Jalili To Larijani: Key Names Emerge In Iran's Presidential Elections

TOP STORIES 

Jalili To Larijani: Key Names Emerge In Iran's Presidential Elections | Al-Monitor 

A number of potential candidates have emerged in Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, possibly setting up a crowded field with the important vote weeks away to succeed late President Ebrahim Raisi. Iran will vote for a new president on June 28. The election was called after Raisi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials were killed when their helicopter crashed into a mountainous area in northwest Iran amid foggy conditions. Raisi’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, was named president following his passing. Numerous contenders have emerged as potential successors in the upcoming Iranian presidential election, including several with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. 

The Questions Lingering Around The Death Of Iran’s President | Time 

When the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi went missing on May 19, initial reports said nine passengers were on board, including two bodyguards. But after the wreckage was finally found, the number of bodies was eight. Four days later, the mystery of the second bodyguard was revealed in social media posts: Javad Mehrabl is seen leaning disconsolately in the rear of the memorial service for Raisi. Press accounts said that, at the last minute, his boss, Mehdi Mousavi, had directed him from the President’s helicopter to one of the two others moving in convoy that day. After Mousavi died in the crash, his father told Iranian state television that he knew his son would not return from this trip.  

Iran Warns Of Escalation If Israel Continues Gaza Attacks | Asharq Al-Awsat 

Iran’s top military commander on Thursday warned that the ongoing Israeli attacks against Gaza could lead to the involvement of other parties in the conflict. Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, also engaged in discussions with the Defense Ministers of Qatar, Türkiye, and Russia, addressing the latest developments in Gaza and the broader region. Bagheri told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that the ongoing crimes of Israel, with direct backing from some nations, are exacerbating the situation and could potentially draw other actors into the war. “The continuation of the crimes of the Zionist regime, along with direct support and aid from certain countries, has made the situation more complicated and can draw other actors into this conflict,” Iranian state media quoted Bagheri as telling Russia’s defense minister in a phone call. 

UANI IN THE NEWS 

Growing Armada Shipping Sanctioned Oil Burns Dirty Fuel In A Setback For Clean-Up Efforts | Reuters 

…Iran, another producer of high sulphur fuel, has supplied ships in the Middle East Gulf, the sources say. In one such operation, the Casinova tanker loaded such fuel at Iran’s Bandar Imam Khomeini port in recent months, said Claire Jungman, chief of staff at U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, which tracks Iran-related tanker traffic via satellite data. The Casinova later transferred some of the fuel onto smaller ships waiting around the Basra Anchorage in southern Iraq, Jungman said. 

Despite Iran Being On Threshold Of Nuclear Weapon, Biden Appears To Be Blocking Attempts To Censure Tehran | The New York Sun 

…Diplomats at the UN told the Sun that America was uninterested in pressuring European partners either, as a snapback would kill any prospect of reviving the nuclear deal. Now, as the Journal reports, the Europeans seem more concerned than Washington about the Iranian nuclear progress. “When even the Europeans are saying that the U.S. is soft on Iran, we have a problem,” the policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, tells the Sun. Pushing back, unidentified Washington officials told the Journal that Europe can do more to pressure Iran, including by blocking bank accounts on the Continent and listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization.  

Employee Of Tehran's Interests Section In US Threatens Iranian-American | Iran International 

…Jason Brodsky, the policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) told Iran International "the fact that he was an employee of the Islamic Republic's Interests Section raises tremendous concerns for me." "The Islamic Republic has a very checkered past of trying to engage in transnational repression in Western capitals," said Brodsky. In August 2023, a Fox New Digital report revealed a three-page GOP letter detailing Iranian regime-linked mosques and centers in Maryland, Texas, Michigan and Virginia. It claimed that the Islamic Education Center in Maryland, secured funding from what it says is the Iranian regime-controlled Alavi Foundation and Washington-based Iranian Iman, Abolfazi Bahram Nahidian. "It is unacceptable for an employee of the Islamic Republic's Interests Section in the United States to threaten an Iranian American on US soil. The Iranian- American community was using their First Amendment right, to protest, as we have in this country. And we cannot allow authoritarian states like the Islamic Republic to try to trample on those rights on American soil," said Brodsky.  

After Ali Khamenei, What’s Next in Iran? | The Dispatch 

…Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash earlier this month left Iran without its top contender to replace Khamenei. A hardline cleric with experience heading the judiciary before claiming the presidency in 2021, Raisi was also “considered a loyal lieutenant to Iran’s supreme leader,” Jason Brodsky, the policy director for the think tank United Against Nuclear Iran, told The Dispatch. “And no other person in the Islamic Republic’s political elite has been able to claim they presided over two branches of government like Raisi has, so that is a loss for the system.”  

IAEA: Iran Closing In On Weapons-Grade Uranium | i24 News 

The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, says Iran continues to enrich uranium to dangerous levels @JasonMBrodsk  tells @laura_i24 the 'toothless' inspections are coupled by a lack of 'credible military threat' from the US, emboldening Tehran 

Revealed: How Fake Papers Were Used To Smuggle A £20m Oil Shipment For Iran’s IRGC | The Jewish Chronicle 

…Claire Jungman, a sanctions expert at the US-based campaign group United Against a Nuclear Iran, told the JC: “The system laid bare by the parallel documents is an extremely common tactic. We see Iranian oil routinely disguised as Iraqi in order to evade the sanctions.” She said that since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel by the Iranian proxy Hamas, the Biden administration had begun to show signs of being willing to take stronger action, because it had “woken up to the fact that this is how Iran funds terror”. This year the US has impounded at least 20 Iranian oil cargo ships. But Jungman said that it had largely ignored the problem in previous years: “If it had enforced sanctions properly from the beginning, there wouldn’t be so much work to do now.”  

NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM 

Iran In Mourning Is Still A Nuclear Headache | Bloomberg 

A tragedy for Iran’s hardline clerics hasn’t caused its nuclear engineers to miss a step. The International Atomic Energy Agency verified yesterday that Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to just-below bomb grade grew by almost a fifth, even as the Persian Gulf nation mourns the deaths of its president and foreign minister this month in a helicopter crash. The Islamic Republic now has sufficient nuclear material to fuel a handful of warheads in short order, should its leadership take the political decision to pursue the weapons. Current and former Iranian officials have recently warned their nuclear doctrine, which until now has officially renounced atomic arms, could change if the country is threatened. Tit-for-tat missile strikes between Israel and Iran have added urgency to the IAEA’s search to uncover the truth of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  

SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS 

Iran Helps Nicaragua ‘Neutralize’ Effects Of US Sanctions | Asharq Al-Awsat 

Iran has pledged to supply Nicaragua with fuel, participate in oil exploration and consider investing in a refinery to “neutralize the effects of US and European sanctions and encroachments.” These sanctions target dozens of public sector officials and figures close to Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega who face charges related to corruption and human rights violations. This came at the end of a visit by an Iranian government delegation, led by Oil Minister Javad Owji. “We will do everything in our power to ensure the delivery of fuel to Nicaragua,” AFP quoted a Spanish translation of Owji’s statements during a live-streamed ceremony. Nicaragua imports fuel from its ally Venezuela, which is currently experiencing an economic and social crisis. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to the surge in global oil prices, has exacerbated the situation in the country, in light of US sanctions that make some of its transactions more difficult. 

TERRORISM & EXTREMISM 

Yemeni Prime Minister Denounces 'Subversive Activities' Of Houthis In Red Sea | The National 

Yemen's government should be empowered to counter the Houthi's influence on the country and the group's attacks against shipping in the Red Sea, Prime Minister Ahmad bin Mubarak said on Tuesday. The Iran-backed Houthis, which control much of central and northern Yemen, have been attacking international shipping in the Red Sea since November. Mr bin Mubarak denounced the group's “subversive activities” and said they had “hindered” global maritime trade passing through the strategically important Red Sea. “The Houthi rebels have disrupted oil exports from Yemen since 2022, dealing a big blow to the economy,” Mr bin Mubarak said at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai. He pointed to recent incidents in the Red Sea, during which Houthi rebels have attacked maritime shipping in what they say is a campaign in support of the Palestinians against Israel.  

Missile Attacks Damage A Ship In The Red Sea Off Yemen’s Coast Near Previous Houthi Rebel Assaults | Associated Press 

Missile attacks twice damaged a Marshall Islands-flagged, Greek-owned ship Tuesday in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, with a private security firm saying radio traffic suggested the vessel took on water after being struck. No group claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have launched a number of attacks targeting ships over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The first attack on the bulk carrier Laax happened off the port city of Hodeida in the southern Red Sea, near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that links it to the Gulf of Aden, according to the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center. The vessel “sustained damage” in the assault and later reported an “impact in the water in close proximity to the vessel,” the UKMTO said. “The crew are reported safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next port of call,” the center said.  

PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS 

'My Body Was Thrashed': Activist Farmanian Details Torture And Detention | Iran Wire 

Mohammad Farmanian, 36, was arrested several times by the security forces during various protests over the past decade in Iran. Farmanian, a civil rights activist, managed to leave Iran safely some time ago and is now dealing with the difficulties of immigration and the traumas caused by his detention and torture. "The last time I was arrested was on the anniversary of the Woman, Life, Freedom protests," he told IranWire. "With bail and the help of one of my father's friends, I was released and left the country before the ban. "I was informed that the judge on my case wanted to give me a strict sentence. I couldn't even imagine enduring another day of what happened to me." In November 2022, he was arrested on charges of being a leader of the protests, a similar accusation to his 2019 arrest.  

Executions Worldwide Jumped Last Year To The Highest Number Since 2015, Amnesty Report Says | Associated Press 

The number of executions recorded worldwide last year jumped to the highest level since 2015, with a sharp rise in Iran and across the Middle East, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday. The human rights group said it recorded a total of 1,153 executions in 2023, a 30% increase from 2022. Amnesty said the figure does not include thousands of death sentences believed to have been carried out in China, where data is not available due to state secrecy. The group said the spike in recorded executions was primarily driven by Iran, where authorities executed at least 853 people last year, compared to 576 in 2022. Those executed included 24 women and five people who were children at the time the crimes were committed, Amnesty said, adding that the practice disproportionately affected Iran’s Baluch minority.  

Jailed Iranian Man's Health Declines After Torture | Iran Wire 

Concerns are mounting about the well-being of 20-year-old Khaled Mehmandoost, who was arrested by Iranian security forces in Mahabad over three months ago. According to an informed source speaking to IranWire, Mehmandoost is currently in Mahabad prison, and his mental and physical health are described as unstable. The source said that Mehmandoost spent 90 days in solitary confinement within IRGC intelligence detention centers in Mahabad and Urmia. He was allegedly subjected to "mental and physical torture to such an extent that according to the diagnosis of the prison doctor, he may commit suicide due to his mental condition." The sources further detailed Mehmandoost's digestive system and kidneys sustaining physical injuries during torture and solitary confinement.  

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS 

US Says Iran's Repeated New Demands Suggest Lack Of Seriousness | Asharq Al-Awsat 

Iran has repeatedly introduced, over the recent weeks and months, extraneous demands that go beyond the confines of the nuclear deal struck in 2015, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Tuesday, saying that the new demands suggest a lack of seriousness on Tehran's behalf. Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington aimed at breaking an impasse over how to salvage Iran's 2015 nuclear pact ended in Doha, Qatar, last week without the hoped-for progress. According to Reuters, Price said there was not another round of planned talks with Iran at the moment.  

Iran Warns The US Against Destabilizing Regional Security | Asharq Al-Awsat 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned the United States and its allies against destabilizing the security of the Middle East after US President Joe Biden signed a joint security declaration in Tel Aviv directed primarily against Tehran. "The great nation of Iran will not accept any insecurity or crisis in the region, and Washington and its allies should know that any mistake will be met by a harsh and regrettable response from Iran," Raisi said during a speech in Kermanshah province. Raisi made an earlier comment about Biden's tour to the region, saying on Wednesday that the US President's visit will not achieve "security" for Israel. Israel is firmly against the efforts to revive the nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers. 

MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS 

War-Weary Iraqis Feel For Gaza, But Fear Spread Of The Conflict | New York Times 

Iraqis have known the bitter taste of war so intimately and frequently over the past 40 years that they say they can feel viscerally the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. They remember the dreaded whistling of a shell before impact, the fear of a knock at the door bringing word of a loved one’s loss, the stench of blood drying on concrete. This was daily life for many Iraqis for years as an insurgent struggle against the American occupation and a civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims brought destruction and death to their neighborhoods, shattered families and left behind countless widows and orphans. Those memories initially prompted thousands of people to join demonstrations on the streets of Iraq’s cities to show their solidarity with the Palestinian cause. But as the war in Gaza dragged on, those displays of support faded.  

IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS 

What Does Re-Election Of Ghalibaf As Parliament Speaker Mean For Iran? | Al-Monitor 

Heavyweight politician Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf was reelected as Iran's parliament speaker on Tuesday, a day after the new legislature was inaugurated following a frosty national vote marred by the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic's history. In the race for speakership, as reported by the ISNA news agency, Ghalibaf garnered 198 votes from the 287 lawmakers present in the assembly, beating two other rivals, hard-line cleric Mojtaba Zolnouri and former Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. The new parliament is packed with conservatives and is largely a repeat of the previous convocation. Such composition has been linked to the pre-election candidate vetting process at the hands of the Guardian Council, which effectively purged the majority of hopefuls from moderate and reformist political groups.  

Deadly Silence: Iran’s Warlike Mafia Regime | Times Of Israel 

Iran is entrenched in a perilous decline, with its governance steering the nation toward utter stagnation. The complexity of the situation has evolved into an intricate dilemma, characterized by the government’s accelerated and destructive policies, threatening the very survival of the state. Despite the grave circumstances, both the Iranian populace and the global community have yet to fully grasp the magnitude of this crisis. Since the pivotal winter of 1979, the regime has positioned itself as both exploiter and occupier, perpetuating its flaws without any inclination towards reform. The aspirations of the Iranian people diverge significantly from those of their rulers. Governed by an administration wielding unchecked power and vast wealth, there is a profound disconnect, as the government fails to acknowledge the legitimate identity and voices of its citizens, who harbor deep resentment.  

RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN 

Russia Deploying Iranian Glide Bombs Against Ukraine | Newsweek 

Moscow's military cooperation with Tehran is deepening according to a German report which says that Iran has supplied Russia with a glide bomb that was intended for an attack on Ukraine. Over the course of the war started by President Vladimir Putin, Iran has provided Russia with Shahed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which have caused havoc across Ukraine by targeting infrastructure and civilian targets. Iran also reportedly gave Russia the technical information to make its own versions of the so-called kamikaze drones in the city of Yelabuga, Tatarstan region, which was targeted by Ukraine's long-range drones in April. But Julian Röpcke, an open data analyst with the publication Bild, has reported that Iran's help for Putin's war that so far has included providing artillery and tank ammunition—as well as drones—has extended to its latest guided aerial bombs.