Ordibehesht 22 1400 - May 12 2021
Ending sanctions may boost Iran's moderates in upcoming elections

Iran's presidential elections will be held on June 18 2021. Many speculate that the number of voters will be drastically smaller than in the 2017 elections, when voting by 73 percent of the eligible voters gave President Hassan Rouhani a landslide victory over his main hardline opponent, the Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi. -Muhammad Sahimi, Responsible Statecraft 5/12/21

Iran: UN experts welcome release of Arash Sadeghi

UN human rights experts* welcomed the release of Iranian human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who was released from Raja'i Shahr Prison this month after five-and-a-half years in detention. Mr. Sadeghi received prison sentences totalling 15 years by a Revolutionary Court on multiple charges, including publishing "lies in cyberspace", "propaganda against the system" and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. -OHCHR 5/12/21

Iran attacked: Is Revolutionary Guard looking the wrong way?

At a moment when Israeli agents and its allied operatives appear to regularly penetrate Iran and freely target its nuclear program, the episode highlights the fixation of the IRGC's intelligence branch instead on domestic activists and dual citizens it accuses of espionage, providing a window into its threat priorities. -Scott Peterson, CSM 5/12/21

Women can run for president in Iran: Member of Constitutional Council

A legal jurist sitting on Iran's Constitutional Council says there is no prohibition on women contesting presidential elections, amid a long-running debate on what the Constitution's text implies for female figures and as the June 18 presidential vote draws near. The Council is yet to offer a binding constitutional interpretation on the matter. Earlier this week, it released a new interpretation of the Constitution aimed at clarifying the criteria for presidential candidates, but the issue was not directly addressed. -Press TV 5/12/21

Biden Administration Reportedly Blocking UN Cease-Fire Statement as Israel Bombards Gaza

As the Biden administration stands in the way of the U.N. Security Council statement, Israel is reportedly refusing to accept a cease-fire offer proposed by the U.N. and Egypt as the Netanyahu regime ramped up its bombardment of Gaza, killing civilians-including children-and destroying residential buildings in what observers are calling blatant war crimes. -Common Dreams 5/12/21

FM says Iran ready for closer ties with rival Saudi Arabia

Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country is ready for closer ties with its regional rival Saudi Arabia, adding that he hoped recent talks between the two sides would lead to greater stability in the region. Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking in Damascus after a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. -AP 5/12/21

Horrific Killing Of Young Gay Man Puts Plight Of Iran's LGBT Community In Spotlight

His name was Alireza Fazeli Monfared and he was only 20 years old. Fazeli Monfared was homosexual and due to the difficulties he faced because of his sexual orientation, was about to flee his native Iran for Turkey. But he was reportedly killed by his family members before he could leave the southwestern province of Khuzestan after they accused him of dishonoring the family. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE 5/12/21

Why Are U.S. Navy Warships And Coast Guard Boats Anywhere Near Iran?

The question that context should raise in Washington is this: Why risk these close calls at all? Why put U.S. troops in harm's way for no clear benefit? Why chance upsetting the indirect U.S.-Iran nuclear talks finally underway in Europe? (And why, by the way, is our Coast Guard operating halfway across the planet from the American coast and just a few miles from the coast of Iran?) -Bonnie Kristian, 1945 5/12/21

EU companies could face legal action over Iran contracts

European companies doing business with Iran could face legal troubles if they have terminated their contracts with Iranian banks or firms solely because of fears about possible U.S. sanctions, according to a legal opinion handed down Wednesday by a top EU court advisor. The case centers around then President Donald Trump's 2018 decision to unilaterally pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement. -AP 5/12/21

UN watchdog: Iran has enriched uranium to highest purity yet

Iran has enriched uranium to slightly higher purity than previously thought due to "fluctuations" in the process, the United Nations' atomic watchdog said Wednesday. The report underscores the challenges diplomats face in ongoing talks, that began in April, to bring the United States back into the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which is supported by U.S. President Joe Biden. -AP 5/12/21

50+ DNC Leaders Urge Biden to Lift Sanctions and Rejoin Iran Nuclear Deal

After weeks of negotiations in Europe, more than 50 members of the Democratic National Committee and state party leaders sent a letter Monday urging U.S. President Joe Biden to scrap his predecessor's economic sanctions against Iran and return to the nuclear deal that was reached in 2015. -Common Dreams 5/11/21

Protecting Afghan women's rights after US troops withdraw

Afghan women are understandably anxious about their future after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a concern underscored by an attack on a high school for girls near Kabul on Saturday. Women made huge leaps in the rights and opportunities they enjoy under the protection of international forces since 2001, particularly in education and the workforce. Given the Taliban's terrible record of repressing women, combined with the impending withdrawal of U.S. troops, activists fear women's rights will decline rapidly in Afghanistan and become an afterthought in U.S. foreign policy. -Nazila Jamshidi, Responsible Statecraft 5/11/21

"Unbearable": Reza Khandan, Husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, on the Ground in Iran's Qarchak Prison

The little girl is three years old. She approaches my wife Nasrin Sotoudeh who is sitting in a corner of the prison yard and asks, "Aunty, can you tell me the Rolling Pumpkin story?" Sonbol is a beautiful girl with golden hair, born here at Qarchak prison. Her mother was pregnant when she was arrested for bank robbery. Now they live in a place the inmates call "the end of the world." -Reza Khandan, Ms. Magazine 5/11/21

Hassan Rouhani criticises Iranian election criteria

Iran's outgoing president has criticised a sudden narrowing of the eligibility criteria for those hoping to succeed him as registration formally opened for candidates in the 18 June vote. Dissidents and critics claim the campaign is just a charade and helps provide legitimacy to an autocratic regime but the tensions over who can stand - and the move by a powerful unelected body to exert greater control - has revealed the tensions in Iranian society over the outcome. -Patrick Wintour, Guardian 5/11/21

The Salesman: Arthur Miller's American classic reframed in Iran

At the start of Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller devotes a full page of notes to describe the house where the long-married Willy and Linda Loman live in New York. It is, he writes, a "small, fragile-seeming home". In his 2016 film The Salesman, Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi cranks up that symbolism. When we first meet the central couple, amateur-theatre actors Emad and Rana Etesami (played by Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti), their flat in Tehran is crumbling around them. -Chris Wiegand, Guardian 5/11/21

Registration opens for hopefuls in Iran's presidential vote

Iran opened registration Tuesday for potential candidates in the country's June presidential election, kicking off the race as uncertainty looms over Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers and tensions remain high with the West. President Hassan Rouhani can't run again due to term limits, yet with the poll just a month away no immediate favorite has emerged among the many rumored candidates. -AP 5/11/21

Sheikh Jarrah: Clashes, scuffles, conflict - western media's euphemisms for Israel's violence

Let's imagine some creative wartime reporting: "On April 26, 1937, the inhabitants of the Basque town of Guernica 'clashed' with German warplanes dropping high explosives and incendiary bombs. The town was pulverised in the course of the 'scuffle', and up to 1600 people perished". Obviously, the above lines would never be written by any non-delusional person, since the nature of the power relationship between human bodies on the one hand and bomb-spewing airborne monstrosities on the other is quite clear. -Belen Fernandez, MEE 5/11/21

Joint Letter: Biden Admin Urged to Prioritize Iranian Human Rights Concerns

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to prioritize human rights as you shape your administration's foreign policy toward Iran. As the United States works to return to JCPOA, we hope that you will make good on your pledge to put human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Efforts to seek improvements in Iran's egregious human rights record should take place parallel to negotiations on security matters, recognizing fully that U.S. national security interests cannot be met if the human security of the Iranian people is left unaddressed. -CHRI 5/11/21

Iran rejects US claim that speedboats sparked encounter

Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday rejected the U.S. Navy's claim that fast-approaching Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz sparked a tense encounter in the already sensitive region. The Guard's website, sepahnews.com, published a statement Tuesday saying Americans were guilty of using "false narratives and unprofessional behavior" and should more strictly "abide by international regulations." -AP 5/11/21

Democrats Are Calling on Biden to Renew Diplomacy With Iran

More than 50 Democratic National Committee members and party leaders, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and California Representative Barbara Lee, are calling on President Joe Biden to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and lift the aggressive Trump-era sanctions on the country. The letter, which was organized by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and sent to Biden on Monday, is the first political letter DNC members and other state officials have sent to the administration about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -Nation 5/10/21

The one that gets away: Joe Biden's jaded romance with Iran

For four decades, Biden has remained hopeful that the U.S. and Iran could find some common ground. Now might really be the last chance. -Nahal Toosi, Politico 5/10/21

U.S. and Iran Want to Restore the Nuclear Deal. They Disagree Deeply on What That Means.

President Biden and Iran's leaders say they share a common goal: They both want to re-enter the nuclear deal that President Donald J. Trump scrapped three years ago, restoring the bargain that Iran would keep sharp limits on its production of nuclear fuel in return for a lifting of sanctions that have choked its economy. But after five weeks of shadow boxing in Vienna hotel rooms it has become clear that the old deal, strictly defined, does not work for either of them anymore, at least in the long run. -New York Times 5/10/21

Afghans Grieve After 68 Killed, 165 Injured in School Bombing

Dozens of Afghan families held funerals Sunday, a day after three bombs were detonated outside a school in Kabul, killing at least 68 people and injuring another 165 victims in an act of violence that one survivor suggested was carried out by those who don't want girls "to study and get educated and move forward." -Common Dreams 5/10/21

Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2020

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that three imprisoned Iranian journalists who have almost certainly caught Covid-19 - Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi and Kayvan Samimi Behbahani- are being denied appropriate medical attention. They must be freed at once, RSF says... Photojournalist and women's rights activist, Raha Askarizadeh was informed in early March that her sentence of two years in prison plus two years of ban on leaving the country and social media activity had been confirmed... -RSF 5/10/21

Iranian plateau in Pleistocene: a bridge between East and West

A new study reinforces a hypothesis that the Iranian plateau was like a bridge between East and West during the Pleistocene epoch, which began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. In an article published in the International Research Journal of Modernization in Engineering Technology and Science (IRJMETS) in April 2021, Iranian researchers Mohsen Zeidi, Cyrus Barfi, and Shahram Zare concluded that the Iranian plateau served as a human migratory pathway in the Pleistocene. -Afshin Majlesi, Tehran Times 5/10/21

Hundreds of Palestinians Protesting Evictions in Jerusalem Injured in 'State-Sanctioned Campaign of Israeli Violence'

"What's happening in Jerusalem and Palestine more broadly is not a 'clash' or a 'scuffle,' but a state-sanctioned campaign of Israeli violence against Palestinians," the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) said Saturday. "To pretend otherwise is to minimize the horrors we are witnessing." -The IMEU on Friday said that "Israel's violence has a clear purpose: ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of Palestinians to allow Israeli settlers to take over Palestinian homes." -Kenny Stancil, Common Dreams 5/10/21

Iranian Prison Flooded With Books After Call By Jailed Sufi Booklover

In a recent letter from prison, Iranian dervish Mohammad Sharifi Moghadami asked his countrymen, including writers and publishers, to send books to Iran's largest detention facility. Within days of its circulation, some 7,000 books had arrived at Great Tehran Penitentiary, also known as Fashafouyeh Prison, from every corner of the country, including the northern city of Rasht and the southwestern city of Abadan. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL 5/10/21

Iran protests Iraq over raid on diplomatic site

Iran's foreign ministry said Monday it "strongly condemns" Iraq's raid on Tehran's consulate in Karbala over the killing of a prominent activist. Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh Monday told reporters that Iran late Sunday handed over a "letter of protest" to the Iraqi embassy in Tehran and urged the neighboring Arab nations to pursue the case under international conventions. -AP 5/10/21

Photos: Dedicated Iranian teacher holds classes on prairies during pandemic

Kolsoom Faqiri, 39, is a teacher who works in an elementary school in Chaharchenar village, suburb of Gorgan, the capital of northern Golestan province in Iran. Since the outbreak of coronavirus and despite suffering from heart disease, Faqiri has held classes on vast plains and prairies near her house on a regular basis. This dedicated teacher is standing on her feet for long hours, against the advice of physicians, since her students cannot afford buying smartphones or tablets to attend classes online. 5/7/21

#31DaysIBPOC: In Pursuit of Asymmetry and the Collective

The Persian kilim rug where I sit cross-legged with my toddler each morning is handwoven and colored with vegetable dyes in Shiraz, where my mother is from, where the dusty Zagros mountains tower above her childhood memories. Years ago, this kilim was folded thrice and smashed into a battered suitcase, lugged across three continents from plane to plane amid pouches of spice mix my great-aunt blends in her sweltering Bahraini kitchen. The artifacts we keep tell a story. -Nawal Qcasiano, NQC Literacy 5/7/21

'Moment of truth': talks on salvaging Iran nuclear deal to resume

High-stakes talks to salvage the Iran nuclear deal with potentially profound implications for the Middle East will resume on Friday, in what the French foreign minister has called a "moment of truth" for relations between the west and Tehran. The fourth round of talks have the capacity not just to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation in Iran, but propel Saudi Arabia and Iran towards softening a rivalry that has darkened and destabilised the region's politics for a decade. -Guardian 5/7/21

US weighs unfreezing $1 billion in Iranian funds

The Biden administration is weighing unfreezing $1 billion in Iranian funds that the country could use for humanitarian relief, amid the negotiations for the US to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal and bring Iran back into compliance with its terms. It is not clear whether the release of the funds would occur unilaterally, but one line of thought is that it could serve as a useful goodwill gesture to Tehran, according to three people briefed on the internal deliberations... -CNN 5/7/21

Is Iran's economy really sinking?

News of progress in indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna has raised anxiety among the nuclear deal's opponents both in Washington and in Tehran. They fear that getting back to the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) too quickly is bad for their side and are therefore urging their respective governments to abandon the talks. Curiously, both sides base their arguments on the state of Iran's economy. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Responsible Statecraft 5/7/21

US says fate of nuclear pact up to Iran as talks resume

The Biden administration is signaling that Iran shouldn't expect major new concessions from the United States as a new round of indirect nuclear talks is set to resume. A senior administration official told reporters Thursday that the U.S. has laid out the concessions it's prepared to make in order to rejoin the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. The official said success or failure now depends on Iran making the political decision to accept those concessions and to return to compliance with the accord. -AP 5/7/21

'Epic Iran' exhibition launches in London despite sanctions setbacks

Epic Iran is described by London's Victoria and Albert Museum as the first UK show in nearly a century to take on "an overarching narrative" spanning 5,000 years of Iranian art, design and culture. It ranges from ancient treasures to leaves of illuminated manuscripts of the Shahnameh, or Book of Kings, to Iranian modern and contemporary art. But continuing sanctions and global events - since the Covid crisis broke in March 2020 - mean that Epic Iran will have no loans from Iran itself of precious objects to show London audiences, organisers have confirmed. -Tim Cornwell, MEE 5/7/21

VOA Names New Persian Language Division Director

The Voice of America, a U.S. government-funded news organization, has promoted Leili Soltani to director of its Persian language division, one of VOA's largest news services. An experienced multimedia journalist, Soltani has held on-air, production, and executive roles at VOA. Most recently, Soltani was VOA Persian's Supervising Executive Producer in charge of live and special programming. Since January, she has been serving as the Acting VOA Persian Director. -VOA 5/7/21

Iranian investors to take over $2.8bn airport expansion first mulled by Bouygues

Iranian investors are to take over a $2.8bn contract to build a second terminal at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran. The project has been on hold since 2017, when Iran cancelled a preliminary agreement with Bouygues amid growing hostility between Iran and the Donald Trump administration in the US 5/7/21

'I Am Doomed to Produce Music': Inside One Iranian Artist's Fight for Creative Freedom

Mehdi Rajabian once had his own recording studio in Sari, Iran, boasting moody overhead lighting and blond wood walls. Now, he spends most of his time in the dark basement of his home, crouching on a pile of rugs in front of a computer and a keyboard. Despite being functionally under house arrest since August 2020, Rajabian has been obsessively piecing together an album that's become his singular dream - one that could also land him back in the most notorious prison in Iran. -Brenna Ehrlich, Rolling Stone 5/6/21

Masterful new history exposes America's dangerous misunderstanding of Iran (due partly to Israel lobby pressure)

America and Iran were not always enemies. John Ghazvinian's superb new book shows how U.S. arrogance and stupidity continue to raise the risk of conflict. "What I hope every reasonable reader will conclude from this narrative is that the time is long overdue for a mending of fences." -James North, Mondoweiss 5/6/21

Saudi Arabia and Iran Are Starting to Solve Their Differences Without America

Saudi and Iranian security officials have been holding secret talks since January without any U.S. involvement-a bit of news that has led some to bemoan a decline in American power as President Biden seeks to withdraw from the Middle East. But in fact, this is good news, both for the United States and for the prospects of calm in the region. -Fred Kaplan, Slate 5/6/21

Iran oil sanctions relief expected in months if Vienna talks result in deal

Washington geopolitical analysts increasingly expect the US and Iran to announce a deal by the end of May that will allow for the lifting of sanctions on oil, petrochemical, shipping and other key sectors as soon as the third quarter of this year. Register Now European and Asian oil buyers could start negotiating deliveries when such a deal is announced, with most likely waiting until the Biden administration removes sanctions to finalize purchases. -S&P Global 5/6/21

IAPAC Announces Endorsement of Tali Farhadian Weinstein for Manhattan District Attorney

Born in Iran, Tali and her family fled to the U.S. during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, ultimately landing in New York where Tali was raised. After earning degrees from Yale College, Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and Yale Law School, Tali was a Law Clerk for Judge Merrick B. Garland at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the U.S. Supreme Court. 5/6/21

Iranian musician Hanna Jahanforooz keeps Persian culture alive

Life experiences, including challenging ones, are grist to the artist's mill. Hanna Jahanforooz has been through more than her fair share of trying events tailor-made to inspire her craft. Some of her character-forming bio milestones feed straight into her music. This will be reflected in the material she will perform at this Thursday's gig in Jerusalem when she showcases numbers from her new mini-album From Iran to Rumi, along with a broad-ranging slew of songs she has penned and arranged over the years. -Jerusalem Post 5/6/21

Mine accident in Iran: Efforts continue to save trapped miners

Following the accident in Tazareh coal mine, which happened on Saturday, May 1, two miners have been trapped in the mine. Rescue teams have been clearing the rubble to save the trapped miners since then. The accident took place as the ceiling of one of the tunnels, 70 meters in length, collapsed. Tazareh coal mine is located in Damghan City of Semnan Province. -Masoud Mohaghegh, ISNA 5/6/21

Nebraska sex offender arrested in connection with 1983 slaying of UNO student

Authorities have arrested a Nebraska sex offender they say was responsible for the brutal 1983 slaying of an Iranian exchange student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Fishermen found the naked body of Firozeh Dehghanpour, who was in her mid-20s, on Aug. 14, 1983, under a bridge over Pigeon Creek north of Council Bluffs. -Omaha World-Herald 5/6/21

Persepolis restorers start work on Seljuk-era inscription

A team of cultural heritage restorers from the UNESCO-registered Persepolis has commenced work on a Seljuk-era (1037-1194) inscription, which is located in Khorramabad, the capital of Lorestan province. "The lack of adequate restoration and protection caused further erosion and destruction of this historical monument," Mehr quoted Seyyed Amin Qasemi, the provincial tourism chief, as saying on Monday. 5/5/21

Sanctions are part of our 'forever wars'

Recent research reveals just how much devastation U.S. maximum pressure campaigns have caused in Syria, Iran, and Venezuela. In Iran, sanctions have induced shortages in medicine and impeded the country's fight against COVID-19. In Venezuela, sanctions are causing shortages in clean water, electricity, food, and medical equipment... a 2019 report found that sanctions have caused an estimated 40,000 excess deaths in the country. The irony is that sanctions are ostensibly introduced to improve human rights. Instead, the instrument has become a human rights violator itself. -Beatrix Geaghan-Breiner, Responsible Statecraft 5/5/21

This Iranian Supermarket Gives Me a Taste of Home

It took 15 years from the time I immigrated to my first visit to a proper Iranian grocery store in Orange County, California, where my brother and his wife had settled. "You're never gonna believe all the things they have from our childhood," my brother said. "Things I never thought we'd find here." I walked in unsure of which language to speak in this familiar yet foreign space. -Naz Riahi, Food & Wine 5/5/21

Strategic patience trumps maximum pressure

The Israeli security and military delegations flocking to Washington in the past few weeks have returned disappointed following their failed efforts to dissuade the Biden administration from returning to the Vienna Agreement with Iran and lifting the imposed sanctions. Israeli security and military believe that Washington is determined to close this file, even if it means lifting more than 1,600 Trump-imposed sanctions. -Oraib Al-Rantawi, MEM 5/5/21

Photos: Andaj Village during spring

Alamut is the name of a region in Iran's Qazvin province in which a beautiful village called Andaj is located. The village, surrounded by rivers and beautiful rocks, is one of the popular tourist destinations in this region. -Hadis Bagheri, ISNA 5/5/21

Ex-boss of Iran central bank indicted over 'wasting' of funds

Iranian prosecutors have issued an indictment against the former governor of the country's Central Bank over the alleged mismanagement of tens of billions of dollars worth of funds. Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasi-Mehr accused Valiollah Seif, who led the central bank from 2013 to 2018, of "wasting" more than $30bn and 60 tonnes of gold reserves, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday. -Al Jazeera 5/5/21

Meeting between Saudi and Syrian intelligence chiefs hints at detente

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief has travelled to Damascus to meet his Syrian counterpart in the first known meeting of its kind since the outbreak of the Syrian war a decade ago. The meeting in the Syrian capital on Monday is being seen as a precursor to an imminent detente between two regional foes, who have been at odds throughout much of the conflict. -Guardian 5/5/21

Flurry of diplomatic contacts fuel Iran deal speculation

A flurry of diplomatic contacts and reports of major progress suggest that indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran may be nearing an agreement. That's despite efforts by U.S. officials to play down chances of an imminent deal that would bring Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. -AP 5/4/21

Biden is getting closer to a deal with Iran, and Democrats in Congress need to get with the program

Amid growing rumors that the US's return to the JCPOA is now a "when" and not "if" scenario, it is critical that Congress supports President Joe Biden as he progresses closer to restoring US and Iranian compliance with the 2015 multilateral deal. Biden has a narrow window of opportunity to prevent a new nuclear crisis with Iran - a situation created in 2018 when former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement - and congressional support from Democrats will help ensure diplomacy is victorious. -Thomas M. Countryman, Business Insider 5/4/21

Radiological and histological findings in ancient salt mummies from the salt mine of Douzlakh, Iran

Computed tomography studies and histological analyses were performed on the mummified remains found in the Chehrabad salt mine in northwestern Iran. The ancient salt mummies are dated to the Achaemenid (550-330 BC) and Sassanid (3rd-7th century AD) time period and died in mining incidents. The aim of the study was to describe the radiological and histological findings of several ancient Iranian salt mummies with special interest in pathological and postmortem changes. -Lena Maria Ohrstrom, et al, PLOS ONE 5/4/21

Release jailed dissident on medical grounds, UN experts urge Iran

United Nations independent human rights experts, on Tuesday, called on Iranian authorities to immediately release a political activist, said to be at risk of severe health complications and even death, if not provided with appropriate medical care. Filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad received multiple sentences in February last year, including a seven-and-a-half-year prison term, after being convicted on charges relating to an open letter he and others signed calling for the Supreme Leader's resignation and for constitutional changes, according to a news release by the experts. -UN News 5/4/21

Hopes raised for two Americans jailed in Tehran being freed

Two high profile American-Iranian dual nationals detained in Tehran have been moved to a new location inside Evin prison in a procedure that has previously led to the release of detainees, according to sources inside the jail. The moves could add credence to Iranian media reports at the weekend that a prisoner swap involving four unidentified detainees might be, or had been, imminent. 5/4/21

Swiss Government Says Diplomat In Iran Suffered Fatal Accident

The Swiss Foreign Ministry (FDFA) says an employee at its embassy in Iran has died in an accident, which Iranian news agencies said was a fall from a high-rise building just outside of Tehran. "The FDFA and its head Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis are shocked by the tragic death and express their deepest condolences to the family," the ministry said in a statement on May 4. The ministry did not identify the victim, nor did it give details on what happened. 5/4/21

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy Says U.S.'s Iran Sanctions Make Yemen Cease-Fire 'Hard'

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said that U.S. sanctions on Iran will make it "hard" to obtain a cease-fire from the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to an interview with the Associated Press. Murphy was headed this week to Oman, Qatar and Jordan to discuss political solutions to the war in Yemen, where Saudia Arabia has led a coalition of Gulf States against the rebels. He said the Biden administration has taken recent steps to defuse tensions in the region. -Newsweek 5/4/21

A path back to a deal: US and Iran make serious headway on nuclear talks

For months, US was humming and hawing about how and on what terms it would return to the nuclear deal with Iran, as doubts were percolating in world capitals about whether the administration of Joe Biden even wanted to revive the deal. But during indirect talks between Iran and the US over the last couple weeks in Vienna, Washington startled just about everyone involved when it suddenly presented plans detailing how it would remove sanctions on Iran if it were to roll back its nuclear programme for both countries to back come into compliance with JCPOA. -Borzou Daragahi, Independent 5/3/21

Iran, U.S. Inch Toward Nuclear Deal With Sanctions Consensus

Iran said it reached an agreement with parties to the 2015 nuclear deal for the Biden administration to lift a raft of economic sanctions that could propel talks aimed at restoring the historic accord. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the negotiations in Vienna on Saturday, Iran's Deputy FM Abbas Araghchi said there was an "agreement in place" over lifting sanctions on "most individuals" and on Iran's energy, autos, financial, insurance and ports sectors, adding that negotiations were "ongoing" on penalties that apply to other individuals. -Golnar Motevalli and Arsalan Shahla, Bloomberg 5/3/21

At Tehran garage, Iranian woman polishes cars and her dreams

It's a men's-only club in the tangle of auto repair shops on the traffic-clogged streets of Iran's capital, Tehran. Among them, workers toil in dim garages, welding and wrenching, fabricating and painting. That's until Maryam Roohani, 34, pops up from under a car's hood at a maintenance shop in northeastern Tehran, her dirt- and grease-stained uniform pulled over black jeans and long hair tucked into a baseball cap - which in her work, replaces Iran's compulsory Islamic headscarf for women, or hijab. -Mohammad Nasiri, AP 5/3/21

Top Senate Dem quietly inserts Iran poison pill into China bill

It seems like a basic transparency measure. But some Senate Democrats worry that an amendment quietly added to a China-related bill could be a stealth poison pill for diplomacy with Iran. Shortly before the Strategic Competition Act was set to be marked up by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) inserted an amendment that vastly expands the reporting requirements for international agreements. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 5/3/21

Saudi-Iran detente: What rivals' dialogue could mean for Middle East

After six years of asymmetric warfare, proxy battles, and mutual recriminations, Saudi Arabia this week offered its bitter regional rival Iran something new: dialogue. In a televised interview Tuesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called for the two nations to overcome differences that have divided the region. -Taylor Luck, CSM 5/3/21

US denies Iran claims of prisoner deal; UK plays it down

The United States and Iran are in active talks over the release of prisoners, a person familiar with the discussions said Sunday as Washington denied a report by Iranian state-run television that deals had been struck. Prisoner swaps between the U.S. and Iran are not uncommon and both countries in recent years have routinely sought the release of detainees. -AP 5/3/21

Iran's Khamenei reprimands foreign minister over leaked audiotape

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly rebuked Iran's top diplomat for his comments on internal power struggles in a controversial audiotape leaked last week. Khamenei said during a televised speech on Sunday that he was "surprised and sorry" to hear Mohammad Javad Zarif's comments on late Major General Qassem Soleimani's power and influence, without directly naming the diplomat. - Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera 5/3/21

Why would anyone-including Mohammad Javad Zarif-want to be Iran's president?

In December 2020, a journalist for Afghanistan's TOLO TV asked Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, "Will you run for president?" Zarif responded, "Absolutely, no." When the interviewer asked Zarif if he was tired, the minister said, "No, I know my capabilities and I don't see myself as capable to do this job." -John Limbert, Atlantic Council 5/3/21

International Judo Body Suspends Iran For Anti-Israeli 'Scheme'

Judo's governing body has suspended Iran as punishment for refusing to allow its athletes to compete against opponents from Israel. The International Judo Federation (IJF) imposed a four-year ban on April 29 after the Court of Arbitration for Sport said a previous indefinite ban was not allowed. The IJF disciplinary committee said the start of the suspension is backdated to September 18, 2019, and runs until September 17, 2023. 4/30/21

After revival, Iran's great salt lake faces new peril

Twenty years ago, geochemist Arash Sharifi began to drill sediment cores in Iran's Lake Urmia-then the largest lake in the Middle East-to probe its recent climate history. "I was shocked at how little was known about the lake," recalls Sharifi, now at Beta Analytic Inc. in Miami. He became entranced by the "very unique chemistry" of its hypersaline waters. He also grew alarmed: Dams on feeder rivers and a proliferation of illegal wells had made the lake, a favorite haunt of flamingos and migratory birds, "vulnerable to hydrological collapse," he wrote in an internal government report. -Richard Stone, Science Magazine 4/30/21

As Iran looks to boost production, major political barriers remain

Iran's leaders have put a renewed focus on increasing domestic production, yet to achieve this goal there must be political stability and sincere efforts to push back on corruption. -Bijan Khajehpour, Al Monitor 4/30/21

Iran Reportedly Imposes Travel Bans On Several People Over Zarif Leak

Iran has slapped travel bans on 15 people for alleged involvement in a leaked audio recording in which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif complains about the influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on Iranian diplomacy, semi-official news agency ISNA reported on April 29. In the leaked interview, aired by the London-based Iran International Persian-language satellite news channel late on April 25, Zarif said he had "zero" influence over Iran's foreign policy. 4/30/21

Female political prisoners in Iran facing 'psychological torture', say campaigners

Female human rights activists imprisoned in Iran face increased jail terms and transfers to prisons with "dangerous and alarming" conditions, hundreds of miles away from their families, according to campaigners. Human rights campaigners said that in the past six months increasing numbers of Iranian women jailed for human rights and political activism had been moved from Evin prison in Tehran to prisons outside the capital city without warning. -Sarah Johnson, Guardian 4/30/21

Why Mohammed bin Salman Suddenly Wants to Talk to Iran

"We are seeking to have good relations with Iran," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Saudi television this week. "We are working with our partners in the region to overcome our differences with Iran." Only four years ago, the notorious royal sang a different tune, claiming dialogue with Iran was impossible. "How do you have a dialogue with a regime built on an extremist ideology?" he said, pledging that Saudi Arabia would take the battle to Iranian territory. What changed to make this 180-degree shift possible? -Trita Parsi, Foreign Policy 4/30/21

Russia secretly feared the Iran nuclear deal. Here's why.

The leaked audiotape of remarks made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif did not just reveal friction within the Iranian political establishment over the nuclear accord, it also disclosed that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander, Qasem Soleimani-who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in January 2020-collaborated with Russia "to sabotage the nuclear deal." -Mark N. Katz, Atlantic Council 4/30/21

US eyes major rollback in Iran sanctions to revive nuke deal

The Biden administration is considering a near wholesale rollback of some of the most stringent Trump-era sanctions imposed on Iran in a bid to get the Islamic Republic to return to compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear accord, according to current and former U.S. officials and others familiar with the matter. As indirect talks continue this week in Vienna to explore the possibility of reviving the nuclear deal, American officials have become increasingly expansive about what they might be prepared to offer Iran, which has been driving a hard line on sanctions relief, demanding that all U.S. penalties be removed -AP 4/29/21

Iranian Court Begins Trial Of German-Iranian Rights Activist Nahid Taghavi

A German-Iranian human rights activist held in Iran on vague security-related charges has had her first hearing at a Revolutionary Court, her daughter and human rights groups said. Nahid Taghavi, 66, was arrested in Tehran in October while on a family visit and spent nearly five months in solitary confinement in the capital's notorious Evin prison, in a case rights groups say amounts to politically motivated hostage taking. 4/29/21

COVID-19 depressed women's employment everywhere, and more so in Iran

The coronavirus pandemic has had a regressive impact on women's economic outcomes worldwide as women's jobs have been 1.8 times more vulnerable than men's jobs. In Iran, too, the closures and the pandemic have depressed women's already low economic participation rates by about 20 percent. -Nadereh Chamlou, Atlantic Council 4/29/21

Photos: Asad Khan Fortress in SW Iran

Asad Khan or Malekan fortress dates back to more than 1400 years ago. The 200-hectare, two-story high fortress is located on top of a high mountain near Andika County, Khuzestan Province, southwestern Iran. -Ahmad Riahi Dehkordi, IRNA 4/29/21

Persian ground jay: Iran's desert treasure

Iran is one of the world's richest in biodiversity, despite the diverse fauna and flora of the country, there are only two endemic species, one of which is the beautiful and rare Persian ground jay. Persian ground jay, the only endemic bird species of Iran, is considered one of the most precious animals of the country's deserts. -Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times 4/29/21

V&A restores casts of warriors that adorned ancient Iranian palace for once-in-a-lifetime display

New exhibition on 5,000 years of Iranian civilisation will feature museum's rarely seen replicas of life-sized friezes from King Darius's "very excellent" palace. Visitors to an exhibition opening next month at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will meet the intimidating warriors that greeted visitors more than 2,500 years ago when they arrived at the gigantic Palace of Darius at Susa in Iran. -Art Newspaper 4/28/21

Media launders hawks' absurd claims that John Kerry spilled secrets to Iran's foreign minister

The United States is engaging in diplomacy with Iran so that means it's silly season once again in Washington. The latest episode this week originated from a Sunday New York Times article reporting on leaked audio to the Saudi owned Persian news outlet Iran International of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif discussing behind-the-scenes intrigue of Iranian politics and power. -Ben Armbruster , Responsible Statecraft 4/28/21

Iran Hits Record COVID-19 Deaths As Officials Warn Of Worse To Come

Iranian health officials are warning the number of COVID-19 fatalities is expected to climb in the coming weeks as the country recorded its highest single-day death toll from the pandemic. Health Ministry data showed the death toll from the virus increased by 496 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths from the virus to 70,070. The country also recorded 21,026 more confirmed infections, bringing the total to over 2.4 million cases. 4/27/21

Maryland Film Festival to feature "The Badger" by Iranian director Kazem Mollai

"The Badger" by Iranian director Kazem Mollai will be featured at the Maryland Film Festival, which will be held in the U.S. city of Baltimore from May 19 to 27. Iranian films has been considered one of the brightest phenomena in world cinema in recent years. Frequently applauded for their depth, complexity of character and realism The Badger fits well in this category. It has already played multiple renown international festivals. 4/27/21

Iran's female mechanics challenge male domination in the car industry

The seminal moment in Sahar Beygi's life came shortly after she bought a second-hand Nissan 4x4 in 2014. Deciding to celebrate the purchase, she got together with a group of her friends and headed for a night out. As bad luck - or a dodgy car dealer - would have it, the vehicle's engine gave way and the car broke down. "I had no idea about the mechanics of the engine," says Beygi. -Mohammad Hashemi, MEE 4/27/21

The Iranian-American Teen Making Climate Information Accessible In The Middle East

Just before taking a family trip to Iran seven years ago, Sophia Kianni's middle school teacher stunned her with a statistic: By 2030, temperatures in the world's warmest regions are expected to increase by more than twice the global average. When Kianni arrived in Tehran-where her aunts, uncles, and grandma all live-she got an even bigger surprise: Her family had no idea. -Rose Minutaglio, Elle 4/23/21

Fourth national festival of Maryam Mirzakhani to be held in June 2021

The 4th National Festival on Women and Science will be held in the fourth Iranian calendar month Tir (starting June 22), commemorating the late Iranian mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani. The event is to be held to honor exemplary women who are active in scientific and social sections. 4/22/21

Groups call on Biden to offer Iran coronavirus relief

More than 40 humanitarian and human rights organizations called on the Biden administration to lift economic restrictions that are making it more difficult for Iran to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in a Wednesday open letter. The United States is currently enforcing strict sanctions on the Iranian economy, many of them imposed during the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 4/22/21


OF KINGS AND PAINTINGS is a history of the extraordinary art of Iran from 1785 to 1925. The documentary is the first film to explore the work of Iran's most significant artists of this remarkable era that straddled the transition between tradition and modernity. While offering an overview of painters and paintings of the Qajar era and its influence on Iranian artists and photographers today, the film weaves together art history and Iranian history. -Farhang Foundation 4/22/21

Iranian activists slam Natanz attack, call for diplomatic response

Hundreds of Iranian civility society activists have condemned the recent attack on the country's nuclear facility, which they say was aimed at derailing talks in Vienna on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA. Diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, and Russia are currently meeting in Vienna to reach an agreement on the necessary steps for bring the United States and Iran into compliance with the 2015 accord. A U.S. delegation is also in Vienna but not talking directly to Iranian diplomats. -Sajjad Safaei, Responsible Statecraft 4/21/21

Entanglements: Lives Lived Under Sanctions

I started to gather news, perceptions, opinions, and reflections about the effects of sanctions on my Iranian interlocutors during the summer of 2015, shortly after Iran and the P5+1 signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement on the Iran nuclear program. On the plane over that August, I noted an immediate optical change with regard to this once and often isolated state. For the first time in the two decades that I had been making annual trips to Iran, the plane was full, occupied by non-Iranians, many of them business people seeking to secure ventures in a country ripe for investment potential. -Arzoo Osanloo, SAIS 4/14/21

Atlanta Film Festival picks five films from Iran

Five movies from Iranian filmmakers will be screened at the 45th edition of the Atlanta Film Festival. "African Violet" by Mona Zandi-Haghighi will go on screen at the main section of the festival. "Eyes and Arms" by Panahbarkhoda Rezai will be screened at the documentary section of the festival. The festival will also screen Iranian shorts "Crab" by Shiva Sadeq-Asadi, "The Doll" by Elahe Esmaeili, and "Spotted Yellow" by Baran Sarmad. 4/14/21

Senate Dems Tell Biden Returning to Iran Nuclear Deal Should Be a Top Priority

Amid critical talks in Vienna, more than two dozen Senate Democrats on Tuesday sent a letter urging President Joe Biden to treat the United States' return to the Iran nuclear agreement as a top priority. "While the damage of the last four years has left our country facing numerous challenges across the globe, there is no question that one of your early pressing national security priorities should be to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to address the threat of Iran's nuclear program," the letter (pdf) says, using the deal's formal name. -Common Dreams 4/14/21

Child Adoption Up 10 Percent In Iran

Child adoption has increased in the country by 10 percent, following the actions taken to speed up the process, Habibollah Masoudi-Farid, deputy head of the Welfare Organization, has stated. Following the Law on Protection of Children and Adolescents in [the Iranian calendar year] 1392 (March 2013-March 2014), adaption experienced an upward trend. 4/13/21

Biden Should Listen to Americans and Return to the Iran Deal

Despite being the most powerful nation in the world, the last U.S. election exposed the fragility of American democracy. It highlighted the need to continually work toward improving and fostering our democratic institutions... In order to nurture democracy, President Joe Biden should abide by its core belief to carry out the will of the people. His administration's openness to diplomacy with Iran reflects that very will. -Assal Rad, Newsweek 4/6/21

Iranians and Americans Support A Mutual Return to JCPOA

A joint Council and IranPoll survey shows that although Iranian and American public support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has waned over time, there is still sizable backing for it in both countries. -Chicago Council on Global Affairs 4/5/21

Persian Gulf water to give new life to central Iranian plateau

The national plan for transferring water from the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman to seven provinces situated in the semi-arid central plateau will be completed by 2025, aiming to save underground water resources while flourishing industries and agriculture in the region. -Mehdi Garshasbi 03/15/21

Iranzamin Exhibition at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

Iranzamin (Land of the Persians) is the first survey exhibition of Persian arts and crafts acquired by the Powerhouse Museum since its founding in 1880. It explores the stories behind rarely seen artefacts from the middle of the 19th century to now, shedding light on the diverse social and cultural history of Persia - today's Iran - and its people. 03/12/21

Hegmataneh Hill one step closer to World Heritage registration

Iran is completing an all-inclusive dossier for the mysterious Hegmataneh Hill to have it registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The ruined Hegmataneh (Ecbatana) which is partly beneath the modern city of Hamedan (the capital city), is widely believed to be once a mysterious capital of Medes. According to ancient Greek writers, the city was founded in about 678 BC by Deioces, who was the first king of the Medes. 03/10/21

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last updated on Wed May 12 11:42:04 EDT 2021