Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Tuesday, the BBC reported upon recent activity on Iranian social media, which has become well-known as an outlet for protests and verbal opposition to the Iranian regime. In a nation where critical speech is frequently criminalized, social media is also heavily restricted, with total bans being technically in place on platforms like Twitter and Facebook throughout Iran. But many Iranians use virtual private networks and other workarounds in order to defy the bans, thereby contributing to a tumultuous political situation between the regime and its citizens.

On Wednesday it was reported that four Republican Senators had reached out to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to encourage him to withhold certification of Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Negotiations leading to the JCPOA concluded two years ago this month, after which it passed the congressional approval process by the narrowest of margins, amidst resistance from virtually all Republicans and a handful of Democrats. The deal was then implemented beginning in January 2016 and has continued to elicit controversy regarding its effects and the extent to which Iran’s compliance can be trusted.

On Sunday, a truce went into effect in southern Syria which was separate from the larger ceasefire negotiated among multiple parties led by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It had previously been reported that the Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana had ended without an agreement, as a result of Iranian opposition to proposals for a deconfliction zone in the south. Three other such zones have been established as a result of those talks and are being enforced by the multiple parties, but the Canadian Press reports that the southern zone was established through direct talks between Russia and the US, and will be enforced without multilateral participation.

The state-run Javan newspaper, an undisclosed organ of the Revolutionary Guards, published an article Monday, July 19, 2009, on the circulation of government newspapers that are being published and distributed under the supervision and censorship of the regime's audit, and confessed bankruptcy and stagnation of these newspapers.

Thursday, UPI reported that the Iranian Oil Ministry had extended an invitation to pre-approved foreign companies, in hopes of enticing them to invest in the development of the Azadegan oil field. The announcement arguably reflects increased optimism among Iranian officials about their prospects for foreign investment, following the previous announcement that France’s Total SA had completed a deal to develop the South Pars gas field as part of a consortium with a Chinese energy company and a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company.

On Monday, two major news stories highlighted the tense situation regarding Iran’s role in the Middle East and its relationship with the world at large. These come nearly two years after the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers raised expectations of expanded economic investments in the Islamic Republic, but also more than a month after US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Arab Islamic-US Summit cast doubt upon the willingness of Iran’s adversaries to let this situation move forward.

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