News Digest: Week of August 30

August 31

Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly invited him to visit Paris. The Elysée did not immediately comment on these remarks. “The French were very interested to use the opportunity [of the Iraq summit] to get close to Iran,” he said.

Human Rights: Judiciary spokesperson Zabihollah Khodaeian said that, following a three-day investigation, “some” guards of Evin Prison were to be punished for abusing detainees. Khodaeian did not elaborate on the allegedly guilty parties or the nature of the punitive measures. The investigation was launched in response to leaked footage of prison abuse.

Regional: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tweeted that he had a “positive” and “cordial” meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on the sidelines of the Baghdad Summit on August 28. “Iran and the UAE can take big steps toward cooperation and the realization of neighborhood policy and diplomacy.”


September 1

Oil: At a press conference in Beirut, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Chris Van Hollen (D-M) spoke out against the export of Iranian oil to Lebanon, warning of “severely damaging consequences.” 

Oil: Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owgi told a state television program that, “good things will happen regarding Iran’s oil sales in the coming months.”

Gas: Iraq’s electricity ministry announced that Iranian gas was unexpectedly cut from 49 million to eight million cubic meters per day. Iraqi officials contacted Iran to clarify the reasons for this reduction, which could cause serious power shortages. 


September 2

Politics: The Interior Ministry approved hardliner Alireza Zakani as mayor of Tehran after he won the most votes in a city council election. Zakani is a medical doctor and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War. In 1999, he led the Revolutionary Guard’s volunteer unit at Tehran University. Zakani served in Parliament from 2004 to 2016 and from 2020 to 2021. He was one of seven approved candidates in the 2021 presidential election, but he dropped out and endorsed Ebrahim Raisi.


September 3

COVID-19: Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, a close military aide to the Supreme Leader, died from COVID-19 at age 70. An ophthalmologist by training, Firouzabadi served as the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces from 1989 to 2016.

Diplomacy: On Bloomberg TV, U.S. Special Envoy Robert Malley reiterated that the United States was willing to return to the 2015 nuclear deal but would not wait indefinitely for Iran to return to the negotiating table.


September 4

Afghanistan: In a televised interview, President Raisi expressed support for holding elections in Afghanistan. “A government should be established there which is elected by the votes and will of the people,” he said. Raisi called for “an end to the bloodshot and fratricide” in the wake of the Taliban takeover. 

Sports: Morteza Mehrzad, the world’s second tallest man on record at just over eight feet, helped his team defeat the Russian Paralympic volleyball team 3-1 in the gold-medal match.