EU Extends Iran Sanctions To Judges, Clerical Council | AFP
European ministers agreed Monday to add eight Iranians and one of the Tehran government's most powerful bodies to EU sanctions lists, alleging human rights violations. The individuals — including clerics, judges and a broadcaster — are accused of playing leading roles in Iran's brutal crackdown on anti-government protests. The EU said it was in particular "sanctioning members of the judiciary responsible for handing down death sentences in unfair trials and for the torturing of convicts." The government institution, the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, was said to have "promoted several projects undermining the freedom of girls and women and discriminating against minorities." Brussels' latest listings bring to around 150 the number of individuals, companies and agencies targeted by EU asset freezes and travel bans over the crackdown.
Biden Pays Tribute To Iranian Women At Nowruz Celebration | Associated Press
President Joe Biden used a White House event to mark Persian New Year on Monday to pay tribute to Iranian women and girls who took to the streets of Iran to protest following the death last year of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini and vowed to keep pressure on Tehran. Biden said he wished the Nowruz holiday, a nearly 4,000-year-old tradition known as the Festival of Fire that’s linked to the Zoroastrian religion, would be a moment of “hope for the women of Iran fighting for their human rights and fundamental freedoms.” “The United States stands with those brave women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their conviction,” Biden said, describing the reception as the biggest White House Nowruz celebration to date. “We’re going to continue to hold Iranian officials accountable for their attacks against their people.” The United States, Europe and the United Kingdom have imposed a series of fresh sanctions on dozens of Iranian officials and organizations, including the country’s special military and police forces, for their violent clampdown.
Iran Violations May Amount To Crimes Against Humanity - UN Expert | BBC News
Iranian authorities have committed violations since protests erupted last year that may amount to crimes against humanity, a UN expert has warned. Special rapporteur Javaid Rehman told the UN Human Rights Council that he was alarmed by the scale and gravity of the reported cases of murder, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and persecution. He called for an international fact-finding mission to investigate them. Iran said the allegations were made up. Protests swept across the Islamic Republic in September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police in Tehran for allegedly wearing her hijab "improperly". Iran's state coroner attributed her death to pre-existing medical conditions, but Mr Rehman said the evidence established that she died "as a result of beatings" by members of the morality police.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Britain Imposes Sanctions On Iranian Revolutionary Guard Officials | Reuters
Britain on Monday sanctioned senior officials from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including those who it said were responsible for managing the group's financial investments. Britain, along with the European Union and the United States, has in recent months issued several waves of sanctions against Iran, citing a widespread and often violent crackdown on protests after the death of young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in morality police custody in September. The protests mark one of the boldest challenges to the ruling theocracy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran accuses Western powers of fomenting the unrest, which security forces have met with deadly violence. "Today we are taking action on the senior leaders within the IRGC who are responsible for funnelling money into the regime's brutal repression," Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
Iran Counts On 'Huge Volumes' Of Oil And Gas Swaps From Russia – RIA | Reuters
Iran is ready to expand its cooperation with Russia in the energy sector, including in the development of "peaceful" nuclear energy, Iranian Economy Minister Ehsan Khandouzi said in an interview with Russia's RIA state news agency. "The prospect of cooperation in the field of 'new energy' and renewable energy sources, as well as in the field of other types of energy, including peaceful nuclear energy, certainly causes great interest and motivation for expanding economic relations with Russia," Khandouzi said in remarks published on Tuesday. Iran and Russia are cooperating to build Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant. Russia started deliveries of nuclear fuel for Bushehr in late 2007, a step both Washington and Moscow said removed any need for Iran to have its own uranium enrichment programme.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Israel Warns Passover Travelers Of Iranian Plots To Harm Them Abroad | Times Of Israel
Iran will continue its attempts to harm Israelis around the world, especially in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, the National Security Council (NSC) warned on Monday. In its guidance for Israeli travelers ahead of the Passover holiday, the NSC emphasized that Iran and its proxies present a particular threat in countries neighboring Iran, including the United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Bahrain. Cyprus and Greece, popular holiday destinations for Israelis, are also countries where Iran is likely to target Jews and Israelis, according to the assessment. The NSC did not warn against travel to these destinations, but instead called on Israelis “to be aware, to act responsibly in accordance with the level of danger in the country being visited.” The NSC lists Muslim partners Turkey, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt as Level 3 threats, meaning that all non-essential travel should be avoided.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Hardline Cleric Says Recent Protests In Iran Unprecedented | Iran International
Firebrand Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami has admitted that "the Islamic Republic has never had [such] tough days like the past 100 days of protests". In a speech on Sunday in the city of Semnan, Tehran’s Friday Prayer Imam called the popular protests of the past six months a "riot" aimed at ousting the regime. He acknowledged that protesters saw no difference between ‘reformist’ and ‘hardliner’ factions of the Islamic Republic and were bent on overthrowing the regime. In addition, international assessments show the protests in the past six months have been unprecedented in terms of their size, the largest ever since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. Ahmad Khatami, who is a member of the Guardian Council and the Assembly of Experts, also made the extreme claim that by the "Woman, Life, Freedom" slogan the protesters are seeking "nudity" in their fight against the hijab.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
IRGC Losing Edge In Iran And Region – Leaked Document | Iran International
Members of IRGC’s Quds Force are weary of the fight with Israeli forces at Golan Heights and are selling military intel to Israel, a recently-leaked document shows. Minutes of a meeting of senior clerics and Revolutionary Guard commanders with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, leaked to media last week, suggest that the economic and political situation in Iran has made the Islamic Republic’s forces sell information about Quds Force operations to Israel, and that more and more elements are seeking to leave the battlefield in Syria and get jobs and positions inside the country. The 44-page document contains citations of remarks by 45 IRGC commanders and clerics at a meeting at Khamenei’s office on January 3 on the anniversary of the death of Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by the US three years ago. Almost all the participants spoke about the current wave of antiregime protests that has engulfed the country since September last year. The meeting, held more than three months into the protests, focused on the negative impact of the protests on the morale of forces under the command of the IRGC and their burn-out, with several offering anecdotal accounts of insubordination.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran's Feared Revolutionary Guard Tried To BLOW UP Ayatollah's Residence With Artillery And Are Refusing To Carry Out Orders To Shoot Civilian Protesters, Leaked File Reveals | Daily Mail
Rogue elements within Iran's most powerful armed forces tried to target Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's official residence with artillery, a leaked file reveals. The file details a meeting held on January 3 between 58 commanders of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and Khamenei himself. During the meeting, several commanders expressed their frustration over the ongoing protests and warned Khamenei about the future of the Islamic Republic. Rogue elements within Iran's most powerful armed forces tried to target Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's official residence with artillery, a leaked file reveals. The file details a meeting held on January 3 between 58 commanders of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) and Khamenei himself. During the meeting, several commanders expressed their frustration over the ongoing protests and warned Khamenei about the future of the Islamic Republic.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iran-Iraq Deal Increases Security Coordination, Limits Iraqi Kurdish Autonomy | Jerusalem Post
Iraq and Iran announced a new security agreement on Sunday meant to tighten control of the border and increase collaboration around security. The deal was signed by Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Iraqi National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji. Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani acted as a witness. Under the signed security deal, “Iraq pledges it would not allow armed groups to use its territory in the Iraqi Kurdish region to launch any border-crossing attacks on neighbor Iran,” said an attendee to the signing ceremony, according to the Reuters news agency. Romy Nasr, a security and extremism analyst covering the Middle East and North Africa, told The Media Line that the deal makes clear that Iran is still a major factor in Iraq’s decision-making process.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran And Jordan Hint At The Possibility Of Better Relations | The National
Iran has suggested improving its relationship with Jordan as work on its ties with its most powerful Arab neighbours continues. Relations between Jordan and Iran have deteriorated in the past two years after King Abdullah II accused pro-Iranian militias in Syria of smuggling narcotics into the kingdom. At the same time, Jordan has been pushing for a region-wide accommodation with Syria, Iran's main ally in the area. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told the official Iranian news agency on Saturday that he talked for 40 minutes about Iraq with King Abdullah at a meeting in Jordan in December and raised the matter of a visit to Tehran. Jordan has a defence pact with the US and is one of the largest recipients of American aid.
The Scorched Earth Tactics Of Iran’s Cyber Army | Wired
IN THE EARLY hours of January 5, a popular anonymous Iranian dissident account called Jupiter announced on Twitter that his friends had killed Abolqasem Salavati, a maligned magistrate nicknamed the “Judge of Death.” The tweet went viral, and thousands of jubilant people poured into the account’s Twitter Space to thank them for assassinating the man responsible for sentencing hundreds of political prisoners to die. Soon, however, a few attendees voiced doubts over the veracity of the claim. They were cursed at and kicked out of the room, as the host insisted, “Tonight is about celebration!” while repeatedly encouraging viewers to make the Space go viral.