close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.

The JCPOA + Football Secrets + Humorless Tyrants

May 9, 2019
Maziar Bahari
5 min read
An influential cleric issued a fatwa against IranWire colleague and contributor Mohammad Tangestani
An influential cleric issued a fatwa against IranWire colleague and contributor Mohammad Tangestani

I’m worried. We’ve witnessed many dangerous developments in the last few days. The tension between Iran and the US has intensified to an unprecedented level. In the current atmosphere, a rare event such as the capture of American marines by Iranians or American forces shooting a Revolutionary Guards’ boat in the Persian Gulf could trigger a military confrontation. 

And as usual, innocent people will pay the heaviest price.

Donald Trump was highly critical of US wars in the Middle East and I don’t think he is interested in a war with Iran. But, it’s been obvious that the Trump administration thinks that the lukewarm diplomacy of his predecessors, especially President Obama, toward Iran has not worked. Iran has been expanding its presence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. This expansion means a direct threat to Saudi Arabia and Israel, America’s main allies in the Middle East, and the undermining of US interests in other countries, especially Iraq. The current US government is determined to contain Iran and protect America allies in the region against any Iranian interference. 

As American pressure on Iran increases, the true nature of the Islamic regime comes to the surface. With every new American-imposed sanction, the Iranian government reveals another facet of its fanatic, terrorist, misogynist and xenophobic nature. When the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was named an FTO (foreign terrorist organization), most Iranian parliamentarians, even the so-called moderates, put on IRGC uniforms and chanted “Death to America” inside the parliament building. And yesterday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said that more than one million Afghan refugees may be forced to leave Iran if the country is subjected to further sanctions. That would essentially mean uprooting thousands of families who’ve been living in Iran since the early 1980s. This week we tell the story of one Afghan boy trying to get to Iran — and this could well set the scene for many for Afghans in the future.

Some of my friends, especially on the left, argue that Iran has no choice but to retaliate against Trump’s draconian sanctions. That America is responsible for the suffering of millions of Iranians. But they are missing the point. Trump and the US are not and have not been the problem. The problem is the Islamic Republic. It is a regime built on a specific dogmatic interpretation of Shia Islam and anti-Americanism. In order to survive, the Islamic regime needs to suppress the individuals and groups inside the country that it deems seditious and at the same time create and empower allies and proxies in the Middle East and other parts of the world to undermine American interests. Successive Iranian governments have been using and abusing Iran’s resources to brutalize their own people. It holds responsibility for the suffering of many Iranian people. 

A few months ago a reporter asked Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, “Why is Iran, unlike many countries in the world, in constant clash with the rest of the world and always under pressure?” Zarif answered that Iranians have chosen to live like this and this is the price Iranians are paying for their independence. Zarif knows that this could have been the truth in 1979 when people revolted against the Shah. But 40 years later, many Iranians do not want to continue living under the Islamic regime and want to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the countries in the region and around the world. 

So it was no surprise that exactly one year after the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the nuclear deal), President Rouhani announced that Iran would begin stockpiling low enriched uranium and taking steps to ensure Iran could more easily produce bomb-grade plutonium. Iran has also notified China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK that if it they don’t provide Iran with economic benefits mentioned in the deal within two months, it will enrich even more uranium and will stop its redesign of the heavy water reactor in Arak. The Europeans, predictably, rejected Iran’s ultimatum, and the French defense minister Florence Parly warned that if Iran did not keep to its commitments, Europe will impose new sanctions on Iran.

Apart from tensions over military gesturing, there were other public announcements that caused anxiety of a different sort. Last week an influential cleric issued a fatwa against IranWire colleague and contributor Mohammad Tangestani in response to one of his poems, which the ayatollah believed went against Islam. Human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, myself and many others and have called for Tangestani, who currently lives in Belgium, to be protected and for his rights to be upheld. 

The news that football legend Ali Daei had been sacked as manager for Tehran football club Saipa was a clear reminder that the same figures crop up again and again in Iranian politics, power and business. When Daei left he decided to make public the dark past of the club’s CEO, revealing Mostafa Modabber’s involvement in the 1989 murder of a Kurdish party senior official. The story is dramatic, one of shady plots and political betrayal, but Daei’s decision to talk about it as he faces another of his own ongoing scandals also reveals something about him. If he knew all of this about his boss at Saipa, why is he choosing to reveal it now? 

IranWire continues its analysis and in-depth focus on the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the power it commands over almost every aspect of Iranian life. Successive governments have failed to curtail its monopolies, but are the Guards’ activities actually illegal? President Trump’s decision to classify the Guards as a terrorist organization and reimpose sanctions has given the world a fuller picture of just how much control the Guards wield, and his recent decisions in the Gulf could well test that power. This could all mean the IRGC will have fewer places to hide and will eventually affect its vast wealth, but the fact remains that it’s the Iranian people who suffer the most from the Guards’ corrupt practices, and they will continue to do so.

visit the accountability section

In this section of Iran Wire, you can contact the officials and launch your campaign for various problems

accountability page



Hossein Hamedani: Suppressor of Protests in Iran and Syria

May 9, 2019
Ehsan Mehrabi
6 min read
Hossein Hamedani: Suppressor of Protests in Iran and Syria