Tag Archives: Iran

23Oct/20

Iran’s Fear of the Popular Figure: The Execution of Navid Afkari

Also available in العربية

October 21, 2020

Navid Afkari, a 27 year-old Iranian wrestling champion who won numerous medals, had rarely lost a fight in his life. There was, however, one struggle he could not win. Following torture and a forced confession, Navid was executed earlier this month following a verdict by the Iranian Supreme Court. 

Navid Afkari, along with his two brothers Vahid and Habib, were found guilty of participating in the nationwide protest that engulfed Iran in August 2018, along with several other charges that included insulting the supreme leader, waging war against God, and murder. Vahid and Habib were handed prison sentences of 54 years and 27 years respectively. Both were also sentenced to 74 lashes and are still behind bars.

Navid’s execution demonstrates that Iran’s decision earlier this year to commute the execution sentence of three young men represented an exception rather than a potential shift inside the country. Iran had halted the executions of three young protestors—Amirhossein Moradi, Mohammad Rajabi, and Saeed Tamjidi—under the pressure of an online campaign that attracted millions of tweets and a hashtag protesting their sentence.

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25Apr/20

A Chernobyl Moment in Tehran

Also available in العربية

Fikra Forum, April 24, 2020

As several states seem to experiment with opening up, Iran has made headlines as one of the countries experimenting with a gradual reopening of the country. However, the Iranian regime’s consistent mishandling of the crisis raises the question of whether this reopening too will be mismanaged, and whether the country will reach a point where the alienation felt by the Iranian public be enough to be a major tipping point for the regime.

Iran’s failures during the coronavirus crisis has presented a sort of existential crisis for the regime. Its early inability to admit to, much less contain the outbreak—and its subsequent inability to manage the public health response required by COVID19, have shown the regime’s indifference to the wellbeing of the its own people, steadily increasing the public’s sense of alienation.

The catastrophe that has unfolded in Iran is in several ways reminiscent of history’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred in the former Soviet Union just 34 years ago. Many mark the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which killed thousands, as the moment that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union five years later. More than anything else, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster helped the people of Soviet Union realize that they had been systematically lied to by the Soviet regime for over 70 years. As Soviet leaders scrambled to cover up the disaster, their denials and concurrently slow efforts to contain the leak demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice human lives in order not to embarrass the state. This undeniable reality as the Chernobyl disaster became too large to hide and prompted even loyal citizens to question their government—this stark example of state failure helped the entire system begin to unravel. 

The slow reaction of the current Iranian Regime, like Soviet leaders, revealed their total disregard for their own people, gradually shattering the illusion of supremacy. In the former USSR, this disillusionment opened a path to a stronger “Perestroika,” which in turn unraveled the mechanisms of fear that had helped keep the regime apparatus in place. And while the dynamics of the two states are different in many ways, the stakes of a potential Chernobyl moment in Iran are just as high for the region and the world.

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15Apr/20

Mideast Strategic security challenges amid COVID19

The corona contagion overshadows all other issues across the Middle East, as is the case globally. And while all other matters pertaining to the security situation in the Levant and beyond may have been marginalized in the public’s consciousness – they continue to pose challenges to local and major actors, alike.
In today’s program we will discuss the situation in Israel’s northern war-torn neighbor, where misery started long before the global plague; and is unfortunately expected to persist long after the coronavirus will has been subdued.
Panel:
-Jonathan Hessen , host.
-Amir Oren, analyst.
-Dr. Eran Lerman vice president of the Jerusalem Institute of Strategy and Security and a lecturer at Shalem College.
-Dr. Nir Boms, Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University.

11Jan/20

Jerusalem- Damascus strategic dynamics – Jerusalem Studio 477

A major focus of tension this year is sure to be the Israel-Syria relationship. while gradually coming out of its domestic nine-year conflict, Israel’s northern neighbor is still hosting forces threatening it – most prominently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards elite Quds Force, as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah organization.
Panel:
– Jonathan Hessen, host.
– Amir Oren, analyst.
– Dr. Nir Boms, Research fellow, Moshe Dayan center at Tel Aviv University.
-Colonel (Reserve) Reuven Ben-Shalom, cross-cultural strategist and associate at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
-Prof. Ze’ev Khanin, Expert on Russian and Middle Eastern Studies, Bar Ilan and Ariel Universities.