UK 'Blocks Plans' To Proscribe Iran's Revolutionary Guard As Terrorist Group | The National
Britain’s Foreign Office has blocked a plan that would have led to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) proscribed as a terrorist organisation, according to a report. The government department cited the need to keep communication channels with Tehran open as relations between the two countries continue on a downward spiral. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was told by MPs in the House of Commons this week there had been a “major groundswell” in requests for the Sunak government to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Mr Cleverly said the Revolutionary Guard’s “malign impact” was felt across the region and the world, but stopped short of saying a proscription was in the pipeline.
Satellite Photos: Damage At Iran Military Site Hit By Drone | Associated Press
Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press on Friday showed damage done to what Iran describes as a military workshop targeted by Israeli drones, the latest such assault amid a shadow war between the two countries. While Iran has offered no explanation yet of what the workshop manufactured, the drone attack threatened to again raise tensions in the region. Already, worries have grown over Tehran enriching uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels, with a top United Nations nuclear official warning the Islamic Republic had enough fuel to build “several” atomic bombs if it chooses. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose earlier tenure as premier saw escalating attacks targeting Iran, has returned to office and reiterated that he views Tehran as his country’s top security threat. With State Department spokesperson Ned Price now declaring Iran has “killed” the opportunity to return to its nuclear deal with world powers, it remains unclear what diplomacy immediately could ease tensions between Tehran and the West.
Netanyahu In Paris To Press Macron On Iran | AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold talks with French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday, hoping to gain support against Iran's nuclear programme but shadowed by an upsurge of violence in the region. Israel's Paris embassy said the pair would discuss "the international effort to stop the Iranian nuclear programme". Netanyahu hopes that Iran's role supplying drones to Russian invaders in Ukraine as well as the crackdown on protests at home will prompt Western allies to drop any pursuit of a revival of the 2015 deal over its atomic drive.
UANI IN THE NEWS
China’s Imports Of Iranian Oil Near Record Levels As Us Promises Pressure | Lloyd’s List
..."As the administration continues to allow China to import Iranian oil in defiance of US sanctions, the Iranian regime’s pockets are filling up which in turn is used to fund its terrorist activities and human rights abuses,” said UANI chief of staff Claire Jungman. “China continues to reap the benefits by getting to purchase discounted oil from not just Iran but also Russia. Something about this strategy from the administration clearly doesn't match up,” she added. Meanwhile, Panama-flagged tankers’ share of the “ghost armada” ferrying sanctioned Iranian oil rose to 42%, UANI said. The flag state recently denounced accusations that it is assisting Iran skirt sanctions by knowingly flagging vessels that are engaged in sanctioned oil trades. The allegations were made in an opinion piece in Washington Post by former Florida governor and UANI adviser Jeb Bush.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Masih Alinejad Refuses To Live In Fear After Iran-Backed Plot To Kill Her In US Foiled | The National
Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad says she refuses to live in fear, despite having been the target of an alleged assassination plot by an organisation with ties to Tehran, the second attempt foiled by the US in as many years. Two of the men allegedly involved in the plot appeared in a New York federal court on Wednesday to face charges of murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder for hire, among other offences. But the Iranian-American journalist, who has been relentless in her criticism of Iran, told The National that she will not live in the shadows.
CYBER: Iran’s AI-Powered Surveillance State | VICE
On January 31, a court in Iran handed out a combined sentence of 10 years to a couple who danced outside of Azadi Tower in Tehran, Iran. A film of the brief dance went viral on Instagram and Twitter. They’re 21 and 22 years old. The woman was not wearing a hijab. The long sentence for a viral post is part of a pattern in Iran. In response to protests, the Iranian government is using technology and violence to suppress its people. Iran is a pioneer in the use of new technologies like AI and facial recognition to suppress dissent and enforce the will of the state. On this episode of Cyber, Mahsa Alimardani—a senior researcher at Article 19 and a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford—comes on the show to talk about how Iran is pioneering the modern surveillance state.
An Anti-Hijab Prisoner In Iran Seriously Ill After Hunger Strike | Iran International
The health of long-time Iranian political prisoner, Farhad Meysami, who has lost a lot of weight due to his hunger strike, has deteriorated. A photo of Meysami along with a letter from Rajaei-Shahr prison in Karaj were published on social media Thursday, showing him in a horrible condition after losing weight. However, the political activist wrote in the letter to prison officials that “I will still insist on my three demands of stopping the execution of protesters, releasing six political prisoners, and stopping mandatory hijab.”
IRANIAN INTERNAL DEVELOPMENTS
Iran Lawmakers Cautiously Hope To Summon Raisi For Questioning | Iran International
Iranian media say several lawmakers are mulling the idea of questioning President Ebrahim Raisi at the parliament amid the country’s political and economic crises. Moderate Aftab News website reported that the lawmakers were going around in the parliament (Majles) on January 31, gathering signatures in support of the motion. However, those who support the idea do their best to conceal their identity before the motion is tabled at the Majles. The website said that the lawmakers appear to fear reactions by Raisi and other ultraconservatives to what they are doing. Nonetheless, their names cannot be kept a secret for long. Aftab News said that they even refused to talk to reporters about the motion that signifies their dissatisfaction about Raisi's performance.
Ultra-Hardliners Push For More Restrictions In Iran | Iran International
Emboldened by less street protests in January, Iran's ultra-hardliners have been pushing for further restrictions on social freedoms and freedom of expression. Commenting on the issue of hijab, lawmaker Hossein-Ali Haji-Deligani said in an interview with Entekhab news website recently that he believes the country should have an entity dedicated to “promotion of virtue and prevention of vice” as a completely independent organization to enforce hijab. “Our society and religion do not accept today’s kind of [lenient] hijab,” he said. Haji-Deligani who is also a member of the parliament’s presidium had said a day earlier that lawmakers, including him, had submitted a new motion to prevent celebrities and those with political, social, military or cultural influence, from “making irrelevant and inexpert statements” on the country’s affairs.
OTHER FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Iran’s IRGC Chief Vows Punishment After Desecration Of Quran In Europe | Al Arabiya
The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened punishment on Thursday for those behind the desecration of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, in Europe. “Today, we are the guardians of Islam and the Quran … We say to those who burned the Quran, this fire will catch your bodies and turn them into corpses,” state news agency IRNA quoted Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami as saying. “Live in secret from today and have nightmares every night, Muslims will not leave you even if decades pass,” added Salami.
France, Israel Concur On A More Confrontational Approach On Iran | Iran International
French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed concern over the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, warning of consequences for Theran if it continues its atomic project. After a dinner meeting in the Elysee Palace with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, Macron called for “firmness in the face of Iran’s headlong rush, which if continued would inevitably have consequences.” The French president also noted “that Iranian support for Russian aggression in Ukraine exposes Iran to sanctions and increasing isolation,” while Netanyahu said Israel is considering sending military aid to Ukraine, which seems Israel plans to drop its more neutral stance over the conflict in the hope of securing a more anti-Iran Western position towards Tehran.
Azerbaijan Arrests 39 Belonging To Iran 'Espionage Network' | Middle East Monitor
Azerbaijan has carried out a mass arrest of 39 people as part of an ongoing operation against an alleged Iranian "espionage network". An announcement was made yesterday by the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirming the arrests after a previous report stated seven suspects had been detained. The ministry said the arrests were made against people who carried out acts of sabotage and propaganda activities under the "veil of religion", reported the Azerbaijani Press Agency (APA). The ministry alleges that the detainees, "posing as believers, made propaganda for Iran on social networks and abused the freedom of religion in the country, carrying out the assignments of the Iranian special services."
Nobel Laureate Ebadi Says Iran's 'Revolutionary Process' Is Irreversible | Reuters
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi said the death in custody of a young Iranian Kurdish woman last year has sparked an irreversible "revolutionary process" that would eventually lead to the collapse of the Islamic Republic. Iran's clerical rulers have faced widespread unrest since Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police on Sept. 16 after she was arrested for wearing "inappropriate attire". Iran has blamed Amini's death on preexisting medical problems and has accused the United States and other foes fomenting the unrest to destabilise the clerical establishment.
Iran Media Target Azerbaijan's President With Antisemitic Cartoons | i24 News
'Baku hopes with the help of Israel to tighten pressure on Iran' Iranian media on Thursday responded to cooperation between Israeli and Azeri defense ministers by publishing antisemitic cartoons targeting Azerbaijan’s president. Iranian newspaper Javan, owned by the son of Ayatollah Hossein Mazakheri from Iran's central city of Isfahan, published on its frontpage a cartoon depicting Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev as a stereotypical Jew with a huge hooked nose, with the Israeli prime minister standing behind his back. The cartoon illustrated the article "Tel Aviv’s Trap for Baku" comes as Iran's reaction to the phone conversation between the defense ministers of Israel and Azerbaijan.