Ordibehesht 20 1399 - May 09 2020
IRAN: Magnitude 5.1 quake Tehran province kills 2, injures 33

An earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale shook Tehran province early on Friday, killing two and injuring 33. The earthquake occurred at 00:48 a.m. at a depth of 7 kilometers near the city of Damavand, 56km northeast of Tehran. The tremor was also felt in the surrounding provinces of Qom, Alborz, Mazandaran, and Zanjan. 5/8/20

Iranian Human Rights Activist Ali Ajami Mysteriously Drowned In Houston Park Lake

The body of Ali Ajami, an Iranian human rights activist, was discovered in McGovern Lake at Hermann Park, Houston, Texas, on Wednesday. The cause of death remains unknown. Houston Police on Wednesday started an investigation into the death of a deceased male found in a pond at Hermann Park but said no other information was available yet. Iranian social media users have reported that the body belonged to thirty-seven-year-old Iranian human rights activist Ali Ajami. 5/8/20

Iran Has Gotten Nothing from U.S. 'Humanitarian' Channel

The humanitarian banking channel set up by the Trump administration to get medicine and other supplies into Iran-a politically calculated show of compassion amid otherwise draconian U.S. sanctions-has not in fact processed any potentially life-saving transactions, the Swiss government confirmed to The Daily Beast. Knowledgeable observers say the way the channel is structured places substantial burdens in the way of companies looking to sell Iran humanitarian supplies. -Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast 5/8/20

Sara Khadem returns to Iran national chess team

Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, also known as Sara Khadem, who had announced her retirement from Iran national chess team, has returned to the national team. On January 12, Khadem had published a photo on her Instagram account and said she has retired from national team. 5/8/20

Sanctions make Iran's coronavirus crisis more deadly

The Trump administration, seemingly in denial about its own shambolic response to the crisis, tried to blame the pandemic's high toll in Iran on the incompetence and corruption of the Iranian government. The Iranian leadership indeed made some mistakes in its handling of this public health emergency, such as initially underestimating the threat posed by the virus and failing to close the country's borders in time. It is, however, impossible to claim that the Iranian government is solely responsible for the devastation the pandemic has caused in the country. -Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Al-Jazeera 5/8/20

Iran hunts for grains as coronavirus compounds economic woes

Iran is scrambling to buy millions of tonnes of wheat, corn and soybeans to shore up its reserves, Iranian officials and traders said, despite President Hassan Rouhani's assertions that the coronavirus would not endanger food supplies to the Middle Eastern country worst hit by the pandemic. -Reuters 5/8/20

Why is the US removing its Patriot missile systems from Saudi Arabia?

The U.S. is removing Patriot anti-missile systems from Saudi Arabia as part of a broader drawdown of its military capacity placed there to counter Iran. While the military characterized the move as part of a planned withdrawal that reflects the view that Iran now poses less of a threat, the news has prompted debate over the timing of the decision. -Annelle Sheline, Responsible Statecraft 5/8/20

Global report: Iranian infections rise as France plans for resurgence

New coronavirus infections in Iran have risen sharply since the country relaxed its restrictions on movement, while France has said it will reimpose strict lockdowns if cases surge when it begins to emerge from confinement next week. Tehran on Wednesday reported 1,680 new infections, nearly double the figure four days ago and the highest daily figure since 11 April when it allowed a phased return to work amid fears of economic collapse. -Guardian 5/7/20

How the coronavirus is cementing Iran's tilt towards China

The Iran-China bilateral relationship has been gaining strategic significance for more than a decade and the coronavirus pandemic appears to have solidified this trend. While US President Donald Trump is offering medical supplies while refusing to lift sanctions on financial transactions with Iran, the Chinese are airlifting supplies and medical personnel to Tehran. -Ali Dadpay, Atlantic Council 5/7/20

The covid-19 crisis could strengthen Iran's 'invisible government'

Could the coronavirus pandemic bring about regime change or major behavioral shift in the Islamic Republic of Iran? U.S. policy hawks and a wide range of regime critics are increasingly convinced that it might. That's not likely, however - this view misreads the influence of Iran's nonelected political institutions. Rather than regime change, the covid-19 pandemic and escalating U.S. pressure appear more likely to reinforce the position of Iran's religious and military institutions.-Amir Hossein Mahdavi, Washington Post 5/7/20

Iraq appoints new prime minister after months of protests and jockeying

The new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq's intelligence chief and a former journalist, will head the new government. He will begin his term without a full cabinet, however, after several ministerial candidates were rejected. Iraqi officials have said Kadhimi is acceptable to both the United States and Iran, whose battle for influence over Iraq has boiled into open confrontation in the past year. -Reuters 5/7/20

Trump vetoes measure to restrain his actions against Iran

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed a resolution that said he must get a nod from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. Trump called it "insulting" to the presidency. The nonbinding congressional resolution was introduced first in the House after the U.S. launched an airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. -AP 5/7/20

Iran's launch of a military satellite sets the stage for star wars

In the midst of fighting a pandemic and dealing with US sanctions, Iran has launched a military satellite to showcase its technological advancement. On 22 April, the 41st anniversary of the founding of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the IRGC successfully launched a "military satellite" into space and simultaneously successfully launched us all into the latest chapter in the saga of the US-Iran battle. -Tallha Abdulrazaq, TRT 5/7/20

As Iran Faces Virus, Trump Admin Fails to Use Swiss Channel to Ease Medical Exports

Just a few days after Iran announced its first deaths from COVID-19 in February, the Trump administration's Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook was asked during a briefing for an update on the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), a payments channel intended to ease the sale of medicine and medical devices by Swiss companies to Iran. Hook acknowledged that no further transactions had been processed since a pilot transaction involving a $2.55 million sale of medication a month earlier, but insisted that there were "more transactions coming."Two months later, over 6,000 Iranians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the Swiss channel has yet to process any further transactions. -Esfandyar Batmanghelidj & Image of Sahil Shah, European Leadership Network 5/6/20

Iran Says It Sent First Exports of Antibody Test Kits to Germany

Iran said it has sent a plane to Germany carrying about 40,000 locally produced test kits that detect coronavirus antibodies. Other countries including Spain, Brazil, Turkey and Ecuador have also requested the antibody test kits, according to a report on the government's official news website, It cited Behrouz Hajian, the chief executive of Pishtaz Teb Diagnostics Co., which produces the kits. -Bloomberg 5/6/20

U.S. expected to deport Iranian professor acquitted of sanctions busting: officials

The United States is expected to deport Iranian professor Sirous Asgari, who was acquitted of stealing trade secrets, once he receives medical clearance to leave, U.S. and Iranian officials said on Tuesday. Asgari might be part of a rare prisoner swap between foes Iran and the United States. Iranian sources have told Reuters that Tehran is prepared to take part in a swap. -Reuters 5/6/20

'The Blob' strikes back, and misses

In an age of war, debt, and plague, is America's foreign policy establishment, or "the Blob" as it has been dubbed, part of the problem? Or part of the answer? According to Hal Brands, Peter Feaver, and William Inboden, three sharp minds who served in government and the academy, America needs its specialist class of experts at the helm. What's more, to challenge the Blob's workings, record, and judgement is to be Trumpian, and hostile to "expertise" in general. -Patrick Porter, Responsible Statecraft 5/6/20

Iran Atomic Inspections Continued at a Record Pace Last Year

Iran's nuclear program received record scrutiny last year from international monitors who triggered snap inspections in the Islamic Republic. The International Atomic Energy Agency's 2019 Safeguards Implementation Report shows that monitors continued receiving wide access to Iranian nuclear sites even as new questions arose over the completeness of the country's declared atomic stockpile, according to the restricted document seen by Bloomberg. -Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg 5/6/20

Iran's Rouhani pledges 'crushing response' if U.S. extends arms embargo

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened a "crushing response" on Wednesday if the United States goes ahead with plans to extend an embargo on Iranian trade of conventional arms, which the United Nations is set to lift later this year. Under Iran's deal with world powers to accept limits to its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions, a U.N. weapons embargo is due to expire in October. -Reuters 5/6/20

Shahin Shahablou obituary

My friend Shahin Shahablou, who has died of coronavirus aged 56, was a photographer and teacher born in Tehran, who moved to the UK in 2011. He was 15 years old in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution profoundly changed Iranian society, and his life was inevitably caught up in the dramatic events of his country. -David Gleeson, Guardian 5/6/20

Iran To Cut Four Zeros From Currency To Fight Hyperinflation

Iran's parliament has voted to slash four zeros from the national currency, the rial, to fight hyperinflation caused by crippling U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers also decided on May 4 that the rial, which has been Iran's national currency since 1925, will be replaced by the toman, which will be equal to 10,000 rials, according to the IRNA and ISNA news agencies. 5/5/20

Iranian scientists ramp up efforts to improve COVID-19 tests

Hoping to export test kits within months, Al Jazeera reports from inside an Iranian lab that is part of the international push for coronavirus solutions. -Zein Basravi, Al-Jazeera 5/5/20

Norms, not politics, should shape the European position on Iran's arms embargo

With a few months left before the expiration of the United Nations-mandated arms embargo against Iran, Washington is in full swing desperately trying to prolong it. Achieving this goal would require cooperation from other members of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), who (plus Germany) are also signatures of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA), which requires lifting the arms embargo in October 20202, after five years of its implementation. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 5/5/20

IRAN: Coronavirus brought healthcare reforms into sharp focus

The coronavirus outbreak proved that one-dimensional health systems cannot survive from health-threatening crises, which occur every few years in the form of infectious diseases, a mere view of treatment is not enough, so that the need for healthcare reforms should be brought into sharp focus. Now that the globe is dealing with a pandemic of such dimension, with the help of transformational measures that have taken place in the country's healthcare, we have been able to take control of the disease. -Faranak Bakhtiari, Tehran Times 5/5/20

Trump's Threat to Iran Has a Hollow, Angsty Ring

A tweet by the U.S. President Donald Trump on April 22 said, "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea." Trump seems to be talking the language of war while indulging in politics by other means. Like his ban on immigration, Trump is resorting to distractions to turn attention away from his incompetence in tackling the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. -M. K. BHADRAKUMAR, Counterpunch 5/5/20

Iranian OPEC Official In Coma After Suffering 'Severe' Brain Hemorrhage

Iran's OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempur Ardebili, is in a coma after suffering a "severe" brain hemorrhage. In a tweet on May 3, the country's Oil Ministry said Ardebili was hospitalized on May 1. It did not provide further details. Ardebili is a key figure in Iran's energy industry and served as the deputy foreign minister and deputy oil minister in the 1980s. 5/5/20

Rouhani: US cutting WHO funding hampers global fight against pandemic

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani says a recent decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO) at a time that the world body is fighting a pandemic of new coronavirus hampers global efforts to eradicate the deadly virus. -Press TV 5/5/20

More Than 12,000 Lawyers In Iran Reject Move To Dismantle Bar Association

More than 12,000 Iranian lawyers have protested to a draft bill that undermines their independence and in effect replaces the Iranian Bar Association with a group of judiciary officials appointed by the government. Based on the draft the Judiciary will form a new body named the "Supreme Council for the Coordination of Lawyers' Affairs" that will be based at the Judiciary branch of the government "to coordinate matters relating to attorneys." 5/4/20

Iran's Government Continuing Extensive Support for Startups, Tech Firms

Support for Iranian startups and knowledge-based companies has been high on the agenda of President Hassan Rouhani ever since he took office in 2013. Government officials never miss a chance to name the startup ecosystem as Iran's major business of future that would be able to curb the country's reliance on the sale of natural resources. -Financial Tribune 5/4/20

The US and Iran are still perilously close to conflict

A dangerous encounter between the Iranian and US navies in the Persian Gulf last month, provoked by 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards' speedboats, and President Trump's threat one week later to shoot Iranian gunboats out of water if this happens again, are stark reminders of the short fuse between the two countries amid growing tensions. -Ali Vaez, Guardian 5/4/20

In Islamic Republic of Iran, volunteers join battle against COVID-19

"During this devastating crisis, Iranians have stepped up to help their health workers, and each other," said Dr Christoph Hamelmann, WHO Representative in the Islamic Republic of Iran. "We are touched by their hard work and the solidarity they are showing." 5/4/20

Afghanistan probes report Iran guards forced migrants into river

Afghanistan has begun retrieving bodies of Afghan migrants from a river in a western province after reports that Iranian border guards tortured and threw Afghans into the river to prevent their entry into Iran. Afghanistan's foreign ministry in a statement on Saturday said an inquiry had been launched -Al Jazeera 5/4/20

VIDEOS: Iran's National Instruments Orchestra Pays Tributes to COVID-19 Healthcare Staff

With the aim of expressing appreciation for the medical staff from around globe, the Iran's National Instruments Orchestra performed "The Avicenna Suite" by maestro Farhad Fakhreddini. The work has been recorded and edited by cell phone at home. 5/1/20

PHOTOS: Precipitation brings Hamoun wetland back to life

After two decades of dryness, enough rains have finally come to bring Hamoun wetland back to life in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, reviving agriculture in the region as well. Hamoun is the third-largest lake of Iran after the Caspian Sea and Urmia Lake. 5/1/20

Warning Of A Second Pandemic Wave, Health Minister Says Iran Needs A CDC

While admitting that the official death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran has exceeded 6,000, the Islamic Republic Minister of Health warned of a heavy second wave of the disease next autumn and winter. "A relatively heavy attack by a combination of flu and coronavirus is expected in the fall and winter", the Minister, Saeed Namaki, reiterated. 5/1/20

In tortured logic, Trump begs for a do-over on the Iran nuclear deal

Even the Trump administration seems to grudgingly have concluded that breaching the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was a mistake. More than two years after the U.S. exit, the deal still stands while the Trump administration is running out of options to force a re-negotiation. It is now so desperate it is seeking to convince the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that it never quit the deal in the first place. The lesson to the U.S. is clear: Diplomatic vandalism carries costs - even for a superpower. The lesson to a prospective President Joe Biden is more specific: Rejoin the nuclear deal, don't try to renegotiate it. -Tyler Cullis & Trita Parsi, Responsible Statecraft 5/1/20

Jailed Activist's Son Threatened with Imprisonment to Silence Dissen

Amid a renewed crackdown on peaceful criticism of Iranian state policies, the son of imprisoned filmmaker and journalist Mohammad Nourizad is being arbitrarily prosecuted to "pressure" Nourizad to be silent, his wife told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). "My son and other young people who expressed sympathy with the [Ukrainian plane] crash victims' families should be praised, not imprisoned," Nourizad's wife Fatemeh Maleki told CHRI. -CHRI 5/1/20

Official linked to anti-Iran pressure group breaks ranks, says Iran should get all the help it needs to fight COVID-19

Norman Roule, a senior adviser to the anti-Iran group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which led a multi-year effort pressuring pharmaceutical and medical supply companies to cease legal trade with Iran even during the COVID-19 pandemic, appears to be distancing himself from UANI's work, effectively whitewashing his own role at the organization. "The international community should do everything it can to enable the Iranian people to obtain access to medical supplies and equipment," said Roule in a recent article in the Nation. -Eli Clifton, Responsible Statecraft 5/1/20

Iran to build houses on Persian Gulf islands

The Iranian islands of the Persian Gulf will be turned into residential areas, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Chief Alireza Tangsiri announced on Wednesday. Tangsiri said the decision came according to an order issued by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The announcement was made as Iran marked the National Persian Gulf Day on Wednesday. 4/30/20

First the Muslim Ban, Now Coronavirus - Iranian Families Separated by One Trump Order After Another

THE SHAMELIS ARE an extraordinarily tight-knit Iranian family. Forty-year-old Amin, the eldest of five brothers, first arrived in California in 2003, and was followed slowly but surely by his parents and siblings. All of them, that is, except for Masoud, who for a decade now has been trying to join the rest of his family in the United States. The situation had been looking hopeful, until the global coronavirus pandemic and a couple strokes of the U.S. president's pen blew it all up. -Felipe De La Hoz, Intercept 4/30/20

High Death Toll In Tehran Casts Doubt On Iran's Official Coronavirus Numbers

A member of Tehran's City Council has revealed that during the first two months of the coronavirus outbreak the overall death toll in Iran's capital increased by 3,700, compared with the same period last year. Iranian officials have not released the epidemic toll in Tehran, but the nationwide death toll they have announced is just 6,000; too low to account for the increased number of deaths in the capital. 4/30/20

Prolific prisoner, revisited visionary, revered record store

We might be chafing at the stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 crisis, but Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi has for years endured a similar but far graver confinement and made the most of it. In 2010 an Iranian court punished his outspokenness with a six-year prison term, later reduced to house arrest, plus a 20-year ban on making movies. -Peter Keough, Boston Globe 4/30/20

PHOTOS: On the verge of oblivion? Meet stone lions deserted in southwest Iran

Some cultural heritage enthusiasts say that hundreds of stone lions, which were placed on top of the tombstones of brave and courageous people of Bakhtiari tribe in the past, are now on the verge of oblivion and even fading away. Bakhtiari nomads regard such stone statues, locally called 'Bard Shirs' as a symbol of bravery, valor, and characteristics like adroitness at hunting and shooting in war as well as horseback riding on top of the gravestone of that group of people. -Alireza Mohammadi 4/29/20

Is Iran on the verge of collapse or a menace flush with cash? How hawks sell regime change using contradictory arguments

Iran's request for a $5 billion emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is revealing serious desperation, and not only on the part the Iranian government. Desperation is also apparent in the responses from the Trump administration and the regime change lobby in Washington led by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) as they try to block the loan. -Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Responsible Statecraft 4/29/20

Iran's flag on Swiss iconic mountain shows sympathy in battling coronavirus

In a symbolic gesture, Switzerland sympathized with the Iranian people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic by projecting the Iranian flag on the mountain of the Matterhorn, one of the country's most famous peaks. The image went viral among Iranian users in social media who highly praised the move. 4/29/20

Iran's leading artist Parviz Tanavoli makes nightingale medallions to help hospitals in his native country

Renowned artist Parviz Tanavoli, known as the father of modern Iranian sculpture, has created a series of limited-edition medallions to raise funds for beleaguered hospitals in his homeland. "I am extremely impressed by how Iranian healthcare workers are dealing with the Covid-19 crisis," says Tanavoli, who lives in West Vancouver. -Art Newspaper 4/29/20

Coronavirus: Iran's female singers familiar with restrictive measures

The current quarantine is nothing new for Iranian women musicians - they've been restricted from performing in public since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Singer Massy Ahadi explains how they come to terms with it. -Deutsche Welle 4/29/20

Iranian knowledge-based firms making headway in fighting COVID-19

Five science and technology parks affiliated to the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology described their activities in dealing with and treating coronavirus, the most important of which is the production of herbal medicines and diagnostic kits. A video conference was held on Monday evening with President Hassan Rouhani, Science Minister Mansour Gholami, Vice President for Science and Technology Sourena Sattari, and managers of knowledge-based companies at science and technology parks. 4/28/20

Right-Wing Think Tanks Are Using Covid-19 To Push War with Iran

Since the global Covid-19 pandemic began, a cluster of U.S. think tanks has been aggressively lobbying the Trump administration to escalate militarily toward Iran and tighten U.S. sanctions. This push has come despite warnings that such sanctions are worsening the death toll of Iran's outbreak, which is one of the worst in the world. -Sarah Lazare, In These Times 4/28/20

Sassanid Inscription Unearthed In Ancient Iran Necropolis Being Deciphered

Experts are working to decipher a newly discovered inscription unearthed in an ancient necropolis near Persepolis, an official of the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran, said on Monday. The inscription which dates from the Sassanian period (224-651 AD) was found in Naqsh-e Rostam and is written in Pahlavi language (also known as Middle Persian) which was the official language of the Sassanian Empire. 4/28/20

Iran Arrests Editor, Journalist Over Cartoon Mocking Khamenei

The editor in chief and a social-media administrator of Iran's semiofficial ILNA news agency were detained last week over a cartoon deemed insulting to the country's leadership. The cartoon, which appeared to mock Iran's highest authority, was reportedly removed from ILNA's Telegram channel shortly after being posted. 4/28/20

Iranian startups faring even better amid pandemic

The knock-on effects of the coronavirus outbreak have been devastating for nearly the entire global economy but some businesses are faring even better in the new condition. While many struggle to keep their businesses afloat startups like this one are cashing in on the health crisis by offering much-needed medical services. Since the outbreak of the virus, many previously unheard-of health apps have appeared on billboards to jump on the wagon. -Yusef Jalali, Press TV 4/28/20

The coronavirus, Europe, China, and the US's self-defeating unilateralism

It has become a cliche to lament the demise of the rules-based multilateral world order. But Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs introduced an important nuance into this debate at a conference at the Vatican in February 2020, claiming that it is not so much the multilateralism that is being challenged globally as it is the deliberate policy of the United States under the President Donald Trump to weaken it. -Eldar Mamedov, esponsible Statecraft 4/28/20

Iran satellite launch 'sends a message' on failed US pressure

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) surprised the world last week with a successful launch of its first military satellite dubbed Nour (light) into the Earth's orbit. The satellite was on board a previously unknown launch vehicle named Qased, or messenger, and was deployed from a military base in Semnan province, east of the capital, Tehran. -Maysam Bizaer, Al-Jazeera 4/28/20

Senior businesswoman dismisses U.S. claim that Iran doesn't need IMF loan

The U.S. believes that Iran has enough resources to contain the virus and even if it didn't, the sanctions have not blocked the country's access to healthcare and medical products. So we asked Ferial Mostofi (a senior member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture), as a businesswoman and as a representative of the country's private sector, does Iran really need this loan? -Ebrahim Fallahi, Tehran Times 4/27/20

Ardeshir Zahedi: U.S. proved to be "real terrorist" by assassinating General Soleimani

Ardeshir Zahedi, a former Iranian foreign minister and ambassador to the United States from the Pahlavi regime era, said Washington's breach of the international law and assassination of the top Iranian anti-terror commander Major General Qassem Soleimani showed who is the real terrorist. "I have always been and will always be proud of Qassem Soleimani; he was the one who sacrificed his life for his country unlike those who sell themselves for money," Zahedi told BBC on Sunday. 4/27/20

Iran monitoring U.S. moves, but will never start a war: President Rohani

President Hassan Rohani said on Saturday that Iran is monitoring the United States' moves in the region, however, it will never start a war in the region. "The Islamic Republic of Iran monitors the United States' moves activity and accurately, however, it will never start a conflict and tension in the region," he told Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in a phone conversation. The Qatari Emir highlighted the need that all countries make efforts to prevent tension in the region. 4/27/20

Iranian MEK cult in Albania poses public health risk

Since its arrival in Albania in 2016, the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the group has caused problems for the authorities and citizens of their host country. Exploiting the unresolved problems of crime, corruption, and a weak state dependent on American approval, the MEK has manipulated, bribed, and intimidated its way into the political, media, and criminal elements of Alabania. According to well-known historian Olsi Jazexhi, the MEK has even perverted Albania's foreign policy making it a hub for anti-Iran activities and creating a security nightmare for Albania's police and security services. Now the group poses another risk to the country's public health risk that cannot be assessed or managed. -Massoud Khodabandeh, Responsible Statecraft 4/27/20

the starkness of iran's desert developments is captured by manuel alvarez diestro

for his latest photography series, manuel alvarez diestro transports us to the isolated landscape of iran's deserts. amid the vast expanse of rolling land and mountain peaks, the images hone in on new housing developments. from afar the tower blocks appear as models in miniature, while closer up, the true scale of the buildings can be appreciated. -Design Boom 4/27/20 4/27/20

70+ Groups Demand Trump Immediately End US Sanctions Against Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and Others During Covid-19 Crisis

Over 70 civil society groups representing more than 40 million people called on President Donald Trump Thursday to issue immediate sanctions relief for numerous countries-including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea-for at least the duration of the coronavirus crisis which threatens to kill thousands in the hard-hit countries. The "urgent appeal" came in the form of an open letter sent by the groups to Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin calling for curtailing the sanctions regime for the duration of the pandemic. -Common Dreams 04/24/20

Creating the enemies they need: US militarism's strange bedfellows

Listen to America's imperial proconsuls long enough and they often let slip something approaching truth - perhaps exceptionalist confession is more accurate. Take Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), with responsibility for all of Latin America. Just before the COVID-19 crisis shifted into full gear, on March 11 he testified before the House Armed Services Committee and admitted, "There will be an increase in the U.S. military presence in the hemisphere later this year." Naturally, admiral, but why? -Danny Sjursen, Responsible Statecraft 04/24/20

Trump Failed to Vanquish Coronavirus With Hot Air, Now Wants to "Shoot Down" Tiny Iranian Skiffs

What Trump was advising would be a war crime, since Iranian boats that haven't actually fired on or harmed US vessels have a right to be on the high seas, and interfering in that right to the point of termination with extreme prejudice is illegal. -Juan Cole, Common Dreams 04/24/20

How a misleading report on Iran from a hawkish 'think tank' made its way to Trump administration talking points

Whatever pain COVID-19 inflicts, it offers a golden opportunity for Washington lobbyists committed to tough sanctions against Iran. 'Regime change' or 'regime collapse', they say, is now within grasp if only the United States stands firm. United States sanctions have not just spawned a proliferating industry profiting lawyers, bureaucrats and "expert" consultants. They have created an opaque maze around which "bullet points" bounce from lobby groups and "think tanks" to the media to government, becoming "facts" through repetition and circular sourcing. -Gareth Smyth, Responsible Statecraft 4/23/20

Coronavirus Threat Rising In Iran As Restrictions Are Relaxed

The Commander of Tehran Coronavirus Combat Taskforce on Thursday warned that adopting a more relaxed approach to social distancing and movement restrictions is sending the wrong message to people, making them believe that COVID-19 has come under control while fatalities are on the increase again. 4/23/20

Trump Retweeted Praise from an Anti-Iran Hard-Liner Who Doesn't Exist

ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, just a few hours after once again threatening to go to war with Iran, Trump shared a tweet from an account from someone by the name of Heshmat Alavi. Like many of the tweets the president circulates, Alavi was praising Trump, this time for his hard-line stance against the Islamic Republic. Trump's amplification of the post was bad enough on its own: Alavi is a supporter of a militant Iranian cult called the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, known as the MEK, an organization that was designated for decades as a terrorist organization and is widely hated inside Iran. What makes it even worse, however, is that Heshmat Alavi does not exist. -Murtaza Hussain, Intercept 4/23/20

US tracks Iran's 'Nour' satellite as it enters into orbit

The United States says it has tracked Iran's successful launch and the entry into orbit of its first military satellite. On Wednesday, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said it had successfully launched and placed the country's first military satellite, dubbed Nour-1 (Light-1), into orbit. -Press TV 4/23/20

In Iran, poverty and lack of internet make distance learning impossible

Iran, like many other countries hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, has closed schools and universities and prioritised online learning. But in a country where there is widespread poverty and some regions have no internet coverage at all, some students are locked out of virtual classrooms. A teacher who works in a poor neighbourhood in Iran told the FRANCE 24 Observers that he hasn't been able to get in contact with two-thirds of his students since schools closed. -Ershad Alijani, Observers 4/23/20

IRGC shoots Iran's first military satellite into orbit

Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has successfully launched and placed the country's first military satellite into the orbit. The elite force fired the satellite - dubbed Nour (Light)-1 - aboard Qased (Carrier) satellite carrier during an operation that was staged in Dasht-e Kavir, Iran's sprawling central desert, on Wednesday, the Corps' Sepah News reported. The satellite was placed into the orbit 425 kilometers above Earth's surface. -Press TV 4/22/20

Iran Says 1,000 Foreign Prisoners Released Temporarily Due To Virus Outbreak

Iran says it has released temporarily more than 1,000 foreign prisoners due to the coronavirus outbreak, following criticism by UN human rights experts. "What Iran has done in guaranteeing prisoners' health and granting furlough to them is a significant move" compared with what other countries have done, said Gholamhossein Esmaili, a spokesman for the country's judiciary. -RFE/RL 4/22/20

How American exceptionalism is making the coronavirus crisis worse

Earlier this month, more than two dozen diplomats and national security leaders from the United States and Europe signed a statement in response to President Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. "An outbreak anywhere impacts people everywhere," they said. A global pandemic like COVID-19 requires a truly global response. But, the U.S.'s aggressive global role stands in the way. -Caroline Gray, Responsible Statecraft 4/22/20

Women in virus-hit Iran tech sector fight to keep hard-won jobs

From the hustle and bustle of a startup, Fereshteh Kasrai now works from home, like many Iranian women fighting to keep hard-won tech jobs as the coronavirus outbreak stirs uncertainty. Iran says the COVID-19 disease has claimed more than 5,200 lives and infected close to 83,000 over the past two months, in the Middle East's deadliest outbreak. -AFP 4/21/20

Iran to form women's para powerlifting team

Iran will form the women's para powerlifting team for the first time. Iran Sports Federation for the Disabled Vice President Mojgan Nasiri has said that the female para powerlifters will par take at the international events after the Ministry of Sports and Youth confirms their dress code. 4/21/20

Iran marks National Day of Saadi Shirazi, the Master of Speech

Today is the National Commemoration Day of the renowned Persian poet Saadi Shirazi, born in Shiraz around 1200 and died around 1292. Abu-Muhammad Muslih al-Din bin Abdallah Shirazi, known by his pen-name Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. Saadi is known as a mystic and metaphysician in the history of Persian literature. He is recognized for the quality of his writings and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts.-Morteza Rahmani, Tehran Times 4/21/20

Lessons on humanity from Persian literature

All of Iran's celebrations this year to mark Sadi Day on April 20 will be organized online due to the COVID-19 disaster. Persian poet Sadi was introduced to the generation of Iranians that are now in their fifties with the following verses at the primary school age: The sons of Adam are limbs of each other / Having been created of one essence / When the calamity of time afflicts one limb / The other limbs cannot remain at rest.... -Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet 4/20/20

Afghan Doctor Fights On The Front Line Of Iran's Coronavirus Battle

Najibeh Gholami was already doing a medical internship at Mashhad's Imam Reza Hospital in February when the coronavirus pandemic reached that home of one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines. An Afghan physician-in-training in her mid-20s, she quickly volunteered to help tend to COVID-19 patients in that northeastern Iranian city. 4/20/20

'Untiemly' wins award at 2020 Kansas City FilmFest International

Iranian feature 'Untimely', directed by Pouya Eshtehardi, has won the 'Best World Cinema Feature' at the 2020 edition of the Kansas City FilmFest International in the United States. 'Untimely' is about a young private, Hamin, doing his military service in a watchtower in the borderline of Iran and Pakistan. Up in the watchtower, Hamin reviews the past years and the things that happened to him and his sister since their childhood. 4/20/20

Iran's Nurses Are Martyrs to Trump's Maximum Pressure

Now, Iran's nurses-the majority of whom are women-are among those bearing the worst of the brunt of U.S. sanctions. Official death counts from the Iranian government aren't broken out by profession and are widely believed to understate coronavirus fatalities. A group of doctors in Iran that has been tracking the deaths of health care workers puts the number of nurses who have died at at least 15 between late February and mid April, but even that almost certainly underestimates the toll as health workers have reportedly been instructed by government officials not to reveal information about shortages, infections, or deaths. -Negar Mortazavi, FP 4/17/20

Iran's Firouzja makes history at Banter Blitz Cup

16-year-old Alireza Firouzja claimed a historic 8.5:7.5 victory to defeat reigning World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the final of the $14,000 Banter Blitz Cup. In a thrilling contest, broadcast worldwide, Firouzja, who was featured by Mirror as an upcoming talent recently, earned applauds from Carlsen himself. 4/17/20

VIDEO: Vice Guide to Iran

Over the past weeks and months, Iran has descended into chaos. From the downing of a passenger jet to the assassination of a top general, and now one of the world's largest coronavirus outbreaks, life in the Islamic Republic is facing its toughest challenges since it was founded in 1979. Just days before all hell broke loose, VICE founder Suroosh Alvi traveled to the country, meeting people from all walks of life: from hipsters to hostage-takers, and from top lawmakers to one of Iran's heaviest metal bands. -Vice 4/17/20

Defectors Tell of Torture and Forced Sterilization in Militant Iranian Cult

The Mojahedin-e Khalq started as a militant revolutionary movement, committed in principle to bringing human rights and democracy to Iran. But over the last four decades, it has devolved into a secretive, cult-like group that resembles a militant, Islamist version of the Church of Scientology. The MEK has carried out bombings, sabotage missions, and murders. Since its founding in 1963, it is believed to have killed hundreds or even thousands of Iranians, as well as a handful of Americans. -Murtaza Hussain & Matthew Cole, Intercept 4/16/20

Iranians Hope to See Population Numbers Reflected in US Census

Actress and Comedian Tara Grammy has made a name for herself drawing form her Iranian heritage for her roles, including her latest film, A Simple Wedding. But because she was born in Iran, and grew up in Canada, she didn't realize she could count in the U.S. census. -Spectrum News 4/16/20

AP PHOTOS: In Iran, isolated musicians perform from rooftops

With performance halls closed and many isolated in their homes as a result of the Mideast's worst virus outbreak, Hosseini and other Iranian musicians now find performance spaces where they can. That includes rooftops dotted with water tanks and littered with debris, empty front porches and opened apartment windows. Their music floats down on others stuck in their homes, fearful of the COVID-19 illness the virus brings. -Ebrahim Noroozi, AP 4/16/20

Regime Change Is Wrong

Eric Edeleman and Ray Takeyh dispense with the usual hawkish smokescreens and evasions and call for regime change in Iran: "Regime change" is a toxic phrase in Washington. It conjures up images of the Iraq war, with the United States trapped in a quagmire of its own making. That is why those who favor a coercive U.S. approach to Iran are routinely charged with secretly supporting regime change. In response, the accused almost always deny it. They don't want regime change, they insist: they just want the Islamic Republic's theocrats to change their behavior. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 4/15/20

The Gehrig Twins Share Tales of Mountain Biking in Iran, and EWS Competition

How cool would it be to have a sibling who is also your friend and race mate? Swiss enduro pros Anita and Caro Gehrig live in that dream scenario, and their Norco Twins Racing squad is quite fierce on the elite Enduro World Series circuit...The Gehrigs toured some of the finest singletracks across the western Asian nation, and we checked in with them to learn more about the riding there. -Brian Gerow, Single Tracks 4/14/20

Transatlantic call to ease humanitarian trade with Iran due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Today, a bipartisan group of two dozen American and European national security leaders issue a joint statement urging the US government to ease humanitarian trade with Iran in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. "As the world grapples with COVID-19 - the disease caused by the novel coronavirus - we must remember that an outbreak anywhere impacts people everywhere. In turn, reaching across borders to save lives is imperative for our own security and must override political differences among governments" the authors write. -European Leadership Network 4/7/20

PHOTOS: Historic Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, Iran turned into workshop for coronavirus masks

The historic mausoleum of Shah Cheragh in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz has been temporarily turned into a workshop for local women to produce protective masks amid the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, as seen in footage shot on Monday. The Shah Cheragh shrine, which translates to the "King of the Light", has switched its long lines of pilgrims for a masks production line in an effort to meet the medical supplies demands in Iran amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 4/7/20

US: Ease Sanctions on Iran in COVID-19 Crisis

Broad US-imposed economic sanctions are negatively affecting the Iranian government's ability to adequately respond to the mounting health consequences of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The US should take immediate action to ease US sanctions and expand licensing of sanctions-exempt items to ensure Iran's access to essential humanitarian resources during the pandemic. -Human Rights Watch 4/6/20

COVID-19 outbreak in Iran exposes twisted aims of Iran hawks

The COVID-19 outbreak in Iran is a disaster for the Iranian people, with thousands already dead, tens of thousands more infected, and medical professionals working around the clock at profound risk to save as many lives as they can. Any American living through the pandemic should be able to sympathize, knowing that the Iranian people are dealing with the same struggle against a deadly virus, though one that is rendered far more difficult thanks to crushing U.S. sanctions. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 4/2/20

Beware of Trump Using the Coronavirus as a Cover for War With Iran

THE NEWS IS ALL coronavirus. Whether it's cable news, national newspapers, public radio, or even my own Intercept podcast, we can't get away from it. The pandemic has overwhelmed us all; we talk, think, dream of little else. But let me try and grab your attention for a few moments and point you in a different direction. How many of you noticed a rather disturbing New York Times story from Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt last week that was headlined, "Pentagon Order to Plan for Escalation in Iraq Meets Warning From Top Commander"? -Mehdi Hasan, Intercept 03/31/20

The Ghoulish Opposition To Sanctions Relief For Iran

The Trump administration has gone out of its way for years to make humanitarian channels as difficult to use as possible, and even now the limited Swiss channel is inadequate for Iran's needs in the middle of the pandemic. Iran hawks know all of this, and in their more unguarded moments they exult in the horrors they have unleashed on the Iranian people, so no one should take their protestations seriously when they argue for keeping murderous sanctions in place. -Daniel Larison, American Conservative 03/27/20

Human rights groups call on Trump administration to end Iran sanctions amid COVID-19 crisis

Last week, over 25 groups called on the Trump administration to end its sanctions on Iran amid the COVID-19 crisis. The virus has been particularly calamitous for Iran: at the time this piece was written the country had 21,638 confirmed cases and 1,685 people had been killed by it. U.S. sanctions have no doubt worsened the situation, as they've weakened Iran's economy and thus made it more difficult to secure goods. 03/24/20

The Coronavirus Is Killing Iranians. So Are Trump's Brutal Sanctions.

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT is run by sociopaths. How else to explain the Trump administration's callous disregard for the lives of ordinary Iranians in the midst of this global coronavirus crisis? How else to make sense of U.S. officials doubling down in their support for crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, despite the sheer scale of the suffering? -Mehdi Hasan, Intercept 03/18/20

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

If you visit the State Department's Iran page, you'll see an ominous clock counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the expiration of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran. The clock, and the embarrassing propagandistic script that accompanies it, reflects how far the State Department has fallen from the days when it laboriously worked to craft a deal to constrain Iran's nuclear program and open a window to resolve additional longstanding concerns with Iran's regional activities. -Ryan Costello, Responsible Statecraft 03/13/20

U.S. "maximum pressure" on Iran hurts the women it claims to help

On 21 May 2018, less than two weeks after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched Washington's "New Iran Strategy" before an audience at the Heritage Foundation. In his remarks, he insisted that Iranian women's long struggle for inclusion and equality matters dearly to Washington. As if to prove the point, the U.S. State Department's social media feeds since that day have interspersed announcements of new choking sanctions with twinkling reminders of Iranian women's potential -Azadeh Moaveni & Ali Vaez, Responsible Statecraft 03/9/20

Jailed Iranian Activist Nasrin Sotoudeh Writes a Plea for Peace on International Women's Day

On this International Women's Day, as a deadly virus sickens my country, I throw my hands down and as a citizen, in a gentle voice, I ask the government to end their animosity with the world, to look at the world through the eyes of peace and to trust life and human beings. I ask human right activists to help us in our peaceful endeavor. I specifically extend my hand to American citizens. Our governments have been rivals for years, with little regards for us... -TIME 03/7/20

Hawkish Group Targets Medicine Sales to Iran Amid Coronavirus Crisis

DESPITE A MASSIVE coronavirus-related public health crisis, an anti-Iran pressure group with close ties to the Trump administration is urging major pharmaceutical companies to "end their Iran business," focusing on companies with special licenses - most often under a broadly defined "humanitarian exemption" - to conduct trade with Iran. -Eli Clifton, Intercept 03/6/20

Banned Iranian Director Mohammad Rasoulof Wins Top Prize At Berlin Film Festival

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival for his film titled There Is No Evil, which he made despite being forbidden to do so by the government in Tehran. Rasoulof was not present at the February 29 ceremony to receive the Golden Bear award for the film, which tells four stories loosely connected to the use of the death penalty in Iran and dealing with personal freedom under tyranny. 03/1/20

2020: Millennium of Persian Poet Ferdowsi

Anniversaries are important; they celebrate legacies and signify presence and continuity. This year, 2020, marks the 1000th anniversary of Ferdowsi's death. This renowned Persian poet died at age 81 in 1020, more than five centuries before Shakespeare was born. Ferdowsi has not only endured for a thousand years but has also defined the very identity and language of his own country - Iran. This is, indeed, a great achievement for a poet or for any person, for that matter. -Rasoul Shams 01/13/20

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