Times

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston Interviewed by Tehran Times

AIC Chairman Senator Johnston was interviewed by Javad Heirannia from Tehran Times. The interview was originally published in the Tehran Times.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your assessment of Trump’s foreign policy?

A:  Critics of President Trump say that he has no foreign policy (or domestic policy for that matter), that it is all made up off-handily from day to day.  The best face for his foreign policy is that it resides in the hands of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo (the “Big Four”).

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Announcement: AIC Partners with Educational Non-Profit ProjectExplorer.org to Create Film Series in Iran

Announcement: AIC Partners with Educational Non-Profit ProjectExplorer.org to Create Film Series in Iran

Dear AIC Community,

I am excited to announce that AIC is partnering with the award-winning educational non-profit, ProjectExplorer.org, to send a small film crew to Iran in Spring 2018 to produce a series of short, high-quality, educational videos about everyday life in Iran. 

These videos will be distributed free of charge to classrooms and educators in the US and around the world so that students can learn about Iran as part of their standard curriculum.  ProjectExplorer.org content currently reaches over 6 million students (ages 8-18) annually.  Additionally, we plan to share the Iran Series widely on social media and with a major television broadcast partner that has millions of viewers.

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