How Dual Citizens Became Pawns in Iran’s Fight with the West

“I believe that the meaning of freedom will never be complete until all of us unjustly detained in Iran are reunited with our families,” the British-Iranian citizen told a press conference in London on Monday. It is reported by the British PA Media.

The release of Zagari-Ratcliffe and Anoush Ashuri was hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “huge achievement” of British diplomacy, resolving an issue that had been on the country’s agenda for many years.

Last week’s release came as world powers, including the UK, were close to wrapping up negotiations to revive a 2015 deal that placed limits on Tehran’s nuclear program. The UK paid Iran around $520 million to pay off a 40-year release debt.

However, this was the end of only one chapter in a long history of prisoners who became a bargaining chip in political disputes between the Islamic Republic and the West.

The Western powers denied any connection between the release and the nuclear talks, but in their timing, some opponents of the deal called the deal “hostages” and the deal a “ransom”.

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who served in the Donald Trump administration that pulled out of the 2015 deal, criticized the UK payment to Iran, calling it “blood money”.

Tehran has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying the arrests were made on charges of “national security” and “espionage.” Iran does not recognize dual citizenship.

Despite denying a link to the nuclear talks, the actions surrounding the arrest and release of Iranians with dual citizenship have in the past given a glimpse of where the talks might take.

For example, the number of dual citizens arrested by Iran increased dramatically by 2015, when the agreement was signed.

In 2016, five American prisoners were released on benefits? the first nuclear deal began. The release comes after one of the largest US government payments to Iran to settle a longstanding dispute.
While the release negotiations were underway, the US paid $400 million of funds frozen since 1981 that were sent to Iran in cash by plane, in addition to another $1.3 billion in interest owed to Iran. State Department spokesman John Kirby then stated that this was used as a “lever”.

According to Trita Parsi, not all dual citizens were arrested by Iran for the same reasons.

“Some of the people who were taken away at the beginning of the JCPOA were in fact intentionally captured by hardline elements. [within Iran] who wanted to make sure that the JCPOA didn’t escalate into a bigger thaw between the US and Iran,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the 2015 agreement is known.

The US has also carried out its own arrests of Iranians over the years, as former Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has repeatedly said. dedicated while in the office.

However, the release of prisoners on the one hand is usually accompanied by some form of exchange, whether it be a prisoner exchange or the settlement of old disputes, Parsi said, adding that Iranian prisoners in Western countries are usually those who have violated sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“The Iranians consider these [imprisonments] be illegitimate and consider it essentially a hostage-taking by the West,” he said.

The 2016 release was followed by more arrests, including that of US citizen Baker Namazi, who flew to Tehran to help free his son Siamak Namazi, also a US citizen.

in February Press releaseThe US State Department marked six years from the date of Namazi’s arrest, saying he is a “political pawn” of Iran, along with other detained foreign nationals.

Jason Razayan, a former Washington Post Tehran bureau chief who was among the prisoners released in 2016, said the prisoner issue should be placed at the forefront of the negotiating agenda with Iran “so you don’t risk your lives.” innocent people.”

“When I was in[Viranianprison)Iknewverywellthatthiswouldnothappen;Ineverintendedtobeprioritynumberone”CNNtoldCNN”Let’schangethislet’smakethisprioritynumberone”[виранскойтюрьме)яоченьхорошопонималчтоэтогонепроизойдет;яникогданесобиралсябытьприоритетомномеродин»—сказалонCNN«Давайтеизменимэтодавайтесделаемэтоприоритетомномеродин»[inanIranianprison)thatthatwasn’tgoingtohappen;Iwasnevergoingtobethenumberonepriority”hetoldCNN”Let’sturnitaround;let’smakeitthenumberonepriority”

Parsi said that plans for additional releases could be underway.

The following are Americans held in Iran who are likely to show up in talks between the Biden administration and the Islamic Republic as nuclear talks progress:

  • Emad Shargi: An Iranian-American businessman was first arrested in 2018 while working for a technology investment company. Shargi spent eight months in prison and was released on bail, but was banned from leaving. In November 2020, the Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on charges of espionage. His family says that he innocent.
  • Siamak and Baker Namazi: Siamak Namazi was arrested and detained in October 2015, and a year later he was convicted of “conspiracy with an enemy state” – the United States – and sentenced to 10 years in prison. His elderly father Backer was arrested and detained in February 2016. lured to Iran under the false assumption that he would be able to see his son. Backer was released from prison in 2018 for health reasons, as he is prohibited from traveling. Their family says they are innocent.
  • Morad Tahbaz: An Iranian-American environmentalist who also holds British citizenship, Tahbaz was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2019 on charges of “espionage” and “conspiracy against Iran’s national security.” He was released from prison last week and later returned to jail to wear an ankle tag. His family denies the charges against him.
  • Robert Levinson: A former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran over a decade ago, Levinson became the longest-detained US citizen in history in 2016. According to State Department officials, Levinson traveled to Iran’s Kish Island in early March 2007 and never made a public appearance. seen or heard again. His family believes he is dead.

Additional reporting by Adam Purahmadi, CNN

Other Top Middle East Stories

Germany in talks with Qatar on long-term gas supplies to reduce dependence on Russia

Germany and Qatar are in talks for a long-term energy partnership, government officials from both sides said Sunday as Europe’s largest economy seeks to become less dependent on Russian energy sources.

  • Background: Qatar has previously stated that neither Qatar nor any other single country is able to replace Russian gas supplies to Europe in case of interruptions. The Energy Minister said last month that since most Qatari volumes are in long-term contracts with predominantly Asian buyers, the amount of diverted volumes that can be sent to Europe is only 10-15%.
  • Why is it important: Russia is Germany’s biggest gas supplier, and German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has launched a number of initiatives to reduce his country’s energy dependence on Russia after it invaded neighboring Ukraine.

Yemeni Houthis attack Saudi Arabian energy facilities, oil refinery production hit

A Yemeni Houthi group linked to Iran fired missiles and drones at Saudi energy and water desalination facilities, causing a temporary drop in refinery output, but no casualties, the Saudi Energy Ministry said on Sunday. In a separate statement, the Foreign Office said the attack was a direct threat to the security of the oil supply and that it would not be held responsible for any oil shortage in the market as a result.

  • Background: Saudi Arabia has struggled to extricate itself from a war in Yemen that has left tens of thousands dead and millions starving. Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia have also endangered the kingdom’s airports, oil facilities and resulted in the deaths of several civilians.
  • Why is it important: Any further disruption to oil supplies could be a big problem for the global economy. The attacks could also complicate hopes for a UN-brokered truce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in April. It was unclear whether both sides agreed with the UN’s plans.

Syrian Assad Welcomed to UAE, Washington ‘Concerned’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the United Arab Emirates on Friday, his first visit to an Arab state since the start of the war in Syria in 2011. ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Washington said he was “deeply disappointed and concerned” by the visit.

  • Background: The Arab states sidelined the Syrian president more than a decade ago, severing ties and suspending Syria’s membership in the Arab League following an international outcry against what the UN called “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”
  • Why is it important: A number of Arab states are now being softer on the Syrian regime, forging direct channels of communication to bring Assad back into the Arab fold, a phenomenon strongly opposed by anti-regime activists. The UAE has been at the forefront of the effort.

What’s in trend

Saudi Arabia: #FancyDressFestival

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, hosted a public costume event over the weekend as part of the Riyadh Season festival. The winners of the competition for the best clothes received cars as prizes.

Turkey: #NoOneCanPassDardanelles

The Turks marked the 110th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I with a tribute to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, who was a commander at Gallipoli. During the campaign, the Allied Powers tried to take control of the Dardanelles to establish a direct sea line with their ally the Russian Empire, and their failure to do so is today celebrated in Turkey as a victory. The hashtag about Ataturk has become popular all over the world. Turkey’s strategic waterways have become the center of attention around the world against the backdrop of Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Regional: #Mothers Day

Mother’s Day is celebrated on March 21 in most Arab countries. Originally a Western holiday, its origin in the Middle East dates back to the late Egyptian duo of journalist brothers Mostafa and Ali Amin, who in the 1950s called on the state to officially honor Egyptian mothers. Cairo officially declared the holiday in 1956, choosing to celebrate it on the first day of spring. Other Arab states followed. Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world on May 9, although other countries celebrate it on different days of the year.

Photo of the day

On March 19, archaeologists discovered five tombs in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, near the Egyptian capital Cairo.  According to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the beautifully painted tombs are over 4,000 years old and belong to high-ranking officials from the Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.