News Digest: Week of November 7

November 7

International: Iran summoned Norway’s ambassador over “interventionist comments” by the Norwegian parliamentary speaker in support of Iranian demonstrators.

International: London Metropolitan police reportedly warned two British-Iranian journalists of an assassination plot against them by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The two journalists worked for London-based Iran International, a Persian satellite television network critical of Iran’s government. 

Security: Iran and Russia had reportedly recruited former Afghan Special Forces operatives to fight in Yemen and Ukraine. The operatives, who had been trained by the United States, fled to Iran after the Taliban took power in 2021. “When former Afghan military members go to immigration bureaus in Iran to extend their visas, they are told to go to Yemen to fight in support of the Houthis,” the former head of the Afghan army, General Haibatullah Alizai, said. Russia reportedly offered Afghans $1,500 per month to fight in Ukraine.

 

November 8

Domestic: In southern Iran, oil and steel workers reportedly went on strike over government mismanagement and unfair wages. Oil workers from more than 36 sites reportedly refused food in a show of protest.

International: Some 14 people, mostly militiamen, were killed in a drone strike on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq. The drone targeted a convoy of 15 trucks transporting fuel from Iraq into Syria via the Qaim crossing. Iranian nationals were reportedly among the dead. Iranian state media claimed that the United States was responsible for the strikes, but U.S. Central Command denied U.S. involvement.

 

Domestic: Iran’s parliament voted in favor of the death penalty for anti-government protesters. "Now, the public, even protesters who are not supportive of riots, demand from the judiciary and security institutions to deal with the few people who have caused disturbances in a firm, deterrent, and legal manner," government spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said.

United States: President Joe Biden, like his predecessors, renewed the national emergency with respect to Iran. The emergency status was first declared on November 14, 1979, shortly after the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

 

November 9

Environmental: Some 20,800 people died in Iran from air pollution in 2021, down from 41,700 in 2021, a representative of Iran’s Environmental Ministry, Abbas Shahsavani, reported

Security: The secretary of Russia’s security council, Nikolai Patrushev, met with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Shamkhani, and President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran to discuss bilateral relations and the war in Ukraine. President Raisi said that Iran and Russia were upgrading bilateral relations to counter U.S. sanctions on both countries. Shamkani said that “Iran welcomes and supports any initiative that would lead to ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine based on dialogue, and is ready to play a role to end the war.” 

Security: Army Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Kiumars Heydari warned that protesters would “no longer have a place in the country” if Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for harsher crackdown.  

Security/Regional: Minister of Intelligence Esmail Khatib warned Saudi Arabia that Iran’s “strategic patience” may run out. "Until now, Iran has adopted strategic patience with firm rationality, but it cannot guarantee that it will not run out if hostilities continue…If Iran decides to retaliate and punish, glass palaces will crumble and these countries will not experience stability anymore,” he said. Tehran had accused Riyadh of supporting anti-government protests.

 

November 10

Security: The Revolutionary Guards announced that Iran had developed a hypersonic missile. "This missile has a high speed and can maneuver in and out of the atmosphere. It will target the enemy's advanced anti-missile systems and is a big generational leap in the field of missiles," General Amir Ali Haijzadeh, the commander of the aerospace force, said. 

 

Domestic/Security: Iran’s intelligence service arrested Elham Afkari, the sister of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari who was executed in September 2020. Elham Afkari was arrested for allegedly acting as an agent of Iran International, a London-based television station critical of Iran’s government. Iran International denied claims that Afkari worked on behalf of the news outlet.

 

Updated