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.
Rouhani Government Allocates Budget For Foundation Run By Soleimani’s Daughter
As the regime of Iran continues to invest in propaganda for Qasem Soleimani, the killed commander of Quds Force, the Rouhani government allocated $340,000 fund in the next year’s budget to the foundation that Soleimani’s daughter Zeinab Soleimani manages.
The next year’s budget draft was sent to the parliament on Wednesday and in it, 85 billion rials (almost $340,000) have been allocated to Qasem Soleimani Foundation, run by Zeinab Soleimani.
Since the founding of the foundation last year, the names of its founders, the content of its constitution, and its objectives have not been announced.
The office of the representatives of Ali Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic congratulated Zeinab Soleimani on her appointment as the president of the foundation, stating that this appointment was the leader’s idea.
However, refusal to announce any more details about the foundation was even criticized by an online media close to the armed forces, which speculated that the foundation will most likely work in parallel to other foundations helping those in the armed forces killed or injured abroad and their families.
Zeinab Soleimani, born in 1991, married the son of Hashim Safi Al-Din, Hezbollah’s number two and a specially designated global terrorist.
Since the killing of her father, Zeinab Soleimani has appeared and spoken at many media and political events of the regime of Iran and Friday prayers, calling for avenging Qasem Soleimani.
Since the killing of Qasem Soleimani in Iraq in January, the regime of Iran has allocated huge funds for propaganda about him.
Immediately after the assassination of Qasem Soleimani in Iraq, the Iranian parliament passed an urgent bill to allocate 200 million Euros to the Quds for of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Activist Student Sentenced To 13 Years In Prison
Student Activist Hamed Qareh Ughlani was sentenced to over 13 years in prison by three judges of the Urmia Revolutionary Court on national security and political charges.
According to the reports, the Urmia Revolutionary Court has convicted him on charges of propaganda against the regime, insulting the leader, and cooperating with dissident groups.
His sister Hanieh Qareh Ughlani told Iran International that her brother Hamed is a student of architecture at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University and he was arrested in July of this year by the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and was transferred to Urmia prison.
She went on to say that her brother has told her that aside from the confessions that they took from him “under coercion” in the Intelligence Ministry, there is no document or evidence against him.
Hanieh Qareh Ughlani said other charges such as “connection with Israel” were added to her brother’s case later.
There are currently many university students in Iranian prisons for political activity or participating in peaceful protests. In recent years the Islamic Republic judiciary has been mostly using national security-labeled crimes when charging political activists. However, insulting the leader and propaganda against the regime remain the most common charges for political activists, along with conspiracy to act against national security, disrupting public order, and cooperating with dissident groups.
Iranian MP Calls Taliban 'A Noble Movement'
A member of Iran’s parliament has referred to the Taliban as “one of the noble movements in the region with a Pashtun background.”
Iranian MP Ahmad Naderi tweeted that the visit from a Taliban delegation at the Iranian embassy in Qatar to offer condolences for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh is “a good omen”. Fakhrizadeh was a top official in Iran's nuclear program who was killed last Friday in broad daylight near Tehran. Iranian officials have blamed Israel.
Naderi emphasized that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s cooperation with the group can “lead to increased stability in Afghanistan and prevent the infiltration of society by groups such as ISIS.”
The Islamic Republic’s embassy in Doha reported on Monday that a delegation from the Taliban’s political office has visited the embassy to offer condolences, and welcomed Ahmad Dehghani’s arrival as the new ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Qatar.
In recent years, US and Afghan officials have repeatedly accused Iran of supporting the Taliban but the Islamic Republic has denied the allegations.
Members of the Taliban’s political office visited Iran several times in the past two years and talked with the Islamic Republic officials about the peace process in Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan has condemned these visits.
Last year, a report from the US Defense Department claimed that Iran is providing weapons, money, and training to the Taliban in order to fight US influence in Afghanistan.
Spokesman Says Iran Knows Who Brought Means to Kill Nuclear Scientist
Ali Rabiei, Iran’s government spokesman, said Wednesday that Iranian intelligence had discovered who had brought into Iran the means used to kill top nuclear official Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last Friday.
Speaking to state television, Rabiei offered no details and did not say whether those involved were Iranians. “The Intelligence Ministry has identified individuals who had brought equipment and used technologies,” he said.
Iran has multiple intelligence and security organizations with wide-ranging powers that work in collaboration with the country’s all-powerful judiciary, and often arrest political prisoners who can be held on ‘security grounds’ without public trial or effective legal protection.
Shockwaves are still reverberating in Iran from the daylight assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top manager and scientist involved in Iran’s atomic program and reputedly in its weaponization research before 2003. The Islamic Republic leaders and intelligence organizations appear at a loss to explain how the killing was possible and why perpetrators have not been arrested.
Scenarios put forward so far have often been contradictory, ranging from a dozen assassins taking part in the attack, to a claim that a remotely controlled machine-gun fired on Fakhrizadeh’s convoy in a high-tech and “complex” operation.
Other than the 2017 attacks on the parliament and Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini, claimed by the Islamic State group (Isis) and in which 17 died, violent attacks in Iran during recent years have generally occurred away from Tehran, mainly in Khuzestan, Kurdistan and Sistan-Baluchestan, areas with ethnic or sectarian minorities. Iranian officials have often claimed to have uncovered ‘terrorist’ cells, arresting opponents and capturing arms and explosives, with such announcements rarely followed up with evidence of trials or further actions.
Iran Budget Bill Counts On State Property Sales And More Oil Exports
Iran's government presented a draft state budget of about $33.7 billion to parliament on Wednesday, promising less reliance on oil revenues and higher growth despite U.S. sanctions that have crippled the Islamic Republic's economy, Iranian media reported.
The value of the draft budget is set about 8,413 trillion rials, up 74% from last year's figures in rial terms but lower than last year's budget of $38.8 billion in hard currency terms because of the sharp fall of Iran's currency.
"The next year's budget bill focuses on infrastructure reforms, health, creating jobs, non-oil exports and the nation's welfare," according to Iran's state news agency IRNA. Iran's next fiscal year starts on March 21.
But more spending in rials would add to an already very high rate of inflation and less money in real terms for promised spending programs.
President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised cabinet meeting that Iran expected to sell more oil next year, adding that the government planned to use state bonds and selling of state properties as sources of revenue.
"We believe Iran will sell more oil next year, around 2.3 million barrels per day, including the exports and domestically," Rouhani said. "But the revenue will be used to develop or empower the underprivileged. This does not mean that our budget has become more dependent on oil."
It is estimated that Iran exports less than 300,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), compared to a peak of 2.8 million bpd in 2018, when Washington exited Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions that have hit Iran's economy hard by sharply cutting its vital oil exports.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has said that he would return to the pact and would lift sanctions if Tehran returned to "strict compliance with the nuclear deal." But the path is complicated and there is no guarantee that US sanctions will be lifted by March to allow more oil exports.
Reporting by Reuters
UN Security Council Unlikely To Act On Killing Of Iran Nuclear Official
The UN Security Council is unlikely to take any actions or make a statement on the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear official who was killed in a hail of bullets last Friday near Tehran, Reuters reports from New York.
Immediately after the killing Iran sent a letter to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanding condemnation and action by the world body, but so far it appears no country has taken any initiative to bring the issue to the Security Council.
At a minimum, the Council could have issued a statement based on consensus, but South Africa’s U.N. ambassador, Jerry Matjila, council president for December, told Reuters on Tuesday that no member had so far requested to discuss the killing or Iran in general.
Iranian officials have blame Israel for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was said to be the main figure in Iran’s research and development project for a nuclear weapon, officially abandoned in 2003, but perhaps being secretly pursued. Some official also blame the United States for the assassination as Israel’s close ally.
Guterres has urged restraint and condemned “any assassination or extra-judicial killing,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Saturday.
The Security Council will meet on Dec. 22 for its biannual meeting on compliance with a resolution that enshrines a 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Iran, which President Donald Trump’s administration quit in 2018. Any council member can raise the issue of the
Iran Hardliner Paper Urges Destructive Attack On Haifa To Deter Israel
The hardline Kayhan newspaper in Iran published an opinion piece on Sunday urging a destructive “deterrent” attack on Israel’s port city of Haifa, after the assassination of the country’s top nuclear operative on Friday.
The piece, written by a commentator Sadollah Zarei, advocated a large-scale attack on Haifa to inflict maximum pain and civilian casualties, as the only way to establish a deterrence against “the Zionist enemy” and the United States. It added that previous Iranian reactions to Israeli air attacks in Syria targeting Iran-backed forces were weak. Zarei argued that even Iran’s January 8 ballistic missile attack against US bases in Iraq was not sufficient warning.
Iran claims it has evidence that Israel was behind the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, considered the father of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Although he is called a scientist by Iran’s officials and state media, in fact he was a high-ranking member of the notorious Revolutionary Guards or IRGC. Israel has not acknowledged or denied its role in the attack.
Kayhan is financed by the office of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and its editor has the title of Khamenei’s representative at the newspaper. It usually advocates uncompromising and even extremist domestic and foreign policies.
President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday said that although Iran should avenge the killing, now would not be the right time as the assassination was planned to force Iran to react, thus reducing chances of any negotiations with the incoming Biden administration. But in a statement Khamenei directed all officials to find and punish those involved in the operation and those who issued the order.
Flood Shuts Down Four Cities In Iran's Khuzestan Province
After heavy rain in several cities of the southwestern province of Khuzestan in Iran, all businesses were shut down on Sunday in the cities of Ahvaz, Mahshahr, Ramshir, and Omidiyeh.
At the same time, local officials in Bushehr province also reported houses flooding in two cities and in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, first responders are on full alert.
The chairman of Khuzestan’s crisis management office announced that due to the flooding and the problems that it will cause the citizens, all government buildings and banks in Ahvaz, Mahshahr, Ramshir, and Omidiyeh are closed on Sunday; the shut down does not include hospitals and centers of the relief operation.
The director of Red Crescent in Khuzestan province said the aid workers of Red Crescent have provided relief to 729 people stuck in the flood and 133 people were moved to safer locations. It also reported that nine houses were destroyed in Izeh and Baghmalek counties.
The governor of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province said the meteorologists have projected heavy rains and floods in the rivers in the upcoming days and people need to be more careful.
Local officials in Lorestan province in the west of Iran have also issued flood warnings and asked people to avoid unnecessary travel.
Iran witnessed heavy rain and flooding last year in 10 provinces across the country which caused millions of dollars in damages and many dead or injured.
Iranian Nursing Organization To Rouhani: 30 More Nurses Died Of Coronavirus In November
In a letter to President Rouhani, members of the board of Iranian Medical Organization warned about the increasing objections and discontent and of the medical staff and the increasing number of casualties among the nurses.
The Nursing Organization lists the problems the nurses face, including exhaustion, heavy workload, staff shortage, decreasing wages, partial overtime, job security, and high rate of contraction.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, this is the fifth time that the leaders of the Nursing Organization are writing a letter to the president of Iran.
The letter states that in November alone, 30 nurses died across the country from coronavirus.
According to the letter so far 84 nurses have died of coronavirus in Iran and 50,000 nurses have contracted COVID-19, and 8000 have left their job.
The board member of the organization said in some hospitals and coronavirus wards sometimes a nurse has to manage 10 or more patients.
The letter asks Rouhani to form a workgroup to provide better financial and mental support and a better working environment for the nurses.
In recent months, health workers in several cities across Iran have protested their wages and working conditions during the pandemic.
In July, nurses in Mashhad had planned on a peaceful protest in front of the courthouse regarding their low income. Reports indicate that the security forces attacked the nurses and beat them with tasers and batons.
In September, nurses at the Rouhani Hospital gathered to protest over low and unpaid wages in Babol city in Mazandaran province, northern Iran. They told ILNA they were faced particular challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In October, health care workers in Iran’s capital gathered outside the parliament to protest about their inadequate work conditions, as the coronavirus crisis has worsened in the country.
Energy Official Says Nakhichivan Corridor Spells Losses for Iran
Iran is set for serious losses due to a new transport corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan through Armenia, Hamidreza Salehi, Chairman of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce Energy Committee, told the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) on Saturday. The corridor, he said, would allow Azerbaijan to supply Nakhchivan directly rather than through Iran under the terms of a 20-year agreement, signed in 2005, under which Iran transfers 350 million cubic meters of gas annually, and for which Tehran nets a transit fee in the form of a 15 percent cut of the gas.
The Nakhchivan-Azerbaijan transport corridor has been established under the Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on November 10. The corridor – to be supervised by Russian peacekeepers for five years – will create a direct transit route for Azerbaijan not just to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic but on to Turkey.
This new link also raises the possibility that Turkey will switch from buying Iranian gas – under an agreement signed in 1996 – to buying Azeri gas, which is around 30 percent cheaper. Iran’s pipeline to Turkey, which carries around 10 billion m3 a year, saw its supply interrupted earlier this year after an attack by Kurdish militants, who were resuming a campaign that had been quiet since a 2013 ceasefire.
Salehi also told ILNA that after its discovery of natural gas in the Black Sea, Turkey would now begin seek its own markets and was set to become a rival to major regional gas exporters, including Iran, and would stop its gas imports from Iran and Russia.
Two More Former Officials Arrested In Large Corruption Case In Iran
Authorities have arrested two more former officials in Iran on charges of bribery and corruption in a case involving dozens of judicial and other high-ranking managers, many of whom have already been convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.
The former of head of security in Iran’s Judiciary and the former of head of intelligence in Mazanderan province were taken into custody according to media in Iran. Their charges relate to what has become known as the Tabari network, a former top Judicial official. Akbar Tabari himself received a 31-year sentence in September for establishing and running a vast corruption and bribery network involving dozens of officials.
The former chief of Judiciary’s security, Mohammad Javad Rashidi is accused of receiving a draft from Mostafa Niaz-Azari who was involved in the Tabari network and got convicted for smuggling two metric tons of gold and is currently a fugitive abroad. His father, Kiumars Niaz-Abadi who was the head of the intelligence department in Mazanderan from 2006-2016 has also been arrested.
The network was involved in all sorts of corrupt activities for years during the tenure of former Judiciary chief, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, who was removed from his post in early 2019. The Larijani family enjoyed unparalleled power and influence for more than a decade. Ali Larijani was Speaker of Iran’s parliament until May 2020.
The court also demanded Tabari pay back around $1.5 million to the treasury and a string of luxury properties he acquired as part of his corruption schemes. But many defendants have fled Iran after the case was launched in April 2019, raising questions of how they could travel abroad in a country with tight border controls.