The presence of Iran's leader at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday led to protests in the streets. The demonstrations coincide with the anniversary of Iran's nationwide uprisings that started last September. Hundreds gathered at 47th Street and Second Avenue hoping world leaders would hear their cries. "Raisi is not our president of Iranian people," one woman said. "He is a murderer. His hands have blood on them," former New Jersey senator Robert Torricelli said. "The seat of the United Nations that is Iranian seat belongs to the people of Iran, not this mass murderer," said Ramesh Sepehrrad, chair of the Organization of Iranian American Communities advisory board. They want Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi, out and held accountable.
Five Americans freed from Iran made an emotional return to the United States on Tuesday ending their imprisonment "nightmare", a day after they were swapped for five Iranians held in the U.S. and the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian funds. Coming off the plane, the returning Americans were embraced by family and friends with smiles, laughs, and visible emotion, video footage from the airport showed. One of the returnees briefly waved a small Stars and Stripes handed to him. After the transfer was confirmed, the five U.S. prisoners plus two relatives took off on a Qatari plane from Tehran, at the same time as two of the five Iranian detainees landed in Doha on their way home. Three Iranians chose not to go to Iran.
Iranian officials warned on Tuesday that they had no intention of extending a deadline for the disarming and evacuation of Kurdish opposition groups based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan, Iranian media outlets reported. The Sept. 19 deadline was set by an accord signed in March between Tehran and Baghdad. The Iraq-based Kurdish opposition is mostly formed by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and the leftist-leaning Komala Party. The two groups have been engaged in a bloody conflict against the Islamic Republic almost since the latter's inception in 1979. While initially fighting for the independence of Iran's underdeveloped Kurdish areas, they have in recent years revised their ambitions, promoting the establishment of a federalist state in Iran in which the Kurdish minority would be granted the right to self-determination and enjoy basic cultural freedoms.
UANI IN THE NEWS
…Mr. Raisi’s presence at the council would have been “a political baptism for a man who has been implicated in countless crimes,” Ms. Hakakian said in an earlier statement on Twitter, now called X, in which she declined her own invitation to the meeting. Later, the policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, reported that the meeting was postponed until Wednesday, and would be held at another location. The meeting was set to take place on the anniversary of the Iranian protests against human rights abuses and economic troubles that swept through the nation last year.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday that the United States should prove its "goodwill and determination" to revive Tehran's 2015 nuclear pact as months of indirect talks between the long-time foes have led nowhere. "By exiting the JCPOA, the United States violated the agreement and the principle of good faith. America should demonstrate its goodwill and determination," Raisi said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Tehran and six world powers. Former U.S. President Donald Trump reneged on that deal in 2018, arguing it was too generous to Tehran, and restored harsh U.S. sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to gradually violate the agreement's nuclear limits.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Chancellor Scholz for his commitment to Israel, for Germany's commitment to the security of Israel, and for preserving the special relationship. The two leaders discussed Iran's defiant actions in disseminating global terrorism and aspiring to attain nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that the Iranian statement on the expulsion of some of the IAEA inspectors from the nuclear installations in Iran is unacceptable.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday demanded an end to US sanctions against the clerical state, after a halt in talks on restoring a nuclear deal. "These sanctions have not yielded the desired results. It is time now for the United States to bring a cessation to its wrong path and choose the right side," he told the UN General Assembly.
The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on seven people and four companies in China, Russia and Turkey who officials allege are connected with the development of Iran’s drone program. The U.S. accuses Iran of supplying Russia with drones used to bomb Ukrainian civilians as the Kremlin continues its invasion of Ukraine. The latest development comes after Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. “We are against the war in Ukraine,” President Raisi said Monday as he met with media executives on the sidelines of the world’s premier global conference, the high-level leaders’ meeting at the U.N. General Assembly.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Qatar is “so proud” to have facilitated the return home this week of five US citizens that had been jailed in Iran, said Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani on Tuesday – his first time speaking in depth about Qatar’s role in the episode. “We were so proud to see that Qatar helped in bringing those people back to their families,” Al-Thani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview. Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz and Siamak Namazi, along with two Americans who have not been publicly named, arrived Tuesday at a military airfield in Virginia after being flown out of Iran the previous day on a Qatari government jet. The release, which came as part of a wider deal that includes the US unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian funds, began to coalesce earlier this year amid negotiations in Doha, CNN has previously reported.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Toomaj Salehi, the Iranian rapper jailed for his protest music, is facing deteriorating health conditions and is in urgent need of medical attention. Salehi's official account reported on Tuesday that he has sustained injuries from torture during his time in detention, including severe swelling and bleeding in his eyes, a fractured tooth, and injured fingers. The message further stated, "Now that his legal trial has concluded, he finds himself unjustly incarcerated, enduring days behind bars under intense pressure and control without basic prisoner rights. It is crucial to take swift action to secure his medical release and transfer to a hospital to address his urgent medical needs. Delays in addressing this critical matter must be avoided."
MILITARY/INTELLIGENCE MATTERS & PROXY WARS
Azerbaijan's anti-terror operation launched on Tuesday in its Nagorno-Karabakh conclave – a response to a series of terror attacks on civilian and police vehicles – was aimed at separatist militia in the territory, populated by Armenians who live under the control of a Russian peacekeeping force. The escalation plays into the hands of two major players in the region – Iran and Russia. As official Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) sources report, as of Tuesday, after explosions in the Hojavend district – an area designated for the temporary deployment of the Russian contingent – killed six Azerbaijanis, prompting IRGC forces stationed in Eastern Azerbaijan to be on high alert.
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iranian lawmakers passed a bill on September 20 to toughen penalties for women who flout the Islamic dress code, with jail terms of up to 10 years, state media reported. The assembly approved "the 'Support for the Culture of Hijab and Chastity' bill for a trial period of three years," IRNA reported. The bill requires Guardians Council approval. Since mass protests broke out last year, women have been increasingly flouting the strict dress code that requires head coverings and modest clothes. The demonstrations broke out after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly breaching the dress code.
CONGRESS & IRAN
Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) slammed President Biden for putting more Americans at risk by greenlighting Iran’s violent activities and increasing its nuclear capabilities. Ernst highlighted that, by lining Iran’s pockets with $6 billion, failing to enforce sanctions, and issuing a visa to allow “the Butcher of Tehran” on U.S. soil, Biden’s appeasement continues to embolden Iranian aggression.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Iran Abdullah bin Saud al-Anzi declared on Monday that his country is eager to broaden ties with Iran in the petrochemical sector. The announcement came during the 17th International Exhibition of Plastics, Rubber, Machinery and Equipment in Tehran, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA. Ambassador al-Anzi noted that there are multiple avenues for collaboration between Saudi and Iranian petrochemical industries. Specifically, he mentioned the potential for Saudi Arabia’s Basic Industries Corporation, a leading chemical manufacturer, to work with Iranian petrochemical firms. The ambassador also expressed hope for the National Petrochemical Company of Iran to arrange meetings between stakeholders in the Iranian and Saudi petrochemical sectors. Furthermore, al-Anzi commended Iran for its “significant” advancements in petrochemical science and technology.
US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday will hold their first face-to-face talks since Netanyahu took power in December, with topics expected to include a potential Israel-Saudi normalization deal and Iran. Biden had held off extending an invitation to Netanyahu out of concern about a judicial overhaul that curbs the power of judges undertaken by his right-wing government as well as Israel’s expansion of settlements on the occupied West Bank. Instead of meeting at the White House - Netanyahu’s preferred venue - the two leaders ended up arranging their talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. US officials expect the judicial overhaul to come up in their conversations, as well as efforts to counter Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of what would be a major development - a normalization of Israel-Saudi relations.
AFGHANISTAN & IRAN
"Iran and the Taliban are working well together to combat terrorism," says Iran's intelligence minister, Esmail Khatib. In a video released on September 15 by the Iranian news agency Tasnim, which is close to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Khatib claimed the West has driven the terrorist group known as Islamic State (IS) out of Syria and Turkey — and into northern Afghanistan. "They have established themselves in mountainous areas where the Taliban government has little access and are carrying out attacks against members of the Taliban. We are working closely with the Taliban to take action against them," said Khatib. An important Shia pilgrimage site in southern Iran has been the target of two deadly attacks in less than a year. In the latest attack, one person was killed and eight others injured on August 13 when a gunman opened fire in the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz. In an earlier attack in October 2022, 13 people were killed and 30 wounded at the same site in an attack claimed by IS.