United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Khamenei Comments: The West Created ISIS

            In his speeches, interviews, and tweets from September and October, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented on the Islamic State, the economy, women, and the death of Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani.
            In a speech on September 4, Khamenei claimed that the West is responsible for creating ISIS and other jihadist groups in the Middle East to undermine Iran. During an interview on the same subject, he also ruled out cooperating with the United States against ISIS, stating that “we will not cooperate with America particularly because their hands are dirty.”
            On the economy, the Supreme Leader warned against relying too heavily on oil, and called for more scientific research to help boost growth. Khamenei's office also tweeted frequently about women’s issues, expressing support for women’s education and economic activities.
            The following are excerpts from his key speeches and statements in September and October.
 
The Islamic State
 
            "[The West] claims that [creating orientations such as al Qaeda and DAESH] has nothing to do with them, but everyone knows that they are involved. Once, I quoted a statement from a well-known American politician, but they denied it later on. It can be witnessed that they have created these orientations. They themselves acknowledge that it was they who created these orientations. Even if they do not acknowledge it, we have certain evidence which proves it. We know it.”
            “There is no doubt that these orientations have been created by these western powers and their regional agents. It is possible that they are not directly involved in some cases and that they use their agents for this purpose. Of course, they were directly involved in some cases as well. On the issue of Taliban, I do not forget that American newspapers somehow supported and promoted the ideas of Taliban. They did not do it openly and outspokenly, but in fact, their propaganda work was based on promoting Taliban during a time when it had just been formed.”
            Sept. 4, 2014 in a
speech at a meeting of the Assembly of Experts

            “During the past two, three days, I had a source of entertainment which was listening to the statements of the Americans on the issue of DAESH [ISIS] and fighting against it. They made absurd, hollow and biased statements. One of the issues which was really a source of amusement for me was that the American secretary of state and the girl who stands there and talks, openly said, ‘We will not invite Iran to the coalition against DAESH’ First, what honor is greater than the fact that America is disappointed with us and does not want us to participate in a wrong collective task. This is a source of pride for us, not a source of regret.”
            “Second, I witnessed that all of them are lying. Since the first days that the issue of DAESH arose, the Americans asked our ambassador in Iraq - through their ambassador - to organize a meeting and reach an agreement on the issue of DAESH. Our ambassador relayed this inside the country and some of our officials were not against it. But I was against it and said, ‘On this issue, we will not cooperate with America particularly because their hands are dirty. How can we cooperate on this issue with those whose hands and intentions are dirty?’”
            Sept. 8, 2014 in an interview
 
            “This takfiri orientation - the thing that has emerged in Iraq, Syria and some other regional countries today and that confronts all Muslims, not just Shias - is the handicraft of colonialists themselves. They made something called al-Qaida and DAESH in order to confront the Islamic Republic and the movement of the Islamic Awakening. However, this product has become a burden for them.”
            “We see that the unreal effort which America and its allies are making in the region today under the name of confronting DAESH is, in fact, an effort for channeling enmities among Muslims more than it is an effort for nipping this evil movement in the bud. They try to pit Muslims against one another. Today, they have chosen this ignorant, prejudiced, fossilized and dependent group as the element for doing this. Otherwise, the goal is the same old goal.”
            “If someone does something to provoke the feelings of the other side and to create enmity, they should certainly know that they are helping America, vile England and Zionism. They should know that they are helping those people who create DAESH, al-Qaida and the like and who create the takfiri orientation in order to create discord between Shia and Sunni. Today, Islamic unity, Islamic brotherhood and Islamic solidarity is one of the most necessary and urgent responsibilities for all Islamic societies. All of us should be committed to this responsibility.”
            Sept. 13, 2014 in a speech on the occasion Eid al-Ghadir
 
 
Women
 
            “This great and pious man appeared always and everywhere in the position of a religious scholar and an honest politician and a candid revolutionary.”
            Oct. 23, 2014 according to the press
 

 

 

Latest on Nuke Talks: What Iran, P5+1 Say

            Less than thirty days remain until the November 24 deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the world's six major powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. Leaders on both sides have noted that there has been progress on key issues and remain optimistic that a deal can be reached before the deadline. Iranian officials have repeatedly emphasized sanctions relief and the right to a peaceful nuclear program. Both sides have claimed that the other will be at fault if a deal is not reached in time. The following are excerpted remarks by officials on the status of the nuclear talks as of October 28.

Iran
 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
            "Tehran has taken highly positive steps in the nuclear talks with the P5+1 and if the negotiating sides also [prove to] have the necessary political will in this regard, reaching a comprehensive agreement will be possible within the next one month."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
 
Deputy for Legal and International Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Seyed Abbas Arraqchi
 
            "All nuclear capabilities of Iran will be preserved and no facility will be shut down or even suspended, and no device or equipment will be dismantled."
            “We will not retreat one iota from the country’s nuclear rights, but we are fully ready for transparency and confidence-building.”
            “All sanctions should be lifted and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept even a single instance of sanctions to remain in place under a [final] comprehensive nuclear deal.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
 
            “Neither of the negotiating parties is interested in extending [the deadline of] the talks. All sides are determined to achieve an agreement prior to the deadline. Therefore, extension is not on the agenda of any of the parties.”
            Oct. 26, 2014 according to the press
 
            “It is not clear if negotiations will reach a conclusion within the specified time frame” unless the other side gives up its illogical excessive demands.”
            “Undoubtedly, trying to launch negotiations through media instead of [from behind] the negotiating table will not only make matters more difficult for progress in talks and reaching a comprehensive agreement, but it will also make it more difficult to continue on the current path particularly when it is accompanied by illogical excessive demands.”
            “We also believe that both sides have a real opportunity which may not be available again. We are sure that if the other side is genuine and committed to its claim to make sure Iran’s nuclear energy program is peaceful, then reaching this goal is not very difficult. ”
            “There will be no damage to the country’s research and development and, more importantly, industrial enrichment will continue with force and within the framework of the country’s needs. At the same time, all sanctions must be lifted and eliminated; and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept any sanctions within the framework of a comprehensive nuclear deal – not even one.”
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran has entered negotiations based on a fundamental premise against all weapons of mass destructions including nuclear weapons. This is based on the Fatwa of the Supreme Leader and (Iran) will continue with goodwill until a final conclusion is reached.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to Iran’s Nuclear Energy page
 
            "Iran's negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) is progressing on a hard path with ups and downs and there is no bright perspective envisaged for its ending by the deadlines."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
 
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani
 
            “Unfortunately, the West’s double-standard approach to disarmament has not helped [efforts to promote nuclear non-proliferation]”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
 
            “As regards the nuclear issue, Iran believes in continued negotiations with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany) and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within the framework of the restoration of all its rights and respect for the existing laws”
            Oct. 29, 2014 In a meeting with Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson
 
Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of Iran’s Majlis Alaeddin Boroujerdi
 
            “If this [final] agreement is not signed, it is as clear as day that the excessive demands of Americans have been the factor behind the failure of the negotiations.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
 
Senior advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati
 
            “We are confident that in the end, even if Iran-P5+1 negotiations last for a long time, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be the winner.”
            “Iran's stance is that it plans to benefit from peaceful nuclear energy within the framework of international regulations and supervision.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press  
 
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
 
            “Negotiations are moving in a difficult path with many ups and downs.”
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to NuclearEnergy.ir
 
Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi
 
            “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not agree to the sanctions being removed one by one.”
            “The West must remove the sanctions against Iran all at once.”
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
 
            "If the westerners are really after settling Iran's nuclear issue, they shouldn’t seek excuses and should try to cope with Iran's realities.”
            "We are not thinking about extending the negotiations as we are trying to reach the desirable results in the specified period of time (left to the deadline)."
            Oct. 28, 2014 according to the press
 
Member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Avaz Heidarpour
 
            "The US is looking for troubling the talks, but Iran is committed to negotiations to resolve its nuclear standoff with the West."
            Oct. 27, 2014 according to the press
 
Member of the Presiding Board of Iran’s Majlis Hossein Sobhani-Nia
 
            “The Islamic Republic has never accepted the issue of suspension, but the removal of sanctions has been the key issue for us.”
            Oct. 25, 2014 according to the press
 
United States
 
Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman
 
            “Our bottom line is unambiguous, crystal clear, and, quite frankly, written in stone: Iran will not, shall not obtain a nuclear weapon.”
            “If [a deal] does not happen, the responsibility will be seen by all to rest with Iran.”
            “Such a plan, if fully implemented, would give confidence that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and would enable the Iranian people to look forward to a much brighter future.”
            “We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text. However, like any complicated and technically complex diplomatic initiative, this is a puzzle with many interlocking pieces.”
            Oct. 23, 2014 according to U.S. State Department
 
Russia
 
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
 
            “The foreign policy chiefs noted that talks on the settlement of the situation around Iran’s nuclear program have real chances to lead to concrete agreements, but additional efforts must be applied.”
            Oct. 24, 2014 according to The Iran Project
 

 

Video: Iranians Candid About Their Fears

            Iranian graphic artist Ali Molavi asked 50 people in Tehran: “What do you fear?” At first timid, they answered candidly, reflecting insecurity about the poor economic situation and ongoing nuclear talks with the world’s six major powers. Iranians of all ages were concerned about the future. Other fears ranged from God and death to poverty. One man even admitted fearing his wife. A young woman said she was afraid of cockroaches. Several people said they feared war or the possibility of being alone. One woman said she feared the repercussions of simply “telling the truth,” and another said she feared that “women in Iran have no value.” If English subtitles are not displayed, click on the CC button near the bottom of the window after clicking play.

 

Tags: Art, Offbeat

Iran Hangs Woman for Killing Alleged Rapist

            On October 25, Iranian authorities executed 26-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari, a woman convicted of killing a man she said tried to sexually abuse her. Jabbari was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi. She reportedly admitted to stabbing Sarbandi, but claimed another man who was present actually killed Sarbandi. Her explanation did not appear to be thoroughly investigated, according to human rights groups. Jabbari was sentenced to death in 2009 by a criminal court in Tehran. The prosecutor’s office claimed she “repeatedly confessed to premediated murder, then tried to divert the case from its course by inventing the rape charge.”
            The United Nations and human rights groups, including Amnesty International,
called for a re-trial. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights issued calls to stay the execution officially. “Evidence in the case, including the medical examiner’s report highlighting the presence of a tranquilizer in a glass of juice found at the crime scene, possibly intended use in the immobilization and sexual assault the defendant, raises serious questions as to whether or not factors eminently relevant to the case were considered in the court’s judgment and sentencing of this young woman,” the Special Rapporteur, Ahmed Shaheed said in April.
            Activists also launched a Facebook page with a petition that was signed more than 241,000 times. Jabbari's execution was deferred a number of times. But she was eventually hanged on October 25, prompting further international outcry. The following are statements from the U.S. and U.K. governments.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki
October 25
 
            We condemn this morning’s execution in Iran of Reyhaneh Jabbari, an Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said she stabbed in self-defense during a sexual assault.  There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress.  Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from Iranian human rights activists and an international outcry over this case.  We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran’s own laws and its international obligations.
 
U.K. Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood
October 25
 
            The UK strongly opposes the use of the death penalty. I am very concerned and saddened that it has been used in the case of Reyhaneh Jabbari where there have been questions around due process.
 
            The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, noted that her conviction was allegedly based on confessions made while under threat, and the court failed to take into account all evidence into its judgement. Actions like these do not help Iran build confidence or trust with the international community. I urge Iran to put a moratorium on all executions.
 

UN Report: Human Rights Undermined

            On October 23, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran released a new report detailing violations in the Islamic Republic. The report’s introduction stated:

             Various laws, policies and institutional practices continue to undermine the conditions needed for the realization of the fundamental rights guaranteed by international and national law. Some draft laws also appear to further undermine the rights to freedom of expression and association and markedly compound discrimination against women by further eroding their protection from forced marriage and rights to education, work and equal wages.

             But Iran rejected the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions, referring to them as “unjust” and “false.” The government released a 37-page response to a draft version of the report claiming it has “taken numerous steps to promote and improve situation of human rights at national and international levels.” The following are excerpts from the latest U.N. report.
 
Civil and Political Rights
 
            Between July 2013 and June 2014, at least 852 individuals were reportedly executed, representing an alarming increase in the number of executions in relation to the already-high rates of previous years. The Government also continues to execute juvenile offenders. In 2014 alone, eight individuals believed to be under 18 years of age at the time of their alleged crimes were reportedly executed.
 
            The new Islamic Penal Code that entered into force in 2013 now omits references to apostasy, witchcraft and heresy, but continues to allow for juvenile executions and retains the death penalty for activities that do not constitute “most serious crimes” in line with the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty (see Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50). They include adultery, recidivist alcohol use, drug possession and trafficking and some crimes resulting in convictions for moharebeh (commonly translated as “enmity against God”, but translated by the Government as a crime in which “a person brandishes or points a weapon at members of the public to kill, frighten and coerce them”) or mofsed fel-arz (corruption on Earth).
 
            The execution of individuals for exercising their protected rights, including of freedom of expression and association, is deeply troubling. Members of ethnic minority groups, in particular those espousing ethnocultural, linguistic or minority religious rights, appear to be disproportionately charged with moharebeh and mofsed
fel-arz, sometimes seemingly for exercising their rights to peaceful expression and  association.
 
Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
 
            Continuing reports regarding the use of psychological and physical torture to solicit confessions indicate the widespread and systematic use of such practices. Of the 24 Iranian refugees in Turkey who provided testimony for the present report, 20 reported torture and ill-treatment and 16 psychological abuse, such as prolonged solitary confinement, mock executions and the threat of rape, along with physical abuse, including severe beatings, use of suspension and pressure positions, electroshock and burnings. Reports of amputation and corporal punishment (e.g. flogging), which are considered incompatible with article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, were also received.
 
Domestic Violence
 
            Some 66 per cent of Iranian women have reportedly experienced domestic violence. The legislative framework remains insufficient to combat such violence. In addition, inadequate social service provisions challenge the State’s ability to provide safety and redress for victims.
 
            For example, laws continue to explicitly allow for non-consensual sexual relations in marriage.
 
Freedom of expression and the right to information
 
            At least 35 journalists are currently in detention in the country. Reports continue to allege harassment, interrogations and surveillance of many others.
 
            Between June and August 2014 alone, several journalists, including Saba Azarpeik, Mehdi Khalazi, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi, were arrested and three others, Reyhaneh Tabatabaei, Mahnaz Mohammadi and Marzieh Rasoulis, were summoned to begin serving prison sentences. Several others, including Seraj Miramadi, Farideh Shahgholi and Hossein Nourani Nejad, received new prison sentences during the period.
 
            Recent cases regarding several other Internet users underscore a pattern of continuing general repression of freedom of expression and, in some cases, freedom of movement. In May 2014, eight Facebook commenters were sentenced to a combined 123 years in prison for blasphemy, insulting the Supreme Leader and spreading propaganda against the system, among other charges, for criticizing government policies, supporting political protests and participating in social satire and other alleged activities on Facebook.
 
            Severe content restrictions, intimidation and prosecution of Internet users and limitations on Internet access through throttling and filtering persist, however. Some
5 million websites remain blocked. The top 500 blocked websites include many dedicated to the arts, social issues, news and those ranked in the top tiers of popularity nationally.
 
Early and forced marriage
 
            The legal age of marriage for girls in the country is 13 years, but girls as young as 9 years of age may be married with permission from a court. In 2002, the Guardian Council rejected legislative attempts to increase the minimum age to 15 years.
 
At least 48,580 girls between 10 and 14 years of age were married in 2011, 48,567 of whom were reported to have had at least one child before they reached15 years of age. Some 40,635 marriages of girls under 15 years of age were also registered between March 2012 and March 2013, of which more than 8,000 involved men who were at least 10 years older.
 
Freedom of religion
 
            The Government accepted nine recommendations regarding religious rights during the consideration of the country by the Working Group on the Universal
Periodic Review, including commitments to upholding freedom of belief and religion, extending protection to all religious groups, combating incitement to religious hatred and amending all legislation that discriminates against minority groups (see A/HRC/14/12). No progress in this regard has been observed, however.
 
            As at June 2014, at least 300 minority religious practitioners were reportedly imprisoned, including three active members of the Yarsan faith, in addition to members of newer spiritual movements.
 
Click here for the full text of the U.N. report.
 
Click here for Iran's response.
 

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