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Iran Behind Oil Tanker Attack

August 2, 2021
On July 29, an oil tanker with ties to Israel was hit in a drone strike off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members. The Mercer Street was owned by a Japanese company and flew the Liberian flag, but was managed by Zodiac Maritime, a company headed by an Israeli shipping magnate. On August 1, U.…

In Farewell, Rouhani Admits Mistakes

August 2, 2021
Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani apologized to Iranians for their suffering during his eight years in office. “If we had any shortcoming and flaws, we ask people’s forgiveness and mercy,” he said during his last cabinet meeting on August 1. Rouhani said that his administration would have been more…

Rouhani’s Forlorn Presidency

August 2, 2021
Hassan Rouhani at a 2013 press conferenceAfter the eight years of Ahmadinejad’s controversial presidency, Hassan Rouhani’s election marked a return to government of men (and some women) with experience and common sense. Rouhani was an insider, having served for 16 years as the head of Iran’s…

News Digest: Week of July 26

July 29, 2021
July 26: Internet: Iran's Parliament tabled a controversial bill that would have limited access to the internet. Major digital business, including online retailers and video streaming services, had opposed the bill, Al Jazeera reported. Nuclear: The French foreign ministry warned that Iran's…

Supreme Leader on U.S. & Nuclear Talks

July 28, 2021
On July 28, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States of being “obstinate” and “cowardly” in talks on restoring full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “On paper and in words, they promise to remove the sanctions, but they have not and will not remove them,” he told…

Iran, Afghanistan and the Taliban

July 28, 2021
For decades, Iran has faced an ever-growing array of challenges from neighboring Afghanistan, with which it shares a 572-mile border. Iran had long sought the withdrawal of U.S. forces, which President Joe Biden announced on April 14. But the absence of the U.S.-led NATO forces has also created new…

Iran at the Olympics: Week 1

July 28, 2021
On July 23, Iran’s delegation joined 204 nations to inaugurate the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Iranian flagbearers, male basketball player Samad Nikkhah Bahrami and female shooter Hanieh Rostamian, led the team in the opening ceremony; the women wore long, light-blue garments and headscarves, while…

U.S. on Iran Protests

July 28, 2021
On July 28, the State Department condemned Iran’s crackdown on peaceful protests sparked by a water shortage. “We support the rights of Iranians to peacefully assemble and express themselves, without fear of violence and detention by security forces,” Spokesperson Ned Price said. As of July, more…

Iraqi Prime Minister on U.S.-Iran Tensions

July 27, 2021
Biden and Kadhimi Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi met with President Joe Biden on July 26 for the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue. The United States committed to removing all combat troops by the end of 2021. The two leaders also spoke about attacks by Iran-backed militias on U.S. troops and…

Raisi: Role in 1988 Massacre

July 21, 2021
Ebrahim Raisi, winner of Iran’s 2021 presidential election, was a pivotal player in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. At 27, Raisi was the youngest of four members named to the so-called Death Committee for Tehran after the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,…

Khamenei Calls on Muslims to Resist West

July 21, 2021
On July 19, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Muslims across the Middle East to “stand up and resist the aggression, interference and evil of Western powers.” He lambasted the Islamic Republic’s enemies—namely the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel— in a nationally televised…

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: July 22, 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 1, 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…