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Photos: Iran Navy holds massive maritime parade, ends major drills
Iran's naval forces have staged a maritime parade in the Sea of Oman, marking the end of large-scale naval drills in the country's southern waters where they successfully hit and destroyed mock enemy targets. - 1/31/16

Iran's shooter Khedmati wins gold at Asia Olympic qualifiers
Iranian female sports shooter Najmeh Khedmati has put on an awe-inspiring display of skills at the 2016 Asian Olympic Shooting Qualifying Tournament in India, and managed to snatch a gold medal. - 1/31/16

Iran: Basij youth arrested for protesting foreign oil deals
Security forces in Tehran broke up demonstrations by a group of Basij youth against Iran's recent oil agreements. The protests had been planned for Friday in front of the Ministry of Oil offices. INSA reports that the special riot police were deployed in front of the building to stop illegal demonstrations. - 1/31/16

Activists appeal to UN leader in case of missing Iranian student
A group of activists has written an open letter to the UN Secretary General urging him to follow up on the fate of Saeed Zinali, an Iranian student missing since the incidents at Tehran University dorms in 1999. - 1/31/16

Iran to resume carpet export to US
Head of the Iranian National Carpet Center has announced the resumption of Iran's hand-woven carpet export to the US in the current year. Hamid Kargar has deemed 2016 as the year for resumption of Iranian carpet exports to the US expressing hope that the currently low exports rate will be compensated for in the coming months: "The high interest of American businessmen to buy Iran's hand-woven carpets indicates that the exports to America will start again soon." - 1/31/16

Damascus Suburb Blasts Kill 60 near Zeinab Shi'ite Shrine
Islamic State has claimed a triple bombing in a southern Damascus suburb Sunday that killed at least 60 people. Two suicide bombers detonated explosives as rescue efforts were underway after a car bombing in the Sayeda Zeinab district of Damascus, near a revered Shi'ite shrine. - 1/31/16

The State of Digital In Iran
I don't think anyone really understands the depth of digital upheaval Iran has experienced in the past few years. Social media and e-commerce consumption have both gone topsy-turvy in parallel to an overwhelming migration to smartphone devices. -Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh, TechCrunch - 1/31/16

Let's Talk About Bernie Sanders and the Middle East
The contrast between Clinton and Sanders is a bit starker on Iran. Sanders has argued that "what we've got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran." This is virtually the same sentiment that President Obama has expressed on a number of occasions. -Derek Davison - 1/30/16

Iran Embarks on European Mission to Attract New Business
Iran is open for business. That's the message from President Hassan Rouhani during his milestone visit to Europe. With most sanctions lifted as a result of its agreement to dismantle its nuclear program, Iran has embarked on a charm offensive to extol the economic opportunities on its territory and to free itself from years of international isolation. -Mil Arcega, VOA - 1/30/16

US Issues New Travel Warning to Iran
The U.S. Department of State is warning American citizens, especially Iranian-Americans, of the risks of travel to Iran. The travel warning issued Friday replaces what was in effect since August 5, 2015. It reiterates the risk of arrest and detention of U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans, in Iran. - 1/30/16

Family of Imprisoned Iranian Producer: Canada Must Do More
The family of prisoner of conscience Mostafa Azizi is calling on Canada to exert more pressure on Iran to release him following the prisoner swap that led to the freedom of four Iranian-Americans held in Iran. - 1/30/16

Surprise Visitor During Latest Caspian Sea Status Meeting
Representatives of the five Caspian Sea littoral states -- Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan -- finished up their most recent meeting on January 29. Reports about the January 28 portion of the deputy foreign ministers' meeting seemed to indicate it was business as usual. -Bruce Pannier, RFE - 1/30/16

Khomeini's Grandson Vows To Challenge Decision to Bar Him From Election
A grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the cleric who led Iran's 1979 revolution and founded the Islamic republic, says he will challenge a decision to bar him from running in the February election for the Assembly of Experts even though it could be fruitless. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 1/30/16

'Silk Road' train departs China for Iran
China has flagged off its first direct freight train to Iran from the trading hub of Yiwu in what is seen as the groundbreaking initiative to get Beijing's ambitious New Silk Road connectivity project off the ground. - 1/30/16

Airlines resume flights to Tehran in post-sanctions era
Iranian media report that foreign airlines will soon be re-establishing flights to Tehran following the lifting of international sanctions against Iran. Last week Iran announced that it is also reviewing the possibility of establishing a direct flight to the United States. If established, it would be the first such flight in more than 30 years. - 1/30/16

Iran to buy 40 planes from ATR
Only days after Iran signed a landmark agreement to purchase 118 planes from Airbus, an aviation official in Tehran said a separate order to buy 40 turboprop planes from the European manufacturer ATR is in the pipeline. - 1/30/16

Iran and France Sign Major Trade Deals
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has signed trade deals with France worth billions of dollars following the lifting of international sanctions imposed over its nuclear program. "We are ready to turn the page for a new relationship between our two countries," he told a group of French business leaders in Paris after his arrival Thursday in the French capital. - 1/29/16

Internet Freedom in Iran Will Benefit From Sanctions Relief
Increased foreign investment and access to foreign companies' technology products in Iran now that sanctions against Tehran have been lifted will not only aid the country's ailing economy, it will also give Internet access a vital boost. - 1/29/16

Strategy Abroad for Obama's Last Year
With less than a year left in his presidency, Barack Obama has said he will do all he can for America at home, bypassing Congress if need be with executive orders. He can also act on his own in foreign policy and national security, at least to set the nation on a useful course beyond his own tenure. -Robert E. Hunter - 1/29/16

Iranian Artists Call for Immediate Release of Music Distributors
A coalition of Iranian artists have called for the immediate release of three music producers sentenced to six years in prison for promoting underground music in Iran. "This kind of sentencing by the Judiciary is more believable in dealing with murderers, not artists," said a statement signed by 165 members of the Iranian artistic community in support of Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi, and Hossein Rajabian. - 1/29/16

Iran Says It Flew Drone Over U.S. Aircraft Carrier
Iranian state TV says the Islamic republic flew a surveillance drone over a U.S. aircraft carrier during a naval exercise. The report on January 29 said the drone took pictures of the vessel, but did not elaborate. There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which oversees the Persian Gulf from Bahrain. - 1/29/16

Washington Post Journalist Welcomed Home After Iran Imprisonment
Freed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian says his Iranian captors told him the newspaper did not exist and no one knew of his predicament. Rezaian, who was imprisoned by Iran for 545 days, was welcomed home Thursday by his newsroom colleagues and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Post's new headquarters not far from the White House in downtown Washington. -VOA - 1/29/16

The Virtues of Diplomacy
Diplomats are normally seen as mild, perhaps timid people associated with tea sipping and good manners. I could (barely) have passed for one when I was working on Iran in the State Department during the 1979-80 Iran hostage crisis. About mid-way into that seemingly endless contest of national wills, the Carter administration decided to severe relations with Iran. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 1/29/16

Peugeot signs key deal with Iran Khodro
The French carmaker PSA Peugeot CitroŽn said on Thursday that it had signed a binding contract with Iran's leading vehicle manufacturer Iran Khodro to produce a range of cars in the country. Carlos Tavares, chief executive of PSA, said at a press conference in Paris that the value of the deal stands at 400 million Euros. - 1/29/16

Iran's Rouhani Visits Paris as Part of 'Charm Offensive'
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in France Wednesday - the first official visit of an Iranian president there since 1999. Rouhani flew in from Italy where he closed business deals worth $18.5 billion. He is expected to do likewise in France. - 1/28/16

US Hawks Ignore Top Israeli Official on Iran
Last week, Israel's top military official made some staggering comments during the course of a security conference in Tel Aviv. Here's how The Forward's JJ Goldberg reported the comments of Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot, Israel's chief of staff, which seem as of yet to be unavailable in a full English translation from the original Hebrew. Eisenkot said there were two "existential threats" to Israel, and both are currently "declining." -Ali Gharib - 1/28/16

Russian Oil Execs Agree To Talk With OPEC About Boosting Prices
Russian oil executives and energy officials decided this week they should talk to Saudi Arabia and the OPEC oil cartel about cutting output to boost world oil prices, the head of Russia's pipeline monopoly said on January 27. - 1/28/16

Wife Of American Pastor Freed By Iran Seeks Legal Separation
On the same day Abedini returned to his home in the U.S. state of Idaho, court documents show that his wife, Naghmeh Panahi, filed a petition for separation. Naghmeh Abedini previously told supporters that her husband had been abusive and suffered from a pornography addiction. - 1/28/16

Only one contender in some races for Iran's Assembly of Experts
Of the 800 candidates vying for a spot on Iran's Assembly of Experts, the Guardian Council has only approved 166 candidates, which leaves some ridings uncontested. The Guardian Council must approve all candidates in Iran before they can launch a campaign. - 1/28/16

The Forgotten Benefits of Offshore Balancing
Discussions of grand strategy often are too abstract and general to be of significant practical use in formulating sound decisions about specific foreign policy problems, but sometimes a concept drawn from such discussion points to an overlooked and fundamentally better way to approach such decisions. Such a concept is offshore balancing, which involves the United States not trying to do everything itself but instead exploiting rivalries between other states to prevent any one of them from acquiring hegemonic power and regional dominance. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 1/28/16

My 41 Days in an Iranian Prison
One of the five Americans released this month from Iran's most notorious prison describes his interrogations, freedom and the mind games in between -Matthew Trevithick, TIME - 1/28/16

Memes Circulate After Italy Hides Nude Statues For Rohani Visit
Memes are making the rounds mocking Italy's decision to cover up nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum with big white boxes for a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rohani. The decision has caused anger in Italy, where it has been condemned by critics as "incomprehensible," "ridiculous," and "submission" to principles that are against Western culture. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/28/16

Pope Urges Iran to Promote Political Solution in Middle East
Pope Francis has urged Iran to use its "important role" to promote peace in the Middle East and help halt the spread of terrorism and weapons trafficking. The pope made the appeal during a 40-minute closed-door meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican Tuesday. - 1/27/16

Tehran Stock Exchange hits record high on market optimism
The Tehran Stock Exchange's main index, TEDPIX, notched a record high on Tuesday amid a positive climate that has been generated after the implementation of nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The TEDPIX gained 2,142 points, equaling 3 percent, to end at 70,999. - 1/27/16

Iran's President Rohani Says Better Ties Hinge On U.S.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has said his country could have better relations with the United States, but it was up to Washington to change its "hostile" stance towards Tehran. "It's possible that Iran and the United states might have friendly relations. But the key to that is in Washington's hands, not Tehran's," Rohani said at a news conference in Rome on January 27. - 1/27/16

Female candidates rejected in run for assembly seats
None of the woman who registered to run in the Assembly of Experts elections was approved by the Guardian Council. The council forwarded the list of eligible candidates for the Assembly of Experts elections to the Ministry of the Interior. The list reportedly did not contain the names of any female applicants. - 1/27/16

Canada To Follow EU and U.S. In Lifting Sanctions On Iran
Canada will follow the United States and European Union in lifting economic sanctions against Iran to ensure Canadian businesses aren't left behind, Canada's foreign affairs minister said January 26. "In which way it's helping Canada or the Iranian people or Israel or anyone that Canada is hurting its own industry?" he asked. "If [European aircraft manufacturer] Airbus is able to do it, why would Bombardier not be able to do it." - 1/27/16

Iranian government stresses opposition arrests beyond its powers
The Rohani administration says it has made every effort to secure the release of MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest; however, it has not been successful because the administration is not the final decision-maker in this regard. - 1/27/16

The fifth anniversary of the Egyptian Uprising
Since achieving their independence from Western colonialism, most Arab countries have never experienced events such as they have seen during the past few years. The demonstrators in Tunisia got rid of their autocratic ruler in a remarkably short time. And the events in Egypt starting exactly five years ago today (25 January, 2015) spelled the end of Hosni Mubarak's regime. The fire of revolutions and uprisings spread to other Arab countries, and are still continuing. -Farhang Jahanpour - 1/27/16

Iran set to hold massive naval drill
Iran is set to hold the final stage of large-scale naval maneuver codenamed "Velayat 94" in the high seas. The final stage of the massive drills will be held in an area of three million square kilometers east of the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman and northern part of the Indian Ocean, Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Tuesday. - 1/27/16

US-Iran Prisoner Swap Raises Hopes for Iranian-Canadian Prisoners of Conscience in Iran
The release of Iranian-Americans in the recent prisoner exchange between Iran and the United States has given hope to the family of prisoner of conscience Saeed Malekpour that he too might also be freed. - 1/27/16

Why Iran could be your next ski destination
The lift lines in Meribel have become unbearable. Vail is getting way too expensive. Snow is getting scarcer at a number of traditional ski areas. Choosing a ski destination can be treacherous. But for anyone who breaks into cold sweats at the thought of bare mountainsides and overpriced coffee, there's an alternative -- albeit an unusual one. Iran. -CNN - 1/27/16

Are Jihadis Reaching their Limits of Nihilism?
It is hard to find even the smallest silver lining in the ongoing series of jihadist outrages that now proliferate with each daily news report. The immoral and cynical exploitation of religion (a constant of human history) is ultimately about power and intimidation. The phenomenon shows no signs of coming to an end and at this point in history happens to most dramatically center in the Muslim world. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 1/27/16

Iranian President Signs Business Deals In Rome
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said after meeting in Rome with Iranian President Hassan Rohani that a series of business agreements they signed is "just the beginning" for their countries. Deals being signed during Rohani's 48-hour stay in Italy are valued at up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion). - 1/26/16

Iran's President Rouhani, Pope Francis meet at Vatican
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican as part of a three-leg European tour. The meeting was held behind closed doors on Tuesday on the second day of Rouhani's trip which has already taken him to the Italian capital Rome. - 1/26/16

Celebrated Iranian actress attacked in Kashan on way to screening
Extremists attacked the prominent Iranian actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya in the city of Kashan on Sunday. She was there to attend the screening of her latest film, Yahya Sokoot Nakard (Yahaya did not remain silent), and the event proceeded despite the attack. - 1/26/16

Why are Iranian-Americans Prisoners Released, but Not Iranian Ones?" Father of Imprisoned Blogger Asks
"Why has the Islamic Republic agreed to the release of Iranian-American prisoners but they won't free our own prisoners who are the children of Iran?" asked Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, whose son, Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, has spent more than six years in prison for blogging. - 1/26/16

Grandson Of Iran's Islamic Republic Founder Barred From Poll
The great-grandson of the founder of Iran's Islamic republic says his father has been barred from running for a top clerical body. Ahmad Khomeini, the son of Hassan Khomeini, made the comment about his father in a post on January 26 to what appears to be his Instagram account. - 1/26/16

Airbus ready to negotiate selling new commercial aircraft to Iran
France-based aircraft manufacturing company, Airbus, has confirmed that it is ready to start talks with Iran for the sale of dozens of new commercial aircraft to the country after international sanctions against Iran's economic sectors were lifted. - 1/26/16

Forouzan, Persian film star in Pahlavi era, passes away in Tehran
Forouzan, one of the big stars of Persian popular cinema in 1960s and 1970s died in Tehran. She was 78. Forouzan, born Parvin Kheirbakhsh, acted in various popular films such as Ganj-e Ghroun (directed by Siamak Yasemi, 1965), Dalahu (1967), Raghaseh-ye Shahr (Shapoor Gharib, 1970) and Dayereh-ye Mina (Dariush Mehrjoui, 1978). - 1/26/16

General Electric in talks to enter Iranian market: Report
John Rice, vice chairman of General Electric has expressed optimism about future trade with Iran, telling leading German language business newspaper Handelsblatt in a recent interview that his company is already in negotiation with the Iranian side. - 1/26/16

British Regulators Mull Return Of Iranian Banks To London
British regulators are considering whether to allow two Iranian banks in London to resume operations after years of sanctions. Melli Bank and Persia International Bank will only be able to operate in the United Kingdom once they have met Bank of England criteria for financial firms. - 1/26/16

Azerbaijan's Reserves Rapidly Evaporating Amid Fiscal Storm
With oil prices now barely above $31 per barrel, Azerbaijan's energy-export economy is taking on lots of water. And what is worse, Baku's lifeboat, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, appears to be in danger of foundering. -Durna Safarova, LobeLog - 1/26/16

Iran's President Travels To Europe To Drum Up Business
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has arrived in Rome on the first leg of a European tour, his first trip abroad since a nuclear deal with world powers took effect. Rohani is being accompanied by Iranian entrepreneurs as well as the oil and gas minister and other government officials during the five-day visit to Rome and Paris. - 1/25/16

SEPARATING FACTS FROM FICTION: Truths, Myths, and Outright Lies
The P5+1/Iran nuclear agreement is a done deal and sanctions against Iran are lifting, much to the chagrin of the war parties here and the Wahhabis there. Significantly though, Israeli regime's objection to the agreement is a calculated strategy for blackmail and extortion against its old patron and benefactor, the United States. As expected, the Israeli PM, Netanyahu, has already begun his well-choreographed routine of We need more, give us more, or we'll screw it up for you! -Kambiz Zarrabi - 1/25/16

Facebook Tweak Could Evade Chinese, Iranian Censors
Many Facebook users in China and Iran may be able to access the world's largest social network on their smartphones without fear of surveillance, thanks to a software adjustment that links them to an "anonymizer" that hides their location and identity. - 1/25/16

Prominent Iranian cleric arrested for role in attack on Saudi embassy
Hassan Kurdmihan, an Iranian cleric, preacher and director of religious institutions in Tehran and Karaj, has been arrested by Iranian authorities for guiding the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. - 1/25/16

With Sanctions Lifted, Iran Ready For SCO
With international sanctions lifted, Iran is ready to become a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, senior Iranian officials said Monday. Iran applied for full membership in the SCO in 2008, but has been blocked by rules in the organization's charter that forbid membership for any country under United Nations sanctions. -Joshua Kucera, LobeLog - 1/25/16

Photos: Iran Through My Eyes
The remote mountain village that lies in the Esfahan province really is astonishing. While walking through the small streets you feel as if you are walking 300 years back in time. The strangest thing is that you only see elderly on the streets, trying to sell dried fruits to tourists. When asked where the young people were, we were told that most of them are in foreign countries. -Farhang & Mursal, awesomeworldtrip - 1/25/16

Iran signs oil deal with Russia's Lukoil
Iran says it has signed a deal with Russia's Lukoil over two exploration projects in the country's southwestern oil-rich Khouzestan province. Hormoz Qalavand, the director for exploration affairs of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), has been quoted by the media as saying that Lukoil is to look for hydrocarbon reserves in Dasht-e Abadan and the northern parts of the Persian Gulf. - 1/25/16

Despite theologians' disapproval, more Iranians are discovering the joy of pets
When Ehsan Kaveh was studying for his medical school exams in the Iranian capital, the stress was getting to both him and his wife, Rima, an IT specialist. But a family friend, a veterinarian, thought he had a solution - a snow-white Persian cat named Eli. -Ramin Mostaghim, Nabih Bulos, LA Times - 1/25/16

Griffon Starts $108 Million Fund to Invest in Iranian Stocks
Griffon Capital, a Tehran-based firm set up by a group of international and Iranian investors including Xanyar Kamangar in anticipation of Iran's nuclear deal, is seeking to raise 100 million euros ($108.2 million) by the end of the year for a new offshore fund specializing in the country's stocks. -Bloomberg - 1/25/16

Iran, China Agree To $600 Billion Trade Deal After Sanctions Lifted
Iranian President Hassan Rohani says Iran and China have agreed to expand bilateral relations and boost trade to $600 billion over the next 10 years. Rohani made the announcement following January 23 talks in Tehran with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first major world leader to visit the Islamic republic since the easing of international sanctions on January 16 under a deal between Tehran and global powers aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program. - 1/24/16

Nuclear deal could lead the way toward better relationship with Iran
Hailing the implementation of the July 2015 agreement in which Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry recalled that there had been no shortage of skeptics: "Iran has undertaken significant steps that many - and I do mean many - people doubted would ever come to pass." -R. K. Ramazani - 1/24/16

Iran says mulling direct flights to US
Indications grew stronger on Sunday over the prospects for Iran and the United States to establish a direct flight route between the two countries. Iran's Minister of Transportation Abbas Akhoundi has been quoted by the media that establishing a direct flight route to the US requires the necessary authorization of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization (CAO). - 1/24/16

Iran eyes buying over 100 Boeing jets
Iran is reportedly considering to buy narrow-body 737s for domestic flights and two-aisle 777s for long-haul routes from Boeing. The announcement by Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, quoted by Reuters on Sunday, came as Iran opened its first international business event since the lifting of sanctions. - 1/24/16

After sanctions, Iranian and foreign firms await the good times
The deal with world powers that ended Iran's international isolation, in exchange for restrictions on Tehran's nuclear programme, restored its access to tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets, reopened the country to foreign investment and allows it to sell oil again on world markets. -Reuters - 1/24/16

ISIS and the Reversible Stages of Revolt
Large-scale armed insurrection tends to move through identifiable phases that correspond roughly to what Mao Zedong described many years ago. In Mao's formulation, the first of three phases emphasizes organization, propaganda, and the establishment of cadres and a presence in the areas in which the revolutionary movement intends to operate. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 1/24/16

China, Iran Expand Ties During Xi Visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for a "new chapter" in China-Iran relations, as the Chinese leader continued an official state visit to Tehran. Meeting at the president's residence in Tehran Saturday, the two leaders oversaw the signing of 17 agreements aimed at expanding diplomatic and economic cooperation. The two countries also agreed to boost mutual trade. -Nike Ching, William Gallo, VOA - 1/23/16

Civil vs. Military in Post-Deal Iran
"I'm not a colonel, I'm a lawyer!" Iran's current President Hassan Rouhani uttered when his commitment to civil liberties came under fire during the 2013 presidential debate. In an attempt to accentuate the contrast between himself and his rivals-some of whom came from a military background-Rouhani emphatically distanced himself from those whose mindset, as he put it, had been shaped by the logic of the "garrison." At the heart of the struggle for reform in Iran lies a deep conundrum: the role of the armed forces in society, chief among them the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). -Sajjad Safaei - 1/23/16

Former Iran, Persepolis striker Homayoun Behzadi dies at 74
Former striker of Iran national football team and Persepolis Homayoun Behzadi has passed away at the age of 74 following a long battle against illness. Behzadi was inducted into the Persepolis Hall of Fame by becoming the first man to score a hat-trick against arch-rivals Esteghlal in the Tehran derby, as he helped the Reds bag a 6-nil win over the Blues in 1973. - 1/23/16

What is Iran's Future Following Lifting of Sanctions?
Economic experts say Iran has the potential to expand its economy and become more prosperous now that many economic sanctions have been lifted. But some of these same economists worry that corruption and government intrusion into the markets will hurt growth and disappoint ordinary Iranians. -Jim Randle, VOA - 1/23/16

Iranian activist remains jailed with no court date in sight
Iranian activist Shokoufeh Azar Masouleh remains in jail without being charged and cannot put up bail due to a lack of financial means. In a letter from jail, Azar Masouleh writes that the court has not agreed to reduce the bail and release her until the time of her trial. - 1/23/16

Clinton Campaign Recycles Hawkish Foreign Policy Positions
For starters, the Clinton camp's is employing a highly selective interpretation of what Sanders said at Sunday's debate. Sanders, while expressing support for continuing to improve relations with Iran, explicitly said he was not in favor of opening an embassy in Tehran at this time and expressed concern with the rhetoric coming from Iran's leadership. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 1/23/16

Nursing rep reveals challenging statistics for profession in Iran
Ebrahim Mohammadi, the head of International Relations for Iran's Council of Nursing, reports that 7,000 nurses in the country are unemployed. Mohammadi told ISNA that currently 200,000 nurses are employed across the country and there is a need for another 130,000 nurses to be hired. - 1/23/16

Delicacy and compromise were key to the Iran deal, not bluster and prayer
We wouldn't have the release of five American prisoners and a non-nuclear Iran if the Republicans' 'my way or the highway' foreign policy ruled Washington -Ali Gharib, Guardian - 1/23/16

Iranian President: Mass Candidate Ban Could Make Elections Pointless
Iran's president has criticized the mass disqualification of candidates in next month's parliamentary elections, suggesting the decision could make the vote pointless. The comments by Hassan Rohani signaled continuing tensions between the president, who has presented himself as a moderate, and powerful hard-liners who control key bodies in the Islamic republic. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/22/16

Visa Discrimination Now Being Implemented
Obama administration announced details for how it will implement the legislatively mandated changes to the U.S.'s visa waiver program under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. Based on our reading, these plans will both cause major problems for non-U.S. Iranian dual-nationals in their travels to the United States and threaten to provoke European and other VWP countries to adopt similar restrictive measures against U.S.-Iran dual nationals. -NIAC Action - 1/22/16

Neocons Double their Standards on Prisoner Release
It's inevitable that neoconservatives will assail President Obama's every dealing with Iran. And indeed, the denunciations were fast and furious of the deal that brought home four Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. ... But the neocon criticisms all smacked of historical ignorance, hypocrisy, or both. -Eli Clifton, Ali Gharib, and Jim Lobe - 1/22/16

Iranian Judge Rules Faraghdani's Handshake with Her Lawyer is Not a Crime
Prisoner of conscience Atena Faraghdani and her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, have been acquitted of "illegitimate relations" for shaking hands during a prison visit. "My daughter was mentally crushed by this accusation but she's very happy since she heard about the acquittal," Atena Faraghdani's mother said - 1/22/16

Iran and the Diplomatic Jackpot
After a strenuous campaign by both the administration and civil society organizations in support of the nuclear deal, it squeaked through Congress despite the opposition of the Republican Party and a few renegade Democrats. Then came the waiting. - John Feffer, LobeLog - 1/22/16

Fed-up Iranian women organize to take more seats in parliament
Nine women and 281 men. Such is the composition of the Iranian parliament. Rights activists believe this lopsided gender imbalance is one reason why so many discriminatory laws against women have been passed by the current legislature, in office since 2012. -Zahra Alipour, Al Monitor - 1/22/16

Former U.S. Marine Released From Iran Arrives Home
A former U.S. Marine released by Iran last week in a prisoner-swap deal landed in the United States on January 21 after being held for more than four years in the Islamic republic, where at one point he faced a death sentence. - 1/22/16

Visa waiver restrictions for Iranians are motivated by hatred - not safety
Sometimes, it doesn't take very long at all for the consequences of bad policies to be felt by innocent people. That was the case at London's Heathrow airport on Tuesday when Rana Rahimpour, a British-Iranian dual citizen, was denied entry into the US. Despite being British, she was rejected because of her Iranian citizenship. -Ali Gharib, Guardian - 1/22/16

Kerry Talks To Iranian FM About Missing Americans
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he has spoken to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about the three Americans that were abducted in Iraq last week. Kerry confirmed at the Davos World Economic Forum on January 21 that he had spoken to Zarif about the issue. - 1/22/16

14 Testy Months Behind U.S. Prisoner Swap With Iran
For a year, Obama administration officials had been meeting in secret with Iranian counterparts, seeking to free Americans imprisoned in the Islamic republic. Finally last fall, a deal for a prisoner release seemed all but sealed. But the Iranians arrived at the latest clandestine session in a Geneva hotel suite with a whole new proposal that insisted on the release of dozens of Iranians held in American prisons,... -NY Times - 1/22/16

Is Europe Choosing Iran over Saudi Arabia?
On January 19, the European Parliament (EP) debated the escalating crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia following the execution by Riyadh of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and the attack in response on the Saudi embassy in Tehran by angry mobs .The debate, kicked off and wrapped up by the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, has highlighted a shift in European attitudes toward Iran and Saudi Arabia that has been taking shape for a while. -Eldar Mamedov - 1/21/16

Hardliners in Iran Moving to Shut Pro-Rouhani Forces Out of Upcoming Parliamentary Elections
January 20, 2016-Hopes that pro-Rouhani and reformist candidates would be able to participate in Iran's upcoming Parliamentary elections are dwindling fast, as the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, proclaimed vocal support today, January 20, 2016, for a vetting process that has seen all but one percent of the reformist applicants disqualified. - 1/21/16

Ashraf Pahlavi: Portrait of a Persian Princess
History often has trouble giving powerful women their due - Princess Ashraf Pahlavi certainly falls into this category. Her death on 7 January 2016 in Monte Carlo at the age of 96 did not spawn the usual publicity, controversy and myth that overshadowed her amazing life. We live in a world of vanishing icons and in their passing we are often drawn to the past - forensically sifting through the debris of time, piecing together the remains of an existence. -Cyrus Kadivar - 1/21/16

Boutique firms buying Iran shares
Signs are emerging that the world's biggest investors have already started moves to purchase shares in Iran's stock market. Reuters reported on Thursday that UK's Charlemagne Capital has bought around $50 million of 18 Tehran-listed stocks. - 1/21/16

Iran nuclear deal proves power of diplomacy: Zarif
"Regionally I think it sends a message that if we can resolve that something everybody thought was impossible to resolve, with countries who were - obviously at least Iran and the United States - were hostile for at least 37 years, then there's no impediment in resolving regional issues," Zarif said while addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss city of Davos on Wednesday. - 1/21/16

Ageing Imprisoned Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Should Be Released on Medical Grounds, Wife Says
The wife of the prominent lawyer Mohammad Seifzadeh, who has been imprisoned since April 2011 for his work defending human rights and political prisoners in Iran, is hoping the appeal for his release from Rajaee Shahr Prison on humanitarian grounds will be heeded by the authorities, given his extremely poor health. - 1/21/16

Iran's Supreme Leader Condemns Attack On Saudi Embassy In Tehran
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned the attack on Saudi Arabia's Embassy in Tehran in early January, saying it was "very bad" and "wrong." Khamenei equated the assault to an attack against both Iran and Islam. - 1/21/16

3 Steps to Ensure U.S.-Iran Dialogue Continues Under Future Administrations
Doubting the power of diplomacy is like doubting climate change at this point. Despite the skepticism Barack Obama faced in the 2008 elections for his willingness to talk to adversaries -- including accusations of naivetť from Democratic and Republican rivals alike, Obama's diplomacy has now both prevented a disastrous war with Iran and an Iranian nuclear bomb and has secured the release of American prisoners held in Iran. -Huffington Post - 1/21/16

Pick Your Fights Carefully--with China, Iran or Anyone
The dramatic and fast-moving events in U.S.-Iranian relations over the past few days underscore, among other lessons, the following two. One is that results matter. No matter how hard the naysayers have striven to say nay, they have offered no alternative to actual U.S. policy that could have yielded results as favorable. And it's not as if there hasn't been ample experience to test what alternatives might have done. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 1/21/16

Iranian Americans' views on the Iran deal often fall along generational lines
Negeen Sadeghi-Movahed dreams of hopping on a plane from John F. Kennedy International Airport straight to Iran, where she would spend weeks learning about her roots. It is, for the 22-year-old, one of the simple, hoped for fruits of a nuclear accord with Iran. Roozbeh Farahanipour, 44, has a darker vision - of a deal that strengthens a regime that doesn't care about things like human rights. -Sarah Parvini, LA Times - 1/21/16

Crude Reckoning: The Far-Reaching, Unexpected Effects Of Falling Oil Prices
What do a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter, a Russian villager, and an American miner have in common? They have all been adversely affected by plunging oil prices. For many Western consumers, plummeting prices mean paying less to heat their homes and drive their cars. But cheap oil, at its lowest price in over a decade, is also having far-reaching and unexpected geopolitical and economic consequences around the world. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 1/20/16

Iran: Is the "leader's call" to the opposition to participate in the elections serious?
On Saturday January 9, Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, spoke about the approaching parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, saying: "As in the past, we urge that even those who do not believe in the regime or the leadership should come and vote." He was referring to similar statements he made in 2013 in the lead-up to the presidential elections. - 1/20/16

US firms can do Iran business via EU
The recent lifting of the economic sanctions against Iran has already started a rush among international corporations to start to set their feet in the country's vast consumer market of around 80 million. - 1/20/16

Siamak Namazi's Friends Thought He'd Be Freed From Iranian Prison, But The Media Had It Wrong
Initial news reports from the official Iranian media outlet Islamic Republic News Agency incorrectly identified Siamak Namazi as one of the four Americans who would be released this past Saturday as part of a prisoner release agreement between Iran and the U.S. By the time IRNA had acknowledged its mistake, several journalists with large Western followings had already tweeted about Namazi's impending release. - Jessica Schulberg, Huffington Post - 1/20/16

Sanctions Lifted But Economic Challenges Remain for Iran
If there is a big economic payoff to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the lifting of international sanctions against Iran, the financial markets in Tehran are not yet impressed. The rial barely moved as "implementation day" arrived. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, LobeLog - 1/20/16

Analysts Watch Iran's Post-sanctions Relationship with Neighbors
Now that international sanctions against Iran have been lifted, the Islamic Republic's relations with its neighbors, in particular Saudi Arabia, are being closely watched. Saudi Arabia, the dominant Sunni country in the region, is particularly on edge as Shi'ite-led Iran prepares to rejoin the world economy, said Gulf State Analytics founder Giorgio Cafiero. -Heather Murdock, VOA - 1/20/16

American Released From Iran Says He Feels 'Alive For First Time'
Former U.S. marine Amir Hekmati who was released by Iran over the weekend says he feels lucky to be free again. "I feel really lucky. I feel alive for the first time," Hekmati said on January 19 in his first public comments since his release. - 1/20/16

BBC journalist stopped from flying to US over UK-Iranian nationality
A BBC journalist has been stopped boarding a plane from London to the US because of her dual British-Iranian nationality. Rana Rahimpour, a presenter at the BBC's Persian service based in London, was stopped at Heathrow airport on Tuesday before catching a flight to New Jersey. US authorities told her she could no longer fly to the US under the visa waiver programme because of her Iranian citizenship. -BBC - 1/20/16

Pakistan Offers To Host Saudi-Iranian Talks
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered to host talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in an effort to resolve disputes between the rival countries. Sharif told Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Tehran on January 19 that he wants to improve relations between the mostly Sunni Saudi kingdom and predominantly Shi'ite Iran and will appoint an envoy to work on the issue. - 1/20/16

Iranian dotcoms eye foreign investment, new customers after sanctions
Tehran-based e-commerce firm Takhfifan found it impossible to attract foreign investment when it launched in 2011 but it took only two days for a potential foreign investor to get in touch after sanctions on Iran were lifted. -The Star - 1/20/16

Iran's elite Guards to gain regional, economic power in post-sanctions era
Iran's Revolutionary Guards did well under international sanctions, and the elite military force is destined to become still richer now they've been lifted. Iran's clerical rulers have supported economic growth of the Guards, rewarding the group for sanctions-busting as well as suppressing dissent at home and helping Tehran's allies abroad - notably Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. -Parisa Hafezi, Reuters - 1/20/16

Freed Washington Post Reporter Talks About Iranian Imprisonment
Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian says he had extraordinarily limited human interaction and spent 49 days in solitary confinement during his 18 months in an Iranian prison. Rezaian is one of four Americans freed Saturday as part of a prison swap with Iran that came with the implementation of the nuclear agreement. -Ken Schwartz, VOA - 1/19/16

JCPOA Implementation and Afterwards
I am pretty sure it was not planned. But the Implementation Day for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)-January 16-was also the anniversary of the day Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran in 1979. This coincidence is sure to give some Iranians, who earnestly believe that the Shah's departure was made possible by loss of U.S. confidence in the Iranian monarch or even support for the revolutionary forces, another reason to be convinced that the United States is responsible for the Islamic Republic of Iran's survival and even maintenance over the years. -Farideh Farhi - 1/19/16

Iran's President Rohani to discuss candidate rejections with Guardian Council head
President Rohani's legal deputy, Elham Aminzadeh, has announced that the president will meet with the head of the Guardian Council to discuss the widespread rejection of election candidates. Hossein Marashi, the head of the Reformist Policy-making Council, was quoted as saying that only 30 of 3,000 reformist candidates have been approved by the Guardian Council. - 1/19/16

Iran to receive more than $32bn of unblocked assets: Central Bank
The governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has announced that Tehran will access more than $32 billion of unfrozen assets after sanctions removal. CBI chief Valiollah Seif said Monday that $28 billion of the assets would go to the central bank and $4 billion will be transferred to the state treasury as the share of the government. - 1/19/16

Europe eyes Iran as new energy source
Europe looks to Iran to diversify energy supplies after the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, head of Italy's Eni SpA Claudio Descalzi says. Iran owns the world's largest gas reserves but its share of the market is negligible because much of the gas produced goes to local consumption which is huge by all standards while sanctions have curbed efforts to ramp up production. - 1/19/16

Innocent passage of the warships in the maritime territories of the Persian Gulf
The recent incident in the Persian Gulf between the US and Iran navies has once again renewed the issue of innocent passage for the warships in the maritime territories at the time of peace (of course, the law of war is different). The non-military ships have normally the right of innocent passage in the territorial sea of other states. This is clearly stated in various sources of the international laws of the Sea, especially the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea dated 1982 known as Montego Bay Treaty. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 1/19/16

53 National Security Leaders Hail JCPOA Implementation Day
More than four dozen former senior national-security officials and members of Congress have issued a statement hailing Saturday's announcement of "Implementation Day" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and citing it as a reaffirmation of "the value of diplomacy as an invaluable tool for conflict resolution." -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 1/19/16

Pakistan PM arrives in Iran after Saudi visit
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has arrived in Tehran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials. Sharif, who is heading a high-ranking delegation, was welcomed at Tehran Mehrabad airport by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan on Tuesday. - 1/19/16

Canada says ready to restore diplomatic ties with Iran
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his country is getting ready to resume diplomatic relations with Iran following a four-year break in ties. On Monday, Trudeau said that the subject will "certainly" be discussed at an upcoming cabinet meeting. - 1/19/16

Most Reformists Rejected From Running For Parliament In Iran
State media reports from Iran say about 60 percent of the people who have applied to be candidates in Iran's February parliamentary elections have been rejected -- with most of those rejections involving reformists. Reformist Hossein Marashi said 3,000 registered reformist candidates around the country had been rejected and only 30 had been approved to run for one of the 290 parliamentary seats. - 1/18/16

In Celebration of the Nuclear Agreement with Iran
There can be several ways of perceiving the full application of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with effect from "Implementation Day," January 16, 2016. One is that this was a triumph for the world's "global policeman." By using sanctions to make life very hard for the Islamic Republic, this narrative goes, the United States obtained a deal that prevents Iran's leaders from realizing their aim of acquiring nuclear weapons and destroying Israel. -Peter Jenkins - 1/18/16

Iran To Rejoin World Markets With Implementation Of Nuclear Deal
Now that a decade of UN, EU, and U.S. sanctions over Iran's nuclear program should soon be coming to an end with the implementation of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers, this could release upwards of $100 billion of Iranian-assets that have been frozen in the West and pave the way for a surge in Iranian oil exports.-Ron Synovitz, RFE - 1/18/16

What Accounts for the Saudi Regime's Hysterical Belligerence? The Agony of Death
The purpose of this essay is to explain, not describe, the frantically belligerent behavior of the Saudi regime. The goal is not to delve into what the regime and its imperialist enablers have done, or are doing; that unsavory record of atrocities, both at home and abroad, is abundantly exposed by other writers/commentators. It is, rather, to focus on why they have done or are doing what they do. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 1/18/16

Iran gives order for 500,000 bpd rise in oil production
Managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company says the Oil Ministry has been ordered to raise the country's daily oil production by 500,000 barrels following announcement of the removal of international sanctions against Iran. - 1/18/16

American Held in Iran Arrives in US, Others Remain in Germany
Kerry announced Sunday that Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Mirzaei Hekmati and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini were safely in Germany. Rezaian was accompanied by his wife, journalist Yeganeh Salehi, and his mother. "Today, all Americans celebrate the freedom of our fellow citizens," Kerry wrote on Twitter. -Chris Hannas, VOA - 1/18/16

At Debate, Democrats Praise Iran Deal, Spar Over Domestic Issues
The Democratic candidates running in this year's presidential election agreed Sunday that the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran and release of U.S. citizens represent a positive step in relations, while also calling on countries in the Middle East to do increase their role in the fight against Islamic State. -Chris Hannas, VOA - 1/18/16

Daimler says it plans quick return to Iran
German automaker Daimler says its truck business plans a swift return to Iran where the race among carmakers for a share of the country's huge market is getting intense after the lifting of sanctions. Daimler said Monday it has signed letters of intent with local partners Iran Khodro Diesel and Mammut Group to arrange a "comprehensive re-entry" into the country. - 1/18/16

Iran nabs key suspects in Saudi embassy raid
Iranian security forces have detained three people accused of having played a key role in the recent raid on the Saudi embassy in the capital, Tehran, a top Iranian Judiciary official says. He also said that efforts continue to identify and apprehend more suspects, and that investigations continue regarding those already in custody. - 1/18/16

The Nonproliferation Impact of Iran Nuclear Deal Implementation Day
On January 16, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that Tehran completed its nuclear-related commitments under the July 2015 nuclear agreement and sanctions were lifted accordingly. Zaif and Mogherini said that "proper implementation will be a key contribution to improved regional and international peace, stability and security." -Kelsey Davenport, LobeLog - 1/18/16

Iran, EU Announce Implementation Of Nuclear Deal
Iran and the European Union have agreed that Tehran has kept its nuclear promises under an agreement reached in July. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the agreement at a press conference in Vienna on January 16. - 1/17/16

Nuclear Deal 'Turning Point' For Iran's Economy, President Says
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has hailed the lifting of international sanctions on his country, saying a nuclear deal with world powers opened "new windows" for Tehran's engagement with the world. - 1/17/16

How does the Nuclear Deal Affect Personal Transactions Involving Iran?
Many questions have arisen following yesterday's landmark announcement of implementation of the nuclear agreement reached last July between Iran and the P5+1 states (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany). This deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (or JCPOA) has brought about much speculation about Iran's emergence from roughly a decade of punishing sanctions and its reintegration into the international economic and political sphere. -Farhad Alavi - 1/17/16

Obama's Iran Gamble Paying Off
In the ways of the world, sometimes objectively little events can symbolize much greater ones. Thus the determination by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has complied with requirements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), limiting its nuclear work and triggering the lifting of some economic sanctions, is trumped in the American public imagination by two other events... -Robert E. Hunter - 1/17/16

Iran announces deal for 114 Airbus planes: First deliveries in July
Airbus's first deliveries to flag carrier Iran Air are due as early as July, an Iranian official has said, after a minister announced a deal for purchase of 114 jets from the European company. Minister of Transportation Abbas Akhoundi made the announcement on Saturday which coincided with the official lifting of sanctions, putting an end to decades of economic embargo, including sales of aircraft and their parts to Iran. - 1/17/16

American Ex-Prisoners Leave Iran
A plane carrying at least three of four Americans freed by Iran as part of a prisoner swap with the United States has taken off from Tehran. On the other side, U.S. President Barack Obama offered clemency to seven Iranians who have either been charged or convicted for violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. -VOA - 1/17/16

World's response to implementation of Iran historic nuclear deal
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also hailed the agreement implementation. "This achievement demonstrates that international proliferation concerns are best addressed through dialogue and patient diplomacy," said Ban's spokesman in a statement. "This is a significant milestone that reflects the good faith effort by all parties to fulfill their agreed commitments," he added. - 1/17/16

U.S. Imposes New Sanctions On Iran
The United States has announced new sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals linked to Iran's ballistic missile program. The move comes a day after Washington and the EU lifted sanctions related to Tehran's nuclear program. - 1/17/16

Everything the Neocons Said about Sailorgate Is Wrong
You knew, when Iran detained 10 American sailors in its territorial waters just before President Obama delivered his State of the Union, that the reaction from the right was going to be ugly. But I must confess to watching the flood of tweets and other commentary from neoconservatives and their hawkish Washington allies with some awe: the neocons truly outdid themselves. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 1/17/16

Prisoner Swap: Obama's Secret Second Channel to Iran
Fourteen months ago, President Obama authorized a top-secret, second diplomatic channel with Tehran to negotiate freedom for Americans who had disappeared or been imprisoned in Iran. It was a high-risk diplomatic gamble. The initiative grew out of nuclear negotiations, launched in the fall of 2013, between Iran and the world's six major powers. -Robin Wright, New Yorker - 1/17/16

Iran Frees 4 Iranian-Americans In Prisoners Swap With U.S.
Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency says Tehran has freed Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-American dual nationals in a prisoner-swap deal. Also released were pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American in jail for three years after being convicted of undermining national security, and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who is serving 10 years for cooperating with hostile governments. There are mixed reports about the identity of the fourth freed prisoner. - 1/16/16

Zarif: Iran Expects Sanctions Will Be Lifted Saturday
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif says international economic sanctions on Iran will be lifted Saturday, with the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency expected to confirm that Tehran has complied with last July's landmark agreement with world powers to restrain its nuclear development program. "Today is a good day for the people of Iran and the sanctions will be lifted today," Zarif told Iran's IRNA news agency as he arrived in Vienna, awaiting the release of the final report by the International Atomic Energy Agency. "It's also a good day for the region." - 1/16/16

Iran Reformists Seek Electoral Gains After Nuclear Deal
Iranians go to the polls next month to elect two major bodies of leadership: the Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the country's top body of clerics. At the same time, as Iran prepares to rejoin world economic markets with the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, the current secular government hopes its performance will ensure electoral victories in the upcoming polls. -Heather Murdock, VOA - 1/16/16

President Obama Lifts Ban On Aircraft Sale To Iran
US President Barack Obama has lifted a decades-old ban on the export of civilian passenger aircraft to Iran as Tehran prepares to see sanctions relief. The historic decision comes against the backdrop of planned implementation of Iran's historic nuclear deal with world powers at the weekend. - 1/16/16

NIAC Applauds Release of Americans Imprisoned in Iran
"The agreement to free Americans imprisoned in Iran - Jason Rezaian, Siamak Namazi, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini - is a triumph of diplomacy that should be universally commended. Now, the freed Americans can be reunited with their families and friends after an extraordinarily trying time for everyone involved. We hope that they find solace in their freedom from the turmoil that they endured." - 1/16/16

Iran's Move To Add To Oil Glut Sends Global Markets Reeling
Oil prices plummeted to $29 a barrel on an expected increase in Iranian oil exports as international sanctions are lifted this weekend, dragging stock markets sharply lower around the world on January 15. With major indexes in New York, Shanghai, London and elsewhere plunging in a world awash in oil but lacking strong sources of economic growth, worried investors snapped up gold, bonds, and other safe-haven assets. - 1/16/16

Nuclear Deal Implementation Day
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) concluded by Iran and the world's six major powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - plus the European Union on July 14, 2015 requires Iran to take four major steps that will set back its capacity to produce material for nuclear weapons. -Daryl G. Kimball, U.S. Institute of Peace - 1/16/16

Iranian filmmakers to answer for promos on satellite programs
Ten Iranian filmmakers have been summoned to the media and culture court over the content of promotional teasers for their films as shown on satellite programs. The Cinema daily reported on Friday January 15 that the filmmakers will have to appear before the court on Saturday. - 1/16/16

The U.S.-Iran Prisoner Swap Is Yet Another Victory for Diplomacy and Human Rights
Diplomacy's great promise is that one can never predict where discussions will lead once they have begun. Serious, sustained negotiations first produced a historic nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran. They continued working together to ensure that 10 American sailors were released from Iranian custody less than 24 hours after inadvertently crossing into Iran's territorial waters. And now, high-level negotiations have led to the release of four Americans imprisoned in Iran in exchange for Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. -Reza Marashi, Huffington Post - 1/16/16

Cruz Proposes War as Alternative to Sailors' Negotiated Release
"And I give you my word, if I am elected president, no service man or service woman will be forced to be on their knees, and any nation that captures our fighting men and women will feel the full force and fury of the United States of America." -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 1/16/16

Republicans' Self-Defeating Attack on Obama's Iran Policy
Republican presidential hopefuls didn't celebrate the quick release of the U.S. military personnel who found themselves in Iranian waters near a sensitive military site. Rather, they portrayed it as a failed opportunity to escalate tensions with Iran, tear up the nuclear deal, and, in the process, potentially put the safety of U.S. military personnel in jeopardy. -Eli Clifton - 1/15/16

Iran Removes Core of Arak Heavy Water Reactor as Part of Nuclear Accord
Iranian state TV reported that Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by phone Thursday the removal of the core of the Arak heavy water nuclear reactor is complete. If not disabled the plant could have produced plutonium, a possible element in setting off a nuclear reaction. - 1/15/16

The Woman Shaping Iran's Oil Future
Raised in a pistachio-farming family in tradition-minded southern Iran, Hassanzadeh, 31, earned her law degree and Ph.D. in the U.K. on scholarships. She literally wrote the book on Iran's natural gas industry since the 1979 Islamic revolution--it was published last year by Oxford University Press. She has returned to Iran to head a consulting firm, Energy Pioneers, based in Tehran and London, that's at the vanguard of Iran's all-out push to lure back foreign investors after the expected lifting of sanctions in coming months. -Peter Waldman, Bloomberg - 1/15/16

Marine Veteran Held by Iran Received Care, His Family Says
A Marine veteran who is the longest-held American prisoner in Iran was allowed to receive medical treatment in a hospital outside his prison in recent weeks, his family said Thursday. It is unclear whether the hospital visit might be a precursor to his release. -New York Times - 1/15/16

Iranian And UAE Ministers Trade Twitter Digs In Saudi Standoff
The diplomatic crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia has spilled onto Twitter, where the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- Riyadh's staunch ally -- triggered a war of words by mocking an opinion piece by his Iranian counterpart published in The New York Times. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/15/16

The game industry of Iran
How economic sanctions and piracy shape how people in Iran make and play games. -Yara Elmjouie, Polygon - 1/15/16

Poets facing harsh sentences confirm fleeing Iran
Iranian poets Mehdi Mousavi and Fatemeh Ekhtesari, who were sentenced to heavy jail terms and flogging by the Islamic Republic government, have confirmed to Radio Zamaneh that they have left Iran. - 1/15/16

Exile, Censorship, and Pink Floyd: A Q+A With Curator Tom Vick on the Iranian Film Festival
Tom Vick, the Curator of Film at the Freer and its sister museum, the Sackler Gallery, spoke to Arts Desk via email about this year's selections, qualities of Iranian cinema, how Iranian directors work, which selections will appeal to non-cinephiles, and more. -Steve Kiviat, Washington City Paper - 1/15/16

The Fifth Anniversary of Arab Uprisings: A Turning point in Modern History?
The tumultuous developments that have rocked the Arab world and have come to be known as the Arab Spring resulted in the toppling of the first Arab ruler on 14 January 2011, exactly five years ago today. The Arab revolutions have not turned out as expected, but they are still unfinished business and still have a long way to go before one can judge their final outcome. -Farhang Jahanpour, Informed Comment - 1/15/16

Enduring Bases, Enduring War in the Middle East
Amid the distractions of the holiday season, the New York Times revealed that the Obama administration is considering a Pentagon proposal to create a "new" and "enduring" system of military bases around the Middle East. Though this is being presented as a response to the rise of the Islamic State and other militant groups, there's remarkably little that's new about the Pentagon plan. -David Vine - 1/15/16

The Underlying Messages of the US-Iran Naval Incident
When news broke that the naval branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had captured 10 US naval personnel whose boat had drifted into the territorial waters of the Iranian island of Farsi, it first appeared that Iran's hardliners were attempting to scuttle the implementation of the recently concluded nuclear deal and thus prevent any further improvement in US-Iran relations. -Shireen T. Hunter - 1/14/16

Sanctions Relief 'Likely' Within Days After Iran Fulfills Key Pledge
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said relief from Western economic sanctions is "likely within the coming days" after Iran fulfilled a key pledge under its nuclear agreement with world powers. Kerry said on January 13 that Iran was within hours of decommissioning its Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor as required under the agreement. - 1/14/16

US Investigating Iran's Brief Detention of US Sailors
The United States welcomed Iran's release of 10 U.S. Navy sailors Wednesday, a day after they drifted into Iranian waters and were detained. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said resolution of the incident was a success for diplomacy, and Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he was grateful to have the service members "back in our hands." -Carla Babb, VOA - 1/14/16

IRGC arrests of journalists credited with media impact
The Tasnim news agency, which is linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), says the change in leadership at Persian BBC is a result of the alleged blows the IRGC has managed to inflict on the network's activities inside Iran, referring to the arrest of a number of journalists in recent months. - 1/14/16

Restraint in the Persian Gulf
Hardliners who--for their separate reasons in each of the countries where such hardliners live--are still determined to sabotage the agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program must have been salivating when they first heard yesterday that Iran had taken into custody two U.S. Navy patrol boats and their crews in the Persian Gulf. This is just the sort of military incident that historically has upended detentes, spoiled diplomatic initiatives, and escalated into something much more than just an incident. -Paul Pillar, LobeLog - 1/14/16

Iranian Reformist Journalist Begins Serving Prison Sentence for Her Writings on Facebook
The well-known reformist journalist Reyhaneh Tabatabaie surrendered herself to Evin Prison authorities on January 12, 2016, to serve a one-year prison sentence. Tabatabaie's imprisonment follows a string of arrests of journalists and reformists, as hardliners in Iran move to silence moderate and independent voices ahead of critical Parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections in February 2016. - 1/14/16

Saudi Arabia and Iran: Is War Imminent?
No, war is not imminent between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia's ad hoc warlike posturing against Iran and continued war in Yemen, however, will exacerbate regional tensions and deepen the misery of Arab peoples. The Saudi execution early this month of Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr is not about Iran or the Saudi-Iranian power struggle and regional influence in the Persian Gulf. Nor is it about Saudi fears of an ascending "Persian Empire" to the east. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 1/14/16

The man behind Iran's most famous tower
For 45 years, Iran's most famous modern monument, the Azadi (Freedom) Tower in Tehran (designed by architect Hossein Amanat), has been the backdrop to every major news story coming out of the country. -Rozita Riazati, BBC - 1/14/16

Iran Frees All Detained U.S. Navy Sailors
Ten U.S. sailors and two patrol boats detained by Iran on January 12 and accused of trespassing have been released after Tehran determined they did not deliberately enter Iranian waters. "It was determined that the detained American Marines did not enter Iranian waters intentionally," the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted as telling Iranian state television. "Following their apology, they have been released to international waters in the [Persian] Gulf." - 1/13/16

Iran to sell 40 tons of heavy water to US
Iran said on Tuesday that it plans to sell as much as 40 tons of its excess heavy water supplies to the US - a major step which is expected to take the country toward the commercialization of its nuclear energy program. - 1/13/16

Saudi-Iran Crisis Mars Tehran Sanctions Relief
Iran is on the brink of reintroducing itself to the world economy as economic sanctions may be lifted soon in accordance with the nuclear deal struck in Vienna last year. Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. -Heather Murdock, VOA - 1/13/16

An Iranian Artist's Politically Charged Paintings Inspired by Persian Miniatures
Global/Local 1960-2015: Six Artists from Iran, opening today at New York University's Grey Art Gallery, draws upon an impressive collection of more than 200 Iranian artworks founder Abby Weed Grey began to amass more than 50 years ago. The show includes 90 works, from painting to mixed-media installation, and is the first major museum exhibition in the US to include pioneering Iranian modernists and emerging artists working in Tehran and abroad. -Alison Nastasi, Flavorwire - 1/13/16

Iranian Fighter Jet Crashes, Killing Two Pilots
Iranian state television reported that an Iranian F-4 Phantom fighter jet crashed close to the Pakistan border, killing two pilots. The crash took place on January 12 some 45 miles west of Konarak Air Base, around 900 miles southeast of the Iranian capital, Tehran. - 1/13/16

Can the Central Bank of Iran be stripped of its U.S. assets?
On January 13, the Supreme Court will explore ways to work itself out of a constitutional dilemma: showing respect for Congress's law-making powers, especially when it seeks to punish acts of terrorism, or respect for the independence of the courts to decide cases without political interference. -Lyle Denniston, Newsweek - 1/13/16

Saudi Disillusionment with the U.S. Started With Bush
The following are excerpts from a telephone interview conducted late last week with Amb. Chas Freeman, Jr. (ret.) regarding the latest developments between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in particular. Freeman, who served as U.S. ambassador (1989-1992) to the Kingdom during the first Gulf War and has maintained numerous high-level contacts there since, served in a variety of other positions in the U.S. Foreign Service. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 1/13/16

PHOTOS: The Kindness Station in Khorramabad provides cloths, food and books for the needy
Walls of kindness have been popping up all over Iran in an attempt to keep the homeless warm this winter. These spontaneous outdoor charities are based on a simple principal: "If you don't need it, leave it. If you need it, take it." A group of philanthropists in the city of Khorramabad in western Iran have gone a step further and created a Kindness Station which is equipped with a refrigerator and library where in addition to cloths, donors can leave food and books for the needy or the homeless. -Farnaz Goudarzi - 1/12/16

White House: Bill Would Prevent US Implementation of Iran Deal
The White House says a bill that seeks to bar the U.S. from lifting certain sanctions against Iran would violate commitments necessary to implement the international agreement to limit the Iranian nuclear program. - 1/12/16

Iranian reformists lobbying Guardian Council for more inclusive elections
Two days after the spokesman for the Guardian Council said failing to sit for the jurisprudence exam would automatically disqualify candidates from running for an Assembly of Experts seat, he announced that those who forego the exam can still possibly qualify. This comes as reformists have been reporting on efforts to lobby the Guardian Council. - 1/12/16

Netflix Opening to Iran Ends State Broadcasting's Decades of Monopoly
The Islamic Republic of Iran's near total monopoly on the broadcast of film and television series has effectively ended following the January 7, 2015, decision by Netflix to make its vast archive available to Iran and 129 other countries. - 1/12/16

EU Foreign-Policy Chief Says Iran Sanctions To End Soon; President Rohani Predicts 'Economic Boom'
The European Union foreign-policy chief said she expects economic sanctions against Iran to be lifted soon. Federica Mogherini, speaking to reporters in Prague, said there was no date set yet but that "the implementation of the agreement is proceeding well." - 1/12/16

Core removed from reactor in Arak, Iran as part of nuclear accord
The Arak reactor core has been removed, according to informed sources, and its place filled with concrete. Earlier, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Agency said all of Iran's commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action had been met, other than minor issues regarding the Arak Nuclear Plant. - 1/12/16

Detained Iranian Poet Describes Being Transported in a Cage and Watched "Like a Murderer"
The poet Hila Sedighi, who was arrested and held for two days amidst an intensifying crackdown on independent artistic and cultural figures in Iran, has posted a description of her 48-hour detention on her Facebook page, stating that she was watched throughout her detention "as if they were watching a murderer." - 1/12/16

Iranian Official Sacked Over Saudi Embassy Attack
Iran has dismissed a security official over the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, which led Riyadh and several of its allies to cut or downgrade ties with the Islamic republic. Baratlu's sacking was followed by the replacement of the head of police special forces in Tehran. It wasn't clear if his replacement was linked to the embassy attack. Iranian officials have condemned the attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. - 1/12/16

The Costs of Fearmongering
Journalists have noticed how much current political campaigns are trading on fear. As observed in a recent article in the Washington Post, "Most of the Republican presidential contenders and their allies are now waging campaigns focused on fear--bombarding voters with ominous television spots that warn of national security threats and amping up their alarming rhetoric on the stump." -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 1/12/16

Was Iran's Claim About Ramping Up Oil Production Just Hype?
Low oil prices and increased risks in investing in Iran are forcing the country to tread its waters very carefully -Dalan McEndree, TIME - 1/12/16

Iran opens $6 billion gas operations
Iran brings online two more operations in its biggest gas field, marking the opening of the first such project all carried out by domestic entities in the face of Western sanctions. President Hassan Rouhani attended inauguration of phases 15 and 16 of the South Pars field in Asaluyeh on Monday along with other senior officials, including his Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh. - 1/11/16

Mohammad Javad Zarif: Saudi Arabia's Reckless Extremism
Following the signing of the interim nuclear deal in November 2013, Saudi Arabia began devoting its resources to defeating the deal, driven by fear that its contrived Iranophobia was crumbling. Today, some in Riyadh not only continue to impede normalization but are determined to drag the entire region into confrontation. Saudi Arabia seems to fear that the removal of the smoke screen of the nuclear issue will expose the real global threat: its active sponsorship of violent extremism. The barbarism is clear. -New York Times - 1/11/16

Arab League Says Iran Undermining Regional Stability
Foreign ministers from countries in the Arab League have condemned Iran for what they say is meddling into Arab affairs and undermining regional stability. At an Arab League meeting in Cairo on January 10, the ministers accused Shi'ite-ruled Iran of breaking international agreements by intentionally failing to protect Saudi Arabia's diplomatic posts in Tehran. - 1/11/16

Young Iranian poet, Hila Sedighi, released on bail
Iranian poet Hila Sedighi, who was arrested this week at Imam Khomeini Airport upon arriving in Tehran, was released on bail on Saturday January 9. The Kaleme website reported the arrest of the young poet, saying she had apparently been sentenced in absentia. - 1/11/16

Iran approves imports of Chevrolets
Iran said on Sunday that it has issued the authorization for imports of automobiles produced by the American carmaker giant Chevrolet. The announcement has been made by the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran which says two of the company's models - Chevrolet Trax and Chevrolet Aveo - have received the required licenses to be imported into Iran. Both models are subcompact cars and are currently assembled in South Korea. - 1/11/16

Hill Update on Iran Policy
It is now clear that 2016 will see a continued and even redoubled campaign of pressure on Iran from Congress. For some members of Congress, this campaign will genuinely be about legitimate areas of U.S. concern, including human rights and support for terror. For many others, the campaign will be about exploiting any and all pretexts to try to undermine the JCPOA and return U.S. policy to the pre-JPOA-era - an era characterized by a zero-sum approach that inevitably boiled down to only military options and regime change fantasies. -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 1/11/16

The Geopolitics of Cheap Oil
The market was supposed to save the planet. That, at least, was the argument of many economists grappling with the problem of climate change. As fossil fuels became scarcer, they pointed out, the price of oil and natural gas would go up. And then other options, like solar and wind, would become cheaper, particularly as investment flowed into that sector and drove down the cost of new technologies. And voila: The invisible hand would gradually turn down the global thermostat. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 1/11/16

Young Poet Hila Sedighi Arrested at Airport in Tehran, Latest in String of Arrests
The poet and civil activist Hila Sedighi was arrested at Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 7, 2016, as she and her husband returned from a trip to the United Arab Emirates, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned. - 1/9/16

NORPAC Helps House Hawk Attack Iran Deal
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) is leading the charge in the House of Representatives to derail the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed between the P5+1 and Iran to limit the country's nuclear program in exchange for relief from nuclear-related sanctions. Royce may have a powerful financial incentive, in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in bundled campaign contributions from a group aligned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). -Eli Clifton - 1/9/16

Iran At UN Accuses Saudis Of 'Sectarian Hate-Mongering'
Iran accused Saudi Arabia of "sectarian hate-mongering" and said the kingdom must choose between promoting extremism and fostering good relations in the Middle East. In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on January 8, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif insisted Tehran has "no desire or interest in escalation of tension in our neighborhood" and hopes Saudi Arabia will "heed the cause of reason." - 1/9/16

Analysts: Nuclear Deal Plays Role in US Response to Iran, Saudi Crisis
The U.S. response to the rift in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran may be influenced, in part, by a U.S. desire to see the Iran nuclear deal implemented, according to analysts studying the crisis. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 1/9/16

U.S. Urged To Secure Release Of Reporter Jailed In Tehran
Executives from 25 news organizations urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to press for the release of a Washington Post reporter jailed in Tehran. "Journalism is not a crime. Yet...Jason Rezaian has been imprisoned by Iran since July 2014 for doing his job. Iran has never offered any evidence that even makes a pretense of justifying this imprisonment," the executives said in a January 8 letter to Kerry. - 1/9/16

No, Neocons, America Is Not "Tilting toward Iran"
im Lobe has already noted the swarm of neocons rushing to defend Saudi Arabia in the latest escalation of its ongoing rivalry with Iran, and Eli Clifton has explained how big money has bought a certain fealty to Saudi interests among the Washington elite. I'd like to focus on a particular thread within the larger pro-Saudi narrative, one that has been around since the nuclear talks began: the notion that the United States is shifting its Middle Eastern loyalties away from the Saudis and toward the Iranians. -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 1/9/16

Iranian-Canadians find road to integration is a rocky one
After meeting a number of the 160,000 Canadians of Iranian heritage, however, it's hard to reconcile the customary North American depiction of Iran as an extremist Islamic society of black-shrouded women and angry men who hate the West, with a country that Iranian-Canadians say is less repressive and more civilized than many recognize. -Todd. Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun - 1/9/16

Weekly Iranian newspaper publishes issue despite suspension
The Yalasarat weekly has published its latest issue despite an announcement by the Press Supervisory Board that the paper's licence was suspended for publishing insults against a government figure. Yalasarat, a weekly published by the extremist group Ansar-e Hezbollah, published an article that used sexual insults to describe the president's advisor on Women and Family Affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, and her collaboration with women's rights activists. - 1/9/16

Gulf Air suspends flights to Iran
Iran said on Saturday that Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air has announced that it will no longer make flights to Iran as of 14 January 2016. The official emphasized that Gulf Air currently operates 14 flights to Iran in a week. The flights are made to Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. - 1/9/16

U.S. Republicans Push Bill To Rein In Iran Nuclear Deal
A Republican bill to increase U.S. congressional oversight of the Iran nuclear deal cleared a key committee on January 7 and is headed for a vote in the full House of Representatives next week. The legislation approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee could undermine the landmark agreement, which Iran is working to implement quickly this year, and lead to a showdown with President Barack Obama over his signature foreign-policy achievement. - 1/8/16

Washington's Multi-Million-Dollar Saudi PR Machine
Public image isn't something one can always control, but Saudi Arabia is spending millions of dollars on Washington lobbyists and PR firms to improve the Kingdom's reputation in the West. The execution of Shiite leader Sheik Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, followed by an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Kingdom's severing of diplomatic relations with Iran, would seem to offer few upsides for the Saudi government. -Eli Clifton - 1/8/16

World Bank expects Iran's economic growth to hit 5.8% in 2016
The World Bank has forecast a major growth rate of 5.8 percent for the Iranian economy in 2016 as the country starts to benefit from the economic gains that the removal of multiple year sanctions is expected to bring about. - 1/8/16

More concern over health of detained Iranian opposition leader
The daughters of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hosein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard report that their parents, who have been under house arrest since February 2011, are now facing new health problems. - 1/8/16

Iranian Princess Ashraf, Shah's Twin Sister, Dies At 96
Iranian Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, the twin sister of the last shah of Iran, has died at the age of 96. Her death was announced by Reza Pahlavi, a son of the shah, in a Facebook post late on January 7. - 1/8/16

7,000-year-old woman on display at Tehran museum
The remains of a 7-millennia-old woman is still on display at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran, although the museum has limited the visiting hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The museum is currently hosting "Molavi St. Discoveries and Tehran 7,000-Year-Old Woman" exhibition, which runs until February 11. - 1/8/16

In Cartoons: How Iranians, Saudis See Each Other
Cartoonists on each side of an Iranian-Saudi diplomatic dispute are highlighting what they perceive as the other's double standards. The confrontation over Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric has sent tensions between the regional rivals soaring. -RFE - 1/8/16

Saudis Refuse To Play Soccer In Iran, Citing Security Fears
The rising tensions between Tehran and Riyadh reached into the sports arena, with the Saudi soccer federation citing security concerns for saying it will not to participate in matches in Iran. - 1/8/16

Don't Take Sides in Other People's Quarrels
Any balance sheet that carefully takes account of the attributes, interests, and objectives of Iran and Saudi Arabia does not yield a sound case for the United States to favor either side of that rivalry, and specifically not for the dominant tendency to consider Saudis as the good guys and Iranians as the bad ones. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 1/8/16

Iranian Soccer Player Jailed Over Photos With Unveiled Women
A professional Iranian soccer player has been jailed after photographs published on social media showed him together with several women not wearing the Islamic hijab, as required by Iranian law. Sosha Makani, a 29-year-old goalkeeper who has competed with Iran's national team, was arrested on January 4 and jailed following a complaint by private plaintiffs, Iranian media reported -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/7/16

Iran Accuses Saudi Warplanes Of Striking Its Embassy In Yemen
Iran has accused Saudi warplanes of "deliberately" attacking its embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. "Saudi Arabia is responsible for the damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said on January 7. "The cabinet has banned the entry of all Saudi products and products from Saudi Arabia," the Iranian government said in a statement, noting that a ban on Iranians travelling to the Saudi holy city of Mecca for the umrah pilgrimage was also in place "until further notice." - 1/7/16

The Mystery Behind The Saudi Embassy Attack In Iran
Two things are clear about those who ransacked and set alight the Saudi Embassy in Iran -- their actions got Riyadh's attention, and the clerical establishment in power in Tehran wants nothing to do with them. Who actually carried out the attack on the embassy in the Iranian capital, as well as a separate attack on the Saudi Consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad, remains a mystery, however. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 1/7/16

Iranian children's book author receives Gold Medals
Children's Literary Classics (CLC) announced that the children's book, Naji and the Mystery of the Dig , by Vahid Imani, is the 2015 recipient of the golden seal in three different categories - 1/7/16

Elections hopefuls from Iran's Nationalist-Religious groups disqualified as usual
Iran's elections hopefuls from Nationalist-Religious groups disqualified as usual. The Mizan Khabar website, which is linked to activists from Iran's Nationalist-Religious figures and Freedom Front Party, says a number of members have been disqualified by the Guardian Council from running in parliamentary elections. - 1/7/16

Iraq Caught In Crossfire As Saudi-Iran Rift Raises Sectarian Strife
The White House is seeking to help Iraq's leadership prevent a diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran from aggravating sectarian conflict in Iraq and undermining recent victories against the Islamic State (IS) group. - 1/7/16

Neocons Defend Saudi Arabia
Much of the West is focused on the latest sectarian provocations by Saudi Arabia, such as the execution of Shiite leader Sheik Nimr Baqr al-Nimr followed by the formal breaking of diplomatic relations with Iran in uber-retaliation for the attack on the kingdom's embassy in Tehran. U.S. neoconservatives, however, are standing in support of that wellspring of expansionist Wahhabism. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 1/7/16

Iran: Censorship board rejects blocking of Telegram app
Iran's Press Supervisory Board has voted down a move to block the mobile app Telegram for Iranian users. The attorney general's representative on the board, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, told the Fars News Agency that at the Tuesday session of the Press Supervisory Board, a majority of members voted against filtering Telegram. - 1/7/16

The Real Reason Why Saudi Arabia Executed Sheikh Nimr
Saudi Arabia finally executed the elderly Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, even though many Muslim and other religious leaders as well as the United Nations and a number of political leaders had urged-at least privately-Saudi Arabia to commute the death sentence. Viewed in any logical light, this execution could not be in Saudi Arabia's short- and long-term interests. But the execution can also be understood as a strategy to provoke Iran to respond in a way to justify a Saudi military attack against it. -Shireen T. Hunter - 1/6/16

Feathers Of Fire: Shahnameh Shadow Play at Fort Mason in San Francisco
Experience a new type of shadow puppet theater with ShadowLight Productions' Feathers of Fire. This action-packed, cinematic shadow play tells a magical story of star-crossed lovers, based on Shahnameh, a classic Persian epic legend from the 10th century. - 1/6/16

Iran opens 2nd underground missile site to cameras
Iran's parliament (Majlis) speaker, Ali Larijani, has officially visited the second underground missile facility of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) packed with precision-guided long-range Emad missiles. The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) aired on Tuesday exclusive footage of the deep underground tunnel filled with numerous Emad ballistic missiles. - 1/6/16

Iraq Joins US, Russia in Effort to Lower Iran-Saudi Tensions
Iraq's foreign minister offered Wednesday to act as a mediator between its neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia. Those relations became further strained in the past week with the Saudi execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric, angry protesters storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Saudi Arabia's subsequent decision to cut off diplomatic ties with Iran. -Chris Hannas, VOA - 1/6/16

The United States Shouldn't Choose Saudi Arabia Over Iran
It's far too dangerous to take sides in the proxy war between the two great Sunni and Shia states. In fact, our interests are more aligned with Tehran's. -Stephen Kinzer, Politico - 1/6/16

Glenn Greenwald on "Submissive" Media's Drumbeat for War and "Despicable" Anti-Muslim Scapegoating
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, media coverage has seen familiar patterns: uncritically repeat government claims, defend expansive state power, and blame the Muslim community for the acts of a few. We discuss media fearmongering, anti-Muslim scapegoating, ISIL's roots, and war profiteering with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-founder of The Intercept. -Democracy Now - 1/6/16

Saudi Executions: A Trap for Washington?
Observers of the Middle East woke up on the normally peaceful day after the New Year to the unsettling news that Saudi Arabia had executed 47 terrorists. Among the executed were three foreign nationals, 40 Saudi Sunnis followers of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and four Saudi Shi'a including the world famous Sheikh al-Nimr. -Jean-Francois Seznec, LobeLog - 1/6/16

The Saudi Executions: Fury in Iran But Not Here
The Obama administration's reaction to the mass executions in Saudi Arabia on New Year's Day came in the form of a mildly worded statement issued over the holiday weekend by State Department spokesman John Kirby. -Thomas Lippman - 1/5/16

Danish FM in Iran for 'win-win' exchange with Tehran
Denmark seeks to increase its economic exchange with Iran and looks forward to a win-win trade with the Islamic Republic, says Danish Foreign Minister Christian Jensen. The top Danish diplomat made the comments on Tuesday in Tehran at a gathering on the promotion of trade between the two countries - 1/5/16

Cutting Iran ties can't hide Saudi crime: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Saudi Arabia will not be able to distract from its "great crime" of killing a religious leader by severing its ties with the Islamic Republic. Referring to the Saturday execution by Saudi Arabia of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, President Rouhani said on Tuesday, "It is only natural that a crime against Islamic and human rights will be met with reaction from public opinion." - 1/5/16

U.S. Struggles to Explain Alliance With Saudis
The Obama administration on Monday confronted the fundamental contradiction in its increasingly tense relationship with Saudi Arabia. It could not bring itself, at least in public, to condemn the execution of a dissident cleric who challenged the royal family, for fear of undermining the fragile Saudi leadership that it desperately needs in fighting the Islamic State and ending the conflict in Syria. -NY iImes - 1/5/16

U.S. Can Afford to Side With Iran Over Saudis
The rapidly escalating conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, sparked by the execution of a Saudi Shiite activist, may seem like the natural outgrowth of a decade's Sunni-Shiite tensions. But more than denominational differences, what's driving the open conflict is the Saudis' deepening fear that the U.S. is shifting its loyalties in the Persian Gulf region from its traditional Saudi ally to a gradually moderating Iran. -Noah Feldman, Bloomberg - 1/5/16

Get Over It: Iran Will Have Missiles
There are several important things to understand about ballistic missiles and Iran, beyond the fact that this topic has become one of the latest on which those who want Iran to be an ostracized and feared pariah forever, and who still want to kill the agreement to restrict Iran's nuclear program, have seized. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 1/5/16

Will the U.S. fall for Saudi Arabia's deliberate provocation in killing of Shi'ite cleric?
There should be little doubt that Saudi Arabia wanted to escalate regional tensions into a crisis by executing Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. On the same day, Riyadh also unilaterally withdrew from the ceasefire agreement in Yemen. By allowing protestors to torch the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response, Iran seems to have walked right into the Saudi trap. If Saudi Arabia succeeds in forcing the United States into the conflict by siding with the kingdom, then its objectives will have been met. -Trita Parsi, Reuters - 1/5/16

Iranian Leader rejects idea that elections have been rigged
The Iranian Supreme Leader has denied the existence of any form of systematic violation of elections to date and said election organizers should be wary of "infiltrators". Iranians will go to the polls in March to elect members of the Assembly of Experts and Parliament. - 1/5/16

Iranian weekly suspended for sexual insults against female adviser
The Ya Lesarat weekly has lost its publication permit for insulting the president's adviser on women and family affairs. In its last two issues, Yalsarat has published articles containing sexual insults aimed at Shahindokht Molaverdi. - 1/5/16

The Quiet Crisis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
A diplomatic feud with Iran exposes frailty within the House of Saud: The latest uproar between Saudi Arabia and Iran has spread far and fast since the Saudis executed 47 people by beheading on the day after New Year's Day. -Karl Vick, TIME - 1/5/16

Iran, Emerging From Sanctions, Faces Crisis After Saudi Arabia Embassy Attack
When a Saudi state executioner beheaded the prominent Shiite dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, the Shiite theocracy in Iran took it as a deliberate provocation by its regional rival and dusted off its favored playbook, unleashing hard-liner anger on the streets. Now, Iranian leaders are suddenly forced to reckon with whether they played into the Saudis' hands, finding themselves mired in a new crisis at a time they had been hoping to emerge from international sanctions as an accepted global player. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 1/5/16

Iran Can Ignore Saudi's Market Lesson
For all the meltdown in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two Middle East countries have got something in common -- at least in terms of markets.This time last year, Saudi authorities promised to open the country's stock market to an anticipated wave of direct foreign investment. In 2016, it's Iran's turn -- if sanctions are lifted soon, then a tide of foreign money could flood in.But that's where the similarity ends. -Bloomberg - 1/5/16

Saudi Arabia Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Iran as Tensions Escalate
Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran less than a day after demonstrators in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy to protest the Saudi execution of a prominent Shi'ite cleric. In comments carried by the state-run IRNA news agency, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian criticized the move late Sunday, saying Saudi Arabia could not distract from its "big mistake" of executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by cutting ties with Iran. - 1/4/16

Events in Iraq, Iran converge to produce hope
After years of discussion, Iran's nuclear agreement of July reached a turning point last week on Dec. 28. A Russian shipment carried almost all of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium out of the country, a major step toward implementing the nuclear deal struck last summer. For the first time in nearly a decade, Iran was left with too little fuel to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Secretary of State John Kerry called it "one of the most significant steps Iran has taken toward fulfilling its commitment." -R. K. Ramazani - 1/4/16

Iranian reformist-linked daily Bahar shut down again
The Bahar daily, a newspaper linked to Iran's reformist forces, was shut down once again on Sunday January 3. The judiciary announced that the Bahar daily was closed down for "propaganda against the regime and publishing material that harms the foundations of the Islamic Republic". - 1/4/16

Judge's Tirade Bodes Poorly for Independent Music Producers in Iran
An Appeals Court judge has admonished collaborators of a popular music site for ignoring repeated warnings that they were operating illegally and having ties with Iranian singers abroad opposed to the Islamic Republic. - 1/4/16

Tehran air pollution takes fatal toll on disabled students
The head of the Tehran Board of Special Education says three disabled students in Tehran have died due to severe pollution in the city. The state television network Seda va Sima reported on Saturday January 2 that the three students were hospitalized due to respiratory complications and later passed away in hospital. - 1/4/16

2016 Noor Iranian Film Festival Official Selections Announced
Noor Iranian Film Festival is pleased to announce its 2016 Official Feature, Shorts, Animation, and Documentary Selection. More than 35 films from filmmakers around the world have been selected and will be showcased in 2016. - 1/4/16

Katayoun Goudarzi and Shujaat Husain Khan Continue a Musical Journey with the Release of "Ruby"
The melding of musical styles is too dry a term, and perhaps a foolish one, but it is hard to put into words what occurs on some occasions. The harmonious relationship between Iranian-born singer Katayoun Goudarzi and one of India's foremost and prolific classical musicians Shujaat Husain Khan defies proper description. -BWW - 1/4/16

Iran Says Saudi Arabia Faces 'Divine Vengeance' For Executions
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned Saudi Arabia of "divine vengeance" over the execution of an opposition Shi'ite cleric, while Riyadh accused Tehran of supporting terrorism -- escalating their criticism of each other just hours after protesters stormed the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. - 1/3/16

Iran's 18 degree Celsius challenge to fight air pollution
In a post on social media, Masoumeh Ebtekar, Director of Iran's Department of the Environment, called for a national movement to lower the temperature of buildings in metropolises across the country to at most to 18 degrees Celsius in corridors and indoor places and to 21 degrees in rooms. The post also featured letters addressing the vice presidents, ministers and all governors to accept the challenge. - 1/3/16

White House: More Time Needed on Iran Sanctions
The Obama administration said Saturday that it needed more time before it could move to impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program. Rhodes said the additional work the U.S. was undertaking was not based on pushback from Iran. - 1/3/16

Shi'ite Muslims Outraged by Saudi Execution of Cleric
Iran's Revolutionary Guard said in a statement Sunday Nimr's death would lead to the "downfall" of Saudi Arabia's monarchy. The Guard described Nimr's execution as a "medieval act of savagery." Nimr's execution has caused international outrage and a serious escalation of diplomatic tensions in the region, with unrest predicted in Shia-majority areas. -Smita Nordwall, VOA - 1/3/16

Dr Khodadad Farmanfarmaian: A Man For All Seasons
Dr Khodadad Farmanfarmaian who passed away on the 16 December 2015 in London, England at the age of 87, left behind an American wife, two daughters, a son, and a legion of cousins, nieces and nephews, friends and colleagues. Eleven days later at a memorial held at the Carlton Tower Hotel a hundred people shuffled about into a glittering ballroom to honour a fine man who had made a difference in their lives and that of his beloved homeland. -Cyrus Kadivar - 1/3/16

Iran says airlines not interested in Russian planes
Russian aviation officials have recently been voicing readiness to answer Iran's needs for new planes. However, Iranian officials say the country's airlines are not interested in Russian planes. - 1/3/16

Can the Iran Accord Survive New Challenges?
While Iran has swiftly moved to comply with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the multilateral nuclear accord struck in July, hardliners in both Iran and the U.S. have already succeeded in provoking actions that threaten to poison the atmosphere for the deal's implementation. -Ryan Costello, NIAC - 1/2/16

Saudi Arabia Executes 47, Including Prominent Shi'ite Cleric
Saudi Arabia has carried out its largest mass execution in more than three decades, putting to death 47 people convicted of terrorism, including a prominent Shi'ite cleric. The cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was a key figure in Shi'ite protests that erupted during the 2011 Arab Spring. He had also criticized the government's treatment of Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite minority, many of whom complain of nationalization. -VOA - 1/2/16

Iran draws red line on missile program
Iranian officials have lined up to underline the country's push to buttress missile capabilities after reports that the US administration planned new sanctions on the Islamic Republic in spite of a nuclear accord. - 1/2/16

10 Historical Gardens in Tehran to Escape the City
When the hectic city life of Tehran tightens its grip around our neck, most Tehraners usually hit the road to the Caspian sea to catch some breath and refresh. But what if work, schedule and a ton of other stuff are trapping you in the capital? Then what? -Matin Lashkari, Travestyle - 1/2/16

Central Asia Spurning All Anti-Terror Coalition Suitors
In the two weeks since Saudi Arabia announced that it was forming a yet another "coalition" to combat Islamist terror, the allegiances of the former Soviet states have come under increasing scrutiny. All of them, however, appear to believe that they have little to gain from picking a side and continue to spurn the advances from various suitors, including Russia and the United States in addition to the Saudis. -Joshua Kucera, LobeLog - 1/2/16

White House Said To Delay Sanctions On Iran After Tehran Retaliates
The White House is delaying imposing new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, The Wall Street Journal reported December 31. The move to pull back planned sanctions, which at one point the Journal said were to be announced on December 30, came after Tehran moved to retaliate by speeding up the program that the United States believes is in violation of existing United Nations sanctions. - 1/1/16

Highest Ranked Woman in Iran's Government to Sue Extremist Publication
The Iranian government's most senior female official, Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, plans to take legal action against an extremist publication for comparing her to a prostitute. The weekly Ya Lesarat, the mouthpiece of the shadowy, semi-official vigilante group Ansar-e Hezbollah known for its violent enforcement of ultraconservative dictates, has a long history of defaming and inciting violence against women with whom it has ideological differences. - 1/1/16

Iranian Judiciary Head Calls For Strict Oversight Of Election Candidates
The head of Iran's judiciary has urged the Guardian Council to prevent ineligible candidates from running in the Assembly of Experts and Parliamentary elections slated for March 2016. Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces has warned that a repeat of the 2009 election events would be difficult to get through. - 1/1/16

Low Oil Prices Cost Iran 23.6 Billion Dollars
Tasnim news agency in a report on Friday alleged that plunging oil prices is a result of a campaign by the United States and Saudi Arabia to undermine the Iranian economy. That campaign, Tasnim wrote, was specifically intensified as Iran started to make progress in talks to resolve disputes over its nuclear energy activities with the view to remove the multiple-year sanctions against its economy. - 1/1/16
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