Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission in a statement issued September 13 strongly condemned the decisions of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations with Israel.
Since the announcement of Bahrain’s decision to establish normal relations with Israel, Iran’s foreign ministry and the Revolutionary Guard have attacked the small Arab country, which has a Shiite majority population.
The parliamentary commission’s statement repeated the Islamic Republic’s rhetoric that Bahrain’s al-Khalifa ruling family has based its survival on assistance from the United States and “the child-killing Zionist regime”, reported Fars news, close to the Revolutionary Guard. Iran’s clerical government never uses the word Israel.
The statement also repeats the Revolutionary Guard’s threat that “the Zionist regime” will be destroyed at the hands of “pious Muslim youth”.
Both Bahrain and the UAE are also threatened to be held directly responsible for any tensions in the Persian Gulf region created by Israel. “Alliance with the Zionist regime will put the security of Bahrain and the Emirates at a greater risk than in the past”.
Iranian officials have periodically called for the annihilation of Israel, although when pressed by Western journalists, Iranian diplomats try to deny such statements.
Iran’s Arab neighbors, Israel and the United States accuse the Islamic Republic of sowing instability in the region and plotting to expand their influence through proxy forces.
Instagram Blocks Khamenei's Account For Hours After Post About Holocaust
The French Instagram Page of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran was blocked by Instagram for a few hours after posting about Charlie Hebdo and Holocaust.
On his Instagram page, the leader of the Islamic Republic urged the French youth to ask their president why is it that “insulting and cursing” Prophet Muhammed is allowed but “doubting the Holocaust is a crime?”
The office of the leader of the Islamic Republic created another account on Friday and once again posted the message. His original account has been reactivated after deleting the post addressing the French youth.
In 2019, Instagram blocked an English account of Ayatollah Khamenei and several commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Instagram is the only social media platform that is still active in Iran. All other social media and YouTube are blocked for Iranians inside the country. However, most Islamic Republic officials in Iran have social media accounts despite the fact that Iranians can only gain access to these sites using proxy sites.
In response to Khamenei tweeting the same message on Twitter, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “2500 years ago Cyrus the Great defended the Jewish people from persecution. Now, Khamenei once again shamefully peddles Holocaust denial from his uncensored Twitter account while he throws religious minorities in jail, executes dissidents, and imposes digital darkness on Iran. “
The leader and many officials of the Islamic Republic have repeatedly promoted Holocaust denial and threatened to annihilate Israel.
In a recent US congressional hearing, some US senators asked Twitter CEO why his company had flagged posts by United States President Donald Trump but not those of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
91,000 More Deaths In The First Four Months of This Year In Iran Compared to Last Year
New statistics from the National Organization for Civil Registration show that in the first four months of this year in Iran 91,000 more Iranians have died compared to the same period last year. The official number of coronavirus deaths announced by Iran’s Ministry of Health is 34,478.
Iran’s Ministry of Health numbers still indicates a daily coronavirus death toll of over 300 and over 8,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The Spokesperson for Iran’s Health Ministry Sima Sadat Lari reported on Friday that in the past 24 hours, 365 coronavirus patients have died, and 8,011 new confirmed cases were identified.
On Wednesday this week, the number of coronavirus deaths in 24 hours was 415, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
While the official statistic from the National Organization for Civil Registration shows that in the first four months of the current year in Iran there have been 91,000 more deaths compared to the same period last year, the official coronavirus death toll shows only 15,000 coronavirus deaths in that period of time. Meaning even considering the 15,000 coronavirus deaths, there have still been over 76,000 more deaths compared to the first fourth months last year.
Hamshahri Online wrote that the number of deaths in the first fourth months of this year shows that the real death toll of coronavirus could be much more than the official reports; even over 2.5 times.
In the past, many Iranian officials and members of parliament had also criticized the official numbers of coronavirus victims released by the Ministry of Health, calling them fake or unrealistic.
Former Revolutionary Reiterates Call For Khamenei's Resignation
A prominent Iranian dissident figure says the Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be reformed and that efforts to reform have proven futile.
In a commentary on the foreign-based opposition website Kaleme on Friday, October 28 two weeks before the anniversary of the bloodiest crackdown on protesters in Iran in November 2019, former regime insider turned reformist Abolfazl Ghadiani said that "religious despotism" will surrender to reform only in the face of a "national uprising," adding that even that "would be too late."
Calling the Islamic Republic despotic and corrupt, Ghadiani said, "The religious despotism brutally cracked down on the movement by those who had nothing to lose. Despot Ali Khamenei ordered his suppressive forces to shoot at the protesters at point blank."
He was referring to a speech by Khamenei in November 2019 when he told IRGC commander "to do whatever it takes" to suppress the uprising that had started with economic motives but quickly turned into a revolt against the regime.
Ghadiani was jailed for several years after the disputed 2009 presidential election when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was controversially announced the winner. Later, in 2018 and 2019 he wrote open letters to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei letters and called on him to step down and hold a referendum to change the Islamic Republic regime and replace it with a secular democracy.
He was briefly jailed after his last letter to Khamenei but was released and sentenced to flogging and "copying" Khamenei's books by hand.
In his commentary, Ghadiani reiterated his call for Khamenei's resignation and holding a referendum to change the governing system.
Several other Iranian political figures have also called for Khamenei's resignation during 2019 and 2020, but all of them ended up in jail.
Armenia To ‘Scrutinize’ Iran’s Peace Proposal For Nagorno-Karabakh
Iran’s peace initiative over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be “scrutinized in detail,” Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said on Friday [October 30] after his meeting in Yerevan with Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Ministry for Political Affairs and Special Envoy for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Araghchi is on a regional tour that has taken him to Baku, Moscow and Yerevan. Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia have yet to make any official response to Iran’s initiative, the details of which have not been disclosed. Tehran has generally good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan and is keen to see an end to the conflict that flared up on September 27 over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Both parties expressed concern over the transfer of international terrorists from the Middle East region, assessing it as a serious threat to the entire region,” said a statement from the Armenian Foreign Ministry statement quoted by Media Max news website. This referred to reports that Sunni Islamist fighters had arrived from Syria, possibly facilitated by Turkey, to fight alongside Azerbaijani forces – one of many aspects of the conflict alarming Tehran.
The foreign ministry added that Mnatsakanyan had “informed his interlocutor that he was going to meet with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Geneva on October 30 and continue working in that format.”
On Thursday Araghchi held a three-hour long meeting with Russian deputy foreign minister Andrey Rudenko to present Iran’s plan, but while in Moscow Araghchi also aired Tehran’s frustration with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group. The group - established in 1992 and co-chaired by Russia, the US and France - has failed to resolve the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is part of Azerbaijan but ruled de facto by Armenians.
Araghchi charged that some countries in the Minsk Group “have no connection to this crisis” and others were “not interested in peace” in Nagorno-Karabakh. As well as its co-chairs, the Minsk Group includes Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
After his meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku, the first leg of his regional tour, on Wednesday, Araghchi in a tweet called the meeting “positive and constructive.” In a tweet Hikmet Hajiyev, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs in the Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan, thanked Araghchi for expressing “condolences to Azerbaijani martyrs.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards ‘Shell Border Villages’ In Iraqi Kurdistan
Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have launched artillery and drone attacks on the Sidakan sub-district of Soran, across the border in Iraqi Kurdistan, north-east of the regional capital Erbil. Three villages were shelled, Soran’s mayor was quoted by ESTA, a news website in Iraqi Kurdistan, on Thursday October 30.
Hengaw, website of Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, said artillery and drone strikes began at mid-day local time on October 29, involving IRGC artillery units stationed in Piranshahr and Oshnavieh in Iran’s West Azerbaijan Province. The attacks were confirmed by Kurdistan Media, website of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI).
According to ESTA the extent of damages or casualties was not yet known.
Iran has yet not officially commented on the operations, but Bultan News, a website linked to security forces, reported at least two attacks on Thursday on “bases of the KDPI terrorist grouplet.” Bultan News claimed KDPI bases sustained “major damages.”
Iran has repeatedly accused the KDPI and Free Life Party of Kurdistan (Pejak), a party linked to the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), of separatism, assassinating Iranian officials and security officers, and destabilizing the Kurdish regions of Iran. The IRGC perceives the activities of these groups in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq, where they have bases, as a security threat along the country’s western borders.
Germany Seeks To Arrest An Iranian Suspect In Response To Detention Of Its Citizen In Iran
German newspaper Express reported the German government is searching for a person that is said to be an “Islamic Republic spy,” and is also accused of rape, in order to pressure Iran to release Nahid Taghavi, the Iranian-German human rights activist who was recently arrested and imprisoned in Iran.
A German security official who remained anonymous, while pointing out the arrest of 66-year-old Nahid Taghavi, told the Express: Germany cannot sit idly by an allow others to blackmail the country, and if Tehran does not stop this behavior, its spies will be neutralized one after the other.
A few days after the arrest of Nahid Taghavi, the German police announced it is in search of a man named Sohail Omid Kholousian, 32 years old, who had raped a female student twice in 2017. Kholousian’s name has also been added to the list of most dangerous fugitives in Europe.
According to Express, it is yet not clear as to why German officials did not initially arrest Kholousian and why his name has only been added to the list of dangerous fugitives now.
It is also possible that the German intelligence had identified this person long ago as an Islamic Republic spy and preferred to keep him under surveillance.
According to the report, Kholousian’s job is to threaten Iranian activists in Germany who oppose the Islamic Republic, usually through putting pressure on their families in Iran.
UK Government Summoned Iranian Ambassador Regarding Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
The UK Government announced that Iranian Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad was summoned to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) October 29 following news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British dual citizen detained in Iran, is to called back to court, and conveyed Britain's “grave concern” demanding an to her "arbitrary" detention.
A day earlier,Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliff, who is in the UK, had announced that she has been summoned to court next Monday to face new charges of propaganda against the regime, and the revolutionary court has asked her to prepare for her return to prison.
Ms. Zaghari Ratcliffe was arrested in April 2016 during a trip to Iran to visit her family. She was accused of plotting against the Islamic Republic and being a spy. She was tried behind closed doors and received a five-year prison sentence. Human rights organizations and UN experts say Iran arbitrarily arrests foreigners and accuses them of "security" crimes to use them as bargaining chips against Western countries.
An FCDO spokesperson said: “We have made it clear to the Iranian ambassador that his country’s treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is unjustified and unacceptable, and is causing an enormous amount of distress. Iran is further tarnishing its reputation through its actions towards Nazanin. It is time to end her arbitrary detention and that of the other dual British nationals it is holding.”
According to Guardian, Zaghari has been told that her judge will be Abolqasem Salavati. Judge Salavati is a favorite judge of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and is notorious for his harsh sentences for “national security” prisoners, to a point that he is labeled among Iranian dissidents as the “hanging judge”.
Zaghari has already been sentenced to five years in prison and was temporarily released from prison and under house arrest at his parents’ house in Tehran.
Iraqi Militia Leader In Tehran Threatens 'Large And Bloody' Attacks Against US
The leader of the Iraqi Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a paramilitary force close to Iran, has said in Tehran that Shiite militias will launch “large and bloody” attacks against the United States interests if Washington does not withdraw its troops from Iraq, Tasnim news agency reported October 29.
Sheikh Akaram Al-Kaabi in a press conference in Tehran said attacks against US interests so far have been simple “fireworks” but more serious “killer” attacks will follow if US troops stay.
Al-Nujaba is one of the proxy forces Iran finances and arms in Iraq and it is part of the Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) that operates both in Iraq and in Syria.
Forces comprising PMF have been lobbing rockets and mortar shells against the US embassy in Baghdad and military bases hosting US troops for the past few years. Such operations and a physical crowd attack on the US embassy in December 2019 preceded the targeted killing of Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general coordinating the Islamic Republic’s military and political network in the Middle east.
Al-Kaabi is quoted as saying that revenge for Soleimani’s killing is not limited to one Iraqi “resistance” group and all will join forces to expel the US military from the country. He added that once the Iraqi government sets a date for the exit of US forces and Washington does not comply, it will present a good reason for “resistance groups” to renew their attacks.
In August and September, the US announced a drawdown of its troops in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000. President Donald Trump has been advocating disengagement from conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
Massive Media Reaction in UK and France To Drowning Of Iranian Refugee Family
The drowning of an Iranian refugee family in the English Channel on their way to the UK caused a massive response in British and French media and activists and many have demanded the governments of France and Britain to provide safety for refugees.
According to the British media, out of five members of the family, Reza Iran Nejad and Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, their daughter Anita, nine years old, and their son Armin, six years old, all died and there is no information about the fate of their youngest son, 15 months old Artin. According to one of their relatives, the family had paid smugglers 26,000 pounds to bring them to the UK with an airboat.
According to Huffington Post UK, British charities have asked the government to take practical actions to provide legal entrance of refugees to Britain. French officials say the boat flip has had the highest number of casualties in northern France.
British MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “This is truly awful news – and it is even more distressing that children should be involved in this tragedy. The thought of children ending up in the cold waves is terrible.”
She continued: “These boats are incredibly dangerous. The criminal gangs who organize journeys in these precarious dinghies are profiting from putting lives at risk and from other people’s desperation.
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action charity told Huffington Post UK: “News that a child has died at sea while trying to reach safety in the UK is the horror that we dreaded would come.”
Nazanin Zaghari To Attend Court Next Monday
British media have cited Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, a Iranian-British detainee in Iran reporting that Nazanin has been summoned to court Monday to face new charges of propaganda against the regime, and the revolutionary court has asked her to prepare for her return to prison.
According to the Guardian, Zaghari has been told that her judge will be Abolqasem Salavati. Judge Salavati is a favorite judge of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and is notorious for his harsh sentences for “national security” prisoners, to a point that he is labeled among Iranian dissidents as the “hanging judge”.
Zaghari has already been sentenced to five years in prison and was temporarily released from prison and under house arrest at his parents’ house in Tehran.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab in a tweet on Wednesday said: “Iran’s continued treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in this manner is unacceptable and unjustified. It tarnishes Iran’s reputation and is causing enormous distress to Nazanin and her family. Iran must end her arbitrary detention and that of all dual British nationals.”
Richard Ratcliffe, had previously said that the security forces in Iran had offered to release Nazanin from prison if she would spy for them.
Iran has arrested several foreigners and dual nationals, accusing them of espionage without presenting any evidence or holding open trials. It is generally believed they are detained as bargaining chips for the Islamic Republic and used against Western governments.
Microsoft: Iranian Hackers Targeted Conference Attendees In Germany And Saudi Arabia
Microsoft announced hackers backed by the government of Iran have targeted over 100 high-profile potential attendees of two international security and policy conferences in Germany and Saudi Arabia. The tech company said Wednesday it detected attempts by the hacking group it calls Phosphorus to trick former government officials, policy experts, and academics.
“We believe Phosphorus is engaging in these attacks for intelligence collection purposes,” said Tom Burt, Microsoft's security chief. “The attacks were successful in compromising several victims, including former ambassadors and other senior policy experts who help shape global agendas and foreign policies in their respective countries.”
Wednesday’s announcement refers to the hacker group as Phosphorus, while others call it APT35 or Charming Kitten. Charming Kitten is a well-known Iran-backed hacker group that is known for its mass phishing attacks.
Cybersecurity researchers have said the group typically tries to infiltrate a target’s personal online accounts and computer networks by luring them into clicking on a link to a compromised website or opening a malicious attachment, a process known as phishing.
UK-Iranian Dual National Held In Tehran Summoned To Court
LONDON (AP) — The husband of a British-Iranian woman detained in Iran for more than four years said Wednesday that she has been summoned to a new court hearing and warned she will be sent back to prison.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been told to attend court in Tehran on Monday, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said. He said she has been told to pack a bag as she will be returned to prison following the hearing.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since 2016, when she was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. She strenuously denies the allegations.
She was arrested during a family holiday with her young daughter. Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency.
She was moved to house arrest in March, when thousands of prisoners were released during the coronavirus outbreak.
Ratcliffe says his wife is being held for “political leverage” in a multimillion-pound dispute between Britain and Iran over tank sales in the 1970s.
“We don’t know what will happen on Monday, we don’t know how far and how soon they will take forward their prison threat,” he said in a statement.
“But we do know that the Revolutionary Guard are signaling something to the British government. We also know they are signaling this could have a long time still to run.”