Week of May 5 - 12
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. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.
Latest: U.S. Sees Iran Working to Preserve Nuclear Deal
The latest on the Senate intelligence committee's hearing on global threats: The Trump administration's national intelligence director says the U.S. sees Iran working to maintain last year's nuclear agreement. Tehran's rationale is that by sticking to the deal, it gets relief from U.S. sanctions and preserves some nuclear capabilities.
Dan Coats tells the Senate intelligence committee that the deal extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon.
He cites the Obama administration's estimates that the timeline has been delayed from a few months to about a year. Coats also says the deal has enhanced transparency of Iran's nuclear activities. (U.S. News)
At Rouhani Rally, Daring Slogans and Reminders of Iran's Political Ghosts
As supporters of Iran’s president awaited his arrival to fire them up for his May 19 re-election bid, the thoughts of many were with two other men under house arrest for years.
“Moussavi, Karroubi must be released!” the crowd of thousands thundered over and over, a reference to the country’s most prominent opposition leaders.
Hands raised, they drowned out a warm-up speaker at the campaign event for the president, Hassan Rouhani. Many wore green wristbands, a political symbol that, not too long ago, could get someone arrested in Iran. (The New York Times)
Iran Top Leader: Troublemakers in Election Will be 'Slapped'
Iran’s supreme leader warned Wednesday that anyone trying to foment unrest around the upcoming presidential election “will definitely be slapped in the face” — a sign authorities want to avoid a repetition of the violence that followed the country’s disputed 2009 poll.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments came as the country’s intelligence minister said his agents already disrupted one plot to cause disruptions. Meanwhile, windows at a campaign office of President Hassan Rouhani were broken by vandals.
So far, however, there has been no sign of major problems ahead of the May 19 election. Khamenei spoke during a graduation ceremony in Tehran for cadets in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary force. (The Washington Post)
Iran's Dark Horse Candidate for President
Until just a few months ago, not many Iranians were familiar with the name Ebrahim Raisi. The 56-year-old cleric entered the game last year when he was appointed to head Iran’s largest charitable foundation, Astan Quds Razavi, which oversees the holy shrine of the eighth Shiite imam, Reza, in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
Raisi, a former prosecutor and deputy chief justice who once headed Iran’s anti-corruption committee, wants to be the Islamic Republic’s 12th president. Generally labeled as a Principlist, Raisi “wants to free himself from any partisan affiliation and run as an independent,” according to an aide who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.
In Iran, the color green is widely associated with the Green Movement, which emerged from the disputed 2009 presidential elections. Raisi chose green as his campaign color. The source close to the presidential candidate explained, “This is the color used by revolutionary grandsons of the prophet. (Al Monitor)
Iran Coal Mine Explosion Death Toll Rises to 42
At least 42 people are now known to have been killed by an explosion at a coal mine in north-eastern Iran last Wednesday, state media report.
An official in the Golestan provincial government, Reza Morovati, said seven more bodies had been recovered from the Zemestan-Yurt mine, near Azadshahr.
Efforts to remove rubble and search for other bodies were continuing, he added.The blast occurred when methane gas that had accumulated inside a tunnel was ignited, causing it to collapse. (BBC)
Financial Tech Gaining Steam in Iran
The Iranian capital played host to the four-day FINEX 2017 exhibition April 15-18. The annual event gathered more than 250 Iranian entities involved in banking and finance. While organizers dubbed it an international expo, only three foreign firms took part.
One of the driving factors behind the reluctance of foreign companies to engage with FINEX 2017 was the uncertainty over the future of Iran. Overshadowing the expo was the hostile rhetoric between Tehran and Washington and the upcoming May 19 presidential elections, which some argue could lead to the election of a conservative president.
As such, the presence of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the opening ceremony of the exhibition was perhaps an attempt to highlight the event in the face of negative sentiment against Iran. (Al Monitor)
Women Of Iran
How Iranian Women Became the Queens of Online Shopping
Parisian entrepreneur Moojan Asghari noticed something unusual about the Tehran startup weekend she contributed to in December 2016: the prevalence of stylish hijabs and lipstick.
Unlike the high-tech events she goes to in Europe and the United States, women were well-represented in the competing Iranian teams. “Most of the projects we had were related to e-commerce,” Asghari says. “Fashion tech is one of the trendiest topics in Iran.”
These days, badass Persian women are quietly reshaping online shopping models from the ground up. Years of political sanctions isolated Iran’s economy, limiting imports and curbing Iranians’ ability to use international currencies like the US dollar. (Racked)
Iran's Warning to Saudi Arabia
Earlier this week, Iran issued strong warnings to Saudi Arabia to avoid any adventurism or face severe repercussions.
Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan in an interview warned the Saudis that any military action against Iran would lead to the destruction of almost all of the kingdom.
Dehqan said the Saudis should not be fooled to believe that their air force is strong enough to threaten Iran. He said only the holy cities of Mecca and Medina would be spared should the Saudis – as he put it – perpetrate any act of stupidity against Iran. (Press TV)
Negotiating With Iran Could Pay Off for Trump
By: Amir Handjani
If there has been one consistent theme in Donald Trump’s foreign policy since the early days of his campaign, it has been his insistence that America has not benefited economically from the global order it mostly protects.
Yet when it comes to U.S. policy in the Middle East, he has been wildly inconsistent. During the presidential race, he talked about ripping up the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers.
He walked that pledge back shortly after taking office. Nor has he acted on his rhetoric of ramping up sanctions on Tehran.So, here's a way the Trump administration could bring these foreign policy contradictions in accord: By confronting conventional Washington wisdom that isolating Iran is beneficial to America's strategic goals.