Eye on Iran: As Iran Protests Dwindle, U.S. Calls Emergency U.N. Talks

TOP STORIES

As Iran Protests Dwindle, U.S. Calls Emergency U.N. Talks | CBS News / Associated Press

The United Nations Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting Friday afternoon on what U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley has described as the "troubling and dangerous situation in Iran." At least 450 people have been arrested and 21 killed in anti-government protests that swept quickly across the Islamic Republic late last week.  But as the Trump administration sought to use the protests to increase pressure on the Iranian regime, issuing public support for the demonstrators and calling for a United Nations response, the Iranians appeared to have largely quashed the uprisings with an overwhelming and aggressive security response. While there were still scattered anti-government protests reported on Thursday evening, they had been largely replaced by pro-government counter demonstrations, with thousands of people hitting the streets of Tehran and other major cities in support of the Islamic cleric-led regime.

White House, Senators Seek Iran Measure ahead of Nuclear Deadline | Reuters

U.S. senators and Trump administration officials met at the White House on Thursday, hoping to hammer out compromise legislation to tighten restrictions on Iran while keeping Washington in an international nuclear deal with Tehran.

U.S. Sanctions Iran Over Missile Program, Amid Protests | Wall Street Journal

The U.S. imposed sanctions on five entities tied to Iran’s ballistic-missile program, seeking to punish Tehran for its management of the economy as thousands of Iranians protest against their government. Treasury Department officials blamed Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other parts of the government for funding proxies across the Middle East despite the needs of the Iranian people at home.

IRAN PROTESTS

More than 1,000 Detained in Crackdown against Iran Protests, Rights Groups Say | Washington Post

More than a thousand people have been rounded up and detained in Iran over the past week, rights groups and the State Department said Thursday, as authorities try to quell the largest street protests in nearly a decade. Amnesty International warned that those being held risk torture and ill-treatment in the country’s prisons, calling for the release of those arrested for demonstrating peacefully. Earlier this week, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Court warned that arrested demonstrators could face the death penalty.

Iran Blames CIA for Week of Protests; US Denies Any Role | Associated Press

Iran on Thursday directly blamed a CIA official for a week of protests calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, as the strength of the demonstrations was uncertain with fewer reports of rallies. The Trump administration has denied having any hand in the protests, and the CIA declined to comment.

Iran Protests Caught Trump Administration by Surprise | Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration was caught off guard by the unfolding protests in Iran and is now wrestling with how to deter Tehran from carrying out a broader crackdown on dissent, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday. With antigovernment protests spreading across Iran, the U.S. is relying on presidential tweets, public condemnation and international pressure aimed at swaying—but not toppling, officials say—Iran’s leaders.

Iran’s Regional Enemies Watch Unrest, Searching for Leverage | Associated Presss

Iran’s most fervent regional foes, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are both eagerly looking for signs of vulnerability and imminent change in their nemesis amid the past week of protests across the country. But they’ve taken vastly different approaches of how to engage with the upheaval.

Iran’s Protests Are Fading, but Iranians Are Still Angry | Washington Post

For just a moment around the new year, Iran seemed poised for something big. What started as a couple of scattered protests on Dec. 8 over the cost of eggs quickly erupted into a countrywide movement… Then, just as suddenly, things began to quiet down. Police arrested hundreds of protesters, and access to social-media sites was suspended… Reporters on the ground say the protest gatherings have ebbed, and Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, apparently agrees… None of that, however, means the country's anger has been soothed. The protests could be the beginning of a longer period of unrest, one that could destabilize both the country's elected government and its theocratic leaders.

Moscow’s Message on Iran Has Been Cautious and Almost Neutral | Anna Borschevskaya for the Hill

Moscow’s response to the massive anti-regime protests gripping Iran since Dec. 28 should have been predictable — a condemnation of another perceived “U.S.-led regime change”... Yet Moscow’s message on Iran has been cautious, almost neutral… The reasons may be related both to Moscow’s relationship with Tehran and Russia’s position in Syria.

The West Should Stop Dithering and Show its Support for the Protesters in Iran | Natan Sharansky for the Washington Post

[I]t is vital to understand why failing to support the protesters at this critical juncture would constitute a moral and strategic mistake — one of potentially historic proportions… [A] policy of silence on the part of world leaders is so misguided. What matters to Iranians debating whether to cross this decisive threshold is how much they dislike their own government, as well as their knowledge that the free world — those who share the basic principles for which they are fighting — stands behind them in their moment of truth.

Why the Other Iran Is Taking to the Streets | Gissou Nia for Politico

For many, last week’s outburst of protests in Iran came as a huge surprise. There were few signs in the English-language media that a massive bubble of discontent was growing in the forgotten areas outside of Tehran—the provincial towns and cities that few foreigners ever visit, and where even many residents of the capital have never set foot.

Woman Becomes Face of Iran Protests Despite Not Being There | BBC News

Despite heavy restrictions on social media, some videos and pictures have found their way online, including those appearing to show protesters vandalising buildings and being fired at by government forces. One of the most widely shared images is of a woman taking off her white head covering and waving it on a stick in an apparent act of defiance against Islamic rule. Although the image is genuine, it was not taken during the current unrest.

The Iranian Game-Show Host Urging His Fans to Burn Mosques | Eli Lake for Bloomberg

Seyed Mohammad Hosseini makes for an unlikely revolutionary. The last time he was in Iran was in 2011. He was a minor celebrity, as the host of "Simorgh," a zany game show on which he would ask contestants to perform silly stunts for prizes. Today he lives in America and urges Iranians to burn mosques and deface police stations.

Make Iran Great Again | Daniel Herringer for The Wall Street Journal

The Iranians shouting, “Leave Syria, think of us!” are the West Virginia coal miners shouting, “Make America Great Again.” That’s not yahooism. It is anxiety directed at incumbent elites who tell the public that reduced levels of economic growth are the new normal. The world’s populations will not accept that.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

Landmark NY Trial Proves Turkish Government Complicity in Iran’s Sanctions-Busting | Aykan Erdermir and Merve Tahiroglu for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Today, a federal jury in the Southern District of New York returned a guilty verdict in a landmark case focused on Turkish efforts to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions… The testimony heard at trial demonstrates the extent to which senior Turkish officials pursued personal enrichment by means that directly undermined the supposed objectives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy. Since 2012, Erdogan has been the loudest critic of the Iranian client on his southern border, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as the top supporter of Sunni rebels fighting the Syrian regime… All the while, the New York trial has shown, his government was facilitating a scheme that helped Iran fund both its nuclear program and Assad’s war effort in Syria.

PROXY WARS

Israel and U.S. Ramp Up Criticism of Iran’s Actions Abroad | The Wall Street Journal

Israel and the U.S. are amplifying criticism of Iran’s role in Middle East conflicts, part of a coordinated effort to curb Tehran’s influence in the region as antigovernment protests put pressure on the country’s leaders.

SYRIA CONFLICT

Protests Put Spotlight on Iran's Vast and Shadowy Syria War | Associated Press

In demonstrations across Iran, chants are going up against the military's vast and shadowy war in Syria, one of Tehran's closest allies and a frontline state in its confrontation with its archenemy, Israel. Although the protests have focused on economic issues, demonstrators have also voiced strong opposition to the government's policy of sending young Iranians to fight and die in Syria while spending billions of dollars on the military when they say the priority should be working to provide jobs in Iran and control the rising cost of living.

IRAQ CRISIS

Iran-Backed Militia Groups Threaten US Forces in Iraq | Ahmad Majidyar for Middle East Institute

The head of a prominent Iranian-backed Iraqi militia group has called for the exit of American troops from Iraq, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported today.