Week of December 2 - 9
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 and Research Associate Bryan Falcone.
U.S. - Iran Relations
The fear that's keeping Iranian Americans from visiting their homeland
Sitting inside his empty travel agency in Los Angeles, Farhad Besharati expressed concern about the decline of his business.
The majority of his customers are older Persians who come to him when they want to purchase airline tickets to Iran. But lately, he said, some are canceling their flights, and fewer people are arranging trips.
Besharati blames recent arrests in his homeland of Iranianswho hold dual citizenship, some of whom have received lengthy prison sentences. (LA Times)
James Mattis' 33- Year Grudge Against Iran
For many, and even for self-proclaimed progressives, Donald Trump’s pick to be secretary of defense, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, is a light in the darkness—a kind of oasis in the midst of a vast reactionary desert. And so it seems, all of us can now breathe a sigh of relief:
After all these weeks, there’s finally an adult in the room.
What’s not to like? Mattis, as has been reported, is not just a warrior, he’s an intellectual. (Politico)
Iran minister says in U.S. interest to stay committed to nuclear pact
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday it was in the interest of the United States to remain committed to a multilateral nuclear treaty.
The U.S. Senate voted last week to extend the IranSanctions Act (ISA) for 10 years, and Iran vowed to retaliate, saying it violated last year's agreement with six major powers to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions.
A diplomatic thaw between the United States and Iran over the past two years appears in jeopardy with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking office next month. (Reuters)
Rouhani: we won't let Trump tear up US - Iran nuclear deal
The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has said his country will not allow Donald Trump to tear up the landmark nuclear agreement with the west as he warned that an extension of sanctions, which passed Congress last week, could be a violation of the deal.
Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections has raised questions about whether the landmark nuclear accord, signed in July 2015, has a future. Its fate could affect Rouhani’s chances of re-election in May.
“Iran is the only country that, as our supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] stated, would neither mourn nor celebrate [Trump’s] coming to power,” Rouhani said on Tuesday at Tehran University. “We would follow our own path.” (The Guardian)
Energy Giant Shell Links Oil Deal With Iran
Royal Dutch Shell has signed a provisional agreement to develop oil and gas fields in Iran, a move that could signal energy companies will not be deterred from doing business with the Islamic Republic despite uncertainty whether a Trump administration will scrap a nuclear deal agreed to by world powers.
A spokesman for Shell said a memorandum of agreement was signed Wednesday with the National Iranian Oil Co. "to further explore areas of potential cooperation." The agreement is nonbinding and involves the development of Iran's oil fields in South Azadegan and Yadavaran and the Kish gas field, according to Reuters. (NPR)
Iran plans to revalue, rename rial currency
Iran plans to revalue its rial tenfold and revert to the currency's old name, the toman, according to a bill approved on Wednesday by President Hassan Rouhani's cabinet, the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said.
The currency was called the toman until the 1930s and most Iranians still refer to it by that name.
Under the measure, which requires approval from parliament and the Guardian Council before taking effect, the renamed currency would be worth around 3,200 to the dollar at official exchange rates and 3,900 at unofficial rates. (Reuters)
Women in Iran
Iranian women demand inclusion in Rouhani's Cabinet
The resignations of three Cabinet ministers in October had raised hope among many women’s rights activists in Iran that President Hassan Rouhani would nominate at least one woman to one of the vacant positions. While Rouhani pledged to incorporate more women into his government during his 2013 presidential campaign, he has yet to fulfill this promise.
Upon taking office, Rouhani named three women as vice presidents and also tried to place more women as senior state officials. (Al-Monitor)
Iran fashion workers jailed for "spreading prostitution"
Twelve people involved in the fashion industry in Iran are reported to have been jailed for "spreading prostitution" via images posted online.
The eight women and four men were handed sentences of between five months and six years by a court in Shiraz, a lawyer told the Ilna news agency. They were also banned from working in fashion and travelling abroad for two years afterwards, Mahmoud Taravat said. (BBC)
Reformists and Hardliners at Loggerheads over Opposition Leaders' Arrest
More than seven years since the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, controversies related to the disputed polls and the regime’s subsequent crackdown of the protest movement continue to haunt the Islamic Republic. As the country is gearing up for next year’s presidential vote, Iranianconservatives and reformists are yet again at loggerheads over the house arrest of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrubi. (Middle East Institute)
Will Donald Trump Destroy the Iran Deal?
By Alex Vatanka
In Tehran, the November 30 decision by OPEC to cut oil production by member states was predictably a big deal. This, however, was not just about the economics of the event. Sure, the price of crude oil shot up by 10% on the announcement. It was the first time in eight years that OPEC states had agreed to a collective production cut.
But in Tehran, the other big news was that Iran - OPEC’s third-biggest producer – had escaped the call for it to cut back its production. On the other hand, Iran’s biggest regional rival, Saudi Arabia, agreed to a steep cut.
While Western commentators have been quick to paint this as a win for Iran in the cutthroat Middle Eastern geopolitical competition for power, there are also domestic reverberations that come at a timely point for embattled Iranian moderates. And perhaps no one more so than one man, Iran’s Oil Minister, Bijan Zangeneh.