On the eve of new talks, key players from Iran and the world’s six major powers remained firmly committed to rival positi
In its annual report, Human Rights Watch charged that Iran executed more than 700 people in 2023, a significant increase from 2022. It also engaged in mass arrests of human rights and labor activists, lawyers, journalists, students, and artists as well as family members of protestors. Security forces used torture to obtain confessions, employed “vague national security charges,” and conducted “grossly unfair” trials that often violated due process, the report claimed.
Since 2018, Iran has detained many women activists, students, lawyers and even revolutionary insiders, such as Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who criticized the regime or participated in protests. It has picked up journalists, including Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, who provided early reporting about the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for wearing improper hijab.
On November 15, FBI director Christopher Wray warned that the United States faced growing dangers at home from the war between Hamas and Israel thousands of miles away. Wray specifically cited Iran, “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” for operations directly and indirectly through proxies that target U.S. personnel both at home and abroad. It has hired criminals to plot assassinations against high-ranking current and former U.S. officials as well as dissidents living on American soil.
On November 14, the United States and Britain sanctioned the leadership of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as mechanisms used by Iran to support the militant groups. “Together with our partners we are decisively moving to degrade Hamas’s financial infrastructure, cut them off from outside funding, and block the new funding channels they seek to finance their heinous acts,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
On Nov. 2, 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to the Middle East for consultations with regional leaders on the war between Israel and Hamas. He worked to prevent the conflict from spreading, secure the release of hostages, and increase the volume of aid entering Gaza. The following are excerpted remarks from each of the stops on his tour.