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Iranian elections: Another milestone in reformists advance
Since the latest Iranian elections held on 26th February 2016 for the 290-seat parliament (Majles) and the 88-member Assembly of Experts there have been many negative comments about the election results from the usual suspects. Some people who are fundamentally hostile to Iran, criticize everything that Iran does, regardless of outcome. -Farhang Jahanpour - 3/31/16

NASA names asteroid after Iranian scientist
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named an asteroid in the solar system after Firouz Naderi, an Iranian scientist and the former director for Solar System Exploration at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). - 3/31/16

Austrian President casts doubt on immediate lifting of all Iran sanctions
Heinz Fischer has cast doubt on the US and Western resolve for the immediate removal of all anti-Iran sanctions. Fischer has told IRIB that it is unclear how long it will take for the West to lift sanctions on Iran. The Austrian leader said it was not up to a single country to lift all the sanctions, but that the United States had a part to play. - 3/31/16

Canada regrets cutting ties with Iran, wants to re-engage
Canada's foreign minister says his country's 2012 move to cut diplomatic ties with Iran has had no positive consequences whatsoever, expressing articulate willingness for re-engagement with the Islamic Republic. - 3/31/16

A sanctuary for stray dogs grows in Iran thanks to social media
Animal lover Maryam Sanei has set up a hospice for unwanted pooches. A draft law penalising those who harass stray animals was referred to the President's office last month -Guardian - 3/31/16

U.S. Treasury Warns Sanctions 'Overreach' Will Lower Dollar's Status
A top U.S. official warned that overuse of economic sanctions risks hurting the U.S. economy and driving other nations away from relying on the dollar as the world's reserve currency. - 3/31/16

President Rouhani's "Open-Door" Economic Policies
A number of commentators have compared President Rouhani's policies of opening Iran's markets to Western business with those of China's Deng Xiaoping following the death of Mao Zedong some four decades ago. A closer look at Mr. Rouhani's open-door economic policies indicates, however, that they are more akin to those of Boris Yeltsin's Russia following the collapse of the Berlin Wall than those of China since Deng Xiaoping. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 3/30/16

Khamenei Says Missiles Are Key To Iran's Future, Not Negotiations
"Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors," Khamenei's website quoted him as saying. His comment may have been directed at former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the leader of a relatively moderate Iranian political alliance who tweeted last week that Iran's "future is in dialogue, not missiles." - 3/30/16

Iranian reformist party points to corruption as obstacle to "resistance economy"
The head of the Nedaye Iran party says smuggling and corruption are the chief obstacles to implementing the tools toward a resistance economy as recommended by Iran's leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He stated that when 40 percent of the economy is in the hands of certain bodies and groups that do not pay any tax, an economy of resistance is a pipe dream. - 3/30/16

Iranian President Postpones Austria Trip For Security Reasons
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has postponed a planned state visit to Austria indefinitely, citing security reasons, the Austrian presidential office announced. "The visit for March 30-31 by President Hassan Rouhani and his delegation has been postponed by the Iranian side for security reasons," Austrian presidency said in a statement on March 29. It did not give further details. - 3/30/16

Poet Fatemeh Shams takes on politics in post-revolution Iran
Fatemeh Shams and Dick Davis have never met in person. She is a young Iranian poet living in London, a voice of Iran's post-revolution dissident. He is a medievalist translator and poet who lives more than 3,000 miles away in Ohio. Several years ago, after a friend showed Davis some of the poems that Shams had written, he emailed her, asking if he could translate her work from Farsi to English. -Corinne Segal, PBS - 3/30/16

Iran's new continent-spanning trains
The 10,500km (6,500-mile) journey from Yiwu City in eastern China through Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan was sluggish; but when the first Chinese train pulled into Tehran station after a 14-day haul, Iranian officials hailed a great leap forward. "We're becoming the global hub between east and west," waxed one minister. -Economist - 3/30/16

American Strength in Dialogue and Engagement
This all brings us to a contradiction in the position of those in the United States who have been most opposed to dialogue between the United States and regimes they especially don't like. In recent years the regimes most in question have been those in Cuba and Iran, because they have been the subject of two of the Obama administration's most important foreign policy initiatives. -Paul R. Pillar - 3/30/16

Iran's answer to pop stars: religious singers serenade Syria war
Bearded and boisterous, the man wearing a chequered keffiya scarf sings a religious song as several Iranians in fatigues beat their chests feverishly. The performance by Saeed Haddadian, a prominent Shi'ite religious singer, took place among volunteers at the front line in Syria and was posted on the Internet in January... -Reuters - 3/30/16

The Zoroastrian Americans of the New York Tri-States Inugurates their Newly Built Cultural Community Center
As the rising morning sun shone down to provide its soothing warmth, enlightening light and nurturing energy to the dedication of the newly built Arbab-Rustm Guiv Dar-e-Mehr Zoroastrian Temple (DMZT) in Pomona New York, the procession of the whitely attired Zoroastrian cloaked Magi, the Mobads, congregated from temples all over the world, entered the prayer hall to install and lit the fire in the alter. -Davood N. Rahni - 3/29/16

Iran's Election Office challenges Guardian Council over disqualification of female lawmaker
Mohammad Hossein Moghimi, the head of the Election Office, says it is in a legal dispute with the Guardian Council over the disqualification of Minoo Khaleghi, an Isfahan parliamentary woman candidate who won the third-highest number of votes in the February 26 election. - 3/29/16

Canadian Resident Sentenced to Three Years in Jail Shortly After Returning to Iran
Political prisoner Mostafa Azizi, one of many emigres who returned to Iran following assurances of their safe return by the Rouhani administration, has been sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of 70 million rials (approximately $2,300 USD). - 3/29/16

Time for Maturity in the White House Attitude to Iran
The formula for dealing with China--engagement with a view to managing Chinese nationalism and encouraging Chinese commitment to global norms of behavior and responsibilities--is wise. The minimalist formula being applied to Iran is misguided. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 3/29/16

Iran to lift visa with 28 countries
Iran said on Saturday that it is pursuing a plan to lift visa requirements with 28 countries in an effort which is meant to help boost the mutual tourism ties with the target countries. Iran will need to attract some 20 million foreign visitors by 2025, an ambitious campaign which is expected to fetch the country at least $30 billion. - 3/29/16

Iran's trade balance turns positive over 'lower' imports
New data by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) shows 'unprecedented' surplus in the country's foreign trade over the past Iranian calendar year (ended March 19). The latest customs figures reveal the country registered a trade surplus of USD 0.916 billion in the 12-month period ending over a week ago. - 3/29/16

Is this Iranian man charged in US actually a 'hostage'?
On March 23, federal prosecutors revealed that an Iranian man who had been acting as a consultant to Iran's mission to the United Nations in New York had been charged with violating US laws related to Iran. A number of Iranian websites have published analyses that the US' primary goal in the arrest is to do another prisoner swap. -Al Monitor - 3/29/16

Iran president to visit Austria for talks
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani plans to pay an official two-day visit to Austria to hold talks with the country's senior officials on ways to improve relations, particularly in the economic sector. - 3/28/16

6th Annual Pars Equality Center Gala Features Congressman Mike Honda's Support for Persian Americans
On Saturday, March 5, 2016, Pars Equality Center (PEC) held its 6th Annual Nowruz (Persian New Year) Gala at San Francisco's Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Known for being a sold out event each year, and hosting over 800 guests, this year's fundraising gala featured special guest Congressman Mike Honda and raised nearly $500,000.00. - 3/28/16

Prince Charles wants to visit Iran: Sunday Times
Britain's Prince Charles plans to visit Iran for the first official royal trip in more than 40 years, The Sunday Times reports. British government and royal officials are in talks with Iranian authorities about arranging a tour around the fall, the paper quoted a royal source as saying. - 3/28/16

Leading Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami battles coma, cancer
After Iran's master musician Mohammadreza Shajarian was said to have fallen victim to cancer last month, it was also announced that prominent Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is also fighting cancer. - 3/28/16

Iran increases punishment for keeping kids out of school
Iran's Ministry of Education says the penalty for failing to register one's children in school has been increased to one million toumans in fines and up to three months in prison. - 3/28/16

Iranian Judiciary Took No Action despite Formal Complaint Detailing Torture of Baha'is in Prison
Details of torture inflicted upon twelve Baha'is by interrogators three years ago at Amir Abad prison and detention centers in Iran's Golestan Province-and the Iranian Judiciary's complete lack of any response to the formal letter of complaint that was sent in 2012 by the victims of that torture to the head of the Judiciary of Golestan Province, were recently revealed to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/28/16

Iranian student organizations host Iranian New Year celebration at University of Connecticut
In celebration of the Persian New Year, over 300 people gathered in the Rome Ballroom Saturday night dressed in suits and dresses as part of an event organized by the Iranian Cultural Organization and the Iranian Student Association. -Daily Campus - 3/28/16

Iran Hopes for Talks With Saudis to Resolve Differences
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country is ready to "do anything it can" to restore its relations with Saudi Arabia, for the sake of promoting progress and prosperity in the Muslim world. - 3/27/16

Iranian Kurds appear targeted for arrests during Norooz
A number of Iranian Kurdish citizens have reportedly been arrested in various regions of Kurdistan province during Norooz festivities. Political activists had warned earlier of the increasing security-laden atmosphere in the province. - 3/27/16

Iran, Pakistan Aim To Boost Trade
The leaders of Pakistan and Iran say they are targeting $5 billion worth of mutual trade by 2021. Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced their trade goal as Rohani wrapped up a two-day visit to Islamabad on March 26. - 3/27/16

Tehran Denies Supporting Cyberattacks Against U.S. Banks
Iran has denied supporting cyberattacks against the United States after a U.S. court formally charged seven Iranian nationals over hacking dozens of American banks and a New York dam. - 3/27/16

"Blood Money" Frees Imprisoned Iranian Ranger Who Killed Poacher In Self-Defense
Gholam-Hossein Khaledi, an Iranian park ranger sentenced to death for killing a poacher in 2010, was released on March 18, 2016 after paying 12 billion rials (about $400,000 USD) diyah ("blood money") to the victim's family. - 3/27/16

At Least Seven Killed In Iranian Emergency Helicopter Crash
An air ambulance helicopter crashed in southern Iran, killing all on board, Iranian media reported on March 25. Red Crescent spokesman Mostafa Mortazavi was quoted by ISNA news agency saying seven were killed, including the patient, crew members, and medics. - 3/27/16

Iranian President Visits Pakistan Seeking Better Ties
ISLAMABAD - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani visits neighboring Pakistan for two days starting Friday. The trip is apparently part of Iran's diplomatic campaign to boost economic and trade ties with neighboring and regional countries now that international sanctions against it have been removed. - 3/25/16

Disqualified candidate casts shadow over Iranian women's political progress
The Isfahan governor has confirmed the disqualification of Minoo Khaleghi, the third candidate elected from Isfahan in the parliamentary election of February 26. He also reported that the candidate has filed an appeal of the decision. - 3/25/16

Prominent Iranian Journalist Remains Hospitalized After Delayed Health Care
Severe health problems are keeping prisoner of conscience Issa Saharkhiz , a prominent reformist journalist, under observation in the hospital he was transferred to from Evin Prison on March 9, 2016. - 3/25/16

Neoconservativism in a Nutshell
I've been asked to give a kind of Neoconservatism 101 over the next 15 minutes or so, which is a big challenge for me. It took seven hours to get through the subject with the Institute for American Studies in Beijing 12 years ago when Chinese analysts were first trying to fathom why the U.S. had been so stupid as to invade Iraq. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 3/25/16

U.S. charges consultant to Iran's U.N. mission
A consultant to Iran's mission to the United Nations has been criminally charged with violating a U.S. law against dealing with that country, according to an indictment made public on Wednesday. Reuters - 3/25/16

Societal Demand in Iran for Female Representation in Government is Unstoppable
An overlooked outcome of Iran's recent elections is the unprecedented success of women, who achieved voter support even though the Guardian Council, the hardline clerical body that vets all candidates, prevented huge numbers of females from running. - 3/24/16

U.S. Formally Charges Seven Iranian Hackers For Cyberattacks
The United States has formally charged Iranian hackers with carrying out a coordinated campaign of cyberattacks from 2011 to 2013 on dozens of U.S. banks and a New York dam. - 3/24/16

U.S. Urges Businesses To Be Wary Some Iran Sanctions Still In Effect
A top U.S. State Department official has warned businesses and banks that they must be cautious not to violate sanctions that the United States continues to impose on Iran. - 3/24/16

Iran, 1970 - Or, Persian Pictures: Gabriele Basilico on the Road in Iran
Torn white shirts, imbrued with caked blood and sweat. Raised fists pumping with vitriol, and the howls of underdogs piercing through concrete halls and cracked, blinding avenues. The memory of the sun during that long, hot autumn still weighed heavy on their minds, and their scorched brows and roughened hands wouldn't let them, those street-fighting men and women, forget it. -Reorient - 3/24/16

America's Last Gasp in the Middle East
The annual spring ritual of America's would-be presidents and politicians parading before the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) declaring their undying fealty to the Jewish state evokes an odd nostalgia in 2016. - James A. Russell, LobeLog - 3/24/16

Families stage "Norooz" sit-in for political prisoners kept in Evin
Families of Iranian political prisoners who were not granted a furlough for Norooz spent the first hours of the New Year on March 20 staging a sit-in outside Evin Prison to be closer to their relatives. - 3/23/16

Isfahan candidate disqualified despite voter support
Nasim Online reported on Tuesday March 22 that Minoo Khaleghi, a leading candidate in Isfahan, was disqualified by the Guardian Council. Her name had been on the list of candidates endorsed by reformists. - 3/23/16

Iranians Fuel Property Frenzy in Syria
The Iranian government is encouraging prominent Tehran developers to buy property in well-off Shi'ite majority neighborhoods in Syria's capital, analysts and construction industry sources in Tehran said. "Entire neighborhoods have been purchased by Iran," Syrian economist Khorshid Alika told VOA. -Sirwan Kajjo, Mehdi Jedinia, VOA - 3/23/16

Banks still afraid of US fines to process Iran deals
European banks are still refusing to process transactions related to Iran in what is believed to be a result of fears from potential US punitive actions. Despite the January removal of economic sanctions against Iran, global enterprises are still complaining that trade with the country is still difficult as a result of lingering fears of US punitive actions. - 3/23/16

U.S. Arrest Of Iranian Trader Shakes Turkish Markets, Government
The U.S. arrest of Iranian-born Reza Zarrab reverberated in Turkey on March 22 as the well-connected gold trader was at the center of a bribery scandal that once engulfed Turkey's leadership. - 3/23/16

Iran hosts celebrations marking Norooz at UN in New York
Iran has hosted an event at the United Nations to celebrate Norooz or the Persian New Year, with senior diplomats from the world body and a dozen Asian countries in attendance. Along with Iranians, millions of others in countries such as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Turkey also celebrate Norooz. - 3/22/16

Lawyer Who Took on Ahmadinejad Says Iranians Should Sue Government for Pollution Crisis
Iranians have a constitutional right to take their government to court and seek damages for worsening environmental pollution, attorney Mostafa Tork Hamadani told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/22/16

The Gulf Arab States Versus Hezbollah
In recent weeks, Lebanon has become a brighter flashpoint in the intensifying geopolitical rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Since the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and subsequently the League of Arab States, designated Hezbollah a "terrorist" organization earlier this month, GCC authorities have announced plans to deport thousands of Lebanese living in the Gulf, three Kuwaitis were found killed in Lebanon, and a United Arab Emirates (UAE) court case began involving seven people charged with Hezbollah links. -Giorgio Cafiero and Daniel Wagner - 3/22/16

Three Iranians Charged With Violating U.S. Sanctions On Iran
Three Iranians have been charged with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, and one has been arrested, U.S. authorities announced on March 21. Iranian-born businessman Reza Zarrab, 33, was arrested at a Miami airport on March 19 on the conspiracy charges. - 3/22/16

UC Berkeley announces Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Iranian Studies
"It is a part of your life, your culture," the former computer scientist and telecommunications manager-turned-humanitarian and philanthropist said about her $5 million gift to UC Berkeley, to further the study of Iranian languages, literature, arts and culture, and especially the country's history. -Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkelry - 3/22/16

18 things to know before you travel to Iran
Truth be said, Iran is a pretty relaxed country to visit, locals are friendly and very willing to help, plus, in tourist areas you will now find more people speaking English than before, so you will hardly have problems. However, traveling prepared on what to expect and knowing what to do in different situations is always a good habit. -Angela Corrias - 3/22/16

What Will It Take to Push Iran and Saudi Arabia to Talk?
Saudi Arabia and the other OPEC members have made it abundantly clear that their priority is to aggressively defend market share, not stabilize global crude prices. Consequently, prices are low at the pump and American shale oil production has declined somewhat. However, developments in shale technology have rapidly rendered American dependence on Middle East oil a thing of the past, effectively diminishing US interests in the Gulf. - Jean-Francois Seznec and Samer Mosis, LobeLog - 3/22/16

Revolutionary Guards look to play bigger role in Iran's economy
A senior member of Iran's Revolutionary Guards urged the government on Tuesday to follow its supreme leader's vision for a self-reliant economy and said the Guards wanted to play a bigger role to make that happen. -Reuters - 3/22/16

Obama's Norooz message for Iranians lauds economic potential
The U.S. president issued a video message on the occasion of the Iranian New Year to the Iranian people and all those who celebrate Norooz around the world, heralding better trade relations between the two countries. - 3/21/16

Norooz helps regional states forge closer ties: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Persian New Year or Norooz carries the message of peace and coexistence, stressing that the occasion should be seized to strengthen friendship among neighboring states. - 3/21/16

Iran's Supreme Leader Accuses US of Failing to Honor Nuclear Deal
Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says the United States has failed to fully honor a nuclear deal that lifts sanctions on Iran, and says many international companies continue to shy away from business with Tehran out of fear of U.S. reprisals. - 3/21/16

The Israel Project Boosts An Iranian "Terrorist Organization"
Perhaps some right-wing Israel lobby groups can be forgiven for taking up the cause of the exiled Iranian opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The more ignorant among them might see a group headed by a woman, Maryam Rajavi, who claims to champion a secular, human rights-respecting democracy in Iran. -Ali Gharib - 3/21/16

Veteran Iranian Actor Implores Rohani To Free Opposition Leaders
Ezzatollah Entezami has written a letter to President Rohani calling for an end to the house arrest of the opposition leaders detained for the 2009 election protests, MirHosein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi. In his letter dated February 21, Entezami writes that ending the house arrests will result in "confidence building and the strengthening of national unity". - 3/21/16

In Bid to Save Ailing Son, Political Prisoner's Father Threatens Hunger Strike
The father of ailing political prisoner Hossein Ronaghi Maleki will launch a hunger strike in front of the Tehran prosecutor's office unless steps are taken to release his son. "Hossein has been in prison for six years based on an illegal and unjust ruling," Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "I have written to the authorities many times requesting his release, especially considering his illnesses." - 3/21/16

Saudi Arabia's 'Islamic' Coalition: Spin Or Substance?
The notion that Saudi Arabia -- a country that has been widely accused of exporting Islamic radicalism around the world -- could lead a fight against extremism strikes some analysts as deeply ironic. "In order to really fight terrorism, the Saudis must declare war against themselves and end the support it has been giving to radical groups across the world," says Khoei of Chatham House. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 3/21/16

History did not exist, when Norooz did
Norooz is the only festival that is still celebrated across the entire "Iranian World"; meaning the world that was once defined by the boundaries of the Iranian Empire and the land on which Iranian culture remains alive. The term "Iranian World" remaining from the late Iranian archaeologist Shahriar Adl refers to a geographical region that covers today's country of Iran as well as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and even parts of India and what was once known as the Ottoman Empire. -Roya Monajem - 3/19/16

U.S. Calls On Iran To Release Father, Son Jailed Without Charges
The United States has called for the release of two Iranian-American citizens detained without charge in Tehran. Family members say businessman Siamak Namazi was arrested in October while his father Baquer, 80, was detained last month. Both men are believed to be in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. - 3/19/16

Iranian humorist Haloo released from jail
Iranian poet and humourist Mohammadreza Alipayam was released from jail on March 16, 2016. Kaleme reports that Alipayam, who has been in jail since last May, was released on Wednesday. Alipayam, who published his poetry under the alias "Haloo", was arrested for the social and political commentary in his work. - 3/19/16

Tarabnameh - Part 1: A play By Iranian Director Bahram Beyzaie
Tarabnameh has its genealogy in the tradition of Takhte-Hozi plays-a tradition of popular plays, combing comedy and music, dance and poetry. Centuries of despotism have rendered this form bereft of content. In Tarabnameh, a play with a cast of thirty-seven actors, this ancient comic genre keeps its joyous ambiance but takes on new form and meaning, underscoring the possibilities of once forgotten traditions becoming rich, robust, and lively modern forms of theater. - 3/19/16

Three Iranian Women Use Art to Pierce Their Homeland's Veil
As Edward Hopper's birthplace and primary residence until he was nearly 30, the Edward Hopper House Art Center promotes the idea that artists' roots have an enduring influence on their creative development. The center's current exhibition, "Where We Are Standing: Contemporary Women Artists From Iran," examines that concept through works by three artists who grew up in Iran and now live in North America. -NY Times - 3/19/16

"Rebirth"
From time immemorial, Nowrouz has been regarded as the birthday of our Blue Planet Earth on this land Which together with the blooming white and pink blossoms, green grass and red poppies Once again passes over another year of human history on its bosom In the hope of a true rebirth -Roya Monajem - 3/18/16

Norooz, the Persian New Year at the spring vernal equinox
The flower buds of yellow, violet, red and white crocuses of saffron bulbs, intermingled with the blossoming daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and the Persian violets, herald the arrival of Norooz. The Persian New Year, signaling the rebirth, rejuvenation and reconciliations, rightly occurring on the spring vernal equinox. -Davood N. Rahni, New York - 3/18/16

Baha'i Couples Welcoming Spring in Prison
In the final days of the current year, in which Iranian families are preparing to welcome the New Year*, a Baha'i couple, Payman Kooshakbaghi and Azita Rafizadeh were arrested and sent to prison to start their long sentences. There are four Baha'i couples among political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. This report is an attempt to introduce them and to bring to light how they are welcoming the New Year far from each other and from their children. - 3/18/16

10th Annual Persian Arts Festival in New York
The Persian Arts Festival celebrates 10 years of showcasing the work of hundreds of Iranian American artists from around the world at the prestigious new Brooklyn venue, National Sawdust. - 3/18/16

On eve of Iranian New Year, concern about fate of imprisoned journalists
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its concern about the conditions in which journalists are being detained in Iran, especially Afarine Chitsaz of the daily newspaper Iran, a young woman arrested at the same time as three other journalists on 2 November. - 3/18/16

Saudi Arabia to Face Cash Crunch in Future: US Analyst
An American political science professor said Saudi Arabia, not in the too distant future, will face a massive cash deficit. "Saudi Arabia is running large budget deficits of 15 to 20 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and is drawing down on its currency reserves. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) estimates that the Saudis will run of cash reserves in five years, and then will go deeply into debt," James D. Savage told the Tasnim News Agency. - 3/18/16

Controversy engulfs multiple Iran's female lawmakers
It has only been three weeks since Iran held landmark parliamentary elections, yet several controversies have already arisen over remarks made by both an incoming female lawmaker and a veteran member of parliament. Meanwhile, the qualifications of two Reformist candidates, one of them a woman, have also been challenged. -Fereshteh Sadeghi, Al-Monitor - 3/18/16

Ted Cruz's Team of Islamophobes
Cruz has assembled a collection of some of the most prominent Islamophobes in American right-wing circles and balanced them with a group of neoconservatives who only want to go to war against part of the Islamic world, not all of it. -Derek Davison - 3/18/16

Iran's Jews on life inside Israel's 'enemy state': 'We feel secure and happy'
Despite its often turbulent dealings with Israel, Iran has one of the world's largest and longest-established Jewish communities - and it's growing. Kim Sengupta reports from Tehran on their intriguing relationship with the country's establishment -Independent - 3/18/16

The Iranian Ballistic Missile Launches That Didn't Happen
Iran's binge of short- and medium-range ballistic missile launches on March 8 and 9 garnered considerable attention in the press and in American political circles. These provocative launches, which coincided with a visit to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden, were roundly condemned by U.S. politicians in both parties. -Greg Thielmann - 3/17/16

Siamak Namazi Is a Good Man. Iran Should Release Him
My friend, Iranian-American consultant Siamak Namazi, has been in Tehran's Evin prison for five months. His 80-year old father, Baquer Namazi - a former senior UNICEF official - was imprisoned three weeks ago. The motives behind these arrests have been lucidly explained, but news of detained Iranian Americans dies when there are no developments on the ground. -Reza Marashi, Huffington Post - 3/17/16

Iran says regained lost oil market share
Iran says it has already been able to regain the share of the oil market that it had lost as a result of multiple years of draconian sanctions. Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh says this has been materialized as a result of an increase in the country's production and exports of crude oil as well as gas condensate. - 3/17/16

Against the Odds: A Big Achievement for A Small Community
On March 26th, Zoroastrians, traditionally known as Zarathushtis, from the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will come together to celebrate a once in a lifetime event the inauguration of the new Arbab Rustam Guiv DareMehr building, a religious and cultural community center, in Pomona, NY. - 3/17/16

Iran Criticizes Australian Asylum Policy
SYDNEY-Iran's foreign minister has criticized Australia's policy towards asylum seekers. Mohammad Javad Zarif also rejected continued scrutiny of Tehran's human rights record and its ballistic missile program during a visit to the country. -Phil Mercer, VOA - 3/17/16

Jailed Iranian activist teacher gets respite before exile
Jailed teacher Ali Akbar Baghani, who is the deputy head of the Iranian Teachers' Association, was released on bail from Rejai Shahr Prison on Wednesday March 16 .The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that Baghani was released at the end of his jail term and has been given a furlough before going on to serve his time in exile in Zabol. - 3/17/16

Interpreting Putin's Surprise Move in Syria
Putin shocked the world last September when he sent Russian forces to intervene in Syria. He shocked the world again this week when he announced that he was withdrawing the main part of those forces. -Mark N. Katz, LobeLog - 3/17/16

MasterCard warned for violating Iran bans
The US Treasury Department has given a sanctions violation notice to the US payment system MasterCard over an alleged credit card cooperation scheme with two blacklisted Iranian banks. - 3/17/16

London property: foreign buyers from Iran expected to rise by a quarter
Iranian ultra-high net investors, or buyers with assets of at least $30 million, will spend up to 6 billion Euros over the next five to ten years on investing in overseas property, the report has found. London will be one of their top locations for buying alongside Dubai, Switzerland, Germany and the South of France. -Independent - 3/17/16

Over 200 Iranian artists to promote Norooz in 34 countries
Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO) plans to dispatch 216 artists, musicians, comedians and actors to about 34 countries across the globe to promote Norooz, the Iranian celebration of the New Year. - 3/16/16

Iran: Supreme Leader tries again to discourage New Year tradition
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has once again criticized Chaharshanbeh Suri festivities, saying they go against Islam's Sharia laws. On Monday March 14, one day before Chaharshanbeh Suri, Ayatollah Khamenei's website published a question put to him regarding the Chaharshanbeh Suri festivities, to which he replied: "Chaharshanbeh Suri has no basis in Sharia and it is recommended that it be avoided." - 3/16/16

Iran Official Warns of 'Damage' if Nuclear Deal Fails to Boost Economy
A senior Iranian official has warned that if Iran does not benefit from increased trade following the nuclear deal with the West, the consequences for his nation would be grave. Speaking at London's Royal United Services Institute in London following a meeting with the British prime minister, the Iranian President's Chief of Staff Mohammed Nahavandian was frank about the reason for his visit. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA - 3/16/16

President Rouhani vows better situation for Iran in New Year
President Rouhani, while congratulating Iranian nation on the upcoming year, said the situation for Iran will be completely different now that the sanctions are lifted and economic ties improved. Rouhani on the sideline of the Cabinet meeting on Wed. told reporters the coming Spring (starting Mar. 20) carries the message of peace, moderation and friendship - 3/16/16

Iranian women given parity with men in blood money insurance
Rahim Zareh, the spokesman for parliament's economic commission, said on television that the bill to implement parity in the third person life insurance of men and women had been prepared earlier, and the commission is pleased to announced it was approved by the Guardian Council. - 3/16/16

Iranians Looking Abroad to Escape State-Controlled Internet
Data privacy and censorship concerns are driving Iranian companies and individuals to foreign Internet servers because domestic providers are powerless to protect their customers against state spying and control. - 3/16/16

Iranian journalist, activist released from Evin prison for different reasons
Jailed journalist Serajeddin Mirdamadi and jailed children's rights activist Saeed Hosseinzadeh were released from Evin Prison on Monday March 14. The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that Mirdamadi has been granted a conditional release, while Hosseinzadeh has been released for medical reasons. - 3/16/16

Foreign tourists spent billions in Iran last year
Masoud Soltanifar, head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, told reporters on Monday that some five million foreign tourists visited Iran last year, spending at least 7.5 billion dollars. - 3/16/16

Spat Forces Saudi, Iranian Soccer Teams To Play In Neutral Venues
Saudi Arabian soccer clubs will play Asian Champions League matches against Iranian teams at neutral venues this year because of poor relations between the two countries. The Asian Football Confederation announced that the two feuding nations had failed to meet a March 15 deadline it had established for restoring "normal relations" between the two nations' clubs. - 3/16/16

Trump's Attacks on Islam: Dangerous and Way Off the Mark
Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, told CNN recently that "Islam hates us." Although he maintains that the United States is engaged in a war against radical Islam, he claims, "It's very hard to separate [presumably radical from mainstream]. Because, you don't know who's who." -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 3/16/16

Iran Insists Missile Launches Legal After US Urges International Response
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday his country's missile tests last week did not violate the nuclear agreement Iran signed with a group of world powers last year. Speaking during a visit to Australia, Zarif reiterated that Iran sees the missiles as a key measure of self defense and that they are not meant to deliver nuclear warheads. "We do not design any missiles to carry things that we do not have," he said. -Margaret Besheer, VOA - 3/15/16

Russian-Iranian Relations: Troubled Ties
On March 14, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov talked about how Russian-Iranian relations had reached a "new level," and how Moscow has "been persistently developing friendly relations with Iran." Moscow and Tehran have, as is well known, been working together to support the Assad regime in Syria, and Tehran is reportedly buying more arms from Russia... -Mark N. Katz - 3/15/16

Oil Prices Plummet On Fear Iran Will Torpedo Output Freeze Plan
The price of premium crude fell 3 percent on March 14 and dropped further to under $40 a barrel in early trading March 15 after Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak said that Tehran would not immediately join in a production freeze this year, but might join after raising its output back to levels that prevailed before economic sanctions. - 3/15/16

U.S., Russia Clash Over Iran Missile Tests At United Nations
The United States and Russia clashed at a United Nations Security Council meeting on March 14 over whether Iran's test-firing of ballistic missiles last week violated a UN resolution. But Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow has seen no proof that the missiles could carry nuclear weapons, and thus he sees no violation of the resolution. - 3/15/16

Iranian Minister Restates Support For Smart Filtering Over Total Site Censorship
Iran's minister of communications has once again stressed that the administration is opposed to the complete blocking of internet sites. Mahmoud Vaezi told ISNA on Monday March 14 that it is not appropriate to block a whole site that provides beneficial information just because 10 to 15 percent of its content is problematic. - 3/15/16

Obama the Realist
Jeffrey Goldberg's long article in the Atlantic about Barack Obama's thinking on America's foreign relations, an article derived from a series of interviews that Goldberg had with the president, ought to be required reading for this year's presidential candidates and those who wish to advise the next president on foreign policy. -Paul R. Pillar - 3/15/16

Tehran Stock Exchange roars to 2-year high
Tehran's benchmark TEPIX index rises above the 80,000-point mark for the first time in two years, driven by continued optimism about prospects of an economic growth following the lifting of sanctions. - 3/14/16

Prisoner's mother rejects her own sentence of jail, lashes
Simin Eyvazideh, the mother of political prisoner Omid Haghshenas, has been sentenced to 91 days in jail and 74 lashes. Eyvazzadeh told the campaign: "The charge against me has nothing to do with my actions; therefore, I do not accept the sentence and find it unfair and unreasonable and expect to be completely acquitted." - 3/14/16

The Death of the King: A play by acclaimed Iranian writer and director Bahram Beyzaie
Departing from a single line in Persia's history books, critically-acclaimed Iranian playwright, Bahram Beyzaie wrote 'The Death of the King' shortly after the Iranian Revolution. Beyzaie's play tells the story of an ordinary family charged with treason, accused of killing their nation's ruler. -April 13-17 at ODC Theater, San Francisco - 3/14/16

EU Considering Sanctions On Iran, Ties With Russia
European Union foreign ministers are expected to discuss possible sanctions against Iran, as well as the bloc's relations with Russia, when they meet in Brussels on March 14. France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on March 13 that EU sanctions against Iran would be adopted, "if necessary," in response to Iran's recent ballistic-missile tests. - 3/14/16

Iran defends all Muslims against Daesh: General Soleimani
Major General Qasem Soleimani, a commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), says Iran defends all Muslims against the Daesh Takfiri threat. The commander of the IRGC's Quds Force made the comments during a ceremony in the southeastern province of Kerman on Sunday. - 3/14/16

You can't touch me, says Dia Mirza's Iranian co-star to her
You do know that you cannot touch me, right?" those are the first words Iranian matinee idol Reza Golzar mutters to Bollywood actress-producer Dia Mirza on the sets of their Indo-Iranian co-production, 'Salaam Mumbai'. Dia protests with a laugh, "That's totally unfair. You cannot be that good looking and put a mandate on touching." -Times of India - 3/14/16

Norooz in Orange County: Saturday March 26 at UC Irvine
This year Farhang Foundation celebrates Nowruz in Orange County at our new home at the University of California, Irvine's Claire Trevor School of Arts on Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 11:30 PM - 5:00 PM, join us for a full day of actives for the entire family - 3/13/16

Iran Rejects Russia-Saudi Oil Freeze Proposal
Iran has said it will not freeze its oil production, a blow to a proposal by Russia and Saudi Arabia to freeze global output to help turn around a plunge in oil prices. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told Iran's Press TV on March 13 that other oil-producing countries should "leave us alone." - 3/13/16

Iran, 7 other countries to cooperate on building 3 satellites
Iran and 7 member states of the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO) are planning to jointly design and build a remote sensing satellite, said head of Iranian Space Agency for International Cooperation on Friday. - 3/13/16

Remembering Tomorrow
This February marked a first for Shirley Elghanian & co. Over a decade since she established her nonprofit organisation, the Magic of Persia Foundation in 2004, she and her colleagues held an exhibition of contemporary Iranian art not in London or Los Angeles, but in Tehran. To top things off, they'll be holding their annual charity gala and auction this year in Dubai -Joobin Bekhrad, Reorient - 3/13/16

Iran Elections: Reformists Win Voter Support Despite Roadblocks and Irregularities
While facing non-stop impediments, reformists and centrists achieved significant gains in Iran'srecent elections, even after hardline bodies broke the law to prevent candidates close to President Hassan Rouhani from winning voter support. - 3/12/16

Iranian university students feel impact of disciplinary crackdown
Twelve student groups across Iran have issued a statement reporting that 160 students in the past two months have been summoned by the disciplinary committees at Tehran and Elm-o-Sanaat universities. - 3/12/16

China's EXIM bank to fund Iran projects
Iran says the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) is set to provide funds for the development of the Iranian petrochemical and telecommunication projects. The media in Tehran said on Thursday that this has been envisaged as per an agreement that China's EXIM bank has signed with Iran's Bank Tejarat to jointly fund Iranian projects. - 3/12/16

Why is Venmo Targeting Norooz?
Critics of the Iran nuclear deal have a lot of concerns. Some claim the Ayatollahs are now literally swimming in pools filled with sweet American cash. Others are distraught that Iranians may no longer be resigned to travel via flying coffins now that Airbus and Boeing are allowed upgrade the country's civilian airliners. -NIAC Action - 3/12/16

Saudi Arabia is Pissed: What Are the Risks for Lebanon?
It's official: Saudi Arabia has declared open war on Lebanese Hezbollah. On March 2, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which gathers the six monarchies of the Arab Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait) officially put the Shiite group on its list of terrorist organizations. -Aurelie Daher, LobeLog - 3/12/16

Campaign encourages safe driving by Iranians during Norooz holidays
Iranian officials report that road accidents add 100 people to the country's disabled population every day. The head of Iran's Red Crescent, Massoud Habibi, said on Thursday March 10: "Unfortunately, road accidents continue to claim 50 lives each day across the country and the number of road accident injuries is 16 times that number." - 3/11/16

Women Deputies Sue Iranian Lawmaker Over 'Donkey' Remarks
Iranian female lawmakers are suing a hard-line male colleague, Nader Ghazipur, for saying parliament was no place for women and donkeys. Parliamentary deputy Fatemeh Rahbar told the government news agency IRNA that she and some of her colleagues had filed complaints with Iran's prosecutor-general, parliament's supervisory committee, and parliament speaker Ali Larijani. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 3/11/16

Iran Missile Launches Prompt Sanctions Push in US Congress
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told VOA that Iran's missile launches are sparking stronger resolve in Congress to renew and boost U.S. sanctions on Tehran. "There are three categories [of sanctions] that can be looked at in a bipartisan way, and we are attempting to do that now," Republican Senator Bob Corker said. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 3/11/16

PAAIA Releases 2016 National Survey of Iranian Americans
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today released the findings of a national public opinion survey examining the attitudes of Iranian Americans with respect to U.S.-Iran relations, the newly implemented nuclear agreement with Iran, and the experience of the Iranian American community. - 3/11/16

Mass Child Marriage Ceremony in Iran Denied by Local Officials
Fifty high school students were married in a mass ceremony in the Iranian city of Parsian, according to local news reports. But city officials have been downplaying the event and distancing themselves from the idea of encouraging child marriage. - 3/11/16

Universally Iranian: artists without borders - in pictures
enerations of Iranian artists who have emigrated have struggled with a dualism. On one hand, they want to make art speaking to universal issues. On the other, the market may expect their work to reflect a homeland where they no longer live. -Matteo Lonardi, Guardian - 3/11/16

Russian, Iranian Ministers To Discuss Oil-Output Freeze
Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak will meet with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh on March 14 in Tehran to discuss how an oil-output freeze might apply to Iran, officials say. - 3/11/16

U.S. Said Ready To Blame Iran For Cyberattack On Dam In New York
U.S. news media are reporting that the Obama administration will publicly blame Iranian hackers for a 2013 cyberattack against a small dam in New York state. The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against the hackers and a public announcement could come as soon as next week, Reuters and CNN reported on March 10. - 3/11/16

The HAND Foundation Sponsors Various Norooz Persian New Year Events and Banners
Today, the California-based HAND Foundation announced it will be underwriting local Bay Area events, such as Iranian Federated Women's Club Norooz 2016 event with Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese on Tuesday, March 15th and San Francisco City Hall's Norooz 1395 celebration hosted by Iranican.com on Friday, March 25th. - 3/10/16

Azita Raji sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Sweden
First Iranian-American Ambassador, Azita Raji, was sworn in by Vice-President Joe Biden on March 6th, 2016 to head the US Embassy in Sweden. Azita Raji is an Iranian-born American investment banker, financial analyst and philanthropist. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in October 2014 to serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to the Kingdom of Sweden, and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in February 2016. - 3/10/16

Iran: Missile Tests Not Violation of Nuclear Deal
Iran said Thursday its ballistic missile program and the tests it conducted this week do not violate its commitments under a nuclear agreement reached last year with a group of six world powers. State media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi-Ansari saying Iran will continue the program and that it is legitimate and defensive in nature. - 3/10/16

Former Iran President Presses Rohani On Detained Opposition Leaders
Former Iranian president and prominent reformist figure Mohammad Khatami has urged the Rohani government to honour its election promises, adding that the country's security-laden atmosphere does not befit the Iranian people. - 3/10/16

The Latest on Non-Nefarious Iranian Behavior
One of the arguments recited most frequently by those wanting to keep Iran ostracized in perpetuity--so frequently that it has achieved the status of cliche--has been that the partial sanctions relief provided for in the agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program would lead to increased "nefarious" and "destabilizing" behavior by Iran in the Middle East because it would have more financial resources for such activity. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/10/16

White House: Iran Committed to Finding Ex-FBI Agent Missing Since 2007
The White House said Wednesday Iran is committed to helping U.S. authorities find missing FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007. Spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. takes Iran's promise "quite seriously" and is holding the Iranians to it. - 3/10/16

Iran, Up Close, Though Far Away
"A Journey Inside," is a documentary project on social issues in Iran. The stories the participants -- four men and four women from different parts of the country -- chose focused on the place of women in Iranian society, university students, drought and a disabled war veteran. The project lasted 14 months, including training and photographing under the supervision of Mr. Fatemi and Panos Pictures, with the assistance of Maryam Athari. -NY Times - 3/10/16

Post-Sanction Iran Remains A Country Divided
Deep in the basement of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, behind a door that opens with a spoked wheel like a bank vault, are some 2,000 paintings by artists such as Francis Bacon, Rene Magritte, Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin. Iranian curators say the collection is estimated to be worth $5 billion, but only a select group of people have seen it since the 1979 revolution. -Janine di Giovanni, Newsweek - 3/10/16

Iran's Struggle with Air Pollution
Iran's pollution, a decades-old issue, has steadily increased in recent years, claiming lives and damaging healthy lungs. Iran's most recent official statistics concludes that, on average, one person dies of pollution-related causes in the capital, Tehran, every two hours. -Mehrnaz Samimi - 3/9/16

Iranian President's Khatami Comments Officially Fall On Deaf Ears
Iran's president has broken a long-standing taboo by publicly defending a reformist predecessor, but his remarks met with a muted response. In a speech broadcast live from Mohammad Khatami's hometown on March 7, President Hassan Rohani hailed the former reformist president as a "dear brother." The crowd in the central Iranian city of Yazd cheered wildly at the mention of their native son. -By Frud Bezhan, RFE - 3/9/16

Photos: Iran test-fires two ballistic missiles during large-scale drills
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles in line with the country's defense doctrine. The missiles dubbed Qadr-H and Qadr-F were fired on Wednesday during the large-scale drills, codenamed Eqtedar-e-Velayat. - 3/9/16

Iran exports 32 tons of heavy water to US
Iran on Tuesday announced that it had exported 32 tons of heavy water to the United States in what could be a landmark progress in the commercialization of the country's nuclear energy program. - 3/9/16

America's Persian and Arabian Wars
Sometime between 460 and 450 B.C.E., Herodotus wrote The Persian Wars, his account of the Greeks' two wars with the Persians, which spanned thirteen years. Even in a time when trends and events unfolded more slowly than they seem to now, that was a famously lengthy conflict. But the ancient Greeks and Persians have nothing on us Americans in that regard. -Chas Freeman, LobeLog - 3/9/16

Harsh Sentences of Human Rights Activist and Wife Confirmed by Iran Appeals Court
An Appeals Court in Iran has upheld the 15-year prison sentence of the student activist Arash Sadeghi for "collusion against national security," "propaganda against the state," "spreading lies in cyberspace" and "insulting the Founder of the Islamic Republic [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini]." - 3/9/16

The Bride Wore Green: What a Wedding Says about Iran's Future
Wearing a flowing green gown and a string of pearls that hung, flapper-style, below her waist, Narges Mousavi was married Friday, in Tehran. The bride, a painter, was born into the revolutionary Úlite. Her father, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was Iran's Prime Minister for eight years. -Robin Wright, New Yorker - 3/9/16

Australia, Iran Said Negotiating Deal To Return 9,000 Iranian Migrants
Australia hopes to send nearly 9,000 Iranian migrants back to their homeland under a new deal with Tehran, Australian media reported on March 9. The deal was reported to cover almost 9,000 Iranian asylum seekers, including about 400 in Australian-funded immigration centers on Pacific islands. Australia has refused to resettle them while Iran refuses to take them back. - 3/9/16

Sources: Iraqi Kurdish Officials Sought Emergency Aid From Iran
Facing a massive financial shortfall, Kurdish authorities in Iraq sought emergency economic assistance last year from Iran, according to Kurdish and Iranian sources. The discussion stalled, the sources said, because Tehran demanded a share of Kurdish oil revenues. -VOA - 3/9/16

Turmoil in Eastern Saudi Arabia
The January 2 execution of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a popular Shi'ite cleric from Awamiya in eastern Saudi Arabia, set off angry protests worldwide. From Michigan to London, and from Bahrain to Kashmir, Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets on several continents to condemn the Saudi authorities who beheaded al-Nimr after finding the cleric guilty of "breaking allegiance with the ruler" and a handful of other alleged crimes. -Giorgio Cafiero and Alex Stout, LobeLog - 3/9/16

Rouhani's Post-Election Openings and Challenges
Despite their limited choice, Iranian voters opted to back a strategy that diluted the power of radical hardliners within the Islamic Republic rather than conceding the political game to them. Last week's election results strengthened the alignment between Iranian reformists, centrists (government supporters), and moderate conservatives aimed at weakening the hardliners. -Ellie Geranmayeh - 3/8/16

Rags To Riches To Death Row: The Rise And Fall Of An Iranian Billionaire
Babak Zanjani, one of Iran's richest men, once attributed his business success to God and luck. But his fortunes began to turn when the presidency changed hands in 2013. And with the death sentence he was given for corruption this week, his luck appears to have run out entirely. -Farangis Najibullah, RFE - 3/8/16

Iran Sets New Restrictions On University Concerts
Iran has set new restrictions on concerts held at universities, as hard-liners dig in their heels after election gains for moderates who might seek to ease some of the Islamic republic's harshest limits on cultural life. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 3/8/16

Iran's Prospects and a Role for Europe
At this point nuances of interpretation in relation to the outcome of the first round of 2016 elections to Iran's parliament (Majles) are possible, and the results of a second round are awaited. Nonetheless, it can be asserted with confidence that these elections have been a victory for President Hassan Rouhani - not only in Tehran but also in many provincial cities, including those usually considered to be rather conservative. -Francois Nicoullaud and Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 3/8/16

Former Iranian Political Prisoner Gets One-Year Prison Sentence On Recycled Charges
Navid Kamran, a former political prisoner, has been sentenced to one year in prison without any new evidence supporting the charge against him of "propaganda against the state," he told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/8/16

Iranian forest ranger spared from death sentence
Asadollah Taghizadeh, a forest ranger who was arrested and sentenced to Qesas seven years ago for killing an illegal hunter in the Dena forest region, was released on Monday March 7 after the family of the deceased gave their consent. - 3/8/16

Ex-ambassador: US Met Secretly With Iran Before 2003 Iraq Invasion
A new book by a former high ranking U.S. official says the U.S. held confidential talks with Iran about Iraq's future ahead of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. - 3/8/16

Norooz Celebration at San Francisco City Hall
You're invited to the celebration of Norooz 1395 at the San Francisco City Hall hosted by Iranican on Friday, March 25th! Join us for an evening filled with cultural delights, music, dance, and celebrations - all from Iran's great heritagel - 3/7/16

Iran warns cautious European banks
Several Iranian officials have warned European banks that they might miss out on opportunities provided by the lifting of sanctions if they continue to dawdle on returning to the country. Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takhtravanchi said European banks are overcautious in forging renewed connections with Iran, warning that they "will fall behind under the new situation." - 3/7/16

Iran female ping pong players shine in world championships
Iranian female ping pong players have impressed the spectators in the final match of the Perfect 2016 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Malaysia, winning it and standing on top of the podium. - 3/7/16

China irate as US targets Iran trade
China is outraged as the US government plans to punish its largest telecom equipment maker ZTE Corps for alleged violations of sanctions on Iran. China and Iran have close diplomatic, economic, trade and energy ties. Beijing played a key role in a nuclear agreement which came into effect in January and lifted sanctions on the Islamic Republic. - 3/7/16

IAEA Chief Says Iran Must Comply With Deal 'For Many Years'
The head of the UN's nuclear agency has suggested that Iran's initial compliance with a nuclear deal is only a first step, saying Tehran must continue to honor its commitments in the years ahead. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano made the remark at the opening of the organization's 35-nation board meeting in Vienna on March 7. - 3/7/16

Investing in Iran? Frontier Market Opens Up
Investing in these funds is broadly prohibited for U.S. investors, and there is no indication that will change soon. But for Europeans, it can be done--within limits--following the lifting on Jan. 16 of the nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran by an international coalition. And the strong showing of Iranian moderates in national elections last month may encourage interest in the country. -WSJ - 3/7/16

Iranian Billionaire Babak Zanjani Sentenced To Death For Corruption
Iranian tycoon Babak Zanjani, the country's wealthiest person, has been sentenced to death after being convicted on corruption charges. Iran's judiciary announced the death sentences for Zanjani and two fellow defendants in Tehran on March 6. - 3/6/16

US investors warned they will miss on Iran deals
Hans Humes, the head of US hedge fund Greylock Capital Management LLC, says US investors are at risk of getting shut out of billions of dollars of deals in Iran while their European competitors get a head start in the country's post-sanctions opportunities. - 3/6/16

NIAC's 6th Annual Norooz Day of Service: Saturday, March 12, 2016
Join Iranian Americans nationwide in honoring the Iranian New Year (Norooz) tradition of beginning a good year through acts of kindness. During NIAC's 6th Annual Day of Service on Saturday, March 12, we look forward to reining in a wonderful new year by cleaning parks and beaches, serving food to those less fortunate than ourselves, and caring for the ill and elderly. - 3/6/16

Call For Submissions: Iranian Mural Competition
Farhang Foundation is calling on aspiring and veteran artists to submit original designs that conceptualize aspects of Iranian culture. Eligible designs will be considered as the central artwork featured on a series of murals in prominent areas of Los Angeles. - 3/6/16

Police keep former Iranian president from wedding of opposition leader's daughter
Iranian security forces prevented former president and prominent reformist figure Mohammad Khatami from leaving his home to attend the wedding of the daughter of Mir Hosein Mousavi and Zahra Rahnavard, the Iranian opposition leaders who have been under house arrest since 2011. - 3/6/16

Obama and Congress Square Off on Israeli Settlements
The campaign to legitimize Israeli settlements - through U.S. legislation conflating settlements and Israel - continues. In tandem with this campaign is a steady stream of reports about U.S. policy vis-a-vis settlements and the West Bank since 1967. Many of these reports - either out of incompetence or a deliberate effort to mislead - misrepresent the facts (to say the least). -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 3/6/16

UNICEF Expresses Worry About Health Of Staffer Jailed In Iran
The United Nations Children's Fund on March 3 expressed concern about the health of an elderly former staff member who was jailed in Iran last week. Baquer Namazi was arrested on February 22 and taken to Tehran's Evin Prison, where his son Siamak has been jailed since October. Both Namazis are dual U.S.-Iranian citizens. - 3/5/16

Nine Takeaways From Iran's Elections
Iran's moderates and reformists have had nearly a week to celebrate their return from a decade of political marginalization in elections that recast the ranks of the parliament and the clerically dominated Assembly of Experts, which selects and oversees the supreme leader. But how much has really changed? -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 3/5/16

Iran president, Turkish PM hold key talks in Tehran
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and visiting Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hold talks in Tehran on mutual relations and the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly the Syrian crisis. Davutoglu arrived in Tehran at the head of a high-ranking political and economic delegation Friday night for a two-day official visit. - 3/5/16

Iranian Lawmaker Says Parliament Is No Place For Women, Donkeys
A hard-line Iranian lawmaker has come under fire for declaring that women should not be allowed to serve in parliament. "The parliament is not a place for women, it's a place for men," lawmaker Nader Ghazipur said in a video posted online in which he appears to suggest that women can be abused and places women in the same category as "donkeys," a term used to insult a person's intelligence. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 3/5/16

Iran invites Boeing for commercial talks
Iran says it has invited US plane manufacturer Boeing for talks with Iranian companies on modernizing its fleet. The announcement was made by Iran's Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi. Boeing said on February 19 it had received authorization from the US administration to study the commercial plane market in Iran, in the wake of the lifting of nuclear sanctions in mid-January. - 3/5/16

Campaign 2016: Where do the Presidential candidates stand on Iran?
In President Obama's final year in office, after seven years of engagement with Iran that took place in fits and starts, the United States and Iran secured a multilateral agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions. The sustainability of this historic agreement, as well as the scope of this new engagement between the two countries and the direction that the U.S. and Iran now take in relation to one another, will soon be in the hands of a new President. -NIAC Action - 3/5/16

How Iran's Reformists Found Their Center
FOR decades, Iran's politics have centered on a contest of visions that pitted democratic reformists against hard-line theocrats. Under President Hassan Rouhani, that binary has begun to give way. Last week's elections showcased a coordinated movement toward the center of Iran's political spectrum. -Laura Secor, New York Times - 3/5/16

Metallica and their secret 'Persian Magnetic' fans ignoring the ban on metal music in Iran
'Radio Dreams' follows an Iranian writer's attempt to bring his heavy-metal heroes, Metallica, to Iran. Michael Griffiths meets fans trying to do the same in real life -Independent - 3/5/16

Iran Vote: Political Freedoms Must Be Rouhani's Top Priority
In the elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts held across Iran on February 26, the Iranian electorate handed the country's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and the hardline candidates he openly supported, a significant setback, voting in moderate candidates in many cities and provinces across the country, including sweeping all the seats in the capital of Tehran. - 3/3/16

Iran To Get First Foreign-Branded Luxury Hotel On Caspian Sea
A Spanish hotel operator says it plans to open what is described as Iran's first foreign-branded seaside hotel as early as next year. Melia Hotels International said on March 2 that the five-star property would be built in a 130-meter tower on the Caspian Sea. - 3/3/16

Iran to become Alzheimer's disease treatment hub: Scientist
An award winning scientist says Iran will become an international hub for Alzheimer's disease treatment over the next six years. Postdoctoral Researcher at Harvard Medical School and winner of the US Alzheimer's Institute's research grant, Kourosh Shahpasand made the remarks during an interview with Mehr News Agency on Wednesday. - 3/3/16

Iranian VP Under Fire For Claiming All Of Village's Men 'Executed'
Iranian Vice President Shahindokht Molaverdi has come under fire for claiming that the entire male population of a village in restive Sistan-Baluchistan Province has been executed on drug-related offenses. - 3/3/16

How the nuclear deal boosted Iran's moderates -- and showed Iranian elections can matter
The Obama administration was careful, in advocating for the nuclear deal with Iran, not to argue that the deal would necessarily bolster the country's moderates, or that such a boost would be required for the deal to work. But they clearly hoped. -Max Fisher, VOX - 3/3/16

What the U.S.-China Experience Can Teach About Iran's Future
The results from Iran's recent elections indicate that reformists and moderates have made gains in both the parliament and the Assembly of Experts-the body that will pick the next Supreme Leader of Iran. These results are already setting off intensified speculation about the long-term domestic political implications of the nuclear agreement, and whether over time the deal can transform the Iranian political system. -National Interest - 3/3/16

Village of Pamenar: The Other Face of Iran
My latest obsession with finding unfamiliar landscapes in Iran lead me to the province of Khuzestan, where I won the lottery in a tiny village called Pamenar. It was a bucolic heaven! I had heard of this place and even thought about including it in our itinerary long before we went off, but having to trim a whole day of our trip last-minute, messed up all the plan. I was bit meh about it first but there was only so much we could do. -Matin Lashkari, Travestyle - 3/3/16

Cyberspace, Expanding Space for Iranians to Protest
The February 2016 elections revealed once more that the openness of the internet defuses policies of censorship and repression to a certain degree. Iranians have used the internet as a tool in the service of social resistance since the elections of 2005. - 3/2/16

Campaign reports on Iranian women's advances in election
The Campaign to Change the Masculine Face of Parliament ended its activities on Monday February 29 with a statement following the final election results. In its statement, the campaign restated its mission to influence the country's political atmosphere to the advantage of women. - 3/2/16

Iranian Music Distributors Sentenced to Three Years in Prison
Three music distributors have each been sentenced to three years in prison and fined 200 million rials (approximately $6,600 USD) for "insulting the sacred" and "propaganda against the state" by a Tehran appeals court. - 3/2/16

Iran's startup tech scene is getting off the ground
For 25-year-old Hamed Jafari, the morning commute involves two taxis and one bus ride from the northeast outskirts of Tehran into the hottest business district downtown. Jafari is tall, lanky and very chill. He's wearing one version of the startup entrepreneur's uniform worldwide: a zip-up hooded sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers. -PRI - 3/2/16

Iran President Calls For Privatization Of Car Industry, Foreign Partnerships
President Hassan Rohani has called for foreign partnerships to boost Iran's car industry, and said the sector must be privatized to improve its competitiveness. Rohani made the comments at an international carmakers' conference in Tehran on March 1, - 3/2/16

Iran says oil exports rose by 30%
Iran said on Tuesday that its oil exports had increased by 30 percent last month. The country's Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh has been quoted by the media as saying that exports increased to 1.75 million barrels per day (bpd) during the Iranian month of Bahman, which runs from January 21 to February 19. - 3/2/16

Trump or Israel: Who Is More Friendly to Dictators?
The revanchist Zionist group, the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), is at it again: back at the task of keeping the Republican Party pure of heart, brooking no deviations from neoconservatism as it is broadly practiced in Washington. This week, ECI released an ad targeting Donald Trump, a politician who dabbles in another kind of American purity crusade. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 3/2/16

The Profound Meaning of Iran's Elections
The countrywide official results of the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections are not yet finalized, and in any case a detailed analysis of the numbers requires more time. The Guardian has a good round-up of approximate results that measures the extent of the blow received by hardliners, particularly in the city of Tehran. But the results released so far, as well as the way the election was conducted, is sufficient for me to call what happened one of the most significant (and interesting) elections in Iran's post-revolution history. -Farideh Farhi - 3/1/16

Iran Vote Likely To Usher In Record Number Of Women
Long-beleaguered reformists weren't the only grouping to have gained ground in Iran's February 26 elections. Women, most of them reformists or independents, also made strides. As many as 20 women are expected to win seats in the parliament, or Majlis, which would be a record number for the Islamic republic. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 3/1/16

Iran: Khatami calls vote results an endorsement of reformist policies
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami issued a statement following the widespread success of reformists in the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, saying the people have expressed their support for the policies of the Rohani administration, and he called for the implementation of reformist policies. - 3/1/16

Why Iran's Parliament Matters
Iranians went to the polls on February 26 to vote for the new members of parliament as well as the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body in charge of electing and removing the country's most powerful man, the Supreme Leader. Official election results indicate that the country's reformist and moderate factions won all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran, a significant gain. -Reza H. Akbari, LobeLog - 3/1/16

Iran religious minorities lawmakers elected
According to the final results announced by the ministry on Monday, Siamak More Sedeq won the parliamentary seat for the Jewish constituency with 2,449 votes. Esfandiyar Ekhtiyari was announced as the elected lawmaker for the Zoroastrian constituency after he gained 3,966 votes. The ministry said Younatan Betkolia was elected as the lawmaker representing the Assyrians and Chaldeans with 2,212 votes. - 3/1/16

IPI names Iran's Ahmad Zeidabadi World Press Freedom Hero
The International Press Institute (IPI) today named as its 68th World Press Freedom Hero prominent Iranian journalist, academic, writer and political analyst Ahmad Zeidabadi, who has courageously fought for freedom of expression, human rights and democracy in his country despite continued persecution by authorities. - 3/1/16

Report shows university grads leading unemployment growth in Iran
While official reports indicate that unemployment is in decline in the country, a report from the ministry of labour reveals that at least six million people across the country are unemployed. The unemployed population has doubled in Iran in the past 10 years. - 3/1/16

For Iranian restaurants in Saudi, it's business as usual
Iran and Saudi Arabia's rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region, and escalated further after the two severed diplomatic and trade ties last month. Yet in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, popular Iranian restaurants are outselling feverish calls for a boycott and stand as a reminder of when ties between the two countries held promise. -AP - 3/1/16
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