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Iran News in Brief – February 29, 2024

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THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED WITH THE LATEST NEWS

UPDATE: 9:00 PM

Iran’s Moribund Regime Falling Into Election Year Trap

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As the March 1st Iranian elections loom, it is increasingly evident that they are a farce orchestrated by the oppressive regime of Ali Khamenei. Since the beginning of the regime’s mass killings in 1981 and mainly since the Iranian uprisings in 2017, the citizenry has spoken loud and clear: They will widely boycott sham elections.

In rejecting the regime’s oppressive rule, this act of defiance signals the regime’s imminent downfall. The rest of the world must heed, as the election process impacts Tehran’s regional policies and prospects for survival among its population.

Gradually, the complete picture of the Middle East crisis is coalescing as the world realizes that the head of the snake of war and terrorism lies in Tehran.

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Government Party Secretary General Warns of Regime Collapse Amid Political and Economic Crises

iran Wahab Azizi (1)

Wahab Azizi, the Secretary General of a state-affiliated party known as “Principled Jihadists,” has made a startling admission regarding the risk of the Iranian regime’s collapse amid political and economic crises. Azizi stated, “Our country is being led to decline. If we don’t find a solution, this ship will sink. We will all drown. It doesn’t matter whether we are reformists, principalists, or otherwise…”

In an interview with Didaar News, Azizi added, “It seems that those in power want to bring a group of like-minded sheep into the parliament. Those pursuing this ‘purification’ project want a weak parliament that doesn’t raise objections and prefers a compliant parliament. The future parliament, given the extensive disqualifications, will be much weaker than the eleventh parliament. Those pushing the purification project have done this.”

Azizi made a sarcastic remark about the president of the regime, suggesting that “Ebrahim Raisi didn’t appoint a minister worthy of the Islamic Republic; instead, he appointed someone who was at a sixth-grade level.”


Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on Iran’s Proxy Network in the Middle East

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee hearing on Iran’s proxy network in the Middle East. Witnesses included Dr. Suzanne Maloney, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, and The Honorable Brian H. Hook, former U.S. special representative for Iran and senior policy advisor to the secretary of State.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks: “At the beginning of the Biden Administration, the president’s Iran policy was abundantly clear and that was an attempt to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal regardless of the cost. The administration chose engagement and appeasement over containment and isolation.

“Three years later, Iran is more emboldened and empowered than before, and the Middle East is in turmoil.”

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UPDATE: 1:00 PM

Reports of Extortion by Militias in Iraq Prompt Concerns among Truck Drivers

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Several truck drivers in Iraq have reported instances of extortion at checkpoints controlled by armed militias, particularly in the city of Kirkuk.

According to Al Arabiya’s correspondent in Iraq, some drivers have disclosed that these militia groups demand substantial sums in exchange for allowing the passage of trucks, often presenting stamped government receipts to justify their demands. However, it has been alleged that these payments ultimately line the pockets of corrupt militia commanders affiliated with Iran.

Informed Iraqi sources reveal that no truck can pass through militia checkpoints or patrols on highways without paying a fee. Larger vehicles are subjected to higher extortion rates. This exploitation has led to a doubling of consumer prices for goods.

Kirkuk Province serves as a strategic transit point connecting the Kurdistan region to Baghdad. Hundreds of trucks travel daily from Diyala and Salahaddin provinces in the north of Iraq to the south. All drivers traversing this route have lodged complaints about extortion by Iranian-affiliated militias. Drivers state that these militias are more oppressive than ISIS, extorting all trucks moving from northern Iraq to central and southern regions.

Ali Ahmad, a truck driver transporting fruits and vegetables from Erbil to Baghdad, Najaf, and Basra, emphasized that the presence of Iranian-affiliated militias sometimes forces him to pay substantial sums to pass through inspection stations. He stated, “These funds are unlawfully and unfairly taken from us as extortion and bribery and are spent on the terrorist activities of the militia.”


Iran’s Food Prices Soar, Putting Strain on Citizens’ Livelihoods

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The Statistical Center of the Iranian government reported on Thursday, February 29, that during the month of Bahman (January 21- February 19), the prices of food items experienced a significant upward trend. Over the past 12 months, the prices of 10 food and beverage subcategories have seen an increase, with food inflation ranging between 22% to 93%. According to the Statistical Center’s report, the price of red meat and chicken in Iran has risen by 93% over the past year. In relation to this matter, the state-run newspaper Shargh wrote in a report, “The economic situation seems so dire that it appears there is hardly any difference between receiving a loan to buy bananas, flour, or milk.”

The report also stated that during this period, fish and seafood prices increased by 64%, fruits and nuts by 51%, beverages by 45%, and groceries by 45%. Additionally, the two groups of sweets and dairy products, including milk, cheese, and eggs, have become 35% more expensive for consumers over the 12 months.


Heavy Snowfall and Flooding in Iran Leave Thousands Stranded

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Severe snowfall across 26 provinces of Iran this week has left more than 15,000 people trapped in snow and cold weather conditions. Extensive areas of Sistan and Baluchestan Province are grappling with severe floods, with communication links to 300 villages cut off.

Babak Mahmoudi, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s Search and Rescue Organization, announced this morning that from February 24 until today, all provinces of Iran except Ilam, Bushehr, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, and Kermanshah have been affected by snowfall, cold weather, and flooding.

Mahmoudi stated that eight individuals have been reported injured or fallen ill due to the cold weather conditions and snow, and have been transferred to medical centers for treatment.


Two Members Of Iranian Militias Killed And Six Injured Under Israeli Shelling On A Farm And Training Centre In Rif Dimashq

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Two Syrian members of the Iranian militias that are affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah were killed and six others were injured and burned amid information regarding missing people, in a primary toll caused by Israeli airstrikes targeting two buildings in a farm and a training center of the militias, where both buildings are 600 meters away from each other, on the road between Babaila and Al-Saida Zainab near Suleimani Park. Meanwhile, the second attack targeted a farm in the area between Al-Hajeera and Al-Saida Zainab in Rif Dimashq.

Earlier today, Israeli missiles were fired on positions of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian militias in Rif Dimashq, where four violent explosions were heard in the Al-Saida Zainab area and Basatin Baila (Gardens) due to shelling on two positions in the area, while ambulance vehicles rushed to the location of the attacks and injuries were reported, amid reports of other casualties and missing people.

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UPDATE: 7:30 AM

Mid-Term Session Of The National Council Of Resistance Of Iran On The Eve Of The Sham Elections Of The Mullahs’ Regime

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For 43 years, the people and the Resistance of Iran have not recognized the slightest legitimacy in the regime’s sham election, considering them tools in the hands of oppressive rulers to perpetuate their rule.

On the eve of the election show of the regime, the mid-term session of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) was held on February 26 and 27, 2024, with the presence of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI. Mrs. Rajavi emphasized the determined will of the nation and Resistance regarding the nationwide boycott of the sham election and stated that since June 20, 1981, the Iranian people and Resistance of Iran have not considered the regime’s sham elections legitimate, viewing them as tools in the hands of oppressive rulers. They label the regime’s candidates as traitors to Iran and the Iranian people.

She added that the era of the regime’s internal reformist faction has come to an end for years, and once again, Ali Khamenei has made the candidates of this faction pass through the filter of the Guardian Council.

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Iran’s Regime Ramps Up Pressure Against PMOI Supporters In Prison

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In continuation of its campaign of repression against dissidents, Iran’s regime has sentenced 27-year-old Mohammad Hassani to 12 years in prison. The regime’s judiciary has charged Hassani with disturbing public order, destroying public property, propaganda against the system, insulting regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and membership in the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI).

A master’s student, Hassani was first arrested and jailed in 2020. He was initially sentenced to three years in prison, but the regime’s criminal judge in Karaj, Mousa Asef Al-Hosseini, extended the sentence to 12 years because Hassani refused to collaborate with the regime’s intelligence ministry. It is worth noting that Asef Al-Hosseini was the same judge who sentenced dissidents Seyed Mohammad Hosseini and Mohammad Mehdi Karami to death. Both were arrested during the 2022 nationwide protests.

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Iranians Face Bleak Economic Outlook as Nowruz Approaches

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A recent article in Iran’s state-run newspaper Sharq paints a grim picture of the country’s economic situation and its impact on ordinary citizens. The article, published on February 28, 2024, titled “Loaning for Bananas: A Sign of Desperate Times,” highlights the growing disconnect between the government’s solutions and the dire reality faced by millions of Iranians.

Sharq critically examines the recent announcement by the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade offering loans of 20 million tomans (approximately $340) to help purchase necessities for the upcoming Nowruz celebrations, the Iranian New Year. This news comes amidst reports that the poverty line for a family of four in Iran has now reached 25 million tomans, exceeding the offered loan amount.

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Iran’s Pharmaceutical Sector Faces Currency and Supply Hurdles

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On Wednesday, February 28th, the head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce voiced concerns regarding foreign exchange challenges, emphasizing the precarious state of the country’s pharmaceutical industry. He warned that if these issues persist, a shortage of essential drugs could be imminent.

Speaking to the ILNA news agency, Mohammad Najafi Arab highlighted issues with the allocation and timely distribution of currency for medicine procurement. He lamented the government’s and social security’s failure to meet their obligations in settling payments to the private sector.

According to Arab, these shortcomings have led to difficulties for private enterprises operating in the healthcare sector, particularly in retrieving their working capital.

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Iranian Workers Face Stagnant Wages Despite High Inflation and Protests

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Recent developments regarding the determination of Iran’s minimum wage signal yet another instance of the regime’s exploitation of the country’s impoverished workforce.

Approaching the final weeks of the year in accordance with the Persian calendar, discussions surrounding the minimum wage for workers ignite passionate debate.

Despite ongoing labor protests underscoring the urgent need for change in their dire circumstances, it appears that little progress is being made.

The recent gathering of the Supreme Labor Council on February 19, 2024, with representatives from labor, employers, and the government, yielded no tangible outcomes.

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Sharifeh Mohammadi Remains In Custody For 95 Days In Lakan Prison

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Labor activist Sharifeh Mohammadi has been in custody for over three months since she was arrested. Her case is in limbo, and she is detained in the Lakan Prison of Rasht.

Ms. Mohammadi had been banished to the Central Prison of Sanandaj, but she has been recently returned to Lakan Prison. She has been in custody for 95 days and is still deprived of calling her family or receiving visits from them.

The authorities have refused to give any transparent answers to Ms. Mohammadi’s husband regarding her case. There is still no information available on the reasons for her arrest and the charges leveled against her.

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US, UK Sanction IRGC Deputy Commander, Affiliates

IRGC commander Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh

The U.S. and Britain have imposed sanctions against two individuals and three organizations affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force for facilitating the activities of Houthi paramilitaries supported by the Iranian regime in Yemen.

On February 27, the British Foreign Ministry announced that the new sanctions target Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh, the deputy commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards; three units of the Quds Force of the IRGC; Saeed al-Jamal, an Iranian resident and businessman; and Ali Hussein Badr-al-din al-Houthi, the deputy minister of the Houthi government.

Washington, on Tuesday, also sanctioned Ibrahim al-Nasheri, a Houthi member, in addition to Mohammad Reza Fallahzadeh.

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Also, read Iran News in Brief – February 28, 2023