Insider news & Analysis in Iran

 

More Arrests for Dancing 

Iranian officials have arrested two people for singing and dancing in an online video aimed at showing support for Iran’s national team in the World Cup soccer tournament. The video features scenes from both inside and outside of Iran, with a number of people dancing, some of them women who were not wearing their legally mandated hijabs. 

Iranian police official Colonel RahmatollahTaheri described the video as “vulgar” in commenting on the arrest of two 23-year-olds who appeared in the video, along with a 26-year-old photographer. The incident and the hardline comments upon it, are reminiscent of the internationally decried arrest in May of six young Iranians who appeared in a YouTube video dancing to the Pharrel Williams song, “Happy.” 

Importance of the Hijab 

One of the issues contributing to the perceived vulgarity of the World Cup video is the failure of some women featured in it to wear head coverings in keeping with the Iranian regime’s supposed social morality. An article at The Daily Beast comments upon the hijab as a particular point of focus in the struggle for women’s rights in Iran. 

The author, AzadehMoaveni, argues that many people mistakenly regard the hijab as a minor issue and a distraction in that struggle. But she claims that the Iranian regime’s forced veiling is a prime example of its attempt to control every aspect of women’s lives. Those mandatory veils then serve as physical representations of the patriarchy that compels women to remain silent and remain subject to the other demands that the social and political systems place upon them. 

The article also includes a link to a short film that details the history of the hijab as it took on the form of a “weapon of Islamic Iran.” It can be seen here:

 

Double Speak About Iraq 

The attempt to court positive public opinion while engaging in damaging policies is not exclusively the domain of President Rouhani. Supreme Leader Khamenei has also attempted to spread Iranian propaganda that seems to very clearly contradict the actual activities of the government. Case in point, Khamenei issued a statement on Sunday that expressed strong opposition to US intervention in Iraq, on the auspices that it would be a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and independence. 

Of course, Iran itself has variously gotten involved in the Iraqi crisis, just as it had in the Syrian Civil War. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ General QassemSoleimani is reportedly leading the war effort on the ground in Iraq, and reorganizing the Iraqi army according to an Iranian vision. Meanwhile, Iran is stirring up Shiite militias and providing fighters both to them and to the armies of Iraq and Syria.

Israeli Strikes in Syria 

Meanwhile, Iran’s influence in Syria has been marginally reduced as it detours some military intervention and recruits from there to Iraq. At the same time, Israel has showed renewed willingness to attack the Assad regime in response to perceived provocation or need. Hours after a 13-year-old Israeli boy was killed by an anti-tank missile in the Golan Heights near the border with Syria, the Israeli military launched air strikes on nine Syrian military positions.

Such intervention may help to counterbalance the Iranian intervention that has already turned the tide of the war in favor of the Assad regime, lengthening a conflict that might have otherwise largely ended with his deposition months or years ago. 

Analysis of Zarif’s Claims 

As with the Iraq issue, so with the nuclear issue: Iran is consistently striving to convince the international community that other nations are guilty and the Iranian regime blameless when, if anything, the opposite is true. The Tower presents a valuable analysis of Iranian Foreign Minister JavadZarif’s claims about the Iranian nuclear program, including that it is years away from being capable of developing a nuclear weapon. 

The article emphasizes the factual inaccuracies of Zarif’s assessment, and also highlights the fact that his broader commentary of the issue has been confrontational, suggesting that if the West didn’t give up some of what Iran claims to consider unreasonable demands, then Iran would expand its uranium production out of a sense of spite. 

Snap Inspections? 

On the other hand, CBS News says that BehrouzKamalvandi, spokesperson for the Iran Atomic Energy Organization, has made a statement indicating that Iran may accept the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows international monitors to make random and unannounced inspections of the nation’s nuclear infrastructure.

This may however be another side of the same coin as Zarif’s doublespeak on the issue, since Kamalvandi’s actual words read suspiciously like an ultimatum. They accept that “the government may accept the additional protocol based on its expediency and progress in the nuclear talks,” and then point out that the legislature has the ultimate authority in this matter. The comments seem to emphasize that Kamalvandi’s word on the issue holds no water, while also suggesting that the West should speed up nuclear negotiations to secure this possible concession before Iran decides to withdrawn the ostensible offer. 

Russian Reactors 

 

Russia’s stance with adversarial countries amidst nuclear talks always seems hazy. But the same cannot be said of its relationship with nations that can be expected to have mutually beneficial exchanges with Iran. Ties between Iran and Russia have been tightening for some time, and one example of that has been the discussion of plans for Russia to build additional nuclear plants in Iran. Now it is being reported that this deal is reaching its final stages and may include two such plants. It is one of several currently-developing deals between the two nations, including an oil-for-goods exchange said to have a monthly value of some 1.5 billion dollars.

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