Sensitive to any examination of its foreign policy, Iran’s regime has closed the reformist daily newspaper Entekhab.
The Press Supervisory Board said Entekhab was “acting against Iran’s national interests and the Islamic Republic’s fundamental foreign policies”.
The news agency’s offense was a video critiquing the foreign policy agenda of the Raisi Government, which has praised itself for improving relations with Saudi Arabia and China and for obtaining membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organizaton and the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) group.
The five-minute analysis took apart the rhetoric, portraying the failure of “The Iranian Brand Put Up for Sale”. Far from strengthening the Islamic Republic, the Government’s “look to the East” with reliance on Russia and China “will leave such damage upon Iran that cannot be repaired for years to come”.
In spring 2022, the regime trumpeted the ascent of a partnership with China, claiming that a 25-year “Long-Term Comprehensive Road Map” would bring $400 billion in Chinese investment. But while Beijing has benefited from purchases of discounted Iranian oil, there has been little sign of the massive influx of funds to build up Tehran’s economy.
Iran has also been trumpeting Russian loans, including for the North-South Corridor railway route. However, even as Tehran has been supplying attack drones for Russia’s war on Ukraine, the troubled invasion has undermined the Russian economy and its capacity for foreign links.
Entekhab also examined the restoration of diplomatic links between Iran and Saudi Arabia after a seven-year break. Challenging regime media’s “overexcitement”, the news agency said Riyadh is trying to curb Tehran in areas such as Yemen’s civil war. It added that Gulf States are refusing to recognize Iranian rights in controversial matters such as disputed shares from the Dorra gas field between Iran and Kuwait.
Iran, ranked 177th of 180 countries in the 2023 Press Freedom Index and one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, is in the midst of another crackdown on media personnel.
More than 90 journalists have been interrogated, arrested, and/or detained amid nationwide protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last September 16. With the anniversary approached, prison sentences aer being confirmed.