Aban 2 1399 - October 23 2020
Chomsky: from nuclear weapons to Iran, Trump's worst threats are dangerously ignored

Noam Chomsky warns that the Trump administration poses a unique threat to humanity, and its most reckless policies are receiving far too little attention. -Aaron Mate, Gray Zone 10/23/20

Sanctions are the one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on. But they aren't working.

On a good day, Washington, D.C. is best described as a town divided. Republicans and Democrats are at each other's throats on nearly every issue under the sun. A subject as seemingly uncontroversial as wearing a mask can open the floodgates to a torrential flood of partisan fury on both sides of the political aisle. The culture wars, policy disagreements, and ideological clashes are elevated to the umpteenth degree during a presidential election year. But on the subject of economic sanctions, Republicans and Democrats mirror one, big, happy family. -Dan DePetris, Responsible Statecraft 10/23/20

New report shines light on dis- misinformation campaigns by US Gulf allies

At a hastily called press briefing on Wednesday, top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials claimed that both Russia and Iran had gained access to personal voter information and that Iran had targeted Democrats in an information operation. According to officials, Iranian actors posed as members of the Proud Boys, a pro-Trump group with ties to white supremacists, and sent threatening emails to Democratic voters telling them to vote for Trump. -Kelly M. McFarland, Responsible Statecraft 10/23/20

Iran: Prisoners Who Reported Abuse Charged

Iranian judiciary authorities are prosecuting human rights defenders for reporting abuse in detention, Human Rights Watch said today. Since September 2020, the authorities have brought charges against two imprisoned activists who had published letters alleging mistreatment. -HRW 10/23/20

Iraq's prime minister says country on tightrope between US and Iran

Iraq's prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, has warned that he is being forced into an impossible balancing act between the US and Iran, as he urged Europe to come to the aid of his country's debt-ridden economy. Appointed as prime minister in June, Kadhimi - a British citizen and former journalist - came to power after unprecedented street protests over corruption, and has since governed with a simple programme of early elections, better security and preventing the collapse of his oil-dependent economy. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 10/23/20

Iran Sanctions US Ambassador to Iraq for 'Terrorist' Acts

Tehran-imposed sanctions on the US Ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller, came as a response in a tit-for-tat move after Washington blacklisted Iran's Envoy. Iran's government has answered a move by the United States against the nation's envoy to Baghdad, blacklisting a US official in return. -Sputnik 10/23/20

Trump's quiet war against civilians in Iran continues amid the pandemic

With people in Iran already suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and crippling U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration earlier this month unveiled yet another set of sanctions that could restrict Iranians' access to food and medicine even further. This move has gone largely unnoticed in the United States, with the first presidential debate passing without mention of Trump's disastrous "maximum pressure" policy on Iran. But for Iranians, it is impossible to ignore. -Niloofar Adnani, Responsible Statecraft 10/22/20

'There Is No Insulin': Desperate Iranians Tweet Calls For Life-Saving Drug

Tens of thousands of diabetics in Iran are said to be facing shortages of insulin, with many such patients and their loved ones complaining that the problem could have life-threatening consequences. Some Iranians have taken to social media to protest the scarcity of insulin pens and highlight their plight or that of loved ones who need daily injections of what they describe as "oxygen" for diabetics. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 10/22/20

More Baha'is Begin Serving Prison Sentences in Iran Simply for Their Beliefs

Farid Zirgi Moghaddam began serving his five-year sentence in the central prison in the city of Birjand, in South Khorasan province in eastern Iran, on October 19, 2020-a prison sentence that was based solely on his belief in the banned Baha'i faith, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned. -CHRI 10/22/20

China wins, India loses in Trump's gamble on crushing Iran

India has found itself on the losing end of the Trump administration's gamble in Asia and its "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran. In some ways, the damage may be irreversible, as China is expanding its presence in Iran and moving quickly to fill gaps created by U.S. sanctions. -Fatemeh Aman, Responsible Statecraft 10/22/20

Russia and Iran obtained US voter data in bid to sow unrest before election, FBI warns

Russia and Iran have obtained some US voting registration information and are attempting to sow unrest in the upcoming election, the government's national intelligence director said in a rare news conference Wednesday night. Democrats immediately took issue with Ratcliffe's emphasis that Iran was sowing disinformation to harm Trump, characterizing the intelligence director as a "partisan hack". -Guardian 10/22/20

Massive war games light up Iran's skies

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and regular army conducted a joint air defense exercise to test a wide array of military equipment, including missile and radar systems, electronic warfare, reconnaissance and communications tools and monitoring networks. According to military spokesman Abbas Farajpour, the drills were conducted in a vast area including half of Iran's airspace -Al-Monitor 10/22/20

No Matter Who Is U.S. President, Iran Will Drive a Harder Bargain Than Before

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018 with the express purpose of pressuring Iran into negotiating a deal more favorable to the United States. To that end, the United States has pursued a sanctions policy of "maximum pressure" that has inflicted extraordinary damage on Iranian society. Iran's economy contracted by seven percent in 2019-20, and its currency has devalued to a record low. Washington recently imposed still more sanctions on Iran's banking system. -Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, Foreign Affairs 10/21/20

Nasrin Sotoudeh Transferred to Notorious Gharchak Prison

Nasrin Sotoudeh, the imprisoned human rights attorney, has been moved to the notoriously harsh Gharchak Prison (also spelled Qarchak) in the Iranian city of Varamin, south of Tehran, despite grave medical issues that require her hospitalization, her husband, Reza Khandan said today, October 20, 2020. -CHRI 10/21/20

Even if Biden wins US election, time is running out to save Iran nuclear deal

Even if Joe Biden triumphs at the polls, Iran's weakened government may only have a few months to negotiate a revived nuclear deal before facing its own electoral challenge by hardliners who oppose any engagement with the west. The narrow window has prompted calls for Biden to offer a phased approach to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018, in order to show progress before the Iranian presidential election. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 10/21/20

Armenia Wants Iran's Help, Azerbaijan Says US, Russia, France Not Doing Enough to End Conflict

Armenia is seeking Iran's support in pressuring Azerbaijan, while Azerbaijan also appreciates the Islamic Republic's diplomatic overtures. Both believe that international guarantors France, Russia and the United States are not doing enough to end the conflict in the South Caucasus region. -Newsweek 10/21/20

Payment24 CEO: Criminal in the US, service provider to Iran

To the United States, he is a criminal and a threat to national security. To Iranians cut off from the international financial system by US sanctions, he was an invaluable provider of services many people in other countries take for granted. Last week, Iranian citizen Sajjad Shahidian was sentenced to 23 months in prison by a US federal court in Minneapolis, Minnesota for his role in operating Payment24 - an online financial services company prosecutors say helped Iranians conduct transactions with US-based businesses prohibited under sanctions. -Maziar Motamedi, Al-Jazeera 10/21/20

Why it's a bad idea to 'debate' FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz

An obscure but important controversy erupted recently within the foreign policy community in the nation's capital about whether a former Obama administration official should have participated in a "debate" with the leader of a DC think tank that has been engaged in lying and online harassment of critics while pushing for war and regime change in Tehran for more than a decade. -Ben Armbruster, Responsible Statecraft 10/21/20

Russia calls for collective security in Persian Gulf, US blames Iran

Russia's foreign minister called for collective efforts Tuesday to prevent a large-scale war in the Persian Gulf and got strong support from all Security Council members except the United States, which called Iran the major culprit and urged that it be held accountable for supporting terrorists and destabilizing the region. -AP 10/21/20

Iran's rial climbs to one-month high after central bank injects cash

The Iranian rial bounced back from record lows to a near one-month high against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday after the central bank said it had injected about $375 million into the market to support the troubled currency. The dollar was selling for about 277,000 rials on the unofficial market, down from 304,500 on Monday, according to foreign exchange site Bonbast.com. -Reuters 10/21/20

PAAIA Applauds Introduction of the Temporary Family Visitation Act

Today, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization serving the interests of the Iranian American community, welcomed the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Francis Rooney (R-FL) that establishes a new visa category to allow family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to temporarily visit. The new B-3 nonimmigrant visa category created by the Temporary Family Visitation Act (TFVA) will provide an opportunity for family visitations while boosting the U.S. economy. 10/20/20

Anti-Semitism Envoy appears to accuse Jason Rezaian of being an apologist for Iran

A State Department official accused two prominent Iranian-American figures of serving the Iranian regime, including one Iranian-American journalist who had been taken hostage by the Iranian government for nearly two years. "In case you were not 100% sure [congressional candidate Sima Ladjevardian] is an #Iran Regime mouthpiece this endorsement by [journalist Jason Rezaian] puts all doubt to rest," U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ellie Cohanim wrote in a Twitter post on Monday. The tweet has since been taking down. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 10/20/20

MEK Invent Conspiracy Theories for Survival

From deep inside its rabbit hole in Albania the MEK has created yet another Alice in Wonderland style fairy tale about Iranian spies and agents coming to get them. In doing so, Maryam Rajavi reminds us exactly why the European Union expelled her and her lieutenants from Europe and sent her into exile in Albania. -Anne Khodabandeh, Iranian.com 10/20/20

'Made in Iran' Thrives in Economy Trump Tried to Crush

There can't have been many worse times to start a new business in Iran. Even before officials in the Islamic Republic alerted the public to a major outbreak of the coronavirus, the country started the year in a tense standoff with the U.S. while its economy was being crippled by sanctions. For a trio of design graduates, a captive market of tens of millions of consumers starved of imports made it worth the risk. Their fashion brand, Koi, has sold thousands of crop tops and striped jeans since July. -Golnar Motevalli, Bloomberg 10/19/20

FDD emerges as hub for online harassment against critics of Trump's State Department

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a think tank that has promoted U.S. military strikes on Iran and is funded by one of President Donald Trump's biggest campaign megadonors, served as a messaging hub for a controversial taxpayer-funded project, the Iran Disinformation Project, that engaged in harassment of American critics of the Trump administration's foreign policy in the Middle East. -Eli Clifton, Responsible Statecraft 10/19/20

Op-Ed: Americans helped my family emigrate from Iran. That kindness is what makes this country great

My first taste of American greatness was peanut butter. It was in 1965 or so, in Urmia, my hometown in northwest Iran. I was around 3 years old. The peanut butter was a gift from Penny and Richard, two of a handful of Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Urmia in the 1960s. Since President Trump was elected, I have thought a lot about that gift of peanut butter and our president's slogan, "Make America Great Again." -Behrooz Alexander Moghaddam, Los Angeles Times 10/19/20

Do not expect a rush of arms sales to Iran

The 13-year UN arms embargo on Iran is set to expire on 18 October. As part of its maximum pressure campaign against Iran, the Trump administration has vowed to prevent the flow of arms into and out of the country, recently introducing sanctions that target such trade. The United States and its allies in the Middle East maintain that the expiration of the embargo will allow China and Russia to pour weapons into Iran. But this is unlikely to happen in the near term. -Ellie Geranmayeh, Responsible Statecraft 10/19/20

In the age of Covid, sanctions against 'rogue states' just spread the misery

Aggressive measures affecting North Korea, Iran and Venezuela have merely hurt the vulnerable and hardened attitudes -Simon Tisdall, Guardian 10/19/20

Iran hails lifting of 13-year UN arms embargo as 'momentous day'

Iranian officials have hailed the lifting of a 13-year UN arms embargo on their military as a momentous day, claiming they were once again free to buy and sell conventional weapons in an effort to strengthen their country's security. The embargo was lifted on Sunday morning despite US protests and was in line with the five-year timetable set out in the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015. -Guardian 10/19/20

Will Iran let a woman run for president in 2021?

With Iran's June 2021 presidential elections approaching, a perennial public debate over whether women have the right to run for president has resurfaced. In a statement on September 13, Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei, spokesman of Iran's Guardian Council-which is responsible for vetting candidates for elected office-said that there was no legal impediment to a woman president and that it is possible that this will happen in the future. -Raz Zimmt, Atlantic Council 10/16/20

Iran: Judicial authority bans 'torture'

Iran's judicial authority on Thursday issued an order banning torture, the use of "forced confessions", solitary confinement, illegal police detentions, and other violations of defendants' rights. The "document on judicial security" was signed by Iran's judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and released by Mizan Online, the authority's news agency. -AFP 10/16/20

Now is the time for Congress to act on US arms sales

Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department's Office of the Inspector General issued a report confirming what everybody already knew to be true: that the executive branch had failed to adequately consider civilian casualties in the sale of American-made bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - sales that proceeded despite congressional efforts to block them. These sales were just the latest in a long string of ill-advised U.S. arms transfers, approved by administrations of both political parties, to abusive governments. -Elena Crespo and Elizabeth Fray, Responsible Statecraft 10/16/20

Ultimatum signals modest US goal in Iraq: Avoid defeat

The threat by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed extreme. The United States would shutter its own embassy in Baghdad if Iraq didn't rein in Shiite militia attacks on American targets. The ultimatum late last month - which came with the promise of a "strong and violent" response if the attacks did not stop - was a stunning admission of weakness, analysts say. And it revealed the scale of the dilemma faced by the U.S. in Iraq, as it seeks to draw down American forces without appearing to be running away under fire from Iran-backed groups. -Scott Peterson, CSM 10/16/20

UN officials demand release of US dual citizen Siamak Namazi as he marks five years in Iran's Evin jail

More than 160 current and former United Nations officials have called on Iran to end the "horror and pain" for the family of a US-Iranian dual national who on Tuesday marked his fifth year in Tehran's Evin jail. READ MORE UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemns captivity of dual citizens in Iran Iranian scientist freed from US custody returns to Iran The Dubai family of Siamak Namazi believed he would be released within days of his arrest on October 13, 2015, but spent the "grim" anniversary calling on governments to help free the 49-year-old and other dual nationals held by Tehran. -The National, UAE 10/15/20

Spain extradites former banker sentenced in Iran for corruption

Spain has extradited a fugitive former Iranian executive implicated in a large financial corruption case, in what Iran's judiciary says is the first such extradition from Europe. Alireza Heydar Abadipour, the former CEO of Sarmayeh Bank, touched down at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, where media and police officials were waiting for his arrival. -Al-Jazeera 10/15/20

Iran says hackers attacked two of its key institutions

Hackers launched large-scale attacks on two Iranian government institutions this week, a senior official said on Thursday, without giving details on the targets or the suspected perpetrators. Some government bodies had since temporarily shut down internet services as a precaution, Abolghasem Sadeghi, from the government's Information Technology Organization, told state TV. -Reuters 10/15/20

The U.S. of A(rms): The Art of the Weapons Deal in the Age of Trump

The United States has the dubious distinction of being the world's leading arms dealer. It dominates the global trade in a historic fashion and nowhere is that domination more complete than in the endlessly war-torn Middle East. There, believe it or not, the U.S. controls nearly half the arms market. From Yemen to Libya to Egypt, sales by this country and its allies are playing a significant role in fueling some of the world's most devastating conflicts. -William D. Hartung, Tom Dispatch 10/15/20

New sanctions on Iran's banks: Crippling or more window dressing?

On October 8, the Trump administration imposed its latest round of sanctions on Iran: bank sanctions it touted in the run-up to the action as crippling and which proponents, including Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), reportedly hope will cause the collapse of Iran's economy. Setting aside the wisdom of trying to collapse an economy in the middle of a COVID-19 resurgence, the goal of blacklisting the rest of Iran's financial sector has been a stalking horse for hardliners for some time. -Brian O'Toole, Atlantic Council 10/14/20

Cleric reopens scars of acid attacks after threatening Iranian women

Threats by an influential hard-line cleric against Iranian women with loose headscarves has opened up old wounds left behind in acid attacks perpetrated by religious extremists. -Al-Monitor 10/14/20

Iran's Covid-19 Death Toll Is Rising. Show Mercy, Mr. Trump.

In 2003, when an earthquake killed thousands in the Iranian city of Bam, President George W. Bush set aside years of animosity and sent an airlift of rescuers and medical supplies. He also temporarily eased some restrictions on sending money and goods to the country. "American people care and we've got great compassion for human suffering," Mr. Bush told CNN in the aftermath of the quake. "It's right to take care of people when they hurt." -New York Times Editorial Board 10/14/20

Iran in shock after 11-year-old boy commits suicide over poverty

The suicide of an 11-year old boy from a destitute family has sent shock waves across Iranian society, further highlighting the questions of growing poverty and state neglect. -Al-Monitor 10/14/20

Trump thinks 'maximum pressure' will change Iran. History says he's wrong.

Trump prefers to use "maximum pressure" in the form of belligerent rhetoric, diplomatic isolation and unilateral sanctions to try to force dramatic changes in Tehran. He insists that regime change isn't his aim, and regularly muses about being able to secure a deal with Iran's leaders within "the first month" of his reelection. But some administration officials have been more candid about their real goals, noting, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has put it, that while Iran's government may not change course, "the people can change the government" and that Washington is willing to help them do it. -Philip H. Gordon and Ariane M. Tabatabai, Washington Post 10/14/20

Afghanistan and Iran: From water treaty to water dispute

With an estimated 75 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water annually, Afghanistan is, on paper, a self-sufficient water country. However, the country also "has one of the lowest levels of water storage capacity in the world". Most of the water from its major rivers such as the Amu, Helmand, Harirud-Murghab and Kabul flows to neighbouring countries - Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Lowy Institute 10/14/20

Trump and Biden offer starkly different visions of US role in world

Foreign policy barely gets a mention in this US election, but for the rest of the world the outcome on 3 November will arguably be the most consequential in history. All US elections have a global impact, but this time there are two issues of existential importance to the planet - the climate crisis and nuclear proliferation - on which the two presidential candidates could hardly be further apart. -Julian Borger, Guardian 10/14/20

For Arizonans, war with Iran should be a top issue

On Wednesday night, Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris debated many issues that are on the minds of Arizonans: COVID-19, racial unrest, and Supreme Court nominations, to name a few. However, they also dedicated significant time to an urgent matter that has slid under the radar of many voters: the threat of a U.S. war with Iran. -Heather Mace, Arizona Daily Star 10/13/20

After two decades of war, it's time to shift our focus on diplomacy

For two decades we have both decided on and then lived with the vision that with the world's most powerful military, we could use it to solve political and security problems far faster and far more effectively than our past resorts to negotiation. The idea was seductive beyond attractive. It built on the experience of World War II and unconditional surrender. According to Colin Powell, when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Clinton administration, then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright once asked, "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" -Tom Pickering, Responsible Statecraft 10/13/20

Iran says deal reached to unlock funds frozen in Iraq

Tehran, Iran - Iran's central bank chief on Monday announced an agreement has been reached with Iraqi officials to unlock Iranian funds frozen in Iraqi banks as part of United States sanctions to buy humanitarian goods. The announcement follows in the wake of Washington's decision last week to blacklist Iran's entire financial sector - a move critics contend will further hamper Tehran's ability to buy vital food and medicines as it battles the worst COVID-19 crisis in the Middle East. -Maziar Motamedi, Al-Jazeera 10/13/20

Iran's delicate balancing act in the South Caucasus

On the first Friday after war resumed between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, four prayer leaders in Azerbaijani-majority regions of Iran issued a statement offering their full-throttled support for one side in the conflict... The fact that these "emam-e jomehs," or prayer leaders, are personal representatives of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ignited expectations in Baku and Ankara that Iran may be shifting its policy from neutrality to more explicitly supporting Azerbaijan. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 10/12/20

Iran rights council: US criminal sanctions target Iranians' lives, health

Iran's top human rights council has strongly condemned recent US sanctions on Iranian financial system and banks, noting that by curtailing the country's access to medicine and other humanitarian equipment, Washington's sanctions are taking direct aim at Iranian people's lives and health. -Press TV 10/12/20

China's evolving relationship with the Middle East

China's relationship with the Middle East has been fraught with contradictions since the end of World War II. Initially the Middle East was of peripheral importance to China. Now the region ranks higher in Beijing's strategic calculations. Beijing's role there has the potential to produce a strategic shift in the region's political, economic, and military orientation. -J. Stapleton Roy, Responsible Statecraft 10/12/20

Iran's rial falls to new low, as coronavirus deaths hit new high

The Iranian rial fell to a new low against the U.S. dollar on Sunday as a record daily death toll from COVID-19 compounded concerns over new U.S. sanctions which may block some of Iran's medicine purchases. The dollar was selling for as much as 312,200 rials on the unofficial market, up from 304,300 on Saturday, according to the foreign exchange site Bonbast.com. -Reuters 10/12/20

US hits all of Iran's financial sector with sanctions

The Trump administration has blacklisted virtually all of Iran's financial sector, dealing another blow to an economy that is already reeling under U.S. sanctions. The move will deepen tensions with European nations and others over Iran. Thursday's move hits 18 Iranian banks that had thus far escaped the bulk of re-imposed U.S. sanctions and, more importantly, subjects foreign, non-Iranian financial institutions to penalties for doing business with them. Thus, it effectively cuts them off from the international financial system. -AP 10/9/20

Persian music master Shajarian who backed Iran protests dies

Mohammad Reza Shajarian, whose distinctive voice quavered to traditional Persian music on state radio for years before supporting protesters following Iran's contested 2009 election, has died, state TV reported Thursday. He was 80. Shajarian enlivened Iran's traditional music with his singing style, which soared, swooped and trilled over long-known poetry set to song. But the later years of his life saw him forced to only perform abroad, after he backed those who challenged the disputed re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by telling state radio to stop using his songs. -Nasser Karimi, AP 10/9/20

'Treating us like garbage': New sanctions announced as many Iranian Americans feel fed up with Trump

While some Iranian Americans fully support President Donald Trump, Nazmiyal is among scores of Iranian Americans who have no loyalty to the repressive regime in Tehran, but who are fed up with a White House that has vilified their homeland, banned their family members from visiting the U.S., and stoked fears of a military conflict. From the Muslim ban to an endless stream of sanctions and saber-rattling, they hear about their relatives suffering in Iran and feel increased hostility in their adopted homeland. -Kim Hjelmgaard Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY 10/9/20

The undeniable cruelty of Trump's 'maximum pressure' on Iran

The Trump administration calls its policy towards Iran one of "maximum pressure." By its latest move, it would more properly be called "siege and starve," as the feigned interest in establishing leverage for comprehensive negotiations with Iran has been replaced by a full-throttle push to pulverize Iran's economy and collapse its social and economic life. -Tyler Cullis, Responsible Statecraft 10/9/20

Iran foreign minister on China visit following US sanctions

China says Iran's foreign minister will visit the country from Friday to Saturday, a day after the Trump administration blacklisted virtually all of Iran's financial sector in the latest step aimed at the oil-rich country's economy. In a brief announcement, China's foreign ministry said only that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was visiting at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. -AP 10/9/20

India works to boost influence in Iran as Beijing-Tehran ties warm

Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar both visited Tehran last month, on separate occasions but within the same week. Though the purpose of the meetings - according to official statements - was aimed at "strengthening bilateral cooperation" and discussing some "important regional issues," the agenda likely included the handling of Chabahar Port in Iran. -Sabena Siddiqui, Al-Monitor 10/9/20

Trump administration to impose crushing sanctions on Iran in defiance of European humanitarian concerns

The Trump administration has decided to impose new sanctions on Iran's financial sector in defiance of European allies who warned that the move could have devastating humanitarian consequences on a country reeling from the novel coronavirus and an ongoing currency crisis, three officials familiar with the decision said Wednesday. - John Hudson, Washington Post 10/8/20

Iranian musicians help out in secret on Israeli singer's new record

An Israeli singer of Persian heritage is set to release an album she made by working in secret with Iranian musicians, her long-held aspiration for artistic collaboration despite bitter animosity between the two states. Using encrypted instant-messaging apps like Telegram and by wiring money through third countries, such as the UK and Turkey, Liraz Charhi said she spent months of sleepless nights fearing those who associated would be in danger. -Oliver Holmes, Guardian 10/8/20

In Tehran, White House Race is Talk of Town

For Iran, struggling from sanctions imposed under Washington's policy of "maximum pressure", the US presidential race raises hope of change-but also fears that life could get even worse. "The general view is that the result of this presidential election is crucial for the population," said Zeinab Esmaili, who covers foreign affairs for the Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh. -Ahmad Parhizi, AFP 10/8/20

Iran frees rights activist after more than 8 years in prison

Iran has released a prominent human rights activist who campaigned against the death penalty, Iranian media reported Thursday. The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted judiciary official Sadegh Niaraki as saying that Narges Mohammadi was freed late Wednesday after serving 8 1/2 years in prison. She was sentenced to 10 years in 2016 while already incarcerated. -AP 10/8/20

France, US and Russia to meet on Nagorno-Karabakh

France, the United States and Russia will step up efforts to end fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces in the South Caucasus by holding talks in Geneva, as fears of a regional war grow. French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said Russian, French and US representatives would also meet in Moscow on Monday to look at ways to persuade the warring sides to negotiate a ceasefire. -Al-Jazeera 10/8/20

Iran Set to Export More Oil If Biden Wins U.S. Presidency

Iran could restore almost 2 million barrels of oil exports daily if Joe Biden wins next month's U.S. presidential election, according to the head of the International Energy Forum. If Biden, as he's indicated, tries to revive an Iranian nuclear pact that President Donald Trump took the U.S. out of in mid-2018, negotiations between the two sides will probably lead to more output from the Islamic Republic, according to Joe McMonigle. -Bloomberg 10/8/20

Ahead of US elections, artist group highlights 'devastating impact' of Trump's travel ban three years on

In the run-up to the US presidential election this November, the New York-based human rights non-profit Artistic Freedom Initiative (AFI) is drawing attention to one of President Donald Trump's most controversial acts, Executive Order 13780, the so-called travel ban that prevents people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. -The Art Newspaper 10/7/20

Iran's Rouhani slams sending fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday warned that his country will not tolerate the presence of foreign fighters - "terrorists that Iran has fought for years" - near its northern border, where a conflict is raging between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Rouhani did not elaborate but Armenia accuses Ankara of sending Turkish-backed Syrian fighters to the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. -AP 10/7/20

Locked out: Clash of Clans latest title off limits to Iran gamers

October is poised to be a brutal month for Iran based fans of the massively popular mobile games Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, after the company that developed the games set in motion policies that will effectively ban Iranian accounts. -Maziar Motamedi, Al-Jazeera 10/7/20

UN rights chief urges Iran to release jailed human rights defenders, citing COVID-19 risk

The top UN rights official has called on Iran to release imprisoned human rights defenders, lawyers and political prisoners, citing deep concerns over their situation and heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. -UN News Center 10/6/20

Trump or Biden? Iran weighs the pros and cons of closely watched vote

US intelligence officials have concluded that Iran prefers a Joe Biden win come November. And why wouldn't it? Biden has vowed to return to the Iran deal, the nuclear agreement that was forged when he served as vice president to Barack Obama. Unlike Donald Trump, Biden is also familiar with the Middle East. It's not just a casual "inshallah" dropped at the September 29 debate. -Borzou Daragahi, Atlantic Council 10/6/20

Armenia and Azerbaijan clash as Iran works on peace plan

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of firing missiles into the capital of the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh on Monday, while Azerbaijan said several of its towns and its second-largest city were attacked. Iran, which borders both countries, said it was working on a peace plan for the decades-old conflict, which reignited last month and has killed scores of people on both sides. -AP 10/6/20

Two long-range Ghadir radars join Iran's air defense units

Two long-range 3D Ghadir radars designed and developed by Iranian experts have joined the country's air defense forces. The radars were put into operation during a ceremony on Tuesday in the presence of Chief Commander of Iran's Army Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi and Commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh. 10/6/20

Not white enough: 41 years of othering Iranian Americans

It took me three tries to fill out the U.S. Census. It's not a particularly long or complicated form, but this year was different. I pass as white and have always marked white. This year, I checked "Other," wrote in "Iranian," and made my parents do the same. As the Trump administration fights to end the 2020 U.S. Census count and limit those who can be counted, organizations like the National Iranian American Council and Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans have encouraged Iranian Americans to mark "Other" on their forms and write in "Iranian," building off a similar 2010 campaign, "Check it right; you ain't white!" -Sarah Sakha, Responsible Statecraft 10/5/20

Lawyer: French-Iranian Researcher Fariba Adelkhah Released With Ankle Bracelet

Iran has temporarily released French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who has been in jail for more than a year over security breaches, her lawyer said on October 3. "Fariba Adelkhah has come out [of prison] on leave with an electronic ankle bracelet," Said Dehghan said in a tweet, without providing other details. 10/5/20

Iran's delicate balancing act in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

With Armenia and Azerbaijan locked in a fresh conflict over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, neighbouring Iran finds itself in a delicate balancing act, with political, historical and ethnic considerations. Iran's official stance, after having tried to resolve the long-running conflict in previous decades through diplomatic means, remains one of mediation, calling for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue. - Maziar Motamedi, Al-Jazeera 10/5/20

Humour, resignation, despair: Living with inflation in Iran

On paper, Iran's economy is holding up relatively well given the world is in the throes of a once in a century pandemic. The country's non-oil sector shrank by a mere 0.6 percent in the quarter ended June 20, according to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) - despite enduring the most acute COVID-19 crisis in the Middle East. -Maziar Motamedi, Al-Jazeera 10/5/20

Third Iranian tanker docks at Venezuelan port; Maduro promises fuel supply

The final tanker in a flotilla of three Iranian fuel tankers docked at eastern Venezuela's Guaraguao port on Sunday, according to Refinitiv Eikon data and a person familiar with the matter, as President Nicolas Maduro promised to normalize fuel supply in the gasoline-starved country. -Reuters 10/5/20

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