News Digest: Week of October 4

Politics: In his first public speech after 10 years under house arrest, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi urged major reforms to eliminate the “flaws and shortcomings” in the Islamic Republic. Karroubi, a former speaker of parliament who ran for the presidency in 2009, was allowed to give a brief speech to a small group of reformists in an unusual break from his isolation by the government.

Sports: President Ebrahim Raisi praised Iranian wrestlers Hassan Yazdani and Amirhossein Zare for winning two gold medals and a “proud, powerful victory” at the World Freestyle Wrestling Championships in Oslo, Norway. Yazdani secured the first gold when he defeated American opponent David Taylor 6-2 in his final 86-kilogram match. Then, in the 125-kilogram event, 2020 Olympic-bronze winner Zare beat Georgian athlete and three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also congratulated the Iranian athletes. “The glorious victories of our wrestling champions have brought joy to everyone, particularly to the youth of the nation.”

Sports: For the first time since October 2019, Iran authorized female fans to attend a football match. Iran will face off against South Korea in a Tehran stadium on October 12 in a qualification match for the 2022 World Cup. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of football, has repeatedly pressured Iran to permit female attendees, particularly for international games. 

Israel: Iran allegedly plotted an attempted attack against Israeli businesspeople living in Cyprus, according to a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s. On September 27, Cypriot authorities had arrested an individual armed with a pistol and cartridges. Media reported that the suspect, an Azeri with a Russian passport in his late 30s, was apprehended at a border checkpoint between the northern and southern parts of the island.

Afghanistan: Iranian officials met with Taliban leaders in Kabul to discuss commerce between the two countries. They agreed to extend the trading hours at the Islam Qala border crossing from 8 hours to 24 hours per day.


October 5

Israel: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi vowed to continue military action against Iranian targets and interests. “Operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue, in any arena and at any time, and the operational plans against Iran’s nuclear program will continue to be developed and improved,” he said at the changing-of-the-guard ceremony for the new military intelligence chief, Aharon Haliva.

Human Rights: The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that Iranian prison officials allowed inmates to assault Soheila Hejab, a human rights lawyer held in Gharchak Prison. An informed source said that prisoners from a section designated for criminals beat Hejab and forced her to eat. Hejab had been on a hunger strike from September 19 to October 3 to protest the harsh treatment of political prisoners.


Weather: Three Iranian fishermen were missing after tropical cyclone Shaheen hit the Arabian Sea, pummeling Oman and Iran with winds up to 90 miles per hour and waves as high as 30 feet. State media said that bodies of two fisherman were found. At least six Iranians were killed as a result of the cyclone, which also caused extensive damage to infrastructure in southern Iran.

Tourism: Tourism minister Ezzatollah Zarghami said that Iran could resume issuing tourist visas as soon as soon as next month following a 19-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Resumption of issuing tourism visas is going through the final phases of how it will be implemented in an expert committee,” he tweeted.


October 6

Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow to discuss talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal as well as developments in Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Syria and Yemen. “Fortunately, ties between Tehran and Moscow are at the best level and I am confident that these relations will expand even more with the coming to office of the new government [in Tehran],” Lavrov said.


Economy: President Raisi appointed Ali Salehabadi as the new head of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). Salehabadi said that he would prioritize controlling inflation. “We will try to control the monetary base and prevent extra borrowing of the banks from the CBI resources in order to control the market.” At age 44, he will be the youngest governor of the CBI.


October 7

Economy: Germany's federal finance regulator, BaFin, said that a Hamburg-based branch of Bank Melli Iran could no longer issue loans after it failed to comply with transparency rules. "BaFin had identified contraventions of the requirements for proper business organisation within the meaning of section 25a (1) of the German Banking Act caused by infringement of the four-eyes principle," the regulator said in a statement.