The Week in Review: Jan.18th-Jan.25th


By Natasha Phillips 


25 Jan – The U.S.-Poland Middle East Peace and Security Conference scheduled for February is already straining relations between Iran and Poland. Historically the two countries have enjoyed sound diplomatic and bilateral relations, but Poland’s decision to host a conference conceived by the U.S. and its confirmation this week that Iran had not been invited, have led Iran to cancel its Polish Film Festival and stop issuing tourist visas to Poles. Unconfirmed reports of bomb threats in Poland carried out by regime sympathizers this week have made the relationship more tense. 

Meanwhile a letter signed by several Iranian ministers has been sent to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asking him to help with the finalization of legislation around the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).  The ministers are threatening to resign if Iran fails to join the task force in time. Iran has until February to comply with the necessary requirements, or face remaining on the terror blacklist. 

  • The U.S-Poland conference aimed at exploring peace and security issues in the Middle East suffered several setbacks this week. Tehran reported its unhappiness over the event to Warsaw, calling it an “anti-Iran” summit. Poland tried to ease tensions by sending its Deputy Foreign Minister Maciej Przemysław Lang to speak with Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, in Tehran. Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz confirmed that Iran was not invited to the summit over concerns that the Islamic Republic would disrupt talks. Iran responded by downplaying and criticizing the summit through state-run media channels. Russia has confirmed that it will not be attending the conference, while the EU’s Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini has declined to attend citing prior commitments. As of Thursday attendance by the UK, Germany, and China also looked uncertain. 
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  • Official statistics released by the Statistical Center of Iran reveal that Iran’s economy shrunk by 1.1 percent last summer. The data was collected before the implementation of U.S. sanctions in Iran. Agricultural and heavy industry sectors were also negatively affected. Mehdi Pourghazi, the director of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA), said: “The government has lost the will to protect the country’s industries. It has abandoned the economy and has focused instead on politics.” Hamid Deyhim, a Tehran University School of Economics faculty member said the economy would continue to struggle: “The country’s economic growth will remain at negative 1.1 percent for the foreseeable future, which means that things will only get worse for average Iranians.”
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  • A sharp rise in the number of young adults contracting AIDS in Iran is not being acknowledged or addressed by government bodies responsible for educating the public on health issues, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA). Dr. Minoo Mohraz, the director of the Iranian Research Center for HIV/AIDS (IRCHAO) Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS) said the Ministry of Education had repeatedly refused to consider any school programs that would inform young people about HIV prevention. Dr. Mohraz said: “Officials at the Ministry of Education consider any school program that aims to inform young people about the spread and prevention of HIV/AIDS as immoral education,” and that: “Prostitution, recreational sex, and extramarital relationships have contributed to the rise of HIV infection among women. However, most of those living with AIDS are not promiscuous. Their husbands infected nearly 45 percent of women who tested positive for HIV in 2018.” 
     
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  • A member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee reported that the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MKO) has regrouped in Iraq with the help of the U.S. military. Mohammed Al-Baldawi said the U.S. forces were arming and training MKO members at their military bases in Northern Iraq. Al-Baldawi called on the Iraqi government to stop the U.S. from using Iraq’s territories to advance operations against its neighbors. He said, “reorganizing the monafeghin [hypocrites, a term used to refer to MKO members] was part of a sinister plot.” 
     
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