Iran Digest Week of February 10 - 17

Iran Digest

Week of February 10 - 17

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 Shiva Darian and Research Associate Bryan Falcone.

U.S. - Iran Relations

In Escalating Conflict with Trump, Iran's Supreme Leader Says his Country is 'Not Afraid of Threats'

Escalating a war of words with President Trump, Iran's supreme leader said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic was "not afraid of threats" and vowed large anti-American protests beginning Friday.
The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's remarks were his first since Trump attempted to bar Iranians from entering the United States and said he was putting Iran "on notice" after it tested a ballistic missile.
Meeting with military commanders, Khamenei said Trump's attempt to impose a travel ban against Iran and six other predominantly Muslim countries showed “the reality of American human rights.” (The Los Angeles Times)

Amidst U.S. - Iran Tensions, Wrestlers Emerge as Sports Diplomats

The journey to the Wrestling World Cup in Iran has been an exhausting one for the US team.
It is not so much because of the long trip from the US to the Iranian city Kermanshah with two stopovers in Frankfurt and Tehran.
It was the diplomatic hurdles that had stressed Team USA out. The wrestlers were caught in the most recent escalation between Tehran and the new Trump administration, and their visas did not come through till the last minute. (CNN)

Nuclear Accord

Tillerson: I Didn't Suggest Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillersonsaid on Thursday he did not suggest to French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that Washington planned to scrap the Iranian nuclear agreement.
"I didn't leave any such impression," Tillersontold reporters before a meeting with the Argentinian foreign minister, when asked about a report which cited Ayrault as saying the French had the impression that Washington wanted to get rid of the deal.
Ayrault told reporters after his meeting with Tillerson that there was a clear difference in opinion between the two allies on the Iranian nuclear deal, with the United States wanting to review it from scratch. (Business Insider)

Iran's Zarif Criticizes Hard-Liners for Leaks on Nuclear Talks

With a new US administration that has not made its opposition to the nuclear deal a secret, Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif took aim at those inside Iran
The ones who continue to try to sabotage the implementation of the nuclear deal and reveal contents of his confidential testimonies about those talks.
During the hourlong Feb. 11 video interview with Entekhab website, Zarif said the domestic criticism gave the opposing sides in the nuclear talks the wrong impression that Iran’s negotiators did not have the backing of Iran’s so-called hard-line “resistance” groups and that the negotiators were operating against Iran’s national interests. (Al-Monitor)

Europe Doubles Down on Iran Deal as Trump Steps Away

Before the platters of roast lamb and fragrant rice were served, visiting executives squeezed into the front room of the Swedish ambassador’s home in Tehran to applaud ambitious plans to restore Iran as a top trade partner.
The men and women representing companies including AstraZeneca Plc and truckmaker Scania AB had flown in with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who was making the first official visit to Iran by a Swedish premier since a mediation effort during the 1980s war with Iraq.
The 75-member delegation was intent on doing business, but the politics was inescapable: as the U.S. under Donald Trump steps away from Iran, Europe’s moving forward, unwilling to throw away years of tortuous diplomacy. (Bloomberg)


Sales of Persian Rugs in U.S. Soar with Easing of Iranian Sanctions

Nearly $69 million worth of Persian rugs were exported to the US during the first 10 months of the current Iranian calendar year that ended on January 19, according to Hamid Kargar, the head of Iran's National Carpet Center.
The year before no rugs were exported, he said as quoted by local media.
The Islamic Republic resumed exports of its traditional hand-woven carpets to the US as soon as the international sanctions against the country's nuclear program were lifted. (RT News)

Saudis lose South Korea Oil Market Share to Iran

Figures show that Saudi Arabia has lost a significant share of South Korea’s oil market to Iran.
The latest market figures show that South Korea’s imports of crude oil from Iran doubled in January. 
Preliminary customs data show that Iran exported around 1.79 million tons of crude oil to Asia’s fourth largest oil buyer in January. (Press TV)

Women of Iran

Sweden's 'Feminist' Government Criticized for Wearing Headscarves in Iran

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven led a Swedish delegation to Iran. Lofven was received warmly by the Islamic Republic's political elite
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted positively about his meeting with Lofven, adding that Sweden had a “good reputation” in Iran — and the two countries agreed upon a number of trade-related deals.
Back home, however, coverage of the Swedish government delegation's trip to Tehran has focused on something else. (The Washington Post)

Inside Iran

Iran Celebrates its Revolution and Thanks some American Protesters

Iran marked its national holiday on Friday with nationwide rallies with far less of the usual vitriol for the United States, in what seemed a move calculated to avoid further inciting President Trump.
Many observers had expected Iranian leaders to take aim at Mr. Trump during rallies celebrating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The stacks of posters handed out by state organizations largely avoided mentions of Mr. Trump. Anti-American slogans, usually printed in English in the past for the international news media to see, were mostly in Persian. (The New York Times)


Is Trump Leading the US on a Warpath with Iran?

By: Ted Regencia

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On a spring morning in 2016, a retired four-star general, who was forced out of his job by then-President Barack Obama, spoke before defence and foreign policy experts gathered just blocks from the White House.
The 65-year old speaker, with silver hair and puffy eyes, was blunt. For all the dangers al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) pose in the Middle East, he warned that the Iranian regime "is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace".
He recalled that as commander of US troops in the Middle East, the first three questions he would ask his subordinates every morning "had to do with Iran and Iran and Iran".
"We only pray, the rest of us outside this town, that someone good is listening here," he told the Washington crowd, as he issued an ominous prediction: "The future is going to be ghastly", and that "the next president is going to inherit a mess".
Nine months later, James Norman Mattis returned to the US capital as defense secretary of President Donald Trump.

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