• 2020-10-20

    The 22 September marked the fortieth anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq War. When my mother tells me how a blast from a missile claimed her uncle’s life in Khuzestan, I know the war is still with her. She still remembers how her family’s home in Tehran became a refuge to dozens of our relatives who had fled aerial bombardment in the country’s southwest, how my grandmother suddenly became responsible to shelter and feed forty people, beleaguered loved ones uprooted and displaced as a result of a war that claimed five hundred thousand lives. This year, the United States came the closest it has ever been to launching an all-out war on Iran. As in most wars, primarily working-class people on both sides would pay the heaviest price, sent to the frontlines to fight each other. But contrary to what proponents of a US invasion of Iran would have us believe, working-class Iranians and Americans are actually not each other’s enemy. In fact, they have more in common with each other than they do with their respective political leaders.

  • 2020-10-17

    Within minutes of the death of the Iranian vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian last week, thousands streamed into the streets surrounding his hospital in Tehran, openly wept and sang his songs in unison. […] For more than 40 years, Mr. Shajarian channeled the hopes and frustrations of Iranians and became the “people’s voice.” He delved into the country’s rich poetic heritage and sang verses that directly addressed people’s political and social problems. This turned his concerts into one of the few public places where crowds of strangers could get together and openly express their discontent through music. 

  • 2020-10-15

    Shirin Ebadi, a former judge who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for pioneering the rights of children, women and refugees in Iran, has joined a campaign led by human-rights activists and athletes to ban the Islamic Republic from international sports tournaments, following Iran’s state execution of champion wrestler Navid Afkari. The viral campaign, United4Navid, was launched by anti-compulsory hijab campaigner Masih Alinejad on Twitter last Friday. 

  • 2020-10-14

    The leak of a document attributed to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made waves on social media in June 2020. The document outlined a statement of intent to pursue a strategic partnership between China and Iran that would enhance political, military, cultural, and economic cooperation between the two nations. Called a "deal," a "pact," and even an "alliance" as it filtered into the mainstream media, this news has been received in the United States with predictable panic. Foreign policy commentators proclaimed it was the beginning of an "Iran-China axis" between "totalitarian twins" that plans to "dominate the Middle East" through "defying the U.S," a plan that would be "bad news for the West" and make China "the Middle East arbiter." Despite the document's nebulous nature, commentators asserted that the agreement would fundamentally alter geostrategic calculations in the Middle East. Comments on social media were similarly outraged, with some comparing the alleged deal to Iran's past exploitation by imperial Britain and Russia. These alarmist predictions stand in contrast to analysts like Jacopo Scita, Lucille Greer, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, Julia Gurol, Maysam Behravesh, and Jonathan Fulton. Through careful quantitative analysis, they have pointed out several inconsistencies between the reality of the proposed agreement and the response it has generated

  • 2020-10-09

    In this interview, Malihe Razazan spoke to Human Rights Watch (HRW) Iran Researcher Tara Sepehri Far about Nasrin Sotoudeh's hunger strike and the criminalization of peaceful protests in Iran. Sotoudeh is an Iranian human rights lawyer, who was arrested in 2010 and started her second hunger strike this year in August to protest the inhumane treatment of Iranian political prisoners during the COVID pandemic. Courtesy of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa (VOMENA).

  • 2020-10-08

    Iran has released prominent rights activist Narges Mohammadi, according to a report by an Iranian news agency, which said her 10-year sentence had been reduced.

  • 2020-10-08

    India is seeking to remain involved in the development projects at Iran's ports, especially since Chabahar Port helps India gain access to an important geopolitical region. […] Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar both visited Tehran last month, on separate occasions but within the same week. Though the purpose of the meetings — according to official statements — was aimed at “strengthening bilateral cooperation” and discussing some “important regional issues,” the agenda likely included the handling of Chabahar Port in Iran.

  • 2020-10-07

    Prominent members of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) have begun serving prison sentences for the peaceful expression dissent and their opposition to censorship. “On September 26, 2020, IWA board members Reza Khandan Mahabadi and Baktash Abtin, as well as former board member Keyvan Bajan, were transferred to Evin Prison [to begin serving their] sentences… The three IWA members must be freed unconditionally,” said a statement from the writers’ association on September 27.

  • 2020-10-07

    The Iranian public is more concerned about the government’s mismanagement of the economy, failure to protect them in the face of the disastrous coronavirus pandemic, and incapacity to neutralize the impact of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. Accordingly, those who may have leadership aspirations, including Rouhani, Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, Hassan Khomeini (grandson of Ruhollah Khomeini), and Mojtaba Khamenei (son of Ali Khamenei), alternate between aligning themselves with or blaming each other and the IRGC for Iran’s chronic problems. But none of the leadership hopefuls can seize power in Iran without IRGC support, and any future leader of the Islamic Republic will, for all practical purposes, be beholden to the IRGC. The IRGC will also most likely decide the fundamental tenet of Iran’s behavior toward the United States. Regardless of the outcome of the November U.S. presidential election, Washington and Tehran will remain at odds over the IRGC’s vision for the Islamic Republic as a regional hegemon. In this regard, there will most likely be a greater degree of continuity than change in Iran’s behavior. Notwithstanding the pandemic, those engaged in formulating U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic should look beyond Khamenei, shift the focus away from potential individual leadership candidates, and pay more attention to the likely transformation of the Islamic Republic into a military-style dictatorship, albeit one with a clerical figurehead.

  • 2020-10-06

    US intelligence officials have concluded that Iran prefers a Joe Biden win come November. And why wouldn’t it? Biden has vowed to return to the Iran deal, the nuclear agreement that was forged when he served as vice president to Barack Obama. […] Even before Trump won in 2016 and began steps to pull the US out of the JCPOA in 2018, Tehran was grumbling that Washington wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain and was continuing to block trade with the Islamic Republic. No matter who wins on November 3, there may be more continuity than change in US-Iran relations.

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