Esfand 6 1398 - February 25 2020
Rise In Coronavirus Cases In Iran, Elsewhere Triggers Pandemic Fears

Fears of a coronavirus pandemic, or global outbreak, are growing as countries including Iran, Italy, and South Korea are battling to contain the spread of the disease that has already killed around 2,600 people in China. The semiofficial ILNA news agency reported that 50 people had died from the virus in the central Iranian city of Qom, but Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi rejected the report, telling a news conference that the total number of confirmed cases now stood at 61, including 12 deaths. 02/24/20

Iran parliamentary election turnout: 42% national, 25% in Tehran

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli announced on Sunday that turnout in the Friday parliamentary elections was around 42%. Rahmani Fazli said that more than 24 million people out of 58 million eligible voters participated in the election, Mehr reported. Rahmani Fazli also said turnout in Tehran Province was around 25%. 02/24/20

Atashgah: A hillside Zoroastrian fire temple in Isfahan

Though Iran is a Muslim-majority country, it is home to ancient Zoroastrian sites still retaining otherworldly charm. Isfahan's Atashgah is one of those which is situated on a mountain of the same name in western site of the central Iranian city. Experts say the fire temple dates back Sassanid era (224-651). 02/24/20

Iran Police Confiscate Protective Masks Hoarded By Couple At Home Parking

The Chief of Tehran Prevention Police on Monday said 500,000 masks hoarded by an Iranian man and his Chinese wife have been discovered in a residential parking in eastern Tehran. According to Keyvan Zahiri, neighbors alerted the police that the masks, now very highly in demand due to coronavirus outbreak in Iran, were being hoarded in the couple's parking. 02/24/20

The Guardian view on Iran's elections: a closing door

Iran's election on Friday was a blow to moderates, a disappointment for conservative rulers and bad news for the region too. The result was largely ordained before anyone could cast a ballot. Hardliners appear to have swept the parliamentary contest - taking all 30 seats in Tehran - because the authorities ensured that they would. -Guardian Editorial 02/24/20

'Iranian society is sick', says son of former president

Iranian society is physically and politically sick, the youngest son of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the principal architects of the Iranian revolution has said in a rare interview. Yasser Rafsanjani reflected on the sweeping gains made by the conservatives on a record low turnout of 42 % at the weekend's parliamentary elections. He said democracy in Iran had been made a eunuch, castrated by forces outside parliament, including the militia. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 02/24/20

The United States and Iran Continue to Maneuver in Iraq

Since the US assassination in early January of Iran's Quds Force commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, Washington and Tehran have intensified their efforts to try to outmaneuver each other for influence in Iraq. The United States keenly wants to remain militarily engaged in the country to prevent the resurgence of the so-called Islamic State (IS) and to serve as a check on Iranian influence. But the Soleimani killing spurred many Iraqi politicians, particularly from the Shia community, to call for the ouster of US troops from the country. -Gregory Aftandilian, Responsible Statecraft 02/24/20

Iranian Dolls to Go to Geneva as Peace Ambassadors

Jai Jagat 2020, an Indian campaign organizing a global march for peace and justice, has decided to take two Iranian folklore dolls from Isfahan to the Swiss city of Geneva as peace ambassadors. The Indian campaign "Jai Jagat", which means "One Planet, All People", has organized a one-year global march for justice and peace. -IFP 02/24/20

Iran Reports Fifth Death From Coronavirus, Ten New Cases

Iranian health officials have confirmed the fifth death from the coronavirus in the country, saying the fatality was from among 10 new confirmed cases of the virus. The new cases bring the total number in the country to 28, with instances reported in at least five of the country's 31 provinces. 02/22/20

Iran elections: conservatives heading for large majority

Iran's conservatives are heading for a large overall majority in the country's parliamentary elections, according to preliminary results, an outcome that reflects frustration with collapsing living standards and the apparent dead end of engagement with the west. It means strong supporters of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will control all the main levers of power in Iran except for the presidency. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 02/22/20

Foreign ministers of Iran, Netherlands discuss ties, regional developments in Tehran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok, have held discussions in Tehran about issues of mutual interest and the latest regional and international developments. Blok, who is in Tehran at the head of a delegation, held two rounds of talks with Zarif on Saturday and also held a separate meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rohani. -Press TV 02/22/20

Spike in Iran Coronavirus Cases Raises Alarm: WHO

The head of the World Health Organization says he fears the increase in the number of cases of coronavirus in Iran could be a signal of worse things to come. Iran has reported 18 cases, including at least five deaths in the past two days. The number of cases and deaths reported in Iran still pales in comparison to that recorded in China. 02/22/20

Trump administration pressures global financial watchdog to 'blacklist' Iran

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that sets standards to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, has placed Iran back on its infamous "blacklist," following the failure of Iranian policymakers to enact two key bills in accordance with an action plan set in 2016. The FATF statement, issued on Friday at the conclusion of the body's latest plenary meeting, calls on members to "to apply effective countermeasures" following Iran's failure to implement "the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Responsible Statecraft 02/22/20

Iran's hardliners are poised for big gains in parliamentary elections, setting up a decade of hostility with the US

The Islamic Republic of Iran is holding Parliamentary elections today for 290 seats to form the 11th Majlis. It is going to be one of the least competitive elections in Islamic Republic's history since many reformist and moderate candidates have been disqualified from running. The hardline Guardian Council that approves candidates has filtered thousands of candidates, including some current and past members of parliament. Hardliners are expected to take over most of the seats in the parliament and consolidate power against moderate President Hassan Rouhani. -Negar Mortazavi, Responsible Statecraft 02/22/20

Iran confirms two new deaths, 13 more coronavirus cases

Iran's Health Ministry has confirmed two more deaths among 13 new cases of coronavirus, putting the total number of deaths so far in the country at four. Kianoush Jahanpour, the head of public relations and information center of the Iranian Ministry of Health, said on Friday that most of the cases are either residents in the holy city of Qom or people who have traveled to Qom in recent days and weeks. 02/21/20

Why the U.S. is on the brink of all-out war with Iran

For forty years, the U.S. has been exponentially more powerful than Iran on the global stage. But, economic and military superiority doesn't always guarantee that action won't provoke reaction. Other leaders also worry about looking tough and hold core interests that they are willing to defend with force. Ever since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and Iraq in 2003, hawks - both Republican and Democrat - have been saying we need to restore credibility, leverage, and deterrence against Iran to justify their militaristic politics. -Siamak Tundra Naficy, Responsible Statecraft 02/21/20

Trump's Muslim ban: Iranian-Americans are treated like the enemy within

"I've stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you," US President Donald Trump said on Twitter in Farsi last month, presumably talking to the Iranian people. My reaction as an Iranian-American was one of sheer rage. This is a president who issued a ban targeting Iran and other Muslim countries, imposed devastating sanctions on the people of Iran, and threatened to bomb Iran's cultural sites. His administration has detained and deported Iranian students with valid visas, and treated Iranian-Americans, including US citizens, as suspects. -Azadeh Shahshahani, Middle East Eye 02/21/20

Iran's Mohammad Rasoulof on His 'There is no Evil' As 'Resistance,' Exclusive Trailer

Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof, whose sixth feature "There is no Evil" screens in competition at the Berlinale, is one of his country's most prominent directors even though none of his films have screened in Iran where they are banned. In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with his censorship-themed "Goodbye," Rasoulof was sentenced with fellow director Jafar Panahi to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for alleged anti-regime propaganda. His sentence was later suspended and he was released on bail. -Nick Vivarelli, Variety 02/21/20

Trump's new proposal for allowing more humanitarian trade with Iran is only making it worse

Now, the Trump administration - itself faced with growing public concern over the effect of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian people - is touting a humanitarian channel put in place through coordinated efforts with the Swiss government to ensure the Iranian people's access to humanitarian goods. However, a discerning look at this channel indicates that the net effect may well cause further distress to Iran's access to humanitarian items. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 02/21/20

Iran's leaders warn low turnout in election will boost Trump

Iran's senior leaders flooded the media with eve-of-poll warnings that abstentions in Friday's parliamentary elections - either through indifference or as a protest - will only encourage Donald Trump to step up economic sanctions against Tehran. The one-week period of officially sanctioned campaigning for a seat in the next five year parliament ended on Wednesday night, 24 hours before voting started amid the first serious outbreak of coronavirus in Iran. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 02/21/20

The Carbon Brief Profile: Iran

In the latest article in a series on how some of the world's key emitters are responding to climate change, Carbon Brief profiles Iran, a major petrostate stricken by long-running droughts. -Josh Gabbatiss, Carbon Brief 02/21/20

All you need to know about Iran's parliamentary election

On the eve of the general election for Iran's 290-member parliament, the mood is heavy in the cold and rainy capital as the polls come amid escalating political tensions, economic struggles and concerns over public apathy. Nearly 58 million people are eligible to vote on preselected lists of candidates for Iran's 11th 290-seat parliament. -Al Jazeera 02/21/20

Two Old Men Die In Qom, Iran After Testing Positive For Coronavirus

Health authorities in the central Iranian city of Qom have confirmed two deaths as a result of a first incidence of coronavirus in the country. A source close to the Iranian health minister told Mehr news agency on Wednesday that the two old men had died in hospital in Qom after being tested positive for coronavirus earlier in the day. 02/20/20

US sanctions 'targeting' patients, say doctors at Iranian cancer hospital

Medical staff at Iran's top cancer hospital tell FRANCE 24 their patients are paying the price of geopolitical strategies as the country's health system struggles to cope under crippling US sanctions. The economy tops the agenda as Iran heads to the polls in Friday's general elections. -France 24 02/20/20

Iran conservatives hope to harness popular anger to win elections

Popular anger at corruption, the slide in living standards and the political mistakes of the reformist government of President Hassan Rouhani is widespread in Iran, and fuels the conservatives' call for "a strong parliament" to be elected this Friday in nationwide elections. If the conservatives can take power, and appoint someone such as the former Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf as speaker, Rouhani can be kept on a tight leash in his final year of office before fresh presidential elections. -Patrick Wintour, Guadian 02/20/20

"Torture" and "Sexual Threats" Detailed in Letters by Jailed Former UN Environment Consultant

A female former UN Environment consultant's complaints of physical and psychological torture at the hands of her male interrogators were ignored by Iranian judicial officials, and forced "confessions" obtained as a result of torture were used to imprison her and seven fellow wildlife conservationists, according to her newly published letters from Tehran's Evin Prison. -CHRI 02/20/20

Iran parliament committee approves currency overhaul bill

The Iranian parliament has approved the details of a government bill to drop four zeros from the national currency rial. Reports in the local media on Wednesday said that the parliament's economic committee had gone through all technical details of the bill which seeks to amend Article 1 of Iran's Monetary and Banking Law to allow the government to overhaul the currency. 02/20/20

Why is the Justice Department trying to defend the officers who killed Bijan Ghaisar?

THE TRUTH about the death of Bijan Ghaisar, the young accountant shot to death by U.S. Park Police officers in 2017, has not become less true in the 26 months since he died. Ghaisar's killing was unwarranted, unjustified and unjust. That fact remains unchanged despite the meandering two-year FBI investigation, despite the Justice Department's gutless decision last year against prosecuting and despite the legal mumbo-jumbo now emanating from federal officials. -Editorial Board, Washington Post 02/20/20

Census 2020 "Write in Iranian" Campaign Launch

Today, Pars Equality Center (Pars) announced its Write In Iranian campaign for the upcoming 2020 Census. Pars is partnering with the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) in an effort to increase awareness among the Iranian American community about the importance of participating in the upcoming census. 02/19/20

Photos: Projection mapping in Tehran sends sympathy to Chinese battling Coronavirus

In a ceremony on Tuesday night, a projection mapping was carried out on the iconic Azadi Tower in Tehran to convey the message of sympathy with Chinese people fighting coronavirus. The ceremony was held in the presence of Chinese Ambassador to Iran Chang Hua, ISNA reported. 02/19/20

Zarif meeting with US Senator part of Iran's general diplomacy: Foreign Ministry

Iran's Foreign Ministry has said that a recent meeting between Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and an American senator in Munich took place within the framework of Iran's "general diplomacy." The ministry's spokesman Abbas Mousavi posted a tweet on Tuesday to comment on a Saturday meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference between Zarif and a delegation of Democratic congressmen headed by Connecticut's Senator Chris Murphy. -Press TV 02/19/20

Iran elections to be dominated by hardliners as young people refuse to vote: 'It's a joke'

This week will see 7,148 candidates vetted by Iran's unelected religious and legal authorities compete for 290 seats across 31 provinces. Much of the country's youth, particularly in the capital Tehran, plan to stay at home, foreshadowing what's expected to be the lowest voter turnout in years. -Natasha Turak, CNBC 02/19/20

Iran Khodro unveils first version of electric car: RANA

The Iran Khodro Compnay (IKCO), the largest carmaker in Iran, has unveiled a first electric car that could reach mass production in two years time. A report by the IRNA agency on Tuesday said that the Electric RANA, a sedan which bears the name of one of the recent models of IKCO, is equipped with a special engine that is designed by a subsidiary of the company. 02/19/20

Top Suspect In Large Corruption Case Flees Iran For UAE

One of the primary suspects involved in a massive financial corruption case in Iran's petrochemical sector has fled the country, a conservative local news outlet close to the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reported on February 18. "Former executive director of the Iranian Petrochemical Commercial Company (IPCC), Mehdi Sharifi Niknafs, has fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Young Journalists Club (YJC) disclosed. -Radio Farda 02/19/20

Why Trump's 'maximum pressure' campaigns are a maximum failure

President Trump's signature foreign policy initiatives often bear the same hallmarks: economic coercion to extract maximalist concessions. From Iran to North Korea to Venezuela, the use of sanctions, normally a tactic employed as part of a broader strategy, have turned into a strategy unto themselves. Far from realizing the self-proclaimed goals of the Trump administration, the excessive use of sanctions has made them harder to achieve, caused immense human suffering, and risks the ability of future administrations to use sanctions as a tool in the foreign policy playbook. -Louie Reckford, Responsible Statecraft 02/19/20

Why Iran's reformists are likely to lose parliamentary vote

Apart from a few campaign posters in Tehran's main squares, there is little sign a parliamentary election is set to take place in Iran on Friday. The key vote will determine the direction of the country as it grapples with a worsening economic crisis and a punishing "maximum pressure" campaign by the United States, but there is little interest in the vote among Tehran's eligible voters. -Al Jazeera 02/19/20

Why Iran's Very Predictable Parliamentary Vote Is Still Important

The outcome of Iran's February 21 parliamentary elections appears to be clear cut even before the ballots are cast: hard-liners and conservatives are likely to take control of the future parliament. Yet the elections are still extremely important. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 02/19/20

Iran Sentences Eight Environmental Activists On Charges Of Spying For U.S.

Iran's judiciary says it has issued prison sentences for eight environmental activists, including an Iranian who also has British and U.S. citizenship, on charges of spying for the United States and acting against Iran's national security. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili says an Iranian appeals court issued "final verdicts" in their cases on February 18. -RFE/RL 02/18/20

PAAIA Launches Campaign to Combat Increasing Discrimination Against Iranian Americans

Amid mounting tensions between the U.S. and Iran that have resulted in renewed discrimination of Iranian Americans, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today launched Iranian Americans Are American to reaffirm that Iranian Americans are, first and foremost, American. This campaign launches as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) admitted to inappropriately targeting Iranian Americans and breaching agency protocol last month when they detained hundreds of Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canadian border simply because of their national origin. 02/18/20

Coronavirus Casualty: Iran water polo in shock over FINA's decision

Iran Swimming Federation still is in shock after International Swimming Federation (FINA) introduced Kazakhstan as Asia's water polo representative in the 2020 Olympic Games. The competition, featuring men's and women's teams from China, Iran, Japan South Korea, and host Kazakhstan, would have determined the Asian representatives for the 2020 Olympics, but it was cancelled due to coronavirus and the decision to cancel was precipitated by the Kazakh government. 02/18/20

team group envisions a sunken courtyard oasis in iran with sweeping, organic brickwork

team group presents an investigation into the ancestral architecture of the hot and dry regions of iran with the proposed 'sunken courtyard' or bagh chal. among the most powerful and significant elements of iranian architecture, the courtyard spatial type is reimagined as an introverted, brick monument which embraces its occupant below the level of the ground in coolness and shadows within a naturally desertous context. the envisioned project, programmed as a boutique restaurant, is integrated into the flat landscape and made up of zones organized with inverted symmetry. -designboom 02/18/20

Iranian Startups: Qpage, a comprehensive human resources management solution

Existing solutions for human resource management around the world are outdated. Qpage sees this as an opportunity and wants to shake the market with its comprehensive solution. -TechRasa 02/18/20

'From bad to worse' - Dashed hopes may deter many Iranians from polls

Confrontation with America, economic hardship and an airline tragedy have battered Iranians' confidence in their leaders, posing a potential problem for the authorities in a parliamentary election this week. As the Feb. 21 vote nears, Iranians are in a gloomy mood, exhausted by a succession of crises that have helped to shred the hopes for a better life they harbored only four years ago. -Babak Dehghanpisheh 6 MIN READ, Reuters 02/18/20

After Suleimani: Iran's scramble to recover from general's death

In the early hours of 3 January, Iraq's prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, frantically phoned his advisers. "Something big has happened," he said, summoning them to a meeting in his office. "You need to come now." Like their boss, the advisers had heard the boom of the explosions that crunched into the airport road just after 1am, and their phones had been ringing incessantly. Each call had brought the unthinkable closer to shocking reality: Qassem Suleimani, the revered commander of Iran's Quds Force and the most powerful man in Iraq, had been killed, and so had nearly all of his closest aides. -Guardian 02/18/20

Aroosi Exhibition in Los Angeles: 150 Years of Iranian Wedding Traditions

Farhang Foundation, USC Libraries, and USC Dornsife Department of Middle East Studies present an exhibition celebrating Iran's rich wedding traditions. 02/17/20

15 projects receive awards at the 33rd Khwarizmi International Festival

President Hassan Rouhani conferred awards on 15 selected projects at the 33rd Khwarizmi International Festival in Tehran on Monday. The annual festival is an opportunity for both Iranian and foreign participants to put their scientific achievements on display. Khwarizmi International Award is dedicated to recognizing outstanding scientific achievements made by researchers, inventors, and innovators from all over the world. 02/17/20

Iranian artist Matak wins Illustrators of the Future Contest award

Iranian illustrator Mohamad-Hossein Mason) Matak has been selected as one of the 12 winners of the Illustrators of the Future Contest in the U.S. city of Los Angeles, the organizers announced last week. Matak has been selected for his illustrations for the book "Machucheh and Crow" written by Iranian writer Afsaneh Shaban-nejad. 02/17/20

Iran: US sanctions 'create some problems'; talks possible with conditions

The U.S. "maximum pressure" policy aimed at isolating Iran will not work, but the regime would be willing to negotiate if the Trump administration returns to the Iranian nuclear deal and drops economic sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday. "Of course, sanctions naturally create some problems, but they will not yield any results for the enemies," Rouhani told state media. "Maximum pressure has failed. We are in a better situation in the region now." -John Bacon, USA TODAY 02/17/20

Iranian musicians release "Requiem for UIA Flight 752"

A group of Iranian musicians has released a song online in commemoration of the victims of a Ukrainian jetliner, which was hit unintentionally by Iran last month. Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian is the composer of the song "Requiem for UIA Flight 752" recorded at the Rad No-Andish Art and Cultural Institute in Tehran. 02/16/20

Devoted to discovery: seven women scientists who have shaped our world

In 1994, Mirzakhani became the first female Iranian student to win the gold medal in the International Mathematical Olympiad, scoring 41 out of 42 points, and in 2015 she returned to win with a perfect score. She earned her PhD from Harvard University and was a leading scholar on the dynamics and geometry of complex surfaces. In 2014, she became the first female winner of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. -UN Women 02/16/20

Iranahayer Exhibition: Iranian-Armenian artists display works in Tehran

The Mehrsun Art Gallery in Tehran is showcasing a collection of works by a group of prominent Iranian Armenian artists in an exhibition entitled "Iranahayer". Armenian Ambassador Artashes Tumanyan, Music Museum of Iran Managing Director Ali Moradkhani and Iranian Artists Forum director Majid Rajabi-Memar attended the opening ceremony of the exhibit on Friday. 02/16/20

Iranians are naive to think they can rely on fair-weather friends

Whatever hopes Iranians have for their country, they would do well to remember that, as in 1953, the US administration has its own, not their, interests at heart. "America First" is a pretty clear mantra. If Mr Trump cared about Iran and its people, he would not be threatening to bomb the country's rich cultural heritage, as he did last month. -Scheherazade Daneshkhu, Financial Times 02/16/20

Iran: Trump wrong if he thinks Tehran regime will collapse

Iran's foreign minister said Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump is receiving bad advice if he believes an American "maximum pressure" campaign against his country will cause the government in Tehran to collapse. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a group of top defense officials and diplomats at the Munich Security Conference that the information provided to the president has dissuaded Trump from accepting offers from other leaders to mediate between Washington and Tehran. -AP 02/16/20

Iranian Pumpkin Tahchin; A Must-Try Dish for All

Iranian Tahchin is a rice cake primarily consisting of rice, yogurt, saffron, and eggs. Some versions of the dish are more elaborate, folding in chicken fillets, vegetables, fish, or red meat. Tahchin is often made with meat or chicken, but the one made from pumpkin is different, and it is recommended to all to try this delicious dish at least once. -IFP 02/16/20

Iran's Government Still Unable To Deal With Heavy Snowfall Crippling Northern Region

Four days after heavy snowfall hit the province of Gilan, northern Iran, thousands of people in the urban and rural areas of the region are still without water and electricity. At least eight people have been killed and 145 more injured in the snow-hit province, while many rural roads are blocked. Over 250,000 people in Gilan are suffering from a power outage, the state-run Khabar-Online news agency reports. 02/14/20

Iran Unveils Its Most Advanced Humanoid Robot Yet

A little over a decade ago, researchers at the University of Tehran introduced a rudimentary humanoid robot called Surena. An improved model capable of walking, Surena II, was announced not long after, followed by the more capable Surena III in 2015. Now the Iranian roboticists have unveiled Surena IV. The new robot is a major improvement over previous designs. A video highlighting its capabilities shows the robot mimicking a person's pose, grasping a water bottle, and writing its name on a whiteboard. -Erico Guizzo, IEEE Spectrum 02/14/20

How Iran's millennials are grappling with crippling US sanctions

As someone who has studied the lives of Iran's working classes, I know just how damaging economic warfare has been. It's hit young Iranians, who comprise a large portion of the population, particularly hard. High rates of inflation - on the order of 38.6% over the past 12 months - and a youth unemployment rate of 28.6% have drastically reduced their ability to purchase basic goods and feel any semblance of financial security. -Manata Hashemi, The Conversation 02/14/20

Senate Republicans defied Trump and voted to stop him from taking further military action against Iran

Several Republican senators joined Democrats on Thursday to pass a resolution barring President Donald Trump from taking further military actions against Iran without congressional approval. The resolution, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and heavily opposed by Trump, passed 55-45, marking a rare bipartisan rebuke of the president a little over a week after the Senate acquitted Trump in his impeachment trial. -Business Insider 02/14/20

U.S., Iran use Swiss as go-between to negotiate release of Americans held in Iran

Iran and the U.S. came to the brink of war in January, but the two sides are still keeping open a diplomatic channel to discuss the fate of Americans imprisoned in Iran, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The communication is indirect, with messages passed through the Swiss government, which has handled U.S. interests in Tehran since the U.S. and Iran severed diplomatic relations 40 years ago. -Dan De Luce, NBC News 02/14/20

Lights, camera, revolution: Iran's military makes films

While the theocratic state once sought to win over hearts and minds with street posters of martyrs and long speeches by clerics, it is now putting its money into reality shows, comedies, documentaries and feature length films... Films such as the Oscar-winning A Separation were mostly funded by private individuals or foreign money. Falling state television viewing figures, particularly among young people, have convinced the guards it is time to deliver a more nuanced message. -Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Financial Times 02/14/20

How Months of Miscalculation Led the U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War

In late September, a plane carrying senior Iranian officials touched down in Abu Dhabi, the gleaming capital of the United Arab Emirates. The Middle East had witnessed a summer of violence, and a meeting with the Iranians was part of a quiet strategy by Emirati leaders to defuse the tension. The small but powerful Persian Gulf nation wanted to broker a separate peace - avoiding violence that could shatter its decades-long effort to present itself as a modern, stable oasis in a volatile region. -New York Times 02/14/20

PERFORMANCE: The Story of Nowruz comes to life in San Francisco in March 2020

The production "The Story of Nowruz" describes the unique celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of the Persian new year. From exciting and ancient Zoroastrian soul-cleansing rituals, to the good luck charm and beauty of the "Table of the Seven S's," the performance depicts traditions of inspiration, rebirth, renewal, and hope through traditional choreography, original scoring performed by a live 22-piece orchestra, and professional actors in a first-of-its-kind stage production. 02/13/20

Iran Election Campaign Starts With Thousands Barred From Standing

The weeklong campaigning for Iran's parliamentary elections kicked off with more than 7,000 candidates vying for the 290 seats in the legislature, state TV reported on February 13. The February 21 elections are widely seen as a contest between hard-liners and conservatives after most pro-reform and moderate candidates were disqualified. -RFE/RL 02/13/20

U.S. Grants Iraq Waiver To Buy Iranian Energy Supplies, But Sets Conditions

The United States has granted a 45-day waiver to allow Iraq to continue to buy gas and electricity from Iran, despite sanctions imposed by Washington targeting Tehran's energy sector. The U.S. State Department on February 12 said the waiver, which sets tough conditions, "ensures that Iraq is able to meet its short-term energy needs while it takes steps to reduce its dependence on Iranian energy imports." -RFE/RL 02/13/20

Iran's Economy Is Bleak. Its Stock Market Is Soaring.

He looked past Iran's cratering economy, ignored the unraveling nuclear deal and tuned out the bellicose threats of war from President Trump. Maciej Wojtal was focused on a mundane yet crucial question: Where were Iran's people going to buy their chocolate biscuits? Iranians were being forced to economize, trading lunch at kebab restaurants for cheap pleasures like sugary snacks. Mr. Wojtal, who runs an investment fund devoted to Iranian stocks, identified a company that was poised to benefit: Gorji Biscuit... -Peter S. Goodman, New York Times 02/13/20

Trump's Threat to Iran's Cultural Sites Hasn't Gone Away

Think about the cultural sites around the world that are important to you. For most Americans, these sites would include the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore, among others. Imagine if these sites were targeted and destroyed by our enemies, nations that decided to throw off the yokes of the laws of armed conflict and destroy sites that are a testament to American values. -Anisha Hindocha, Inkstick 02/13/20

Between Trump and Tehran, the Iranian people continue to suffer

The clerical government in Iran celebrates another anniversary this week. It's both an occasion for critics to call attention to the Islamic Republic's perpetual legitimacy crisis, and for neutral observers to puzzle over the revolutionary government's tenacity. Tehran's opponents are correct in pointing out that its legitimacy crisis is at its deepest since 2009. Yet, there is little to indicate that the Islamic Republic is about to fall - or that it will be replaced with a democratic system if it does. -Trita Parsi, Middle East Eye 02/13/20

The United Nations needs to get involved in the US-Iran standoff

The European Union has shown that it is unable to stand up to Donald Trump's bullying and unilateralism regarding the Iran nuclear deal and requires Russian and Chinese participation in implementing the United Nations' "Uniting for peace" resolution as a backdrop for negotiations between Iran and the U.S. The assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force by the U.S. took the Middle East to the brink of a new war.-Jalil Bayat, Responsible Statecraft 02/13/20

Commissioner: Officials overzealous in Iranian border stops

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan said Tuesday that border officials in Washington state "got a little overzealous" when they detained Iranian and Iranian-American travelers at the U.S.-Canada border last month. As many as 200 people of Iranian descent were held up for as long as 12 hours as they crossed the border from Canada into Washington state the weekend of Jan. 5-6, following a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general. -AP 02/12/20

Iran Moves to Silence Journalists, Activists Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

The intelligence arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is summoning journalists, raiding their homes and confiscating their electronic devices in a renewed campaign to silence criticism of state policies ahead of Iran's parliamentary elections later this month. "Muzzling journalists, detaining activists, and disqualifying parliamentary candidates will not silence dissent in Iran, as the recent protests have shown," said the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) Hadi Ghaemi. -CHRI 02/12/20

Trump's Iran Man Met With a Former Terror Group's Rep After Soleimani Strike

The Trump administration's top official overseeing Iran policy met with a representative of a controversial Iranian dissident group weeks after a U.S. strike killed Iran's top military leader. Brian Hook, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. Special Representative for Iran, met on January 31 with Robert G. Joseph, a former senior State official who now represents the National Council of Resistance of Iran - Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast 02/12/20

The 1979 Revolution: Unfinished Business In Iran

Iran turns 41 on Tuesday, give or take a few thousand years. As part of the official commemorations for the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, or what is known in Iran as "Ten Days of Dawn" (Dahe-ye Fajr), state television broadcasts archival footage from that period. The scenes and images are unimaginable the rest of the year. There are men with Western ties and women without Islamic hijabs. Secular housewives march in the streets alongside hezbollahi students. President Jimmy Carter toasts the Iranian monarch in Tehran, and Ayatollah Khomeini meets with American journalists in France. -Shervin Malekzadeh, Responsible Statecraft 02/12/20

Iranians Feel Strain of Turmoil and Sanctions

On a crisp winter's day the snow glistens on the mountains above Tehran, but the mood is as heavy as the pall of pollution that often shrouds Iran's capital. In a country weighed down by sanctions, shaken by protests and stressed by military tensions with the United States, many Tehranis struggle to hide their pessimism. -Globe Post 02/12/20

America held hostage

On January 4, a day after the United States assassinated Iranian military General Qassem Soleimani, US President Donald Trump warned that if Iran retaliated, he would hit 52 Iranian sites. The targets represented the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days in November 1979. The Iran hostage crisis influences Iranian and US politics to this day. An open re-examination of it could help us understand how respect for US constitutional law has been degraded in the decades since. -David Marks, Al Jazeera 02/12/20

Iranian-Americans in the Age of Trump, the Travel Ban, and the Threat of War

I was born and raised in the United States to Iranian parents and, like many children of immigrants, grew up with a sense of alienation from my fellow Americans. Though raised in the most populace location of the Iranian diaspora in Southern California, my hyphenated identity seemed to be in conflict with itself as Iran was consistently vilified in U.S. media and politics. But rather than attempt to hide my identity, I became determined to move beyond the surface politics to understand more about Iran and, ultimately, to try to bridge the divide between my country of heritage and the country I called home. -Assal Rad, Common Dreams 02/11/20

Iran Says U.S. Killing Of Soleimani Weakens Fight Against Islamic State

A high-ranking Iranian military commander who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last month had sought to bring stability to the Middle East, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on February 10. "Commander [Qasem] Soleimani was a man who was pursuing stability and calm in the region," Rohani said in a speech broadcast live on state television. -RFE/RL 02/11/20

On 41st Anniversary, has Trump's Belligerence Strengthened the Iranian Government?

On February 11, 2020, the Islamic Republic of Iran marks the 41st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. Thus, it has defied the Trump administration's prediction of its demise for two years beyond its allotted time...The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his neocon allies have tried very hard to fulfill those wishes and to bring about regime change in Iran before its 40th anniversary. -Farhang Jahanpour, Juan Cole 02/11/20

Trump's 'Maximum Pressure' on Iran Exposes How Little the U.S. has Done for Iraq's Economy

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, Iraqi President Bahram Saleh addressed the intensifying competition between the United States and Iran that was bringing his country to the edge of an abyss. He stated that it is not in Iraq's interest to "choose to ally with one side at the expense of others, as long as both respect our sovereignty and independence." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Responsible Statecraft 02/11/20

Foreign arrivals in Iran hits 8 million in 10 months: Tourism Minister

Some eight million foreign nationals have visited Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2019) despite [U.S.] sanctions and a sharp decline in flights by some foreign airlines, tourism minister has said. "Over the past couple of months, [the tourism sector of] Iran has been suffering from sanctions and decrease in the number of flights by foreign airlines, however, the Islamic Republic has played host to some eight million foreign travelers during the first ten months of the year," Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Wednesday 02/10/20

Absence of US sanctions on Iran's healthcare is 'a lie'

Washington claims imports of medicine are exempted, but the ground reality says the opposite, as tens of thousands of Iranians in need of emergency medical care are slowly inching towards death. A few months ago, Zahra, a 48-year-old Iranian woman living in the northeastern city of Mashhad, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her disease is one of the most common cancers in Iran where patients have for years been relying on imported drugs for medical treatment... -Maysam Bizaer, TRTWorld 02/10/20

Iranian-Israeli play explores human connections in wartime

An Israeli and an Iranian, performing side by side in a play about war. Sahand Sahebdivani, born in Iran, and Raphael Rodan, raised in Israel play versions of themselves. The piece underlining what unites rather than divides. "Once you start to work as someone with Iranian background and someone with an Israeli background you see that there are so many points of connection, and so many ways in which we can go on humanistic and artistic level," says Sahand. -Jack Parrock, Euronews 02/10/20

"Stop Trying to Destroy Me and My Family": Writes Iranian American Businessman from Tehran's Evin Prison

In a letter from Evin Prison in Tehran where he has been held since October 2015, Iranian American businessman Siamak Namazi asked Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi why his requests for furlough have been repeatedly denied while those around him continue to be allowed to go on temporary leave. "For the past four years, while enduring punishment for a crime I did not commit, I have been trying to restore my rights with the help of almighty God within the laws of our beloved country," wrote Namazi in a letter that was published in Persian on February 7, 2020 02/9/20

SAIPA, MAPNA ink MOU for mass production of Iran's first electric car

Iran's MAPNA Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the country's second-biggest auto-maker SAIPA Group for mass production of the country's first electric vehicle, IRIB reported. Based on the MOU, SAIPA Group and MAPNA will collaborate on the design, prototyping, testing, commercialization, and production of new electric vehicles, SAIPA Group's news portal reported. 02/9/20

Professor Of Cultural Anthropology Uses Her Work For Iranian Activism

Professor of cultural anthropology at UCI Roxanne Varzi is making her mark on the world of Iranian activism through her art and educational pursuits. In addition to being a UCI professor, Varzi is a writer, filmmaker and multimedia artist. Much of her work focuses on her Iranian identity and strives to educate others about Iranian culture and issues to break down the "Us versus Them" mentality that furthers the gap of understanding between cultures, most poignantly the U.S. and Iran. -Tatum Larsen, UC Irvine 02/9/20

End of the line for Iran's bird-watching paradise?

Miankaleh international wetland has recently witnessed the death of over 13,000 migratory birds. Although veterinary organization announced that the birds have been killed due to the "botulinum toxin", some environmentalists believe that water pollution and other factors that have not yet been investigated have caused unprecedented bird mortality in the area. -Faranak Bakhtiari 02/7/20

Sanctions and domestic constraints cripple Iran's startups

The Iranian startup ecosystem is deteriorating after a boomlet lasting from 2012 - 2016 as sanctions and domestic restrictions create new challenges and force businesses abroad. The startup environment started to take a structured shape in Iran from 2012 - 2013 thanks to the initiatives taken by a number of universities, visionary individuals and the return of foreign-educated Iranians and the diaspora. -Mohsen Tavakol, Atlantic Council 02/7/20

The Amazing Windcatchers of Yazd: Talk by Dr Susan Roaf - March 4, 2020 in London

We take so much for granted when we look only at the visible structures of buildings, but windcatchers demonstrate that their invisible attributes may often be more important. Their story in Yazd reaches out in many directions, showing how one apparently simple design feature links us to many aspects of the physical, historic and political past of the whole region. 02/6/20

Pars Equality Center CY 2019 Achievements

Pars Equality Center's mission is to catalyze social, civic and economic integration of immigrants from Persian-speaking and other countries into American society. As a community-based social and legal services organization, Pars Equality Center is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to helping the Iranian-American and other Persian-speaking communities realize their full potential as informed, self-reliant, and responsible members of the American society. 02/5/20

Iran finds 3 editors guilty of defamation and spreading false news

Iranian authorities should immediately drop the false news and defamation charges against the editors of three news outlets, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Yesterday, Branch 6 of Tehran's Media Court, which is under the judiciary, found three local editors-in-chief--of the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), the Bultannews news website, and the energy news website NeftEMA--guilty of "spreading false news and defamation," according to reports by the official judicial news agency Mizan.. 02/5/20

Iranian tech entrepreneurs use adversity to disrupt business

Amsterdam-based medtech founders, Navid Ardakanian & Shayan Meydanshahi reveal how struggling under sanctions secured their later success in Europe. Both founders settled in the Netherlands to start Fusedbone a company enabling the production of on-location patient-specific implants and medical devices using modified 3D printing technology. They participated in the Amsterdam-based Antler program, which is an early-stage venture capital firm and startup generator. -NL Times 02/5/20

Two Iranian Students Heading To Boston Colleges Challenge Removal From U.S.

Two of at least 10 Iranian college students who have been denied entry since August to study in the United States have filed civil rights complaints with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), saying they were wrongfully deported and mistreated by federal officials at Boston's Logan International Airport. Separate complaints were filed with requests for the agency to investigate the conduct of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials who the two said illegally denied them entry into the country. 02/4/20

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" wins grand prize at Sundance Film Festival

"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness" directed by Iran's Masud Bakhshi received the "World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic" award at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Saturday February 1st, 2010. Filmmaker Massoud Bahkshi brings aesthetic energy and dramatic intensity to a story that unfolds over a few hours and almost entirely within the studio. 02/3/20

Pir-e Shaliar ancient Iranian festival: Celebrating abundance, good fortune

Pir-e Shaliar is an ancient annual ceremony, celebrating abundance and good fortune since centuries ago in Uraman Takht rural district, Kordestan province, western Iran. Pir-e Shaliar, a legendary folk figure for Iranian Kurds, is warmly remembered for his allegedly magical healing qualities and mojo that locals believe could populate the land with livestock and crops in times of trouble. The figure is associated with the pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian times. Within its great ethnical diversity, religious plurality, and cultural differences, the Iranian society considers the wedding ritual and its related ceremonies and customs as one of the most important pillars of Persian culture.. 02/3/20

Winner of the Farhang Foundation's 2020 Nowruz Banner Design Competition: Setareh Feylizadeh

This year's winning design was awarded to Iranian artist Setareh Feylizadeh from Paris, France. "Participating in a competition such as this, especially one which connects us to our roots, cultures, and traditions, has been so rewarding." said Feylizadeh. "The ultimate prize of winning this competition is the chance to connect with another community of Persians in another part of the world by spreading the message of Nowruz, which bonds us together and brings us closer to one another. 01/24/20

Iranian Female Sprinter Farzaneh Fasihi Dreams Of Reaching Olympics

Female sprinter Farzaneh Fasihi, dubbed the Wind Girl, comes close to fulfilling her dream of reaching the Olympic Games. Fasihi has recently secured her place at the 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships, running 7.29 second time in the 60 meters event. She has become the first Iranian woman to participate at the World Athletics Indoor Championships. 01/21/20

Sanctions, Scarcity, and the Depressing Reality of Iranian Healthcare

When I visited Iran this summer, severe panic attacks, depression, and anxiety-longstanding byproducts of post-traumatic stress disorder-caused me to seek out a trauma therapist. After weeks of contacting Iranian pharmacies, hospitals, charities, and relief organizations, my prescriptions for Zoloft, Xanax, Ativan, and Clonazepam remained unfilled. Since the United States exited the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA) and imposed new sanctions, this kind of shortage has become commonplace. -Younes Mahmoudieh 01/18/20

2020: Millennium of Persian Poet Ferdowsi

Anniversaries are important; they celebrate legacies and signify presence and continuity. This year, 2020, marks the 1000th anniversary of Ferdowsi's death. This renowned Persian poet died at age 81 in 1020, more than five centuries before Shakespeare was born. Ferdowsi has not only endured for a thousand years but has also defined the very identity and language of his own country - Iran. This is, indeed, a great achievement for a poet or for any person, for that matter. -Rasoul Shams 01/13/20

Popli Khalatbari Charitable Foundation's Autumn/Winter Newsletter 2019

First of all, we would like to thank you for your generosity and dedication to the Foundation, which have made it possible for us to continue our work of bringing light to disadvantaged children and communities. In this edition of the newsletter, we would like to update you on the Bachehaye Ma family and also bring your attention to two new initiatives: The Kermanshah Water Project and the expanded reach of the Popli Football Club. 12/17/19



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last updated on Mon Feb 24 10:38:31 EST 2020