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July 21 2019
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May The Force Be With You, Ilhan

- I definitely understand what the young Somali emigre, now a congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, has been going through. I understand how it feels to be told "Why don't you go back to where you came from." Or, "If you don't like it here, you can just leave!" I got used to being called a damn "furner" by my supervisor, a semi-literate redneck from Alabama, who was the "Party Chief" of a seismic exploration crew where I worked fresh out of college. -Kambiz Zarrabi 7/19/19

Mass Hunger Strike Launched in Evin Prison Against Unlawful Treatment of Political Prisoners

- In an open letter calling on the people of Iran to support their demands, six political prisoners in Ward 4 of Tehran's Evin Prison have announced that they've gone on hunger strike to protest the judiciary's treatment of political prisoners. The undated letter was posted July 14, 2019, on the official Facebook page of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. -CHRI 7/19/19

The European Union And The Threat Of A U.S.-Iran Conflict

- On July 16, the European Parliament debated the "Situation in the Persian Gulf" with the European Union's High Representative for foreign policy, Federica Mogherini. The fact that the item was among the first on the foreign policy agenda of the newly-elected assembly testifies to the concern the representatives of the European peoples feel about the escalating tensions in the region. -Eldar Mamedov 7/19/19

Iran makes 'substantial' nuclear offer in return for US lifting sanctions

- Iran has offered a deal with the US in which it would formally and permanently accept enhanced inspections of its nuclear programme, in return for the permanent lifting of US sanctions. The offer was made by the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to New York. But it is unlikely to be warmly received by the Trump administration, which is currently demanding Iran make a range of sweeping concessions... -Julian Borger 7/19/19

Rand Paul angles to become Trump's emissary to Iran

- Over a round of golf this past weekend, Sen. Rand Paul asked President Donald Trump's blessing for a sensitive diplomatic mission. Paul proposed sitting down with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to extend a fresh olive branch on the president's behalf, according to four U.S. officials. The aim: to reduce tensions between the two countries. Trump signed off on the idea. -Politico 7/19/19

On Preventing War With Iran, Congress Finally Listens To The American People

- In Washington, there's a common refrain that regular Americans don't care about foreign policy. Yet a flurry of activity in the House of Representatives, during debate over the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), may prove otherwise, particularly on matters of war and peace. -Kate Kizer, LobeLog 7/19/19

Iran denies Trump claim that US destroyed drone over Persian Gulf

- Tensions between Iran and the west have deepened after Tehran denied a US warship had brought down one of its drones and a Gibraltar court extended the detention of an Iranian ship seized by Royal Marines following a breakdown in talks. -Guardian 7/19/19

What Iran Could Do To Support The Europeans

- Iran has been dissatisfied with European efforts to protect the JCPOA from the effects of the U.S. withdrawal. Most recently, they've expressed frustration with the activation of a European financial mechanism (the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges or INSTEX), which was designed to counter the impact of U.S. sanctions. -Heinz Gartner, LobeLog 7/19/19

The Wheels Are Coming Off

- A series of events, some of which got little attention in the media, suggest that the wheels may be coming off the Trump administration's Middle East policy. Admittedly, that policy is not very well articulated, and many knowledgeable observers would regard it as dysfunctional. Yet even a random collection of actions constitute a policy, so let me offer my own interpretation of where we are. -Gary Sick, LobeLog 7/19/19

Iran grain ships stuck in Brazil without fuel due to U.S. sanctions

- Two Iranian vessels have been stranded for weeks at Brazilian ports, unable to head back to Iran due to lack of fuel, which state-run oil firm Petrobras refuses to sell them due to sanctions imposed by the United States. -Reuters 7/19/19

Featured Video

U.S. 'Shot Itself in the Foot' by Leaving Iran Deal, Zarif Says

Behind The Foundation For Defense Of Democracies' Embrace Of Authoritarianism - The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconservative organization in Washington founded after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has long been obsessed with Iran and has vocally opposed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement between Iran and 5+1 group of nations. While much is known about FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz-whose purported "defense of democracies" has been undermined by his recent calls for "inclusive authoritarianism" in the Middle East-his right-hand man on Iran, Saeed Ghasseminejad, has gone largely unnoticed. -Muhammad Sahimi 7/18/19

U.S. travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats inhuman: Foreign Minister Zarif - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says US travel restrictions imposed on Iranian diplomats and their families living in New York are "basically inhuman." "It is certainly not a friendly action. It puts the members of the mission and their families under basically inhuman conditions," Zarif told reporters at the United Nations on Wednesday. The United States has restricted their travel to between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador's residence and John F. Kennedy airport. 7/18/19

U.S. Shot Itself in the Foot by Quitting Iran Deal, Zarif Says - Pressed on how to engage with the U.S. in a way that eases tensions, Zarif suggested that the burden falls on Trump. He also expressed skepticism of renegotiating the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to include talks on Iran's missile program. "You don't buy a horse twice," he said. -Bloomberg 7/18/19

Jailed British Council Employee Says She Rejected 'Explicit Invitation' to Spy for Iran - In a letter from Evin Prison, imprisoned British Council employee Aras Amiri wrote that she had refused to spy for Iran's Intelligence Ministry months before she was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the false pretext that she had conducted espionage for the UK. -CHRI 7/18/19

Inflation runs rampant in Tehran as Iran's government struggles to stem rising food prices - As U.S. sanctions on Iran extend into a second year, Iranian citizens are paying the price with skyrocketing costs and food shortages. Jafar Ghaffari, a cook in Tehran, is one of the many Iranians struggling to keep up with the rising cost of food. He says prices have increased by 50% to 100% in the last year. -Leila Gharagozlou, CNBC 7/18/19

Tehran courts Kurds as Washington amps up rhetoric against Iran - Iranian Kurdish opposition groups will meet with Iranian government officials in Oslo for a third round of talks in August, Al-Monitor has learned. The meetings, to be mediated by a Norwegian organization devoted to conflict resolution, mark the first time the Iranian regime has sat at the same table with multiple Kurdish groups since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and the first time that it has met with any Kurdish party in the presence of foreign facilitators. -Amberin Zaman, Al Monitor 7/18/19

Russia Warns U.S. to Stop Provoking Iran: 'A Single Match Can Start A Fire' - Russia's top diplomat warned the United States to stop blaming Iran for the increasing unrest in the Middle East, arguing that Washington was behind the ongoing crisis there and risked sparking a conflict. 7/18/19

IRGC details seizing fuel-smuggling tanker near Hormuz Strait - Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) details its recent capturing of a foreign tanker smuggling one million liters of Iranian fuel near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. The incident took place to the south of the Iranian Lark Island on Sunday. -Press TV 7/18/19

Iran travel sector: Ups and downs since U.S. reimposed sanctions - Last November, the Trump administration reinstated sanctions on Iran, mainly the ones that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, in order to batter Iran's economy, however, according to official data, they have so far failed to lessen foreign arrivals to the Islamic Republic. -Afshin Majlesi, Tehran Times 7/17/19

Trump's better deal with Iran looks a lot like Obama's - Donald Trump has long trashed the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement as "the worst deal ever," a "disaster" that didn't cover nearly enough of the Islamist-led country's nefarious behavior. In recent weeks, however, the president has indicated that the Barack Obama-era deal might not be so bad after all. -Nahal Toosi, Politico 7/17/19

Zaghari-Ratcliffe Transferred to Psychiatric Ward, Held Incommunicado - Imprisoned Iranian-British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in the psychiatric ward of the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran since July 15, 2019, according to the Free Nazanin campaign. Throughout this time she has been denied contact with her family and guarded by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). -CHRI 7/17/19

Can Trump Make A Deal With Iran? - As the Trump administration escalates conflict with Iran, there is a question as to whether either of the parties--the United States or Iran--will take an off-ramp and avoid a new calamitous war in the Middle East. -Tyler Cullis, LobeLog 7/17/19

Analysts believe US, Iran remain far apart despite Trump's comments on talks - Despite President Trump's comment that progress has been made with Iran and that the nation wants to come to the negotiating table, market analysts were skeptical talks would come about soon between the two. -CNBC 7/17/19

1984: The Year America Didn't Go To War - Cabinet members slugged it out, but the one with the real war experience convinced Reagan not to avenge the Marine barracks bombing.-Mark Perry, American Conservative 7/17/19

Will Azerbaijan Join The Anti-Iran Coalition? - As the United States speeds up the militarization of tensions with Iran, the role of neighbouring countries in either exacerbating or mitigating them is going to be crucial. Some of Iran's neighbours, such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, and, until recently, the United Arab Emirates, appear to be pushing the United States toward war with Iran. Others, such as Iraq, Oman, and Qatar, pursue a policy of "active neutrality", seeking diplomatic engagement between Washington and Tehran. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog 7/17/19

Al Jazeera: Bahrain recruited Al-Qaeda terrorist to assassinate dissidents - Senior members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group were recruited by Bahrain in a secret plot to assassinate heads of opposition groups, prominent dissidents and activists, according to a sensational documentary aired by Al Jazeera's Arabic-language news channel. Iran was amongst the targets. -Middle East Monitor 7/17/19

EU Announces Strides in Iran Trade Mechanism Amid Nuclear Deal Scramble - The European Union says talks are under way on whether a barter mechanism aimed at salvaging some trade with Iran might include oil, as Europeans scramble to ease tensions between Iran and the United States. -Lisa Bryant, VOA 7/16/19

Door is 'wide open' to negotiation if Trump lifts his sanctions on Iran, Zarif says - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday his country does not want a war with the U.S. but said President Donald Trump must lift harsh economic sanctions on Tehran to clear the way for negotiations. -Dan De Luce, NBC 7/16/19

Husband and Wife Iranian Journalists Hunger Strike to Break "Limbo" of Six-Month Detention - Imprisoned journalists Amirhossein Mohammadifar and Sanaz Allahyari, a married couple, have been on a wet hunger strike since July 4, 2019, in Tehran's Evin Prison to convince the authorities to allow them to post bail. -CHRI 7/16/19

Pompeo's Big Lie on Iran - In a tiff over whether Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his delegation would be permitted to enter the United States as part of a meeting of the United Nations and over whether they would be free to travel freely around New York City, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a whopper, one that might have even embarrassed Pinocchio. -Jacob G. Hornberger, The Future of Freedom Foundation 7/16/19

The War Whisperers, Their Successful Iraq War, And The Targeting Of Iran - As Iran and the United States edge closer to war, while Europe scrambles to reduce tensions, the chorus of U.S. foreign policy and military experts and journalists criticizing the Trump administration's tactics is also reaching a crescendo. Despite deep political divisions, on this issue there is broad agreement across the spectrum. -Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, LobeLog 7/16/19

Iran Judiciary Confirms Arrest Of French-Iranian Academic Fariba Adelkhah - Iran's Judiciary has confirmed the arrest of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said he had raised the issue with Tehran. Macron demanded an explanation on July 15 from Iran after the arrest last month of Adelkhah, a researcher with the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, who is believed to have been arrested by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on suspicion of spying. -RFE/RL 7/16/19

Iran's currency rial regains footing as government tightens controls - Iran's national currency rial has recovered against US dollar in a first sign that new government measures to control the exchange market are paying off. Iran's rial traded a months-high against dollar at 118,000 on Tuesday afternoon local time, up more than 10 percent compared to the same time last week when traders sold each dollar for 130,000 rials. -Press TV 7/16/19

In Iran, some women forgo hijabs in show of defiance - The simple act of walking has become a display of defiance for a young Iranian woman who often moves in Tehran's streets without a compulsory headscarf, or hijab. With every step, she risks harassment or even arrest by Iran's morality police whose job is to enforce the strict dress code imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. -AP 7/16/19

The Step Trump Can Take To Start Talks With Iran - Iran began the second stage of rolling back its nuclear commitments on 7 July, by increasing its uranium enrichment levels from the 3.67 percent limit stipulated by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This was in fact in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA fourteen months ago. -Jalil Bayat, LobeLog 7/16/19

Trump allies' visit throws light on secretive Iranian opposition group - Giuliani has been a regular visitor to MEK events for several years, as has the US national security adviser, John Bolton. While they have been predicting an MEK government in Tehran for years, the fact that these officials now have positions in the Trump administration, combined with the increasingly fraught geopolitical situation around Iran, makes their support for the MEK matter more than ever. -Shaun Walke, Guardian 7/15/19

FIVB Volleyball Nations League 2019: Iran eliminated after 3-2 loss to Brazil - Brazil were the last team to qualify for the semifinals of the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League on Friday when they defeated Iran in a thrilling 3-2 (25-20, 25-23, 24-26, 20-25, 15-10) encounter. -FIVB 7/15/19

Iran ready to talk if U.S. lifts sanctions, Pompeo skeptical - Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Sunday. -Reuters 7/15/19

European powers urge unity to save Iran nuclear deal - The Iran nuclear deal is not yet dead, but the United Kingdom has warned there remains just a small window to save it, as European foreign ministers gather in Brussels to find ways to convince Washington and Tehran to engage in dialogue. -Al Jazeera 7/15/19

UK may help release Iranian oil tanker if it gets Syria guarantee - Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said he told his Iranian counterpart on Saturday that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained Grace 1 oil tanker if there were guarantees it would not go to Syria. Hunt said Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had told him that Iran wanted to resolve the issue and was not seeking to escalate tensions. -Guardian 7/15/19

FBI Surveillance Of Iranians After The Downing Of Flight 655 - This month marks 31 years since the U.S. Navy ship, the USS Vincennes, shot down Iran Air flight 655, killing 290 Iranian civilians, including 66 children. The downing of the airliner on July 3, 1988 remains one of the deadliest flight disasters of all time... One aspect of the Iran Air flight 655 story that has been completely unknown until now is the FBI's actions immediately after the incident. -Paul Gottinger, LobeLog 7/15/19

The Missing Three-Letter Word In The Iran Crisis - It's always the oil. While President Trump was hobnobbing with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G-20 summit in Japan, brushing off a recent U.N. report about the prince's role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Asia and the Middle East, pleading with foreign leaders to support "Sentinel." -Michael T. Klare, LobeLog 7/15/19

New leak claims Trump scrapped Iran nuclear deal 'to spite Obama' - Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal to spite Barack Obama, according to a leaked memo written by the UK's former ambassador in the US. Sir Kim Darroch described the move as an act of "diplomatic vandalism", according to the Mail on Sunday. -BBC 7/15/19

Iran starts limited production of its own Peugeot 301 - The Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) has officially inaugurated a production line for Peugeot 301 more than three years after the French owner of the car pulled out of a partnership with the Iranian company citing the threat of American sanctions. -Press TV 7/15/19

Inside Iran: What Iranians think of stand-off with US - Iranians remain furious that US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal last year and has imposed crushing sanctions on the country. BBC correspondent Martin Patience, along with cameraman Nik Millard and producer Cara Swift, have been in Tehran and the holy city of Qom, talking to Iranians about the escalating crisis. 7/15/19

Joint Statement: House Reins In Trump on Iran - CREDO, Foreign Policy for America, J Street, NIAC Action, and Win Without War issued the following joint statement regarding the House vote passing the Khanna-Gaetz amendment to block any funds for an unauthorized war with Iran -Win Without War 7/12/19

Trump Administration's Futile Flailing On Iran - The administration went to the IAEA board in order to be seen doing something about an Iranian nuclear issue the administration itself has stirred up, and it has no better ideas on what to do. It is flailing in trying to get out of a box of its own making, and it sees no way to get out-other than the way it refuses to admit, which would be to reverse its own action that built the box in the first place. -Paul Pillar 7/12/19

U.S. 'Holding Off' On Sanctions Against Iran's Foreign Minister For Now - The United States has decided not to slap sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for now, an indication that Washington may not be closing the door to diplomacy in the countries' tense dispute, Reuters reports. Reuters on July 11 cited two sources familiar with the matter in reporting the decision, although they did not give specific reasons for the move. -RFE/RL 7/12/19

Iran Jails Mohammad Nourizad, The Outspoken Critic Of Supreme Leader Khamenei - The Iranian Human Rights News Agency, HRANA, reported on Wednesday July 10 that outspoken political activist Mohammad Nourizad, has been jailed. Nourizad was one of the signatories of a statement by 14 Iranian activists who called on Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to resign in order to end the country's political deadlock. -Radio Farda 7/12/19

How Iran's 'filmfarsi' remains the biggest secret in cinema history - For many Iranians, the oft-forgotten films are a souvenir of a lost past, painting a picture of life before the 1979 revolution -Ehsan Khoshbakht , Guardian 7/12/19

The Strange Case Of The Grace I's Detention - On July 4, the government of Gibraltar detained in its waters a Panamanian ship, the Grace I, allegedly on its way to deliver Iranian oil to a Syrian harbor. Immediately after the move, Gibraltar outlined in an official statement that the "action arose from information giving [...] reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace I, was acting in breach of European Union sanctions against Syria." -Francois Nicoullaud, LobeLog 7/12/19

War With Iran Would Not Mean Happy Ending For Middle East - A recent article by veteran Washington Post columnist David Ignatius urges Democratic Party politicians to adopt a harder posture on Iran. He seems to suggest that if Iran were to stop interfering in Middle East politics, all of the region's problems would be solved. -Shireen T. Hunter, LobeLog 7/12/19

Iran's Currency Begins to Shrug Off Trump's 'Battle Rial' - Over the last 18 months, the Iranian rial has lost nearly 70 percent of its value, hammered by the Trump administration's decision to reimpose secondary sanctions on Iran in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)... But there is a growing sense in Tehran that the currency market may have stabilized. -Bourse & Bazaar 7/12/19

From hot sauce to pop gloss, US products seep into Iran - At a trendy restaurant in Iran's capital, customers sip Coca-Cola through bending straws as waiters bring caddies to their tables full of Heinz ketchup and two types of Tabasco sauce. Welcome to dining in the Islamic Republic, brought to you by America. - Jon Gambrell, AP 7/12/19

U.S. Iran Policy Gives Me Vertigo - In the interest of confronting Iran, the U.S. government has sacrificed its credibility, has put at long-term risk U.S. primacy in global finance, and has infuriated virtually all of this country's closest traditional allies. Washington is goading Tehran to renege on its nuclear promises, bringing both countries perilously close to another catastrophic war in the Middle East. -Gary Sick 7/11/19

Urgent medical treatment needed for detainees in Iran with life-threatening conditions: UN experts - UN human rights experts today expressed serious concern that Iran continues to deny appropriate healthcare to detainees, despite repeated calls. "Over several months we have communicated to the Iranian Government our deep concerns about the physical and mental integrity of detainees," the experts said. "Despite Government assurances, we are frustrated to still receive reports of denial of medical treatment, including in life-threatening situations. These no longer appear to be isolated incidents, but a consistent pattern." 7/11/19

Zarif to US: Economic terrorism, talks don't go together - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States needs to stop "economic terrorism" against the Iranian nation if it really seeks talks with the Islamic Republic. "We do not hold negotiations with those who have waged economic terrorism against our people. This should stop," Zarif said on Thursday. -Press TV 7/11/19

Iran Vs. U.S.: To Overcome Conflict, Wage Diplomacy - The Trump administration has again generated confusion about its foreign policy, this time regarding the motivations of an American president who would order a limited strike on Iran only to then purportedly change his mind 600 seconds before the attack. Trump apparently also notified the Iranians prior to the aborted attack, issuing an ultimatum to speak with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which Iran rejected. -Siamak Tundra Naficy, LobeLog 7/11/19

Tensions Mount In U.S.-Iran Relations - As it warned, Iran on July 8 raised its uranium enrichment level above the 3.67 percent purity limit set in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This is the second step in Iran's plan to slowly scale back its commitments to the agreement while trying to force the remaining parties--the EU in particular--to provide for the sanctions relief called for in the deal. -Mahsa Rouhi, LobeLog 7/11/19

Donald Trump and the strangling of Persia - As we stand on the brink of a war with Iran, with catastrophic repercussions that would dwarf the fallout from the Iraq war, basic knowledge of the history of the country that President Trump almost bombed last month, would serve him, and his supporters, well. -Nader Hashemi, Al Jazeera 7/11/19

Resetting America's Mideast Policy Through Deals On Iran And Palestine - Concluding historic deals on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could catapult the United States back to the center of the Middle East great game. Although these deals seem unimaginable at the moment, they are not unthinkable. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog 7/11/19

Fact check: Trump wrong on all 3 claims in tweet on Iran deal - President Donald Trump's Wednesday tweet on the Iran nuclear deal contained three inaccurate claims. "Iran has long been secretly 'enriching,' in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration," Trump tweeted. "Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years." -CNN 7/11/19

Iran warns UK about 'consequences' of oil tanker seizure - President Hassan Rohani warns the UK about the "consequences" of its recent seizure of an Iranian supertanker. "I remind [this] to the Britons," Rohani cautioned on Wednesday, "You are the ones initiating insecurity, and will come to realize its consequences in the future." Rohani, who was addressing a government meeting in Tehran, called the action "very juvenile, heinous, and wrongful" and "to their [Britain's] detriment," noting that all international efforts should instead be focused on ensuring maritime security. -Press TV 7/10/19

Why Did Internet Access Speeds Slow to a Crawl in Iran? - Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi made a false statement when he said via Twitter that recent disruptions to internet access in Iran were due to technical issues occurring outside the country, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. -CHRI 7/10/19

Lies About Iran Killing US Troops in Iraq Are a Ploy to Justify War - One of the many myths that have been used to justify the push for war with Iran led by National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is that Tehran is responsible for the killing of more than 600 U.S. troops during the Iraq War. -Gareth Porter, Truthout 7/10/19

Iran's trade with Turkey sees major leap despite sanctions - While the U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran have created some limitations for trade with the Western partners which led the Islamic Republic to expand economic and trade ties with its neighbors and boost non-oil exports to them, trade with the northwestern neighbor, Turkey, is growing significantly. -Mahnaz Abdi, Tehran Times 7/10/19

A Grim Assessment Of U.S.-Iran Tensions - Speaking to an adoring audience at the annual summit of the far-right Christians United for Israel (CUFI), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the audience that the Trump administration was determined to continue ratcheting up pressure on Iran... Meanwhile, a panel of diplomats offered a grim assessment of the increasingly tense situation in the Persian Gulf between the United States and Iran. -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog 7/10/19

Netanyahu: Don't Shift World Attention From Palestine To Iran - More than a year after Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, the world is at a loss to resolve Iran's crisis of economic isolation, to respond to Israel's military threats to "stop Iran," and to persuade Trump to rethink his "maximum pressure" policy on Iran. War looms on the horizon. Meanwhile Palestine remains on the margins of debate. -Ghassan Michel Rubeiz, LobeLog 7/10/19

Bolton, Netanyahu luring Trump into killing Iran deal: Zarif - Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the US national security advisor and Israel's prime minister are using the "delusion" of forcing Iran's uranium enrichment level to "zero" to encourage the US president to destroy a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and other countries. -Press TV 7/10/19

IRAN: Parliament Faction Links Lacking Accountability to Deaths of Political Prisoners in State Custody - One month after political prisoner Alireza Shirmohammadali was murdered in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary (GTCP) after being unlawfully held in a ward with inmates convicted of violent crimes, two prison officials have been fired while the unofficial policy that precipitated the tragedy remains in place. -CHRI 7/9/19

Iran's Troubled Quest for Food Self-Sufficiency - Modern Iran has been shaped by a long history of chronic food insecurity. In 1917-1918, during World War I, drought ravaged harvests while occupying British, Ottoman, and Russian troops requisitioned much of remaining food supplies. By some accounts, nearly half the nation's population may have perished in the resulting famine. -David Michel, Atlantic Council 7/9/19

Iran stops stamping passports - To calm tourists' fear that a visit to Iran might prevent them from being able to enter the United States, Iran announced in June that it is allowing foreign tourists to enter through its international airports without stamping their passports. Under a US law passed in 2015, travelers who visit Iran and six other countries are subject to enhanced scrutiny when later attempting to enter the United States. -Saeed Jalili, Al Monitor 7/9/19

At Tehran Symphony, Music Lovers Seek Escape From Reality - Aficionados of Western classical music have carved out a niche for themselves in Iran, where cultural expression remains tightly controlled by strict rules imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. And perhaps surprisingly, musicians in their 20s and 30s perform for overwhelmingly young audiences. -Karin Laub, AP 7/9/19

Iran's Precious Hyrcanian Forest loses 25,000 ha annually - Some 25,000 hectares of Hyrcanian Forest in northern Iran undergo fragmentation mostly due to land use changes for agricultural and residential purposes, wood smuggling and overgrazing, an official with the national network for environmental and natural resources organizations has said. Unfortunately, lack of supervision and protective measures is exacerbating the condition for Hyrcanian Forest, ISNA quoted Masoud Molana as saying on Saturday. 7/8/19

Al-Qaeda And Iran: The Bond That Does Not Exist - As the U.S. government continues to escalate its policy towards Iran, it would be sensible to eliminate al-Qaeda's historical ties to Iran from its list of grievances. -Nelly Lahoud, LobeLog 7/8/19

US denies German-Iranian father visa needed to attend son's funeral - The US consulate accused a German-Iranian father of using his late son's funeral as an excuse to migrate to the US. Seyed Shahram Iranbomy was denied the visa he needed to attend. He's lived in Germany for 40 years. -DW 7/7/19

Media Falsely Portrays Iran's Nuclear Deal Breach As Dash To Bomb - The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)--the UN nuclear watchdog tasked with vigorously monitoring Iran's nuclear program under the 2015 accord--confirmed this week that Iran exceeded the limit on its supply of low-enriched uranium (LEU). Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, reporting from many in the media on this development wasn't great. -Ben Armbruster, LobeLog 7/7/19

Iranian scientists accused of violating US sanctions - When a respected Iranian scientist left Tehran bound for the U.S. last fall, he had plans to complete the final stage of his research on treating stroke patients as a visiting scholar at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Instead, when professor Masoud Soleimani touched down on U.S. soil, federal authorities armed with a secret indictment arrested him on charges that he had violated trade sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran. -ABC News 7/7/19

Armenians to reunite at St. Thaddeus Monastery in Iran - Hundreds of Christian worshipers are getting prepared to head for St. Thaddeus Monastery in northwestern Iran to observe a religious ceremony passed down from generation to generation. For the 65th consecutive year, pilgrims from Iran, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany, Canada and some other countries get together, this year from July 25 to 27, to observe a ceremony called Badarak in one of the world's oldest monasteries. 7/5/19

Bright orange bikes help women break barriers in Iran - Sara Alirezaei was riding a bright orange bike along one of Tehran's main, tree-lined boulevards when a male flower seller noticed her labored breathing and offered a word of encouragement: "Don't be scared. Biking is easy," he called out. -Somayeh Malekian, ABC News 7/5/19

Happy Tirgan: The Festival of Rain - Tirgan also known as Jashn-e Tirgan (The feast of Tiregan) is an ancient Iranian festival coinciding with the mid summer festivals. The feast of Tirgan is an ancient Iranian celebration, which is still celebrated among Iranian Zoroastrians, Parsis of India and some Iranian Muslims in various parts of Iran. 7/4/19

What Sanctions Mean for My Iranian-American Family - As a dual citizen, I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, but I've been traveling to Iran regularly ever since I was four months old. I grew up in a household that taught me to love who I am, to see the wisdom in maintaining cultural intricacies, and to relish in the socio-religious traditions that keep life going. Words cannot do justice to the feeling of affinity that envelops me every time I step into my second home in Tehran. -Mina Shahinfar, OtherWords 7/4/19

Misleading White House Claims Target Iran - A White House press statement, dated July 1, claims that there is a "longstanding non-proliferation standard of no enrichment for Iran." This claim is false... Of course, White House officials must be aware of all of this. Perhaps that's why the July 1 statement goes on to imply that Iran is developing nuclear weapons ("The United States and its allies will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons") and later refers to Iranian "nuclear ambitions," a charmingly ambiguous phrase. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog 7/4/19

We're Not the Good Guys: Why Is American Aggression Missing in Action? - Headlined "U.S. Seeks Other Ways to Stop Iran Shy of War," the article was tucked away on page A9 of a recent New York Times. Still, it caught my attention. Here's the first paragraph: "American intelligence and military officers are working on additional clandestine plans to counter Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, pushed by the White House to develop new options that could help deter Tehran without escalating tensions into a full-out conventional war, according to current and former officials." Note that "Iranian aggression." -Tom Engelhardt, Tom Dispatch 7/4/19

Open Letter by academics and civil society activists to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on significance of return to JCPOA - Hon. Secretary General, You are well aware that in 2015 with the support of all permanent members of the UNSC (China, France, Russia, UK, and US) plus Germany and Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was drafted, upon which UNSC issued Resolution 2231, replacing all previous UNSC resolutions targeting Iran's nuclear program. 7/3/19

Letter: Families Cite Seven Law Violations in Cases of Detained Wildlife Conservationists - Iran's judiciary has violated at least seven laws in its handling of the cases of eight wildlife conservationists who've been detained on unfounded espionage charges since January 2017, according to the detainees' families. -CHRI 7/3/19

Iran Remembers When U.S. Killed 300 of Its Citizens, Americans Should Too - The downing of a U.S. spy drone, the near-launch of military action against Iran and recent unclaimed attacks against nearby oil tankers in the last month have not only set off tensions in the Persian Gulf, but invoked memories of an even deadlier time in the two rivals' troubled history three decades ago when the U.S. killed nearly 300 Iranian civilians. -Tom Oconnor, Newsweek 7/3/19

Propaganda War To Real War: The MEK's Treacherous Operation - Under the guise of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and ties to al-Qaeda, the Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003--and the consequences have reverberated across the Middle East to this day. With the specter of war again on the horizon, striking parallels have emerged between the lead-up to the Iraq War and the current discourse on Iran. -Assal Rad, LobeLog 7/2/19

The JCPOA And Exiting The Iran Crisis - "No nuclear weapons," declares President Trump, identifying that objective as his top priority regarding Iran. The contradiction with Trump's own policy toward Iran is jarring. The starting point, and a continuing leitmotif, of that policy has been the administration's reneging on, and effort to destroy, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the multilateral agreement that has the very purpose of preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and that closed all possible paths to such a weapon. -Paul R. Pillar 6/28/19

United States Is in No Position to Lecture Iran - President Trump expressed concern that 150 people could be killed if U.S. airstrikes against Iran had been carried out last week. We must ask how many people could die because of economic warfare against Iran. The economic war cripples Iran's economy and afflicts the most vulnerable Iranian people--the sick, the poor, the elderly and the children. -Kathy Kelly, Progressive 6/28/19

Seven Steps For Trump To Get U.S. Out Of The Mess Of His Own Creation - This time the Islamic Republic of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, the IRGC, had no problem admitting, even bragging, about shooting down the most advanced and the most expensive American pilotless drone out of the skies. The ten-miles-high drone was hit by an indigenous surface-to-air missile over what the IRGC insists was Iranian airspace. -Kambiz Zarrabi 6/26/19

Can International Institutions Stop A U.S.-Iran War? - The similarities between the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and today's rhetoric and events triggering Iran-U.S. hostilities are startling. The March 2003 invasion of Iraq, for instance, was premeditated. Preparations for attacking Iraq had been underway for months prior to the actual start of military activities. -Parisa Zangeneh 6/26/19

116 Iranian Rights Defenders Warn of "Devastating" Consequences of US-Iran Military Conflict - In response to soaring tensions between Iran and the United States, 116 Iranian human rights defenders and groups based inside and outside the country have signed a statement warning of the "devastating" consequences of a military conflict. 6/26/19

Middle East scholars: An American attack on Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for the US, Iran, and the world - We, the undersigned scholars of the Middle East and North Africa and broader Muslim world, call on President Trump immediately to pull back from the brink of a war with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is clear to us that the human, diplomatic, legal, political, and economic costs to both countries, the Persian Gulf and larger Middle East, the global economy and the global system of international humanitarian law of a US attack would be even more devastating than was the US invasion of Iraq sixteen years ago. -Mondoweiss 6/26/19

Iranian biologists face US trial for trying to take proteins out of the country - Three Iranian biologists are facing trial in a US court over charges that they violated trade sanctions by attempting to export chemicals known as growth factors, which are commonly used in medical research. The scientists have asked a federal district court judge in Atlanta, Georgia, to dismiss the criminal charges against them. Legal experts say that the case highlights the confusion surrounding the United States' complex policies on Iran, which have undergone major changes twice since 2015. -Nature 6/25/19

200 Iranian Activists Call For Unconditional Talks With U.S. - In a statement on Sunday, June 9, more than 200 civil and political activists living in and outside of Iran called for unconditional talks between Iran and the U.S. Referencing the Iranian people's desire for detente with forces around the region and world at large, 225 signatories to the statement called for the public and civil and political activists to urge the Iranian and American administrations to hold talks. -Radio Farda 6/11/19

170+ Iranian Women Activists Condemn Sanctions and Threats of War - We a group of Iranian women's movement activists and women's rights defenders strongly condemn US efforts to stoke yet another war in the Middle East, this time against Iran. The Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign, its bellicose posturing and sanctions, hurt the Iranian people most, especially women, children, minorities, refugees, the chronically ill and those with disabilities. 5/30/19

SANCTIONS: Iran Medical Professionals Report Shortage, High Prices Of Imported Equipment - Medical professionals in Iran say prices of imported medical equipment have risen 4 to 5 times in the last few months, Mehr news agency reported on Monday May 27. Vahid Karimi, the secretary of Iranian Radiology Association told Mehr that the price of laboratory equipment have risen up to five fold. The Iranian currency has depreciated more than fourfold in the last 18 months against major currencies, mainly due to U.S. sanctions. 5/27/19

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last updated on Fri Jul 19 11:59:00 EDT 2019