Ruhollah Zam during his trial in Tehran in December. Credit Ali Shirband/Mizan News Agency, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

He has been dead for a month.

On Dec. 12 Iranians woke up to bleak news: Their government had executed Ruhollah Zam, a 42-year-old journalist. The sentencing judge described Mr. Zam as a spy, as someone who incited violence and had “sown corruption on earth,” a vague charge which is often used to describe attempts to overthrow the Iranian government.

Mr. Zam, who had been imprisoned in Iran after the disputed presidential election in 2009, fled to France in 2011, where he was granted political asylum. From Paris, he started Amad News, a popular anti-government website, which also operated on the encrypted messaging app Telegram and other social media platforms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Image fournie par l’AIEA de centrifugeuses sur le site nucléaire de Natanz, le 4 novembre 2019. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/archives AFP

On peut soutenir qu’en dépit de tous ses errements, le président Trump n’a pas commis, sur le plan international, d’erreurs stratégiques équivalentes à celles de George Bush envahissant l’Irak ou Barak Obama renonçant à faire respecter ses lignes rouges en Syrie. La question se pose cependant pour sa gestion du dossier iranien : en mettant à mal l’accord nucléaire de 1995 (dit JCPOA), Trump a peut-être opéré un fait accompli irréversible, dont l’une des conséquences serait de projeter un pays essentiel pour les équilibres au Proche-Orient – l’Iran – dans l’orbite de la Chine.

Quoi qu’il en soit, à la suite de l’élection présidentielle américaine, la question iranienne est désormais entrée dans une phase nouvelle.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a funeral ceremony in Tehran on Nov. 30. (Iranian Defense Ministry/WANA/Reuters)

On Nov. 27, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated on a road outside of Tehran. An Iranian nuclear scientist who reportedly led the Islamic Republic of Iran’s alleged covert nuclear weapons program in the early 2000s, Fakhrizadeh most recently served as a brigadier general in Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, as head of the ministry’s Defensive Research and Innovation Organization (DRIO). He also taught physics at Imam Hossein University, an institution associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp.

Iran’s leadership has blamed Israel for the attack, but Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement. Some analysts voiced concern that the killing was meant to provoke an Iranian retaliation — a move that might then trigger U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's leading nuclear weapons scientist, could set off a tinder box of violence between Iran, Israel and the United States -- and put the incoming Biden administration in a tight spot when it comes to resetting relations with Tehran.

In the wake of Fakhrizadeh's death Friday, Iran's foreign minister, in a tweet, called the death "cowardice -- with serious indications of Israeli role," while the Iranian Armed Forces chief of staff warned of "severe revenge" against the scientist's killers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no immediate comment, though it's likely he, along with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, discussed how to work against Iran in a meeting in Neom, Saudi Arabia, last Sunday, where Mossad head Yossi Cohen was also present.…  Seguir leyendo »

The scene of the attack that killed prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside Tehran on Saturday. (Wana News Agency via Reuters)

It’s been nearly a year since a U.S. airstrike killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force in Baghdad. The fallout — or lack thereof — from that strike should make us cautious in assessing the impact of Friday’s killing east of Tehran of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading Iranian nuclear weapons scientist.

Hawks such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton expressed hope in January that Soleimani’s death would force Iran to scale back its regional aggression and could even set in motion “regime change in Tehran.” Many critics of the Trump administration, on the other hand, expressed fear that his death could drag the entire region into war.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester holds a picture of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a demonstration against the nuclear scientist’s killing in Tehran on Saturday. Credit Wana/Reuters

When Israel engineered the assassinations of a half-dozen Iranian nuclear scientists from 2010 to 2012, supporters of these killings argued that they would help slow a nuclear program at a time when multilateral diplomacy was showing little progress.

The killing on Friday of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, comes in a very different context.

Iran is again producing a large amount of uranium, but it is not close to the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Its actions are largely driven by the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was intended to put a lid on Iran’s ability to amass enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon until January 2031.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks by a street mural in Tehran on Nov. 8. (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

After Jan. 20, what will happen to U.S. policy on Iran? On the campaign trail, Joe Biden said he would return the United States to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran so long as Tehran does the same. Iran has made a mirror-image pledge to roll back its nuclear program and return to compliance once Washington lifts sanctions.

In theory, then, returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed by China, France, Germany, Iran, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia — should be straightforward. Biden could make that decision on his first day in office.…  Seguir leyendo »

DeAgostini/Getty Images Alborz Mountains, northern Tehran, Iran

I had no idea what we were doing was illegal.

I was six at the time.

And not well-versed in the milk pasteurization laws of Prince Edward Island.

And yet, there I was. With my grandfather and father. Three generations. Bandits all. Breaking the law.

My grandfather, for background, was born on his family’s farm in Sangsar, Iran, in 1911. In those days, the village had one street, one roundabout, narrow alleys, and small, clay-colored homes, all with brown doors.

That the village even existed was a miracle.

Two hours north were the lush green valleys and rainforests of Mazandaran Province on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea.…  Seguir leyendo »

Images of the singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian on the cellphones of fans gathered outside the Tehran hospital where he died. Credit Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency, via Reuters

Within minutes of the death of the Iranian vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian last week, thousands streamed into the streets surrounding his hospital in Tehran, openly wept and sang his songs in unison.

A man climbed on an ambulance and yelled to applause: “It is the right of the Iranian people to give him a majestic funeral. He belongs to all the people.” Another person called out for three days of mourning, a suggestion that drew cheers from the crowd.

A state funeral would have befit Iran’s most beloved public figure, who died at age 80 after a six-decade career. Mr. Shajarian’s music and message, drawn from the humanist canon of Persian poetry, unified people of all generations and political persuasions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh smiles at her house in Tehran in 2013. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

This past weekend, Iran’s most prominent human rights defender, Nasrin Sotoudeh, entered the hospital because of heart and respiratory problems resulting from a nearly six-week-long hunger strike. Sotoudeh is a veteran of this extreme form of protest, but this time the circumstances are much more dire for her and other political prisoners in the country.

On Aug. 12, the 57-year-old lawyer stopped eating to protest the scandalous mistreatment of prisoners of conscience currently detained in Iran. The refusal of Iranian authorities to take any meaningful precautions to protect the health of political prisoners during the novel coronavirus pandemic dramatizes the depths of the government’s contempt for civil society and basic human rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters in Lebanon and Iraq in the last year have turned their ire not only against conditions in their own countries, but against Iran's corrosive influence in them. Past Palestinian protests in Gaza against the Iran-supported terrorist group Hamas, and protests in Iran itself, against the use of scarce Iranian resources for its leaders' foreign malign expeditions, have voiced similar frustrations. Syria has been virtually destroyed by a now over nine-year civil war in which much of the population has fought the Iran-backed Syrian leadership.

These flashpoints are revealing the fury of Arabs -- and Iranians -- with the leaders of the Iranian regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Some regimes oppress people so much that, one day, they are toppled for reasons that never occurred to them,” journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee writes in his devastating memoir, “Life in Prison,” in which he chronicles the years he spent as a political prisoner in Iran, from 2009 to 2014. Those words hold an important lesson for Iran today.

The arrest and long-term detention of prisoners of conscience is a tradition that goes back centuries in Iran — as it does everywhere. Now, mass arrests are experiencing a tragic revival, putting at risk thousands of people guilty of no other crime than protesting the Islamic Republic’s abuses of power.…  Seguir leyendo »


El anuncio de un acuerdo de asociación estratégica con Irán pone en evidencia la voluntad de China de asumir un papel geopolítico más decidido, incluso si ello implica desafiar a EEUU directamente.


El reciente anuncio de un acuerdo de asociación estratégica entre China e Irán ha encendido las alarmas en EEUU sobre las implicaciones de una posible alianza entre sus principales rivales. Si bien no se ha firmado todavía un texto oficial y las filtraciones de un supuesto protocolo secreto sobre cooperación en materia de defensa y seguridad deben ser tomadas con cautela, las implicaciones geopolíticas de tal iniciativa tienen tal relevancia que alterarían sustancialmente los actuales parámetros del orden internacional.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (centre) speaks to reporters following a meeting on Iran at the UN Security Council, 20 August 2020 in New York (Mike Segar/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

After the United States experienced a rebuff at the United Nations last week – with almost the entire membership of the Security Council rejecting its attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran – US officials warned that the dispute could lead to a major crisis in the Council, damaging the institution’s authority.

They are not alone in this analysis. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, a vocal critic of the US sanctions drive, has accused Washington of risking “a very serious scandal and rift” at the UN.

But these dire predictions may prove to be exaggerated.

The argument pivots on the US claim that, acting on the UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), it can demand the reactivation of UN sanctions resolutions on Iran that were terminated as part of the bargain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian women walk past a mural of Iran's national flag in Tehran on July 28. (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

For the past 42 years, Iran’s clerical leadership has defended the regime’s harsh Islamic dress code by claiming that mandatory wearing of the hijab is women’s best defense against men’s sexual advances. Yet over the past few weeks, Iranian women have offered up a devastating rebuttal of that claim — by coming forward to accuse employers, colleagues and even some senior officials of sexual crimes and harassment.

The accused range from Revolutionary Guard commanders to renowned artists and ordinary citizens —implying a deep and systemic crisis of moral legitimacy at the heart of the regime not unlike the one recently faced by the Catholic Church: The theocracy that has touted itself as the guardian of good conduct and high virtue proves to have done no better, and possibly worse, than the Western societies it has so scathingly criticized.…  Seguir leyendo »

The impending peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is a game-changer for the entire Middle East.

In addition to wedding one of world's wealthiest states (the UAE) with its most innovative (Israel), it also opens new avenues toward peace. Realizing that other Arab states may soon follow the UAE's lead, and that time is no longer on their side, the Palestinians may well return to the negotiating table.

An Israeli public that is secure in its newfound relations with the Arab world will be more likely to make concessions. Stalemated for almost 30 years, the peace process might finally be revived.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Xi Jinping of China, left, and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran concluding a joint news conference in Iran in 2016. Credit Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

Leaked news this month that China and Iran had come to the verge of signing a 25-year trade and military partnership agreement struck like a geopolitical storm in Washington — a rising rival of America and a longtime foe joining forces to threaten the United States’s predominant position in the Middle East.

The agreement ambitiously promises to bring a huge Chinese presence into Iran’s economic development, in exchange for a regular supply of heavily discounted Iranian oil.

Yet in Iran and China themselves, the reaction was hardly ebullient. Critics of Iran’s beleaguered president, Hassan Rouhani, called the deal a new Treaty of Turkmenchay, after the notorious 1828 accord under which a weakened Persia ceded much of the South Caucasus to the Russian Empire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Esta semana se cumplen cinco años desde que Irán y el Grupo E3/EU+3 (compuesto por Alemania, China, Estados Unidos, la Federación de Rusia, Francia y Reino Unido, junto con la Alta Representante de la Unión Europea para Asuntos Exteriores y Política de Seguridad) acordaran en Viena el Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto (PAIC). En la conmemoración de su quinto aniversario, debemos ser conscientes de que, sin el Plan de Acción, Irán podría haber desarrollado ya armas nucleares, añadiendo otra fuente de inestabilidad a una región de por sí volátil.

A día de hoy, el PAIC está siendo sometido a una gran presión desde múltiples frentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

These images obtained from the state-run Iran Press news agency on June 30 shows footage of a powerful explosion at a clinic in northern Tehran. (Roy Issa/AFP/Getty Images)

Over the last few weeks, Iran has been hit by a series of unusual explosions at such sensitive facilities as its nuclear enrichment complex, factories and gas pipelines. Many analysts and diplomats suspect sabotage by Israel, the United States or some other outside force. While reliable information from within Iran is difficult to come by, and conflicting accounts are emerging, at least two of the incidents occurred at sites linked to Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. The New York Times quoted a “Middle Eastern intelligence official” claiming that Israel planted a bomb at the Natanz nuclear facility in the building where Iran had resumed work on advanced centrifuges.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran's newly elected legislatures convened to elect the presidium and new parliament speaker in Tehran, Iran on 28 May 2020. Tasnim News Agency/Erfan Kouchari

Iran inaugurated a conservative-dominated parliament (Majles) on 27 May, following an election that saw a historically low participation rate. Against the backdrop of recurrent domestic unrest, economic hardship, the COVID-19 pandemic and elevated tensions with the U.S., what happens in the new legislature could prove a bellwether for the 2021 presidential election and the direction of Iran’s domestic and foreign policy.

Shaping the 11th Majles

Three consecutive national elections – the presidential race that brought Hassan Rouhani into office in 2013, the 2016 parliamentary vote and Rouhani’s re-election in 2017 – yielded successive victories for the alliance of political camps that in Iran’s fluid factional landscape are labelled the reformist and pragmatist blocs.…  Seguir leyendo »