Brief on Iran

Brief On Iran (BOI), Newsletter March 16th, 2015

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Brief On Iran – Newsletter
March 16th, 2015
  Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)
 Iran Human Rights

The annual report on the death penalty in 2014 shows that since the election of President Rouhani in June 2013, Iranian authorities have executed more than 1193 people. This is an average of more than 2 executions everyday.

Iran Human Rights, March 12, 2015: On Tuesday March 12, Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort (ECPM) presented IHR’s seventh annual report on the death penalty in Iran.

Download the PDF Version of the Full Report

Different parts of the report will be published in the coming days.

Execution trends before and after the election of Hassan Rouhani:Despite the optimism and hope after the election of Mr. Hassan Rouhani as the Iranian president, there are few indications that the human rights situation in the country has improved. In fact, a comparison of the 18 months before and after the presidential elections of June 2013 shows that the use of the death penalty has in fact increased.

 Iran Human Rights

The execution wave continues in Iran. During the last 6 days more than 60 executions have been reported and 43 of these executions have been confirmed.

 

Iran Human Rights, March 7, 2015: Three prisoners were executed in the prison of Ardebil on Saturdaymorning 7 March, reported the Iranian state media today. The prisoners who were not identified by name, we convicted of drug related charges in three different cases: Possession and trafficking of 2900 grams of Crystal, possession and trafficking of 1900 grams of crack and buying 2 kilograms of heroin, said the report.

Al Jazeera

 Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, has denounced Iran for proposing draft laws aimed at boosting the country’s population, saying the legislation would “reduce Iranian women to baby-making machines”.

Amnesty warned on Wednesday that a first bill, which has already been approved once by parliament, would restrict access to contraception, forcing women into unsafe backstreet abortions.

It said the second draft law, which is to go before parliament next month, would close many jobs to women who choose not to or are unable to have children.

“The proposed laws will entrench discriminatory practices and set the rights of women and girls in Iran back by decades,” said Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“The authorities are promoting a dangerous culture in which women are stripped of key rights and viewed as baby-making machines rather than human beings with fundamental rights to make choices about their own bodies and lives.”

 At the same time as the six Sunni Kurdish prisoners were executed in Rajaishahr prison of Karaj, Iranian authorities hanged at least 8 prisoners in the Ghezelhesar prison of this city. At least 32 people have been executed in the past three days in Iran.

Iran Human Rights, March 4, 2014: According to sources Iran Human Rights (IHR) has been in contact with at least eight prisoners were executed in the Ghezelhesar prison of Karaj Wednesday morning March 4.  According to this report 16 prisoners were transferred from the Unit 2 , ward 4 of Ghezelhesar prison for execution. eight of them were executed and the remaining eight haven’t come back to their ward yet.

Six of the prisoners who were executed are identified as: Mohammad Khandan, Mohsen Alipour, Masoud Rasouli, Asghar Mir-Adli and Mohammad Mahmoudi. All the prisoners were convicted of drug-related charges.

NDTV

LONDON:  International rights group Amnesty International condemned Iranian authorities Friday for what it said was the “unspeakably cruel” blinding of a man on the grounds of retribution.
The man was forcibly blinded in his left eye Tuesday under the principle of “qisas” — an eye for an eye — at a prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, Amnesty said.
The man had been convicted of throwing acid in another man’s face in 2009, leading to a 10-year prison sentence, an order to pay blood money to the victim and the act of retribution.

“Punishing someone by deliberately blinding them is an unspeakably cruel and shocking act,” said Raha Bahreini, Amnesty’s Iran researcher, in a statement.
“This punishment exposes the utter barbarity of Iran’s justice system and underlines the Iranian authorities’ shocking disregard for basic humanity.”

  Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle East)

 

International Business times

A group of alleged Shiite militia fighters executed a young boy in the Sunni Iraqi city of Tikrit. They accused him of being a member of the Islamic State group, and released an amateur video of the killing on Facebook Tuesday. Because of the boy’s youth, the video sent shock waves through Western media. But beheadings, bullet-riddled bodies and images of child soldiers are posted almost daily on social media sites affiliated with Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq.

Tikrit has been in a state of sectarian conflict for years and the rise of the group also known as ISIS and the Iran-backed Shiite militias now threatens to pull the rest of the country into sectarian chaos. On Monday, Iranian-backed Shiite militias joined the U.S.-backed Iraqi Armed Forces in one of the largest offensives to push back the ISIS militants from Tikrit, a largely Sunni city and Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

The Iran-backed Shiite “Popular Mobilization” forces have been fighting Sunnis — not just ISIS — in Sunni-dominated areas for months, claiming to seek revenge for ISIS attacks on Shiites and decades of persecution under Hussein’s brutal Baathist regime. Since June, Shiite militias have reportedly abducted and executed hundreds of Sunni Iraqis, whom they accuse of being ISIS members.

Germany’s second-largest bank, Commerzbank, has agreed to pay a total of $1.45bn (£980m) to US authorities for violating economic sanctions against businesses in Iran and Sudan.

Germany’s second-largest bank, Commerzbank, has agreed to pay a total of $1.45bn (£980m) to US authorities for violating economic sanctions against businesses in Iran and Sudan.
The penalty also includes charges relating to money laundering carried out on behalf of Japanese firm Olympus.Regulators said Commerzbank had “turned a blind eye” to illegal practices.

The bank’s chief executive, Martin Blessing, said his firm took the violations “very seriously”.
He added that Commerzbank would make “changes to our systems, training and personnel to address the deficiencies identified by US and New York authorities”.
‘Broader problem’
In a statement announcing the penalty, Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS), highlighted that Commerzbank employees had “sought to alter the Bank’s transaction monitoring system so that it would create fewer ‘red flag’ alerts about potential misconduct”.

 Iran Occupies Iraq
The Wall Street Journal
 As the U.S. leads from behind, Tehran creates a Shiite arc of power.

While Washington focuses on Iran-U.S. nuclear talks, the Islamic Republic is making a major but little-noticed strategic advance. Iran’s forces are quietly occupying more of Iraq in a way that could soon make its neighbor a de facto Shiite satellite of Tehran.

That’s the larger import of the dominant role Iran and its Shiite militia proxies are playing in the military offensive to take back territory from the Islamic State, or ISIS. The first battle is over the Sunni-majority city of Tikrit, and while the Iraqi army is playing a role, the dominant forces are Shiite militias supplied and coordinated from Iran. This includes the Badr Brigades that U.S. troops fought so hard to put down in Baghdad during the 2007 surge.

 WASHINGTON – In the spring of 2010, Afghan officials struck a deal to free an Afghan diplomat held hostage by Al Qaeda. But the price was steep – $5 million – and senior security officials were scrambling to come up with the money.

They first turned to a secret fund that the Central Intelligence Agencybankrolled with monthly cash deliveries to the presidential palace in Kabul, according to several Afghan officials involved in the episode. The Afghan government, they said, had already squirreled away about $1 million from that fund.

Within weeks, that money and $4 million more provided from other countries was handed over to Al Qaeda, replenishing its coffers after a relentless C.I.A. campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan had decimated the militant network’s upper ranks.

The Christian Science Monitor
Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub

In Tikrit, Iraqi commander Hadi al-Amiri criticized those in Iraq who “kiss the hands of the Americans and get nothing in return.” He praised Iran’s “unconditional” support.

TIKRIT, IRAQ- The U.S. has failed to live up to its promises to help Iraq fight Islamic State extremists, unlike the “unconditional” assistance being given by Iran, the commander of Iraq’s powerful Shiite militias alleged Friday.

In a battlefield interview near Tikrit, where Iraqi forces are fighting to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown from the militants of the so-called Islamic State, commander Hadi al-Amiri criticized those who “kiss the hands of the Americans and get nothing in return.”

Iraqi forces entered Tikrit for the first time Wednesday from the north and south. On Friday, they waged fierce battles to secure the northern neighborhood of Qadisiyya and lobbed mortar shells and rockets into the city center, still in the hands of IS militants. Iraqi military officials have said they expect to reach central Tikrit in two to three days.

The Guardian
Arabs believe Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a are in effect under Iranian control – and power may shift further if US sanctions are eased.

The commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have been working overtime recently, flaunting their achievements across the Middle East and flexing muscles as international negotiations over the country’s nuclear programme enter their critical and perhaps final phase.

On Wednesday it was the turn of Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the IRGC’s most senior officer. “The Islamic revolution is advancing with good speed, its example being the ever-increasing export of the revolution,” he declared. “Not only Palestine and Lebanon acknowledge the influential role of the Islamic Republic but so do the people of Iraq and Syria. They appreciate the nation of Iran.”

Last month a similarly boastful message was delivered by General Qassem Suleimani, who leads the IRGC’s elite Quds force – and who is regularly photographed leading the fightback of Iraqi Shia miltias against the Sunni jihadis of the Islamic State (Isis) as well as against western and Arab-backed rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad in southern Syria. “Imperialists and Zionists have admitted defeat at the hands of the Islamic Republic and the resistance movement,” Suleimani said.

Reuters
(Reuters) – The United States increased the reward from $1 million to $5 million on Monday for helping to find an American who disappeared in Iran eight years ago and appealed to Tehran for help in locating Robert Levinson.
“We ask the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us on the investigation into Robert Levinson’s disappearance so we can ensure his safe return,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.

Levinson, a former FBI agent disappeared from Kish Island, Iran, on March 9, 2007, while on a business trip as a private investigator. Friends of Levinson said that, around that time, he had been investigating the counterfeiting of cigarettes, though mainly in Latin America.

The FBI has been investigating Levinson’s disappearance. In 2012, it offered a rare $1 million reward for any information that could lead to his safe return. The FBI increased the award by $4 million on Monday.

 Iran- Nuclear Activities

New York Post
Amir Taheri

President Obama may be about to make the biggest of his many foreign-policy mistakes. Both Washington and Tehran have hinted that an accord on Iran’s nuclear program may come as early asMarch 31.

In a Reuters interview last week, Obama broadly outlined the deal. Iran, he said, is already at the “threshold” point, needing just a year to build its first nuclear warhead. Under the deal, Iran would freeze its program at the current point for 10 years, subject to review in five years’ time, but could continue enriching uranium up to 5 percent.

Translation: Washington would acknowledge Iran’s right to build a nuclear arsenal in 10 years (perhaps five) if it so wishes.

In the meantime, Iran could enrich uranium and build up stocks. In exchange for accepting this international “probation,” the form of which remains unclear, Iran would see US, UN and European Union sanctions lifted.

Reuters
Louis Charbonneau

(Reuters) – Major world powers have begun talks about a United Nations Security Council resolution to lift U.N. sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck with Tehran, a step that could make it harder for the U.S. Congress to undo a deal, Western officials said.

The talks between Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – the five permanent members of the Security Council – plus Germany and Iran, are taking place ahead of difficult negotiations that resume next week over constricting Iran’s nuclear ability.

Some eight U.N. resolutions – four of them imposing sanctions – ban Iran from uranium enrichment and other sensitive atomic work and bar it from buying and selling atomic technology and anything linked to ballistic missiles. There is also a U.N. arms embargo.

Iran sees their removal as crucial as U.N. measures are a legal basis for more stringent U.S. and European Union measures to be enforced. The U.S. and EU often cite violations of the U.N. ban on enrichment and other sensitive nuclear work as justification for imposing additional penalties on Iran.

Bloomberg
David Lerman

(Bloomberg) — Secretary of State John Kerry told senators that an open letter from 47 Republican lawmakers to Iran’s leaders was stunning, irresponsible and “flat wrong.”

“No one is questioning anybody’s right to dissent,” Kerry said when asked about the letter Wednesday during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “But to write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation — particularly the leaders they have criticized others for even engaging with — to write them and suggest they’re going to give a constitutional lesson, which by the way is incorrect, is quite stunning.”

The top U.S. diplomat said his reaction was “one of utter disbelief” upon learning of the letter initiated by freshman Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas that told leaders of the Islamic Republic that any agreement they struck with President Barack Obama to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program may be reversed by his successor or changed by U.S. lawmakers.

Rueters
Arshad Mohammed
(Reuters) – Simply demanding Iran’s capitulation is no way to get a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday as he wrapped up three days of talks with a veiled dig at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry said he and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif made some progress in their negotiations in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux and would resume them on March 15. Kerry aides said many obstacles remained before a late March deadline for an outline accord between Iran and six world powers.”There are still significant gaps and important choices that need to be made,” Kerry told reporters after more than 10 hours of talks all told with Zarif.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu said in a speech in the U.S. Congress that Washington was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could spark a “nuclear nightmare,” drawing a rebuke from President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening U.S.-Israeli rift.
 The Washington Post
THE OBAMA administration is seeking to assure U.S. allies and congressional skeptics that the nuclear accord it is contemplating with Iran will not lead to a broader detente with the Islamic republic. “We are not seeking a grand bargain,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry declared last week during a visit to Riyadh he made with the explicit purpose of countering Saudi Arabian suspicions to the contrary. “We will not take our eye off of Iran’s other destabilizing actions in places like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.”The political imperative behind this clarification is easily understood. In recent months, the notion that President Obama is prepared to scrap the 35-year-old U.S. policy of seeking to contain Iranian influence in the Middle East has been widely accepted by Arab and Israeli officials and U.S. commentators; opposition to such a reversal is one reason the prospective nuclear deal is generating bipartisan unease in Congress.

When presented with a possible way to skirt Congressional approval on an Iran deal, the Obama administration rejected it.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. has “no intention” of using the United Nations to lock into place any potential deal with Iran over its nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The United States will not be “converting U.S. political commitments under a deal with Iran into legally binding obligations through a UN Security Council resolution,” Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, said in a statement emailed to BuzzFeed News.

“Past UNSC resolutions on Iran have called for a negotiated settlement of the Iran nuclear issue, and accordingly we would fully expect the UNSC to ‘endorse’ any deal with Iran and encourage its full implementation so as to resolve international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” Meehan continued. “But any such resolution would not change the nature of our commitments under such a deal, which would be wholly contained in the text of that deal.”

Jay Solomon And  

Carol E. Lee

 
WASHINGTON-The leadership of the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. publicly broke Sundayfrom the White House over the issue of Iran policy during the first of a three-day policy conference in Washington attended by 16,000 of its members.

Leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, outlined a strategy moving forward of working through Congress to disrupt any nuclear agreement with Tehran that is deemed too weak in denying the country a nuclear weapons capability.
This would be achieved, they said, both by seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran and to block the White House’s ability to lift standing U.S. sanctions, which would be required as part of any comprehensive agreement.

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