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News Digest: Week of August 31

August 31, 2020
Updated: September 2, 2020
August 31 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 375,212 infections and 21,571 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Lari announced that 3,231,110 Iranians, or less than four percent of the population, had been tested for the virus. Health/Education: Education Minister Mohsen…

In Washington, Iraqi Officials Discuss Iran

August 26, 2020
On August 19, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi arrived in Washington to meet with President Donald Trump and continue a U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue that kicked off in June. The talks between senior officials covered security and counterterrorism, economics and energy, political issues, and…

IAEA Presses Iran for Access to Nuclear Sites

August 25, 2020
Updated: August 26, 2020
On August 24, Rafael Grossi, the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief, arrived in Tehran to press for access to two suspected former nuclear sites. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met with top officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif…

News Digest: Week of August 24

August 24, 2020
August 24 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 361,150 infections, including 20,776 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 311,365 Iranians had recovered from the virus. Politics: Iran’s Guardian Council set the date for the next presidential election…

U.S. Designates Human Rights Violators

August 21, 2020
Updated: August 25, 2020
On August 21, the United States imposed visa restrictions on 14 Iranian officials involved in “gross violations of human rights on behalf of the Iranian regime.” On the annual Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that 13 were assassins who…

U.S. Orders Snapback Sanctions on Iran

August 21, 2020
Updated: September 2, 2020
On August 20, the United States notified the U.N. Security Council that it would reimpose multilateral sanctions on Iran for violating terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Security Council President Dian Triansyah Djani…

Iran's Drone Fleet

August 20, 2020
When did Iran start building a drone fleet? Iran’s interest in drones and uninhabited vehicles really goes back to the Iran-Iraq war in the mid-1980s. The Iranians have been in the UAV business for several decades. The first generation of the Ababil that was used during the Iran-Iraq war appears…

Part 2: The Gulf’s Calculus on UAE-Israel Deal

August 19, 2020
Why did the United Arab Emirates decide to establish formal diplomatic ties with Israel? How much was Iran a factor? The UAE leadership has long viewed Israel as a model for how a small nation can nonetheless thrive in a region filled with security threats. The Emiratis have studied how Israel,…

U.S. Sanctions Companies Linked to Mahan Air

August 19, 2020
On August 19, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two companies based in the United Arab Emirates for providing parts and logistics services to Iranian airline Mahan Air. “The Iranian regime uses Mahan Air as a tool to spread its destabilizing agenda around the world, including to the corrupt regimes in…

Zarif Visits Beirut after Explosion

August 18, 2020
On August 14, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met top Lebanese officials 10 days after twin explosions at the Beirut port killed more than 175 people and wounded some 6,000. Zarif accused Western countries of demanding political change in Lebanon as a precondition for billions of…

U.S. Seizes Iranian Fuel on Tankers

August 18, 2020
Updated: September 2, 2020
On August 12, the United States took control of Iranian oil aboard four privately-owned tankers bound for energy-strapped Venezuela. The tankers, owned by a Greek shipping magnate, collectively carried 1.1 million barrels of Iranian petroleum, according to the Department of Justice. It was the…

Part 1: Iran on UAE-Israel Deal

August 17, 2020
Iranian leaders have roundly condemned the U.S.-brokered agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize diplomatic relations, which was announced on August 13. President Hassan Rouhani called it a “clear betrayal of the Palestinian people, the cause of al Quds (Jerusalem) and…

News Digest: Week of August 17

August 17, 2020
Updated: August 21, 2020
August 17 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 345,450 cases and 19,804 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari said that 2,887,938 Iranians had been tested for the virus. Health/Economy: Iranian Minister of Tourism Ali Asghar Mounesan said that the country’s tourism…

Part 5: U.S. Bid on Arms Embargo Fails at U.N.

August 17, 2020
On August 14, a U.S. resolution that would require all U.N. member states to indefinitely forbid the sale of conventional arms to Iran failed at the Security Council in one of the worst diplomatic defeats ever for Washington. The vote in the 15-member body was only two in favor (the United States…

News Digest: Week of August 10

August 12, 2020
August 10 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 328,844 cases and 18,616 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari announced that Tehran, Mazandaran, East Azerbaijan, Isfahan, Ardabil, Khorasan Razavi, North Khorasan, Gilan, Alborz, Semnan, Golestan, Markazi, Kerman…

Nasrin Sotoudeh's Health Deteriorates

August 12, 2020
Updated: December 2, 2020
On August 11, 2020, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyer, went on hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter from Tehran’s infamous Evin prison, she warned that inmates were being denied due process and access to legal…

Part 1: Phases of the Women’s Movement

August 11, 2020
After the 1979 revolution, the women’s movement in Iran faced challenges restoring rights they had recently gained under the monarchy, but over the next four decades they closed the gender gap in education, political representation and social rights. By 2020, women held more political rights in…

Iran's Troubled Provinces: Baluchistan

August 6, 2020
Many of Iran’s most pressing issues – in politics, the environment, the economy, health and security – converge in Sistan and Baluchistan. The largely mountainous southeast province is one of Iran’s most strategic frontiers. It shares a nearly 200-mile border with Afghanistan and a nearly 575-mile…

New Digest: Week of August 3

August 5, 2020
Updated: August 7, 2020
August 3 Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 312,035 cases including 17,405 deaths from COVID-19. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari said that Tehran, Mazandaran, East Azerbaijan, Khorasan Razavi, Alborz, Golestan, Kerman, Isfahan, Ardabil, North Khorasan, Semnan, Yazd, Gilan, and…

Iran Attacks Fake U.S. Aircraft Carrier

July 29, 2020
Updated: August 3, 2020
During a wargame on July 28, Iran ran a mock attack on a fake U.S. aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired missiles at a dummy war ship near the Strait of Hormuz. The exercise – dubbed Great Prophet 14 – involved the IRGC’s air force and navy, but…

Iran's Troubled Provinces: Khuzestan

July 29, 2020
In 2020, Iran’s myriad challenges – political, economic, environmental and from the coronavirus pandemic – converged in oil-rich Khuzestan province. In May, protests in the province, home to Iran’s restive Arab minority, flared over unpaid wages and growing water scarcity. On May 23, security…

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…