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Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 154

Edited by Ilan Berman and Jason Czerwiec
February 5, 2015


A HELPING HAND AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE...
Against the backdrop of the ongoing struggle against the Islamic State terrorist group, Iran and Iraq are broadening their security ties. In a move described by Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi as "a strategic necessity," Iraq has signed an agreement with the Iranian government allowing it to continue to train and equip Iraqi and Kurdish military detachments. 

For Baghdad, the deeper ties are a function of harsh realities. Although the United States has slowly expanded its military footprint in the fight against IS, U.S. aid to Iraq remains far short of what is necessary to dislodge Islamic State fighters from their strongholds within the country. This, in turn, has prompted a pivot toward Iran on the part of officials in Baghdad. "[W]e do not see any other option than cooperation and being on the same side [with Iran] to uproot the terrorists," al-Obaidi has said. (
Defense News, December 30, 2014) 

...AS TEHRAN DRAWS A RED LINE
 
The Islamic Republic is throwing down the gauntlet to the Islamic State in neighboring Iraq. Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, the commander of the Iranian Army's ground forces, has announced that Iran has demarcated a 40-kilometer zone along the Iraqi border that the Islamic State and other terrorist groups may not cross. According to Pourdastan, a breach of the red line or any similar efforts to penetrate the border and enter Iranian territory would be met with deadly force from the Iranian regime. (Tehran 
PressTV, January 6, 2015) 

MORE FENCE-MENDING BETWEEN HAMAS, IRAN

Relations between Iran and Palestinian terrorist group Hamas are continuing to normalize after a lengthy period of estrangement over divergent approaches to the Syrian civil war. Khaled Misha'al, the powerful head of Hamas' political bureau, is reportedly slated to visit the Islamic Republic in the near future, an Iranian official has confirmed. The announcement comes on the heels of a Saudi offer to the group to cover its entire annual budget and aid with Gaza reconstruction, in exchange for a severing of ties with Tehran - an offer that the movement has rejected. (Tehran 
FARS, December 27, 2014) 

TARGETING THE GREEN MOVEMENT, STILL

These days, the Iranian "Green Movement," which coalesced in the summer of 2009 following the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency, is largely a spent force. The Iranian regime, however, is not taking any chances about the possibility of a revived pro-democracy drive among its population. To that end, Iran's parliament has rejected calls for the release of Green Movement leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both of whom have languished for years under house arrest. Instead, parliamentary hardliners have floated the possibility of sterner punishments for the so-called "seditionists" - including, potentially, their execution. (
IranWire, January 7, 2015) 

THE HIGH PRICE OF JOURNALISM IN IRAN

Despite comments in November from reformist politicians suggesting that his release was imminent, journalist Jason Rezaian remains in custody in the Islamic Republic. The official charges against Rezaian - the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief - are still unknown. Rezaian was taken into state custody in July of 2014 for unspecified offenses, and formal legal proceedings are said to be scheduled for the near future. Officials like Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the secretary of the Iranian Judiciary's High Council for Human Rights, previously intimated that Rezaian could soon be released. However, there is no evidence that a pardon for Rezaian - who has become the Islamic Republic's most prominent prisoner - is in the offing. (
IranWire, January 24, 2015)


Related Categories: Iran Freedom Initiative; Iran

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