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.
Iran's Currency Falling Close To A Dangerous Benchmark Against US Dollar
Iran’s rial on Thursday continued to tumble against major currencies reaching an all-time low of 286,500 against the US dollar, amid fears of more US sanctions and no end to the country’s economic crisis.
Approaching the important milestone of 300,000 rials to the dollar means the battered currency has fallen ten-fold in the past three years, when President Donald Trump first signaled his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal in 2017 and then in May 2018 officially announced the US withdrawal, imposing crippling sanctions.
The most damaging has been full sanctions on Iran’s oil exports which have deprived the government of its major foreign currency revenue source. With a 50 percent budget deficit, the Central Bank of Iran has no choice but print money, which further devalues the currency and leads to hyperinflation.
In 1978 before the revolution that toppled the monarchy the dollar stood at 70 rials. This means that 10,000 rials could buy $142. Now the same amount is worth just 3.5 cents.
The fall of the rial is not only because of sanctions. Economists maintain that the Islamic Republic’s economic system is inefficient and corrupt. The major fall in the value of rial happened before any significant sanctions were imposed on Tehran, when the dollar climbed from 70 rials to nearly 20,000.
A business and economy publication in Tehran, Donya’e Eghtesad, wrote on Thursday that people do not need to check the exchange rate on their phones. They just need to go to a fruit stand and look at the price of bananas.
Iran Guards Open New Naval Base Near Strait Of Hormuz
Tehran, Iran | AFP | Thursday 9/24/2020 -
Iran's Revolutionary Guards have unveiled a new naval base aiming to project "dominance" over the strategic Strait of Hormuz, state media reported, following months of tensions with arch-enemy the United States.
The "Martyr Seyed Majid Rahbar" base lies in the southern province of Hormozgan, near the entrance to the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which a fifth of world oil output passes.
The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters were the scene of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year when ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.
"This base has been built with the purpose of total dominance over the entry and exit of extraterritorial aircraft and naval vessels" at the entrance to the Gulf, Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said on Wednesday.
"This location is one of the country's most strategic defensive points," he added, quoted by state TV's website.
The Guards' navy, which operates separately from the Iranian armed forces, "now has a very powerful naval base" six years in the making, Salami said.
His remarks come days after a US aircraft carrier passed the waterway to enter the Gulf , amid Washington threats to enforce United Nations sanctions on Iran -- a move other world powers have dismissed as legally void.
The Guards on Wednesday released on their official Sepah News website drone-captured photos reportedly showing the USS Nimitz.
In June last year, Iran shot down a US Global Hawk drone over the strait after it allegedly violated the Islamic Republic's airspace, a claim the US has denied.
The enemies have twice come to the brink of direct confrontation since then.
Washington has blamed Tehran for last year's mysterious attacks against oil tankers in the nearby Gulf of Oman as well as an attack on Saudi oil facilities, with Iran denying all charges.
Iran Lawmakers Reportedly Receive Influenza Vaccines Before 'Vulnerable' Groups
Reports circulating in some media outlets in Iran saying 1,500 doses of the influenza vaccine has been sent to parliament for members and staff of the legislature have led to controversy.
The Food and Drug Agency had said earlier that vulnerable individuals such as pregnant women will have priority in receiving the vaccines, considering the high rate of coronavirus infections in the country and the danger of influenza leading to more serious cases of COVID.
But IscaNews and Entakhab newspaper, as well as social media accounts have revealed that members of parliament have apparently also received priority. Some have published the copy of an official form showing delivery of the vaccines to parliament’s infirmary.
Iran has ordered 16 million doses of the influenza vaccine and has allocated 1.5 million free doses for vulnerable individuals, also including health workers. Members of parliament have not been named in this group.
One report says parliament received the 1,500 doses for a price of less than two dollars per dose.
Members of parliament in recent weeks has been the target of criticism for receiving considerable housing and other allowances, in addition to reports of getting expensive sedans at favorable prices and payable in three years. Monthly loan payments for the cars would be around 70 percent of a lawmaker’s salary, leading many to ask how they can afford these payments.
A member of parliament receives a monthly salary of around 110,000 million rials, currently equal to around $400, which is more than four times the income of a worker in Iran.
Zarif In Moscow To Discuss Iran Nuclear Deal With Lavrov
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Moscow Wednesday, September 23 to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov about developments concerning the 2015 nuclear agreement that faces serious challenges.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency close to the hardliner Revolutionary Guards quoted Zarif as saying upon his arrival that Russia and China have played “a leadership role in standing up to the United States at the UN Security Council for breaking laws.
The US abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018. Washington announced recently that it considers suspended UN sanction against Iran restored. Russia, China and European powers oppose the US move.
Zarif added that there is close coordination between Tehran and Moscow, and this is his third visit during the coronavirus pandemic. His trips to Moscow are useful to keep in close touch “with Russian colleagues” and accomplish coordination, he said.
Iran’s foreign minister also referred to Syria emphasizing the need for consultations with Russia and continue the Astana process between the two countries and Turkey, another country involved in the Syrian conflict.
Zarif dismissed media reports that France has asked him to discuss the crisis in Lebanon with Russian officials, saying these reports are “laughable”.
US Grants Iraq Another 60-Day Exemption To Import Energy From Iran
The United States has granted Iraq another 60-day extension to an exemption from sanctions allowing it to import Iranian gas for its crippled power grids, AFP reported on Wednesday quoting and Iraq official.
Baghdad relies on gas and electricity imports from its neighbor Tehran to supply about a third of its electricity sector, worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance.
The US blacklisted Iran's energy industry in late 2018 after it pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran but has since granted its ally Baghdad a series of temporary waivers to stave off country-wide blackouts.
In May, Washington granted Iraq a four-month extension as a gesture of good will towards Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who had just formed a cabinet seen as more US-friendly than its predecessor.
The US has pressured Iraq to use the waivers to become independent from Iranian energy, specifically by partnering with American firms, and had been frustrated by the slow progress under the previous premier Adel Abdel Mahdi.
While Kadhemi's cabinet has sought to fast-track such deals, it has been unable to stem the near-daily rocket and IED attacks on Western military and diplomatic interests. Iranian backed Shiite militias are accused of being behind these attacks.
On his trip to Washington in August, Kadhemi scored agreements with various US firms for energy development across Iraq, including Chevron, Baker Hughes, Exxon and General Electric.
As OPEC's second-biggest producer, Iraq relies on crude exports to fund more than 90 percent of its state budget, but this year's price collapse has seriously undermined the government's fiscal position.
In a further blow, coronavirus has spread across the country, with more than 330,000 confirmed cases and 8,700 deaths announced by the health ministry.
Reporting by AFP
Concerns About Execution Of Another Political Prisoner Heidar Ghorbani
After the executions of political prisoners Mostafa Salehi and Navid Afkari for their participation in countrywide protests, there is now concern about the execution of another political prisoner, Heidar Ghorbani, whose death sentence has been confirmed and the state media has referred to him as a “terrorist”.
As warnings about his possible execution began to spread online, the regime’s Young Reporters Club published a video calling Ghorbani a terrorist and an extortionist.
Iranian state media had provided similar scenarios in the case of Navid Afkari and Mostafa Salehi and had called them murderers.
Heidar Ghorbani is an Iranian Kurdish citizen who has been convicted of the “murder of several members of the Revolutionary Guards.” He was arrested in 2016.
Ghorbani’s death sentence was recently confirmed by the supreme court. He has also been accused of “membership in the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan” and also “armed rebellion”.
His family has released video messages reporting that he has been forced to confession under severe physical torture and asking for help to stop the execution.
Ghorbani’s attorney, Saleh Nikbakht says his case contains no evidence of extortion and terrorism.
Yesterday, Amnesty International warned about the possibility of Ghorbani’s secret execution, and in a letter to Ebrahim Raeesi, demanded a stay of execution for the 47-year-old prisoner.
In all the recent cases of executed political prisoners, there have been reports of forced confessions under torture and lack of evidence for the supposed crime.
Nasrin Sotoudeh Was Returned To Prison From Hospital
Reza Khandan, husband of incarcerated human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh reported that after five days in the hospital, she was returned to prison despite her terrible health condition.
Khandan tweeted on Wednesday that Nasrin Sotoudeh “was returned to prison in worst health condition without any medical treatment” and added that “this action is only intended to put her life in danger.”
Sotoudeh was transferred to Taleghani hospital five days ago due to heart problems. He has gone on a hunger strike in the past 40 days in protest to the terrible condition of political prisoners.
Sotoudeh has been sentenced to 33 years in prison over a case with seven charges, but she is to serve only the longest sentence of 12 years imposed for "encouraging corruption and debauchery." She has also been convicted of espionage.
Sotoudeh won the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize in 2012 for her work on high-profile cases including those of convicts on death row for offenses committed as minors.
France, UK, Germany Summon Iranian Ambassadors In Protest To Incarceration Of Dual Citizens
The governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom have summoned the Iranian ambassadors in their countries to express their protest to the condition of political prisoners in Iran and also the arrests of dual citizens by the Islamic Republic.
Guardian reported on Wednesday that it has seen a draft of the UK Foreign Ministry’s letter to Hamid Baeidinejad, the Iranian ambassador in London, which criticizes Iran’s policy of “arbitrary arrests” and points out that this issue seriously undermines Iran’s international standing.
According to the Guardian, in the same week Bahram Ghasemi and Mahmoud Farazandeh, Iranian ambassadors to Paris and Berlin were also summoned and received similar criticisms.
The letter from the British Foreign Affairs Ministry points out in addition to human rights violations and political prisoners in Iran, British citizens, including dual citizens, are mostly held in these prisons in terrible conditions without any justification.
However, the three countries did not clarify whether these violations of human rights by the Islamic Republic would impact their support for the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA.
The letters could be in response to increased pressure by the IRGC security forces on dual citizen Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe who is currently under house arrest in Iran and has been charged with espionage.
Referring to the execution of Navid Afkari, the three European governments also stated that all citizens must have the right and the freedom to express their opinions.
Badly Beaten Protester Reported Dead In Iran Detention Center
Nader Mokhtari, a 37-year-old protester who spent several months in a coma after being beaten by baton sticks during Iran’s November unrest, has died at the Kahrizak Detention Center, Tehran Province, the Kaleme news website reported on Monday.
The website reported that Mokhtari went missing in his hometown of Karaj during November’s nationwide protests sparked by the overnight tripling of fuel prices. A month later he was discovered by his family in a coma at a hospital in Shahr-e Ray, near Tehran.
Based on the information from an unnamed source, Kaleme reported that Mokhtari, who came out of coma shortly before the Iranian New Year on March 21, had been taken by security forces to the health clinic of the Kahrizak Detention Center against the advice of doctors.
The source told Kaleme that the authorities had not only refused to hand over Mokhtari’s body to his family but had also threatened them, presumably to prevent any publicity.
Kahrizak, originally built around 20 years ago as a detention facility for drug users and gang members, became notorious after Mohsen Rouh ol-Amini, a computer-science student and son of a well-known political figure close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was allegedly beaten to death there during the unrest following the disputed 2009 disputed presidential elections.
The insistence of Rouh ol-Amini’s father, including a complaint lodged with Khamenei, led to the temporary closure of the facility on the leader’s order. Although the detention center was renamed Soroush 111 Detention Center and re-opened a year later, the name Kahrizak is still used by the media and public.
The Kaleme website is run by supporters of reformist leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011.
EU Urges Iran To Comply With Terms Of The 2015 Nuclear Deal
A German minister speaking on behalf of the European Union September 21 has said the block is seriously concerned about Iran’s uranium enrichment and urged Tehran to “immediately” return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement.
German State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Andreas Feicht speaking during the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, at the same time reiterated that the EU is sticking to its commitment to the agreement and the lifting of punitive international sanctions.
The United States announced September 19 that it is unilaterally reimposing those sanctions which were suspended when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA was agreed between Iran and World Powers. The US pulled out of the agreement in May 2018.
Feicht however urged Iran to stick to the agreement despite the US announcement. Iran has been accelerating uranium enrichment since mid-2019, after the US imposed full sanctions on its oil exports. Currently, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium is ten times more than allowed by JCPOA.
The three leading EU powers, Germany, France and the United Kingdom along with Russia and China have opposed the US move and have been criticized by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not supporting Washington’s move.
American sanctions imposed since 2018 have badly hurt Iran's economy and have plunged the country into a deep recession. Iran refuses US demands to renegotiate the nuclear agreement and insists Washington must first return as a participant.
Fatemeh Sepehri, Dissident Iranian Woman, Shames Zarif As A Liar
Fatemeh Sepehri has called Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif a “shameless liar who will tell any lies to justify and cover up the Islamic Republic’s crimes.”
Sepehri was responding on Monday to Zarif's talk to the prestigious United States Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which earlier the same day hosted a webinar, ‘A Conversation with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran.’
Sepehri, who lives in Mashhad and who lost her husband in the 1980-88 war with Iraq, made her remarks virtually to a forum of the US-based National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI).
Zarif had discussed Iran’s nuclear agreement (JCPOA) with world powers and its human rights record. In response to a question by the host, Fareed Zakaria, about the execution of the 27-year-old wrestler Navid Afkari on September 21, Zarif claimed Iran’s judiciary is independent and that the government is not involved in its decisions.
“He [Afkari] was not executed for participating in a demonstration,” Zarif said. “Many people participate in demonstrations, and none of them are executed. Those who commit crimes, including arson, including others, are punished, but not for participating in demonstrations.”
Sepehri, 56, was a signatory of the August 2019 open letter, Statement of 14 Female Political Activists, which described the Islamic Republic as “gender apartheid” and called for a new constitution in which “women’s equal rights and identity and dignity are respected.” The letter supported “civil and non-violent measures” to “completely transition from the Islamic Republic regime.”
The women’s letter endorsed a statement published weeks earlier of 14 political activists who had called for transition from the Islamic Republic and for the resignation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader.
The signatories of both statements were living in Iran and many, including Sepehri, were called in by security bodies or were arrested. Others reported being threatened or beaten by unidentified persons. Sepehri was arrested a week after signing the statement at a rally outside the Justice Department in Mashhad and subsequently jailed for nine months.
Iran Guards Offer 'To Move The Capital' From Tehran Free Of Charge
A member of Iran’s parliament has disclosed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has offered to build a new capital or seat for government and state institutions “without receiving any payment”.
Abolfazl Abutorabi told the parliament news website on September 20 that finding a location and other factors in moving the capital “have been determined”.
With the rapid expansion of Tehran in the last three decades, causing traffic jams and air pollution, moving the government seat to a new location has been discussed many times. But some suspect the main reason of the proposal is to shield government institutions from popular protests that have periodically rocked Tehran for the past two decades.
Abutorabi said that that IRGC’s construction conglomerate, Khatam al-Anbia has sent a letter to President Hasan Rouhani’s administration expressing its readiness to build a new political and administrative capital “without receiving any payment from the government”. But just a day later on September 21 it was announced that the government has agreed to pay around $400 million it owed to Khatam al-Anbia for projects it has done in the past.
Khatam al-Anbia is one of the biggest business conglomerates in the country, which is the target of criticism by dissidents and even President Rouhani for excessive interference in the economy. The IRGC, being the undisputed military and internal intelligence force in the country receives public-sector contracts without due procedures and is accountable to no one except the country’s ruler Ali Khamenei.
According to Abutorabi, Rouhani in turn has sent a letter to the Minister of Roads and Urban Development who heads the taskforce for the relocation of the capital. He added that military barracks, universities and car manufacturers are among the institutions that will be moved along with government offices.
Tehran In Coronavirus Crisis: Hospital Doors Closed To Patients
With the rising number of coronavirus patients in Iran, reports from Tehran indicate that most hospitals are now refusing to accept non-coronavirus patients, including patients with heart, kidney, and blood pressure problems.
Data from Tehran’s University of Medical Science shows that only two medical centers in Tehran that have been allocated to coronavirus patients, only two still barely have the capacity to accept more patients.
Some hospitals in Tehran have declared emergency situations and refuse to accept patients with blood pressure, kidney stone, and chest pains due to the threat of coronavirus.
The official reports indicate that the number of daily new COVID-19 cases has reached over 3,000, with over 500 patients being hospitalized in Tehran every day.
Previously, Iran International had received a Ministry of Health document that showed 103,000 hospital beds were allocated for coronavirus patients, which at the time was less than a third of the number of cases in Iran.
At the same time, images were released from some hospitals that showed extra beds were placed in corridors for these patients and some coronavirus patients were being treated at the parking lot of one hospital.
The spokesperson for Iran’s Ministry of Health most recently reported the number of coronavirus patients in the country at over 422 thousand.
Based on the documents that Iran International previously published, this means Iranian hospitals currently can only treat a fourth of coronavirus patients in Iran.