Week of June 16 - 23
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
The Trump Administration is Working to Free American Hostages in Iran
The Trump administration has quietly ramped up its involvement in trying to free two Iranian Americans being held in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, including one who is in very poor health.
The effort is now not only a focus of the administration’s approach to Iran, but also part of an overall increase of attention to the plight of Americans held unjustly abroad.
Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American businessman, was arrested in Tehran in October 2015 and charged with espionage and collusion with an enemy country — the United States. (The Washington Post)
64 Years Later, C.I.A. Finally Releases Details of Iranian Coup
New documents reveal how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup — only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy.
Declassified documents released last week shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency’s central role in the 1953 coup that brought down Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh, fueling a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and poisoning U.S.-Iran relations into the 21st century.
The approximately 1,000 pages of documents also reveal for the first time the details of how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup — only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy on the ground. (Foreign Policy)
New Iran Deals for Airbus Jets Increase Pressure on Trump
Two Iranian airlines made prospective deals with Airbus on Thursday to buy 73 jetliners, a signal that the global aerospace industry is betting such sales to Iran will prevail despite increased hostility by the Trump administration.
The prospective deals, described by Airbus as memorandums of understanding, are worth as much as $2.5 billion and were announced by the company at the Paris Air Show, an important sales event for plane manufacturers.
If completed, the deals would further solidify Iran as a significant customer in the industry, dominated by Boeing in the United States and Airbus in Europe. (The New York Times)
Iran Expects to Sign World's Biggest Gas Field Deal in Next Two Weeks
Iran and France’s Total SA expect to sign a contract to develop part of the world’s biggest natural gas field in the next few weeks in what would be the Persian Gulf country’s first investment by an international energy company since sanctions were eased last year.
Total and China National Petroleum Corp. signed a “heads of agreement” with National Iranian Oil Co. in November to develop phase 11 of the South Pars gas field, a deal that was valued then at $4.8 billion.
Total Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne told Euronews television on Tuesday that the company will sign a contract for the offshore gas project in the next few weeks. (Bloomberg Markets)
Bike-Friendly City Fails to Gain Traction
Despite efforts by Iran’s Department of Environment, Tehran Transport and Traffic Department and anti-air pollution campaigns, the use of bicycles has failed to gain popularity in the capital and across the country.
Bicycle, as a cheap means of transportation, is regaining its 19th-century status against the environmental challenges the world is currently facing, such as high air pollution level and global warming, which are two daily threats to people’s life.
Iranian metropolises don’t see many cyclists in the streets despite the heavy traffic, high level of air pollution, and the growing number of people suffering from diseases caused by the lack of adequate physical exercise. (Financial Tribune)
A Rift Between Iran's Ayatollah and President Widens
Tensions are mounting between Iran’s supreme leader and the country’s president after the latter’s landslide victory in last month’s election.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 78, has sharpened his criticism of the reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, including humiliating him in a meeting of the country’s most senior officials.
A hardliner keen to preserve his legacy, Khamenei is believed to have tacitly backed Ebrahim Raisi, Rouhani’s rival, in the election. (The Guardian)
Saudis Say They Seized 3 Iranians Planning a "Terrorist Act" at Sea
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that its navy had seized three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards piloting a boat loaded with explosives toward a Saudi offshore oil drilling rig.
The claim was not confirmed but threatened to further fray relations between the rival powers, which have accused each other of fomenting terrorism and instability against a growing backdrop of tensions roiling the Middle East.
Iran denied the Saudi claim and accused the Saudi Navy of having shot at boats belonging to “simple fishermen” from Iran’s southern Persian Gulf port of Bushehr in an unprovoked attack that had left one Iranian dead. (The New York Times)
Iran Launches Missiles into Eastern Syria, Targets ISIS
Iran's military said Sunday that it has launched several missiles into eastern Syria, targeting Islamic State fighters in retaliation for the twin attacks that rocked Tehran on June 7.
The strikes are the first time Iran has fired missiles at another country in three decades and represent a major escalation of Iran's role in the war in Syria.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said on its official news website, Sepah News, that several "ground-to-ground, mid-range missiles" were fired from bases in Kermanshah province, western Iran. (CNN)
Syria Conflict: U.S. Jet 'Downs Iranian Made Drone'
A US jet has shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by forces backing the Syrian government in the south of the country, American officials say.
The drone was thought to be armed and threatening US-led coalition troops on the ground, officials said.But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the action amounted to "complicity with terrorism".
The incident comes after the US shot down a Syrian fighter plane on Sunday and another drone earlier this month.The F-15 plane downed the drone around 00:30 on Tuesday (21:30 GMT Monday) north-east of Tanf, an outpost of the US-led coalition, according to a US military statement. (BBC)
Saudi Prince’s Elevation Triggers Alarm in Tehran
By: Ahmad Majidyar
Saudi King Salman’s appointment of his son Mohammed bin Salman to be first in line to the throne has sent shockwaves in Tehran. While the Iranian government has not officially reacted to the announcement yet, the country’s state media warn that the 31-year-old prince will pursue a more aggressive policy vis-à-vis Iran – pointing out that Prince Mohammed has made explicit threats against the Islamic Republic, has cultivated close ties with the Trump administration, and has not shied away from confronting Iran’s proxies in Yemen, Syria and the broader region. These outlets predict that tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran will further increase and express the worry that Riyadh will work more closely with Washington and regional states to counter the Islamic Republic and its allies.