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May 19 2019
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Harsh Prison Terms for Three Iranian Authors Who Dared to Criticize the State

- In a glaring repudiation of freedom of expression and the right to peaceful dissent, the Iranian judiciary sentenced three prominent members of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) to six years in prison each on May 15, 2019. The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) joins the IWA in forcefully condemning these unjust and unlawful sentences against Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and Keyvan Bajan. -CHRI 5/18/19

Four Simple Steps the U.S. Media Could Take to Prevent a Trump War With Iran

- HERE WE GO again. Sixteen years after the U.S. media helped the Bush administration spread myths and lies about the threat posed by Iraq to the United States and its allies, the Trump administration is spreading similar myths and lies about the threat posed by Iran. The 64,000-rial question, therefore, is whether or not journalists have learned any lessons whatsoever from the Iraqi WMD debacle of 2003. -Mehdi Hasan, Intercept 5/18/19

Iran Notes

- Relentless media coverage of Iran is almost always negative. The breathless overpaid network anchors intone in somber tones: Iran denies, Iran refuses, Iran turns down, Iran won't accept, etc. Iran is a pinata for the regime in Washington. It is blamed for everything from measles to arthritis to acne. I don't use the word administration for the rulers in Washington but rather regime. -David Barsamian, CounterPunch 5/18/19

Second Women's Charity Group Member Who Assisted Iran's Flood Victims Is Arrested

- A second senior member of the charity group Voice of Iranian Women (VIW), which has been involved in aid and rescue operations during the recent devastating floods in southwestern Iran, has been arrested for unknown reasons. Nahid Shaghaghi, who has also worked to combat violence against women, was taken away by security agents on May 15, 2018. -CHRI 5/18/19

Foreign Minister Zarif says there will be no war in the region

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has expressed confidence that no war would break out in the Middle East amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States. "As Leader of the Islamic Revolution has also announced, we are certain that no war will break out because neither we want a war, nor has anyone the idea or illusion that it can confront Iran in the region" -Press TV 5/18/19

Will The U.S Pressures Bring Iran To The Negotiating Table?

- It didn't require a crystal ball to predict that some false-flag incident might escalate tensions in the current display of hostilities between Iran and the United States or its regional allies. That was why in the final paragraph in my previous article I cautioned Iran to "...create closer dialog with the Arab counterparts to watch out for deliberate accidents that might ignite the powder keg and destroy both nations." Well, the incident happened the day after my post on Payvand, as it was obvious something like that would take place sooner or later, and likely would be repeated in days or weeks to come. -Kam Zarrabi 5/17/19

What Makes Iran Look Like An Immediate Threat

- The current crisis atmosphere in U.S.-Iranian relations, in which the risk of open warfare appears greater than it has been in years, is solely and unequivocally due to the policies and actions of the Trump administration. To point this out does not mean that actions of the Iranian regime have not come to be part of the crisis atmosphere as well. It instead means that such an atmosphere would never have existed in the first place if the administration had not turned its obsession with Iran into the relentless campaign of hostility that has become one of the single most prominent threads of the administration's foreign policy. -Paul R. Pillar 5/17/19

In Beijing, Iranian FM Zarif Calls For 'Concrete Action' To Salvage Nuclear Deal

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged China, Russia, and other "partners" to take "concrete action" to safeguard a nuclear deal that the United States exited a year ago. Zarif made the call on May 17 upon arriving in Beijing where he held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. -RFE/RL 5/17/19

US-Iran tensions are escalating at an alarming rate, thanks to well-rehearsed gun diplomacy

- A threat based on intelligence reports; deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and B-52 bombers to the Middle East with reports of ground troops to follow; a dramatic rise in diplomatic tensions and warnings of retribution from Washington. All this as the Iran crisis escalates may well seem like a reprise of what unfolded before the disastrous last Iraq war. -Kim Sengupta, Independent 5/17/19

Bleeding John Bolton Stumbles Into Capitol Building Claiming That Iran Shot Him

- Bursting through the Congressional chamber doors while moaning and clutching his shoulder, John Bolton reportedly stumbled into the Capitol building Friday claiming that he'd been shot by Iran. "Help, help, I've just been attacked by a large Middle Eastern country around 636,000 square miles in size," said the national security advisor, telling those assembled that he'd just been minding his own business when an aggressive Islamic Republic had thrown him on the ground and shot him with a long-range missile. -Satire by Onion 5/17/19

Featured Video

Together, We Can Stop War (featuring Reza Aslan)

They Might Not Have F-35s, But Iran's Air Force Can Certainly Fight - In fact, Iranian Minister of Defense Amir Hatami was involved heavily in the showcase reveals of both fighters, apparently dead-set on showing the Iranian people that they, too, can produce a means to defend their country. -National Interest 5/17/19

Russia And The Iran Crisis - As tensions ratchet up between Washington and Tehran, Moscow has adopted a more measured approach. Putin, along with many of Washington's Western allies, has criticized the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement reached during the Obama years. -Mark N. Katz, LobeLog 5/17/19

Tehran urges US to declassify its 'intelligence' on Iran threat in Iraq - Iran's ambassador to the UN has called on the US government to declassify its alleged intelligence on "Iranian threat" in Iraq, saying Tehran is confident the claim is "fake". "If they have credible evidence and information, why don't they declassify them and make it known to the American people and to the people of the world?" Iranian Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi said. -Press TV 5/17/19

Pompeo and Bolton tensions escalate as Iran debate intensifies - Rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran are also magnifying strains among President Donald Trump's top foreign policy advisers: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. 5/17/19

Reformist Magazine Suspended After Advocating Diplomacy to Ease US-Iran Tensions - Tehran's Culture and Media Court suspended the reformist weekly magazine "Seda" (The Voice) on May 11, 2019, hours after it had published an article about the possibility of a war with the United States. "The suspension of Seda magazine and the arrest of one of its reporters are causes for concern," tweeted prominent reformist Member of Parliament Fatemeh Saeidi. "This is the wrong way to overcome these difficult times." -CHRI 5/16/19

Together, We Can Stop War - As members and friends of the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned that the Trump administration may be headed towards starting a devastating war with Iran. Recent dangerous escalations--including Iraq war architect and current National Security Advisor John Bolton's threat to use "unrelenting force" against Iran--should sound the alarm for all those who remember the propaganda campaign that preceded the 2003 invasion of Iraq. -NIAC 5/16/19

Trump's irritation with top aides grows over Iran strategy - President Donald Trump has become irritated at an emerging impression his hawkish national security advisers are marching him closer to war with Iran despite his isolationist tendencies, according to people familiar with the matter. Instead, Trump is signaling his intent to speak with the Iranians as tensions rise in the Persian Gulf, and his national security team has taken steps they hope could facilitate a new diplomatic opening. -CNN 5/16/19

Isfahan Prosecutor Bans "Sinful Act" of Women Riding Bicycles - Citing domestic Islamic religious decrees and common law, Isfahan city prosecutor Ali Isfahani announced on May 14, 2019, a ban on female bicyclists. "Based on fatwas by religious scholars as well as the law, bicycling by women in public spaces is a sinful act," Isfahani told the state-funded Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). 5/16/19

The Hidden Sources of Iranian Strength - What Americans don't understand is that the groups that we support in the region are not our mercenaries," Ali, a high-ranking member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said when I recently asked him about one of the stated goals of the Trump administration's sanctions against Iran: to curtail the country's ability to financially support militias in the region.-Narges Bajoghli, FP 5/16/19

People Aren't Buying the American War Machine's Pitch for War With Iran - If national security advisor John Bolton is Ahab, war with Iran has long been his Moby Dick. Now, Bolton's dream of a new, disastrous conflict feels closer than ever to becoming reality. It all started when Trump decided to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal last year. -Sophie Weiner, Splinter 5/16/19

'Neither talks nor war,' Khamenei says of US-Iran tensions - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran will force the United States to retreat by "resistance," which he described as the only option against unrelenting US pressure. During a meeting with the country's top political elites, including President Hassan Rouhani and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, Khamenei​ dismissed the possibility that the United States and Iran would go to war, stating that the Americans understand that any such conflict will not serve their interests. -Al-Monitor 5/16/19

With Bolton whispering in Trump's ear, war with Iran is no longer unthinkable - Antiwar activists must do everything they can to prevent it, and that includes pressuring US allies... It was a deception that would lead to millions of civilian deaths, and the deaths of nearly 60,000 US soldiers. In August 1964 President Lyndon B Johnson solemnly declared that, after two apparent North Vietnamese attacks on US navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, military action would take place. -Owen Jones, Guardian 5/16/19

Iran's Risky Nuclear Gambit Fueled by Trump's Enrichment Curbs - The economic pain inflicted by President Donald Trump's sanctions on Iranian oil exports was widely blamed for prompting Tehran's threat last week to gradually roll back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. But it was a U.S. decision in early May to revoke two waivers critical to the Islamic Republic's enrichment activities that left it with a stark choice... -Ladane Nasseri, Bloomberg 5/16/19

Deep skepticism among U.S. allies and lawmakers on Iran threat - American lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for caution -- and details -- over U.S. officials assertions of a newly-elevated threat from Iran in the Middle East. CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reported Thursday that U.S. military officials insist they have pictures of Iranian boats carrying short-range ballistic missiles at the country's port of Chabahar, apparently waiting to be moved into position to strike targets on land. -CBS News 5/16/19

Marc Wilmots named coach of Iran national football team - Belgian coach Marc Wilmots has been named as new head coach of Iran national football team, Mehdi Taj, the president of the Football Federation of Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI), said. The 50-year-old coach will take charge of Team Melli until the 2022 FIFA World Cup. 5/15/19

British Council Employee Aras Amiri Jailed for Refusing to Spy, Says Cousin - The UK-based British Council employee Aras Amiri was jailed in Iran for refusing to spy for the country's Intelligence Ministry, her cousin, Mohsen Omrani, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 14, 2019. "They made a proposal to Aras to become an agent for the Islamic Republic in the UK and give them information about the British Council," he said. -CHRI 5/15/19

No increased Iran threat in Syria or Iraq, top British officer says, contradicting US - The top British general in the US-led coalition against Isis has said there is no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria, directly contradicting US assertions used to justify a military buildup in the region. Hours later however, his assessment was disowned by US Central Command in an extraordinary rebuke of an allied senior officer. -Julian Borger, Guardian 5/15/19

Pompeo Gets Cold-Shouldered On Iran In Brussels - Amid worrying signs of the United States escalating its "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid an impromptu visit to Brussels on May 13. Taking advantage of an ordinary meeting of EU 28 foreign ministers and High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini that day, Pompeo sought a show of unity of Western allies regarding Iran. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog 5/15/19

Why the WhatsApp spies may have eyes on Iran - Time to join some dots. The WhatsApp hack, "sabotaged" oil tankers, the push in the US to proscribe the Muslim Brotherhood and "plans" to deploy American troops to Persian Gulf are all strands of the same story. At its heart is the struggle between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran. -Paul Danahar, BBC 5/15/19

Europe is Powerless in Growing Conflict Between the US and Iran - The EU's real status - well behind the US, Russia and China - has just been demonstrated by its inability to protect Iran from US sanctions following President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal of 2015. A year ago, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron made humiliating visits to Washington to plead vainly with Trump to stay with the agreement, but were rebuffed. -Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch 5/15/19

Iranians Will Tolerate Hardship but Not Capitulation - On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal, Iran announced that it would cease to implement some of its commitments under the accord. Because the United States has banned Iran from exporting heavy water and low enriched uranium (LEU), Iran will henceforth stop adhering to the accord's limits on accumulating these materials: 130 metric tons in the case of heavy water and 300 kilograms of LEU. -Mahsa Rouhi, Foreign Policy 5/15/19

Bolton In Wonderland - John Bolton has a Haig-sized ego. He aspires to control the ebb and flow of foreign policy in the Trump administration. He is often at odds with his colleagues from the State Department and Pentagon. And he is dealing with a president who, if not asleep much of the time, is only intermittently focused on national security issues. - John Feffer, LobeLog 5/15/19

Former Bush Aide Shocked at Iran Troop Deployment Report, Says We've Learned Nothing From Iraq Invasion - A former aide in President George W. Bush's administration expressed shock on Tuesday at a report that President Donald Trump's staff reviewed a plan last week that would deploy 120,000 troops to counter Iran. "I really cannot believe that we failed to learn anything from the first decade of this century," Elise Jordan, who worked in the Bush White House, said during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe. -Newsweek 5/15/19

Interview with Ashk Dahlen, author of The Persian Empire - Ashk Dahlen was born in Tehran in 1972 and has lived most of his life in Sweden. He is Associate Professor in Iranian Languages at Uppsala University and his field of study covers Persian literature, Iranian history of religion and philosophy. Ashk Dahlen is the author of several books and articles on Iranian history and among his recent publications is Antikens Persien (in Swedish). 5/14/19

Paramilitary Force Attacks Tehran University Protest Against Hijab Enforcement Units - Members of Iran's paramilitary Basij force violently attacked several students at a peaceful protest at the University of Tehran on May 13, 2019. The demonstrators had gathered to protest the increased presence of so-called "guidance" units charged by the government to enforce strict observance of Iran's compulsory hijab law at the campus. -CHRI 5/14/19

Iran Parliament allows Iranian mothers to pass citizenship to children - Lawmakers overwhelmingly ratified details of a bill today which allows Iranian mothers to pass on citizenship to their children. The bill was approved in Monday's open session of the Parliament by 170 votes in favor, 21 votes against, and 4 abstentions out of 213 MPs in attendance. 5/14/19

Iran And The U.S.: Still Possible To Escape The Worst And Work For The Best - What the U.S. Can Give? A possible first gesture from the U.S. side could be to reinstate the waivers allowing the sale to Iran of commercial passenger aircraft, as provided by article 22 of the JCPOA. Negotiations between Iranian companies and Boeing as well as Airbus did start after the conclusion of the Vienna arrangement. -Francois Nicoullaud, LobeLog 5/14/19

Interview with Literary Figure Alireza Behnam on Censorship - State censorship of the publishing industry in Iran is intensifying and increasingly arbitrary, causing book publishers in Iran to become more cautious than ever, according to Alireza Behnam, a journalist, poet and translator. State authorities now frequently ban books after they have already been published with permission from the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry, Behnam noted. -CHRI 5/14/19

Bolton Is Spinning Israeli 'Intelligence' to Push for War Against Iran - John Bolton has gotten away with a dangerous deception. The national security adviser's announcement Sunday that the Pentagon has deployed air and naval forces to the Middle East, which he combined with a threat to Iran, points to a new maneuver to prepare the ground for an incident that could justify a retaliatory attack against Iran. -Gareth Porter, AntiWar 5/14/19

Details of tanker "sabotage" murky as Trump warns Iran and U.S. casts first blame - Shortly after the Saudi announcement that two of the country's tankers had been attacked, Iran's Foreign Ministry called for further clarification about what exactly happened with the vessels. The ministry's spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as warning against any "conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers" and "adventurism by foreigners" to undermine the maritime region's stability and security. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are staunch opponents of Iran's government. -CBS 5/14/19

A General With A Bias For Action - This much seems clear: To listen to McKenzie, Iran is the ultimate source of all evil. To cite just one example, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the general charges that "at least 600 U.S. personnel deaths in Iraq were the result of Iran-backed militants." This was indeed nefarious, and one is hard-pressed to think of a comparable episode in recent military history, although U.S. support for Saddam Hussein pursuant to his war of aggression against Iran might fill the bill. -Andrew J. Bacevich, LobeLog 5/14/19

Iranian-American organizations campaign against U.S. war with Iran - Iranian-American organizations are actively campaigning against a U.S. war with Iran encouraging members of community to write to their members of Congress urging them to support the Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act. 5/13/19

60 days to save the JCPOA - Europe and Iran both want to save the nuclear deal. But each side needs to fully understand the other's point of view if they are to avoid dangerous miscalculations. -Ellie Geranmayeh, European Council on Foreign Relations 5/13/19

For Iranians, The War Has Already Begun - Not a day goes by without the Trump administration imposing a new challenge on us, the Iranian people. Those who think that the travel ban has been the hardest obstacle for Iranians need to catch up with latest foreign policy developments. Encouraged by Donald Trump's foreign policy advisors, the Iranian people today face an increasing risk of military attack by the United States. -Elham Pourtaher, LobeLog 5/13/19

Seven Baha'i Faith Members Sentenced to Three Years Imprisonment in Bushehr, Iran - A revolutionary court in the city of Bushehr in southern Iran sentenced seven members of the Baha'i faith to three years in prison each for allegedly answering questions about their religious beliefs to Muslim guests in their homes. -CHRI 5/13/19

The Media's Shameful Handling Of Bolton's Iran Threat Claims Recalls The Run-Up To The Iraq War - Media-savvy U.S. government officials, political operatives, and lawmakers and their staffs from all political parties and ideological persuasions have no doubt, throughout the history of our great country, duped a fair-minded but unwitting reporter into writing a juicy story in order to get a piece of information into the public bloodstream without their fingerprints on it. -Ben Armbruster, LobeLog 5/13/19

Is Trump Yet Another U.S. President Provoking a War? - The United States has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats... The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs...Today, the question in Washington--and surely in Tehran, too--is whether President Trump is making moves that will provoke, instigate, or inadvertently drag the United States into a war with Iran. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 5/13/19

Saudi oil tankers show 'significant damage' after sabotage attack, says Riyadh - Saudi Arabia has said that two of its oil tankers have been damaged in mysterious "sabotage attacks" in the Gulf, as the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, held emergency talks with his European counterparts about mounting tensions in the region. The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday that four commercial vessels had been sabotaged near Fujairah emirate, just outside the Strait of Hormuz. -Guardian 5/13/19

A Realistic Alternative To A War Between The United States And Iran: Let Someone Else Do It! - Much to the delight of my regular detractors, I have cut back from writing my almost monthly opinion articles about the ongoing US/Iran tug-of-war. However, with the appointment of the warmonger neoconservative psychopath, John Bolton, as the national security advisor by the Clueless Clown-in-Chief, this decades-long almost ceremonial push and pull seems to be reaching, at least potentially, a disastrous flash point deserving of a bareknuckle commentary. -Kam Zarrabi 5/11/19

The Looming War And Tehran's Ostrich Politics - Last week, tensions between Iran and the United States reached even more alarming levels. First, Iran's Supreme Leader admonished Iranians that since the enemy-read America-is in war mode, Iran, too, should prepare for war (Arayesh Jangi Begirad). Then there was the news of the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln going to the Middle East, ostensibly because of threats posed by Iran. According to some reports, this move was triggered by intelligence that Iran was moving missiles to the Persian Gulf. -Shireen T. Hunter 5/11/19

Iran's Patience May Be Running Out - The Iranian government's decision to reduce its adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) reflects a "move from strategic patience to strategic action" in the face of mounting U.S. sanctions, according to a recent media call organized by the European Leadership Network. Although Iran's moves have raised tensions around the nuclear accord, they may also offer a way forward for negotiations between Tehran and Washington. -Derek Davison, LobeLog 5/11/19

White House passes phone number to Swiss, in case Iran wants to call - After President Donald Trump publicly appealed to Iran to call him amid heightened tensions with Tehran, the White House contacted the Swiss on Thursday to share a phone number the Iranians could call the President on, according to a diplomatic source familiar with the move. "I'd like to see them call me," Trump said of the Iranians in the White House on Thursday. -CNN 5/11/19

Cleric's Murder Gives Impetus to Calls for Military Control Over Internet - Following the killing of Mostafa Ghasemi, a cleric in the city of Hamedan, by an individual who had displayed his violent intentions on his Instagram account, Iran's security and military establishments have expressed support for Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's demand to impose greater restrictions on the Internet and tighter controls over social media in particular. -CHRI 5/11/19

U.S. sending Patriot missile system and another warship to Middle East amid Iran tensions - The United States is deploying a Patriot missile battery and another warship to the Middle East to counter what it claims are growing threats from Iran. The USS Arlington, an amphibious transport ship, and a Patriot air defense system will be deployed to the U.S. Central Command. -CNBC 5/11/19

New U.S. Sanctions On Iran Metals Target Jobs, Not Government Revenue - The Trump administration has announced a new wave of sanctions on Iran's steel, aluminum and copper industries. A statement from President Trump declares, "Today's action targets Iran's revenue from the export of industrial metals-10 percent of its export economy-and puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into your ports will no longer be tolerated." -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj 5/10/19

PHOTOS: Fire Damages Historic Bazaar In Tabriz, Iran - Fire started at the historical roofed bazaar in the capital city of East Azarbaijan Province, Tabriz, in early hours of Thursday. The fire has been fully put out, according to the head of the province's crisis management department. About 100 shops were damaged in the fire and 19 people were injured. 5/10/19

Iran's Minister of Education Sees "Plot" Behind Videos of Dancing Schoolchildren - Iran's minister of education has called on the police to trace the "source" of what he described as "disturbing videos" of schoolchildren cheerfully dancing to a pop song by US-based Iranian singer Sasy Mankan. The videos are part of an online "dance challenge" that features children in different schools around the country grooving to Mankan's newly released "Gentlemen" song. -CHRI 5/10/19

Official Admits to "Defeated" Attempt to Move Iranians Over to State-Sponsored Messaging Apps - One year after Iran blocked access to the Telegram messaging app, used by a reported 40 million users, officials are admitting that the state's attempts to attract users to Iranian-made versions have failed. -CHRI 5/10/19

The Art of a New Iran Deal - How viable is Trump's ambitious plan? Together with colleagues at Chatham House, I took this question, among others, to 75 analysts and policymakers in ten countries: the United States, Iran, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Israel, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. -Sanam Vakil. Foreign Affairs 5/10/19

China and India seen as Europe's last hope to save Iran deal - The European Union will defend the Iran nuclear accord despite Tehran's decision to backtrack on its commitments in response to U.S. sanctions, diplomats believe, but European powers expect it to collapse without a deal to sell Iranian oil to China or India. 5/10/19

Grim Outlook For Iran Nuclear Deal - Iran's patience with Europe's feeble submission to one of the most villainous U.S. administrations of all time finally ran out on May 8. That day President Hassan Rouhani told the European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), via remarks at a session of his Cabinet, that henceforth Iranian performance of certain of the agreement's commitments would be conditional on European performance of all its commitments. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog 5/9/19

Bolton, Iran, And Hegemonic Hubris - On Sunday, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and Air Force bombers were rerouted to the Persian Gulf because of "new threats" emanating from Iran and its Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials have privately declared that the vague intelligence, which Israel apparently passed to the United States, is "completely blown out of proportion." -Shahed Ghoreishi, LobeLog 5/9/19

U.S. Targets Iranian Steel, Mining Sectors With New Sanctions - The United States has announced new economic sanctions on Iran, targeting its steel and mining industries, as Washington tries to turn up the pressure on Tehran. The new sanctions target Iran's steel, copper, aluminum, and mining sectors, all key sources of revenue for the country. -RFE/RL 5/9/19

Translating the Legacy of Ahmad Shamlou, One of Iran's Greatest Poets - Niloufar Talebi's Self-Portrait in Bloom, a hybrid memoir of prose and poetry with some photos thrown in, delves into the author's childhood in Tehran, the Iranian revolution, and her move to the United States as a teenager. But most compelling of all is her underlying journey to becoming a translator and multi-disciplinary artist through her love of the influential poet Ahmad Shamlou, considered the father of modern Iranian poetry. -Emily Wilson, Hyperallergic 5/9/19

22 European Security Experts Call On US To Rejoin Iran Deal - A European Joint Call on the US to Reconsider its Approach to the JCPOA: One year ago, on 8 May 2018, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would cease compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement struck in July 2015 by the United States and Iran, along with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the European Union. -LobeLog 5/9/19

Iran giving remaining signatories chance to save JCPOA: Foreign Minister Zarif - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it is time for Tehran's remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal to uphold their end of the bargain following the US withdrawal, because Iran has provided them with a 60-day "opportunity" to salvage the landmark agreement. 5/8/19

Trump's Dogs Of War - Since Trump took power in January, 2016, LobeLog has repeatedly featured posts by serious foreign-policy and regional experts warning of the possibility - and now increased likelihood - of a military conflict with Iran, despite Trump's own apparent aversion to the idea of U.S. forces becoming engaged in yet another war in the Greater Middle East. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog 5/8/19

Several Detained Without Access to Counsel One Week After Labor Day Protests In Tehran - Several workers' rights activists including teachers who were arrested at rallies in Tehran on May 1 (International Labor Day) and May 2 (Iran's Teachers' Day) remain in detention without access to legal counsel, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. -CHRI 5/8/19

Behind the U.S. Labeling of Iran's Revolutionary Guards a Terrorist Organization - It can be readily demonstrated that the proffered U.S. justifications for labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization are no more than harebrained excuses designed to put further pressure on the Iranian people in pursuit of its long-standing policy of regime change from within. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh, Counterpunch 5/8/19

John Bolton on the Warpath - Can Trump's national-security adviser sell the isolationist President on military force? During the past two decades, Bolton has established himself as the Republican Party's most militant foreign-policy thinker--an advocate of aggressive force who ridicules anyone who disagrees. -Dexter Filkins, New Yorker 5/8/19

The Trump administration's maximum pressure campaign: A prelude to war with Iran? - The Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran has picked up pace... To date, however, the maximum pressure campaign has failed to change Iranian behavior. In fact, it seems designed to push Iran to leave the deal and set the scene for military confrontation. -Dina Esfandiary, The Bulletin 5/8/19

The Right May Finally Get Its War on Iran - John Bolton has never made a secret of his burning desire to stoke a war between the United States and Iran. But Bolton is not the only one on Donald Trump's national security team who dreams of such a military confrontation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has joined with Bolton in recent months to prepare a case for possible war with Iran. -Gareth Porter, Truthdig 5/8/19

Iran's Currency Drops To A Seven-Month Low In Tehran's Forex Market - Iran's currency reached its lowest level against the U.S. dollar in the past seven months, according to reports from Iran on Tuesday, May 7. Foreign exchange websites reporting virtually live on actual free market rates, say that the Iranian rial reached a low of 154,000 against the greenback. 5/7/19

US To Sanction Implementation Of UN Security Council Resolution - The Security Council adopted this resolution six days after Iran, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This agreement was designed to restrict Iran's nuclear activities while International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors look systematically into whether Iran's nuclear program is "exclusively peaceful." -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog 5/7/19

Journalists Condemn Arrest of Reformist Iranian Reporter Ahead of World Press Freedom Day - Marzieh Amiri, a reporter for the reformist Shargh newspaper, has been in Evin Prison's Ward 209 under the control of the Intelligence Ministry since she was arrested while covering a Labor Day protest in Tehran on May 1, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. -CHRI 5/7/19

Yara Shahidi On Identity Politics, Family - It's a unique perspective, being black and Iranian, and coming from two persecuted peoples. On one side of my family is the list of people who can't enter the US from certain countries," she says, referring to President Trump's so-called Muslim travel ban, "and on the other side are those who are familiar with what it's like being black in America." 5/7/19

The JCPOA One Year After U.S. Withdrawal - The U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018 significantly undermines America's national security and is fueling momentum for a possible new conflict in the Middle East. If Iran also withdraws from the JCPOA, or from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Trans-Atlantic alliance will be dealt a severe blow and a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race could ensue. -CPINW, LobeLog 5/7/19

Iran had courted Western tourists. After sanctions, it's turning to neighbors - After the multi-nation deal's signing in 2015, Iran's tourism industry took off. European airlines resumed flights and international businesses, including hotel chains, sought deals. Iranian officials set the 10-year goal of boosting foreign arrivals fivefold to 20 million. Then came the U.S. presidential election. -Melissa Etehad & Ramin Mostaghim, Los Angeles Times 5/7/19

European Deal Signatories Criticize U.S. Move On Iran Nuclear, Oil Sanctions - The European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany expressed concern about the U.S. decision not to extend two waivers related to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and others regarding Tehran's oil industry. -RFE/RL 5/6/19

10 things that surprised me about Iran - When I told people I was headed to Iran, the most common responses were "Is it safe?" and "Why"? The answers to those questions, in short, are "Yes" and "Where do I start?". Here are 10 of the many things that surprised me about the Islamic Republic, one of the great empires of the ancient world and - I'm now convinced - great wonders of the modern one. -Lorna Thornber, stuff 5/6/19

Misinformed Iranian Movie Star Falls For Fake News, Lands in Trouble - A popular movie star has been targeted by hardliners on Iranian social media after she took a "fake news" post too seriously and shared it with millions of her fans. The hardliners have accused Mahnaz Afshar, also known for her charity work and sympathy for political prisoners, of encouraging violence after she shared a post that alleged a cleric had asked Iranian women to sleep with Iraqi militia based on "sighe" temporary marriage contract allowed in the Shiite sect. Members of the militia are currently in Iran presumably to help with flood relief. -Radio Farda 5/3/19

Bolton Vs. Zarif On MEK - When Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to the airwaves during his visit to the UN in New York, particularly for an interview with Fox News, a frisson of surprised anticipation swept the American political polity. How was it possible that Iran, the pariah nation, not only had the audacity to enter the lion's den, but from there to lecture the lion on its dirty behavior! -Massoud Khodabandeh, LobeLog 5/3/19

Return To Motherland: Asiatic lion returns to Iran after 80 years - Tehran Zoological Garden, also known as Eram Zoo, will be home to Asiatic lion, which was extinct in the country for almost 80 years, a veterinarian at Eram Zoo has said. According to Iman Memarian the last remaining Asiatic lion was sighted about 80 years ago in Iran. He went on to explain that before and after the Islamic Revolution (1979) Iran made attempts to bring back Asiatic lion to Iran, but Indians did not cooperate. 5/2/19

Venice Biennial Exhibits Works Of Iranian Artist Reza Lavassani - Italy's Venice Biennial has opened its doors to a new, selected artwork by 57-year-old Iranian contemporary artist Reza Lavassani. Tehran-born and based, Lavassani practices on various media. He began working on the installation Life in 2012 and worked on the piece for more than three years. Through a deliberate choice of papier-mache, the artist underlines the literal and symbolic significance of recycling. The piece is a lyric narrative of life's splendor and glory and an emblematic visualization of the passage of time. 5/2/19

Banned Works at Tehran Book Fair Highlight Iran's Corrosive Censorship Policies - Several books by dissident authors in Iran were banned from the 32nd Tehran International Book Fair by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. They include the late Kourosh Asadi's novel, Kucheye Abrhaye Gom Shodeh; Kayhan Khanjani's novel, Bande Mahkoumin; E'dam va Qesas by civil rights columnist Emad Baghi; Dine Dowlati va Dowlate Dini by Mohammad Ghouchani; Roshanfekri Dini va Chaleshhaye Jadid by Iran's late Foreign Minister Mohammad Yazdi; and Faqihan va Enghelabe Iran by Hadi Tabatabaie. -CHRI 5/1/19

Tehran's Policies Risk Iran's Territorial Integrity - In his conversations with American journalists during his recent visit to New York, as reported in The New Yorker, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that some of Iran's regional rivals, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, want its disintegration. He could have added a few others to the list, including Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and even Turkey and Iraq... -Shireen T. Hunter, LobeLog 5/1/19

My Roots Were Somewhere With You - I'm Writing You from Tehran--an autobiography-shares the story of Minoui's return to her family home and the changes she witnesses in Iran's social and political atmosphere in the late 1990s. Like a documentary film, the book unravels the political and social incidents which happened during three periods: the post-revolution and the pre-reform era, the reformists and Khatami's presidency, and the post-Khatami's presidency and the Green Movement. -Shoreh Laici, Brooklyn Rail 5/1/19

Iran pioneer in stem cell knowledge, technology: Royan Institute's Director - Iran is one of the most pioneering countries in the world and the second country in the region based on stem cell knowledge and technology, Hossein Baharvand, director of Royan Institute for stem cell biology and technology, has said. Baharvand is a distinguished professor of stem cells and developmental biology at Royan Institute. -Maryam Qarehgozlou, Tehran Times 4/30/19

Husband Of Imprisoned Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh Rejects Iran's Judiciary's Accusation of "Exaggerating" Her Heavy Sentence - Imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, has rejected Iranian Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili's claim that the magnitude of the sentence against her has been exaggerated. "They are playing games," Esmaili said at a press conference in Tehran on April 23, referring to the outcry over the harsh punishment against Sotoudeh for her defense of peaceful activists and her opposition to the mandatory hijab. -CHRI 4/29/19

IMF: Iran Inflation Could Reach 40 Percent Amid Sanctions - Iran's economy is expected to shrink by six percent this year and inflation could reach 40 percent, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts, as the country copes with the impact of tighter U.S. sanctions. Washington reimposed sanctions on Iran's oil exports in November following the U.S. withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear accord. -RFE/RL 4/29/19

Winners Of 2019 Fajr International Film Festival Announced - The Fajr International Film Festival announced the full lineup of winners at Tehran's Vahdat Hall for their 37th year of celebrating independent, art house, alternate, fiction, documentary and animation films from across the globe. Iranian and international officials, dignitaries, filmmakers and guests attended the closing ceremony on Thursday, April 25. 4/26/19

The Nuclear Deal Saboteurs Aren't Finished Yet - CNN reports that Trump may decide to cancel more sanctions waivers, and this time they affect ongoing work to implement provisions of the nuclear deal. The most hard-line opponents of the nuclear deal have been agitating for Trump to do this for months, and they have a natural ally in Bolton, who has never seen an arms control or nonproliferation deal that he didn't want to destroy. The Trump administration had previously been willing to grant these sanctions waivers that allow some nonproliferation work to go ahead at Fordow and Arak -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 4/24/19

Iran Celebrates National Day Of Poet Sadi - Persian literature aficionados and literati from across Iran came together at the mausoleum of Persian poet Sadi in Shiraz on Sunday to celebrate Sadi National Day. Sheikh Muslih od-Din Sadi Shirazi (Born 1184 CE, Died 1283/1291 CE) was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources. 4/22/19

Iranian sculptor Masoud Akhavanjam presents two new sculptures in the Giardini Marinaressa alongside 2019 Venice Biennale - Iranian sculptor Masoud Akhavanjam will exhibit two large scale, stainless steel sculptures, as part of the GAA Foundation's PERSONAL STRUCTURES - open borders exhibition, in the context of the 2019 Venice Biennale. The sculptures, Dilemma of Man and Metamorphosis will be exhibited publicly in Venice's waterfront park, Giardini Marinaressa from 5 May to 29 November 2019. Akhavanjam's industrial yet delicate forms draw on philosophy, contemporary socio-political issues and Persian mythology, so that within each work a didactic tale is contained. Both works contain three visible figures, melded seemingly effortlessly into each other. 4/20/19

Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, A World Heritage Site, Unaffected By Flooding - Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System, a UNESCO-registered ensemble in southwest Iran which is known as a 'masterpiece of creative genius', has not been affected by flash floods and heavy rainfall that stroke almost all of the country in the past weeks. The ensemble comprises bridges, weirs, tunnels, canals and a series of ancient watermills powered by human-made waterfalls. It is named after an ancient city of the same name with its history dating back to the time of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king. 4/16/19

The Iran Hawks' Creepy Embrace of the MEK - It is rather incredible that so many former government officials and retired officers have embraced a totalitarian cult as the "alternative" to another country's government, but it has been going on for the better part of a decade now. All of the MEK's American boosters have proven that they have such extraordinary bad judgment that they should have no business talking about Iran policy, and their continued advocacy on behalf of this awful organization is proof of how easily corrupted our foreign policy debates are. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 4/12/19

1,000 Years of Literary Tradition in Rare Persian-Language Manuscripts Now Online at Library of Congress - In celebration of the Persian New Year, also known as Norooz, the Library of Congress has digitized and made available online for the first time the Rare Persian-Language Manuscript Collection, which sheds light on scientific, religious, philosophical and literary topics that are highly valued in the Persian speaking lands. 4/4/19

PHOTOS: Authentic Iranian Architecture And Culture In Kashan - Only three hours from the capital Tehran, the central city of Kashan in Isfahan province can definitely be deemed as a marvelous get-away for many urbanites who yearn for the authenticity of traditional Iranian culture and architecture. Travelers to Kashan can visit numerous historical houses from the 18th and 19th centuries that illustrate the finest examples of architecture from the Qajar era. -Behnam Yousefi, MNA 03/24/19

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last updated on Sat May 18 12:22:23 EDT 2019