News Digest: Week of August 28

August 28

Domestic: Pop singer Mehdi Yarrahi was detained by police for criticizing the mandatory hijab ban in his song “Roosarito”, Farsi for “Your Headscarf.” The song encouraged women to remove their headscarves and featured the slogan “Woman, life, freedom,” often chanted by protesters. “Don’t cry, I am the nightmare of this judge… Let’s continuously talk about the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s murder,” said Yarrahi on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). 

Diplomacy: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani announced that Iran and Iraq had reached an agreement to disarm and relocate “armed terrorist groups” in Iraqi Kurdistan. “Iraq has committed to disarm armed separatists and terrorist groups present in its territory, close their bases, and relocate them to other locations before the 19th of September,” said Kanaani. 

International: Jordan’s army said that it had shot down a drone from an Iran-backed Syrian militia. Syrian drones have been used to engage in a cross-border drug war, and more currently have been smuggling weapons. 

Domestic: President Raisi and Oil Minister Javad Owji announced the start of the eleventh phase of construction of the South Pars Gas Field. The phase had been halted since 2018 due to U.S. sanctions, when President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

International: Darian Dalili, son of detained U.S. permanent resident Shahab Dalili, said that Iran had refused to include his father, detained in 2016, in the recent prisoner deal with the United States. The United States also did not deem the elder Dalili "wrongfully detained," he said. Darian Dalili called on Washington to bring his father back in an interview with VOA.


August 29 

International: Iran committed to paying an unidentified Chinese company $2.7 billion to build a second terminal in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. Iran would fund the project, expected to start construction in September, by trading crude oil for the financial and technical resources. 

International: President Ebrahim Raisi said that the West “didn't succeed in isolating Iran.” He also said that Tehran sought the “lifting of sanctions” during nuclear negotiations, but that it was “not tying the country's economy to the [West's] wishes.”

Domestic: President Raisi claimed that the government would provide free water, electricity, and gas to low-income families. “The government cares about paying subsidies, providing housing for the deprived strata, as well as allocating land and providing facilities to the low-income households,” said Raisi.


August 30 

International: Iran’s Weightlifting Federation banned Mostafa Rajaei, a professional weightlifter, from all sports for life. Rajaei had shaken hands and taken a photo with Maksim Svirsky, an Israeli athlete, during the 2023 World Master Weightlifting Championships in Poland. “The positions of the federation are aligned with the positions of the holy establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said the federation. 

Domestic: The Ministry of Intelligence and Security announced that it had arrested fourteen individuals allegedly associated with an Israeli terrorist network in four provinces. The move coincided with the “National Day of Combating Terrorism,” said the ministry.


August 31

Domestic: Javad Rouhi, detained during the 2022 Mahsa Amini protests, died while awaiting resentencing. Rouhi had allegedly burned a Qur’an during a demonstration, although Amnesty International has disputed the claim and said he was dancing. 

Diplomacy: Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Beirut and called on Lebanese officials to elect a successor to President Michel Aoun, whose term expired in 2022. “We firmly believe that the leaders and people and Lebanon possess the necessary discernment to make a political decision in electing a president and resolving the current political situation,” he said. 

Economy: Iran’s oil production increased to about 3.15 million barrels per day in August, the most production since 2018. Roughly half (1.5 million bpd) was exported to China.

International: Iran claimed that Israel attempted to supply explosive electrical connectors to Iran to sabotage its missiles and drone programs.


September 1

International: The Nobel Foundation invited Iran, Russia and Belarus to the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies in a move to ease geopolitical tensions. Iran had been excluded from the event in 2022 due to its “serious and escalating” domestic situation, according to the Foundation. “It is clear that the world is increasingly divided into spheres, where dialogue between those with differing views is being reduced,” said Executive Director Vidar Helgesen in regards to the shift. 

International: The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and members of the U.N. working group on discrimination against women and girls released a statement condemning a draft law in Iran that would further penalize women for not wearing a hijab. The law would raise fines on women for not covering their hair and neck in public. “The authorities [in Tehran] appear to be governing through systemic discrimination with the intention of suppressing women and girls into total submission,” said the statement. 

Domestic: Twelve political activists in Iran issued a joint statement imploring for change and warning the government to avoid using violence against protesters during the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death. “The government’s detrimental actions” have brought Iran “to the brink of collapse,” wrote former editor of the Kayhan newspaper Mehdi Nasiri, former political prisoner Abdollah Momeni, cleric Shahabeddin Haeri Shirazi, and reformist Abdollah Naseri, among others.


September 2

Military: Iran had received at least two Yak-130 trainer jets from Russia, according to Iranian media. The trainer craft—which could be used for combat—were reportedly held by the Air Force in Isfahan province. Iranian outlet ISNA added that the aircraft would train pilots to fly more advanced fighter jets.

International: The Nobel foundation rescinded invitations to Iran, Russia, and Belarus to the 2023 Nobel Prize ceremonies for sciences and literatures due to negative international reactions. The three countries were still invited to the ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Military: The Revolutionary Guards Navy reportedly seized a vessel that allegedly carried smuggled fuel in the Persian Gulf. Four people were detained. Some 13,000 gallons of fuel were confiscated. 

International: The United States struck two military vehicles in an airstrike targeting Iran-backed groups in Deir ez-Zor province, in eastern Syria, according to Anadolu Agency.


September 3

Human Rights: The judiciary sentenced journalists Negin Bagheri and Elnaz Mohammadi to a suspended prison sentence of roughly one month. They were charged with “conspiracy” and “collusion”. The women were also under a travel ban and required to take a “professional ethics training.” 

Domestic: Some 300 Iranian activists called for a referendum leading up to the anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death in detention. “We repeatedly remind that the structure of religious authoritarianism not only undermines our national foundations but also propels us towards future upheavals and movements towards rebellion,” the group said in a statement. They demanded “structural changes” to the Islamic Republic. “Structural change and a referendum to establish a government derived from the people's vote will remain a right that we continue to advocate so that Iran no longer suffers beyond what it already has.”

International: Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian hosted his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, to “discuss the possibilities for further advancing…bilateral cooperation in all fields…and to exchange views on current regional and international developments.” The two focused on the situation in Syria in particular as regional normalization with the Assad regime continued.



Some of the information in this article was originally published on September 6, 2023.