Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded publicly on Monday to the biggest protests in Iran in years, breaking weeks of silence to condemn what he called “rioting” and accuse the U.S. and Israel of planning the protests. Khamenei said he was “heartbroken” by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police, which set off the nationwide protests. However, he sharply condemned the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities’ previous comments. “This rioting was planned,” he told a cadre of police students in Tehran. “These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.” He described scenes of protestors ripping off their state-mandated headscarves and setting fire to mosques, banks and police cars as “not normal” and “unnatural.”
Iran has granted a furlough to imprisoned Iranian-American Siamak Namazi for the first time in seven years, and lifted the travel ban on his elderly father, the U.N. secretary general and the family’s lawyer said Saturday. Iranian authorities gave Namazi a one-week, renewable furlough and he was reunited with his parents in Tehran, his lawyer Jared Genser told NBC News. “While these are critical first steps, we will not rest until the Namazis can all return to the United States and their long nightmare has finally come to an end,” Genser said in a statement. Siamak Namazi, a businessman who was arrested in 2015, is the longest-held Iranian-American prisoner in Iran. His father, Baquer Namazi, who worked for the United Nations before retiring, was also imprisoned and later released on a medical furlough, but he has remained under a travel ban.
Germany, France, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic have submitted 16 proposals for new European Union sanctions against Iran for its violent crackdown on protests over women's rights, a German foreign ministry source said on Monday. The proposed measures would target people and institutions primarily responsible for the clampdown on nationwide protests that were ignited by the death in policy custody of a young woman, the source added. Those proposing the sanctions are aiming for the EU foreign ministers to decide on them at their meeting on Oct. 17, with no resistance expected from the members of the bloc, Spiegel magazine, which reported the news first, said.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Through their brave protests, the Iranian people are sending a message to the world: the Islamic Republic is repressive and unreformable. Its fearsome security services are the beating heart of the Iranian establishment. Long overdue were the recent U.S. sanctions on the regime’s Morality Police force, which harasses and detains women for purported immodest dress, and in whose custody twenty-two-year-old Mahsa Amini died on September 16. But that entity cannot be viewed apart from Iran’s broader command-and-control structure, headed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi.
...Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, a US-based non-profit organisation, predicted that universities’ vocal opposition to the government would trigger a fresh wave of “firings, expulsions and purifying [of] policies to ensure adherence to the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary ethos”. He said that for years, the regime has used various bodies – including the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, Iran’s Ministry of Science and its Ministry of Health and Medical Education – to control its education sector.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iran is determined to build a nuclear weapon and US President Joe Biden's diplomatic efforts have yielded nothing but a “green light” for Tehran, Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon has said. In a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with The National, Mr Bannon, who worked in the White House during the first seven months of Mr Trump's term as president from 2017 to 2021, also said right-wing political wins in Europe herald a growing “populist nationalism” movement. He also claimed that the world stands on the precipice of a depression as central banks raise rates in their struggle to tame inflation.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iran has made “considerable progress” in recent weeks to secure the release of billions of dollars of funds trapped by sanctions in foreign accounts, the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency reported. The state-run Nour News said it expects the funds to be released to “new accounts” as a result of Saturday’s announcement by the United Nations that Iranian-Americans Siamak and Baqer Namazi were released from detention in Tehran. President Joe Biden’s administration denied a link between the two issues.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
A federal judge ordered Iran to pay $34.8 million to the family of a journalist and outspoken government critic who was tortured and purportedly committed suicide while living under house arrest in Tehran. Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court for the District of Columbia awarded $17.4 million in compensatory damages and an equal amount in punitive damages to the wife and daughters of Siamak Pourzand, who spent a decade in Iranian prisons and under home arrest despite pleas for fair treatment and release by international human rights agencies.
Protesters in Iran are finding new ways to challenge the Islamic Republic after the government imposed sweeping disruptions to the internet that have affected the movement’s ability to use social media to spread its message. In places such as Tehran and Ahvaz in Southwestern Iran, demonstrators are passing out paper leaflets with details of planned protests and antigovernment statements, according to social-media footage. Others are spraying graffiti on the walls, with slogans like “Woman, life, freedom,” which is one of the trademark chants of the demonstrators.
Iran, which has blamed "foreign enemies" for protests that swept the country after the death of a woman in morality police custody, said on Friday it had arrested nine European nationals for their role in the unrest. The detention of citizens of Germany, Poland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and other countries is likely to ratchet up tensions between Iran and Western countries over the death of Mahsa Amini. The escalation comes as more casualties were reported. Nineteen people were killed after security forces fired on armed protesters attacking a police station, said an official.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Mahsa Amini died, but the hashtag #MahsaAmini lives on. Ms. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman known as Jina in Kurdish, was stopped on Sept. 13 by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s morality police as she came out of Tehran’s Haghani metro station. Ms. Amini’s alleged crime was “improperly” wearing hijab, violating Iran’s law requiring mandatory veiling. Her death in police custody has become the rallying cry of a new movement in Iran.
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
The chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Mohammed Bagheri, vowed Friday to respond to any “hostile actions” targeting Iranian drones, Iranian news outlets reported. The threats followed Wednesday’s shooting down of an Iranian drone that was reportedly heading toward the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Erbil. Earlier this week, Iran unleashed a wave of missile and drone attacks against Iranian Kurdish opposition forces based inside the Kurdish region, killing at least 14 people, including a pregnant woman and a US citizen. It was among the deadliest spate of such attacks in recent years.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran’s parliamentary speaker warned Sunday that protests over the death of a young woman in police custody could destabilize the country and urged security forces to deal harshly with those he claimed endanger public order, as countrywide unrest entered its third week. Posts on social media showed there were scattered anti-government protests in Tehran and running clashes with security forces in other towns Sunday, even as the government has moved to block, partly or entirely, internet connectivity in Iran.
An attack by armed separatists on a police station in a southeastern city has killed 19 people, including four members of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The assailants in Friday’s attack hid among worshippers near a mosque in the city of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, and then stormed the nearby police station, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday. Provincial Governor Hossein Modaresi was quoted as saying 19 people were killed. The news outlet said 32 IRGC members, including volunteer Basiji forces, were also wounded in clashes.
IRAQ & IRAN
An American citizen, a mother and her 1-day-old infant are among the 14 people who were killed this week by a barrage of Iranian missiles fired at Iranian Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq. Iran's Revolutionary Guards (ICRG) targeted Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region with dozens of missiles and explosives-laden drone aircraft. In a statement carried by Iranian state TV, the ICRG, which the U.S. government considers a terrorist group, said its "operation will continue with our full determination until the threat is effectively repelled, terrorist group bases are dismantled, and the authorities of the Kurdish region assume their obligations and responsibilities."
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
New Zealand officials met with Iran’s ambassador in Wellington to express the nation’s concerns over the treatment of women, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “I’ve been deeply concerned to see the loss of life and, of course, just generally what we would consider to be human rights issues as they relate to women and girls,” Ardern said at a news conference Monday. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade met on Friday with Iran’s ambassador to raise directly the concerns that New Zealand has.”