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Iran News in Brief – August 17, 2023

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THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED WITH THE LATEST NEWS

UPDATE: 7:00 PM CET

Iranian opposition group dismisses state media claims of relocation to Canada

True North
True North

A group of Iranian dissidents is taking aim at what it calls “nonsense and lies” from the Iranian regime regarding its activities.

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), an Iranian opposition group based in Albania, says Iran’s state media is trying to wedge the Canadian government to take a position on the MEK.

According to the MEK, media outlets affiliated with the Iranian regime have published stories suggesting there are efforts underway for the MEK to relocate its members from its Albanian headquarters to Canada.

“The leaders of the terrorist group of the Hypocrites (MEK) are making the preparations for the transfer of the members of this group from Albania to Canada,” said one article in Iran’s Tasnim News Agency. “This decision was made after the intense pressure of the Albanian government and their failed negotiations with France to transfer there.”

The article claims the MEK’s leaders are “making arrangements for the departure of the members” from Ashraf-3, the name of their headquarters outside Tirana, Albania.

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Former IRGC Commander Admits to IRGC’s Role in 1979 US Embassy Hostage-taking

iran ruydad24 mohsen rafiqdoust (1)

In a recent interview that was published today, Mohsen Rafiqdoust, the former logistics chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, emphasized the IRGC’s involvement in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the subsequent 444-day hostage crisis of embassy staff.

He stated, “I myself was involved before the occupation of the espionage den. As the logistics officer of the IRGC, I aided the students in their activities and provided them with resources… I was even justified in a meeting that I should assist in this matter. In a meeting where Mr. Mohsen Rezaei, who was in charge of intelligence [in the IRGC] at the time, took us to a place where Mr. Lahouti, Mr. Mirdamadi, and others were present. They mentioned that the U.S. Embassy would be seized the next day.”

To avoid accountability, some of the regime officials have repeatedly claimed that the attack on the U.S. Embassy was carried out by a group of rogue students independently and without prior knowledge of the state.


UPDATE: 6:00 PM CET

Former Diplomat Acknowledges Regime’s Cyber Attack on Albania to Exert Pressure on the Mujahideen

iran khabar online pak ayeen (1)

To persuade those within the regime of the Raisi government’s accomplishments, a former official openly acknowledged that the regime had breached international law and launched a cyber campaign against the Republic of Albania, aiming to exert pressure on the MEK.

Mohsen Pak-Ayeen, the Deputy for International Affairs at the Office of the Supreme Leader and former regime ambassador to the Republic of Azerbaijan, wrote in a piece on Khabaronline on August 16, “The reality is that in the thirteenth government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pursued dynamic and balanced diplomatic actions without getting entangled in controversies. With humility, it paved challenging paths confidently, using the experiences of foreign ministers and officials from previous periods.”

Admitting that the regime’s Foreign Ministry works in sync with its terrorist activities, he added, “In the thirteenth government, there was great coordination between the diplomatic apparatus and the fieldwork, and their activities complemented each other, securing national interests. The President’s trips to Syria and Iraq, which alongside political achievements strengthened the Resistance Axis, symbolize the coordination between diplomacy and the field. Normalizing relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would not have been possible without diplomatic and field coordination.”

“It has been said that scientific and military advancements have not created power,” Pak-Ayeen boasted. “If that were the case, and if Iran’s scientific, military, and defense advancements hadn’t contributed to its deterrent power, we would have been swallowed multiple times by the United States and its allies. If the US is not an influential player in West Asia today, it’s due to Iran’s strength.”

“Even the Americans admit that Iran’s influence in the region is a more dangerous threat than building an atomic bomb. Would this influence have existed without the power of deterrence? If Iran didn’t possess the power of deterrence, the cyber attacks would have paralyzed us. With the same cyber power, Albania was persuaded to confront the Hypocrites,” Pak-Ayeen said.

The regime’s defamatory term “Hypocrites” is aimed at discrediting the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK/PMOI) in Iranian society. Amidst a backdrop of political and socio-economic turmoil, Iran’s clerical regime is tirelessly leveraging all available resources to showcase a façade of strength. However, in doing so, it risks more than it stands to gain.


UPDATE: 3:00 PM CET

Loss of Influence on Iranian Youth Confessed by Head of IRGC in Markazi Province

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At a meeting held to boost the morale of the regime’s forces, Mohsen Karimi, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Markazi Province, exposed the regime’s fear of the uprising.

As quoted by the IRGC-run Tasnim news agency on August 16, Karimi stated, “The enemy has initiated a multifaceted warfare since last year. The enemy’s strong point is the virtual space, where they launched the war. Some mistakenly refer to this as riots, whereas it is a full-fledged war.”

He added, “In the multifaceted warfare orchestrated by the enemy against the Islamic Republic, all counter-revolutionary groups, parties, the hypocrites [the regime’s pejorative to defame the MEK], and terrorists have come onto the scene. They aimed to take control of Kurdish cities and then expand their reach. The enemy, in psychological warfare, seeks to manipulate perceptions and engage in cognitive operations, intending to alter facts, realities, beliefs, and perspectives.”


35 Years After the Brutal Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran

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July 19 marked 35 years since the commencement of the brutal mass executions of political prisoners in Iran, a tragic event that stained the nation with blood and endured for a harrowing 5-month period.

These executions were carried out in response to a covert order issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, a formal fatwa that established Special Commissions tasked with swiftly executing prisoners after brief and summary trials.

These executions were shrouded in secrecy, with the victims being buried in collective graves. Families were denied the ability to give their loved ones proper burials and faced insurmountable obstacles in their quest to learn about the fate of their imprisoned relatives.

Although the precise number of executed prisoners remains elusive, Amnesty International documented the names of 4,482 individuals who were put to death. However, opposition groups contend that the actual figure far exceeds this, estimating that over 30,000 people, including around 10% women, fell victim to this horrifying event.

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Congress Presses Biden Over Iranian Threats Against u.s.-Seized Oil

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Lawmakers are pressuring President Biden to combat Iran’s threats against American companies that take Iranian oil from a U.S.-seized tanker off the coast of Texas. Domestic energy companies reportedly refused to offload 800,000 barrels of Iranian oil worth over $60 million from a Greek tanker confiscated by the U.S. in April for sanction violations. The reason is fear of retribution by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Mr. Biden, Republicans and Democrats from both chambers demanded information about how the administration plans to resolve the tense situation and better combat future terrorist threats against private U.S. citizens and companies.

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US Treasury Sanctions Lebanese Entity and Leader for Providing Support to Hizballah

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WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Lebanon-based Green Without Borders and its leader. Green Without Borders is a Lebanon-based organization that has provided support to and cover for Hizballah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the “Blue Line” between Lebanon and Israel over the last decade while publicly operating under the guise of environmental activism.

“The United States rejects Hizballah’s cynical efforts to cloak its destabilizing terrorist activities with false environmentalism,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “We will continue to support the many Lebanese civil society groups protecting Lebanon’s unique and sensitive natural environment while also relentlessly pursuing Hizballah and their support networks.”

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UPDATE: 7:30 AM CET

The Iranian Regime’s Suppression Tactics Fail To Intimidate Mek Resistance Units

MEK resistance units

Ahead of the anniversary of Iran’s nationwide uprising that began in September 2022, the regime has been on a campaign of repression to cause fear among the public, including an increase in executions and the arrest of dissidents. The regime is especially focused on targeting the supporters and network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which regime officials have recently described as their main problem. This campaign includes increased pressure on political prisoners who have been charged with supporting the PMOI. In the latest instance of pressure on political prisoners, the regime has sentenced political prisoner Ali Moezzi to 75 months (6 years and 3 months) in prison.

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Iranian Regime Stages Tour of Vacated Prison to Conceal Crimes

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In a continued effort to cover up and erase evidence of mass killings and crimes against humanity, the clerical regime in Iran has recently orchestrated a staged tour for its own operatives posed as reporters to visit the Gohardasht Prison after it had been emptied.

The Judiciary-run Mizan News Agency, notable for its involvement in executions, reported, “As stated by reporter Rokna, the prison conditions appeared favorable, with cells and dormitories providing sufficient space for inmates.”

The Judiciary News Agency correspondent added, “My visit to this prison did not reveal the alarming conditions that some had anticipated.”

It’s crucial to acknowledge that Gohardasht Prison served as the site where numerous Iranian freedom fighters and activists were executed and subjected to torture. The 1988 mass execution of political prisoners shed light on the crimes against humanity perpetrated within these walls.


Iran’s Intertwined Water And Electricity Crises

Irans Intertwined Water And Electricity Crises

The 2022 uprising of the Iranian people marked a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime. This uprising’s persistence holds the potential to drive the revolutionary movement toward its ultimate triumph. A significant catalyst behind the emergence of this grassroots movement is the dire lack of basic necessities essential for sustaining people’s lives. Over the span of decades, the regime, driven by its anti-people agenda, has consistently failed to implement sustainable and forward-looking strategies aimed at ensuring the welfare and contentment of the Iranian populace. Among the fundamental requisites of life, access to water and electricity remains profoundly inadequate. Even during the scorching heat of summer, millions are deprived of access to safe drinking water.

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More Than 260 Cities In Iran Are In Water Stress

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The spokesperson for the Iranian regime’s water industry stated that currently “269 cities” in the country are facing water stress. In a meeting on the country’s water industry held on August 14, Hashem Amini, in response to a question from the regime’s ILNA news agency regarding cities experiencing water stress, said that the Doosti Dam in Mashhad is in critical condition and the Nahand Dam in Tabriz has also been lost. “The groundwater in the city of Zanjan and Tabas, as well as the “Chahnimeh” wells in Sistan and Baluchestan province, are also at risk”, Amini added. “Chahnimeh” or “half well” refers to four large natural reservoirs in Sistan and Baluchestan province, which are fed by the surplus water of the Hirmand River through a canal.

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Activist Arrests and Unjust Sentences Underline Ongoing Persecutions in Iran

Tahereh Naghiee min

As dissenting voices persist in Iran, the clerical regime’s oppressive tactics continue to target activists, stifling their advocacy for change. Recent developments shed light on the ongoing crackdown on individuals striving for human rights, freedom of expression, and gender equality. Branch 26 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Tahereh Naghiee, the Secretary General of the Iranian Teachers’ Organization, to six months in prison, payment of fines, a ban on leaving the country, and other social deprivations, according to reports published on August 15, 2023. Her six-month time in prison is suspended for five years. Ms. Naghiee is charged with “propaganda against the state.” Her trial had been held on June 11, 2023.

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Also, read Iran News in Brief – August 16, 2023