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Crossing the Red Line: The Struggle for Human Rights in Iran


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Why Pompeo's speech on Iran is outrageous

- Speaking at the Heritage Foundation this morning, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo practically declared war on Iran. His unprecedented threats against Iran went even beyond what President Trump had said in the past. Commenting on the speech, JStreet wrote: "With their decision to violate the historic JCPOA arms control agreement, the president and his 'war cabinet' have created a strategic disaster of their own making and undone the major accomplishments of the previous administration. They have made the US, Israel and the world less safe." -Farhang Jahanpour 5/24/18

No U.S-European Compromise Seen On Iran As Khamenei Steps Up Demands

- The United States and European countries are "a long way from a compromise" on a new Iran nuclear deal, Germany's top diplomat said, as Iran's supreme leader called on European countries to reject U.S. demands for a tougher deal with Iran. 5/24/18

Who Are the Dual Nationals Imprisoned in Iran?

- At least 14 dual and foreign nationals, as well as foreign permanent residents, are currently imprisoned in Iran. According to research by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), the arrests are followed by a pattern of prolonged solitary confinement and interrogations; lack of due process; denial of consular access or visits by the UN or humanitarian organizations; secretive trials in which the detainee is given limited access to counsel; and long prison sentences based on vague or unspecified "national security" and "espionage" charges. 5/24/18

Macron Heads to Russia to Save Iran Nuclear Deal

- French President Emmanuel Macron heads to St. Petersburg Thursday for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, whose support is key on matters ranging from salvaging the Iran nuclear deal to securing steady European gas supplies. -Lisa Bryant, VOA 5/24/18

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Once a Foe, US Now Hopes Iraqi Firebrand Shi'ite Cleric Becomes a Friend

- The prospect of firebrand Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr wielding the greatest influence of any Iraqi leader over the formation of a government in Baghdad would have prompted panic in Washington years ago. They are pinning their hopes, they say, on al-Sadr continuing to move away from his old sectarian militancy and to emerge as a more inclusive Iraqi nationalist and, most importantly for Washington, remaining an outspoken opponent of Tehran. -Jamie Dettmer, VOA 5/24/18

Pompeo On Iran: Making Matters Worse

- By withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Trump struck a blow that may yet prove fatal to the most important strategic achievement in the Middle East since the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. Most ignominious is the likelihood that Trump acted as he did to continue his efforts to scrap anything achieved by President Barack Obama. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog 5/24/18

What it will take to keep the deal alive

- The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement between Iran and the EU/E3+3 constitutes a strong rejection of multilateralism by the Trump administration and leaves the remaining parties of the agreement with the challenge to safeguard its survival. Europe has been ascribed a leading role in this quest, as it has arguably a much greater stake in keeping the deal alive compared to Russia and China. -Adnan Tabatabai, Progressive Post 5/24/18

Trump's Destructive Policies In The Mideast

- If President Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had planned to deepen chaos and instability, promote war, and hurt American interests in the Middle East, they could not have executed a more effective strategy than abandoning the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action or JCPOA) and moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog 5/24/18

The Tories look set to capitulate to Trump's Iran insanity against the interests of the UK economy

- It took 12 years for global powers and Iran to achieve the great diplomatic success of the 21st century: a deal that exchanged relief from US-enforced oil and banking sanctions for the elimination of any practicable path towards a hypothetical Iranian bomb. In a stroke, Trump unilaterally "withdrew" from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and approved, in the words of his latest Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, "the strongest sanctions in history". -Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Evolve Politics 5/24/18

Vida Ghaffari is the First Iranian-American to be inducted in the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame

- On Saturday, May 19th, actress Vida Ghaffari (The Mindy Project, Jimmy Kimmel Live) and many celebrities and luminaries in the martial arts world were inducted into the prestigious USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame at their gala at the Doubletree Hilton in Los Angeles. Ghaffari was bestowed with the Trailblazer Award. She is the first person of Iranian descent to be inducted. 5/23/18

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How Iran's Hijab Protests Went Viral

Trump, Iran, Europe: A Rebellion Of The Lambs? - Donald Trump's decision to pull his country out of the nuclear deal with Iran arrived with a brutality that took Europeans by surprise. Of course, in the previous days, they had lost whatever illusions they still entertained. But there was still hope for a grace period that would allow them to obtain some gestures from Iran, or sanctions eased in return for their efforts. "One more minute, Mr. Executioner," they pleaded. But the blade of the guillotine fell nonetheless. -Francois Nicoulaud 5/23/18

German Top Diplomat In U.S. To Discuss Iran Nuclear Dispute - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was set to meet with top-level U.S. officials on May 23 for talks expected to center on the consequences of the United States' withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. 5/23/18

Iran's Rohani Calls For End To Ban On Women At Sports Events - Iranian President Hassan Rohani has called for a decades-long stadium ban for women to be lifted, according to his office and media reports. "There should be no difference between men and women in Islam, and for that reason women should also be allowed to take part in sports events," Rohani said at a meeting with Iranian athletes in his office on May 22, according to a statement released by his office. 5/23/18

'No Evidence' Detained Iranian Environmentalists Are Spies - An Iranian government panel has concluded there is no evidence against environmental activists rounded up on spying charges in recent months, the country's environment chief says. Isa Kalantari, head of Iran's department of environment, was quoted by state media as saying on May 22 that the conclusion had been reached by a panel set up to investigate the allegations against the activists. The panel included the ministers of justice, interior, and intelligence, as well as the president's legal deputy, Kalantari said. 5/23/18

Pompeo: US Working to Bring Home US Detainees from Iran - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed Tuesday to bring home American detainees in Iran, saying "the entire United States government" is working "diligently" and is utilizing "every avenue" and "mechanism." -Nike Ching, VOA 5/23/18

Pompeo's Demands On Iran At Odds With Reality - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a list of demands on Iran in a speech threatening to "crush" the country on Monday. His bellicose words come weeks after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal and are nothing short of an ultimatum demanding Iran's total surrender to U.S. wishes. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian, LobeLog 5/23/18

Renault Might Have To Leave Iran After US Pullout From JCPOA - French car manufacturer Renault might have to leave the Iranian market altogether as a result of the US pullout from the nuclear deal with Iran. Renault's partner Nissan is a key player in the US market, and Renault may have its hesitations, fearing its activity in Iran might affect Nisan's business in the United States. 5/23/18

U.S. Sanction Power May Be Reaching Its Limit - Six years ago, in the course of investigating London-based bank Standard Chartered Plc over suspicions it had flouted U.S. sanctions against Iran, the New York State Department of Financial Services published an email from a senior executive to one of his counterparts in New York. "You f***ing Americans," the message read. -Ben Holland, Bloomberg 5/23/18

Iranian Officials Call For Unblocking Twitter - Six Iranian ministers and two lawmakers, all members of the state committee in charge of blocking websites, have issued an open letter to the country's prosecutor calling for the unblocking of Twitter. The letter was issued in response to "the growing public demands for unfiltering Twitter to allow the activity of the youth and media in [it]," the government website reported. 5/22/18

The JCPOA, The NAM, The NNWS, The USA, And The NPT - Someone asked me last week how President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would affect the nuclear non-proliferation regime centered on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). One way of approaching the question is to try to imagine what impression the president's decision will have made on the bulk of NPT parties: the Non-Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) who are members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog 5/22/18

Commander Says Iran's People Will Respond To Pompeo's Threats With A Punch In The Mouth - A senior Iranian military commander poured scorn on U.S. threats to tighten sanctions on Tuesday, saying the Islamic Republic's people would respond by punching U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the mouth. -Reuters 5/22/18

Iran's Telegram Users Back on the Rise Three Weeks After State Banned the App - Three weeks after Iran banned the widely used Telegram messaging app, the telecommunications minister posted a chart online showing that the number of Iranian users had begun rising to pre-ban levels. The posting marks the first time an Iranian official has presented figures implicitly confirming the failure of state censorship policies. 5/22/18

An Artist Considers the Absurdity of Ending the Iran Nuclear Deal - Nothing surprises the Iranian-American artist Sheida Soleimani anymore, whose latest body of work lampoons the leaders of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. -Hyperallergic 5/22/18

The Trump Administration Calls on Iranians to "Make a Choice About Their Leadership" - In a speech on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the United States will "crush" Iran with a new package of economic, diplomatic, military, and cyber pressures if it does not accept sweeping changes to its policies at home and abroad. The new U.S. policy laid out a dozen new demands that put the Trump Administration on a collision course with the Iranian government--and falls only rhetorically short of supporting an uprising by the Iranian people. -Robin Wright, New Yorker 5/22/18

Iranian Factory Workers Resume Blockade of Key Railway Line - Iranian factory workers have resumed a blockade of the country's main north-south railway line as part of a protest against labor conditions in a western Iranian city. Iranian social media users said the workers of the HEPCO industrial complex in Arak blocked the railway line that runs along its perimeter on Monday. The HEPCO workers had removed the barricades five days earlier while also warning they would be reinstated if authorities did not accept their demands. 5/22/18

The Myth of a Better Deal - From imaginary weapons of mass destruction to fantastical currency unions, "magical thinking" in foreign policy leads to nothing but catastrophe. Let's not do the same with Iran. -Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy 5/22/18

Eleven Killed, Hundreds Sick In Iran After Mushroom Poisoning - More than 800 people have been poisoned after eating toxic wild mushrooms across western Iran, local media report. A Health Ministry official said on May 21 that that the effects of the fungi had killed 11 people so far, Tasnim news agency reported. 5/22/18

Fire And Folly: What Trump's Violation Of The Nuclear Deal Means For Iran - Instagram took an unexpected turn earlier this month when the office of the Iranian Supreme Leader released a picture of Ali Khamenei flipping through Fire and Fury while on a visit to the Tehran International Book Fair, proof that reality circa 2018 continues to be stranger than fiction. -Shervin Malekzadeh, LobeLog 5/22/18

Despite Fatwa, Transgender People in Iran Face Harassment - Of Iran's 80 million people, estimates suggest under 50,000 are transgender, meaning their gender identity does not match the sex or gender they were identified as having at birth. Like in other parts of the world, they can face harassment. -AP 5/22/18

Kazakhstan's Yeslyamova, Iran's Panahi Among Winners At Cannes Film Festival - At the awards ceremony on May 19, the prize for best screenplay was split between Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi's script for Three Faces and Italian director Alice Rohrwacher's Happy as Lazzaro. The film by Panahi, who is banned from leaving Iran, premiered to a standing ovation at the festival where it was screened on May 12. 5/21/18

Yupa: Iran national football teams' mascot unveiled - Yupa, the mascot of the Iranian national football teams, was unveiled ahead of the friendly match between Iran and Uzbekistan. The word 'Yupa' is derived from the Persian word 'Yuzpalang' means cheetah and 'Tizpa' means fast. Yupa has put a Pahlavani wristband on its right hand which is an Iranian symbol and has worn a captain's armband on its left arm. 5/21/18

Iran: EU Not Doing Enough to Support Nuclear Deal - Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday that Europe's political support to save the 2015 international nuclear accord after the U.S. withdrawal was not sufficient if too many European companies end their investments in Iran. "The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated," Zarif said after meeting with European Union energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. 5/21/18

Iranian MP Accuses Khamenei's Representative of Fueling Unrest in Kazeroon - While clashes between riot police and angry demonstrators continue in the Southwestern city of Kazeroon near Shiraz, local officials blame each other for the unrest that has claimed at least two lives according to official figures. Vehemently defending the plan to divide the ancient city of Kazeroon, its representative to parliament has accused the local Friday Prayer leader of "provoking people to rebellion." -Radio Farda 5/21/18

Rival Camps In Iran Point Fingers Over JCPOA Failure - The saber-rattling over the decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, has intensified between the two rival camps in Iran. -Radio Farda 5/21/18

Mike Pompeo Promises To 'Crush' Iran And Achieve A Better Deal - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday presented a lengthy list of grievances against the Iranian government and vowed to forge a new, better nuclear agreement -- but he offered few details on how the United States would accomplish that goal without support from European allies, Russia or China. -Huffington Post 5/21/18

Three Million Iranians Have Organ Donor Cards - Some three million Iranians have organ donor cards and some 10 percent have signed online consent forms for organ donation, Farahnaz Sadeq-Beigi, head of organ procurement program in Masih Daneshvari Hospital, a national research institute for tuberculosis and lung diseases, has said. 5/21/18

EU Vows To Stick To Iran Nuclear Deal If Tehran Complies - The European Union will remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal as long as Tehran continues to adhere to the landmark 2015 accord easing sanctions in exchange for curbs on its atomic program, the EU's top energy official said on May 19. 5/19/18

EU to make direct oil payments to Iran to bypass US sanctions - A plan by the European Union to make direct oil payments to Iran after the US re-imposes sanctions against the country is seen to risk the start of a trade war between Europe and the United States. The plan - which was unveiled on Friday - envisages Euro payments to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) for oil purchased by EU member states. It would be part of a package of measures adopted by the EU to save the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran after US President Donald Trump said he would take America out of it. 5/19/18

Iran's President Rohani Calls On Muslim World To Cut Ties With Israel, Curb Ties With U.S. - At a summit of Muslim countries convened by Turkey in Istanbul on May 18, Rohani said "if Israel faces a united front of Islamic nations, it will never be able to continue its crimes," Rohani said. He said a "new and young generation of Palestinians is aware of their rights and has no intention to withdraw or compromise." It was a rare show of unity between Shi'a-ruled Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations 5/19/18

Pompeo Asks U.S. Allies' To Help Push Iran Back To Negotiation Table - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing a "diplomatic road map" on Iran that will call for European and other allies to help force Tehran back to the negotiating table after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal, a U.S. official says. 5/19/18

Obsession With Iran Destabilizes The Middle East - The Trump administration has used rolling back Iran's "malign" influence in the Middle East as a mantra to justify its aggressive approach to the country. The US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is couched in the language of denying Iran benefits it allegedly uses for "destabilizing activities in the region." -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog 5/19/18

Video of Assault on Iranian Dog Walker Draws Outrage - A video clip filmed by Iranian man who says another man punched him for walking a dog in Tehran in violation of Islamist rules has sparked outrage from Iranian social media users. The man who shot the phone video sent it to Masih Alinejad, the freelance host of VOA Persian's Tablet program, Thursday and said the incident happened earlier in the day in Tehran's Ab-o-Atash park. -Michael Lipin, VOA 5/19/18

Did Trump Galvanize Europe Over The Iran Deal? - When Donald Trump decided to violate the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) all eyes fell on Europe. Would the European Union be able to salvage the deal and create the political space for Iran to maintain its commitments under it? -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog 5/19/18

NYC's Premier Farsi Funk Band, Mitra Sumara, Announces New Album TAHDIG - Mitra Sumara, New York City's only Farsi Funk group, is proud to announce their debut album Tahdig, set for release on June 8, 2018 on Persian Cardinal Recordings. This international party band revives the vibrant Persian pop and funk music silenced by the Iranian Revolution. The popular music of Iran in the 60s and 70s combined disco, funk, and Latin beats with Middle Eastern melodies and poetic lyrics. Mitra Sumara interprets hits by Iran's beloved singers such as Googoosh, Soli, Leila Forouhar, and remakes intoxicating Southern Iranian Bandari beat tunes. 5/18/18

Iran Signs Oil Deal With British Group, First Since U.S. Resumed Sanctions - Iran has signed an agreement with a British consortium to develop an oil field, in the first such deal with a Western firm since Washington announced it would exit the nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran. The National Iranian South Oil Company signed an agreement with the London-based Pergas consortium to produce 655 million barrels of oil from the Keranj field in southwestern Iran in the next 10 years, Iran's Oil Ministry said on May 17 through its Shana news service. 5/18/18

Local Police in South Iran Accused of Killing Two Protesters - At least two people are suspected to have been killed and several wounded after police in the south-western Iranian city of Kazeroon opened fire on a crowd in front of a police station where their relatives were detained for protesting the planned partition of the city, a resident told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 17, 2018. 5/18/18

President Trump And Iran Have Set Europe A Stiff Challenge - President Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran had been predictable for nearly four months. On 12 January he had set conditions for remaining a party to the deal that were bound to be unacceptable to Iran. He had also bared his (characteristic) belief that he could get a better deal by scrapping the JCPOA and subjecting Iran to crippling sanctions. Less predictable was Iran's response to the decision. -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog 5/18/18

Iranian Canadian's Widow Maryam Mombeini Hospitalized Two Months After Being Banned From Leaving Iran - The wife of an Iranian Canadian academic who died in Iranian custody under suspicious circumstances in February 2018 was hospitalized for three days after exhibiting symptoms of a nervous breakdown. "My mother had been in Pars Hospital for three days because of stress and psychological pressures caused by loneliness, depression and stress," Mehran Seyed-Emami told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 16, 2018. 5/18/18

Hamstrung By The U.S., Iran Tilts East For Trade Opportunities - Facing renewed economic sanctions from the United States and the possible knock-on collapse of its business dealings with Europe, Iran is looking to Russia and China to expand trade. And Moscow and Beijing, embroiled in their own economic disputes with Washington, are well-positioned to oblige. -Frud Bezhan, RFE/RL 5/18/18

Thus Begins The Bolton Administration - For a man with a reputation for venting spleen and flying off the handle, John Bolton bided his time before finally rising to the position of power he now occupies. The former U.S. ambassador to the UN spent much of the last decade consolidating his political base through stints at right-wing institutes like the American Enterprise Institute, media appearances on Fox, and the occasional reckless op-ed. -John Feffer, LobeLog 5/18/18

They Want War With Iran, They're Settling For Economic War - On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Valiollah Seif, governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist," accusing him of moving " millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hezbollah." OFAC's move opened a new front in the Trump administration's accelerating conflict with Iran. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj 5/17/18

With $1 million gift from Farhang Foundation, UCLA plans to create new minor in Iranian music - The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music will begin the process of establishing an academic minor in Iranian music with a generous $1 million gift from Farhang Foundation. A signing ceremony on April 27 at UCLA commemorated the gift. 5/17/18

EU's Tusk Hits Out At Trump's 'Capricious' Policies Amid Iran Split, Trade Dispute - European Council President Donald Tusk has slammed "the capricious assertiveness" of the United States under President Donald Trump, who he said has "rid Europe of all illusions." Tusk made the comments on May 16 in Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, before an EU summit where the U.S. decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and the threat to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel products will be discussed. 5/17/18

Iran: Little Progress to Show UN on Disability Rights - Iran is facing a looming deadline to present its response to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) a year after the UN body gave the Iranian government three recommendations for upholding and protecting the rights of the country's disabilities community. 5/17/18

Violent Protest 'Leaves At Least One Dead' In Kazeroon, Southern Iran - A violent protest in the city of Kazeroon in southwestern Iran has left at least one person dead and six others injured, Iranian media report. Esmail Tabadar, the governor of the province of Fars, where Kazeroon is located, confirmed the death of one protester in a May 17 interview with the semiofficial ISNA news agency. 5/17/18

Iranian Starts Blocking Internet Filtering Circumvention Tools - Iran's Information and Communication Technology Minister announced that based on an order issued by the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, his ministry has started blocking anti-filtering programs or internet filtering circumvention tools, as they are known. 5/17/18

EU Hardens Against Trump With United Stand on Trade and Iran - European Union leaders presented a determined front to stand up to U.S. President Donald Trump's threats to penalize EU businesses and scupper the Iran nuclear deal. As the bloc paved the way for retaliation, its 28 leaders meeting in the Bulgarian capital Sofia made a rare demonstration of unity in the face of what EU President Donald Tusk called the "capricious assertiveness" of the Trump administration. -Bloomberg 5/17/18

Instead Of Adding Onto Iran Sanctions, Europe Should Prevent Disaster - President Trump's decision last week to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal confirmed the worst fears of European leaders, who had pleaded to the president not to scrap the laboriously negotiated arms control agreement. -Sina Azodi and Tytti Erasto, LobeLog 5/17/18

Battle For Iranian Oil Industry Takes Shape, As Some Europeans Pull Out While Others Move In - Just as French oil major Total announced it was likely to pull out of Iran, a UK-based consortium has signed a deal which could pave the way for a ten-year commitment to the country. -Dominic Dudley, Forbes 5/17/18

After The Iran Deal Pullout: Whose Plan B? - Much has been written about what comes next after the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). So far, this is guesswork. As many have observed, the administration itself has divulged no strategy going forward, probably because there is none. -Dan Sisken, LobeLog 5/17/18

New US Sanctions Will Make Iranians Sicker - Sanctions against Iran are almost as old as I am. I was born in early 1980, and international sanctions against Iran began during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s as most global and regional powers supported Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in his invasion of the country. My father was injured and exposed to chemical weapons during that war, and as a result suffered from Parkinson's disease later in life. -Fariba Pajooh 5/16/18

EU's Tough Choice: Analysts Say Staying In Iran Deal Is An Option If... - European officials eager to salvage 2-year-old nuclear curbs on Iran are said to be exploring ways to ensure Tehran's continued participation following the U.S. decision to abandon the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), under which Tehran limited sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 5/16/18

US Blacklisting Of Iran's Central Bank Chief Meant To Derail Nuclear Deal Talks: Tehran - Tehran has strongly condemned Washington for imposing sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran's chief over a week after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, saying such moves are meant to derail the ongoing negotiations to save the now six-party agreement. 5/16/18

European Leaders To Discuss Ways To Shield Firms From U.S. Sanctions On Iran - European Union leaders at a summit in Sofia are expected to discuss measures that the bloc might take to shield European companies from renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran. EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said on May 15 that European commissioners will first discuss whether the EU's 1990s-era sanctions-blocking measures can be used to protect European business interests in Iran before leaders at the summit take up the matter. 5/16/18

Iran Deal: Will Europe Rise To The Occasion? - This week will see a flurry of activity in the European Union designed to save the nuclear deal with Iran, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). After President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement, all eyes are now on Europe: will it be able to deliver enough incentives to Iran to continue being part of the deal? -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog 5/16/18

"You Know What Your Problem Is:" Young Man Expelled From Iranian University For His Baha'i Faith - A young man has been expelled from the University of Gilan in northern Iran because of his Baha'i faith in another example of Iranian universities discriminating against students for their religious beliefs without consequences. 5/16/18

Merkel: Germany Remains Committed To Iran Nuclear Deal - Canceling a nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran would be wrong, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, adding that the U.S. withdrawal from the deal was among several pieces of "troubling news" that had occurred recently. 5/16/18

Selling Planes To Iran Could Have Saved Lives. Exiting The Nuclear Deal Will Make That Harder. - On a Sunday morning in February, a twin-engine turboprop passenger plane crashed in Iran's Zagros Mountains. All 65 passengers and crew members were killed. The plane, an ATR 72, had been flying for nearly 25 years, about 10 years longer than the average U.S. aircraft is kept in service. -Jessica Schulberg, Huffington Post 5/16/18

European firms jump the gun on Iran sanctions - Global companies have begun to take stock of how President Donald Trump's decision to exit the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran is going to affect overall business with Iran. -Press TV 5/16/18

Iraqi Kurds look to open new chapter with Iran - Iraqi Kurds are opening a new chapter in their relations with Iran, seven months after Tehran sided with Baghdad in crushing their ambition for independence following a 2017 referendum in which nearly 93% of Kurds opted to secede from Iraq. -Fazel Hawramy, Al Monitor 5/16/18

The Danger Of Process-Free Foreign Policy - The disturbing parallels between Donald Trump's policy toward Iran and the run-up to the disastrous U.S. offensive war against Iraq keep piling up. There is a drumbeat of belligerent rhetoric, with no limit to what the targeted country gets accused of doing. There is a highly selective, tendentious public use of intelligence, including presentations either to the United Nations or from an ambassador to the United Nations. There are even some of the same people, including John Bolton, who still says that the Iraq War was a good thing, who has made no secret of welcoming a war with Iran, and who today is Trump's national security advisor. -Paul Pillar 5/15/18

Iran's Zarif Hails 'Constructive Meeting' With EU On Nuclear Deal - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed as "very good and constructive" the meeting he had on May 15 in Brussels with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. Zarif was in Brussels on the final stop of a global tour aimed at rallying support for a landmark 2015 nuclear between Tehran and six world powers in the wake of Washington's withdrawal from the deal. 5/15/18

Enraged Workers Block Iran's North-South Railway - Workers from the Hepco industrial complex in the central city of Arak blocked and disrupted the Iran North-South railway for several hours on May 14, demanding overdue wages and protesting conditions at their factory. Hundreds of Hepco workers have not been paid for three months, state-run news agencies ILNA and IRNA reported. -Radio Farda 5/15/18

Iran: Baha'i Leader's 10-Year Prison Sentence Extended Despite Judicial Ruling That He Is Too Ill to Be Incarcerated - Afif Naeimi, the seventh and last imprisoned member of Baha'i leaders in Iran known as the Yaran, returned to Rajaee Shahr Prison near Tehran on April 23, 2018, at the end of his medical leave despite suffering from life-threatening ailments. His wife Shahla Khalaji informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on May 1 that the judiciary's own medical experts had ruled that the 57-year-old is too ill to be incarcerated. 5/15/18

Iran's Central Bank Sets Strict Limits On Cash Leaving Country Amid Currency Crisis - A new directive issued by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has set strict limits on the amount of foreign cash travelers can take with them out of the country amid a deepening currency crisis. According to the new directive published on CBI's website May 13, travelers leaving Iran by air are only allowed to carry 5000 euros ($5,980) or its equivalent in other foreign currencies. This is half the amount of foreign currency travelers could take with them before the new directive was issued. 5/15/18

Ivanka Trump Opens U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem During Israeli Massacre of Palestinians in Gaza - IN A GRAPHIC demonstration of disregard for the lives and rights of Palestinians, a smiling Ivanka Trump welcomed Israeli dignitaries to the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, while, just 60 miles away in Gaza, Israel's armed forces shot hundreds of Palestinian protesters, killing at least 60. -Robert Mackey, The Intercept 5/15/18

What's Next? The Human Impact of the JCPOA Fallout - On a call with my cousin who lives in Tehran, we agonized over the aftermath of President Trump's devastating decision to pull the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The lead up to Tuesday's abrupt pull out prompted steep price hikes caused by the plummeting value of the Iranian currency. -Leila Austin, Medium 5/15/18

Trump's Sanctions Will Hurt Iran, But How Much? - After Trump made his decision, the burden of preserving the JCPOA without U.S. participation seems to have fallen to Europe. Already European leaders have engaged in a flurry of activity to entice Iran to remain party to the JCPOA despite the resumption of U.S. sanctions. -Derek Davison, LobeLog 5/15/18

Is GOP Mideast Policy "Bought And Paid For" By Likudist Republican Group? - Mega-billionaire and the Trump campaign's single biggest donor Sheldon Adelson has pledged to contribute $30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) Super PAC to defend the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 election cycle. Having already influenced Trump's policy on the Middle East, what more does Adelson expect to receive in return for his investment? -Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton, LobeLog 5/15/18

Media Debate Best Way to Dominate Iran - The debate in the New York Times and Washington Post over President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran deal, revolves around which tactics America should use to dominate Iran. -Gregory Shupak, FAIR 5/15/18

U.S. Security Adviser John Bolton: Washington Not Pushing Iran 'Regime Change' - White House national security adviser John Bolton says "regime change" in Iran is not currently part of the administration's policy, despite his past suggestions that the United States should push for a new government in Tehran. 5/14/18

Shaparak Shajarizadeh Twice Arrested For Allegedly Removing Her Headscarf in Public in Iran - Shaparak Shajarizadeh has been arrested again for allegedly allowing her hair to show in public in Iran. Her lawyer, prominent human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh, called the ongoing arrests of Iranian women for allegedly violating the country's compulsory hijab rule a "manifestation of violence against women." 5/14/18

Tehran City Council Elects New Reformist Mayor - Tehran City Council members elected Mohammad Ali Afshani as the new mayor of the Iranian capital May 13, after his predecessor resigned last month amid controversy. Afshani won by 19 votes, while his main challenger, Acting Mayor Sami'ollah Hossaini Makaram, garnered only one vote. 5/14/18

Despite Facing Prison, Iranian Rights Lawyer Mohammad Najafi Still Seeking Justice For Deceased Detainee - Mohammad Najafi, a human rights lawyer facing years behind bars in Iran for publicly arguing that local police tried to conceal the cause of a detainee's death, says he is determined to continue seeking justice for the victim. "I will follow up on Vahid Heydari's case within the framework of the law and if his family wants me to represent them, I will do so and defend their rights to the fullest without the slightest hesitation," Najafi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran on May 6, 2018. 5/14/18

Israeli Forces Kill Dozens Of Palestinians As Protests Intensify Over U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem - Israeli troops killed dozens of Palestinians who were taking part in mass protests on the Gaza border on Monday as the United States opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem. On the Gaza border, at least 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire in the latest in a round of protests dubbed the "Great March of Return", health officials said. -Reuters 5/14/18

Out of Iran deal, into war? Either way, Netanyahu's popularity soars - Netanyahu appears to have inoculated himself against looming corruption charges due to the dramatic developments on the security front. As war with Iran looms, why does the old formula work so well? -Dahlia Scheindlin, 972 Magazine 5/14/18

Saudi Arabia Versus Iran On The Football Pitch - Saudi Arabia's bitter rivalry with Iran has spilled onto Asian soccer pitches with the newly created South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) reflecting the kingdom's bid for regional hegemony, including domination of soccer. -James M. Dorsey, LobeLog 5/14/18

AFC Women's Futsal Championship: Iran champions again! - The Iran women's national futsal team has vigorously ended its campaign at the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Futsal Championship, and defended its title as the champion of the continental tournament. The Iranian sportswomen defeated the Japanese outfit 5-2 in the final showdown of the event at Indoor Stadium Huamark in the Thai capital city of Bangkok. 5/13/18

Banned Iranian Director Jafar Panahi Gets Standing Ovation At Cannes Film Festival - A new film by Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who is banned from leaving Iran, has premiered to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival. Panahi's children and the cast of his film Three Faces were welcomed with thunderous applause as they arrived for the gala screening late on May 12, where one seat was left symbolically empty for the dissident director. 5/13/18

Europeans Move To Protect Firms From Renewed U.S. Sanctions On Iran - European nations are moving to protect their companies from a resumption of stiff U.S. sanctions on firms doing business in Iran, in a critical part of their bid to keep the Iranian nuclear deal alive and ensure it continues to benefit Iran's economy. 5/13/18

Iranian Teachers Jailed, Shackled After Peaceful Protest - Iranian human rights activists say several teachers arrested for staging a protest in Tehran have been sent to the city's Evin prison, known for its jailing of political dissidents under harsh conditions. The activists said the teachers were jailed at Evin after participating in a peaceful demonstration Thursday outside the Iranian government's planning and budget office building in Tehran. -Michael Lipin, VOA 5/13/18

President Rouhani Orders Talks With JCPOA Partners To 'Guarantee' Iran's Interests - Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has assigned his foreign minister to review the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), through direct talks with his British, Chinese, French, German and Russian counterparts. 5/13/18

Iran Deal: When The Tumult And The Shouting Dies - Shakespeare said that "old men forget." And so, it seems, do societies. Fifteen years ago, a US administration, from the president through his top aides, lied the nation into invading Iraq, and the region and the world still suffer the consequences. Thousands of Americans died along with hundreds of thousands of local peoples in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere as a direct consequence. The financial cost to the United States has been measured in the trillions. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog 5/13/18

Iranian Court Sentences Eight To Death Over IS Attacks - An Iranian court has sentenced eight men to death in connection with terrorist attacks by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group that killed 18 people at the parliament and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum. The sentences were issued on May 13 by the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran. 5/13/18

WHY OPT FOR PEACE WHEN MAYHEM AND WAR SERVE US SO WELL? Instability and War Make for Good Business! - So, the President has officially pulled the United States out of the Iran Nuclear deal, just as he had promised to do during his campaign for presidency. Trump, just as the crowd of his diehard supporters, has no clue about diplomacy, global affairs or even a clear picture of world geography, but he has been and continues to behave as a cut-throat, anything-goes, businessman. -Kambiz Zarrabi 5/11/18

Narrative On Iran Defective At Its Core - President Trump's withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) comes as the culmination of years of flawed conversations about Iran's involvement in the Middle East. Yesterday, he stated that the deal was "defective at its core." In reality, the actual core defect lies in the political narrative on Iran in the United States, which predictably has resulted in the failure of the nuclear deal. -Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, LobeLog 5/11/18

Traders Look To Replace Iranian Crude Oil As Sanctions Loom Again - Buyers of Iran's crude oil are winding down their business with the Islamic Republic after U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimpose sanctions. 5/11/18

800 Iranian Environmentalists Call on President Rouhani to Uphold the Rights of Detained Colleagues - President Hassan Rouhani has not responded to a letter by 800 Iranian environmentalists demanding clarification on the "fate" of fellow environments who have been detained in Iran with extremely limited access to counsel for the past three to four months. "As you are aware, it has been close to 90 days since 13 environmental experts and wildlife activists were detained by security agencies in Iran amidst the broadcast and publication of several unsubstantiated and questionable television and newspaper reports," said the environmentalists in a letter sent to the president on April 2, 2018. 5/10/18

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last updated on Thu May 24 12:57:25 EDT 2018