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Thursday’s Iran Mini Report – January 24, 2019

Thursday's Iran Mini Report - January 24, 2019

• Iran Arrested 7,000 Dissidents in ‘Year of Shame’, Says Amnesty
The Guardian: Iranian authorities arrested more than 7,000 dissidents last year in a sweeping crackdown that led to hundreds being jailed or flogged, at least 26 protesters being killed, and nine people dying in custody amid suspicious circumstances, according to Amnesty International. Those rounded up during violent dispersals of peaceful protests in what Amnesty called “a year of shame for Iran” included journalists, lawyers, minority rights activists and women who protested against being forced to wear headscarves.

• Why Germany’s Decision to Shut Down Iran’s Mahan Air Is a Major Step against Terror
Ambassador Richard Grenell for Fox News: To safeguard its own national security, the German government took the decisive step Monday, January 21, to deny future landing rights to the Iranian airline Mahan Air, which had operated multiple weekly flights to the Munich and Düsseldorf airports. We applaud the government’s decision, which rightly recognizes the airline’s role in enabling the Iranian regime’s support for terrorist proxies serving the Assad regime and spreading violence and terror across the region – with direct effects on European security.
• Three Years Old, the Iran Nuclear Deal Is Fraying Quickly
CNN: Three years ago last week, the Iran nuclear deal came into effect, limiting the country’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. But in the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the agreement, and with relations between the European Union and Iran declining sharply, there is growing doubt it will see its fourth birthday. The Europeans and Iran are at odds on a range of issues: Iran’s ballistic missile program, attacks and plots against Iranian dissidents in Europe and slow progress towards relieving the effects of US sanctions.

• France Says It Expects Iran-EU Trade Mechanism to Be Established In ‘Coming Days’
Reuters: France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that he expected a European-backed system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent U.S. sanctions would be established in the coming days. Diplomats have told Reuters the European Union is set to officially launch the mechanism this month, but the so-called special purpose vehicle (SPV) will not operate for several months because technical details still need to be worked out.

• Huge Bail Set for Iran Writers Leads to Their Imprisonment
Iranian Writers Association (IWA) has strongly protested the decision by judicial authorities to set huge, unaffordable bails for three of its indicted members, which has led to their detention. In a statement published on Tuesday, January 22, IWA said, the ten billion rials (roughly $240,000) bail set for Bektash Abtin, Kayvan Bazhan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi “is unacceptable” and they should be released immediately.
• Mother of American Jailed In Iran Pleads For His Release
The Wall Street Journal: A U.S. Navy veteran who has been jailed in Iran on undisclosed charges suffers from cancer and may die without access to medical care, according to his mother, who pleaded for his release in a statement on Friday. Michael White, a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, has been held for over seven months since traveling to Iran to visit his partner. He had made frequent trips to visit the woman in recent years, the statement said.

• In Iran, Parched Lands Hollowed By Water Pumping Now Sinking
Associated Press Fissures: appear along roads while massive holes open up in the countryside, their gaping maws a visible sign from the air of something Iranian authorities now openly acknowledge: the area around Tehran is literally sinking. Stressed by a 30-year drought and hollowed by excessive water pumping, the parched landscape around Iran’s capital has begun to sink dramatically.
• Rouhani Adviser Indicted For Remarks On House Arrests
An indictment has been issued for President Rouhani’s top aide, Hessamoddin Ashena and a lawsuit against him delivered to the court, Tehran’s prosecutor said on Tuesday, January 22. Ashena, the head of Center for Strategic Studies, and Rouhani’s Cultural Advisor, is prosecuted for comments he made about forty days ago.

• Iraqi Airspace Is Open For Israel To Strike Iran
JPost:Iraq emerges as a potential target for Israel as it steps up efforts to eliminate the Iranian land bridge to the Levant. Recent Israeli airstrikes prove that air defense systems supplied to Syria by Russia are not enough to repulse Israeli aggression against Iranian targets in this country, but this may not be the end of the story. Israel may soon change the course of action to strike Iranian targets beyond Syria’s borders and launch aerial campaigns in Iraq where the airspace is defenseless and the political vacuum is too deep for the government to claim territorial sovereignty.

• ‘Pressure Iran to Abide By UN Resolutions’
Saudi Gazette: Saudi Arabia called on the Security Council to pressure Iran to abide by UN resolutions for a comprehensive political solution in Yemen. Addressing the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, the Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to UN Ambassador Abdullah Al-Mouallimi said any political solution in Yemen must guarantee the sovereignty of the state, unity of armed forces, the commitment to the Gulf initiative, the national dialogue and relevant Security Council resolutions.
• Houthis Condemned For Pillaging Historic Yemeni Library
The National: The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have been condemned for pillaging a library in the Unesco-listed heritage site of Zabid, one of the oldest towns in Yemen. The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (IESCO) slammed the rebels for ransacking the library and taking historic artifacts, scientific books and manuscripts. Zabid is in Hodeidah province, the site of the battle between the Arab Coalition and the rebels for control of the Red Sea port city vital for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Yemeni population.
• Put Pressure On Houthis To Comply With Stockholm Agreement, Saudi Envoy Urges UN
Arab News: Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the US urged the United Nations on Thursday to take the Houthi militia to task for “reneging on their commitments” under the Stockholm Agreement on Yemen. “The Stockholm Agreement between Yemeni parties is being violated repeatedly by the Houthis,” Prince Khalid bin Salman said in a series of tweets.

• Iran Regime Backs Maduro in Venezuela Crisis
Associated Press: Iran has denounced events in Venezuela, saying the opposition’s claim there that it holds the presidency is a “coup” and an attempt to take over power unlawfully. In Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters on Thursday that the “Islamic Republic of Iran supports the government and people of Venezuela against any sort of foreign intervention and any illegitimate and illegal action such as attempt to make a coup d’etat.”

• Delayed paychecks, pensions cause further protests across Iran

On Wednesday, streets outside the Iranian regime’s Majlis (parliament) became the scene of further protests by retirees seeking answers from regime officials and authorities in regards to their demands.

In other protest reports, workers and employees of the municipality in Marivan, western Iran, rallied on this day protesting not receiving their paychecks and pensions. This is the third consecutive day this protest rally is being held outside the regime’s municipality office.

• Iran regime tortures Political prisoners by denying medical care

Saeed Shirzad, a political prisoner in Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj, has been refused urgent medical care despite doctors requested his transfer to hospital for his severe kidneys’ failure a month ago. While the prosecutor’s office has assured that he would receive treatment a month ago, prison authorities have prevented this transfer, also The authorities of Evin prison refused to transfer Narges Mohammadi and Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe to a hospital. Mohammadi is in urgent need of medical care such as anti-seizure drugs.

• UAE condemns Iran’s interference in Middle East

The UAE has condemned Iran’s interference in the Middle East, accusing it of creating tension and posing a serious threat to the stability of the region. The UAE called on the international community and the Security Council to put pressure on Iran to stop its interference and backing for terrorist and sectarian militias.

• Iranian Diplomat Admits Europe Has Strong Evidence of Tehran’s Plots

In an unprecedented admission, the former Iranian ambassador to Germany has admitted that the Europeans have “evidence” of Iran’s involvement in “espionage and terrorism” that Tehran cannot easily deny.

Speaking to the state-run Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) on Wednesday, January 23, Ali Majedi, reiterated, regarding “Iran’s involvement in terrorism and espionage, the European countries have tabled evidence that cannot easily be dismissed.”

Ali Majedi, Iranian ambassador to Berlin (June 2014-November 2018), was referring to a series of terrorism and espionage charges recently laid out by different European countries, including Albania, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherland, against the Islamic Republic.

• Amnesty criticizes Iran’s mass arrests as US frees reporte

Iran arrested more than 7,000 people last year, including dozens of journalists, in what Amnesty International on Thursday called a “shameless campaign of repression”. The Amnesty report said that among those arrested in 2018 were protesters, students, journalists, environmental activists, workers and human rights defenders. Some 50 detainees were media workers, of whom at least 20 “were sentenced to harsh prison or flogging sentences after unfair trials,” the report said.”2018 will go down in history as a ‘year of shame’ for Iran,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director. “Iran’s authorities sought to stifle any sign of dissent by stepping up their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and carrying out mass arrests of protesters.”

• South Korea receives no Iranian crude imports for fourth straight month in Dec

South Korea imported no Iranian crude for the fourth straight month in December due to the re-imposition of US sanctions on Tehran, while intakes from the US and Kazakhstan rose sharply as alternative sources, data released late Wednesday by Korea National Oil Corp showed.

South Korea has fully suspended crude imports from Iran since September 2018, marking the first time Asia’s fourth biggest oil consumer has taken no Iranian cargoes for more than three months since September 2012, amid then US-led sanctions on Iran.