Khordad 18 1399 - June 07 2020
Managing director of Iranian news agency convicted on false news charges

On May 31, 2020, Branch 6 of Tehran's Media Court convicted Ali Motaghian, the managing director of the semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), on charges of "spreading false news," according to a report by the news agency. CPJ could not determine what sentence Motaghian received or whether he is in custody. The semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency reported that the court determined he was not eligible for a reduced sentence, but did not specify the sentence he received. 6/5/20

US Navy veteran detained in Iran has been released after deal with Tehran

Michael White, an American detained in Iran, was released on Thursday after more than a year in custody in a deal with Tehran. His mother, Joanne White, confirmed in a statement that he has been freed, saying "the nightmare is over." As part of the deal to free Michael White, the US agreed to release Matteo Taerri, also known as Majid Taheri, an Iranian American doctor who had violated US sanctions against Iran, according to a US official. -CNN 6/5/20

Iran cases hit record high in second wave of coronavirus

Iran is reluctantly confronting the possibility of a renewed political crisis as well as a health one after the latest figures showed the number of new coronavirus infections at a record high. The government appeared to have brought the virus under control a month ago, but a second wave of the virus has steadily been gathering pace. According to data released by the health ministry on Thursday there were 3,574 confirmed new infections in 24 hours - an increase of 440 on the previous day. -Guardian 6/5/20

Gruesome Death Of Iranian Teenager Shows Shame Of 'Honor' Killings

Romina was only 14-years-old when she was reportedly beheaded by her father in a horrific case of a so-called "honor" killing that has shocked Iran. Reza Ashrafi, her dad, reportedly failed to convince Romina's mother to force their daughter to commit suicide, so he decapitated her with a sickle as she slept at the family home. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 6/5/20

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree review - magic realism in Iran

Revolutionary Guards pull a family off the road to check for forbidden items in their silver Buick; they find neither alcohol nor music but Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. After passing the copy around, they conclude that "politically, it was not a dangerous book". The censors have been less forgiving of Shokoofeh Azar's first novel for adults, which was banned in Iran, though many copies have been printed underground. It is now on the shortlist for the 2020 International Booker prize - a first for fiction translated from Farsi. -Maya Jaggi, Guardian 6/5/20

Israel and Iran Just Showed Us the Future of Cyberwar With Their Unusual Attacks

In late April, Israeli media reported on a possible cyberattack on several water and sewage treatment facilities around the country. Israel's national water agency initially spoke of a technical malfunction, but later acknowledged it was a cyberstrike...Then, on May 9, a cyberattack targeted the computer systems at Iran's busiest hub for maritime trade, Shahid Rajaee Port in Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz. -Foreign Policy 6/5/20

Analysis: How Saudi Arabia and Iran became rivals

So, contemporary Saudi Arabia sees itself as the leader of the Muslim world ... and then along comes Iran with a very different idea of what the Muslim world should be. Iran firmly believes that political currents in the Muslim world need to be viewed as forces of change in a region long exploited by the US and other Western powers. Naturally, as a Shia Muslim nation it backs other Shia Muslim groups, but also vocally throws its weight behind the Palestinian cause. -Imran Khan, Al Jazeera 6/5/20

Iran President Says Coronavirus Restrictions To Be Restored If Warnings Not Heeded

President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said restrictions will be restored if warnings are not heeded and the coronavirus outbreak peaks again. "People and businesses must take officials' warnings very seriously that there will be another peak if regulations and social distancing are not observed," Rouhani said and warned that restrictions will be restored wherever the virus spreads quickly. 6/4/20

Reza Goodary, known as the 'Persian Leopard' eagerly discusses his martial arts career

Mohammadreza Goodary (also called Reza Goodary) has a storied martial arts career behind him and was exposed to the sport at the young age of 7. Since then Reza has competed in hundreds of matches in several different disciplines and became the first fighter from Iran who's gotten international titles for the martial arts of Karate, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiujitsu. Reza kindly answered some questions for us so you can learn a little bit more about him. -Sunrise News 6/4/20

Politics hinder growth in Iran's poultry sector

Iran could be a poultry production power house, with Iranian poultry farmers having the potential to boost exports to 500,000 tons of meat per year, but sanctions and national politics remain an invincible obstacle on this path. Recently this culminated in birds being killed due to lack of feedstuffs entering the country. -Poultry World 6/4/20

The legacy of the Iraq sanctions regime is alive and well in US foreign policy today

The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council, from 1990 to 2003, may well lay claim to be the worst humanitarian catastrophe ever imposed in the name of global governance. The unconscionable human damage done by those sanctions is routinely dismissed as the unintended consequence of a well-intentioned policy from the past, which has since given way to more nuanced and humane measures. But in fact, the Iraq sanctions program is the template for the systemic, devastating sanctions we see in place today applied in a subtler and more circuitous form - although Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran is neither subtle nor circuitous. -Joy Gordon, Responsible Statecraft 6/4/20

Iran turns to bonds to solve budget crisis

The Iranian government opted in mid May to issue domestic bonds to fill the enormous budget deficit that is expected in the current year. The plan is to sell a total of 2,400 trillion rials in new bonds (equal to about $13.5 billion at the free market rate). Incidentally, the current state budget already included the issuance of 900 trillion rials in domestic bonds and the government plans to secure the approval for an additional 1,500 trillion from the Economic Coordination Council to use the same tool to fill the expected budget deficit. Yet what the overall impact will this policy have on the country's economy? -Bijan Khajehpour, Al Monitor 6/4/20

Iran signs new deal with Iraq for export of electricity

Iran and Iraq have agreed on a two-year contract for supply of Iranian electricity to the Arab country as the neighbors keep deepening energy ties despite American sanctions that forbid such exchanges. Iranian state-news agency IRNA said late on Wednesday that Iran's Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian and Iraqi minister of electricity Majid Mahdi Hantoush had signed a two-year contract for export of Iranian electricity to Iraq. -Press TV 6/4/20

Photos: Aladaghlar (Rainbow) Mountains in Iran

If you are looking for a natural place to be amazed, you should take a trip to Zanjan Province in Iran and see the colorful Aladaghlar Mountains. ''Ala'' in Azeri Turkish language means colorful and ''Dag'' means mountain. The Aladaglar rainbow mountains and hills are tucked into the northwest of Iran, 25 kilometers in the northeast of Tabriz between Ahar and Khajeh. Along the road of Ahar-Tabriz, the landscape begins to switch step by step. -Amin Rahmani 6/3/20

My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora

The Iranian revolution of 1979 was a watershed moment in global history, but also created a massive upheaval in the lives of Iranians, many of which left their native country in its aftermath. Despite the caricatured images of the Middle East and Iran in the United States, Iran is home to a diverse population of varied peoples and stories. As such, Iranians who have immigrated to the U.S. over the course of several decades, reflect a wide-range of experiences. -NIAC 6/3/20

5-Richter quake jolts western Iran

An earthquake measuring 5 on the Richter scale rocked Saleh Abad, Mehran, western Iran. According to the Seismological Center of the Geophysics Institute of Tehran University, the earthquake occurred at 12:46 hours local time (09:11 GMT) and at the depth of 11 km underground. 6/3/20

Rouhani: EU must take stand against illegal US moves against Iran

President Hassan Rouhani has once again censured the unilateral American sanctions that are disrupting imports of medical supplies into Iran, renewing a call for the European Union to take a stand against such illegal US moves. "The Americans have taken the health of 83 million Iranians hostage by imposing cruel sanctions [on them] and preventing the transfer of medicine and essentials to Iran" at a difficult time when a coronavirus outbreak has hit the country, Rouhani said in a phone conversation with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto on Tuesday. 6/3/20

Iranian Scientist Arrives Home After Being Released From U.S. Custody

An Iranian scientist who had been detained in the United States has landed in his homeland amid denials from both countries that his release is part of a prisoner swap. Sirous Asgari, a materials science professor at Tehran's Sharif University of Technology, arrived in Iran on June 3, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported. 6/3/20

Huawei hid business operation in Iran after Reuters reported links to CFO

China's Huawei Technologies acted to cover up its relationship with a firm that had tried to sell prohibited U.S. computer gear to Iran, after Reuters in 2013 reported deep links between the firm and the telecom-equipment giant's chief financial officer, newly obtained internal Huawei documents show. -Reuters 6/3/20

Regional initiative for locust infestation

A trilateral plan among Iran, Pakistan and India is being formulated to address locust swarm infestations that devour crops and threaten the livelihood and sustenance in the region, already struggling with coronavirus pandemic. The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a single swarm covering one square kilometer can contain up to 80 million locusts. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said on Friday there was an increased risk along both sides of India-Pakistan border. 6/2/20

Women's Boxing Banned In Iran's Khuzestan Province

Khuzestan has become Iran's first province to officially ban women's boxing. "Any activity in women's boxing is prohibited in the province," the head of Khuzestan's boxing board, Hamid Zanganehmanesh, said on May 31, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency. Referring to a recent letter from the president of the Iranian boxing federation, Zanganehmanesh said all women's boxing activities were prohibited in Khuzestan, including coaching, training, and theory classes. 6/2/20

The true objectives of Trump's counterproductive foreign policy

What do human rights in Hong Kong and nuclear reactors in Iran have in common? Answer: both have been the subject of recent announcements by the Trump administration that run directly and obviously counter to the very objectives that ostensibly were the purpose of the moves. President Trump's statement following Beijing's imposition on Hong Kong of mainland security strictures correctly described China's action as a "tragedy for the people of Hong Kong" and a blow against Hong Kong's status as a prosperous and free society. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 6/2/20

Iranian lawmaker says 230 killed in November protests

An Iranian lawmaker said Monday that 230 people were killed in November's anti-government protests in Iran, the official news agency reported. This is the first time a prominent Iranian lawmaker has given a death toll figure for November's protests. The unrest was the most widespread and violent Iran had seen since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. -AP 6/2/20

Iran's rapid rise in Covid-19 cases stokes fears of second wave

Fears that Iran is in the grip of a second wave of coronavirus have been reinforced, with the health ministry saying 3,000 new cases were recorded in 24 hours - the highest figure for two months. The Islamic Republic, one of the worst-hit countries in the Middle East, started easing its lockdown in April after a drop in deaths. -Guardian 6/2/20

Venezuelan President Says He Will Visit Iran To Sign Energy Agreements

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he will visit Iran shortly to sign cooperation agreements in energy and other sectors after Iran sent five fuel tankers to the South American country. "I am obliged to go to personally thank the people," Maduro said on June 1 in an address broadcast on state television. He did not provide a date for his visit to the Islamic Republic. -RFE/RL 6/2/20

Wildfire rage in southwest Iran

Wildfire broke out on Thursday evening in several protected areas in the provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr, Lorestan, Kohgiluyeh, and Boyer-Ahmad, including Khaeez protected area. The stretch, measuring 28,000 hectares, is one of the main habitats for wild goats. Being impassable has made any fire-fighting operation almost impossible and only helicopters could reach the area. 6/1/20

Team Trump's new move on Iran puts the nuclear deal in jeopardy and risks a new Middle East nuclear crisis

The Trump administration's policy toward Iran reached a new level of recklessness when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that Washington would no longer waive sanctions for certain cooperative projects outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. With this move, it is increasingly clear that the Trump administration is bent on killing the multilateral nuclear accord and ensuring that there is no agreement for a future U.S. administration to return to, irrespective of the consequences for nonproliferation, regional stability, and U.S. credibility. -Kelsey Davenport, Responsible Statecraft 6/1/20

Ali Daei: The Story of the Iranian who Scored 109 International Goals

Born in Ardabil, Iran in 1969, Ali Daei is Iran's most decorated footballer. No footballer, past or present, has been able to touch his record. From 1993 until his retirement in 2007, Daei plundered an astonishing 109 goals for his country, making him the only player to break the century mark at international level. -Sports Nova 6/1/20

Goldman's Eccentric Couch-Surfing Trader Plans a Credit Fund

Not many Goldman Sachs partners seek out citizenship in a tiny Caribbean island to speed through airports. Ali Meli wasn't your typical Goldman partner. Couch-surfing inside the investment bank, an almost $US10 million ($15 million) pay cheque as a junior trader and clashing with peers are all parts of the legend of Meli, described by colleagues as an unlikely figure in Wall Street's most elite club: Abrasive but brilliant, subversive but successful, and above all one of its most "eccentric" figures. -Sridhar Natarajan, Bloomberg 6/1/20

Iran ready to ship more fuel to Venezuela despite US 'threats'

Iran has said it will continue fuel shipments to Venezuela if Caracas requests more supplies, despite criticism from the United States of trade between the two nations, both under US sanctions. "Iran practices its free trade rights with Venezuela, and we are ready to send more ships if Caracas demands more supplies from Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told a weekly news conference broadcast live on state television on Monday. -Al Jazeera 6/1/20

Speaker: Iran's new parliament views talks with US 'harmful'

Iran's newly-formed parliament deems any negotiations with the United States as harmful, its speaker Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf said in his first main speech at the chamber on Sunday. Qalibaf, a former commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)'s air force, said the new parliament's agenda is to complete Iran's revenge for the US assassination of General Qassem Soleimani. -Press TV 6/1/20

Who Are the Secret Puppet-Masters Behind Trump's War on Iran?

On May 6th, President Trump vetoed a war powers bill specifying that he must ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iran. Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign of deadly sanctions and threats of war against Iran has seen no let-up, even as the U.S., Iran and the whole world desperately need to set aside our conflicts to face down the common danger of the Covid-19 pandemic. -Medea Benjamin, Nicolas J.S. Davies, Common Dreams 5/29/20

Face mask paintings depict Shahnameh character fighting coronavirus monster

Ferdowsi's masterpiece Shahnameh and its seven adventures have been the source of inspiration for Iranian graphic designer Yazdan Saadi's new collection of paintings on face masks, which depict the mythical Iranian hero Rustam fighting coronavirus monsters. "I have actually been inspired by the Shahnameh. The reason is that book is one of the oldest and biggest sources of epic Persian stories in the world, and for Iranians it is the best source filled with stories and wisdom for living," Saadi told the Tehran Times in an interview on Tuesday. -Manijeh Rezapoor 5/29/20

13 Organizations to DNC: Support JCPOA Reentry

NIAC Action and a dozen other organizations - including Foreign Policy for America, J Street, MoveOn, Our Revolution and Truman Center for National Policy - sent a letter jointly calling on the Democratic National Committee to support an unequivocal U.S. return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, in the Party's 2020 Democratic Platform. While there may be divisions on some issues within the Democratic Party between the center and the left, the breadth of organizations backing this letter demonstrates a political consensus on this key foreign policy issue. 5/29/20

Does Trump Want Iran to Try to Go Nuclear?

Despite a pandemic, a looming cold war with China, and the harshest economic crisis since the Great Depression, President Donald Trump still has room on his plate for provoking a war with Iran. That is the only plausible interpretation of his decision, reported by the Washington Post this week, to end the sanction waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European companies to do work at Iranian nuclear sites. -Fred Kaplan, Slate 5/29/20

The Iranian refugee writing songs of love from his 'luxury torture cell'

Moz Azimi's friend was killed on Manus Island in 2014. Seven years later, he is still in detention with the threat of Covid-19, and nothing but music to give him hope -Ben Doherty, Guardian 5/29/20

Mystery Submarine May Reveal A Major New Capability For Iran

It was only a matter of time before this happened. A new vessel, shown in public for the first time this week, is either a very small submarine or a very large Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle (UUV). It appears to be the latter. If correct, this will add a new dimension to Iran's systematic warfare capability. It will also mean that Iran joins an elite club with only the U.S. Navy and Britain's Royal Navy having such large UUVs. -H I Sutton, Forbes 5/29/20

Iran's Rohani Calls For Stricter Laws On 'Honor Killings' After Beheading Of 13-Year-Old Girl

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has called for harsher laws to tackle so-called "honor killings" after the particularly shocking slaying of a teenage girl, allegedly by her father, prompted a nationwide outcry. Rohani on May 27 pushed for the speedy adoption of relevant bills, some which have apparently circulated for years among various Iranian decision-making bodies without any tangible results. The call comes after 13-year-old Romina Ashrafi was killed last week in Hovigh, some 320 kilometers northwest of Tehran. 5/28/20

U.S. Ends Sanctions Waivers On Iran's Civilian Nuclear Program

The United States will end sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European firms to carry out civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran, effectively scrapping the last remnants of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But critics of the Trump administration say that its policy of "maximum pressure" has failed to convince Iran to negotiate a "better deal." Instead, the strategy is to completely eliminate the nuclear accord, making it harder for other signatories or a future president to save the JCPOA. 5/28/20

Photos: Newly hatched Hawksbill turtles crawl into Persian Gulf

A group of Hawksbill baby sea turtles, hatched out on Tuesday morning in the southern Iranian Qeshm Island, crawl clumsily into the Persian Gulf to swim out to the free waters. The Persian Gulf islands of Shidvar, Nakhiloo, Kish, and Qeshm are four conservation sites for hawksbill sea turtles in Iran. -Asghar Besharati, Mehr 5/28/20

Restrictions Keep Iranian Photographer Stuck In Orange County

Sia Yazdanfar remains focused on getting back home to Iran. The photographer had hoped to return most recently in March. "It's not a question of whether I feel stuck here. I am stuck here now," he says. Yazdanfar, 49, used to live in Orange County and returned last year to open up galleries, showcasing pictures of his motherland. -Spectrum News 5/28/20

Real and imagined problems of the Middle Eastern arms trade

One of the latest steps in the Trump administration's never-ending pressure campaign on Iran is its attempt to extend a United Nations-imposed embargo prohibiting the export to or import from Iran of conventional arms. At a rhetorical level, the administration's pitch is easy to make - no American politician ever lost votes by arguing against arms going to Iran. But the administration says nothing about the background and context of the embargo, which it would if it really were concerned about arms and insecurity in the Middle East. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 5/28/20

I Belong In This Country, But The Census Doesn't Recognize That

A couple weeks ago, my friend sent me a TikTok of someone ranting about whether they should be considered a person of color as a Middle Easterner. Her text read something along the lines of, "I feel like this is you in a nutshell." I laughed, knowing full well that I've shared the same gripes with her countless times. I also instinctively looked over at the U.S. census postcard collecting dust and cat hair on the floor of my foyer and cringed. -Nicki Ghafari, Huffington Post 5/27/20

Second Iranian Oil Tanker Arrives At Venezuela's Largest Refinery

A second Iranian tanker carrying gasoline and oil derivatives has arrived at crisis-stricken Venezuela's main oil refinery, amid escalating tensions between Washington and the two U.S.-sanctioned countries. The Forest docked at the Paraguana refinery complex in northwest Falcon state on May 26, Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami wrote on Twitter, also sharing photos of the vessel at the dock. 5/27/20

Iranian skater Mohammad Nemati dies of Covid-19

Iran national skate team member Mohammad Nemati died of Coronavirus on Tuesday. He has died at the age of 20 in his hometown Mashhad. According to Iran's Health Ministry as of Wednesday the number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 141,591 with the death toll standing at 7,564. 5/27/20

Rewriting Hafez: Re-theorizing Untranslatability in Persian Poetry

Near Eastern thinkers, perhaps as early as al-Jaḥiẓ, the eighth century Arab writer and polemicist, have commented on the problem of literary translation, particularly concerning poetry. While al-Jaḥiẓ points to broad challenges encountered in translating lyrical poetry, he gives more weight to translation as an end result, characterized by various layers of loss consequent to this linguistic transfer. One implication of reading translation merely as a product is to indict translation as an intellectual enterprise-as often has been done-and place it within the reductionist model of "betrayal" versus "faithfulness." -Aria Fani, Ajam 5/27/20

The strategic implications of the brewing Iran arms embargo crisis

In the last few weeks, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed a new initiative to extend the arms embargo on Iran. According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted following the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, United Nations restrictions on conventional arms sales to Iran would expire after five years, on October 18, 2020. Washington plans to claim that it legally remains a participant state in the JCPOA, which President Donald Trump officially withdrew from in May 2018... -Gawdat Bahgat, Responsible Statecraft 5/27/20

Shardad Rohani performing from Tehran's Roudaki Hall

In celebration of Maestro Shardad Rohani's upcoming birthday on May 27, Farhang Foundation is proud to present an exclusive world premiere performance by the Maestro performing his much celebrated composition of Dance of Spring, exclusively for us from Tehran's Roudaki Hall (aka Vahdat Hall), home of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra. 5/26/20

Iran-China trade falls 40% in first 4 months of 2020 yr/yr

Based on the data released by the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China, Iranian imports from the Asian country reached $2.92 billion in the January-April period, indicating a three percent rise compared to the same time span in 2019. The exports to China, however, fell 61 percent to stand at $2.34 billion. 5/26/20

PHOTOS: Harvesting damask rose in N. Khorasan province

Farmers in Iran's northeastern North Khorasan province have started harvesting damask rose, a widely cultivated flower throughout the country. The rose water produced from damask roses is applied in pharmaceutical and perfumery industries. -Maryam Davarnia, Mehr 5/26/20

Iranians Mark End Of Ramadan As Society Gradually Reopening

Many Iranians began cautious celebrations to mark the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan as the country took further steps to reopen amid its ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Iranian media said Eid al-Fitr prayers were conducted in 110 mosques in the capital, Tehran, on May 24 under what official Iranian outlet Press TV described as "strict health protocols" that included social distancing. 5/25/20

Petroglyphs hold clues to 14,000 years of human life in Iran

Archaeologists have found prehistoric rock drawings near Natanz in central Iran which give clues about the rise of human presence that is rooted in 14,000 years of history. Existing findings prove that human life goes back to 6,000 years in the region. 5/25/20

COVID-19: Iran Reopens Religious Shrines After Two Months

Iran has reopened its religious shrines, some two months after closing them due to the Middle East's deadliest coronavirus outbreak. The shrines were reopened on May 25 amid a gradual easing of restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic, which has killed 7,451 people and infected over 137,000, according to official figures. Real numbers are believed to be significantly higher. 5/25/20

Iranian spending spree on arms unlikely if UN embargo expires

One of the most important outcomes of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - signed in 2015 between the U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Iran - is the planned expiration of a U.N. arms embargo imposed on the Islamic Republic. The first major sanctions on Iran were adopted by the U.N. Security Council in March 2007, and reinforced in June 2010 with a U.N. embargo on the export of most major conventional weapons to Iran. -Robert Czulda, Responsible Statecraft 5/25/20

Brown Album by Porochista Khakpour review: a question of self-discovery

New York-based Khakpour is the author of two novels, Sons and Other Flammable Objects (2007) and The Last Illusion (2014), and a memoir about illness, Sick (2014). Brown Album brings together a number of her autobiographical essays about being an Iranian American in the 21st century, which first appeared in publications such as the New York Times and Salon. They tell a fairly typical first-generation immigrant story of identity confusion and gradual self-discovery. -Houman Barekat, Guardian 5/22/20

Detained Iranian Lawyer's Husband Criticizes Iran's Refusal to Furlough Her

The husband of one of Iran's most prominent jailed dissidents has strongly criticized authorities for not furloughing her from a coronavirus-plagued prison where he says her health is in danger. In a Thursday phone interview with VOA Persian from Tehran, Reza Khandan faulted the Iranian government for temporarily freeing thousands of common criminals from jails since late February in part to protect them from the virus, while refusing to do the same for dissidents such as his wife, Nasrin Sotoudeh. -VOA 5/22/20

Iran and the US 'meet' again over Afghanistan

In an administration short on diplomatic talent, Zalmay Khalilzad stands out. His title is US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation and he is charged with extricating the United States' military presence in that country. Tangentially, Khalilzad's deep background as a multilingual former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations-and his nature as an inveterate schmoozer-have put him in a position to revive US diplomatic engagement with Iran and to help de-escalate what had been a dangerous rise in tensions. -Barbara Slavin, Atlantic Council 5/22/20

From Iran to the US: Songs in times of war and coronavirus

I stand behind the French glass doors to the Juliet balcony of our New York apartment. Outside, the low sun signals its impending shift to another part of the globe and three storeys below a couple walks on the street holding disposable coffee cups, as though it is a normal day. In many ways it is a day like any other... -Sara Goudarzi, Al Jazeera 5/22/20

Where the Small Things Are: Thoughts on Writing Revolutions and their Histories

Somewhere on the border between Oman and Yemen lies the body of Rafat Afraz. Rafat had been a school administrator at the Refah school for girls in Tehran, a site of Islamic revolutionary activism in the early 70s and the temporary headquarters of the Khomeini-led revolutionary forces in 1979. Rafat and her younger sister Mahbubeh[1] joined the Sazman-i Mujahedin-i Khalq (the People's Mujahedin Organization or Mujahedin) in 1970, a guerilla organization that at its moment of founding was, simply put, a "combination of Islam and Marxism." -Naghmeh Sohrabi, Jadaliyya 5/22/20

Iran's population growth drops to less than 1% for first time

The country's population growth rate has decreased to less than one percent for the first time over the past four decades, Seyed Hamed Barakati, deputy health minister for family and school population has said. The marriage rate in the country has dropped by 40 percent since 10 years ago, which is an alarm that threatens the country's future in all economic, social and even security dimensions, he lamented. 5/21/20

Iranian journalist Nejat Bahrami begins 1-year jail term

On May 5, Bahrami, a freelance columnist who has written for publications including the Iran Daily and Etemad newspapers and the weekly Tejarat-e Farda and Seda magazines, wrote on Twitter that he had received a written notice from the judiciary summoning him to prison within five days. -Committee to Protect Journalists 5/21/20

Caspian Sea water level sinks to lowest in 25 years

The Caspian Sea water level has reached its lowest level since 1995, mainly because of a recent drop in the water level of the Volga River, which supplies most of the sea's water, by about 22 percent. In 2019, the average water level stood at -27.18 meters, showing 13 centimeters decrease compared to the year before, ISNA reported. 5/21/20

Bani Adam (Children of Adam): World musicians release solidarity music video during pandemic

A music video inspired by Persian poet Sadi's famous poem "The Sons of Adam Are Limbs of Each Other" has been released with the voice of Iranian vocalist Alireza Qorbani in collaboration with several Italian singers and overseas musicians during the pandemic. The music video has been released to promote the message of peace and friendship, the Italian theater and cinema actress Pamela Villoresi has said in an introduction to the music video. 5/20/20

107 Iranian medical staff have died in coronavirus battle

"We are gathering precise data from all over the country in order to know how many people from among medical staff have been infected with the coronavirus or lost their lives in fighting the virus. So far, 792 individuals have been infected and 107 dear colleagues have lost their lives. Let's pray for the patients," Hossein Kermanpour wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday. 5/20/20

Finally, a Stage for Female Composers From Iran

Growing up in Iran, the composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh was surrounded by the sounds of traditional Persian instruments like the santour and tar. She found herself, however, drawn to the piano. But one element remained consistent across traditions: Virtually all the music was composed by men... Together with her fellow Iranian composers Anahita Abbasi, 35, and Aida Shirazi, 33, Ms. Nourbakhsh set out to change that. In 2017, they founded the Iranian Female Composers Association, known as I.F.C.A., which is dedicated to supporting female composers from Iran through programming, commissioning and mentorship. -Ryan Ebright, New York Times 5/19/20

Iranian Parkour Athlete Reportedly Detained After Posting Romantic Instagram Photos

Iranian parkour athlete and photographer Alireza Japalaghy has been detained, his brother said on May 18. Japalaghy reportedly said in a video posted before his arrest that he had been summoned by security officials just days after he posted photos and a video where he was seen kissing an unidentified woman who was wearing a sports bra and shorts on a rooftop in the Iranian capital. 5/19/20

Mahdi Parsfar is changing the face of Iranian bodybuilding by taking it to a global level

Bodybuilding has gained immense popularity since the last few years. One man who is making a significant contribution to the Iranian bodybuilding community is Mahdi Parsafar. He is a sports manager working in this field for almost a decade. Since the last 8 years, Mahdi has helped in solving many complex problems faced by Iranian athletes and the community. He has got tremendous knowledge about bodybuilding and with his experience, Mahdi has worked with many reputed athletes and bodybuilders including Baitullah Abbasport and Hadi Choopan. -The Statesman 5/19/20

Tarkhineh Soup; A Nutrient Iranian Dish with Yogurt

Tarkhineh is a dried food ingredient, based on a fermented mixture of grain and yoghurt or fermented milk, found in the cuisines of the Middle East. Dry tarkhineh has a texture of coarse, uneven crumbs, and it is usually made into a thick soup with water or milk. Tarkhineh can be eaten in all seasons, but in winter, it is said to have a positive effect on the treatment of colds. -Fatemeh Askarieh, IFP 5/19/20

The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution

Before the revolution remade Iran, Khamenei was a young cleric in the city of Mashhad. He had grown up modestly, the son of a cleric; a slender man, he had a long, thin face adorned by large round glasses that gave him an owlish demeanor. He was a devotee of Persian poetry and literature, and also came to admire Tolstoy, Steinbeck, and especially Victor Hugo, whose "Les MisÚrables" he described as "a miracle...a book of sociology, a book of history, a book of criticism, a divine book, a book of love and feeling." -Dexter Filkins, New Yorker 5/19/20

US sanctions make it harder to fight COVID-19

As the United States works to contain the catastrophic COVID-19 pandemic, resorting to extraordinary measures to limit health and economic damage to its own population, it should also suspend economic sanctions that are making it harder for some countries to fight COVID-19 and keep their citizens safe. -Hrair Balian, Responsible Statecraft 5/18/20

Sanctioning Pandemic-plagued Iran

Sanctions are the US government's go-to foreign-policy tool. Sanctions leverage the United States' economic might and dominance of the international financial system and, especially in contrast to military options, are deemed to be cost-free - cost-free for the US, that is. There are always unintended costs, however, on both sides. When sanctions are applied indiscriminately during a global pandemic, the costs spiral. This is clearly the case today with regard to the Trump administration's sanctions on Iran. -Mark Fitzpatrick, IISS 5/18/20

Iran Receives Another Cargo Of Medical Supplies From Germany

An official of the Iranian Customs Organization on Thursday confirmed that a consignment of medical equipment purchased from Germany worth around 749,000 euros (about $800,000) has been delivered to Iran. Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency, the Director-General of Customs Office Sadeq Namdar at the Turkish border said the equipment delivered from Germany consists of haematology testing machines, flow cytometry tubes and autoanalyser machine accessories. 5/14/20

VIDEO: Tehran Choir performs John Rutter's "For the Beauty of Earth"

The Tehran Choir by conductor Mehdi Qasemi has released a video in which its members perform British composer John Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth" during the home quarantine in the battle against the spread of COVID-19. Several musicians from the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, Iran's National Orchestra as well as musicians from several other countries have collaborated in this project 5/14/20

UNICEF procures specialized wound dressings for children suffering from EB in Iran

Thanks to the generous financial support of the Government of Germany, UNICEF has procured and shipped to Iran specialized wound dressings for children suffering from EB, also known as butterfly disease. The request was made by the Ministry of Health and Medical Education to UNICEF. 5/13/20

Russia's UN Envoy Strongly Opposes U.S. Attempt To Extend Arms Embargo On Iran

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations says Moscow will oppose any attempts by the United States to extend the arms embargo on Iran and reimpose UN sanctions against Tehran. Vassily Nebenzia's comments on May 12 made clear that the United States will have difficulty extending the embargo past its expiration in October through the UN Security Council, where Russia has veto power. 5/13/20

Damavand quake: A trigger of risk panic in Tehran

On 8 May 2020, 48 minutes after the midnight (local time), a moderate earthquake with a magnitude of 5.1 on the Richter scale shocked citizens of Tehran province. Most of the people were already in sleep. The epicenter of the earthquake was in the vicinity of Damavand, a city 40km northeast of Tehran. According to the 2016 national census, Damavand has 48,000 inhabitants. -Mehdi Zare, Tehran Times 5/13/20

After Trump vetoed the Iran war powers resolution, Congress must continue to act

On April 22, President Trump took to Twitter and threatened to attack Iran, instructing the Navy to "shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea." The tweet was both alarming and cringeworthy - boats don't fly. But it was also commonplace. Trump has threatened to start a war with Iran so many times that it almost feels banal. -Erica Fein, Responsible Statecraft 5/12/20

Our Iranian Lockdown: filmmaker Q&A

Filmmakers Sara Khaki and Mohammad Reza Eyni talk about their intimate new documentary. In this new Guardian Documentary, Our Iranian Lockdown, a filmmaking duo turn the camera on themselves and capture their lives in lockdown. Their film is an intimate portrait of the highs and the lows of love and loss in these times of great uncertainty. -Guardian 5/12/20

Let's share our love of Iran: Painter Iran Darrudi

Iranian surrealist painter Iran Darrudi has asked her countrymen to share their love of their homeland. Speaking to the Iran-France Friendship Association in an online interview on last Wednesday, the 83-year-old Darrudi said, "Unfortunately, Iran and its history has been consigned to oblivion. However, we cannot deny our identity; we are Iranian and the history shows that this land has been the founder of the world's culture." 5/11/20

IRAN: Magnitude 5.1 quake Tehran province kills 2, injures 33

An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook Tehran province early on Friday, killing two and injuring 33. The earthquake occurred at 00:48 a.m. at a depth of 7 kilometers near the city of Damavand, 56km northeast of Tehran. The tremor was also felt in the surrounding provinces of Qom, Alborz, Mazandaran, and Zanjan. 5/8/20

Iran Has Gotten Nothing from U.S. 'Humanitarian' Channel

The humanitarian banking channel set up by the Trump administration to get medicine and other supplies into Iran-a politically calculated show of compassion amid otherwise draconian U.S. sanctions-has not in fact processed any potentially life-saving transactions, the Swiss government confirmed to The Daily Beast. Knowledgeable observers say the way the channel is structured places substantial burdens in the way of companies looking to sell Iran humanitarian supplies. -Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast 5/8/20

As Iran Faces Virus, Trump Admin Fails to Use Swiss Channel to Ease Medical Exports

Just a few days after Iran announced its first deaths from COVID-19 in February, the Trump administration's Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook was asked during a briefing for an update on the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), a payments channel intended to ease the sale of medicine and medical devices by Swiss companies to Iran. Hook acknowledged that no further transactions had been processed since a pilot transaction involving a $2.55 million sale of medication a month earlier, but insisted that there were "more transactions coming."Two months later, over 6,000 Iranians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the Swiss channel has yet to process any further transactions. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj & Image of Sahil Shah, European Leadership Network 5/6/20

Norms, not politics, should shape the European position on Iran's arms embargo

With a few months left before the expiration of the United Nations-mandated arms embargo against Iran, Washington is in full swing desperately trying to prolong it. Achieving this goal would require cooperation from other members of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), who (plus Germany) are also signatures of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA), which requires lifting the arms embargo in October 20202, after five years of its implementation. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 5/5/20

More Than 12,000 Lawyers In Iran Reject Move To Dismantle Bar Association

More than 12,000 Iranian lawyers have protested to a draft bill that undermines their independence and in effect replaces the Iranian Bar Association with a group of judiciary officials appointed by the government. Based on the draft the Judiciary will form a new body named the "Supreme Council for the Coordination of Lawyers' Affairs" that will be based at the Judiciary branch of the government "to coordinate matters relating to attorneys." 5/4/20

VIDEOS: Iran's National Instruments Orchestra Pays Tributes to COVID-19 Healthcare Staff

With the aim of expressing appreciation for the medical staff from around globe, the Iran's National Instruments Orchestra performed "The Avicenna Suite" by maestro Farhad Fakhreddini. The work has been recorded and edited by cell phone at home. 5/1/20

PHOTOS: Precipitation brings Hamoun wetland back to life

After two decades of dryness, enough rains have finally come to bring Hamoun wetland back to life in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, reviving agriculture in the region as well. Hamoun is the third-largest lake of Iran after the Caspian Sea and Urmia Lake. 5/1/20

In tortured logic, Trump begs for a do-over on the Iran nuclear deal

Even the Trump administration seems to grudgingly have concluded that breaching the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was a mistake. More than two years after the U.S. exit, the deal still stands while the Trump administration is running out of options to force a re-negotiation. It is now so desperate it is seeking to convince the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that it never quit the deal in the first place. The lesson to the U.S. is clear: Diplomatic vandalism carries costs - even for a superpower. The lesson to a prospective President Joe Biden is more specific: Rejoin the nuclear deal, don't try to renegotiate it. -Tyler Cullis & Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 5/1/20

First the Muslim Ban, Now Coronavirus - Iranian Families Separated by One Trump Order After Another

THE SHAMELIS ARE an extraordinarily tight-knit Iranian family. Forty-year-old Amin, the eldest of five brothers, first arrived in California in 2003, and was followed slowly but surely by his parents and siblings. All of them, that is, except for Masoud, who for a decade now has been trying to join the rest of his family in the United States. The situation had been looking hopeful, until the global coronavirus pandemic and a couple strokes of the U.S. president's pen blew it all up. -Felipe De La Hoz, Intercept 4/30/20

PHOTOS: On the verge of oblivion? Meet stone lions deserted in southwest Iran

Some cultural heritage enthusiasts say that hundreds of stone lions, which were placed on top of the tombstones of brave and courageous people of Bakhtiari tribe in the past, are now on the verge of oblivion and even fading away. Bakhtiari nomads regard such stone statues, locally called 'Bard Shirs' as a symbol of bravery, valor, and characteristics like adroitness at hunting and shooting in war as well as horseback riding on top of the gravestone of that group of people. -Alireza Mohammadi 4/29/20

Iran's flag on Swiss iconic mountain shows sympathy in battling coronavirus

In a symbolic gesture, Switzerland sympathized with the Iranian people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by projecting the Iranian flag on the mountain of the Matterhorn, one of the country's most famous peaks. The image went viral among Iranian users in social media who highly praised the move. 4/29/20

Coronavirus: Iran's female singers familiar with restrictive measures

The current quarantine is nothing new for Iranian women musicians - they've been restricted from performing in public since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Singer Massy Ahadi explains how they come to terms with it. -Deutsche Welle 4/29/20

Sassanid Inscription Unearthed In Ancient Iran Necropolis Being Deciphered

Experts are working to decipher a newly discovered inscription unearthed in an ancient necropolis near Persepolis, an official of the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran, said on Monday. The inscription which dates from the Sassanian period (224-651 AD) was found in Naqsh-e Rostam and is written in Pahlavi language (also known as Middle Persian) which was the official language of the Sassanian Empire. 4/28/20

70+ Groups Demand Trump Immediately End US Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Others During Covid-19 Crisis

Over 70 civil society groups representing more than 40 million people called on President Donald Trump Thursday to issue immediate sanctions relief for numerous countries-including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea-for at least the duration of the coronavirus crisis which threatens to kill thousands in the hard-hit countries. The "urgent appeal" came in the form of an open letter sent by the groups to Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin calling for curtailing the sanctions regime for the duration of the pandemic. -Common Dreams 04/24/20

Lessons on humanity from Persian literature

All of Iran's celebrations this year to mark Sadi Day on April 20 will be organized online due to the COVID-19 disaster. Persian poet Sadi was introduced to the generation of Iranians that are now in their fifties with the following verses at the primary school age: The sons of Adam are limbs of each other / Having been created of one essence / When the calamity of time afflicts one limb / The other limbs cannot remain at rest.... -Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet 4/20/20

Transatlantic call to ease humanitarian trade with Iran due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Today, a bipartisan group of two dozen American and European national security leaders issue a joint statement urging the US government to ease humanitarian trade with Iran in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. "As the world grapples with COVID-19 - the disease caused by the novel coronavirus - we must remember that an outbreak anywhere impacts people everywhere. In turn, reaching across borders to save lives is imperative for our own security and must override political differences among governments" the authors write. -European Leadership Network 4/7/20

The Coronavirus Is Killing Iranians. So Are Trump's Brutal Sanctions.

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is run by sociopaths. How else to explain the Trump administration's callous disregard for the lives of ordinary Iranians in the midst of this global coronavirus crisis? How else to make sense of U.S. officials doubling down in their support for crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, despite the sheer scale of the suffering? -Mehdi Hasan, Intercept 03/18/20

Hawkish Group Targets Medicine Sales to Iran Amid Coronavirus Crisis

DESPITE A MASSIVE coronavirus-related public health crisis, an anti-Iran pressure group with close ties to the Trump administration is urging major pharmaceutical companies to "end their Iran business," focusing on companies with special licenses - most often under a broadly defined "humanitarian exemption" - to conduct trade with Iran. -Eli Clifton, Intercept 03/6/20

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

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last updated on Fri Jun 5 11:37:12 EDT 2020