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Raisi: Ties with the Supreme Leader

July 21, 2021
Hadi Semati is a former professor in the faculty of Law and Political Science at Tehran University and a former scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is now an independent analyst.    What is the relationship between Supreme Leader Ayatollah…

News Digest: Week of July 19

July 21, 2021
July 19 Health: Iran imposed a week-long lockdown of Tehran, its capital, to deal with the surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant. Most non-essential businesses were already on lockdown, but the new order expanded the lockdown to include all bazaars, markets and government buildings, the Associated…

Raisi: Record on Crackdown & Human Rights

July 20, 2021
Hadi Ghaemi is the founder and executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran.   What role did Ebrahim Raisi play in the 1988 executions of thousands of Iranian political prisoners? How important or pivotal was he in the decision by the four-member commission to execute these prisoners…

Iran Delays Return to Vienna Talks

July 19, 2021
The international diplomacy to revive U.S. and Iranian compliance with the historic 2015 nuclear deal faced delays after Tehran announced on July 17 that it would not return to the negotiating table until after the inauguration of President-elect Raisi in early August. The talks in Vienna between…

Iranian Hackers Targeted Western Militaries

July 16, 2021
On July 15, Facebook took down nearly 200 fake accounts used by Iranian hackers to target U.S., British and European military and defense personnel. The group, named Tortoiseshell by the cybersecurity company Symantec, sought to infect the computers of victims with malware and steal their login…

News Digest: Week of July 12

July 14, 2021
July 12 Diplomacy: The State Department said that the U.S. delegation was "prepared to return" to Vienna for a seventh round of talks "as soon as they are scheduled."  Health: The European Union donated $17.7 million (15 million euros) to Iran to help with COVID-19 relief efforts and hosting of…

U.S. Indicts Iranians Plotting to Kidnap Journalist

July 14, 2021
Updated: July 23, 2021
On July 13, the Department of Justice charged four Iranians – one intelligence official and three “intelligence assets” – with conspiring to kidnap an Iranian American journalist living in Brooklyn. The four men were charged with conspiracy to kidnap, violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, money…

COVID-19 Delta Variant Hits Iran

July 14, 2021
Updated: August 26, 2021
In June 2021, new COVID-19 cases in Iran rose as the more infectious Delta variant spread throughout the country. The Delta variant entered Iran via its south and southeastern provinces of Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman and Sistan and Baluchistan. It spread to other provinces during presidential elections…

Iran Suffers Twin Power & Water Crises

July 13, 2021
Updated: August 3, 2021
Iran suffered both power outages and water shortages during the scorching summer heat wave in 2021. Starting on May 23, several major cities, including Tehran, were hit by rolling power blackouts that were the worst since 2010. The outages were caused by soaring temperatures – as high as 122…

Controversy over IAEA Nuclear Inspections

July 7, 2021
Iran repeatedly threatened to limit inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after its hardline parliament passed a new law in December 2020. The issue of allowing international monitoring then became intertwined with the renewed diplomacy between the…

U.S. Seizes Websites Tied to Iran

July 7, 2021
On June 22, the United States seized three dozen web addresses affiliated with Iran and its proxies, including Tehran’s flagship international broadcaster Press TV. The Justice Department was able to take down the sites because the domain names were administered and sold by U.S. companies. Thirty-…

Iran's Drone Fleet

July 1, 2021
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 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) business for several decades. The first generation of the Ababil that was used during…

News Digest: Week of June 28

June 30, 2021
June 28 Health: Iran's health minister pledged that there would not be a shortage of coronavirus vaccines in the coming months.  Nuclear: Iran has not made a decision "negative or positive" on whether to extend a monitoring agreement with the United Nation's (U.N.) nuclear watchdog, a foreign…

Iran’s Drone Transfers to Proxies

June 30, 2021
Since 2004, Iran has provided drones, components or designs to proxies in at least four locations: Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Gaza. Tehran’s drone exports vary in mission, range, and capabilities. The shortest range can fly only 15 km, or nine miles, while the longest can fly 1,700 km, or 1,000…

U.S. Strikes Iran-Backed Militias in Iraq, Syria

June 28, 2021
Updated: July 8, 2021
On June 27, the United States conducted airstrikes against three targets operated by two Iraqi militias—Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al Shuhada—that are trained, armed, funded and sometimes directed by Iran. F-15 and F-16 fighters targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two…

U.N. Report on Human Rights in Iran

June 25, 2021
On June 22, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. High Commission for Human Rights, criticized Iran for its “widespread use of the death penalty, and its arbitrary imposition for a range of acts that under international law do not constitute ‘most serious crimes.’” The following is her statement to the U.N.…

News Digest: Week of June 21

June 23, 2021
June 21 Energy: The Bushehr nuclear power plant was placed on emergency shutdown for repairs, the Associated Press reported. The shutdown would last three to four days, a state electricity company official said.  Nuclear: The Saudi foreign minister met with Rafael Grossi, director general of the …

Raisi: Election Results Explainer

June 23, 2021
What were the results of the 2021 presidential election? On June 19, Iran’s Interior Ministry announced that Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran’s judiciary, won the presidential election with 62 percent of the votes, although the majority of Iranians did not turn out. The other three candidates,…

Raisi: Experts on Election Results

June 22, 2021
The Woodrow Wilson Center and the U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion on June 22 on the results of Iran's presidential election. The panel included: James F. Jeffrey (moderator) – Chair of the Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson Center; Former ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, and Special…

Raisi: Human Rights Groups Condemn

June 22, 2021
International organizations condemned President-elect Ebrahim Raisi for his long record of human rights abuses dating back to the 1980s. He was one of four men on the so-called Death Commission that approved the execution of more than 4,000 political prisoners in 1988. Raisi, the judiciary chief…

Raisi: First Press Conference

June 22, 2021
In his first press conference, President-elect Ebrahim Raisi warned that his administration would take a harder stand on diplomacy with the international community. “The world, particularly the West, should realize that the situation in Iran has changed through the people’s vote,” Raisi told…

Raisi: U.S. & World Reaction

June 22, 2021
Ebrahim Raisi’s election produced both criticism and congratulations from world leaders. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki warned that Raisi “will be accountable for gross violations of human rights on his watch going forward.” A hardline cleric who has been the judiciary chief since 2019,…

Raisi: Profile of President-elect

June 21, 2021
Updated: July 20, 2021
On June 19, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and the chief of the national judiciary, won Iran’s 2021 presidential election with 62 percent of the vote, although only 48.8 percent of eligible voters participated. It was the lowest turnout in a presidential election since the 1979 revolution. A mid-…

Photos: Election Day in Iran

June 21, 2021
On June 18, Iranians voted for a new president at some 67,000 polling stations in mosques, schools, gymnasiums, and religious shrines. Iran is still trying to pull out of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, so voters were required to wear masks and were asked to bring their own pens rather…

Election 2021: Candidate Profiles

June 16, 2021
On the eve of the election, the list of candidates had been reduced from seven to four. On June 16, two hardliners – Saeed Jalili and Alireza Zakani – dropped out and endorsed Ebrahim Raisi, the frontrunner. Mohsen Mehralizadeh, the lone reformist, withdrew as well but did not explicitly endorse…

Khamenei Calls for High Turnout

June 16, 2021
In a nationally televised address on June 16, two days before a pivotal presidential election, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the next government needed a broad public mandate to tackle the myriad political, economic and social problems facing Iran. “If the new president is elected…

Photos: Iran’s Colorful Campaigns

June 16, 2021
Iran’s short campaign period, only three weeks long, was nevertheless intense and colorful. Presidential candidates usually traverse Iran’s 31 provinces and hold mass rallies with thousands of attendees. But in 2021, the seven candidates running for president had to modify their campaign tactics to…

News Digest: Week of June 14

June 16, 2021
June 14 Health: Iran approved emergency use of CovIran Barekat, its first domestically developed vaccine. Health Minister Namaki said that a permit for the second vaccine, Razi CovPars, would be issued the following week. "The entire target population of Iran will be vaccinated by the end of…

G7 Summit on Iran

June 14, 2021
On June 13, leaders at the G7 summit in Britain issued a statement on their global agenda, including diplomacy with Iran. Four of the world’s seven most powerful democracies – Britain, France, Germany and the United States – have been involved in six rounds of talks to bring the United States and…

Iranian Newspapers on Presidential Election 2021

June 11, 2021
Updated: June 15, 2021
Coverage of Iran’s 2021 presidential election varied widely based on the longstanding political slant – reformist, centrist, conservative or hardline – of newspaper editorial policies. Almost 600 candidates, including 40 women, initially registered to run by May 15. They included a former president…