Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that President Donald Trump had not yet made a decision about whether the recertify Iranian compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The president is required to provide this certification every 90 days, as a term of congressional approval for the 2015 deal, which was spearheaded by Trump’s predecessor.

On Friday, the Center for Human Rights in Iran declared that “all eyes are on President Hassan Rouhani” to see how he handles the aftermath of former presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi’s brief hunger strike. On Wednesday, Karroubi stopped eating and announced two demands: the removal of intelligence agents and recording devices from the home where he is being held indefinitely, and a public trial to present him with actual charges and a defined sentence if found guilty.

On Thursday, Newsweek reported that Syria was slated to host a decades-old international trade fair, in what was being regarded as a declaration of victory in the more than six year long civil war. The last instance of the Damascus International Fair was five years ago, and if the current plans reach fruition it may be a major sign of growing stability in the aftermath of fighting that killed upwards of half a million people and displaced millions of others. But the trade fair might also be a sign of the depth of Iranian influence in post-war Syria, especially in light of the makeup of the event’s guest list.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported upon what it described as Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recurring “hobby” of using social media to voice criticisms of domestic affairs in the United States. Leading social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are banned throughout the Islamic Republic, yet various leading officials maintain their own Twitter accounts, often using them to reach global, English-speaking audiences. Many Iranian citizens also have such accounts, but in their case this is the result of technical workarounds for the regime’s blockage, such as the use of virtual private networks.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Mehdi Karroubi, one of the Iran regime’s rival faction leaders who havs been under indefinite house arrest since 2011, announced that he was beginning a hunger strike as a means of demanding a public trial. To date, no formal charges have been levied against Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, or the latter’s wife Zahra Rahnavard, and the terms of their detention have never been defined. The three rose to prominence after endorsing claims of widespread fraud in the 2009 reelection of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

On Tuesday, Voice of America News reported that Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, had departed for a visit to Ankara. This is the first visit to the Turkish capital by any Iranian military chief of staff since before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which led to the rise of the Islamic Republic and to many years of tense relations between the Shiite theocracy and the traditionally more secular Turkish government.

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