Iran Digest: Week of October 7 - 14

Iran Digest

Week of October 7 - 14

AIC’s Iran digest project covers the latest developments and news stories published in Iranian and international media outlets. This weekly digest is compiled by Research Fellow Nicolás Pedreira.

U.S. - Iran Relations

It's Time to Release the Real History of the 1953 Iran Coup

Sixty-three years ago, the CIA and British intelligence fomented a coup d’état that toppled the prime minister of Iran, restored a cooperative shah and strengthened a regional buffer against possible Soviet aggression. It also unwittingly set Iran on a course toward dictatorship and helped inject the 1979 Iranian revolution with an anti-American cast that continues to animate hardline elements within the current regime.

More than six decades later, the coup against Mohammad Mosaddeq and its aftermath are still haunting U.S.-Iran relations. Yet amazingly, Americans do not have access to the full historical record of U.S. involvement in the event, even though much of that record (at least the parts the CIA has not destroyed, by its own admission) is unclassified.

Most recently, John Kerry’s State Department, which has shown real acumen in dealing with Iran, has decided not to release its long-overdue official compilation of internal documents on U.S. diplomacy covering the coup period, basing its reasoning on a concern for the fragility of relations with Iran. (Politico)

4 US Lawmakers ask White House to block Iran's WTO Bid

In a letter sent on Thursday to US Trade Representative Michael Froman, the four lawmakers from the US House of Representatives claimed that the WTO rules would constrain any future efforts to impose sanctions on Tehran.

They also voiced concern that Iran’s membership in the international group could complicate the US ability to combat Tehran’s missile program. 

Iran applied for WTO membership in 1996 but its application was vetoed by the US. In 2005, Washington agreed to allow a limited membership for Iran in the organization as part of a possible nuclear deal. (Press TV)

Nuclear Accord

Iran nuclear deal still fragile, UN Atomic Chief Says- DPA

The implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers is still fragile, the head of the U.N. agency that polices Iran's side of the deal has said, warning that small mistakes could have grave consequences

Iran and six major powers, including the United States, struck the agreement last year. It restricts Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"The implementation of the agreement is still fragile," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said in an interview with the German news agency DPA published on Friday before a trip to Germany. (Reuters)


Iran is Stuck with China to finance its Oil Dreams

Amid the snake-infested marshlands on Iran’s border with Iraq, the control room monitoring North Azadegan oil field is manned entirely by Chinese technicians. In central Tehran, hundreds of Chinese pour out at noon from the telecommunications company Huawei to its canteen. There are now so many Chinese expatriates here, some say they outnumber all other nationalities combined.

A decade of international sanctions aimed at blocking Iran’s nuclear program has left China the country’s dominant investor and trade partner. Now, with those restrictions formally lifted, a more pragmatic Iranian government has been trying to ease dependence on China, only to find itself stymied by hard-line resistance and residual U.S. sanctions.

“China has done enough investment in Iran,” said Mansour Moazami, who was deputy oil minister until taking over as chairman of the massive Industrial Development & Renovation Organization this year. “We will provide opportunities and chances for others.” (Bloomberg)

Shell to return to Iran

Energy giant Shell confirmed Monday it had signed an initial deal with Iran's National Petrochemical Company (NPC), paving the way for the Anglo-Dutch group's return to the oil-rich country. 

"We can confirm that we have expressed our interest to further explore potential areas of cooperation with NPC," Shell told the AFP news agency.

The company's vice president, Hans Nijkamp, said during the signing ceremony that Shell was seeking "a long-term presence in Iran," adding that the firm would first have to look at possible commercial structures to use and corresponding technical solutions to eventually arrive at"a sort of joint venture again." (DW Akademie)

Women of Iran

Your Boycott Won't Help Iranian Women

When the World Chess Federation designated Iran host of the 2017 Women’s World Chess Championship games, Mitra Hejazipour was thrilled. She is a women’s grandmaster. She learned chess at 6, played in her first formal championship at age 9, and, now 23, she has spent her life traveling the world for chess tournaments and returning to the Islamic Republic of Iran with shiny medals.

When she plays, she wears a hijab, and presumably, when the world’s best women gather in Tehran to play chess next year, they will, too. But the excitement of the chess championship news — widely celebrated in Iran — soon turned to protest. Calls for a boycott are growing louder, raising the possibility that the championship won’t be held in Tehran at all.

Some international players are saying they don’t want to wear head scarves, but they seem to be making this statement for Iranian women, too: Iranian women shouldn’t have to do this, so we’ll make a stink. But this kind of protest — outsiders who think they know best — is exactly the opposite of what most Iranian women want, and is at the heart of what’s worst about policing how Muslim women dress. (The New York Times)

Iran hanging: Fear for child bride Zeinab Sekaanvand

Human rights activists say a 22-year-old woman whose execution was delayed while she was pregnant could be hanged within days in Iran.

Zeinab Sekaanvand was convicted of killing her husband, whom she says beat her for months. Her execution was postponed after she remarried in prison and conceived a child.

Last month she gave birth to a stillborn baby, putting her at risk of death by hanging as soon as 13 October. Doctors said the young woman's baby died in her womb two days before she gave birth as a result of the shock she suffered after her friend and cellmate was executed. (BBC)

Inside Iran

Iran Wins a Big Game, but Cheering is Out of Bounds

In a collision of international soccer scheduling and the eve of Ashura, Shiite Islam’s most solemn and sorrowful holiday, Iran played South Korea on Tuesday in a World Cup qualifying match held at Tehran’s 100,000-seat Azadi Stadium.

The Iranians beat the South Koreans 1-0, normally a cause for rapt joy for the home-team crowd. But clerics and state officials had strongly urged the fans to avoid cheering for their players or celebrating the victory, which was deemed an insult to religious values.

In a compromise, the religious authorities said the match could proceed if the stadium were turned into a place of mourning, with black banners commemorating the death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, more than 1,300 years ago. (The New York TImes)

Amid Syrian chaos, Iran's game plan emerges: A Path to the Mediterranean

Not far from Mosul, a large military force is finalizing plans for an advance that has been more than three decades in the making. The troops are Shia militiamen who have fought against the Islamic State, but they have not been given a direct role in the coming attack to free Iraq’s second city from its clutches.

Instead, while the Iraqi army attacks Mosul from the south, the militias will take up a blocking position to the west, stopping Isis forces from fleeing towards their last redoubt of Raqqa in Syria. Their absence is aimed at reassuring the Sunni Muslims of Mosul that the imminent recapture of the city is not a sectarian push against them. However, among Iraq’s Shia-dominated army the militia’s decision to remain aloof from the battle of Mosul is being seen as a rebuff.

Yet among the militias’ backers in Iran there is little concern. Since their inception, the Shia irregulars have made their name on the battlefields of Iraq, but they have always been central to Tehran’s ambitions elsewhere. By not helping to retake Mosul, the militias are free to drive one of its most coveted projects – securing an arc of influence across Iraq and Syria that would end at the Mediterranean Sea. (The Guardian)


It's Time to Negotiate with Iran Over Syria

By Afshon Ostovar


Whenever there has been a glimmer of light in the Syrian war, it has always been quickly extinguished. Take the cease-fire agreement reached in September by Washington and Moscow. After Red Crescent trucks delivering aid to the besieged city of Aleppo were bombed by suspected Russian aircraft, the deal quickly fell apart.

The many skeptics of the cease-fire were not surprised by its fate. But its dissolution had less to do with Russia’s duplicitousness than with the fact that Russia never should have been the main interlocutor to begin with. Of the outside backers of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Iran — which has sent hundreds of its troops to Syria and facilitated the involvement of several thousand non-Syrian Shiite militants to prop up Assad — has the most influence in Syria.

Russian and Iranian objectives in Syria are not the same, and there’s no reason to think Iran’s interests are well represented by Russian negotiators. If the United States hopes to achieve any measure of peace in Syria, it can’t avoid directly negotiating with Iran — which is not to suggest that peace will be the immediate result.

Read the full article.