Geopolitics

Don't Underestimate Russian Influence Over Iran's Military

Russia's role in in Iranian affairs goes to the highest levels of its military and security structures. But will anyone in Iran dare question Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in spite of the grave risks to the country's national security?

-Analysis-

LONDON — Several sources recently reported on the sale of 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets to Iran. These were initially to be sold to Egypt, but that deal was thwarted by the threat of U.S. sanctions on Egypt. Since 15 of the planes were reportedly ready for delivery, they may be sent to the Iranian regime in early 2022.

Reports of sales of Russian commercial or military planes to Iran are not new, though some now qualify them as a consolation for Tehran to make amends for Russia's suspected approval of the strikes that have targeted Iranian Revolutionary guards bases, allied militias and Iranian war material in Syria.

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How Tehran Hunts Down Iranian Refugees In Turkey

Iran's clerical regime is able to sabotage asylum applications, prompt deportations and, failing that, beat and murder Iranian political refugees in Turkey.

LONDON — After Iran's 1979 revolution, Iranians with different views to those of the new, clerical regime felt obliged to leave the country. Over the years, a range of events and factors included prison executions in the 1980s and the suppression of student protests in Tehran in 1999. The crushing of mass protests in 2009, then in late 2017, in mid-2018 and in late 2019 to 2020 prompted more Iranians to flee.

One place that has become a temporary refuge for them is Turkey. Currently, it hosts around 40,000 Iranian refugees, many of whom have spent years of their lives here, hoping in fact to move on and settle in another country as a safe haven.

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A Dry Question For Iran: Can A Water Crisis Take Down The Islamic Regime?

The Iranian government is responding to peaceful protests with batons and bullets. Their brutality and criminal incompetence are galvanizing protestor solidarity and resistance, which might finally prove fatal to the ruling elite.

-Editorial-

LONDON — On November 26, Iranian authorities crushed public protests that had been denouncing the state's water policies for a fortnight in and around the city of Isfahan in the center of the country. But while such protests are essentially political, and ultimately the result of four decades of criminal incompetence by the Islamic Republic, local farmers and residents were also specifically demanding their right to water and to the natural environment where they were born.

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Israel-U.A.E Historic Meeting, Omicron Emergency, Putin Taxi Driver

👋 ສະບາຍດີ*

Welcome to Monday, where the first ever meeting took place between leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, BoJo declares an “Omicron emergency” and Vladimir Putin shares a side hustle from his past. And for the insomniac and the lonely, we tune in to Taiwan’s new app that connects you to a “sleep buddy” who’ll virtually tuck you in with some late-night talking.

[*Suh-bye-dee, Lao]

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Green
Elahe Boghrat

Why Environmental Protests In Iran Are Being Ignored

The growing environmental movement in the West, wittingly or not, has given no attention to mass protests in Iran against the clerical regime, most recently focused on the drought conditions and other ecological risks. Had ecologists been hoping to sign a green pact with Tehran?

-Editorial-

I wrote this in late November as farmers in Isfahan, in central Iran, faced a ruthless assault by the security forces of the Islamic Republic on the dried Zayanderud river bed, where they had been protesting for several days. The latest footage shows shots being fired on the crowd of citizens, striking at least one man and a woman.

Farmers had called a protest for 9 a.m. on November 26, and large numbers of people were expected to gather in the river bed where water had until recently flowed for centuries, if not millennia.

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Geopolitics
Ahmad Ra'fat and Hamed Mohammadi

Iran's Hard Line On Nuclear Talks Keeps Getting Harder

In spite of the toll sanctions have taken on its economy, Iran wants a deal on its nuclear program that addresses none of the West's concerns about its military ambitions. It is also moving forward with new uranium enrichment technology.

-Analysis-

After a four-month hiatus, Iran has resumed talks on its nuclear program with other signatory countries of the suspended, multilateral pact of 2015. These are Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, and the European Union (EU). The talks that began this week in Vienna exclude the United States, an original signatory that withdrew from the pact in 2018 — and while the U.S. administration under President Joe Biden says it favors a deal, it is only indirectly involved, through the EU.

Prospects for this round remain dim, given Iran's preconditions and the stated objectives of Western states. The Iranian deputy-foreign minister, Ali Baqeri-Kani, said on a recent trip to several EU states that Iran would only resume talks to discuss ending sanctions on it, and there would be no discussions for a nuclear agreement. He was suggesting that an end to all sanctions — whether for Tehran's nuclear program, rights violations or terrorism abroad — was the central condition for more talks.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Omicron Restrictions, Iran Nuclear Talks Resume, Thai Monkey Festival

👋 Kaixo!*

Welcome to Monday, where the Omicron variant prompts new restrictions and border closures, talks on Iran’s nuclear deal resume in Vienna and Thailand’s monkey festival is back. We also take you on an international journey into the wonderfully weird world of microstates.

[*Kie-sho, Basque]

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Geopolitics
Marcos Peckel

Abraham Accords Unleashed: The Middle East Will Never Be The Same

The peace accords signed between conservative Arab states and Israel are the start of an inevitable opening for the Middle East, and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan means a new post-American, post-oil future.

-Editorial-

BOGOTÁ — Days ago, passing through the Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv, I could see prominent signs announcing direct flights between Israel and Casablanca in Morocco, and with Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Manama the capital of Bahrain, and Cairo. These were in addition to the dozen daily flights linking Tel Aviv and Istanbul, which have been operating for some years.

And to think on top of that, we now see the opening of Saudi airspace to flights to Israel, which would have been unthinkable just a few years back.

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Society

Iran Registers Record Number Of Child Brides

Numbers are rising of girls aged 14 and under getting married, as well as births from very young mothers.

Nearly 10,000 girls aged 10 to 14 years were married off in Iran in the first months of 2021, the highest recorded rate of child brides for a country already criticized for limiting the freedoms of women and girls.

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Geopolitics
Dominique Moisi

From Taliban To Taiwan, The Limits Of Military Power

China is beefing up its military arsenal, with Taiwan as its target. However, as with the continued difficulty to control the terrain in Afghanistan, we increasingly see that military power is far from ensuring the hegemony hoped for by stronger parties.

-Analysis-

PARIS — "How many divisions does the Pope have?" once famously asked Joseph Stalin, highlighting that despite religious or political authority, military force can always prevail in geopolitics. However, in the 21st century, one can legitimately ask what military force is for.

In Afghanistan, more than three months after the Taliban's lightning victory, terrorist violence continues. It seems that members of the defeated regular army have joined the ranks of the "fundamentalist international" to continue the fight against the Taliban. In short, military victory on the ground has not solved anything. The Taliban face the resilience of those nostalgic for freedom and progress on the one hand, and Islamic fanatics on the other.

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Geopolitics
Yusef Mosaddeqi

Interests Or Ignorance? What Drives The West's Appeasement Of Iran

Whether out of cynicism, greed or basic lack of knowledge, the West has willingly embraced the fabricated vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a slightly unruly, but essentially legitimate government with which it can do business.

-OpEd-

LONDON — Since the 1979 revolution in Iran, there has been strong support in the West for the idea of talking to and working with the Islamic Republic. For starters, this can be explained by Western governments' considerable economic interests in Iran, which endures to this day.

In turn, inside Iran, some politicians swiftly adopted the "good cop/bad cop" approach to dealing with the West. They would play the role of liberals, and keep open the door to a sham dialogue between the "infidel" West and the self-styled homeland of Shia Muslims.

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Geopolitics

Israel Blamed For Cyberattack On Iran Gas Stations

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

U.S.-China “Sputnik Moment,” Troubled Brexit Waters, Gondola Gate

👋 வணக்கம்*

Welcome to Thursday, where America's top general reacts to China's test of a hypersonic weapon system, Russia is forced to reimpose lockdown measures and Venice's historic gondola race is hit by a doping scandal. French daily Les Echos also offers a cautionary tale of fraud in the crypto economy.

[*Vaṇakkam, Tamil - India, Sri Lanka, Singapore]

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Geopolitics

Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry May Be Set To Ease, Or Get Much Worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.

-Analysis-

LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.

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Society

Iran To Offer Master's And PhD In Morality Enforcement

For those aiming to serve the Islamic Republic of Iran as experts to train the public morality agents, there are now courses to obtain the "proper" training.

Iran will create new "master's and doctorate" programs to train state morality agents checking on people's public conduct and attire, according to several Persian-language news sources.

Mehran Samadi, a senior official of the Headquarters to Enjoin Virtues and Proscribe Vices (Amr-e be ma'ruf va nahy az monkar) said "anyone who wants to enjoin virtues must have the knowledge," the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported, citing reports from Iran.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Nobel Peace Prize, Iran Nuclear Talks, 700-Year-Old Pollution

👋 Bonġu!*

Welcome to Friday, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to two journalists risking their lives in Russia and the Philippines, the U.S. pushes the Iran nuclear deal back on the table, and a Swiss CEO is ousted after offering a different kind of COVID incentive to employees. From rural Sweden, we also look at how a new-age festival has become a touchstone for debate among new-age communities who don't trust the COVID vaccine.

[*Maltese]

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