In the summer of 2021, officers from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service showed up at the Vancouver home of Ramin Seyed Emami, an Iranian Canadian musician and performer who hosts a popular Persian-language podcast. Seyed Emami often features guests from inside Iran and delves into topics that are taboo in conservative Iranian culture, such as sex, mental health and losing religious faith. One of the officers explained that the government of Iran had developed a list of people living abroad whom it deemed a threat to the regime, Seyed Emami said in an interview. The officer didn’t say whether the 41-year-old podcaster’s name was on it, but the implication was clear, and he was told to take security precautions.
Iran’s World Cup defeat to the United States was met by cheers and celebrations in Tehran and other Iranian cities on Tuesday evening, as protesters hailed the country’s exit from the tournament as a blow to the ruling regime. The nation was eliminated from the tournament in Qatar after its 1-0 loss on Tuesday, ending a campaign that has been overshadowed by anti-government protests that have raged for months at home. But there are concerns about the safety of the Iranian players returning home across the Persian Gulf, after the team initially refused to sing Iran’s national anthem before their first game in an apparent show of solidarity with demonstrators. The team’s families were also threatened with imprisonment and torture in advance of the match, a source involved in the security of the games said.
A special bulletin prepared by media experts for IRGC commander-in-chief Hossein Salami noted concerns by Iranian officials that the Basij paramilitary organization is too weak to stop the protests and that too strict indictments were being issued against protesters, according to a document leaked by the Black Reward hacktivist group on Wednesday. According to the Black Reward group, the bulletins were periodically prepared under the supervision of Abbas Darwish Tawangar, the Deputy Director of Fars News Agency. The leak comes amid a series of documents and recordings retrieved from the Fars News Agency's databases by the hacktivist group.
UANI IN THE NEWS
… The revelry came during ramped-up government security aimed at preventing demonstrations after the in-custody death of Mahsa Amini, 22 — which sparked a wave of women’s rights protests across the nation beginning in September. Protesters on Tuesday also cheered the team’s World Cup exit in Marivan, where security forces last week reportedly killed a dozen demonstrators in a single day, human rights groups said. “The Iranian people are out in the streets in Marivan celebrating the Islamic Republic’s loss to Team USA and chanting for freedom. So humiliating for #Iran’s regime,” tweeted Jason Brodsky, a policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran.
Is a United States decision to ease oil sanctions on Venezuela a precedent for dealing with Iran? Or does it reduce pressure to get more Iranian oil to market? A move by administration of President Joe Biden to allow Chevron, the second biggest US oil company, to export Venezuelan oil followed talks beginning Saturday in Mexico between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition. Revenues currently frozen abroad will be ringfenced by the United Nations into ‘humanitarian spending.’ Battling high inflation, alongside food and medicine shortages, the Venezuelan government has said the “kidnapped” fund would go into helping stabilize the electric grid, improve education infrastructure, and improve the response to this year’s flooding. The UN will manage a fund for over $3 billion currently held by US and European banks fearful of punitive US measures.
… Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Amirali Hajizadeh made the announcement about the death toll from the protests on Tuesday. “Everyone in the country has been affected by the death of this lady,” Hajizadeh said, according to AFP. Jason Brodsky, policy director at bi-partisan, non-profit United Against Nuclear Iran, told Newsweek: “Iranian official statistics during protest cycles should be treated skeptically. The 300+ figure is less than estimates by human rights organizations.”
… But despite important differences between these protests and earlier ones, analysts told JNS that the Islamic Republic—totalitarian, bloodthirsty, ruthless—is resilient to internal pressures. While the young women leading the protests are remarkably courageous, they see little sign the protests will topple the ayatollahs, they said, as was reported by JNS. On the one hand, the regime’s paramilitary forces appear steadfast, while on the other, the opposition lacks certain elements necessary for success, they noted. Norman Roule, a senior adviser to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), told JNS the protests’ duration is a product of the deep dissatisfaction of many Iranians with the regime. According to Roule, a former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Toomaj Salehi is no stranger to controversy. Last year, the Iranian rapper was arrested for songs criticizing the government and denouncing those he described as apologists for the Iranian government abroad. He was released on bail earlier this year, but it was not long before he found himself in prison again — and this time he may pay the ultimate price. The 31-year-old was among the thousands of Iranians who took to the streets across the country to protest the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman in custody of the so-called morality police. Mahsa (Jina) Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 for allegedly wearing an improper hijab and died three days later, sparking a nationwide uprising.
A 27-year-old Iranian man was reportedly killed by security forces in northern Iran after honking his car horn in celebration of the country’s elimination from the 2022 World Cup in Qatar following its 1-0 loss to the United States. Mehran Samak was in Bandar Anzali, northwest of Iran’s capital, Tehran, where human rights activists say he was shot in the head by security forces, according to The Guardian. This comes as many Iranians are protesting the Iranian regime. Samak was one of many across the country who celebrated the loss in the streets. The death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, has sparked the protests across the country. She was arrested by morality police in Iran for allegedly violating the country’s conservative dress code because she wasn’t wearing a hijab. Amini died while in custody.
The Iranian regime is “fundamentally” misunderstanding its own citizens by blaming outside actors for the protests raging throughout the country, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday. “What’s happening in Iran is first and foremost about Iranians, about their future, about their country. And it’s not about us,” Blinken said. “And one of the profound mistakes that the regime makes is to try to point the finger at others, at the United States, Europeans, claiming that we’re somehow responsible for instigating or otherwise fanning the flames of the protests. That is to profoundly, fundamentally misunderstand their own people.” Protests have erupted in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman detained by the morality police allegedly for not wearing her hijab properly.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
An Earthquake of magnitude 5.6 struck southern Iran on Wednesday and was felt in the United Arab Emirates, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said. Iranian state TV reported that rescue teams were dispatched to the quake-hit area and added there were no casualties. The quake was at a depth of 10 km (6 miles) and about 88 km northwest of Ras Al Khaimah City in the UAE, EMSC added.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iraq's new prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, met Iran's top leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during his first important trip abroad since being named to head the government by the Iraqi parliament. Sudani told journalists in Tehran after meeting Khamenei, that Iraq would not allow any attacks on its neighbor from inside its territory and that its security forces are being deployed along the two countries' common border. He said that his government is committed to enforcing the Iraqi constitution and preventing any groups or parties from damaging Iran's security and that Iraq's national security advisor will meet with his Iranian counterpart to coordinate operations on the ground. Sudani added that Iraq considers dialogue and mutual comprehension to be the best policy to solve problems on the ground.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
FIFA has given permission for the display of banners supporting protests in Iran and rainbow items at the World Cup soccer tournament in Qatar -- but only after the Middle Eastern country was eliminated from the competition. Since the start of the World Cup on November 20, stadium security staff organized by Qatari authorities had confiscated items with rainbow colors and slogans such as "Women, Life, Freedom" to stop them from being taken inside stadiums. During matches involving the Iranian national team, Iranian spectators were not allowed to wear clothes with slogans in support of the months-long protest movement in Iran triggered by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained in September for allegedly improperly wearing a head scarf, or hijab.