Brief On Iran – Newsletter
April 6th, 2015
Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)
Nuclear talks and Human Rights in Iran
“The human rights crisis in Iran claims a victim every minute,” the article said in part. “The gallows are still standing. Prisons are worse than before. The right to life is worthless. The concept of judicial protection is meaningless. Government agents have destroyed privacy. Universities are controlled by a political ideology. Freedom of expression – freedom after expression – is null and void.”
IranWire went on to quote from an interview with Ali-Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, published on Khamenei’s official website on Monday. In it Velayati disregarded the regime’s human rights abuses, reducing them to only the issue of repression of the Baha’i religious minority.
He also linked this to Iranian intransigence in nuclear talks with Western powers, declaring that if the West became convinced that it could extract concessions from Iran on that issue, it would soon strive to extract concessions from Iran on the issue of human rights.
Earlier this month, Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s Vice President for Women and Family Affairs, led an official delegation to the United Nations in New York to attend the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women. In her March 11 speech to the commission, Molaverdi said that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has always had the empowerment of women and improving their status…on its agenda.”
Molaverdi described the significant progress Iranian women have made in education and science, citing unilateral economic sanctions and violence against women as factors that have impeded the full realization of women’s rights. There was little in her speech to suggest that domestic factors — including Iran’s laws and policies — play a significant role in depriving Iranian women of real gender equality and empowerment.
For the fourth year in a row, the ailing prominent human rights defender Mohammad Seifzadeh was not granted furlough for the Iranian New Year (March 20-April 1). Furlough, typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.
Seifzadeh’s wife, Fatemeh Golzar, said in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “Since his arrest in April 2011, he has never requested furlough, and he asked us [the family] not to request furlough for him. If everything goes according to law, a prisoner must be granted furlough, but during the years he has been in prison, he has not been granted any furlough.”
Golzar told the Campaign that Seifzadeh suffers from kidney disease. “In February, he was transferred to a hospital for kidney treatment for ten days. He suffers from kidney stones and he was in a lot of pain, but after examinations and tests, the doctors said there is no need for surgery,” she said. Medical care is routinely denied to political prisoners in Iran.
Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle East)
The Wall Street Journal
Nearly $2 billion in frozen Iranian banking assets have been awarded to terrorism victims.
WASHINGTON-The Supreme Court on Monday asked the federal government to weigh in on judgments awarding nearly $2 billion in frozen Iranian banking assets to terrorism victims.
Al Arabiya News
The White House has released the names of high-ranking officials who participated in a video conference with President Obama late Tuesday. Media outlets quickly highlighted one participantSahar Nowrouzzadeh, who apparently previously worked for an alleged pro-Iranian lobby – it is claimed.
The White House brief, which was reported on by The Daily Beast, listed Sahar Nowrouzzadeh as the National Security Council Director for Iran.
However, according to Breitbart News, she appears to be a former member of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), an alleged pro-Iranian government group.
The news outlet found that an individual with the same name had written publications on behalf of the organization.
The outlet also reported that a NIAC profile page from 2007 appears to show that Sahar Nowrouzzadeh is the same person who is currently the National Security Council Director for Iran. The NIAC profile page showed that she attended the same university and completed the same double major.
The New York Times
CAIRO – Almost as soon as he had announced a nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama called King Salman of Saudi Arabia to reassure him of America’s “enduring friendship.”
Returning the courtesy, King Salman, who is Iran’s chief regional rival, responded that he hoped the deal would “reinforce the stability and security of the region and the world,” the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
But the picture on the ground was not so harmonious.
As Tehran and its clients around the Arab world celebrated the accord as a triumph of Iranian resolve, Saudi Arabia and its allies declared that the agreement had only reinforced their determination to push back against Iranian influence, with or without Washington. On the front lines of battles with Iranian proxies in Syria and Lebanon, some cried betrayal.
“The Saudi king decided his country could no longer bear the provocative Iranian expansive policy in the Middle East, or the American silence over it,” wrote Jamal Khashoggi, a veteran Saudi journalist and former government adviser, in a commentary this week on what he called “the Salman doctrine.”
Hamza Hendawi and Ahmed Al-haj
Yemen’s embattled president on Saturday called Shiite rebels who forced him to flee the country “puppets of Iran,” directly blaming the Islamic Republic for the chaos there and demanding airstrikes against rebel positions continue until they surrender.
Egypt’s president supported the creation a regional Arab military force and a Gulf diplomat warned that Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen could go on for months, raising the specter of a regional conflict pitting Sunni Arab nations against Shiite power Iran.
The comments by Arab leaders including Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled his country only days earlier, came at an Arab summit largely focusing on the chaos there caused by the advance of the rebels, known as Houthis.
Leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait obliquely referenced Iran earlier at the summit held in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. They blamed the Persian country for meddling in the affairs of Arab nations, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi saying, without mentioning Iran by name, that it was “spreading its ailment in the body.”
The Wall Street Journal
American negotiators and their cohorts are trying to close a deal that would let Iran keep its nuclear program, subject to intricate conditions of monitoring and enforcement. Yet how is a deal like that supposed to be verified? The Obama administration can’t even keep up with the Iran-linked oil tankers on the U.S. blacklist.
Currently, there are at least 55 of these tankers the Treasury Department says are under U.S. sanctions. These are large ships, major links in the oil chain that sustains the Tehran regime.
U-T San Diego
Bradly Klapper & Matthew Lee- Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – Food boxes strewn across the floor. An espresso machine buzzing constantly in the background. Physicists catnapping, their heads on tables.
That was the scene at one of Switzerland’s finest hotels, where room service kept the deliveries coming as U.S. diplomats worked feverishly to achieve a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
If the pressure wasn’t enough, Secretary of State John Kerry kept popping into the room to pull individuals aside or tell them to accelerate their efforts, according to U.S. officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about behind-the-scenes interactions.
From the start of March through Thursday’s breakthrough, Kerry spent 19 days in the Swiss cities of Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux negotiating with the Iranians.
Neither Congress, Israel, nor our Gulf allies can afford to be seen as killing the deal
With President Obama’s announcement that America and its allies had “reached a historic understanding with Iran” on its nuclear weapons program, the debate has now begun: Does the president’s nuclear deal represent promise or peril? Is it President Obama’s legacy, or simply an illusion?
For the answer, we need to look at both the substance and the optics of the proposed agreement.
In terms of substance, many critical details are still unclear. A great deal of work remains to be done as negotiators spend the next three months to turn the framework the administration announced into a final, comprehensive deal. As the president made clear in his Rose Garden statement, “nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed.”
President Obama has put both Congressional Republicans and our Middle Eastern allies in something of a box. Neither Congress, Israel, nor our Gulf allies can afford to be seen as killing the deal. The optics work in the president’s favor – but only if the substance of the deal that emerges is salable. If the president gets the substance right – if the suspension of sanctions is not front-loaded, and there is transparency and intrusive inspections – he will have a legacy of which he can be justifiably proud. If not, he will have nothing more than an illusion… or worse.
(CNN) – Back in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini famously said he was “drinking poison” when he accepted a ceasefire to end the eight-year-old war with Iraq. The war had helped define Khomeini’s regime, the Islamic Republic, which he had founded a year before Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. Khomeini galvanized the nation, both his supporters and growing opponents, to fight against the enemy.
He dragged out the war for eight years, despite Saddam’s willingness to accept a ceasefire, and thus stabilized the foundations of the Islamic Republic. By the time he ended the war, the economy was in shambles, and there was no sign of his die-hard volunteers.
Since then, “drinking a chalice of poison” has became part of Iranian political lexicon, and many analysts have asked whether Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor, would raise the chalice and surrender to demands by the West to end Iran’s nuclear program.
This is a significant moment in the turbulent history of efforts to constrain Iran’s nuclear programme.
Opinion has been bitterly divided on the merits of even seeking a deal with Tehran.
Many on Capitol Hill, for example, have appeared to oppose any deal, preferring – if you strip away their arguments – to seek regime change in Tehran.In contrast, the overwhelming verdict of nuclear and arms control experts is that diplomacy has delivered a result.Their preference was always for an agreement that avoided what they saw a bad choice between military action and perhaps a fraying but almost certainly less effective sanctions regime in the future.This, it must be stressed, is not yet a complete deal. Difficult weeks of detailed drafting lie ahead. But it’s a framework on which all parties are agreed. That in itself is an important outcome. Yet this is not a moment for euphoria.
Nobody should be under any illusions that Iran has significantly changed its attitude towards its nuclear programme or its longer-term nuclear ambitions.