Eye on Iran: Iran Says It Can Discuss Other Issues If Nuclear Deal Successful

TOP STORIES

Iran Says It Can Discuss Other Issues If Nuclear Deal Successful | Reuters

The West must ensure the Iran 2015 nuclear deal succeeds before trying to negotiate other issues, a senior Iranian official said in a rare public suggestion Tehran could discuss matters such as its regional activities or missile program with world powers.

Trump Targets Iran at Prayer Breakfast, Voices Solidarity with The Persecuted | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

President Donald Trump has offered a message of solidarity to people subjected to "oppression and religious persecution" around the world. Speaking on February 8 at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, Trump named Iran as one of the countries whose people are suffering at the hands of the authorities.

Iran-Backed Iraqi Militias Step Up Threat of Violence Against US Forces in Iraq | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

With ISIS militarily defeated, Iran’s militia allies in Iraq are increasingly threatening violence against American troops and calling for the US withdrawal from the country. On February 7, Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-supported unit within Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), issued a statement, warning that its fighters will begin to militarily confront American troops “at any moment” if Washington decides to keep a long-term military footprint in Iraq. Several other Iranian-backed PMF groups have made similar threats against US troops, which are training and advising the Iraqi security forces.

UANI IN THE NEWS

Trump Is All Talk On Iran | UANI Advisory Board Member Dennis Ross for Foreign Policy

Trump speaks bluntly about the threat that Iran poses to U.S. interests and allies in the Middle East… The great irony is that Trump has not yet established practical policies that match his words.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

EU Could Impose Blocking Regulations If U.S. Pulls Out of Iran Deal | Reuters

The European Union could put in place regulations to protect its firms doing business in Iran if the United States withdraws from the 2015 nuclear deal and restores extraterritorial sanctions, a senior EU official said on Thursday.

MILITARY MATTERS & PROXY WARS

The Growing Threat of Iran’s Speedboats | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

Iran’s Defense Ministry today unveiled a new propulsion system for military speedboats, Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported… In recent years, Iran has developed more advanced speedboats as part of a broader effort to upgrade its naval capabilities. Last year, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps speedboats repeatedly harassed American vessels in the Persian Gulf… [This new development] indicate[s] that to counter the US naval supremacy in the region, Tehran may employ “swarm tactics” and has put increased emphasis on fast-moving vessels that could inflict severe damage to US naval forces in a potential war.

Iran's Mohajer 6 Armed UAV Goes into Production | Jane’s Defence Weekly

Iran held a ceremony on 5 February to mark the start of mass production of the new Mohajer 6 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

IRAN PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Iran: Authorities Should Free ‘Girl of Revolution Street’ Campaigners | Freedom House

In response to the Iranian government arresting women for refusing to wear the compulsory hijab, or headscarf, Freedom House issued the following statement: "Law enforcement authorities should immediately release the 29 women detained for removing their headscarves in protest of a discriminatory compulsory hijab law, and uphold the government's pledge in December to stop these arrests," said Dokhi Fassihian, senior program manager for Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House.

UK Resident Detained in Iran by IRGC For More Than a Year Without Charge or Access to Counsel | Center for Human Rights in Iran

Mohammad Reza Hashemi-Nabi, a permanent resident of the UK, has been held in solitary confinement in Iran’s Evin Prison for more than a year without access to a lawyer, his mother informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

The Popular Uprising In Iran 2017-2018: The Role Played By President Rohani And The Reformists | A. Savyon & U. Kafash for the Middle East Media Research Institute

Political elements in the West are framing the December 2017-January 2018 popular uprising in Iran as a clash of Iran's reformist and pragmatic camps – the latter led by Iranian President Hassan Rohani – with the Iranian regime's ideological circles. They have advised aiding President Rohani by lifting the rest of the U.S. sanctions against Iran, levelled because of the Iranian regime's support for terrorism outside its borders and its human rights violations within them, in order to allow Rohani to work for the welfare of the people and to strengthen the pragmatic and reformist camps in Iran. This interpretation of the events is fundamentally wrong

Iran: Lifting the Ban on Instagram was Illegal | Michael Rubin for the American Enterprise Institute

On 31 December, Iran banned Telegram, a popular social networking application, and the photo-sharing application Instagram… Deputy Attorney General Abdol Samad Khorramabadi, chair of the Committee for Identifying Criminal Content, excoriated the Ministry of Communications for failing to block Instagram before the unrest began. Khorramabadi has long campaigned against social media access. In July 2017, for example, he declared that Twitter was a “platform for terrorists” and justified banning it even though many Iranian parliamentarians, the Supreme Leader, president, and foreign minister all maintain twitter accounts.

Iran's Uprising Pits the Country's Old Rulers Against Its Young Citizens | Ilan Berman and Rachel Millsap for the National Interest

[N]one of the core issues that propelled the latest protests—including economic malaise, arbitrary religious edicts, and foreign adventurism at the expense of Iran’s own citizenry—have been addressed in a meaningful way. Nor are they likely to be, given the rigid nature of the Islamic Republic’s governing ideology. Rather, Iran’s geriatric rulers can be expected to rely ever more heavily on state repression to preserve and prolong their hold on power. Nevertheless, they are already painfully aware of a fact that the rest of the world should also soon grasp: when it comes to change in Iran, the most powerful force working in favor of freedom might just be the passage of time.

Iranian Women Threw Off Their Headscarves This Week. Now What? | PBS NewsHour

The images of women removing their headscarves now are drawing international notice to their cause. The outside attention could either help bring about change, or will have the opposite effect of entrenching conservative elements of the government and possibly sharpening the crackdown, Anderlini said.

Iran: Was America Behind Uprising? | Michael Rubin for the American Enterprise Institute

Conspiracy theories run deep in Iranian society. Iranian television shows poke fun at the Iranian penchant for conspiracy and Encyclopedia Iranica, the leading international academic reference about Iran, dedicates an entry to the history of conspiracy theories in Iran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s speeches regularly reference alleged American, Israeli, Saudi or British plots. Therefore, it is not surprising that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei would blame the protests which began on 28 December on foreign governments, external enemies, and conspirators.

An Iran without the Ayatollah is No Longer Unthinkable | Ivan Sascha Sheehan for the Washington Examiner

This weekend marks the 39th anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return from exile in 1979 to hijack a popular movement that led to the dismissal of Iran’s monarchy and its dictatorship. But the largest countrywide uprising since 2009 suggests that the Iranian people are prepared to write the next chapter in their history, and it may happen sooner than Tehran’s Washington lobby would like.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Iran Plays Down Report That U.S. Secretly Asked for Talks on Prisoners | New York Times

An Iranian official dismissed as “old news” on Thursday a report in the Western news media that Washington had reached out to Tehran in December to establish secret, back-channel talks to negotiate the release of prisoners held by both sides.

Iran: Speaking Swedish, Acting North Korean | Amir Taheri for Asharq Al-Awsat (U.K.)

The new administration of President Hassan Rouhani felt confident that, thanks to support from US President Barack Obama, the Khomeinist regime could talk like Sweden but act like North Korea. However, it seems that the arrival on the scene of an unknown quantity named Donald J Trump has confused the mullahs, forcing them to ponder whether it is still possible to hoodwink the Americans and the rest of the world while pursuing repression in Iran and destabilizing policies abroad.

BUSINESS RISK

Total Works On Iran Gas Project Despite Uncertainty Over U.S. Sanctions | OilPrice.com

France’s supermajor Total SA continues to work on the South Pars gas project in Iran despite the uncertainty over potential new U.S. sanctions on Iran, Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne told French newspaper Le Monde in an interview published on Tuesday.

SANCTIONS ENFORCEMENT

IOC Clears Iran, North Korea for Gift after Samsung Phone Row | Reuters

Iranian and North Korean athletes at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games will receive Samsung mobile phones, organizers said on Thursday, after Iran summoned South Korea’s ambassador over reports its athletes would not get the gifts.

OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS

Iran Plans to Increase Oil Production Capacity by 700,000 BPD within 4 years | Reuters

Iran aims to raise its crude output capacity to 4.7 million barrels per day within the next four years, deputy Oil Minister Amir Zamaninia told a conference in Paris.

Oil Hits Seven-week Low on Expectations of Higher U.S., Iran Output | Reuters

Oil prices fell to their lowest in seven weeks on Thursday amid fears of rising global supplies after Iran announced plans to increase production and U.S. crude output hit record highs.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Rouhani, Erdogan Pledge Cooperation, but Mutual Distrust Remains | Ahmad Majidyar for the Middle East Institute

Despite a thaw in relations between Tehran and Ankara, a deep level of mutual distrust and divergent regional interests continue to prevent the two countries to become strategic partners. Ankara and Tehran will continue to compete for power and influence in Syria and Iraq as the weakening of the ISIS has created a power vacuum in the region. Turkey is also positioning itself as the protector of the Sunni communities in Syria and Iraq as well as the broader region, while Iran is expanding its arc of influence through the region's Shiite communities.

GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN

Iran Rebuffs Bahrain Bombing Charge As ‘False’ | Agence France-Presse

Iran rejected an accusation by Bahrain that it was involved in an oil pipeline bombing in the kingdom, accusing its rival of making “false claims.”

IRAQ & IRAN

Another Iran-backed Militia Group Threatens US Troops in Iraq | Ahmad Majidyar for The Middle East Institute

A senior official of Harakat al-Nujaba, an Iranian-supported militia group fighting in Iraq and Syria, issued a threat against the US military in Iraq and called on Washington to pull out its troops from the country, the Iranian media reported.

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS

In Iran, An Underground Art Scene Becomes Mainstream | Wall Street Journal

On a Friday night in Tehran’s flashy Elahieh neighborhood, the voice of the muezzin calling the Muslim faithful to prayer is nowhere to be heard, but the ostentatious whine of a Ferrari often is. Ferraris make little practical sense in car-clogged Tehran, where getting from one end of town to the other can easily take several hours. But Friday night here is for gallery hopping and showing off. A Ferrari is perfect for a noisy crawl down Fereshteh, a narrow street that winds down Elahieh’s hill.