Continuing the pressure on the Rouhani Government over political and cultural issues, Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari (pictured) has warned of the “soft war” being waged by Iran’s enemies.
Jafari said, “The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has on various occasions warned against the hostile moves by the enemies of Iran to damage the country’s cultural values and urged authorities to deal with the issue of cultural onslaught in a wise and calculated manner.”
The Guards and Iranian military, MPs, clerics, and hardline critics of President Rouhani have escalated a campaign against any opening of culture and media, including access to the Internet and social sites such as Twitter and Facebook. They have proclaimed that Iran is still threatened by “sedition” — the term applied to protests after the disputed 2009 Presidential election — to hinder any initiative to release political prisoners, including opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guards have put out a series of statements declaring their vital role in Iran’s economy and culture, pushing back Rouhani’s insistence that they stay out of political affairs.
Jafari said Monday that “widespread and spontaneous” moves were needed to combat the cultural confrontation.
(Hat tip: Iran Tracker)
Aviation Head: Foreign Companies Have Not Provided Spare Parts for Airplanes
Alireza Jahangirian, the head of the Civil Aviation Organization, has complained about a delay by foreign companies in the sale of spare parts for civilian airplanes.
Under November’s interim nuclear deal, bans on the sale of the parts were supposed to be eased.
The US Treasury licensed Boeing and General Electric on April 4 to export components for aircraft.
However, Jahangirian said the licenses cover only some of Iran’s air fleet.
IRGC Editorial: “Resistance and Firmness” Required With US
The denial of a US visa for Tehran’s UN appointee, Hamid Aboutalebi, continues to raise questions among hardliners surrounding US policy towards Iran, who are using the issue as an opportunity to criticise Washington.
An editorial in the IRGC weekly, Sobh-e Sadegh, said that the US move demonstrated that “only resistance and firmness are solution with America and the West; that is all.”
It further commented that “having hope in negotiations and dialogue to resolve bilateral issues is an unrealistic hope.”
(h/t Iran Tracker)
While US Visa Issue Rumbles On, Tehran Pursues Closer Ties With UK
In a letter to the United Nations Committee on Relations with the Host Country, Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN called for an urgent meeting to discuss the American decision to deny their appointee, Hamid Aboutalebi, a visa. The Iranian Mission expressed Tehran’s “serious concern”, declaring Washington’s move “in contravention of international laws and its obligations under the Headquarters Agreement.”
The US refused Aboutalebi a visa due to his alleged involvement in the student takeover of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. However, Aboutalebi has maintained that his role was only as an interpreter.
While Iran and the US dispute continues, Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs, Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi, has spoken of hopes to develop relations with Britain.
Relations between the UK and Iran have thawed since President Rouhani’s election; although their respective embassies remain closed both countries have appointed non-resident charges d’affairs.
Fighting After Hardline Students Call for Execution of Detained Leaders Mousavi & Karroubi
A ceremony hailing Iran’s nuclear achievements was disrupted by fighting after a group of hardline students called for the deaths of detained opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
During the meeting at Amir Kabir University in Tehran, attended by former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and former head of atomic energy Fereydoon Abbasi, a group of hardline pro-Jalili students chanted, “Mousavi and Karroubi should be executed!”
Mousavi, Karroubi, and Mousavi’s wife, activist Zahra Rahnavard, have been held under strict house arrest since February 2011.
Mehr News posts a series of photos from the event, with students holding up posters before the fighting.
Economy Minister Appeals for Resumption of World Bank Assistance
Economy Minister Ali Tayyebnia has urged the World Bank to resume technical assistance and financing projects in Iran.
“The World Bank is necessitated to provide Iran with technical assistance in areas of environment, air pollution, road security and management of the natural disasters,” Tayyebnia said in a meeting with World Bank Vice President Inger Anderson in New York on Monday.
The World Bank has not approved any loans to the Islamic Republic since 2005. Last July, it announced that Iran was more than six months overdue on a repayment of $81 million in loans and penalties. I
Tehran’s total outstanding debt to the bank is $697 million.
Iranian officials say they cannot make repayments because of US and European sanctions on the banking sector.
Claim: No Sanctions Relief on Iran’s Oil Tankers Despite Interim Nuclear Deal
An Iranian official has said that Iran’s oil tankers still cannot get insurance coverage from foreign companies, despite November’s interim nuclear deal.
In January, the European Union suspended a ban on coverage, imposed in July 2012.
However, the official told Fars News on Monday that insurance still could not be obtained.
The issue is part of ongoing manoeuvres between the US, Europe, and Iran amid negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Despite the insurance restrictions, Iran managed to rebuild its oil exports in February to 1.6 million barrels per day — a doubling of the historic low reached in 2013.
The US wants a cap on Iranian exports of 1 million bpd until a comprehensive settlement is reached. American officials have been travelling around the world, pressing other Governments and companies to delay any resumption of business with Tehran.