Hassan Rouhani, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran once again tied the recent country-wide protests to foreign countries and especially the United States, demanding the arrested protesters to explain themselves to the nation.
Rouhani continued: “The enemy thought it was the best time to act, and they entered with full force. They were able to disrupt the streets and people’s lives for 48 hours. They didn’t even imagine that it would be over in 48 hours.”
The protests lasted for over 5 days in many cities across the country.
Hezbollah’s Leader Denies Netanyahu’s Claims About Missile Depot In Beirut
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran-backed Hezbollah of Lebanon militia on Tuesday denied Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims about Hezbollah’s missile sites and depots in Lebanon.
"A short while ago, the enemy's prime minister spoke directly in a speech at the United Nations, saying things in order to incite the Lebanese people against Hezbollah, as usual," said Nasrallah.
Nasrallah went on to say that Netanyahu intends to provoke the Lebanese people against Hezbollah through false accusations.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, the Israeli prime minister revealed the location of a Hezbollah secret “missile factory” and an arms depot in Beirut “meters away from a gas company”.
"If this thing explodes, it’s another tragedy," Netanyahu said.
The site is also close to Beirut's international airport.
Report from Beirut indicates Hezbollah quickly organized a media tour to the locations pinpointed by Netanyahu in an attempt to prove the opposite.
The alleged precision missile factory is "a few meters away from a gas station" on one side, and 50 meters (164 feet) from a "gas company" on the other.
US: Iran-Backed Militias An “Unacceptable Danger” In Iraq
After a misfired rocket aiming at American troops killed seven civilians including five children near Baghdad, the US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus once again reiterated that the Iran-backed militias in Iraq “pose an unacceptable danger”.
“We have made the point before that the actions of lawless Iran-backed militias remains the single biggest deterrent to stability in Iraq,” Ortagus said in her statement.
The attack on Monday was one in a series of around 40 targeting American troops or interests in Iraq since August, and it came right after the Trump administration threatened to shut down its massive embassy in Baghdad and withdraw its remaining troops from Iran if the Iraqi government does not stop the attacks.
Ortagus added: “These militias pose an unacceptable danger to everyone in Iraq, from diplomatic officials and facilities to Iraqi activists and families.”
A rocket targeting Baghdad airport on Monday hit a residential area killing five children and two women.
Since the beginning of the US maximum pressure campaign against Tehran, Iran-backed militias in Iraq have repeatedly targeted near American bases and embassy, without any casualties.
Three Iran Guards Killed In Drive-By Attack In Southeast
Tehran, Iran | AFP | Tuesday 9/29/2020
Three members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards were killed by unknown assailants on Tuesday in the country's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, state media reported.
"At 4 PM (1230 GMT) today, two cars belonging to Nikshahr county's Basij (state-sanctioned volunteer militia) were attacked by the passengers of a Peugeot 405 while on the road," IRNA news agency said, quoting a statement by the Guards.
A Guards' member was also wounded, it added, saying the identity of the assailants was under investigation.
Sistan-Baluchistan has long been a flashpoint where Pakistan-based Baluchi separatists and jihadists carry out cross-border raids.
The jihadist outfit Jaish al-Adl ("Army of Justice") has in the past attacked and abducted Iranian security personnel.
In one incident, 27 guards died in a suicide attack targeting a bus in the province in February 2019.
Jaish al-Adl was formed in 2012 as a successor to the Sunni extremist group Jundallah (Soldiers of God), which waged a deadly insurgency for a decade before it was severely weakened by the capture and execution of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi in 2010.
Screening Of Soleimani Video Leads To Tensions In Iran's Parliament
The screening of a video showing Qassem Soleimani has led to tensions and shouting in the Iranian parliament during a session to approve the government’s proposed candidate for the post of Industry, Mines and Trade Minister.
A lawmaker who wanted to promote the candidate, Alireza Razm-Hosseini, proposed to screen a clip showing him with Soleimani who is considered an esteemed martyr after he was killed in January by US drones in Baghdad.
As soon as the video started playing a group of lawmakers began shouting in protest to using Soleimani as a means to attract votes. One lawmaker, Abbas Goodarzi said Soleimani “is a capital for the regime and the country” and his image should not be used to get votes.
The tension and shouting were brief and ended when the video was stopped. The ministerial candidate was finally approved with 175 votes while 80 members voted against the minister who will serve roughly 10 months before the next presidential election.
Soleimani’s image is used extensively by various state organs in posters and slogans supporting the Islamic regime and its foreign and domestic policies. In some locations local authorities erected his statue and some looked so amateurish and crude that people began making fun on social media.
Imprisoned Dervish Taken To Mental Hospital After Seizure Medication Denied
The wife of Behnam Mahjoubi, an imprisoned Dervish, says authorities have transferred him to a mental hospital from Evin Prison despite a seizure and paralysis of half of his body.
In an open letter published in a twitter thread on Tuesday Saleheh Hosseini said the prison physician threatened that he would be taken to a mental hospital if he did not abide by his orders. The physician, according to Ms. Mahjoubi, has replaced his regular medicine for treatment of panic disorder – provided by the family -- with sleeping pills.
"They gave him 14 to 17 sleeping pills every night until half of his body was paralyzed after a seizure on Saturday evening as a result of being denied his own medication," she has written.
Ms. Mahjoubi has also said that the family were first told that he would be sent to the neurology ward of Razi Hospital but he has informed his family that he is at Aminabad Mental Hospital.
"We don't know what they are doing with him. They have told the other inmates that he was taken to the mental hospital by his own request," she wrote.
"Once again, I stress, Behnam's life is in danger," he warned.
Dervishes of Gonabadi order are among the religious groups considered as security threats and highly suppressed by the Iranian regime. Hundreds of them were arrested following protests in February 2018 in Tehran around the home of their 90-year-old leader Noor-Ali Tabandeh to protect him from arrest.
Arrests In Iran Municipalities, While Fraud Allegations Linger Over Ex-Tehran Mayor Ghalibaf
Shargh newspaper in Tehran has claimed there has been a wave of arrests across Iran of mayors and city councillors in the past six months. In a report on Tuesday [September 29] the reformist newspaper enumerated arrests made in several towns in mountainous areas near the capital Tehran well-known for multi-million villas often built on agricultural land or nature reserves like Roudehen and Ushan-Fasham.
The newspaper also reported arrests in Bushehr, Khuzestan, Mazandaran, Gilan, West Azarbaijan, and Sistan-Baluchestan provinces. Nearly all of those arrested have been charged with corruption.
However, serious allegations of fraud against Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf (Qalibaf), a likely candidate in next year’s presidential election have never been resolved. The accusations stem from his own period in local government as mayor of Tehran from 2005 to 2017. Before he assumed his current role as Parliamentary Speaker, Ghalibaf was allowed by the election watchdog, the Guardian Council, to run for parliament in February this year despite it disqualifying many reformists over less serious allegations.
Isa Sharifi, a deputy mayor under Ghalibaf and who had previously served under him in the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Airforce and police, was arrested in September 2017 after Ghalibaf lost his position as mayor following elections where reformists won a majority on Tehran City Council.
Sharifi is still under trial for massive financial irregularities under Ghalibaf’s watch. The case involves YAS Holding – active in dealership and sub-contracting -- which is linked to the IRGC’s Cooperatives Organization. In June Judiciary Spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said defendants in the case were under trial by the Armed Forces Judicial Court, but no verdicts have yet been announced.
In a live presidential debate in 2017, President Hassan Rouhani alleged that Ghalibaf had used ‘dirty money’ when a candidate in the 2005 election.
Iran's Judiciary Says It Is Symbol Of Regime's 'Power And Toughness'
The spokesman of the Islamic Republic’s Judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Esmaili has defended the controversial record of the powerful body, saying the hardliner judicial system is a symbol of the regime’s toughness, power and authority, and for this reason “the enemy” has chosen to attack “this base of power” with its media.
Recent execution of political prisoners, reports of torture in prisons and other controversial acts of the Judiciary were criticized by Western governments and international human rights organizations. Violations of human rights in Iran are also a major part of the coverage by Persian-language broadcasters based in the West, such as Iran International TV, Radio Farda and BBC Persian.
In a press conference on September 29, Esmaili highlighted arrests of individuals implicated in financial corruption and tried to argue that foreign criticism was linked to its anti-corruption campaign.
However, most major corruption cases are handled according to Islamic Republic laws that grant defendants certain rights, such as open trials and access of defense attorneys to information. On the contrary, the Judiciary and security organs ignore these laws in regards with protesters and critics, who are tried behind closed doors without due process of law.
Esmaili also told reporters that trials of protesters detained during the unrest in November 2019 and accused of “political” crimes will begin soon. The Islamic Republic usually tries to avoid the word “political” in legal action against dissidents. The common accusation is endangering “security” and “propaganda against the regime”.
Iran's Judiciary is under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the presidential administration's Justice Ministry has no power over the county's courts. It only acts as a liaison between the Judiciary, presidential administration and parliament.
US Plans New Sanctions On Iran's Financial Sector
Bloomberg reported that President Trump's administration is considering new sanctions on Iran in order to cut off the country’s economy from the rest of the world with certain exceptions.
According to Bloomberg’s three sources, the sanctions will target more than a dozen financial institutions in Iran. It will close one of the few remaining financial loopholes allowing Iran’s government to earn revenue, and stymie Democrat Joe Biden’s promise to re-enter a 2015 nuclear deal if he wins the presidency in November.
Then the administration would blacklist roughly 14 banks in Iran that have so far escaped some U.S. restrictions, under authorities designed to punish entities associated with terrorism, ballistic-missile development and human-rights abuses.
US Threatens To Close Embassy In Iraq If Rocket Attacks Continue
After a series of attacks near American bases in Iraq and the American embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone, the Trump administration has now warned the Iraqi government that it is preparing to shut down its embassy in Baghdad if the Iraqi government does not stop the rocket attacks by Iran-backed Shia militias against American targets.
In recent phone calls to Iraqi President Bahram Salih and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadhimi, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the warning.
The American ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller told the Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein that President Trump is directly behind this decision, adding that Iraq and the US have entered a new era in their relations.
What we’re being told is that it is a gradual closure of the embassy over two to three months,” said one Iraqi official, adding that it might also be coupled with the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq.
The US State Department and the US embassy in Baghdad have declined comments on the issue, but two Iraqi officials said that the U.S. has informed Iraqi authorities that it is beginning to take preliminary steps so it could close the embassy over the next few months while retaining its consulate in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq.
Saudi Arabia Says It Dismantled Terrorist Cell Trained By Iran’s IRGC
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that it recently busted a terrorist cell that was trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), arresting 10 members and confiscating some weapons and explosives in the process.
The spokesperson for Saudi Arabia’s chief of security announced on state media that three of the terrorists arrested were trained in IRGC bases in Iran, and the rest were “linked to the cell in various roles”.
"Competent authorities at the presidency thwarted a terrorist cell... whose elements received military and field training on how to make explosives, at the Revolutionary Guard's sites in Iran," the State Security Presidency said in a statement late Monday.
"Security investigations revealed the elements' identities as well as two sites used by the elements to store weapons and explosives," said the statement carried on official media.
According to the statement, in raids on two locations, a house and a farm, some weapons and explosives were confiscated.
Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have deteriorated rapidly in the past decade, specially after the attack on Saudi Arabian embassy in Iran by Basij militia in Tehran in January 2016 which led to Riyadh cutting diplomatic relations with Tehran. In the past few years, tensions between the two countries have intensified with Iran’s support of Houthis in Yemen and attacking several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and targeting Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
Iran has repeatedly denied the allegations despite the evidence that has been presented such as the remains of Iranian missiles found in the attack sites.
At Least 5 Civilians Killed In Rocket Attack Near Baghdad Airport
Three Iraqi children and two women from the same family were killed Monday when a rocket targeting Baghdad airport, where US troops are stationed, fell instead on their home, the army said.
The latest in a string of incidents targeting American interests in Iraq came after Washington threatened to close its embassy and withdraw its 3,000 troops from the country unless the rocket attacks stop.
The attacks, which started around a year ago, have caused few casualties.
Monday's incident was the first to claim so many civilian lives. The army said it also wounded two other children.
Twitter accounts supporting US arch-enemy Iran regularly praise the attacks, but that was not the case Monday, and no group immediately claimed responsibility.
Previous attacks of the same nature have been claimed by murky groups saying they are acting against the "American occupier".
Experts say they include former members of pro-Iranian factions of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary alliance.
The Iraqi army, in its statement Monday, accused "criminal gangs and groups of outlaws" of seeking to "create chaos and terrorise people".
Between October and July, at least 39 rocket attacks targeted US interests in Iraq. Almost the same number again have taken place since.
Iraqi intelligence sources have blamed the attacks on a small group of hardline Iran-backed paramilitary factions.
Prince Reza Pahlavi Sends Message To Iranians
Iran International Television has just started broadcasting a message by Prince Reza Pahlavi in which the prince outlines his idea of "a new contract" between all Iranians to move on from the Islamic Republic, set up a democratic system and revive the country everyone deserves.
He says the "Islamic Republic of Iran cannot be reformed and the people of Iran do not deserve a government that has brought about international isolation, decline of social values, suppression of civil liberties, economic crisis as well as depression and despair for the nation."
The message is tailored to appeal to the people of Iran who want to have social and political freedoms and see a better future ahead.
Introducing his idea of "A New Contract," Prince Reza, 59 who is regarded by supporters as heir to the throne said his motivation is not to take political power but create "a system in which political power is not monopolized by an individual or a group and everyone is equally responsible to make key decisions."
In the video message, Prince Reza, the heir to the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, said his motivation is not to take political power, adding that his motivation is one of creating "a system in which political power is not monopolized by an individual or a group and everyone is equally responsible to make key decisions."
He stressed that a future government should be based on collective wisdom, public participation and citizens' responsibility."
He said he is looking for "the right route to welfare and progress, and not a system that would recreate despotism and monopoly on power."