IranSource | Understanding and Analyzing a Multifaceted Iran

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold the third iteration of President Donald Trump’s travel ban falls hardest on Iranians – both those seeking to travel to the US and those in the US who cannot go home without jeopardizing their ability to return.

The situation is particularly dire for Iranians studying for graduate degrees, doing research and teaching at US universities. They can no longer leave for any destination because of fear that they will not be able to complete their studies or resume their research-affiliated positions. 

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The 2018 World Cup is over after a whirlwind month of matches, with France claiming the title. There was no shortage of engrossing stories from the tournament, with political drama undergirding the action. In Iran, for example, beyond the national team’s relatively impressive display, the country grabbed headlines off the pitch for allowing women to attend viewings of the men’s national team soccer matches.

On June 20, the Iranian government allowed women to watch Team Melli’s World Cup match against Spain in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, reversing a ban on women attending male sporting events that has been in place—though not necessarily uniformly enforced— since 1981. After Islamic Revolution, women were prohibited from attending male sporting events as part of a broader cultural shift toward gender segregation and “public decency,” such as protecting women from hearing men swear. However, with soccer a hugely popular sport in Iran, women long have used disguises to sneak into games and also protested outside stadiums, leading to arrests by security forces. Over the years, civil society groups like OpenStadiums and Women in White Scarves—not to be confused with White Wednesdays, a campaign against the headscarf law—have campaigned for the right to attend sporting events, using op-eds in Western newspapers and social media to draw attention to their causes. FIFA has emerged as a target for activists aiming to apply pressure to the Iranian government.

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Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership style always includes dramatic warnings about threats to Israel. For more than a decade now, Israel’s prime minister warns that Iran—in particular its nuclear program—are the chief threat.

In 2015, a glaring Netanyahu stared down the United Nations General Assembly in silence for almost a minute. The gesture was to protest what Netanyahu described as the organization’s lack of action against Iran’s murderous plans to destroy Israel.

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Countries across the world are planning to increase the share of renewables in their national energy baskets, particularly for electricity generation. Iran, as a major oil producer, has only recently begun to stress the role of renewables with the coming into force of its Fourth Development Plan (2004-2009).

Iran has high potential for progress in renewables. In many parts of Iran, sun radiation has the power to generate four kilowatt hours of electricity per square meter. This exceeds the average for the European Union, where sun radiation can generate only 2.4 kilowatt hours per square meter.

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Israel’s prime minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss Iranian presence in Syria, on the same day the Supreme Leader’s senior advisor arrived in Moscow with a message.

Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia’s president on June 11, “Our opinion is known that Iran needs to leave Syria—that is not something new,” hours after a Syrian drone entered Israeli airspace. According to Reuters, an anonymous official claimed that Netanyahu also told Putin, “We won’t take action against the Bashar al-Assad regime, and you get the Iranians out.”

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A drinking water shortage set off this week’s round of protests in oil-rich Khuzestan province, home to much of Iran’s ethnic Arab minority. Protesters in cities including Abadan and Khorramshahr damaged property and clashed with police, leaving at least one demonstrator injured.

Protests over water are not unprecedented in Iran. Similar protests have popped up in various provincial towns and cities for over a decade, sparking security and sociopolitical challenges.

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Films are a window through which one can glimpse cultural, social and political dynamics in societies and gain a better understanding of underlying cultural traits, traditions, beliefs and aspirations. Several recent films provide such insights about the changing mores of women in Iran.

Tahmineh Milani, a feminist Iranian filmmaker, has been addressing women’s issues rooted in religious, traditional and cultural practices for the past two decades. She has challenged patriarchal traditions in films such as “Two Women,” “Hidden Half” and “Fifth Reaction.”

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“Leave Syria, think about us” and “death to the dictator” were some of the popular chants during the nationwide protests that shook Iran last December and January. It took the Iranian government slowing the internet, temporarily blocking Instagram as well as the popular messaging app Telegram, and massively cracking down on the demonstrations. But far from being a cure-all, these moves by the regime were nothing but a snake oil remedy.

The symptoms of social unrest once again emerged this week, with similar chants resounding from shopkeepers in Tehran’s grand bazaar.

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Iran’s currency, the rial, has experienced a historic low record crashing through 90,000 rials against one US dollar on the unofficial market and continuing its slide amid economic uncertainty caused by corruption, mismanagement and fear of returning US sanctions.

The drop in the value of the currency is having serious polictical repercussions. The development has encouraged Iranian merchants and shop owners to demonstrate against the government and go on strike in Tehran’s central market dedicated to sale and distribution of cellphone and electronic products. 

Psychologically, the effect is significant because it has generated fear and uncertainty. Reminiscent of the last years of the shah’s rule, there are rumors that merchants in the bazaars in Tehran and provincial cities are hoarding, pushing up the price of basic foodstuffs.

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On June 15, the Israeli state prosecution indicted a former minister, Dr. Gonen Segev, for spying for Iran. Israeli authorities arrested him about a month earlier. His arrest and indictment were kept secret until a gag order was partially lifted on June 18.  If found guilty, Dr. Segev would be the most senior Israeli political figure ever to spy for an enemy country.

Dr. Segev – a former combat soldier, officer and medical doctor – was elected in 1992 as a member of the right wing Tzomet party. In 1994 he left the party. The following year he was appointed minister of energy in the second Rabin government. He also was made a member of the security cabinet, a group of select ministers that discuss and decide on the most important security matters.  Although Dr. Segev served as a minister for less than a year, his vote allowed Prime Minister Rabin to secure a majority in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament) on a crucial vote for the implementation of the controversial peace deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization. By 1996, Dr. Segev was ejected from politics.  

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