By Natasha Phillips
18 Jan – Iran saw in the Islamic Revolution’s 40th anniversary Wednesday with mixed reactions. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif marked the event with a series of messages on Twitter in which he said Iran had managed to shatter “the myth of U.S. omnipotence,” while criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump and the nuclear deal. Washington has not issued a formal statement on the anniversary yet. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted about the anniversary in 2018: “Next year marks 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution in #Iran. At this milestone we have to ask: what has Iranian Revolution given the Iranian people?”
Iran, Israel and the U.S. hit a critical point this week. A document published by Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies revealed that the country may contemplate going to war with Iran in order to stop it embedding itself in Syria. The Strategic Assessment also noted that the U.S. was currently reluctant to enter into a military confrontation with Iran. In addition to Israel’s report, The U.S. revealed that Trump’s National Security Council had previously asked the Pentagon to provide military options for striking Iran.
- The U.S. has an official Iran Pressure Campaign. Launched last year, the campaign incorporates the reimposition of sanctions implemented in 2018, the creation of a Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) and coalitions with countries around the world. As part of the campaign’s efforts Pompeo has called on member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to support the U.S. in putting pressure on Iran. In a statement Pompeo explained that the campaign’s man objective was to counter the Iranian regime, which he called the single greatest threat to regional stability.
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- U.S police arrested an American-born journalist working for Iran‘s Press TV. The state-run media outlet said Marziyeh Hashemi was in the United States to visit her family. The outlet also reported that Hashemi was allowed to call her daughter two days after being taken into custody and that she had been prevented from wearing her hijab in prison and was only offered pork as a meal. The arrest follows Iran’s confirmation last week that Iranian officials had detained U.S. Navy veteran Michael White. Germany also arrested an Afghan dual national on suspicion of spying for Iran.
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- The governor of Iran’s Central Bank hopes to combat the country’s chronic inflation by knocking four zeroes off the country’s official banknotes. Experts are doubtful that the proposal will ease inflation without a robust economic framework in place. Abdolnaser Hemmati, the governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran said, “We need to approve this proposal as soon as possible so we can issue new notes… Eliminating four zeros would change the face but not the value of the notes.” Printing new notes is a costly exercise which experts say could lead to excesses by merchants looking to hike the price of goods.
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- Acknowledging Iranian trailblazers this week, three world-renowned seismology organizations awarded the 2019 Bruce Bolt Medal to Yousef Bozorgnia. Bozorgnia was awarded the prize for his pioneering contributions to earthquake ground motion models, seismic hazard analysis and structural earthquake engineering. Upon being notified of the nomination, Bozorgnia said, “It is indeed a great honor to receive the Bolt Medal… Bruce Bolt was a role model to me, and that makes this Medal even more special. I sincerely thank COSMOS, EERI, and SSA for this award.” Professor Bozorgnia is a member of the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the John Garrick Institute for the Risk Sciences.
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