News Digest: Week of October 10

October 10

Economy: Britain sanctioned Iran’s morality police and several senior security officials involved in the bloody crackdown on protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini. The new sanctions “send a clear message to the Iranian authorities — we will hold you to account for your repression of women and girls, and for the shocking violence you have inflicted on your own people,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.

Domestic: At least 266 religious scholars and imams from Kurdish towns in western Iran condemned security forces’ brutality and expressed support for protesters. “We have witnessed the eruption of Iranians' anger and suffering over the past few days,” the group said. “This has been caused by decades of the government ignoring and not listening to their religious, humanitarian and legal demands.”

Domestic: Judiciary chief Mohsen Ejei expressed willingness to participate in dialogue with protesters. “If political factions, groups, or individuals have any questions, criticism, ambiguity, or protest, I declare my readiness to talk to them,” he said. He also stated that the regime would make “corrections” based on criticism. 

Economy: More than 4,000 contract oil workers reportedly went on strike in Persian Gulf coast cities including Bushehr, Asaluyeh, Borzovieh, and Hemgan. In Asaluyeh, workers piled rocks and set fires in the streets to hinder the movement of security forces. Workers chanted “Death to Khamenei” and “This year is the year of blood, Seyyed Ali Khamenei is done.”

 

 

International: Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez expressed support for the protesters in Iran. “To be clear, no one should be surprised that the world’s worst sponsor of terrorism is killing and beating its own people into submission. But the eyes of the world must remain on Iran as its women and men display a deep well of courage to voice long-standing grievances and clamor for their fundamental rights,” he said. “The United States and the international community have an obligation to stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they sacrifice everything in their struggle for dignity. We must use every peaceful tool at our disposal to support their aspirations.”

Nuclear: Iran had installed seven cascades of advanced centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, at the Natanz nuclear facility, according to a U.N. nuclear watchdog report seen by Reuters. Tehran had also informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of plans to install three cascades of advanced centrifuges at the same site.

Trade: Iran and Bangladesh signed an agreement to increase bilateral trade and cooperation. The two countries pledged to prevent double taxation and tax evasion.

Trade: Iran resumed gas exports to Turkey after an eight-day pause for repairs. Iran was the second-largest supplier to Turkey, which needs the gas for electricity.   

 

October 11

International: French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna urged Iran to release five French nationals. In a call with her counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Colonna warned that E.U. sanctions, in response to Iran’s crackdown on protests, would be enforced next week. Amir-Abdollahian accused Europe of “interference” in Iran’s domestic affairs.

Domestic: Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy minister of interior and frequent critic of the government, was sentenced to five years in prison. He was found guility of three charges. “My client Mostafa Tajzadeh was sentenced to five years for plotting against state security, two years for publishing lies and one year for propaganda against the system,” his lawyer, Houshang Pourbabai tweeted. Tajzadeh had openly criticized Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in early July.

 

Security: A justice ministry official in southeastern Kerman province claimed that an individual had been arrested for spying on behalf of Israeli intelligence. The suspect allegedly traveled to other countries on the pretext of business to pass along information and receive training, Ebrahim Hamidi said.  

Domestic: The interior ministry will submit a proposal for organizing “peaceful” protests and rallies, a spokesman for President Ebrahim Raisi announced. He described the recent demonstrations sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini as part of “organized and terrorist activities.”

Environment: The Department of Environment committed to restoring Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran within six months. Lake Urmia, the sixth largest salt lake in the world, has been drying up over the past decade.

Domestic: Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi blamed Iranian Kurdish separatist parties based in Iraq for orchestrating ongoing protests. He named the Komala Party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDPI), and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). The Revolutionary Guards had launched attacks on Kurdish positions in northern Iraq starting on September 24.

 

October 12

Human Rights: Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American, was taken back to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. He had been granted a one-week furlough that was renewed on October 8 so that he could see his father, Baquer Namazi. Iran allowed the elder Namazi, who was detained for six and a half years, to leave the country to seek medical treatment.

Diplomacy: State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the United States was not focused on stalled talks on restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Iranians “have made very clear that this is not a deal that they have been prepared to make,” he told reporters. The focus was on spotlighting the “remarkable bravery and courage that the Iranian people are exhibiting through their peaceful demonstrations” following the death of Mahsa Amini.

 

International: President Joe Biden issued his first National Security Strategy. The White House criticized Iran’s nuclear program, meddling in the wider Middle East, and support for terrorism. It made no mention of diplomacy surrounding the 2015 nuclear deal which had been abandoned by the Trump administration.

Security: Iran held a joint maritime drill with Oman. Four Iranian warships, along with an unspecified number of helicopters, participated.

 

Updated