Iran Geopolitical Watch – from 19 November to 25 November, 2022

Iran / Pakistan / Afghanistan geopolitical watch team: Daniel Marco, Mehrad Abedisagha and Jérémie Patot.


21/11/2022 : World Cup 2022: Before their match against England, Iranian players choose to protest against the regime by refusing to sing the national anthem. -Daniel Marco-


On 21 November, the Iranian football team decided not to sing the national anthem in their opening World Cup match against England as a sign of resistance, bravery and solidarity with anti-government activists, reports The Independent.

The athletes’ protest came after several weeks of violent protests in Iran, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody in September 2022.  The anthem, which emphasises their desire to see the Islamic Republic endure forever, was drowned out by the booing of the Iranian team’s supporters at the Khalifa International Stadium. The words “Woman, Life, Freedom” were printed on a flag that a group of Iranian supporters produced in the stands, The Mirror informed.

The Guardian notes that given the intense pressure they had been under to stay away from the Iranian revolution, which human rights organisations say has left more than 450 people dead and more than 15,000 arrested, the players’ brave act was all the more impressive. However, if the authorities decide to make an example of them, the Iranian team’s action could spell trouble for them at home. Political opposition is a crime in Iran and one of the offences punishable by death. Since the start of the uprising in September, 21 protesters have already been sentenced to death after sham trials, according to The Sun.

Many Iranian sportsmen and women have shown their support for the anti-hijab activists since the death of Mahsa Amini. On 8 November, Iran’s men’s water polo team refused to sing the national anthem at the 2022 Asian Water Polo Championships.


21/11/2022: Iran again bombs opposition positions in Iraqi Kurdistan. -Jérémie Patot-

On the night of Sunday to Monday, Iran launched new strikes against Iranian Kurdish opponents on Iraqi territory, a week after similar strikes.

Mehr News Agency reports that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) announced in a statement that it was strengthening its forces in the northwestern region of Iran to deal with the movements of separatist terrorist groups.

As of Monday, the American military command for the Middle East (Centcom) and the UN mission in Iraq condemned these strikes, respectively in a press release and on Twitter. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), on Tuesday, called the Iranian attacks “intolerable“.

According to RFERL, Tehran has asked the United Nations Security Council to close the headquarters of Iranian Kurdish groups based in Iraq and disarm them for their “subversive actions” against Iran. In an article dated November 24, Tasnim News relays the letter from the Iranian diplomatic mission at the UN to the Security Council, justifying the strikes by “the inherent right of self-defence”.

According to Al Mayadeen, the Iraqi government has decided to plan a redeployment of armed forces along the borders with Iran and Turkey. The decision taken by Baghdad was made on Wednesday and following the recent attacks carried out by Ankara and Tehran on Iraqi soil. From the first strikes on Monday, November 14, Le Figaro recalled that even though this is not the first time that Iraqi Kurdistan has suffered strikes from its neighbours under the justification of an anti-terrorist operation and that Baghdad regularly denounces these actions, no retaliatory action is usually not taken.

22/11/2022: The crisis over Iran’s nuclear program continues to escalate. -Mehrad Abedisagha-

On November 22, Mohammad Eslami, director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization announced, at a press conference, Iran’s decisions in response to the adaptation of the resolution of the International Agency for Atomic Energy last Thursday.

According to The Guardian, this resolution, which was taken at the initiative of the United States and the three European countries party to the Iranian nuclear agreement (United Kingdom, France and Germany), accuses Iran of not cooperate with the IAEA. On November 21, according to Hamshahri Online, Foreign Affairs spokesman Nasser Kanani in his weekly press conference said that “in response to recent action by three European countries and the United States in the approval of the resolution against Iran, some measures were decided by the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization”.

Two measures, among others, are important. On November 22, Mehr News Agency reports that Iran has started producing 60% enriched uranium at its plant in Fordo (south of Tehran) as well as replacing the first generation of centrifuges with IR-6 centrifuges. in the same factory. The new machines would significantly increase production at the site. The enrichment of uranium to 60% is a crucial question, it is one of the main points of the negotiations on the nuclear agreement, because an enrichment to 90% would allow the creation of a nuclear bomb.

Since this announcement, on November 23, BBC Persian informs that the three Foreign Ministers reacted, in a press release, to this Iranian decision by considering it as an unacceptable and worrying decision.

This resolution and Iran’s response comes after months of non-negotiations between the parties involved and there does not appear to be an immediate way out of the crisis.

23/11/2022 : Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is set to appoint a new Army Chief. -Daniel Marco-

On November 23, the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee was announced by the Prime Minister’s office in a brief statement issued on Twitter informs Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). “The Prime Minister will take a decision on the appointments in accordance with the established procedure,” the statement said.

AP News said the move would end days of rumours of a standoff between Shahbaz Sharif’s coalition government and the army over the replacement of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retires next week. In the midst of hostilities with India, former Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to extend his term. According to Al Jazeera, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif sought to play down what appeared to be a stalemate in the selection of the top job. In a television appearance, he said that there was no distinction between the army and the government and that any accusation to the contrary was false.

In the 75 years since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, the army has been considered the most powerful institution in the nation. During this period, the military dominated the nation for more than three decades and enacted martial law on three occasions.


24/11/2022: The UN is preparing a mission to investigate human rights violations in Iran -Jérémie Patot-

On November 24, the UN Human Rights Council adopts a resolution (A/HRC/S-35/L.1) which allows the creation of an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the allegations of violation of human rights in Iran and linked to protests that began on September 16. The resolution was adopted by 25 votes to 6 opposed and 16 abstentions, and it condemned Tehran’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.

The day before the resolution was adopted, Iran was strongly criticized during the 35th session, reports Iran International. The new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, pointed in particular to the lack of responsibility for the deaths of the demonstrators, the unnecessary and disproportionate response of Iran, and the constant delegitimization of the demonstrators by categorizing them as foreign agents.

France 24 recalls that around 14,000 people, including children, were arrested in connection with the demonstrations, and of which 6 people were arrested with the death penalty. These arrests, national team footballer Voria Ghafouri was arrested on Thursday after posting a photo in traditional Kurdish habit on Instagram.

On Friday 24, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian expressed his regret at the death of Mehsa Amini before adding that the anti-Iranian action pushed by Germany and its European allies is a historic mistake, that this policy will backfire and he considers the UN resolution null and void, reports the semi-official Mehr News Agency.

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