Its covered galleries and courtyards are the beating heart of Iran’s ancient merchant economy - but for traders in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, it has been a frustratingly slow holiday season. “It’s normal for sales to be up at this time of year because of Nowruz, and it is busier than usual - but not as much as we hoped or expected,” said Pejman, a 28-year-old trader who sells shirts out of a cramped rented shop space in a part of the labyrinth dedicated to men’s clothes. "People just aren't spending as much." Of all the challenges facing President Hassan Rouhani’s reformist government, the economy is probably its biggest headache. Three years since he agreed to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from swingeing Western sanctions, the country is once again pumping oil for export and the economy is growing. But the uptick has been sluggish - partly due to increasing uncertainty over whether Donald … [Read more...] about In Iran’s Grand Bazaar, no one can afford to talk politics
PUBLISHED: 16:26 29 March 2018 Emily Banks Nazanin and Gabriella Ratcliffe in happy days. Picture: Ratcliffe Family Archant The husband of jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe wants is calling on supporters to mark the second anniversary of his wife’s arrest in Iran by sharing laughter to lift her spirits. The Ratcliffe Family before Nazanin's arrest in Iran. Picture: Ratcliffe family Since being arrested at Tehran airport on April 3 2016 with her baby daughter Gabriella, Nazanin, 39, has been interrogated, kept in solitary confinement, mentally tortured, and is now serving a five-year jail sentence in Evin prison for plotting against the Iranian state. Gabriella, now three, is being looked after by her grandparents in Tehran and has forgotten how to speak English. Many tears have been shed during this time but now her husband is determined to mark the anniversary of this fateful day with a celebration of the freedome to laugh. Richard Ratcliffe, of Fortune Green Road, is … [Read more...] about Free Nazanin: Husband’s ‘jokes for freedom’ campaign on second anniversary of jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s arrest in Iran
A businessman described by U.S. prosecutors as the son of the “Bill Gates of Iran” was ordered held without bail after pleading not guilty late Wednesday to charges that he helped circumvent sanctions restrictions and launder $115 million in payments through American banks.Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, 38, who holds dual Iranian-St. Kitts citizenship, offered to put up millions of dollars’ worth of cash and U.S. real estate and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet to remain free pending trial, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses concluded there’s too a great a risk he’d try to flee if freed.Sadr was arrested arriving in Washington March 19 and charged with six counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, sanctions evasion and money laundering, and was transported to New York on Tuesday. Federal prosecutors in New York accuse him of using a web of shell companies and bank accounts in Switzerland and Turkey to arrange U.S. dollar payments from a Venezuelan energy … [Read more...] about Son of ‘Bill Gates of Iran’ Held by U.S. in Sanctions Case
It looks like the Iran nuclear deal will not survive past May 12. That is the next occasion President Donald Trump will have to end waivers on crippling sanctions against Iran, withdrawing America from the agreement. Unless European allies commit to fixing its main flaws -- the sunset provisions, lack of restrictions on Iran's missile tests and the hampered inspection process -- Trump will withdraw.QuickTake Iran's Nuke ProgramThe president is already setting the stage. He replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the most vocal proponent of the deal, with one of its toughest critics, former CIA director Mike Pompeo. Then there is the new national security adviser, John Bolton, who six months ago drafted strategy for getting the U.S. out of the agreement altogether. There are strong arguments for following through on this course. As Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, likes to say, Iran gets to become a breakout nuclear power down the road by adhering to the agreement's … [Read more...] about Don’t Blow Up The Iran Deal. Trump’s Strategy Is Working.
It's not surprising that the arrest of a prominent Iranian cleric -- even one that led to protests in Iran and the Arab world -- hasn't made a ripple in the Western news media. After all, the Tehran regime makes arbitrary arrests all the time.But this is different: The controversy over the detention of Ayatollah Hussein Shirazi this month is reigniting an important debate over whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should be able to claim divine sanction for his unlimited powers to rule the state.Although there has been an ongoing debate in Shiite Islam since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini institutionalized the system of clerical rule, or velayat-e faqih, shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, discontent is now growing. Specifically, there is an increasing belief across Shiite communities that the consolidation of all powers in one person is antithetical to the Shiite tradition and that the position of supreme leader should be reformed or dissolved … [Read more...] about Iran’s Facing a Mutiny From Within the Mosque