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Photos: The Historic Golestan Palace in Tehran
The oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran, the Golestan Palace (Palace of Flowers) belongs to a group of royal buildings that were once enclosed within the mud-thatched walls of Tehran's Historic Arg (citadel). The Arg was built during the reign of Tahmasb I (r. 1524-1576) of the Safavid dynasty (1502-1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan Zand (r. 1750-1779). Agha Mohamd Khan Qajar (1742-1797) chose Tehran as his capital. The Arg became the site of the Qajar (1794-1925) Court and Golestan Palace became the official residence of the royal family. - 3/31/17

The unfathomable soul of Iran
The very first time I travelled to Iran, I was absolutely amazed at how open and inclusive its community was, how safe the country was and how astonishingly beautiful. Sadly, it is blatantly misrepresented in most Western media, a tendency I would gladly counter as a journalist in the making. -Katya Bohdan - 3/31/17

NIAC Calls on Authorities to Release Detained Iranian Citizen Holding Valid Visa
"The National Iranian American Council calls upon authorities to release and explain the arrest and detention of Alia Ghandi, an Iranian citizen who holds a valid U.S. visa. Ghandi's arrest raises a number of concerns that Iranians are still being unfairly targeted by immigration enforcement due to their national origin, in spite of court orders putting a hold on Trump's Muslim ban." - 3/31/17

Iran's President Rouhani Orders Investigation Into "Suspicious" Pre-Election Arrests After MPs Ask Him for Explanation
A little over a week after reformist members of Parliament asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to attend to a spate of arrests ahead of the country's upcoming elections, the president asked for the same thing from his interior minister. - 3/31/17

Congress cautiously takes on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Advocates of the Iran nuclear deal argue that the bill from Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would label the 100,000-strong Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist group and trigger a showdown between the United States and Iran. -Julian Pecquet, Al-Monitor - 3/31/17

Iranian ayatollah calls for fewer holidays
Iran's relatively large number of holidays have long been a point of contention in the country, although many Iranians don't hesitate to seize every chance to pack their bags and leave urban sprawls for nature. But now, clerics and a number of politicians are increasingly speaking out against what they deem excessive breaks, saying that the holidays harm the country. -Rohollah Faghihi, Al-Monitor - 3/31/17

NOWRUZANE: An Exchange & Celebration of the Persian New Year with Iranian, Italian and CPC Artists
This touring exhibition is a collaboration between Chav Printmaking Studio (Iran), Milano Printmakers Associazione Culturale (Milan) and Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. The exhibit features over 130 mini prints by 96 CPC, Italian and Iranian printmakers. Multiples of these works are currently traveling and being exhibited together at the Chav Printmaking Studio in Tehran, as well as in Mashhad, Kermanshah and Kerman in Iran, at IL Fogilo - 74b Gallery in Milan, Italy and at the Sagene Kunstsmie in Oslo, Norway. - 3/30/17

Assessing the Putin-Rouhani Summit
The successful meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Moscow on March 28 indicates that the two leaders have similar views not just on Syria, but on several other issues. Still, areas of disagreement between them remain, even when it comes to issues on which they're broadly cooperative. -Mark N. Katz - 3/30/17

IRAN: Faezeh Hashemi, Political Activist and Former Reformist MP, to be Tried on New and Undeclared Charges
Outspoken political activist and former reformist member of Parliament Faezeh Hashemi will face a new trial in April 2017 on undeclared charges, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Hashemi served in Parliament from 1996 to 2000 as a reformist representative from Tehran, and published Zan, the first newspaper for Iranian women, in 1998 until it was banned a year later. - 3/30/17

Iran's Upcoming Election and the GCC Nations
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's death on January 8 was a major blow for the Islamic Republic of Iran's traditionally marginalized reformists and moderates. The former Iranian president's passing raised many questions about how the Iranian regime, without Rafsanjani's moderating influence, might approach Tehran's relations with the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members. -Jesse Schatz, LobeLog - 3/30/17

US should use 'military means' against Iran: CENTCOM chief
The United States should consider using "military means" against Iran, US Army General Joseph Votel says, calling Tehran "the greatest long-term threat to stability" in the Middle East. Votel, who heads the US Central Command (CENTCOM), made the hostile remarks while speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. - 3/30/17

Iran's environmental chief says she won't give up to pressures
As U.S. President Donald Trump signed a long-promised executive order on Tuesday to end the country's climate change efforts and revive the coal industry, Iran's environmental official Masoumeh Ebtekar pledged pressing ahead with plans to rebuild the country's damaged environment. "I won't give up in the face of pressures and will continue implementing plans as far as I'm in office," Ebtekar said on Wednesday - 3/30/17

US Arrests Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions Case
Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a prominent ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to New York this week to school investors on his state bank's plans to sell new dollar bonds. Instead, he was placed under arrest by U.S. authorities and accused of conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran by teaming with wealthy Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through U.S. banks to Iran's government. -Kasim Cindemir, VOA - 3/30/17

Iran's Waiting Game With Trump?
As the Trump administration appears to be taking a tougher line on Iran and the U.S. Congress ponders new hostile actions against the country, several members of the European Parliament visited Tehran in mid-March. The visit, organized jointly by the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, close to the Social-Democratic party, and the Institute for Political and International Studies, the Iranian foreign ministry's think-tank, served to take the temperature in Tehran. -Eldar Mamedov - 3/29/17

Woman says Iranian sister detained at PDX; ACLU says she was taken to jail
PORTLAND, Oregon - A local woman went to pick up her sister at the airport Tuesday afternoon, but told KATU News her sister was denied entry even though she had a tourist visa. "I'm in shock. How can they treat us like that?" Leila Ahranjani said. "Imagine you want to go visit a country, you get off the plane, you're excited to see your nieces after 5, 6 years and then they take her." -KATU - 3/29/17

Engage: Second Annual Harvard Iranian Weekend
Harvard Iranian Weekend (HIW) is a global conference that serves as a platform to broadcast the distinct Iranian voices in today's America. This year's theme is Engage, a direct call to action in convening the curious, bold, and bright members of the Iranian community. - 3/29/17

Iran, Russia lay out roadmap to enhance strategic cooperation
Iran and Russia issue a joint statement, outlining a roadmap for the future status of their bilateral relations and cooperation on the regional and international stage. The 16-page statement was released during talks between President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart, Vladmiri Putin, in the Kremlin on Tuesday, the second day of a two-day visit to Moscow by the Iranian chief executive. - 3/29/17

UNESCO celebrates Norooz in Paris
Norooz World Festivity was held in UNESCO headquarters in Paris with Iran's permanent representative to UNESCO sponsoring the festivity and 12 member countries of Norooz world registration dossier participating in the event. - 3/29/17

IS Threatens Iran in Persian Language Video
Islamic State has issued a video threatening Iran and promising to conquer the country soon. The 36-minute, Persian-language video is aimed at Iran's Sunni Muslim minority and accuses Tehran of persecuting them. But analysts said the intention behind the video released late Monday may be a desperate effort to show that IS, at its weakest since its declaration of a caliphate in June 2014, is still a potent force. -Mehdi Jedinia, VOA - 3/29/17

Why Give Trump The Keys To War With Iran?
When Trump won the elections, many worried that it could lead to war between the United States and Iran, due to his desire to kill the Iran nuclear deal. Now, thanks to the U.S. Senate, we may be one step closer to this nightmare scenario: The Senate is poised to pass legislation that will place President Trump's trigger-happy finger on the ignition switch of a deadly conflict with Iran. -Jamal Abdi & Adam Weinstein, Huffington Post - 3/29/17

Iran's annual inflation rate stands at 9 percent
Central Bank of Iran has announced that Iran's inflation rate in the previous year (ended March 21) as compared to the earlier year stood at nine per cent. The announced figure indicates that Iran's inflation rate has been reduced to less than ten per cent for the second time in the past 26 years. - 3/29/17

Has Afghanistan Become America's Afghanistan?
Fifteen years and counting. America's longest war keeps getting longer. The very duration of the expedition, with an end no more in sight now than it had been at any of several points one could have chosen over the last several years, ought to indicate the need for a fundamental redirection of policy. And yet there continue to be calls, including from influential members of Congress, to sustain and even enlarge the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/29/17

Iran defeats China in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
Group A leader Iran moved a step closer to the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 by subduing China at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on Tuesday March 28. As part of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers Final Round, the Iranian National Football team pulled out a 1-nill victory against Chinese rivals. The sweet victory left Carlos Queiroz's men within touching distance of automatic qualification. - 3/28/17

Iran to host first International Tehran Marathon in April 2017
The Islamic Republic of Iran Athletics Federation (IRIAF) is going to host the first edition of International Tehran Marathon early next month, with dozens of competitors from different countries having already expressed their readiness to participate in the event. - 3/28/17

Iran, Russia closely cooperating on fighting terrorism: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic and Russia have been working closely together to fight terrorism and promote stability in the region. "Relations between Iran and Russia are aimed at promoting regional stability and the two countries' main objective is to promote regional peace and tranquility," Rouhani said in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, Moscow, on Tuesday. - 3/28/17

Gender Justice: Equality vs Difference
On 20th of March, the Iranian Supreme Leader condemned and criticized the notion of "Gender Justice" in his annual Iranian New Year's speech - just a day before this speech, the Presidential Deputy on Women and Family Affairs emphasized that the current government is seeking "Gender Justice". In this article, the notion of Gender Justice and its relation to Equality and Difference within the Iranian context is analyzed. -Somaye Dehban - 3/28/17

Nowruz at New York's Dare Mehr
Nowruz, the secular Persian New Year that transcends religions, regions and borders, but instead binds humanity as one since antiquity (this year 3755,) was once again upon us. As families arrived in mostly all-white and colorful gowns to enjoy the Nowruz gala at the newly inaugurated Dare Mehr in Suffern New York, they could not help but be mesmerized by the captivating warmth of the sun shining down on them. -Davood N. Rahni - 3/28/17

Time ripe in New Year to rethink our environmental responsibilities
The coincidence of the Iranian new year with spring implies that everything is about to revive in the upcoming year, particularly the environment. With the trees blooming and springs bubbling once again the New Year starts. The ever changing nature teaches us to keep changing towards perfection. - 3/28/17

Russia can use Iran bases for anti-terror battle in Syria: Iranian FM Zarif
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran could, if necessary, allow Russia to use its military bases on "a case by case basis" for missions against terrorists in Syria. "Russia doesn't have a military base (in Iran), we have good cooperation, and on a case by case basis, when it is necessary for Russians fighting terrorism to use Iranian facilities, we will make a decision," Reuters quoted Zarif as saying in Moscow on Tuesday. - 3/28/17

The resilience of Iran's middle class
Some argue that Iran's middle class has failed to cement any political reforms, but their creative responses to repression is reason for hope -Amirah Masnavi, Middle East Eye - 3/28/17

Iran eyes tourism as a fertile source of revenue
Iran regards tourism a fertile source of generating wealth, seeking to make the best use of positive atmosphere created in the wake of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. Based on official figures compiled by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization, foreign tourist arrivals in Iran has been more than double that of the global average since the implementation of the deal. -Afshin Majlesi - 3/27/17

Iran's Supreme Leader Takes Fresh Shot At Gender Equality
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is no fan of gender equality, which he routinely decries as a Western concept that damages women and distracts them from their vital roles as wives and mothers. And again this week, at a speech on March 19 marking the birth of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, Fatima Zahra, Khamenei doubled down, suggesting that Westerners themselves are having second thoughts. -Golnaz Esfandiari - 3/27/17

Pence: Trump Administration 'Has Put Iran on Notice'
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration "has put Iran on notice," and will not tolerate Iranian efforts to "destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel's security." His comments Sunday night in Washington came at the opening of the three-day annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). - 3/27/17

Iran Denies It Harassed U.S. Warship Flotilla In Persian Gulf
Iran has denied claims by the United States that Iranian fast-attack boats were "harassing" warships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Iranian state news agency IRNA on March 25 quoted Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, as saying U.S. claims were based on false reports or "other intentions." - 3/27/17

Iran announces sanctions on 15 US companies
Iran has announced retaliatory sanctions on 15 American companies over their support for Israeli crimes and terrorism two days after Washington imposed bans on nearly a dozen foreign companies or individuals for aiding the Islamic Republic. - 3/27/17

Defund Islamophobia Now
While a commitment to standing with the Muslim community against Islamophobia is as important as ever, words are meaningless if not backed up in real ways that reflect this commitment. That means definitively opposing all forms of Islamophobia. -Donna Nevel, LobeLog - 3/27/17

Photos: Persepolis Hosts Norooz Tourists
One of the favorite destinations for Iranians traveling during the Persian New Year Norooz holidays is the the ancient ruins of Persepolis. Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid) 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. -Amin Berenjkar - 3/25/17

Photos: Celebrating Norooz in Baku, Azerbaijan
These photos Azerbaijani people in traditional costumes taking part in a parade as part of the Norooz celebrations in Baku, Azerbaijan. International Norooz Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/64/253 of 2010, at the initiative of several countries that share this holiday (Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan. -Milad Raf'at - 3/25/17

Iran says renewal of UN special rapporteur's mandate lacks 'professional basis'
Iran reacted strongly to a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday which extends the mission of its Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the country, saying the resolution lacks "professional basis" and is "confrontational." - 3/25/17

Swedish firm finds novel way for Iran business
A company in Sweden has come up with an innovative solution which both bypasses US sanctions and does away with the need for banks to process transactions with Iran. Brave New World Investments AB is reportedly accepting deposits in bitcoin which it converts to Iranian rial and invests in equities on the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE). - 3/25/17

Baha'is Imprisoned in Iran for Religious Beliefs Singled Out for Cruel Treatment
A member of Iran's perseacuted Baha'i faith has expressed serious concerns about two imprisoned ailing family members who are being denied early release despite being legally eligible. The Intelligence Ministry is refusing to send Jamaloddin Khanjani, an elderly former Baha'i community leader who has spent more than nine years in prison, to the hospital for long-term care, his nephew, Siavash Khanjani, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 3/25/17

Iran, Russia eyeing joint gas projects
Iran says it is negotiating with Russia to carry out joint natural gas development projects. Hamid-Reza Araqi, the managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), was quoted by media as saying that negotiations to the same effect had been held between the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Russia's Gazprom. - 3/25/17

Iran defeats Qatar 1-0 to get closer to 2018 FIFA World Cup
The Iran men's national football team, also known as Team Melli, inches closer to the 2018 FIFA World Cup after extending its unbeaten run in the Asian qualifying tournament with a victory over Qatar. On Thursday evening, the Iranian outfit notched up a 1-0 win over the Maroons in a Group A fixture at the multi-purpose Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in the Qatari capital city of Doha. - 3/24/17

Iranian MPs Demand Answers from Rouhani on Increasing Arrests Ahead of Elections
President Hassan Rouhani has yet to respond to a letter from four reformist members of Parliament demanding an explanation for the spate of arrests of activists and journalists ahead of the May 2017 presidential election. - 3/24/17

New Senate Sanctions Risks Killing JCPOA, Putting US on War Path
NIAC Action issued the following statement regarding the introduction of new Iran sanctions legislation in the Senate: "The 'Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017' would risk killing the JCPOA and undoing the restrictions in place on Iran's nuclear program and could very well provoke a military confrontation between the U.S. and Iran... - 3/24/17

Reformist Editor Arrested by Iran's Security Agents Amid Pre-Election Crackdown
Amid a widening crackdown on journalists and activists in Iran ahead of the country's May 2017 presidential election, security agents arrested Morad Saghafi, the reformist editor-in-chief of Goftegoo (Conversation) magazine, on March 15, 2017. - 3/24/17

U.S. Senators From Both Parties Sponsor Bill Tightening Iran Sanctions
U.S. senators from both major political parties introduced legislation on March 23 to tighten sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear military activities. - 3/24/17

Did AIPAC Help Fund Attack-Ad by Islamophobic Group on J Street?
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is going to have a challenging time at its annual policy conference this weekend persuading attendees and those watching at home that it has healed the partisan rift it opened by investing millions of dollars in opposing the Iran nuclear deal. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 3/24/17

Iran's President To Meet Putin During March 27-28 Moscow Visit
The Kremlin says Iranian President Hassan Rohani will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a March 27-28 visit to Moscow. Putin's press service announced the visit in a March 23 statement. - 3/24/17

Here's one country where hard-liners might not be poised for election success: Iran
Iran's conservatives have been vocal in their criticism of President Hassan Rouhani, dismissing his outreach to the West as naive and the nuclear deal he championed as an economic failure. But when it comes to challenging the moderate Rouhani for reelection in May, the hard-liners, who oppose expanding political and social freedoms, are struggling to agree on a message or candidate. -Los Angeles Times - 3/24/17

PAAIA Hosts Annual Nowruz Celebration on Capitol Hill
On March 20th, 2017, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) hosted its annual Nowruz reception on Capitol Hill. Fourteen members of Congress, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, attended the reception, as well as more than 200 Congressional staff and special guests. - 3/23/17

Iran to divert water from Gulf of Oman inwards
Iran says it is implementing a landmark project to divert water from the Gulf of Oman to its central plateau - a project that could not only address the country's surging water crisis but could also help push ahead relevant economic plans in host regions. - 3/23/17

Prominent Lawyers: Judiciary Ad Announcing Prison Time for 10 Iranians in Absentia Unlawful
A classified newspaper advertisement by the judiciary announcing prison sentences for 10 Iranian citizens currently outside the country has no legal merit, two prominent lawyers told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Nasrin Sotoudeh and Farideh Gheirat, both based in Iran, said a classified ad placed by the judiciary in its official newspaper, Hemayat, announcing the sentences is unlawful if it was not preceded by a proper summons. - 3/23/17

Luxembourg Court Rejects Iranian Demand To Return $1.2 Billion Frozen In U.S. Victim Case
A Luxembourg court has rejected Tehran's demand to return $1.6 billion of Iranian assets claimed by the United States as compensation for the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks. The judge ruled that the assets could remain frozen in Luxembourg for now, awaiting a separate judgment on the merits of the case. - 3/23/17

Iranian Leaks About Missing American Led Levinson Family to Sue Iran
A U.S. lawyer for the family of a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran 10 years ago says the family is suing Tehran for damages based in part on leaked information from Iranian sources. "Iran, like the United States, leaks information," said attorney David McGee in an interview with VOA Persian's LateNews program Wednesday. McGee represents the Florida-based family of the missing American, Robert Levinson. -VOA - 3/23/17

12 Reformist Telegram Channel Admins Arrested in Iran Ahead of May 2017 Election
Iranian security forces arrested 12 administrators of reformist-aligned Telegram channels on March 14-16, 2017, deleted the channels' content and changed their names. Users are increasingly turning to the app before elections for uncensored news about moderate and reformist camps, which are usually drowned out or censored from appearing in traditional media. - 3/22/17

White House Adviser Says Will Honor Iran Nuclear Deal, Ensure Iran Complies
A senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump on nuclear matters says that the United States will honor Iran's nuclear deal with world powers for now, while seeking to ensure strict compliance by Tehran. Christopher Ford, the White House National Security Council's senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, told a conference in Washington on March 21 that the U.S. administration accepted the deal despite repeated criticism by Trump. - 3/22/17

Bank of England reluctant to help facilitate Iran-UK trade
While the British government has reaffirmed its commitment to help Iran's reintegration into the global financial system, reports say the country's central bank is still reluctant to facilitate trade between the two countries. - 3/22/17

Asghar Farhadi: Iranian Oscar-winner navigates politics of nuance
A yacht in Cannes is not where you would expect to find a martyr. And to be fair, when I meet Asghar Farhadi in the (northern) summer of last year he hasn't yet become one. The Iranian director dubbed "one of the world's greatest filmmakers" by Mike Leigh is at the festival to promote his film The Salesman, a typically subtle and provocative tale of a teacher in Tehran whose liberal values are challenged when a male stranger attacks his wife. -Ed Potton, Australian Times - 3/22/17

Congress races to craft Iran sanctions bills ahead of AIPAC conference
Key lawmakers in the House and Senate are racing to craft bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation before the nation's largest pro-Israel lobby holds its policy conference starting this weekend, March 26. -Julian Pecquet, Al-Monitor - 3/22/17

President Trump's travel ban disrupts family reunion in San Ramon
President Trump's new travel ban may be on hold, but it's also putting travel plans on hold during what is usually a festive time especially for people from one of the countries targeted. These are busy days for Golnazar Gourmet Ice Cream. The San Ramon company is filling orders for their exotic flavors including saffron/pistachio -- desserts that will sweeten the 14 day celebration of Norooz, --the Persian New Year. -ABC News - 3/22/17

Iran's Khamenei warns he will confront any interference in May election
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Tuesday he would confront anyone trying to interfere in Iran's May presidential election, in which conservative hardliners will seek to defeat moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Khamenei referred to major street unrest after the disputed 2009 presidential election as an overt attempt to manipulate the outcome, but said there had been other cases of attempted interference including in the 2013 vote won by Rouhani. -Reuters - 3/22/17

Haji Firuz: New painting collection by Shohreh Ghanbari
Painter Shohreh Ghanbari's new collection "Haji Firuz" shows the venerable harbinger of Norooz in a gloomy mood despite the philosophy of the occasion. Clad in a bright red costume, Haji Firuz with his face covered with soot is seen playing his tambourine on the streets to tell people that the New Year is coming and the springtime celebration is near. - 3/21/17

Greco-Roman World Cup: Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran take the top spots
The national Iranian senior Greco-Roman wrestling team has finished in third place at the conclusion of 2017 Greco-Roman World Cup in the central western Iranian city of Abadan on on March 17, 2017. Meanwhile, Russia overpowered Azerbaijan 5-3 and ranked the champion of the tournament. - 3/21/17

Iran: Supreme Leader Criticizes President Rohani On Economy Ahead Of Election
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that the government's economic policies have fallen short and that Iran needs a new "resistance economy" to create jobs. Khamenei's March 20 remarks have piled pressure on Rohani ahead of an election in May. - 3/21/17

Iran Exports 80 Million Dollars Worth Of Carpets To U.S. In 11 Months
Iran says it has exported $80 million worth of carpets to the United States over a period of 11 months starting March 21, 2016. Hamid Karegar, the president of Iran National Carpet Center, told local media that the exports had been mainly carried out directly from Iran to the US. - 3/21/17

Why It's Important Now, More Than Ever, To Celebrate Norooz
Self-identifying and proudly displaying our heritage as Iranian Americans has always been complicated -- and this is even more pronounced in a climate of policies and political rhetoric that are anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim. Melody Ehsani reflected on how that's impacted her family, and strengthened the importance of preserving and sharing her family's Iranian and Baha'i practices -Atoosa Moinzadeh, The Fader - 3/21/17

Evolution, Not a New Revolution, in Iran
Some hardline myths about Iran never seem to die. One myth especially pertinent to U.S. policy is that revolutionary regime change in Iran is a significant possibility in the near future and that with a bit more of a push from the outside, the Islamic Republic will collapse and be replaced by something much more to our liking. This illusion was prevalent in much of the George W. Bush administration, which accordingly adhered to a policy of refusing to deal with Iran and instead of trying to isolate it and to inflict economic pain through sanctions. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/21/17

Iranians Celebrate Ancient Festival Of Norooz Marking The New Year
Monday, March 20th, marks the grand festival of Norooz (Nowruz). On this day, Iranians usher in the Persian New Year at the exact moment of the vernal equinox which marks the start of spring. Norooz, a festival of Persian origin, Norooz is also celebrated by hundreds of millions of people from other ethno-linguistic groups in a dozen countries. - 3/20/17

Iran rings in the New Year with message of peace
Iran has ushered in the new Persian year of 1396, with President Hassan Rouhani underlining the need for interaction and peace in his message to the leaders of 11 countries that also mark the occasion. "The world, today more than any time, needs a hope which values affection, love and intimacy and invites countries to interaction instead of confrontation," Rouhani said on Monday in the message released by his office. - 3/20/17

Saratoga: Iranian-American community celebrates Persian New Year amid political anxieties
The outfits were lavish and colorful, the smiles were unwavering, the jokes were flowing and the cake was bountiful and sweet. Beneath the veneer of lighthearted fun that the West Valley College Persian New Year celebration has come to personify over the years, the warm breeze that passed through the Campus Center on Monday afternoon carried a solemness, a palpable uneasiness. -Khalida Sarwari, Mercury News - 3/20/17

White House Appeals Court Decision Blocking Trump Travel Order
The U.S. government on March 17 announced it is appealing a court decision blocking President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration from taking effect. The Justice Department said in a court filing it would appeal a ruling by a U.S. District Court in the state of Maryland that halted the part of Trump's March 6 order temporarily banning the entry of travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. - 3/18/17

Faezeh Hashemi, Former Iranian Leader's Daughter, Jailed For 'Spreading Propaganda'
Iran's hard-line judiciary has sentenced the daughter of late Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to jail for "spreading propaganda against the regime," Iranian news media reported on March 17. It was the latest move against pro-reform opposition in the Islamic republic ahead of a presidential election on May 19, when hard-line rivals of pragmatist President Hassan Rohani hope to regain control of executive power. - 3/18/17

Iran Takes Stand On Nuclear Deal Provision That Clashes With U.S. View
Iran is questioning a provision of its nuclear deal with world powers in a way that could lead to confrontation with the United States. The 2015 deal restricts Iran from accumulating a large stock of Heavy Water, which is used in scientific research as well as in nuclear reactors that produce plutonium. - 3/18/17

Saudi Arabia Says Iranians To Take Part In Hajj This Year
Saudi Arabia says Iranian pilgrims will take part in this year's annual hajj pilgrimage, after they did not attend last year amid tensions between the countries. The Saudi Ministry of Pilgrimage said the sides had finalized arrangements for Iranians' participation in the pilgrimage scheduled for September. - 3/18/17

Memo to Tech and Social Media Companies: Allow Iranians Access to Online Tools
Major technology and social media companies should stop barring Iranians from buying or accessing personal communications tools and services that are not banned by any sanctions, and make immediately available to Iranians the full range of permissible items, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) and ASL19 said in a joint statement on March 15. - 3/18/17

Persian Arts Festival: 11th Annual Norooz Celebration at National Sawdust in New York
The Persian Arts Festival celebrates 11 years of showcasing the work of hundreds of Iranian American artists from around the world at the prestigious new Brooklyn venue, National Sawdust in New York. The 11th Annual Persian Arts Festival will feature multiple art forms including short films curated by west coast's Noor Iranian Film Festival, family-friendly performances of Fictionville Studio's shadow puppet masterpiece, "Zahhak, The Legend of the Serpent King", a panel discussion featuring Iranian American artists and scholars,... - 3/17/17

#LiveTogether Norooz Challenge Goes Viral
Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib took part in the Norooz Challenge yesterday, a new viral trend emerging across America ahead of the Iranian New Year, which falls on March 20. "I'm so glad you're here," Inslee said to Habib on Facebook Live. "One of the best things to happen to the State of Washington is to have an Iranian-American leader and you're doing a super job. What a great reason to celebrate Persian New Year. Norooz Mobarak [Happy New Year]," Inslee added. - Davar Ardalan, Huffington Post - 3/17/17

NIAC Welcomes Court Order Halting Trump's Muslim Ban 2.0
"The court's decision to issue a temporary restraining order barring the latest executive order imposing a Muslim ban is another triumph for American values over discrimination. The Trump administration has now had its attempt to impose a Muslim ban halted by the courts twice. Fortunately, Iranians will once again face a slight reprieve in that the ban will not go into effect tomorrow. Nevertheless, the back and forth struggle has already kept Iranian families apart and imposed turmoil on countless individuals, while doing untold damage to America's image abroad." - 3/17/17

Predicting Her Arrest, Reformist Activist Hengameh Shahihi Wrote Letters Criticizing Rouhani's Failure to Protect Citizens
Hengameh Shahidi, a reformist senior member of the Etemad Melli (National Trust) opposition party, has decried her arrest as part of a crackdown by hardliners on reformists ahead of Iran's upcoming presidential election. In two open letters, she also criticized President Hassan Rouhani, who will be running for re-election on May 19, 2017, for failing to protect citizen's rights. - 3/17/17

Rouhani's Intelligence Ministry and Khamenei's IRGC Widen Crackdown Ahead of Election
The number of arrests carried out by Iran's Intelligence Ministry, operating under the control of President Hassan Rouhani, increased in the last few months leading up to Iran's May 2017 presidential election. Research by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) indicates that since January 2017, the ministry has increasingly targeted civil and women's rights advocates, journalists, dual nationals, ethnic and religious minorities, environmentalists, the administrators of social media pages, and relatives of protesters killed during the state's crackdown on peaceful protestors following the disputed 2009 presidential election. - 3/17/17

US welcomes India's plan for Iran's Chabahar port
The United States has welcomed India's plan to expand Iran's Chabahar port as a project that a top military official says will help the long-term stability of Afghanistan. US Army General John Nicholson, who commands US combat operations in Afghanistan, told the US Senate in a hearing that he welcomed the Chabahar project because it would offer Afghanistan a viable and economic alternative to shipping all its goods via Pakistan. - 3/17/17

Iranian-American Orgs File Federal Court Challenge To Trump Travel Ban 2.0
On March 14th, four prominent Iranian-American organizations renewed their challenge to the Trump Administration's illegal and unconstitutional policies, filing papers to take on the President's revised "Travel Ban" Executive Order. The organizations, joined by over 20 individual plaintiffs, have updated their existing lawsuit against the January 27th Travel Ban Executive Order, Pars Equality, et al v. Trump, to take on the March 6th version. - 3/17/17

The "#LiveTogether Norooz Challenge" spreading message of tolerance
Over the past few days, the viral "Norooz Challenge" has brought Americans & Iranians together to broadcast "Happy New Year" in Persian, then challenge friends to follow suit. The Norooz Challenge is the first of several challenges in the #LiveTogether campaign, with a theme of crossing borders and cultures to put our similarities above our differences. - 3/16/17

In Letter from Evin Prison, Dual National Speaks of Yearning for Family and Disillusionment with Iran
Iranian-British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, imprisoned in Iran since April 2016, has written a letter to her UK-based husband about the pain of being separated from their infant daughter, Gabriella "Gisoo" Ratcliffe, and disillusionment with her birth country of Iran. "I turned 38 without you by my side and you turned 42 without me, while our dear Gisoo turned two-years-old without both of us," she wrote in a letter from Evin Prison in Tehran, published on March 10, 2017 by the Defenders of Human Rights Center. - 3/16/17

PEOPLE IN AMERICA: Once a US Soldier, Iranian Immigrant Now Serves Veterans
Assal Ravandi knows service. First, as a soldier in the United States Army in Afghanistan. Now, as a soldier for soldiers at the organization she founded: Academy of United States Veterans. Ravandi was born in Tehran, Iran. She came with her family to the United States at age 13. She thinks her decision, years later, to join the United States Army was partly inspired by the life she left. -Marsha James, VOA - 3/16/17

Federal judges block Trump's travel ban
A federal judge in Maryland Thursday morning temporarily blocked the 90-day ban on immigration for citizens of six countries in President Donald Trump's executive order, dealing another blow to the President's revised travel ban. Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order nationwide over the ban, hours before it was set to go into effect. -CNN - 3/16/17

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Gave $60K to Architect of Trump's Muslim Ban
Newly released tax filings show that the country's biggest pro-Israel group financially contributed to the Center for Security Policy, the think-tank that played a pivotal role in engineering the Trump administration's efforts to impose a ban on Muslim immigration. -Eli Clifton - 3/16/17

UN praises Iran's 'exemplary' refugee efforts
While Iranians would bear the brunt of Donald Trump's visa ban, which has been blocked on the orders of a US court, international officials say the country has quietly emerged as one of the most generous towards refugees. "The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open," said Sivanka Dhanapala, who heads the UN High Commissioner for Refugees team in Tehran. -AFP - 3/16/17

Reimagining International Relations
International reactions to the election of Donald Trump have catalyzed a far swifter collapse of the American-led world order than anyone could have imagined. Interactions between great and middle-ranking powers are undergoing rapid evolution. The political, economic, and military interests and influence of the United States still span the globe, as does American popular culture -Chas W. Freeman, Jr., LobeLog - 3/16/17

Iranian Americans Afraid to Travel Under Trump Travel Order
In the heart of Persian Square, in West Los Angeles, everyone is getting ready for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, when family members visit each other.Normally it's the busy season for the travel agencies that cater to the Iranian community. But not this year. President Donald Trump's revised executive order banning travelers who do not currently have visas from six Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for three months is scheduled to take effect on March 16.Among the six countries on the travel order is Iran. -Elizabeth Lee, VOA - 3/15/17

Teachers Hold Rallies Across Iran for Labor and Education Rights
Teachers held rallies in several Iranian cities on March 9, 2017 demanding livable wages and improved educational resources for students. "The rallies were held in front of the Ministry of Education offices in provincial capitals in collaboration with several teachers' organizations, and they included employed and retired teachers," - 3/15/17

Son of Iranian Dissident Karroubi Denounces Brother's Sentencing
A son of a prominent Iranian opposition figure has accused Iran's leaders of persecuting his family by sentencing his brother to six months in prison for distributing propaganda against the government. -Michael Lipin, VOA - 3/15/17

IRAN: IRGC Violently Arrests Reformist Editor One Month After Release From Evin Prison
Reformist editor Ehsan Mazandarani was shocked with a Taser stun gun while being returned to Evin Prison in Tehran by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Intelligence Organization on March 11, 2017, less than a month after he was released. - 3/15/17

Iran trade with Russia grew largest in 2016: Envoy
Iran's trade with Russia saw the highest growth in 2016, says Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Sanai as the two countries are gearing up for President Hassan Rouhani's imminent visit to Moscow. "I believe this trend will be maintained in the next two or three years and bilateral trade volume will reach $10 billion," Russia's Rossiya Segodnya quoted him as saying on Wednesday. - 3/15/17

Happy Chaharshanbeh Souri, Fire Festival Of The Last Wednesday Of The Persian New Year!
On Tuesday night, Iranians celebrated the ancient Persian tradition of Last-Wednesday-of-the-Year (Chaharshanbeh Souri) as a prelude to Persian New Year Norooz. On the evening of Chaharshanbeh Souri, people make fires and jump over them. - 3/14/17

Iranian Opposition Leader Mehdi Karroubi Under Extrajudicial House Arrest for Six Years Denied Emergency Care
An elderly opposition leader who has been kept under extrajudicial house arrest in Tehran since 2011 is being denied access to timely emergency medical services, his son told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 3/14/17

Exhibition in Berlin: "Ctesiphon and the Persian Sources of Islamic Art"
Islamic Art Museum in Berlin has organized an exhibition to show the Persian sources of the Islamic art. The exhibition mainly displays the Persian artifacts which have been found by German and American archaeologists in late 1920s and early 1930s in Ctesiphon; the capital of Sasanid Persia. - 3/14/17

Iranian-American Robin Shahini Serving 18-Year Prison Sentence in Iran Proclaims Innocence in Letter
Robin (Reza) Shahini, an Iranian-American dual national sentenced to 18 years in prison in October 2016 during a visit to Iran, has proclaimed his innocence in a letter urging human rights groups and international organizations to work for his release. - 3/14/17

UN Rights Monitor Highlights Political Repression, Abuse, Executions In Iran
Reformists in Iran are under pressure, detainees face torture and abuse, and people are being executed at an "alarming" rate, a UN monitor studying human rights in the tightly controlled country says. The bleak picture presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 13 comes ahead of a May 19 presidential election in Iran. - 3/14/17

Hyundai wins major gas processing deal in Iran
South Korea's industrial giant Hyundai has won a contract worth 3 billion Euros to develop a key gas processing unit which is primarily planned to produce natural gas liquids (NGL) from natural gas in southern Iran. - 3/14/17

Two Iranian Navy Ships Enter Gulf of Aden
Iranian Navy has announced that two of its warships have entered the Gulf of Aden in recent days, Tasnim news agency reported. The two warships will be protecting Iran's cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb, the navy said on Monday. - 3/14/17

Grave and Baseless New Charges Against Imprisoned Iranian-American and Wife
Serious and baseless new charges have been brought against Karan Vafadari and Afarin Nayssari, the dual-national Iranian-American and his wife who have been imprisoned in Iran's Evin Prison without any evidence of wrong doing or due process for almost eight months. - 3/13/17

Iranian Filmmaker Narges Abyar Wins Best Direction Award At Vancouver Women Film Festival
Iranian filmmaker Narges Abyar has won Best Direction Award for 'Breath' at 12th Vancouver International Women In Film Festival in Canada. 46 feature and short films were screened at the festival from March 8 to March 12, 2017. - 3/13/17

American Musicians To Perform Works by Iranian Composers in Gesture of Welcome
n late January, after the first of the recent U.S. travel bans was signed, Los Angeles-based violist and violinist Andrew McIntosh put a post on Facebook looking for recommendations of violin repertoire by living composers from the affected countries. "The response that I received to that post was astounding, with many friends and acquaintances chiming in with suggestions, mostly of music by composers from Iran," McIntosh said. -Laurie Niles, Violinist - 3/13/17

Photos: The "Waiting Porch" unveiled at Valiasr Square in Tehran
A newly built plaza dubbed "The Waiting Porch", was unveiled at Valiasr Square in Tehran last Friday evening in a ceremony attended by the Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. The plaza covers over 42,000 square meters in seven floors underneath the Valiasr Square, which is a major square in central Tehran. The plaza aims to host cultural events, exhibitions and book fairs all year round. - 3/13/17

Iran's "Wishbone" Wins Best Feature Film Award at Hollywood's WIND Film Festicval
"Wishbone" by Iranian director Ali Atshani has won the best feature film and best director of the year awards at the WIND International Film Festival in Hollywood. Wishbone was nominated for 8 categories and won as best feature film. The gold trophy of the WIND festival was given to Atshani on the closing day on Saturday and was presented by Elham Madani, the founder and director of the festival. - 3/13/17

Iranian FM: Netanyahu faking history, falsifying Torah to sell bigoted lies against Iran
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resorted to fake history and falsifying the Torah to sell lies against Iran. Zarif made the comment on his official Twitter account on Sunday in response to claims made by Netanyahu that Iran had been trying to "destroy the Jewish people" for some 2,500 years. - 3/13/17

Trump's Executive Order Is an Existential Threat to America
While immigrants and refugees from the six countries included in the ban are not responsible for terrorism in the US, that hasn't stopped administration spokespersons from using them as scapegoats to justify their proposed policies. The Order, itself, is designed to set up Muslims as a "bogeyman" in order to win support for Trump's efforts to overhaul of the entire immigration/refugee program. -James J. Zogby, LobeLog - 3/13/17

Iran unveils advanced homegrown tank "Karrar"
Iran has unveiled a state-of-the-art tank dubbed "Karrar" which has been fully developed by domestic military experts, ISNA reported. Karrar (Striker) was unveiled in a ceremony on Sunday attended by Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan, who acclaimed the tank as a symbol of Islamic Republic's power. - 3/13/17

Iran crowned 2017 AFC Beach Soccer champions
Iran was crowned AFC Beach Soccer Championship Malaysia 2017 champions on Saturday after beating the United Arab Emirates 7-2 in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. Also, Iran's talisman Mohammadali Mokhtari was crowned the Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer - 3/11/17

'Mazar Sharif' wins Best Film Award at Phoenix Film Festival Melbourne
The feature film 'Mazar Sharif' by Iranian director Hassan Barzideh has won the Best Film Award (budget under $250,000) at Australia's Phoenix Film Festival Melbourne. Mazar Sharif recounts the story of ten Iranian diplomats and a journalist who were killed in a raid by Taliban of Iran's consulate in the city of the same name. - 3/11/17

Photos: 2nd Airbus plane purchased by Iran lands in Tehran
A second airplane purchased by Iran through a major post-sanctions deal with the European aviation giant Airbus has landed in the capital, Tehran. The Airbus A330-200 took off from the French city of Toulouse on Saturday and landed at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport later in the day. - 3/11/17

Germany's Linde CEO says banking issues delaying Iran plans
German industrial gases group Linde says it has revived plant-engineering contracts in Iran but cannot work on them due to banking problems that obstructed transferring money out of the country. Linde - which was previously reported to be considering a major investment in Iran's petrochemical industry - announced that it had to wait to find a way to transfer money out of the country before proceeding with its Iran investment plans. - 3/11/17

Iran UN Envoy: Israel behind assassinations of nuclear scientists
The Iranian ambassador to the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that "Israel-hired terrorists" were behind the assassinations of several nuclear scientists in recent years. "While nuclear scientists across the entire Middle East have been assassinated by Israeli-hired terrorists, the regime's nuclear experts are allowed access to some countries' nuclear facilities," Reza Najafi said. - 3/11/17

Seven family members killed in fireworks explosion in northwset Iran
At least seven people have lost their lives in the northwestern Iranian province of Ardabil after an accident in which a teenager making homemade fireworks for a festival ahead of the Persian New Year (Norooz) blew up his home. - 3/11/17

A message for Donald Trump from Iranian filmmaker who stayed home from Outfest Fusion festival
Outfest Fusion, a Hollywood film festival dedicated to images of LGBTQ people of color, was supposed to be an occasion of joy for Tehran-born director Pouria Heidary Oureh. But when his film "Apricot Groves" had its U.S. premiere during the festival that ran through Tuesday at the TCL Chinese Theatre, he was back in Iran, unable to take in the applause. -Tre'vell Anderson, Los Angeles Times - 3/11/17

Photos: Norooz Celebration in Kurdish Village of Palangan
The arrival of spring coincides with the beginning of the Persian New Year Norooz. This is a festive occasion for Iranians and many other countries in the region. People in different parts of Iran celebrate Norooz with their local customs and traditions. One of the most joyful and colorful celebrations is held at the village of Palangan in Iran's Kurdestan province -Mosleh Pirkhezranyan - 3/10/17

Iran's Conservatives Try a Bit of Democracy: Will It Work?
Iran's presidential election is slightly over two months away, and Iran's conservatives are still struggling to find a candidate to rally around against President Hassan Rouhani who has the support of a fairly unified alliance of moderates and reformists. Having identified the multiplicity of candidates as the source of their loss in the 2013 presidential election, conservative political parties and groups are trying to settle on a single candidate. -Farideh Farhi - 3/10/17

Iran: Repression of those seeking truth and justice for 1980s killings needs to stop
In a joint statement issued on March 8, 2017, 20 human rights organizations including the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) called on the Iranian authorities to stop the harassment, intimidation and prosecution of human rights defenders seeking truth and justice on behalf of individuals who were summarily executed or forcibly disappeared during the 1980s and their families. - 3/10/17

Iran's IRGC Reportedly Test-Fires Sea-Launched Ballistic Missile
Iranian news agencies are reporting that the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has "successfully" test-fired a sea-launched ballistic missile. Tehran's state-run Fars and Tasnim news agencies on March 9 said the Iranian-built Hormuz-2 missile was test-fired sometime during the previous week. - 3/10/17

Russia's Putin urges Israel's Netanyahu to focus on modern world affairs when judging Iran
Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop adopting hostile policies against Iran based on a legend in "the fifth century B.C.," instead of focusing on the realities on the ground. - 3/10/17

White House Vows To Find U.S. Man Missing In Iran Since 2007
The White House has vowed to find a former FBI agent who mysteriously disappeared a decade ago in Iran. Robert Levinson, who disappeared while visiting Iran's Kish resort island in 2007, was not among five Americans freed by Iran in a prisoner exchange last year after sanctions over its nuclear program were lifted. Levinson was working for the CIA at the time of his disappearance. - 3/10/17

Iran's Khamenei: Economic Progress Limited Despite Lifted Sanctions
Iran's supreme leader criticized the country's slow pace of economic recovery on Thursday despite the lifting of sanctions and called on President Hassan Rouhani's government to champion greater self-sufficiency, state TV reported. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's criticism comes ahead of Iran's presidential election in May, when the pragmatist president is expected to seek re-election. -Reuters - 3/10/17

PHOTOS: House-Cleaning in Esfidan Village, North Khorasan, to welcome Norooz
These photos show the people in the village of Esfidan busy with their Norooz house cleaning ritual. Esfidan is one of the most beautiful villages in Iran, and it enjoys a pleasant climate. The village is located 45 kilometers southeast of the city of Bojnord in a lush valley surrounded with tall mountains. Esfidan is a popular tourist attraction in North Khorasan. - 3/9/17

Photos: Qajar painting "Line for Salute" restored
"The Line for Salute", a painting by the Qajar-era artist and architect Abdollah Khan, has been restored by a team of Iranian experts. The painting, which depicts a long queue of the royals and elites waiting to salute Qajar king Fath'Ali Shah, was unveiled for the first time after its restoration at the Negarestan Garden Museum in Tehran last Saturday. - 3/9/17

Luxembourg court rejects US bid to freeze Iran assets; Washington appeals: CBI Chief
The governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) says a Luxembourg court has rejected the US efforts to freeze $1.6 billion of Iranian assets in the European country, adding that Washington has appealed the ruling. - 3/9/17

Sarava the Iranian VC Has Raised $200M of Foreign Investments
Sarava the Iranian VC has raised $200M of foreign investments so far. Sarava is one of the pioneer VCs in Iran and has more than 30 companies in its portfolio. Sarava was established in 2011 when there was not much of a hype and interest in startups, especially in e-commerce. -MohammadReza Azali, Techrasa - 3/9/17

Trump's Travel Ban: Exempting the Next Osama Bin Laden?
The Trump administration introduced a new Executive Order that revised its previous order blocking visitors / immigrants from seven countries: Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Sudan. In the new order, Iraq has been dropped, but the other six countries remain on the list. Trump's new ban, like his old ban, is a policy in search of a justification. -Bahman Baktiari, LobeLog - 3/9/17

Iranian Catholic Converts Arrested in Northwestern Iran
Two Iranian Catholic converts, Anoohe Rezabakhsh and her son Sohail (Augustin) Zargarzadeh, have been arrested in their home by the Revolutionary Guards in Oroumiyeh, West Azerbaijan Province, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. - 3/9/17

What's stopping Rouhani from reaching out to Trump?
With the prospect of confrontation, headlines in Iran are once again focusing on relations with the United States. Ali Khorram, a former Iranian ambassador to China, recently argued that more could have been done to reduce Tehran's vulnerability by improving ties during US President Barack Obama's presidency. -Reza Marashi, Al-Monitor - 3/9/17

Iran's Geopolitical Predicament and Its Consequences
For some time now, most Middle East states and a good number of Western countries have portrayed Iran as the main cause of problems in the Middle East and parts of South Asia. Iran emerges from this narrative as the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism and, in general, an all-around source of evil. -Shireen T. Hunter - 3/8/17

Hawaii First U.S. State To Challenge New Trump Travel Order In Court
The U.S. state of Hawaii plans to file the first court challenge to President Donald Trump's new executive order temporarily barring visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries as well as all refugees. Hawaii said that it will seek to temporarily halt the order on March 8. - 3/8/17

What's Behind Iran's Muted Official Criticism of Revised Travel Ban?
Iran has given a muted response to a revised U.S. immigration policy that temporarily bars entry to most Iranians, with a junior Iranian official criticizing it as the product of a disorganized U.S. foreign policy. Iranian state media quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi as telling reporters on Tuesday that Tehran "rejects" the new U.S. travel order, signed by President Donald Trump a day earlier. -Michael Lipin, VOA - 3/8/17

US effort to seize Iran's assets in Luxembourg illegal: Official
A senior official with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) says US efforts to seize $1.6 billion of Iran's assets in Luxembourg run counter to the international laws and will bear no fruit. CBI Legal Chief Executive Ardeshir Fereydouni made the remarks on Tuesday in reaction to a Monday report by the New York Times about a confidential court ruling by a Luxembourg court to freeze $1.6 of CBI assets in a financial institution in the European country. - 3/8/17

Judiciary Refusing to Release Ailing Baha'i Leader Imprisoned in Iran for Nine Years
Behrouz Tavakkoli, an elderly former Baha'i community leader who has spent nearly nine years in prison for his faith, is legally eligible for early release, but his requests for a case review are being ignored. His son, Naim Tavakkoli, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that his father, a 64-year-old former member of the Baha'i leadership council in Iran, is also suffering from heart disease. - 3/8/17

Iran flotilla sets sail for Russia's Dagestan
A flotilla of Iranian warships has left the country's northern territorial waters for Russia in a bid to convey the Islamic Republic's message of peace and friendship. The naval fleet, comprised of the domestically-manufactured Damavand destroyer and a missile-launching frigate, dubbed Derafsh, set sail for Makhachkala, the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan, in Russia on Tuesday. - 3/8/17

IRGC warns U.S. of 'irreversible consequences' after vessel encounter in Persian Gulf
An official with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' navy said that unprofessional acts by the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf may have "irreversible consequences." The comments come after IRGC fast-attack vessels forced on Saturday the USNS Invincible and three ships from the British Royal Navy accompanying it to change direction in the Strait of Hormuz. - 3/8/17

Iranian celebrities, charity society save young man from hanging
A group of Iranian celebrities in association with a charity society finally managed to commute the death sentence of a young man who had committed murder when he was a teenager, Khabaronline reported. A 15-year-old boy, who used the pseudonym "Soheil", had been convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. Soheil who waited on death row for five years committed a murder over a childish argument with another guy. - 3/8/17

International Women's Day: Iran's first female triathlete
It is International Women's Day and events are taking place across the world. As part of our coverage, we are looking at women who have broken the mould. This is the story of how one Iranian female athlete overcame many obstacles to make history. -BBC - 3/8/17

Why Trump's travel ban is still a Muslim ban
President Donald Trump's new travel ban may reduce the chaos at airports caused by his previous executive order, but it will not enhance American security or make the intention behind the original order any less bigoted. Indeed, in our opinion, the new travel ban is still very much a Muslim ban, even if it falls short of the Trump administration's true ambitions. -Trita Parsi and Adam Weinstein, CNN - 3/8/17

Eurasian Economic Union agrees to form free-trade zone with Iran
The prime ministers of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have signed a directive ordering preparations for a temporary agreement on forming a free-trade zone with Iran. The Eurasian Intergovernmental Council members held a meeting in the Kazakh capital of Bishkek on Tuesday with the presence of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. - 3/8/17

To Veil or Not to Veil -- That is a Complex Question
Over the last two years, countless trade and diplomatic delegations have traveled to Iran to kick off economic cooperation in diverse sectors from the auto industry and the gas and oil sector to agriculture. In fact, Iran is embarking on trade and economic agreements at an unprecedented rate, including with many European countries, but also with China, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and even some Latin American and Persian Gulf countries. -Sussan Tahmasebi - 3/7/17

Americans can now open bank accounts in Iran
Iran says it has been informed by Washington that US nationals can have bank accounts in the Islamic Republic. The announcement was made by a top official at the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), as reported by the domestic media. - 3/7/17

Could War With Iran Be on Washington's Agenda?
In the splurge of "news," media-bashing, and Bannonism that's been Donald Trump's domestic version of a shock-and-awe campaign, it's easy to forget just how much of what the new president and his administration have done so far is simply an intensification of trends long underway. Those who already pine for the age of Obama -- a president who was smart, well read, and not a global embarrassment -- need to acknowledge the ways in which, particularly in the military arena, Obama's years helped set the stage for our current predicament. -William Hartung, LobeLog - 3/7/17

Pentagon Blasts Iranian Navy For Harassing U.S. Ships In Persian Gulf
The Pentagon has blasted what it called the "unsafe and unprofessional" behavior of the Iranian navy after two separate incidents in the Strait of Hormuz last week. A Pentagon spokesman said on March 6 that an Iranian frigate came within 150 meters of the lightly armed USNS Invincible on March 2. Then on March 4, several small assault craft came within 350 meters of the Invincible and three British naval ships. - 3/7/17

Trump's New Muslim Ban
National Iranian American Council Policy Director Jamal Abdi released the following statement in response to President Trump's revised Muslim Ban: "Donald Trump has doubled down on his harmful and un-American threat to ban Muslims from this country. Since Trump's first Muslim ban, we have seen a spate of hate crimes against people who were believed to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. The President and advisors like Steve Bannon are effectively egging on these acts of hate and bigotry by making discrimination against us official U.S. policy. - 3/6/17

PHOTOS: House-Cleaning In Mazandaran Villages To Welcome Norooz
Spring is around the corner. The arrival of spring also coincides with the beginning of the Persian New Year Norooz. This is a festive occasion for Iranians and many other countries in the region. The arrival of new year also means a fresh start. Cleaning and dusting the house in advance of arrival of Norouz is one of the important customs for the people. These photos show the people in the villages of Mazandaran province in northern Iran busy with house cleaning to welcome Norooz. - 3/6/17

Evin Prison Violating Iranian Law by Keeping Political Prisoners in Wards With Violent Offenders
The authorities of Evin Prison in Tehran are violating Iranian law by refusing to move four political prisoners who have been attacked by other inmates to a ward for non-violent offenders, a source told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/6/17

The importance of common fox in Iran
The ecology of the common fox is of interest because of high adaptability. This species is found in all regions of Iran with the exception of the northern forests and the drier parts of the central deserts, where it is replaced by the sand fox. In Europe common fox (or red fox) is a reddish color but in Iran it is usually a buff grey-brown with a browner back. In North America, however, there are many distinct color varieties, with up to 20 percent of red foxes being black or silver. -Farnaz Heidari - 3/6/17

Iranian Boats Block U.S., British Navy Ships In Strait of Hormuz
A U.S. official has told Reuters that several fast-attack ships from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, forcing it to change its course. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iranian boats on March 4 came within 600 meters of the U.S. Navy ship, the Invincible, and then stopped. - 3/6/17

Iran retailers feel cornered by foreign brands
Small shops, department stores and supermarkets in Iran are feeling the heat from big retailers in neighboring countries and beyond menacingly making their presence felt at a pace never seen before. Hypermarkets and mass merchandisers from Turkey, UAE, and Europe are capitalizing on dramatic shifts taking place in the Iranian market as customers are endearing to mass-premium brands. - 3/6/17

Khamenei Tells Aliyev Israel Seeks To 'Weaken' Iran-Azerbaijan Ties
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told visiting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that Tehran believes Israel is working to weaken ties between the two countries. - 3/6/17

Iran Formally Charges Member Of Nuclear Negotiating Team
Iran's judiciary has laid formal criminal charges against a member of the team that negotiated the 2015 agreement with world powers on Tehran's nuclear program. Speaking on March 5, judiciary spokesman Mohseni Ejei said a person who was arrested in 2016 on suspicion of spying has been charged but did not name the individual or describe the charge. - 3/6/17

Iran's President Rouhani welcomes Azerbaijan's Aliyev, hails ties as 'brotherly, strategic'
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has hailed relations with neighboring Azerbaijan as "friendly, brotherly and strategic," saying they share close views on regional issues. Tehran-Baku ties "have made considerable progress in the past three years," Rouhani said at a joint news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev who arrived in Tehran Sunday for a one-day visit. - 3/5/17

Imprisoned Iran-Born Swedish Resident Refusing Food and Water in Desperate Bid for Justice
Iranian-born Swedish resident Ahmadreza Jalali is protesting his detainment in Iran since April 2016 without charge and denial of access to due process by refusing food and water. "On Thursday (February 23) Ahmadreza's relatives in Tehran visited him in prison and said he had lost a lot of weight and was in a bad mental state," Vida Mehrannia told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. "He also has chest and kidney pains." - 3/5/17

Iranian Rock Artist Defies Threats, Performs in Israeli Peace Concert
Exiled Iranian rock musician Shahin Najafi sang alongside Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen at a concert in Tel Aviv -- the first performance by an Iranian artist at an Israeli rock concert -- on March 2, 2017. At Thursday's concert, Najafi read a message he addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and "all politicians," expressing opposition to "walls" anywhere in the world and urging national leaders to "stop dividing people before it's too late." -Michael Lipin, VOA - 3/5/17

French Economy Minister calls for normalization of banking ties with Iran
French Economy Minister Michel Sapin said relations between Iran and France have considerably developed over the past few months, adding: "Financial circuits however need to be normalized. It's our aim, our will-even if it can't be done in a day." Spain made the statements after meeting his Iranian counterpart Ali Tayebnia in Tehran. - 3/5/17

Azerbaijan and Iran launch rail link
Concurrent with the visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Tehran, the 10-kilometer Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line project began its trial operation successfully on Sunday. With the commissioning of this railroad as well as the completion of Rasht-Astara railway line project, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be connected to Europe's rail network via Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan will get direct access to the Persian Gulf. - 3/5/17

Late Iranian Dissident Cleric's Son Freed After Sentence Suspended
Iran's judiciary has suspended the six-year prison term of the son of prominent deceased dissident cleric Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. The semi-official ISNA news agency reported on March 4 that the court ordered the six-year term of Ahmad Montazeri suspended at the request of an unidentified senior cleric (after being approved by the Supreme Leader). - 3/5/17

Iran successfully tests S300 missile system
Damavand military drill has test-fired S300 air defense system, during which it successfully targeted aerial vehicles flying in the outreach. An undisclosed air defense base was hosting the test-firing operation where a number of military personnel and commanders along with civilian officials attended. - 3/5/17

Iran Government: Messaging Apps Are Not Obligated to Obtain License
During an interview with Fars News, Seyed Abolhassan Firouzabadi, the head of Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace stated that messaging apps in Iran are not obliged to obtain license. He added that if a messaging app company decides to obtain a license, as a bonus it will receive privileges and special facilities. -Techrasa - 3/5/17

China's Tan Zhongyi becomes the 16th Women's World Chess Champion
In the final match of the World Championship in Tehran Tan Zhongyi defeated Anna Muzychuk on tie-break with 1,5 - 0,5. The final tie-break of the Women's World Chess Championship took place in the Espinas Palace Hotel on March 3. Four previous games with classical time control finished with 2:2 score. - 3/4/17

Iranian-American's Hunger Strike Highlights Iran's Jailing of Dual Nationals
The sister of an Iranian-American man detained in Iran since July says he has entered the third week of a hunger strike against what he sees as an unjust jail term for "collaborating with a hostile government." - 3/4/17

US thwarts Europe investment in Iran: Paper
The US government has thwarted many funding projects and deals in Iran during the past months, a London-based daily says. Citing European banks' sources, Asharq al-Awsat said many visits by European delegations to Tehran since the lifting of sanctions on Iran in January 2016 had failed to bear fruit. - 3/4/17

Persian New Year (Norooz) 2017 Celebration in San Jose, California
The Iranian Federated Women's Club (IFWC), in partnership with the City of San Jose District 10 and Councilmember Johnny Khamis, is proud to present Nowruz (Norooz), the celebration of the Persian new year, on Friday March 24, at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda, at 200 E. Santa Clara Street in San Jose, from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. The event is open to the public, and features live music, dance, and Persian cuisine and art. - 3/4/17

Hardliners Float Name of Major Human Rights Violator for Iran's Next Supreme Leader
For the time being, a powerful hardline cleric implicated in major human rights violations, Ebrahim Raeesi, has ruled out his candidacy in Iran's May 2016 presidential election. He remains, however, as a favorite among conservatives for becoming the country's next supreme leader. - 3/4/17

Iran Said Seeking Russian Cruise Missiles Ahead Of Weapons Ban Expiration
Iran is already negotiating to buy cruise missiles from Russia and is likely to make other major weapons purchases when a UN ban on selling Iran sophisticated weapons expires in 2020, a U.S. intelligence report finds. - 3/4/17

White House Again Delays Release Of Revamped Order On Immigration
The White House has again delayed release of a revamped executive order limiting travel and immigration to the United States. The delays belie assertions by Trump and top White House officials that immediate action was necessary to keep the country safe from terrorist attack. - 3/3/17

Banafsheh Hemati's brickwork jewelry wins at International Art and Design Competition
Inspired by the tiled-worked minaret of Damghan Tarikhaneh Mosque which dates back to the Sassanid era (7000 years ago), Banafsheh Hemamti's necklace has won the 3rd place award in the jewelry section of Italy's 2017 International Art and Design Competition. - 3/3/17

Sessions May Have Committed Perjury on Muslim Ban As Well
"NIAC Action is concerned that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have misled the Senate Judiciary Committee in his confirmation hearing with regard to his role in planning and drafting President Trump's executive order banning individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S." - 3/3/17

Obama Administration Made Last-Ditch Attempt To Free Americans From Iranian Prison
In the final weeks of Barack Obama's presidency, administration representatives held secret negotiations with Iranian officials, aimed at securing the release of American citizens imprisoned in Tehran. The talks, described publicly for the first time by a lawyer working on behalf of two of the prisoners, began in mid-December and collapsed days before President Donald Trump's inauguration in January. -Huffington Post - 3/3/17

Iran Devotes Complex To Housing Families Of Fallen Afghan Troops
Iran has opened a new complex to house the families of Afghan fighters killed in the ongoing Syrian war, where Tehran has teamed up with Moscow to help regional ally President Bashar al-Assad counter an armed rebellion. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 3/3/17

Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Generates 6.2b KWh Energy
Around 6.2 billion kWh of energy has been delivered to the country's power grid, executive office of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Operation Co. reported to Iran's nuclear chief on Sunday. Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi paid a visit to Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant on Sunday where he monitored various stages of fuel change, semi-major overhauls, as well as activities related to objectives of the plant's units 2 and 3. - 3/3/17

Iran's Abbasi: The Middle East's most beautiful hotel
The most beautiful hotel in Iran?: Iran's oldest hotel might also be the country's, if not the region's, most beautiful. The Abbasi, which opened in the 1700s, represents authentic Persian design. -CNN - 3/3/17

In Afghanistan, America's Biggest Foe Is Self-Deception
America's war in Afghanistan is now in its 16th year, the longest foreign war in our history. The phrase "no end in sight" barely covers the situation. Prospects of victory -- if victory is defined as eliminating that country as a haven for Islamist terrorists while creating a representative government in Kabul -- are arguably more tenuous today than at any point since the U.S. military invaded in 2001 and routed the Taliban. -William Astore, LobeLog - 3/3/17

Iran's Major Naval Exercise, Missile Tests a 'Standard Practice'
Iran has wrapped up a large-scale naval exercise involving missile tests at a time of heightened tension with the United States. The U.S. downplayed the Iranian maneuvers as a "standard practice." Iranian state media said the navy drill that ended Tuesday spanned 2 million square kilometers of the Arabian Sea, extending to the entrances of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. -Michael Lipin and Sayran Sharafi, VOA - 3/2/17

The Cultural Context of Trump's Muslim Ban
Liberal Hollywood opposes the Trump brand as crass and embarrassing of the American image. Nevertheless, perhaps Hollywood had a latent role in creating a cultural context which President Trump could rely on as a background for his utterance on Muslims and the "other." -Fareed Marjaee - 3/2/17

Iranian-Kurdish Activist Lured to Government Office and Arrested by Intelligence Ministry
Farzaneh Jalali, an Iranian-Kurdish civil rights activist, has been held at an Intelligence Ministry detention center in the city of Kermanshah in northwestern Iran since being arrested on February 23, 2017, she told her family in a phone call. - 3/2/17

Iran regaining OPEC's market share
The recent reports indicate that the Islamic Republic of Iran has already been able to escalate its oil exports to levels that existed before sanctions were imposed on the country in 2011. Iran's exports of oil stood at 2.35 million bpd before the sanctions were imposed against the country in 2011. - 3/2/17

Ten Nations Pledge To Fight Terrorism, Nurture Prosperity At Pakistan Summit
A regional economic summit in Pakistan has concluded with 10 nations pledging to collectively fight the "challenge of terrorism" and push for greater collaboration on trade, energy, and infrastructure. Islamabad hosted the daylong Economic Cooperation Organization summit on March 1. - 3/2/17

Former Iranian Political Prisoner Arrested by "Unidentified Agents" Without a Warrant
Former political prisoner Majid Asadi was arrested at his home in Karaj, west of Tehran, and taken to Evin Prison on February 21, 2017 by "unidentified agents who did not show a warrant," an informed source told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 3/2/17

Iranian-American merges 2 worlds at Waynesboro show
Elyana Javaheri said she started finding collages as a source of refuge. Twelve years ago, Javaheri moved to the United States from Tehran, Iran, to pursue her education at Virginia Tech. Now a landscape architect, she had originally intended on pursuing a career in law, but found herself interested in urban planning. As a child, she was fascinated by the big city life of Tehran. -NewsLeader - 3/2/17

Iranian-American Orgs on Rise in Hate Crimes: Time for Leaders to Condemn These Incidents
As Iranian American organizations, we have been sounding the alarm on the divisive rhetoric against immigrants, spurred by the harmful and discriminatory effects of the Trump Administration's Executive Order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries - including Iran - from entering the United States. - 3/1/17

Iran Uses Oscar Win to Attack Trump, US Response Muted
Tehran has cheered Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's second Oscar for best foreign film as an opportunity for more verbal attacks on the Trump administration, which responded with a muted defense of U.S. policy and deletion of a tweet about the movie. -Afshar Sigarchi and Michael Lipin, VOA - 3/1/17

Trump Pays Lip Service on Hate
National Iranian American Council Policy Director Jamal Abdi issued the following statement in response to Trump's Congressional address: "After months of demonizing Muslims, banning Iranians from visiting their families in America, and fanning the flames of hatred in our country, Donald Trump finally went on a limb tonight and condemned acts of hate. It was far too little, far too late. It is unacceptable to pay lip service against hate tonight and ban our families tomorrow... - 3/1/17

Iran's President Rouhani Speaking at ECO Summit says the world economy's heart to beat in Asia
Iran says Asia is to take the lead from the rest of the world in economic supremacy from the second half of the 21st century onward. "The world economy's heart is to beat in Asia from the second half of the present century," President Hassan Rouhani said at the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)'s 13th plenary session in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on Wednesday. - 3/1/17

Editor of State-Funded Iranian News Agency Remains Detained Without Access to Due Process
Detained since December 2016, Tahereh Riahi, the social affairs editor of the state-funded Borna News Agency, remains isolated in Evin Prison in Tehran while being denied access to legal counsel. Riahi was working at Borna's main office in Tehran when she was arrested by agents of the Intelligence Ministry on December 27, 2016. She has been accused of "propaganda against the state." - 3/1/17

International Women's Day Celebration in Northern California
The Zanan Group of Northern California will celebrate the International Women's Day by holding an event (Play, Dance, Music and Art Exhibition) at De Anza College in Cupertino on Saturday March 11, 2017. - 3/1/17

Iran, EU hold seminar to enhance nuclear cooperation
More than a year into the implementation of a landmark deal on the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran and the European Union are holding a high-level seminar with the aim of promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of atomic energy. The event, titled "International Nuclear Cooperation: Expectations and Responsibilities," kicked off in Brussels on Tuesday, with senior European and Iranian officials in attendance. - 3/1/17

The Unity of Time and Place
The Cinema Rex incident, a key moment in recent Iranian history, has had a lasting effect, its burning having remained in the public consciousness long after the fact -Noora Ismail, Reorient - 3/1/17

Debunking a Myth about Central Asia's Borders
Few parts of the world are the subject of as much sustained journalistic ignorance as Central Asia. News from what are patronizingly known as the "stans" rarely makes it into mainstream news outlets, except in connection to Islamic terrorism, authoritarianism, and ethnic and religious tensions. -Alexander Morrison, LobeLog - 3/1/17
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