Iran Geopolitical Watch – from 31 December 2022 to 6 January 2023

Iran / Pakistan / Afghanistan geopolitical watch team: Daniel Marco and Jeremie Patot.


01/01/2023 : India and Pakistan exchange lists of prisoners and nuclear assets. -Daniel Marco-

On January 1, as part of a 1988 agreement that prohibits them from targeting each other’s nuclear infrastructure, Pakistan and neighbouring India exchanged lists of their nuclear facilities. This is according to official announcements by both sides, informs RFE RL. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that “the list of nuclear sites and facilities in Pakistan has been formally handed over to a representative of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad at the Ministry of External Affairs,reports to The Hindu.

The two neighbouring countries have engaged in three wars and other military engagements in recent years. An Indian missile that landed unintentionally in Pakistan last year caused worldwide concern, Al Jazeera recalls.

In addition, under an agreement reached in 2008, the two countries have also shared lists of detainees in each other’s custody. According to Dawn, Pakistan has released a list of 705 imprisoned Indians, 51 civilians and 654 fishermen. India released a list of 434 Pakistanis it was holding, including 95 fishermen and 339 civilians. The Indian Express explains that Indian and Pakistani fishermen are detained for crossing the unmarked maritime border between the countries. The fishermen’s boats are seized and detained by their maritime security agency; they are usually released only after discussions between the two nations.

In addition, the 2008 agreement provides for the exchange of lists of detainees in each side’s custody in January and July of each year, and grants each side consular access to prisoners.



01/01/2023: An explosion at Kabul military airport leaves several people dead and injured. -Daniel Marco-

On 1 January, in an explosion outside Kabul military airport, ten Afghans were killed and eight others were injured, according to Radio Pakistan.

Several of our compatriots were killed and injured as a result of a bomb attack outside Kabul military airport,” said ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takoor. Takoor added that more information on the incident would be released later, but did not provide figures or additional information, Arab News reported.

CBS News points out that no immediate claim was made for the attack, but since the Taliban took control of the province in 2021, the local branch of the Islamic State organisation, known as Islamic State in Khorasan province, has increased its attacks, targeting Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority.


04/01/2023: Tehran closes the French Institute for Research in Iran in response to a cartoon published by Charlie Hebdo. -Jeremie Patot-

On January 4, Charlie Hebdo published a special issue in support of the protests in Iran, bringing together cartoons on the Islamic Republic following a competition held on December 8 calling for sharing satirical cartoons of the Supreme Leader.

As soon as the issue was published, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian took to Twitter to condemn the newspaper’s insults towards the guide and stressed that such an offensive gesture does not go unanswered, reports Khabar Online.

On the evening of the 4th, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador to Iran Nicolas Roche about these cartoons, according to Tehran Times. The ministry spokesperson disagreed with Mr Roche, declaring that “the Islamic Republic of Iran in no way tolerates insults to its sanctity and its Islamic, religious and national values” and “France does not “has no right to justify insults to the saints of other Muslim countries and nations under the pretext of freedom of expression“.

On January 5, the Iranian ministry issued a statement condemning the cartoons and pointing out the responsibility of “freedom of expression” and the French government. The statement also informs that as a first step, the French Research Institute in Iran is ordered to close, and informs that the cultural ties and French cultural activities in Iran will be verified.

The same day, Minister Catherine Colonna declared in response on LCI thatthe bad policy is that which is followed by Iran, which practices violence against its population, but which also practices a particularly shocking policy of hostages. So, let’s simply remember that in France, freedom of the press exists, unlike what is happening in Iran, and that it is exercised under the control of the judge, within the framework of an independent justice – there too it is something that Iran is probably unfamiliar with.”


06/01/2023: Iran thwarts a cyberattack on the Iranian central bank. -Jeremie Patot-

Tehran may have thwarted a cyberattack on its central bank, the country’s telecommunications infrastructure company (CIT) said on Friday.

According to CIT CEO and Deputy Minister, Amir Mohammadzadeh Lajvardi: “Last night [Thursday, December 29, 2022], the Central Bank, Bale and Rubika platforms were targeted by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, but they have been postponed“, reports Mehr News Agency. Lajvardi adds that “the greatest volume of foreign cyberattacks these days is directed against banks and financial institutions, internet service providers and communications infrastructure“.

In October, Anonymous and other international hacker groups threatened to carry out cyberattacks against Iranian institutions and officials in support of anti-government protests and to circumvent internet censorship in Iran, Reuters reports.

DDoS attacks aim to take down servers by flooding them with internet traffic. According to Lajevardi, in recent times the biggest foreign attacks have targeted banks and financial institutions, internet providers and communications infrastructure, but they have been repelled. The IRNA news agency did not provide further details. The central bank said in September that a cyberattack briefly rendered its website unavailable.

Since the protests that erupted in Iran in September over the death of young Kurdish girl Mahsa Amini, who was killed by morality police while being checked for violating the compulsory dress code, Internet access is severely limited in the country.

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