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Iran in January 2024

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2024-1-3

  1. Deadly Explosions Near Soleimani’s Tomb: A Merging of Reports.
    The fourth anniversary of Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death was disrupted by twin bombings near his grave in Kerman, Iran, resulting in at least 103 fatalities and 211 injuries. This incident, occurring during an event marking Soleimani’s death by a U.S. drone strike, represents the most significant attack in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The bombings, with a second explosion following approximately 20 minutes after the first, suggest a strategy often used in militant attacks, designed to target both civilians and emergency responders. The explosions took place amid a gathering at Soleimani’s gravesite, transforming the event into a scene of chaos. In the wake of the explosions, there has been a lack of consensus among Iranian officials and media regarding the cause. Some state-controlled media and the mayor of Kerman initially attributed the blasts to gas canisters, while other reports indicated the possibility of a deliberate attack, including suicide bombings or planted explosives. The rapidly escalating casualty count and the critical condition of several injured individuals have added to the urgency and complexity of the situation. As investigations continue, the exact nature and perpetrators of the bombings remain unclear, with no group having claimed responsibility for the attack.
  2. Divine Hotline or Divine Blunder? Khamenei’s Godly Claims Stir Controversy.
    Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, sparked controversy with his claim that God once spoke through him. This statement, made during a meeting with the family of former IRGC operative Qasem Soleimani, contradicts Islamic theology, which holds that God communicated exclusively with Prophet Mohammed. In Shiite traditions, there’s no precedent for God speaking directly to Imam Ali or any other saint, making Khamenei’s claim potentially blasphemous. Faraj Sarkouhi, an Iranian literary critic in exile, described Khamenei’s assertion as indicative of megalomania and narcissism, typical of despots nearing the end of their reigns. Social media users echoed this sentiment, noting that under the Islamic Penal Code, such statements by an ordinary person could be punishable by death for blasphemy. Khamenei, who became Supreme Leader in 1989, initially maintained a lower profile. Over time, however, he grew more authoritarian, consolidating power and gaining reverence from senior ayatollahs. His legitimacy has been increasingly questioned, especially since 2009, with public discontent over economic woes and the regime’s harsh crackdown on protests. The official response to Khamenei’s claim has been muted, with pro-regime media dismissing the controversy as foreign media manipulation. Mehdi Fazaeli, an associate of Khamenei, refuted reports about Khamenei’s health, labeling them as enemy psychological operations. This event underscores the growing disconnect between Khamenei’s statements and public perception, especially amidst Iran’s ongoing socio-political challenges.
  3. Khamenei Advocates for ‘Jihad of Clarification’ to Counter Enemies.
    Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, emphasized the need for ajihad of clarificationto thwart enemy schemes. Addressing Ahl al-Bayt elegists and eulogists, he underscored their role in this jihad, coinciding with national Women’s Day and the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Hazrat Fatemeh Zahra. Khamenei highlighted Zahra’s legacy in this form of jihad and revered Imam Khomeini for his significant role in it, attributing the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty and the establishment of a religious democratic government to Khomeini’s efforts in jihad of clarification. Khamenei also paid tribute to Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top terror commander, assassinated by the US military. He stressed the importance of participating in elections as a national duty, warning against any opposition to them as an act against the Islamic Republic and Islam. Additionally, he condemned external attempts to diminish the nation’s role in governance, advocating for jihad of clarification to counter these actions and clarify the truth. Khamenei further pointed to the situation in Gaza, declaring it the current frontline of the Islamic world and praising the people of Gaza for standing against the United States and global arrogance.

2024-1-4

  1. . Iranians Suspect Regime’s Involvement in Kerman Bombing.
    In the aftermath of the deadly bombing in Kerman, Iran, where more than 100 people lost their lives, Iran initially pointed fingers at old foes, Israel and the US. However, Iranians, who have faced violent suppression, are increasingly looking inward. Many on social media speculate that the attack was orchestrated by the Islamic Republic itself to further its domestic and foreign policies. They highlight the absence of key figures at the scene, raising suspicions of regime complicity. While Iranian officials blame the US and Israel, some believe their own government may be involved, given past incidents. 
  2. 7. Russia Explores Procurement of Iranian Ballistic Missiles.
    Russia is reportedly considering the purchase of short-range ballistic missiles from Iran, according to US officials cited by the Wall Street Journal. This move could bolster Moscow’s capacity to target infrastructure in Ukraine, raising concerns about an escalating defense partnership between Russia and Iran. The White House had previously noted signs of this collaboration, suggesting it could extend Russia’s involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and potentially pose a threat to neighboring countries in the region.

2024-1-9

  1. Iran Receives American Offer for Comprehensive Regional Settlement.
    Iran has received an American offer for a comprehensive settlement in the entire region, coming at a time when the Gaza Strip is experiencing Israeli raids resulting in casualties among civilians. Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Hussein Akbari, revealed that the message was conveyed through a Gulf country and included proposals for resolving regional crises without expanding the scope of conflict. However, Iran emphasized that its allies have the autonomy to decide their own fate and political decisions independently, indicating skepticism about the American offer. This development comes amidst ongoing tensions and accusations between the two nations.
  2. Dutch Spy’s Role in CIA-Led Sabotage of Iran’s Nuclear Program Revealed.
    In 2007, the CIA, in collaboration with Dutch AIVD spy Erik van Sabben and Israeli Mossad, carried out a clandestine operation targeting Iran’s Natanz nuclear complex. Van Sabben, recruited by the AIVD, infiltrated the heavily guarded facility and installed equipment that damaged nearly a thousand ultracentrifuges, significantly delaying Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The operation’s success was attributed to the Stuxnet virus, a sophisticated digital weapon jointly developed by the U.S. and Israel. However, Dutch authorities, including Prime Minister Balkenende, were unaware of the operation’s true nature and the use of Stuxnet, raising questions about political oversight. This covert mission has since been regarded as an act of war by some international experts, highlighting the complexities and geopolitical implications of international espionage and cyber warfare.
  3. Iran-Syria Strategic Alliance: Leaked Documents Unveil Deep Cooperation.
    Leaked Iranian documents reveal a deep strategic alliance between Tehran and Damascus, underscored by a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation. These documents highlight Iran’s significant influence in Syrian political, economic, and religious spheres. Iran aims to bolster Syria’s Arab League membership, attract Gulf investments, and shape religious teachings. Amidst regional tensions, Iran’s stance on the US presence, the Ukrainian crisis, and relationships with neighboring countries like Iraq, Yemen, and the Gulf states is strategically positioned. Economic cooperation, especially in Syria’s oil sector and cultural heritage, is emphasized. Furthermore, Iran’s anticipation of changes in Turkish policy post-elections indicates a keen interest in regional dynamics. This comprehensive approach demonstrates Iran’s intent to strengthen its regional influence and reshape Syrian internal and external policies.

2024-1-10

  1. Iran Supplies Advanced Attack Drone to Russia for Ukraine Conflict.
    Iran has developed the Shahed-107 attack drone, equipped with reconnaissance capabilities, and sold it to Russia for over $2 million. Russia’s use of Iranian drones and the potential supply of ballistic missiles from Iran to Russia for the Ukraine conflict raise concerns and pose a threat to Ukraine’s air defenses.
  2. Iran and Russia Express Doubts Over US Yemen Resolution.
    Iranian and Russian foreign ministers expressed skepticism regarding the US’ UN Security Council resolution on Yemen, seeing it as a pretext for expanding American military presence in the Red Sea region. They also discussed Gaza and the need for peace in the region.
  3. Iran Accuses US of Enabling Israeli Attacks on Gaza.
    Iran’s UN ambassador criticized the United States for repeatedly using its veto power to allow Israel to continue its indiscriminate bombings on Gaza. He called for a sustainable ceasefire and humanitarian assistance to prevent further civilian suffering.
  4. OIC Parliamentary Meeting in Iran Discusses Gaza Crisis.
    The Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (PUIC) holds an extraordinary meeting in Tehran, addressing the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza. The conference focuses on parliamentary cooperation for Palestine, with Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf leading the discussions.
  5. Fire and Explosion at Iranian Cosmetics Factory Injures 53.
    A massive fire and explosion, possibly caused by a gas leak, injured 53 people at a cosmetics factory near the Iranian capital, Tehran, according to official Iranian media reports. Some of the injured individuals are in critical condition, and preliminary investigations suggest that a gas leak in parts of the production line at the factory was the cause of the explosion.

2024-1-11

  1. Khamenei Issues Hebrew Warning Amid Blinken’s Middle East Visit.
    Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a stern warning in Hebrew on Twitter, emphasizing that “crimes will not be forgotten,” though he did not specify Israel. Khamenei has previously made similar hostile comments, such as accusing Israel of bringing “disaster” upon itself. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed Iran’s support for Houthi rebels during his Middle East trip, warning of consequences for their actions and urging Iran to cease its support for the group.
  2. Iran Cracks Down on Social Media Critics After Bombings.
    Iran has arrested dozens of individuals, including public figures, for posting “false and offensive” statements on social media regarding recent bombings in Kerman. The arrests and censorship have sparked criticism of the government’s response to the attacks.
  3. International Manhunt for Kerman Terror Attack Suspects.
    Iran’s Intelligence Ministry expands the search for individuals involved in the Kerman terrorist attack, with 35 arrested domestically and a hunt initiated for suspects abroad. The main instigator, Abdullah Tajiki, a Tajik national, and his associate, Bazirov Israeli, were identified in the attack that targeted General Soleimani’s mausoleum, resulting in dozens of casualties.
  4. Canada to Take Iran Plane Strike Case to ICAO.
    Canada is moving forward with the case against Iran’s missile strike on a Ukrainian plane to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to seek justice for the victims’ families.
  5. Iran to Establish International Maritime Environment Research Center.
    Iran plans to create an International Maritime Environment Research Center on Hormuz Island in the Hormuz Strait region to address environmental concerns in the Pars Energy Special Economic Zone. VP Ali Salajeqeh emphasizes the need for pollution reduction and environmental protection in the area, with a focus on cooperation among regional countries and industries.
  6. “No Place for the Dollar”: Russian and Iranian Banks Abandon SWIFT.
    Russia and Iran plan to establish joint investment committees for bilateral projects. Direct transactions between Russian and Iranian banks remove the final obstacle to expanding trade, mutual settlements, and cooperation, including infrastructure and energy projects.

2024-1-12

  1. Iran Accused of Piracy under Guise of Judicial Order in Seizure of Greek Oil Tanker in Gulf of Oman.
    In a provocative move in the Gulf of Oman, Iran has been accused of engaging in piracy, using the pretext of a judicial order to justify the seizure of a Greek oil tanker. The Iranian army forcibly detained the tanker, compelling it to dock at the Iranian port of Jask. This incident, occurring in the wake of the U.S. confiscation of an Iranian shipment, marks a significant escalation in regional tensions. Critics view Iran’s actions as an act of piracy, thinly veiled as a legal procedure, amidst the rising military activities in the region.
  2. Iran Denounces US and British Military Raids in Yemen.
    Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, has strongly condemned the recent American and British military raids in various Yemeni cities. Describing these actions as arbitrary, Kanaani emphasized that such operations violate Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and breach international laws. He expressed concern about the potential escalation and increasing instability in the region. Additionally, Kanaani suggested that these attacks might be an attempt to divert global attention from Israel’s activities in Palestine.
  3. Rouhani Criticizes Iranian Government, Raises Alarm over Low Voter Turnout.
    Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has issued a stark warning about the potential drastic decline in voter turnout for the upcoming parliamentary elections. He criticized the current government for its role in discouraging voter participation in the 2020 and 2021 elections. Rouhani highlighted the Guardian Council’s intervention and the exclusion of Rafsanjani as key issues. He held the hardliners accountable for the ongoing political crisis in Iran, citing their efforts to isolate the country on the international stage and undermine nuclear negotiations.

2024-1-15

  1. Iran and Pakistan Conduct Joint Naval Exercises Near Strait of Hormuz.
    Iran-Pakistan Naval Drills Near Strait of Hormuz. Iran and Pakistan have begun joint naval exercises near the Strait of Hormuz, a key area in the Persian Gulf. The exercises, involving Pakistani vessels Maddgar and Zhob, aim to strengthen maritime collaboration and regional security. Admirals Qadir and Bilal highlighted the drills’ importance in enhancing independent regional defense capabilities and discussed broader regional concerns, including the situation in Gaza. This collaboration underscores the strategic partnership between the two nations in a globally significant maritime zone.
  2. India and Iran Fortify Ties with New Agreements Post-Blinken-Jaishankar Dialogue.
    Following a constructive dialogue between Indian External Affairs Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Minister Jaishankar engaged in talks with Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development, Mehrdad Bazarbashi, in Tehran. This meeting culminated in a strengthened commitment to the development of Chabahar Port, a critical component of India-Iran bilateral relations. The ministers reached a consensus to expedite the existing agreement on the development of Chabahar Port. They proposed the formation of a joint transport committee to boost cooperation and optimize the use of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC). Minister Jaishankar conveyed India’s eagerness to initiate new investments in transportation and transit projects at Chabahar Port. He also extended an invitation to Minister Bazarbashi to visit India, signaling significant advancements in the diplomatic relationship between India and Iran.
  3. Iran-EU Trade Surpasses €3.7 Billion Over 10 Months.
    According to the latest report from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, trade between Iran and the 27 EU member states exceeded €3.7 billion during the first ten months of the previous year. The report highlights a significant 13% increase in trade volume compared to the same period in the preceding year, with the total reaching €3.761 billion. Germany emerged as the foremost EU trade partner with Iran, accounting for 31% of the total trade volume between Iran and Europe. This substantial growth in trade underscores the deepening economic ties between Iran and the European Union, marking a period of robust commercial exchange and cooperation.
  4. Anticipating Turbulence in Post-Khamenei Iran.
    As Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s nearly 45-year tenure nears its end, a crucial question looms: what will Iran’s political landscape look like
    after his death? Contrary to the relatively smooth transition following the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, the post-Khamenei era is expected to be markedly tumultuous. This article suggests that Iran is likely to face heightened political, social, and security conflicts during the power transition. The absence of influential figures capable of guiding this process smoothly is a significant concern. Such a leadership vacuum could exacerbate internal tensions and potentially lead to increased violence within the country. This scenario paints a picture of instability and uncertainty for Iran’s future, signaling a challenging period ahead for the nation.

2024-1-17

  1.  Russia and Iran Hold Talks, while the Revolutionary Guard Targets Balochistan in Pakistan.
    In a development that signals increased regional tensions, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched a missile attack targeting camps of the Balochistan Liberation Army in Pakistan. The attack has led to protests by Baloch opposition and damage to several residential homes, sparking widespread anger in Pakistan. The Pakistani government reacted with strong condemnation to the Iranian violation of its airspace, and demonstrations in front of the Iranian Foreign Ministry have further escalated tensions. The attack raises concerns about the worsening tension in the region, particularly following previous attacks on police centers in both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan. During those rapidly evolving regional developments, Russian foreign and defense ministers held phone talks with their Iranian counterparts, covering a range of topics, including developments in Yemen. Despite their cooperation, tensions have emerged due to Moscow’s shifting positions in the Middle East. Both countries emphasized mutual respect and territorial integrity, reaffirming their commitment to the core principles of their bilateral relationship.
  2. Corruption Scandal Involving Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Members: Receipt of Massive Bribes by Prison Investigators.
    Iran International exposes a major corruption scandal in Iran, where prison investigators affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard received substantial bribes. Documents uncovered in the corruption scandal indicate that the massive bribes paid to prison investigators within the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence organization were likely intended to influence the outcomes of investigations into major corruption cases or to evade sanctions and trials. Court documents reveal the involvement of seven members of the organization, including Mohammad Mehdi Badi, the organization’s deputy investigator, who accepted significant financial sums from several individuals. Among those implicated are also Ismail Khalilzadeh, the former president of Esteghlal Tehran Football Club, and Hadi Darwishvand, the owner of the Kermanshah Refinery, highlighting the involvement of individuals connected to the regime and the industry in the corruption network. 

2024-1-17&18

  1. Escalating Regional Tensions: Russia and Iran Hold Talks, while the Revolutionary Guard Targets Baluchistan in Pakistan.
    In a development that signals increased regional tensions, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched a missile attack targeting camps of the Balochistan Liberation Army in Pakistan. The attack has led to protests by Baloch opposition and damage to several residential homes, sparking widespread anger in Pakistan. The Pakistani government reacted with strong condemnation to the Iranian violation of its airspace, and demonstrations in front of the Iranian Foreign Ministry have further escalated tensions. The attack raises concerns about the worsening tension in the region, particularly following previous attacks on police centers in both Iranian and Pakistani Balochistan. During those rapidly evolving regional developments, Russian foreign and defense ministers held phone talks with their Iranian counterparts, covering a range of topics, including developments in Yemen. Despite their cooperation, tensions have emerged due to Moscow’s shifting positions in the Middle East. Both countries emphasized mutual respect and territorial integrity, reaffirming their commitment to the core principles of their bilateral relationship.
  1. Corruption Scandal Involving Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Members: Receipt of Massive Bribes by Prison Investigators.
    Iran International exposes a major corruption scandal in Iran, where prison investigators affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard received substantial bribes. Documents uncovered in the corruption scandal indicate that the massive bribes paid to prison investigators within the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence organization were likely intended to influence the outcomes of investigations into major corruption cases or to evade sanctions and trials. Court documents reveal the involvement of seven members of the organization, including Mohammad Mehdi Badi, the organization’s deputy investigator, who accepted significant financial sums from several individuals. Among those implicated are also Ismail Khalilzadeh, the former president of Esteghlal Tehran Football Club, and Hadi Darwishvand, the owner of the Kermanshah Refinery, highlighting the involvement of individuals connected to the regime and the industry in the corruption network.

2024-1-18

  1. Pakistan Strikes Iranian Targets in Escalating Border Conflict.
    In a significant escalation of border tensions, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed today that its military conducted precision strikes against militant groups in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province. This operation, termed ‘Marg Bar Sarmachar’ (Death to Insurgents), comes a day after the Iranian Revolutionary Guards launched missile and drone strikes inside Pakistani territory.Pakistani officials stated the strikes were a direct response to Iran’s actions, which they deemed a blatant violation of their national sovereignty. Iranian state media reported civilian casualties, including women and children, raising concerns about the operation’s precision.
    The conflict’s roots lie in both nations’ accusations of harboring militants. The recent attacks focus on the ‘Jaish al-Adl’ group, a Sunni militant organization considered a terrorist entity by both the United States and Iran.
    This escalation comes amid a broader regional context of Iranian military activity, including recent strikes in Iraq and Syria. In a move reflecting deepening diplomatic rifts, Pakistan has recalled its ambassador from Iran and barred the Iranian ambassador from returning to Islamabad.
    The situation is particularly volatile given the nuclear capabilities of both countries. Only days ago, Iran and Pakistan conducted joint naval exercises, indicating the complexity of their bilateral relationship. The recent conflict has raised concerns among international observers about the potential for a larger regional conflict.
    From Iran’s perspective, Jaish al-Adl is viewed as a significant terrorist threat, particularly in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province. The group has been responsible for numerous attacks targeting Iranian security forces and infrastructure in this region. Iran has consistently accused Pakistan of either harboring Jaish al-Adl or failing to take adequate measures against them, asserting that they operate from Pakistani soil. Moreover, the challenging geography of the Iran-Pakistan border, which is both mountainous and porous, complicates Iran’s efforts to secure it. The presence of various armed groups in this terrain further exacerbates Iran’s border security challenges.
    On the other side, Pakistan contends with its own set of challenges stemming from cross-border militancy. It has experienced attacks from groups based in or allegedly supported by Iran, including incursions into Pakistani territory that target both military and civilian entities in the Balochistan region. Pakistan’s approach involves a complex balancing act: addressing its security concerns related to militant groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army, while simultaneously maintaining diplomatic ties with Tehran. Additionally, the internal security dynamics of Pakistan’s Balochistan region, known for separatist and militant activities, add layers of complexity to Islamabad’s strategy in managing its border with Iran and ensuring national security.
    China has offered to mediate between Iran and Pakistan following the cross-border military strikes between the two nations.

2024-1-19

  1.  Khamenei Calls for Continuing Battles as He Applauds Houthi Attack on Israeli Lifeline.
    During today’s Friday prayer, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, commended the Houthi rebel group’s audacious strike on Israel’s critical supply route, lauding their courage in the face of U.S. threats. Khamenei called for the persistence of battles and endeavors in the Middle East region. In another significant development, Admiral Shahram Irani of the Iranian Navy announced that the aging Iranian destroyer, Alborz, would provide escort to Iranian oil tankers navigating the Red Sea. He pointed out that “some world powers hesitate to deploy forces in this strategic area.” Furthermore, Admiral Irani highlighted the outcomes of recent actions by Houthi forces at sea, notably the targeting of the American vessel, ‘Ginco Picardie,’ in the Gulf of Aden. This incident has had significant consequences, causing insurance companies to withhold war risk coverage for American, British, and Israeli ships operating in the Red Sea, underscoring the Houthi’s effective disruption of U.S. and British interests.

2024-1-24

  1. Iran Showcases Strategic Combat, Reconnaissance, and Radar Drones:
    In a move to assert its military capabilities and technological advancement, Iran has integrated the long-range, precision-strike capable Arash and Bavar drones, alongside the Jet Karrar drones, specialized
    in target engagement and aerial surveillance. This display aims to deter potential adversaries and reinforce Iran’s position on the international stage.
  2. Iran Expands Space Influence Amidst Four Ground Battlefronts.
    In a time when Iran is embroiled in four active combat zones, witnessing ongoing acts of violence and terrorism, Iranian leadership, under the guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei, has unveiled plans to bolster its space capabilities. As part of this endeavor, General Ali Jafarabadi, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Space Division, has declared Iran’s readiness to launch satellites for other countriesan indication of its aspirations to excel not only on Earth but also in the realm of outer space. These developments follow Iran’s successful launch of the Thuraya satellite, positioned 750 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, and its intent to launch the larger satellite carrier, Qaim-120, with the capability to reach an orbit at an altitude of 36,000 kilometers. These strategic moves underscore Iran’s expanding influence in the military and space domains, raising concerns about their potential impact on regional stability and international security.
  3. Khamenei Renews Calls for Severed Relations with Israel.
    Ayatollah Khamenei, during a meeting with the organizers of Tehran’s national martyrs’ remembrance conference, emphasized the importance for Islamic nations to sever political and economic ties with Israel and to refrain from assisting it. He criticized the actions of some leaders of Islamic countries regarding Israel’s war on Gaza, labeling some of their positions as misleading. Khamenei underscored that issues such as the ceasefire in Gaza are beyond their control and in the hands of what he referred to as theevil Zionist enemy.”
  4. Iran’s Stumbling Blocks in Green Hydrogen Market Entry.
    Iran, rich in natural gas, faces challenges in joining the $700 billion hydrogen market due to an underdeveloped renewable sector and reliance on natural gas for hydrogen production. Regional counterparts like Saudi Arabia and Turkey are advancing in green hydrogen, leveraging their renewable resources. Iran’s high production costs and technological limitations, along with a lack of strategic economic planning, hinder its progress in the competitive hydrogen energy landscape.
  5. Return of Iranian and Pakistani Ambassadors Following Tensions.
    The Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministers issued a joint statement announcing the return of their respective ambassadors to their duties on the 26th of this month after tensions arising from an exchange of airstrikes. The statement also confirmed that the Iranian Foreign Minister will visit Islamabad on January 29th at the invitation of his Pakistani counterpart. These agreements were reached following phone conversations between the foreign ministers of both countries.

2024-1-25

  1. Khamenei Convenes Assembly of Experts for Succession, Excludes Moderates.
    Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is convening Iran’s Assembly of Experts, a crucial step in determining his successor, signaling a potential shift in the nation’s leadership. This gathering, scheduled for March 1, is expected to select the next Supreme Leader, as Khamenei, nearing 85 and facing health issues, prepares for a transition of power. However, in a strategic move that underscores his autocratic governance style, Khamenei has systematically excluded moderate and pragmatist figures, such as former President Hassan Rouhani, from participating in this pivotal process. This exclusion is emblematic of Khamenei’s broader approach to solidifying hardline control over Iran’s political landscape, effectively sidelining voices that might advocate for reform or engagement with the West. 
  2. Iran Expands Regional Influence through Drone Proliferation in Sudan.
    Iran has escalated its influence in the Middle East by providing “Muhajir 6” drones to the Sudanese army, a move confirmed by Western officials and satellite imagery at Sudan’s Wadi Saydna base. These advanced surveillance and munition-carrying drones signify a deepening military bond between Tehran and Khartoum, amidst rising tensions and potential civil unrest in Sudan. This strategic arms transfer, reflecting Iran’s support for various regional factions, coupled with renewed diplomatic engagements between Sudan and Iran, signals a significant shift in regional power dynamics and poses critical implications for U.S. interests in the region.

2024-1-26

  1. Iran Escalates Crackdown on Hijab Non-Compliance.
    Iran’s Chief Justice Gholamreza Mohseni-Ejei has directed prosecutors to aggressively address ‘organized’ violations of the country’s mandatory hijab laws. This increased enforcement, characterized by rising numbers of vehicle impoundments and business shutdowns, reflects concerns from top clerics about declining hijab adherence. This enforcement surge underscores deep societal tensions over national identity and governance, as Iran grapples with challenges to its traditional social norms.
  2. Iran’s Execution of Protestor Sparks Global Outrage and Calls for Accountability.
    Iran’s execution of Mohammad Ghobadlou, the ninth young man executed for involvement in the 2022 protests, has ignited widespread condemnation from Iranians and international human rights groups,
    labeling it as “state-murder.” Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam, director of Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR NGO), criticizes the execution as extrajudicial and calls for accountability of Iran’s Supreme Leader and judiciary. Human rights organizations, including the Center for Human Rights in Iran and Amnesty International, have condemned the execution, citing Ghobadlou’s disability, torture, and secretive trial proceedings.
  3. Iran Expands Drone Operations, Impacts Red Sea Shipping.
    Iran is significantly enhancing its drone capabilities, impacting maritime security in the Red Sea region. Recent reports indicate the launch of the Shahid Bagheri, a drone carrier capable of deploying a large fleet of long-range drones. This development, coupled with Iran’s support of the Houthis in Yemen targeting merchant vessels, escalates regional tensions. Additionally, Iran’s drone supply to Sudan amidst its civil war and to other regional proxies further amplifies concerns about Tehran’s expanding influence and the destabilization of critical maritime routes.
  4. Indifference in Iran to Rouhani’s Political Exclusion.
    Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s disqualification from the upcoming Assembly of Experts election, a key body for selecting the next Supreme Leader, has been met with public indifference in Iran. Analysis of social media and search trends indicates greater public concern over other issues, such as the execution of political prisoners and economic matters, overshadowing Rouhani’s political demise. This lack of interest reflects disillusionment with Rouhani’s presidency and skepticism about the possibility of change within the current political system. The development signals a shift in Iranian politics, potentially marking the end of the moderate camp led by Rouhani.
  5. Iran Election Controversy: Former Vice President Criticizes Barring of Rouhani
    Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran’s former vice president, publicly denounced the Guardian Council’s decision to prevent former president Hassan Rouhani from participating in the upcoming Assembly of Experts election. The Council, influenced by Iranian hardliners, informed Rouhani on Wednesday of his disqualification. Jahangiri questioned the rationale behind barring a former head of the Supreme National Security Council and a long-serving political figure. This move by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s regime has effectively sidelined all former presidents, including Rouhani, who was previously considered a potential successor to Khamenei
  6. US Warned Iran of ISIS Attack, Tehran Failed to Act.
    Despite receiving a specific warning from US officials about an impending ISIS attack, Iran did not prevent the tragedy in Kerman that resulted in 95 civilian deaths. The US had informed Iran of the ISIS-Khorasan threat to the Qassem Soleimani commemoration event in Kerman. This failure to act raises questions about Iran’s security measures and its broader stance towards threats from militant groups like ISIS, as well as the complexities of US-Iran relations amidst ongoing regional conflicts and nuclear program developments.
  7. Escalation in Iran-Pakistan Tensions: Jaish al-Adl’s Operations Prompt Military Responses.
    Iran and Pakistan have experienced heightened tensions due to the activities of the Sunni Baluch insurgent group, Jaish al-Adl. On January 16, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) attacked alleged Jaish al-Adl bases in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province with missiles and drones, prompting Pakistan to recall its ambassador from Tehran and conduct retaliatory airstrikes inside Iran. This marks the first time Pakistan has taken military action inside Iranian borders, a significant escalation in the decades-long relationship between the two Islamic republics. 
  8. China Pressures Iran to Curb Houthi Actions in Red Sea.
    China has urged Iran to intervene in the Red Sea shipping blockade orchestrated by the Iran-backed Houthis, according to Reuters. China, concerned about its shipping interests, has warned Iran that failure to control the Houthis could jeopardize their bilateral business relations. Despite the economic ties bolstered by a 25-year cooperation agreement in 2021, China’s investment in Iran has been less than anticipated, with a notable decline in non-oil trade.
  9. Iran Claims Partial Removal from FATF Blacklist.
    The Iranian government asserts that the International Financial Task Force (FATF) has agreed to remove Iran from one of its warning categories. Previously blacklisted for non-compliance with global standards against money laundering and terrorism financing, Iran reportedly requested FATF earlier this month to remove it from its most severe category, shared only with Myanmar and North Korea. According to Iranian state media, FATF has responded positively, specifically concerning Recommendation #7, which deals with the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. However, this does not signify Iran’s complete removal from the FATF blacklist.
  10. Iran Confronts $500 Billion Infrastructure Deficit, Overlooked by Political Elite.
    Economics professor Vahid Shahri in Tehran highlights a critical $500 billion infrastructure deficit in Iran, a problem largely ignored by the country’s political elite. Shahri points out the pressing issues of dwindling energy and water resources, economic imbalances, underfunded government pension schemes, and other shortages, emphasizing the need for the government to acknowledge and address these deficits.

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