Iran Digest Week of March 30 - April 6

Iran Digest

Week of March 30 - April 6

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 Communications Associate Shahab Moghadam. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.  

US-Iran Relations

Iranian man granted visa to donate bone marrow to brother in US

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After almost two months, the US State Department approved a visa for an Iranian man to come to the United States in order to have bone marrow transplant surgery to help his brother, who has cancer.
Naturalized US citizen Maziar Hashemi, 60, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of blood cancer, in September. According to his doctors, the only treatment that can cure his cancer is a bone marrow transplant. His brother, Kamiar Hashemi, is a 100% bone marrow match to Maziar, but he lives in Iran.
Iran is one of eight countries subject to restrictions on their citizens entering the United States as part of a Trump administration policy implemented in December. Under this policy, people from Iran -- both immigrants and visitors -- are prevented from entering the United States unless they are students or scholars or have an exchange visitor visa. Iranians can still apply for visas, but many have been denied since the ban took effect, although waivers can be granted. (CNN)

Nuclear Accord

Anticipating Trump's Next Move, Aides Prep Iran Deal Pullout

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U.S. officials are actively planning for the likelihood that Donald Trump will announce next month the U.S. is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. But no one knows exactly what would happen next, nor how Iran would respond.
There are less than five weeks to go until President Donald Trump's deadline. So national security officials are exploring various "day after" scenarios. Those scenarios include how to sell a pull-out publicly, how aggressively to re-impose sanctions and how to deal with Iranian and European fallout.
The planning is at an early stage but has taken on greater urgency as the clock ticks toward the mid-May deadline. Another catalyst is the anticipated arrival of two new Trump aides strongly opposed to the deal: Mike Pompeo and John Bolton. (Bloomberg)


Iran’s Government May Ban Telegram Over Its $1.7 Billion ICO

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Messaging app provider Telegram has just concluded the second round of its record-setting initial coin offering (ICO), and Iran’s government is none too pleased.
The app — extremely popular in the authoritarian country — has long incurred the ire of government officials, particularly since it played an important role in enabling residents to organize a string of recent protests.
It appears that Telegram’s ICO, through which the company has raised at least $1.7 billion to develop a full-service blockchain ecosystem, may be the last straw.
US-based news outlet Al-Monitor reports that several government officials have publicly called for Telegram to be banned in the country, confirming rumors that had been circulating for several weeks. (CCN)

India to offer $3-4 billion development plan for giant Iran gas field: sources

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India is set to offer a $3-4 billion development plan for the Farzad B gas field to Iran next week after Tehran reduced the scope of the project, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Relations between the two countries, which have long held deep trade ties, were strained last year after Iran sought other investors for the field and media reports suggested Tehran would award it to Russia’s Gazprom.
In retaliation, India directed its state refiners to cut oil imports from Iran.
At a meeting in New Delhi in February, Iran reduced the scope of the development plan for the Farzad B field and asked India to submit a revised proposal, said the two sources, who did not wish to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. (Reuters)

Trump’s Strategy Sows Uncertainty for U.S. Companies in Iran

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Abdolreza Kamyab, a Plano, Texas-based exporter of food supplements for livestock, got a beat on competitors years ago by doing business with a country many shunned: Iran. Now, he is worried about his company as the Trump administration threatens to scrap Tehran’s nuclear deal and impose new sanctions. (WSJ)


Magnitude 5.3 Quake Strikes Iran’s Kermanshah Injuring 18 People

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An earthquake of 5.3 degrees magnitude struck northeast Sarpol Zahab town of Kermanshah, a provincial capital in Iran, on Sunday, local authorities said.
The earthquake occurred at (1:05) local time and in the depth of 7 kilometers.
As for casualties, most minor injuries were treated immediately, said director of crisis department in the province Redha Mahmoudian.
Several Iranian cities have recently witnessed a number of earthquakes, the most powerful one was recorded at 6.2 degrees on the Richter scale in Kermanshah province, killing more than 6,000 people and injuring hundreds of others.(KUNA)

Iran's DEO: No-Rubbish Campaign Successful

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The campaign known as Bi-Zobaleh (Persian for "no rubbish") focusing on the issue of waste, which was initiated by Kaveh Madani, the education and research deputy at the Department of Environment, has successfully completed its 100-day operations. 
Launched on Dec. 22, the campaign was aimed at raising awareness and fostering a sense of responsibility in the community about waste management with the slogan "Let's Start With Ourselves". 
It was planned to operate during winter and continue in spring until April 2, the National Nature Day. "The scheme continued through the early days of the spring season so that the Nature of Iran would suffer less damage on the eve of Nature Day," Madani was quoted as saying by DOE's official news portal. (Financial Tribune)

Regional Politics

U.S. and Israel interfere in Syria, says Iran president

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attacked the United States and Israel for their roles in Syria before he boarded a plane for Turkey where he was scheduled to meet President Tayyip Erdogan and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Americans are against the Syrian government establishing its authority throughout the whole country and are even thinking of a breakup [of the country],” he said in a ceremony broadcast live from Tehran’s Mehrabad airport.
“There’s interference from Zionist forces in Syria which has increased problems. They don’t respect Syrian national sovereignty. They bomb areas in Syria. They support terrorists. These are all issues which have increased Syria’s problems,” he said. (Reuters)

Russia, Iran and Turkey seek 'lasting ceasefire' in Syria amid US uncertainty

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The leaders of three major players in Syria -- Russia, Iran and Turkey -- ended a summit Wednesday with a commitment to achieving a "lasting ceasefire" in Syria, even as the future role of US forces in the country remains in doubt.
The meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara brought together two of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest supporters -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani -- with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which backs some rebel forces.
At a joint news conference, the three leaders reiterated the need to drive "terrorists" out of Syria, to find a political solution to the seven-year-old conflict and to aid Syria's beleaguered civilian population. They also stressed their respect for Syria's sovereignty. (CNN)


How withdrawing from Syria would embolden Russia and Iran

By: Ranj Alaaldin

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President Trump’s announcement that the United States will end its military presence in Syria “very soon” represents a significant departure from the administration’s previous position that the United States will maintain its deployment indefinitely. Currently, there are an estimated 2,000 U.S. troops operating in eastern Syria, most of them working alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led umbrella force that has liberated the country’s eastern provinces from ISIS. Withdrawing from Syria right now would be reckless. Despite Trump’s reluctance, the United States has a much greater role to play that can prevent a resurgence of ISIS, push back against Iranian expansionism, and ensure the country is not engulfed in a state of perpetual warfare. (Brookings)