Farvardin 9 1399 - March 28 2020
Commentary: Trump's Refusal to Relax Iran Sanctions in the Era of COVID-19 Threatens Everyone

In my 15 years as an advocate for the rights of the people of Iran, I have never been more concerned for the lives of so many people. Iran's 85 million people are dying from the coronavirus at a rate some officials say is as often as 1 every 10 minutes. In the worst-case scenario, 3.5 million people could die, according to a study from Iran's prestigious Sharif University. -Hadi Ghaemi, CHRI 3/27/20

The Ghoulish Opposition To Sanctions Relief For Iran

The Trump administration has gone out of its way for years to make humanitarian channels as difficult to use as possible, and even now the limited Swiss channel is inadequate for Iran's needs in the middle of the pandemic. Iran hawks know all of this, and in their more unguarded moments they exult in the horrors they have unleashed on the Iranian people, so no one should take their protestations seriously when they argue for keeping murderous sanctions in place. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 3/27/20

US extends Iraq waivers but intensifies Iran sanctions as COVID-19 breaks records

The fresh US sanctions were imposed on the same day the novel coronavirus infected a record-high number of people in Iran. According to Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour, 2,926 new cases of infection were confirmed in the 24 hours to Friday noon. He said 144 people also died in the 24-hour period, increasing the death toll to 2,378. The spokesman said the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 32,332. -Press TV 3/27/20

'80 hours for 80mn campaign': Pressing US to ditch Iran sanctions amid outbreak

Amid a worldwide outcry against the United States' illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, a popular campaign has been launched to pressure Washington into temporarily lifting the sanctions that are obstructing the Iranian people's efforts to curtail the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The '80 hours for 80 million campaign' has been launched on the New/Mode advocacy platform to promote this cause. 3/26/20

Without international aid, the coronavirus crisis in Iran will spread throughout South Asia

Saadi Shirazi, one of the prominent Iranian poets of the medieval period, once wrote, "Extending a hand in the hour of need is the mark of a true friend." Iran is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and economic sanctions simultaneously, and all its friends are in trouble. Then who can help? Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a tweet on March 22, called on the United States to temporary lift sanctions on Iran "till the COVID-19 pandemic is over." -Fatemeh Aman, Responsible Statecraft 3/26/20

AOC, Bernie Sanders, and other lawmakers send letter to Trump administration asking for Iran sanctions relief amid COVID-19 crisis

Nine members of Congress have signed on to a letter asking the Trump administration to suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran amid the COVID-19 crisis. The letter comes amidst a wider effort by activists to raise awareness of the issue and pressure the Treasury Department to take immediate action. 3/26/20

Zarif slams Pompeo for spreading 'third-rate propaganda,' hatred amid coronavirus pandemic

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blasted his American counterpart Mike Pompeo for keeping up a "third-rate propaganda" barrage against Tehran even at a time when the world is busy fighting a deadly coronavirus pandemic. "Even a pandemic won't stop @SecPompeo from spouting 3rd-rate propaganda," Zarif tweeted on Wednesday after the top US diplomat claimed that the government of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was "mishandling" the outbreak of the highly-contagious virus called COVID-19. -Press TV 3/26/20

Ease sanctions against countries fighting COVID-19: UN Human Rights Chief

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday called for an easing of sanctions against countries such as Iran to allow their medical systems to fight the disease and limit its global spread. Michelle Bachelet said humanitarian exemptions to sanctions measures should be authorized for essential medical equipment and supplies to avoid the collapse of any national healthcare system. 3/25/20

Calls Grow For U.S. To Lift Iran Sanctions Due To Coronavirus Crisis

There are increased calls for the United States to suspend economic sanctions against Iran, which some believe hamper Tehran's ability to contain the deadly outbreak of coronavirus that has officially killed nearly 2,000 people. The United States has offered to help Iran but has shown no desire to ease crippling sanctions reimposed on Tehran shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump exited the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 3/25/20

Iran expert says corruption 'No. 1 national security threat in Iran'

Al-Monitor contributor and economic analyst Bijan Khajehpour highlighted corruption as a major reason why the Iranian government was so slow in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic during an exclusive webinar today with Al-Monitor President Andrew Parasiliti. "If I were in charge of Iran, I would clear corruption as the No. 1 national security threat in Iran," said Khajehpour. -Bryant Harris, Al-Monitor 3/25/20

Iranian expert on COVID-19: We are in the same boat

Bobby Naderi is a journalist and current affairs commentator based in Iran. In this video, he shares his personal experience and observations during the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran, and calls on the U.S. to lift sanctions to soften the suffering of Iranians. -CGTN 3/25/20

How Trump Sanctions on Iran Will Worsen the Pandemic

The toll of the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, which killed as many as one million people in the 1980s, is feared to pale in comparison to that of the coronavirus epidemic: Iranian researchers have estimated that the outbreak, which has already killed more than 1,500 people in the country, will peak around late May and could result in 3.5 million deaths. -Narges Bajoghli and Mahsa Rouhi, New York Times 3/24/20

Human rights groups call on Trump administration to end Iran sanctions amid COVID-19 crisis

Last week, over 25 groups called on the Trump administration to end its sanctions on Iran amid the COVID-19 crisis. The virus has been particularly calamitous for Iran: at the time this piece was written the country had 21,638 confirmed cases and 1,685 people had been killed by it. U.S. sanctions have no doubt worsened the situation, as they've weakened Iran's economy and thus made it more difficult to secure goods. 3/24/20

Collective punishment has always been the stated goal of Iran sanctions hawks

The coronavirus pandemic's impact in Iran, which already claimed over 1,800 lives and infected more than 23,000 people, is one of the world's more troubling examples of widespread infection, with insufficient medical resources to treat the victims and a staggering anticipated death toll. While public health experts and human rights advocates all point to the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" sanctions regime against Iran as contributing to the public health crisis, sanctions advocates in the Trump administration and at two ultra hawkish think tanks claim that the "humanitarian trade" sanctions exemption is sufficient to address Iran's medical needs. -Eli Cliftonn, Responsible Statecraft 3/24/20

Trump thinks Iran is on its knees. But COVID-19 may have given it an unprecedented path to the bomb

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo believes the coronavirus has made Iran ripe for some bombing. Weakened by both sanctions and the pandemic, a window of opportunity exists to strike it militarily, he reportedly told President Donald Trump. But paradoxically, the pandemic may also have given Tehran an opportunity it neither desired nor faced earlier on. Trump's sanctions have already begun to shift Tehran's nuclear calculus. 3/24/20

Trump's callous sanctions risk tipping Iran over the nuclear precipice

Displaying the sort of unthinking bellicosity that has characterised his tenure as US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo chose last week - a time of unprecedented global turmoil - to impose yet more unilateral sanctions on Iran. This was akin to pouring petrol on a burning building, then waiting to see how big an explosion ensues. -Simon Tisdall, Guardian 3/24/20

COVID-19: Iran Deaths Jump To 1,812

Iran has again rejected the United States' offer of humanitarian assistance, with President Hassan Rohani saying that Washington should lift sanctions if it wants to help Tehran fight the coronavirus outbreak. "American leaders are lying.... If they want to help Iran, all they need to do is to lift sanctions.... Then we can deal with the coronavirus outbreak," Rohani said in a televised speech on March 23. 3/23/20

New European Limits on Medical Gear Exports Put Iranians at Risk

As the world grapples with shortages of the medical equipment needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Commission has announced a new regulation that will establish export controls for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), a category of goods that includes the face shields, gloves, masks, and other protective gear that help medical professionals limit their exposure to bacteria and viruses. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Bourse & Bazaar 3/23/20

End US sanctions against Iran so that we can fight coronavirus with all our might

As Iran celebrates its new year, black death banner announcements hang from Tehran's eerily deserted squares. The virus has ravaged its way across the country in recent weeks, reportedly killing 1,135 and infecting more than 17,000 (many believe these figures underestimate the scale), making Iran one of the most impacted countries in the world, alongside Italy and China. The contagion has unfolded against the backdrop of an economic crisis that has made Iranians uniquely vulnerable. -Azadeh Moaveni and Sussan Tahmasebi, Guardian 3/23/20

Will Iran's economy collapse under coronavirus crisis?

There is no doubt that the current coronavirus crisis will undermine the Iranian economy and lead to a major contraction in the country's gross domestic product. Some early estimates project a contraction of up to 3%, though it is too early to offer a reliable assessment. The Iranian government has already announced a number of measures to support vulnerable social classes as well as businesses that will be hit hard by the current economic downturn. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al Monitor 3/23/20

In Letter to Foreign Colleagues, Iranian Artists Urge Action against US Sanctions

A group of Iranian artists engaged in various fields have written a letter to their colleagues in the foreign countries to raise awareness about the urgent need for collective action against the coronavirus epidemic and call for action against the US sanctions that have impeded Iran's battle with COVID-19. -IFP 3/23/20

Trump administration piles on sanctions as the rest of the world helps Iran confront COVID-19

As Iran confronts a crisis that could kill millions of its citizens, much of the rest of the world, except for the United States, is coming to its aid. China, the original source of the novel coronavirus, has sent medical experts and planeloads of supplies to Iran, the third most affected country after China and Italy. Iran's neighbors, and sometime rivals, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, have also provided cash and goods, setting aside their other differences with the Islamic Republic. Britain, France, and Germany, the so-called E3, stepped forward, pledging $5.6 million... And what of the world's greatest power? -Barbara Slavin, Responsible Statecraft 3/20/20

While coronavirus ravages Iran, U.S. sanctions squeeze it

Iran has been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, and things may get far worse... Under current circumstances, the researchers said, infections would not peak until late May. The death toll could be as high as 3.5 million. That figure might seem enough to stop anyone in their tracks. But this week, the United States announced that it would be expanding its sanctions on Iran, as well as on entities that aided the Iranian government in its trade in petrochemicals and other restricted activities. It's a strategy that worries allies and enemies alike. -Adam Taylor , Washington Post 3/20/20

Iraq, Iran, and the spectre of US sanctions

The Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign now appears to have Iraq in its sights, aiming to increase the economic pain experienced by Iran. European capitals should be alarmed at this new US trajectory - not least given the fragility of the Iraqi government and its efforts to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State group (ISIS). -Ellie Geranmayeh, Sajad Jiyad, ECFR 3/20/20

The immoral cruelty of the Trump administration's refusal to grant Iran sanctions relief amid its COVID-19 crisis

There is a growing consensus that - to prevent Iran from spiraling out of control from the coronavirus epidemic and causing untold harm to the Iranian people - the Trump administration must immediately relent in its use of sanctions and allow Iran the ability to combat the epidemic through the purchase of necessary medical supplies overseas and the provision of a robust social safety net for the average Iranian facing economic catastrophe. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 3/19/20

As Coronavirus Death Toll Continues to Rise in Iran, Global Calls Mount for US to Lift 'Immoral' Sanctions

As the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise in Iran, one of the world's most impacted countries, global pressure is mounting on the Trump administration to ease economic sanctions that Iranian officials and other critics charge has hampered the government's ability to manage the public health crisis. -Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams 3/19/20

UK presses US to ease Iran sanctions to help fight coronavirus

The UK is privately pressing the US to ease sanctions on Iran to help it fight the growing coronavirus outbreak. Official figures published by the Iranian health ministry on Wednesday said 1,135 have so far died in Iran and 17,361 have been infected. A total of 147 were recorded as dying in the past 24 hours, a new daily record. The Iranian embassy in London appealed for sanctions to be lifted and warned the country's hospitals were badly overstretched.-Guardian 3/19/20

The Coronavirus Is Killing Iranians. So Are Trump's Brutal Sanctions.

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is run by sociopaths. How else to explain the Trump administration's callous disregard for the lives of ordinary Iranians in the midst of this global coronavirus crisis? How else to make sense of U.S. officials doubling down in their support for crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, despite the sheer scale of the suffering? -Mehdi Hasan, Intercept 3/18/20

Will the Trump administration block Iran's request for an emergency loan to combat COVID-19?

For the first time in 60 years, Iran has requested a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), seeking emergency financing to support its efforts to combat COVID-19. On March 4, the IMF announced that it would make available up to $50 billion in financial assistance through its Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), a facility targeting "low-income and emerging markets." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Responsible Statecraft 3/18/20

US imposes fresh sanctions on Iran amid coronavirus outbreak

The United States has announced a new round of sanctions against Iran as part of its so-called "maximum pressure" campaign against the Islamic Republic. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Washington had blacklisted three Iranian entities for engaging in what he called "significant transactions" to trade in Iranian petrochemicals. -Press TV 3/18/20

Iran needs sanctions relief

Most critics of U.S. sanctions miss this fundamental point: U.S. sanctions are doing much more than preventing Iran from importing the medicine and medical goods that it may need to tackle the virus. U.S. sanctions are proving a prohibitive bar to Iran providing the basic goods and services necessary for their people to survive this catastrophic epidemic. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 3/17/20

President Trump Should Ease Sanctions on Iran Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Right now, Iran is experiencing perhaps the worst outbreak of the coronavirus outside of China in the world. Over 800 have died, with more than 14,000 confirmed cases in the country. This major outbreak was due to two factors: government negligence in responding to the threat, and crushing U.S. sanctions that have greatly harmed Iran's public health sector. -NIAC 3/17/20

Iran's ambassador to UK reveals bilateral talks over 400m pounds debt

The Iranian ambassador to the UK says the British government is taking a new approach to the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, adding bilateral talks were taking place over the payment of an outstanding 400m pound debt owed by the UK to Iran. Hamid Baeidinejad said the two sides were looking at novel ways for the debt to be paid. -Guardian 3/16/20

Iran's New Year Travels Plunge Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

For many Iranians, the new year's eve conjures up memories of holidays and traveling along dreamy beaches, silky warm seas, lush sceneries, and endless sunshine. Unlike any previous year, this year its travel market, both domestic and inbound, is taking a big hit over the peak season as coronavirus fears prompt people to stay home. 3/15/20

Bush and Obama eased sanctions on Iran during humanitarian crises, why isn't Trump?

The coronavirus is fast spreading around the world and Iran is now one of the main epicenters of this pandemic. The dire situation has now compelled Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to send a letter to United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, asking for the immediate lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran, saying they have made it virtually impossible for Iran to import medicine and medical equipment necessary to identify and treat coronavirus patients. -Negar Mortazavi, Responsible Statecraft 3/15/20

Iran asks IMF for $5B in emergency funding to battle coronavirus as cases spike

The Central Bank of Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for $5 billion emergency funding to fight a coronavirus pandemic as the number of infections keeps growing in the country. The epidemic has so far killed 429 people in Iran and infected 10,075. In an Instagram post on Thursday, Abdulnaser Hemmati, governor of the Central Bank, said he had written to the IMF's head, Kristalina Georgieva, last week to stress Iran's "right to benefit from the fund's $50-billion Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI)." 3/12/20

Iran's leading carmaker IKCO halts production due to coronavirus

Iran's leading car manufacturer the Iran Khodro Company (IKCO) has decided to halt production at all its plants after reports emerged its workers had contracted coronavirus. A letter addressed to IKCO workers and managers by the company's human resources deputy on Wednesday said that production lines would start lowering output in the second shift of the day with the aim to cut it to zero in the days leading to the New Year holidays in Iran. 3/12/20

US shamelessly denies blocking Iran-bound food, medicine: Foreign Ministry

Tehran says the United States has blocked the entry of foodstuffs and medicine into Iran through its unlawful sanctions, but shamelessly denies doing so. Asked about the impact of US sanctions on Iran's fight against the virus, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said, "The oppressive and illegal American sanctions, which [have been imposed on Iran] within the framework of the 'maximum pressure' campaign, have affected public welfare and health in Iran." -Press TV 3/11/20

Battling Coronavirus, Iran's Health Workers Complain Of Severe Shortages

Iran's health workers are on the front lines of the country's battle with the coronavirus, which according to official figures has claimed the lives of 291 Iranians and infected more than 8,000. But many of them lack protective wear to keep them safe while treating infected patients. The situation is said to be particularly dire for health-care workers in the northern province of Gilan, one of Iran's coronavirus epicenters, where at least five doctors and three nurses have died recently of the COVID-19 disease. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 3/10/20

'World must push US to lift sanctions as Iran fights coronavirus'

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has called on Muslim nations and other countries to take a stand against America's unilateral sanctions against Iran and push for the swift lifting of the restrictive measures, which are hampering the country's fight against a coronavirus outbreak. Larijani expressed dismay at the inhumane anti-Iran bans in letters addressed to the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the head of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, and the speakers of the parliaments of Muslim and Asian states. -Press TV 3/10/20

U.S. "maximum pressure" on Iran hurts the women it claims to help

On 21 May 2018, less than two weeks after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched Washington's "New Iran Strategy" before an audience at the Heritage Foundation. In his remarks, he insisted that Iranian women's long struggle for inclusion and equality matters dearly to Washington. As if to prove the point, the U.S. State Department's social media feeds since that day have interspersed announcements of new choking sanctions with twinkling reminders of Iranian women's potential -Azadeh Moaveni & Ali Vaez, Responsible Statecraft 3/9/20

Politicization of a national crisis: The new face of Trump's 'maximum pressure' campaign on Iran

Whether it is coronavirus or any other national crisis, Washington will not miss its chance to play politics with Tehran. Thus, Iranian leaders need to rebuild trust with their people and relax securitization of Iranian society if they want to thwart the Trump administration's well-organized information warfare against the country. -Younes Zangiabadi, Responsible Statecraft 3/7/20

US' illegal sanctions 'drain' Iran's resources in anti-coronavirus fight: FM Zarif

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has lashed out at US President Donald Trump for tightening "illegal" sanctions against Iran, saying such a move is aimed at draining the Islamic Republic's resources required in the fight against the novel coronavirus. -Press TV 3/7/20

'Business is finished': Iranian merchants fear the worst as virus spreads

Iranian merchants plying the busy Strait of Hormuz between Dubai and Iran fear their next trip home will be a one-way trip after the United Arab Emirates banned ferry services to prevent the spread of coronavirus. -Reuters 3/5/20

US would lift medical sanctions if its virus help offer were genuine: Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani has rejected as insincere the United States' offer of help to Iran in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, saying Washington should first lift its sanctions on medical supplies if it really seeks to help the Islamic Republic. "Our people know well that you are lying, that you are not telling the truth," Rouhani said addressing the United States, during a cabinet session in Tehran on Wednesday. -Press TV 3/4/20

Investment requests pile up for Iran's only oceanic port

As many as 53 companies have requested to invest in Chabahar, Iran's only oceanic port, a senior official says. Over the last 11 months, some 170 Iranian and foreign delegations have visited the port which Iran intends to develop by attracting private and public sector investments. 3/3/20

Sanctions-hit Iran struggles to make cancer drugs

As the new coronavirus spreads in Iran, many people have struggled to find medicine -- an issue linked to sanctions reinstated by the United States in 2018 after it withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal. -AFP 3/2/20

Top officials in Iran laugh at U.S. sanctions while the people suffer

New U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran have become so recurrent nowadays that they've become a joke, even among hardline clerics. Soon after Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative for Iran, announced that five members of the government's Guardian Council were to be blacklisted ahead of the country's parliamentary elections last Friday, the Council's chief Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, whipped back: "They sanctioned me and I am wondering how I can access all my money in those American banks now?" he told reporters with a chuckle at a press conference in Tehran. "How can I go there for Christmas?". -Shenaz Kermalli, Responsible Statecraft 2/28/20

Russia stresses opposition to return of UNSC sanctions against Iran

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says Russia will keep objecting to the restoration of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against Iran, emphasizing that Moscow will not let the 15-member body turn into a "toy" in the hands of the US. Speaking after the 15th meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna on Wednesday, Ryabkov warned that the UNSC should not be manipulated by Washington, which scrapped the nuclear deal in May 2018 and has been pressing the remaining signatories to do so. -Press TV 2/27/20

Iranian rial plunges as coronavirus threatens export lifeline

Iran's rial hit a one-year low against the dollar on Wednesday as a sharp rise in coronavirus cases forced the closure of most of its borders, threatening the non-oil exports that are its main economic lifeline. -Reuters 2/26/20

Iran museums, historical sites shut down amid fears of virus outbreak

Iran has temporarily closed cultural heritage museums and historical sites in 15 provinces in a preventive measure amid fears of coronavirus outbreak. "Cultural heritage museums and historical sites will be closed (as of today) until the end of the week (February 28) in 15 provinces, which face the risk of virus outbreak" 2/25/20

Iran Police Confiscate Protective Masks Hoarded By Couple At Home Parking

The Chief of Tehran Prevention Police on Monday said 500,000 masks hoarded by an Iranian man and his Chinese wife have been discovered in a residential parking in eastern Tehran. According to Keyvan Zahiri, neighbors alerted the police that the masks, now very highly in demand due to coronavirus outbreak in Iran, were being hoarded in the couple's parking. 2/24/20

Foreign ministers of Iran, Netherlands discuss ties, regional developments in Tehran

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Dutch counterpart, Stef Blok, have held discussions in Tehran about issues of mutual interest and the latest regional and international developments. Blok, who is in Tehran at the head of a delegation, held two rounds of talks with Zarif on Saturday and also held a separate meeting with Iran's President Hassan Rohani. -Press TV 2/22/20

Trump administration pressures global financial watchdog to 'blacklist' Iran

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that sets standards to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, has placed Iran back on its infamous "blacklist," following the failure of Iranian policymakers to enact two key bills in accordance with an action plan set in 2016. The FATF statement, issued on Friday at the conclusion of the body's latest plenary meeting, calls on members to "to apply effective countermeasures" following Iran's failure to implement "the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Responsible Statecraft 2/22/20

Trump's new proposal for allowing more humanitarian trade with Iran is only making it worse

Now, the Trump administration - itself faced with growing public concern over the effect of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian people - is touting a humanitarian channel put in place through coordinated efforts with the Swiss government to ensure the Iranian people's access to humanitarian goods. However, a discerning look at this channel indicates that the net effect may well cause further distress to Iran's access to humanitarian items. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 2/21/20

US sanctions 'targeting' patients, say doctors at Iranian cancer hospital

Medical staff at Iran's top cancer hospital tell FRANCE 24 their patients are paying the price of geopolitical strategies as the country's health system struggles to cope under crippling US sanctions. The economy tops the agenda as Iran heads to the polls in Friday's general elections. -France 24 2/20/20

Iran parliament committee approves currency overhaul bill

The Iranian parliament has approved the details of a government bill to drop four zeros from the national currency rial. Reports in the local media on Wednesday said that the parliament's economic committee had gone through all technical details of the bill which seeks to amend Article 1 of Iran's Monetary and Banking Law to allow the government to overhaul the currency. 2/20/20

Iran Khodro unveils first version of electric car: RANA

The Iran Khodro Compnay (IKCO), the largest carmaker in Iran, has unveiled a first electric car that could reach mass production in two years time. A report by the IRNA agency on Tuesday said that the Electric RANA, a sedan which bears the name of one of the recent models of IKCO, is equipped with a special engine that is designed by a subsidiary of the company. 2/19/20

Top Suspect In Large Corruption Case Flees Iran For UAE

One of the primary suspects involved in a massive financial corruption case in Iran's petrochemical sector has fled the country, a conservative local news outlet close to the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reported on February 18. "Former executive director of the Iranian Petrochemical Commercial Company (IPCC), Mehdi Sharifi Niknafs, has fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Young Journalists Club (YJC) disclosed. -Radio Farda 2/19/20

Iranian Startups: Qpage, a comprehensive human resources management solution

Existing solutions for human resource management around the world are outdated. Qpage sees this as an opportunity and wants to shake the market with its comprehensive solution. -TechRasa 2/18/20

How Iran's millennials are grappling with crippling US sanctions

As someone who has studied the lives of Iran's working classes, I know just how damaging economic warfare has been. It's hit young Iranians, who comprise a large portion of the population, particularly hard. High rates of inflation - on the order of 38.6% over the past 12 months - and a youth unemployment rate of 28.6% have drastically reduced their ability to purchase basic goods and feel any semblance of financial security. -Manata Hashemi, The Conversation 2/14/20

U.S. Grants Iraq Waiver To Buy Iranian Energy Supplies, But Sets Conditions

The United States has granted a 45-day waiver to allow Iraq to continue to buy gas and electricity from Iran, despite sanctions imposed by Washington targeting Tehran's energy sector. The U.S. State Department on February 12 said the waiver, which sets tough conditions, "ensures that Iraq is able to meet its short-term energy needs while it takes steps to reduce its dependence on Iranian energy imports." -RFE/RL 2/13/20

Iran's Economy Is Bleak. Its Stock Market Is Soaring.

He looked past Iran's cratering economy, ignored the unraveling nuclear deal and tuned out the bellicose threats of war from President Trump. Maciej Wojtal was focused on a mundane yet crucial question: Where were Iran's people going to buy their chocolate biscuits? Iranians were being forced to economize, trading lunch at kebab restaurants for cheap pleasures like sugary snacks. Mr. Wojtal, who runs an investment fund devoted to Iranian stocks, identified a company that was poised to benefit: Gorji Biscuit... -Peter S. Goodman, New York Times 2/13/20

Between Trump and Tehran, the Iranian people continue to suffer

The clerical government in Iran celebrates another anniversary this week. It's both an occasion for critics to call attention to the Islamic Republic's perpetual legitimacy crisis, and for neutral observers to puzzle over the revolutionary government's tenacity. Tehran's opponents are correct in pointing out that its legitimacy crisis is at its deepest since 2009. Yet, there is little to indicate that the Islamic Republic is about to fall - or that it will be replaced with a democratic system if it does. -Trita Parsi, Middle East Eye 2/13/20

Iranians Feel Strain of Turmoil and Sanctions

On a crisp winter's day the snow glistens on the mountains above Tehran, but the mood is as heavy as the pall of pollution that often shrouds Iran's capital. In a country weighed down by sanctions, shaken by protests and stressed by military tensions with the United States, many Tehranis struggle to hide their pessimism. -Globe Post 2/12/20

Trump's 'Maximum Pressure' on Iran Exposes How Little the U.S. has Done for Iraq's Economy

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, Iraqi President Bahram Saleh addressed the intensifying competition between the United States and Iran that was bringing his country to the edge of an abyss. He stated that it is not in Iraq's interest to "choose to ally with one side at the expense of others, as long as both respect our sovereignty and independence." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Responsible Statecraft 2/11/20

Foreign arrivals in Iran hits 8 million in 10 months: Tourism Minister

Some eight million foreign nationals have visited Iran since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21, 2019) despite [U.S.] sanctions and a sharp decline in flights by some foreign airlines, tourism minister has said. "Over the past couple of months, [the tourism sector of] Iran has been suffering from sanctions and decrease in the number of flights by foreign airlines, however, the Islamic Republic has played host to some eight million foreign travelers during the first ten months of the year," Ali-Asghar Mounesan said on Wednesday 2/10/20

Absence of US sanctions on Iran's healthcare is 'a lie'

Washington claims imports of medicine are exempted, but the ground reality says the opposite, as tens of thousands of Iranians in need of emergency medical care are slowly inching towards death. A few months ago, Zahra, a 48-year-old Iranian woman living in the northeastern city of Mashhad, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her disease is one of the most common cancers in Iran where patients have for years been relying on imported drugs for medical treatment... -Maysam Bizaer, TRTWorld 2/10/20

SAIPA, MAPNA ink MOU for mass production of Iran's first electric car

Iran's MAPNA Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the country's second-biggest auto-maker SAIPA Group for mass production of the country's first electric vehicle, IRIB reported. Based on the MOU, SAIPA Group and MAPNA will collaborate on the design, prototyping, testing, commercialization, and production of new electric vehicles, SAIPA Group's news portal reported. 2/9/20

Iran looms large in Central Asia despite sanctions and Saudi financial muscle

Saudi Arabia may have been getting more than it bargained for when authorities in Khujand, Tajikistan's second largest city, ordered that the city's largest and most popular mosque be converted into a cinema. The order followed the closure of some 2,000 mosques in the country in the last three years and the arrest last month of scores of Muslim clerics and teachers, many of whom were accused of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that is banned in both Tajikistan and the kingdom. - James M. Dorsey, Modern Diplomacy 2/9/20

Denmark's biggest pharmaceutical company to start operation in Iran: Ambassador

Denmark's Ambassador to Iran Danny Annan said on Tuesday that his country is determined to develop ties with Iran, adding that the biggest Danish pharmaceutical company is to start activities in Iran within two months. Speaking at a meeting with Fars Governor Enayatollah Rahimi in Shiraz, Annan said despite the fact that economic sanctions damage parts of Iran-Denmark economic mechanism, but bilateral cooperation still continues between the two sides. 2/7/20

Sanctions and domestic constraints cripple Iran's startups

The Iranian startup ecosystem is deteriorating after a boomlet lasting from 2012 - 2016 as sanctions and domestic restrictions create new challenges and force businesses abroad. The startup environment started to take a structured shape in Iran from 2012 - 2013 thanks to the initiatives taken by a number of universities, visionary individuals and the return of foreign-educated Iranians and the diaspora. -Mohsen Tavakol, Atlantic Council 2/7/20

Zarif: Iran will sue Trump for economic, military and cultural terrorism

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic will take legal action against US President Donald Trump on charges of committing economic, military and cultural terrorism against the country. In an interview with Lebanese al-Mayadeen news network, whose text was published on Thursday, Iran's top diplomat said the assassination of Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on direct order of Trump on January 3 was an act of state terrorism. 2/7/20

God, gas and heroin. Now, the fight's over water

Men across this windblown, lawless desert have fought over opium, God and gasoline, but now, Said Mohammed, a wheat farmer with a shovel and a rifle, senses a war brewing over water. The conflict runs along the dangerous border between Afghanistan and Iran, where the Helmand River winds like an existential thread through two troubled lands. -Stefanie Glinski, Los Angeles Times 2/6/20

Sanctions Are Not an Alternative to War

It was September 2017, and I was back home in Iran. A few weeks earlier, I had received a phone call that my father had fallen critically ill. He had for a year successfully managed a rare, incurable neural disease. Soon, he was hospitalized after a series of extensive brain hemorrhages and, while in the ICU, would develop a pulmonary infection that would ultimately claim both of his lungs. Treatment was not out of the question, but he urgently needed drugs that were distributed by European and American companies. -Keyvan Shafiei, American Prospect 2/5/20

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