Week of June 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 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.
U.S. - Iran Relations
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)
Iran’s Khamenei Says Attacks to Increase Hatred Toward U.S., Saudi
Thousands packed Tehran’s streets on Friday to mourn the victims of two suicide bomb and gun attacks, and joined their supreme leader in accusing regional rival Saudi Arabia of involvement in the assaults.
People in the crowd chanted “Death to Saudi Arabia" alongside the more customary "Death to America" and slogans against Israel, as they reached out to touch coffins wrapped in flags and covered in flowers.
Bombers and gunmen killed 17 people in Iran's parliament and near the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, on Wednesday, in rare strikes on the capital that exacerbated regional tensions. (Reuters)
Isolation by the West Fuels a Tech Startup Boom in Iran
Mostafa Meisami has given up on the farming life, trading his old job raising cattle for a better-paying gig ferrying commuters through the notoriously traffic-clogged streets of the Iranian capital Tehran.
The 38-year-old father-to-be plies his trade in a brand-new, locally assembled Chinese hatchback, scrolling for fares using an app on his Samsung smartphone.
Yes, even in Iran, there's an app for that — and quite a few other things too. The Islamic Republic remains in many ways cut off economically from the rest of the world. (ABC News)
Iran in Talks with Russia-led EEU on Free-Trade Pact: State Media
Iran is in talks with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to forge a free-trade pact, state-run media said, amid problems in securing fresh Western investment despite the lifting of most global sanctions against Tehran.
Iran's economy has revived only slowly since its curbed its disputed nuclear activity under a 2015 deal with world powers because many foreign investors remain cautious for fear of incurring penalties from remaining unilateral U.S. sanctions.
In turning to the EEU, Iran would be building on increasing trade, economic and military ties with Russia, including the two countries' support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his war with rebels and militants trying to topple him. (Reuters)
Financial market reforms in Iran can validate Rouhani’s victory
The Tehran Stock Exchange index rallied to eliminate its 5 per cent loss since the beginning of the year after Hassan Rouhani, the self-styled moderate president, convincingly won a second term in mid-May, overcoming a unified conservative challenge from a close ally of Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader.
His opponent was Ebrahim Raisi, head of the biggest tax-exempt religious foundation, with $15bn in assets, which as an institutional investor has major stakes in exchange listings without exercising traditional corporate governance.
Mr Raisi led an attack on the government’s economic record and cited rising poverty and unemployment, despite the economy’s rebound from recession, with 6 per cent oil export-driven growth this fiscal year following sanctions relief from the six-nation nuclear deal. His platform called for higher social spending and more trade and investment protection in line with the supreme leader’s “resistance” vision. (Financial Times)
Paris Climate Agreement Won't Fall Apart with U.S. Withdrawal: Iran VP
The head of Iran's Department of Environment (DoE), Massoumeh Ebtekar, says US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate deal will not lead to the collapse of the accord.
“The Paris agreement is an international accord and will not collapse by the withdrawal of one country,” Ebtekar, who is also an Iranian vice president, said on Saturday.
“Trump’s move was a completely unscientific and uncalculated move,” she added. She described the Paris agreement as a “golden” accord reached amid high tensions, adding that the deal promotes convergence among countries across the world. (Press TV)
Women of Iran
Teaching of Gender Equality Sparks Infighting in Iran
A UN-devised global education agenda known as Education 2030 proved to be one of the biggest challenges for incumbent Hassan Rouhani in Iran’s May 19 presidential election.
Just 12 days before the polls, on May 7, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized Rouhani’s Cabinet for quietly adopting the measure and said, “It is the Islamic Republic here! Here Islam is the benchmark! The Quran is the benchmark!It is not a place where the deficient, destructive and corrupt Western lifestyle can infiltrate! ... The UNESCO 2030 education agenda and the like are not agendas that the Islamic Republic of Iran should have to surrender and submit to.” (Al-Monitor)
'Do You Think We Will Go Away?' Islamic State Says After Attacks in Iran
Iran suffered its worst terrorist attack in recent memory Wednesday, a bold strike by assailants armed with explosives and assault rifles against the tomb of the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary founder and the parliament building. At least 12 people were killed and 43 others injured.
The militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility via its Amaq news agency, saying the near-simultaneous attacks were carried out by "martyrdom-seeking fighters with two explosive vests.”
If true, it would be the Sunni Muslim extremist group’s first successful attack in Shiite-led Iran, a nation it regards as a leader of apostates. (L.A. Times)
Iran Offers Qatar Use of its Ports as Gulf Blockade Bites
Iran has rallied to Qatar’s aid, offering the Gulf state the use of three of its ports to import supplies as its Arab neighbours seek to isolate the emirate.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said Doha would be able to import all the goods it needed. He described the de facto blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as “collective punishment”
“We have been isolated because we are successful and progressive. We are a platform for peace not terrorism,” Sheikh Mohammed told reporters. (Financial Times)
Terror in Iran Reveals Hypocrisy in Trump and his Allies
By: Ishaan Tharoor
Gunmen linked to the Islamic State launched a brazen assault in Tehran on Wednesday, attacking the country's parliament building and the shrine dedicated to revolutionary Iran's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. At least 17 people were killed and dozens more wounded.
It was the first time in more than a decade that Tehran was struck by militants. Thomas Erdbrink, the New York Times's correspondent in Tehran, reported the details: "The attacks started around 10:30 a.m., when men armed with assault rifles and suicide vests — some of them dressed as women — descended on the Parliament building, killing at least one guard and wounding and kidnapping other people. That standoff lasted until midafternoon."
Five assailants were killed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility through its online channels and released a graphic 24-minute video showing a bloody scene from Iran's parliament.