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US, Iran Meet Ahead of Nuclear Deadline
The top U.S. and Iranian diplomats are meeting in Switzerland in an attempt to hammer out a historic nuclear deal that could give international inspectors access to Iran's military sites and scientists. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif Saturday in a bid to overcome the remaining obstacles to a final nuclear agreement, a month ahead of a June 30 deadline for a deal between Tehran and world powers. - 5/30/15

Revamped Khomeini Shrine Shocks Even His Fans
Adebate has erupted over the merits of a grand expansion and renovation of a mausoleum to honor the late founder of Iran's Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, forcing an official defense of the project. - 5/30/15

Iranian teachers' group demands release of jailed executive member
The Iranian Teachers Association issued a statement on May 28 protesting the arrest of executive member Ali Akbar Baghbani for criticizing the government's reaction to teacher protests and demands. - 5/30/15

Iran wins international water polo title after beating Uruguay in final
Iran's national water polo team has won the 5th edition of the FINA World Men's Water Polo Development Trophy held in the Iranian capital of Tehran after overpowering their strong rivals Uruguay 13-5 in the final. - 5/30/15

The Eyes Have It: Iran's Health Minister Performs Surgery On Opposition Figures
In addition to working on Mehdi Karrubi, Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi also reportedly performed eye surgery on another outspoken critic of the Iranian regime, university professor Zahra Rahnavard. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/30/15

Iran's Parliament expresses concern over corruption in veterans agency
Iranian MPs maintain that corruption at the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs when former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in office was even greater than the corruption at the office of the Social Security Fund under Saeid Mortazavi. - 5/30/15

Americans watch as Iran sanctions crumble
The US government is warning against a rush for trade with Iran but US allies are not waiting for sanctions on Tehran to come down and the American media is taking note. France's ambassador to the US Gerard Araud says critics of the Iranian gold rush should recall that Iran's neighbors and its traditional trading partners in Europe have suffered far more from the sanctions than their American counterparts. - 5/30/15

Sepp Blatter reelected FIFA president amid scandal
Sepp Blatter has secured another term as the president of soccer's world governing body, FIFA, despite an ongoing scandal crippling the organization. Blatter won the highest seat in FIFA on Friday after his sole challenger Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan withdrew in the second round of voting. - 5/30/15

Iran Review Interview with Jim Lobe
Jim Lobe runs the political blog "Lobelog" where several major diplomats, authors and analysts write on the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the United States, particularly in the Middle East. He is the Washington Bureau Chief of the international news agency Inter Press Service and is widely cited for his critical analysis of the Iran-U.S. relations. -Kourosh Ziabari, LobeLog - 5/30/15

Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on Lindsey Graham's Remarks
As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by the sentiments expressed by Senator Lindsey Graham suggesting that all Iranians are "liars". There is no place in our political discourse for such comments and we call on Graham to immediately retract his remarks and apologize. - 5/29/15

Is Saudi Arabia's Assault on Yemen Just About Curtailing Iran's influence?
Its third war in Yemen cannot be seen in isolation from what Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has called Saudi Arabia's "quixotic sectarian war against Iran." In addition to disputing the strength of ties between the Houthis and Iran, several Western countries and above all the United States have expressed concern about the Saudi-led offensive's destructive aftermath and the empowerment of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). -Gabriele vom Bruck - 5/29/15

Iran liquidity 'tsunami' poses a dilemma
Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif says liquidity growth is in check but some economists warn of a "tsunami" of cash which is inundating the market. According to the governor, Iran saw off the year on March 21 with a 21.2% growth of liquidity which snowballed to around 7 trillion rials ($250 billion). - 5/29/15

Persian writer Reza Daneshvar Passes Away in Exile
Reza Daneshvar, the celebrated Persian writer, passed away in Paris on Wednesday, 27 May 2015 due to cancer. He was 68. Reza Daneshvar left Iran to live in France after the 1979 Islamic revolution in his homeland. He is the author of various famous Persian novels such as "Khosro-e Khooban" and "Namaz-e Meyyet". - 5/29/15

Iranian alcoholics fear punishment if they seek treatment
A former ministry of health official reports that Iran's legal penalties against alcohol consumption are preventing people from seeking help with addition. Barati said: "Fear of being flogged is keeping many alcoholics from seeking help at addiction treatment centres." - 5/29/15

Blast Targets Saudi Arabia Shi'ite Mosque
Saudi officials said at least four people were killed Friday in a bombing at a Shi'ite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia, the second such attack in the past week. The Islamic State group, which has tried to make inroads into the Sunni Muslim kingdom, claimed responsibility for that attack. - 5/29/15

Top US Iran Negotiator Departing Post
The lead U.S. negotiator in the Iran nuclear talks is leaving her post when they end. On Thursday, the State Department said Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for political affairs, will be "moving on" after the talks. - 5/29/15

Iran's pistachio under threat from US
Water shortage threatens Iran's pistachio crop, leaving the US to reassert itself as the biggest producer of the staple, head of the Iranian Pistachio Association Mohsen Jalalpour said on Friday. Iran, however, maintains the top position as the biggest pistachio exporter, he told the Mehr news agency. - 5/29/15

How Iran Can Help the US Sort Out Its Problems
Old Iran hands are familiar with the American record of assisting in the development of that country. Our major aid program ran until the late 1960s while a Peace Corps contingent remained into the mid-1970s. Their objective was teaching English and other technical skills. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 5/29/15

Iran hardliners crack down on freedom of speech
When Iranian pop star Mehdi Ahmadvand announced he would be playing two nights in the small south-western town of Mahshahr in May there was palpable excitement. Tickets for the 1,000-seat concert venue were snapped up fast. -Rana Rahimpour, BBC - 5/29/15

Does Obama Really Want an Agreement with Iran?
The framework agreement on Iran's nuclear file concluded in Lausanne on April 2, to be followed by completion of a comprehensive agreement by June 30, was an important achievement for Iran, the United States, and the other P5+ 1 negotiating parties. Now, however, a key question is whether President Obama truly wants an agreement, or whether he will pay agreement opponents such a price that he drives Iran away from the negotiating table. If that happens, all sides will lose. -Shireen T. Hunter - 5/28/15

Questions Surround June 30 Deadline for Iran Nuclear Deal
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet on Saturday to discuss the ongoing Iran nuclear negotiations. The meeting in Geneva comes as some parties in the talks are raising questions about whether negotiators will meet the end of June deadline for an agreement. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 5/28/15

Iranian FM Hopeful for Nuclear Deal
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Thursday he his hopeful Iran and a group of world powers can reach a final agreement on his country's nuclear program "within a reasonable period of time." But during a visit to Greece, Zarif also said an agreement will not happen if there are "excessive demands." Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry are scheduled to meet Saturday in Geneva to continue the high-level portion of the negotiations. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 5/28/15

Iranian MPs ask to meet with jailed tycoon about other fraud suspects
Forty Iranian MPs have called on the judiciary to arrange for them to meet with Babak Zanjani, the Iranian tycoon reportedly being held in Evin Prison on financial embezzlement charges. Soltani told Shargh that the MPs have urged the judiciary to publicize the identities of the major players in this case, which he said involved "a large network". - 5/28/15

IDF Chiefs: Nuclear Deal Could Enhance Israel's Security Position
Iran poses an existential threat to Israel and is the biggest security concern for the Jewish state. This mantra is constantly repeated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, congressional opponents of the White House's Iran diplomacy, and Republican presidential hopefuls, several of whom have been competing to stake out the most extreme policy positions vis-a-vis Iran. But one key group of experts doesn't buy into that threat assessment: namely, the heads of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 5/28/15

Iran: Education Ministry asks Judiciary to pardon jailed teachers
Iran's Ministry of Education says it has written to the judiciary to call for a general pardon of all jailed teachers. Iranian teachers across the country have been staging demonstrations to protest their low wages and to demand the release of their colleagues. - 5/28/15

Dozens of Iranians arrested in Pardis for going to "corruption center" party
Forty-seven women and 42 men were arrested in Pardis suburb of Tehran for attending a party, the Shahrvand daily reported on Wednesday May 27. - 5/28/15

Amano says Iran deal could include military sites access
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says a potential deal between Iran and international powers on Tehran's nuclear program should grant the agency a right to inspect the country's military sites. - 5/28/15

Iran: Internet dating website launched by state
With a high rate of divorce among a large, youthful population, authorities in Iran have stepped in to play Cupid with the launch of a state-run internet dating website. -Nassim Hatam, BBC - 5/28/15

US Urges Greater Transparency in Journalist's Trial in Iran
The United States is pressing Iran for more information about Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who went on trial Tuesday on charges including espionage. The State Department, human rights advocates and Rezaian's family have expressed concerns about Iran's lack of transparency in the case. - 5/27/15

Iran's Anti-Semitism: Irrational or Irrelevant?
Last week, the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg published an interview with President Obama. It's a fascinating read, and Goldberg's write-up as well as the full transcript are entirely worth your time. The interview focuses on Obama's Middle East policies and, for an area where, in general, those policies are not going so well (a gross understatement), Obama has a firm grasp of the topics at hand. -Ali Gharib - 5/27/15

Iran's Persepolis bids farewell to AFC Champion League after loss to Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal
Iran's Persepolis lost to Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal 3-0 in the AFC Champions League's round of 8. Suffered from a late defeat to Persepolis in Tehran, Al-Hilal won the Iranian club team 3-0 Tuesday night in Riyadh's King Fahad Stadium. - 5/27/15

Iranian Cartoon Contest Lampoons IS, Alleged Backers
These are just some of the cartoons displayed at an exhibition launched in several Tehran art galleries over the weekend that highlights atrocities committed by Islamic State (IS) militants -- and accuses the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia of backing the Sunni-led extremist fighters. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/27/15

Iran brings sweet treat to 100 countries
Iran has its own treat recipe for chocolate lovers and clients in more than 100 countries have a sweet tooth for Iranian candies. As the supplies are tucked in with great relish, the industry keeps a low profile but secretary of the Chocolate, Sweets and Biscuits Association Jamshid Maghazei says Iran's chocolate sales outstrip twice its car exports in value. - 5/27/15

IRGC tests speedboats cruising at 110 knots per hour
The commander of the naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the forces have tested indigenous speedboats that can cruise at 110 knots (203 kilometers) per hour. Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi made the remarks during a national conference on the development and construction of speedboats in Tehran on Tuesday. - 5/27/15

The Persian dream: An in-depth look at the Iranian startup scene
In our haste to keep looking East for new tech frontiers, we forget the burgeoning innovations coming out of Middle East, like Iran -e27 - 5/27/15

Rouhani clashes with Iranian clergy over women arrested for 'bad hijab'
In his remark last year that "you can't send people to heaven by the whip", President Rouhani expressed a belief that citizens should not be forced into "good" behaviour, and in two recent speeches he skirted the issue of hijab, provoking a critical response from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, and from senior members of the clergy. -Guardian - 5/27/15

The forgotten land of colours: a trip through Iran's Persian Gulf
Colourful mountains in shades of pink, red, purple and yellow overlook shorelines where turtles and flamingos roam or sunbathe. This is Hormuz island in the Persian Gulf, the mostly forgotten land of colours in the Strait of Hormuz, 5km from the mainland, and southeast of Bandar Abbas, major port and capital of the province of Hormuzgan. -Guardian - 5/27/15

Spy Trial of Washington Post Reporter Begins in Iran
The espionage trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian began Tuesday in Iran with the proceedings closed to the public, and ended about two hours later, according to news media. The state-run IRNA news agency said the trial was being held in a Revolutionary Court, which typically hears cases involving national security. - 5/26/15

Psychologist Rejects the 12 Million Figures but Agrees: Iranian Society Suffers from Depression and Leans Towards Violence
A member of Iran's parliamentary committee on health and treatment announced that 12 million Iranians suffer from mental illnesses and added, "But despite the large number of individuals with mental issues, there are only 40,000 hospital beds for them." In the past too, many other specialists had spoken of a shortage of beds and other facilities needed for those suffering from psychological illnesses. -Niusha Saremi - 5/26/15

Paper: US investors visit Tehran Stock Exchange
A foreign delegation of asset managers, including Americans, have visited Tehran Stock Exchange for the second time in recent weeks as interest is building in a country being billed as the latest attractive emerging market. - 5/26/15

Iran opens caricature exhibition on ISIL
Iran inaugurated a caricature exhibition on ISIL (Islamic Caliphate). The exhibition has already invited participants to send their caricatures on ISIL. 1072 works by 356 artists from 43 countries were sent to the secretariat of the exhibition. - 5/26/15

Tehran-Moscow talks on S-300 successful: Iran official
"Negotiations on the delivery of the S-300 [missile system] to Iran has been successful", Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Monday during a press conference after a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov in the Russian capital, Moscow. - 5/26/15

A Missed Nonproliferation Opportunity
Last week the latest quinquennial review conference for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) ended as a failure, without issuing a formal statement or report. The single biggest snag concerned whether to call for the convening of a conference on a Middle Eastern nuclear weapons free zone (MENWFZ). -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 5/26/15

Israel and Iran: So much in common
Israel has much to learn from its adversary about controlling its citizens' social media habits, but it's going in the 'right' direction. -Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz - 5/26/15

New 'Silk Road' could alter global economics
Beginning with the marvelous tales of Marco Polo's travels across Eurasia to China, the Silk Road has never ceased to entrance the world. Now, the ancient cities of Samarkand, Baku, Tashkent, and Bukhara are once again firing the world's imagination. -USA Today - 5/26/15

NIAC Condemns Senator Graham's Racist Statement, Demands Apology
The National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization in the United States, strongly condemns Senator Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) comments that "Iranians are liars" and demands an apology to the Iranian-American community. - 5/25/15

How the Uncertain Outcome of Nuclear Talks with Iran Has Taken Its Economy Hostage
I recently returned from a six-week trip to Iran. While the primary purpose of my trip was to visit family and friends, I also made some general enquiries into the state of the country's stagnant economy. These included informal discussions with various strata of economic agents or market players: manufacturers, bankers, shopkeepers, miners, farmers, livestock breeders, workers, teachers, and more. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 5/25/15

US did nothing to stop Ramadi fall to ISIL: Iranian Commander Soleimani
Soleimani, who is the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps' Quds Force, said that while the Ain al-Asad air base hosting US fighter jets was very close to Ramadi, the American military forces took no action to stop the ISIL militants fighting to take over the Iraqi city. - 5/25/15

Iran raises penalties for hunting endangered species
Iran's Department of the Environment reports that new changes to wildlife protection laws include significantly higher fines for hunting protected species. The head of Hunting and Fishing reports that poachers will pay 100 million toumans for hunting the Asiatic cheetah and 80 million toumans for hunting the Persian leopard. - 5/25/15

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe
Iranian Afshin Ghaffarian dreams of becoming a dancer from a young age. He hacks into YouTube and watches dancers like Michael Jackson and Rudolf Nureyef. But dancing is illegal in the Islamic Republic. Desert Dancer by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of Ghaffarian and his friends, who form an underground dance troupe in an abandoned building. -Penelope Poulou, VOA - 5/25/15

Does Iran Control Iraq?
Saudi, Israeli and US neoconservative voices warn us tirelessly that Iran's imperial sway has now come to dominate the governments of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and now Yemen, and still threatens Bahrain. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 5/25/15

Iran scraps subsidized gasoline allowance
Iranian motorists will see a monthly allotment of 60 liters of subsidized gasoline canceled from Tuesday. From Tuesday, every driver will pay 35 cents per liter at gas stations, officials said. - 5/25/15

Iran: Female activists meet to protest Mohammadi's arrest, women's problems
In an initiative by the Association of Women Citizens, a group of Iranian women calling themselves the "Friends of Nargess Mohammadi" gathered at the Tehran home of the prominent human rights activist to express their concern about her health in prison. - 5/23/15

The GCC Summit: A Missed Opportunity
While hailing the so-called "framework agreement" on the nuclear deal with Iran reached in Lausanne on 2 April 2015 as a great political achievement, President Barack Obama also announced that he would invite the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders to Washington and to Camp David to inform them about the deal and allay their fears. -Farhang Jahanpour - 5/23/15

Iran government permits 'unofficial' US trade link
The Iranian government has given the green light to private business owners to forge trade ties with their American counterparts, an official said on Saturday. Head of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Gholamreza Shafei said the government had "advised" for initial connection between the two countries' private sectors before formal trade links could take shape. - 5/23/15

UN Says Iranian Aid Boat For Yemen Offloaded In Djibouti
United Nations officials in the port of Djibouti say they have taken charge of aid cargo carried by an Iranian boat that was headed for war-torn Yemen. The vessel -- the Iran Shahed -- was carrying 2,500 tons of food aid for Yemen that will now be distributed by the UN World Food Program. - 5/23/15

Iranian students starting to use drugs at lower age
Iran's Drug Control Headquarters report that the age when Iranian students start to use drugs is now as low as 15. Hamid Serami, a spokesman for the Drug Control office, told the Seda va Sima network that one percent of the country's school age children are addicted to drugs. - 5/23/15

Obama Prioritizes Security over Democracy in Middle East
In an impressively detailed report on the president's budget request for FY2016, experts at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) make it clear that President Obama has prioritized the security of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East over domestic political reform. -Henry Johnson, LobeLog - 5/23/15

Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi banished to exile after completing prison term
Ahmad Zeidabadi, a jailed Iranian journalist who reached the end of his prison term on Thursday May 21, was immediately transferred to Gonabad to serve out the exile portion of his sentence. - 5/22/15

Iranian Writer Prosecuted for Facebook Posts Critical of State Censorship
Authorities in Iran are prosecuting another writer on national security charges for signing statements and writing posts that criticized state censorship on the Facebook page of the Iranian Writers' Association. - 5/22/15

US sanctions airlines for selling jets to Iran
The US government has imposed sanctions on two aviation companies in Iraq and the UAE for selling used commercial aircraft to Iran. The Treasury Department designated Iraq-based Al-Naser Airlines and Sky Blue Bird Aviation in the United Arab Emirates as sanctions violators. - 5/22/15

PAAIA Hosts a Collaborative Dialogue between the Iranian and American Medical and Public Health Communities
In support of increased collaboration between the medical and public health communities of the United States and Iran, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is hosting a luncheon today that brings together two Chancellors from Iran's leading medical/health universities with distinguished Iranian American doctors from the New York Metropolitan area. - 5/22/15

Iranian exiles respond in unexpected ways to idea of U.S.-Iran nuclear talks
After years of staying aloof from public debate, Iranian Americans - one of the nation's most affluent and educated immigrant groups -- are emerging as an unexpected and articulate constituency for U.S. diplomatic engagement with the ayatollahs. -Pamela Constable, Washington Post - 5/22/15

Exxon lobbies US government on Iran sanctions
Exxon Mobil is reported to have stationed lobbyists to push the envelope on Iran sanctions with the US government as Western companies are jostling for access to the Middle East country's massive oil and gas fields. - 5/22/15

Iranian cultural official fired after ancient hill is destroyed in Dezfool
The head of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism in Dezfool has been dismissed for failing to protect the ancient hills of Chogha Mish against the adverse effects of development. - 5/22/15

Much More Is Needed From Iran Hawks to Oppose a Nuclear Deal
Senate hawks like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) do not like diplomacy with Iran. Graham has repeatedly threatened war with Iran, whereas Kirk prefers to starve the Iranian people. Yet, given that most Americans do not want another military adventure in the Middle East, and largely support a negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, the hawks are pivoting. -Ryan Costello, NIAC - 5/22/15

Putting Strategic Interests First with Iran
It is striking how often opponents of a nuclear agreement with Iran resort to an ethical non-sequitur. They are fond of arguing that, because the Iranian government tortures political prisoners or supports entities that commit violent acts for political ends, the same government is bound to breach whatever non-proliferation pledges it may offer. -Peter Jenkins - 5/21/15

Iran, P5+1 begin 2nd day of nuclear talks in Vienna
Representatives from Iran and the P5+1 group of countries have opened the second day of a new round of nuclear talks in the Austrian capital, Vienna. The nuclear negotiations on Thursday were held at two different levels in the Austrian capital city. - 5/21/15

President Rouhani stresses Iran's peace discourse
Iran's President Rouhani restated his policy of peace and dialogue on Wednesday. Addressing a meeting of businessmen and investors in Tabriz, capital of the East Azerbaijan Province, President Rouhani restated his policy of peace and dialogue on Wednesday. - 5/21/15

Was the US-GCC Summit Worth It?
It is too early to judge whether the results of last week's summit between President Barack Obama and leaders of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will become "footprints on the sands of time." The summit did achieve what Obama most needed--the Arabs' formal endorsement of the P5+1 talks with Iran on the latter's nuclear program. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 5/21/15

Iran opens its largest glass production plant
Iran has launched a glass fabrication plant described as the country's largest, with President Hassan Rouhani calling on local producers to raise their competitiveness. Sahand Float Company in Tabriz in northwestern Iran will produce 220,000 tonnes of flat glass per year for building, automotive, security and decoration use. - 5/21/15

US architect of Iran economic isolation warns sanctions could backfire
Richard Nephew, a former senior US official who was instrumental in constructing the global sanctions wall around Iran, is now warning that Washington's fondness for sanctions as a foreign policy tool could have serious repercussions for the US. -Julian Borger, Guardian - 5/21/15

Threat of 'Snapback' Could Limit Firms' Iran Deals
At the heart of the recent deal between the U.S. and other powers and Iran over its nuclear program is the issue of how and when sanctions will be removed. The Obama administration has described a deal that would see economic sanctions removed only if Iran is abiding by its commitments to restrict its nuclear activity. -Teresa Welsh, US News - 5/21/15

Graham Turns To Iran Hawks For Campaign Funding
Last time I wrote about Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) impending presidential campaign, Graham was feeding anti-Semitic tropes over a glass of Riesling, telling the Wall Street Journal that he "may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding." -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 5/21/15

Iran builds Mideast's highest swing bridge
Iran has unveiled the Middle East's highest suspension bridge in the lap of nature in the northwestern Ardabil province, known for its magnificent pastures, hot mineral springs and towering mountains. The bridge over the river of Khiyav Chai in Meshginshhar is 345 meters long, suspended 80 meters above the ground. - 5/20/15

U.S., Iranian Warships Shadowing Cargo Ship Near Yemen
Iran has sent two warships to accompany an Iranian cargo boat delivering humanitarian aid to Yemen, and the United States has sent warships to shadow the Iranians. Those were the intriguing developments May 19 as the Iranian ships neared the Yemeni port of Hodaida, where Iran has insisted they will unload their cargo. - 5/20/15

Iran's Supreme Leader: No Access to Scientists, Military Sites
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday Tehran would not accept "unreasonable demands" by world powers during negotiations over its disputed nuclear program, including giving international inspectors access to his country's scientists or military sites. - 5/20/15

Israel ordered to pay Iran $1.1 billion: Report
An Israeli oil company has been ordered by a Swiss court to pay $1.1 billion to Iran in compensation in a long-standing legal battle related to a joint venture before the Islamic Revolution, the IRNA news agency says. - 5/20/15

Critic of Iran's Supreme Leader to spend another year in solitary
Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent political prisoner and former deputy interior minister, was not released at the end of his six-year sentence and has to serve another sentence. The Human Rights Activists News Agency reported on Monday that Tajzadeh's six-year prison sentence has ended. - 5/20/15

NEGIN: A Play in Farsi at Stanford University
Published in 2005, Negin potrays the predicament of women in contemporary Iran. It is the saga of a young woman put on trial by those who love her dearly. It is the tale of a society that, with good intentions, pushes its victims to the verge of destruction and then blames them for their suffering. - 5/20/15

Iranian prisons inquiry in peril after MPs meet with security officials
Only days after Parliament announced that it would conduct an inquiry into the state of prisons across the country, there is talk of canceling the initiative. - 5/20/15

Moving the Fifth Fleet from Bahrain?
The US Naval Support base on Bahrain is the headquarters of Central Command's naval arm (NAVCENT) as well as the US Fifth Fleet, so it's a pretty important place as far as the US Navy is concerned. This poses some geopolitical problems for the US, insofar as it ties America in a mutual arrangement to a government, Bahrain's Khalifa monarchy, whose human rights performance is, to put it charitably, dismal. -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 5/20/15

"Nahid" director denies connection with "A Separation"
"Nahid" director Ida Panahandeh has denied the existence of any connection between the leading character in her movies with that in Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning drama "A Separation". Nahid is competing with 18 other movies in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes film festival. - 5/19/15

Young Iranian Activist Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Facebook Postings and Peaceful Protest
A young civil activist who has been held at Evin Prison since October 2014 has been sentenced to seven years in prison at her interrogator's urging, a source close to the case told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, for her Facebook postings and her participation in peaceful gatherings. - 5/19/15

Iraqi Battle Plans Altered By IS Capture Of Ramadi
The capture of the Iraqi Sunni city of Ramadi by Islamic State (IS) militants has fundamentally changed how war is being waged against the extremists in Iraq's Sunni areas. As long as government forces had controlled Ramadi, the pro-government Sunni tribal leaders of Anbar Province were opposed to the presence of Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia in the area. -RFE - 5/19/15

Iran spells out conditions for US oil firms
An official says Iran's oil and gas is open to American investment but US companies have to tie up with Iranian companies under certain terms."From the government's standpoint, there is no limitation for oil investment by the Americans in Iran," deputy Minister of Petroleum Amir Hossein Zamaninia said, the Mehr news agency reported. - 5/19/15

Iran: Basij Militia Unveils Messaging App that Gives State Access to All Conversations
The Basij paramilitary organization, a subsidiary of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), announced the launch of its new messaging service for mobile phones, "Salam," which will give state officials full access to any content flowing across the service. - 5/19/15

Iranians puff on US 'cancer sticks'
Iranians puff on 65 billion sticks of cigarette a year, leaving families with a bill of more than $200 million in medical expenses. Contraband supplies have a big share in the bad habit. According to official figures, 24 billion sticks are smuggled into the country with US brands being in high demand. - 5/19/15

In a Middle East racked by turmoil Iranians have fallen in love with stability
Iranians look at turmoil across the Middle East and North Africa and claim they recognise the benefits they enjoy at home now -Middle East Eye - 5/19/15

Artist Shirin Neshat Captures Iran's Sharp Contrasts In Black And White
Shirin Neshat, the most famous contemporary artist to come from Iran, is playing with her rambunctious Labrador puppy in her airy Manhattan apartment. "Ashi, Ashi, come here!" she calls. The puppy is black. Neshat's apartment is white - white floors, white bookshelves and a long, white leather couch. -Neda Ulaby, NPR - 5/19/15

Saudi Arabia resumes Yemen bombardment as conference discusses peace
The Saudi-led coalition has resumed air strikes on Yemen, bombing Adan on the night of Sunday night May 17. The air strikes were halted for five days to allow delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians. - 5/19/15

Top aide to Iran's leader meets Syria's Assad, pledges support
A top aide to Iran's leader met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday, footage on Syrian state television showed, underlining firm Iranian support for Damascus as it faces mounting pressure from insurgents in a four-year-old civil war. -Reuters - 5/19/15

Iranian Parliamentarians Discover Brussels
In 2010, when Iran's then-minister of foreign affairs Manouchehr Mottaki visited the European Parliament in Brussels, he was greeted by protests from MPs. Some of them, known for their close links with the exiled Iranian dissident group Mojaheddeen-e Khalk (MEK), carried the picture of Neda Soltan, a young Iranian woman killed during the protests following the fraudulent presidential elections of 2009. -Eldar Mamedov - 5/18/15

Farhang Hosts Its Largest Nowruz Extravaganza To Date
With a record breaking 10,000 plus visitors at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on Sunday, March 22, 2015, Farhang Foundation's 7th Annual Nowruz (The Iranian New Year) Celebration in collaboration with LACMA was the Foundation's largest Nowruz celebration since inception. - 5/18/15

Iran confident of quick oil output recovery
Deputy Oil Minister Rokneddin Javadi says Iran's oil exports could return to the pre-sanctions level over a period of three or four months. Talking to IRNA in Kuala Lumpur, the official said Iran must ramp up production to four million barrels per day, of which 2.3 million to 2.5 million bdp would go to exports. - 5/18/15

Iranian Parliament to investigate unregulated detention centers
Those detention centres are often run by a number of security institutions dealing with political prisoners and they are often accused by human rights activists of mistreating detainees. - 5/18/15

Congress Votes on Iran
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting (long) excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about the Corker-Cardin bill. -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 5/18/15

Portraits of Young Men and Women Affected by Iran's Marriage Crisis
For Life Alone, Tehran-based photographer Majid Farahani takes an intimate and humanizing glimpse at the decreasing rate of marriage in Iran, focusing his gaze not on the statistics but on the young people whose lives are directly affected by what some are calling the country's "marriage crisis." -Feature Shoot - 5/18/15

Iran plans massive rail network
Iran wants to splurge up to $8 billion over the next six years to expand its rail network, Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Netmatzadeh said. The country is struggling to catch up with its runaway urbanization which has generated daunting challenges both for the state planners and the populace. - 5/18/15

Israeli Defense Minister Invokes Hiroshima and Nagasaki In Response to Iran Question
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem nearly two weeks ago, the Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon invoked the American decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan in World War II in response to a question about "dealing with a threat like Iran." -Ali Gharib - 5/17/15

Iranian-American Artist Farrin Rahimi at Silicon Valley Open Studios
Every creation is a journey. Along that road, you will feel, you will think, you will go up and down and even will go to the point of forgetting it all. But that will never change the existence of the original seed. So it might go away, but eventually will come back if you are not done with it in any form. - 5/17/15

Iranian Cargo Ship Enters Gulf of Aden On Route To Yemen
An Iranian-flagged cargo ship that is bound for Yemen in defiance of U.S. warnings has entered the Gulf of Aden and is expected to reach port on May 21. Iranian authorities say the vessel, the Iran Shahed, is carrying 2,500 tons of urgently needed aid - including flour, rice, canned food, medical supplies, and bottled water. Passengers on the ship include doctors, journalists, and antiwar activists from the United States, France, and Germany. - 5/17/15

Two Faulty Objections to an Iran Deal
The closing months of an Iran nuclear deal were always bound to bring a hailstorm of criticisms from opponents of diplomacy. Well, it's happening -- and maybe "hail" isn't the right kind of storm: critics of a deal seem be throwing shit up against a wall and seeing what they can get to stick. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 5/17/15

Iran's Supreme Leader slams Saudis for bombing Yemen
Iran`s Supreme Leader has referred to the Saudi attacks on Yemen, saying: "We are all neighbours. Security in the Persian Gulf is in everyone's interest. If it is secure, we will reap the benefits; if it is insecure, it will cause insecurity for everyone." - 5/16/15

Iranian Officials Re-Affirm Facebook Will Remain Completely Blocked in Iran
Despite the Iranian government's stated intention to move towards the selective blocking of Internet content ("smart filtering"), a top government official proclaimed that the social networking giant Facebook would continue to be completely blocked in Iran. - 5/16/15

One female allowed into stadium to watch Iranian soccer favourites
There was only one female spectator in Azadi Stadium for the 80th match-up between Iran's two most popular soccer teams, Persepolis and Esteghlal, and she was a documentary filmmaker attending the game in connection with her work. - 5/16/15

Tehran's Friday Prayer Leader Calls On Saudis To Rise Up
Tehran's temporary Friday Prayers leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, has called on Saudi citizens to rise up against their country's rulers and to speak out against their "crimes." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/16/15

Digital age poses a new challenge to Iran's relentless book censors
Writers and translators turn to internet to publish their work - and to avoid the anonymous scrutineers who remove words such as 'kiss' and 'wine' -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 5/16/15

House Passes Bill To Let Congress Review Iran Nuclear Deal
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation that would let Congress review any potential deal to curb Iran's nuclear program before sanctions are lifted. The vote was 400-25, and came one week after the Senate passed the same measure by a vote of 98-1. -Cindy Saine, VOA - 5/15/15

"No Books, No Book Fair," Says Publisher of Banned Books
Iranian publisher Shahla Lahiji has boycotted the annual Tehran International Book Fair for the fourth year running, to protest the government's refusal to issue licenses to her publishing house. "Since 2014, I have suggested 55 books for publication, but none of them have been issued a license. .." - 5/15/15

Tehran's derelict rich kids have toys taken
Rich kids behind the wheels on their glamorous toys are no longer off the hook. Tehran police say they have impounded 850 luxury cars for speeding and other traffic-related violations in a space of just two weeks. Erratic driving by the children of the nouveau riche has become a serious nuisance, prompting public outcry on the social media. - 5/15/15

Iran Fires Shots At Cargo Ship In The Persian Gulf
U.S. officials say Iranian patrol ships fired warning shots over a Singapore-flagged cargo vessel in the Persian Gulf on May 14. The Alpine Eternity is involved in a financial dispute with Tehran, the officials said. The ship on March 22 accidentally struck an Iranian oil platform, damaging it. - 5/15/15

Saudi Arabia--This is Leadership?
President Obama has good reason to try to reassure GCC leaders this week at Camp David that America has not abandoned them; they represent an important economic force. But they cannot, as constituted, represent a positive force for leadership in the region. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 5/15/15

Studies of Ancient Iran Receive Support from Farhang Foundation
Farhang Foundation, a non-religious, non-political and not-for-profit foundation established in 2008 to celebrate and promote Iranian art and culture, has generously pledged to support UC Irvine's Sasanika: Late Antique Iran Project with a yearly, recurring gift. - 5/15/15

Currying Favor at Camp David
As crown princes and other leaders of Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf meet this week with President Obama, the first thing to keep in mind as background to this encounter is a truth that the president spoke last month in an interview with Tom Friedman of the New York Times. The president observed that the biggest threats those Arab countries face "may not be coming from Iran invading. It's going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries"..-Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 5/15/15

MTV viewers get a dose of Iranian politics
Documentary highlights plight of musicians, including one who fled Iran after being labelled a 'devil worshipper' and flogged -Peyvand Khorsandi, Guardian - 5/15/15

14 Iranian fishermen held by Somalia militants: Officials
Al-Shabab militants are holding 14 crew members of an Iranian fishing boat they seized off the coast of Somalia, two Iranian officials say. "Now, the 14 crew members of this vessel are in captivity and a number of al-Shabab group members are on board the fishing boat," Hassan Salehi, head of Iran's Fisheries Organization, told IRIB on Thursday. - 5/15/15

Iranian diplomat reports progress and snag at nuclear talks
The Iranian nuclear negotiation team arrived in Vienna on Tuesday May 12 to begin the new round of talks with the 5+1 representatives. Abbas Araghchi, a senior member of the Iranian delegation, told reporters in Vienna that the parties have reached consensus on a significant part of the agreement. - 5/14/15

"Vote for Peace..."
Join NIAC's #Vote4Peace campaign to ensure Congress does not vote to kill an Iran deal that prevents war, prevents nukes, and lifts sanctions that hurt ordinary Iranians. - 5/14/15

'Why Nations Fail' Among Works Seized At Tehran Book Fair
Several books have already been confiscated from one of Iran's largest cultural events, the annual Tehran International Book Fair, which kicked off last week. They include Why Nations Fail, a 2012 treatise by Daren Acemoglu and James Robinson that examines why some nations are rich while others are poor, and argues that "it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success" or failure. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/14/15

Family Says Journalist Jailed in Iran Meets With Lawyer
The family of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who is jailed in Iran facing espionage charges, says he has finally been allowed to meet with his attorney, just ahead of the soon-expected start of his trial. - 5/14/15

Obama Hosts Gulf Summit with Focus on Iran, Regional Conflicts
President Barack Obama and senior officials from six Gulf nations are continuing their summit Thursday on issues in the Middle East, including a potential nuclear deal with Iran and the fighting in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya. - 5/14/15

Iran's New Search Engine Denies Access to Political or Human Rights Content on Internet
A new Internet search engine developed by the Iranian government, Parsijoo, has been designed to keep Iranian users from accessing any political or human rights-related content. - 5/14/15

Reza Abbasi Museum's Documents Burned in Tehran
Documents and letters in the archives of the Reza Abbasi Museum in Tehran are reported to have been burned. Remains of the burned documents were found in the street by one of the staff members. - 5/14/15

Khuzestan wetland shrinks drastically due to oil extraction
Three-fifths of the Hour-ol-Azim wetlands have dried out due to non-standard oil extraction. Jasem Marmazi, the Khuzestan governor's advisor on environmental issues, told ISNA that the Oil Company's recent oil-extraction activities are the chief reason that the Hour-ol-Azm Wetlands are drying out. - 5/14/15

US-GCC Summit: Agenda Overload, Leaders at Odds
Statements after the current summit between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will likely be upbeat. But they will obscure the difficult-to-resolve tensions during the May 13-14 talks. Iranian nuclear diplomacy will be central. -Wayne White, LobeLog - 5/14/15

Silence Did Not Protect Farinaz Khosravani
Audre Lorde, feminist scholar of 1970s once said, "Your silence will not protect you" and women globally know this reality. While gender justice has moved closer from margin to the center of global agenda particularly during the last 40 years, still patriarchal power structure is deep rooted in many parts of the world. -Elahe Amani, Safe World for Women - 5/14/15

Iranian poet Mohammad Ali Sepanlou passes away at 75
Prominent Iranian poet and literary critic Mohammad Ali Sepanlou passed away yesterday night in Jam hospital in Tehran. May his soul rest in peace. Born in 1940 in Tehran, Sepanlou, graduated from Tehran University's Faculty of Law in 1963. He was one of the founding members of the Writers Association of Iran. - 5/13/15

Iraqi President In Tehran For Official Visit
Iraqi President Fuad Masum has arrived in the Iranian capital for an official visit expected to focus on the fight against the Islamic State (IS) extremist group and on economic relations. - 5/13/15

Iranian Ship Heading to Yemen
A U.S. defense official Tuesday urged an Iranian ship purportedly carrying aid to Yemen to change course and head to Djibouti, where the United Nations is overseeing humanitarian deliveries. -Carla Babb, VOA - 5/13/15

'The Iranians Are Coming!'
"The Iranians are coming!" That was the conviction widely and vehemently expressed by Arab intellectuals and activists at the Ninth Annual Al Jazeera Forum in Doha, Qatar, last week. Iranian diplomats were greeted with skepticism and hostility at the annual gathering of journalists, policy-makers, and media professionals from across the Arab world. There was widespread suspicion, moreover, that the United States is increasingly on the side of Iran. -Juan Cole, Nation - 5/13/15

Basij Militias Will Run 2000 Child Care Centers, 25% of All Day Care in Iran
Iran's Welfare Organization will allow the Revolutionary Guard's volunteer paramilitary arm, the Basij, to establish and operate 2,000 child care centers, which would comprise 25% of all day care facilities in the country. The move reflects a growing preoccupation with what is perceived by officials as Iranian youths' lack of interest in conforming to strict hijab (female dress) and general Islamic values. - 5/13/15

Iran Nuclear Chief Has Emergency Surgery
Iranian state media reports that the country's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, who has played a major role in recent talks with world powers, has had emergency surgery for a perforated bowel. - 5/13/15

The Glimmers of a New Afghanistan?
I went to Kabul, Afghanistan, in March to see old friends. By chance, I arrived the day after a woman had been beaten to death and burned by a mob of young men. The world would soon come to know her name: Farkhunda. -Ann Jones, LobeLog - 5/13/15

Rich kids of Iran face backlash after fatal Porsche crash sparks anger at antics of capital's elite
Dozens of luxury cars seized by police after accident shines a light on the habits of country's new conspicuously wealthy generation -Robert Tait, Telegraph - 5/13/15

Iranian Shareholders blame government, exchange for stock market losses
A number of Iranian shareholders gathered in front of the Tehran Stock Exchange on Monday to protest the investment losses they have suffered due to a steep fall in share prices. - 5/12/15

Iranian Professors Urge Government To Butt Out
Agroup of 700 Iranian university teachers have sent a letter to the government calling for an end to what they say is "unprecedented interference" in the internal affairs of universities. - 5/12/15

U.S. Senate Calls On Iran To Free Jailed Americans
The U.S. Senate May 11 unanimously passed a resolution calling on Iran to release three jailed Americans and help locate a fourth. The lawmakers urged Iran to free Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, and Jason Rezaian, and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran eight years ago. - 5/12/15

Teacher Protests Sweep Iran despite Threats by Officials Not to Participate
Another nationwide protest by Iranian teachers swept through dozens of cities throughout Iran on May 7, with thousands taking to the streets to draw attention to wages that are below the poverty line. - 5/12/15

Ship carrying Iranian emergency supplies leaves for Yemen
2,500 tons of Iranian contributions to the oppressed Yemeni nation loaded on Iran Shahed Khorramshahr Ship began sailing towards Yemeni coasts early Monday night. - 5/12/15

Iranian Judiciary to pay part of cost to turn Evin Prison into park
The mayor of Tehran says the head of the judiciary has approved plans to transform Evin Prison into a park, agreeing to pay for part of the project cost. Evin was built more than 45 years ago in the north end of Tehran, and many political prisoners under the former and current regimes have served their sentences there. - 5/12/15

Central Asia: Mismanaging Religion
When it comes to religious affairs in Central Asia, authorities are relying on Soviet methods even as they aspire to move away from the Soviet legacy. Religion, especially Islam, is a cultural marker that has reinforced national identity in Central Asian states since the Soviet collapse in 1991, thus helping regional leaders distance themselves from Moscow and consolidate their authority. -Mohammadalii Sepanlou, LobeLog - 5/12/15

Iran's Banks May Have Difficult Return to Global System
Iran may be about to restore banking links with the rest of the world after years of separation, but the process won't be easy as its Islamic financial system has evolved in ways that will complicate ties with foreign banks. -Reuters - 5/12/15

Iran trade team in rare US visit
Iran's media reported on Sunday that a 15-member delegation comprising Iranian traders, entrepreneurs and artists is in a rare visit to the United States. The visit - which officials say started two weeks ago and is expected to end next week - has been arranged by a US-based non-governmental institution called Learning. - 5/11/15

7 Sides of a Cylinder: Film screening and panel discussion in London
The famous Cyrus Cylinder was the centerpiece of a British Museum exhibition that toured the United States in 2013. Believed by some to be the first declaration of human rights, the cylinder was exhibited in five major museums in cities where the Iranian diaspora have established communities. Seven young Iranian filmmakers were invited to respond to this exercise in cultural diplomacy and explain what this object from their ancient history means to them and their communities today. - 5/11/15

Half of Iran's fields now dried out
Iranian environmental officials say Iran's exploitation of water resources is three times the world standard and continuing this pattern will speed the country's desertification. - 5/11/15

Iran adds new planes to refurbish air fleet despite bans
Iran has added a number of new planes less than 10 years old to its air fleet in order to renovate the sector despite international sanctions imposed on the country over its peaceful nuclear program. - 5/11/15

Free Will and Constraint: A book by Jamshid Farshidi
Free will is an essential problem in human knowledge that investigates the relationships between all creatures, including human beings, with each other, nature, and ecosystem. Jamshid Farshidi, is an Iranian-American professor (emeritus) of Mathematics and Statistics. - 5/11/15

Following Paul Singer's Money, Argentina, and Iran (Continued)
Last week, Jim and Charles Davis addressed The Washington Post editorial board's claim that Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had pushed an "anti-Semitic conspiracy theory." They suggested that AIPAC and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies might be coordinating their efforts to portray Kirchner's government as an ally of Iranian-backed terrorism with Paul Singer... -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 5/11/15

UN says Saudi attacks on Yemen break law
The Saudi attacks on Yemen go against accepted international humanitarian law, says the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen. Reuters reported on Saturday May 9 that Johannes van der Klaauw said in a statement: "The indiscriminate bombing of populated areas, with or without prior warning, is in contravention of international humanitarian law." - 5/11/15

Man Arrested In Iran After Woman's Death Sparks Violence In Kurdish City
A day after riots were reported over the unexplained demise of a young chambermaid in Mahabad, the capital of Iran's West Azerbaijan province, local authorities announced that an individual has been detained over the death, which happened earlier this week. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/9/15

Eminent Iranian Poet and Filmmaker Repeatedly Interrogated by Intelligence Ministry
Iran's Intelligence Ministry has repeatedly summoned and interrogated the well-known Iranian poet, documentary filmmaker, and member of the Board of Directors of the Iran Writers Association, Baktash Abtin, in recent days, and interrogations over his work and professional associations are likely to continue prior to his case being sent to court. - 5/9/15

Critics slam frightening nature of Iranian activist's arrest
The arrest of Iranian human rights activist Nargess Mohammadi has triggered criticism from activists both inside and outside Iran. The Association of Women Citizens has written an open letter condemning the "sudden and unannounced" arrest of Mohammadi, saying: "Why did the officers, rather than summoning Mohammadi, swarm her house and create an atmosphere of fear." - 5/9/15

Prospects for Saudi-Iranian Detente Bleak
Some optimistic analysts mistakenly believe that Iran and Saudi Arabia are heading toward a mutual understanding over a new regional security architecture based on a balance of powers between them and their allies. Instead, because the current situation is rife with tensions, regional competition between Iran and its Arab rivals will likely escalate. -Mehdi Jedinia - 5/9/15

Many titles banned in first days of Tehran Book Fair
The 28th Tehran International Book Fair opened just yesterday and already several titles have been banned from the fair for various reasons. The Tasnim News Agency reported earlier that 10 titles in the fair's foreign section have been banned. They quote Fereydooni saying that some of these books promote "cults and false mysticism" and others have used a fabricated name for the Persian Gulf. - 5/9/15

Congress Tackles Iran
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting (long) excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now about what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about the Corker-Cardin bill. - 5/9/15

Date Set for 'Pause' in Yemen Fighting
The United States and Saudi Arabia have announced a May 12 start date for a five-day humanitarian pause in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is waging an air campaign against advancing Houthi rebels. The conflict has left thousands of people in Yemen in need of basic supplies. -Pamela Dockins, VOA_URL - 5/9/15

Nuclear Deal or Not, Dark Years Await the Middle East
The regional impact of the world powers and Iran making a deal over Tehran's nuclear program will be significant to say the least. It will mark a new era in the Middle East; one in which the US and Iran no longer will seek to undermine each other at every given opportunity. -Trita Parsi, Huffington Post - 5/9/15

US Senate Approves Congressional Review of Iran Nuclear Deal
The U.S. Senate has approved legislation giving Congress the right to review, and possibly reject, any eventual international agreement aimed at restraining Iran's nuclear development program. The Senate voted 98 to 1 for the measure, which now heads to the House of Representatives, where it could be considered next week. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 5/8/15

IRGC criticizes screening of award-winning film, Tales
The screening of Tales, the latest film by Rakhshan Bani Etemad, has drawn fire from Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who called it "celebrations of seditionists". Iranian hardliners refer to the challengers of the 2009 election results and the election protesters as "seditionists". - 5/8/15

150 House Democrats Bolster Obama's Position on Iran Deal
Thursday's release of a letter signed by 150 House Democrats makes it significantly more likely that a nuclear deal negotiated between the P5+1 and Iran will survive a congressional challenge. The letter, an initiative of Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and David Price (D-NC), expresses strong support for Obama's efforts to conclude an agreement. -Jim Lobe - 5/8/15

Iranian Teachers Protest For Higher Wages
Thousands of teachers across Iran have again taken to the streets to call for higher wages. Iran's semiofficial ILNA news agency, which focuses on labor issues, reports that silent protests were held on May 7 in more than a dozen Iranian cities, including Tehran, Tabriz, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Sanandaj. - 5/8/15

Iran plans $180 billion energy investment
Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh says Iran plans to splash out $180 billion to revive and renovate its oil, gas and petrochemical industries by 2022. Addressing an energy security summit in Berlin, the minister said Iran has always been a reliable energy supplier, adding the country wants to regain its position in the energy market. - 5/8/15

Ignoring US, India signs Iran seaport contract
Defying US warnings, India has signed an agreement with Iran to develop a port in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. The seaport will be located in Iranian port city of Chabahar in the Sistan-Baluchestan province on the southeastern coast of the province along the Gulf of Oman, and will give India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan. - 5/8/15

The Nuclear Crisis Nobody Mentions
Those congressmen beating the war drums against Iran have reached new heights of hypocrisy considering their total disregard for the more dangerous, more immediate problems created by Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. It is noteworthy and also downright strange that no one else-from any political persuasion-is paying attention. -George Kenney, LobeLog - 5/8/15

Tehran swaps 'death to America' billboards for Picasso and Matisse
Tehran's billboards are usually a place for commercials about the latest gadgets, household items and cheese-flavoured crisps. They also display portraits of martyrs from the eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, quotes from religious figures and the now less frequent "death to America" posters. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 5/8/15

Iran's Censors Struggle to Keep Bieber's Abs Off Instagram
Iran's censors are struggling to keep Justin Bieber's abs off Instagram. The tattooed pop star's pouty, shirtless poses have recently reappeared on Iranian smartphones, along with lingerie shots of Kim Kardashian and red carpet photos of Jennifer Lopez. -AP - 5/8/15

Russian Ambivalence About an Iranian Nuclear Agreement
Russia has long called for a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. Moscow has played an important part in the ongoing negotiations over this issue between the P5 + 1 on the one hand and Iran on the other. But as these talks approach what may be an actual final agreement by the end of June, some Russian observers have noted that there is anxiety in Moscow about what this agreement will mean for Russia. -Mark N. Katz - 5/7/15

Iran Nuclear Bill to Get Test Vote in US Senate
A bill to allow U.S. lawmakers to review and vote on any final nuclear accord with Iran could get a boost when the Senate votes Thursday to end weeks of rancorous debate on bipartisan legislation that, in its current form, has the tepid backing of the White House. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 5/7/15

Iranian women's rights activists celebrate year of Stealthy Freedom
A group of women's rights activists marked the first anniversary of the My Stealthy Freedom campaign by praising the "bold women" who have challenged compulsory hijab. - 5/7/15

U.S. Flag Not On Fire In Iran
The U.S. flag attracted a lot of attention this week at an international film festival in Iran -- not so much that it was unfurled, but because it wasn't being burned. Some on social media suggested that the public display of the American flag at the Fajr International Film Festival was a first for the Islamic republic. It wasn't. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/7/15

Ariane Tabatabai on Negotiations with Iran
Ariane Tabatabai, a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown University, nuclear non-proliferation expert, and occasional contributor to LobeLog, is very busy these days. But she agreed to speak with us about the negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. -Henry Johnson, LobeLog - 5/7/15

Tom Cotton Allies Himself with the MEK
Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) garnered two profiles this week, one in The Wall Street Journal and another in The New York Times, highlighting his efforts to disrupt normal Senate procedure in hopes of adding "poison pill" amendments to the Corker-Cardin bill that, if passed, would give Congress a say in any comprehensive agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 5/7/15

Iran releases Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship
Iran has released a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship recently impounded in the Persian Gulf by Iranian forces, Press TV reports. An informed source at the Iranian Ports and Maritime Organization (IPMO) told Press TV on Thursday that the Maersk Tigris ship has been released. - 5/7/15

"Why Did I Go to Prison for Four Years, Mr. Zarif?"
Astonished reactions to recent statements made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a television interview with PBS' Charlie Rose, in which he defended his government's human rights record, continue to pour in. - 5/6/15

Iran holds oil and gas show to attract investment
Iran is holding a four-day international oil and gas show to introduce lucrative development projects amid hopes for the annulment of sanctions on the Islamic Republic. A large number of foreign companies have signed up to attend the 20th International Oil, Gas, Refining and Petrochemical Exhibition in Tehran. The event starts on Wednesday and will run until Saturday. - 5/6/15

Leading Iranian Activist Arrested Ahead of Her Trial for Peaceful Civil Activities
Civil rights activist and Deputy Director of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center, Narges Mohammadi, was arrested at her home in Tehran in the early hours of May 5, 2015, the Kaleme website, which is close to Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, reported. - 5/6/15

Water shortage crisis strikes 520 cities in Iran
"520 cities in the country are facing the crisis of drinking water shortage," Esmaeil Najjar, who is also had of Crisis Management Organization, said. "Over the past two decades, the scourge of drought has struck our country," he said, adding that Iran lies on an "arid belt" on Earth. - 5/6/15

Senate To Vote May 7 On Bill To Review Iran Nuclear Deal
The Republican leader of the U.S. Senate cleared the way for a vote May 7 on a bill that would give Congress the power to review an international nuclear agreement with Iran. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he filed a procedural motion setting a time limit on the Senate's two weeks of debate over efforts by conservative Republicans to use the measure to impose more conditions on Tehran. - 5/6/15

Quirky Bans In Iran
Jagged hairstyles, body tattoos, solarium treatments, and the plucking of eyebrows for men are the latest fashion statements to be banned in Iran. But they are by no means the only things that can get a man in trouble. For years, Iranian authorities have occasionally cracked down on signs of Western influence, targeted "un-Islamic behavior," and enforced strict dress codes. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 5/6/15

Still One Big Obstacle To Turkmen Gas To Europe
The Caspian Sea is a sea of peace and friendship. Top officials in the five Caspian littoral states -- Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan -- have been repeating that line for two decades. This mantra is about to be put to the test. -Bruce Pannier, RFE - 5/6/15

Casualty of anti-Iran hysteria: Watermelons
Iran's watermelons are the prized choice to quench thirst around the Persian Gulf Arab states but they have become the subject of a heated hysteria this year, which many Iranians believe is political. Officials say the United Arab Emirates has returned six consignments so far amid rumors that Iranian watermelons had "suspicious holes". - 5/6/15

Where Hope Becomes Desperation
Katmandu, Baltimore, the Mediterranean Sea, Yemen, Syria--it has been a grim week of news from around the globe. If we looked a bit further back for the same kind of dark headlines, we could add the migration of Latinos toward our southwest states and violent demonstrations against police treatment of Blacks in a variety of American cities. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 5/6/15

Obama to the GCC: Getting the Message Right
On May 13-14, President Barack Obama will host leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at the White House and Camp David. Ostensibly, the meeting is to try convincing these intense skeptics of nuclear negotiations with Iran that the US will not be a patsy for an Iran freed from economic sanctions following a deal. -Robert E. Hunter - 5/5/15

US oil delegation to visit Iran this week: Iranian official
A US oil delegation is scheduled to travel to Tehran this week to hold talks with a number of Iranian petroleum ministry officials as well as oil industry contractors. "It is predicted that following the visit by the American delegation to Tehran and possible removal of sanctions against the oil industry, we will witness the presence of major international US oil and gas companies in Iran in future," Abbas Shari Moqaddam, Iran's deputy petroleum minister was quoted as saying - 5/5/15

Photos: Bayazid Bastami's tomb in the desert city of Shahroud
Catching a glimpse of Iranian-Islamic architecture: The tomb of Bayazid Bastami in Shahroud, Semnan province of Iran, attracts many interested people. - 5/5/15

Four Iranian Baha'is released while seven remain in prison
Four Baha'is involved with the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), who had been unjustly imprisoned in Iran four years ago, have been released after completing their sentences, while concern remains for seven others who are still languishing in jail. -BWNS - 5/5/15

No One Jailed In Iran For Their Opinions? Many Take To Social Media To Disagree
While Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif believes Iran does not jail people for their opinions, many disagree with his assessment. Zarif was asked during a late April appearance on a U.S. news program about the detention of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been in jail in Tehran for the past nine months on security charges, including espionage. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/5/15

U.S. Says Iran Not Open For Business Yet
The United States says Iran is not open for business yet. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke made the comments in reaction to a widely cited report by an Iranian news agency claiming a U.S. oil delegation is due to visit Tehran this week to review investment opportunities. - 5/5/15

Iran ends developed countries' monopoly on producing some recombinant drugs
An official at the Iranian Ministry of Health says the Islamic Republic is now a producer of some recombinant drugs, which were previously produced by some developed countries, thus ending their monopoly in the field. - 5/5/15

Neocons vs. Neocon on Iran
Maybe I spoke too soon when I declared the fight over the new Iran bill wending its way through Congress as one between hard-line neoconservatives and AIPAC. The broad outlines of what I wrote remain true -- everything from AIPAC's intentions to Bill Kristol's -- but what I underestimated was how isolated Kristol would be even among his ideological comrades. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 5/5/15

Protesters try to block moderate Iranian cleric from speaking at university
Moderate cleric Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was faced with protests at Amir Kabir University on Monday May 4 during his speech to mark National Teachers' Day. The event was delayed as a group of protesters tried to prevent his entry into the university by creating a human chain at the building entrance. - 5/5/15

US Senate at Crossroads on Iran Nuclear Bill
This week could decide the fate of a bipartisan bill allowing the U.S. Congress to review and vote on any final nuclear accord with Iran. The Senate can either vote on the original bill, or allow amendments making additional demands of Iran, which would trigger a presidential veto and could doom the entire legislative effort. -VOA - 5/4/15

Opposition house arrest conditions called worse under Rohani
Fatemeh Karroubi, the wife of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, who has been under house arrest since 2011, has written to the Minister of Intelligence saying the "lack of accountability" around the opposition detainees has increased since the Rohani administration took power. - 5/4/15

Tirgan Returns for Its Biennial Celebration This Summer 2015
Tirgan, the world's largest Iranian arts and culture festival returns to the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Canada, this summer from August 20-23, 2015. The festival's ancient roots can be seen in a programme which showcases the tremendous ethnic diversity within Iran and celebrates the country's music, dance, theatre, cinema, literature, visual arts and cuisine. The central theme of "Homeland" unites the festival programme of Tirgan 2015. - 5/4/15

Prominent Iranian Activist Charged with National Security Crimes for Her Peaceful Civic Activism
A Tehran court has charged the prominent Iranian civil rights activist and deputy head of the banned Defenders of Human Rights Center, Narges Mohammadi, with crimes against national security for her peaceful activism. - 5/4/15

Iran FM Wants To End 'Manufactured' Nuclear Crisis
Zarif wrote on Twitter on May 4 that the drafting of a deal between Tehran and six world powers curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions was "moving forward." The tweet comes two days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned what he called "hysteria" from those who oppose such an agreement, namely members of the U.S. Congress. - 5/4/15

No need for US to escort ships in Persian Gulf: Iran Navy Commander
Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari says the US Navy does not need to escort US-flagged ships travelling through the secure Persian Gulf waters. "Security fully prevails in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman due to the permanent presence of Iran's [regular] Navy and the naval forces of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). Therefore, there is no need for the Americans to escort their ships in this region," Sayyari told reporters on Sunday. - 5/4/15

Assault Amplifies Iranian Anger at Saudi Arabia
In April, the unofficial media in Iran published unconfirmed reports of the sexual assault of two young Iranian men in the Jeddah airport in Saudi Arabia. By April 6, the Iranian Foreign Ministry had confirmed the news that the assault took place in the second week of April. The two teenagers were in a convoy of Iranian pilgrims that traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca. -LobeLog - 5/4/15

Retracing a Utopian Stage: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (1967-77)
Lecture in London: Vali Mahlouji will talk about the exhibition he has curated for the Festival of Arts at the Whitechapel Gallery opening on 28th April. The subject is the decade-long controversial Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis (1967-77) and the project refers to documents and records of the Festival in order to reconstruct the complex networks of ideas that informed its original curatorial direction. - 5/4/15

Iran's Hegemonic Rise
ith the Iran nuclear talks coming to a conclusion, now comes the speculation of what the next step is. The details, although not yet publicized, give us a basic framework of some type of reciprocal deal that would benefit both the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States. -Arash Irani - 5/4/15

Ariana's Persian Kitchen: World Premiere on Nat Geo People on May 8th
Ariana Bundy, an award winning Iranian-American chef and cookbook author of 'Pomegranates & Roses', visits the vast and fascinating country of Iran to re-discover her heritage. From the lush green mountains of the Caspian sea, to the golden deserts of Yazd, Ariana eats her way through Persian delicacies in Bazaars, pastry shops, restaurants, and people's homes. - 5/2/15

Moving from Bazaar to Bourse in Iran
Anticipation has been building among international investors and business leaders as Iran and the P5+1 edge closer to a nuclear deal. Each week another trade delegation-whether American, or Swiss,or German-makes its way to Tehran to scope out opportunities. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj - 5/2/15

Iranian workers march on May Day despite state resistance
ILNA reports that thousands participated in May Day demonstrations in Tehran and the International Workers Day was finally marked after "an eight year hiatus" with a parade by Iranian workers. ILNA reports that the demonstrations began at 10 AM with two thousand people in front of the Worker's House and demonstrators marched to Palestine Square where they ended the march at noon. - 5/2/15

Following the Money: The New Anti-Semitism?
In the 1976 docudrama about the Watergate affair and the fall of Richard Nixon, All the President's Men, Bob Woodward's source at the FBI, Deep Throat, tells him to "follow the money." To the Post editorial board in 2015, doing just that is problematic-and probably anti-Semitic. Or at least that's their charge in a piece published last Friday entitled, "Argentina's President Resorts to Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories"... - Jim Lobe and Charles Davis, LobeLog - 5/2/15

Bahrain seizes Iranian bank, insurer
The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) says it has placed two Iranian financial institutions into administration. Bahrain's media say this came into effect as of April 30, 2015. However, no explanation has been provided for the decision. - 5/2/15

U.S. Offers Protection For Ships In Strait of Hormuz
The U.S. Navy is accompanying U.S.-flagged ships through the Strait of Hormuz to ensure they are not harassed by Iranian forces, and is in talks to extend the same protection to other nations' vessels, U.S. officials say. - 5/2/15

Hit List Found In Honor Killing Of Iranian Activist
Texas investigators have disclosed that they found a hit list in a murder case involving the honor killing of an outspoken Iranian activist in Houston. U.S. prosecutors last week charged a Jordanian immigrant and devout Muslim, Ali Awad Mahmoud Irsan, with shooting the anti-Tehran activist Gelerah Bagherzadeh out of rage that she persuaded his daughter to go ahead and marry a Texas Christian man. - 5/2/15

US Senate's Iran Nuclear Bill Surviving 'Poison Pill' Amendments
A bill subjecting any nuclear deal with Iran to U.S. congressional review has, so far, survived a barrage of proposed amendments by Republican senators that, if adopted, would erode bipartisan support for the legislation and likely trigger a veto by President Barack Obama. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 5/1/15

Zarif Says Iran Doesn't Jail People Over Their Opinions
"We do not jail people for their opinions," said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview with U.S. journalist and television personality Charlie Rose aired on April 27. Zarif made the comments in response to a question about the fate of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who's been imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/1/15

Managing Editor of Banned Iranian Women's Publication Hopes for Reversal of Decision
Iran's Press Oversight Committee has decided to suspend publication of Iran's premier women's magazine, Zanan-e Emrooz, and forward its case for prosecution to the Iranian Judiciary. The publication's managing editor, Shahla Sherkat, said that she hoped to be able to convince the court to allow resumption of the monthly magazine's publication. - 5/1/15

Iranian Foreign Minister, U.S. Senator In Twitter Spat
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton have had a forthright exchange of views on Twitter in a new war of words between the two men over nuclear negotiations and a potential nuclear deal. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 5/1/15

PAAIA OGHAB Internships Program For Young Iranian-Americans
The PAAIA OGHAB (Opportunities for Growth, High Achievement, and Betterment) Internship Program provides summer internship opportunities for young Iranian Americans in a variety of fields and disciplines. The program matches qualified Iranian American youth with internships in their field of interest in organizations and companies nationwide. - 5/1/15

Iran destroyer patrolling entrance to Bab al-Mandab: Commander
Iran's Alborz destroyer is patrolling the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden, the Iranian Navy chief says. Iranian Navy's 34th flotilla, which comprises the Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz destroyer, left Iran's southern port city of Bandar Abbas for the Gulf of Aden and the Bab al-Mandab Strait on April 8. - 5/1/15

U.S. writers' group honours Iranian blogger who died in custody
Sattar Beheshti, the Iranian blogger who died in prison after being arrested by the Iranian cyber police for his internet activities, has been posthumously awarded the 2015 Pen New England Vasyl Stus Freedom to Write Award. - 5/1/15

Gained in translation: Obama's Persian language spokesman wins fans in Iran
Alan Eyre's social media presence and knowledge of Iranian poetry has helped him win a wide following and improve understanding between cultures -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 5/1/15

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