The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened the Iranian protesters across the country that if the protests continue, they will receive a “decisive and revolutionary response”.
In its statement on Monday, IRGC claimed that the recent protests in Iran led to “glee and support from the evil officials of the United States.”
The statement refers to the protesters as “agitators and hoodlums” and advised the people not to be impacted by “the false and evil echo chambers of the enemy’s networks of satellite and online channels.
The Intelligence Ministry also issued a statement claiming that the main culprits of the events of last few days have been identified and necessary measures are being taken against them.
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.
Citing ‘Insults,’ Iran Rules Out Canada Talks Over Downed Airliner
Mohsen Baharvand, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has ruled out talking to Canada over Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752, which Iranian missiles brought down in January, killing all 176 aboard including 63 Canadians.
Baharvand, who leads the Iranian team negotiating with Ukraine, accused Canada of using “propaganda, pressure and insults” against Iran. “We cannot cooperate, and will not cooperate, with a country that is seeking to impose its one-sided goals on us,” Baharvand told the government news agency IRNA.
Canadian authorities had requested to talk whenever they needed information, Baharvand charged, but then followed “their own one-sided work as soon as they leave us.”
Baharvand said the next round of talks with Ukraine over the incident would take place in a month. During the last round, in Tehran on October 19 and 20, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Yenin said Kyiv sought to “uncover all the truth about the tragedy.”
Ukraine has stressed the importance of a full report disclosing details of how a Revolutionary Guards air-defense system fired two missiles at flight PS752 as it took off from Tehran on the morning of January 8. Iran ascribed the incident to human error.
Families of the victims have launched court cases in Canada and the United States suing the Islamic Republic, its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and top military officials.
On January 8, Iran was wary of a possible US response after it fired ballistic missiles at American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad five days earlier. Many major airlines diverted flights from Iranian and Iraqi airspace after the US bases in Iraq were hit, but Tehran did not close its airspace, and both civil and military aviation authorities cleared the Ukrainian plane for take-off.
Iran Chief Justice Says International Agreements Won’t Save Israel
Ebrahim Raeesi, Iran’s Chief Justice, said on Wednesday [October 28] that any international agreement aimed at guaranteeing the existence of Israel is condemned to failure. Raeesi was meeting the outgoing Syrian ambassador, Adnan Mahmoud, in Tehran.
Since August Israel has concluded United States-brokered normalization accords with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan – agreements condemned by Palestinian leaders.
“If agreements and relations with the Zionist regime were supposed to advance its cause, the Camp David agreement [with Egypt in 1978] would have been successful,” Raeesi was quoted by IRNA, insisting that both Camp David and the Oslo accords, Israel’s 1993 and 1995 agreements with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, had led nowhere.
Raeesi told Ambassador Mahmoud that Syria’s role in the ‘resistance front’ was exemplary and praised the Assad family for its “steadfast” stance against Israel and Sunni Islamist militants who he called “a creation of America and Israel.”
As early as 2011 when protests against President Assad’s regime gained momentum, Iran rendered intelligence and military assistance to crush the opposition, which was not yet dominated by Sunni militants. As the war expanded, militant Islamist groups gained influence among anti-Assad forces.
Raeesi said that sanctions against Iran and Syria would not weaken their will, that resistance groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas would be victorious, and that Israel would be “wiped out.”
Raeesi was appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to head the judiciary in early 2019 and is widely seen as the top candidate to succeed the 81-year-old Khamenei, a position that would be filled by a vote in the Experts Assembly.
Iran Parliament Speaker Has Covid
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf), Iran’s Parliamentary Speaker, has tested positive for Covid-19 and is self-isolating, but says he will continue to work from home.
Ghalibaf, 59, announced the news in a tweet on Wednesday morning [October 28]: “One of the staff in my office has COVID. At midnight the result of my test was given and it is positive. I’m self-isolating and will, God willing, follow up the work and tasks given to me.”
On October 6 President Hassan Rouhani called off a scheduled meeting with Ghalibaf and Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi on the grounds that the speaker had failed to observe protocols of the National Coronavirus Taskforce for top officials.
A day earlier Ghalibaf had paid a visit to a hospital in Tehran and met with Covid patients in intensive care.
The incident led to a row between the supporters of Ghalibaf and Rouhani with the former alleging that the president’s only concern was his own health.
The Communications Deputy of the Presidential Office Alireza Moezzi said in a tweet that the hospital visit was a publicity stunt with cameras in tow.
Tension between Ghalibaf and Rouhani has been stoked by parliamentary criticism of the president that led to plans for impeachment, which were this month quashed by Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, in the interests of unity. Ghalibaf has been discussed as a possible candidate in the presidential election due in June.
Among the high-ranking Iranian officials infected with Covid19 since the outbreak in February are Vice-President Mohammad-Bagher Nobakht, Cabinet Spokesman Ali Rabiei, former Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Vice-President Masoumeh Ebtekar and Khamenei’s International Affairs Adviser Ali Akbar Velayati. Several others, including three parliamentarians and some judiciary officials, have died.
Iranian Plane Lands In Venezuela Amid US Warnings Against Missile Shipments
An Iranian plane belonging to a company sanctioned by the United States in 2019 for allegedly shipping weapons to Syria landed in Venezuela on Tuesday.
The 747 aircraft, owned by Iran’s Qeshm Fars Air, landed at a time when trade ties have grown closer between the two OPEC members, whose oil industry and banking are under increasingly strict U.S. sanctions. It was not immediately clear what the plane brought to Venezuela.
Iran has shipped million of barrels of oil to Venezuela in recent months and received payments in gold. Since a UN arms embargo on Iran expired this month, there have also been reports of possible Iranian weapons transfers to Venezuela.
Elliot Abrams, the US Special Representative for the two countries warned October 26 that if Iranian missiles are shipped, they will either be destroyed on route or on the ground once they arrive in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Reuters.
Earlier this year, more than a dozen flights from Iran’s Mahan Air brought materials to help repair Venezuela’s refineries. Iran has also sent two flotillas of tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela, easing acute fuel shortages in the South American country.
The two countries’ growing ties have drawn criticism from Washington, which is seeking to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to leave power, and to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.
With reporting by Reuters
US State Department Wishes Happy Cyrus The Great Day For All Iranians
In a video message on Tuesday, US Special Representative for Iran, Elliott Abrams congratulated Cyrus the Great Day to Iranians around the world.
Abrams said Cyrus’ legacy of religious tolerance and respect for human rights inspired many American presidents including Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and the Virginia statute of religious freedom.
“But the Iranian regime doesn’t want its own people to celebrate Cyrus Day and it won’t let Iranians to gather at his tomb,” he added. “Why? Because the Islamic Republic represents the antithesis of Cyrus’ legacy.”
Cyrus the great was the founder of the Persian Empire and historians believe his first major conquest, the taking of Babylon in 539 BC occured on October 29. As he and his successors conquered most of the ancient world, Cyrus' dictum of freedom of religion for all peoples held sway in the empire.
As sentiments against the Islamic Republic grew in Iran in recent years, people began gathering at Cyrus' tomb in Persepolis to pay their respects, but the government has prevented the annual gatherings since 2017.
Mentioning some of the massive violations of human rights and religious freedoms by the Islamic Republic, Abrams continued: The Ayatollahs persecute the Baha'i and other religious minorities, promote anti-Semitism, and throw human rights lawyers in jail. The regime tortured and executed champion wrestler Navid Afkari, to intimidate the protesters. And last year, it shot hundreds of innocent Iranians dead in the streets.
“This regime doesn’t want Iranians to remember the wisdom and tolerance of Cyrus, because as they do, the people are reminded just how much this regime has harmed their great nation,” Abrams added.
He ended his message with the hope for the freedom of Iranians, saying: “One day Iranians will be free again. And we look forward to celebrating Cyrus the Great Day together with you, then.”