Ahmad Alam Alhoda, the Friday-Prayer Imam of Mashhad city says: “To some of our sisters who look slutty, if nothing convinces you, I ask you to wear the hijab for the love of Fatima (the daughter of Prophet Muhammed).”
On his Friday sermon, Alam Alhoda talked about the relation between “hijab and the clergy” and said: “Hijab plays the same role as the clergy in elevation of Islam.”
Israel Announced Airstrikes Against Iran-Linked Targets In Syria
The Syrian state news agency SANA has reported more alleged Israeli airstrikes in the southeastern region of Syria near Damascus and in Quneitra governorate in the Golan Heights near the border with Israel on Tuesday. According to the state media, the strikes left no casualties and only caused material damage.
Israeli Defense Force says the attack was in response to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) discovered in Israeli territory earlier.
The spokesperson for the IDF tweeted: IDF fighter jets attacked Iranian Quds Force and Syrian army targets in Syria tonight. The attack damaged warehouses, headquarters and military complexes, as well as surface-to-air missile batteries."
A statement released by the IDF said: “Earlier, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops exposed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the Israeli side of the Alpha Line which were placed by a Syrian squad led by Iranian forces.”
“The IEDs’ exposure on Tuesday is further clear proof of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria,” the statement continued, while adding that Israel holds the Syrian government responsible for all actions perpetrated in Syria.
In recent years IDF has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-backed militant targets on Syrian soil. Iran’s Quds Force, the international arm of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) started its activities in Syria during the civil war in support of the Assad regime, and after the war it began setting up bases near the Syrian-Israeli border.
Iranian Swedish Prisoner Transferred To Solitary Before Exeecution
The wife of Iranian-Swedish medical doctor Ahmad Reza Jalali, who was detained in Iran in 2016 and later sentenced to death for alleged espionage told a Swedish magazine that her husband was moved to solitary confinement awaiting his execution.
In an interview with the Voice of America, Mehran Nia said Iran’s judiciary has offered no response to release requests from her husband Ahmadreza Jalali, his lawyers and the UN Human Rights Council.
She also expressed concern about Jalali’s health due to multiple illnesses that make him vulnerable to coronavirus, which human rights activists say has been spreading at Evin and other Iranian prisons in recent months.
The foreign minister of Sweden Ann Linde said on Tuesday that she has spoken with her Iranian counterpart after the reports of Jalali’s death sentence.
Linde announced on her Twitter account: "In light of reports that Iran may have planned to enforce a death penalty against the Swedish citizen Djalali, I have today spoken with Iran's foreign minister Zarif." Adding: “Sweden condemns the death penalty and works to ensure that the verdict against Djalali is not enforced.”
Ahmadreza Djalali is a medical doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute in the Swedish capital. He was arrested in Iran in 2016, and was sentenced to charge on the charge of espionage. The Iranian state-TV (IRIB) broadcasted a video of Jalali confessing to spying for Israel and reporting to Mossad agents. Later he released an audio message from prison announcing that the Islamic Republic’s intelligence agents have coerced him into several video confessions.
Amnesty Expresses Concern Over Possible Torture of Iranian-German Prisoner
Amnesty International expressed concern about the condition of Iranian-German dual citizen Nahid Taghavi in an Iranian prison, warning about possible torture and abuse.
The rights organization released a statement on Tuesday saying: Amnesty International is concerned that Nahid Taghavi might be exposed to danger of torture and other abuses including denial of medical treatment.
The organization asked Iranian officials to immediately release the prisoner into the custody of her attorney and family.
Human rights groups reported on Friday, October 23 that Taghavi, 66, was arrested on October 16 at her home in Tehran and her personal belongings including her passport were confiscated. She was taken to an unknown location and later new reports said she has been taken to the notorious Evin prison where many political detainees are kept.
Amnesty International’s statement also says Taghavi must have access to the German consulate and medical treatment. It also urged the Islamic Republic officials to release Taghavi for medical reasons.
Taghavi’s daughter, Mariam Claren sent a video message to Iran International saying five weeks after her mother’s arrest, nobody is aware of the reason for her detention and her family’s efforts for meeting her have not been successful.
Iranian rights monitor HRANA reported that Taghavi has recently undergone surgery and suffers from high blood pressure. Her family members have said they took her medications to the prison but security agents refused to take them.
Iran has been detaining foreigners and dual nationals on trumped-up charges of espionage or activities against the country’s security for years, issuing heavy prison sentences for many. Human rights organizations believe Tehran is using the prisoners as bargaining chips against the West.
Former IRGC Commander First To Confirm He Will Stand For Iran's Presidency
Brigadier-General Hossein Dehghan, former defense minister and current military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, is the first hopeful to confirm he will stand in June’s presidential election.
The 63-year-old former Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Airforce Commander told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on Tuesday [November 24] that he would be represent the “wish of the people.” Dehghan said he had no affiliation to principlists or reformists.
There have been weeks of speculation as to likely presidential candidates, including those with military backgrounds. On November 19, Brigadier-General Esmail Kowsari, adviser to the IRGC Commander-in-Chief Brigadier-General Hossein Salami, defended the prospects of a president with military credentials and suggested that any negative reaction amounted to “psychological warfare against the Revolutionary Guards.”
Dehghan was defense minister under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and during President Hassan Rouhani's first term (2013-17). He commanded the IRGC Air Force from 1990-91 and was Acting Chief of IRGC Joint Staff 1992-96.
In an interview with Associated Press on Thursday, Dehghan warned against including Iran’s ballistic missiles in any talks over reviving Tehran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. “The Islamic Republic of Iran will not negotiate its defensive power ... with anybody under any circumstances,” he told AP. “Missiles are a symbol of the massive potential that is in our experts, young people and industrial centers.”
Among former senior Revolutionary Guard commanders to stand in previous presidential elections are Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf), currently parliamentary speaker, and Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of the Expediency Council since 1997. Neither did very well: while Ghalibaf ran second to Rouhani in 2013, he won only 16.6 percent of votes and he later withdrew from the 2017 presidential election before making a political comeback in parliament.
Iran Spokesman Sounds Upbeat About Defeating US Sanctions
After Supreme Leader Ali khamenei’s meeting with senior officials Tuesday morning, the spokesman of Hassan Rouhani’s government, Ali Rabiei told reporters that “Today, we can hear the sound of sanctions shattering,” referring to US restrictions imposed on the economy.
Rabiei sounding optimistic said, “Today, the illegal sanctions against our nation are in their most vulnerable and ineffective state in three years, and the people and markets have clearly received that message.”
President-elect Joe Biden has indicated his administration will return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal abandoned by President Donald Trump in 2018. This has raised hopes in Tehran that sanctions imposed by Trump will be lifted soon, giving Iran an economic and financial reprieve.
Rabiei added the “the sound of” sanctions falling apart have been heard around the world and the reason for the failure of sanctions is “the resistance of the people”.
Rouhani’s spokesman, who is known as an old intelligence operative, said the government pursued a four-stage strategy. First, was circumventing sanctions. Second, was to discredit [Trump’s] maximum pressure. Third, was to weaken the unilateral sanctions regime with “multilateral diplomacy” and fourth, was to ensure no one ever again would bother imposing sanctions.
In fact, US unilateral sanctions have been unexpectedly effective against Iran’s economy as almost all countries and large companies in the world have abided by the US restrictions.
Rabieie concluded that Iran has already passed through the first two stages and now stands at the third stage, that is weakening the sanctions regime by multilateral diplomacy and this is a sensitive period in Iran’s history.
Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Houthi Drone Attack On Oil Facility
Saudi Arabia acknowledged late Monday that Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck an oil facility in the port city of Jiddah early the same day, causing a relatively small explosion and fire.
A Houthi military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Yahia Sarie said their forces used a new cruise missile, Quds-2 which somehow evaded the elaborate air defenses of the kingdom, flying more than 750 km or 460 miles from the Yemeni border to Jiddah.
Images of the fire circulated all day on social media until the government acknowledged the attack. The projectile appeared to have struck a fuel tank in a large tank farm.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been fighting the Houthis since 2015, when they captured the capital city Sanaa form the internationally recognized government. The rebels have repeatedly attacked Saudi military and civilian targets, with missiles and drones.
Houthi rebels are supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran and use a variety of missile, projectiles and weapons which are copies of Iranian arms. United Nations experts have said they don’t believe most of the sophisticated weapons, such as missiles are built in Yemen.
The Quds-1 missile uses a small Czech-made TJ-100 jet engine, with a range of 700 km (435 miles). Iran uses a copy of the same engine in its drones. UN experts, Arab countries and the West say Iran supplies arms to the rebels and some shipments have been intercepted by the United States Navy. Iran denies the accusation.
Student Activist Elham Samimi Was Arrested By Security Forces
Elham Samimi, a student activist at Tehran University whose home was searched by the security forces last week, has been arrested on Monday.
After security forces searched Samimi’s house last week in the middle of the night, she was summoned to a secret site and was interrogated several times. But after she refused to go to that site the last time, the security forces threatened her and her family and summoned her to Evin Prison, where she was detained after arrival.
The Student Guild’s Council reported her arrest and mentioned that the security forces broke into her home at midnight last week and confiscated not only her personal belongings, but those of her guests and relatives, including laptops, books, and cellphones, and threatened her with a judicial and security response.
According to the report, after that night, the security forces summoned her to a “secret security house” by threatening Elham and her family and interrogated her on several occasions.
The Student Guild’s Council mentions that after Elham refused to return to that location to be interrogated again, the security forces contacted her and threatened her family, and pressured her into going to Evin Prison where she was arrested upon arrival.
Elham Samimi is a student of Anthropology at Tehran University.
Pompeo Vows To Pursue 'Maximum Pressure' Against Iran Ahead Of Biden Presidency
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on a tour of the Persian Gulf Arab states defended the Trump administration's policy of pressuring Iran, weeks before president-elect Joe Biden is set to take office.
In an interview with Saudi-owned Ak-Arabiya television channel Pompeo called Iran “the central threat inside the region” and defended the US ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, arguing that the strategy has hampered Tehran’s ability to provide support to its proxy forces in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
“Our policies don’t change. Our duty doesn’t change. My responsibilities don’t change,” he said. “I still have an obligation — every hour, every minute — to defend the American people and to keep them foremost in our efforts, and we’ll do that. We’ll do that to the very last minute,” Pompeo said.
Biden has clearly stated his opposition to Trump’s Iran policy of withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement and imposing harsh sanctions on Tehran. But Pompeo reiterated the current administrations’ resolve to stick to its tough stance. “It'll be our policy until our time is complete.”
The policy in the waning days of Trump’s presidency boils down to maintaining an emerging regional front made up of several Arab states and Israel, all concerned over Iran’s intentions and behavior. It also entails adding sanction in the remaining weeks to make it harder for Biden to try a rapprochement with Tehran. It is expected that the new president will try to make an opening with Iran but will also make demands about Iran's ballistic missiles and its intereference in regional countries.
Security Agents In Iran Raid Homes Of Persecuted Baha'i Community Members
Islamic Republic security forces Sunday entered the homes of several Baha’i religious minority members and conducted searches confiscating their personal belonging, according to reports received by Iran International.
One of the Baha’I individuals whose house was searched is a former political prisoner, Riazollah Sobhani, 74, served a four-year sentence until 2015. One of his family members told Iran International that “As usual seven agents stormed the house and conducted a complete search.” The family member added that Mr. Sobhani has been ill for many years and never leaves the house and has no activities.
The search in his house lasted three hours and agents confiscated the only laptop for the fifth time in recent years. Agents were filming the search, especially when the family was protesting the raid.
A community member tweeted that agents stormed seven houses in coordinated raids and took away “money, laptops, telephones and tablets.”
The Baha’i community has been the target of persecution throughout the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic. The clerical regime regards the Baha’i religion as heretical and younger members of the community are banned from university education.
UN human rights rapporteurs and international human rights organization have repeatedly criticized the Islamic Republic for its persecution of religious minorities, but the government does not allow any representatives of these organizations to visit the Iran.
Iran Spokesman Says Future Relations With US Not Simple
The future of relations with the United States “is not a simple one”, the spokesman of Iran’s foreign ministry Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters in a briefing for local and foreign journalists on Sunday, accusing the US of “repeated crimes” in the past 40 years.
Khatibzadeh alleged that “US crimes” include “cooperation with Saddam” during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and sanctions in recent years that created “problems for the people of Iran including food and medicines”. The US insists its sanctions exempt humanitarian trade and Iran is not restricted in buying food and medicines.
Khatibzadeh also mentioned the targeted killing Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani in January, as the latest example of a crime against Iran. Soleimani was leading Iran’s proxy network throughout the Middle East and the US said the killing was necessary to stop impending attacks on its interests in the region.
The spokesman was also asked about possible talks with the new US administration and the opposition of hardliners in Iran to negotiations. Khatibzadeh said that in foreign policy Iran speaks with one voice regardless of internal clash of opinions.
President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have said the victory of president-elect Joe Biden offers “an opportunity” for talks with Washington, but many hardliners insist there is virtually no difference between Donald Trump and Biden.
Khatibzadeh also repeated earlier denials of Western news reports that in July a top al Qaeda operative living in Tehran was assassinated by Israeli agents. Iran insists it does not provide safe heaven to the Sunni militant group but over the years many reports have indicated the existence of links.
CENTCOM Announces Deployment Of B-52 Bombers To Middle East
The United States Central Command, CENTCOM announced Saturday that B-52H ‘Stratofortress’ bombers are being deployed in the Middle East “to deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies."
The news comes as The New York Times recently reported that after the US elections President Donald Trump discussed with officials the option of attacking Iran and reportedly was dissuaded from doing so.
On Friday November 20, US Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliot Abrams warned “Iran and its proxies” they would be “sorry” for any “military activities and terrorist activities that kill Americans.” He was speaking after a trip to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. At the same time the Associated Press reported that Iran’s Qods force commander Esmail Gha’ani asked proxy forces in Iraq not to engage in any provocations during the remainder of Trump’s term in office.
CENTCOM said in its statement that “aircrews assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, ND conducted a short-notice, long-range mission into the Middle East on November 21”. It added that the mission demonstrated the military’s ability to deploy airpower anywhere in the world on short notice.
In May the US had also announced the deployment of B-52 bombers to Qatar, a US ally, but today’s statement says, “The last U.S. long-range bomber presence in the Middle East was in early 2020.”
The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency reported this week that Iran has moved a cascade of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges underground at its main nuclear site in Natanz, central Iran.
News Agency Savages Deputy Minister Who Resigned Over Covid Failures
A hardline news agency with ties to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) has leveled a host of accusations against Reza Malekzadeh, who resigned as a deputy health minister yesterday in protest at Health Minister Saeed Namaki’s management of the coronavirus crisis.
In a commentary published on Saturday [November 21], the Tasnim agency demanded an explanation from Reza Malekzadeh over Iran’s “participation in an international study” and why he had supplied data on “a considerable number of Iranian Covid-19 patients to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other countries, some of which are hostile to Iran.”
Malekzadeh, who was Deputy Minister for Research and Technology, and Ali Nobakht-Haghighi, Vice-Chairman of the Covid-19 Advisory Council, both resigned from the health ministry on Friday. Both are medical doctors.
Malekzadeh and Nobakht-Haghighi published resignation letters on social media in which they criticized Namaki for ignoring advice and making inaccurate claims. They claimed the minister’s poor management had contributed to Iran’s high number of deaths.
Tasnim’s accusation over the “international study” appeared to refer to the Persian Cohort Study. The agency alleged this used Iranian Covid-19 patients as “a tool for testing unknown foreign-made medicine, the side-effects of which killed some of the patients.” The charges are reminiscent of similar “spying” accusations levelled at detained environmentalists.
The Tasnim commentary suggested that the study, which Malekzadeh directs, provided “vital information” on various Iranian ethnicities and age groups to “foreigners.” This, Tasmin alleged, could explain the “acute illness” of Covid patients in Iran.
The Persian Cohort Study was launched in 2014, with funding from the health ministry, and includes 170,000 men and women in 17 regions of Iran.