Iranian president’s visit to Russia in the offing: Kremlin
The visit of Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi to Russia is being worked out, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
In an address to reporters, he added the Kremlin will announce the dates of this visit in due course, tass.com reported.
“It is true that the possibility of such a visit is being worked on. We will keep you updated about the dates of this trip in due course,” he said.
The negotiations on trade relations and financial agreements will be key topics of the upcoming Iranian president’s visit to Russia, according to Vice President of the Iran-Russia Joint Chamber of Commerce Kambiz Mirkarimi.
“Raeisi’s visit to Moscow is crucial,” IRNA cited him as saying.
He added that among the features of the upcoming visit is that the negotiations will be held at a high level on trade relations and financial agreements.
“We expect that these negotiations will succeed in the development of bilateral economic cooperation.”
In December, Peskov said Moscow and Tehran are preparing contacts at the highest level.
Prior to that, Iranian government’s spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi said Raeisi is set to make an official visit to Moscow in early 2022 to hold talks with senior Russian officials on ways to promote bilateral strategic relations.
He added Russian President Vladimir Putin had invited his Iranian counterpart to travel to Moscow “in line with the continuation of strategic interactions” between the two countries.
“Raeisi will probably pay a visit to Moscow early in the new year (2022) within the framework of strengthening international relations with the world, especially regional countries,” Bahadori Jahromi noted.
Iran and Russia have in recent years managed to bolster relations in various fields. Moscow has on many occasions supported Tehran’s stance on the right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.
In a phone call with his Russian counterpart in September, Raeisi said Tehran was determined to boost relations with Moscow in all fields, including in the production of a joint vaccine to fight the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Iranian scientists’ assassinations not to go unpunished: Official
An Iranian human rights official warned the perpetrators of assassinations of Iran’s nuclear scientists that their crimes will not go unpunished.
Kazem Gharibabadi, the Judiciary chief’s deputy for international affairs and secretary of the country’s High Council for Human Rights, posted a tweet on Tuesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of senior nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, Tasnim News Agency reported.
He praised the scientist for his tireless efforts toward “promoting and localizing peaceful nuclear knowledge”.
“The crime of assassinating scientists will not go unpunished as a gross violation of human rights,” Gharibabadi said.
A chemistry expert, Ahmadi Roshan, 32, oversaw a department at the Natanz nuclear facility. He was murdered on January 11, 2012, by a magnetic bomb placed on his car in northern Tehran, in a terrorist attack blamed on Israel.
Over the past years, Iranian nuclear scientists have been the targets of Western and Israeli spy agencies’ assassination attempts, Press TV reported.
Between 2010 and 2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists – namely Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan – were assassinated, while another, Fereydoon Abbasi, was wounded in an attempted assassination.
In June 2012, Iran announced that its intelligence forces had identified and arrested all terrorist elements behind the assassination of the country’s nuclear scientists.
In the latest case, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who headed the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, was assassinated on November 27, 2020.
Iran’s daily COVID cases surpass 2,000, deaths hit 32: Ministry
The Iranian Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that the country’s new daily COVID-19 infections surpassed 2,000.
The ministry announced in a statement that the country’s daily COVID-19 infections and fatalities in the past 24 hours reached 2,089 and 32.
According to the ministry, the total COVID-19 death toll and cases since the beginning of the outbreak in the country in late February 2020 stand at 131,972 and 6,212,387.
It said 1,533 patients are in critical condition, and 284 new ones have been hospitalized.
According to the statement, 6,056,633 people have so far either recovered or have been discharged from hospitals, and 43,069,904 diagnostic tests have been carried out in the country.
The Health Ministry added the total number of administered vaccine doses in the country stands at 124,519,130, of which 60,217,847 have been given to people as the first dose, 52,896,482 as the second dose, and 11,404,801 as the third, booster shot.
Iran on December 19 said the first definite case of infection with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was detected in the country. since then, the coutnry has reported over 500 confirmed cases of infection with the new strain.
Air defense force serious about protecting Iran’s borders: Deputy commander
The deputy commander of Iran’s Air Defense Force stressed the army is quite serious protecting the country’s borders, saying that any offensive against the Islamic Republic’s airspace will receive a crushing and decisive response.
Brigadier General Alireza Elhami gave the assurance that the air defense forces are ready to respond to any level of threats, adding, “We have proven over and over in practice that we are extremely serious about defending our air borders and space,” IRNA reported.
Iran’s Air Defense Force will give a crushing and decisive response to any malicious intention of aggression against the country’s borders, interests and infrastructure, he stressed.
The air defense force is at present most prepared in the face of threats and through using an experienced and efficient workforce, as well as up-to-date weaponry and equipment, reliance on Gold Almighty, and sticking to the guidelines of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, is ready to defend the country’s borders at full strength.
Dismissing certain claims about enemy infiltration into the country’s airspace and sensitive centers, Brigadier General Elhami said, “No problem has ever occurred to our sensitive and vital centers. These are all baseless and absurd allegations made by the enemies. The world also knows the essence of such empty claims.”
Iran has taken great strides seeking to attain self-sufficiency in producing essential military equipment and defense systems in the face of decades-long sanctions and arms embargoes on the country.
The Islamic Republic produces a wide variety of advanced weapons systems and equipment based on its own technological capabilities.
Iran’s Army has launched a large-scale drill involving hundreds of combat drones belonging to the Ground, Navy and Air Defense Forces.
In December, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Air Force said the Islamic Republic will never initiate a war with any country, but always stands ready to give a crushing response to any act of aggression.
Brigadier General Hamid Vahedi added, “We in the Air Force will spare no effort to upgrade our combat capability and readiness to give a smart response to any type of aerial threat,” according to Press TV.
Underlining that Iran seeks no war with any country, Brigadier General Vahedi said, “Our doctrine is defensive and we do not intend to invade any country, but … we will stand against any act of aggression with full power,” which will make enemies regret their act.
Iran’s governance system uniquely seeks to maintain Islamic-Republic balance
By Ali Abootalebi*
Iran remains the only Shia Muslim country seeking to build an ‘Islamic Republic’, combining Shia jurisprudence, values and principles, and a vision of Islamic society with a republican institutional and legal framework.
The state initially constructed a constitutional structure for the division and the interplay of power among the three branches of government. The constitutional changes and the creation of the office of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Constitutional Council, and the Expediency Council served predominantly the interest of the clerical outlook and its advocates. In foreign affairs, the creation of the Supreme National Security Council further consolidated power in the hands of the top clerical leadership at the expense of the Parliament and the office of the presidency.
In short, the balance of power between Islam and republicanism has gradually tilted toward the former. The conservatives’ wariness toward the creation of political parties has played a significant role in political stagnation in the country. Independent political parties are indispensable in interest aggregation of diverging popular interest, with implications for political power, state legitimacy, and governance in any democratic political system.
Furthermore, external factors such as the Iran-Iraq war, sanctions, and political pressure strengthened the position of the more conservative forces who see the West as the perennial enemy with low prospects for coexistence or rapprochement.
The rise of Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi’s administration is a manifestation of political tightening in Iran in the face of the decline of the reformists who advocated a moderated role of conservative concepts in the management of state-society relations.
The arrival of the second and third post-revolution generations to the socio-economic and political scenes, who naturally care more about the state of the economy and freedom in political and personal expression, has complicated the political lives of both the reformists and the conservatives. Political reformists have declined in power and prestige and the conservatives have fallen short in delivering economic prosperity and virtuous life in the face of ever-worsening economic conditions, overburdening and unnecessary social restrictions, and political limitations.
The incongruences between what is Islamic and what is republic remains unresolved. The blend of secular and religious laws, institutional frameworks, and the division of power need addressing and reforms to drastically address democratic rights to correct the balance in the structure of power based on both religious exigencies and the republican rights of citizenship. The rise of the Raeisi administration signifies further Islamization of Iran’s constitutional republicanism while, in my opinion, republicanizing what is Islamic is the path toward reaching an effective balance between ‘Islamic’ and ‘Republic’ components of the system without undermining either of them.
*Ali Abootalebi, professor of political science at the University of
Wisconsin-Eau Claire, writes on Islam and democracy, Middle Eastern and global politics, and the US Mideast policy in his books and articles. He is associated with the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Center for Global Nonkilling, and Jewish Voice for Peace.
Media, research cooperation
Iran’s Ambassador to Damascus Mehdi Sobhani and Bouthaina Shaaban, the political and media adviser to the Syrian president, discussed ways to expand cooperation in the media and research sectors, IRNA wrote.