News Digest: Week of August 7

August 7

Domestic: Iran opened candidate registration for the March 2024 parliamentary elections. They were the first national elections since protests rocked the country in 2022. Candidates for the 290-seat parliament could register online.  

Military: More than 3,000 American military personnel arrived in the Red Sea in a pre-announced deployment by the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. The troops sailed through the Suez Canal aboard the USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall. The units “add significant operational flexibility and capability as we work... to deter destabilizing activity and deescalate regional tensions caused by Iran's harassment and seizures of merchant vessels,” a spokesman for the 5th Fleet said. 

Diplomatic: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian traveled to Tokyo to meet with Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. On the anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Prime Minister Kishida urged Iran’s return to nuclear negotiations and “unconditional cooperation in the joint statement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” Abdollahian discussed cooperation in healthcare and disaster prevention with Foreign Minister Hayashi and other high-level officials. 

Domestic: Five people were killed and 11 injured by several building collapses in Tehran, according to Tasnim News Agendcy. Authorities approved the demolition of several unauthorized buildings but neglected safety precautions leading to the collapse of several surrounding buildings. Two police officers were among the dead. 


August 8 

International: Britain announced new sanctions to limit Russia’s access to Iranian drones. The sanctions targeted Paravar Pars, an Iranian drone manufacturer and seven of its executives, in addition to more than a dozen other entities in Turkey, Belarus, Slovakia, and Russia.

International: Canada announced new sanctions against seven Iranian individuals accused of undermining international peace and security. The individuals included senior government officials who provided materials to Iran's national Law Enforcement Command and leaders of state companies accused of manufacturing drones for Iran’s armed forces or Russia. 

International: The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement supporting Iran against Western sanctions and declaring the failure to return to the 2015 nuclear deal an “erroneous policy of 'maximum pressure' pursued by the United States and those who think similarly.” The statement followed a meeting between the Russian and Iranian deputy foreign ministers in Moscow. The two stressed the “unacceptability of any attempts on the part of the West to impose some new schemes and approaches to solving problems related to the JCPOA, which imply damage to legitimate and mutually beneficial Russian-Iranian cooperation in various fields,” according to Russia’s foreign ministry.

Domestic: More than 90 journalists had been questioned or detained since protests erupted in September 2022, according to local media. The report, published by Shargh newspaper on Iran’s National Journalist’s Day, added that at least 11 journalists remained in detention or facing verdicts.

International: Revolutionary Guards Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif warned that Iran could capture American vessels a day after 3,000 U.S. troops arrived in the Persian Gulf. “The Islamic Republic is capable of reciprocating any mischief by the Americans … including through seizure of their vessels in reciprocation,” Sharif said. He added that countries of the region “have come to understand America’s weakness and the Islamic Republic’s strength in the confrontations of the recent years.”

International: The United Arab Emirates’ permanent representative to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hamad Alkaabi, expressed “profound concern” over Iran’s nuclear program in a rare statement. Alkaabi warned that Iran’s uranium enrichment activities were not for “realistic peaceful purposes” and urged Tehran to cooperate with IAEA inspectors. The statement came as the Gulf nation attempted to improve diplomatic relations with Iran.  


August 9 

Military: Iran’s defense industry had developed the technology for a supersonic cruise missile, Tasnim News Agency claimed. The report said that the weaponry was in testing but called the development a “new chapter in the defense power of our country.” The development came after Iran unveiled its first hypersonic ballistic missile in June. 

Domestic: Five men convicted of kidnapping and gang rape were executed in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. Iran executed more people in 2022 than any other country besides China, according to Amnesty International.

Domestic: President Ebrahim Raisi claimed that protests against Iran’s mandatory dress code were orchestrated by foreigners. He called for promotion of hijab. “Certain individuals, not adhering to hijab, may lack awareness. Our duty is to raise their awareness,” said Raisi.

International: U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller condemned President Raisi’s statement protests and the mandatory hijab. “The United States has and will continue to take action to support the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Iran, including women—the women and girls of Iran, and to work with allies and partners to pursue accountability for the perpetrators of human rights abuses.” 

International: The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemned Iran’s government for mass arrests and jailings of members of the e minority Baha’i faith. “Iran’s contempt for basic human rights is evident in its loathsome persecution of Baha’is and use of religiously-grounded laws to restrict freedom of religion or belief,” said USCIRF Commissioner Eric Ueland. 

International: Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian expressed willingness to exchange prisoners with the United States. At a press conference in Tehran, Amir-Abdollahian called the possible swap a “humanitarian action” and said that Iran “sets no pre-condition to exchange prisoners.” 

Diplomatic: The foreign ministry summoned British Ambassador to Iran Simon Shercliff in response to his “interfering remarks” on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). Shercliff had called for Iran’s government to release “arbitrarily detained” journalists and said that he “pay[s] tribute to all journalists prevented from doing their job and facing threats to their safety.”

Diplomatic: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran had reportedly reopened for the first time in seven years on August 6, according to Iranian media. 

Diplomatic: Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade Abbas Ali-Abadi met with Syria’s Minister of Economy, Samer al Khalil, to discuss the expansion of economic ties. Ali-Abadi said that political relations between Iran and Syria “have been at the highest level since many years ago” and pointed to “implementation of large electricity projects in Syria [as] a good indication that the two countries can cooperate well in various industrial and commercial fields.” Khalil said that “Iranian companies play a very important role in the projects being implemented in Syria, which are very important projects and certainly these plans will be bigger in the future.” 

International: Pakistan’s Ministry of State Petroleum paused a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline project with Iran. The announcement cited external forces including U.S. sanctions against Iran.  

Domestic: Director of the National Iranian Oil Company Mohsen Khojasteh-Mehr announced that Iran would produce an additional 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) by the end of August 2023, according to the Tasnim News Agency. The move would increase Iran’s total output to 3.5 million bpd.  


August 10

International: Iran released four Americans to house arrest as part of a reported prisoner deal with the United States. The terms involved Iran's release of five Americans. In return, the United States reportedly agreed to unfreeze some $6 billion of Iranian assets held in South Korean banks and release five Iranians imprisoned in the United States for skirting U.S. sanctions. The deal — mediated by Oman, Qatar, and Switzerland — addressed a key flashpoint in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Three of the U.S. citizens held in Iran: Siamak Namazi, Morad Tahbaz and Emad Shargi

International: Russia had begun deploying copies of Iranian suicide drones in Ukraine as early as July 2023, according to the Conflict Armament Research group. The Geran-2 drone was a Russian copy of the Shahed-136. Many of the components in the models were from Chinese, Swiss, and American companies.  

International: Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) warned Iranian dissidents living in the country of the risk of being targeted by the Iranian hacking group Charming Kitten. The BfV recommended that individuals be suspicious of unusual online contacts and unknown links.


August 11

International: New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau released a report revealing that China, Russia, and Iran were facilitating foreign interference efforts in the country. Tehran specifically monitored and reported on Iranian communities and activists in New Zealand.