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Iranian woman Elham Sadat Asghari swims into Guinness Book of World Records
Iranian female swimmer Elham Sadat Asghari has managed to swim her way into the Guinness Book of World Records. The 36-year-old Iranian sportswoman recently completed the challenge of swimming handcuffed for more than three hours non-stop in the Persian Gulf waters off the coast of the southwestern port city of Bushehr - 7/26/17

Trump Warns Iran Faces 'Big Problems' If Doesn't Keep Honoring Nuclear Deal
U.S. President Donald Trump issued another warning to Iran late on July 25, saying Tehran must honor its nuclear deal with world powers or face "big, big problems." Trump's harsh rhetoric against Iran, which was a feature of his campaign and has continued since he took office, recently has provoked equally harsh responses from Tehran. - 7/26/17

U.S. Navy Ship Fires Warning Shots Near Iranian Vessel In Persian Gulf
The U.S. military says a U.S. Navy patrol boat fired warning shots toward an Iranian Navy ship in the northern part of the Persian Gulf on July 25 after the Iranian vessel came within 140 meters of the U.S. ship. U.S. Central Command said the USS Thunderbolt fired the warning shots after attempts to communicate by radio were ignored by the Iranian vessel. - 7/26/17

US sanctions fail to hinder rapid growth of Iran's tech sector: Report
Iran's tech market continues to boom despite the US sanctions against the country, while the bans have merely restricted the global giants' access to Iran's lucrative tech market, a new report says. "US sanctions have protected the Islamic republic's tech sector, barring Silicon Valley from profiting from one of the world's most promising emerging markets, and giving a free run to domestic start-ups to recreate their services," a Tuesday report by AFP read. - 7/26/17

1,600 Teachers Demand Iran's Judiciary Free Imprisoned Rights Activist
More than one thousand Iranian teachers have issued a statement calling for the release of a teacher imprisoned for peacefully advocating for teachers' rights in the southern port city of Bushehr. Omrani, 40, began serving a one-year sentence for "propaganda against the state" on May 3, 2017. He was arrested in the winter of 2016 by the Intelligence Ministry in Bushehr and released on bail after being interrogated for a month. - 7/26/17

House OKs New Sanctions Against Iran as Tehran Flexes Military Muscle
The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of imposing new sanctions on Iran, a move that most likely will further exacerbate tensions between Washington and Tehran. - 7/26/17

Iranian TV Personality Who Promoted Compulsory Islamic Dress Under Fire Over Photos
A well-known Iranian television personality has been accused of hypocrisy after images of her in which she is not adhering to the country's Islamic dress code surfaced online. Presenter turned actress Azadeh Namdari has for years promoted compliance with the hijab, which in Iran refers to Islamic dress that covers the hair and body. In particular she has touted the wearing of the black chador, a garment that covers women from head to toe, leaving the face exposed. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 7/26/17

Iran's annual GDP growth stands at 11.1%: Official
Iran's Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht put the country's growth of gross domestic product (GDP), including oil sector, at 11.1 percent in the past Iranian calendar year (ended on March 20, 2017). In a press conference on Tuesday, the official also put Iran's non-oil GDP growth at 6.4 percent in the past year, Fars news agency reported. - 7/26/17

No outright denial from Iran on Omani mediation with United States
Iran neither rejected nor confirmed on Monday that Oman had acted as a go-between to pass messages between Tehran and Washington while highlighting "ongoing consultation" with the Arab sultanate. "There is ongoing consultation (between the two countries) and the visit of Oman's foreign minister to Tehran was part of bilateral and regional affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told a press conference in Tehran on Monday. - 7/25/17

A challenge for tourists: Babak Fort, high up in the mountains
High in the mountains at an altitude of 2,300 meters lies the relatively well-preserved Babak fortress, a tourist destination near Kaleybar in West Azarbaijan Province, northwest Iran. Locally known as Qaleh Babak, it consists of several stone towers and lodging areas stretched in an area of nearly ten thousand square meters, attributed to the Sassanid-era (224-651). The fort is named after Babak Khorramdin, an Iranian warlord who managed to resist Arab invaders until his death in 838 CE. - 7/25/17

Poisonings Put Spotlight On Iran's Alcohol Problem
Mass alcohol poisoning and related deaths have exposed an alcohol problem in the Islamic republic, where a ban introduced following the 1979 revolution has failed to prevent Iranians from drinking. Ninety-two people were poisoned, four fatally, after drinking in Sirjan in the southern province of Kerman, Iranian media reported on July 23. - 7/25/17

Downgraded Sentence for Teachers' Rights Activist Issued Amid Ongoing Prosecution of Labor Leaders in Iran
A senior member of the Iranian Teachers' Trade Association (ITTA) has taken no solace in the downgrading of the three-month prison sentence issued to ITTA member Taher Ghaderzadeh to a suspended sentence. "Some of my friends were happy about the light suspended sentence, but we must remember that these actions are aimed at silencing teachers," said the senior ITTA member, who spoke to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on condition of anonymity. - 7/25/17

China's EXIM inks $1.5B deal for high-speed rail in Iran
The Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM) signs a $1.5 billion deal to finance the electrification of a high-speed rail line between the Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad. EXIM's Vice President Sun Ping and CEO of the Bank of Industry and Mine Ali Ashraf Afkhami signed the documents in Tehran on Tuesday after "16 months of intensive talks", the Iranian official said. - 7/25/17

Iranian Opposition Cleric Karrubi Hospitalized
Iranian opposition figure Mehdi Karrubi has been hospitalized due to a heart condition, his son said. Karrubi, a former parliament speaker who has been under house arrest since 2011 without being charged, was also briefly hospitalized in March. - 7/25/17

Russian, Kazakh, Iranian Warships In Baku For Caspian Competition
BAKU -- Russian, Kazakh, and Iranian naval vessels are in Baku ahead of a four-nation "competition" that is to be held off Azerbaijan's coast in the Caspian Sea from August 1-11. - 7/25/17

Iranian cyclist Zaynab Sasanian loses her life in car accident
Member of the Iranian national women's cycling team, Zaynab Sasanian, has been killed in a road crash, while driving her car in the country's northwestern city of Ardabil. The 19-year-old Iranian sportsman lost life early on Monday, when her car collided with a tree in the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili Street of the city, located 594 kilometers northwest the capital Tehran. - 7/25/17

Iran's speed climber Alipour wins gold at The World Games 2017
Iranian speed climber Reza Alipour won the country's first gold medal in The World Games history on Sunday. Alipour registered multiple times below 5.70 seconds on route to winning the first gold medal. - 7/24/17

Iranian media abuzz with speculation about President Rouhani's next cabinet line-up
Speculation has been rife in Iranian media outlets about what Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's next cabinet line-up will look like. President Rouhani has himself been particularly reticent about individual choices, sending the speculation mill at newspapers, periodicals, news websites, and the social media into overdrive less than two weeks before his new administration officially takes office. - 7/24/17

Iranian students shine at chemistry, math Olympiads
Two teams of Iranian students won several medals in the 49th International Chemistry Olympiad and the 58th International Mathematical Olympiad, which were held in Thailand in Brazil respectively in recent days. Iran ranked third at the chemistry Olympiad seventh at Math - 7/24/17

Political Prisoners Including Swedish Resident Hidden from Ambassadors During Evin Prison Visit
Shortly before Iranian officials took the Swedish and other foreign ambassadors on a staged tour of Evin Prison on July 5, 2017, Swedish resident Ahmadreza Djalali and other political prisoners were moved to a ward under the control of Iran's Intelligence Ministry. - 7/24/17

Iranian Deputies Push To Abolish Execution For Drug-Related Offenses
Iranian lawmakers have proposed changes to the country's tough antidrugs laws, a move that could abolish the death penalty for some drug-related crimes. If approved by parliament, a proposed amendment could curb the number of executions in the Islamic republic, which has one of the highest rates of capital punishment in the world. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL - 7/24/17

Iran, Afghanistan to link railway networks
Iran and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Sunday for implementing a project linking rail networks of the two neighboring countries. The MOU, between Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (IRIR), also known as RAI, and Afghanistan Railway Authority (ARA), was signed by IRIR's Managing Director Saeed Mohammadzadeh and Afghanistan Railway Authority's Director General Mohammad Yamma Shams during a meeting at IRIR's building in Tehran. - 7/24/17

Iran Rejects Trump Warning About U.S. Prisoners
Iran has rejected demands by the United States that Tehran release Americans detained in Iranian prisons. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in a statement on July 22 that "any interventionist and threatening statement by American officials and institutions has no effect on the will and determination of the country's judicial system to try and punish criminals and violators of the country's laws and national security." - 7/23/17

Iran's Telecommunications Minister Pledges To "Get Rid of" Foreign Social Media Despite Past Failed Attempts
President Hassan Rouhani's Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi has refuted criticism that he has been unwilling to block online content deemed immoral by state authorities and has pledged to "get rid of" foreign-based social media networks despite previous failed attempts. At the same time, the minister admitted that some of the demands being made of him by state officials outside the Rouhani government are politically motivated. - 7/23/17

Photos: Iran launches mass-production line for Sayyad-3 missiles
Designed and constructed by the scientists and experts of Aerospace Industry at the Ministry of Defense, Sayyad-3 Missile production line was launched on Saturday morning while a number of missiles were delivered to Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base. Dhghan said Sayyad-3 high-altitude air-defense missile has been designed with a range of 120 km and a 27-km flight altitude against airborne threats at medium and long range. - 7/23/17

Impoverished Children Without Identification Documents Deprived of Education in Iran
Children without state-issued identification documents mostly from Iran's underdeveloped border provinces are being denied education in Iran, attorney Osman Mozayan told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Iran only provides education to citizens and establishes citizenship based on the father's nationality. - 7/23/17

Iran, Iraq sign MoU to boost defense and military cooperation
Iran and Iraq have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost defense and military cooperation in a variety of fields. The agreement was inked by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and his Iraqi counterpart, Erfan al-Hiyali, in Tehran on Sunday. - 7/23/17

U.S. Lawmakers Reportedly Agree On Sanctions For Russia, Iran, North Korea
U.S. lawmakers say they have reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill that would bring new sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The new sanctions package in the agreed-to legislation would impose mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic-missile program and any person or entity that does business with them. The measure would also apply "terrorism sanctions" to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and put in force an arms embargo. - 7/23/17

Iran needs new development vision
Since the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, Iran's development policies and investment plans have been formulated in so-called five-year plans (5YPs), with the first one starting in 1989. Five 5YPs have been completed so far, and Iran started the implementation of the sixth 5YP on March 21. The approval and implementation of this latest plan had been delayed due to disagreements between the government and the parliament -- disagreements that point to key differences on what political stakeholders understand as a "development plan." -Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor - 7/23/17

Iranians pushing boundaries in 'private sphere' debate
Every now and then, Iranian media outlets are full of news and analysis about the boundaries between the "private" and "public" spheres. The most recent episode began July 7, when Mohammad Tarahomi, legal affairs traffic police deputy, announced that personal vehicles are not considered a "private sphere" and are thus subject to all public regulations, including mandatory veiling. -Mahmoud Pargoo, Al-Monitor - 7/23/17

Iran and the Collision between Trump and Reality
Donald Trump's disdain for the truth does not prevent reality from repeatedly bumping up against his policies, the most consistent theme of which has been to try to destroy his predecessor's accomplishments. The degree to which reality inconveniences Trump-and more importantly, how much Trump's efforts to shove reality aside damage U.S. interests-varies from issue to issue. -Paul Pillar - 7/21/17

Jasmin Moghbeli, Badass Astronaut
In the rarefied world of space travellers, nasa's new astronaut class--seven men and five women, picked from a record-breaking eighteen thousand applicants--includes one, nicknamed "Jaws," who played basketball at M.I.T., is a Marine Corps major, and was decorated for flying Cobra gunships on a hundred and fifty combat missions in Afghanistan. The astronaut candidate is also an immigrant-an Iranian-American, the only one with roots in the Middle East since the first class of astronauts was selected, in 1959. -Robin Wright, New Yorker - 7/21/17

UNESCO 2030 Educational Guidelines Scrapped by Iran Include Essential Protective Measures Against Child Abuse
Implementing educational guidelines from the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development could help prevent tragedies like the case of Atena Aslani, according to a sociologist and expert on Iran's educational system. Aslani's seven-year-old lifeless body was found with "signs of sexual abuse" on July 10, 2017 in the garage of a man with an alleged history of sex crimes convictions. She had gone missing on June 19, 2017 in Parsabad, Ardabil Province, 428 miles northwest of Tehran. - 7/21/17

PHOTOS: Iran starts extraction from world's second largest lead and zinc reserve
Extraction from Iran's largest and the world's second largest lead and zinc reserve began today at a ceremony attended by Industry Minister Nematzadeh. "The mine is situated at Mehriz, 116 kilometers southeast of Yazd city, and contains over 160 million tons of lead and zinc with purities of 2.3 and 7.3 per cent, respectively," said Amin Safari, Managing Director of Mehdiabad Lead and Zinc Mining Complex. - 7/21/17

11 Christian Converts Issued Long Prison Sentences in Iran in Less Than Two Months in Sham Trials
The Iranian authorities must immediately halt the disturbing trend of arrests and imprisonment of Christians, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement on Thrusday July 20, 2017. In less than two months, since June 2017, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh of Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran has issued long prison sentences to at least 11 Christian converts and the former leader of the Assyrian Pentecostal Church in Iran. - 7/21/17

Rights Groups Urge Iran's President Rohani To Drop Justice Minister In Second Term
Eleven human rights and media freedom groups have called on Iranian President Hassan Rohani not to reappoint Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, whom rights advocates have accused of involvement in the killings of dissidents in 1988. - 7/21/17

Hacked Emails Reveal Close Ties Between UAE and Anti-Iran/Qatar Advocacy Groups
Emails allegedly originating from the hacked email account of United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al-Otaiba and sent to LobeLog by "GlobalLeaks" appear to show a close relationship between UANI and CEP principals and the UAE government, raising questions about possible UAE funding of the U.S. based groups, both of which engaged in lobbying and public diplomacy campaigns. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 7/21/17

Iran nuclear deal outcome of collective global cooperation: EU Foreign Policy Chief
The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, says the "strong" nuclear deal struck in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 states is the outcome of "collective cooperation," emphasizing that the landmark accord does not just belong to the signatories but the entire global community. - 7/20/17

Iranian Lawmakers Aim To Scrap Discriminatory Citizenship Law
The status of the daughter of the late Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has inspired an Iranian lawmaker to propose new legislation. A group of Iranian lawmakers are looking to scrap a longstanding law that denies citizenship and equal rights to Iranian children born to foreign fathers. -Frud Bezhan, RFE - 7/20/17

Iranian Guards Warn U.S. To Move Gulf Bases, Avoid 'Miscalculations'
The head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on July 19 warned Washington to move its bases in the Persian Gulf region and avoid "miscalculations" over new sanctions against Tehran, Iranian news agencies reported. - 7/20/17

Farewell Shiraz: An Iranian Memoir of Revolution and Exile
In October 1999 during a trip to Cairo, Cyrus Kadivar, an exiled Iranian living in London, visited the tomb of the last shah and opened a Pandora's box. Haunted by nostalgia for a bygone era, he recalled a protected and idyllic childhood in the fabled city of Shiraz and his coming of age during the 1979 Iranian revolution. Back in London, he reflected on what had happened to him and his family after their uprooting and decided to conduct his own investigation into why he lost his country. - 7/20/17

Performance in Stanford: "Autumn Dance" follows three tormented Iranian women experiencing exile...
Autumn Dance, written and directed by Shabnam Tolouei, follows three tormented Iranian women experiencing exile, even while living in their own country. Bita, a journalist, and Mojdeh, a prostitute, are both imprisoned in Iran's infamous Evin prison. The third, Yekta, lives in exile in Paris. The simple elegance of the play allows the audience to be transported from Tehran to Paris, to uncover the connection between these three women. - 7/20/17

Iranian, European universities ink MoU on higher education cooperation
Twenty Iranian and 22 European universities have signed an agreement to continue cooperation in the area of higher education, an Iranian deputy minister of science, research and technology says. Hossein Salar Amoli, deputy minister of science, research and technology for international affairs, added that a large science and technology delegation from the European Union recently traveled to Iran and discussed ways of boosting scientific and educational cooperation between Iran and EU member states. - 7/20/17

Iran: Halt Drug-Related Executions
The Iranian government should immediately halt all executions for drug-related offenses while parliament debates amendments to reform the country's drug law, Human Rights Watch said today. Parliament is expected to vote in two weeks on an amendment to the drug law that would drastically increase the bar for a mandatory death penalty sentence. - 7/20/17

Donald Trump's Road to Debacle in the Greater Middle East
The superhighway to disaster is already being paved. From Donald Trump's first days in office, news of the damage to America's international stature has come hard and fast. As if guided by some malign design, the new president seemed to identify the key pillars that have supported U.S. global power for the past 70 years and set out to topple each of them in turn. -Alfred W. McCoy, LobeLog - 7/20/17

NIAC Action Statement on Congress Rejecting Amendments to Bar Muslim-ban Funding
"We applaud Representatives Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee for leading the charge against the Trump administration's Muslim ban. By offering amendments to defund elements of the ban, Representatives Pocan and Senator Lee demonstrated real leadership in attempting to put an end to Congressional inaction and forego the need for further judicial intervention regarding the Muslim ban. The Pocan amendment, which came to a vote, was unfortunately defeated on a largely party line vote." - 7/19/17

Rohani Says Tehran Will Respond 'Appropriately' To New U.S. Sanctions
Iranian President Hassan Rohani says that Tehran would "respond appropriately" to new U.S. sanctions while reiterating that his country remained committed to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. "The Islamic Republic of Iran will always stick to its international commitments," Rohani said at a July 19 cabinet meeting, according to a text posted on the government's website. - 7/19/17

Iran Accuses U.S. Of Trying To 'Poison Atmosphere' With 'Illegal' Sanctions
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused U.S. President Donald Trump's administration of trying to "poison the atmosphere" by imposing new sanctions on Tehran despite its adherence to the 2015 nuclear accord. "This unfortunately has become a bad habit for this administration," Zarif told reporters at the United Nations in New York. "The international community has read this very loud and clear and continues to deal with Iran without much attention to this theater." - 7/19/17

'Positive Signs' Seen by Supporters of British-Iranian Woman Jailed in Tehran
A British opposition lawmaker campaigning for the release of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran for more than a year has welcomed signs that the British government is trying harder to free her. In an interview with VOA's Persian Service, lawmaker Tulip Siddiq said she was pleased that the government held a parliamentary debate Tuesday on the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Siddiq spoke to VOA via Skype video from outside Parliament shortly after the debate concluded. -VOA - 7/19/17

Iranian women's presence in job market up 40 percent: Report
The number of women in the Iranian job market has experienced a 40 percent growth over the past three years, Irantalent.com reported. The report, which is related to the previous Iranian calendar year (March 2016-March 2017), puts women's share of employees in branches of international companies at 29 percent, in privately-owned companies at 32 percent, and in state-run organizations at 20 percent. - 7/19/17

Married Women in Iran Still Need "Permission" to Travel Abroad Under Amendment to Passport Law
An amendment proposed by the Iranian Parliament's Women's Block to the country's Passport Law does nothing to ease state restrictions on married women's ability to independently travel abroad, a legal expert told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). - 7/19/17

Pro-Rouhani Journalist Tortured by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Acquitted of Anti-State Charges
More than two years after his arrest and torture by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reformist journalist Farzad Pourmoradi, a supporter of President Hassan Rouhani, has been acquitted of the charges laid against him. In a post on his Facebook page on July 12, 2017, Pourmoradi said he had been acquitted of "propaganda against the state," "assembly and collusion against national security" and "insulting state officials." - 7/19/17

Why is CIA Director Weighing in With Policy Advice on Iran?
I found it passing strange that Trump used all but an hour to keep saying that he didn't want to approve the certification. After all, such a conversation would become mighty trying for all parties (except the principal), something similar to persuading a really stubborn four-year-old he had to go to the dentist because he would otherwise lose his teeth. And it was very difficult to imagine that Trump was, by himself, making substantive or even political arguments as to why he shouldn't certify that Iran was complying with the JCPOA in the absence of any real evidence that it wasn't. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 7/19/17

Brother of Iran's President Rohani Reportedly Released On Bail
Iranian President Hassan Rohani's younger brother, Hossein Fereidoun, has been released on bail days after his arrest over unspecified allegations of financial impropriety, Iranian news agencies reported. Fereidoun's release on July 17 followed reports that he was taken to a hospital after seeming unwell at a court appearance. - 7/18/17

Details of US Student's 10-Year Sentence in Iran Reveal Yet Another Arbitrary Prosecution of a Western National
The Iranian judiciary's sentencing of American academic researcher Xiyue Wang to 10 years in prison on unspecified espionage charges reflects the continued ability of security and intelligence agencies to dictate unlawful and arbitrary judicial prosecutions of Western nationals, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) said in a statement today. - 7/18/17

Russians set record with Iran oil deals
The National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) and Russia's Zarubezhneft have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop two oil fields in southwest Iran. The agreement signed in Tehran Monday allows the state-run Russian company to conduct technical surveys on Shadegan and Rag Sefid fields in Khuzestan Province. - 7/18/17

Iran's Foreign Minister Warns Donald Trump That Tehran Can Abandon the Nuclear Deal
Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest, spoke with Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister in an interview in New York on Monday, July 17, 2017. The following is a lightly edited transcript. - 7/18/17

Iran to export 1 million tonnes of wheat: Official
Iran expects to export 1 million tonnes of surplus wheat and its products this year, up 60 percent from the year ago, the country's trade regulator the Government Trading Company (GTC) says. GTC Managing Director Yazdan Seif on Tuesday said the rise was "the result of the creation of necessary mechanisms and the increase in wheat production as well as guaranteed purchases of wheat, especially durum." - 7/18/17

Iranian Soldier Kills Three Comrades Before Killing Self
Iranian media reported on July 17 that a soldier opened fire on his comrades, killing three and injuring six others before killing himself. The reports from Mehr news agency and Iranian television said the incident took place when soldiers were resting at a military base in the town of Abyek, northwest of Tehran. - 7/18/17

Maryam Mirzakhani was a 'milestone' for Iranian women's successes: President Rouhani
"The unparalleled brilliance of this creative scientist and yet humble person which made the name of Iran resonate in the world's scientific community was a milestone in introducing the grand efforts and determination of Iranian women and youth for climbing the peaks of success in various international fields," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a message on Saturday. - 7/17/17

Contradictory Laws Exasperate Debate Over Iranian Women's Observance of Hijab in Cars
The growing number of women refusing to cover their hair while driving in Iran, especially during the hot summer months, has resulted in renewed threats of arrests for violations of the country's mandatory hijab law. - 7/17/17

PHOTOS: Minimal landscapes of Iran
Photographer Mohammad Moheimany has captured some very beautiful pictures from natural landscapes and surrounding environments of Iran in Landscape and Minimal styles. - 7/17/17

Shahnameh audiobook, with introduction by Francis Ford Coppola, released
An audio version of the Shahnameh, the epic masterpiece of Persian poet Ferdowsi, has been released in English with an introduction by U.S. filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola in the United States. American voice actor Marc Thompson has narrated the stories based on the latest translation by Ahmad Sadri published by Quantuck Lane Press in 2013, Kingorama, the U.S.-based publisher of "Shahnameh, the Epic of the Persian Kings", has announced. - 7/17/17

Iran Identifies Jailed American; U.S. Demands Release
Iran has identified the U.S. national sentenced to 10 years for spying as Xiyue Wang, a 37-year-old researcher at Princeton University. Mizanonline, the official news agency of Iran's judiciary, said on July 16 that Wang, who was born in China, was arrested on August 8, 2016, while trying to leave Iran. - 7/17/17

Iran Navy rejects US claim of shining laser at US chopper over Strait of Hormuz
Iran has dismissed a recent accusation by US Navy that an Iranian patrol boat had shined laser at an American helicopter flying over the Strait of Hormuz. Back in June, US Navy Commander Bill Urban claimed that the Iranian vessel recently turned its spotlight on two American ships, the USS Cole and USS Bataan, which were moving through the strait. - 7/17/17

Iranian Mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, First Woman To Win Fields Medal In Math, Dies At 40
Mirzakhani in 2014 won the Fields Medal, the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize that is awarded every four years by the International Congress of Mathematicians. The medal is given to people aged 40 or younger who make major contributions to math. She received hers for her "striking and highly original contributions to geometry and dynamical systems," the committee said at the time. Mirzakhani died in an undisclosed U.S. hospital after the cancer she had been fighting for four years spread to her bone marrow. - 7/16/17

We Shouldn't Defend the JCPOA at the Expense of the Iran Deal
On the two-year anniversary of the agreement, U.S. supporters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including many former Obama administration officials, are admirably working to defend the deal through media appearances and coordinated statements. Their message that "diplomacy works" is an important one at a time when America's global leadership seems in doubt. However, the rhetoric in Washington defending the JPCOA remains problematic, because it pursues the preservation of the deal in a way that undermines the unfolding detente between Iran and the international community. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj - 7/16/17

Brother Of Iran's President Rohani Arrested On Financial Crimes Charges
Iranian President Hassan Rohani's younger brother, Hossein Fereidoun, has been arrested on financial crimes charges,the Iranian judiciary said on July 16. "Multiple investigations have been conducted regarding this person, also other people have been investigated, some of whom are in jail," spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said in a televised press conference. - 7/16/17

Iranian Activist and Mother of Slain Protester Summoned to Court Same Day Intelligence Minister Denounces Arrests of Activists
Human rights activist Shahnaz Akmali was summoned to court for unspecified charges on the same day the head of Iran's Intelligence Ministry-the authority that initially arrested her-announced his opposition to the arrests of peaceful activists. - 7/16/17

Responding to the Cotton Letter
Four GOP senators wrote to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week urging him not to certify that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has been one of the most vocal opponent of the agreement. The other signatories are Ted Cruz (R-TX), David Perdue (R-GA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). These talking points come from Diplomacy Works, an organization devoted to a diplomacy-first approach to foreign policy -LobeLog - 7/16/17

Iran Says U.S. Dual National Jailed For 10 Years On Spying Charges
An Iranian court has sentenced a U.S. dual national for 10 years in prison on spying charges, a judiciary spokesman said without disclosing the person's name or giving details on when the sentence was passed. - 7/16/17

Knife Attacker Shot Dead At Tehran Subway Station
Police in Tehran have shot dead a man who attacked a cleric and other people with a knife at a subway station, Iran's state media reported. A spokesman for the metro said traffic at the Shar-e Rey station had returned to normal after the incident. - 7/16/17

U.S. Federal Court Rules Against Trump Restrictions On Travelers With U.S. Relatives
A U.S. judge has ruled against the Trump administration's restrictions on refugees and travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries who have American relatives. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu said late on July 13 that people with grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other American relatives currently barred by the administration should be allowed into the country. - 7/14/17

Staged Visit by Foreign Ambassadors to Iran's Evin Prison Condemned by Rights Activists
A state-choreographed visit by dozens of foreign ambassadors based in Iran to Tehran's Evin Prison has been condemned by prominent human rights activists inside and outside the country for glossing over the prison's documented history of ongoing human rights violations. - 7/14/17

Trump Administration Expected To Certify Iran Still Complying With Nuclear Deal
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is expected to certify next week that Iran is still adhering to its nuclear agreement with world powers, despite Trump's criticism of the deal, U.S. media report. The State Department is required to notify Congress by July 17 whether Iran continues to comply with the 2015 deal, which requires Tehran to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. - 7/14/17

US not fully compliant with spirit of nuclear deal: Iranian FM Zarif
The Iranian foreign minister has lashed out at the US for its failure to completely observe its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal by occasionally preventing the Islamic Republic from enjoying the full benefits of the agreement. Speaking to reporters upon his arrival in New York, Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that all parties to the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), must remain committed to the terms of the agreement. - 7/14/17

A Delusional James Mattis: Iran commander slams US regime change 'dream'
A senior Iranian commander has dismissed the Pentagon chief's call for regime change in the Islamic Republic as a "ridiculous dream", saying Iran would respond to US officials' nonsensical talks. James Mattis on Monday described Iran "the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East", saying a regime change would be necessary before the US and Iran could have substantially positive relations. - 7/14/17

Japanese, Korean firms to fund "Octopus of the Persian Gulf"
A consortium of South Korean and Japanese companies has signed agreements to fund and implement a chain of condensate refining projects in southern Iran - a project known as the Octopus of the Persian Gulf. The agreements were signed between South Korea's Daelim and Hyundai as well as Japan's Chioda - all partners in the project to construct Siraf refineries in Iran's southern province of Bushehr. - 7/14/17

'Game of Thrones' fever grips Iran
Westeros fever has gripped Tehran and other cities as Iranians eagerly count down the days to season seven of HBO's series to begin on July 16. Some might credit the interest to the fact that its composer Ramin Djawadi is of Iranian descent. Others point to the fictional legend of Azor Ahai - a deity known as the Lord of Light - being inspired by Zoroastrianism... -Holly Dagres, Al-Monitor - 7/14/17

This London-based investor says Iran holds huge promise -- and it's not just in energy
Iran has piqued financial interest throughout the world for its massive energy reserves, but the country actually has a host of other opportunities in less obvious areas, according to one global investor. For Clemente Cappello, CIO of London-based Sturgeon Capital, Iran holds promise in part for its cheap labor, abundance of natural resources, and well-educated youth. -CNBC - 7/14/17

Iranian researcher: Political past not related to US work
An Iranian researcher denied entry to the United States without explanation told The Associated Press in an email Friday that he was given no indication his political activity or prior involvement in a volunteer paramilitary militia were reasons for the denial. -AP - 7/14/17

Iranian math genius Maryam Mirzakhani battles cancer recurrence at US hospital
Internationally-renowned Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani has been hospitalized in the US for deteriorating health conditions caused by cancer recurrence. According to one of her relatives, Mirzakhani is currently receiving treatment at a hospital in the US after medical tests confirmed that cancer has spread to her bone marrow a few weeks ago, the Iranian Haft-e Sobh daily reported. - 7/13/17

New Details on the 1953 Coup in Iran
In June, the State Department's historical office finally released a new collection of documents on the US role in the August 1953 coup in Iran, after years of delay. These documents provide interesting new details about the circumstances surrounding the coup, in which a team of CIA officers worked with certain Iranians to overthrow Iran's popular prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, and install retired general Fazlollah Zahedi in his place, establishing a dictatorship that lasted for 25 years. -Mark Gasiorowski - 7/13/17

Reza Sixo Safai on his Film "The Persian Connection"
Samuel Goldwyn Films is releasing its first Iranian film, The Persian Connection this week on July 14th. This stylish neon-noir thriller is set in the opium underworld of "Tehrangeles" and features a protagonist who was a child soldier during the Iran-Iraq War. The film premiered at TriBeCa 2106 to rave reviews. Reza Sixo Safai produced the film and plays the lead role; he spoke with us about it - 7/13/17

Rights Activists Urge Iran's President Rohani to Nominate Women to His Cabinet
"If women were given the opportunity, they could show that they are equally capable and competent [as men] at serving in high levels of government," journalist and women's rights activist Asieh Amini told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "We have many well-qualified women in politics, business, social services and cultural affairs who could handle being ministers or even the president," she added. - 7/13/17

Retired Flag Officers Warn Against Regime Change and "Aggressive Posturing" Toward Iran
An open letter to President Trump from 38 retired generals and admirals and warning against policies of "regime change" and "aggressive posturing" toward Iran has just been released amid growing concerns that Washington and Tehran could be sliding into a war. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 7/13/17

Iranian Doctor Denied U.S. Entry Accused Of Links To Basij Force
An Iranian medical researcher who was prevented from entering the United States to work at a Boston hospital is believed to have been an active member of the Basij force used in Iran as a tool of state repression. Seyed Mohsen Dehnavi was the head of the Basiji at Tehran's Sharif University, former students at the university and activists claim. - 7/13/17

Iran, EU start first ever joint project on nuclear safety
Iran and the European Union have launched their first joint project aimed at strengthening bilateral nuclear safety cooperation on the eve of the second anniversary of Tehran's nuclear deal with six world powers. - 7/13/17

Iran's Newest Robot Is an Adorable Dancing Humanoid
Over the last several years, a team of roboticists at the University of Tehran has been working on increasingly large and complex life-size humanoids. For their latest project, however, the Iranian researchers decided to build something smaller--and cuter. -Erico Guizzo, IEEE - 7/13/17

Why Iran Will Not Go the Way of the USSR
Since the Soviet Union dissolved in December 1991, articles have appeared in the West arguing that, sooner or later, Iran's ethnic and linguistic diversity will lead it to go the way of the USSR and dissolve into several states. Moreover, subscribers to this theory believe that the United States should encourage such a disintegrative process by further isolating Iran economically and politically, while also supporting its separatist elements. -Shireen T. Hunter - 7/12/17

Iranian Cancer Researcher Detained At Boston Airport Despite Valid Visa
An Iranian cancer researcher arriving in the United States to start work at a prominent Boston hospital was detained this week at Logan International Airport, the hospital has said. Boston Children's Hospital said that Mohsen Dehnavi was prevented from entering the country with his wife and three young children despite holding a J-1 visa for visiting scholars. They arrived at the airport on July 10. - 7/12/17

Political Debate Heats Up in Iran
A popular joke was bouncing around in South Africa in the early 1990s. Given the country's overwhelming challenges, people have two options, a practical one and a miraculous one. The practical option is for everyone to get down on their knees and pray for a band of angels to come down from heaven and solve the problems. The miraculous option is that people and politicians talk with each other and work things out. Today, this joke applies to both Iran and America-despite their many differences. -Ali Reza Eshraghi - 7/12/17

Yikes, Mattis Still Has It in for Iran!
Secretary of Defense James Mattis remains as hostile as ever towards the Islamic Republic of Iran, as he recently made clear in remarks to The Islander, the newspaper of Mercer Island High School. The Pentagon chief, often referred to as one of the few "adults in the room" that presumably makes up the national-security contingent of the Trump administration, gave an extended interview to senior Teddy Fischer, which the Seattle-area school paper published in full on its website. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 7/12/17

U.S. Hands Off Iran
I just travelled to Iran where was I was invited to speak at the University of Tehran about human rights and "humanitarian intervention." I put this term in quotes because I've rarely ever seen any intervention that was truly humanitarian or that produced humane results, but more on that later. Before I traveled to Iran, a number of friends and family members expressed shock that I would go there, feared for my safety and well-being, with some urging me not to go at all... -Dan Kovalik, Huffington Post - 7/12/17

On Iran, Canada Should Pick Up Where Obama Left Off
As the two-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal approaches, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has an opportunity to put his government's new approach to foreign policy into effect by expressing support for the historic agreement reached between world powers and Iran, particularly as uncertainty increases surrounding the Trump administration's support for the deal. -Navid Hassibi, LobeLog - 7/12/17

International firms negotiate $200B of oil deals in Iran
Asian and European companies are negotiating participation in Iran's oil and gas development projects which need $200 billion worth of investment, according to Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh. Iran looks to absorb 65% to 70% of this sum from abroad, the minister told Iran's Parliament where he was Tuesday to answer questions about a $5 billion gas deal signed with French giant Total earlier this month. - 7/12/17

Rights Groups are Concerned as more Arrests are Allegedly Linked to ISIS in Iran
Human Rights activists are concerned that the recent attacks claimed by ISIS is rippling into intensified crackdown on members of Iran's minority Sunnis. Especially during the whole of month of Ramadan, Iran security forces raided four Sunni mosques in cities of Bukan and Mahabad in the Kurdish regions arresting at least 25 individuals. - 7/12/17

Italy, Iran sign $1.3B high-speed rail deal
Iran's state railway company and its Italian counterpart have signed a deal worth 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) to build a high-speed rail line between Iranian cities of Arak and Qom. Renato Mazzoncini, CEO of Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), and head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways Saeed Mohammadzadeh oversaw the signing of the agreement in Tehran on Tuesday for the first stretch of a high-speed rail line which FS plans to build in Iran. - 7/12/17

Iran's Qeshm Air to launch weekly Tabriz-Hamburg service
Iran's Qeshm Air on Friday will start its maiden weekly flight connecting Tabriz to Hamburg with return legs set to be operated on Saturdays, asriran.com reported. Last November, the private airline received its TCO (third country operator) license from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), announcing five flights to Europe. - 7/12/17

Did Trump Just Violate the Iran Deal?
One of those achievements (of Donald Trump), Sanders said was that "In his discussions with more than a dozen foreign leaders, he underscored the need for nations to join together to strip terrorists of their funding, territory and ideological support--and to stop doing business with nations that sponsor terrorism, especially Iran." -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 7/12/17

Iranian Soccer Stars Call For End To Ban On Women Spectators
Ali Karimi, who is widely regarded as one of the best Iranian players of all time, expressed hope on July 10 that "the conditions are set with the help of" President Hassan Rohani and the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) "for women to enter stadiums" as spectators. Weeks earlier, Iranian national team captain Masud Shojaei called on Rohani to lift the ban. - 7/11/17

Iran Air appoints first female CEO
For the first time, a female board member of Iran Air - the Iranian flag carrier - has been appointed as the airline's chief executive officer. Farzaneh Sharafbafi will replace the current CEO Farhad Parvaresh. - 7/11/17

White House Seeks Changes In Senate's Russian/Iranian Sanctions Bill
The White House is seeking to change a Senate bill imposing tough new sanctions on Russia so it doesn't constrain the president's authority to impose or waive sanctions, a top White House official said on July 10. The bill to impose new sanctions on Russia for allegedly meddling in the U.S. election and other matters passed the Senate overwhelmingly but has been stalled in the House of Representatives. The bill also imposes new sanctions on Iran. - 7/11/17

New Tree-Free Heritage and Travel Magazine: "GILGAMESH"
Arash Nooraghayee, Publisher, announced the July 2017 launch of the new 'Tree-free' English language quarterly magazine, Gilgamesh. Just like the hero who was the first traveller from the ancient epic poem with the same name, it will take its readers on a quest to arrive at transcendence. It covers Cultural Heritage and Tourism through sections discussing Geography, Lifestyle, Art, Mythology, Environment, History, etc. - 7/11/17

IRGC's General Soleimani: Daesh defeat in Mosul victory for whole world
Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani has hailed Iraq's defeating of Daesh in Mosul as a major victory in the battle against terrorism. The commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) made the remark during a ceremony on Monday. He went on to note that Daesh is one of the most dangerous entities which the world has ever faced. - 7/11/17

Iran's Kish tropical island to launch giant winter recreation hub
Kish Free Zone Organization has started construction of a massive winter recreation center in a bid to lure more domestic and foreign travelers to the southern Iranian island, yet expand its tourism infrastructure with a regional outlook. - 7/11/17

How Do You Measure Commitment To The Iran Nuclear Deal?
As the two-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) approaches, uncertainty over the Trump administration's commitment to the Iran nuclear deal is growing, heightening the tensions in the Middle East. At a Senate hearing on June 13, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remarked that although Iran was complying with the JCPOA, the bar for Iranian compliance was "pretty low." - Arvand Mirsafian, Huffington Post - 7/11/17

Photos: Lake Maharloo simmers, turns red
The waters of rich salt lake Maharloo (map), situated on the outskirts of Shiraz in southern Iran, look reddish for a good reason. The growth of bacteria and particularly seaweeds come to change the color of the water body which is rich in potassium and salts. In mid-summer the lake loses its water due to high evaporation leaving behind a white bed and reddish color water. -Reza Ghaderi - 7/10/17

Iranian Women: Zahra Inche Dargahi elected as Iran's Gymnastic Federation president
Zahra Inche Dargahi was elected as the President of the Iran's Gymnastic Federation. Inche Dargahi received 24 votes (out of 44) in the presidential elections held at the Iran's Academy Olympic on Monday. Inche Dargahi has been elected for a four-year term till 2021. - 7/10/17

'Bodyguard' by Iranian director Ebrahim Hatamikia wins top prizes at VIFF 2017
'Bodyguard' directed by Iranian filmmaker Ebrahim Hatamikia won Best Art Direction, Best Supporting Actor (for Babak Hamidian), and Best Director award at the 3rd Vienna Independent Film Festival (VIFF 2017) in Austria. 'Forgiveness' by Iran's Rima Irani also won Best Short Film Award at the festival. - 7/10/17

Iran launches Freedom of Information website
Iran has launched a website that allows its citizens to freely seek and obtain information from all government organizations and institutions according to law. The website had been operating in beta version mode for 45 days before its public launch. The landmark step was taken roughly two years after the executive bylaw for the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was prepared by the administration of President Hassan Rouhani and government institutions were notified of it. - 7/10/17

Iran Plans First Oil-And-Gas Tenders After Sanctions Easing
The Iranian government is planning to announce tenders for the exploration of 14 oil-and-gas blocks over the next three months, a top executive at Iran's NIOC state oil company has said. NIOC Deputy Director Rahim Nematollahi told Reuters in Istanbul on July 10 that the tenders would be offered for joint exploration together with NIOC. - 7/10/17

Sohrab Sepehri's painting breaks record at Tehran Art Auction
An untitled work from Sohrab Sepehri's Tree Trunk series sold for 31 billion rials (over $800,000) at the Tehran Auction Friday evening, breaking a record at the annual sale of national contemporary art. A selection from the series that was sold for 30 billion rials last year held the record at the auction till now. - 7/10/17

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My...? The Saudi-American-Iranian-Russian-Qatari-Syrian conundrum
The Middle East. Could there be a more perilous place on Earth, including North Korea? Not likely. The planet's two leading nuclear-armed powers backing battling proxies amply supplied with conventional weapons; terror groups splitting and spreading; religious-sectarian wars threatening amid a plethora of ongoing armed hostilities stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. And that was before Donald Trump and his team arrived on this chaotic scene. -Dilip Hiro, Bill Moyers - 7/10/17

Poll: Negative Campaign Against Arabs and Muslims Has Consequences
While, as president, Donald Trump has worked to cultivate a relationship with Arab leaders, the antipathy towards Arabs and Muslims that he and his party have cultivated in recent years continues to have a worrisome impact on American public opinion and policy. Recent polling conducted three weeks after Trump's summits in Saudi Arabia, establishes the persistence of a deep and disturbing partisan divide in American attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims. - James J. Zogby, LobeLog - 7/10/17

Iran's historic city of Yazd inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added the historical texture of Yazd in central Iran to its list of world heritage sites. According to the UNESCO website, the historical structure of Yazd is a collection of public-religious architecture in a very large scope comprising of different Islamic architectural elements of different periods in a harmonious combination with climatic conditions. - 7/9/17

Six Designs from Iran competing in 2017 World Architecture Festival in Berlin
Six designs by Iranian architects have been shortlisted for awards at the 2017 World Architecture Festival, which will be held in Berlin from November 15 to 17. Pars Hospital in Rasht and a house named Three Views in Tehran, both completed at the New Wave Architecture Company, have been nominated in the Completed Buildings' category. In the Future Projects, the Tehran Mixed Use Complex in Tehran designed at the EAA Emre Arolat Architecture will compete... - 7/9/17

It's Time for Washington and Riyadh to Defuse the War Hysteria
The ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the devastating Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, the bellicose rhetoric towards Iran, the fracturing of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the regional involvement in the bloody Syrian civil war, are all increasing the probability of regional war. This conflict may pit Gulf Sunni states against each other, or Saudi Arabia and the United States against Iran. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 7/9/17

Country Managers Make Post-Sanctions Iran Work
On July 3, Patrick Pouyanne, the imposing, former rugby-playing CEO of Total, arrived in Tehran to sign a landmark $5 billion contract to develop Phase 11 of Iran's South Pars gas field in cooperation with the China National Petroleum Corporation and Petropars, an Iranian firm. The deal was a sign of Pouyanne's ambition and resolve in the face of the Trump administration's rhetoric towards Iran. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj - 7/8/17

Conservative MPs Pressure Culture Ministry to Ban Films Portraying "Realistic Picture" of Modern Iranian Life
Director Ali Ahmadzadeh's film "Atomic Heart," about the lives of young, modern Iranians, including Christians, could be removed from cinemas in Iran just weeks after a three-year ban on the movie was lifted. "Although it was made in 2014, the film only recently received a screening permit," Ahmadzadeh told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a recent interview. "Now there are threats to ban it again." - 7/8/17

Iranian speed climber grabs gold medal in IFSC Climbing World Cup Villars 2017
Iranian speed climber Reza Alipour Shenazandifard has put on impressive displays at the​ International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) at the Climbing World Cup Villars 2017 in Switzerland and finished as the champion to snatch the gold medal. (watch video) - 7/8/17

Erik Prince to Prince bin Zayed: The Private Military Connection
In 2014, retired Gen. James Mattis, now secretary of defense, reportedly referred to the United Arab Emirates as "Little Sparta." He was favorably comparing the UAE to the historic Greek city-state, known for its military prowess, especially against the Persians during the Greco-Persian Wars. Mattis presumably did so not only because of a strong politico-military alliance between the United States and the UAE, but also because the UAE has for years been working on strengthening its military capabilities. -David Isenberg, LobeLog - 7/8/17

Iran Fully Backs United Nations Treaty Banning Nuclear Arms
Reza Najafi, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Saturday that Iran as a victim of weapons of mass destruction fully supports the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons. The remarks by Ambassador Najafi came after the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was signed at a UN conference in New York on Friday. - 7/8/17

Iran fails to advance to World Polo Championship 2017
Iran came third at the World Polo Championship 2017 qualifiers which took place in Tehran's Kanoon Chogan, Qasr Firoozeh & the Army Polo Club. India defeated Pakistan 8-7 and booked a place in the competition as champion. India came first, followed by Pakistan, Iran and South Africa. - 7/8/17

Afghans Stage Rare Anti-Iran Rally, Denounce Iran's President Rouhani
Residents and civil society activists staged a protest Friday in southern Afghanistan to denounce neighboring Iran's President Hassan Rouhani for criticizing Afghan water management and dam projects. Hundreds of demonstrators peacefully marched through the streets of Lashkargah, capital of Helmand province near the Iranian border. They chanted, "Death to Hassan Rouhani" and "Death to enemies of Afghanistan." -Ayaz Gul, VOA - 7/8/17

U.S.-Russian Cease-Fire Deal Touted As Start Of Syrian Peace Efforts
The United States and Russia have announced a cease-fire deal in southwestern Syria in their first attempt at peacemaking in the war-torn country since President Donald Trump took office. The cease-fire, due to start on July 9, was announced after a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 7 at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. - 7/8/17

The Foolishness of Regime-Change Fantasies
Stop me if you've heard this one before. There's an out-of-control regime run by a madman halfway around the world, and if the U.S. government doesn't topple it ASAP, a lot of people are going to die. The United States has tried its hand a lot at regime change. By one count, the US tried to overthrow 72 different governments during the Cold War alone-and that's before the most recent misadventures in Iraq and Libya. It's not exactly a track record of success: the United States failed most of the time to accomplish the fundamental goal of toppling the target. And a quick glance at Iraq is enough to remind you that even when America "succeeds," it often really fails. -Stephen Miles - 7/7/17

New Neocon Mantra: Iran, like Soviet Union, on Verge of Collapse
Iran hawks suddenly have a new mantra: the Islamic Republic is the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and the Trump administration should work to hasten the regime's impending collapse. It's not clear why this comparison has surfaced so abruptly. Its proponents don't cite any tangible or concrete evidence that the regime in Tehran is somehow on its last legs. But I'm guessing that months of internal policy debate on Iran has finally reached the top echelons in the policy-making chaos that is the White House these days. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 7/7/17

How Five Iranian Women Built Iran's Biggest Female Portal
In 2015, five long-time friends were at a bridal shower in Tehran when they came up with the idea to launch a website dedicated to the needs and wants of Iranian women. The five female founders launched the site, Benita, last May which has now grown to 40 employees and a monthly reach of 2 million unique users and 23 million page views until May 2017. -TechRasa - 7/7/17

IRAN: Laft village's Historical mansions on path to glory
Iran's heritage body plans to lead several restoration projects at the village of Laft (map) on the southern Qeshm Island with the aim of bringing fifteen historical mansions and houses back to their heyday glory. Perched on a rocky slope in the Persian Gulf, the fishing village offers its visitors a patchwork of delightfully photogenic scenes of badgirs (wind towers) and minarets. - 7/7/17

Four Christian Converts Sentenced to 10 Years Imprisonment in Iran in Trial Lacking Due Process
Three Azeri men and one Iranian man, all Protestant Christian converts, have been sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Iran, according to Mansour Borji, the advocacy director of Article 18, an organization that defends Christians in Iran. - 7/7/17

PHOTOS: Foreign ambassadors tour Evin prison in Tehran
The Iranian Human Rights Organization on Wednesday took foreign ambassadors in Iran on a tour to Evin prison in northern Tehran, ISNA reported. The tour was launched a day after Mohammad Javad Larijani, the organization's chief, said there is no political prisoner in Iran. - 7/7/17

Iran Arrests Alleged ISIS Terrorists
Iranian judicial officials say security forces have arrested 21 alleged Islamic State (IS) extremists in the northeastern city of Mashhad. Mashhad's Deputy Prosecutor-General Hassan Heidari says some of those arrested are Iranians and others are Afghans who entered Iran with "fake documents." - 7/7/17

Book Review: Losing an Enemy
Trita Parsi has written a great book about what remains the most outstanding diplomatic feat of the 21st century. It is the first work to describe in detail the whole course of the extraordinarily complex international negotiation that led to the conclusion in Vienna on July 14, 2015 of the now famous Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA-the arrangement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, UK, US), plus Germany to cap Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. -Francois Nicoulaud - 7/6/17

Iran's Supreme Leader Comes to Judiciary's Defense After Rouhani Criticizes Problematic Arrests
Iran's supreme leader is continuing his public criticism of newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, this time accusing him of not doing enough to aid the judiciary in protecting the "dignity of the Islamic system." "The judiciary should be a pioneer in establishing public rights within the society ... and confront anyone who violates laws," said Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on July 3, 2017 during a speech outside his residence in Tehran to judicial officials. - 7/6/17

Detained Pro-Rouhani Telegram Channel Admins Repeatedly Denied Legal Counsel Three Months After Arrests
More than one hundred days after a group of social media supporters of President Hassan Rouhani were arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the detainees are still being denied access to legal counsel, according to one of their lawyers. - 7/6/17

Congress Targets Iran
LobeLog is posting excerpts from the Legislative Round-up published weekly when Congress is in session by the inimitable Lara Friedman, previously of Americans for Peace Now and now the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. These weekly round-ups cover what Congress is up to and what individual members are saying, particularly about Israel-Palestine and Iran -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 7/6/17

Russia, Turkey, Iran Fail To Agree On Details Of Syria De-Escalation Zones
Diplomats from Russia, Iran, and Turkey have failed to reach agreement on final details regarding so-called "de-escalation zones" in parts of war-torn Syria. However, Moscow's chief negotiator at a fifth round of Syria peace talks in Astana said on July 5 that the basic framework had been "essentially agreed." - 7/6/17

Iranians To Take Part In Hajj Despite Tensions With Saudi Arabia
Iran says its citizens will be able to take part in this year's hajj pilgrimage despite continued tensions with regional rival Saudi Arabia. Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Ali Qaziaskar, a representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ai Khamenei, as saying on July 5 that the National Security Council approved last month a decision to allow Iranian citizens to take part in the pilgrimage. - 7/6/17

Iranian 'shadow government' likely to remain pipe dream
Following the re-election of Hassan Rouhani in the May 19 presidential elections, talk of establishing of a "shadow government" has been floating around Iranian political circles. Some Principlists have proposed the idea, although not everyone in their camp has welcomed it. -Saeid Jafari, Al Monitor - 7/6/17

Trumpism Cartoon Contest: Iranian, Greek artists win the top prizes
Hadi Asadi from Iran and Michael Kountouris from Greece have won the first prizes in two categories of the International Trumpism Cartoon and Caricature Contest. Asadi received the prize for his work in the caricature section and Kountouris was awarded for his creation in the cartoon category in a ceremony held at the Art Bureau in Tehran on Monday. - 7/5/17

International event issues Tehran Declaration, vows to fight dust storms
Ministers and high-level representatives participating in the UN-backed International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms in Tehran (July 3-5) wrapped up the second day with the Tehran Ministerial Declaration, agreeing to "cooperate on combating SDS at sub-regional regional, and international levels." - 7/5/17

Volkswagen Returns To Iranian Market After 17-Year Absence
Volkswagen (VW) says it is returning to the Iranian market for the first time in 17 years. The German automaker said on July 4 that it will resume selling cars in Iran from next month after signing a contract with local importer Mammut Khodro to offer Tiguan compact SUVs and the Passat family car, mainly at dealerships in the Tehran area. - 7/5/17

'Los Angeles embodies diversity.' The city's new sculpture celebrating freedom is unveiled
Production of the sculpture was organized by the Farhang Foundation, an L.A.-based nonprofit organization, and the unveiling was part of the inaugural Freedom Festival, a nightlong block party that featured live music, food and fireworks. The Farhang Foundation promotes the study and appreciation of Iranian art and culture. Organizers said they hope the Freedom Festival becomes an annual event. -Matt Hamilton, Los Angles Times - 7/5/17

Book Review: "The Desire Principle" by Saideh Pakravan
Sarah Bly, a promising young artist, is about to break up with Ryan, her abusive boyfriend, when she set's eyes on Thaddeus Clark, a senior charismatic Art collector, as he enters a New York Art Gallery where her works are exhibited. As if struck by cupid's arrow, she seems overwhelmed by an inexplicable chest pain which commands her to leave the varnishing. Although puzzled by her strange behavior, Thaddeus nevertheless purchases two of her paintings... -Book Review by Darius KADIVAR - 7/5/17

Touraj Daryaee: Uncovering the Splendor of Ancient Iran
With the goal of harnessing the untapped potential of Iranian-Americans, and to build the capacity of the Iranian diaspora in effecting positive change in the U.S. and around the world, the Iranian Americans' Contributions Project (IACP) has launched a series of interviews that explore the personal and professional backgrounds of prominent Iranian-Americans who have made seminal contributions to their fields of endeavor. - Jahandad Memarian, Huffington Post - 7/5/17

Tehran Book Garden, a major center for publications, inaugurated
Tehran Book Garden, covering an area of 110,000 square meters on Abbasabad Hills in the northeast of the city, opened during a special ceremony on Monday. The garden with 10 theaters and amphitheaters will provide a good opportunity for the families and children to study and dedicate some time for book reading. Permanent bookshops, an art gallery, shops offering cultural products, children's halls and workshops, as well as a robotics club, have also been included in the big project. - 7/5/17

New Revelations of the U.S. involvement in 1953 Coup in Iran
The State Department has finally released a much-awaited volume of internal documents from 1951 to 1954, the period during which Mohammad Mossadeq was president of Iran. The department is obliged to publish 30-year-old documents in its annual series entitled Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). -Ervand Abrahamian - 7/4/17

France's Total seeks long-term coop. with Iran: CEO
Total plans to boost long-term cooperation with Iran in the fields of gas, oil and petrochemicals, the French energy giant CEO Patrick Pouyanne said in a meeting with President Rouhani in Tehran on Monday. The meeting followed the signing ceremony of a $4.5B development deal with France's Total for investment in Phase 11 of South Pars - the world's largest gas field - as envisaged in the new model of oil contracts, dubbed as the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC). - 7/4/17

Kurds Accuse Iran of Cross-border Shelling in Northern Iraq
Iranian artillery bombed Kurdish militants in northern Iraq on Monday, injuring at least three people and forcing hundreds to flee their homes, Kurdish officials told VOA. The cross-border shelling in Iraqi Kurdistan's Haji Omaran region targeted positions of Iranian Kurdish rebel groups Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) and Komala, Kurdish officials said. -Rikar Hussein, VOA - 7/4/17

Mehdi Fard-Qaderi's "Immortality" crowned best at Italy's Ischia Film Festival
"Immortality" by Mehdi Fard-Qaderi won the award for best feature movie at the 15th Ischia Film Festival on the Italian island on Saturday, the organizers announced. The film was competing in the official section of the festival, which began on June 24. "Immortality", which is a one-shot feature film, tells the story of some strangers who have to spend a rainy night together on a train. - 7/4/17

Italy's Claudia Castellucci to direct play in Iran
Italian theater expert and choreographer Claudia Castellucci will direct a play in Iran in collaboration with the Iranian troupe Moj. "In a meeting I had with Castellucci in Italy, we agreed to produce and stage a play with Iranian actors in Iran," Moj leader Arash Abbasi told the Persian service of MNA on Sunday. - 7/4/17

Iran's President Rouani: Environmental issues are 'extra-national, extra-regional'
Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Monday that environmental issues are "extra-national and extra-regional challenges", noting regional wars have caused environmental problems. "The only way to live peacefully in the West Asia and Middle East region is adopting a win-win policy in the area of environment, helping and standing beside each other," Rohani said during an opening speech at the International Conference on Combating Sand and Dust Storms in Tehran. - 7/4/17

Fifth Round Of Syria Peace Talks Under Way In Astana
Diplomats from Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the United States have begun a fifth round of Syria peace talks in Astana with the Syrian government and representatives of some Syrian opposition groups. - 7/4/17

Iran shelves Mesbah satellite
Head of Iranian Space Agency told Mehr News Sun. that Mesbah communications satellite will not be launched due to heavy costs and will be instead preserved in a space museum. Mohsen Bahrami told Mehr News correspondent on Sunday that under expert considerations, it has been decided to cancel plans for putting Mesbah communication satellite into orbit due to high expenses. - 7/4/17

The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood
Nearly thirty years later, Mohsen Makhmalbaf's heavily censored film is finding new audiences. A year after Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989, and in the wake of the protracted and devastating Iran-Iraq War, Mohsen Makhmalbaf released a film that would not be seen. Makhmalbaf made The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood in 1990, only to have it censored and mutilated, and then suppressed entirely by the Iranian government before it could be released widely. -Taushif Kara, Reorient - 7/4/17

FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship 2017: Mojarad blocks away to lift Iran to prestigious fifth place
Iran claimed the prestigious fifth place in the final standings at the FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship Czech Republic 2017. In an all-Asian clash in Brno, the Iranians cruised to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-21) shutout of China with great contribution from middle blocker Aliasghar Mojarad. - 7/3/17

Can Iran lead a global fight against dust storms?
In the last two years, the UN passed four resolutions on sand and dust storms in an attempt to facilitate a global political will to tackle this pressing environmental problem. Now an international conference hosted by Iran and UN has brought together leaders and experts from 34 countries to discuss ways to combat dust storms and form partnerships to take action. -Ali Mirchi and Kaveh Madani - 7/3/17

France's Total seals Iran's biggest gas deal in years
French energy giant Total signed a multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran, the first by a foreign firm in more than a decade. Total's CEO Patrick Pouyanne and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namadar Zanganeh signed the 20-year deal, which would eventually see the consortium pour $4.8 billion into the project. - 7/3/17

Iranian FM decries France green light to activities of MKO terrorist
The Iranian foreign minister expressed regret that some "reactionary regimes in the region are once again capitalizing on this group as they did so in the past." Zarif added that the Islamic Republic is aware that Saudi Arabia has been colluding with the MKO and providing it with financial support since the Iraqi imposed war on Iran in the 1980s. - 7/3/17

Gigantic rise in Iran's exports to EU
Official figures show the volume of Iran's non-oil exports to the European Union (EU) saw a gigantic increase of five folds over the first four months of 2017. Figures showed that the value of Iran's exports to the EU from January to April 2017 reached as high as 3.4 billion Euros. - 7/3/17

Reformist Ally: "Constructive Collaboration" With Iran's Parliament Will Aid Rouhani's Policy Battles
Iran's newly re-elected centrist President Hassan Rouhani should engage in "constructive collaboration" with Parliament to implement his policies amid increasing opposition from powerful hardliners, a reformist politician told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "One thing that could help the government a lot is constructive collaboration with Parliament, which has been growing day by day," said Mohammad Sadegh Javadi-Hessar, a member of the National Trust Party of Iran, in a recent interview. - 7/3/17

Iranian President Criticizes Turkey's Dam Projects
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has criticized major dam projects by Turkey on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Rohani is demanding that Turkey halt construction of both dams, saying that they were "dangerous" for the entire Middle East. Rohani made the comments during a conference on sandstorms in Tehran on July 3. - 7/3/17

For Iranian-Americans, Trump travel ban keeps families apart
Weddings have been moved and family visits delayed. The Trump administration's travel ban, while a shadow of its original self, has dealt a harsh blow to the Iranian-American community, where family ties run strong and friends and loved ones regularly shuttle between Los Angeles and Tehran. -ABC News - 7/3/17

Iranian maestro Maziar Heidari among Canada's Top 25 Immigrants of 2017
Iranian composer and orchestra conductor Maziar Heidari is among Canada's Top 25 Immigrants of 2017. The Canadian Immigrant magazine has announced winners of its ninth annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards which chooses and celebrates the success stories of Canadian immigrants who have made an influential contribution to Canada. The award is sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). - 7/1/17

Foreign Minister Zarif Says Trump Travel Ban Shows 'Blind Hostility' Toward Iranians
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on June 30 that the new U.S. ban on travelers from six Muslim countries shows "blind hostility" toward Iranians. "U.S. now bans Iranian grandmothers from seeing their grandchildren, in a truly shameful exhibition of blind hostility to all Iranians," Zarif tweeted. Many Iranian-Americans are posting tweets under the hashtag #GrandparentsNotTerrorists to voice their opposition. - 7/1/17

Iran finishes third in 2017 World Taekwondo Championships
Iran men's national taekwondo team has put in convincing performances at the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea, and ranked third at the end of the high-status international event. On Friday, the Iranian team stood on the third podium, having garnered 46 points. Also on Friday, 18-year-old Iranian taekwondo practitioner and bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Kimia Alizadeh Zenoozi, got the silver medal in the women's minus 62-kilogram class. - 7/1/17

The Real Security Threats on Iran's Periphery
Pressure has once again become the name of the game in regards to U.S. policy on Iran. The Senate has passed sweeping new sanctions, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declared that the U.S. will "counter Iran's aspiration of hegemony" and work towards a "peaceful transition" of the Iranian government. As U.S.-Iran tensions increase in eastern Syria, murmurs are growing of a potential disastrous war on the horizon. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian - 7/1/17

Persistent Iranian Women's Movement Chipping Away at State Ban on Females in Sports Stadiums
The peaceful battle by women's rights activists geared towards ending the ban on female spectators in Iranian sports stadiums is inching forward despite ongoing opposition by religious conservatives. "Women's rights activists are pursuing this matter from every direction, but athletic officials are asking us to allow change to happen gradually without a ruckus," journalist and civil rights advocate Saba Sherdoust told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) in a recent interview. - 7/1/17

After Attack on IS, Iran Proposes Expanding Missile Program
Iran's parliament is considering a proposal to spend nearly $550 million to bolster security and expand the country's missile program. The proposal follows an Iranian rocket strike on Islamic State in Syria that analysts called retaliation for twin terror attacks in Tehran and a warning to regional rivals. -Mehdi Jedinia, VOA - 7/1/17

Reformist Former MP: Iran's President Rouhani Should Stand By His Voters Despite Opposition From Hardliners
Despite a spate of attacks from powerful conservatives, newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani should fulfill the promises he made to the people who voted for him, a reformist former legislator told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "The main objective of the pressure coming from the opposition is to paralyze the [Rouhani] government and throw off track the policies it promised to the people," said Mohammad Kianoush-Rad, a senior member of the reformist Islamic Union Party of Iran (IUPI). - 7/1/17

Iranian Missile Launch Shows Israeli Deterrence Is Working
An extraordinary strategic event took place last week in the Middle East, when Iran launched surface-to-surface missiles against targets in Syria. This was the first-ever missile strike directed by Iran at a country bordering on Israel. Amazingly, all hell didn't break loose. What happened? How did Israel view the launch of the missiles? Did it grasp its full implications? How did it respond to this dramatic turn of events? Let us try to find out. -Shemuel Meir, LobeLog - 7/1/17
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