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Volleyball: France defeats Iran in Olympic Qualifier
France improved their win-loss record to 2-1, after they recorded a straight-set (25-20, 25-18, 25-22) win over Iran at the Men's World Olympic Qualification Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday. - 5/31/16

Controversial Iranian Comedy Barred from Screening
50 Kilos of Tart Cherries was pulled from cinemas across the country after Tabas Friday prayers Imam spoke out against the screening insisting that the film is "destroying revolutionary values". The criticism of the senior member of the clergy resulted in the withdrawal of the film's screening permit by the Ministry of Culture. - 5/31/16

Iran Presses U.S. To Guarantee No Sanctions On European Banks
The United States must do more to open up the Western banking system to keep its end of the bargain with Iran under last year's nuclear agreement, Tehran's top diplomat says. - 5/31/16

President Rouhani: Iran at 'a historic turning point'
President Hassan Rouhani says Iran lies at a "historic turning point" after the lifting of sanctions, with his government working to open up the country to foreign trade. In a speech to a crowd of people in Urumieh in northwest Iran on Monday, Rouhani said his government would do whatever it takes for Iran's development and progress. - 5/31/16

Rouhani unveils 'largest industrial complex' in western Iran
President Rouhani is visiting Western Azerbaijan province in northwest of Iran in a series of 'provincial visits' where the Cabinet would hold meetings in the province visited to address provincial problems and unveil economic and construction projects. - 5/31/16

Tehran Orders Foreign Social Media To Move Data Of Iranian Users Into Iran
Tehran has given foreign social media messaging applications one year to move the data they hold about Iranian users onto servers inside Iran. The declaration on May 29 by Iran's Supreme Council of Cyberspace has prompted privacy and security concerns from Iranians who use social media. - 5/30/16

Paintings inspired by Persian carpets on show at Tehran gallery
A new exhibition of paintings, inspired by the wonderful motifs and attractive colors of Persian carpets, has opened at Tehran's Etemad Gallery. Entitled "Where Is My Ney?", the collection created by the young artist Homa Arkani was placed on exhibit in the gallery on Friday. - 5/30/16

'Car-free Tuesdays' gains momentum in Iran
The campaign for car-free Tuesdays, which is gaining momentum across Iran, was actually mounted last November in Arak, a city overburdened by its too many pollutant industries. - 5/30/16

Steigenberger Hotel Group set to build 10 hotels in Iran
German hospitality company, Steigenberger Hotel Group, is set to build 10 hotels in different parts of Iran over the next ten years. The CEO of Steigenberger Hotels, Puneet Chhatwal, signed an agreement with the deputy director of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), Saeid Shirkavand, during a meeting at Tehran's Espinas Palace Hotel on Sunday. - 5/30/16

Working Toward a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Mideast
Earlier this month, I attended an international conference in Berlin which brought together diplomats, former military officers, academic researchers and think tank analysts from the Middle East and Europe. The conference took place within the framework of the "Academic Peace Orchestra Middle East" of the Peace Research Institute Franfkfurt (PRIF). -Shemuel Meir, LobeLog - 5/30/16

Saudi Arabia Slams Iran's Role In Iraq As 'Unacceptable'
Saudi Arabia has accused archrival Iran of meddling in Iraq, saying the presence of Iranian military units there is "unacceptable." "Sedition and division in Iraq are the results of sectarian policies that developed out of Iran's policies in Iraq," said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in a joint press briefing with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond, in Jeddah. - 5/30/16

Iran Re-elects Conservative Parliament Leader
Iran's moderate conservative parliament leader was re-elected Sunday despite the gains made by reformists in elections held in February. Ali Larijani was re-elected with the votes of 173 of 281 lawmakers, with several members of the reformist party breaking ranks to vote against the head of their own List of Hope party, Mohammad Reza Aref. - 5/29/16

Iran cancels Hajj due to Saudi 'obstacles'
Iran says it will not take part in this year's Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca because of "obstacles" created by Saudi Arabia. "Performing the Hajj ritual this year is virtually impossible," Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati said on Sunday. - 5/29/16

Iraqi Forces Poised For Attack On Fallujah, Kurdish Troops Attack IS Near Mosul
Iraq's military says its special forces have been deployed around Fallujah as part of an operation aimed at retaking the city from so-called Islamic State (IS) militants. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdish forces have launched more attacks in northern Iraq as part of a strategy aimed at cutting off IS militants who control the city of Mosul. - 5/29/16

Iran Arrests 8 Over 'Obscene' Music Videos
Iranian authorities have arrested eight people involved in allegedly producing "obscene" music videos. Mizan Online, a news agency controlled by Iran's powerful judiciary, quoted Tehran prosecutor general Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi on May 28 as saying that the eight were arrested last week in Tehran. They were not identified by name. - 5/29/16

Iran's 10th Parliament Sworn In
The new Iranian parliament that was formed from elections held in February and April has been sworn in at its opening session in Tehran. The 290-member Islamic Consultative Assembly held its first meeting on May 28 with a fresh crop of reformist lawmakers who are expected to back President Hassan Rohani's efforts to modernize Iran's economy and social policies. - 5/28/16

More Than 30 Iranian Students Lashed 99 Times Over Party
Iran's judiciary says more than 30 students have received 99 lashes each for violating the Islamic republic's morality code. Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, on May 27 quoted the prosecutor in Qazvin as saying the punishments were meted out in the northwestern city. No date was given. - 5/28/16

Volleyball: Iran blanks Australia with straight-sets win in Asian Olympic qualifier
Iran's national volleyball team has trounced Australia in straight sets at the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan. On Saturday, the Persians registered their first straight-sets win of the tournament by seeing off the Australian Men's Volleyball team, the Volleyroos, 3-0 (25-19, 25-17, 25-18) in a match played at the world-class Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. - 5/28/16

Discriminatory 'VISA Act' Moves Forward
Legislation targeting Iranian and other visa seekers for enhanced security measures moved forward in the House today after a contentious committee debate. The bill, which would also subject visa applicants and their American family petitioners to DNA testing, was advanced by the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, setting up a potential final vote before the full House within weeks. -NIAC - 5/28/16

"The Salesman" director, stars receive warm welcome at home
"The Salesman" director Asghar Farhadi and the film's stars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidusti got a tremendous welcome on Friday morning after arriving in home with the two awards they won at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. - 5/28/16

Tehran Symphony Orchestra gives first performance with new conductor
The Tehran Symphony Orchestra performs its first concert with new conductor Shahrdad Rohani at Vahdat Hall on Wednesday night after the Vienna-based Iranian maestro Ali Rahbari resigned from the orchestra earlier in April. - 5/28/16

Tehran, Riyadh Fail To Agree On Hajj Arrangements For Iranians
Saudi Arabia and Iran failed to reach a deal on arrangements for Iranians to attend this year's Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, with officials from both countries blaming the other for the impasse. Saudi officials accused Iran of walking out of talks early on May 27, despite their having offered "solutions" to Iranian demands. - 5/28/16

Look up Tehran! There is an art gallery above you!
Tehran looks very different now; if you are walking the streets of the Iranian capital these days, make sure to turn your eyes upward, or you will miss the chance to see the biggest art gallery in existence. - 5/27/16

IAEA Verifies Iran's Compliance With Nuclear Accord
The UN nuclear agency has verified Iran's compliance with the landmark nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries in July 2015. - 5/27/16

A Model Returns to Iran for a Stylish Trip Through Her Native Country
Watching Leila Rahimi strike a pose in the gardens of Iran's oldest palaces and mansions, you would never suspect that 15 years had lapsed since the Iranian-American model and illustrator had visited her birth country. In her vibrant head wrap and flow-y tunic, she appeared right at home. -Vogue - 5/27/16

Oil Prices Soar Over $50 A Barrel For First Time In 2016
The price of premium crude oil has surged over $50 a barrel for the first time this year in Asian trading, giving a boost to the economies of oil producers from Russia and Kazakhstan to Iran and Iraq. - 5/27/16

U.S. House Votes To Bar Future Heavy-Water Purchases From Iran
The U.S. House has voted to bar the U.S. government from purchasing heavy water from Iran in the future, undercutting President Barack Obama's nuclear pact with Tehran. The House attached the prohibition to an essential funding bill for the U.S. Energy Department with a 251-168 vote. - 5/27/16

U.S. Opposes Bail For Wealthy Trader In Iran Sanctions Case
U.S. prosecutors have opposed a wealthy gold trader's request to be released on bail while he awaits trial for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran, saying his "immense" resources makes him a flight risk. - 5/27/16

From ancient Persian poetry rises 'Feathers of Fire,' billed as largest shadow-theater play
Rahmanian's new project is the shadow puppet production "Feathers of Fire," which bills itself as the largest shadow play ever performed. The story is culled from the "Shahnameh," an ancient book of epic Persian poetry that Rahmanian adapted into a lavishly illustrated book for a modern audience in 2013. -Los Angeles Times - 5/27/16

Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem in Talks to Star in Asghar Farhadi's Spanish-Language Film
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who just won two awards at Cannes for his Tehran-set drama "The Salesman" (Forushande), is resetting his untitled Spanish-language movie with Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in advanced talks to star. -Variety - 5/27/16

Fabulous Finds: The Smallest Tea House in Tehran, Iran
Through the hustle and bustle of the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, there's a little tea house belonging to a man who's kindness coupled with his communication skills leaves you for a long conversation after a cup of lip burning tea. Haj Kazem looks like a humble guy, but just chatting with him for a few minutes reveals how educated and worldly he is. -Matin Lashkari, Travestyle - 5/27/16

The Litigious Society's Latest Take on Terrorism
The recent passage by the U.S. Senate of a bill labeled the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act elicited cheers from those wanting to see any kind of significant bipartisan action in Congress. The bill is intended to amend existing law regarding sovereign immunity to make it easier for U.S. citizens to haul foreign governments into U.S. court for involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks; Saudi Arabia is the unnamed but obvious target. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 5/27/16

US Lawmakers Ask: Is White House Catering to Iran?
Nearly a year after world powers announced the historic Iran nuclear deal, and four months after the agreement was implemented, U.S. lawmakers remain deeply skeptical of the deal and its broader implications. -Pamela Dockins, VOA - 5/26/16

Can OPEC Agree on Oil Production Policy?
The fall in the price of oil from $115/barrel in mid-2014 to $27/barrel this year has had a devastating impact on petro-states all over the world. Whereas the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil producer and exporter, cut production in the 1980s to raise oil prices, officials in Riyadh have been determined to avoid a repeat of this experience, which cost Saudi Arabia market share. Yet the kingdom has paid a major price for this geopolitically motivated oil production policy... -Alex Stout - 5/26/16

Imprisoned Iranian Physicist Given Two-Week Medical Furlough After Losing Cancerous Kidney
Imprisoned physicist Omid Kokabee has been granted a two-week medical furlough upon payment of five billion rials ($164,000 USD) bail, an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 5/26/16

The Neocon-Liberal Hawk Convergence is Worse Than I Thought
Late last month, I published a post entitled "Hillary's Foreign Policy: A Liberal-Neoconservative Convergence?" that featured the announcement of a new report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) to be rolled out May 16. I was traveling that day, so I missed the formal launch and only got around to reading the report this past weekend. It was even worse than what I had anticipated. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 5/26/16

End of an Art Form? The Persian Rug May Not Be Long for This World
For centuries, Iran's famed carpets have been produced by hand along the nomad trail in this region of high plains around the ancient city of Shiraz... But high-quality production of hand-woven carpets is no longer sustainable on the migration route of the nomads, said Hamid Zollanvari, one of Iran's biggest carpet makers and dealers. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 5/26/16

Austria's Oberbank and Raiffeisen Bank connected to Iran market
A senior Iranian trade official says Austria's Oberbank and Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) are now connected to Iranian banks. Tehran Chamber of Commerce Chairman Masoud Khansari said that the two Austrian banks have started opening letters of credit (LCs) for Iranian businesses, facilitating trade transactions between the two countries. - 5/26/16

Saudi Arabia Has a Plan B to Try to Stop Iran's Economic Rise
Saudi Arabia couldn't stop the Iran nuclear deal from being signed. Plan B is to limit Iran's ability to reap its benefits. The kingdom is mobilizing its Gulf allies to make sure that, more than four months after the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iran's opening-up to the global economy doesn't go smoothly. -Bloomberg - 5/26/16

Iranian appetite for German goods prompts surge in first-quarter exports
German exports to Iran, especially of machines and equipment, rose significantly in the first quarter following the removal of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic, government data showed on Thursday. -Reuters - 5/26/16

How a singles column changed a Persian-Jewish girl's life
My parents came to L.A. from Shiraz, Iran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. My father worked two jobs -- as a rabbi at a shul, and at a car yard in Anaheim. And my mother worked three jobs -- as a nightly mikveh lady, elder caretaker and mother. They always made sure my siblings and I had everything we needed... -Chaya Leah Esakhan, SCPR - 5/26/16

'Homeland' actress: Iran, free jailed British-Iranian mother
Once, I hoped to return to Iran. Like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the woman who now sits in an Iranian jail, I longed to visit family, friends, the land of my birth. Her arrest last month, the latest in a string of arrests of dual nationals lured back to Iran, has thrown cold water on my hopes, for now. The oppressors, for the moment, have won. -Nazanin Boniadi, CNN - 5/25/16

U.S. Examining Whether Indian Port Deal With Iran Violates Sanctions
U.S. senators have questioned whether India's deal to develop a port in Iran violates international sanctions, and the State Department said it is examining the question. "We have been very clear with the Indians [about] continuing restrictions on activities with respect to Iran," Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Desai Biswal told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 24. - 5/25/16

Iranian cartoonist wins top award at contest in Vianden, Luxembourg
Iranian cartoonist Mohammad Habibi has won first prize at the 9th International Contest of Caricature and Cartoon in Vianden, Luxembourg. The theme of the contest was "My Home Is My Castle", which focused on refugees in the world. - 5/25/16

Kurdish Political Prisoner in Iran on Hunger Strike to Protest New Charges
Mohammad Sediq Kaboudvand, a prominent Kurdish human rights activist who is in his ninth year of incarceration at Tehran's Evin Prison, has gone on hunger strike to protest the new charges that have been brought against him. - 5/25/16

World Bank to award loans to Iran's SMEs
Iran said on Tuesday that it has started preliminary talks to obtain loans worth a total of at least $1.5 billion from the World Bank for the country's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). - 5/25/16

People of Iran
When I talk about Iran, I should start with the people...they are amazing...it may turn out as a cliche`, but it will surprise you, even if you've heard it before. Simply because it touches your deep human need to meet good people and feel at home, even when you're away. -Altography by Alexander Nachev - 5/25/16

Iran working on new transit link to EU
Iran says it is working on a new combined transit route that would link its southern port city of Bandar Abbas to Europe through CIS countries. Officials in Tehran said on Tuesday that the country is working on a plan to create a combined transit route that would pass through its territory as well as several Central Asian countries before reaching Europe. - 5/25/16

Review: A Persian Renaissance at Shiraz Kitchen in Elmsford
Sit down at Shiraz Kitchen in Elmsford and you'll know you're in a different kind of restaurant. On the table, right next to the salt and pepper, is a large shaker of sumac. The spice's tart, dusky flavor is just one of many Persian tastes to enjoy at this 7-year-old Iranian restaurant, which is experiencing a renaissance since its new owner, Reza Parhizkaran, took the reins a little over a year ago. -New York Times - 5/25/16

Kamancheh Master Kayhan Kalhor Plays in Tehran amid Conservative Backlash against Concerts
After six years of silence in Iran, music of kamencheh master Kayhan Kalhor blared out in Vahdat Concert Hall once more. On Saturday night, May 21, Kalhor and his ensemble performed to a full hall of ardent fans in Tehran. - 5/24/16

Iran helped Syria hold Daesh back: Soleimani
The Commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qassem Soleimani says Daesh terrorists would have overrun Syria if it were not for Iran's assistance. - 5/24/16

India Cements Role in Iran with Chabahar Deal
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi made his first-ever visit to Iran on Sunday. It was also the first visit by an Indian head of state since the Iranian nuclear deal last year. Topping Modi's agenda were two key agreements-the trilateral transit pact between India, Iran and Afghanistan and the bilateral contract between India and Iran on the first phase of development of the Chabahar port. -Sumitha Narayanan Kutty - 5/24/16

Hard-Liner Elected Head Of Iran's Powerful Assembly Of Experts
Iran's Assembly of Experts has chosen hard-liner Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati to head the powerful body that is responsible for electing and overseeing the work of Iran's supreme leader. - 5/24/16

The Future (of a Nuclear Deal)
The problem today is that while the U.S. can claim it has accomplished its goal with the JCPOA-namely that Iran, having shipped out most of its enriched uranium stockpile, essentially shuttered one impenetrable (to conventional weaponry) facility and taken out the core of a reactor, is in no position to go nuclear anytime soon-Iran and some of its former business partners, especially the Europeans who were party to the deal, argue that U.S. laws and unilateral sanctions are presenting major obstacles to their being able to do business with each other. -Hooman Majd, LobeLog - 5/24/16

Iran Says It Will 'Speed Up' Case Of Jailed Advocate For Internet Freedom
For the first time, Iran has officially acknowledged that it has imprisoned a U.S. permanent resident who advocates for Internet freedom. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Tehran "will try to speed up" the case of Lebanese citizen Nizar Zakka, who disappeared in Tehran in September after attending a government-sponsored conference. - 5/24/16

How Leonardo DiCaprio became unlikely champion in Iran
Iranians were elated when they discovered that actor Leonardo DiCaprio had shared on his Instagram account a photo of Iran. DiCaprio, a champion environmentalist, republished The Weather Channel's photo of drying Lake Urmia to bring attention to climate change. -Holly Dagres, Al-Monitor - 5/24/16

Iran, India agree to expand relations: President Rouhani
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Modi arrived in the Iranian capital on Sunday. The Indian prime minister was accorded an official welcome in Tehran at the start of a two-day visit to make a case for India's space in Iran's market following the lifting of sanctions. - 5/23/16

Iran, India, Afghanistan sign Chabahar transit agreement
Iran, India and Afghanistan sign a key trilateral deal, known as the Chabahar agreement, to establish a strategic transit and transport route connecting the three countries. The agreement was signed in the presence of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Monday. - 5/23/16

Asghar Farhadi, Shahab Hosseini awarded at Cannes Film Festival
The Iranian film "The Salesman" by Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi received two awards, for Best Screenplay and Best Actor, won by Iranian actor Shahab Hosseini. - 5/23/16

Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea and positions of Iran
The Caspian littoral states (Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) have been working on a document called "draft convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea" for the last several years in numerous meetings at various levels including the summit conferences of the heads of states and governments. They have not yet succeeded to reach a consensus on all important articles of such a document which are related to the criteria for delimitation of the Caspian Sea. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 5/23/16

Posters on streets help to promote environmental culture: artist
One of the most important steps needed to be taken towards having a better environment is to raise public awareness and artistic works ranging from films to paintings and graphic designs as a global language can set the scene for such accomplishment. -Maryam Qarehgozlou, Tehran Times - 5/23/16

Something Better: Musings on the legacy of the age-old Iranian art of escapism
...But when all is said and done, we know that we will always slip through those cracks and slide between those fingers; we, Iranians, of the burnt generation and golden years, of the centuries of darkness and silence, of the wine-drenched tongues of bards - Joobin Bekhrad, Reorient - 5/23/16

Iran wins 5th crown in Greco-Roman wrestling world cup
Iran has for the fifth time won the Greco-Roman wrestling world cup after defeating Russia in the finals of the 34th edition of the games. The Iranian outfit overcame the Russian squad 8-0 in Iran's southern city of Shiraz on Friday. - 5/22/16

India PM in Tehran to strike agreement on Chabahar Port development
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran at the head of a large delegation to boost economic and political ties with Tehran. Modi landed in Tehran on Sunday for a two-day visit with Iranian officials. He was welcomed by Iran's Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport. - 5/22/16

Local Villagers in Iran Revived the Once Drying Lake Bazangan
Covering an area of about 52 hectares in its glory days, Bazangan or "Kol Bibi" Lake is located east of the very wealthy city of Mashhad and is the largest natural lake in north east of Iran. The local and federal authorities never even started a "save lake Bazangan" initiative, no governmental or international aid was made available and the Iranian Department of the Environment did absolutely nothing. - 5/22/16

Tehran Calls On U.S. To Encourage Investment In Iran
Iran's foreign minister has called on the United States to encourage investors to engage with Tehran. Speaking at a news conference in Tehran a day after Western powers said they back legal business with Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that "more serious and concrete actions must be taken" by the United States to spur investment in Iran. - 5/22/16

Cannes: Why Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Signals a Post Nuclear Deal Cinematic Resurgence in Iran
Asghar Farhadi's return to Cannes with his well-received "The Salesman" comes after the Iranian auteur's Paris-set "The Past" vied for a Palme d'Or in 2013. It also marks his somewhat unexpected return to shooting in Iran after "A Separation." -Nick Vivarelli, Variety - 5/22/16

UN Experts Outraged By Jailing Of Iranian Rights Activist
A group of United Nations officials have expressed outrage about the conviction and sentencing of a leading human rights activist in Iran on charges that include membership in a campaign for the abolition of the death penalty. - 5/22/16

Hill Update: National Defense Authorization Act
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting 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 Israel-Palestine and Iran. -LobeLog - 5/22/16

How an Iranian woman snuck into a football stadium only open to men
A young Iranian woman has become a star among fans of the Persepolis football team after she snuck into a match, which women are forbidden to attend. She took to social media to show how she disguised herself as a man to get in. -France 24 - 5/22/16

North Korea and the GCC
North Korea has had a relatively short and somewhat complicated relationship with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Despite the lack of an energy relationship, North Korea does interact with the GCC in three realms. It maintains an official diplomatic relationship with five of the six countries, primarily through its embassy in Kuwait. It sends laborers to work in many of the GCC countries. And it is involved, somewhat tangentially, in military affairs in the region as well. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 5/22/16

US, Europe to Clear Up Rules for Doing Business with Iran
The United States and three key European allies -- Britain, France, and Germany -- say they want to eliminate any confusion about what investment and business deals with Iran are permitted after the nuclear deal. -Ken Schwartz, VOA - 5/20/16

Concerts of Popular Iranian Musicians Canceled Due to Pressure from Religious Conservatives
Two of Iran's top musicians have been prevented from performing in the city of Neyshabour and other locations in northeastern Khorasan Razavi Province by the local prosecutor. Iran's House of Music, an independent association of musicians, has written a letter to Judiciary Chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani protesting the ongoing disruption of sanctioned musical performances. - 5/20/16

Iran Judiciary Vows to Punish Former President's Daughter for Upholding Baha'i Rights
A high-ranking member of the Iranian Judiciary has said that action will be taken against Faezeh Hashemi, the outspoken daughter of prominent former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, following her meeting with Baha'i leader Fariba Kamalabadi and other well-known civil rights activists in Tehran last week. - 5/20/16

Animal Cruelty Punishable by Flogging and Imprisonment in Iran?
In lack of a law that specifically deals with curtly towards animals, Iran judiciary is now making up stances for those accused of aggravated animal abuse. In the latest example an accused that abused a dog and caused bodily harm to the animal was sentenced to two months in prison in the northern city of Astara. - 5/20/16

Why the Iranian Nuclear Deal Is at Risk of Unraveling
Today, nearly six months after the deal was implemented, Iran is still waiting for those benefits. The country can't access most of the estimated $100 billion it holds in foreign banks. The reason: U.S. laws, which weren't included in the nuclear deal, are still highly restrictive. -Jonathan Broder, Newsweek - 5/20/16

Confessions of a Dangerous Model
A film about an interrogation session was aired by the media inside Iran. In it the Tehran Prosecutor General, is interrogating a woman, a famous fashion model: Elham Arab. Elham Arab is a female bridal fashion model that stirred much controversy when she made a guest appearance in a TV program called Mah-e Asal (Honeymoon). She is now the subject of a publicly aired interrogation and prosecution. - 5/19/16

Lawyers say OFAC not clearing Iran sanctions ambiguities
Criticisms are rising against the US Treasury Department for what lawyers say is its failure to clear up the ambiguity caused by a maze of overlapping sanctions and exemptions over Iran trade issues. At the center of criticisms is the Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC. - 5/19/16

Anti Death Penalty Activist Sentenced to 10 years in Prison in Iran
Narges Mohammadi, human rights and anti death penalty activist who is the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran was sentenced to 16 years in prison. On 18 May 2015, Judge Abolghasem Salavati who heads the 15th division of Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court stretched the already long prison sentence of Narges Mohammadi by sentencing her to 16 years in prison. - 5/19/16

Iranian Political Activist Tabarzadi Arrested
Iran has reportedly rearrested political activist and journalist Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, who was released last year after spending more than five years in jail for his outspoken criticism of the Iranian establishment. His son said Tabarzadi had "very likely" been arrested on May 17 and reportedly was transferred to the special wing of a Tehran prison notorious for housing political prisoners for the country's intelligence service. The reason for his arrest is unclear. - 5/19/16

Iran's oil exports at highest level since 2012
The latest market figures show that oil exports in April reached the highest level in over four years - a yet another indication that the country is regaining the share of the market it lost as a result of the sanctions at a faster pace than expected. - 5/19/16

Iranian-Turkish Businessman Seeks Bond in Sanctions Evasion Case
WASHINGTON- Lawyers for an Iranian-Turkish national arrested in March on charges of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran have asked a federal court to set a $50 million bond for his release until trial. Reza Zarrab is one of three people charged in what prosecutors allege was a five-year scheme involving millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of the Iranian government and businesses. -Chris Hannas, VOA - 5/19/16

An Ayatollah's Daughter Prompts a Debate on Religious Persecution in Iran
A house visit by a daughter of a prominent ayatollah to a female leader of the persecuted Bahai religious minority touched off a debate this week in Iran about the harsh treatment of a group deemed pagans and impure by the country's dominant clerics. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 5/19/16

Iran's Government and Revolutionary Guards Battle for Control of Economy
President Hassan Rouhani wants to make way for foreign deals and investment by limiting the business role taken on by the Revolutionary Guards when sanctions isolated Iran. -WSJ - 5/19/16

President Rouhani: Croatia can be gateway to Iran's ties with Europe
"Croatia can be the gate of our relations with the European Union due to historical and cultural commonalities between the two countries and its geographical status," Rouhani said during a press conference with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic in Tehran. - 5/18/16

Iran's Fashion Industry under Assault; Details of Arrests of Models by Revolutionary Guards Surface
Eight people working in Iran's fashion industry have been arrested and formally charged in an industry wide crackdown led by the Revolutionary Guards. Cases have also been opened on another 29 people, and most of the 170 fashion industry workers who have been targeted during the past six months have also been interrogated, an informed source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 5/18/16

Kering, Cannes honor Iranian Filmmaker Ida Panahandeh
Kering, a leading world company for apparel and accessories, and the Cannes Film Festival honored Iranian filmmaker Ida Panahandeh with the Women in Motion young talent award on Sunday. - 5/18/16

IMF Warns Iran Not To Rely Only On Oil Revenue To Boost Economy
A top International Monetary Fund official warned Iran not to count on a big jump in oil revenue to boost its economy, but said it should seek other opportunities to re-engage with the global economy. "I speak here today at a pivotal moment for Iran's economy," said IMF Deputy Managing Director David Lipton in a speech at the Central Bank of Iran on May 17 during a two-day visit to Tehran. - 5/18/16

Iran's Parliament Seeks Compensation From U.S. For 'Moral Damages'
In an apparent tit-for-tat move, Iran's outgoing parliament has passed a bill that requires the government to seek compensation from the United States for "material and moral damages" due to U.S. policies toward Tehran over the past six decades. - 5/18/16

Women Prevented from Attending Iran's Premier League Finale
Iranian women were once again blocked from attending a major public sports event alongside men as the police stopped women from entering Tehran's Azadi Stadium for the finale of Iran's Premier League soccer season on May 13, 2016. - 5/18/16

New director of IRIB says change in news programs high on agenda
The new director of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Abdol-Ali Ali-Asgari, has said that making a couple of major changes to new programs is high on the agenda. Speaking to the reporter after his inauguration on Tuesday, he also said that IRIB will turn its main focus on producing educative programs. - 5/18/16

Iran Arrests 8 for 'Un-Islamic' Online Modeling
Iranian police have cracked down on women posting pictures of themselves online with their hair uncovered. Eight female models who posted photos of themselves uncovered have been arrested and charged with "un-Islamic acts." Women in Iran have been required to cover their hair in public ever since the 1979 revolution. - 5/17/16

Preserving Persia's glorious past: Persepolis exhibition showcases Oriental Institute's ongoing work in ancient Iran
Today the Oriental Institute remains the nation's premier center for the study of ancient Iran, and its scholars hope the Persian Empire will play an important role in its future archaeological research. "No other American university has the depth on Persia and Iranian archaeology that the University of Chicago has," says Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute, who was among the half-dozen institute scholars who spoke last year at an international conference in Tehran. - 5/17/16

French Foreign Ministry Staffer with Dual Citizenship Awaits Appeal on Prison Sentence in Iran
Nazak Afshar, an employee of France's Foreign Ministry who holds Iranian and French citizenship, is awaiting a ruling on her appeal against a six-year prison sentence issued by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on unspecified charges. - 5/17/16

Tehran Billboards To Display Famous Artworks
Over 2000 billboard ads will be replaced with images by Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte and Henri Matisse and reproductions of traditional Persian miniatures, carpets, calligraphy and many more for ten days, turning the face of the city into a huge art gallery. - 5/17/16

Regime Changers and War Hawks Dominate Congressional Iran Deal Hearing
It didn't take long for the much remarked upon New York Times Magazine profile of Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes to reach a height that all probing news stories might aspire to: spurring Congressional hearings to investigate wrongdoing on the part of the government. -Ali Gharib, LobeLog - 5/17/16

Iran's Revolutionary Guard Accuses Kim Kardashian of Being a Secret Agent
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp, an agency tasked with policing domestic culture and heading off the influence of other nations, is concerned about the social-media popularity of Kim Kardashian. -Vanity Fair - 5/17/16

Three Iranian projects competing for Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Three Iranian projects were shortlisted with 16 other works from around the world for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture worth $1 million. The projects are the Manouchehri House in the central Iranian city of Kashan, the Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge and the 40 Knots House, both located in Tehran. - 5/16/16

Cleric, daughter slammed for her meeting with Baha'i leader
Faezah Hashemi and her father, the moderate cleric Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, have become the target of serious criticism by conservative factions of the establishment after the daughter met with a Baha'i community leader. - 5/16/16

Historic Iranian village of Abyaneh strained by influx of tourists
Officials of the historic village of Abyaneh say they are faced with a tsunami of tourists. Mohammad Adeli told ISNA that the village faces a tsunami of tourists especially on weekends and holidays. - 5/16/16

IMF deputy director to meet high ranking Iranian officials
The International Monetary Fund's second in command is to meet with the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh, and other senior officials. The IMF's First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, who arrived in Tehran on Sunday, is also set to meet private sector representatives, bankers, academics and students during his two-day visit. - 5/16/16

Drop in Iran's fertility rate frustrates official policy goal
The head of Iran's census department has announced that despite the overhaul of population-control policies, the fertility rate in the country is on the decline. The report adds that gains of 4.25 percent in earlier years have suddenly declined to only 2.3 percent in the past year. - 5/16/16

Hill Update: Undermining the Iran Nuclear Deal
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting 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 Israel-Palestine and Iran. -LobeLog - 5/16/16

Esteghlal Khuzestan stands atop Persian Gulf League podium
Esteghlal Meli-Sanati Khuzestan Football Club, commonly known as Esteghlal Khuzestan, has won the championship of Iran's Persian Gulf Pro League, formerly known as Iran Pro League (IPL), following a well-deserved victory over Isfahan-based Zob Ahan. - 5/14/16

Lack of Medical Attention: "Progressive Premeditated Murder" of Political Prisoners
They did not want to transfer prisoners to the hospital so they brought the hospital to the prison. The planned building of a hospital in Evin Prison was the mark of the judiciary's reluctance to transfer sick prisoners to hospitals outside of the prison. That plan, however, like many other projects undertaken by the Islamic Republic, lacked the necessary preparatory studies and assessments and was ultimately reduced to a clinic. -Ehsan Mehrabi - 5/14/16

Iran's Pasargad wants to become 'global bank'
Pasargad Financial Group, which owns Iran's second largest bank, is considering selling its shares in energy entities in a sign of improving business environment. Iranian banks made inroads into a number of non-banking fields, such as real estates, industry and energy when the most stringent sanctions in 2012 shriveled the economy. - 5/14/16

Iran Hosts Holocaust Cartoon Contest
Masuod Shojai-Tabatabai, the secretary of the contest, claimed it had nothing to do with denying the Holocaust, but that it was meant to highlight the plight of Muslims currently being massacred "by the Zionist regime in Gaza and Palestine." -VOA - 5/14/16

Senior Tabriz city officials charged in growing scandal
The corruption scandal at the Tabriz municipal offices has deepened with the arrest of two more senior managers accused of "receiving bribes and collusion charges". The Tabriz Prosecutor General told Seda va Sima broadcasting on Friday May 13 that the latest detainees are the city's Security Manager and the Manager of Tabriz City Hall. - 5/14/16

Sadiq Khan and the End of Islamophobia
In the recent mayoral race in London, the Conservative Party's Zac Goldsmith was in many ways the perfect candidate: a young, handsome fellow who possessed full-spectrum appeal. To win the election, Goldsmith could have focused on all the work he'd done on the environment, as a journalist and former editor of the magazine The Ecologist... Instead, the Goldsmith team prompted a huge backlash by suggesting that his opponent, the Labor Party's Sadiq Khan, was a Muslim extremist because of his associations and his political bedfellows. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 5/14/16

US Navy Officer Fired Over Iran Incident; More Action Expected
A U.S. Navy commander has been fired and further disciplinary action may follow as American authorities investigate the detention of 10 U.S. sailors who entered Iranian waters by accident in January. - 5/14/16

Where Iran Sanctions Relief Falls Short
Over the last few weeks, the debate about supposed U.S. obstruction of sanctions relief has reached a fever pitch. Secretary of State Kerry has brushed off criticism from Europe and Iran, making it clear that the US stands by its obligations under JCPOA. He has stated that US sanctions are used as "an excuse" to hide the fact that some European companies "don't want to do business or they don't see a good business deal." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj - 5/13/16

Maryam Mirzakhani, First Iranian Woman to be Elected to the National Academy of Sciences
Maryam Mirzakhani, a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, was recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences. One of the highest honors for scientists in the United States, new members are elected by current members based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. - 5/13/16

Banks Still Wary Of Doing Business With Iran Despite U.S. Urging
Some of the top European bankers who met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to hear assurances that they can resume business with Iran still have no plans of doing so. Britain's Standard Chartered bank, which, along with France's BNP Paribas, has been fined billions of dollars for breaking U.S. sanctions against Iran in the past, issued a statement after the meeting on May 12, saying it hasn't changed its plans. - 5/13/16

Cleric Calls On Khamenei To Back Female Lawmaker Barred From Parliament
A prominent Iranian cleric has called on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to intervene in the case of a reformist lawmaker who has been barred from taking her seat in parliament after photos published on social media reportedly showed her not wearing a hijab. - 5/13/16

Supporters of Nuclear Deal Should Promote Iran Human Rights
At a panel discussion Wednesday at the Atlantic Council that this reporter moderated, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, expressed optimism that the Iranian government could improve its record on human rights in the aftermath of a landmark nuclear deal. -Barbara Slavin - 5/13/16

White House, Congress Clash Over Aide's Tactics Pushing Iran Deal
The White House and congressional Republicans sparred on May 12 over an aide who was reported to have used questionable tactics to "sell" the Iran nuclear deal to Congress and the press. - 5/13/16

The Costs of Violence
In brief, the Global War on Terror sledgehammer strategy has spread jihadi terror from a tiny corner of Afghanistan to much of the world, from Africa through the Levant and South Asia to Southeast Asia. It has also incited attacks in Europe and the United States. The invasion of Iraq made a substantial contribution to this process, much as intelligence agencies had predicted. -Noam Chomsky, LobeLog - 5/13/16

Ahmadinejad's Return to Public Eye in Iran Fuels Talk of Comeback
After nearly three years out of the public eye following two terms as president, Ahmadinejad has made a handful of appearances in the past few weeks, including his speech last week in Jiroft, which have stoked talk of a political comeback. -Reuters - 5/13/16

Urban air pollution killing seven million annually: WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of rising air pollution in cities across the world, estimating that it is claiming the lives of seven million people every year. The dirtiest air was recorded at the Iranian city of Zabol, which suffers from months of dust storms in the summer - 5/12/16

Kerry Reassures Top Bank Executives On Doing Business With Iran
Kerry told the meeting of European bank executives in London on May 12 that lenders will not be penalized for doing legitimate business with Iran because most global sanctions have been removed under Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. - 5/12/16

Iran: Poet Released After Multiple Arrests. Activist Teacher Released After Hunger Strike
Keyvan Mehregan, the Iranian poet, journalist and filmmaker, was released from Evin Prison on Wednesday May 11. Mehregan's wife, Afsaneh Parchekani, reports that the prosecutor and the judge agreed to a conditional release for her husband, who had been on a furlough. - 5/12/16

Neocons for Trump?
The dominant media narrative is that an insurmountable chasm exists between Donald Trump and the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. Derek Davison and Jim Lobe mapped out the contours of that divide, pointing to Trump's isolationist foreign policy leanings and his position as "neutral" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the basis for neocons' discontent. -Eli Clifton - 5/12/16

British mother, Nazanin Ratcliffe, held prisoner in Iran 'allowed to see daughter and parents'
The British mother held prisoner in Iran has been allowed to see her parents and her infant daughter for the first time since her arrest. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, was allowed out of solitary confinement for over two hours on Wednesday. -Telegraph, UK - 5/12/16

U.S. Holocaust Museum Calls On Iran To Disavow Cartoon Contest
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has called on the Iranian government to disavow a Holocaust cartoon contest that is due to kick off next week. Iran's foreign minister has denied any affiliation with the event, which begins on May 14 and features prizes ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 for the top three entries. - 5/12/16

Iranian pilgrims won't be sent to Hajj this year: Minister
Iran says it will not send pilgrims to Hajj this year because Saudi Arabia is refusing to cooperate on arrangements for Iranians to join the annual rituals in September. "Conditions are not prepared for conducting Hajj; we have lost the time; we made our utmost effort but the sabotage is coming from the Saudis," Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati said on Thursday. - 5/12/16

American Power Under Challenge
When we ask "Who rules the world?" we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading. -Noam Chomsky, LobeLog - 5/12/16

Rouhani's Incomplete Victory in Iran's Parliamentary Elections
Iran's new parliament has many new faces, and, for the first time, more women members than clergymen. But with no clear victor after the 28 April completion of Iran's parliamentary elections, Senior Iran Analyst Ali Vaez argues in this Q&A that President Hassan Rouhani will face many challenges and that rapid change is unlikely. -LobeLog - 5/12/16

Kerry To Meet With London Bankers On Doing Business With Iran
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with top bankers in London on May 12 to reassure them that the United States will not stand in the way if they want to do business with Iran. He contended that some banks have used remaining U.S. sanctions on Tehran as an "excuse" to not venture into Iran, despite their ability to do so now that most global sanctions have been removed under Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. - 5/11/16

Iranian Political Prisoners Turn to Life-Threatening Hunger Strikes to Protest Unjust Sentences
The imprisoned spokesman of the Iranian Teachers' Trade Association, Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, was hospitalized on May 8, 2016 after falling seriously ill from a 17-day hunger strike. The imprisoned teacher's rights activists Esmail Abdi and Jafar Azimzadeh, who are also on hunger strikes, are in poor health as well, an informed source told the Campaign. - 5/11/16

Kayhan Kalhor's concert in Nishapur cancelled despite proper permits
The concert of Prominent musician Kayhan Kalhor in Nishapur was cancelled on Tuesday May 10 by the order of the city's prosecutor. The Our Music website reports that the concert was to be held for two nights and it had obtained all necessary performance permits from the Ministry of Culture and Guidance. The concert is also scheduled to play in Yazd, Kermanshah, Khorramabad and Tehran. - 5/11/16

Additional Weirdness in Opposition to the Iran Nuclear Agreement
The never-say-die efforts to kill the Iranian nuclear agreement have been taking some strange turns lately. Two in particular. One is that some of the same opponents who, before the agreement was adopted, spent much energy berating the terms of the agreement are now focusing instead on criticizing certain actions by the U.S. administration toward Iran that the opponents assert are not among the terms of the agreement... -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 5/11/16

Take A Photo With Syrian Destruction At Tehran's Book Fair
A photo booth where visitors can have their photos taken in front of images of war-torn Syria is among the attractions at this year's Tehran Book Fair. The booth attracted criticism after Iran's official government news agency, IRNA, published photos of visitors sitting atop a motorcycle while wearing military attire, with a backdrop of a bombed-out city looming behind them. - 5/11/16

Leader of Islamic Revolution appoints new IRIB chief
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has accepted resignation of head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Mohammad Sarafraz, appointing Abdolali Ali Asgari as his successor. - 5/11/16

Saudi Energy Policies Unlikely to Shift Under New Minister
Saudi Arabia's energy policies are unlikely to change despite the fact that longtime energy minister, Ali al-Naimi, was removed on May 7 and Khalid al-Falih appointed as his successor. -Sara Vakhshouri, LobeLog - 5/11/16

Lawmaker Says Up To Six Iranian Personnel Captured In Syria
A senior Iranian lawmaker says around six Iranian military personnel have been taken captive in Syria following May 6 clashes with Islamist insurgents that left 13 "military advisers" dead and more than a dozen injured. The statement by Esmail Kowsari appears to be the first official confirmation by Tehran that its fighters have been taken prisoner in Syria. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 5/10/16

Iranian women barred from provincial stages as classical concert tours
The third leg of Shahram and Hafez Nazeri's Persian classical music concert tour is set to kick off in Isfahan on May 19 and 20, and the group's female musicians have been banned from appearing on stage. - 5/10/16

Iran to sue US for assets seizure at The Hague: President Rouhani
President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will soon lodge a complaint against Washington with The Hague over a US court ruling that paves the way for the use of billions of Tehran's frozen assets. "The government will never allow for the money that belongs to the Iranian nation be easily gobbled up by the Americans," he told a large crowd in the southeastern city of Kerman on Tuesday. - 5/10/16

Husband Of Detained British-Iranian Woman Calls On Britain To Bring Her Home
The husband of a British-Iranian charity worker detained in Iran for more than a month has called on British authorities to bring her home. "The cruelty of the situation seems both outrageous and arbitrary -- that a young mum and baby can be treated as some national security threat is absurd, far outside any reality our family was familiar with," Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said in a statement. - 5/10/16

Iconic Persian Composer Passes Away in Exile: Houshang Ostovar (1927-2016)
The Persian composer Houshang Ostovar passed away in Paris. He was 89. On January 7th, 2015, the composer died of cancer but for unclear reasons, his wife, Farideh Behboud, waited 4 months to make an announcement, ISNA reported. - 5/10/16

Iran police chase involving illegal Afghan immigrants ends in fatalities
A police car chase of a truck in Kerman led to the death of five immigrants and injury of another 13. ISNA reports that the truck carrying illegal immigrants sped away when the police tried to stop it, resulting in a chase in the Anar region of Kerman on Saturday May 7. - 5/10/16

Samuels, Rhodes, and the Iran Deal: Consider the Source
A May 5 New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for strategic communications, has revived the debate over the negotiations that led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Specifically, the piece highlights what appear to be efforts by Rhodes and his communications team to obfuscate the nature and goals of the negotiations and to use reporters and sympathetic arms control experts as an "echo chamber" supporting the White House's messaging. -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 5/10/16

British-Iranian Woman Detained In Iran
A British-Iranian citizen has reportedly been in jail in Iran for over a month. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters foundation, was detained at Tehran airport on April 3 by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) while returning to London where she lives, her family said. - 5/9/16

Foreigners can purchase 100% shares of Iranian state-run firms: Official
Deputy Head of Iranian Privatization Organization (IPO) Davoud Khani announced that his organization is ready to transfer 100 percent of the shares of state-run firms to foreign investors without any limit, IRNA reported on Sunday. - 5/9/16

Iran test-fires long-range ballistic missile
Iran recently test-fired a ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers and accuracy to within eight meters, a senior Iranian military official says quoted by the Tasnim news agency. - 5/9/16

Imprisoned Human Rights Lawyer's Daughter: Help My Father Before It's Too Late
Abdolfattah Soltani, an imprisoned human rights lawyer, requires immediate hospitalization following his most recent transfer to Evin Prison's infirmary for heart problems, his daughter, Maedeh Soltani, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 5/9/16

Shahrdad Rohani appointed conductor of Tehran Symphony Orchestra
Maestro Shahrdad Rohani, who has led some prestigious orchestras, including London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, took on a new role as conductor of the Tehran Symphony Orchestra on Sunday. - 5/9/16

Iran Through The Eyes Of A Teenage Amateur Astronomer
"Every day, every night, I dream of floating in space." These are the words of Sepideh, an Iranian teenage girl who is in love with astronomy and wants to be an astronaut. -Salman Hameed, NPR - 5/9/16

The Viability Of Central-South Asian Energy Projects
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Central Asia-South Asia electricity transmission project, known as CASA-1000, is scheduled for May 12 in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. The leaders of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan are coming to join Tajik President Emomali Rahmon for the event. -Bruce Pannier, RFE - 5/9/16

U.S. Sanctions Still Hinder European Business with Iran
Frustration was palpable at a conference this week in Switzerland on European business with Iran. The continued hangover of United States sanctions that prevent Iranian access to the U.S. financial system - and bankers' fear of punitive new fines - are inhibiting the mega deals that many Iranians and Europeans anticipated would follow implementation of a landmark nuclear deal. -Barbara Slavin - 5/8/16

Iran Admits Heavy Casualties In Syria
Tehran says several of its soldiers have been killed in fighting near Aleppo, in what could be one of Iran's biggest losses in Syria since deploying forces to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. - 5/8/16

Iranian Journalists Face Growing Threats and Intimidation by Authorities
Iran's Intelligence Ministry officials are increasingly harassing and threatening independent journalists in an apparent move to dissuade them from feeling emboldened by reformist and centrist candidates' gains in the county's recent Parliamentary elections. - 5/8/16

Iranian MP decries unclear reason for candidate's elimination
Iranian MP Ahmad Tavakoli has expressed serious reservations about the Guardian Council's disqualification of Minoo Khaleghi, the candidate who won the third-highest number of votes in Isfahan, and said the lack of transparency around this decision compromises the council's credibility. - 5/8/16

Brother of detained Iranian opposition leader survives stabbing
Mir Mahmoud Mousavi, the brother of opposition leader Mir Hosein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011, was assaulted on Saturday evening May 7. He was wounded in the neck but survived the attack. - 5/8/16

Hill Update: Undermining the Iran Nuclear Deal
As we have over the past few months, LobeLog is posting 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 Israel-Palestine and Iran. - 5/8/16

Women in Iran's Parliament: Opportunities and Challenges
Iran's tenth parliament will begin its term in June boasting many firsts, including the highest number of female parliamentarians. In Iran's first round of parliamentary elections, 14 female MPs were elected, and, according to the results of Iran's run-off parliamentary elections held on April 29, an additional four women have been elected as MPs. - 5/6/16

US Navy to Avoid Hormuz After Iran Threat to Close Strait
U.S. Defense Department spokesman Colonel Steven Warren says U.S. warships have stopped accompanying U.S. and British-flagged commercial vessels through the Strait of Hormuz. The move came after Iran threatened to close the waterway to U.S. and allied vessels. - 5/6/16

Non-Aligned Movement slams US court ruling on Iran's frozen assets
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which is comprised of 120 member states, has denounced the US Supreme Court's recent ruling that allows for the seizure of frozen Iranian assets, describing the measure as violation of the international law. - 5/6/16

Police bust private Tehran party, arrest actors
Seven Iranian actors were arrested at a party in Tehran, according to an Iranian media report. Mizan Khabar, the Iranian judiciary website, announced on Wednesday that seven "famous actors" were arrested at a party in Tehran's Saadat Abad neighbourhood. - 5/6/16

Three Share Rights Group's 'Creative Dissent' Award
The New York-based Human Rights Foundation has awarded its 2016 Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent to an Iranian cartoonist, a Russian performance artist and an Uzbek photojournalist. "The prize celebrates those who, with bravery and ingenuity, unmask the lie of dictatorship by living the truth," the foundation said in a release Thursday. - 5/6/16

Craft & Folk Art Museum and Farhang Foundation Announce Call For Submissions For Juried Exhibition Of Contemporary Photography And Video
The Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) and Farhang Foundation announce a call for submissions for Focus Iran 2: Contemporary Photography and Video, the second biennial international juried exhibition of contemporary photography and video works relating to Iranian culture and heritage. - 5/6/16

Despite Election Gains, Fragile Nuclear Deal a Test for Iran's Leaders
Foreign business leaders have descended on Iran this year, eager to jump-start deals worth billions of dollars as international sanctions against Tehran are lifted, under last year's agreement to set limits on Iran's nuclear program. For Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who consolidated his support in the final round of parliamentary elections last week, it's a sign that the nuclear deal, his premier accomplishment to date, is working. -Heather Murdock, VOA - 5/5/16

Jailed Iranian bloggers released for medical reasons
Jailed Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was released on Wednesday May 4 from Evin Prison. Ronaghi Maleki was finally able to secure the approval of the prosecutor's office for his release on medical grounds. Meanwhile, family of jailed lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani has expressed serious concern regarding the failure of prison authorities to provide him with adequate medical care. - 5/5/16

Iran's Salehi, IAEA's Amano meet, discuss JCPOA implementation
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have discussed the implementation of Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers. - 5/5/16

51 Million Euro of Iranian Firm's Shares Sold Via SWIFT
Iran says a foreign company has purchased 30 percent of one of its leading detergent producing brands for a total value of around 51 million through SWIFT - what is already seen as a breakthrough move in the country's stock market. - 5/5/16

Iran Bans American Cars After Critical Speech By Khamenei
Tehran's new ban on such imports was imposed on May 1 after a speech by Khamenei on April 27 questioning why Iranians should drive American cars at all. "Americans themselves don't use U.S.-made cars," Khamenei said. "We have seen this reflected in American media. They argue that fuel consumption is high and the cars are heavy." - 5/5/16

Heaven's Scent: On the trail of oud, from scriptures and souqs to the heart of the jungle
I have known oud for as long as I can remember; it has been present in almost every aspect of my life. The scent was in every sitting I was in - at home, at the houses of my neighbours and relatives, and in every mosque. -Ali Al-Woozain, Reorient - 5/5/16

The Price Bahrain Pays for Saudi Assistance
Predictably, Bahrain has sided entirely with its neighbor and close ally Saudi Arabia in the Riyadh-Tehran diplomatic crisis. Of the five smaller GCC states, Bahrain alone completely severed diplomatic relations with Iran. -Cinzia Bianco and Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 5/5/16

Iran: Flawed Convictions for Journalists
An Iranian court convicted three journalists and a family member of another journalist on April 25, 2016 on vague national security charges. The four, along with a fifth journalist, have been detained since November, 2015. The authorities should quash their convictions and release them. - 5/4/16

South Korea offers Iran $25bn in loans
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday that her country had prepared a package of loans worth a total of $25 billion for the development of Iran's infrastructure projects. President Park, who was speaking in a joint meeting of Iranian and South Korean traders in Tehran, expressed hope that Iran would be able to exploit the loan package efficiently. - 5/4/16

3rd Europe-Iran Forum opens in Zurich
The 3rd Europe-Iran Forum opened on Tuesday in Zurich, Switzerland. The 2-day event offers a new and innovative program designed to balance high-level networking opportunities with panels and industry-focused workshops of real practical value. - 5/4/16

Iran bans imports of American cars
Iran's Minister of Mine, Industries and Trade Mohammad-Reza Nematzadeh has ordered to stop imports of US-made cars into the country, thus preventing a cargo of Chevrolets from entering into the country. - 5/4/16

Imprisoned Irnian Teacher Begins Hunger Strike to Protest Years Behind Bars for Peaceful Union Activities
Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi, a teacher and activist who was sentenced to five years in prison and an additional four-year suspended prison sentence during a trial that lasted less than eight minutes, has been on hunger strike since April 20, 2016 in Tehran's Evin Prison to protest "the tyrannical sentence issued by the Revolutionary Court," a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 5/4/16

Hajj to be canceled unless Saudis carry out responsibilities: Iran
"If Saudi Arabia carries out its responsibilities as the host government towards the health and safety of the pilgrims, Hajj will take place, otherwise, Iranians will not be able to take part in Hajj." - 5/4/16

Iran Nuclear Deal: One-time Event or Breakthrough?
- Tehran and Washington have apparently hired the same speechwriter to compose their public statements about the state of Iranian nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). In both capitals the proclaimed view is identical: the nuclear agreement is only a one-off event and has no larger implications for U.S.-Iranian relations; there has been no break in the 35-year cycle of hostility between the two countries; the devil remains the devil, even if we had to make a deal with it... -John Limbert - 5/3/16

Report: Iran Paying With Blood to Prop Up Syrian Regime
Keeping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power has come with a deadly price tag for Iran, which has lost more troops in the war-torn country in the past six months than in the previous two years. More than 280 Iranian troops have been killed in Syria since September of last year, according to an analysis by the Levantine Group of casualties reported by Iranian media. -Jeff Seldin, VOA - 5/3/16

Major rise in Iran's imports from Russia
Iran's media on Monday reported a major rise of above 400 percent in imports by Iran from Russia in March. ISNA news agency in a report announced that the value of Iran's imports from Russia in March stood at $132 million. It said the figure marked a significant rise compared to the same period last year. - 5/3/16

Iran has over 190 cases ready to sue US: MP
A senior Iranian legislator has called on those who have sustained losses as a result of US hostile moves over the past decades to sue Washington in retaliation. The US Supreme Court ruled last month Iran's assets frozen in a bank account to be turned over to the American families of those killed in a 1983 bombing in Beirut and other attacks blamed on Iran. - 5/3/16

Female Journalist, Sentenced to Ten Years, Beaten in Iran Prison
The mother of imprisoned newspaper columnist Afarin Chitsaz will make a judicial complaint to protest the beating of her daughter in prison. Maryam Azadpour, who recently broken her silence on Chitsaz's case, described her daughter's ordeal in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 5/3/16

Leader slams "sinful" travel to Turkish resort city
Iran's Supreme Leader has spoken out against Iranians travelling to destinations such as Antalya in Turkey and called for a ban on the advertisement of such trips. The Javan News Agency reported on Monday May 2 that Ayatollah Khamenei has described Antalya, Turkey as a place of "vice and debauchery" and branded travelling to this city as "sinful". - 5/3/16

The subtle sophistication of Iran
Helene Capgras, Director of Brain for Beauty and expert in the sociological study of cosmetics markets, has focused on this complex country with a strong identity through an overview study to better understand what Iran is today and how it relates to Beauty. -Premium Beauty News - 5/3/16

WBSC launch project to promote baseball and softball in Iran
A collaborative agreement between the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the Iran Baseball and Softball Association has been announced in an effort to expand and develop the sports in the country. -Inside the Games - 5/3/16

Iran prepared to attract foreign investment: President Rouhani
President Hassan Rouhani says there is suitable ground for foreign investment in Iran as he received his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye in Tehran. President Park was accorded an official welcome in Tehran on Monday on the first day of her three-day visit, heading South Korea's biggest-ever traveling business delegation of over 230 executives. - 5/2/16

Iranian Hardliners vs. Reformists: The Future of the JCPOA
Three years after reformer Hassan Rouhani became president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and eight months after signing the historic nuclear deal by Iran and the P5+1, Shahin Dadkhah left Iran for good and moved to Turkey. Dadkhah is a former advisor to the Supreme National Security Council and a former member of the nuclear negotiating team. -Pupak Mohebali - 5/2/16

From Blog To Telegram, Iranian Citizen Journalist Keeps Challenging Regime
By day, Amir pores over data on nuclear safety at a European research institute in pursuit of his doctorate in neutron imaging. But by night, he becomes a witty, tech-savvy citizen journalist who floods the Persian-language cyberspace with news and information about his native Iran with "a twist of humor." It keeps him up to speed with the country he loves but dares not return to, Amir says, for fear of arrest over his web activism. -Golnaz Esfandiari - 5/2/16

Revolutionary Guards Going after Family Members of Iranian Journalists Living Abroad
In a long-established practice of targeting the family members of Iranian journalists who live outside Iran, the Revolutionary Guards have sentenced the brother of a journalist to five years in prison, on trumped up national security charges. - 5/2/16

Seven Reasons Iran Could Become An Entrepreneurial Powerhouse
The headlines about Iran's economy have faded, but the momentum hasn't. The $400 billion economy, the second largest in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia, is expected to grow by almost 7% next year, according to the World Bank... "In the last three years, more than 200 startups have formed in Iran. A movement has begun. It's accelerating." -Elizabeth MacBride, Forbes - 5/2/16

Iran and #BlackLivesMatter
Iran has been hosting an annual "New Horizons conference," which it established to address emerging global concerns. Most recently in October 2015, the conference focused on race relations and police brutality cases in the U.S. -Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, LobeLog - 5/2/16

Mea Culpa: Ideas of home, displacement, and migration converge in Ghazel's latest exhibition
Ghazel, most commonly known by her first name alone, is an Iranian artist who has been living in France since the 1980s. She pursued a formal education in visual art, completing an MFA at the Ecole Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Nimes. The decades following her departure from her native Iran have been devoted to developing a language that addresses processes of rupture and the growth of a set of peripheral relationships between experiences in Iran and France. -Sayantan Mukhopadhyay, Reorient - 5/2/16

President Rohani's Allies Score Resounding Win In Second-Round Elections
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has welcomed the success of the moderate-reformist bloc in the second round of parliamentary elections. Reformist and moderate politicians allied with Rohani won 42 percent of the total seats, short of an absolute majority. But their conservative rivals were outnumbered for the first time since 2004. - 5/1/16

Number of female MPs in Iran Parliament reaches record high
With the victory of four more women in the second round of parliamentary elections, the number of women in the 10th Iranian parliament reached 17, which is a record high for the Islamic Republic. - 5/1/16

South Korea President Arrives In Tehran For Historic Visit
Park Geun-hye has arrived in the Iranian capital Tehran for a historic visit to strengthen political and economic relations between the two countries. Park landed in Mehrabad Airport on Sunday for a three-day official visit together with representatives from some 236 South Korean companies and organizations. She was welcomed by Iran's Industry, Mines and Trade Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh. - 5/1/16

Iranian workers cry out against job insecurity
The head of Iran's Workers' House opened Workers' Day events by speaking of the lack of job security for hundreds of thousands of Iranian workers. Iranian workers marked International Workers' Day one day early, on April 30, with thousands of workers joining the march, Iranian media report. - 5/1/16

Transfer of the Caspian Sea Waters is a violation of the International Law
Plans to transfer Caspian Sea waters have been discussed, studied and followed by the Caspian Sea littoral and non-littoral countries in the past and they are subject of serious debates at present. However, it seems that major transfer of the Caspian Sea waters, unilaterally and without the consent of all other littoral states is not compatible with the international law and even if a consensus is reached in this regard. -Bahman Aghai Diba - 5/1/16

Iranian weightlifters finish runner-up in Asian championships
Iranian weightlifters have brilliantly finished their campaign at the 46th edition of the Senior Men's Asian Weightlifting Championships in Uzbekistan, ranking second in the continental sporting event. - 5/1/16

UN Ready To Help On Iran Assets Dispute With U.S. If Both Sides Ask
The UN says that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is ready to help settle a dispute between Iran and the United States over Tehran's frozen assets if both sides ask for his assistance. - 5/1/16

Self-immolating Iranian migrant dies in Australian hospital
The 23-year-old Iranian migrant named Omid who set himself on fire in Nauru's camp for asylum seekers trying to get into Australia has reportedly died. He reportedly lived in the camp with his wife and was airlifted to Australia to get treatment for his burns. His wife alleges that officials delayed his transfer to hospital. - 5/1/16
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