Iran Digest Week of July 7 - 14

Iran Digest

Week of July 7 - 14

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

Iranian cancer researcher denied U.S. entry accused of having militia ties

An Iranian cancer researcher who was denied entry to the United States previously headed a student branch of a volunteer paramilitary militia, according to footage aired on Iranian state television on Thursday. 
The TV also showed Mohsen Dehnavi arriving back in Tehran alongside his wife and children. In comments to the channel at the airport, he defended his travel to the United States as solely intended for science and research.
"The topic of our research was health and saving ill people fighting cancer from this dangerous disease, but they didn't allow us entry, despite, as I mentioned, all the efforts made by the American academic community," he said. (CBS)

Iran commander slams US regime change 'dream'

A senior Iranian commander has dismissed the Pentagon chief's call for regime change in the Islamic Republic as a "ridiculous dream", saying Iran would respond to US officials' nonsensical talks. 
James Mattis on Monday described Iran "the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East”, saying a regime change would be necessary before the US and Iran could have substantially positive relations. 
On Thursday, Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran's Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri said the Islamic Republic was not perturbed by the remarks.  (PressTV)

Nuclear Accord

Trump likely to say Iran complying with nuclear deal: U.S. official

U.S. President Donald Trump is "very likely" to state that Iran is adhering to its nuclear agreement although he continues to have reservations about it, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
Under U.S. law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran's compliance with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump has a congressionally mandated deadline of Monday to decide.
The landmark 2015 deal struck with Iran by the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany is aimed at preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon by imposing time-limited restrictions and strict international monitoring on its nuclear program. In return, Tehran won relief from punishing international economic sanctions.  (Reuters)

Women of Iran

Iranian math genius battles cancer recurrence at US hospital

Internationally-renowned Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has been hospitalized in the US for deteriorating health conditions caused by cancer recurrence.
According to one of her relatives, Mirzakhani is currently receiving treatment at a hospital in the US after medical tests confirmed that cancer has spread to her bone marrow a few weeks ago, the Iranian Haft-e Sobh daily reported.
Maryam’s parents travelled to the US on Monday to join their daughter and her family and take care of them.  Mirzakhani had been diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, a year before she set the record of the first ever woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal, also known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. (PressTV)

Iranian soccer stars call on government to repeal ban on women in stadiums

For the last 38 years, it’s been illegal for women to attend soccer matches in Iran. Two of the country’s most prominent names in the sport say it’s time to change that.
“This is the demand of millions upon millions of female fans who’d like to watch soccer matches and other events up close,” Ali Karimi, a former Bayern Munich midfielder and current coach of one of Iran’s most popular teams, said told Iranian news agency ISNA this week (via RFE/RL). “This important issue is not impossible, this dream of female sports fans can be achieved through correct planning.”
Karimi’s comments follow those made late last month by current Iranian national team star Masoud Shojaei, who in a video shared by Radio Farda and other sites insinuated that women being allowed in stadiums would benefit the sport.  (Washington Post)


Ships Exporting Iranian Oil Go Dark, Raising Sanctions Red Flags

Ships transporting almost a fifth of Iran’s oil exports in the second half of last year either turned off their radio-signal tracking systems or gave misleading information about the origin of their cargo, red flags for governments seeking evidence of evasion of international sanctions against Tehran.
Some 47 of 55 ships carrying Iranian oil products from Iran to the United Arab Emirates for two U.A.E.-registered companies failed to emit signals from the system that transmits their position and course, for part or all of their journey, according to an analysis of the two firms’ shipments that was completed for The Wall Street Journal by ship-tracker Windward Ltd., an Israeli firm that uses satellite imaging to map shipping routes.
The shipments, made by two U.A.E.-registered traders, Silk Road Petroleum FZE and Petrochemix General Trading LLC, accounted for 17% of Iran’s fuel-oil and gas-oil exports during the six-month period, according to records compiled by the oil-product traders.  (WSJ)

Inside Iran

New Iran Commission to Oversee Total Gas Deal

Iran is forming a government commission to oversee its deal with France’s Total to develop the South Pars gas field, the first major Western energy investment in the Islamic Republic since the lifting of sanctions last year.
The commission will include representatives from the judiciary, the head of parliament’s energy commission and of its planning and budget commission, speaker Ali Larijani said Wednesday, according to state media. 
The South Pars project will cost up to $5 billion, including an initial stage of around $2 billion, and production is expected to start within 40 months, the oil ministry said this month. (NYTimes)

'Game of Thrones' fever grips Iran

“Why isn’t Khal Drogo on the list?” asked an outraged fan, clearly dismayed that a list ranking the best swordsmen on “Game of Thrones” has omitted Khal, warlord of the mighty Dothraki. According to this Iranian fan, the dark-eyed horse warrior should have a place on the list at the Persian-language fan website
Westeros fever has gripped Tehran and other cities as Iranians eagerly count down the days to season seven of HBO’s series to begin on July 16. Some might credit the interest to the fact that its composer Ramin Djawadi is of Iranian descent. Others point to the fictional legend of Azor Ahai — a deity known as the Lord of Light — being inspired by Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic religion with origins in Iran that views fire as a representation of the light of God. However, Iranian fandom for “Bazi Taj va Takht,” literally “game of crowns and thrones” in Persian, delves much deeper than that.  (Al-Monitor)

Regional Politics

Iran and Oman agree to boost ties amid Gulf crisis

Iran and Oman have agreed to work on boosting bilateral ties as a diplomatic crisis persists in the Gulf.
"Iran and Oman have for years had fraternal relations and the best must be made of these good relations to reinforce them," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday as he met Oman's foreign minister.
The Iranian government's website reported Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi as replying: "Omani leaders believe our ties should be developed."
The meeting comes as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing terrorism and being too close to Riyadh's rival Tehran. (Al Jazeera)


Why Iran Will Not Go the Way of the USSR

By: Shireen T. Hunter

Since the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, articles have appeared in the West arguing that, sooner or later, Iran’s ethnic and linguistic diversity will lead it to go the way of the USSR and dissolve into several states. Moreover, subscribers to this theory believe that the United States should encourage such a disintegrative process by further isolating Iran economically and politically, while also supporting its separatist elements.
Others, meanwhile, talk about a wholesale rearranging of Middle East/West Asia borders along ethnic and sectarian lines. One such article was “Blood Borders” by Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters, published in The Armed Forces Journal. Now that the Trump administration has again put regime change in Iran on the US agenda, similar articles have again proliferated.
Of course, the risk of disintegration exists for all nations and not just Iran. From the UK to Spain, Italy, and potentially even France, devolutionary forces might emerge. For example, if Catalonia becomes independent, Occitania in France might try to follow suit. And if Occitania, why not Brittany, the Basque area, Corsica, and so on? Italy might split between north and south, and the United Kingdom might fracture into Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man.
Read more