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News Digest: Week of July 27

July 27, 2020
July 27 Health: Iran reported 293,606 cases and 15,912 deaths from COVID-19. Iranian state media announced that government spokesman Ali Rabiei had tested positive for COVID-19. Rabiei had reportedly been hospitalized but was in good condition, according to Mehr news agency. Economy: The Swiss…

U.S. Fighter Intercepts Iran Flight

July 24, 2020
On July 23, a Mahan Air commercial airliner was intercepted by a U.S. F-15 fighter jet over southeast Syria. The flight was en route to Beirut from Tehran when the U.S. fighter flew close for visual inspection. Video footage purportedly taken from inside the Mahan Air flight showed passengers…

Iran Proposes Coalition with Russia, China

July 22, 2020
On July 22, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Sergey Lavrov, his Russian counterpart, in Moscow to discuss trade, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the situation in Syria and security in the Persian Gulf. During the visit, Zarif announced that Iran intended to renew a…

Iran and Iraq: New Diplomacy

July 22, 2020
In July 2020, Iran and Iraq held diplomatic talks to ease bilateral tensions and discuss the U.S. presence in Iraq. On July 21, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi in Tehran. The Supreme Leader said that Iraq should expel U.S. forces for the assassination of…

News Digest: Week of July 20

July 22, 2020
July 20 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 276,202 infections, including 14,405 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that over 240,000 Iranians had recovered from the virus. Justice/Espionage: Iran executed Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd for allegedly providing…

Part 2: Iran’s Fires and Explosions Are Not Unusual

July 21, 2020
Updated: August 3, 2020
The fires and explosions in Iran in the summer of 2020 were not anomalies. Some were quite ordinary, especially in a country with a long record of neglected infrastructure and especially in summertime. Data retrieved from the archives of IRNA — used for consistency and because the news agency…

Israeli Campaign to Stop Iran's Nuclear Program

July 15, 2020
How far is Israel willing to go to undermine Iran's nuclear program? What are Israel’s red lines? Since at least 2000, Israel has sought to prevent Iran from becoming a military nuclear power—or the tenth nation to get the bomb. The urgency to develop overt and covert operations has increased…

News Digest: Week of July 13

July 15, 2020
Updated: July 20, 2020
July 13 Health: Iran reported 259,652 infections, including 13,032 deaths from COVID-19. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the resurgence of COVID-19 "truly tragic" in a virtual meeting with lawmakers. Khamenei urged all citizens to "play their part in the best way to break the chain of…

Iran Sentences Protestors to Death

July 15, 2020
Updated: July 21, 2020
On July 10, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentences for three young activists who participated in protests over economic and political grievances in November 2019: Amirhossein Moradi, age 25, Mohammad Rajabi, age 25, Saeed Tamjidi, age 27 The demonstrations were sparked by the government…

Profiles: Iran’s Jailed Human Rights Lawyers

July 15, 2020
Updated: August 18, 2020
Since February 2018, Iran has imprisoned at least nine prominent human rights lawyers who were representing activists, dissidents or political prisoners, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. Others have been subject to harassment or faced shorter detentions. Amnesty International…

Iran Nuclear Deal at Five

July 15, 2020
On July 14, 2020, Iran and the six major world powers - Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States - marked the fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The landmark arms control agreement, reached in 2015, limited Tehran's nuclear program in exchange…

Part 4: The IRGC versus the Modernizers

July 14, 2020
Iran’s leaders are currently grappling with three key questions that are directly relevant to European interests. The first of these questions concerns how to rescue the economy and the role the West can and should play in this. The second centres on whether Tehran should engage in any form of…

Part 3: What Prospects for Diplomacy?

July 14, 2020
Iran’s leaders are currently grappling with three key questions that are directly relevant to European interests. The first of these questions concerns how to rescue the economy and the role the West can and should play in this. The second centres on whether Tehran should engage in any form of…

Part 2: Rival Factions on the Economy

July 14, 2020
Iran’s leaders are currently grappling with three key questions that are directly relevant to European interests. The first of these questions concerns how to rescue the economy and the role the West can and should play in this. The second centres on whether Tehran should engage in any form of…

Part 1: Reviving the Revolutionaries

July 14, 2020
What are the main power blocs shaping decisions in Iran? While the supreme leader is the ultimate decision-maker in Iran, three main groups operate within the nezam [system] framework: the ‘modernisers’; a political faction formally calling itself the ‘Principlists’; and ‘securocrats’. These…

Part 1: Mysterious Explosions Rock Iran

July 10, 2020
Updated: October 13, 2020
Beginning in June 2020, Iran experienced a notable string of explosions, fires and industrial accidents. The damaged sites included Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz, a missile plant in Khojir, the power grid in Shiraz and a chemical plant in Mahshahr. The most destructive incident was an explosion…

UN: Soleimani Killing “Unlawful”

July 10, 2020
The U.S. killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on January 3 was “unlawful,” according to Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial and summary executions. The investigator said that the United States failed to provide evidence of an imminent attack that could have…

U.S. Seizes Iranian Weapons on Way to Yemen

July 10, 2020
On July 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that U.S. and partner forces had seized Iranian arms bound for Houthi rebels in Yemen. The weapons – including 200 rocket-propelled grenades, more than 1,700 AK rifles and various types of missiles – were found on a boat off the coast of Yemen on…

Part 3: Iranian Media on COVID-19 Surge

July 8, 2020
Updated: October 21, 2020
In June, Iranian newspapers covered the challenges of reopening subways and other public places that get crowded. They highlighted warnings from officials to take precautions when out in public. “We Haven’t Defeated Corona: [President Hassan] Rouhani Warns Restrictions May Return,” read Ebtekar.…

Part 3: Iran's Surge in COVID-19 Cases

July 7, 2020
Updated: October 6, 2020
Iran experienced a significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in early June following the gradual reopening of businesses, mosques, schools and government offices in April and May. On June 2, Health Minister Saeed Namaki expressed concern that Iranians had become "completely careless" with health…

News Digest: Week of July 6

July 6, 2020
July 6 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 204,083 cases, including 11,731 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari said that 191,487 Iranians had recovered from the virus. Health: Iran banned the export of face masks amid an uptick in COVID-19 infections. "…

Hardliners Boo Zarif in Parliament

July 6, 2020
On July 5, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared before Iran’s new parliament, where conservative factions have assumed the majority over reformers and centrists, to discuss foreign policy and the economic challenges triggered by U.S. sanctions. The session quickly became personal. Several…

Iran’s Arsenal of Cruise Missiles

July 6, 2020
Since 2004, Iran has developed cruise missiles capable of targeting U.S. ships, foreign oil tankers and the fleets of Arab allies in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Its arsenal of anti-ship missiles has changed the balance of naval power between Iran’s conventional navy – which is comprised of small…

Profiles: Iranian Opposition Groups

July 2, 2020
Iranian opposition groups reflect diverse political grievances, ethnic tensions, and ideological trends. The regime’s most visible opponents are partially or entirely based outside Iran. Their goals are either regime change or self-determination for an ethnic group inside Iran. The government has…

Masks Mandatory in Iran—Five Months Late

July 1, 2020
Updated: July 7, 2020
Almost five months after the first reported COVID-19 deaths, Iran made masks mandatory at all indoor gatherings from July 5 until July 22. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged citizens to wear face coverings to stem a second wave of COVID-19 infections. He called on government officials to…

Part 4: Pompeo, Zarif Spar on U.N. Arms Embargo

June 30, 2020
On June 30, 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif clashed over the future of the U.N. conventional arms embargo on Iran, which was set to expire in October. The two officials spoke at a virtual meeting of the Security Council convened to debate whether to…

News Digest: Week of June 29

June 29, 2020
June 29 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 225,205 cases and 10,670 deaths, including 162 new fatalities, from COVID-19. It was the highest daily death toll in Iran since April 4, when the country reported 158 new deaths. Justice: Iran asked Interpol to enforce an arrest warrant for…

U.S. Report on Human Trafficking in Iran

June 26, 2020
In 2019 and 2020, Iran failed to prevent human trafficking, prosecute its perpetrators or protect victims, the State Department said in the annual report released on June 25, 2020. Iranian officials often condoned crimes. They were also involved in recruiting children to fight for Iranian-led…

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Metal Industry

June 25, 2020
On June 25, the United States sanctioned four companies in Iran’s metals sector, a key source of export revenue for the regime. The Treasury Department also sanctioned four sales agents—one based in Germany and three based in the United Arab Emirates—that are owned or controlled by Mobarakeh Steel…

U.S. Report: Iran’s Support for Terrorism

June 24, 2020
In 2019, Iran supported terrorist organizations across the Middle East, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Shiite groups in Iraq and Palestinian groups in Gaza, the State Department said in the annual report on terrorism released on June 24, 2020. The report also accused Tehran of helping the Assad…