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Negotiators In Final Push Ahead Of Iran Nuclear Deal Deadline
Negotiators from Iran and six world powers are in their final day of talks before a midnight deadline for a framework agreement to impose limits on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. - 3/31/15

Netanyahu's U.S. Popularity Has Declined Sharply: Poll
While U.S. public sentiment toward Israel has remained relatively stable, favorability ratings for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have declined sharply over the past six weeks, and particularly since his controversial speech before Congress March 3, according to a new survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center. -Jim Lobe - 3/31/15

Stress and Hope In Tehran
As Iran and world powers including the United States try to reach a deal on nuclear controls in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, Iranians from all walks of life are watching and hoping for a new start. -Photos by Newsha Tavakolian, NY Times - 3/31/15

Premiere of Mark Grey and Niloufar Talebi's "The Plentiful Peach" at Stanford
Commissioned by the LACC, the work is adapted from a story by the great Iranian writer, Samad Behrangi (1939-1968). The Plentiful Peach is the coming of age story of a peach and the brave children who secretly grow her-against the master's odds. - 3/31/15

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East
Turkey's president warned it will not tolerate Iran dominating the Middle East, amid growing concerns inside the country that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor. Observers warn that Turkey's newly-assertive policy has risks, given that relations with most of its neighbors are strained. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 3/31/15

Iran Targets Ex-President's Son in Selective Corruption Probe
In hard-line regimes, punishment can sometimes be dealt out under the guise of sweeping out corruption. Such appears to be the case in Tehran where the regime has punished the son of a prominent ex-president, who analysts say is being targeted for supporting the political opposition, the Green Movement. -Jeffrey Young, VOA - 3/31/15

Iran Says U.S. Drone Killed Two Advisers In Iraq
Tehran says a U.S. drone strike killed two Iranian advisers in Iraq last week, but the United States says it has only struck Islamic State (IS) militants in its campaign. - 3/31/15

History, Religion, and Yemen
When Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, was spreading his dominion across the Arabia peninsula nearly a century ago, one of his early decisions was to impose jizyah, the Muslim religious tax on unbelievers, on the Shiite residents of his new lands. Abdul Aziz was declaring them not to be Muslims. -Thomas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 3/31/15

Operations in Yemen: What's Afoot?
The conflict in Yemen is frequently described as sectarian, with the Houthis usually described as "Shi'a." In fact, the situation in Yemen, tragic as it is for Yemenis caught up in it, is far more political than sectarian and shows the multi-layered intricacies of Middle East politics, both nationally, and internationally. - James Spencer, LobeLog - 3/31/15

Iran Talks Get Tougher as Deadline Looms
Two top foreign ministers helping to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran are sounding confident that an agreement can be reached by Tuesday's deadline. Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Sunday that several elements are missing, and Iran has to be more flexible. But he said he believes Iran wants the talks to end. -Al Pessin, VOA - 3/30/15

iBRIDGE Berlin Conference - High Tech Entrepreneurship in Iran: Opportunities and Challenges
iBRIDGE Berlin is a three-day event to be held on June 4-6, 2015 in Berlin, Germany that is organized by iBRIDGES. It will bring together European and American entrepreneurs and their counterparts in Iran to explore the role that a high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem can play in Iran's economic development and diversification. The event will be comprised of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and workshops, as well as visits to local incubators in Berlin. - 3/30/15

Iran Nuclear Deal: Can One Dare Hope?
After 36 years of hostility between Iran and the West and 13 years of nuclear negotiations, first involving Iran and the European Troika (Britain, France and Germany), followed by the P5+1 (the above countries plus the United States, Russia and China), it seems that finally one can start to be optimistic and hope that a long, dark chapter will come to an end. -Farhang Jahanpour - 3/30/15

An Iranian model of altruism, volunteerism, philanthropy and scholarship in the Diaspora
The devotion of one's intellectual and material resources to the betterment of human society has been emphasized in Persian/Iranian literature, culture and religions since the earliest times. Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, Mazdakism, Manichaeism and more recently Islam have all pursued this path. The prolific output of Persian poetry and prose is replete with recommendations to serve society as best as one can. Endowments (vaqhf) for the benefit of society have a long history in the Iranian world that preceded Islam. -Davood Rahni, New York - 3/30/15

Portrait of a Nation: From the harems of the Qajars to the Iran-Iraq War - a history of photography in Iran
The emergence of photography in Iran dates back to the mid-19th century, shortly after its invention in Europe in 1839. There have been academic debates regarding the exact date, but according to the remarkable collection of historic photographs in the Golestan Palace in Tehran, the very first photographic images taken in Iran can be dated between 1839 and 1842. -Sanaz Jamloo - 3/30/15

Progress Reported on Iran Nuclear Deal, but No Agreement
The United States and five other world powers moved toward an agreement with Iran to limit Tehran's nuclear development program, but have yet to reach a final accord. Diplomats meeting Sunday in Lausanne, Switzerland, reported Tehran has shown a willingness to cut the number of nuclear centrifuges it operates to fewer than 6,000 and ship most of its enriched uranium stockpiles to Russia for storage. -VOA - 3/29/15

The Probable Historical Origin of the so-called Islamist Terrorists
No doubt, since the sudden appearance of the group called Daesh or ISIS in the last summer, their rapid progress and spread shocked all of us throughout the world, wondering ever since who are they? -Roya Monajem, Tehran - 3/29/15

Los Angeles City Hall Celebrates Nowruz
On Friday, March 20th, the Los Angeles City Hall celebrated Nowruz alongside the Iranian American community for the eleventh year in a row. Beginning in 2004 with the support of PAAIA Board Member Pouria Abbassi and Congressman Tony Cardenas, the Nowruz celebration at Los Angeles City Hall has become an annual tradition expressing the city's gratitude for the contributions of their Iranian American residents. - 3/29/15

UN Keeps Pressure on Iran for its Rights Failures
March 27, 2015-The United Nations Human Rights Council voted today to renew the mandate of Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, signaling the international community's continued concern over the state of human rights in Iran. The resolution to renew the mandate received 20 votes in favor, 11 against, and 16 abstentions. - 3/29/15

Capitol Hill Developments on Iran and Israel
The following are excerpts from the latest legislative update from Americans for Peace Now. It provides a summary of a number of Iran- and Israel-related issues and developments on Capitol Hill. Congress is now on spring break and won't be back in session until the second week of April. -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 3/29/15

Iranian Screenwriter, TV Producer Jailed In Tehran
A former screenwriter and producer with Iran's state-controlled television has been in jail in Tehran for the past two months. Mostafa Azizi, who moved to Canada in 2010, had returned to Tehran to visit his relatives when he was arrested in February and transferred to the notorious Evin prison. - 3/29/15

Saudi Airstrikes In Yemen Raise Specter Of Iranian Retaliation
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen have raised fears of a proxy war and direct conflict between Tehran and rival Riyadh. But some analysts say this is unlikely - and caution there are other concerns much more pressing. - 3/29/15

Iran Nuclear Talks Intensify
Senior diplomats from several of the so-called P5+1 nations dealing with Iran's controversial nuclear ambitions are arriving in Lausanne Saturday where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been meeting for talks aimed at reaching a framework deal by Tuesday's deadline. - 3/28/15

Obama in the Middle East: Condominium Or Equilibrium?
In the last 48 or so hours, U.S. warplanes began bombing Islamic State (ISIS or IS) targets in and around Tikrit in support of the Iran-backed and Shi'a-led Iraqi government. At the same time, Washington provided unspecified intelligence and logistical support to a Saudi-led attack (if not invasion) against Houthi forces in Yemen. Coincidence? -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/28/15

2015 Farhang Short Film Festival Winners Announced
Maryam Farahzadi's The Role of Each Fret (Iran) was this year's winning short film and awarded the top prize of $10,000. Commotion (Osyan) (Canada) by KAJART was the runner up and recipient of the $5,000 award. Rounding out the top three was Ali Azimi's & Arash Ashtiani's Prelude (Pishdaramad) (UK), which nabbed the $3,000 award. - 3/28/15

French, German FMs Join Nuclear Iran Talks In Lausanne
The French and German foreign ministers, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Lausanne, Switzerland, for talks on Tehran's nuclear program. - 3/28/15

Photos: Norouz travelers flock to the ancient ruins of Persepolis
One of the favorite destinations for Iranians traveling during the Persian New Year Norouz holidays is the the ancient ruins of Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid). Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550-330 BCE). Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. - 3/28/15

Dollar continues to lose against Rial as hopes for nuclear deal grow stronger
Iran's exchange markets on Saturday saw a fresh drop in the rates of the US Dollar against the Rial in what many believe is the result of a growing business optimism toward the results of Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne. - 3/28/15

Iran, US Continue Nuclear Talks Ahead of Deadline
U.S. and Iranian negotiators are set Friday to continue a final round of talks on Tehran's nuclear program, as a March 31 deadline to reach a framework deal draws closer. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Lausanne, Switzerland. Both sides have expressed optimism a deal can be reached. - 3/27/15

Iran President Speaks With French, British, Russian Leaders
Iranian President Hassan Rohani spoke by telephone March 26 with the leaders of France, Britain, and Russia in an attempt to break an impasse that has held up a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. - 3/27/15

Iran, P5+1 hold deputy-level nuclear talks in Lausanne
Iran and the P5+1 group of countries have held a new round of talks at the deputy level in Switzerland to bridge differences on the outstanding issues pertaining to Tehran's nuclear program. Representatives of Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany took part in the Thursday talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne. - 3/27/15

Following Outcry at UMass Amherst, Another U.S. University Revises Policy on Iranian Students
In response to outreach from the National Iranian American Council, one more university is taking steps to ensure that its enforcement of sanctions and other restrictions against Iran do not unduly discriminate against Iranian students. - 3/27/15

Iranian Film "13" to screen at Tiburon International Film Festival
Struggling to deal with his parent's divorce and constant abuse at school, thirteen-year-old Behmani lashes out. He finds solace in a group of older street kids. They treat him as an adult and as one of their own. He soon gets in over his head when he becomes entangled in their own complex lives. - 3/27/15

House Letter is Careful to Leave Door Open For Iran Deal
In a signal of a shifting political landscape in Congress for nuclear talks with Iran, a House letter sent to the President and endorsed by the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) outlines a position closer to the Obama Administration approach rather than the hardline demands favored most prominently by Benjamin Netanyahu. -Jamal Abdi and Ryan Costello, NIAC - 3/27/15

Journalist Who Backed Rohani Flees Iran
An Iranian journalist who campaigned for President Hassan Rohani and who had traveled to Lausanne with Iranian negotiators to cover talks on Tehran's nuclear program is seeking political asylum in Switzerland. Amir Hossein Motaqi, editor of Iran's ISKA news agency, told RFE/RL he decided to seek asylum after being hampered in his journalistic work by Iranian officials. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 3/27/15

Celebration of Nowruz at City Hall in San Francisco
Celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year on Friday, March 27 at 6 p.m. at San Francisco City Hall with the diverse Bay Area community. This is a commitment by members of the community with the support of Ross Mirkarimi, San Francisco Sheriff and Iranican Inc a 501c3 non-profit in the Bay Area. - 3/26/15

Iran, US kick off fresh nuclear talks
Iranian and US diplomacy chiefs have kicked off a fresh round of talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne as part of broader negotiations between Iran and six world powers aimed at clinching a final deal over Tehran's nuclear program. - 3/26/15

The plausible normalization of U.S.-Iran Diplomatic Relations: Who are the losers and winners?
As the nuclear negotiations between the P+5 countries and Iran approach the deadline of March 31st, two divergent groups have emerged worldwide which envision the possible outcome as contrary or affirmatory to their special interests. Whereas the ones opposing such a breakthrough are highly organized, well financed and combatively vocal, those gaining from the plausible affirmative outcome are agnostically ambivalent or low keyed in ensuring their voices are clearly and loudly heard. -Rachel Eliasi Kohan - 3/26/15

Fearing Success of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement
Those determined to kill any agreement with Iran have trotted out a succession of rationales for doing so but have kept their focus firmly fixed on the U.S. Congress. That is hardly surprising, given that both houses of Congress are now controlled by the anti-Obama party and Congress is where the lobby that acts on behalf of the right-wing government in Israel exerts its power most directly. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/26/15

When singing is a revolutionary act: the women challenging Iran's fear of female creativity
"How can we sing without the colour of the female voice?" This is the question at the heart of No Land's Song, a new documentary by the Iranian director Ayat Najafi. The film follows the director's sister, Sara Najafi, a singer and composer who is attempting to host a concert of female singers in Tehran. -Anna Leszkiewicz, New Statesman - 3/26/15

Momeni Foundation is accepting applications for the year 2014 Academic Scholarships
Momeni Foundation is dedicated to providing scholarships to graduating high school students and full time college students of Iranian descent anywhere in the world. The Financial Assistance Scholarship is available to all college students of Iranian descent regardless of citizenship or country of residency. - 3/26/15

Iran Condemns Saudi-Led Air Strikes In Yemen
Iran has condemned regional rival Saudi Arabia for launching air strikes against Shi'ite Huthi rebels in Yemen, calling it a "dangerous step" that would exacerbate the upheaval in the Arabian Peninsula nation. Iran's Foreign Ministry said on March 26 that military action would "further complicate the situation" and "remove opportunities for a peaceful resolution" in Yemen. - 3/26/15

Challenging Iran's women's rights narrative
Earlier this month, Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran's Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, led an official delegation to the United Nations in New York to attend the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. -Faraz Sanei, CNN - 3/26/15

Resolving the Remaining Issues in Iran Talks
Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council and Germany) left the negotiating table in Lausanne last week without agreeing to a path toward a Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (CJPOA). They are scheduled to resume their talks on March 26. The most pressing issues remain: -Adnan Tabatabai, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Event in New York: "A Spring Voyage to Celebrate Iranian and American Fusion"
Persian Arts Festival is proud to announce its 9th annual Nowruz celebration, Night of Melodic Wanderlust, a spring voyage to celebrate Iranian and American fusion, MC'ed by comedienne Susan Peret, featuring Persian-Americana rock from three of the city's hottest bands. The highly-anticipated event will take place at NYC's premier global music venue Drom on Friday, March 27 at 7:00pm ET. - 3/25/15

US Officials React to Allegations of Israeli Spying
U.S. President Barack Obama said when it comes to the negotiations to secure an agreement ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, the U.S. has been briefing the U.S. Congress on developments as well as Israel and other partners around the world. - 3/25/15

Lies, Spin, and Campaign Rhetoric
A headline in Monday's New York Times tells us, "Netanyahu Aides Cite Iran as Source of U.S. Tensions." Talk about the Great Satan! These coolly analytical aides understand that Tehran is responsible for all the evils that afflict the Middle East and give the US a giant headache. And if we concentrate on worrying about Iran, maybe we'll forget about the Palestinians. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Meet Our Man in Tehran
In a new video series, Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran bureau chief for The New York Times, interviews the people of Iran, a country that is slowly changing and where nothing is as it seems. This is the first video in a seven part series rolling out over the next 7 weeks. - 3/25/15

Iran, North Korea, and the Congress that Says No
Negotiators are rushing to meet an end-of-March deadline to reach a nuclear framework deal with Iran. The Obama administration and its P5+1 partners (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are willing to lift economic sanctions as long as Iran agrees to substantially curb its nuclear program for at least 10 years. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Another Likud Republican: Jeb Bush Pledges "Unwavering" Support for Bibi
More evidence that multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has effectively gained control of the Republican Party leadership came today with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's assertion that his "support for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwavering..." -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/25/15

Report of Pars Equality Center's 5th Annual Nowruz Gala
Pars Equality Center (PEC)- a Bay Area-based non-profit organization providing social and legal services to the Iranian-American community-celebrated its 5th Annual Nowruz/Persian New Year Gala at San Francisco's Marriott Waterfront Burlingame Hotel on March 15, 2015. - 3/24/15

Israel Reportedly Spying on Iranian Nuclear Talks
As the United States and a group of five other world powers held nuclear negotiations with Iran, U.S. ally Israel used espionage to glean details of the secret talks and work behind the scenes to scuttle any potential agreement, according to a report posted late Monday by The Wall Street Journal. -VOA - 3/24/15

Persian Music Reverberates in New York at Spring Vernal Equinox
Exhilaratingly transfixed by the Persian music, the audience ascended into introspective trance and awe, thereby transcending borders, cultures, histories, minds and bodies at the ArtsWestchester in White Plains New York Saturday night. -Davood Rahni - 3/24/15

Cost of Living Increased by 20-50 Percent In The Last Iranian Year
According to government statistics, the rate of inflation dropped in the Persian calendar year that is ending on March 21th. But a look at media news agency reports along with the pronouncements made by authorities, cost of living continued to rise in the last twelve month period. In fact, a new wave of price hikes is expected to hit the pockets of ordinary Iranians in the coming year that begins on March 21st. -Nazanin Kamdar - 3/24/15

Wounded from terror attacks in Yemen treated in Iran
A number of people wounded in the suicide attacks in Yemen on Friday March 20 have been transferred to Iran for treatment. On Friday, two mosques in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, were targeted by suicide attacks that killed 137 people and left 340 wounded. Sanaa and a number of northern parts of Yemen are currently under Hothi control. - 3/24/15

Iran's South Pars revenues to hit $127bn in a couple of years: Official
The head of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) says annual energy revenues from the South Pars supergiant in the Persian Gulf will reach USD127 billion within a couple of years. - 3/24/15

Russian-Iranian Relations in the Shadow of Ukraine
Prior to Russia's annexation of Crimea in early 2014, Washington's relations with Moscow were never worse than Washington's relations with Tehran after the 1979 revolution. Indeed, occasionally in the 1990s and 2000s Russian-American relations seemed to be improving while Washington's ties to Tehran remained poor. -Mark N. Katz, LobeLog - 3/24/15

Netanyahu's misrepresentation of Iran
I believe that the congressional invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint meeting of Congress was misguided, since he was totally unaware of the ideological outlook of Iran and ignorant of Iran's conflict with the forces of ISIS. His talk was sheer propaganda about Iran. He said that "Iran's founding document pledges death, tyranny and the pursuit of jihad." -Professor R.K. Ramazani - 3/23/15

Obama says Iran falling short in nuclear talks
U.S. President Barack Obama says Iran has not yet agreed to what he feels is necessary to achieve a final nuclear agreement. In an interview with Huffington Post, Obama commented on the progress of the nuclear talks with Iran, saying: "They have not yet made the kind of concessions that are I think going to be needed for a final deal to get done. But they have moved, and so there's the possibility." - 3/23/15

Too Clever by Half: Netanyahu Strengthens Obama's Hand
When the British say that someone is "too clever by half," they are not paying a compliment. This week, that expression can be applied to the thrice-and-future prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. -Robert E. Hunter - 3/23/15

Iran on course to regain OPEC position
Industry observers say Iran is able to reclaim its position as the second largest oil producer in OPEC once US-led sanctions are lifted. Iran has said it could add a million barrels to daily oil production shortly after a deal to lift sanctions. - 3/23/15

Azerbaijanis Strive to Build Civil Society Away from Home
The space for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan is now roughly the same size as a jail cell, watchdog groups say. Azerbaijani rights activists and journalists are accordingly fleeing the country in growing numbers. -Nargiz Rashid, EurasiaNet - 3/23/15

Iran, US fight it out in a nutty war
Iran dominates the world market for exports of split-shelled pistachios but it is facing a stubborn competition from the Americans. Raw, roasted, salted and savory, the Iranian nibble has no rivals for quality but the US has ousted the Middle Eastern country as the largest producer of pistachio nuts. - 3/23/15

Update on Iran-Related Legislation
The following is the latest update from Americans for Peace Now. It provides a summary of a number of Iran-related issues, including the latest legislation in Congress. -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 3/23/15

The 47 Republican Ronin Take on Iran
In traditional Japanese culture, a samurai without a master is known as a ronin. The most popular tale featuring these leaderless samurai is the 18th-century Chusingura. It tells of a feudal lord who must commit ritual suicide after assaulting the court official who had insulted him. Of the lord's several hundred retainers, 47 loyal samurai plot their revenge on the haughty court official. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 3/23/15

Britain, France, Germany, U.S. Affirm Unity In Iran Nuclear Talks
Britain, France, Germany, and the United States have affirmed their "unity of purpose" in the Iran nuclear talks, saying the Islamic Republic had to take "difficult decisions." The Western powers' top diplomats met in London on March 21 to discuss progress in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. - 3/22/15

Nowruz Resolution Introduced in the U.S. Congress
On March 18, 2015, Congressman Michael M. Honda (CA-17th) introduced a resolution in honor of the Iranian New Year into the House of Representatives. The legislation recognizes the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz and wishes Iranian Americans, the people of Iran, and all those who celebrate the holiday a prosperous new year. - 3/22/15

Let us be bravely and benevolently united for the Joys of Nowruz (New Year)
In some millennia ago, in regard to the process of Creation our ancestors wrote: "Temporal time was created from Endless, Eternal Time. The reason was that in order to defeat Ahriman (Evil), Hormozd (God the creator) created Time. For Ahriman will only be defeated through war. The battleground is where the strategy for the war is figured out." -Khoobchehr Keshavarzi, Tavoos - 3/22/15

Kerry to Iran: It's Time for Tough Decisions on Nuclear Program
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Iran to make difficult decisions now to enable agreement on the future of its nuclear program by the deadline at the end of this month. He told reporters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Saturday that important gaps remain in reaching an agreement. "Fundamental decisions have to be made now, and they don't get any easier as time goes by," Kerry said. -Al Pessin, VOA - 3/22/15

Iranian Children's Rights Activist Charged with "Acting against National Security"
Civil and children's rights activist Atena Daemi has been formally charged, after six months of "temporary detention" in Evin Prison, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/22/15

Irans's National Football coach grounded for tax evasion
Carlos Queiroz, the Portuguese head coach of Iran's National Football Team, has been banned from leaving Iran on the charge of tax evasion. Queiroz was reportedly informed of the travel ban at Imam Khomeini International Airport, as he was setting out for Austria with the national team to take part in two friendly games, but he has now returned to Tehran. - 3/22/15

Iran's Green Movement: Jaras new site shutting down though goal still unmet
Jaras began operation in July of 2009 outside of Iran. In a statement, the website reports that its aim had been to continue operating the news and analysis website until the house arrest of the Green Movement leaders in Iran was ended. It adds, however, that "religious despotism has shown greater endurance". - 3/22/15

An anthology of the final decade: exploring Iran's past through art
A series of exhibitions from curator Vali Mahlouji examine the 'lost decades' of pre-revolutionary Iran. -Natasha Morris, Guardian - 3/22/15

In Nowruz message to Iranian People and Leaders, Obama Urges Progress on Nuclear Deal
President Obama sends best wishes to everyone celebrating Nowruz. In his video message, the President speaks directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran about a path of greater opportunity for the Iranian people. - 3/20/15

Iranian cartoonists mark Persian New Year 1394!
Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian year. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox, the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. This year Nowruz starts on Friday March 20th at 2245 UTC. Here is a selection of works by Iranian cartoonists on the occasion of Nowruz. - 3/20/15

Videos: Persian New Year, Norouz
Nowruz, "New Day", is the holiest and most joyful festival of the Zoroastrian year and the most important national festival for all Iranians. Its celebration is recorded from the Achaemenian period around 500 BCE. - 3/20/15

Europe stepping up its game on Iran
A decisive stage in the nuclear talks is approaching, as world powers aim to reach a political agreement with Iran this month. Europeans have cautiously but noticeably stepped up their game to safeguard the negotiations and, ultimately, their future relations with Iran. -Ellie Geranmayeh - 3/20/15

Iran Warns Against Pressure On Nuclear Deal
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States and other world powers should not "pressure" Iran to reach an agreement restricting its nuclear program. Zarif said in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 20 ahead of talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that it was time for the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia to choose between "pressure or agreement." - 3/20/15

Iran's Influence in Iraq Deeper Than Assumed
Just five years ago, the United States was involved in nearly every aspect of Iraq's life, from economic reconstruction to political development to military cooperation. Now, analysts say, regional power broker Iran dominates the Iraqi landscape. -Sharon Behn, VOA - 3/20/15

Iran agrees to tackle persecution based on sexual orientation
Iran has announced it will implement some of the recommendations provided to it in the latest Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Iran. More specifically, Iran has committed itself to ending the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation. - 3/20/15

Happy Nowruz and Spring Solstice
Nowruz is regarded as the birthday of our Blue Planet Earth; Since the time immemorial; Celebrating the history of human existence; On her bosom with spring flourishing trees and blossoms; In hope of Rebirth; In the way Forough Farokhzad recounts in her poem; Let's read it together while remembering... -Roya Monajem, Tehran - 3/19/15

Artists from 12 countries team up to celebrate Nowruz in Berlin
Artists from twelve countries will come together at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin on March 21 to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year festival. The artists are from Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Iraq, all of which observe Nowruz as a national celebration. - 3/19/15

2nd Annual Nowruz Traditional Iranian Costume Parade in Los Angeles
Farhang Foundation is proud to announce the 2nd annual Traditional Iranian Costume Parade, as part of our Nowruz Celebration this Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). - 3/19/15

Human Rights: Under scrutiny, Iran Shows Increased, but Limited Cooperation with UN Mechanism
Four years into his mandate as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed told UN member states at a meeting of the Human Rights Council today in Geneva that although he has yet to be let into the country for a site visit, Iran is demonstrating other signs of cooperation with the mandate. - 3/19/15

US: Netanyahu Win Will Have No Impact on Iran Nuclear Talks
The U.S. State Department says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's reelection will have no impact on nuclear talks with Iran. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday the U.S. has long been familiar with Netanyahu's opposition to a possible deal with Iran. She again said that meetings with Iran have been "difficult but constructive." However, she said the talks on the technical side have been "professional and fruitful" in clarifying and sharpening the issues. - 3/19/15

Political prisoner's father threatens self-immolation if son not freed
Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, the father of jailed Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, has threatened to set himself on fire in front of the prosecutor's office in Tehran if the authorities refuse to release his son for necessary medical care. - 3/19/15

Iran Looms as Major US Election Issue for 2016
No matter what happens with the negotiations over curbing Iran's nuclear program, count on the issue being front and center during next year's U.S. presidential election campaign. The recent letter sent to Iran's leaders by 47 Senate Republicans highlights the sharp divide between the Obama administration's approach to the Iran talks and the skeptical view from conservative critics. -Jim Malone, VOA - 3/19/15

Netanyahu's Latest Challenge to Obama
Faced with an unexpectedly tough electoral challenge, (at least according to Israeli opinion polls, however unreliable they later turned out to be) Benjamin Netanyahu in the closing days of his campaign decided that his best chance to stay in power would be to tack firmly to the Right-the hardest, narrowest, most intractable, and most prejudiced Right. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/19/15

Iranians Celebrate Chaharshanbeh Souri Festival
On Tuesday night, Iranians celebrated the ancient Persian tradition of Last-Wednesday-of-the-Year (Chaharshanbeh Souri) as a prelude to Nowruz (the start of the new year). On the evening of Chaharshanbeh Souri, people make fires and jump over them. - 3/18/15

US Downplays Chances of Quick Iranian Nuclear Deal
Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday that Iranian officials had reached a mutual understanding with the United States and its negotiating partners on most issues in nuclear talks, but the White House sought to temper optimism about an imminent deal. - 3/18/15

South Pars biggest phase to up Iran's GDP 3%
The biggest phase of Iran's South Pars gas field, namely the phase 12, was officially inaugurated on Tuesday by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Addressing the inaugural ceremony, Rouhani said the government puts great emphasis on the policies of resistance economy, the Mehr news agency reported on Tuesday. - 3/18/15

Nowruz, the New Year at the spring vernal equinox
The flower buds of yellow, violet, red and white crocuses of saffron bulbs intermingled with the blossoms of daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and Persian violets herald the arrival of Nowruz. The Persian New Year, a rebirth and rejuvenation, rightly occurs on the spring vernal equinox. -Davood Rahni - 3/18/15

Iran Should Release Jason Rezaian
Last week Jasmin reported on the case of American-Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief who has been detained in Iran since July 22, 2014. Jason turned 39 in Tehran's Evin prison on Mar. 15. Citing both his birthday and the upcoming Persian New Year (Nowruz), when the government traditionally offers gestures of goodwill, his lawyer has submitted a furlough request. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/18/15

U.S. Oil companies taking position against GOP letter will be rewarded: Iranian Official
Head of Iranian Ministry of Petroleum's Oil Contracts Revision Committee says the U.S. oil companies taking position against Republican senators who recently wrote a letter warning Iran against a nuclear deal with the U.S. will be rewarded. - 3/18/15

Chas Freeman on Reorganizing U.S. Policies in the Middle East: Responding to Failure
I want to speak with you today about the Middle East. This is the region where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together. It is also the part of the world where we have been most compellingly reminded that some struggles cannot be won, but there are no struggles that cannot be lost. -LobeLog - 3/18/15

Americans broadly support direct negotiations with Iran: Poll
As Iran and the United States are holding intense talks about Tehran's nuclear program in the Swiss city of Lausanne, a new poll shows that Americans broadly support direct negotiations with Iran. According to a CNN/ORC International Poll, direct diplomatic negotiations between Iran and the US are broadly popular as 68 percent of the total 1,009 respondents voted in favor of the talks. - 3/17/15

Sweden embraces Chaharshanbeh Souri in a big way
Sweden's National Theatre in collaboration with a number of Iranian associations in Sweden is planning the sixth annual Chaharshanbeh Souri celebration in the heart of Stockholm. - 3/17/15

The Times Errs on Iran Weaponization
A recent piece in The New York Times purports to explain why Iran has not been clear about its nuclear bomb aspirations. The article tries to link this alleged silence to the successful agreements in the P5+1 negotiations that have begun again in Switzerland. However, the article is based on misconceptions, innuendo, and technical ignorance. -Robert Kelley - 3/17/15

Iran to hike oil exports by 1mn bpd after sanctions lifted
Iran says it is ready to increase its oil exports by one million barrels per day a few months after the sanctions against the country are lifted. "The increase in Iran's crude export will not decrease oil prices," Iran's Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh was quoted as saying by IRNA. - 3/17/15

Tehran Symphony Orchestra back from hiatus
Tehran Symphony Orchestra is officially shaken out of a long hiatus under the management of Iranian maestro Ali Rahbari. The orchestra returned to life after a 25-month break on Monday night with live performances conducted by Rahbari in the presence of various political figures and prominent artists in Tehran's Vahdat Hall. - 3/17/15

Iranian Parliament sets conditions for final nuclear deal: Rapid lifting of sanctions and closing Iran issue at UN
TEHRAN - 260 Iranian MPs issued a statement on Monday saying that an immediate removal of all sanctions and closing the Iran nuclear issue at the UN Security Council are the preconditions for a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers. - 3/17/15

The Worst Case for War With Iran You'll Read in a Major Newspaper
Many opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran simply won't come out and say what they seem to be constantly getting at: that the United States should go to war. Well, kudos to the hawkish opinion pages of The Washington Post and the neoconservative scholar Joshua Muravchik for making just that argument in Sunday's paper. -Ali Gharib, The Nation - 3/17/15

Why Iran Won't Capitulate
Part of the reason why opponents to a nuclear deal with Iran are so bewildered by President Barack Obama's diplomacy is because their belief that Iran can be forced to capitulate. They adhere to a George W. Bush administration-era argument: If the U.S. only were to ramp up pressure, it can dictate the terms of the deal instead of having to agree to a compromise. Nothing could be further from the truth. -Reza Marashi and Trita Parsi, Huffington Post - 3/17/15

Who's Afraid of the Israel Lobby?
Congress is the last place to look for "the brightest and the best" or the most knowledgeable. Still, most Senators and Representatives are at least somewhat better informed than people whose window on the world is Fox News. Why then did they make spectacles of themselves listening, yet again, to what Benjamin Netanyahu has to say about Iran? Why would they care? -Andrew Levine, CounterPunch - 3/17/15

Kerry, Zarif Meet For Iran Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met on March 16 in Switzerland for crucial talks to secure an agreement on Iran's controversial nuclear program. The meeting in Lausanne comes before an end-of-March deadline for the framework of a deal that would curb Iran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from international sanctions. - 3/16/15

Nowruz 2015 Celebration at Santana Row in San Jose, California
Santana Row, in partnership with the Iranian Federated Women's Club (IFWC), will proudly celebrate the arrival of spring and the 2015 Persian New Year 1394 (Nowruz) on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, at Park Valencia, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - 3/16/15

Iranians selling US assets as nuclear deal nears - Report
"Iranians living here [in America] can seize the opportunity to park their money in Iran while it [the Iranian rial] is strong today. Markets inside Iran have started reacting positively to the good news for the Iranians of a prospective deal by next week," an unnamed Iranian national has told the Breitbart News in an exclusive interview. - 3/16/15

Iranian MPs slam approval for planes despite safety concerns
Iranian MPs are angry that a new flight licence has been issued for Antonov airplanes before the investigation into the crash of Iran Flight 140 has concluded. Iranian MP Alinemat Chahardovali said on Saturday March 14 that such a licence is a betrayal of the rights and lives of the Iranian people, adding that the licence is not a guarantee of the airplane's security standards. - 3/16/15

Son Of Former Iranian President Jailed
Iran's judiciary said on March 15 that the son of former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after being tried on security and corruption charges. A judiciary statement did not state the specific charges for which Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani -- known in Iran as Mehdi Hashemi -- was convicted. - 3/16/15

Over 320,000 old cars scrapped in Iran: official
Over 320,000 old cars were scrapped in Iran since the beginning of current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2014), according to an Iranian transportation official. Feyzbakhsh said the old and sub-standard vehicles are responsible for over 70 percent of air pollution in the megacities of Iran. - 3/16/15

Lingering Questions About Cotton Letter
I have some lingering questions about the Cotton letter that Bill Kristol is now touting as a brilliant tactic in rallying support for the Corker bill (which, as presently drafted, would also sabotage the P5+1 negotiations). -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/16/15

White House Warns Senate Republicans To Stop Interfering With Iran Nuclear Negotiations
The White House wants Congress to stop interfering in the negotiations with Iran about its nuclear capabilities. White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough warned Congress in a letter sent late Saturday that pending legislation requiring congressional approval for any deal reached with Iran about its nuclear capabilities could have a "profoundly negative impact" on the negotiations. - 3/15/15

Iran witnesses surprise fall in US dollar rates against rial
Iran's exchange market on Sunday witnessed an unprecedented appreciation of the Iranian rial against the US dollar in what many see is the result of an overwhelming positive speculation by the country's businesses toward the outcomes of nuclear talks now underway in Lausanne, Switzerland. - 3/15/15

Kerry Says Political Deal Possible 'In Days' At Iran Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on the eve of nuclear talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that it is possible "in the next days" to reach a framework political deal with Iran if Tehran can show its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. Kerry is traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland on March 15 for talks with Zarif aimed at resolving remaining differences between Tehran and six world powers on a political deal before an end-of-March deadline. - 3/15/15

Political will can lead to Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal: Iranian FM Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran and the P5+1 global powers can reach a deal over Tehran's nuclear program if the six countries show the same political will as Iran. "In my view, if the opposite side has the same political will as the Islamic Republic of Iran, reaching a solution will not be difficult," Zarif said upon his arrival in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Sunday. - 3/15/15

Iran's pistachio exports rise 71% in 11 months
Iran exported 171,119 tons of pistachio valued at over $1.5 billion in the first eleven months of the current Iranian calendar year (January 21, 2014-February 19, 2015), a 71 percent rise compared to the same period last year, according to an official in Iranian Agriculture Ministry. - 3/15/15

Presidential powers called insufficient to fulfill promises of liberty for Iranians
The head of Iran's expediency council says that while he supports Hassan Rohani, the president made campaign promises about political and social liberties that go beyond the limits of his executive power. - 3/15/15

Iran starts mass-producing anti-ship cruise missiles
Iran on Saturday started the mass production of anti-ship cruise missiles called Qadir. The mass production of the missile, with a range of 300 kilometers, was launched in a ceremony attended by Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and IRGC Navy Force Ali Fadavi. - 3/15/15

Fallout from the GOP47 Letter
The following is the latest update from Americans for Peace Now. It provides a summary of a number of Iran-related issues, including the responses to and fallout from the letter by Tom Cotton and his 46 Republican colleagues (GOP47). -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 3/15/15

Iran: Fars Governor say MP's attackers now identified
The statement comes after President Rohani, the interior minister and a number of MPs called for the immediate identification of the attackers. Some MPs have even called for the governor's resignation for the security failure in his province. - 3/15/15

Why We Have Fish For Nowruz?
Fish as a significant symbolic entity has a long history in Mesopotamia, where they believed that the earliest civilization was formed by men who came out of the sea in form of fish. There are also fish-like creatures that often appear as protectors in mythologies. In Iran, fish as a symbolic creature is documented from the 8th century BC, in Elam. -Massoume Price, Culture Of Iran - 3/14/15

Kerry: Unclear If Iranian Nuclear Deal Will Be Reached
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday again slammed a letter signed by 47 Republican senators that warned Iran about a prospective landmark nuclear deal, calling the letter irresponsible and incorrect. - 3/14/15

Photos: Iranian Assyrians hold rally, condemn ISIL crimes
Hundreds of Iranian Assyrians have held a demonstration in Tehran, condemning the crimes perpetrated by ISIL militants against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. They gathered in front of the United Nations headquarters on Thursday to condemn the dreadful killings of civilians, especially Assyrians, in Iraq and Syria. - 3/14/15

Proposed Iranian Laws Are Setback for Women
Proposed new laws in Iran would restrict women's access to birth control and jobs, according to human rights group Amnesty International. The group expressed alarm at two bills, moving through Iran's parliament, that aim to arrest the country's plunging birth rate and declining population, seen in Tehran as major threats to the Islamic Republic's future. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA - 3/14/15

Talks to lift UN sanctions may thwart Republican senators
World powers have begun talks on lifting US sanctions on Iran as a result of the possible agreement between Iran and the 5+1 to end their nuclear disputes. A report on Reuters indicates that such a move would restrict any attempt by U.S. Congress to undo a deal. - 3/14/15

Facebook Users Arrested, Others Will Be Arrested Soon, IRGC Warns
More than 30 people have been targeted by the cyber crime unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) this month, including a dozen arrested for their "immoral" activities on Facebook. - 3/14/15

"Virtuoso Virtual" wins top prize at Tehran Animation Festival
German animation "Virtuoso Virtual" directed by Thomas Stellmach and Maja Oschmann has won the top prize in the International section of the 9th Tehran International Animation Festival, the organizers announced on Thursday. - 3/14/15

Muhammad Ali joins call to free Iranian-American journalist Jason Rezaian
Former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali lent his voice to those calling for the release of detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, as Rezaian's family and his newspaper petitioned for his release at a press conference in the United States on Thursday. - 3/14/15

Fifty Pro-Diplomacy Organizations Urge Senate to Reject Dangerous Iran Legislation
Washington, DC - On the heels of a series of political stunts on Capitol Hill that have heightened partisanship and threatened to sabotage nuclear negotiations with Iran, 50 organizations sent a letter to the Senate today warning against legislation that would entrust Congress with expanded powers to block an eventual nuclear deal. - 3/13/15

Nowruz Day at the White House
The Nowruz reception at the White House held on March 11, 2015 by all accounts was a great success. Invited dignitaries, professors and scholars, exchange students, entrepreneurs, government officials and artists, i.e., four generations of Americans with heritage mainly from Iran, as well as those from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azarbaijan, Iraq's Kurdistan and the Parsis of India among a number of other nationalities were invited to the extravagant reception. -David Rahni - 3/13/15

Iranian artists call for return of music concerts to Mashhad
A group of artists and musicians has written to the Governor of Khorasan Razavi, calling on him to cancel the ban placed on all music concerts in Mashhad, the provincial capital. Qods online reports that the signatories maintain that such a ban will lead to the "separation and alienation of the young generation from their local artistic and cultural values." - 3/13/15

Caspian Sea: is Iran changing its position on the Caspian legal regime?
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister has expressed optimism that the legal status of the Caspian Sea could finally be resolved at the next summit of Caspian littoral states. He said after a meeting of the working group on the Caspian Sea on March 5 the sides have reached complete agreement on six provisions of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 3/13/15

Monir Farmanfarmaian's work leads Christie's auction in Dubai
"Zahra's Image", a mirror mosaic work made in 2009 by Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian, leads Dubai Christie's auction of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art on March 18, 2015. The mirror mosaic, a reverse-glass painting and plaster on wood in aluminum, is the highest-priced item at the auction with the estimated price of $350,000 to 500,000, Christie's has announced on its website. - 3/13/15

Ford and Helsinki, Obama and Iran
In July 1975, just weeks before President Gerald Ford planned to travel to Helsinki, Finland, to wrap up more than three years of negotiations with European partners and the Soviet Union, Senate lawmakers moved to block what they believed to be a "one-sided agreement" favoring the Soviets. Like their anti-Iran counterparts in Congress today, ... -Tyler Cullis, NY Times - 3/13/15

Inside Iran: The road to Esfahan
It's not often that a CNN crew gets to take a road trip through Iran, so we decided to take the scenic route on our journey from Tehran to Esfahan in the center of the country. Esfahan is a beautiful city and we set out to film a story about the religious diversity there. -Frederik Pleitgen, CNN - 3/13/15

Iran-EU annual trade rises 21% in 2014: Eurostat
Trade between Iran and the European Union amounted to 7.566 billion Euro in 2014, a 21 percent growth from 6.229 billion Euro in 2013, according to the EU statistics agency Eurostat. The EU exported 6.403 billion Euro worth of goods to Iran in 2014, showing 18 percent rise compared to the year before, when the figure was 5.445 billion Euro, the IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday, citing Eurostat data. - 3/13/15

The Next Einstein May Be A 27-Year-Old Iranian Woman
She's called Zahra Haghani and you can read her paper, "Matter May Matter" online. What Sparrho has done is analyse her writing, and determined that she was one of several writers who were statistically most similar to Einstein. -Ian Morris, Forbes - 3/13/15

The First Lady Celebrates Nowruz at the White House
On March 11, 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed all to a celebration of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, at the White House: "For more than 3,000 years, families and communities in the Middle East, Asia, and all around the world, including here in the United States, have celebrated this holiday to mark the renewal of the earth in springtime..." - 3/12/15

Fallout Seen Worldwide From Republicans' Letter to Iran
The fallout from the open letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders reverberated worldwide Wednesday from Washington to Tehran. In Iran, Tehran's Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) criticized Republican Senator Tom Cotton's "insulting" address to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. - 3/12/15

Iranian women directors make most popular movies of the year
"The City of Mice 2", "Ceasefire 2", and "Track 143", three movies produced by Iranian women directors, were on top of the list of Iran's most popular films of the year. The list was announced during a ceremony held by the Cinema Organization of Iran at Tehran's Eivan-e Shams Hall on Monday to honor the directors of the movies. - 3/12/15

Iraq cleansing territory from terrorists with IRGC help: Commander
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps chief said it is one of the "achievements" of the Islamic Revolution that today Iraq is cleansing its cities from ISIL terrorists with the "help and advice" of IRGC commanders. - 3/12/15

Hardline Clerics Take the Helm of the Assembly of Experts
According to Article 107 of Iran's constitution, the Assembly of Experts for Leadership has the responsibility to elect and dismiss Iran's Supreme Leader and supervise his activities. This entity does not work according to the provisions of the other branches (executive, legislative, judicial). Rather, it directly determines and implements the internal rules of governance. -Saeed Aganji and Pupak Mohebali - 3/12/15

New 5,000 touman bill drops atomic energy symbol
The launch of the new 5,000 touman bill has become highly controversial for having replaced the symbol of atomic energy with a view of the Tehran University gates and a famous Ferdowsi verse that translates: "True power derives from wisdom and through knowledge old hearts are rendered young again." - 3/12/15

U.S. Warplanes Are Helping Iran Win
Iran and America are still enemies, technically. But U.S. airpower has ISIS pinned down in Iraq. And that's helping Iran move in. "Like it or not, right now [the U.S. and Iran] are on the same side," said Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and longtime Iranian expert. -Nancy A. Youssef, Daily Beast - 3/12/15

Not Exactly a Billet Doux
Forty-seven Republican senators, unhappy with the prospect that the Obama administration and its five international partners will sign an agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program to peaceful purposes, wrote a letter of warning addressed to "the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran." The legislators declared that "any agreement without legislative approval could be reversed by the next president 'with the stroke of a pen.'" -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 3/12/15

Iranian Supreme Leader Slams U.S. 'Backstabbing'
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has criticized a letter by Republican senators threatening to nullify any nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran. - 3/12/15

OMG! Cotton is Kristol's Protege
Yesterday's speculation that Bill Kristol may have played matchmaker between Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and those billionaire donors like Paul Singer and Sheldon Adelson may not have been so idle. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/12/15

Letter War Breaks Out Between U.S. Senators, Iranian Leaders
With the stroke of a pen, a war of words oozing with condescension has erupted between Iran's foreign minister and a group of U.S. senators. The row was sparked when 47 Republican members of Congress sent a letter dated March 9 to Iran's leaders schooling them on particularities of the U.S. constitutional system that the Iranians "may not fully understand" and "should seriously consider" as nuclear negotiations progress. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 3/11/15

Pars Equality Center Celebrates 5th Anniversary With Official Opening Of Daryabari Iranian Community Center And Annual Nowruz Gala
In honor of the 5th anniversary of Pars Equality Center - a Bay Area-based non-profit organization providing social and legal services to the Iranian-American community-there will be two seminal celebratory events: the 5th Annual Nowruz Gala on Saturday, March 14, 2015, and the highly anticipated Official Opening of the Daryabari Iranian Community Center-the new permanent home for PEC-on Thursday, April 16, 2015. - 3/11/15

17 German tourists rescued in Iran's Mazandaran heights
Director of the Red Crescent Society's Rescue and Relief Agency said German tourists who were lost while hiking in the northern region of Iran have been found safe and sound. 17 German tourists along with 3 local tour guides had gone missing in mountains in the Rineh heights in Amol, Mazandaran Province, since 15:00 o'clock Monday, according to Mehr news agency. - 3/11/15

GOP's Man of the Moment Promoted by RJC's Singer and Adelson
As this blog has noted before, Senator Tom Cotton clearly stated his intent to blow up any diplomatic overtures to Iran during a speech to the Heritage Foundation in mid-January, telling the audience, "But, the end of these negotiations isn't an unintended consequence of Congressional action, it is very much an intended consequence. A feature, not a bug, so to speak." -Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe - 3/11/15

Iran, Turkmenistan keen to up mutual trade to $60bn
The Iranian and Turkmen presidents say they are determined to increase the volume of mutual economic transactions to USD60 billion within the next 10 years. The agreement between Iran's Hassan Rouhani and Turkmenistan's Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to further boost ties was announced during a joint high-level meeting on Wednesday in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat. - 3/11/15

Outspoken Iranian MP injured by assailants on motorcycles
Over fifty assailants attacked outspoken Iranian MP Ali Motahari in Shiraz with pepper spray, rotten tomatoes and bricks, causing injury to his face. ISNA reports that Motahari, who was scheduled to give a lecture at Shiraz University, arrived at the Shiraz Airport on Monday March 9 and was attacked by a number of unidentified assailants. - 3/11/15

Text of VP Joe Biden's Statement on Senators' Letter to Iran
I served in the United States Senate for thirty-six years. I believe deeply in its traditions, in its value as an institution, and in its indispensable constitutional role in the conduct of our foreign policy. The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere. - 3/11/15

France's Peugeot agrees to resume work in Iran
French automaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen has reached agreement with Iran's leading carmaker Iran Khodro for the establishment of a factory in Iran, Iran Khodro's CEO says. "Peugeot will set up a joint factory with Iran Khodro, held 50% by Peugeot and 50% by Iran Khodro," Mehr news agency quoted Hashem Yekkeh-Zare as saying. - 3/11/15

Iran's Jewish community in Esfahan: We 'feel at home'
If you're looking for the Jewish community in the Iranian town of Esfahan, you won't have to search for long. The main synagogue is on Palestine Square, right in the heart of Iran's third largest city. There are public prayers several times a day -- sometimes with more than a hundred people in attendance. -Frederik Pleitgen, CNN - 3/11/15

The Islamic State and Afghanistan
The Islamic State (ISIS or IS) has extended its influence into Afghanistan, potentially complicating prospects for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Both proponents and opponents of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have referred to an IS presence in the country, although estimates of the group's strength vary. -Fatemeh Aman, LobeLog - 3/11/15

Iranian FM Zarif to U.S. Senators: You Are Ignorant Of International Law
The Iranian foreign minister on Monday reacted to an open letter to Iran's leaders by 47 U.S. Republican senators who had warned Tehran that any nuclear deal that the Islamic Republic signs with President Barack Obama's administration won't last after Obama leaves office. - 3/10/15

Republican U.S. Senators Warn Over Iran Nuclear Negotiations
A group of 47 Republican senators warned on March 9 that any nuclear deal between U.S. President Barack Obama's administration and Iran may be short-lived unless it obtains congressional approval. - 3/10/15

Iranian musicians band together against concert meddling
The Iranian music community has launched a campaign, calling on all musicians and music lovers to stand up against the cancellation of concerts and recent restrictions imposed on all forms of music activities. - 3/10/15

US Congressional Letter to Iran Stirs Controversy
An open letter to the leaders of Iran by 47 U.S. Senators warns any nuclear agreement reached could be modified or revoked once President Obama leaves office in early 2017. Obama said the letter aligns the lawmakers with Iranian hardliners. But a prominent political scientist pointed out that while the letter is extraordinary and unusual, it is legitimate for the lawmakers to write it. -Victor Beattie, VOA - 3/10/15

Republicans Overreach Part Deux
Of course, the story of the day on the Iran front is the publication of what its authors titled, "An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran." It was signed by 47 Republican senators led by freshman Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who, as reported by LobeLog, received nearly $1 million in advertising support from Bill Kristol's Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) in the closing days of last November's campaign. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/10/15

Iran fails in bid for Asian football championship
Iran has lost its bid to host the 2019 Asian Football Cup. It was announced in Bahrain on Monday March 9 that the UAE will host the championship. In the preliminary stages, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Thailand were in the running along with Iran and the UAE, but after a number of withdrawals in the final stages, the choice remained between Iran and the UAE. - 3/10/15

Conservative To Head Powerful Iranian Assembly
Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body that appoints and can dismiss the country's supreme leader, has picked an ultraconservative as its new head in a surprise move. Iranian news agency IRNA says Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the deputy chairman of the 86-member body, received 47 votes during a closed-door meeting attended by 73 clerics. - 3/10/15

Iran, China to raise trade to $60b in one year
Iran and China hope to bring the level of their trade exchanges to $60 billion from the current $52 billion in a year or so, the head of Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce says. - 3/10/15

Netanyahu's Insulting, Dangerous and Divisive Speech: Wrong in Detail and Wrong in Substance
After all the huffing and puffing and all the aroused expectations about the speech by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the joint session of US Congress, the speech proved a great disappointment and even an embarrassment. -Farhang Jahanpour - 3/9/15

We Won't Be Silenced: Iranian Women's Demands in Three Episodes
What does March 8 mean for Iranian women? What is their share of the decades of struggle by women's rights activists for equality? What are the problems and demands of those who live in large and small cities, in villages and more closed communities? -Parvaneh Vahidmanesh - 3/9/15

US firms already sealing deals in Tehran: Report
Reports emerged on Saturday that said American enterprises have already started taking initial steps to enter the Iranian market in case the current nuclear talks with the country succeed and sanctions against it are lifted. - 3/9/15

Iranian American Women's Leadership Conference
The Iranian American Women Foundation is set to host its next Women's Leadership Conference May 3rd in San Francisco! Once again, IAW Foundation is bringing women together to INSPIRE, EMPOWER and CONNECT - 3/9/15

Obama: U.S. Would 'Walk Away' If No Good Iran Nuclear Deal
U.S. President Barack Obama has said the United States would "walk away" from nuclear talks with Iran if an acceptable deal cannot be reached with Tehran. In the TV interview, Obama said the United States and Iran had narrowed their differences. "We have made progress in narrowing the gaps, but those gaps still exist," Obama told CBS News', Face the Nation. - 3/9/15

Iran unveils long-range cruise missile
In a ceremony on Sunday Iran unveiled a long-range land-to-land cruise missile called Soumar. The cruise missile is designed and manufactured by Iranian experts. Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan said Soumar "enjoys various features in terms of range and pinpoint accuracy compared with previous products." - 3/9/15

Damavand destroyer to provide security in Caspian Sea: Iran's Defense Minister
Iran's new state-of-the-art indigenous training destroyer, Damavand, officially joined the Iranian naval fleet in a ceremony in the Caspian Sea port of Anzali in northern Iran. Iran's minister of defense has said Damavand, an advanced destroyer, will provide help in securing the Caspian Sea neighbors. - 3/9/15

Spirit of Nowruz: Global Persian culture celebrated in new London exhibition
'The Spirit of Nowruz' exhibition forms one of the main centrepieces of the British Council's UK-Iran Season of Culture. The exhibition showcases and celebrates modern Nowruz festivities as they occur in communities across the world. In 2015 Nowruz, or Persian New Year, is celebrated on the 21st March. - 3/8/15

How Bibi's Speech Plays in Tehran
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress, he insisted that Iran is much more desperate than the US to get a nuclear deal. Therefore, if more pressure is applied on Iran to get what Netanyahu calls a "better deal"-no uranium enrichment at all- Iranians will inevitably cave. -Eldar Mamedov - 3/8/15

Celebrating Iranian-American Women On International Women's Day
Celebrated globally on March 8th, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of inspirational women while calling for greater equality. It is in this spirit that I would like to highlight the acts of courage and determination by these seven extraordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their communities. -Yasamin Beitollahi, Huffington Post - 3/8/15

12 nations seek UNESCO's approval for new Nowruz file
Twelve countries are seeking UNESCO's approval to register a new file on Nowruz, the ancient celebration of the Iranian New Year that begins on the first day of spring, on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. - 3/8/15

US and Europe 'on the same page' in pursuit of Iran nuclear deal: John Kerry
US and European diplomats said on Saturday they are united in their strategy and goal in trying to achieve a nuclear deal with Iran. "We are on the same page," the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said after meeting the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius. "We know what we are chasing after and we are chasing after the same thing." - 3/8/15

IS Militants Destroy Another Ancient Iraqi Site
Islamic State (IS) militants have reportedly destroyed the ancient town of Hatra in northern Iraq. The act is the latest in a string of attacks on Iraq's cultural heritage, including in the ancient Assyrian city Nimrud and Mosul. - 3/8/15

Russia: With Progress On Nuclear Program, Iran Could Join SCO
Iran may be admitted into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization this summer if it makes progress in resolving disputes over its nuclear program, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said. - Joshua Kucera, LobeLog - 3/8/15

In a Dance Remix of Netanyahu's Speech, Two Words Echo: 'Iran -- Haman'
In his telling to Congress, Mr. Netanyahu did indeed leave out a central detail from the story (of the Book of Esther), failing to mention that it was Queen Esther's husband, King Ahasuerus of Persia, who acquiesced to her plea to spare her people and had the plotters put to death. -Robert Mackey, NY Times - 3/8/15

What Will Iran Do When the Sun Sets on a Nuclear Agreement?
Opponents of a nuclear deal with Iran have been stressing a new fear: the deal's "sunset" provisions will result in Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. This will pose an existential threat to Israel. This concern rests in part on a misunderstanding. All the signs are that the sun will set only on a few of the agreement's provisions. -Peter Jenkins - 3/7/15

Sanctions and agreement don't go together: Iranian FM Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says a gradual lifting of the sanctions on Iran is not "very conducive" to confidence building. "We have a very clear mandate that all sanctions must go," Zarif said in an interview with Kyodo News published on Friday. "Sanctions and an agreement don't go together," said Zarif. - 3/7/15

Vigilante Violence: The Acid Attacks against Women in Iran and the State's Assault on Women's Rights
The Iranian Parliament should immediately withdraw the pending Plan to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, which explicitly calls for Basij militias to enforce strict hijab (female dress), the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. This plan not only violates the rights of all Iranian women, it also presents a clear and present danger to their continued safety. - 3/7/15

The Road Back to Tehran: Bugs, Ghosts and Ghostbusters
A veteran FSO and authority on Iran explains what it will take for Washington to "get it right" when U.S. diplomats finally return to Tehran. --- John W. Limbert served as the first-ever deputy assistant secretary of State for Iran from 2009 to 2010. He is a veteran U.S. diplomat and a former official at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, where he was held captive during the Iran hostage crisis. -Foreign Service Journal - 3/7/15

Iran in Iraq: Saudi Arabia Still Worried
Prince Saud al-Faisal has been foreign minister of Saudi Arabia for 40 years. He doesn't make rookie mistakes. When he says something in public, he means what he says. That's why it's worth scrutinizing his comments at a joint news conference in Riyadh on Thursday with Secretary of State John Kerry. -Thomas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 3/7/15

Top U.S. General Confident About Iraq's Ground Assault On Tikrit
The top U.S. general has expressed confidence that the combined force of Iranian-back Shi'ite militias and Iraqi government troops will prevail in a battle against Islamic State (IS) militants who control the northern Iraqi town of Tikrit. - 3/7/15

Italian artist finishes first at Kish sculpture symposium
Italian sculptor Alessio Ranaldi won first prize at the 1st Kish International Sculpture Symposium, the organizers announced on Monday. Earlier in October 2014, Ranaldi also won first prize at the Sixth Tehran International Sculpture Symposium. - 3/6/15

Ali Rahbari returns to restore Tehran Symphony Orchestra
Vienna-based Iranian maestro Ali Rahbari has returned to his homeland to restore the Tehran Symphony Orchestra (TSO), a mission that he once left unfinished in 2005. The director of the Music Office of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance attended a press conference on Wednesday to announced Rahbari's appointment as the conductor and the artistic director of the orchestra. - 3/6/15

FIFA Head Urges Iran To Let Women Into Stadiums
FIFA President Sepp Blatter says Iran's ban on women attending football matches is "intolerable" and should be lifted. Blatter wrote in FIFA's weekly magazine published on March 6 that he raised the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rohani more than one year ago but that "nothing has happened." Blatter said the ban "cannot continue." - 3/6/15

Iranian Official Says Caspian Legal Status Nearly Resolved
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ibrahim Rahimpour has expressed optimism that the legal status of the Caspian Sea could finally be resolved at the next summit of Caspian littoral states. The five littoral states -- Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan -- have been debating the status of the Caspian for some 20 years trying to agree on whether the Caspian is a sea or a lake. - 3/6/15

The Jewish Billionaire Behind a New Christian Anti-Iran Group
Yesterday, a new organization's "promoted" (read: sponsored) tweet popped up on my timeline. It came from The Philos Project, a group dedicated to promoting "Christian engagement in the Middle East." The tweet read: "Iran is known to sponsor #terrorism. Iran wants a nuclear bomb. What could possible go wrong? #StopIran." A quick glance at the website reveals a heavy emphasis on rehashing fear-mongering cliches about Iran's nuclear ambitions. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 3/6/15

Why Iran's rise is a good thing
In reality, Iran's rise is not only normal, it is actually essential to a more stable region. As nuclear talks with Tehran enter a decisive phase, rapprochement with a genuinely independent Iran -- not a nominally independent Iran whose strategic orientation is subordinated to U.S. preferences -- is vital to halting the decline of America's strategic position. -Hillary Mann Leverett, CNN - 3/6/15

Mr. Netanyahu, who are you kidding?
Mr. Netanyahu's speech at the joint meeting of the United States Congress was nauseating enough. But what was far more disgusting to me was watching the American people's representatives so enthusiastically cheering this well-known liar and charlatan like a herd of obedient sheep. -Kam Zarrabi - 3/5/15

Iran, U.S. Cite Progess, Tough Challenges In Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have wrapped up three days of talks over Iran's nuclear program, as a deadline for a framework deal looms. Zarif said on March 4 that progress was made during the talks in the Swiss resort of Montreux, but added that "a lot of work remains." - 3/5/15

Shifting Goalposts to Kill Diplomacy with Iran
Opponents of diplomacy with Iran aim to kill the nuclear negotiations by shifting the goalposts of the talks from nukes to global nemesis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered this line of argument in his address to a joint session of Congress yesterday. World powers offered a prudent pushback from Switzerland where negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran proceeded throughout Netanyahu's speech. -Ellie Geranmayeh - 3/5/15

Iran's Role In Iraq's Fight Against IS
The Iraqi government has launched an offensive against Islamic State militants (IS) in the northern city of Tikrit, but Iran appears to be leading the charge. Iran's military role in Iraq is highlighted by the presence of General Qassem Suleimani, the head of the elite Quds force in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Suleimani is reportedly on the ground with Shi'ite fighters, and has been described as coordinating the operation on Tikrit. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 3/5/15

Iran and Russia have conflicting Interests in Export of Gas to Europe
As far as the export of natural gas to Europe is concerned, Iran and Russia are serious rivals. Iran, due to sanctions is not a major exporter of gas at all; however, it has the potential to break the Russian dominance over the gas market in Europe. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 3/5/15

Iranian Activist Ends Hunger Strike after Judge Agrees to Transfer to Evin's Political War
Atena Faraghdani has ended her hunger strike in hospital, where she has been since her February 26 collapse in Gharchak Prison, after learning that a Revolutionary Court Judge agreed to return her to Evin Prison's Women's Ward for political prisoners, her lawyer told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/5/15

Kerry, Persian Gulf Officials Discuss Impact of Iran Nuclear Deal
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Gulf state officials in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, in a bid to ease their concerns about the potential impact of an Iran nuclear deal. Kerry arrived in Riyadh late Wednesday, after holding three days of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Switzerland. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 3/5/15

Republicans Overreach After Bibi's Speech
No doubt emboldened by the enthusiasm of his fellow Republicans-and perhaps by Netanyahu himself-for Bibi's attack before Congress on Obama and the P5+1's negotiations with Iran, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to have overreached, compounding the growing perception that Israel has become a partisan issue. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/5/15

How Iran's feminist genie escaped
Iran's 1979 revolution may have put an ayatollah in charge - but for women it had plenty of positive side-effects... in education, in the workplace, and even in the home, discovers Amy Guttman during a ride on the Tehran underground. -BBC - 3/5/15

U.S. Strategy in Iraq Increasingly Relies on Iran
At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran's nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops. -Helene Cooper, NY Times - 3/5/15

Survey Shows Strong Majority Support for Obama Approach on Iran
According to a new poll, a strong majority of the U.S. public supports an agreement that would limit Iran's enrichment capacity and impose highly intrusive inspections on Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The survey was released Tuesday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to persuade Congress to derail such a deal. -Jim Lobe - 3/4/15

The Incoherence of Bibi's Sabotage Effort
Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu can claim a victory of sorts by having set the agenda and received wall-to-wall coverage for his congressional speech. He also succeeded in making his message rather than the empty seats the story. The speech is likely to play well in Israel, and today's events will not harm his re-election prospects. But that is probably where the good news for Netanyahu ends. -Daniel Levy - 3/4/15

UN Secretary-General Expresses Alarm about Executions, Retaliation Against Activists and Attacks on Women in Iran
In his interim report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran published on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon detailed a long list of human rights concerns, leading with the ongoing application of the death penalty, retaliation against activists cooperating with the United Nations and a deterioration in women's rights. - 3/4/15

President Rouhani: Iran nuclear talks have ruffled Israel's feathers
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers have ruffled the feathers of one aggressive and occupying regime, whose existence hinges on belligerence. - 3/4/15

Iran and U.S. hold more technical nuclear talks
Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz held expert talks on Iran's nuclear activities in Montreux, Switzerland, on Tuesday. The Tuesday's talks were a follow-up to technical talks on Monday and the previous round of talks in Geneva between the two energy officials. - 3/4/15

Iran's Culture Minister asserts authority over allowing concerts
Jannati said Muslim clergy have differences of opinion about music, with some who deem it haram (forbidden) and others who don't. He said, however, that his ministry's guide on this issue is the direction of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, whom he described as an "art connoisseur". - 3/4/15

Israeli PM: Iran Nuclear Talks Are 'Very Bad Deal'
Netanyahu "did not offer any viable alternative," Obama said, speaking from the Oval Office. "We don't yet have a deal. But if we are successful, this will be the best deal possible with Iran to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon." Obama said Netanyahu's alternative to talks amounts to no deal at all, adding that would lead Iran to redouble efforts to build a nuclear bomb. -VOA - 3/4/15

Corker Bill Threatens Iran Negotiations
Now, Kirk and Menendez are back with a new version of their deal that, despite their claims to the contrary, also appears aimed at sabotaging an eventual comprehensive deal between the P5+1 and Iran. But the negotiations face a more immediate threat from yet another bill, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, proposed by the new Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/4/15

Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US
LONDON- A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyberattacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. - 3/4/15

Tikrit: Iran key in fight to wrest city from IS
As Iraqi and Shia militias try to recapture the city of Tikrit from Islamic State (IS), the key role of Iran in the campaign is becoming clearer. Shia militia sources in Iraq have confirmed that Gen Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force is personally taking part in leading the operation. -Nafiseh Kohnavard, BBC - 3/4/15

Iran Deputy FM Accuses U.S. Of Seeking To Control, Not Destroy, IS
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran's deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, has accused the United States of supplying food and weapons to the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria, and of seeking to control, not destroy the extremists. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 3/4/15

Amid Nuclear Dispute, Israel, Iran Face Off Over Oil Ties
TEL AVIV-- As Israel loudly and publicly denounces Iran and its nuclear program this week, the two countries are quietly tussling in a decades-old dispute over a secretive oil pipeline company that could be worth billions of dollars to Tehran. -Reuters - 3/4/15

An Agreement That Is Good for Israel, Bad for Netanyahu
One of the strangest aspects of the frantic crying of alarm over Iran's nuclear program-with the crying having reached its most publicized peak in Benjamin Netanyahu's Republican/Likud campaign rally in the House chamber-is that the chief crier is the government of a country that not only has the most advanced nuclear program in the Middle East but has kept that program completely out of the reach and scrutiny of any international control and inspection regime. -Paul R. Pillar, National Interest - 3/4/15

Bibi's Eleven Bogus Arguments on Iran
On March 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress, where he is expected to make the case against a nuclear deal with Iran... In anticipation of these speeches and statements, it is important to "un-pack" and debunk the bogus arguments against an Iran deal that Netanyahu is most likely to be making. The eleven most prominent of those arguments are examined here. -Lara Friedman - 3/3/15

Obama Defends Iran Nuclear Talks Ahead Of Netanyahu Speech
Obama downplayed Israeli concerns, telling Reuters the Israeli prime minister had been wrong on Iran before, when he opposed an interim agreement last year. "Netanyahu made all sorts of claims -- this was going to be a terrible deal, this was going to result in Iran getting $50 billion worth of relief, Iran would not abide by the agreement," Obama said. He said that none of that has come true. - 3/3/15

NIAC Urges Senate Against Harmful New Iran Legislation
The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) released the following statement regarding new legislation, S.615 - the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ): NIAC has serious concerns with this legislation and urges lawmakers to refrain from signing onto this bill. - 3/3/15

Noam Chomsky: Opposing Iran Nuclear Deal, Israel's Goal Isn't Survival - It's Regional Dominance
"For both president-Prime Minister Netanyahu and the hawks in Congress, mostly Republican, the primary goal is to undermine any potential negotiation that might settle whatever issue there is with Iran. They have a common interest in ensuring that there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and U.S. violence, the major violence in the region." -Democracy Now - 3/3/15

White House warns Netanyahu not to reveal Iran details
The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister's controversial address to Congress at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday. -CNN - 3/3/15

The Israeli Prime Minister to appear before the U.S. Congress
Deja vu all over again, the much hyped up appearance of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress, purportedly to warn the legislatures about the possibility of Iran developing its own nuclear arsenal, would only amount to his usual ostentatious rhetoric, bogus theatrical diagrams, and frivolous pontificating allegations for which he has no independently verifiable evidence. -Rachel Eliasi Kohan - 3/3/15

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained Washington Post Reporter
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter detained in Iran for more than seven months, was granted access to a lawyer but not one of his choosing, his family said. Masoud Shafii, who has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian's attorney, said he has been trying to see his client in prison, but has been repeatedly stymied by the judge assigned to the case. -Farhad Pouladi, VOA - 3/3/15

Iran's Guardian Council rejects bill of support for volunteer hijab patrols
The Guardian Council has once again rejected a bill to support volunteer hijab enforcers, saying it contravenes the constitution and needs to be reviewed by Parliament. The council had previously sent the bill back to Parliament for similar shortcomings. - 3/3/15

Obama: Iran Must Freeze Sensitive Nuclear Activity for At Least a Decade
U.S. President Barack Obama says Iran must freeze its sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years in order for an agreement to be successful. In an interview with the Reuters news agency, the U.S. leader also conceded that the chances of reaching such a deal are still less than 50 percent. -Aru Pande, VOA - 3/3/15

The Iran Deal and The Post-Ideological Moment
For those of us whose job (or hobby) is to understand Iran's position in the Middle East and in the world, the potential nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 should do more than just change the political and economic landscape we are tasked to analyze. It ought to change the very way we think about Iran. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, LobeLog - 3/3/15

Obama goes on offensive ahead of Netanyahu's speech to Congress
President seeks to head off Israeli prime minister's criticism of Iran nuclear talks, declaring freeze on weapons program far better than sanctions or military action -Guardian - 3/3/15

To Netanyahu, Peace Is an Existential Threat
To Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, peace between the US and Iran is an existential threat. By now, it should be clear to all: It's not an Iranian nuclear bomb he fears, but a US-Iran deal. -Trita Parsi - 3/2/15

Iran negotiators leave Tehran to for talks in Switzerland
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are also participating in this round of talks on a request by Iranian FM Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Zarif and Kerry will join t he nuclear negotiators in Geneva on Monday afternoon and the nuclear talks will continue on Thursday when representatives from all members of P5+1 will participate in the talks. - 3/2/15

Obama would veto bill to give Congress say on Iran deal
Barack Obama would veto a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate allowing Congress to weigh in on any deal the U.S. and other negotiating countries reach with Iran on its nuclear capabilities, the White House said on Saturday. - 3/2/15

Iran Nuclear Talks, IS Among Key Issues for Kerry Trip
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry begins a trip Monday to Europe and Saudi Arabia, where he will hold talks on issues including efforts to combat the Islamic State group, rising tensions between the U.S. and Russia over separatist unrest in Ukraine, and Iran nuclear negotiations. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 3/2/15

Statue of Persian literary icon Ferdowsi returned to city square
Following protests against the removal of Ferdowsi's statue from a Salmas city square, reports from Iran on Thursday February 26 indicate that the statue was returned to tis original place in the Western Azerbaijan city. - 3/2/15

The Real Subject of Netanyahu's Congressional Spectacle (It Isn't Nukes)
Benjamin Netanyahu will talk next week, as he has innumerable times before, about how an Iranian nuclear weapon is supposedly an extremely grave and imminent threat to world peace and to his nation. -Paul R. Pillar, National Interest - 3/2/15

Gathering of Iranian writers' group cancelled by authorities
A gathering called "Age of Translation" organized by the Iranian Writers Association for Friday February 27 was cancelled by the authorities one hour before it was scheduled to begin. A statement by the association indicates: "One hour prior to the program, a security official arrived at the hall and informed us that the gathering should not take place." - 3/2/15

Iranian Teachers Hold Silent Demonstrations Across Iran
Iranian teachers across the country gathered in silence in front of their local education ministry offices to protest their employment conditions. Teachers maintain that their wages are effectively keeping them under the poverty line. - 3/2/15

First Iranian Direct Flight Lands in Shi'ite-Held Yemen Capital
An Iranian airliner carrying medical supplies and aid workers landed Sunday in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, less than 24 hours after Shi'ite rebels controlling the city signed an aviation pact with Tehran. - 3/2/15

Iranian Journalist Behind Bars Since 2009 Suffers Heart Attack in Prison
The imprisoned journalist Massoud Bastani was transferred to the hospital on February 20, 2015, following a heart attack inside Shahid Rajaee Prison. The health conditions of Bastani, 37, who has been in prison since his arrest in the wake of the protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran, have steadily deteriorated during his six years of incarceration. - 3/1/15

Iran says ready to cooperate with Google
Iran said on Sunday that it is ready to cooperate with Google to facilitate its services in the Persian Gulf region. Nasrollah Jahangard, Iran's deputy minister of telecommunications and information technology, has been quoted by local media as saying that negotiations are underway with Google to establish a version of its servers in Iran. - 3/1/15

Israel Working With Al-Qaeda?
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Joint Session of Congress here next week, will any of those in attendance muster the courage to ask him whether Israel is supporting al-Qaeda? None other than Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard strongly suggests that it is. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/1/15

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