Week of August 18 - 25
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.
Former deputy CIA director says Trump process is 'very disconcerting' on Iran nuke deal
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been red hot in recent weeks -- and they might be about to get even hotter.
Amid warning shots fired by US ships against Iranian ones, as well as very close calls when Iranian drones have buzzed the US military, President Trump will be called upon to certify that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal.
His administration has declared Iran in compliance, as required by law, twice during his tenure so far. But Trump has said he expects the US to declare Iran non-compliant when the next review is due in September. (CNN)
Iran: Top Priority To Protect Nuclear Deal From U.S.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the top foreign policy priority for his new government was to protect the nuclear deal from being torn up by the United States.
"The most important job of our foreign minister is first to stand behind the JCPOA and not to allow the US and other enemies to succeed," Rouhani told parliament on Sunday, using the technical name for the 2015 agreement that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear program.
"Standing up for the JCPOA means standing up to Iran's enemies," he said on the last day of debates over his cabinet selections. Rouhani indicated a week ago that Iran was ready to walk out on the nuclear deal if the US continued to apply new sanctions. (AlJazeera)
Haley takes U.S. "concerns" on Iran to the nuclear police
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley arrived at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday to increase the Trump administration's understanding of Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal reached under President Obama, but also to try and ratchet up pressure on Iran after its recent ballistic missile tests.
Haley met IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, and was also to meet some of the technical experts who monitor nuclear activities, including those in Iran governed by the nuclear pact signed by the U.S., a handful of its allies, Russia and Iran. (CBS News)
Russians to finance €1bn rail electrification in Iran
A Russian bank has agreed to provide 1 billion euros to electrify a 500 km railway route in northern Iran, state news agency IRNA has quoted a senior official as saying.
Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways for northern network, Yusef Gheranpasha, said the bank will finance the electrification of the line between the cities of Garmsar and Gorgan.
“With the agreement of the Russian bank to provide finance, the project will soon be put into the implementation phase and become operational within three years,” the official said without identifying the lender. The loan is related to a 1.2 billion euro deal that Russia and Iran signed to electrify the Garmsar to Inche Burun line during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran in November 2015. (Press TV)
Apple, Citing U.S. Sanctions, Removes Popular Apps in Iran
Officially, Apple has no presence in Iran. Because of American sanctions against the country, the company’s iPhones are not legally available for sale here, and Apple does not offer a version of its App Store in the country.
That has not stopped Iranians from snapping up millions of iPhones smuggled in from places like Dubai and Hong Kong. Nor has it kept Iranian app developers from creating thousands of apps for local users and offering them through App Stores outside Iran.
Now, Apple is moving aggressively to shut down Iranian apps. The crackdown here follows the company’s recent removal of apps in China that allowed residents to evade censors and gain access to the global internet and were deemed illegal by the Chinese government. (The New York Times)
Women of Iran
Iran Gets Its 12th Woman Mayor
Iran’s twelfth female mayor has been elected for the city of Zanjan, further paving the way for women to reach high managerial posts in the country.
Samaneh Shaaddel has taken the helm of affairs in District Two of the city. She used to be in charge of traffic and transportation affairs at Zanjan Municipality for four years before assuming his recent position. She has also served as the deputy mayor of Zanjan for cultural affairs.
She managed to be elected as the mayor thanks to her competence and experience, according to a Farsi report by the Jame Jam Online news website. (Iran Front Page News)
Iran, Saudi Arabia to try diplomatic exchange in apparent thaw
Iran and Saudi Arabia are planning a diplomatic exchange in a move indicating a thaw in their icy relations, an Iranian official said in an interview with state media.
"Iranian and Saudi diplomats will travel and visit the embassy and consulates in one another's countries," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on the Iranian Student News Agency. "Visas have been issued by both sides and we are awaiting the final steps."
Zarif said the exchange would probably happen sometime after the religious Hajj pilgrimage, which starts at the end of August and ends around September 4. (CNN)
Qatar restores diplomatic ties with Iran despite demands by Arab neighbors
Qatar said Thursday that it has restored diplomatic relations with Iran, marking a further break with Arab nations that have closed ranks against Qatar for its links to Islamist groups and others perceived as regional threats.
The decision ignores demands by Qatar’s neighbors — led by Saudi Arabia — to limit ties with Tehran and threatens to deepen the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in decades, which has complicated Washington’s policies in the Middle East.
Qatar hosts U.S. warplanes at a major air base and serves as a logistical hub for Pentagon operations.“The State of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement. (The Washington Post)
Erdogan says Turkey and Iran discussing joint action against Kurdish militants
Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups, after talks in Ankara last week between the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces and Turkish leaders, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters before departing on an official visit to Jordan, Erdogan also said a more effective struggle against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its Iranian affiliate, PJAK, would be possible through joint action with Iran.
"Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda. This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out," Erdogan said. (Reuters)
These Billions in Deals Can Help Iran Counter Trump
By: Ladane Nasseri
It hasn’t been the investment bonanza Iran hoped for, but the billions of dollars unlocked by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers might help cushion the impact of any future U.S. assault on the accord.
The mood has shifted since this time last year, when following the January 2016 lifting of sanctions trade delegations crammed Tehran’s hotels as investor interest peaked. Now, with President Donald Trump adding new sanctions and expressing frustration that his administration continues to find the Islamic Republic in compliance with the accord, the talk is of whether it can survive.
Of critical importance will be the support flowing from other parties -- China, Russia, France, Germany and the U.K. -- whose companies have put up much of the money invested in Iran so far. “There is pressure coming from the business establishment in these countries to maintain access to the Iranian market,” said Sanam Vakil, an associate fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East & North Africa Program in London.