Day 30 1399 - January 19 2021
Iran COVID-19 update as of January 18: 5,806 new cases, 83 deaths

The Iranian Health Ministry has confirmed 5,806 COVID-19 infections and 83 deaths due to respiratory disease in the past 24 hours. Health Ministry Spokesperson Sima Lari made the announcement on Monday, saying that the total coronavirus cases in the country have so far reached 1,336,217 with the death toll standing at 56,886. 01/18/21

Biden Names Iran, Ukraine Veterans To Top State Department Posts

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Wendy Sherman, the country's lead negotiator of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, to be the No. 2 official at the State Department. Sherman was the lead U.S. negotiator in talks that led to the agreement between Tehran and world powers under which Tehran committed to limit its nuclear activities in return for relief from sanctions. 01/18/21

B-52 US bombers fly over Middle East; Iran condemns intimidation

The United States again flew B-52 bombers over the Middle East with Iran responding it should spend its military budget on healthcare for Americans rather than intimidation tactics. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Sunday the "presence patrols" were flown "as a key part of CENTCOM's defensive posture". -Al Jazeera 01/18/21

Iran's Zarif tells France: Avoid 'absurd nonsense' about Tehran's nuclear work

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday dismissed a claim by France that Tehran was in the process of building up its nuclear weapons, calling it "absurd nonsense". "Dear colleague: You kick-started your cabinet career with arms sales to Saudi war criminals. Avoid absurd nonsense about Iran," Zarif said in a Twitter post, in which he tagged his French counterpart @JY_LeDrian. 01/18/21

Iran jails U.S. businessman, possibly jeopardizing Biden's plans for diplomacy with Tehran

Only weeks after the U.S. election and three days after an Iranian nuclear scientist was assassinated, Iranian authorities convicted a U.S. businessman on spying charges, a family friend said. The man, Emad Shargi, 56, who is Iranian American, was summoned to a Tehran court Nov. 30 and told that he had been convicted of espionage without a trial and sentenced to 10 years, a family friend said. -CNBC 01/18/21

No time for softballs: 10 questions we want to Tony Blinken to answer

2. The Obama administration achieved the JCPOA, but little time existed to move beyond that to address America's other challenges with Iran in the region. If the nuclear deal is revived through compliance-for-compliance, and if add-on agreements successfully address remaining challenges, will your administration seek a new relationship with Tehran, perhaps even normalization? -Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Responsible Statecraft 01/18/21

Iran asks watchdog not to publish 'unnecessary' nuke details

Iran urged the United Nations' nuclear watchdog to avoid publishing "unnecessary" details on Tehran's nuclear program, state TV reported Sunday, a day after Germany, France and Britain said Tehran has "no credible civilian use" for its development of uranium metal. The report quoted a statement from Iran's nuclear department that asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid publishing details on Iran's nuclear program that may cause confusion. -AP 01/18/21

Iran Deems Signal 'Criminal Content,' Removes From Local App Stores

Iran has ordered the removal of the private encrypted messengering application Signal from local application stores after it reportedly was deemed "criminal content" by the Islamic republic's filtering committee. Iranian media reported on January 14 that local app stores Cafebazaar and Myketappstore confirmed the removal of the Signal app. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 01/18/21

Iranian government submits 'violence against women' bill to parliament

The Iranian government has submitted a long-awaited bill for the protection of women against violence to the parliament. The bill titled, Protection, Dignity, and Security of Women against Violence, had been under review since September 2019. It criminalizes any act or behavior that causes "physical or mental harm" to women "as a vulnerable gender". 01/15/21

Germany To Iran: Don't Waste Chance For Rapprochement With U.S.

At a panel convened to discuss the state of the Iran nuclear deal, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Iran to take advantage of the opportunity presented by a new American presidential administration to re-enter diplomatic talks over its nuclear program. Maas' overture comes as the virtual panel brought together leaders and diplomats from many of the countries still committed to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Gabriel Gluskin-Braun, Organization for World Peace 01/15/21

Iran's capital suffocating amid blame game over pollution

For nearly a month, residents of the Iranian capital have been exposed to record-high air pollution amid the government's confusing explanations and failure to work out a solution. -Al Monitor 01/15/21

Iranian Guard drones in drill mirror those in Saudi attacks

Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Friday that saw "suicide drones" crash into targets and explode, triangle-shaped aircraft that strongly resembled those used in a 2019 attack in Saudi Arabia that temporarily cut the kingdom's oil production by half. -AP 01/15/21

What's behind the significant build-up of US firepower in Persian Gulf

The last few weeks have seen a sharp build-up of American combat power in Persian Gulf. Already home to the formidable 5th Fleet - based in Bahrain - the US Navy recently sent a powerful Ohio-class submarine, the USS Georgia, escorted by two guided-missile cruisers - the USS Port Royal and USS Philippine Sea - through the Strait of Hormuz into Persian Gulf. -Alex Gatopoulos, Al Jazeera 01/15/21

The last days of Pompeo: secretary of state lashes out as reign comes to an end

The finale of Mike Pompeo's reign at the state department has been as controversial and clamorous as the rest of his 32-month tenure, but it is unclear what traces will remain after he has gone. The last days of Pompeo have been played out in a blizzard of self-congratulatory tweets, at the rate of two dozen a day, as he seeks to write his own first draft of history. -Julian Borger, Guardian 01/15/21

Iran Films One Of America's Most Powerful Submarines Lurking Near Its Military Exercise

A video has emerged that reportedly shows an Iranian Navy Sea King helicopter flying over what looks to be a U.S. Navy Ohio class guided-missile submarine sailing a periscope depth somewhere in the North Arabian Sea This very likely the USS Georgia, which made an unusually public transit into the Persian Gulf, sending a clear signal to Iran, last month. -The Drive 01/15/21

A Malevolent Decision That Will Kill Countless Yemenis

The Foreign Policy report characterizes this as a "victory" for Pompeo's "anti-Iran strategy," but like all other so-called Pompeo victories this one is empty and comes at a high price in the blood and suffering of innocent people. Designating the Houthis doesn't hurt Iran in the slightest, but it will kill countless innocent Yemeni civilians as outside aid and trade are cut off. We know from other sanctions regimes that it is the sick, the poor, children, and the elderly that suffer most from these policies. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 01/14/21

Photos: 1st female mechanic in Tabriz

Jila Ghahramani is the first female mechanic in Tabriz, the provincial capital of East Azerbaijan Province in northwestern Iran. -Mina Noei, Mehr 01/14/21

Iran works on uranium metal for reactor fuel

Iran has started work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog and Tehran said on Wednesday, in the latest breach of its nuclear deal with six significant powers as the country presses for a lifting of US sanctions. -Al Jazeera 01/14/21

Athletes Appeal to Save Life of Wrestler on Death Row

On January 9, 2021, a press report was published in Iran about the imminent execution of 29-year-old wrestler Mehdi Ali-Hosseini for a murder he allegedly committed five years ago. He was scheduled to be executed on January 10 but was granted a week to seek a pardon from the victim's family and escape the gallows, his brother Hamzeh Ali-Hosseini told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA). -CHRI 01/14/21

Iran's Navy cruise missiles successfully hit targets during drill

Additionally during the drill, the domestically-made Fateh (Conqueror) submarine for the first time fired torpedoes that struck their targets, the commander said. Drones, he added, were also used on different reconnaissance and combat missions during the exercise. -Press TV 01/14/21

Angering Many, Daughter Of Iran's Ex-President Says A Second Trump Term Could Have Helped Iran

The daughter of one of the founders of the Islamic Republic of Iran has raised a ruckus in Tehran by saying she would have preferred a second term for U.S. President Donald Trump. Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of Iran's former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, says she supported the Trump administration's campaign of so-called "maximum pressure" against the clerical establishment in Tehran. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 01/14/21

Swedish trial paves the way for accountability for Iran's human rights violations

On November 9, 2019, an Iranian national arrived in Sweden and was arrested by local authorities for his suspected involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran during the summer of 1988. The arrest has the potential to become the first step towards accountability for an event that is often described as one of the darkest chapters in the history of the forty-one-year-old Islamic Republic. -Aida Samani, Atlantic Council 01/14/21

Pompeo trashes counterterrorism on the way out

To achieve a trifecta of abuse of the terrorism issue, Pompeo has picked this same week to foment a misbelief that Iran and Al-Qaeda are, in Pompeo's words, an "axis" and "partners in terrorism." If this sounds a lot like an earlier supposed partnership between Al-Qaeda and another Middle Eastern state starting with the letter "I" - as well as an earlier "axis of evil" - it should. The Iranian regime, Shia and Persian, is no more of a partner with Al-Qaeda than was the secular regime of Saddam Hussein. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 01/13/21

Bitcoin, Blackouts and Smog Are Exacerbating Iran's Virus Woes

Cities across Iran have been cloaked in thick layers of toxic smog and darkened by blackouts, as the alleged use of low-quality fuel and power-sucking cryptocurrency mining deepen the country's hardships. Tehran's Hamshahri newspaper, the country's most-read daily, ran the headline, "20 Days Living in Smoke," on Wednesday over a photo of the capital covered in smog. -Golnar Motevalli and Arsalan Shahla, Bloomberg 01/13/21

Russia Slams US Claims About Iran Becoming 'Safe Haven' for al-Qaeda as Baseless

Washington's claims about Iran becoming a "safe haven" for al-Qaeda are baseless, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Zamir Kabulov said in a statement on Wednesday. "It seems that Mr Pompeo, at the end [of Donald Trump's presidency], wants to do something else to hurt Iran. But this is absolutely unsubstantiated and unreasonable. There is absolutely no information", Kabulov said when asked if Moscow had any info about Tehran's possible links to al-Qaeda. -Sputnik 01/13/21

Khamenei's Ban On Western Vaccines Blasted As A 'Politicization' Of Iranians' Well-Being

Despite a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 56,000 Iranians, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned Western coronavirus vaccines, claiming they're untrustworthy. "The import of American and British vaccines is banned," Khamenei said on January 8. The surprise announcement was met with anger by Iranians who have in past weeks called on their government to purchase safe vaccines as soon as possible. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 01/13/21

Iran unveils its largest military vessel during missile drill

Iran's navy has officially inducted the country's largest military vessel into its fleet during a maritime missile drill in Sea of Oman at a time of heightened tensions with the United States over its nuclear programme. The indigenously-made forward base ship IRIS Makran, which is said to be able to carry up to five helicopters, joined the fleet with another ship that is capable of firing missiles. -Al Jazeera 01/13/21

Israel Wants to Derail Biden's Plan to Rejoin Iran Nuclear Deal

Israel is already plotting how to derail one of Joe Biden's signature foreign-policy promises. The high-profile campaign that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waged against the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran failed to block the 2015 agreement. Officials are now weighing whether that sort of public crusade or behind-the-scenes engagement will be the most effective strategy with Biden, a senior Israeli official said, emphasizing that no decision has been made. -Bloomberg 01/13/21

'Better Chance Finding a Unicorn': Pompeo Claims It is Impossible to Normalise Relations With Iran

The Trump administration abandoned the hard-negotiated Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and re-introduced hefty sanctions against Tehran, threatening to punish any country for continuing to do business with the Islamic Republic. Washington's policy was heavily criticised by other signatories to the deal and led to Iran ramping up its uranium enrichment. -Tim Korso, Sputnik 01/13/21

How the Mad King can burn it all down

A likely scenario is a conflict with Iran, initiated by either side. Trump could order a limited strike on the underground enrichment facilities at Fordow and Natanz. Such strike packages are known to be included in STRATCOM's nuclear war plan (OPLAN 8010-12), likely delivered by missiles and bombers on one to two dozen targets. These weapons could destroy underground facilities that conventional bombs cannot easily reach. In this case, tens of thousands, not billions, would die. -Joe Cirincione, Responsible Statecraft 01/13/21

'Going Back to the Cheney Playbook': Fears of War Grow as Pompeo Plans to Accuse Iran of Ties to Al Qaeda

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly planning to accuse Iran of links to Al Qaeda in a speech Tuesday, an allegation critics described as a rehashing of a Bush administration lie that served as part of the rationale for the catastrophic invasion of Iraq in 2003. -Jake Johnson, Common Dreams 01/12/21

Archaeologists to make final attempt to unearth Laodicea Temple in Nahavand, Iran

Iranian archaeologists will be making a final attempt to unearth the ruins of the enigmatic Laodicea Temple, believed to be buried under the modern town of Nahavand in Hamedan province, west-central Iran. The sixth and the last archaeology season has been scheduled to possibly unearth the main structure of Laodicea Temple, Nahavand's tourism chief Mohsen Khanjan announced on Sunday. 01/12/21

The 2,000-year-old Wonder Women who inspired the comic

The contemporary superheroine has a backstory inspired by Greek mythology, which in turn was inspired by real-life ancient warrior women. Experts have identified depictions of the women in battle with Greek men on vases and other ceramics as dressed in Persian-style clothing. By the 470s, the Greeks began to refer to portrayals of the Persians as the Amazons, turning their real-life adversaries into mythological folklore. Even the word "Amazon", meaning "warrior", is likely rooted in the Iranian language. -Kimiya Shokoohi, BBC 01/12/21

'The Night' gives us a never-ending night in a hotel we can't leave

We don't get to hear from many Iranian storytellers in the U.S. and horror has never been key to Iran's cinematic culture, so the trailer for first time director Kourosh Ahari's The Night presents us with a rare treat! Although a portion of the trailer is in English, the film is largely in Farsi with English subtitles. This will also be the first U.S. produced film to receive distribution in Iran in four decades. All of that is great and everything, but the best part is that the movie looks fantastic! -Modern Horrors 01/12/21

Iran-Iraq Annual Trade To Reach 20 Billion Dollars

Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian, who is the head of the Iran-Iraq Join Economic Committee, said on Tuesday that the two countries' annual trade is going to be increased to $20 billion. Ardakanian made the remarks in the opening ceremony of the two countries' fourth Joint Economic Committee meeting in Tehran, which he co-chaired with the Iraqi Trade Minister Alla Ahmed Al-Jubouri 01/12/21

GOP Sen. Susan Collins thought the mostly white pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol was 'the Iranians' at first

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a new op-ed said she initially thought "the Iranians" were attacking when a mostly white, pro-Trump mob descended upon the Capitol on January 6. -John Haltiwanger , Business Insider 01/12/21

EU warns Iran enrichment moves could imperil nuclear deal

The official supervising the agreement aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions is warning that Tehran's decision to ramp up uranium enrichment could undermine efforts to keep the deal alive amid diplomatic efforts to bring the United States back on board. -AP 01/12/21

Iran plans to import AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from India, China, Russia

Iran plans to import some two million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from India, China, and Russia by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20). "The Iranian-made vaccine is more reliable than many foreign-made vaccines, but it takes a long time to be approved. So, the health ministry plans to import some two million doses of vaccines from India, China, and Russia by the end of the year," IRNA quoted Mohammad-Reza Zafarghandi, head of the Iranian Medical Council, as saying on Monday. 01/11/21

Photos: Khuzestan, Iran's unique haven for birds

The southwestern province of Khuzestan is the most diverse region in terms of different bird species, its unique and pleasant climate, as well as rich natural habitats have turned this province into a paradise for rare and endangered species of birds. 01/11/21

I was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic and can't stop thinking about sanctions against Iran

After studying how U.S. sanctions have wreaked havoc on the Iranian people and working with diplomats in Europe, rather unsuccessfully, to lessen the damage, I can attest to the fact that Iran's public health emergency began long before the pandemic. It is no secret, as international media has been riddled with horrific stories about cancer patients and others in Iran dying preventable deaths over the last few years because the healthcare system has been strangled by onerous U.S. sanctions. -Sahil Shah, Responsible Statecraft 01/11/21

Cuban Researchers To Test COVID-19 Vaccine In Iran

A Cuban state-run research institute says it has signed a deal with Iran's Pasteur Institute to test the Caribbean state's most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Iran. The Finlay Vaccine Institute's (IFV) January 9 announcement came one day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banned any import of U.S.- or U.K.-produced vaccines, which he called "untrustworthy," to stop the coronavirus. 01/11/21

William Burns, Joe Biden's CIA Pick, Condemned Donald Trump's 'Aggressive' Iran Policy

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate veteran diplomat William J. Burns to be the next Director of the CIA, succeeding agency Director Gina Haspel. A press release sent out Monday by the Biden transition team said Burns will bring "a deep understanding of the threats we face and tireless dedication to protecting the American people," and will-if confirmed-be "the first career diplomat to serve as CIA Director." -Newsweek 01/11/21

Photos: Winter time in Akhlamad, Northeastern Iran; Mashad

The village of Akhlamd in Chenaran county, located 80 kilometers from Mashad, is a touristic and recreational village with beautiful waterfalls the tallest one which is 85 meters high and has a multi-thousand-year history. Chenaran County, Khorasan Razavi Province, Iran. Jan 9, 2020. -Amirhossein Sajedian, IRNA 01/11/21

Iran tells South Korea not to politicise seized vessel, demands release of funds

Iran said on Sunday that South Korea should avoid politicising the seizure of its vessel by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf, Iranian state media reported, while pressing Seoul to release $7 billion in funds frozen amid U.S. sanctions. Iran has denied allegations that the seizure of the tanker and its 20-member crew amounted to hostage taking, and said it was Seoul that was holding Iran's funds "hostage". -Reuters 01/11/21

Iran's Khamenei Bans Imports Of U.S., British Coronavirus Vaccines Due To 'Trust' Issues

Iran, the country worst hit by the pandemic in the Middle East, has reported more than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases, with nearly 56,000 deaths. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has announced a ban on imports of U.S. and British coronavirus vaccines, saying he does not "trust" the two countries. 01/8/21

Iran's Revolutionary Guards unveils underground missile base on Persian Gulf shores

Commander-in-Chief of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Hossein Salami, has unveiled one of the strategic underground missile cities that the country has built all along its southern Persian Gulf coast. "Our logic is to defend the territorial integrity and independence of the country and the achievements of the Islamic Revolution," Salami said during a ceremony on Friday, with Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, commander of the IRGC Navy, and a number of high-ranking Iranian military figures in attendance 01/8/21

Experts urge swift return to Iran nuclear deal

A group of more than 50 international relations and Middle East experts have signed onto a letter urging President-elect Joe Biden to swiftly return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. President Donald Trump had broken with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, replacing it with an economic and military pressure campaign aimed at the Iranian government. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 01/8/21

Donald Trump's parting gift to the world? Signs suggest it may be war with Iran

President Trump's incitement of criminal mob violence and occupation of the Capitol makes clear there is no limitation whatever on the abuse of power he may commit in the next two weeks he remains in office. Outrageous as his incendiary performance was on Wednesday, I fear he may incite something far more dangerous in the next few days: his long-desired war with Iran. -Daniel Ellsberg, Guardian 01/8/21

How an assassination led to a wave of Iranian nationalism and a downed airliner

In the early morning hours of January 8, 2020, I was boarding a plane at the Tehran airport to return to Europe after participating in "Tehran Dialogues," an international conference organized by Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On an otherwise deserted tarmac, I saw a lonely aircraft belonging to Ukrainian Airlines parked at the terminal. Shortly before boarding, I learned that Iranian security forces had launched a series of strikes on an American base in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the charismatic and influential Iranian commander of Al-Quds, the elite force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 01/8/21

A year on, questions haunt Iran's downing of Ukrainian plane

When Navaz Ebrahim learned that a Ukrainian plane had fallen from the sky near Iran's capital, she didn't realize her older sister was on the flight. They had just spoken on the phone. Niloufar had promised her, like she always does, that everything was going to be alright. -AP 01/8/21

Saeidi brothers short music videos clips tuned to frantic pace of modern life

Vocalist brothers Ali and Mohammad Saeidi have initiated a plan to enrich the daily lives of those people who have little patience or spare time by recording short music videos. The music videos run less than one minute and each promotes one more Iranian art indirectly. 01/7/21

Music video of "Shahrzaad" performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Motherland's Ladies

Shahrzaad Symphony, composed by Aminollah Andre Hossein was performed by a symphony orchestra led by Nozhat Amiri and performed by 30 Iranian women musicians. The music video of "Shahrzaad" Symphony was released with the performance of the Symphony Orchestra of the Motherland's Ladies and a tribute to the sacrifices of the medical staff in the fight against Corona and in support of peace, friendship and health of the human race. -Honar Online 01/7/21

Iran's Rouhani demands justice for downed plane victims

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said those involved in last year's missile attack that brought down a Ukraine passenger plane outside Tehran should face justice. "There is no doubt that the judiciary will prosecute all the perpetrators," Rouhani said in a Cabinet meeting Jan. -Al Monitor 01/7/21

Photos: Second day of Iran Army's drone drill

The Iranian Army held the second day of its large-scale drill, involving combat unmanned aerial vehicles. Hundreds of domestically-manufactured drones practiced combat missions during the two-day exercise. -Mehr 01/7/21

Iran's actual gas processing hits record high of 840 million mcm: NIGC

The National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) says the daily amount of production and processing of natural gas in the country hit an all-time high of 840 million cubic meters (mcm), a whopping figure which the country's energy minister says is roughly more than half the amount of gas consumed in the entire Europe. -Press TV 01/7/21

European powers say Iran enrichment move puts new diplomacy with U.S. at risk

Britain, France and Germany warned Iran on Wednesday that its decision to restart uranium enrichment at 20 percent risked undermining hopes of reviving diplomacy when a new United States administration takes over later in January. Tehran said earlier this week it was pressing ahead with 20% uranium enrichment at an underground nuclear facility, breaching a 2015 nuclear pact with major powers and possibly complicating efforts by U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the deal. -Reuters 01/7/21

Contrary to expectations, marriage in Iran increased amid pandemic

Contrary to expectations, the marriage rate in Iran has been increasing over the first nine months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-December 20, 2020), amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was expected that the outbreak would affect the marriage rate leading to a downward trend... 01/6/21

Advancing developer freedom: GitHub is fully available in Iran

All developers should be free to use GitHub, no matter where they live. At the same time, GitHub respects and abides by US law, which means government sanctions have limited our ability to provide developers in some countries the full range of GitHub services. Today we are announcing a breakthrough: we have secured a license from the US government to offer GitHub to developers in Iran. -Nat Friedman, GitHub Blog 01/6/21

Lincoln Tan discovers Auckland's hidden restaurant dishes - Dolmeh meals at Rumi

It is not easy getting Iranians to have Persian dinners out at restaurants, says Reza Sarkheil, because most believe the best food is found at home in their mother's kitchen. But what happens when the restaurant's chef is an Iranian woman - Reza's mum - and the dishes she cooks are from family recipes that have been passed down for generations? -Lincoln Tan, New Zealand Herald 01/6/21

In Pictures: Iran's military holds first-ever drone drill

Iran shows off locally made drones one year after a US drone assassinated its top general. Iran's military on Tuesday kicked off its first-ever drill for locally made unmanned aerial vehicles. Hundreds of drones were showcased and tested as part of a two-day event held in the northern province of Semnan. -Al Jazeera 01/6/21

Arab states agree to end three-year boycott of Qatar

A three-year boycott of Qatar by four other Middle Eastern countries that disfigured Gulf cooperation and raised concerns in the west about a strengthened regional role for Iran and Turkey has come to a stuttering close. -Guardian 01/6/21

Biden Must Do More Than Rejoin the Iran Nuke Deal

We need a decisive break from the previous century of US policy toward Iran, which has been based on domination. One year after the United States government assassinated Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani and nearly plunged the two countries into war, will the new administration lead a shift in relations? -Azadeh Shahshahani and Khury Petersen-Smith, Nation 01/5/21

Lift U.S. sanctions that block Iran from buying COVID vaccines

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a recurring problem for every American administration since 1979. Seeing how previous administrations' policies failed, every new administration has wrestled with how to confront, contain, persuade or negotiate with a country that has remained constantly hostile. This moment of a global pandemic, however, offers an unusual opportunity for cooperation. -John W. Limbert & Bahman Baktiari, Los Angeles Times 01/5/21

South Korea To Send Delegation To Iran Over Tanker Seizure

South Korea says it will dispatch a government delegation to Iran "at the earliest possible date" to try secure the release of a tanker seized by Iran amid tensions over Iranian funds frozen in Seoul because of U.S. sanctions. 01/5/21

'His Biggest-And Likely Most Disastrous-Stunt Yet'? Experts Warn a Desperate Trump May Attack Iran

Foreign policy experts are sounding the alarm that U.S. President Donald Trump could launch an assault on Iran in the final weeks of his administration, potentially provoking a full-blown war just days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration. -Kenny Stancil, Common Dreams 01/5/21

Photos: Renovation of historical houses in Isfahan

East of Isfahan has numerous historical monuments that are supposed to be rebuilt and renovated with the aim of the tourism boom, which will lead to the development of the tourism industry in this region. -Zahra Baghban, IRNA 01/5/21

EU says it will redouble efforts to save Iran nuclear deal

The European Union said Tuesday it would redouble its efforts to save the Iran nuclear agreement despite what it calls Tehran's "important breach" of commitments made in the 2015 deal by starting to enrich uranium to new levels. -AP 01/5/21

Iran Economic Monitor, Fall 2020: Weathering the Triple-Shock

The Iranian economy entered a third consecutive year of recession following the triple-shock of sanctions, oil market collapse and Coronavirus (COVID-19). High inflation placed additional economic stress on lower income households following a sharp depreciation of the currency. As Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases surged, stricter measures were enforced in Fall 2020 and new social transfers were announced. -World Bank 01/4/21

Biden Faces a Minefield in New Diplomacy with Iran

Joe Biden knows Iran better than any American President since its 1979 revolution. He has personally dealt with its top officials-a few of them for decades. "When I was Iran's representative to the U.N., I had several meetings with Biden," the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, acknowledged after the U.S. election, in an interview with Entekhab, a Tehran publication. The two aren't exactly friends... -Robin Wright, New Yorker 01/4/21

Iraqis demand US troops pull out on Soleimani killing anniversary

Thousands of Iraqi mourners have condemned the "American occupiers", a year after a United States drone strike killed Iran's revered general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The anniversary of their deaths in Baghdad - which brought arch enemies the US and Iran to the brink of war - was also marked on Sunday in Iran and by supporters in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East. -Al Jazeera 01/4/21

US aircraft carrier stays in Persian Gulf after Pentagon claims Iranian 'threats' against Trump

The United States has reversed a decision to bring an aircraft carrier home from the Persian Gulf, with the Pentagon saying that due to "recent threats" by Iran the USS Nimitz would stay in position. The Nimitz has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November. In a statement issued on 31 December the acting US defence secretary, Christopher C Miller, had ordered the vessel to "transit directly home to complete a nearly 10-month deployment". -AFP 01/4/21

Time for Reflection: a year ago the U.S. assassinated a national leader

Sunday marks the first anniversary of the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani by the United States, using an armed drone at the Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani was a major political and military figure whose role went well beyond his formal position as commander of the Quds force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His influence over much of Iran's security policy was probably second only to that of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 01/2/21

How an anti-elite TV drama became Iran's lockdown hit

A woman screams for her life after being locked in a Mercedes-Benz in a junkyard. In the next scene, all that is left of her is a metal cube with blood gushing out. This isn't a scene from the latest horror film, but the first episode of the new Iranian drama series, Aghazadeh - taken from a term used to describe children of the Iranian elite with privilege, connections and influence. -Holly Dagres, Guardian 01/2/21

US and Iran ratchet up military activity as concerns increase ahead of Soleimani killing anniversary

The US and Iran charged each other with ratcheting up tensions in the Persian Gulf as concerns about potential conflict build days before Iran marks one year since the US assassinated its most powerful military figure and less than three weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. -CNN 01/2/21

Webinar: American Connections with Iran / Iranian Connections with America

On January 4, 2021, Professor Shannon will discuss the connections between the United States and Iran during the twentieth century. The lecture pays special attention to American educational influence in Iran and Iranian students in the United States. 12/31/20

Photos: Dahaneh Gholaman in eastern Iran

Dahaneh-e Gholaman is a town located 57 km from Zabol in the northern areas of Sistan and Baluchestan province. Italian archeologists discovered the town in 1959. The town is named after a natural canyon, where slave traders brought African slaves into Iran for sale. -Hamed Gholami, IRNA 12/31/20

Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation's 2020 Report

UK based Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation (PKCF) has been founding many projects and good causes in Iran and elsewhere. Following is a list of the projects funded by PKCF in Iran and elsewhere in 2020 along with a brief report of the ongoing activities. 12/30/20

Photos: Performance of 'A Season for Coronavirus'

A performance called "A Season for Coronavirus" has been put on in the most crowded streets of Ahvaz city for several nights. After Ahvaz, the performance will be put on in the streets of Kish Island and Tehran. -Alireza Mohammadi, ISNA 12/30/20

Sonia Hadad Releases Short Film EXAM

EXAM is an Iranian film, directed by Sonia K. Hadad, about a schoolgirl who is given a 'package' to drop off right before an important exam. This nail biting live action short film has garnered numerous high profile accolades at festivals across the globe, from the Best Live Action Short at AFI Fest to Best Actress in a Short Film for Sadaf Asghari at Sundance. -Broadway World 12/30/20

Interview with Iranian filmmaker Shahram Mokri: "We are lucky to be alive today"

In August 1978, four men set fire to the Cinema Rex in the Iranian city of Abadan, killing more than four hundred people inside. The event is said to have started the Iranian Revolution to overthrow the Shah's regime. Forty years later, "Careless Crime" by Iranian filmmaker Shahram Mokri depicts four men planning to burn down a cinema in a contemporary Iran where ghosts of the past haunt the current society. -Interview by Schayan Riaz, Qantara 12/29/20

Iranian women's group empowers amid pandemic by making masks

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages Iran, home to the Mideast's worst outbreak, a women's group hopes to empower its members by helping them make and sell face masks. The organization called "Bavar," or "Belief" in Farsi, formed in 2016, allowing women looking for work to make handicrafts with donated sewing machines. -Vahid Salemi, AP 12/29/20

Lake Urmia's surface area has doubled in 6 years

Lake Urmia's surface area, has reached 2,785 square kilometers, indicating more than 100 percent rise compared to the lowest volume recorded in the Iranian calendar year 1393 (March 2014-March 2015). The current level of the lake stands at 1271.24 meters, which increased by more than 1.2 meters compared to the lowest recorded amount 12/28/20

Battered by U.S. Sanctions, Iran Finds a Lifeline in Domestic Economy

Swaths of the Iranian economy are retooling in response to more than two years of U.S. sanctions, finding pockets of resilience in the country's large domestic economy. Iranian companies are increasingly producing the sorts of goods that Iran had long imported from abroad, while smaller, growing companies have picked up hiring. -WSJ 12/27/20

Far from the capital, Iran struggles to bury virus victims

Deep in the lush valleys of northern Iran, where the Alborz Mountains crumble toward the sea, Ali Rahimi takes up his grisly work. Day in and day out, Rahimi, a 53-year-old volunteer cleric in the city of Ghaemshahr, puts on his hazmat suit and receives the deceased; disinfecting, washing and shrouding the dead bodies in white cloth. -Ebrahim Noroozi, AP 12/23/20

Major Humanitarian Organizations Call for Access to COVID-19 Vaccines for Iranians

A coalition of major human rights and humanitarian organizations released a statement today, calling on the US government to ensure that Iranians would have access to "safe, effective, and affordable Covid-19 vaccines." It noted that US sanctions on financial transactions with Iran "appear to be already impeding the transfer of funds to the Covax Facility, the effort of the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to manage global vaccine distribution." 12/23/20

Photo exhibit explores erosion of ancient Iranian bas-reliefs

An exhibition of photos depicting the erosion of a selection of ancient Iranian bas-reliefs will open on Monday at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts. The three-day exhibition has been organized under the auspices of the ministry's Research Center for Conservation of Cultural Relics as part of their programs for National Research Week. 12/21/20

Exhibition: Epic Iran

Opening in February 2021, Epic Iran will explore 5,000 years of Iranian art, design and culture, bringing together more than 300 objects from ancient, Islamic and contemporary Iran. It will be the UK's first major exhibition in 90 years to present an overarching narrative of Iran from 3000 BC to the present day. Epic Iran is organised by the V&A with the Iran Heritage Foundation in association with The Sarikhani Collection. -IHF 12/18/20

8th Tehran National Sculpture Biennial kicks off

The 8th edition of the Tehran National Sculpture Biennial was inaugurated at the Vahadat Hall and the Rudaki Open-Air Theater on Monday. The biennial is organized by the Association of Iranian Sculptors and the Visual Arts Office of Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. 12/16/20

Iranian girls to participate in the World Weightlifting Championships for the first time

An official in Weightlifting Federation of Iran said on Monday that Iranian girl weightlifters will participate in the world competitions to be held in Saudi Arabia. Maryam Manzi said that the Iranian girl weightlifting team will participate in 2021 IWF Junior World Championships (Jeddah, 5-18 March 2020). 12/16/20

Photos: Rooftops come to life again in Yazd

Most people living in the historic city of Yazd used the rooftops of their traditional houses for resting in the cold night air in summers. Gradually, fewer houses were built with the same rooftops as those in traditional houses because of changes in the construction and people's lives. But, people and tourists have become more interested in spending time on the rooftops of traditional houses in Yazd city. -Baharak Roshanbakhsh, ISNA 12/15/20

In an Iranian intensive care unit, doctors grapple with Covid-19 and US sanctions

Retired teacher Khalif Farahani struggles to speak, but his emotions pierce the breathlessness of the virus's impact on his lungs. "Sanctions, it is cruelty (from) America", he said. He caught the virus on a park excursion, he added, but even in this condition is "better than before." -CNN 12/10/20

Iran, Afghanistan Inaugurate First Rail Link In Key Infrastructure Project

Iran and Afghanistan have officially inaugurated their first railway link, an achievement the two countries' presidents said would help enhance trade across the region. The 130-kilometer line running from Khaf in northeastern Iran into Rosnak in the western Afghan province of Herat is seen as providing a crucial transport link for the landlocked country where decades of war have hindered infrastructure development. 12/10/20

The assassination of an Iranian scientist and the double-standards of American outrage

Another day, another sleek Israeli (allegedly) assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in broad daylight outside Tehran. "An Eye for an Eye: Zionists Must Prepare Themselves" screamed the Saturday headline on Kayhan, Iran's hardline newspaper, a day after the car Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was travelling in with his wife was sprayed by bullets. Like so many other targeted killings by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad on Iranian scientists over the last 10 years (Fakhrizadeh was the fifth), the attack unfurled like a spy movie thriller. -Shenaz Kermalli, Responsible Statecraft 12/4/20

Ground-breaking step in Iran towards reducing statelessness

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said it welcomes Iran's move to give nationality to thousands of children born to Iranian mothers and non-Iranian fathers. The first children, out of some 10,000 children whose citizenship applications have so far been accepted, received their Iranian identity card, known as a 'Shenasnameh', last month. 12/3/20

Iranian-Swedish Poya Asbaghi named Sweden U21 coach

Iranian-Swedish coach Poya Asbaghi has been named as new head coach of Sweden U21 football team. The Karaj-born coach, who has replaced Roland Nilsson, has penned a contract with U21 team until 2023. 11/25/20

What Archaeology Can Achieve in US-Iran Relations

In the 1920s, relations between the United States and Iran had reached a low point. According to historian James F. Goode, the American charge d'affairs at the time, Hugh Millard, wrote to the US State Department's Near East Bureau Chief, Wallace Murray, stating that there had been "one flub after another in American efforts in Persia" but that '"archaeology is about the only thing [the United States] are likely to be interested in which stands much chance of bringing results." -Kyle G. Olson, Bourse & Bazaar 11/25/20

Five successful Iranian online start-ups

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the concept of Startups and low-investment high-profit businesses has spread rapidly throughout the world. As the Internet became more pervasive, a new platform was established for providing products and services that were not limited by location and time which made it easier than ever to reach a limitless global audience. 11/23/20

Iranian teacher spends $290,000 inheritance on educating deprived students

Hossein Asadi, a teacher in Iran's Khuzestan province, has spent nearly $290,000 that he inherited from his father to educate students in deprived areas. Asadi has provided 153 tablets for financially struggling students to prevent them from being out of school, and he plans to provide another 200 tablets in the coming week. 11/20/20



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last updated on Mon Jan 18 09:59:02 EST 2021