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Iran

Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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Russian School Shooting, Iranian Protests Continue, Super Bowl Singing Comeback

👋 Tere!*

Welcome to Monday, where a school shooting in Russia kills at least 13, far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is poised to become Italy’s first female prime minister, and get ready for a superstar comeback at the next Super Bowl half-time show. Meanwhile, Chinese-language digital media The Initium visits the city of Guiyang, where a tragic crash of a bus carrying quarantined residents exposes the darkness of China’s zero-COVID policy.

[*Estonian]

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Occupied Ukraine Votes, Iceland Terror Attack Thwarted, Cancer-Killing Virus

👋 নমস্কার!*

Welcome to Friday, where annexed Ukrainian regions begin voting on joining Russia, Iceland arrests four in country’s first terror plot, and a cold sore virus shows promising results in the fight against cancer. Meanwhile, Firouzeh Nordstrom in Persian-language media Kayhan-London shows how the killing of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “morality police” betrays a deeply violent and misogynistic society.

[*Nômôskar - Bengali]

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Mahsa Amini, Martyr Of An Iranian Regime Designed To Abuse Women

The 22-year-old is believed to have been beaten to death at a Tehran police station last week after "morality police" had reprimanded her clothing. The case has sparked the nation's outrage. But as ordinary Iranians testify, such beatings, torture and a home brand of misogyny are hallmarks of the 40-year Islamic Republic of Iran.

-Analysis-

TEHRAN — The death in Iran of a 22-year-old Mahsa Amini — after she was arrested by the so-called "morality police" — has unleashed another wave of protests, as thousands of Iranians vent their fury against an intrusive and violent regime. Indeed, as tragically exceptional as the circumstances appear, the reaction reflects the daily reality of abuse by authorities, especially directed toward women.

Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian girl visiting Tehran with relatives, was detained by the regime's morality patrols on Sept. 13, apparently for not respecting the Islamic dress code that includes proper use of the hijab headscarf. Amini was declared dead two or three days after being taken into custody. Officials say she fainted and died, and blamed a preexisting heart condition. But neither her family nor anyone else in Iran believe that, as can be seen in the mounting protests that have now left at least three dead.

For Amini's was hardly the first arbitrary arrest, or the first suspected death in custody under Iran's Islamic regime.

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In The News
Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

World Comes To New York, Myanmar School Attack, Vegan Bite

👋 Goedendag!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where world leaders start gathering in New York for the first in-person UN General Assembly since the pandemic, Iran faces growing protests after a young woman died following her arrest by the “morality police” for violating the hijab law and a group of scientists manage to estimate the total number of ants on Earth. Meanwhile, Jan Grossarth for German daily Die Welt unpacks the potential of “hempcrete,” i.e. bricks of hemp used as building material.

[*Dutch]

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Geopolitics
Hamed Mohammadi

The West Must Face Reality: Iran's Nuclear Program Can't Be Stopped

The West is insisting on reviving a nuclear pact with Iran. However, this will only postpone the inevitable moment when the regime declares it has a nuclear bomb. The only solution is regime change.

-OpEd-

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear inspectorate, declared on Sept. 7 that Iran already had more than enough uranium for an atomic bomb. He said the IAEA could no longer confirm that the Islamic Republic has a strictly peaceful nuclear program as it has always claimed because the agency could not properly inspect sites inside Iran.

The Islamic Republic may have shown flexibility in some of its demands in the talks to renew the 2015 nuclear pact with world powers, a preliminary framework reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., the U.K., China, Russia, France and Germany). For example, it no longer insists that the West delist its Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. But it has kept its crucial promise that unless Western powers lift all economic sanctions, the regime will boost its uranium reserves and their level of enrichment, as well as restrict the IAEA's access to installations.

Talks to renew the 2015 pact have been going on for 16 months. European diplomacy has resolved most differences between the sides, but some crucial sticking points remain.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

Troll Next Door: How Iran Is Provoking Political Violence Inside Iraq

Iran's brazen meddling in Iraqi politics has provoked a parliamentary impasse and clashes between rival militias. And while Tehran may be losing influence in Iraq, it won't let go easily.

-Analysis-

Political violence has been spreading in recent weeks in Iraq, in the form of both street clashes and targeted killings. The situation in Iran's neighboring country is explosive as a showdown between Shia factions threatens to spark a civil conflict. Yet tensions in Iraq go beyond differences over who will form the next government or a power struggle between parties that favor or oppose Iran, the Shia power next door.

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Geopolitics
Roshanak Astaraki

What A Nuclear Deal Could Mean For Iran's Broken Economy

Ordinary Iranians are hoping for a speck of economic relief and nothing more, if Tehran can sign a nuclear deal with world powers that could alleviate longstanding sanctions.

-Analysis-

As the fate of talks on Iran's nuclear activities remains uncertain, millions of Iranians are hoping, cautiously, that a deal with the West could help alleviate a range of socio-economic problems. Some economic agents hope a deal to renew the 2015 nuclear pact will boost business, travel and spending. Others insist a no-deal is still better than prolonged uncertainty. The question remains, even with a deal that will soften the sanctions on Iran, can Iranians expect even a measure of prosperity in an economy that is restricted, dysfunctional and beset with opaque procedures and massive cronyism?

For over 20 years, the Iranian regime's cat-and-mouse game with the world over its disconcerting nuclear program, suspected money-laundering and support for regional militias and hitmen, have earned it a range of sanctions on Iran's economy and financial system. The regime has furthermore refused to sign the FATF or international pact to block terrorist and criminal finances.

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard and Lila Paulou

Night Of Shelling Across Ukraine, Lula Leads, Resurrecting Tasmanian Tigers

👋 Laphi!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Ukraine wakes up from a night of sustained shelling, Lula leads the polls as Brazil’s presidential race opens, and researchers are trying to bring Tasmanian tigers back to life. Meanwhile, we look at the dire dairy situation in Cuba, which faces severe milk shortages.

[*Aymara - Bolivia]

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Geopolitics

Why Iran Is Pushing So Hard For A Russian Victory

The Supreme Leader's advisers in Tehran argue the Islamic Republic must back Russia in Ukraine because Russia is fighting a common enemy: the Western alliance.

-Analysis-

When he welcomed visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reassured his guest that Moscow rightfully defended itself when invading Ukraine. Speaking in Tehran, Khamenei declared: "Westerners are entirely opposed to a strong and independent Russia," and termed the NATO alliance "a dangerous creature."

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His rambling speech continued, filled with baseless claims about NATO, saying the Western military alliance "knows no limits" and "would have provoked this same war, with Crimea as its excuse," if Putin hadn't acted first.

Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the conservative Tehran paper Kayhan, which reputedly reflects the Supreme Leader's thinking, wrote in an editorial a week after Putin's visit and evoked a "celestial perspective" that could see the realities behind "the curtain" of the war. Khamenei, the editor wrote, knows that if America were to win this war, Iran would become its next target, which is why he considers the Russian "resistance" in Ukraine as tied to the Iranian regime's own security.

Thus, he concluded of Khamenei: "logically and naturally, he backs it."

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Geopolitics
Hamed Mohammadi

Iran Nuclear Deal, Another Victim In Putin's Strategy Of Chaos

Nuclear talks between Iran and the West are stalled, as Russia signs deal with Tehran for drones. But does the increasingly isolated Iranian regime risk becoming another Russian vassal like Syria or Belarus?

-Analysis-

On a trip last month to Europe, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian spoke at the Vatican about Iran's unfinished talks with the West over its nuclear program. Tehran, he said, had proposed initiatives and shown flexibility in talks that had taken place in Vienna. According to Amir-Abdollahian, it was now time for the Americans to be "realistic" and facilitate a deal to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear deal framework.

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If his position seems to have softened, it can only be with permission from Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. And that in turn has to do with the country's dire economic conditions. Yet there is also the international context, which has been shaken up by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, though not all is as it seems.

The Iranian regime had notably softened its earlier demands that a deal must be binding for future U.S. administrations and the West must remove the Revolutionary Guards, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, from the list of international terrorist organizations.

Still, not all Iranian officials are sold on moderation: Some Western observers believe Amir-Abdollahian's positions are at odds with those of his deputy and chief Iranian negotiator in Vienna, Ali Bagheri Kani, reputedly a hardliner opposed to any negotiation on the nuclear program.

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Geopolitics
Carolina Drueten, Christine Kensche

Erdogan's Opening? Why Turkey Sees Ukraine War As A Chance To Target Kurds In Syria

As the leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia meet to discuss the situation in Syria, the West is closely watching Turkish President Erdoğan's moves on Kurdish separatists in northern Syria, now that Moscow is focused on Ukraine.

-Analysis-

It wasn't long ago that Moscow dictated what happened in Syria. Vladimir Putin has been the most important ally of Syria's regime, which would have likely collapsed long ago without Russia's support.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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But the war in Ukraine has shifted the political balance in the region — and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan can see his chance.

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