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February 12 2016
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Iranian authorities warn shops not to sell Valentine's Day gifts

- Iranian security forces have warned retailers that selling Valentine-themed gifts and balloons is illegal, and the police will be on the lookout to confront such violations. The reports says the police emphasized that no gathering of boys and girls exchanging Valentine gifts will be tolerated. - 2/12/16

U.S. Official: Iran Has Kept Commitments On Nuclear Deal So Far

- A senior U.S. official says Iran so far has kept its commitments under the nuclear agreement with world powers implemented last month. Stephen Mull, the State Department's lead coordinator for implementing the deal curbing Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 11 that there is no evidence that Tehran is cheating. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/12/16

Iranian Hardliners Violate Law to Keep Assembly of Experts Loyal to Khamenei

- In addition to the massive disqualifications of moderate candidates for upcoming elections in Iran, hardliners have implemented another strategy to prevent challenges to their power: restricting the number of seats to important governmental bodies in order to prevent possible inroads by moderate candidates. - 2/12/16

U.S., Russia, European Powers Agree To Syrian Truce In Week

- Major powers agreed to a cessation of hostilities in Syria and to expand delivery of humanitarian aid to people caught up in the conflict, top diplomats said in Munich on February 12. - 2/12/16

Press Reports Reveal Abuse Against Afghan Students in Iranian Schools

- Afghan students are being subjected to physical punishment and discrimination in Iranian schools, according to media reports in Iran that the government has tried to suppress. - 2/12/16

Capture Of U.S. Sailors Reenacted At Celebrations Of Iran's 1979 Revolution

- The capture of 10 U.S. sailors by Iranian forces last month was reenacted at rallies in Iran celebrating the anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Images published by Iranian news agencies and shared on social media show actors in fatigue pants walking in the streets, some with their hands tied and with chains around their necks. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/12/16

US keeps bans against Iran's Mahan Air

- Almost a month after Iran saw a series of nuclear-related economic sanctions lifted, new indications show certain segments of the Iranian economy still remain shut out in what could be a violation of the nuclear deal that the country reached with the P5+1 last summer. - 2/12/16

The Art of Dissidence and Diplomacy

- Our new program at IPS, Epicenter, is devoted to lifting up the work of artists as both dissidents and as diplomats - those who help to provoke conflict where the status quo is unjust and those who hope to resolve conflict where the status quo is violent. We'll be focusing on the Middle East for the next year, with a particular emphasis on Iran. - 2/12/16

Nation vs. Revolution in Iran

- The Implementation of Iran's nuclear agreement with the P5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has not yet been completed, but critical statements by its detractors in Iran about its ineffectiveness have already began. For example, recently Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a former speaker of the Parliament and an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, said that so far the JCPOA had not had a single positive impact. -Shireen T. Hunter - 2/11/16

U.S. Lawmakers Object To Loosening Visa Rules For Some Iranians

- The Obama administration's plan to loosen tough new visa requirements for businessmen and journalists who travel to Iran has touched off strong resistance in Congress. - 2/11/16

Iran's President slams corruption without naming its source

- The Iranian president says production and manufacturing efforts in the country are stifled by a network of smuggling supported by a corrupt system. He said the corruption must end. - 2/11/16

A Real "Political Revolution" Would End the War in Iraq

- These days, Bernie Sanders doesn't say much about the Middle East. But if you've heard him say nothing else on the subject, he's probably reminded you that he -- unlike a certain former secretary of state -- had the foresight to vote against the Iraq War when it came before Congress back in 2002. -Peter Certo, LobeLog - 2/11/16

Why Did Rouhani Visit Italy?

- When Iran's President Hassan Rouhani visited Rome last month, Italian and Iranian officials and businessmen signed $22 billion worth of deals in sectors ranging from energy to infrastructure, steel, and shipbuilding. Rouhani's "charm offensive" in Europe, which also included stops in the Vatican and France, marked his first trip overseas following the nuclear deal's Implementation Day as well as the first visit of an Iranian president to the continent in 16 years. -Cinzia Bianco and Giorgio Cafiero - 2/10/16

Iranian Professors Sound Alarm Over 'Mass Disqualifications' In Upcoming Vote

- About 300 professors at universities across Iran have expressed their "growing concern" over the "mass disqualifications" of candidates in February 26 voting for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, which could choose the country's future supreme leader. - 2/10/16

Friends fear for U.S. businessman in Iran

- Nearly a month after a prisoner deal between Washington and Tehran, the friends and family of business consultant Siamak Namazi -- who holds degrees from Tufts and Rutgers universities and has ties to many Washington foreign policy insiders -- fear he has been forgotten in the warm afterglow of last month's swap and are pressing the Obama administration to step up efforts to free him. -Michael Crowley, Politico - 2/10/16

Prominent Lawyers Disqualified from Iran's Bar Association Election

- More than two dozen prominent lawyers, including well-known human rights defenders, have been disqualified from running in next month's election for the Iranian Bar Association's board of directors. According to a 1997 law, the Judiciary's Supreme Disciplinary Court for Judges reviews the qualifications for candidates seeking a seat in the bar association's board of directors. In this way the Judiciary exerts its influence through a body that claims its independence. - 2/10/16

New App that Detects Morality Police is Instant Hit in Iran

- A smartphone application aimed at helping Iranian users avoid the country's morality police became a smash hit immediately after it was released today, with its servers being inundated by requests, according to one of its creators. Authorities Block App within 24 Hours of Its Debut - 2/10/16

The truth about visiting Iran

- My friends, who are avid and intrepid travelers, blanched when I said I was going to Iran. "You'll never get out alive. You're Jewish. You're female. They'll behead you, and they'll post it on YouTube," one of them cautioned. "You'll rot in a rat-infested jail for the rest of your life. There's no American Embassy; no one will be able to help you!" -Judith Fein, Jerusalem Post - 2/10/16

Iran: Rejected female candidates risk backlash in small towns

- The Iranian president's advisor on women's affairs, Fahimeh Farahmanpour, has expressed grave concern over the Guardian Council's widespread disqualification of women running in the parliamentary elections. She said when a female candidate in a small town is disqualified on the basis of paragraph 1 of Article 28, which refers to lack of practical commitment to Islam, then she will have to shoulder a heavy cost in her community. - 2/10/16

Khomeini's Grandson Banned From Running In Iran Elections

- An Iranian constitutional watchdog has rejected an appeal by Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the Islamic republic's founder, against his disqualification from running as a candidate for a top clerical body. - 2/10/16

The Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: A Win-Win Agreement (part one)

- After many years of unprecedented, crippling Western sanctions that stopped Iran's oil exports and even banking transactions, the long and arduous negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed on 14 July 2015. That agreement finally reached the Implementation Day on 16th January 2016, coincidentally 37 years to the day when the late Mohammad Reza Shah left Iran for good and paved the way for the victory of the Islamic revolution. -Farhang Jahanpour - 2/9/16

Iran ready to expand cooperation with EU, Greece: President Rouhani

- President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that Iran is ready to expand cooperation with European Union, including Greece and that strengthening relations and cooperation between Tehran and Athens are beneficial for both nations. President Rouhani made the remarks in a meeting with Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Tehran. - 2/9/16

Hill Update on Iran and Israeli Settlements

- (UNDERMINING THE JCPOA) HR 3662: Introduced 10/1/15 by Russell (R-OK) and having 62 all-GOP cosponsors, the "Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act." As highlighted in Part 1 of the 12/31/15 Round-Up, this bill is one a number pending initiatives aimed at undermining the JCPOA. Notably, it is entirely partisan, meaning efforts to move it are nothing more than grandstanding -Lara Friedman, LobeLog - 2/9/16

Trash-Talking: Collecting Garbage Isn't A Crime In Tehran. Or Is It?

- Left with few options to legally highlight state repression in Iran, former Tehran University chancellor Mohammad Maleki and former hard-line columnist Mohammad Nurizad settled on a seemingly innocuous form of public protest -- collecting garbage from the streets of Tehran. -Golnaz Esfandiari and Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah, RFE - 2/8/16

Cyris Habib Named to DNC Platform Committee

- Washington State Senator Cyrus Habib, the highest-ranking Iranian American in political office was recently appointed to the 2016 Democratic National Convention Platform Committee by DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. - 2/8/16

EU Foreign Policy Chief Says Preparing 'Important' Visit To Iran

- EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says she is preparing an "important visit" to Iran following the implementation of the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and major world powers. - 2/8/16

What Would Be Most Likely to Unravel the Iran Nuclear Agreement

- The agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program-one of the most significant achievements in recent years on behalf of nuclear nonproliferation-deserves ample attention and effort to preserve it. Preserving the accord will require much attention and effort, given that many of those who strove to prevent the agreement from ever being completed or implemented are still trying to kill it. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 2/8/16

The Leader Our Foreign Policy Deserves

- It's often said that, in democracies, we get the leaders that we deserve. In the current slugfest masquerading as a presidential race, it looks as though we're getting the leader that our foreign policy deserves. The results of the first round of the 2016 presidential election in Iowa, with narrow victories by Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton, only underscore this point. Let me explain. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 2/8/16

Iranian Couples Increasingly Living Together Outside of Marriage

- First they called it "white marriage," now it's "black coupling." But no matter how Iranian officials choose to denigrate the upward trend of young unmarried couples living together, it's bound to grow. That's because the phenomenon is directly related to socioeconomic disparities between Iranian men and women, a sociologist speaking on the condition of anonymity told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 2/6/16

France and Iran Are Back to Business

- After a decade of wrangling over the nuclear program, President Rouhani found himself in Italy and France last week in search of business in the automotive, transportation, hydrocarbon, and industrial sectors. That Rouhani choose to visit Paris over any other European capital underlines the fact that Franco-Iranian relations go much deeper than the past decade of haggling over Iran's uranium enrichment levels. -Emma Scott - 2/6/16

Saudi defeat in Syria definite: Iran's IRGC chief

- A top Iranian military commander says a "definite" defeat awaits Saudi Arabia if it sends troops to Syria. "Sending troops by Saudi Arabia means a coup de grace for its regime which, of course, is not bad," chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Ja'afari said on Saturday. - 2/6/16

Iran Reverses Ban On 1,500 Election Candidates

- Iran's constitutional watchdog, the hard-line Guardians Council, has reversed a ban on 1,500 candidates who had registered to run in the February 26 parliamentary elections. It is unclear how many of the newly approved candidates are considered to be reformists. - 2/6/16

Canada lifts Iran sanctions, to restore ties

- Canada announced on Friday that it is lifting some sanctions against Iran and is also working over the restoration of diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a statement that it had amended its "broad-reaching autonomous sanctions against Iran to allow for a controlled economic re-engagement, including lifting the broad ban on financial services, imports and exports." - 2/6/16

UN urges Iran to adopt legal protections for children

- The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on Iran to reform its laws affecting children, including the execution of minors and discrimination against girls. The committee calls on the Islamic Republic government to address discrimination against girls manifested in "family relations, the criminal justice system, property rights, compensation for physical injury, among others." - 2/6/16

Iran's Landmines: A Never-Ending Nightmare

- Akbar, 47, needs to wrap his leg stump in layer after layer of cloth. His leg was amputated after he stepped on a hidden landmine on his way from work, in western Iran, an area still contaminated by landmines from the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war. His health insurance company did not cover the expense of a prosthetic leg, so he had to pay out of pocket what he could afford, which is what he describes as a "rotten" prosthesis. -Mehrnaz Samimi, LobeLog - 2/6/16

Many Iranian Women, Youth Feel Failed by Reformists Ahead of Vote

- Many Iranian women and young people are disillusioned about the upcoming elections, desperate for reform but losing hope in their pragmatic president and his promise of a freer society. The February 26 parliamentary poll will see pro-reform candidates, who broadly back President Hassan Rouhani, attempt to overturn the majority held by conservative hardliners in the 290-seat assembly. -Reuters - 2/6/16

Lawmakers Urge for Visa Waivers for Dual Nationals, Iran Visitors

- Washington, DC - NIAC Action applauds Jared Huffman (D-CA) and all twenty-six Members of Congress who today called on the Obama Administration to protect dual nationals and people who have visited Iran from discriminatory new visa restrictions. - 2/5/16

Wrestling with Iran

- In Iran, wrestling commands the same level of public interest as football in the United States. This is no passing fad. Wrestling is intimately entwined with the history and culture of the country, going back to the legendary matches that Persian kings conducted with their rivals...The initiative in Washington to engage in "wrestling diplomacy" began in 2009, shortly after Barack Obama entered the Oval Office. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 2/5/16

U.S. Republican Lawmakers Seek To Make 'Inspection' Trip To Iran

- Three U.S. Republican lawmakers who are highly critical of Iran applied for visas to visit Tehran and observe this month's elections, inspect nuclear sites, and meet with the Revolutionary Guards. - 2/5/16

Arrest of Iranian-British Dual National in Tehran May Be Hardliners' Ploy to Foil Iran-UK Relations

- New details about the case of Iranian-British translator Bahman Daroshafaei, who was arrested this week at his Tehran home during a historic visit by Iran's foreign minister to the UK, suggest his detainment may be a politically motivated move by hardliners to thwart better relations with the UK. - 2/5/16

U.S. Presidential Hopefuls Clinton, Sanders Spar Over Iran, Russia

- The two U.S. Democratic candidates for president sparred over foreign policy during a debate February 4, and showed particularly sharp differences over Iran. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took issue with socialist Senator Bernie Sanders on restoring diplomatic relations with Tehran now that many economic sanctions have been lifted. - 2/5/16

Iran Inks $40 Billion In Deals In Moscow; Eyes Oil Sales To Rosneft

- Iran and Russia have initialed contracts worth around $40 billion for nuclear power construction, railways, and other projects, the top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on February 4. - 2/5/16

Tonic For The Troops: Iran Singer Takes Stage In Syria

- A well-known Iranian religious singer recently traveled to war-torn Syria, where he performed for Iranian fighters deployed there to bolster Tehran's regional ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Saeed Haddadian, a popular singer in conservative segments of Iranian society, said in a February 3 interview that he traveled to Syria with his son to honor Iranian forces who "do in action what we say in words." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/5/16

First Europe bank to open Iran office

- Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) says it wants to open a branch in Tehran "as quickly as possible," becoming the first foreign lender to set up shop in Iran after the lifting of sanctions. RBI is in "intensive talks" with Iranian banks as Tehran is rejoining the international banking system, its board member Peter Lennkh said in an interview with Austrian newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt. - 2/5/16

Thousands flee as Russian-backed offensive threatens to besiege Aleppo

- Tens of thousands of Syrians fled an intensifying Russian assault around Aleppo on Friday, and aid workers said they feared the city which once held two million people could soon fall under a full government siege. Iran reported one of its generals was killed on the front line assisting government forces, direct confirmation of the role Tehran is playing along with Moscow in what appears to be one of the most ambitious offensives in five years of civil war. -Reuters - 2/5/16

Iranian Officials Condemn Radical Mob's Attack On Top Actress

- An attack last week on one of Iran's most famous actresses by hardline vigilantes has been condemned by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Rouhani administration's top official in charge of women's affairs. - 2/4/16

Most Iranians Approve Nuclear Deal, Doubt U.S. Compliance

- Nearly six months after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 was agreed, seven out of ten Iranians approve of the deal, but only 34% believe the U.S. will comply with its terms, according to a new poll released here Wednesday by the University of Maryland's Center for International & Security Studies (CISSM). -Jim Lobe - 2/4/16

Former BBC Journalist, Translator Arrested In Tehran

- Iranian journalist and translator Bahman Darolshafayi, a dual Iranian-British national and former BBC journalist, has been arrested in Tehran. Authorities had not announced the reason for Darolshafayi's arrest on February 3. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/4/16

Lawmaker: U.S. Payment To Iran Looks Like 'Ransom' For Prisoners

- A powerful U.S. lawmaker is demanding that Secretary of State John Kerry explain why he paid a $1.7 billion claim settlement to Iran the same day Tehran released American prisoners last month. - 2/4/16

Have the Saudis Given Up Hope of Restoring Hadi as Yemen's President?

- Far from being a "Decisive Storm," the intervention into Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition is foundering. The coalition swiftly cleared the coastal region and advanced across the desert interior from the Saudi border. But when they hit the mountainous interior-not so co-incidentally, the refuge of the Zaydi Shi'a-their advance ground to a bloody crawl. -James Spencer, LobeLog - 2/4/16

Iran Elections Update

- Less than four weeks away from the February 26 elections for Iran's parliament, the details of how many registrants will be allowed to run is not yet clear. This was not unexpected. As I suggested in my previous post, the unprecedented rate of disqualifications by the provincial supervisory committees was bound to unleash a flurry of consultations with the Guardian Council to reverse some of the decisions made at the lower levels. -Farideh Farhi - 2/3/16

Tehran Stock Market Hits One-Year High After Sanctions Lifted

- The Tehran Stock Exchange has surged to a one-year high since Iran's landmark nuclear deal with world powers went into effect last month. The Tehran TEDPIX index soared to 73,725 on February 2, boosted by an outpouring of foreign investment of $16.6 million in the 10 days since sanctions were lifted, Bloomberg reported. - 2/3/16

Two Dozen Iranian Baha'is Sentenced to Six to Eleven Years for Practicing Their Faith

- Twenty-four Baha'is from northeastern Iran have been handed down sentences that range from six to eleven years "simply for being Baha'is," according to Simin Fahandej, the faith's spokesperson at the United Nations in New York. - 2/3/16

Arms, financial supply to terrorists must be blocked, Iran's President Rouhani tells visiting German Foreign Minister

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has described terrorism as a serious threat to the entire world, including Europe, calling for measures to stop financial and arms supply to terrorists. The Iranian president made the remarks in a meeting with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Tehran on Wednesday. - 2/3/16

Defending Khomeini's grandson earns backlash for Iranian cleric

- After moderate cleric Hashemi Rafsanjani spoke out against the Guardian Council for disqualifying Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the late leader of the Islamic Republic, from running in the Assembly of Experts elections, conservative factions slammed Hashemi, referring to him as a "deviant and corrupt element" who should be disqualified as well. - 2/3/16

Families of detained Kerman mine workers upset by lack of news

- Twenty detained miners from the Khatoonabad Mine in Kerman, who were arrested last week for labour protests, remain in custody and have been transferred to Kerman Prison. ILNA reported on Tuesday February 2 that there has been no announcement explaining the charges against these workers. - 2/3/16

Rezaian Case Will Affect Coverage of Iran, Washington Post Editor Says

- In an interview with VOA this week, Washington Post Editor Marty Baron said Iran's imprisonment of Postreporter Jason Rezaian will have an effect on how the paper covers Iran. Both Baron and interviewer Setareh Derakhshesh, who heads VOA's Persian service, noted Iran seems to be embroiled in an internal struggle between components of the Iranian regime. - 2/3/16

FBI Creates Facebook Page in Farsi to Aid Search for Missing Agent

- The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has set up a new Facebook page in Farsi as part of its effort to find retired agent Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran 2007. The U.S. government is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Levinson's return, but his whereabouts and the circumstances regarding his disappearance remain a mystery. - 2/3/16

How one messaging app is changing Iranian media

- First it was Facebook, and then the smartphone messaging apps Viber and Line. Now, however, the hottest communication tool among Iranians is Telegram. It has more advanced features than its predecessors, and enjoys a high level of influence in Iranian society. -Saeid Jafari, Al-Monitor - 2/3/16

Ratings agency Moody foresees strong growth for post-sanctions Iran

- International ratings agency Moody's projects Iranian economy to grow in the years to come over its solid foundation and sanctions removal. Iran's gross domestic product (GDP) will grow five percent in 2016-2017, thanks to a solid foundation built to cope with exclusion from the global financial system, Moody's said in an e-mailed research note Monday. - 2/2/16

Iran's Ex-President Criticizes Disqualification Of Reformist Candidates

- Iran's former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has criticized the disqualification of reformist candidates by hard-liners from national elections scheduled later in February. Rafsanjani's remarks on February 1 reflect a deepening dispute between Iran's hard-liner and reformist factions ahead of the February 26 vote. - 2/2/16

Iran's $100 billion 'fully released': Government

- The government says Iran can now access more than $100 billion in frozen assets after the implementation of a nuclear agreement last month. "These assets have fully been released and we can use them," Government spokesman Mohammad-Baqer Nobakht told Iran's Alalam television network on Sunday night. - 2/2/16

Additional charge lodged against pair of detained Iranian journalists

- Issa Saharkhiz and Ehsan Mazandarani, two of the Iranian journalists arrested in the recent backlash against journalists that followed warnings by Iran's Supreme Leader against "foreign infiltrators", are now being tried for "actions against National Security", even though the investigators had slapped them with the charge of "propaganda against the regime". - 2/2/16

Iranian Commanders Who Detained U.S. Sailors Receive Hero Treatment

- Meet Iran's new heroes: the head of the naval forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and four of its commanders who last month briefly detained U.S. sailors after their vessels mistakenly strayed into Iranian territorial waters. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 2/2/16

Iran, Pakistan Agree to Boost Border Security, Trade

- Iran and Pakistan have agreed to increase border security and boost bilateral trade. The two countries, which share a long, porous border, signed five memorandums of understanding on Monday dealing with issues of cross-border militant activity, smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. - 2/2/16

Exclusive: Documents Confirm Leak of Unexplained Deposits to Nisman's US Bank Account

- The leaks exposed a number of suspicious financial transactions involving a New York bank account maintained by Nisman since March 2002. Argentine authorities are currently investigating the possibility that the account was used for money laundering, while a separate inquiry attempts to determine the cause of Nisman's death. -Michael LaSusa, LobeLog - 2/2/16

List of rejected reformist candidates presented to Iran's Supreme Leader

- Political activists report that a list of 208 reformists candidates for Parliament who were disqualified by the Guardian Council has been presented to Iran's Supreme Leader in a bid to get permission to run in the election. - 2/1/16

US Lawmakers Keep Focus on Iran Nuclear Pact

- While politically minded Americans focus on Iowa's presidential caucuses, many of their representatives in Congress continue to speak out on the international nuclear accord with Iran. The pact remains a lightning rod for controversy on Capitol Hill, where sharp differences persist on its merits, limitations, and impact on the Middle East and beyond. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 2/1/16

Suppression of student media prompts letter to President Rohani

- More than 800 student activists have written to President Hassan Rohani to protest "the pressure against student media" and to call for an end to this approach. The Etemad daily reports that in recent months, student newspapers have been under severe pressure, and writing about politics "has become an unforgivable crime" for them, while reporting on "social maladies is being branded as showing a dark view of the country". - 2/1/16

In Iran, New Battle Brews Over Contracts With Foreign Oil Giants

- A political battle is taking shape in Iran over any new foreign role in developing the country's enormous oil wealth, only a few weeks after the Iranian nuclear deal with foreign powers relaxed tough economic sanctions. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 2/1/16

Photos: Iran Navy holds massive maritime parade, ends major drills

- Iran's naval forces have staged a maritime parade in the Sea of Oman, marking the end of large-scale naval drills in the country's southern waters where they successfully hit and destroyed mock enemy targets. - 1/31/16

Iran: Basij youth arrested for protesting foreign oil deals

- Security forces in Tehran broke up demonstrations by a group of Basij youth against Iran's recent oil agreements. The protests had been planned for Friday in front of the Ministry of Oil offices. INSA reports that the special riot police were deployed in front of the building to stop illegal demonstrations. - 1/31/16

Activists appeal to UN leader in case of missing Iranian student

- A group of activists has written an open letter to the UN Secretary General urging him to follow up on the fate of Saeed Zinali, an Iranian student missing since the incidents at Tehran University dorms in 1999. - 1/31/16

Damascus Suburb Blasts Kill 60 near Zeinab Shi'ite Shrine

- Islamic State has claimed a triple bombing in a southern Damascus suburb Sunday that killed at least 60 people. Two suicide bombers detonated explosives as rescue efforts were underway after a car bombing in the Sayeda Zeinab district of Damascus, near a revered Shi'ite shrine. - 1/31/16

Let's Talk About Bernie Sanders and the Middle East

- The contrast between Clinton and Sanders is a bit starker on Iran. Sanders has argued that "what we've got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran." This is virtually the same sentiment that President Obama has expressed on a number of occasions. -Derek Davison - 1/30/16
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