Iran. During the year, reform friends in Iran further
secured their grip on the country's chosen institutions,
while the country's conservative camps retained control of
the judicial system, security forces, the state media and
the influential Guardian Council.
Countryaah, the incumbent President Mohammad Khatami won the June 8
presidential election. He got 78% of the vote, while the
most successful challenger, the conservative Ahmed Tavakkoli,
got 15%. Over 800 people had applied to run for office, but
only nine of them were approved by the Guardian Council. The
turnout was 67%, significantly lower than the 88% listed in
the 1998 election. Khatami sworn in on the August 8
presidential post. The ceremony was delayed by three days
because of a conflict between reform friends and
conservatives over the appointment of new members of the
Guardian Council. Parliament refused to approve three new
members appointed by Conservative judges. In the end,
Parliament was forced to back down.
A number of regime critics were sentenced during the year
to long prison sentences. In January, journalist Akbar Ganju,
translator Saeed Sadr and interpreter Khalil Rostamkhani
were sentenced to ten, ten and nine years in prison,
respectively, for their participation in a regime-critical
conference in Berlin in 2000. By contrast, I's most popular
female politician Jamileh Kadivar was completely freed.
Ganju later received his sentence reduced to six years.
The number of executions increased during the year. Two
women, one convicted of murdering her husband and the other
for starring in a porn movie, were reported to have been
stoned to death in May and July respectively. The use of
scandal punishment also increased. Criticism against these
penal methods was also heard from conservative power holders
who believed that the methods sunk the image of Iran abroad.
Twelve people were sentenced on January 27 for
involvement in the murders of four intellectuals in 1998.
Among those convicted were three lower officers who were
sentenced to death and two former chiefs of the Department
of Information who were sentenced to life imprisonment.
During the trial, there was information that Information
Minister Hojatolislam Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi had ordered
the murders, but the court did not attach any importance to
Thousands of football supporters hit after several
international matches in October together with police. Many
football supporters shouted slogans aimed at the regime, and
hundreds of people were arrested.
Iran signed various types of cooperation agreements with
Italy, Russia and Saudi Arabia during the year. Foreign
Minister Kamal Kharazzi met with EU Foreign Minister Javier
Solana on 10 September. The parties, which have not met at
such a high level since the 1979 Iranian revolution,
discussed, among other things, plans for a trade agreement
that would increase EU investment in Iran. The United States,
in August, extended sanctions against Iran and Libya for
another five years.
I's spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei condemned the
terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, but
at the same time accused the United States of trying to
exploit the situation to strengthen its influence over the
region. Iran was critical of the US massive bombing of
Afghanistan but supported the Northern Alliance and, above
all, its Shi'ite Muslim groups. When the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan fell in November, Iran was the first country to
open its embassy in Kabul.
About 500 people died when the worst floods in more than
200 years hit northern Iran in mid-August.
Both Israel and Saudi Arabia feared greater Iranian
influence in the Middle East after their fundamentalist
Islamic allies in Syria in 2016-17 were defeated by the
Syrian state supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
Iranian Kurdistan was hit in November by a powerful 7.3
magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale. A few days later,
the Iranian authorities estimated that the quake had killed
530 people, 12,000 houses had been totally destroyed and
15,000 others had been injured. Iraqi Kurdistan was also hit
by the quake. (Officials raise Iran-Iraq earthquake death
toll to at least 530, Guardian 14/11 2017)
In late December, protests erupted in most major cities
in Iran. Especially young people were walking in the street
to protest against the lack of jobs and the poor financial
situation. Despite the lifting of the West's financial
sanctions against the country, which had made some economic
progress, the youth had only to a limited extent benefited
from this development. After 5 days of demonstrations and
protests, 21 protesters had been killed. US rabid UN
Ambassador Nikki Haley who has no other problems with
Israeli security forces' killings of Palestinians, the
Honduran dictatorship killing of protesters or the Turkish
Islamic dictatorship killing of Turks and Kurds welcomed the
Iranian uprising, called for international support for the
protesters and promised the case at the UN.
2018 The United States starts preparations for war
In early May 2018, Israel presented "evidence" that Iran
breached the International Cooperation Agreement on Nuclear
Disarmament with the EU, US, Russia and China. However, the
Israeli evidence was rejected by both the EU, Russia and
China as completely untrustworthy. When the false offensive
failed, Israel carried out extensive May 8 attacks on
Iranian targets in Syria. 15 were killed, including 8
Iranians. The purpose was, as in April, to force an Iranian
backlash. It also failed. The United States therefore
declared on May 10 - as expected - that it would no longer
comply with the International Cooperation Agreement with
Iran. The decision was contrary to international law, as the
agreement had the UN Security Council blue stamp. A few
hours later, Israel carried out the most extensive aircraft
attack on Iranian targets in Syria since the war in 1973. 27
were killed, including 11 Iranians and 6 Syrian soldiers.
Once again, the Iranian counterpart failed. Israel claimed
that it had been subjected to Iranian rocket fire in the
Golan prior to the attack, but Israel was not able to
provide substantive evidence, and it did not make sense that
Iran should attack in the highly explosive situation Israel
and the US had created in the region.