News Digest: Week of November 28

November 28

Human Rights: Iran “will have no cooperation” with a U.N. investigation into the crackdown on protesters, foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said. Member states had voted on November 24 to create the fact-finding mission, which Iran alleged was politicized. “We have specific information proving that the U.S., Western countries and some of the American allies have had a role in the protests," Kanaani added.

International: Some of Germany’s 16 states were reconsidering deporting people to Iran due to the government crackdown on protesters. “We agree that in principle there should be no deportations there until further notice,” Joachim Herrmann, Bavaria’s state interior minister, told local media. Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had paused deportations to Iran. Some 12,000 Iranians were facing deportation.

Domestic: More than 300 people had been killed during the protests that erupted on September 16, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the aerospace division of the Revolutionary Guards, told local media. But that estimate included “martyrs,” a term usually used for members of the security forces, and civilians not necessarily involved in the demonstrations.   

 

November 29

International: Iraq’s new prime minister, Mohammed Shia al Sudani, met with senior leaders in Tehran. “Our government is determined not to allow any group or party to use Iraqi territory to undermine and disrupt Iran’s security,” Sudani said at a press conference with President Ebrahim Raisi. Sudani later met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who urged Iraq’s central government to “extend its authority” to other regions, a reference to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region where Iranian Kurdish opposition groups are based.

Sports: The Revolutionary Guards had threatened to imprison or torture the families of Iran’s national soccer team, a security source told CNN. Members of the Revolutionary Guards met with the team after players refused to sing the national anthem before their first match at the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.

Sports: The United States defeated Iran 1-0 in the most politically charged match at the 2022 World Cup. The Americans were often on the attack; they took 12 shots while the Iranians only took four. But the game was a nail-biter right until the end. “That was stressful. I think I have less hair on my head now,” Gregg Bernhalter, the U.S. coach, told Fox News after the win.

A U.S. fan at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
A U.S. fan at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Military: The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced the start of joint air exercises with U.S. forces that simulated strikes on Iran and its regional proxies. The drills, which “simulated an operational scenario and long-distance flights,” were conducted over Israel and the Mediterranean Sea, the IDF said. “This exercise tested the IDF’s abilities at gathering intelligence, researching and outlining targets, and making intelligence available to the operational forces.”

Finance: The cryptocurrency exchange platform Kraken agreed to pay $362,158.70 to the Treasury Department for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Kraken allegedly processed over $1.68 million in transactions from people who might have been in Iran between October 2015 and June 2019. Kraken voluntarily disclosed the information.  

Sanctions: The U.S. Department of Justice charged a 69-year-old man, Ray Hunt, with conspiracy to defraud the United States, sanctions violations, smuggling goods, and submitting false export information. Hunt, from Alabama, allegedly smuggled oil and gas machine parts to Iran in defiance of U.S. sanctions.

 

November 30

Security: The judiciary sentenced four people to death for “the crime of cooperating with the intelligence services of the Zionist regime and for kidnapping.” Judiciary-affiliated Mizan News Agency alleged that the network destroyed “private and public property,” kidnapped people, and coerced fake confessions. The judiciary also sentenced three others to five to 10 years in prison for similar crimes.

International: The foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador in Tehran, Nicolas Roche, after French lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution on November 28 to support Iran’s protesters.

International: Iran’s energy minister, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, met with Serdar Berdimuhamedow, the president of Turkmenistan, to discuss bilateral relations and energy cooperation between the two countries.

 

December 1

International: President Joe Biden hosted French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on a range of topics, including strategic and economic issues related to Iran. The two western leaders expressed strong respect for the Iranian protests and vowed to ensure that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon. According to a joint statement:

"They remain determined to ensure that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. France and the United States continue to work with other international partners to address Iran’s nuclear escalation, its insufficient cooperation with the IAEA, including on serious and outstanding issues relating to Iran’s legal obligations under its Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, and its destabilizing activities in the Middle East, most urgently its transfers of missiles and drones, including to non-state actors."

 

December 2

Human Rights: U.N. human rights officials called on Iran to release activist Arash Sadeghi from the notorious Evin Prison given his deteriorating health. Sadeghi was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2013 and the United Nations had demanded his release for years. “Under international human rights law, when detaining a person, irrespective of the reason for the detention, the State bears full responsibility to care for the life and bodily integrity of detainees,” the officials said in a statement. “However, in breach of their international human rights obligations, Iranian authorities are not only continuing the unlawful detention of Mr. Sadeghi, but once again putting his life at imminent risk."

Sanctions: The United States designated Iran as a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act. In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Iran had "engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom." Designating Iran under the 1998 legislation enabled the Biden Administration to pursue new sanctions and waivers against Iran.

 

Updated