Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Wednesday, UPI reported that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had appointed women to three of the country’s 12 vice presidential positions. Each such posting is associated with a separate agency but is lower in status than the 18 ministers who make up the core of the presidential cabinet. The three women will hold the titles of vice president for family and women’s affairs, for legal affairs, and for civil rights, but two are holdovers from Rouhani’s first term in office, which ended Saturday with his second-term swearing-in ceremony.

When confronted with the question of whether the Trump administration backs regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington would work with Iranian opposition groups to reach “peaceful transition of that government.”

Last week, several op-eds appeared in international media condemning Western officials including European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for their attendance at the second-term inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Articles by such critics of the Iranian regime as former European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal-Quadras suggested that this would send a permissive message regarding Iran’s domestic human rights abuses and foreign provocations. Meanwhile, outlets like the Algemeiner published pieces emphasizing the fact that Western attendees would be taking their place among a “galley of dictators and war criminals,” as well as the heads of Iran-backed terrorist groups.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had acknowledged differences of perspective between himself and President Trump regarding the future of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Last month, the president provided Congress with certification of Iranian compliance with the deal, despite the fact that his presidential campaign had repeatedly promised the cancellation of the agreement, which Trump described as the “worst deal ever negotiated.” Tillerson was given much of the credit for the latest certification, which was offered only begrudgingly by the president after his foreign policy team insisted that unilateral cancellation of the deal would alienate fellow signatories and US allies, thereby working against American interests in the long run.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International issued a new report on human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with particular emphasis on the trends that they have followed since the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani. Contrary to the expectations of some Western officials and some of Rouhani’s initial body of domestic followers, the so-called moderate has consistently failed to oversee improvements in the human rights situations over the course of his first four years in office, which end this week with his inauguration for a second term.

On Tuesday, a Reuters report highlighted the ongoing arms smuggling activities being carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The report quoted anonymous Iranian government sources as saying that the Islamic Republic and the IRGC had worked out new procedures for the transfer of missile components, cash, drugs, and other illicit goods to Yemen’s Houthi rebels, whom Iran has supported throughout their two-year war against the democratically elected Yemeni President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi.

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