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

'I won't survive': Iranian scientist in US detention says Ice will let Covid-19 kill many

Dr Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor, was acquitted in November on federal charges of stealing trade secrets related to his academic work with a university in Ohio. Although the US government lost its case on all charges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has kept him indefinitely detained since the trial. Now he's speaking out about the "inhumane" treatment that could cost him his life. -Sam Levin, Guardian 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

The nationalist response to the coronavirus

The Trump administration instead evidently sees Iran's suffering from COVID-19 as an opportunity to turn the screws of "maximum pressure" even farther and make Iranians suffer even more. In a policy that has reverted to a sort of malevolent autopilot, the U.S. response to the pandemic's hit on Iran has been to pile on still more sanctions punctuated with more verbal attacks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 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

American Navy Veteran Held In Iran Requests Humanitarian Evacuation For Treatment

The family of an imprisoned U.S. navy veteran in Iran who was allowed to go on a medical furlough said on Wednesday that he has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and called on the Iranian government to allow him to go home for medical treatment. In a Tweeter thread on March 26, the Free Michael White campaign said since being released on furlough, White has had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 including fever, fatigue, cough and shortness of breath. 3/26/20

Iran academics, management experts write to Rouhani, urge emergency measures against COVID-19

A group of Iranian academics and management experts have raised concerns over the widespread outbreak of a new coronavirus in the country, presenting the government with a list of emergency preventive measures that could be taken to stop further spread of the disease. In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, a number of university lecturers in the field of management studies as well as members of Iran's Management Association underlined the need for urgent and decisive preventive measures to curb the virus called COVID-19. -Press TV 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

Ex-F.B.I. Agent Who Vanished on C.I.A. Mission to Iran Is Most Likely Dead, U.S. Concludes

The retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, was said to be the longest-held American hostage in history. A scandal erupted inside the C.I.A. over his disappearance. Trump administration officials have concluded that Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007 on an unauthorized mission for the C.I.A., died while in Iranian custody, his family announced on Wednesday. -Adam Goldman, New York Times 3/26/20

Iran tightens protective measures, introduces travel bans to rein in coronavirus spread

Stepping up its fight against the new coronavirus outbreak, Iran has begun banning people from leaving their cities and requiring those who are already on Persian New Year trips to return to their hometowns at the earliest opportunity. Presenting its daily COVID-19 update on Wednesday, the Iranian Health Ministry said the number of deaths had increased by 143 to 2,077 since Tuesday. 3/25/20

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

Iran's President Rohani claims number of coronavirus patients, deaths decreasing

President Hassan Rohani claimed on Tuedsay that the number of patients and deaths related to coronavirus is decreasing and this is promising. Speaking at a meeting of the National Task Force for Combating Coronavirus, the president said the number of the coronavirus-related patients being admitted at hospitals in different provinces is declining and the death toll is also slowing. 3/24/20

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

IRAN: Leaders Highlight Iranians' 'Sacrifices' As Country Celebrates Subdued New Year

In messages marking the Persian New Year that falls amid a deadly coronavirus outbreak, Iran's supreme leader and president both acknowledged that the past year had been difficult. In his televised address on March 2, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the country's citizens have made "exemplary" sacrifices in the battle against the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has infected 19,644 people and killed 1,433 in Iran as of March 20 -- making it one of the worst-affected countries in the world. 3/20/20

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

COVID-19: Iran Surpasses 1,000 Deaths With Highest 24-Hour Rise Yet

Iran's death toll from the coronavirus has reached 1,135, with 147 deaths over the past 24 hours -- the highest 24-hour rise yet -- state TV reported on March 18, as President Hassan Rohani defended his government's response to the outbreak. Iran has been the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, with a total of 16,169 confirmed cases, roughly 90 percent of the region's cases. 3/18/20

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

Nasrin Sotoudeh: "If We're Going to Die, Let Us Be by Our Families' Sides"

At least three political activists in Tehran's Evin Prison have joined prominent imprisoned human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh's hunger strike demanding "freedom for all political prisoners" amid the country's deadly COVID-19 outbreak, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan told CHRI that his wife is aware of the dangers of going on hunger strike amid a deadly viral outbreak when Iranian prisons are lacking crucial medicines and sanitary supplies and that she had started the hunger strike only as a "last resort." -CHRI 3/18/20

Power Struggle Hampers Iran's Coronavirus Response

More senior government figures have caught the coronavirus in Iran than anywhere else. Field hospitals have been erected in parking lots, stadiums and wedding halls to handle the overflow of patients. A top health official implored Iranians on Tuesday to avoid spreading the contagion by not traveling during the upcoming Persian New Year, saying anyone who ignored the advice was "inviting death." -Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times 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

At Saudi music festival, Iran rivalry takes the stage

Exile Iranian musicians critical of religious hardliners in Tehran converged this month to perform in the most unlikely locale: Saudi Arabia. Taking place amid heightened tensions between the regional enemies, the event was promoted as cultural dialogue but also allowed the kingdom a subtle dig at Tehran, with Saudi-owned MBC Persia airing the concerts for Iranian viewers. -Reuters 3/18/20

COVID-19: Iran Warns Virus Could Kill 'Millions' As Death Toll Reaches 988

Iranian state television has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could kill "millions" in the Islamic republic if the public keeps ignoring health measures as the death toll spiked to almost 1,000. The warning was broadcast on March 17 in the afternoon, after the Health Ministry said 135 more people had been killed by the new coronavirus over the past day, a 13 percent spike that pushed the death toll to 988. 3/17/20

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 has temporarily freed 85,000 prisoners, including political ones, amid coronavirus

Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners in response to the coronavirus epidemic, a judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said only those serving sentences of less than five years had been freed, while political prisoners and others charged with heavier sentences linked to their participation in anti-government protests remained in jail. -Reuters 3/17/20

Metro Bank hit with fresh lawsuit by Iranian customers

Embattled lender Metro Bank has been hit with a fresh lawsuit by a group of Iranian customers who say their accounts were unfairly suspended without notice or explanation. The group of 17 claimants, who are expected to seek at least 1.5m pounds in damages, include dual British-Iranian citizens, Iranian citizens living in the UK and several UK-based businesses including an engineering firm and a consultancy. -Guardian 3/17/20

Coronavirus kills Iran religious leader as death toll jumps again

COVID-19 has killed a member of the clerical body that appoints the supreme leader, according to Iranian state media, the latest official in the country to die of the highly infectious disease caused by the new coronavirus. Ayatollah Hashem Bathayi Golpayegani, 78, died two days after testing positive for the new coronavirus and being hospitalised, state news agency IRNA reported on Monday. -Al Jazeera 3/16/20

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

Rohani rejects rumors about lockdown in Tehran, other cities as Iran's coronavirus deaths hit 724

President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed rumors that Iran is planning to put Tehran and other cities under quarantine amid the coronavirus outbreak. Rouhani also said after a meeting with members of the government economic bureau as well as representatives of the private sector that talks were underway with neighboring countries to facilitate cross-border trade. 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

Amid Coronavirus Chaos, U.S. and Iran Edge Closer to War

IF YOU LISTENED closely this week, behind the terrifying clamor of Covid-19 sweeping across the planet, you might've heard the sound of war nearly breaking out again between the United States and Iran. On Wednesday, the birthday of assassinated Iranian Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a barrage of rockets slammed into the Camp Taji airbase north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The attack killed two Americans and a Briton, while wounding 14 others. -Murtaza Hussain, Intercept 3/15/20

Iranians from all walks of life do their part in anti-virus campaign

Among popular activities undertaken by ordinary people to curb the virus outbreak one can mention spontaneous movements to sanitize public places, including banks' ATMs, producing special masks, free distribution of disinfectants, and even attending health centers, clinics and hospitals to help nurses and other health workers in their drive to treat patients and provide health services to the public. -Press TV 3/15/20

Iran's Military To 'Empty Roads' As Coronavirus Cases Top 11,000 Infections, 514 Deaths

One day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei handed over Coronavirus control and prevention to the armed forces, General Mohammad Baqeri, Chief of the joint staff of the Iranian armed forces says his troops are planning to make sure that the people will leave roads and supermarkets in 24 hours. Baqeri was tasked on Thursday by Khamenei to set up a Health and Medical Treatment Headquarters and use military forces to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). 3/13/20

More Artists Summoned to Prison Amid Iran's Rising COVID-19 Death Toll: "They Want to Create Fear"

In addition to renowned filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, three members of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA)-Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi and Keyvan Bajan-have been summoned to prison as other inmates are being reportedly released to prevent more COVID-19 outbreaks, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. "I'm sure it upsets them very much that I made a new film without their permission," said Rasoulof in an interview with CHRI. "But it would be very childish for them to enforce a sentence in the middle of all these problems they're facing with the spread of the coronavirus." -CHRI 3/13/20

How hawks are trying to shatter the Iran nuclear deal once and for all

If you visit the State Department's Iran page, you'll see an ominous clock counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the expiration of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran. The clock, and the embarrassing propagandistic script that accompanies it, reflects how far the State Department has fallen from the days when it laboriously worked to craft a deal to constrain Iran's nuclear program and open a window to resolve additional longstanding concerns with Iran's regional activities. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 3/13/20

Biden's vision for U.S. Middle East policy - a view from Europe

Former Vice President Joe Biden's remarkable resurgence as the probable Democratic presidential nominee has invited fresh scrutiny of his foreign policy views - not only in the United States, but across the world, including in Europe. When Biden recently presented his foreign policy vision, there were encouraging ideas about a return to diplomacy as a first, not last, resort of statecraft. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 3/13/20

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 Political Prisoners Remain in "Limbo," Untested for Coronavirus Despite Symptoms

One week after judicial officials announced they had released tens of thousands of prisoners to prevent more coronavirus outbreaks, peaceful political prisoners in Mashhad's Vakilabad Prison are in limbo and remain untested for COVID-19 even as they exhibit symptoms, according to their relatives. One political prisoner's relative told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that her father was being kept in a ward with other inmates who officials "suspected" had coronavirus despite the prison clinic doctor recommending that he be released on furlough. 3/12/20

Iran's First Vice-President, Three Minsters, Khamenei Aide Ill With Coronavirus

Iran's Revolutionary Guard affiliated Fars News Agency on March 21 published a list of senior officials and politicians who have tested positive or died from coronavirus (COVID-19). First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri is included among those who have tested positive and in isolation. 3/12/20

US Congress votes to limit Trump's war powers against Iran

The United States House of Representatives approved on Wednesday a War Powers Resolution aimed at limiting President Donald Trump's ability to wage war against Iran. The passage of the resolution was yet another rebuke of the president over his decision to order the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January amid escalating tensions with Tehran. -Al-Jazeera 3/12/20

Reading Richard Rorty in Tehran

When the American philosopher Richard Rorty arrived to deliver a lecture in Tehran on a summer night in 2004, he was surprised to discover that he could not get into the room. Some 2,000 enthusiastic Iranians, many of them students, had crammed into the venue's 200-seat auditorium to hear his talk on philosophy and democracy: sitting in the aisles, blocking the stairwell, and standing on the street outside. -Samuel Thrope, Nation 3/12/20

The Iran nuclear deal is facing a new threat

A March 3 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is withholding access to two sites connected to its nuclear program and failing to cooperate fully to resolve questions relating to nuclear material has created a potentially problematic situation for states committed to preserving the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Peter Jenkins, Responsible 3/12/20

Amid uncertainty, Afghan youth cling tight to what they've gained

Young Afghans were hopeful for peace, but are concerned by political instability in Kabul and wary of a return to Taliban rule. All the uncertainty is raising anxiety among young Afghans, many of whom were children in the late 1990s, when Taliban rule forbade women from working and girls from attending school. -Scott Peterson, CSM 3/12/20

Iran Health Minister Says Coronavirus Epidemic Will Peak In April As Deaths Hit 354

The deadly novel coronavirus epidemic will continue to expand in Iran at least until April 8, before it starts to ebb, the director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Ali Askari, has cited the Iranian Health Minister as saying. Speaking to the state-run TV's Channel one, Ali-Askari noted, "The Minister of Health told a session of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) that, if everything goes well, the novel coronavirus will reach its peak on April 8." 3/11/20

Calls for President Rohani to take helm of Iran committee fighting coronavirus

Calls have been growing for Iran's President Hassan Rohani to personally take charge of a crisis committee formed to manage the nationwide fight against a coronavirus epidemic that has gripped several provinces. In a statement addressed to President Rohani on Tuesday, a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outlined a set of emergency measures that the government could take to promote its efforts to rein in COVID-19, as the novel coronavirus is called. The epidemic has so far killed 354 people in Iran and infected 9,000 others. Some 2,959 people have also recovered. 3/11/20

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

The hardliner's renaissance: Iran's pendulum politics are in full swing

The future composition of Iran's parliament will be as expected by many: a striking majority of 75 percent of the 290 seats will be in the hands of the Principlists while Reformists only secured 7 percent. Some constituencies need a second round to determine the final outcome and a portion of roughly 12 percent of the majles goes to independents. Voter participation dropped to a historic low of 42.5 percent. -Adnan Tabatabai, Responsible Statecraft 3/11/20

Spying concerns raised over Iran's official COVID-19 detection app

Google has removed today an Android app from the official Play Store that was developed by the Iranian government to test and keep track of COVID-19 (coronavirus) infections. The app, which is named AC19, was released last week and was made available through a dedicated website, the official Play Store, and other third-party app stores. -ZDNet 3/11/20

Q&A: What the US-Taliban agreement means for Afghanistan and why Iran should be involved

Now that some of the dust has settled from the U.S.-Taliban agreement, Fatemeh Aman, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, explains just what the deal means for the future of the Afghan government, what the regional implications are, and what the Iranians - despite being left out of the process - have to say about it. -Responsible Statecraft 3/11/20

A cleric's cure for coronavirus becomes butt of jokes in Iran

Amid anxieties in Iran over the coronavirus outbreak and a flurry of precautions to prevent its spread, a controversial ayatollah has declared a new method to "cure" the virus: applying violet oil to the anus. Abbas Tabrizian, described by his supporters as "the father of Islamic medicine of Iran," began focusing on "Islamic medicine" when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. -Rohollah Faghihi, Al-Monitor 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

Russia gives Iran 50k coronavirus testing kits to help fight epidemic

Russia has provided Iran with tens of thousands of testing kits for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as the Islamic Republic steps up the battle against the flu-like virus originating from China. On Tuesday, Iran confirmed 54 news deaths, the highest daily toll so far, raising the total fatality count to 291. A total of 8,042 infections have been diagnosed. And 2,731 patients have recovered, the Healthy Ministry said. 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

European Film Community Protests Mohammad Rasoulof's Imminent Arrest

Figureheads from the European film industry have gathered to protest the imminent incarceration of Iranian film director Mohammad Rasoulof, whose film "There Is No Evil" won the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale, which he was unable to attend because of a government ban on travel. -IndieWire 3/10/20

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