Iran / Pakistan / Afghanistan geopolitical watch team: Daniel Marco and Jérémie Patot.
24/01/2023: Afghanistan: cold weather kills at Least 124 People -Daniel Marco-
On January 24th, at least 124 people have died in Afghanistan’s freezing temperatures over the past two weeks, Taliban officials said on 24 January. An official from the state’s disaster control ministry said about 70,000 animals had died in the coldest winter in a decade, Canada Today reports.
The BBC notes that as a result of the Taliban’s restriction on Afghan women working for non-governmental organisations, many aid organisations have temporarily halted their activities. A Taliban minister has said that the edict will remain in force despite the killings. The Munsif Daily underlines that the UN and other aid organisations are desperately seeking ways to override the embargo.
Afghanistan has traditionally had difficult winters, but this is the worst one yet. Military helicopters have been sent to help as many parts of Afghanistan are now completely cut off by snow, but they have been unable to land in the most mountainous areas, according to Disaster Management Minister Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund, Wion News informs.
24/01/2023: The Syrian Minister of Defense pays an official visit to Tehran. -Jeremie Patot-
During a meeting with Syrian Defense Minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas held in Tehran on Tuesday, Iranian Major General Hossein Salami reaffirmed Iran’s willingness to strengthen military and defensive cooperation with Syria, reports Tasmin News. Salami highlighted the importance of exchanging experiences in various fields, including cyberspace warfare, information warfare, and said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards of Iran (IRGC) were ready to strengthen educational cooperation with the Syrian Armed Forces, especially in command and staff courses. He recalled the importance of developing the defensive and military relations between Iran and Syria, adding that Iran is ready to help the Syrian armed forces in areas where it is necessary.
Iran International reports that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has said that the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to help Syria financially in the reconstruction of the country. He also described relations between the two countries as strategic and assured that Iran would always stand by Syria.
This meeting takes place only a few days after the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to Damascus where he met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to strengthen bilateral ties between their countries.
26/01/2023: Iranian hackers target British politicians and journalists. -Daniel Marco-
On January 26th, hackers with links to Iran and Russia continue to pose a threat to British academics and politicians, according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). The NCSC has issued a new advisory stating that groups such as Iran are “successfully deploying spear-phishing attacks against targeted organisations and individuals in the UK, and other areas of interest, for information gathering operations”, reports The Middle East Eye.
To gain the trust of users, hackers frequently send fake invitations to events or Zoom sessions that contain malicious code. Clicking on them can compromise accounts and give the hacker access to private data. Although the two cyber groups warned are widely believed to be associated with the two states, officials are not officially accusing Russia and Iran of being involved in the spying, according to BBC.
Wion News informs that the NCSC claims that the Iran-based organisation Charming Kitten also used spear-phishing methods to collect data. The Iranian government has no knowledge of this organisation, according to Iran’s envoy to the UN in New York.
23/01/2023: The EU finally does not list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity, but adopts new sanctions against Iran. -Jeremie Patot-
On January 23, the EU Council adopts a new sanctions valve under the existing human rights sanctions regime against Iran. These new sanctions affect figures in the Iranian parliament, politicians and the Revolutionary Guards. These sanctions fall after a vote in parliament to register the Iranian paramilitary organization as a terrorist group, which had provoked many reactions from Tehran.
Tehran Times reports the final reasons for the non-listing of the Guardians as terrorist groups, according to the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, the EU cannot take such action without a judicial decision. He said on Monday that “a court decision must first be rendered in order to settle this matter. You can’t say that just because you don’t like me, I think you’re a terrorist.”
Nevertheless, Iranwire recalls that this is not the unique procedure that the EU has to register an entity in the list of terrorist groups: the council can also and at any time, adopt a decision to register or delist individuals. , groups and entities in the list.
RFI notes, citing the Suddeutsche Zeitung, that the main reason seems to be a fear of European diplomats of a total withdrawal of Tehran from negotiations on its nuclear program, which is placed under the control of the Revolutionary Guards.
And it was without delay, the day after the new sanctions that the spokesman for Iranian diplomacy, Nasser Kanaani, strongly condemned the actions of the EU and the United Kingdom, declaring that these actions “indicate their intellectual disability in understanding the realities in Iran“, according to KhabarOnline.
According to Tasmin News, the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry also announced a new list of European and British individuals and institutions subject to sanctions.