The army of the Islamic Republic of Iran issued a statement regarding the recent events in Iran, calling them a “new conspiracy by the anti-revolutionaries”. The statement says the protesters are either mercenaries or people tricked by the satanic media who have risen against the Islamic Revolution.
The army has expressed content with the attempts by the security forces to silence the conspiracy and added that it will stand against any aggression by the enemies.
Freed British-Australian Academic Calls For Release Of Others Jailed In Iran
Two months after her release from an Iranian prison, British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has urged support for “countless innocent others” held in Iranian prisons. “I may be free, but there are countless innocent others still imprisoned in Iran who deserve your support,” Moore-Gilbert said in a tweet on Monday [January 25].
Moore-Gilbert named dual nationals detained in Iran, including French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah (Roland), British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Austrian-Iranian academic Massud Mossaheb, British-Iranian businessman Anoosheh Ashoori, British Council art curator Aras Amiri, Swedish-Iranian medical doctor and researcher Ahmadreza Djalali, American-Iranian businessman Siamak Namazi and his elderly father Bagher Namazi, and Austrian businessman Kamran Ghaderi.
Moore-Gilbert said she hoped all these dual nationals, as well as “many unnamed Iranians” were freed. “I can never regain the 2+ years which were stolen from me, but I am looking to the future with strength, positivity and an [sic] renewed appreciation for what I’d long taken for granted - justice and freedom,” she added in another tweet on Monday.
The British-Australian academic was exchanged on November 25 with three Iranians in prison in Thailand after complicated negotiations between Australia, Thailand and Iran. Thai officials two days later confirmed that the three Iranians had been involved in a plot to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in 2012.
Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic studies, was sentenced to ten years in prison after charges of espionage for Israel. No evidence of her alleged crimes has ever been made public, although Iranian news agencies have now said she was affiliated with foreign intelligence services including Britain’s MI6 and Mossad and was trained by Israeli Army intelligence.
US Commander Sees Opportunities With Iran Under Biden Administration
General Frank McKenzie, the head of United States Central Command (Centcom), said on Monday [January 25] that Iran had largely managed its “proxies” during the final days of the presidency of Donald Trump. McKenzie was speaking en route to the Middle East for his first visit under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
McKenzie told reporters there had been “heightened threat streams” from Iran in the past few months but that Iran had not attacked US targets and had restrained its allies in Iraq and elsewhere from provoking wider hostilities in Trump’s twilight days.
“Largely they have been able to tell them this is not the time to provoke a war,” McKenzie said, adding this was not primarily a military matter: “I’m sure there’s a political calculation in Iran to get to a new administration and see if things change.”
McKenzie suggested the onset of the Biden administration brought “opportunities” for a new relationship with Iran. Biden has pledged to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), which Trump abandoned in 2018 before imposition draconian sanctions that have sent the Iranian economy into three years’ stagflation. In January 2020, Trump ordered a missile attack in Baghdad that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and eight others. Further sanctions levied by Trump were designed to complicate Biden’s challenge with Iran.
McKenzie will visit Israel later this week for talks with military and security officials focused on Iran. Centcom covers the Middle East, Central Asia and Pakistan.
Iran's Zarif Repeats Demand For US Sanctions Compensation
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has repeated a previous demand that the United States should compensate Iran for damages it sustains during the period of sanctions.
Earlier, Ali Akbar Velayati, top foreign policy adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had mentioned compensation as one of the conditions for restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
Former US President Donald Trump imposed tough sanction on Iran in 2018 after withdrawing from the nuclear agreement and demanding new negotiations. The sanctions have cost Iran’s economy billions of dollars, but not all sanctions are related to the dispute over its nuclear program.
Zarif, who was speaking Monday [Jan. 25] with Tasnim news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards said once the US returns to the agreement the issue of compensation can be presented to the JCPOA Joint Commission that meets every three months.
“The (JCPOA) Joint Commission holds meetings every three months at the level of deputy ministers. Talks are held in the meeting, and one of the topics that will definitely be discussed is the issue of compensation,” Zarif told Tasnim.
The demand for compensation can be used as a lever by Iran if the new US administration returns to JCPOA and then makes other demands from Iran, such as limitations on its ballistic missile program.
President Joe Biden has indicated his intention to return to the nuclear deal but his aides have said they need to consult with regional countries such as Israel and the issue is a complicated one.
Macron & Biden Agree To Cooperate on China, Russia, & Iran Nuclear Deal
New US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron held a phone discussion for the first time on Sunday and agreed to work closely on coronavirus, world economy, and the Iran nuclear issue.
In their phone call, the two presidents discussed “their willingness to act together for peace in the Near and Middle East, in particular on the Iranian nuclear issue.”
According to a White House statement, Biden “stressed his commitment to bolstering the transatlantic relationship, including through NATO and the United States’ partnership with the European Union.”
The White House said Biden and Macron also discussed cooperation on China and Russia, and that Macron said he would cooperate with Washington on the Iranian nuclear deal and the situation in Lebanon.
Macron had initially attempted to forge a close relationship with Trump, but the two later were frequently at odds over Syria, US tariffs, and Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord — which Biden moved to re-enter on his first day in office.
In 2017, President Trump unilaterally left the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and began the policy of “maximum pressure” by imposing consistent heavy sanctions on Iran’s oil and main industries.
President Biden had previously promised to return to the nuclear deal if Iran would fully comply with its commitments under JCPOA.
Iranian Security Forces Shoot At Citizens In Iranshahr
Baluch Activists Campaign reported that security forces opened fire on people in Kolahdouz district of Iranshahr county in Sistan and Baluchistan province in Iran.
According to the campaign’s Telegram channel, the reason given for the attack on Sunday was “fighting fuel smuggling”. Sistan and Baluchistan is a mainly Sunni populated region where tensions exist with the Shiite government.
One informed source told the campaign that the people defended themselves with rocks and forced the security forces to escape. The report states that the security forces threatened the citizens and said they will attack again.
The campaign claims the attack and shooting were done in order to distract people from the destruction of a Sunni mosque in the city.
It was reported on Saturday that the Sunni mosque in Iranshahr was destroyed in the presence of security forces and police. Baluch activists in response called for a protest in the evening on Sunday, but the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Intelligence called Baluch clerics and threatened them to ask the people to remain silent. According to the report, the security forces also asked the mayor of Iranshahr to announce that the destruction of the mosque was a municipality issue.
Last April the campaign also reported the killing of three boys ages 17, 18, and 20 during a police attack in their homes.
But the city prosecutor said these individuals were armed and were killed in a clash with the police while stealing a car.
Iran Arrests Christians Accusing Them Of Plotting Against National Security
Iran’s security forces have arrested “several Christians” in various parts of the country, Fars news agency close to the Revolutionary Guards reported Saturday [Jan. 23].
Without mentioning the exact number or identity of those detained, Fars said the Christians were connected with Israeli “secret services” and are accused of “moral deviation”, as well as “encouraging conversion” to Christianity.
According to Iran’s Islamic law it is illegal to convert a Muslim to another religion and if a person converts the punishment can be execution. Many Christian converts have been arrested, imprisoned, and harassed in the past decades in Iran. Some converts are assaulted by unknown individuals or denied higher education.
In February 2019, there was a wave of arrests in various Iranian provinces and more than a dozen Christian were detained. The accusation of endangering security is a common charge made against converts.
While the Islamic Republic recognizes traditional Christian ethnic communities, such as Armenians, it persecutes converts and followers of Western Christian denominations. International human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Iran’s persecution of religious minorities, such as the Baha’i, and discrimination against others.
Fars has also accused the detained Christians of “widespread attempts” against national security in the past two years, without presenting any evidence. The accusation seems far-fetched as Christian converts worship in secret and are in constant danger of being arrested.
Iran Lawmaker Admits To Shortage Of Natural Gas And Calls For Imports
The head of Iranian parliament’s Energy Commission, Fereydoun Abbasi has acknowledged that Iran faces a serious shortage of natural gas and might have to import the vital fuel from neighboring countries.
Abbasi who is a former director Of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran told ISNA news website Saturday that power stations outside cities should burn mazut, a dirty heavy oil product because Iran simply does not have enough natural gas.
In January, many power stations in Iran switched to mazut, a highly polluting fuel mostly used for ships on the high seas, as winter need for heating increased. This led to heavy smog in major cities and the government resorted to power cuts trying to balance the need for electricity with limiting pollution.
Abbasi claimed that pollution in cities is due more to heavy traffic than burning mazut, but the paralyzing smog in January is unprecedented and other officials have admitted the reason is the dirty fuel.
Iran International reported recently that Iran’s gas production is declining by 10 percent a year due to loss of natural pressure in the fields and lack of investments and technology. Sanctions have driven away potential foreign partners in investment and development.
Abbasi said that this year Iran cannot import any natural gas but planning is needed to sign agreements with neighboring countries. Iran itself is supposed to export gas to Iraq and Turkey, which are trying to diversify and move away from dependence on Iran.
New Wave Of Persecution; Over 60 Iranian Kurdish Activists Arrested In Two Weeks
Two human rights organizations have reported a new wave of judicial and security persecution of Iranian Kurdish activists in the past two weeks, with more than 64 activists arrested.
The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that over 64 Iranian Kurdish activists have been arrested in the new wave of persecution, with most of the arrests being in the western provinces of Kurdistan and Kermanshah in Iran.
Hengaw Human Rights Organization also reported that in the past two weeks at least 67 Iranian Kurdish citizens have been arrested by the Islamic Republic’s security forces, out of which five were released and 62 are still in custody.
According to HRANA, the security forces beat up several of these activists during the arrest, and some were arrested without warrants, with their houses searched and their belongings confiscated.
Credible sources say the security forces have pressured the families of the arrested citizens not to do interviews with the media about their loved ones.
The Islamic Republic officials have not offered any explanation or cause for these arrests.
HRANA emphasized that the regime’s history in these cases causes concerns about coerced confessions and more pressure on these citizens and their families.
In addition, members of the female music band Gelaris were also summoned several times to the security police of Kermanshah in the past few days. The members were summoned for making a video clip for the Yalda night (equinox) and female solo singing, which is forbidden under Sharia law. Two members of the band were arrested and were released after signing a pledge and providing bail.
Twitter Bans Account As 'Fake' For Publishing Khamenei's Threats Against Trump
Twitter permanently took down a Persian language Twitter account linked to the official website of the leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khamenei, with his comments about taking the inevitable revenge for Qasem Soleimani. Twitter has called the account fake, but the account seems to be connected to the office of the supreme leader.
The tweet contained an image that was published on Ayatollah Khamenei’s website on Thursday in honor of the anniversary of the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps who was killed last year in Iraq along with the commander of Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
"Soleimani’s murderer, and the one who ordered it, must pay for their crime,” the image, signed by Khamenei reads. “Although a dear one said Soleimani’s shoe is worth more than the head of his murderer, and if the murderer loses his head, he still cannot compensate even for Soleimani’s shoe; Nevertheless they committed a crime and they have to pay.”
It continues: “The one who ordered, and the murderer, must know that at any time they might have to pay for their crime.”
The image shows the shadow of a drone looming over a lone golfer with blond hair. Trump was not specifically named.
Twitter told Associated Press that the tweet had violated the company’s “abusive behavior policy,” and that the account had violated its “manipulation and spam policy.”
However, the image posted by the account was directly taken from the website of Ayatollah Khamenei.
In a later statement, the Twitter spokesperson said Twitter had determined the account was “fake,” without elaborating how it came to the conclusion.
Yesterday, Iran's Tasnim News Agency's Persian Twitter account also tweeted the image.
Biden’s Treasury Pick To Review Sanctions If Iran Resumes Nuclear Compliance
Janet Yellen, United States President Joe Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary said on Thursday she would ensure Iran took steps to “resume compliance” with the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers to warrant sanctions relief.
In written responses to questions from senators on Thursday, Yellen, who awaits Senate approval, said the Treasury would “conduct a careful review of sanctions” on companies, individuals and even oil tankers tied to Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela and Russia to ensure that the sanctions were “targeted, effective, and minimize[d] unintended consequences.”
According to Bloomberg, Yellen agreed with a description of Iran as the “world’s largest sponsor of state terrorism” and said she would ensure the Treasury would continue “its important work to combat Iran’s support for terrorism and [its] abuse of human rights.”
President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, reached by the Obama administration with other world powers, and introduced tough banking restrictions and a strict ban on oil exports that stripped Iran of most of its foreign-currency income.
Iranian lawmakers on December 1 overwhelmingly approved the outlines of a bill entitled ‘Strategic Action To Eliminate Sanction and Defend Iranian Nation's Interests,’ since when which Iran has stepped up its enrichment to 20 percent purity in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Both Biden and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have expressed a desire to revive the JCPOA, a move that faces significant opposition in both the US and Iran.