U.S. prosecutors have charged several former top aides to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with involvement in a conspiracy to secretly help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. In an indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on September 6, former Turkish Economic Minister Mehmet Zafer Caglayan was charged with taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes in cash and jewelry to assist and cover up a scheme to help Iran process transactions through the U.S. financial system in violation of sanctions law.
In her new report on the state of human rights in the Islamic Republic, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran Asma Jahangir has emphasized that Iran still faces grave human rights challenges. Jahangir stresses in particular that in the absence of an independent judicial system, the Justice Department, especially the “Revolutionary Courts” have forced Iran into a critical situation. “Without reforming the judicial system, improving the human rights situation in Iran will be impossible,” says Jahangir in her new report, adding, “For improving its human rights record, the government of Iran has no option other than reforming the judicial system and, in the meantime, guarantee its independence”.
Iran's clandestine spy network has been threatening and blackmailing scores of journalists, even going so far as to detain and threaten the family members of these reporters, in order to ensure positive coverage in global media outlets, according to a new report that estimates at least 50 international journalists have been threatened in just the past year.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
France's foreign minister said on Wednesday he was worried that U.S. President Donald Trump could put into doubt a nuclear deal between Iran and a group of major world powers.
Iran's Oil Ministry reported that Brazil may be interested in extending support to the exploration and production side of the sector in the Persian Gulf. Brazilian Energy Minister Fernando Coelho Filho met this week in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart, Bijan Zangeneh. According to SHANA, the official news site for the Iranian Oil Ministry, both sides discussed ways that Brazilian companies could offer support to activities off the Iranian coast.
As Iran becomes more vocal about its opposition to the upcoming Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq, there's some speculation about Tehran's true concerns. Iranian armed forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri’s recent visit to Turkey found its place in history as the first visit by a senior Iranian general to Turkey in 38 years. Although the subject was not on the official agenda, it wasn’t difficult to guess that the parties discussed the referendum the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has scheduled for Sept. 25.
The air defence branch of the Iranian military has revealed that it is using the Chinese-made JY-10 radar processing and control system to help integrate its air defence network. The use of the JY-10 was confirmed during an interview with air defence commander Brigadier General Ismaili Farzad Esmaili that was broadcast on 2 September. The supporting footage included a close up of a poster for Iran’s new Negah system that said it includes the JY-10, which it identified as a Chinese-made product.
Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday his country is prepared to open a dialogue with regional rival Saudi Arabia, but the kingdom appeared not willing to engage. Both major oil producers, Iran is a majority-Shiite Muslim country and Saudi Arabia is majority-Sunni Muslim. and they have been locked in a battle for influence for decades. Their rivalry has increasingly come into the spotlight as their allies shape conflicts throughout the Middle East.
Female Iranian MPs have spoken out against a ban on women entering sports stadiums after some fans were prevented from watching a World Cup qualifying match in Tehran between Iran and Syria. Both genders were initially allowed to purchase tickets for Tuesday night’s game, but the option for women to make purchases was removed by officials who blamed a “technical glitch”. A group of women who went to Tehran’s gigantic Azadi stadium were told they could not enter. When they started demonstrating they were threatened with arrest.
A double standard by Iranian authorities -- who allow foreign women to attend male sporting events while banning Iranian women -- came under fire during a World Cup qualifying soccer match between Iran and Syria. Iranian women, even those who had managed to buy tickets (apparently due a technical glitch), were denied entry and kept behind locked gates at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, where the match was held on September 5.
OPINION & ANALYSIS
If Iranian compliance is not certified, Trump may be able to have the best of both worlds. He could signal to his supporters that he is keeping his campaign promise by instructing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to rule against Iran. And yet he still would not have killed the nuclear deal; he would simply have punted to Congress. At that point lawmakers could vote whether or not to re-impose the crippling secondary sanctions that effectively cut Iran off from the global economy.
Drowned out in the ferocious backlash against President Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was perhaps the most thoughtful and telling foreign policy speech of this presidency. Naturally, it came not from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson but from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. The speech is worth reading in full if only for the historical accounting of the Iranian regime’s behavior, its nuclear program and its support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah. Haley deftly explained that there are three separate consideration with regard to the Iran nuclear agreement, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Though North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is grabbing headlines, the nuclear weapons evil facing the United States has multiple horns – and available responses. Undoing the harm done by the Iran nuclear deal needs to share the top of the agenda. In mid-October President Trump will bump up against a “certification” deadline imposed by the Iran Nuclear Agreements Review Act. The prompt was intended to ensure a much closer look at Iranian behavior and the Iran nuclear deal known as the “JCPOA.”
Things are quickly changing on the ground in Syria. The civil war is concluding, with Bashar Assad still in power. As the U.S.-backed coalition drives the Islamic State from its remaining strongholds, Iranian-backed forces are racing to fill the void, seizing strategic territory with the goal of making Syria the heart and possibly the Iranian logistical center of a “Shia Crescent” — replete with land, air and naval bases — creating an Iranian sphere of influence stretching from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut and the Mediterranean.
The accompanying article discusses a new video game recently released by the Iranian army, called the “Battle in the Gulf of Aden 2.” The game’s scenario is described as the Iranian Navy’s “powerful presence fighting pirates in international waters in the Gulf of Aden.” The game was unveiled at the country’s top computer and electronic expo before a group of senior Iranian military officials. The first version of the game hit the market in 2012 and quickly became the most popular computer game in Iran supplanting the “Age of Heroes,” a three-dimensional game based upon the stories of the Shahnameh, Iran’s national epic.
Kurds living in Iran have long been restive. Kurdish resistance to Tehran’s centralized control dates back almost a century. In the 1920s and 1930s, Reza Shah—the father of the Iranian monarch ousted in 1979—brutally crushed tribal resistance to the central government. In 1946, Kurds (including the father of Masoud Barzani, the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, or IKR) briefly claimed an independent state in and around Mahabad, in northwestern Iran, but the Iranian army pacified it within a year. The 1979 Islamic Revolution compounded the disenfranchisement many Iranian Kurds felt: Not only were they ethnically different from many Persians but because Kurds are predominantly Sunni, they found themselves discriminated against twice over—ethnically and religiously—by a government which based itself on Ayatollah Khomeini’s exegesis of Shi’ite theology and political philosophy. Against this backdrop, violence in Iranian Kurdistan has never been far below the surface. The Iranian military and security forces deploy a disproportionate number of troops to keep order in the mountainous region, and the Iranian judiciary imprisons and often executes Iranian Kurds it suspects of joining Kurdish cultural or nationalist groups.
While all eyes are on North Korea, Iran is advancing its weapons technology. The country recently tested and announced the success of their new Bavar 373 long range, mobile, anti-missile defense system. Everything in the system is manufactured in Iran; it requires no support from outside sources.