Iran Digest Week of December 29 - January 5

Iran Digest

Week of December 29 - January 5

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

As Iran protests dwindle, U.S. calls emergency U.N. talks

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The United Nations Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting Friday afternoon on what U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has described as the "troubling and dangerous situation in Iran."
At least 450 people have been arrested and 21 killed in anti-government protests that swept quickly across the Islamic Republic late last week. The demonstrations began Thursday with a single protest in the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad over economic hardship, and the rate at which they spread took both the regime in Tehran and the U.S. by surprise.
But as the Trump administration sought to use the protests to increase pressure on the Iranian regime, issuing public support for the demonstrators and calling for a United Nations response, the Iranians appeared to have largely quashed the uprisings with an overwhelming and aggressive security response. (CBS)

Iran accuses US of 'grotesque' meddling through social media

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The United States is tapping social media to incite protesters "to change their government," thus tampering in Iranian affairs, the Islamic republic alleged in a Thursday letter to the United Nations.
Tehran accused US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of inciting Iranians to protest against the government through a series of tweets and described US interference in Iranian issues as "grotesque."
It also pointed to a US State Department official's Tuesday statement that the United States was communicating with anti-government protesters through its Facebook and Twitter pages in Farsi, and was encouraging them to demonstrate. (CNN)

U.S. Sanctions 5 Iranian Entities for Work on Ballistic Missile Program

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The U.S sanctioned five Iranian entities for their work on the nation’s ballistic missile program and signaled that more punitive measures lay ahead in response to the Islamic Republic’s suppression of anti-government protests.
The entities, none of which are publicly traded, are being designated for being owned or controlled by Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, the Treasury Department said in a statement released Thursday.
“The United States will continue to decisively counter the Iranian regime’s malign activity, including additional sanctions targeting human rights abuses,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
The Trump administration plans to ask the UN Human Rights Council to convene an emergency session on protests in Iran in which the U.S. believes at least 21 people have been killed and more than 1,000 arrested, U.S. officials have said. (TIME)

Nuclear Accord

Donald Trump unlikely to certify nuclear deal with Iran

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US president Donald Trump will not certify a landmark nuclear deal with Iran for the second time, according to officials, putting the future of the enfeebled accord in doubt. 
“It’s highly unlikely,” said a senior administration official of prospects that Mr Trump will endorse the deal to Congress ahead of a looming January 13 deadline, adding that the president had yet to decide whether to continue to waive nuclear sanctions on which the precarious deal rests and which also fall due next week.
Mr Trump refused to certify the agreement on October 13, kicking its future to Congress. The move prompted a spate of lobbying from European allies who support the accord, which was signed by seven parties in 2015 and backed by the UN and EU, but which Mr Trump has described as “the worst deal ever”. (Financial Times)


A Success Story About Investing in Iran

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Global businesses started to reconsider their stance regarding the Iranian economy after Tehran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with world powers on July 2015 and implemented it in January 2016.
Since then, foreign delegations have explored opportunities in the country’s largely untapped economy.
However, companies that had set up base earlier are now consolidating their foothold in Iran. One such company is Nestle that has footprints worldwide.
After 15 years of activity in Iran, the world’s largest food company recently decided to share its experiences of working in the country with the media.
“When it comes to Iran, this country is, I would say, a special market for us with considerable opportunities. We have here an 80 million population who have a lot of interest in premium-quality food. Iranians look for variety, which is what we can deliver,” Nestle’s Qazvin Factory Manager Faisal Haroon told Financial Tribune. (Financial Tribune)

Women Of Iran

Why I Left Iran to Play Chess in America

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Right now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the World Chess Championships are underway. But some world champions are noticeably absent: The Israeli players were blocked from participating when Saudi Arabia denied them visas.
Chess — a game that I have loved since I first sat down at a board — is pure. It doesn’t care about gender, ethnicity, nationality, status or politics. But too often the countries, organizations and people who enforce the rules in the world of chess are anything but.
This is a subject I know something about.  I was the second-highest-ranked player for girls under 18 in the world in 2016. I am the second-highest-ranked female chess player in Iranian history. And yet my passion for the game has taken me thousands of miles away from my home in Tehran to seek citizenship here in the United States. (New York Times)

Inside Iran

Hard-Liners and Reformers Tapped Iranians’ Ire. Now, Both Are Protest Targets.

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Antigovernment protests roiled Iran on Tuesday, as the death toll rose to 21 and the nation’s supreme leader blamed foreign enemies for the unrest. But the protests that have spread to dozens of Iranian cities in the past six days were set off by miscalculations in a long-simmering power struggle between hard-liners and reformers.
By Tuesday, Iran’s leaders could no longer ignore the demonstrations and felt compelled to respond publicly. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, blamed outside “enemies” but did not specify whom. President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, appealed for calm while saying the protesters had a right to be heard.
But the anger behind the protests was directed against the entire political establishment. (New York Times)

False ‘Iranian Protest’ Videos Surface Online

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As protests spread around Iran in the waning days of 2017 and early 2018, some social media users began spreading misinformation regarding what they claimed was “footage” from the Iranian anti-government demonstrations.
In one example, a conservative Twitter user posted what she claimed was video of 300,000 protesters marching down a street. 
But the video was quickly debunked by Marc Owen Jones, a lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies in the English city of Exeter.
Jones noted that the footage in question actually depicts a February 2011 protest in Bahrain. Several other videos corroborate Jones’ argument  (Snopes)

Iranians, Like Their Leaders, See Foreign Hand in Protests

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Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has blamed unnamed foreign “enemies” for the antigovernment protests that have swept his country for the past week, putting the demonstrators at risk of being accused of espionage or treason.
The accusation resonates for many Iranians, whose country has long been subject to foreign interference, from the American- and British-led coup in the 1950s to more recent efforts by the United States and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. President Trump’s public support for the protesters has only reinforced suspicions of a foreign hand at work.
While there has been no evidence that foreign governments orchestrated the protests, several countries are now trying to decide how to support a goal they share with many of the demonstrators: a less corrupt, more democratic and more open Iranian government.  (New York Times)


Iran protests could move Trump to kill nuclear deal

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By Michael Crowley and Eliana Johnson

Anti-government protests in Iran offer President Donald Trump a new reason to scrap the Iran nuclear deal later this month — a risky move that Trump’s supporters are cheering but that critics warn could play into Tehran’s hands. 
Trump and his senior officials have offered rhetorical support for the protesters and denounced the government in statements and on Twitter. They are also exploring such further steps as targeted sanctions and warnings to social media companies not to comply with Iranian censorship.
But Trump will have an opportunity for far more dramatic action in less than two weeks, when he must decide by law whether to continue waiving economic sanctions against Iran that were lifted by the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The sanctions waivers must be renewed every 120 days.
(Read More)