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KAYHAN-LONDON
Kayhan is a Persian-language, London-based spinoff of the conservative daily of the same name headquartered in Tehran. It was founded in 1984 by Mostafa Mesbahzadeh, the owner of the Iranian paper. Unlike its Tehran sister paper, considered "the most conservative Iranian newspaper," the London-based version is mostly run by exiled journalists and is very critical of the Iranian regime.
Photo of missiles launched during a military exercise in Iran
Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

Why Ukraine War Won't Slow Iran's Quest To Become A Nuclear Power

A new round of comments from inside Iran's leadership ranks reaffirms its intention to produce a nuclear bomb, a decades-long cat and mouse game between the regime and an ever cautious West that hasn't seemed to change even as the Russia-Ukraine war brings in a new world order.

-OpEd-

Ali Mottahari, a former deputy-speaker of the Iranian Parliament, recently revealed that "right from the start of our nuclear activity, our aim was to build a bomb and strengthen our deterrent force. But we couldn't keep this a secret." It appeared he was admitting to what regional and Western states have long suspected and Iran's regime denies — that it wants to make nuclear bombs.

Mottahari's father, Morteza Mottahari, was a prominent theologian and confidante of the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This has allowed his son to speak with relative freedom under the Islamic Republic. In comments to a local press outlet broadcast on April 22, Mottahari blamed the Mujahedin-e Khalq, a Marxist opposition group, for revealing Iran's supposed nuclear plans.

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Photo of a placard during an anti-Putin protest, showing a mashup photo of Putin and Stalin
Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat

A New Cold War Calculus: Ukraine's Domino Effects Around The World

The war in Ukraine has set off the dynamics of a new Cold War: a standoff between democracy and authoritarianism, whatever the ideological stripe. Faraway parts of the world will be affected by what happens on the ground in Ukraine.

-Editorial-

LONDON — Two months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians and their leaders' political skills have created responsibilities for the West and the democratic world. The first day of the invasion was a wake-up call for the West and its allies. The world is returning to bipolarity and a new Cold War.

If the last Cold War was between Soviet communism and Western capitalism, this one is between a front of liberal democracies and their authoritarian rivals. Younger people might call it Cold War 2.0.

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So what will be the characteristics of this next-generation Cold War? That will depend on how the war in Ukraine ends.

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Men wave the Iranian flag in front of a poster of General Qasem Soleimani
Geopolitics
Ahmad Rafat

Quds v. Revolutionary Guards: Why U.S. Sees Iran's Two "Terrorist" Forces Differently

Is there calculated diplomacy or just confusion behind the Biden administration's ambivalent positions on what can only be defined as 'terrorism' of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards?

-OpEd-

For weeks now there has been talk of removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from the West's list of international terrorists, to meet one of Iran's conditions for renewing the 2015 pact on its nuclear program, or agreeing on a similar pact. Tehran says removing the terrorist label from the Guards and lifting all sanctions on this key military force constitute a 'red line' that must be included in any deal in ongoing, though stalled, talks on its program.

Recently U.S. President Joe Biden and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, voiced opposition, without specifically citing the Revolutionary Guards, to ending the terrorist label for one particular unit of the Guards, the Quds Force. This is a regional task force suspected of meddling in the affairs of several neighboring states, and the previous U.S. administration of President Donald Trump took out its powerful leader Qassem Soleimani in 2020, saying he was a threat to U.S. forces.

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President Ebrahim Raisi looks at the Iranian flag.
Geopolitics

Protests In Iran Risk Spreading As Ukraine War Triggers Global Food Crisis

After a break in late March, small protests have broken out all over Iran over wages and pensions. A higher cost of living caused by the war in Ukraine may be the final straw for exasperated Iranians.

In Iran, workers and pensioners have resumed protests over dismal wages and work conditions, after a two-week lull for the Persian new year holidays. Amid dire conditions for many Iranians in an economy that has become perennially dysfunctional, one economist has warned there could be another explosion of public rage against the Islamic Republic within months.

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Iranians have reasons enough to be angry: unemployment, inflation, unpaid or meager wages (when paid) that barely meet bread-and-butter costs, and a regime that persists with a nuclear program that has earned the country little more than sanctions. And now, the regime's sinister ally, Russia, is provoking a spike in food prices after invading Ukraine.

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Photo of the statue of Qassem Soleimani burning in Iran
Geopolitics
Worldcrunch

Why Iranians Are Burning Statues Of Khomeini And Soleimani, Heroes Of The Revolution

With increasing frequency, Iranians are destroying or defacing the monuments of revolutionary and clerical leaders that they have come to loathe as symbols of oppression. It is a dangerous act of protest against the regime, which has called the vandalism "vile."

There has been a sustained — if furtive — trend among disgruntled Iranians to deface, vandalize or destroy monuments raised in honor of prominent figures of the Islamic Republic, in power since 1979. It is a residual form of protest under a regime that allows none. However, rest assured, no harm is done to the country's cultural heritage: It is safe to say the structures in question have no aesthetic value at all.

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Photo of people in front of missiles in the streets of Tehran as part of a ​military parade by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards in Tehran on Jan. 7
Geopolitics

Will Iran's Revolutionary Guards Make A "Sacrifice" To Help Seal Nuclear Deal?

A dispute between Iran's foreign minister and a leading regime hardliner over whether to insist on removing the paramilitary from the "terrorist" list indicates divisions in the Islamic Republic over what kind of nuclear deal it wants with the West.

-Analysis-

It has been a sticking point in the negotiations to revive the 2015 pact regulating Iran's nuclear program: Tehran had insisted that the Revolutionary Guards, the elite military unit founded by Ayatollah Khomeini, be taken off the list of global terrorist groups. Western negotiators were told the condition was a "red line" if any deal was to be reached.

But recently, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian suggested the regime may not insist on the West removing the Guards from the sanctioned list, with the powerful military wing's willingness to make a "sacrifice" for the state's interests and "selflessly" aid talks to revive the pact and help end crippling sanctions on Iran.

Over the years, the Revolutionary Guards, formed soon after the 1979 revolution, have become a mix of domestic power brokers, politicized army, regional intervention force and big-business holding.

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IRGC launched missiles during a military exercise
Geopolitics

Iran's Take On Russia-Ukraine: Nuclear Arms Are Our Best Defense

While cheering the Russian attack on Ukraine, Iranian state media have also drawn the "lesson" from this war that a state can only be strong if it has a nuclear arsenal.

-Analysis-

So Iran stands with Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, China and Nicaragua in not condemning Russia's attack on Ukraine. Instead, it is voicing support for the conflict's instigator, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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One thing this war has done for Iran was to swiftly reveal elements in the political establishment who favor arming the country with nuclear weapons, which is against the regime's official line on non-proliferation. They include officials, media analysts and even individuals usually tagged as reformists, but they mostly consist of regime zealots closer to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

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photo of a man with a mask crossing a blue foot bridge
Geopolitics

Iran's Secret 25-Year Trade Pact With China May Really Be A Military Deal

Iranians only have online speculation to guess how much the country's clerical regime has conceded to China as part of the New Silk Road initiative. There are now reports of 5,000 Chinese security agents being deployed in Iran to "protect" Chinese personnel working in the oil sector.

A member of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce recently cited unconfirmed reports of some 5,000 Chinese security agents deployed in Iran, under the pretext of protecting Chinese personnel working in the oil and gas sectors.

The presence of Chinese forces inside Iran would be within the framework of the 25-year cooperation pact between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People's Republic of China. Reza Padidar, head of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture's energy committee, says the reports are fueling concerns about the mechanics of implementation of the Iran-China pact.

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Iran's Alliance With Russia And China Will Carry A Heavy Price
Geopolitics
Roshanak Astaraki

Iran's Alliance With Russia And China Will Carry A Heavy Price

Iran's clerical regime is handing over vital economic sectors to its "allies," Russia and China. But future generations may end up paying the real price for the country's "Look to the East" philosophy.

-Analysis-

LONDON — Soon after the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran turned the popular chants of "Neither East Nor West But An Islamic Republic" and "Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic" (Esteqlal, azadi, jomhuri-e eslami) into official slogans and cornerstones of its ideology. These conveyed the new regime's desire to be firmly non-aligned in its goals and affiliations. The government even placed the first slogan over the gates of the foreign ministry in Tehran.

In actual fact, the regime has based its foreign policy on a distinctly "Not Western" foundation. The assault on the U.S. embassy in Tehran late in 1979 was a clear indication of its leanings, even if the regime did seem to sway Westward at particular and sensitive points over the next 40 years. It has been years, however, since it displayed any independence from the emblematic powers of the Eastern block, Russia and communist China.

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Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at the tombs of ''martyrs'' of the 1979 Revolution in Tehran on Jan. 31
Ideas
Yusef Mosaddeqi

After The Revolution, What Happens When Iran's 1979 Generation Fades Away

Iran's dismal conditions are not ultimately about sanctions or the lack of reforms, but for the criminal ignorance of the revolutionaries of 1979 who replaced a flawed but technocratic regime with medieval despotism. What happens when those responsible begin to fade away or die?

-Editorial-

February 11, the anniversary of the 1979 revolution in Iran, has become a recurring, and unrelenting, pain in the hearts and minds of Iranians the world over. While the number of veteran revolutionaries and participants in that calamity goes down by the year, and generations born since entering middle age, Iranians have become ever harsher in their judgment of those parents and grandparents who bequeathed them a catastrophe.

Besides the Islamic Republic's own, loutish nomenklatura and hirelings who — for the state salaries paid to them — cherish the date and heap abuse on dissenters, the former revolutionaries now close to senility or death react differently to the admonishments of generations that have seen their lives and hopes torn to shreds. Their response often depends on personal levels of realism or awareness of the costs of their revolution.

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File photo of women walking in Ahvaz, Iran, where the killing took place
Society
Kayhan London

Iran: Video Of Smiling Man With Beheaded Wife Shines Light On "Honor Killings"

The beheading of a 17-year-old in southern Iran by her husband, who then paraded her head through the streets and on social media, has prompted Iranians to accuse the clerical regime of encouraging such acts through systematic misogyny.

Horrific footage has been circulating this week online of a smiling man displaying the severed head of his 17-year-old wife in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, beheaded for supposed "disobedience" after she'd tried to flee to Turkey.

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Growing Public Hatred Of Religious Leaders Unnerves Iran Regime
Society

Growing Public Hatred Of Religious Leaders Unnerves Iran Regime

An increase in public protests has sounded the alarm bell for Iranian officials and clerics. But public discontent runs much deeper than discontent over wages and water. There are also signs of nostalgia for the monarchy that ruled the country before the 1979 revolution.

Recently quoted by Iran's government news agency, IRNA, Taghi Rostamvandi, the country's deputy interior minister, addressed a subject that had long gone unspoken: "People are moving in a direction where the religious government is no longer addressing their problems." He said they may seek the solution to these in a "secular or non-religious system."

Rostamvandi told a Tehran seminar on social problems on Jan. 16 that people's interest in secular models of governance should be taken as "sounding the alarm" for the Islamic Republic.

He referred to an "increased inclination" to protest among Iranians, either through gatherings or through antisocial behavior. "In recent years, with an increase in economic and material pressures, people have gradually run out of patience." Other officials prefer to downplay the gravity of such discontent. A member of parliament for Tabriz, a city in north-western Iran, most recently attributed "93% of all significant protests in the past two years" to labor-related issues. In other words, there was no ideological component to them.

Clerics losing respect

On Jan. 13, a senior jurist from Qom in central Iran, Ayatollah Hashemi Hosseini-Bushehri, said that promoting spirituality was a principal goal of the country's 1979 revolution that toppled a Westernizing monarchy. Today, he said, clerics should not be revising that goal "for material problems, and ask, 'why did we have a revolution?'." With the Islamic revolution, he said, "we proved that religion is not separate from politics."

Theology students try not to wear their clerical garb, as people will mock or insult them

But state officials and clerics know of the discontent brewing among Iranians. This awareness is the reason for the ruthless suppression of protests, which happened recently in Isfahan, central Iran, as well as the considerable sums of money being spent on propaganda against protesters and all secularizing or liberal opinions.

Another cleric teaching in Qom, Mohammadtaqi Fazel-Meibodi, recently said "people take a poor view" and "blame the clergy" for their difficulties. He also pointed out that when theology students (tollab in Persian) "go to the market to shop for something... [they] try not to wear their clerical garb, as people will mock or insult them."

More generally, he continued, clerics felt "uncomfortable" wearing their robes in public. People, he said, "mock them in taxis. They blame them for inflation and every other problem."

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praying

Iranian Supreme Leader's Office/ZUMA

Monarchy support

Faezeh Hashemi, a former legislator and daughter of a former Iranian president, said in an interview on Jan. 10 that "right now, we're doing worse things than Israel, America... and anywhere else we may denounce." She told the website Dideban-e iran that given Iran's role in the deaths of half a million Syrians, by backing the sitting president Bashar al-Asad, "we've killed a good many more Muslims than Israel."

More recently, Supreme Leader Khamenei's niece Farideh Moradkhani was arrested on her way home, apparently for praising Iran's final empress, Farah Pahlavi, on her last birthday. Her brother Mahmud Moradkhani told the Prague-based broadcaster Radio Farda that she had not been charged, but authorities had compiled a "thick dossier" of offenses, including defending political detainees.

A good many, if not all, of the protests in recent years began around specific issues like fuel prices, wages or water shortages, and quickly grew into vociferous, anti-regime demonstrations. The authorities often blame this mutation and oft-recurring slogans like "Death to the Dictator" on infiltrators. Perhaps the worst of it for them is the enduring memory of a monarchy the regime was confident it had consigned to history's trash bin.