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Iran communication ministry’s terrifying proposals for changing Iranian cyberspace

December 18, 2014 in Iran Cyber Front, News

Iranian Internet users could soon be forced to give up their online anonymity and restricted to content based on their professional identity, if proposals by Iran’s communication ministry is realised. However, these attempts by the Islamic Republic to master cyberspace and control what Iranian users do there may be doomed to failure in the long-term. Introduction At the sidelines of the National Gathering for Improving Administrative Health, which dealt with corruption in government, Ministry of Communication and Information Mahmoud Vaezi made remarks about changes Iranian Internet users could soon face in how they operate online. Vaezi intimated that Iranian users would no longer be able to go online anonymously, […]

Hassan Rouhani all but accuses IRGC of accumulating power & corruption

December 11, 2014 in Ayatollah's Praetorians, News

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has always been a key center of power in the Islamic Republic of Iran, helping the young revolutionary regime consolidate power in 1979 as an Islamic militia and mobilising millions of people for the Iran-Iraq War as a military force from 1980-1988. In the post-war era it has continued to grow, and like the manticore of Persian mythology has become a multifaceted entity consisting of appendages that resemble a military, police force, intelligence agency, economic cartel, and media empire, to name just a few. While its growing power and centrality in the Iranian state is undeniable, the true extent of its power […]

Could “maverick” representative Ali Motahari be thrown out of parliament – or worse?

December 5, 2014 in Analysis, News

On 29 November 2014, hardline conservative representative Javad Karimi Ghodoosi from the Persevering Front of the Islamic Revolution (PFIR) threatened that Iran’s parliament could consider reviewing the status of moderate conservative representative Ali Motahari and, if they found him unfit, to revoke his certificate (etebarname) to sit in parliament. It remains unclear how serious Ghodoosi’s proposal is and whether a conservative dominated parliament will be willing to carry out such an action. At the same time, Motahari has emerged as an iconoclastic figure of sorts by, among other things, being a strong supporter of President Hassan Rouhani among conservatives, seriously questioning the ongoing house arrest of Green Movement […]

Younesi downplay’s Rouhani administration’s authority to end house-arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi

November 12, 2014 in Analysis, News

The continued house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi highlight the “great divide” in Iranian politics, whereby President Hassan Rouhani is able to advance his non-confrontational foreign policy in nuclear negotiations but finds himself at pains to make advances in domestic politics. Iran’s less than stellar performance before the United Nations Human Rights Council, led by Supreme Council for Human Rights secretary Mohammad-Javad Larijani, during the periodical review this past 31 October 2014 highlights the country’s deteriorating human rights situation. This deterioration under President Hassan Rouhani, who made improvements in the area of human rights a key plank of his campaign, has been repeatedly noted on our website as […]

Ashura’s contested meaning in Iran

November 6, 2014 in Analysis, News

For Iranian Shi’a, Ashura has a diversity of meanings. Photo: Asr-e Ashura (“Eve of Ashura”), by Mahmoud Farchian. It is Muharram in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a time when Iranian Shi’a will be mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and son of Imam Ali, and the third Imam of Shi’a Islam, at the Battle of Kerbala. The centrality of Ashu’ra to Iran’s Islamic political system is apparent not only from the role it plays in doctrine and the history of the Islamic Revolution, but also in the public discourse and spectacle of the regime. The regime leadership all the way down to ordinary […]

Iran human rights chief talks Internet, compares filter-evaders to thieves

October 29, 2014 in Iran Cyber Front, News

The secretary of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary human rights staff gives insight into regime views of the Internet and its future in Iran. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the secretary of the judiciary human rights staff, recently gave an illuminating interview on the Internet in Iran which may be indicative of key aspects of the Islamic Republic’s approach to cyberspace. As the head of the Institute of Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM), which was the first center in Iran to be connected to the Internet in the early 1990s, Larijani scoffed at accusations of “being against the Internet”, saying that it did not apply to him. However, he did raise two […]

Assembly of Experts leadership race may hint at power balance in Iran

October 23, 2014 in Analysis, News

The race for the leadership of Iran’s Assembly of Experts is on. Who wins with what votes may tell us much about the current factional balance of power in Iran. On 21 October 2014, Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani passed away, leaving a vacuum at the top of one of Iran’s most influential but little known centers of power, the Assembly of Experts. The race to replace this body’s general secretory is on, and who wins with what votes could be very revealing about the balance of power between the various political currents in Iran. The Assembly in Iran’s political system is an elected body responsible for selecting, monitoring, […]

Haddad-Adel, Soft War, and the Islamic Republic’s generational divide

October 18, 2014 in Analysis, News, Soft War

At the inauguration of the Toranjestan-e Behesht, a store selling Iranian and Islamic cultural products, senior parliamentarian Gholam-Hossein Haddad-Adel discussed the Islamic Republic’s growing generational divide, its implications for the regime, and how to address it. It is an understatement to say that the generation of Iranians who made the Iranian and later Islamic Revolution differ in outlook from their children, who are sometimes referred to as the “burnt-out generation” (nasl-e sookht-e). Broadly speaking, the former came of age during a period of rapidly rising material affluence under Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi but were more interested in grand political ideologies and tended to be more idealistic in their outlook. […]

Sadegh Kharazi and Iranian Reformism 2.0

October 9, 2014 in Analysis, News

A group led by foreign policy establishment figure Sadegh Kharazi is trying to revive the fortunes of the reformist movement, albeit in a new form. Amidst all of the turmoil of Iranian domestic politics and foreign policy issues in the center of the international media spotlight today, an attempt by a group of reformists to revive their political current, which has largely fallen outside of the mainstream of Iranian politics since the end of the Green Movement demonstrations, has gone relatively unnoticed. This revival effort has been led by Sadegh Kharazi, among the few reformists in Iran’s senior foreign policy establishment. Kharazi, an accomplished diplomat, has served as […]

Iran Cyber Front: The battle over WhatsApp, Viber, and Tango

October 2, 2014 in Iran Cyber Front, News

In a mark of the ongoing struggle between President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected on a platform of reform over one year ago, and conservative adversaries who dominate much of the Iranian political system, the Iranian judiciary has called on the presidential administration to ban or at least bring under stricter control a number of popular social networking and communication applications. This week the responsible minister and head of the judiciary both weighed in on the issue. One of the most recent episode in the clash between President Hassan Rouhani’s reform agenda and Iranian conservatives has been on the cyber front, specifically on the queston of what to […]