Residents of Zahedan Stage Protests on First Friday of the New Shamsi Year 1402, Chanting “Khamenei Is a Killer, His Rule Is Null’
After the end of the first Friday prayers in the Shamsi year 1402 (starting on March 21, 2023) corresponding to March 24, locals in Zahedan staged protests, changing slogans against the Iranian regime. These protests are held each Friday in Zahedan on a regular basis.
Social media footage showed protesters from Zahedan chanting, “Death to the dictator,” “Khamenei is a murderer,” and “His rule is invalid.” The release of this footage coincided with reports of internet shutdowns and disruptions in Zahedan on Friday. Protesters in Zahedan chanted, “I will kill whoever killed my brother” in other videos.
Some demonstrators’ slogans include “The mullahs must go,” “This is the last message, the aim is the entire regime,” and “Death to the Basij, death to the IRGC.”
At the same time, the human rights organization Hal Wesh reported that the internet was disrupted in Zahedan, and that the Friday prayer sermon of the Sunni imam of Zahedan Moulavi Abdul-Hamid was not completely broadcast. According to the report, people were present in the mosque, as in the past weeks, despite the internet outage.
The Iranian Minister of Oil: Iran’s Oil Exports Increased by 83 Million Barrels in the Past Iranian Year; This Year Will See a New Record Level of Oil Exports
Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji stated that revenues from oil shipments were received on schedule and deposited in the NIMA system and the new exchange system, noting that oil exports have now reached their highest level in the last two years.
He stated, “Despite the tightening of sanctions, we have achieved in the gas and oil industries the required records in the Raisi government in the field of exporting crude oil, gas condensate, oil derivatives and petrochemicals because the Ministry of Oil is one of the sectors that provides for the country’s foreign exchange needs.”
He added, “With regard to our tasks in the 2022 budget, I can confidently say that the majority of this budget has been achieved. It was also achieved in 2021. As a result, the Ministry of Oil has accomplished its tasks.”
Commenting on Iran’s steady increase in oil exports, Owji stated, “In 2023, we will set a new record in terms of exports,” referring to the fact that in 2021, Iran sold around 190 million barrels more than in 2020, and 80 million barrels more than in 2019.
He explained that the country has around 60 petrochemical complexes but their output is still raw or semi-raw so must go through the production cycle. Therefore, new licenses have not been issued to investors in the last 20 months as the emphasis is on completing the production cycle.
He noted that the government intends to help the petrochemical industry, particularly the value added chain, through this initiative and that any investor who accepts the requirements and enters this field would be granted concessions by the Ministry of Oil.
Deputy Russian Foreign Minister: Moscow Will Host Meeting of Deputy Foreign Ministers of Syria, Turkey, Iran and Russia
According to RIA Novosti, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov stated on March 27 that the anticipated quadripartite meeting between Iran, Russia, Turkey and Syria will take place soon at the level of the four nations’ deputy foreign ministers.
This Russian official stated that the meeting might be held in early April in Moscow, Russia’s capital.
Previously, Bogdanov stated that preparations for the quadripartite summit, which would include Iran, to reestablish relations between Turkey and Syria are being handled carefully and meticulously.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin also stated last Saturday that preparations to organize the quadripartite meeting on Syria with Iran and Russia are ongoing. This session will not be at the presidential level.
Inflation Rate Hits 64 Percent in February, Reaching Five-decade High
In February 2023, the inflation rate climbed by 63.9 percent compared to the same month the previous year, setting a new record in Iran.
The Central Bank of Iran published its inflation report for February 2022 on Sunday, March 26. However, unlike previous reports, this report only referred to inflation for the 12 months ending in March compared to the same period last year, indicating that Iran’s annual inflation rate has reached 46.5 percent.
Although the report did not provide the point-to-point inflation rate, Iranian Central Bank statistics reveal that the February 2023 price index was 794.3, while in February 2022 the price index was 484.6.
As such, the price rise in February 2023 compared to the same month in 2022 was approximately 63.9 percent (point-to-point inflation).
It is unclear why the Central Bank did not include point-to-point inflation in its report, given how simple it is to calculate by comparing price indexes.
Unusually, the Statistical Center of Iran reported January inflation late and has yet to announce the inflation level for March.
The completion of the process of shifting the base year from 2017 to 2021, according to the Statistical Center of Iran, was the cause for the delay in publishing inflation figures for the month of March 2023.
By Organizing a Gathering in Brussels, Iranians Call for Designating the IRGC as a Terrorist Organization
In connection with the meeting of European foreign ministers, a group of Iranians staged a rally in the Belgian capital of Brussels at the headquarters of the European Union (EU), and requested that the IRGC be added to the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.
Many European representatives, including those of Iranian descent, spoke at this event on Thursday.
The speakers included Daniel Ilkhanipour, a member of the Hamburg State Parliament who is of Iranian descent; Alice Konecki, a member of the Swedish Parliament; and Alireza Akhoundi, a member of the Swedish Parliament of Iranian origin and one of the organizers of this event.
The demonstrators’ demand that the EU declare the IRGC a terrorist organization was emphasized by these speakers.
On the sidelines of this event, Ilkhanipour informed a Radio Farda reporter that European countries are gradually altering their positions and supporting the demonstrators.
He went on to say that the Iranian opposition alliance is critical and that European politicians must speak out now more than ever. He emphasized that the Iranian opposition is united and can speak with one voice.
“In the beginning of the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ movement, people had greater hope, but we were not close to their goal, but despite the diminished hope among people, we have come very close to the goal,” said the Iranian-born Hamburg State Parliament member.
Akhoundi told a Radio Farda reporter that the documents he supplied to EU Parliament members revealing the “terrorist nature of the IRGC” are not classified and were just presented to prevent for European countries from making excuses.
He continued, “Not the Islamic Republic, but despair, is our greatest foe. We must carry on.”
He also stated that he saw no need to discuss the IRGC with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell as Borrell still believes that the nuclear accord can be revived.
Despite this, Akhoundi claims that the number of European countries backing the demonstrators’ demand is growing.
Iran’s Navy Chief: Military Readiness at Highest Levels
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani stated on Friday at a Quran recital ceremony dedicated to naval cadets held in Sirjan, Kerman Province that the country’s military strength is a symbol of the Iranian regime’s sacred resistance. He said that many martyrs have sacrificed their lives to preserve the country’s regime.
He emphasized the need to boost Iran’s military power, noting that this strength will make the enemy unable to commit even the faintest act of evil against the country.
“Surely, the country’s defense capabilities have reached the highest levels. We maintain a naval presence. This presence symbolizes Iran’s pride and clout.”
He added, “What we are showcasing today in different fields embodies the Iranian government’s internal strength. It relies on youth. More important steps must be taken in different fields, in which youths are engaged for Iran’s real power to be shown to the world more than ever before. Our presence in the world’s waters means that we want peace and friendship. Surely we will warmly shake hands with all countries that respect Iran’s people.”
Shamkhani: We Do Not Place Limits on Bolstering Ties With Neighbors
On Monday, March 27, Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Muhammed bin Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al Khulaifi met Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani. The two officials held discussions on bilateral ties and regional issues.
In this meeting, Shamkhani stated that it is vital to enhance the level of trade cooperation as well as joint activities in the field of developing infrastructure projects in a manner commensurate with the political interactions between the two countries by removing current hurdles.
He stated, “The development of comprehensive collaboration with neighboring countries is Iran’s key objective in international relations, according to the Raisi government’s neighborhood diplomacy approach. In this field, we do not believe in restrictions.”
He praised the emir of Qatar and the Qatari government for their effective efforts and cooperation with Iran in advancing regional and international interests. He stated that the fraternal and constructive relations between Tehran and Doha can be used as a model for relations with other nations in the region.
In conclusion, Shamkhani stated that some nations are attempting to cause divisions in Iran-Qatar relations by leveraging recent events. The two countries must proceed with extreme caution when addressing these issues.
Qatar’s state minister also expressed his delight at the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to improve relations at the start of this meeting. He emphasized the significance of this move in improving regional stability and security.
He noted that the development of comprehensive relations with Iran is a foreign policy priority for Qatar. He emphasized that strengthening trade cooperation and expediting the implementation of infrastructure projects are among the primary axes that should form the locomotive of economic relations between Tehran and Doha — with the two countries’ collaborative efforts.
Jalal Mahmoudzadeh: The President Should Be Summoned to Parliament to Account for the Dire Economic Situation
Member of Parliament of West Azerbaijan Province Jalal Mahmoudzadeh criticized the performance of the government in an interview with Rouydad 24 website on March 27. He said, “I suggest that the president should be summoned to Parliament to answer for the chaotic economic situation. We lawmakers should question him and demand convincing answers; and if we are not convinced, we should use the Parliament’s supervisory leverage.” He underlined that Raisi represents the highest executive authority and should provide answers regarding Iran’s current situation.
The lawmaker added, “In his electoral slogans, Raisi touched on issues like curbing inflation and lowering prices. The exact opposite happened on the ground. His remarks about change yielded no results. Raisi claimed that he could lower the toman exchange rate against the dollar by 15,000 tomans and reduce dollar inflation by half and strengthen access to the internet. He said people will no longer be worried about working in this field. Raisi also promised to establish 4 million housing units and create 4 million jobs in four years. Now, we should ask: how far has he managed to fulfill his promises?”
Moreover, the lawmaker asserted that 10 million jobs have been lost due to the imposition of strict controls over the internet, “We have lost 10 million jobs by imposing controls over the internet and foreign platforms (the imposition of restrictions on the internet and moving ahead with the protection plan). This occurred before notifying Parliament and implementing it illegally. Iran lost 10 million jobs, which means that we lost 8.5 million jobs during Raisi’s tenure instead of adding a million and a half jobs. According to available data, the government has only constructed 300,000 housing units since assuming office. This suggests that the government’s campaign slogans were entirely useless. On the contrary, the slogans were impractical.”
He noted, “We expected the government to compensate for the increase in basic commodity prices from this source of income with commodity coupons so that people could bear the high costs with these price rises. The government, on the other hand, did not do so. These government subsidies do not equal 10 percent of the money generated by currency liberalization. The government might have used this enormous cash to fund manufacturing, industry and provide financial assistance to consumers . Yet, the government increased inflation while giving subsidies.”
The European Troika and the US Have Lost Appetite for Implementing Nuclear Deal
Russia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to international organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov stated in an interview with the Russian newspaper Isostia on Monday, March 27, “The Vienna talks are still at a stalemate, but the Western parties avoid labeling them ‘dead.’ There appears to be a chance of completing the negotiation process, although the chances are very limited.”
He went on to say that the United States is fundamentally opposed to resuming the process, as is the E3 group, which includes France, Germany and the UK. They appear to have lost interest in resuming the implementation of the nuclear agreement.
“Officially, a draft is on the table that sets the path for Iran’s gradual return to fulfilling its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as well as the easing of illegal cross-border US sanctions against Iran,” he said. This draft was the outcome of rigorous and lengthy negotiations in Vienna involving Russia, Iran, China, the European Troika, the United States and the EU, which served as coordinator.
On this basis, the so-called proposal of EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell to conclude the negotiations was deemed invalid.
The head of the Russian delegation to the sanctions-relief talks already stated Iran’s determination to see the talks through. He claimed that some parties to the negotiations delayed a final agreement from being reached by inventing manufactured problems.
He tweeted that there is a chance of obtaining a final agreement to resume the nuclear agreement’s implementation if all participants in the Vienna talks have the political will.
He claimed that if the JCPOA had been fully followed, it would have been prohibited (enrichment at 84 percent). He put the ball into the court of the Vienna negotiators, instructing them to “choose the course of action they prefer.”
In response to another question on the reported text of the agreement that was on the table last year, he said, “As far as I know, Iran is ready to make a choice on resuming nuclear accord implementation.” The issue is caused by some of the other participants in the Vienna talks.