Brief on Iran

Brief on Iran,(BOI), Newsletter May 4th, 2015

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Brief On Iran – Newsletter
May 4th, 2015
  Iran- Human Rights (Women, Minorities, Ethnics)

OIAC

It was reported that Iran’s only women’s magazine, Zanan-e Emrouz, or Today’s Women, had been shut down on Monday, by the regime’s Press Advisory Board after publishing only 15 issues since being permitted to return to print last year. The forced closure stemmed from the magazine’s publication of a series of stories about unmarried cohabitation, which the regime calls “white marriage.”

Although a number of other newspapers and magazines had also published stories about this social phenomenon, Zanan-e Emrouz was singled out as supposedly justifying and encouraging the practice, and thus contributing to what the regime considers to be immorality. The only obvious different between the offending stories and those of other news sources is that they appeared in what was Iran’s only women’s interest magazine.

 

On Tuesday, IranWire sought reactions to the closure from female Iranian politicians, namely members of parliament who are part of the “women’s faction.” The news site quoted three such MPs as saying that they had either never heard of Zanan-e Emrouz or had heard the name but had never read it. None of the three female politicians had heard the news of the magazine’s closure. Even so, one of them, Laleh Eftekhari was quick to defend the government’s actions, saying “Look, if this magazine has committed an offense, then it must be shut down. They would not shut it down without a reason.”

OIAC

The anti-human clerical regime of Iran sent another 30 prisoners to the gallows from April 22 to April 26.

Nine prisoners were collectively hanged on April 22 in Vakil Abad prison in Shiraz. On April 23, sixteen other prisoners in Bandar Abbas, Kerman and Jiroft were executed. On April 25 and 26, three prisoners in Rasht prison and two other prisoners were executed in the cities of Zanjan and Abhar. These statistics show sharp increase in executions under Rouhani in past 2 weeks.

As such, the number of executions over two weeks, April 13 to April 26, reaches 115. The real number of those executed is much more than this. According to some reports in recent weeks, a large number of prisoners have been executed secretly in Arak.

Iran Human Rights

 

April 29, 2015-On the eve of International Workers’ Day on May 1, Iranian authorities have arrested at least five labor leaders. The arrests have taken place in the context of intensifying labor protests, strikes, and arrests of individuals organizing or participating in labor protests.

“The Government views any labor mobilization as a national security threat,” said Hadi Ghaemi, Executive Director of the Campaign. “Workers should be allowed to peacefully defend their common interests, without risking years behind bars.”

“Rouhani needs to turn his attention to the people of Iran. Workers are suffering and their demands need to be heard,” added Ghaemi.

Tehran Security Police arrested two members of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Ebrahim Maddadi and Davood Razavi, in their homes on April 29, and two other labor activists, Mahmoud Salehi and Osman Ismaili, were arrested in the city of Saqez in the Kurdistan Province on April 28. On April 25, plainclothes security agents in Sanandaj, Kurdistan, arrested the labor activist Reza Amjadi.

  Iran- Terrorism Activities (Middle East)
 Independent
Adam Withnall

A British national is among the sailors caught up in the violent seizure of a cargo ship by the Iranian military, which involved shots fired and the dispatching of a destroyer by the US Navy.

The incident saw a tense situation emerge on Tuesday afternoon when the US responded to a distress signal from the Maersk Tigris, after Iranian state TV accused the ship of unspecified violations.

A spokesman from Denmark-based Maersk confirmed that a Briton was among the 24 crew members aboard the ship, which was in international waters the Strait of Hormuz en route from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Jebel Ali in the UAE when it was captured.

He told the Press Association that the crew, mainly of eastern European and Asian origin, was “safe and under the circumstances in good spirits”.

   Yahoo News- AFP

Washington (AFP) – The leader of an exiled Iranian opposition group addressed US lawmakers for the first time Wednesday and warned of the links between Shiite Iran and the Sunni Muslim Islamic State (IS) militants.

“It was the mullahs’ regime who helped the creation of ISIS… and the killing of Sunnis in Iraq helped the emergence of ISIS,” Maryam Rajavi told House lawmakers, using another acronym for the IS jihadist group that has captured a swathe of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Rajavi is the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a political umbrella coalition of five Iranian opposition groups that includes the once blacklisted People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK).

The Paris-based group has proved controversial in the past due to its links with the MEK, formed in the 1960s to overthrow the then shah of Iran.

   United Against Nuclear Iran

New York, NY – United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is releasing a new resource documenting Iran’s violations of its treaty obligations and multilateral agreements. This week Iranian forces fired on and unlawfully seized theMaersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged and reportedly American-owned commercial vessel transiting the Strait of Hormuz. Four days earlier, Iranian patrol boats aggressively encircled the Maersk Kensington, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship.

Given that “the United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense of the Marshall Islands,” the seizure of the vessel has been viewed as both a provocation against the U.S. and as jeopardizing freedom of navigation in an internationally recognized shipping lane vital to global commerce.

 

In addition, according to reports, a United Nations sanctions panel was recently informed that “an Iranian nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms” is active and operating in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions sanctioning Iran’s illicit nuclear program.

Business Insider 
Northern Middle East Map                                                  Armin Rosen

Iraq and Syria is no longer exist as coherent, unitary states.

By now, followers of events in the Middle East have grown used to maps that show how ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army, the Assad regime, the Baghdad government, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Sunni tribes, Iranian-backed militia groups, and various other actors have filled the vacuum in the countries still officially known as Iraq and Syria.

Michael Pregent, an analyst and former US Army intelligence officer, created a map that greatly clarifies this mess by showing the “priority” and “secondary” defensive front lines for Iran, the Kurds, and the Assad regime, showing the areas that are most vital to the sides’ war objectives.

The map shows that the strategic fault lines in Iraq and Syria have nothing to do with the country’s internationally recognized borders, or even with the “borders” of ISIS’s “Caliphate.” And it reveals something important about the future of the fight against ISIS.

The Hill

This past Wednesday could well mark a turning point in the U.S.’s fight against ISIS and other forces of instability and violence in the greater Middle East. The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation, and Trade held a hearing entitled “ISIS: Defining the Enemy,” where Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was the first to testify.  This is a watershed development, especially at a moment when the U.S. government is flying headlong into a nuclear deal with Tehran that can only help legitimize the brutal Iranian theocracy that is fomenting much of the sectarian chaos that is feeding the rise of ISIS.

In her remarks, provided via videoconference from Paris,. Rajavi offered an alternate reality scenario of an Iran that is secular, non-nuclear, and democratic. Such a nation not only would reduce the existential dread of our allies in the region, but would drain the swamp of Iran’s terrorist proxies such as Hezbollah which have sparked the vicious Sunni extremist backlash led by Al Qaeda and ISIS.  This makes groups like NCRI promising allies in the fight against Islamic extremism. We need to encourage and empower progressive and anti-fundamentalist Muslim groups like NCRI and I urge my former colleagues in Congress to heed what Rajavi said.

 Iran- Nuclear Activities

Voice of America
Margaret Besheer

 

UNITED NATIONS-In a sign of how much U.S.-Iranian relations have thawed as negotiations over Iran’s nuclear file progress, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Iran’s Foreign Minister Javid Zarif Monday for about an hour at the New York residence of Tehran’s U.N. ambassador.

Kerry arrived at the New York City townhouse, which under diplomatic protocol is considered Iranian territory. He was greeted by Iranian officials and led inside. Zarif arrived a few minutes after Kerry. Neither Kerry nor Zarif spoke to reporters after the private talks in New York.

The U.S. and Iran broke diplomatic relations in 1979, and the two nations only recently have begun engaging over Tehran’s nuclear program.

A framework agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program was reached April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland between the six major powers (the United States, Britain, China France, Russia and Germany) and Iran. The parties hope to reach a final deal by June 30.

The two diplomats are in New York for the annual review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Financial Times
Gideon Rachman 

There was a presidential statement in the Rose Garden of the White House. There were joyous celebrations on the streets of Tehran. There were lamentations in the US Senate. All these events were provoked by the news, earlier this month, of a framework nuclear deal between Iran and the US. Three weeks later, the newspapers are still full of critiques of the agreement.

But all of this fuss disguises an awkward fact. There is no Iran nuclear deal.

The joint statement released by Iran and its negotiating partners, earlier this month, was a few short paragraphs, skirting all the crucial issues. All the detail about what was “agreed” was actually contained in a unilateral statement issued by the Americans on April 2nd – the so-called White House fact sheet. Iran had not signed off on that “fact sheet”. And, in subsequent days, Iran made it clear that it dissents from the American interpretation of what was agreed. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has tweeted that the US fact sheet was “wrong on most of the issues”.

Press TV
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States has reiterated assurances that Washington will remain committed to any possible deal with Tehran over its nuclear program.

“The US delegation reassured us that in case of any agreement [between Iran and the P5+1 countries], the US government will commit to the implementation of the deal,” Zarif told reporters following a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York on Monday.

Eli Lake

The Barack Obama administration has estimated for years that Iran was at most three months away from enriching enough nuclear fuel for an atomic bomb. But the administration only declassified this estimate at the beginning of the month, just in time for the White House to make the case for its Iran deal to Congress and the public.

Speaking to reporters and editors at our Washington bureau on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged that the U.S. has assessed for several years that Iran has been two to three months away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. When asked how long the administration has held this assessment, Moniz said: “Oh quite some time.” He added: “They are now, they are right now spinning, I mean enriching with 9,400 centrifuges out of their roughly 19,000. Plus all the . . . . R&D work. If you put that together it’s very, very little time to go forward. That’s the 2-3 months.”

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