Thursday, January 25, 2018

Eye on Iran: Khamenei's Ruling Unlikely to Loosen IRGC's Grip on Iran's Economy

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On January 20, Iran's defense minister said that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has ordered the country's powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to curtail its growing business empire and divest its commercial assets that are not relevant to its domain of work. The announcement has raised the hope that the regime may have finally decided to loosen the IRGC's grip on the economy. But if past is prelude, Khamenei's decree (if he has really issued one) would prove to be more a symbolic gesture to placate anger at home and pressure from abroad than a genuine effort to lessen the IRGC's role in the economy, curb corruption and empower the private sector as a the key engine for economic growth. Despite similar statements by President Hassan Rouhani and other senior Iranian officials, the IRGC has only expanded its economic activities in Iran as well as in neighboring countries in the last year.

One day late last month, a woman wearing black trousers and gray sneakers... removed her white head scarf, tied it to a stick and waved the garment back and forth like a flag in protest against modesty laws that require Iranian women to cover their hair... Weeks later, after Iran was shaken by the biggest anti-government protests in nearly a decade, the woman's whereabouts are unknown. She has become the subject of a social media campaign labeled #Where_Is_She, and an anonymous symbol of opposition to what many Iranians view as the theocracy's harsh laws against free expression.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says more needs to be done to challenge Iran, a message that was welcomed by his hosts in the United Arab Emirates, where he is leading a Congressional delegation.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with several heads of state on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, urging them to act to fix the Iran nuclear deal and vowing that Israel would not allow Iran to establish military bases in Syria.

During the 2016 presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump separated himself from the pack on the issue of the Iran nuclear deal. While then-candidate Trump was immensely critical of the deal, he never said he would rip it up as soon as he got into office. Instead, he pledged to enforce the terms of the deal and even give Congress time to re-visit the negotiating table and set a new standard. His chief rival during the Republican primary, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would've handled it differently.


The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a woman arrested on 27 December 2017 in Tehran for engaging in a peaceful protest against compulsory veiling (hijab), Amnesty International said today. The organization renewed its calls on the Iranian authorities to end the persecution of women who speak out against compulsory veiling, and abolish this discriminatory and humiliating practice.

When Iranian authorities blocked popular messaging app Telegram last month in an attempt to quell unrest, the country's small business community bore the brunt of a communications breakdown that reverberated across the economy. 

Iranian authorities are scrambling to stem a growing crisis over air pollution in the province that produces a major share of the country's oil, showing a sensitivity to people's demands not always visible before anti-government protests raged earlier this month.

...VOA's English-language coverage was particularly atrocious. In reports under such headlines as, "Iran's Revolutionary Guard: People, Security Forces 'Have Broken the Chain' of Unrest" and "Rouhani Rejects Trump's Support for Iranian Protesters," VOA has presented at length the regime's propaganda, including outright lies, with hardly any balance or response from the protesters. VOA was late in starting its reporting on the protests and improved its coverage only slightly in a delayed reaction to outside criticism.


Turkish lender Halkbank is working closely with the U.S. Treasury and Justice Department, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said on Wednesday, after a U.S. jury found one of its executives guilty in an Iran sanctions-busting trial. 


Gulf Arab officials used the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday to slam Iran for what they said was its destabilizing behavior in the region, taking advantage of Tehran's conspicuous absence at the annual event.

If the Saudi-Israeli rapprochement continues, their collaboration could lead to improved Israeli relations with other Arab states, removing Iran's security buffer and possibly making Tehran more vulnerable to direct Israeli military action.

Despite reports that Iran's foreign minister had canceled a scheduled trip to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, Tehran says he never planned to participate in this year's summit.


As the Islamic State continues to hemorrhage territory in Syria, Iran is extending its influence throughout the country as it works to establish a contiguous land corridor or "bridge" stretching from Tehran to Damascus and on to Beirut. The situation in Syria is transitioning from an active conflict zone to what is known in military parlance as the "gray zone," an area of ambiguity that sits uncomfortably between peace and war.


Lebanon must "deal with" Iran, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told Davos attendees during a panel hosted by CNBC at the World Economic Forum.


Iran and Iraq have reached an agreement to jointly develop two shared oilfields in the southern Khuzestan Province, according to a deputy at the National Iranian Oil Company. 


Iranian media say a fire broke out at a bitumen storage facility in southern Iran, killing three workers.

Eye on Iran is a periodic news summary from United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) a program of the American Coalition Against Nuclear Iran, Inc., a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Eye on Iran is not intended as a comprehensive media clips summary but rather a selection of media elements with discreet analysis in a PDA friendly format. For more information please email

United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is a non-partisan, broad-based coalition that is united in a commitment to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to become a regional super-power possessing nuclear weapons.  UANI is an issue-based coalition in which each coalition member will have its own interests as well as the collective goal of advancing an Iran free of nuclear weapons.

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