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First Iran presidential debate receives mixed feedback
The first of three planned debates ahead of the May 19 elections in Iran received mixed feedback, with most commentators describing either Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf or Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri as the winners of the 3-hour-long debate. - 4/29/17

Iran's Judiciary Blocks Instagram's Live Video Service Weeks Before May 2017 Elections
Instagram's live video feature has been blocked in Tehran by several internet and mobile phone providers since the early afternoon of April 27, 2017, according to investigations by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/29/17

Iranian Female Soccer Player Publicly Decries Ban For Playing Without Hijab
A professional soccer player who once played for the Iranian women's national futsal team has publicly spoken out against a ban she says was imposed on her for not wearing the hijab while playing the sport during a private trip abroad. - 4/29/17

Meet the Iranian tycoon smashing gender stereotypes
Businesswoman, city councillor and social activist Fatemeh Daneshvar tells Al Jazeera that she fears 'nothing but God'. -Al Jazeera - 4/29/17

NEDLOOK: Classical Persian Artwork Meets Contemporary Jewelry
Just inside the walls of every historic structure in Iran, the unique dazzling tile works sit like a supersize jewel box that you won't forget. Tile works have been one of the most important decorative feature of the Persian architecture since ancient times. Vibrant mosaic tiles lavishly decorate the interior and exterior walls of religious buildings, royal palaces, and residence of dignitaries. While different aspects of architecture are often related to discussions surrounding buildings, the rich details and patterns of Persian tilework served as the inspiration for the jewelry designer, Neda Khalafi. - 4/28/17

Iran's Industry Spotlight: Technology Sector
There are many factors that have led to a thriving tech industry in Iran, including abundant resources, lifted sanctions, and a youthful, highly educated population. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the industry has also benefited in large part due to active support from the Iranian government. -Sarah Bryn Witmer - 4/28/17

The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy
Over one year has passed since the formal implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the US and P5+1 members, which lifted certain "nuclear-related secondary sanctions," on various Iranian business sectors. All parties to the JCPOA agreed to implementing it "in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere" and to "refrain from any policy specifically intended to ... affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran." -AIC - 4/28/17

Three Young Iranian Men to Serve 12 Years in Prison For "Insulting" Social Media Posts
Three 24-year-olds have been sentenced to 12 years in prison each in Iran for posting critical commentary about politics and religion on the Telegram messaging network and on Facebook. - 4/28/17

Former Council Member Advocates For Women Candidates in Iran's Local Elections
Political parties and factions in Iran should promote more women candidates in the country's local council elections to improve gender equality, Sedigheh Vasmaghi, a former Tehran city council member, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/28/17

U.S. Visas Issued To Iranians Plummet By Nearly Half From Last Year
The United States has cut by nearly half the number of visas it has issued to citizens of Iran and other countries targeted by President Donald Trump's travel ban even though courts have prevented that ban from taking effect. - 4/28/17

Iran Presidential Elections: No Easy Victory for Rouhani
Iran's presidential elections have never been without drama. This year, the Guardian Council--a group tasked to approve candidates--set a new record for the number of disqualifications. Of the 1,636 individuals who registered, it approved only six. However, instead of being outraged over the Guardian Council's nebulous and undemocratic process, everyone, including the Reformists, is frustrated about the ease with which anyone in Iran can register to run for president. -Ali Reza Eshraghi, LobeLog - 4/28/17

Trump Unites Iranian Americans
Generations of Iranians like my parents have admired the United States for almost everything. They wanted their children to attend American universities, promoted America as the land of great opportunities, and proudly sent invitations to friends for their U.S. citizenship ceremonies. But many Iranian Americans today are confused and frightened by the wave of unjust immigration policies targeting Iranians. -Leila Mansouri - 4/27/17

Foreign tourist spent $32B in Iran in last four years
Foreign tourists have spent some $32 billion in Iran over the past four years, said an official with the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization. A total of 19.9 million travelers visited the country during the mentioned period (March 2013 - March 2017), IRIB quoted CHTHO Deputy Director Morteza Rahmani-Movahhed as saying on April 23. - 4/27/17

10 Iranian guards killed in clashes with outlaws at border with Pakistan
Ten border guards have been killed in clashes with outlaws in southeastern Iran. The clashes, which erupted near the town of Mirjaveh in the province of Sistan-and-Baluchestan while the Iranian forces were patrolling the area, also left three other border guards injured, IRIB News Agency reported. - 4/27/17

Iran's Other Elections: Local Council Applicants Subjected to Arbitrary Vetting
In a surprising development, a few outspoken and prominent political activists have been approved to run in Iran's elections for city and village councils on May 19, 2017. However, many well-known activists and reformists have been arbitrarily disqualified. - 4/27/17

Iran launches national fiber optic connectivity plan
Iran has launched an ambitious project to connect houses to a nationwide fiber optic network - what the administration of President Hassan Rouhani would provide citizens with an easy access to high-speed internet. The project, which had been developed by Iran Telecommunications Company (ICT), was launched by Iran's Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi. - 4/27/17

Pentagon Says U.S. Warship Fired Warning Flare At Iranian Vessel
The Pentagon has said that a U.S. warship fired a warning flare after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel made a close approach to the ship in the Persian Gulf. The "unprofessional interaction" between the USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, and an Iranian vessel occurred on April 25 in international waters, U.S. military officials said on April 26. - 4/27/17

Iran says early delivery of Boeing plane cancelled
Iran says a plan for the early delivery of a plane from US aviation giant Boeing has been cancelled and the plane will not be delivered before next spring. Farhad Parvaresh, the head of the country's national flag carrier airline Iran Air, told the domestic media that Boeing had proposed to hand over a 777-300ER by summer after Turkish Airlines withdrew its order for it. - 4/27/17

Council Of Europe Says Russia, Iran Abusing Interpol For Political Purposes
European lawmakers say Russia and Iran are among a group of countries that are increasingly abusing Interpol red notices to seek the arrest of political opponents, contributing to a five-fold increase of red notices during the past decade. - 4/27/17

Zogby Denounces Panel on Religious Freedom
James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute, is about to wrap up his tenure on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He is not leaving quietly. Zogby, who was appointed to two terms on the commission by former President Barack Obama, sent a stunning letter to the commission, expressing his dissent from the latest report as well as his dissatisfaction with the way the commission goes about its business. -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 4/27/17

Family Urges Trump To Work For Release Of Jailed Americans In Iran
A relative of two Iranian-Americans imprisoned in Iran has said their health is deteriorating in Tehran's Evin prison and urged U.S. President Donald Trump to take "personal responsibility" for freeing them. Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, were sentenced to 10-year prison terms last year for "collusion with an enemy state" -- the United States. Babak Namazi has been seeking the release of his father and brother since then. - 4/26/17

Dual National's Husband Urges UK to Secure Her Release From Iran
The husband of Nazanin-Zaghari Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British citizen imprisoned in Iran since April 2016, is urging the British government to secure her release now that Iran's Supreme Court has rejected the second appeal of her five-year prison sentence. - 4/26/17

Iran and P5+1 Joint Commission hold meeting in Vienna
The seventh meeting of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Commission, which monitors the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, has been convened in the Austrian capital of Vienna. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday slammed the United States for violating both the spirit and the letter of the nuclear deal. - 4/26/17

Former Iranian MP: Guardian Council Has "No Legal Authority" to Exclude Religious Minorities From Elections
The Guardian Council's attempt to ban religious minorities from running in Iran's nationwide local council elections on May 19, 2017 is unlawful and infringes on their constitutional rights, a former reformist member of Parliament told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/26/17

Supreme Leader Khamenei Says Iran Should Not Look To West For Economic Growth
Iran's supreme leader has called on presidential candidates to focus on making the economy grow without help from the West, distancing himself from President Hassan Rohani's policy of promoting growth through foreign trade and investment. - 4/26/17

Kamron Saniee's Music Is A Portal To Iran's Ambient Electronic History
Iranian electronic producers are having a moment. After decades of pushback by the Islamic Republic on Western influences, a new underground generation is using digital, lyricless sounds to challenge and bypass state restrictions. -Atoosa Moinzadeh, The Fader - 4/26/17

Iranian Awarded 32K Pounds In Compensation For Account Closure By British Bank
A UK law firm has announced that one of its Iranian clients has managed to obtain nearly 32,000 pounds in compensation for mistaken closure of his bank account form the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) last year. - 4/26/17

Trump and the Yemeni Quagmire
Building on Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the White House in March, which Saudi officials claimed marked a "historic turning point" in US-Saudi relations, Mattis' recent trip to Riyadh served to further strengthen Saudi confidence in the Trump administration's approach to countering "Iran's mischief." -Giorgio Cafiero and Shehab al-Makahleh, LobeLog - 4/26/17

Tolerance historically practiced in Iran: Jewish lawmaker
Not like in the Western world where it was belatedly introduced, tolerance has been practiced in the historically multicultural context of Iran, where the Jewish community have been living in peaceful coexistence with other populations for centuries, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the Jewish community representative in Majlis (Parliament), says. - 4/26/17

"In order to Create, One must First Destroy": An Interview with Parvaneh Etemadi
According to Parvaneh Etemadi, she has acquired Bahman Mohassess' taste and Jalal Al-Ahmad's courage. She is Frank. Yet, frankness is just one of her personality. She challenges the current form of knowledge and cognition and expresses far-fetched concepts with new modules, which provokes positive and negative reactions to her approach. Last year, her name appeared on the 11th list of 500 artists of the world together with four other Iranian artists, Farhad Moshiri, Reza Derakhshani, Ali Banisadr and Shirin Neshat - 4/25/17

IRAN: President Rohani's Campaign Suffers As Pro-Administration Journalists Are Detained
The recent arrest of a number of administrators of Telegram social networking Channels continues to fuel tensions between Iran's administration and the judiciary. Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging application popular in Iran in which Channels are used as a group platform where members can receive content from. - 4/25/17

UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema
For almost thirty years, the UCLA Film & Television Archive has annually showcased the power of films from Iran to connect people otherwise distanced by cultural, political and national divides. In partnership with Farhang Foundation, this year's UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema offers Los Angeles the chance to experience new voices, current masters, and a special tribute to Abbas Kiarostami, one of contemporary cinema's most iconic and influential artists. - 4/25/17

Iran's Golab Adineh wins Best Actress Award at Beijing Film Festival
Iranian actress Golab Adineh won the Best Actress award for her inspiring performance in Marjan Ashrafizadeh's 'Abji' (The Sis). The film narrates the story of two women who have lived together for more than 50 years, but the situation doesn't remain the same and then the time comes to part ways. - 4/25/17

University Student Groups In Iran Decry Security Climate On Campus, Rising Costs And Gender Segregation
Seventy-two student organizations from universities throughout Iran have issued a joint statement asking President Hassan Rouhani to end the security climate on campuses, halt the rising cost of education, and stop discriminatory practices against female students. - 4/25/17

Germany's Volkswagen picks local partner in bid to cement foothold in Iran
Volkswagen in a statement named the Iranian company as Khodro Sazi Sina (KSS) which it said had been chosen after "thorough and intense studies". The company emphasized that the KSS' closest rival - Mammut Group - was only a few points behind. - 4/25/17

Iran's Kharg Terminal dispatches 780 million crude barrels in one year
Head of Iran Oil Terminals Company's (IOTC) Export Department Gholamhossein Gerami said over 230 million barrels of light crude oil, 480 million barrels of heavy crude and about 70 million barrels of blazing oil were exported from the Iranian terminal in the previous year. - 4/25/17

US Nearly Silent on Iran's Presidential Election as Policy Toughens
U.S. officials who have been toughening their stance toward Iran in recent weeks have said almost nothing about its presidential election, now less than one month away. And, some Iran observers say the silence regarding the May 19 vote could be a reflection of broad skepticism about its significance. -Michael Lipin, VOA - 4/24/17

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, U.S. Official Who Helped Broker Iran Nuclear Deal, Demoted and Reassigned
A top U.S. State Department official who helped broker the Iran nuclear deal was demoted and reassigned after right-wing media outlets questioned her loyalty to U.S. President Donald Trump, media are reporting. - 4/24/17

Iranian humanoid robot "Surena Mini" unveiled
Two major knowledge-based products including a humanoid robot dubbed 'Surena Mini' and a small animal imaging device have been unveiled today at the 5th laboratory equipment & chemicals exhibition (Iran Lab 2017). - 4/24/17

Iran Tries To Abolish Death Penalty For Trafficking As It Wrestles With Rising Drug Charges
Iranian parliament's Judicial Commission spokesperson has announced that this commission has agreed with a proposal to reduce death penalty to 30 years in prison for a number of drug-related offences. Meanwhile the number of arrests for drug related charges are increasing in the country. - 4/24/17

Eight Baha'is Arrested Without a Warrant by Iran's Intelligence Ministry and Denied Legal Council
Seven Baha'i citizens were arrested by the Intelligence Ministry in Bandar Abbas and Qeshm Island, southern Iran, on April 18, 2017, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Despite President Hassan Rouhani's expressed support for religious freedom, dozens of Baha'is have been arrested or their businesses shuttered under his watch for their faith. - 4/24/17

IRGC Commander Publicly Criticizes Rouhani's Refusal to Block Telegram Call Service Before Election
One month before Iranians head to the polls, a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has revealed that President Hassan Rouhani opposed pressure to ban the popular Telegram application's newly released "Voice Calls" service. - 4/24/17

Straining to be Anti-Iran
The Trump administration is bending over backward to be, and to sound, hostile and confrontational toward Iran. This effort to flaunt a role for itself as a dedicated enemy of Iran has roots in the same factors that underlie the more widely established anti-Iranism in the United States, staying ahead of which is clearly an administration objective. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 4/24/17

Former Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad Barred From Election
Iranian state TV says the body charged with vetting candidates has disqualified former hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad from running in next month's presidential election. Although Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had previously urged him not to run, Ahmadinejad shocked the country by registering last week. - 4/21/17

Trump Accuses Iran Of 'Not Living Up To Spirit' Of 2015 Nuclear Deal
U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Iran of "not living up to the spirit" of its nuclear agreement with world powers and said the United States would soon have a response. At a White House news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on April 20, Trump repeated his criticism that "it was a terrible agreement...as bad as I've ever seen negotiated." - 4/21/17

Low Female Participation Rate in Iranian Elections Symptom of Gender Inequality
The low number of female participants in Iranian elections is an indicator of inequality in the political, social and cultural fabric of the country, women's rights advocate Nahid Tavasoli told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Speaking from Tehran, the editor-in-chief of Nafe, an academic women's periodical, said Iranian women are denied many rights as citizens that affect their participation rate in politics. - 4/21/17

Trump Adviser Seeks Political Deal To Settle Iran Sanctions Case
A close ally of U.S. President Donald Trump is lobbying U.S. prosecutors to go easy on a man charged with helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions because he could be a potential bargaining chip in a political deal with Turkey. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Trump adviser, was hired recently to represent Reza Zarrab, a wealthy Turkish-Iranian businessman accused of arranging hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of financial transactions for Iran's government and businesses in violation of U.S. sanctions from 2010 to 2015. - 4/21/17

Samsung & Amirkabir University Launch Their Tech Center in Tehran
Samsung, the Korean electronic giant has joined Amir Kabir University of Technology and launched Samsung-AUT Tech center in Tehran. Samsung Electronics the world's second largest information Technology Company by revenue, after Apple, invests at least 9% of its sales revenue in R&D activities according to their website. -Techrasa - 4/21/17

Championing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Rules: The EU and Iran
In a newly published book, Tarja Cronberg contrasts EU and US conceptions of multilateralism in the nuclear field. Her work is titled Nuclear Multilateralism and Iran. A former member of the European Parliament (EP) and chair of the EP delegation for EU relations with Iran, Cronberg writes: "For the US multilateralism is a means to an end, but for Europeans it is an end in itself." -Peter Jenkins - 4/20/17

Lawmakers Say Iran's Larijani Rejects Call To Bar Religious Minorities From Elections
Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani has dismissed a call by the head of the powerful Guardians Council to prevent members of religious minorities from running in city council elections in May, according to two lawmakers. - 4/20/17

No Woman Has Ever Run For Iranian President. Will Azam Taleghani Be The First?
On April 14, a tiny, frail-looking woman wearing a chador and using a walker made her way slowly up the stairs of Iran's Interior Ministry in Tehran. Seventy-three-year-old Azam Taleghani was there to register as a candidate in the May 19 vote for Iran's presidency. She's hoping the third time is the charm -Golnaz Esfandiari - 4/20/17

Iranian Media Banned From Covering Ahmadinejad's May 2017 Presidential Campaign
Iranian media outlets have been ordered to stop reporting on former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's third presidential campaign for the country's May 19, 2017 election. The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned that the order was issued by the Supreme National Security Council and Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi. - 4/20/17

Iranian Foreign Minister slams 'worn-out' US accusations
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed fresh accusations leveled by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson against the Islamic Republic, urging Washington to honor its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. - 4/20/17

Iran's Judiciary Blocks Voice Calls On Telegram Messaging App
Iran's judiciary has blocked newly introduced call features on a highly popular messaging app called Telegram. It was not immediately clear whether the reason for the blocking of voice calls, introduced last week, was a political move ahead of the country's May presidential election or an attempt to protect the commercial interests of Iranian telecom companies. - 4/20/17

Has Donald Trump Learned To Love The Iran Deal?
All this Republican party fighting over the Iran nuclear deal, it's almost enough to forget that it's America's greatest foreign policy achievement in years. At least that's what the Trump administration has seemingly acknowledged. In a statement released late Tuesday evening, they certified that Tehran continues to comply with its end of the bargain. -Tyler Cullis and Reza Marashi, LobeLog - 4/20/17

Iran-EU trade up 171% in January
The European Union's trade with Iran amounted to 1.55 billion Euros in January 2017, a 171 percent rise compared to the first month of 2016, based on the latest figures released by the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat. The figure was 572 million Euros in January 2016, Tasnim news agency reported. - 4/20/17

Prominent Political Activist Continues Fight for Gender Equality in Iran's 2017 Presidential Election
Despite being repeatedly disqualified in the past, one of Iran's top political activists, Azam Taleghani, has registered to run in the country's May 19, 2017 presidential election. The daughter of a moderate leader of Iran's 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani (1911-1979), Azam Taleghani told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that she registered to "clear the confusion" over male interpretations of the Constitution that have blocked women from running for the presidency. - 4/19/17

IRAN: Poll Highlights Rouhani's Reelection Challenge
With all 1600-plus candidates now registered for next month's Iranian presidential election, the results of a new public opinion survey by IranPoll suggest that incumbent President Hassan Rouhani may have a challenge on his hands if he hopes to win a second term. -Derek Davison - 4/19/17

Trump Orders Review of Iran Nuclear Deal
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed the review in a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan. Tillerson said that as of Tuesday, Iran is complying with its responsibilities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which it agreed to in 2015 after negotiations with the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany. - 4/19/17

Nasrin Sotoudeh: Investigate Iranian Presidential Hopeful Ebrahim Raisi for 1988 Mass Executions
Prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and former political prisoner Nasrin Sotoudeh has strongly criticized the candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi in Iran's May 19, 2017 presidential election. "The competency of this candidate should not be approved for any reason until the events of 1988 are investigated and it is proven that he was not an accomplice," she told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "In the meantime, we do have an audio file... that shows he did have a hand in those events." - 4/19/17

EU, Iran sign nuclear safety deal with another deal expected in coming weeks
Iran and the European Commission have signed a 2.5-million Euro project for nuclear safety cooperation, the first ever under the framework of a 2015 international nuclear deal, saying that a second one will be finalized in the coming weeks, the EU official website said on April 18. -Ali Kushki, Tehran Times - 4/19/17

Russia lifts visas for tourists from Iran, 17 other countries
Russia says it has lifted visa restrictions for tourists and businessmen from Iran as well as 17 other countries for trips to the country's Far East. The announcement was made by Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as reported by Sputnik news agency. - 4/19/17

Conflict and Famine in Yemen
Yemenis are starving because of war. No natural disaster is responsible. No amount of humanitarian aid can solve the underlying problem. Without an immediate, significant course change, portions of the country, in the 21st century and under the watch of the Security Council, will likely tip into famine. -International Crisis Group, LobeLog - 4/19/17

Iranian Couple Reunited In Colorado After Travel Ban Scares
An experience that both called "a nightmare" turned into a dream come true for an Iranian family reunited at Denver International Airport Tuesday night. "I saw her on May 5, one year ago," Zoheir Khademian said. -CBS, Denver - 4/19/17

Iran's Presidential Carnival Kicks off
In the past two decades, Iran's presidential election kickoffs have increasingly become occasions for comedy. It did not disappoint this time. During the five-day registration period, beginning on April 11, over 1,600 people signed up (1,636 to be exact), ranging in age from 6 to 89 years old. Unlike for other offices, there are no clear minimum requirements to run for presidency in Iran-not age, not education, and not even gender even if no woman has ever been qualified. So the registration period has become an occasion for people of varying degrees of charisma to make their voices heard and faces seen. -Farideh Farhi - 4/18/17

Iran denounces Washington for supporting terrorist groups
Tehran on Monday denounced the United States for supporting terrorist groups, such as the anti-Iran Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO or MEK), which carry out acts of terror against the Islamic Republic and other regional countries. Qassemi's remarks came days after the head of the MKO, Maryam Rajavi, met with John McCain, a senior U.S. senator who was the Republican nominee for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. - 4/18/17

International Law Expert Denounces Iranian Presidential Bid of Rights Violator Ebrahim Raisi
The candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi in Iran's May 19 presidential election "shows great contempt for human rights, the rights of the Iranian people, and the families of those killed in the 1980s," international law expert Shadi Sadr told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/18/17

Iranian squad crowned in ITSF World Cup & World Championships
The Iranian men's senior table football team has won the trophy at the International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) World Cup and World Championships in Germany following a victory over Italy. The Iranians recorded a 42-28 victory over their Italian rivals in the title game at the fantastic Kampnagel venue in the northern German city of Hamburg, and took the honors. - 4/18/17

IRAN: Reformists Barred From Isfahan's May 19 By-Election for Parliament
After disqualifying the initial reformist winner, Iran's conservative Guardian Council has now barred most reformist candidates from running in the second-round election for Isfahan's vacant parliamentary seat. The vote will occur when Iranians head to the polls on May 19, 2017 to elect their new president and city and village councils. - 4/18/17

UK cautiously eyes $600bn opportunity in Iran investment drive
UK firms are cautiously eying opportunities in Iran ahead of an expected $600bn boom in trade and infrastructure investment over the next ten years. The Islamic Republic is embarking on an ambitious investment drive as it emerges from decades of isolation imposed by international sanctions. -Jillian Ambrose, UK's Telegraph - 4/18/17

Russia says trade with Iran to grow further in 2017
Russia says it expects trade relations with Iran to grow further this year after increasing almost twofold in 2016. Alexander Maksimov, the honorary representative of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Iran, was quoted by the media as saying that trade with the Islamic Republic had increased by a whopping 70 percent after the removal of sanctions against the country early last year. - 4/18/17

Is it safe to travel to Iran?
It happened on my second day in Tehran. As I ambled into the National Jewellery Museum for a glimpse of Iran's crown jewels, a woman in black started gesturing at me with a burst of angry words. My heart just stopped. Is this the notorious Iranian morality police? My tour guide rushed over with a tight smile. "She says you have your sweater on wrong, it's inside-out." -Hariati Azizan, Star2 - 4/18/17

The Syrian War: Two Lessons for Trump
The roots of US involvement in the Syrian war run deep and wide. On our side we can start with the Korean conflict, which ended in a tie and a lesson taught: never fight a land war in Asia. Unfortunately, the lesson wasn't learned because about a decade later we were subbing for the French in Vietnam. From that losing fight we should have learned, but didn't, not to take the corrupt, unpopular side in an internal conflict. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 4/18/17

Photos: Drone design & construction competition at Tehran's Sharif University
The 4th tournament of drone design and construction is underway at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Sharif is a public research university in Tehran, Iran known traditionally to be the first choice of top ranked Iranian high school and university students in engineering and physical sciences, and it is known as the Iranian MIT. - 4/17/17

Muslims in Abadan, Iran join city's only Christian to celebrate Easter
Abadan's only church, Surp Karap, is adjacent to Musa ibn Jafar Mosque. Surp Karap Church was built in 1940 and damaged during the Iraq-Iran war. The church was renovated in 1991 and registered as national heritage. On Sunday, Muslims joined the single Christian citizen in the city to mark Easter. - 4/17/17

Iranian Americans, livid over Trump visa ban, to get their day in court
President Donald Trump's attempts to impose a visa ban on a set of majority-Muslim countries has sparked unusual anger and activism among a wealthy, highly educated group that generally avoids U.S. politics: Iranian Americans. Now, they're about to get their day in court, winning the first chance to present in-person testimony against the travel ban. -Politico - 4/17/17

Iran moves into flourishing ecotourism market
The ecotourism market in Iran has witnessed a growth over the past couple of years, drawing more domestic and foreign backpackers to the pristine and relatively undisturbed natural areas of the country. Some 530 ecotourism projects have been implemented since the current administration took office in 2013, Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization Director Zahra Ahmadipour said on April 11. - 4/17/17

From Isfahan to Irvine: Speech, Film Screening & Music Performance at Stanford University
Hossein Omoumi is a scholar and musician from Isfahan, Iran. He currently teaches at UC Irvine. A new documentary about his life, made by Hesam Abedimi, and innovative teaching style will also be screened (in Farsi with English subtitles). After, Hossein will discuss and demonstrate the structure of classical Persian music by singing and playing the Ney, with vocals from Jessika Kenney, santur accompaniment from Faraz Minooie, and Sina Dehghani playing the tombak. - 4/17/17

Iran forges deal with China to redesign Arak reactor
Iran has hashed out price differences with China to receive counselling on redesigning its only heavy water nuclear reactor, signing a deal on the project with the Chinese side, Iranian Foreign Ministry has said in a written briefing to parliament. "The contract to receive counselling on the redesign was negotiated and signed in Beijing on April 13," read part of the report, the fifth parliamentary briefing on the 2015 international nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. - 4/17/17

Foreign Minister Zarif in Central Asia as Iran seeks to fire up economy
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has started touring Central Asia and the Caucasus to boost Iran's ties with three major countries in the region, especially in the field of economy. The three-day tour spans Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. A 20-member delegation of businessmen and company representatives is accompanying Zarif who cited transit cooperation among the objectives of the visit. - 4/17/17

At US competition, Iranian law students 'surprised' by reception
For seven young Iranians participating in an international moot court competition April 9-15 in Washington, success consisted of simply getting here... The Iranian law students told Al-Monitor they are gratified by the warm reception they have received. -Barbara Slavin, Al Monitor - 4/17/17

VACATION IN IRAN
In the nineteen-eighties, when I was a child, my family rarely took vacations. There had been a revolution in Iran, and there was a war on. Most of our trips were to the gardens of family and friends; a couple of times we went to Shomal, as the green band of forests south of the Caspian Sea is known. In those days, travelling was all about us pleasing the group. -New Yorker - 4/17/17

Trump Administration Sees Bahraini Crisis Through Saudi Lens
As tensions between Bahrain's marginalized Shi'ites and Sunni rulers escalate, the royal Al Khalifa family feels emboldened by Donald Trump's administration and its prioritization of security issues above human rights. Trump's ascendancy to the White House comes as a major relief to Bahrain's rulers whom Barack Obama's administration repeatedly irked. -Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 4/17/17

Photos: Easter celebration at Saint Sarkis Cathedral in Tehran
Iran's Armenian Christian community held a ceremony at Saint Sarkis Cathedral in Tehran on Sunday April 16, 2017 to celebrate Easter. During the event, special prayers were said and candles were lit. While Iran is officially designated the "Islamic Republic," among its more than 70 million people is a small but important Christian minority. Most of Iran's Christians are Armenians and Assyrians, who remain relatively free to follow their faith. - 4/16/17

Football: Persepolis Wins Iran Professional League for Third Time
Persepolis football team defeated rock bottom Machine Sazi of Tabriz to end nine-year title drought in Iran Professional League (IPL) with three games left until the end of the season. In the match held in Yadeger-e Imam Stadium, Persepolis defeated the Tabriz based team 2-0. - 4/16/17

Iran's President Rouhani inaugurates mega gas projects in Persian Gulf
Iran has officially inaugurated several mega projects in its natural gas hub of South Pars - projects that can put the country in the lead over production from a giant field that it shares with Qatar. The projects included South Pars Phases 17 and 18, Phase 19, as well as Phases 21 and 22. They were inaugurated by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. - 4/16/17

More Than 1,600 Iranians File To Run For President As Registration Deadline Passes
More than 1,600 candidates have filed to run in the Iranian presidential election as the official registration period ended. Among the last-minute entrants for the May 19 election was 55-year-old Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who arrived at the Interior Ministry just before the deadline on April 15. - 4/16/17

Photos: Iran Defense Ministry showcases achievements, including some making first appearances
The Iranian Defense Ministry has showcased its recent technological achievements, including a jet designed indigenously for training purposes and other items that were being made public for the first time. The achievements were displayed during an exhibition at the Iranian Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (IHSRC) in Tehran on Saturday. - 4/16/17

Renowned Iranian actor Aref Lorestani dies at 45 due to heart attack
Renowned Iranian actor Aref Lorestani, who was generally known for his roles in the comedy series over the past two decades, has died of heart attack at the age of 45. Born on February 4, 1972 in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, Lorestani died Saturday morning in sleep. - 4/16/17

Sanctions impaired Iran's economic transparency: Iranian FM Zarif
Sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program dealt a major blow to the country's economic transparency, an issue much neglected in assessing the outcomes of the 2015 international nuclear deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday. - 4/16/17

PHOTOS: Iranians Make A Run For It, But They're Already Out Of The Presidential Race
Virtually anyone can register to run in Iran's presidential election. The formal restrictions as laid out in the constitution are clear: potential candidates must be 18 or older; they must also be among the country's "religious and political personalities," hold Iranian citizenship, and believe in the principles of the Islamic republic and the official religion of the country. -Golnaz Esfandiari - 4/15/17

History Made: Men attend women's basketball game in Tehran
A historical moment took place in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Thursday as the country's men attended a women's basketball game. This marked the first time that men were allowed to witness a women's sporting event in person. - 4/15/17

Death toll rises to 35 in flood, landslide in western and northwestern Iran
Severe flood and landslide in western and northwestern parts of Iran have so far claimed 35 lives and left 8 missing. Heavy rain which started on Friday morning caused flood in the afternoon and unfortunately the northwestern cities of Azarshahr and Ajabshir hit the hardest by the flood, ISNA quoted Ismail Najjar, head of the Crisis Management Organization as saying on Saturday. - 4/15/17

Hard-Line Cleric, Seen As Main Rohani Rival, Files To Run For President
Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on April 14 filed to run in the May presidential election. Raisi, 56, a professor of Islamic law, is viewed as incumbent President Hassan Rohani's main rival for the presidency. Rohani, a politically moderate cleric, also filed for reelection earlier on April 14. - 4/15/17

Iranian Azeri Rights Activist on Trial for Advocating Mother Language
Abbas Lesani, an Azeri ethnic rights activist, is being tried for advocating for state recognition of his mother tongue and making a speech at his friend's wedding calling for an end to the discrimination of Azeris in Iran. - 4/15/17

Russia, Iran, Syria Issue Warning Against Another Syria Strike
Russia, Syria and Iran have warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria and called for an international investigation into the chemical weapons attack in Syria. - 4/15/17

Iran's first ever cruise ship completes maiden voyage in Persian Gulf
Iran says its first cruise ship since the 1979 Islamic Revolution has completed its maiden trip and docked in the Persian Gulf resort island of Qeshm. The ship - which reports said were built in Sweden - carried more than 200 passengers on the 127-kilometre voyage from Kish, Iran's other main resort island. The trip - that was made overnight -reportedly took around 12 hours. - 4/15/17

Russia Hosts Afghanistan Meeting Boycotted By Washington
Russia opened meetings with top diplomats from Afghanistan, China, and several Central Asian countries in talks that are aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan but are being boycotted by the United States. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement April 14 that India, Iran, and Pakistan were also attending the Moscow talks. - 4/15/17

Iran's Presidential Elections: Has Hassan Rouhani Met His Match?
Until only a few weeks ago, Iran's hardliners lacked a candidate of any stature in Iran's forthcoming presidential elections in May 2017...This still may be the case, and President Hassan Rouhani may yet serve another term. But that scenario is now complicated by the entry into the race of Hojatoleslam Ibrahim Raeisi, the head of the vast complex centered around the shrine of the eighth Shia Imam Ali ibn Musa al Riza and a candidate to succeed Ayatollah Khamenei as the supreme leader. -Shirin T. Hunter - 4/14/17

Iran's Incumbent President Registers To Run In May Elections
Iran's incumbent president has registered to run in next month's national election, a vote that is shaping up to be a referendum on the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. News reports said Hassan Rohani, 68, submitted the necessary paperwork at the Interior Ministry in Tehran on April 14, the fourth day of the registration period. - 4/14/17

U.S. Sanctions Tehran Prison Organization, Official For Abuses
The United States says it has sanctioned the Tehran Prisons Organization and a top official in connection with "serious human rights abuses" in Iran. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on April 13 said it was sanctioning Sohrab Soleimani and the prison organization, an action it said reflects "deep concern" regarding the human rights situation in the country. - 4/14/17

Social Media Emerges as Major Battlefront in Iran's May 2017 Elections
A month before Iranians head to the polls for the presidential and council elections, a heated exchange between the judiciary and the Intelligence Ministry has highlighted the growing tension over social media between different political factions in the Islamic Republic. - 4/14/17

Rebekah Mercer Joins Board of Anti-Muslim Think Tank
Earlier this month, Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of billionaire Trump backer Robert Mercer, was listed as a member of the "Board of Governors," of the Gatestone Institute, a New York City-based anti-Muslim organization that has long opposed the immigration of Muslims to the West. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 4/14/17

Iran's Revolutionary Guard: How Revolutionary?
Ayatollah Khomeini once declared that if it weren't for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), there would be no revolutionary Iran. In many ways, he was right. From its humble roots among disorganized militias fighting the Shah, the IRGC has been at the heart of almost every major historical turn in Iran's modern era. It defended the homeland against Iraqi invaders and then reconstructed the country's bombed-out infrastructure and economy. -Henry Johnson - 4/13/17

Meet Kia Hamadanchy: Candidate for U.S. Congress (CA-45th)
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) recently had the opportunity to interview Kia Hamadanchy to discuss his historic campaign for California's 45th Congressional District. If successful, he will become the first American of Iranian descent to be elected to the U.S. Congress. - 4/13/17

Iranian Political Prisoner Narges Mohammadi Offered Furlough in Exchange for Silence
Imprisoned human rights defender Narges Mohammadi has been offered temporary release if she promises to be silent about her unjust sentence, her husband told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "The authorities have told Narges that they would grant her furlough on the condition that she not talk to or meet anyone," said Taghi Rahmani, who lives with the couple's two children in Paris. "No interviews, no phone calls, no visits." - 4/13/17

Assad vs Regime of Warring Jihadis
The Syrian agony poses a straightforward strategic question: which is worse, Assad or the opposition? Choosing between these two brutal sides is unpalatable. But there is a powerful case to be made that the motley grouping that makes up the armed opposition affects nearly all players far more negatively than the continuation of Assad's ugly regime. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 4/13/17

Congress Debates Syria, Iran
LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman, previously of Americans for Peace Now and now the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. These weekly round-ups cover what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 4/13/17

High Speed Internet and Fiber Optic Networks Around Iran
Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology is determined to extend fiber optic networks to households and businesses around the country. Over 95% of the villages around the country are also getting access to high speed internet. -Techrasa - 4/13/17

PHOTOS: The Ancient Samen Underground City In Western Iran
A two-millennia-old subterranean city has been unearthed in Samen, Hamedan Province, after more than a decade of excavations. The city, located 400 km west of Tehran, provisionally dubbed the Underground City of Samen, is "under the modern city of Samen," said Ali Khaksar, the head of the provincial office of Iran's Culturally Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. - 4/12/17

Moghadam Award: Long-Term, Sustainable Economic Development in Iran
The Stanford Iran 2040 Project announces the first annual Moghadam Award in Iranian Economics to recognize the best original paper on Long-Term, Sustainable Economic Development in Iran. The awardee will be asked to present the paper at the next Stanford Iran Economic Forum to be held in Summer 2017. All travel expenses will be covered and the awardee will also receive a $10,000 prize. - 4/12/17

Former Iran President Ahmadinejad Registers For May Presidential Election
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name for registration for the May 19 presidential election on Wednesday in an apparent reversal of earlier promises not to run. Back in September during a lecture to seminary students in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said he would not find it advisable for Ahmadinejad to seek a comeback to politics "both for his own and the country's good." - 4/12/17

G-7 countries seek Iran's help to stabilize Middle East
The Group of Seven foreign ministers who met in the Italian city of Lucca on Tuesday urged Iran to help end the conflicts in the Middle politically, IRNA reported. In their final statement, the foreign minister also requested Iran's help to fight terrorism in the region. - 4/12/17

EU extends sanctions on Iran over human rights claims
The European Union has extended by another year sanctions against Iran over alleged claims of "human rights violations" despite the fledgling rapprochement between Tehran and the bloc since the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement. - 4/12/17

Iran named as Afghanistan's biggest trade partner
Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Spokesman said Iran has turned into the biggest trading partner of Afghanistan. "With 1.8 billion dollars of trade exchange level between the two countries, Iran is now Afghanistan's biggest trade partner," Seyamuddin Pesarlai told IRNA correspondent in Kabul, on Monday. - 4/12/17

These women were barred from an Iranian marathon - so they staged their own race instead
A group of women in Iran risked arrest last week when, having been barred at the last minute from taking part in a marathon, they decided to stage their own race. -Telegraph, UK - 4/12/17

Restraining Trump: The Prometheus Strategy
When Zeus was displeased with Prometheus, he chained him to a rock where an eagle feasted each day on his liver. Prometheus was immortal, so his liver regenerated each day. But even mortals, however immune they may be to criticism and scandal, can be bound so tightly that the harm they can do is minimized-perhaps not forever, but at least for the duration of a presidential term. -Gary Sick, LobeLog - 4/12/17

Iran's President Rohani Coy As He Kicks Off Election Season, Concedes He's 'Not Fully Satisfied'
President Hassan Rohani has defended his policies on the eve of the registration period for candidates in Iran's presidential election in May, saying his administration has helped boost prosperity and chip away at obstacles to openness in Iranian society. But the 68-year-old cleric and ally of reformers stopped short of announcing a reelection bid at his televised April 10 press conference, although aides have said in recent months that he will seek another four-year-term. "We have a prosperous Iran and we will definitely have a better Iran in the next years," Rohani said. - 4/11/17

IRAN: Son of Grand Ayatollah Blasts Presidential Bid of Human Rights Violator Ebrahim Raisi
The son of late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who publicly condemned the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988, has criticized the newly announced presidential candidacy of Ebrahim Raisi. In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmed Montazeri noted that Raisi, who was part of the four-man special tribunal that ordered the mass executions, "does not have a day of experience in government." - 4/11/17

General: Game Changer in Iran-Pakistan Relations?
Iran and Pakistan have experienced many ups and downs in their relationship dating back to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Despite Iran's persistent conflict with Pakistan's closest ally Saudi Arabia and broad economic relationship with Pakistan's rivals India and Afghanistan, they have managed to maintain a relatively healthy relationship. Will this relationship be now influenced by the appointment of former army chief (retd) General Raheel Sharif as the leader of the Saudi military alliance? -Fatemeh Aman - 4/11/17

Photos: Candidates Begin Registering For Iran's Presidential Election
Registration for Iranians hoping to run in Iran's May 19 presidential election opened in Tehran on April 11. The registration process will remain open for five days. Prospective candidates will be vetted by the Guardians Council, a group of powerful conservative clerics that has a record of disqualifying liberal and pro-reform candidates as well as women. - 4/11/17

Iranians Express Solidarity With Victims Of Alleged Chemical Attack In Syria
Iranians have demonstrated at the location of a decades-old chemical attack to condemn a suspected gas attack on a Syrian town last week that killed dozens of civilians, and to call for an end to the use of such weapons. -Golnaz Esfandiari - 4/11/17

Boeing, Iran, and American Jobs
The IranAir and Iran Aseman deals are among Boeing's largest open orders and come at a time of softening demand for commercial aircraft among the world's airlines. Boeing's engagement with Iran pits the Trump administration's skepticism of the value of the Iran nuclear deal directly against an avowed commitment to support American jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, LobeLog - 4/11/17

Why empty suit shops and barber's chairs could spell trouble for Iran's President Hassan Rouhani
Usually in the weeks before Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, downtown Tehran is jammed with traffic as shoppers pick up gifts in the brightly lighted shops surrounding the British and German embassies. But this year, the streets were noticeably quieter, the popular clothing and home appliance stores reporting much less business around the holiday in March. -Los Angeles Times - 4/11/17

Lies, Damned Lies, And The "Breaking News"
The dust hasn't settled quite as yet over the recent events in Syria, the allegations against Bashar Assad for gassing innocent babies and the United States' "measured and proportional" surgical strike to punish him for that heinous crime. But there is enough light passing through the dust to give us reasons to question the whole scenario. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 4/10/17

Boeing Reportedly Moves Closer To Delivering First Passenger Jets To Iran Air
Iran's official IRNA news agency says U.S. plane-maker Boeing will deliver two 777 passenger jets to Iran within the next month, one of the first major U.S. business deliveries with Iran after years of Western sanctions. - 4/10/17

Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers: Vietnam Crushes Iran 6-1
Hanoi: Host nation Vietnam recovered from conceding an early goal to produce a devastating second half performance, and put themselves 90 minutes away from the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup with a 6-1 win over the Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday. - 4/10/17

Iran's Rohani Defends Policies Ahead Of Presidential Vote
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has defended his policies ahead of the May 19 presidential election, in which the 68-year-old cleric is expected to run for a second term. But at an April 10 press conference in Tehran that was shown on state television, Rohani stopped short of announcing his candidacy. - 4/10/17

Iran Air signs contract to buy 20 ATR planes
Iran's national flag-carrier airline Iran Air has signed a contract to buy 20 turboprops from the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, an official says. "The contract between IranAir and ATR to buy 20 ATR 72-600 aircrafts has been signed by the officials of both countries," Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhriyeh Kashan said on Monday. - 4/10/17

Iranian tourist visits to Russia up by 72% in 2016
Roughly 67,000 Iranians visited Russia in 2016, a solid growth of 72 percent compared to a year earlier, Russia Beyond the Headlines reported on April 5. Russians expect around 100,000 Iranians to visit the country this year, the report added, noting most travelers (about 95 percent) are usually interested in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The next popular destination is the Golden Ring. - 4/10/17

President Rouhani unveils Iran's new nuclear achievements
President Hassan Rouhani has unveiled two major nuclear achievements on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Iran's National Nuclear Technology Day. The Iranian chief executive lifted the curtain off the accomplishments made by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, namely a stone centrifuge, and high-temperature condensate pump. - 4/9/17

How Will Iran Respond to US Missile Attack in Syria?
Iran has been a major supporter of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's beleaguered president, throughout its civil war, which has entered its sixth year. In fact, until Russia decided to conduct airstrikes in Syria in September 2015, Iran was the only country that actively and meaningfully supported the Syrian regime. -Shireen T. Hunter - 4/9/17

Iran's Judiciary Chief Forbids Election Protests Ahead of May Vote
A little over a month before Iranians head to the polls on May 19, 2017, Judiciary Chief Sadegh Larijani has warned that a repeat of the protests against the disputed result of the 2009 presidential election would not be tolerated. - 4/9/17

Iranian Music Producers Returned to Evin Prison After Request for Extended Medical Furlough Denied
Music producers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian returned to Evin Prison in Tehran on April 4, 2017 after their request for an extension of their seven-day temporary leave was denied by the judiciary, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/9/17

Iran, Russia Presidents and top generals Condemn U.S. 'Aggression' In Syria
The Russian and Iranian presidents have condemned in a phone call "aggressive" U.S. actions against Syria, the Kremlin says. Both Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rohani "noted the inadmissibility of U.S. aggressive actions against a sovereign state in violation of international law," the Kremlin said on April 9. - 4/9/17

Trump's Syria Strikes Don't Bode Well for Iran Policy
Twenty-four hours after launching missiles at Syria, Donald Trump's decision to increase America's bombing campaign in the Middle East has received much fanfare and little public debate. Regardless of whether these strikes are a one-off, the beginning of a more robust regime change effort, or something in between, over 25 years of uninterrupted U.S. bombing in the region highlights an inconvenient truth: For every action, there is a reaction. -Tyler Cullis and Reza Marashi, LobeLog - 4/9/17

The obscure religion that shaped the West
It has influenced Star Wars and Game of Thrones - and characters as diverse as Voltaire, Nietzsche and Freddy Mercury have cited it as an inspiration. So what is Zoroastrianism? Joobin Bekhrad finds out. -BBC - 4/9/17

PHOTOS: Iran's Moradi crosses finish line first in Tehran Marathon
Mohammad Jafar Moradi, who represented Iran at the 2016 Olympic Games, won the Tehran's first-ever marathon on Friday. The course took male runners from the Azadi Sports Complex through the Azadi square in western Tehran. Women ran separately, inside the Azadi sports complex, where Parisa Arab finished in first place in 10 kilometers race. - 4/7/17

Iranian Americans Use Tech to Count Their Impact in US
Pirooz Parvarandeh, a longtime Silicon Valley executive, saw a problem. Although he has lived in the United States for more than 40 years, he knew little about the contributions and accomplishments of Iranian Americans like himself. That lack of knowledge is widespread, he feared, and in his view makes Iranians in America more subject to stereotypes, discrimination and attacks. -Michelle Quinn, VOA - 4/7/17

Men and Women Required to Run Separately in Tehran's First International Marathon
Despite interest expressed by foreign female runners, participants in Tehran's first international marathon will be required to run separately based on their sex. The sudden change resulted in an admission by a sports official that the hijab-the head-to-toe Shia-Islamic dress code that all women in Iran are legally required to observe in public-is not always convenient. - 4/7/17

In Iran, Emerging Hard-Liner Stakes Future On Unseating Rohani
After weeks of speculation, Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran's wealthiest state charity, has officially announced his intention to run in the country's presidential vote next month. His candidacy could galvanize conservatives and pose a serious challenge to President Hassan Rohani, who campaigned in 2013 on reform pledges and has helped relative moderates make gains after years in the political wilderness. - 4/7/17

Iranian Political Prisoner Serving Seven Years Gets Additional 91 Days for IRGC Charges
An additional 91 days were added to civil rights activist Atena Daemi's seven-year prison sentence for her peaceful activism. The sentence was issued to Daemi and her two sisters after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responded to her complaint about their use of excessive force with a complaint of their own. - 4/7/17

Iranian-American Nilou Motamed Highlights Her Culture in Food & Wine Magazine
Iranian-American Nilou Motamed began her second year as editor-in-chief of Food & Wine, an American lifestyle magazine dedicated to covering new trends in food, drink, travel, design and entertaining. In an interview with VOA Persian journalist Saman Arbabi in New York, the 45-year-old Motamed explains how her Iranian roots inspired her not only to pursue success in the competitive U.S. media industry, but also to highlight Iranian culture through her magazine. -VOA - 4/7/17

BP says got US license to operate Rhum gas field jointly owned with Iran
UK's energy giant BP says it has received an authorization from the United States to go ahead with operating a gas field that it jointly owns in the North Sea with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). BP announced in a statement that it had obtained the authorization for the operation of Rhum gas field from the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department last September. - 4/7/17

Hungary, Iran to jointly build nuclear plant
Hungary says it is preparing to cooperate with Iran over the joint construction of a small nuclear plant. The announcement was made by Janos Lazar, the chief of staff of Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He emphasized that Hungary and Iran had already agreed over plans for the construction of the plant which he said would be designed for "scientific and educational purposes". - 4/7/17

Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on Detentions of Iranians
As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by recent arrests of Iranians visiting and studying in the United States. At least two Iranians are currently being held in custody by U.S. immigration authorities: Alia Ghandi and Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian. We implore authorities to ensure these individuals have ready access to legal counsel and insist they be promptly released from custody. - 4/6/17

Documenting the Contributions of Iranian Americans
Launched in 2016, the Iranian American's Contributions Project (IACP) applies software technologies to publicly available information to rigorously aggregate the many facets and contributions of the Iranian American community. Pirooz Parvarandeh is the founder and will describe this new approach and the results achieved to date. - 4/6/17

Hard-Line Cleric Raisi Announces Candidacy For Iranian President
Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric who heads one of Iran's wealthiest state charities, has announced his candidacy for the country's May 19 presidential election, Iranian news agencies report. Raisi, the custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, which oversees Iran's holiest shrine, announced his decision through his representative at a meeting of conservatives in the Iranian capital on April 6. - 4/6/17

Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers - Group D: Iran defeats Singapore 6-0
Hanoi: A sparkling performance from Sara Ghomi helped the Islamic Republic of Iran to a dominant 6-0 Group D win over Singapore on Wednesday, a victory which keeps alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup in Jordan. The richly deserved success was Iran's first in the qualifying tournament, following Monday's 2-0 campaign opening defeat at the hands of Myanmar. - 4/6/17

Book Launch and Reception - The Art of Altruism: Koorosh Shishegaran by Dr Hamid Keshmirshekan
Wednesday 26th April, 18 in London - Dr Hamid Keshmirshekan will give a brief presentation about his latest book, which looks at the work of acclaimed Iranian artist Koorosh Shishegaran, followed by a short film on Shishegaran's oeuvre. - 4/6/17

Momeni Foundation is accepting applications for the year 2017 Academic Scholarships
Momeni Foundation is dedicated to providing scholarships to graduating high school students and full time college students of Iranian descent anywhere in the world. Deadline for receiving the application material is June 30th, 2017. - 4/6/17

IRAN: Ahmadinejad says won't run for president, backs ex-vice president Baqaei
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has endorsed presumptive Principlist candidate Hamid Baqaei, who served as his vice president, for the next month's presidential election. "I do not plan to run for president. I support Hamid Baqaei as the most qualified candidate," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference on Wednesday. - 4/6/17

Iran has sold all oil stored at sea: Report
Oil market sources say Iran has sold all the oil it had stored at sea for years - a sign of the country's positive performance in marketing its vital crude oil supplies. Reuters in a report quoted tanker tracking and oil sources as saying that Iran had sold its last stocks from the floating storage in the past two weeks. Much of the oil stored was condensate, a very light grade of crude, it added. - 4/6/17

Casualties Reported After Strong Quake Hits Northeastern Iran
A magnitude-6.1 earthquake has struck near the northwestern Iranian city of Mashhad, reportedly killing at least two people and injuring several others. The quake struck nearly 80 kilometers southeast of Iran's second-biggest city at about 10:40 a.m. (0640 GMT/UTC) on April 5, the U.S. Geological Survey and Iranian media said. Reports said aftershocks shook the region. - 4/5/17

PHOTOS: RoboCup Iran Open 2017 kicks off in Tehran
The 12th edition of the international Robocop competitions (RoboCup Iran Open 2017) started on Tuesday at the Tehran Permanent International Fairground. Some 2,820 contestants from the United States, Germany, India, Japan, China, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Mexico, England, Turkey, Peru, and Iran will be competing during the 4-day event - 4/5/17

PHOTOS: Ancient city uncovered in Kerman, Iran after sandstorm
Heavy sandstorm in the city of Fahraj in Iran's Kerman province led to the emergence of a large part of an ancient city in the Negin desert. Pieces of pottery, bones and brick walls can be seen in the area. -Laleh Khajooei - 4/5/17

Five Iranian Baha'is Arrested in Isfahan Without Warrant on Unknown Charges
Five Baha'is were arrested at their homes in the city of Isfahan on March 28, 2017, Simin Fahandej, the faith's spokesperson at the United Nations in Geneva confirmed to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/5/17

IRAN: Rough Body Searches on Visiting Children Prompts Hunger Strike by Political Prisoner in Rajaee Shahr Prison
Political activist Jafar (Shahin) Eghdami shaved his head and went on a three-day hunger strike on March 30, 2017 to protest "children being bothered during body searches in the visitation halls" of Rajaee Shahr Prison, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/5/17

Bahrain Arms Sales Belie US Commitment to Human Rights
The New York Times reported last Thursday that the US State Department has decided to lift human rights as a condition for the sale of F-16 fighter jets and other weapons to Bahrain, a small, Sunni, family-ruled kingdom in the Persian Gulf. Ostensibly, the justification that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave for his decision was that Bahrain is a key ally in the fight against Iran-supported Houthis in Yemen. The US Navy Fifth Fleet is also home-ported in Bahrain. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 4/5/17

Saudi-Iranian Rivalry Spills Over to Europe
This increased Shia visibility, however, has triggered a reaction from Salafist circles that see in these activities a nefarious Iranian plot to promote Tehran's political agenda. It's also only one example of how the Saudi-Iranian rivalry has reached beyond the Middle East and into Europe. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 4/5/17

Iran's Aseman Airlines seals new $3B deal with Boeing for purchase of 60 planes
Iran has signed a new agreement with US aviation giant Boeing for buying dozens of the company's twinjet narrow-body passenger planes. The agreement involves the purchase of 30 Boeing 737 MAX planes as well as the purchase rights for an additional 30 planes of the same class. It was signed between Iran's Aseman Airlines and Boeing in Tehran, the country's IRNA news agency reported. - 4/4/17

Hunger-Striking Political Activist Detained Without Charge Writes Will in Tehran's Evin Prison
After 24 days on hunger strike in Evin Prison in Tehran, reformist political activist Hengameh Shahidi, detained without charge and denied legal counsel since March 9, 2017, has written a will, her mother told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 4/4/17

Supporters Mark One-Year Anniversary of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Imprisonment in Iran
Iranian-British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe never thought she would be detained by the Revolutionary Guards' Intelligence Organization when she and her 22-month-old daughter arrived at Tehran's international airport, on their way back home to the UK on April 3, 2016. One year later, the 38-year-old employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation is in Evin Prison's Women's Ward in Tehran serving a five-year sentence for unspecified "national security charges." - 4/4/17

35th Fajr Film Festival in Tehran: 140 films from 58 countries, 350 guests from 66 countries
The 35th edition of Fajr International Film Festival will take place from 21 to 28 April in Tehran, screening 140 film titles from 58 countries. Well over 350 guests from 66 countries will attend the 35th Fajr Internatioanl Film Festival (FIFF) in Tehran. Speaking to reporters, the festival spokesperson Alireza Shojanouri said there will be appearances from 31 Asian, 23 European, and 6 African countries. At least 5 special guests from the American continent and Australia will also participate. There will be celebrity guests from 24 Muslim nations as well. - 4/4/17

Iranian-American Sentenced To 18 Years For Espionage Released On Bail
A dual Iranian-American citizen sentenced to 18 years in prison for insulting the Islamic republic and engaging in espionage for the United States has been released on bail, two U.S. human rights groups said. Both groups said it was not immediately clear if Shahini could leave the country. - 4/4/17

Iran deal devised based on mistrust of U.S.: Foreign Minister Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says a multilateral deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 countries in 2015 was devised based on the Islamic Republic's mistrust of the United States. Iranian foreign minister said, "the two sides proceeded based on mutual mistrust and devised numerous [contingency] mechanisms." - 4/4/17

Investors from 37 countries active in Iran's capital market
Investors from the United States, Britain, Spain, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, China, the Netherlands, India, Turkey, Lebanon, South Africa, Japan, Cyprus, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Greece, Indonesia, Maldives, Hong Kong, Qatar, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Luxemburg, Kuwait, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Korea, Georgia, Armenia, and Afghanistan have initiated their activities in Iran's capital market. - 4/4/17

Feast of Sizedeh-beh-dar: symbol of equality, brother-sisterhood
The last day of Norooz (Persian New Year) Holidays, thought as inauspicious because of being held on the 13 day of the month, among other things is the ritual teaching equality, brother-sisterhood and paying respect to Mother Nature. - 4/3/17

Iran's Annual Foreign Trade Reach $87.68B
Iran's foreign trade volume reached 87.614 billion dollars in the previous Iranian calendar year (ended March 21) with the share of exports standing at 43.930 billion dollars. Iranians imported 43.684 billion dollars of goods in the meantime for the country to enjoy a slight trade surplus. - 4/3/17

In praise of Norooz: A glimpse at myths encircling Iranian New Year
Like many other ancient traditions, Persian New Year Norooz is associated with heroes of myths and legends that revolve around such a cherished festival in the Persian calendar. Ferdowsi (940-1020 CE), an illustrious Persian poet, in his book Shahnameh (a long epic poem translated as the Book of Kings) dates Norooz as far back to the reign of Jamshid, who in Zoroastrian texts saved mankind from a harsh winter that was destined to freeze the planet. - 4/3/17

The charming Qasr-e Khorshid (Sun Palace) in Iran's Razavi Khorasan Province
The 18th-century Qasr-e Khorshid (the Sun Palace) is a tourist destination in Razavi Khorasan Province, northeastern Iran. It was once a temporary home to the famed Afsharid ruler Nader Shah (r. 1736-1747) and his family. - 4/3/17

Iran biobank holds biospecimens from 6 countries
Director of the Iranian Biological Research Center (IBRC), Abolhassan Shahzadeh Fazli, told MNA that currently 33,000 biospecimen in 27 collections are being held at the center, adding each year the number of the biological laboratory specimens is increased by ten per cent. - 4/3/17

Iranians celebrate Sizdah Bedar nature festival by going outdoors
Iranian people are celebrating Sizdah Bedar, the traditional Persian festival of nature, by spending time outdoors with family and friends. The ancient Iranian festival was held on Sunday, which this year marks the 13th day of Farvardin the first month on the Persian calendar. - 4/2/17

Does the Road to Tehran really lie through Sana'a?
The Washington Post reports that "The Pentagon is looking to increase support for Saudi Arabia's two-year-old war against Houthi rebels in Yemen[. ...] The Pentagon views increased support for the Saudi-led coalition as one way of potentially pushing back against Iran's influence in Yemen, as well as shoring up ties with an ally that felt neglected by the previous administration." -James Spencer - 4/2/17

New Iran Sanctions Bills Could Kill the Nuclear Deal, Pave the Way to War
Congress is in an apparent race with the Trump administration to see who can pose the greater threat to the sustainability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)-the nuclear accord between the United States, other major world powers, and Iran. -Tyler Cullis, LobeLog - 4/2/17

Is it foolish for a woman to cycle alone across the Middle East?
When Rebecca Lowe set off solo from the UK for Iran by bicycle, her friends thought she had taken leave of her senses. But although she had to endure gropers, extreme heat and heavy-handed police, most of the people she met were a long way removed from stereotypes. -BBC - 4/2/17

28 Americans Among Runners Registered For Iran's First International Marathon
Organizers of Iran's first international marathon say 28 Americans are among runners from more than 50 countries who have registered so far to participate in the April 7 race. Officials on March 31 said women are invited to participate, provided they comply with Iran's Islamic dress code. Women were barred from a local marathon in the city of Shiraz last year. - 4/1/17

Iran Bans Female Billiards Players For Violating Islamic Codes Of Conduct
Iranian sports authorities say they have banned five female billiards players from competing for a year for allegedly violating Islamic codes of conduct during a tournament in China. The Iranian Billiards and Bowling Federation did not reveal the specific allegations, saying only that they would be announced at a later date. - 4/1/17

Total developing own Iran banking channels
French energy giant Total says it is trying to develop its own mechanism to carry out Iran-related banking transactions without falling afoul of US primary sanctions that still restrict doing financial activities with the Islamic Republic. - 4/1/17

Russia, Iran in deal over 12 Sukhoi Superjets: Report
Russia says there is a "concrete" agreement with Iran for purchasing 12 Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger planes. Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Sputnik news agency that the two countries had been negotiating over purchasing 100 Sukhoi Superjets for the past 18 months. However, Novak added, they were only able to reach a deal regarding 12 aircraft at the moment. - 4/1/17

Iran Rejects U.S. Terror Claim, Blames Saudi Arabia
Iran has rejected U.S. allegations that the Islamic republic continues to be a main sponsor of terrorism and suggested that the main source was its regional rival and U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi reacted on April 1, saying, "Some countries led by America are determined to ignore the main source of Takfiri-Wahhabi terrorism and extremism" - 4/1/17

Iran: Oil exports near record 3 million bpd
Iran's total exports of crude oil and gas condensate by Iran neared a record 3 million barrels per day (bpd) in the Persian month of Esfand which ended on March 20, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says. - 4/1/17
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