What is Muqtada al-Sadr’s Stance?
The editorial of Aftab Yazd asserts that the recent victory of Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers in the recent election in Iraq will be against Iran’s interests.
Muqtada al-Sadr, the 47-year-old leader of the Sadrist Movement, has never had a clear path in his political life in the past 17 years and has even taken contradictory stances sometimes. Unlike his family members who have had been more interested in Shiite scholarly activities, Muqtada al-Sadr sees himself more as an Iraqi nationalist leader.
In political issues, Muqtada al-Sadr’s stance has not been steady and one cannot even rely on his short-term promises, let alone seeing him as someone who can have long- and mid-term plans for Iraqi society and politics today. Despite the contradictions in his words and actions, Muqtada al-Sadr is not a very complex character and is quite predictable.
But what will be the consequences of the victory of the Sadrist Movement in Iraq’s recent election for Iran’s interests in Iraq? Muqtada al-Sadr strongly disagrees with America and its presence in Iraq, which is of course in line with Iran’s interests in that country.
On the other hand, he is also strongly against Hashd al-Shaabi, seeing it as a dependent group and has called for its dissolution. The reason Muqtada al-Sadr is against Hashd al-Shaabi is because of its organized military structure which could be an obstacle for Sadr and his followers. The Sadrist Movement, unlike Hashd al-Shaabi which has brought relative stability to Iraq today, has caused instability in recent years in this country.
Anyway, the Sadrist Movement taking power in Iraq may further Iran’s interests in some aspects, but overall the Sadrist victory will largely threaten Iran’s influence in Iraq.
Iran’s Patience Versus Azerbaijan
As tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan escalate, the editorial of Arman Melli urges that the coalition of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Israel is being shaped which will threaten Iran’s interests and security.
Accusations made by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his aggressive stance against Iran should be seen within the joint strategy of Israel, Turkey and Azerbaijan for more influence in the southern region of the Caucasus.
After the relative victory of Azerbaijan in the second war over Nagorno-Karabakh and the advance of Azerbaijan’s army in Karabakh which ensued with the help of Turkey and Israel, Aliyev has been bolstered in his aspirations to create geopolitical changes in the southern Caucasus.
Aliyev’s misplaced pride and the Turkish media’s activities against Iran show that Azerbaijan is seeking to justify its destructive policies in the region and bring Israel to Karabakh and the southern Caucasus. So, it seems that there is a scenario for cutting Iran’s land connection with Armenia and other countries in the southern Caucasus, putting Armenia under siege and blocking Iran’s transit line to Central Asia’s countries.
The other point is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s approach which is based on the dream of reconstructing the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, it seems that after Azerbaijan’s full dominance over Karabakh is established and Iran’s land connection with the southern Caucasus is cut off, Turkey too will seek to take control of a part of Nakhichevan, which means that the entire southern Caucasus will be jointly controlled by Turkey, Azerbaijan and Israel.
The current reports indicate that Israel is establishing espionage bases in the Karabakh region, which can be a significant threat for the regional countries, particularly for Iran’s security.
If Ilham Aliyev’s aggressive remarks are true, it shows that Aliyev, backed by America, Turkey and Israel, seeks to create a crisis in the northwest of Iran. Aliyev must study the history of the region and know that Azerbaijan was once a part of Iran. Now Iran does not have any territorial claims on Azerbaijan, but if push comes to shove, it will use all its power to punish Ilham Aliyev. Aliyev must not try Iran’s patience.
Dangers of Social Collapse
The editorial of Ebtekar focuses on the real threat of social collapse in Iran as all social institutions are deteriorating fast.
Undoubtedly, one of the big problems facing Iranian society is the politicization of all issues, where even the smallest details of citizens’ lives are tied to politics and political events have an extensive impact on people’s lives. Although political events are significant in citizens’ lives, certain events in society go deeper and are as important as the actions of politicians.
What is happening in Iranian society today represents the failure and collapse of all institutions – small, medium and big. Even if those in power do not like to admit this, there is still a strong sense of truth in it. The high rate of divorce, pent-up anger in society, the increase in the crime rate and the breakdown of the family structure are all indicative of this collapse.
A considerable part of these social crises is rooted in the establishment’s failure in providing for people’s livelihood. When the establishment has no specific strategy in politics, economy or society for preventing these dangers and creating hope, then such a dysfunctional society becomes an inevitability. When a society is not happy with its current conditions and has no hope for the future, it will sink in the mire of nostalgia or resort to anarchy.
One of the conspicuous features of this situation is its wide-ranging instability which can easily move towards a more volatile situation – with unclear consequences for society. As such, the gaps within society start to widen, resulting in more conflicts and disputes among social groups. These conflicts will gradually devastate all these groups.
As a result of these conflicts, the establishment will have to face an undefined population – without any collective identity, isolated, and incapable of organizing any political, social, cultural and economic ideas. Ruling over such a society is undeniably very difficult.
Such conditions will definitely impact all social institutions and groups, but the main damage is directed at those who hold the power.
The remedy is in politics and the economy. These two must be used to create hope and change in society, though it seems that those who have recently taken the power in Iran do not pay any attention to this issue at all.
Public Opinion Means Nothing to the Parliament
The Iranian Parliament is going to pass the so-called Cyberspace Protection Bill which is seen by many as a serious threat against internet freedoms and people’s online businesses. As the editorial of Akhbar Sanat urges, MPs do not even care enough to pretend to listen to people’s opinions in this regard.
The special commission for the Cyberspace Protection Bill has started its work. Two members of this commission have already said that they do not care about public opinion at all. Morteza Tehrani, the head of the commission, has recently said that every day members of the commission are repeatedly cursed and in one day 120,000 pages on the internet were published in condemnation of them, but “if they had published 100 billion pages, we would still continue to do our job.”
Bijan Nobaveh Vatan, who previously worked in media and is now an MP, said that “those who attack the Cyberspace Protection Bill either have not read it or are those who are participating in the enemy’s game. They are against having laws for the internet because they seek to act against the law.”
We must tell these MPs now that although they are determined to do what they want to do, they should at least have the decency to stop wasting people’s money with holding additional sessions. It is quite obvious that no matter what the people say about not putting more restrictions on the internet, it is of no avail. So, it is better that MPs do not waste people’s money on their own unpopular, self-interested ideas involving more restrictions on the internet.
The MPs who were elected to the Parliament with the lowest electoral turnout in the last parliamentary election now do not care about what the majority of people think about the internet. They are not even ready to listen to what people have to say in this regard.
Previously, they would not disagree with people so openly and at least pretended to care about opposing views.
As for the Cyberspace Protection Bill, it can be said that many who believe in the rule of law, are not corrupt or are not the enemy’s pawns have read it in full, and they are worried about this plan, as cyberspace will not be transparent and it will jeopardize many people’s jobs and businesses on social networks.
Rather than coming up with plans that will harm society, MPs might better think up of plans that will solve the economic problems facing the country.
Trial for 1988 Executions: Burying Victims in Mass Graves
In continuation of the trial of Hamid Nouri in Stockholm, Sweden, one of the plaintiffs, Vida Roustam Alipour – sister of Parviz Roustam Alipour and wife of Majid Ivani – said that her husband was buried in a mass grave in Khavaran Cemetery.
Regarding her husband’s execution, Vida Roustam Alipour said Majid Ivani was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment, but was executed on August 31, 1988.
In the court hearing of Hamid Nouri who is suspected of involvement in the deaths of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988, Vida Roustam Alipour stated that her sister’s husband who was not sentenced was executed as well.
As a former prosecution official in Gohardasht prison in the city of Karaj, Hamid Nouri is accused of involvement in the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988 in Iran. He denies the accusations. On November 9, 2019, he entered Stockholm Airport on a direct flight from Iran and was immediately arrested.
Vida Roustam Alipour’s lawyer said in the court hearing that Parviz Roustam Alipour, Vida’s brother, was executed in 1988, and her sister’s husband was executed as well.
Vida, who was married to Majid Ivani for six months at the time of his arrest, explained that she and her husband were both political activists and members of a leftist group, the Fedaian Organization, adding, “Majid was a student of English and was 29 when he was arrested.” She further stated that Majid Ivani was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on the charge of “being a Marxist.”
Vida Roustam Alipour pointed to Khavaran Cemetery, saying that later they understood that her husband and brother were buried in mass graves in Khavaran, “as all leftist Marxists who were killed were buried in mass graves there.”
The infamous Khavaran Cemetery is the location where those executed in 1988 were buried in mass graves. They were executed by the order of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Because of the secrecy of Iranian officials, there is no exact number regarding those who were executed then, but it is estimated that about 5,000 political prisoners were executed in 1988.
Torturing and Persecuting Lawyer in IRGC’s Detention Center
Saeed Dehghan, a lawyer, revealed that his client Payam Derafshan had been transferred to one of the IRGC’s safe houses, giving a detailed account of the way he had been persecuted and tortured by security forces including the injection of an unknown drug and transferring him to Aminabad Psychiatric Hospital, as well as inflicting serious damage to his brain and nervous system.
Lawyer Payam Derafshan has represented a number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and according to Dehghan, during long interrogations of Payam Derafshan, he had been pressured for accepting these cases.
Dehghan has said, in a thread of tweets, that after the injection of an unknown drug into Payam Derafshan by the IRGC’s intelligence officers, he had bitten his own tongue off in his sleep.
Payam Derafshan was arrested in June 2020 when 17 security forces raided his law office in Tehran. Following his arrest, IRGC intelligence officers fully searched his office and confiscated his computer and all files related to his clients, which is an illegal measure and against his client’s rights.
During the investigation, Derafshan was charged with the “dissemination of falsehood in an interview with BBC Persian about the inappropriate conditions of women prisoners in Shahr-e-Rey.
Earlier, Derafshan’s lawyer had said that his client had been sentenced, in absentia, to two years and six months of imprisonment and a two year ban on practicing as a lawyer. The sentence was approved by the appeal court.
In the sentence issued against this lawyer, charges included “propaganda against the establishment,” “ the dissemination of falsehood to mislead public opinion” and “carrying an unauthorized taser.”
According to Dehghan, Payam Derafshan has now been conditionally released and is undergoing treatment after serving one third of his sentence.
Hospitals on Alert for the Sixth Wave of Coronavirus
Iranian Health Minister Bahram Einollahi said all the countries’ hospitals are on alert for countering the sixth wave of coronavirus. He urged that “we have made all the necessary preparations for the sixth wave of coronavirus and all hospitals are on alert.”
A number of Iranian officials and experts have recently warned of the possible increase in the number of coronavirus infections, despite the increase in the administration of vaccines in Iran in recent weeks.
A member of the Scientific Committee of Iran has expressed concerns about the likely increase in coronavirus infections in the coming days due to the holding of Arbaeen marches and other religious ceremonies recently.
Furthermore, the head of the Infectious Disease Center in the Health Ministry said that as the cold season arrives and people gather in places like schools and universities, the cases of coronavirus infections will rise.
Bahram Einollahi optimistically stated, “We hope that with the high number of vaccinations and people observing the protocols, the next wave’s impact will be less heavy.”
While the sixth wave of coronavirus is around the corner, the Iranian Ministry of Education has announced the imminent opening of schools in less crowded regions in November, a measure which was called “suicidal” by a member of the Parliament’s Health Commission.
As the stance of health officials indicates, the outbreak of the sixth wave of coronavirus is certain.
In the meantime, the Health Policy Research Center recently said in a letter that the Chinese vaccine that is widely used in Iran is only 5 percent effective. And Iranian media have announced a 28 percent increase in cases in cities in the Red Zone and the beginning of the sixth wave of coronavirus.
So far, according to the official statistics, 123,876 have died due to COVID-19. But many estimates show that the real number of deaths due to coronavirus is at least 250,000.
Fourfold Increase in Migration From Iran in the Past 30 Years
Official statistics keep showing a rise in migration from Iran to other countries. Reza Mousavi, a migration expert, pointed to the fact that not all Iranians who intend to migrate from the country can do so legally, adding that a large number of Iranians illegally exit Iran’s borders with or without passports.
Illegal migrants are those who go through unofficial borders to neighboring countries like Turkey and Iraq. Most of them have been condemned on grounds of their social, cultural and political activities in Iran, and they seek asylum in neighboring countries. Despite the significant number of these Iranians, they are not taken into account in the official statistics, which is why Mousavi explained that to calculate the number of immigrants from Iran, 30 percent must be added to official statistics.
The official statistics, nevertheless, indicate a rise in the migration level of Iranians to other countries. According to the statistics published by Iran Migration Outlook, more than 77,000 Iranians fled Iran and sought asylum in different countries in 2020. Most of these people are in Turkey, Germany, Britain, Iraq and Australia.
Iran Migration Outlook’s statistics in 2020 also show that the number of Iranian immigrants has had fourfold increase in the past 30 years.
The findings also demonstrate that the preferred destination for a large number of migrants is Turkey. Some of them see Turkey as a passageway to European countries and the United States, while others stay in this country to make investments.
According to the statistics of Iran Migration Outlook, between 2017 to 2019, the number of Iranian migrants who entered Turkey showed a fourfold increase.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s statistics indicate that currently more than 126,00 immigrants with Iranian citizenship live in Turkey.