News Digest: Week of May 23

May 23

Domestic: A 10-story building partially collapsed in the city of Abadan in southwestern Khuzestan province. Dozens of people were trapped in the rubble. As of May 25, the death toll was 16. The general prosecutor of the province told state media that 11 people were detained in connection to the incident, including the current mayor and three former mayors of Abadan. The contractor who built the residential-commercial property and the building’s owner were also detained.

Diplomacy: President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Oman to deepen bilateral ties. In a meeting with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Raisi said that Iran considers Oman a “friend” and “brother.” Officials inked a dozen agreements on energy, trade, transportation, science, sports, and more during the one-day visit.

 

May 24

Security: Thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Sayad Khodayee, a colonel in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who was shot outside his home in Tehran by two gunmen on motorcycles on May 22. was responsible Khodayee reportedly commanded a secret unit that plotted abductions and killings of Israelis and other foreigners abroad. Iranian leaders pledged revenge, and some blamed Israel for Khodayee’s assassination.  

Defense: Two pilots of an F7 fighter jet died in a crash during a training exercise near the central city of Naeen. Many of Iran’s military planes are vintage models, including American aircraft purchased before the 1979 revolution. Procuring spare parts has been difficult due to Western sanctions.

 

May 25

Diplomacy: U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley warned that the prospects of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal were “tenuous at best.” He blamed “excessive Iranian demands” for the impasse. During testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he signaled that the United States would not take the IRGC off the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations unless Iran took reciprocal steps.

Environment: President Ebrahim Raisi ordered the Foreign Ministry and the Environment Department to discuss pollution and environmental degradation with neighboring countries after a string of dust storms forced government offices and schools to close in Tehran and other cities. The Iranian people “cannot stand to witness the current situation and they expect the government to seriously pursue the matter,” he said at a cabinet meeting. “People’s health is vital and the pollution is unbearable for them.”

 

May 26

Security: An engineer died in a what local media described as an accident at Parchin, a military facility. In 2015, the U.N. nuclear watchdog collected environmental samples from the site as part of an investigation into possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program. 

 

Updated