Archiv der Kategorie: Iran after Election 2013

VICE| DIE MODE-RENAISSANCE DES IRAN

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Vor der Islamischen Revolution im Iran 1979 musste niemand das islamischen Vorschriften entsprechende Gewand, auch als Hidschab bekannt, tragen. Die Mode im Iran unterschied sich kaum von dem, was die Menschen in Europa oder den USA trugen. Nach der Revolution wurde der Hidschab jedoch gesetzlich vorgeschrieben.

Obwohl der gewöhnliche schwarze Hidschab besonders in ländlichen Gegenden noch weit verbreitet ist, gibt es aktuell eine Fashion-Renaissance im Iran und Städte wie Teheran werden zur Heimat von jungen und innovativen Designern. Die Kleidung muss zwar immer noch islamischen Vorschriften entsprechen, doch so strahlende Farben und Designs zu zeigen, wäre vor zehn Jahren im Iran gar nicht denkbar gewesen.

Letzten Sommer hat VICE in Teheran die dritte jährliche Fajr Fashion Show besucht und mit einigen der neuen iranischen Designer gesprochen. Die höchsten Vertreter des Landes hatten eine Genehmigung für die Show erteilt und saßen alle in der ersten Reihe, um ihre Unterstützung kundzutun. Und um sicherzugehen, dass die Models sich an das Gesetz hielten.

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Most art forms in Iran are illegal. Artists shirk the law by going underground

Tehran is the seat where most of Iran’s artistic community resides and hopes to one day thrive, despite the tremendous censorship restrictions regarding who can perform and under which circumstances. Navigating these restrictions has become an art form itself, while social media sites (at least those that are allowed) are continuously monitored. Iran has very strict censorship rules regarding women’s appearance, and which topics are permitted to be discussed openly. Anything cultural or artistic that has the intention of being presented to the masses must first receive authorization and approval from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance before it can proceed into production. Plays, novels, videos, films and songs all are subject to scrutiny, and which ones are ultimately approved or dismissed is often decided by an arbitrary stroke of an official’s pen. Any plays that relate to politics or religion or refer to sexual issues are not allowed. Women vocalists are not permitted to sing solo in front of a male audience or make records, in part because of a long-standing idea that a woman’s voice will incite sexual excitement among men. Many artists have been forced to pursue their creative freedom by traveling underground (and in some cases quite literally), staging shows in tunnels, caves, homes or isolated fields where officials won’t see them, more so as an act of self-preservation rather than of rebellion. Iranian artists can navigate between the more mainstream and underground scenes as well. For example, it is possible for an artist to take part in an official performance while working on different underground/illegal projects.

Iran has seen faint promises of more civil freedoms since the arrival of newly elected president Hassan Rouhani, a moderate politician said to be in favor of promoting more arts. In January 2014, the band Pallett famously played to a live nationally televised audience, and in April of this year pop star Xaniar Khosravi performed on stage after having been previously rejected by the Ministry of Culture for having a Western sound, leading many to feel that change — albeit a slow drip — may be imminent.

Photographer Jeremy Suyker spent several months in the country following an underground culture of young dancers, painters, performing artists, musicians and vivacious creatives resilient in producing their passions outside the confines of censorship. In early 2013, while doing research on Iranian culture, Suyker received a tip from an Iranian friend in Paris that a dynamic art scene was unfolding in Tehran. He spent months with dozens of artists who welcomed him, not as an outsider to their secret society but as a fellow creative and storyteller reflecting the narrative of their intimate lives and struggles. The vision of what Iranian culture should appear to be on the surface — particularly among the younger generation — is turned on its head and rendered myopic through Suyker’s images.

All photos by Jeremy Suyker

Iran Headlines: Vienna Talks, Friday Prayers, and Economic Growth

(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are photographed as they participate in a trilateral meeting in Vienna (REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster).

NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS

Quoting a source familiar with the negotiations,Nuclear Iran wrote, “All of the technical issues are resolved except for the Fordow and Arak (facilities)…what remains are issues that require political decisions such as the number of centrifuges as well as a timeline for the lifting of sanctions.”

On Thursday, October 16, hard-line Raja News wrote, “In the remaining time left before the (November 24) deadline, the talks will veer towards discussing an extension, and the P5+1 will certainly ask Iran for more concessions.”

On Wednesday, October 15, IRNA reported that a large majority of Iranian parliamentarians have expressed that they will “(c)ontinue to support the diplomacy efforts of the Rouhani administration and the nuclear negotiating team.”

FRIDAY PRAYERS

Fars News Agency quoted Tehran prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami as saying, “In truth, the sedition (Green Movement) of 2009 stood against the republicanism of our system of governance…I get the sense that some people want to downplay the significance of the sedition, and wipe away (their crimes), but our supreme leader says the sedition is our redline.”

ISNA reported that in Shiraz, prayer leader Ayatollah Asadollah Emani said, “When the West created the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), they also created other terrorists groups outside of Iran such as the Taliban, al-Qa‘ida, and ISIS. Today, these countries once again feel threatened and have formed a coalition to confront the Islamic revolution…but just as they did in the past, they will fail once again.”

Fars News Agency reported that in Qom, prayer leader Ayatollah Seyed Hashem Husseini-Bushehri criticized Turkey saying, “Not only did Turkey not help, but they closed all the roads which caused the innocent people of Kobani to sacrifice their lives. Of course, unlike the arrogant powers, we remain hopeful that the people of this region will quickly achieve victory in their battle against ISIS.”

ISNA quoted Mashhad prayer leader Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Alam al-Hoda as saying, “Allowing female solo vocalists to perform is in the interests of the enemies of Islam and enemies of our system of governance.”

IRNA reported that Qazvin interim prayer leader Hojatoleslam Abd al-Karim Abedini said, “The persecution of people of Kobani reveals the lying nature of the United States and this coalition that has been formed against (ISIS).”

ECONOMY

ISNA reported that according to preliminary calculations from Tehran’s Central Bank, the Iranian economy grew 4.6% in the period between spring of 2013 and spring of 2014.

A hard-line Kayhan editorial questioned recent announcements made by the Rouhani administration regarding economic growth. Citing faulty stats, the writer asked if these statements are “statistics or dreams?”

Mehr News Agency reported that 670,000 jobs were lost during the first year of the Rouhani administration.

POLITICS

Mehr News Agency quoted Ali Saeedi, the supreme leader’s representative in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as saying, “The United States has pitted all the different Islamic sects against one another…seeking to conduct proxy wars by using Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey instead of themselves.”

SOCIETY

In an interview with ISNAprofessor of geophysics at Tehran University Bahram Akashehsaid that due to the Tehran being situated alongside the slopes of the Alborz Mountains, if a large-scale earthquake hits the capital, “(t)here will be wide-ranging catastrophic damage.”

PHOTOS

Iranian women compete in a national dragon boat competition.

Coffee lovers attend the third annual International Coffee and Cocoa Festival in Tehran.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami leads Friday prayers at Tehran University.

A Russian Navy ship docks at Iran’s northern Bandar Abbas Port.

  • Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani

    Research Assistant, Center for Middle East Policy

    Source: Iran@BROOKINGS

    Reading Between the Red Lines: An Anatomy of Iran’s Eleventh-Hour Nuclear Negotiating Strategy

    Video cameras are set up for the start of a news conference at the United Nations headquarters building (Vienna International Center) in Vienna (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger). After yet another round of negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue this week in Vienna, Tehran is simultaneously reinforcing its red lines while raising expectations that a final agreement remains within reach. While these might sound like mixed messages, in fact they are part of a sophisticated, multi-prong strategy aimed at pressuring Washington and its negotiating partners to accede to Tehran’s stipulations for a deal.

    Below, I have outlined the elements of Iran’s eleventh-hour approach, which has been remarkably effective in framing the final push toward a deal before the November 24th deadline. What remains uncertain still is whether it will succeed. The latest round of talks ended today amidst modestly upbeat statements from both sides. However, the frustration that has been expressed privately and the vague admonitions from U.S. officials in Vienna that „the Iranians have some fundamental decisions to make“ — together with recent statements by Iranian negotiators about extending the deadline — underscores that a resolution to the nuclear crisis remains out of reach.

    Hold Fast on Enrichment By Leveraging Domestic Opposition

    Since the June 2013 election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s presidency, the Iranian leadership has struck divergent tones on the nuclear issue. Rouhani and his charismatic foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have openly campaigned for a deal and advocated broader possibilities for U.S.-Iranian engagement, while Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has consistently expressed skepticism that an agreement can be reached and has maintained his traditional full-throated hostility toward Washington.

    These divisions within the elite are genuine; Iran has always been a highly factionalized polity, with intense ideological infighting over foreign policy as well as other affairs of state. And Khamenei openly derided Rouhani’s achievements as the country’s chief nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005. For that reason, analysts have importuned the West from the outset of his administration to „help Rouhani“ persuade his hard-liners by offering generous terms for a deal. And Zarif and his colleagues have repeatedly raised the specter of Iran’s politics hardening once again if a deal is not reached.

    Increasingly, however, Iranian officials have sought to deploy their internal differences to justify inflexibility on key terms. That tactic makes a virtue of one of Iran’s persistent vulnerabilities; the divisions within its ruling system have enabled an elaborate game of good-cop-bad-cop. That dynamic has increasingly dominated the negotiations since early July, when Khamenei articulated an ambitious bottom line on enrichment – raising the stakes on an issue that has long been the foremost point of contention in the talks. The sermon came only weeks before the initial deadline for a comprehensive deal, as Iranian negotiators were sitting with their American, Russian, Chinese and European counterparts in Vienna.

    The latest salvo was the release of a new infographic, below, by the office of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei via website and Twitter. The diagram aggregates various proclamations that Khamenei has issued regarding the nuclear talks over the past year to outline in no uncertain terms the regime’s “red lines” or requirements for an agreement. The information itself isn’t new, but the message is clear: Khamenei calls the shots, and the only way Iran will sign onto a comprehensive nuclear agreement is if it satisfies his maximalist requirements.

    Red Lines During the Nuclear Talks

    Many media reports have interpreted Khamenei’s interventions as an effort to box in his negotiators, a view that is apparently shared by at least some of the P5+1 governments. At the time, Reuters cited an unspecified Western intelligence analysis as declaring that Khamenei’s „remarks were aimed at severely curtailing his team’s room for maneuver, making it effectively impossible to bridge gaps with the stance of the (six powers)…In our assessment, Khamenei’s remarks were not coordinated with the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna at present, and were intended to cut off their ability to negotiate effectively.“

    This is a reasonable interpretation, but ultimately there is no hard evidence that absent the Supreme Leader’s public rhetoric, Iran’s position on enrichment was particularly flexible. In fact, Rouhani has been explicit from the start of his presidency that he would not yield on the issue of enrichment, insisting instead that „(t)here are so many other ways to build international trust.“ And in the days after Khamenei’s speech, Zarif proffered Iran’s first and only substantive proposal on the issue of enrichment, which included no reductions in enrichment capacity whatsoever, suggesting instead that the most he could do was to „try to work out an agreement where we would maintain our current levels“ along with measures to reduce the applicability of the enriched uranium for weapons purposes.

    This posture has not gone totally unnoticed; Brookings Foreign Policy Senior Fellow Robert Einhorn warned months ago that Iran’s position on enrichment could be „a showstopper“ for the negotiating process. And the International Crisis Group has repeatedly pointed out that „Tehran’s general approach is to trade transparency for capacity: accepting more intrusive inspections in return for a higher enrichment capability and continuation of research and development.“

    Still, the presumption that there are wide gaps between Iran’s hardliners and its official representatives on what constitutes acceptable concessions in a deal remains an article of faith, and a convenient one for a system interested in perpetuating the negotiating process. By wielding Khamenei’s intransigence on enrichment as an immovable object, Iranian negotiators can claim to be bargaining in good faith even as they reject any compromise on the core issue on the table. „We are ready to stay with the negotiations until the very last minute,“ Zarif rhapsodized while in New York. „We are ready for a good deal, and we believe a good deal is in hand.“ Left unsaid was the vast gulf between what Tehran considers a good deal, and what might be considered acceptable to its negotiating partners.

    Capitalize on Shifting Priorities to Dilute Terms of the Deal

    The Iranian approach also relies on the calculation that after more than a decade of frustrating talks and amidst a context of regional chaos, international resolve on the protracted, intractable nuclear crisis may be waning. „The world is tired and wants it to end, resolved through negotiations,“ Rouhani asserted earlier this week. This alleged apathy toward the nuclear issue is exacerbated by the emergence of a more immediate and arguably more compelling threat emanating from the group known as the Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS or ISIL.) As I’ve argued previously, both Rouhani and Zarif focused their public remarks while in New York last month on the proposition that an expeditious nuclear bargain could be instrumental in securing Iranian assistance in the U.S.-led campaign to degrade ISIS.

    The extension of the argument, as articulated by Zarif and others, is that the temptation of a deal — any deal — should be powerful enough to override any meticulousness on the details, particularly for an Obama administration that is struggling to develop an effective response to regional instability. The latest purveyor of this message is a group of renowned Iranian film directors who recently launched a savvy new social media campaign, No2NoDeal. Although the Foreign Ministry has denied reports in the Iranian press that this campaign was orchestrated by the government, the campaign’s moniker and its mantra is a word-for-word repetition of one of Zarif’s regular talking points and its advocacy is entirely directed at Western publics and, by extension, the P5+1 governments. The notion has taken hold with some audiences, including former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, who recently importuned that the P5+1 must accept „not to make the best the enemy of the good.“

    Iranian officials see Western leniency in the nuclear talks as a fair price to be paid for extending the Islamic Republic’s proven capacity to shape outcomes in Iraq and Syria to the Obama administration’s newborn campaign against ISIS. As I wrote last month,

    Once again, as in so many previous iterations of the U.S.-Iranian flirtation (Iran-contra, goodwill-begets-goodwill), a quid pro quo is being dangled before Washington; for the small price of nuclear concessions, Iranian assistance against ISIS can be bought. „If our interlocutors are also equally motivated and flexible, and we can overcome the problem and reach a longstanding agreement within the time remaining,“ Rouhani cajoled in his UNGA speech, „then an entirely different environment will emerge for cooperation at regional and international levels, allowing for greater focus on some very important regional issues such as combating violence and extremism in the region.“

    Tehran is eager to reinforce its bonafides in this effort — which explains the sudden proclivity of the previously reclusive Qasem Soleiman, commander of the Revolutionary Guards‘ Qods Force, to indulge in battlefield selfies from the frontlines of the assault against ISIS in Iraq. „Iran is a very influential country in the region and can help in the fight against the ISIL (IS) terrorists,“ a senior Iranian official told Reuters recently, adding, „but it is a two-way street. You give something, you take something.“

    Depict Iran’s Rehabilitation as a Fait Accompli

    The third aspect of the strategy is a skillful, and largely successful, campaign to redefine Iran’s image on the world stage in order to move beyond the nuclear standoff. The media blitz associated with Rouhani quickly began to erase Iran’s identification in the popular imagination with the noxious rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the appalling repression that occurred in aftermath of the preceding presidential ballot. Instead, Rouhani and company have sought to persuade the world that the era of Iranian isolation has now passed, the nuclear impasse is — well, effectively — relegated to history, and that business as usual can resume immediately.

    This is why Rouhani told a New York audience that the Obama administration should „leave behind (this) insignificant issue,“ and why he proclaimed on state television earlier this week that despite widespread pessimism about the status of talks, „we believe that the two sides will certainly reach a win-win agreement.“ Others in the Iranian establishment have made similarly dismissive noises about the outstanding issues; Ali Larijani, the current speaker of the parliament and former nuclear negotiator, recently sniffed that the enrichment impasse is a „trivial matter.“

    Ironically, Rouhani’s declare-victory-and-go-home stance is somewhat reminiscent of his predecessor’s approach; Ahmadinejad repeatedly proclaimed that Iran was already a „nuclear state“ in what was interpreted by some analysts as a pretense for assuaging Iran’s national pride while testing the possibilities for an exit strategy from the impasse.

    Rouhani’s motives are similarly elastic. He has invested heavily in seeking a deal to end the nuclear stalemate, but he also insists that Iran must not „not sit idly to see whether the foreign parties will respond positively or negatively.“ Instead, he has sought to stabilize the country’s economy and expand its diplomatic horizons in a fashion intended to elevate Iran’s prospects irrespective of whether the nuclear issue is ever resolved.

    Enhancing Iran’s economic prospects represents a fundamental driver of this aspect of the nuclear strategy. Rouhani has asserted that „the sanctions regime has been broken.“ While this is patently false, Tehran can trumpet its improved policies for a preliminary turnaround as well as minor evidence of sanctions attrition, including judicial reversals of selective European designations and indications of revived European interest in Iran’s energy sector. Even today, London is the scene of an industry conference hyping the trade and investment possibilities in Iran.

    Begin to Play the Blame Game

    The fourth essential element of Iran’s late-inning strategy is more forceful efforts to ascribe responsibility for the continuing difficulties in achieving a deal to Washington. In Tehran’s telling, the Obama administration is the unreasonable party, insisting on „excessive demands“ while Iranian negotiators have exhibited only generosity and forbearance in defending Iran’s „rights.“ Throughout their recent visits to New York, both Rouhani and Zarif insisted that Iran has fulfilled its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action to the letter.

    By contrast, Zarif repeatedly criticized Washington for what he alleges are departures from the provisions of the interim accord signed last November. „There is no international mechanism to measure how the United States has lived up to its commitment, if there were, I’m sure the United States would have gotten a failing score.“ His complaint appears to derive from Washington’s ongoing implementation of existing sanctions, although enforcement is not prohibited by the JPOA and Iran’s negotiators plainly understood it would continue during this period.

    More broadly, Zarif has frequently attributed the lack of progress in the nuclear talks to American caprice, contending that „the United States is obsessed with sanctions.“ He blithely told another interviewer that Washington is the obstacle to an agreement and that Iran has articulated very modest requirements. „So there is a deal at hand. Within reach,“ Zarif declared, adding „all that the United States needs to do is to get an agreement that can lead to the removal of sanctions. There is nothing else that we’re asking the U.S. to do. We are not asking for security guarantees, we are not asking for any money, we are not asking the United States to do anything — simply to remove the sanctions.“

    In an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, he asserted that the difficulty in achieving a comprehensive agreement „(t)he fact that we’re not close [to a deal] means that the United States and some of its Western allies are pushing for arbitrary limitations which have no bearing whatsoever on whether Iran can produce a nuclear weapon or not.“

    These messages are amplified by more strident Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Khamenei in his role as head of state. In an August address to the country’s Foreign Affairs ministry, Khamenei expressed bitterness about the talks, noting that „the Americans‘ tone also became harsher and more insulting and they expressed more unreasonable expectations during negotiations and in public podiums…Not only did the Americans not decrease enmities, but they also increased sanctions.“ The bottom line for Iran’s ultimate decision maker? Thenuclear talks „are not helpful at all“ and „establishing relations and speaking to the Americans will not have any effect on reducing their enmity.“

    For their part, U.S. officials have remained profoundly restrained in their public statements, insisting that they will not negotiate in public and simultaneously trying to avoid any rhetoric that would further complicate the prospects for a resolution. They also have a wider array of audiences to consider, including negotiating partners with a diverse interests and domestic rivals as well as regional allies that fiercely oppose the prospective terms of a nuclear deal. As a result, Washington has slowly lost its advantage in shaping the public narrative on the negotiations, despite unparalleled capabilities for disseminating its messages.

    If, as expected, negotiators are unable to produce an agreement by November 24, the blame game may be the most important part of Tehran’s nuclear strategy, because it shapes the alternatives available to each side. Depicting American obstructionism as the cause of the talks‘ demise will facilitate Iran’s acknowledged Plan B — an end-run around sanctions and an attempted breakout of the economic pressure and international isolation that helped generate the conditions for constructive negotiations in the first place.

    Will Iran’s Strategy Succeed?

    The Iranian strategy appears to be working – to a point. Iranian brinkmanship has succeeded in redressing the inevitable power imbalance between the isolated Islamic Republic and the powerhouse coalition comprised of world powers that already slashed Iran’s oil exports in half. By sticking to its guns, Tehran has gone from supplicant to sought-after in the talks, with Washington and its allies scrambling to devise formulas that might meet the supreme leader’s imperious mandates.

    Still, it seems unlikely to me that Washington will acquiesce to Iran’s obstinacy on enrichment. The Obama administration has already extended major concessions to Tehran in devising a formula that Tehran could claim acknowledged its nuclear rights and in backing away from previous American insistence on a suspension or end to all enrichment on Iranian soil. Any deal that fails to redress the breakout timeline would gainsay a decade of efforts to deter Iran from nuclear weapons capability, as well as the strong preferences of America’s regional allies.

    And more importantly, I think the presumption that the Obama administration is so desperate for a foreign policy victory, so feeble in its assertion of American interests and the security of our allies, or so eager for Iranian cooperation on other regional challenges that it will accept a hollow deal represents a profound misinterpretation of this administration’s foreign policy and the capabilities of the United States.

    For that reason, I believe that Tehran’s four-point hedging strategy is a dangerous bluff, and one that will ultimately fail. I suspect that will not prove the end of diplomacy with Iran, but neither will it facilitate the end of Iran’s self-imposed forfeiture of its rightful place in the world. As a senior U.S. official said — not for the first time — yesterday in Vienna, „the question remains whether Iran’s leaders can and will seize this opportunity.“ The cost of another failure is high, and the durability of the multilateral sanctions regime and the long reach of U.S. unilateral measures means that it will be paid entirely by the Iranian people.

    Source: Iran at Saban

    Tagesspiegel| Fall Reyhaneh Jabbari: Opfer-Familie will Hinrichtung junger Iranerin

    von

    Mord oder Notwehr? Reyhaneh Jabbari, hier im Dezember 2008 vor Gericht, hat einen Mann erstochen – nach einem Vergewaltigungsversuch.Bild vergrößern
    Mord oder Notwehr? Reyhaneh Jabbari, hier im Dezember 2008 vor Gericht, hat einen Mann erstochen – nach einem Vergewaltigungsversuch. – FOTO: AFP

    Die 26-jährige Reyhaneh Jabbari soll hingerichtet werden, weil sie den iranischen Geheimdienstmitarbeiter Morteza Sarbandi erstach. Der soll versucht haben, sie zu vergewaltigen. Am Mittwoch lehnte die Familie des Verstorbenen nun eine Begnadigung Jabbaris ab.

    Die Familie des iranischen Geheimdienstmitarbeiters Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi will die Hinrichtung von Reyhaneh Jabbari. Die heute 26-jährige hatte Sarbandi 2007 mit einem Messer verletzt, er starb. Jabbari hatte geltend gemacht, sie habe in Notwehr gehandelt, weil Sarbandi sie vergewaltigen wollte.

    Erstes Treffen zwischen Opfer-Familie und Verurteilter

    Ein Teheraner Gericht verurteilte sie aber 2009 trotz großer internationaler Proteste zum Tode durch Erhängen.

    Menschenrechtsorganisationen, EU-Vertreter und auch Anwälte in Iran bemängelten schwerwiegende Verfahrensfehler. Dennoch bestätigte der Oberste Gerichtshof 2014 das Urteil. Nach iranischem Recht kann nur die Familie des Verstorbenen Jabbari noch vor der Hinrichtung bewahren. Doch die lehnte am Mittwoch ab. Dies sagte der in Berlin lebende Onkel der Frau, Fariborz Jabbari, dem Tagesspiegel. Erstmals hatte es ein Treffen zwischen Jabbari selbst, ihrer Mutter und dem ältesten Sohn des Getöteten gegeben. Nach Angaben des Onkels der Verurteilten habe der Sohn die Vollmacht seiner Familie erhalten, Jabbari zu begnadigen oder den Weg für die Hinrichtung frei zu machen.

    Vollständiger Artikel

    FAZ| Volleyball in Iran: Freiheit für Ghoncheh Ghavami!

    Sie wollte eigentlich nur das Volleyball-Länderspiel der Männer zwischen Iran und Italien sehen – jetzt wird einer Iranerin dafür der Prozess gemacht, nach mehr als einem Vierteljahr Gefangenschaft.

    von EVI SIMEONI

    © AFPVergrößernIrans Volleyball-Team um Seyed Mohammad Moussavi Eraghi ist derzeit eine echte Attraktion.

    Dieser Dienstag ist ein wichtiger Tag. Ganz besonders für Ghoncheh Ghavami, eine 25 Jahre alte Studentin, die seit Juni in Teheran im furchterregenden Evin-Gefängnis sitzt. Nach mehr als einem Vierteljahr Gefangenschaft, nach 41 Tagen in Einzelhaft, nach Verhören, Besuchsverbot und Hungerstreik, wird ihr jetzt der Prozess gemacht. Ihr Vergehen: Zusammen mit anderen Frauen hat sie am 20. Juni vor dem Azadi Stadion gefordert, das Volleyball-Länderspiel der Männer zwischen Iran und Italien ansehen zu dürfen. Doch der Blick auf Männer in Sportkleidung ist Frauen im Iran nicht erlaubt. Vorgeworfen wird ihr „Propaganda gegen das Regime“.

    Ghoncheh Ghavami war erst ein paar Monate im Land, als sie verhaftet wurde. Sie ist in London geboren und ist britische und iranische Staatsbürgerin. Eigentlich war sie nach Teheran gekommen, um Kinder das Lesen zu lehren. Jetzt bringt ihr der Iran die Flötentöne bei.

    Vollständiger Artikel

    Iran nuclear negotiator says talks may be extended once more

    Abbas Araghchi (C), Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, arrives at the Austria Center Vienna after another round of talks between the EU and P5+1 on May 16, 2014 in Vienna. (photo by DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)

    Iranian nuclear negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Aragchi said that the nuclear talksbetween Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) may be extended beyond the Nov. 24 deadline.

    “Time is passing rapidly and we are still not unhopeful to reach a conclusion by Nov. 24,” Aragchi told reporters at a meeting with the judiciary officials in Mashhad.

    On the upcoming talks in Vienna, Araghchi said, “If the results of this next round of talks are not good enough, we certainly will not reach a final deal by Nov. 24.”

    Araghchi said that the Oct. 14 meeting will be bilateral talks with the United States and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. The Oct. 15 meeting will be trilateral talks betweenAshton, Iran’s lead negotiator and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

    Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman are also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings.

    “These negotiations will be about the topics of sanctions and how to lift them and enrichment,” Araghchi said, adding that he hopes “we can open a new path.”

    In a transcript provided by Fars News Agency, Aragchi said, “Everything is possible, even extending the negotiations.” He did not elaborate on what an extension might look like.

    Iran and the P5+1 initially reached an interim deal in November 2013. Iran suspended some nuclear activity in exchange for the temporary lifting of some sanctions and the unblocking of some funds. In July 2014, the negotiators agreed to extend the deadline until Nov. 24.

    On the last negotiations that took place on the sidelines of the 69th UN General Assembly, Araghchi said, “In New York, there were expectations that progress would take place, but that did not happen.” Western negotiators also said that “limited progress” had been made in those talks.

    According to the spokesman of the parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Seyed Hossein Naghvi-Hosseini, Zarif’s report to the committee about the New York negotiations did not appear optimistic. According to Naghi-Hosseini, Zarif told the committee that lobbies in the United States affiliated with Israel did not want any type of deal made with Iran and for this reason, the United States was not looking to reach an agreement, and that Iran needed to prove to others that they tried to reach a deal. The comments of this committee, which has taken a hard line against the nuclear talks and previously leaked a number of details about the nuclear talks, did not receive wide media coverage inside Iran.

    President Hassan Rouhani’s own adviser, Ali Younessi, contradicted Naghvi-Hosseini and said that the United States, of all the P5+1 countries, was the most inclined toward reaching a final deal with Iran, but that China and Russia did not want to see a deal happen. However, he added that he was not optimistic about reaching a final deal.

    Source: AL-Monitor

    Iran restricts organ transplants

    Medical staff work in an operating room of the Imam Khomeini Hospital in Ahvaz in Khouzestan, Iran, Dec. 6, 2010. (photo by Wikimedia Commons/Florence)

    Over 25,000 Iranian patients are on the waiting list for receiving an organ, according to the latest statistics that Iran’s Ministry of Health has announced. Official statistics show that every day, seven to 10 patients on this list die in dire need of an organ transplant.

    The administration has increased its efforts to inform and educate people to willingly become donors, which is why the donor card system was created. A section that has also been added to driver’s licenses in Iran that indicates the license holder’s decision to donate his/her organs.

    “Starting on Sept. 21, 2014, no more organ transplant operations will be performed on non-Iranians,” Iranian officials announced in September.

    The major reason this decision was made, according to the Ministry of Health, was that the number of foreign citizens who have undergone organ transplant surgery in Iran — 608 legally documented over the past 10 years — was already high, considering the number of Iranian patients in critical condition.

    In an interview with Al-Monitor, Dr. Nader S., a nephrologist and experienced transplant specialist in Shiraz, said, “In the private hospital where I am a major share-holder, we had a few cases of foreigners who would travel to Iran and buy a kidney from healthy, broke folks through middlemen and kidney dealers, and then would undergo transplant surgery in our hospital, which is a big, modern, well-equipped hospital, also quite costly; but the latter was obviously no big deal for these people.”

    Another recent development has been banning private hospitals from performing transplant surgeries (starting last month), and limiting these procedures to public and teaching hospitals.

    The reasons stated for the decision to limit organ transplant surgeries to public and teaching hospitals is to stop what Iran’s health officials refer to as numerous counts of misconduct and abuse of the system, as well as the need for better regulation of transplant procedures and finally, access to better, updated and high-tech equipment in public and teaching hospitals.

    A controversial aspect of the topic of transplant is the religious aspect. While there have been differences of opinion among Iranian Shiite clerics about this matter in the past, the organ transplant bill (regarding transplanting organs from the bodies of brain-dead patients) that passed in Iran’s Majles (parliament) in 2000, further paved the way for the procedure. There are still mixed views concerning the details, but Iranian clerics generally accept the procedure. The matters in which nuances become apparent are transplanting the organ(s) of a male to a female or vice-versa, and transplanting organs of a non-Muslim to a Muslim, or vice-versa.

    In an interview with Al-Monitor, Mohsen Kadivar, a philosopher and Iranian dissident cleric, expressed his opinion on the matter: “Iranian clerics are quite advanced in this regard. Wahhabis, on the other hand, could be quite harsh on rejecting the idea of transplanting organs. Although I have not studied their view on it in particular, one of the reasons that citizens of Saudi Arabia would have been inclined to travel to Iran for such procedures, other than Iran’s advanced medicine, may have been the difficulties they face in their own country, created by their clerics. I would say Orthodox Christians, too, are less open to what may be interpreted by some clerics as disrupting the acts of God. Personally, although I’d carefully consider the matter on a case-by-case basis, I’d generally say I am welcoming of saving a person’s life if there is a team of physicians pronouncing another person brain-dead. That is, if it is certain he is in a vegetative state, and if his next-of-kin allow the transplant.”

    The Iranian government has made considerable efforts as of late, through ceremonies with celebrities in attendance (such as the annual “Nafas [Breath] Feast,“ celebrating its 11th year in 2014), and public announcements to attract the population’s attention to the benefits of organ donation. Official statistics reveal that currently, 1,400,000 Iranians are registered donors.

    Another task Iranian health authorities are attempting to accomplish is persuading families to allow hospitals to proceed with the donation process. Despite being a registered donor, the next-of-kin’spermission is still required for the donation process to get started.

    Zahra, 28, a homemaker in Kerman, told Al-Monitor, “I was on top of the waiting list for a heart transplant, in critical condition, and getting eerily closer to death almost by the hour. I later found out that although my donor was registered, at first his family would not allow the organs to be transplanted and the hospital had had a very tough time convincing them, especially his mother.”

    Iran’s health authorities estimate the average time needed for donor organs to be extracted from the donor’s body to be 36 hours. Some conservative or traditional Iranian Muslims have mentioned that one of the reasons for their reluctance to allow the process is the necessary wait between death and the release of the body, which delays the burial of their loved one. Examining this reluctance in his interview with Al-Monitor, Kadivar said, “I don’t think of it as an obstacle. Fast burial is recommended in Islam because, at the time of this recommendation, morgues did not exist. Nowadays they do. Plus, the length of time many families spend on preparations or awaiting the arrival of other family members or relatives probably surpasses 36 hours, anyway. “

    While progress has recently been made in the organ transplant domain in Iran, there still are, according to Iran’s Ministry of Health, numerous problems and shortcomings within the organ donation system in the country. The organs of an average of 2,500 brain-dead people out of 5,000 should be, under normal circumstances, transplanted. This number is only 665 in Iran: the low number being due to multiple issues, the most significant ones being shortage of equipment and surgeons in small towns, delay in obtaining permission from the families of the donors and miscommunication or lack of communication between relevant and responsible medical units. These issues beg serious attention, and gravely diminish the chances of patients in need of organ transplants of receiving them from donors.

    Source: Al-Monitor

    Iran’s new military policy could boost birthrates

    Then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) attends National Army Day parade in Tehran, April 18, 2013.  (photo by REUTERS/Hamid Forootan/ISNA/Handout)

    On Sept. 30, Brig. Gen. Moussa Kamali, Iran’s chief conscription officer, announced that compulsory military service in Iran will be extended from 21 to 24 months.

    Military service has been a point of conflict between the youth and the establishment over the past three decades, ever since the 1979 revolution. All Iranian males are required to report for military service at age 18. However, college students can receive a temporary educational exemption, while others can seek exemption for medical reasons or if they need to care for elderly parents.

    According to statistics, each year about 2 million students graduate from universities in Iran. Unless they have obtained a temporary or permanent exemption, they are required to report to a military service center within a year after graduation. Failure to do so results in an additional three to six months of service.

    Leaving an academic environment for a military garrison is a point of stress and anxiety for many young students. “I seriously thought I was going to go mad when I heard that they have added three more months to the compulsory service,” said Adel, a graduate student of electronics at the Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology. “If I am supposed to end up in a military garrison, then I should have gone for it after I finished high school when I was 18. The service time was shorter back then. It’s going to be two years of my life!”

    In 2009, the army shortened military service to 18 months. Service time was further shortened for men with bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees to one to three months. In 2012, however, military service was set at 21 months for all citizens. Now, from 2015, it will increase to 24 months.

    Mehdi Karroubi, a candidate in the 2009 presidential elections and a Green Movement leader, said that reforming the military service law would be a priority if he were to be elected. According to his proposed plan, military service would be made into a profession in Iran. Those who abstain from service would be required to pay a fee and take part in a 60-day training program.

    In 1999, the Iranian parliament passed a proposal allowing Iranian men to pay a fee to exempt themselves from military service. The amount, depending on the applicant’s education level, ranged from 1.3 to 2.5 million tomans ($1,600 to $3,100). The conservative faction criticized this proposal, calling it discriminatory against the less affluent. By the end of the year, the proposal was completely dismissed.

    After the West imposed sanctions on Iran, the country’s income level, which mostly comes from the oil industry, radically decreased. As a result, the army’s allocated budget has subsequently decreased over the past three years — a reality that has affected soldiers’ salaries and living conditions in the garrisons.

    In April, Brig. Gen. Hamid Sadr Sadat, the head of the Military Service Organization, announced, “The proposal that was confirmed by the parliament regarding the increase in the salaries of soldiers is still within the agenda of the organization.”

    Yet, last October, Tehran member of parliament and former Sepah commander Esmaeil Kowsari told Tasnim News that there was no budget allocated for this issue.

    According to officials in the Military Service Organization, soldiers’ salaries range from 100,000 to 110,000 tomans per month ($30 to $35). Aside from this, soldiers do not have suitable living standards.

    Alireza completed his military service after receiving his doctorate in pharmaceuticals. He talked to Al-Monitor about his two-month training program in a military garrison in Tehran, saying that the soldiers faced malnutrition. “Vegetables, fruit, dairy products and other sources of calcium and vitamins were nonexistent. The quality of food was disastrous, but this was not the only problem. The other problem was the quantity of rice and meat. For example, they would put only 20 grams of meat in a stew. Everyone was constantly hungry.”

    In February 2014, Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, head of the Law Enforcement Forces, confirmed thatsoldiers faced malnutrition, saying, “Our low budget is preventing us from distributing protein-rich and vitamin-rich foods among the soldiers.”

    A member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (Mosharekat) told Al-Monitor, on the condition of anonymity, “This compulsory service is partly about expanding the policy of force and control. It is similar to the mandatory hijab. The establishment wants to keep its authority over the country’s youth. When highly educated young men spend a lot of time in the military garrisons, their mental and physical health declines. It is hard to understand why a government would do this to its own human and social capital.”

    He added, “What I don’t understand, however, is why they are increasing the duration of the compulsory service given our current situation and the economic crisis. When we don’t have a [sufficient] budget for the armed forces, why are we adding three more months to the compulsory military service?”

    Some believe the service-extension decision was made in relation to the Iranian government’s recent policy of encouraging parents to have more children.

    During Brig. Gen. Kamali’s Sept. 30 announcement regarding the new law, he said, “Married soldiers will have their service time shortened by three months. Also, for each child, another three months is subtracted. In other words, if a soldier is married and has one child, his service time will be shortened by six months.”

    A military official working in the Military Service Organization in Tehran told Al-Monitor, “We couldn’t really figure out why they added three more months to the compulsory service, unless it really is about encouraging young people to have children.”

    The official believes it could also be related to the rise in unemployment and the current economic decline. “Well, this way, each of these young men have to spend three more months in the garrison, which is better than staying home and being unemployed.”

    Source: AL-Monitor

    Judiciary warns Iran media over corruption coverage

    Judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani arrives at Iran’s Assembly of Experts‘ biannual meeting in Tehran, March 8, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)

    The head of Iran’s judiciary cautioned the Iranian media about coverage of economic corruption cases, in particular warning against publishing the names of ministers affiliated with the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and said that the prosecutor’s office had been given orders to press charges against any outlet that commits an illegal act during its coverage of the corruption cases.

    “Some in the media and some officials have started to say that corruption is everywhere,” said Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani Oct. 12. “This is contrary to reality. That newspapers reinforce this is a mistake, and it leads to hopelessness among the people, and this issue is a national security issue.”

    Using a pejorative to describe Reformist media, Larijani said, “The chain newspapers print the names of individuals from cases that are still with the prosecutors and write in their headlines that some ministers were caught up in this case.”

    He said that information on open cases should not be published early and warned, “I gave the prosecutor’s office orders to monitor these media and to not give up on whatever is against the law and even to issue a summons if necessary.”

    Larijani’s comments were aimed at the media coverage of statements made by judicial spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei on Oct. 6. While discussing the corruption case of billionaire Babak Zanjani, who had been tasked with helping Iran evade sanctions by discretely selling its oil, Mohseni-Ejei said, “In this case, the names of three ministers from the previous administration and the head of the central bank were presented and in regard to these four individuals, research was conducted.”

    These comments made the front page of a number of Reformist newspapers, many of which had been under intense pressure during the Ahmadinejad administration, particularly from Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini.

    Conservative website Mashregh News took this opportunity to attack the Reformist press for its coverage of Mohseni-Ejei’s statements. It reported, “Based on the daily observations of the for-hire Reformist chain media, Mashregh became aware of a coordinated cooperation by these media.”

    In its article, headlined, “Which media was Larijani warning?” Mashregh published screenshots of the front pages of six Reformist newspapers that ran the corruption case and the ministers implicated as their top stories. The article claimed that these outlets, all of which support the administration of President Hassan Rouhani, ignore other cases of corruption and give special coverage to these because they involve Ahmadinejad’s administration. Mashregh’s outrage, however, bypassed its own coverage. The news organization not only published the comments by Mohseni-Ejei on Oct. 6 but also featured them in a top headline.

    In response to Larijani’s comments, well known editor and translator Khashayar Dayhimi wrote a very harsh letter to Larijani entitled “A lawless country.” He wrote that when the corruption case involving Ahmadinejad’s vice president becomes known to everyone, a case he called “one of thousands,” then the media can’t be accused of making the corruption seem bigger than it really is. In regard to Larijani’s comments about people becoming “hopeless” about the situation, he wrote, “The people have already made their judgments and they will do so again.”

    Source: AL-Monitor

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