April 5, 2024

Airstrike Obliterates Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Over Twenty Dead as Coordinated Terrorist Attacks End in Sistan and Baluchestan Province, Tehran’s Mosque Construction Plan in Parks: A Controversial Push Towards Religious Presence in Public Spaces, and More

Week of April 1, 2024 | Iran Unfiltered is a digest tracking Iranian politics & society by the National Iranian American Council 

Airstrike Obliterates Iranian Consulate in Damascus: Tensions Escalate Amid Calls for Retaliation and Diplomatic Maneuvering

The Iranian consulate building in Damascus was destroyed in an aerial attack on the afternoon of April 1, for which Israel claimed credit. According to the latest confirmed news, 13 individuals were killed in this attack, including 7 commanders and senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards and 6 Syrian nationals. According to information presented by Hossein Akbari, the Iranian Ambassador to Syria, this attack was carried out by an F-35 fighter jet with 6 missiles from the direction of the Golan Heights.

The attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus elicited reactions and condemnations from some countries around the world. The United States did not condemn it but distanced itself from the attack. A National Security spokesperson stated the U.S. “had no involvement in the [Israeli] strike and we did not know about it ahead of time.” Iran officially requested a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the Israeli attack on its Damascus consulate, which was held on April 2. Although the session was a diplomatic achievement for Iran, it did not result in any tangible outcome for the country. 

An April 3 statement from the European Union condemned the attack. “The European Union condemns the attack on an Iranian diplomatic installation in Damascus on 1 April, as well as the reported casualties.” The statement continued, “In this highly tense regional situation, it is imperative to show utmost restraint. Further escalation in the region is in no one’s interest. The principle of the inviolability of diplomatic and consular premises and personnel must be respected in all cases and in all circumstances in accordance with international law.”

Iranian officials have responded to this attack and stated that they would give a strong response to Israel’s action. Currently, experts are concerned about what Iran’s reaction will be and how it could escalate the crisis in the Middle East. 

Various Iranian officials have talked about retaliatory operations. The Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ali Khamenei, emphasized the need to make Israel regret the attack on Damascus in an official statement. The statement reads: “General Zahedi has been awaiting martyrdom since the 1980s in the fields of danger and struggle. They have lost nothing and received their reward, but the grief of their absence is heavy for the nation of Iran, especially for those who knew them. The vile regime will be punished by our brave men. They will regret this crime and the like by the power of God.”

He also said in a meeting with high-ranking government officials: “The defeat of the Zionist regime in Gaza will continue, and this regime will come closer to decay and destruction. Desperate efforts like the one they committed in Syria will not save them from defeat. Indeed, they will also feel the slap of this action.”

Ebrahim Raisi issued a message stating, “This cowardly crime will not go unanswered.” The Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the attack “in the strongest terms.” The statement emphasized: “From the United Nations, especially the Security Council and the Secretary-General of the organization, it is expected to act swiftly and appropriately against the unlawful acts and violations of international regulations by the Israeli Zionist regime, which are considered threats to international peace and security, and to condemn and denounce such criminal and terrorist acts.” According to a post published by Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on X (Twitter), the Swiss Ambassador, as the protector of American interests, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry by the Director-General of America at 4:45 AM on Tuesday to receive Iran’s message to the Americans. 

The secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council announced an extraordinary session was held on Monday night to take appropriate decisions regarding the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, emphasizing that Iran’s reaction to this event will be swift and based on consensus at the highest level of decision-making concerning national security issues.

In Israel, reports indicated that the government had scrambled GPS in anticipation of a possible drone or missile attack from Iran. Additionally, leave was canceled for combat units and Israel called up more reservists in anticipation of broader hostilities.

An otherwise tense phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Joe Biden focused on Israeli strikes on aid workers and humanitarian issues in Gaza also touched on threats from Iran. According to the U.S. readout, the leaders “discussed public Iranian threats against Israel and the Israeli people. President Biden made clear that the United States strongly supports Israel in the face of those threats.”

Deputy Chief of Staff to Ebrahim Raisi, Mohammad Jamshidi, indicated that some degree of U.S.-Iran communication is ongoing amid the heightened tensions. He wrote on X, “In a written message, the Islamic Republic of Iran warns US leadership not to get dragged in Netanyahu’s trap for US: Stay away so you won’t get hurt. In response US asked Iran not to target American facilities.”

Israel’s attack has generated significant commentary in Iran. Ali Shamkhani, the former Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and a political advisor to the Leadership, wrote: “The Zionist regime, as America’s proxy army in the region, has committed a foolish act with the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, for which it must pay the price. Whether or not Washington was aware of Israel’s intention to carry out this action has no effect on America’s direct responsibility for this crime and its consequences.”

Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic and considered a main figure of the moderate faction, stated in his message: “Although the aggression against Iranian advisors in Syria and our scientists is precedented, such a crime, which tramples all international laws, not only indicates Israel’s desperation on the Gaza battlefront and in global public opinion but also undoubtedly requires an appropriate and deterrent response that can disrupt the equations of the criminal Israeli regime.”

Eshaq Jahangiri, the first vice president of the former Rouhani government, also remarked in a message: “Israel’s aim from repeating such crimes in Palestine and beyond is to expand the scope of war and conflict to relieve itself from international pressures and the global public opinion. While underlining the role of national unity as an important element in strengthening the country’s deterrence, he emphasized that “the response to this tragic event must be prudent, decisive, and aimed at preventing the realization of the objectives of this child-killing regime.”

Although most current and former Iranian officials and many Iranian experts agree on the necessity of responding to this action by Israel, the overall reactions show that Iran is in a difficult position to respond. Some experts believe that Iran’s silence or previous weak responses to Israel have led Israel to conclude that Iran has no plan to respond to these attacks, and therefore, Iran must establish deterrence against Israel. On the other hand, other experts assert that Iran has pushed Israel, especially the Netanyahu government, to a precipice, and therefore, Israel seeks to drag Iran into this war to escape defeat in Gaza.

In the camp of those advocating a harsh response, Kayhan newspaper – close to hardliners and the Supreme Leader – suggested Iran attack one of Israel’s embassies on the first day. In addition to Kayhan newspaper and Hossein Shariatmadari, known for their hardline stance, the Tabnak website also suggested that “Any country targeted by Israel must send a clear message to the other side so that the Zionists understand that strategic patience is not out of weakness. In this action, not only should it be ‘extensively severe’ and simultaneous from both ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ origins, but it should precisely counter the Zionists with the policy of ‘hit and silence.’ Perhaps it will be stated that many will realize where these extensive historical attacks will come from, to which it should be answered, aren’t many now aware from where the attacks on the resistance front across the region come from?”

Tabnak continued, “These attacks should target sensitive areas in Tel Aviv, such as Hakirya, the center of military and intelligence command of the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv; a point that, if completely destroyed by the wrath of the resistance, would be considered a complete response and a clear message that corrects the calculations of the Zionist regime.”

This stance has been echoed by a wide range of media close to the Revolutionary Guards and even the official state broadcaster in Iran in the aftermath of the Israel strike, but it appears that there is now increasing support for maintaining Iran’s “strategic patience” policy. In fact, many of these analysts believe that Iran does not need to change its strategy because Israel is in a very difficult situation both internally and externally, and Iran’s response might change the conditions in favor of Israel.

Jafar Qanadbashi, a Middle Eastern affairs expert in a conversation with “Hammihan” newspaper, believes that Iran’s response will be measured. According to Qanadbashi: “Experience has shown that Iran will act measuredly. Just as Iran acted prudently in response to the assassination of General Soleimani by the Americans. Regarding this attack, it must be said that Iran will not enter the arena Israel desires. The Israelis want Iran to show a reaction that benefits them, but Iran, as it has acted prudently and rationally in the past six months and during the Gaza war, will behave wisely in this period as well. Iran’s response will be such that Israel will not have the ability to take advantage.”

Abolfazl Fateh, a political activist close to Mir Hossein Mousavi, stated: ” In a situation where the global public opinion has unprecedentedly empathized with the suffering of Palestinians and risen against the ongoing genocide, Israel strives to expand the level and height of the crisis, shift the focus from Gaza to another point, and by removing Palestine from the top of the global issues, provide breathing space for the demotivated, confused, and aimless army, which will lead to the fear of more crimes against humanity and perhaps the ultimate goal of directly involving America and Iran and transferring the costs of the war at the regional level to America.”

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the former chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian Parliament, stated: “In my opinion, the Islamic Republic should not fall into Israel’s trap at all. The Zionist regime is now in a suicidal condition, and Netanyahu is looking for an endless war. The Zionist regime wants Iran to enter the war because Netanyahu knows that without a war with Iran, he will become a political corpse. In this situation, we must be vigilant so that the interests of the Iranian nation are not threatened by a suicidal regime…Iran should not move towards hasty decisions because this situation is what the Zionist regime desires.”

Nasrallah Tajik, a former Iranian diplomat, also wrote in a note titled “How to Disrupt Israel’s Game?” in Etemad newspaper: “Strategic patience in not directly attacking Israel should continue given the problems and goals of Netanyahu. Israel seeks Iran’s reaction and the escalation and expansion of the war, but Iran’s interests are not in direct conflict.”

He continued: “But the fact that Iran does not want to enter a regional war might make Israel feel a false victory and conclude that if it increases its attacks against Iranian facilities and forces in Syria, which are the main support and logistics for resistance groups, it might achieve its claimed goals without cost. If Iran responds and retaliates, it would also provide a justified reason for expanding the war. This situation puts Iran in a contradictory position that can be escaped with proper design.”

Over Twenty Dead as Coordinated Terrorist Attacks End in Sistan and Baluchestan Province

Clashes that erupted following coordinated attacks by the separatist group Jaish al-Adl in three cities across the Sistan and Baluchestan province concluded this week on April 3, resulting in the death of over twenty individuals from both sides, authorities reported. There have been no reports of civilian casualties in the skirmishes. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has declared a return to “peace” in all affected cities of Sistan and Baluchestan province. Similarly, Jaish al-Adl has announced the termination of its operations through a formal statement.

In a detailed notice, the IRGC’s Southeastern Security Headquarters disclosed that the assaults, initiated the previous night, targeted five key points including public spaces and military and law enforcement bases. The attackers were reportedly killed in the confrontations.

Military sources confirm the death toll includes 18 assailants and 10 members of the Iranian military forces. Despite this, Jaish al-Adl claimed on its Telegram channel that 168 participants were involved in the attacks and that its focused target during the operation was solely military sites. The group also alleged, without providing evidence, to have killed 200 military and security personnel, referring to them as “guards of the palace of tyranny of the Supreme Leader.”

Majid Mirahmadi, Deputy Minister of Security and Law Enforcement of Iran, in a statement to state television, said that preliminary intelligence reports suggest terrorist elements are not of Iranian origin, with their identities still under investigation. He also noted the possible increase in the death toll of the attackers to 19 due to some bodies being dismembered. Highlighting the operation’s complexity, the Secretary of Iran’s National Security Council also remarked on the unusual scope and synchronization of the attacks across several different locations.

In a video released by Jaish al-Adl, the ammunition depot of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) headquarters is shown to have been entirely captured by Jaish al-Adl forces, indicating that the IRGC forces were completely taken by surprise. The group claimed its motive for the coordinated attacks was to disrupt the “Makran Coast Development Plan,” accusing the Iranian government of attempting to resettle non-Baluch and Shia citizens in the area. They formally acknowledged launching widespread and coordinated attacks against military bases in the towns of Rask, Chabahar, and Sarbaz.

Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces, Mohammad Pakpour, reported operations by the attackers in Chabahar and Rask, including assaults on the navy and police station 11, indicating that seven militants were involved, with five dying in the building due to detonated explosive vests. IRNA’s reports revealed that the attackers entered a four-story building through ground-floor shops at Chabahar’s navy and police station 11, where, according to Pakpour, three individuals wearing explosive vests were killed inside the navy premises. Alireza Marhamati, Deputy Security Minister for Sistan and Baluchestan, disclosed earlier to IRNA that the assailants had also taken a citizen of Chabahar hostage, ensuring that security operations were cautiously executed to safeguard the hostage. Marhamati also suggested that Jaish al-Adl is executing operations under the directives of Israel.

The attack, which began at 10 PM local time on Wednesday as stated by Marhamati, marks one of Jaish al-Adl’s largest confrontations with Iranian forces. This group, known for its armed opposition against the Iranian government, has previously engaged in numerous bloody conflicts with Iran’s military and security forces, taking responsibility for several attacks, especially in Iran’s southeastern border areas.

Iran has accused Jaish al-Adl of being a terrorist organization, allegedly affiliated with Saudi Arabian and American intelligence services, and refers to it as “Jaish al-Zulm.” The U.S., as well as Japan and New Zealand, have also designated the group as a terrorist organization.

Qazvin Military Court Sentences Officer to Death in High-Profile Protest Murder Case

In a landmark ruling, a military court in Qazvin handed down a death sentence to a police commander implicated in the murder of Mehran Samak, a 27-year-old protester from Bandar Anzali. The decision, reported by Shargh newspaper on March 27th, stems from an incident on November 29, 2022, when Samak was shot and killed during protest activities following Iran’s national football team’s loss to the USA.

The case has captured national attention, with Majid Ahmadi, the Samak family’s attorney, announcing on December 7, 2022, the arrest of Jafar Javanmardi, the police commander of Bandar Anzali, in connection with Samak’s death. On June 7, 2023, a preliminary trial found Javanmardi guilty of “intentional murder” for shooting Samak with birdshot. However, this verdict was overturned by Branch 26 of the Supreme Court (the military court of Gilan) last December, prompting a re-examination by the Qazvin military court.

This latest issuance of a death sentence marks the third occasion a military court has ruled on the case, consistently deeming it an act of “intentional murder” and ordering the punishment of retribution (qisas) against the accused. However, Fars news agency, linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has raised questions about the finality of the decision. The agency reported that the sentence is under review due to “multiple flaws” and is not yet enforceable, citing judicial authorities’ statements that further comprehensive examinations of the case file are needed.

The case, occurring amid what has been described as “riots” by Fars, represents a potentially significant moment of accountability, with the legal proceedings scrutinizing the actions of law enforcement officials during protest events. The military court in Qazvin, following in the footsteps of its Gilan counterpart, has taken a firm stance on the case, reiterating the conviction of intentional murder and the imposition of the retribution penalty, despite controversies surrounding the judgment’s severity and its potential impact on police morale.

Outcry as Saeed Madani Transferred to Damavand Prison

Saeed Madani, a prominent sociologist and senior social science researcher, was unexpectedly transferred from Evin Prison to Damavand Prison on April 3, 2023, in a move that his lawyer and supporters claim violates prison regulations. According to IranWire, the transfer was orchestrated at the behest of the Ministry of Intelligence and executed with the compliance of the prosecution.

Madani’s attorney, Mahmoud Behzadi-Rad, reported to ILNA news agency that the transfer was made without any request or legal decree for exile from Madani, suggesting a disregard for legal procedures that dictate transfers should either be based on a court-ordered exile or at the prisoner’s request for relocation closer to their place of residence. “Mr. Madani had neither requested a transfer nor had he been sentenced to exile. We are at a loss as to the legal basis for his transfer to another prison,” Behzadi-Rad stated, indicating the move’s inconsistency with standard prison protocols.

Madani has faced arrest and imprisonment multiple times since 1992, initially due to his critical writings. He has previously served six years in Evin and Rajai Shahr prisons and endured two years of exile in Bandar Abbas following his participation in the 2009 Green Movement protests. At the time of his recent transfer, Madani was serving a nine-year sentence in Evin Prison.

The transfer has sparked outcry among political prisoners and activists, who view it as a continuation of the Islamic Republic’s systematic suppression of political dissenters. A group of political and ideological prisoners detained in Evin Prison condemned Madani’s relocation to Damavand, highlighting it as indicative of the regime’s relentless efforts to quash even non-violent opposition. “The Islamic government has exiled Dr. Saeed Madani to Damavand Prison in an ongoing attempt to demonstrate their dominance, revealing their discomfort and desperation to maintain a facade of authority even against a peaceful resistance like Madani,” stated a section of the prisoners’ joint statement. “Despite enduring harsh conditions, including lengthy solitary confinements, heavy sentences, and academic and publishing bans, Madani’s resolve to think, research, and write for the betterment of Iran remains unbroken,” the statement added, praising his continued activism.

Tehran’s Mosque Construction Plan in Parks: A Controversial Push Towards Religious Presence in Public Spaces

The decision by Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani to forge ahead with mosque constructions within the city’s parks, including in the historically rich Gheytarieh Park, has ignited a wave of discontent among citizens. This initiative is perceived not merely as an urban development plan but as a governmental imposition of religious structures upon the communal and leisurely spaces frequented by the public.

Gheytarieh Park, a cherished green haven in North Tehran, critics say, now faces the prospect of losing its ancient trees and tranquil ambiance to make way for a mosque. This move has sparked considerable opposition, as it appears to challenge the very essence of public parks as spaces for recreation, relaxation, and escape from urban sprawl. Videos and measurements shared by concerned citizens reveal the potential ecological impact, with trees up to 3 meters in diameter at risk, directly contradicting Mayor Zakani’s claims of minimal environmental disruption.

Critics argue that the construction of mosques in parks symbolizes a deeper, more problematic agenda to further force the integration of religious establishments into everyday public life, an issue accentuated by Abolqasem Dolabi’s admission that 50,000 of the country’s 75,000 mosques are underutilized. This statistic raises questions about the necessity and appropriateness of diverting public green spaces for new religious constructions, especially when existing facilities remain largely empty.

Fences marking off the project site in Gheytarieh Park have already been installed, further complicating the situation amid  widespread backlash and potential heritage conservation issues. Despite the pause, there seems to be an underlying persistence from city officials to proceed with the project, highlighting a disconnect between government actions and public sentiment.

The Tehran City Council’s defense of the mosque construction initiative, citing a 2004 resolution to address a supposed shortage of mosques, seems out of touch with the current socio-cultural climate of Tehran given the widespread backlash. The insistence on pushing forward with these plans, despite clear public opposition and the documented underuse of existing religious sites, suggests a prioritization of symbolic religious presence over community needs and environmental conservation.

This ongoing controversy over the construction of mosques in Tehran’s parks underscores a broader debate about the role of religion in public life and the government’s influence over communal spaces. It also raises critical questions about the balance between religious observance and the preservation of public spaces for the secular enjoyment and wellbeing of the city’s residents.

Final Segment of Khaf-Herat Railway: A New Era of Connectivity Between Afghanistan and Iran

In a significant development, Taliban authorities have inked a $53 million contract to construct the concluding segment of the Khaf-Herat railway line, a project heralded as the final piece in connecting Herat directly to the rail and port infrastructure of Iran.

The ceremony, which took place in Herat on March 28, saw the presence of notable figures including Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs of the Taliban, alongside local officials, Iranian diplomats, and the Deputy Head of the Russian Railway Administration. The agreement was signed between the Afghanistan Railway Authority and Gama Group, a private entity, marking the commencement of the “second phase of the fourth segment” of this pivotal railway project.

Stretching over 47 kilometers, this phase of the Khaf-Herat railway  is slated for completion within the next two years. The segment starts from Rabat-e-Perian, extending to the Herat Airport and further into the Herat Industrial Park. The railway carries with it a substantial boost in regional connectivity and trade facilitation between Iran and Afghanistan, and potentially the enhancement of commercial traffic flow between Central and South Asia. According to a statement from Baradar’s office, the initiative also paves the way for extending the railway network to the provinces of Farah, Nimroz, Helmand, and Kandahar.

Additionally, discussions between Bakht Rahman Sharafat, head of the Afghanistan Railway Authority, and Ilya Kazakov, Deputy Head of the Russian Railway Administration, have taken place regarding the training of Afghan railway personnel in Russia, highlighting international collaboration in this sector.

This project reflects a broader strategic shift by Afghan commerce, seeking alternatives amid transport restrictions by Pakistan and ongoing political tensions. The Khaf-Herat railway itself is a testament to such efforts, with its four segments spanning 77 kilometers in Iran and 66 kilometers in Afghanistan. The railway line’s completion is anticipated to significantly contribute to the regional trade landscape, facilitating the movement of up to 6 million tons of goods annually, as per previous statements from Iranian officials. Iran’s investment in the project, amounting to “20,000 billion rials (more than $400 million)” for its segments, underscores the strategic importance of this rail link.

The budding partnership between Afghanistan and Iran has seen substantial growth, especially in the realm of trade and transport, with Iran emerging as Afghanistan’s primary trading partner during the Taliban’s tenure. The recent construction initiatives in Chabahar Port and the envisaged investment of $35 million by the Taliban government further reflect the deepening economic ties between the two nations.

Moreover, the project aligns with Iran’s strategic aspirations for a land connection to the Central Asian Republics via Afghanistan, potentially culminating in a rail link extending to China. This initiative, along with the construction of a major commercial complex in Kabul by Iran, signifies the growing economic interdependence and collaboration between Afghanistan and Iran, with trade volumes reaching around $2 billion annually in Iranian exports to Afghanistan.

Surge in Student Dropouts Signals Crisis in Iran’s Education System

Recent statistics from the Statistical Center of Iran have revealed a disturbing trend: close to 930,000 students across Iran have discontinued their education in the last year. This surge in dropout rates, particularly noted among students aged 15 to 17 in senior high school, underscores a deepening crisis within the nation’s education system.

The detailed report, as covered by Tejarat News on March 26, indicates that of the 3.55 million students in the mentioned age group, 556,000 did not pursue their education further. The situation is similarly bleak to junior high rates, where out of nearly 4 million students, 556,994 have dropped out. The high school dropout rate, which has seen a roughly 2% increase in the 2021-2022 academic year from the previous year, highlights a growing challenge. The primary education sector witnessed an increase in its dropout rate from 0.95% in the 2020-2021 academic year to 1.2%.

Economic factors have been pinpointed as a significant cause of this educational setback. The Statistical Center of Iran’s findings indicate that in 2020, a substantial majority of students not attending school belonged to the lower half of the income spectrum. Sistan and Baluchestan Province was identified as having the highest child poverty rate among these dropouts.

Further compounding the educational challenges in Sistan and Baluchestan, a local parliamentary representative from Chabahar disclosed that fewer than 40% of students in the province achieve a high school diploma. Additionally, the province faces a glaring deficit of around 14,500 teachers.

This alarming increase in dropout rates not only signals a pressing issue within Iran’s education landscape but also calls for immediate and systemic reforms to address the underlying economic and resource-related disparities hampering students’ educational pursuits.

Housing Market in Tehran Witnesses 25% Price Surge Amid Economic Volatility

The average cost of residential real estate in Tehran has soared by 24.8% over the past year, reaching an unprecedented 81.4 million tomans per square meter, as reported by the Central Bank of Iran. This sharp increase is part of a broader inflationary wave that has swept through various sectors across Iran, exacerbating the economic challenges facing its citizens.

Transaction volumes in Tehran’s residential market have seen a decline, with only 6,200 units changing hands in February 2023, indicating a downturn in both monthly and annual comparisons. This dip in activity contrasts sharply with the rising prices, highlighting a market under strain.

Economic analysts point to a nationwide inflationary trend, with non-food items and services experiencing a price increase of 35 to 40% in several Iranian provinces. Particularly hard-hit areas include Isfahan, Fars, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Lorestan, and Khorasan Razavi, as detailed by “Tomorrow’s Economy.”

The rental sector has not been spared from this inflationary pressure, with rental prices in Tehran jumping by a record 52% over the past year. This spike in rental costs reflects a wider trend of housing affordability issues plaguing the capital. Further adding to the economic turmoil, the Central Bank’s report highlights a significant increase in the inflation rate for non-food goods in Tehran, standing at 33.9% for the past year. Only two provinces, Sistan and Baluchestan and Bushehr, managed to keep their inflation rates below 30%.

Amid this backdrop of soaring living costs, the “Emami” gold coin price breached the 42 million tomans mark, and the U.S. dollar rate eclipsed 63,000 tomans, setting new records and signaling increased financial instability.

Predictions of further rent hikes, coupled with the automotive sector’s steep price increases, paint a grim picture of Iran’s economic landscape. Dena Plus Turbo models, for example, hit the market at 990 million tomans, underscoring how widespread inflation is affecting all facets of daily life.

Government-implemented price and tariff increases, such as the 40% hike in Tehran’s traffic zone tariffs, have further squeezed the public’s finances. Public transport fares have also seen substantial increases, affecting a broad spectrum of the population.

As Iranians grapple with these challenges, the daily impact of rising prices on essential goods and services has sparked significant concern and discussion among citizens and on social media platforms. This inflationary trend, exacerbated by recent geopolitical tensions and a volatile currency market, underscores the pressing economic challenges facing Iran and the urgent need for stabilizing measures to address the growing cost of living and housing affordability crisis.

Beloved Iranian Actor Reza Davoudnejad Passes Away at 43

The Iranian film industry is mourning the loss of esteemed actor Reza Davoudnejad, who passed away at the age of 43 due to complications from a liver transplant. The news was confirmed by actress Naimeh Nezamdoost, a close friend of Davoudnejad, in an interview with IRNA. She revealed that she had spoken to Ghazal Badiei, Davoudnejad’s wife, who informed her of his passing on April 2nd at Namazi Hospital in Shiraz, where he had been battling health issues for over a month. Davoudnejad’s health struggles began in earnest in May 2012 when he was hospitalized for severe weight loss that led to liver damage and a liver transplant in December 2014.

Launching his career in cinema with roles in films directed by his father, Alireza Davoudnejad, he quickly made a name for himself. His debut in “Without Shelter” (1986) at age 6 led to a flourishing acting career, with his performance in “Sweet Agony” catapulting him into the limelight and earning him a Best Actor nomination at the 17th Fajr Film Festival. He also starred in his father’s “Acting Class” among other notable films and television series, leaving a significant mark on the Iranian entertainment industry.

His demise has prompted a wave of condolences from fellow actors and filmmakers, many of whom took to social media to express their sorrow and share memories of Davoudnejad’s warm and vibrant presence. Actor Amir Jafari paid homage to him, noting Davoudnejad’s enduring kindness and infectious smile.

Davoudnejad was not just known for his acting prowess but also for his vocal support for the victims of state violence during the 2022 protests, using his platform to highlight social and political issues in Iran.

Davoudnejad’s journey from a child actor in his father’s film to a celebrated figure in Iranian cinema is remembered fondly by fans and colleagues alike. His legacy is marked by his contributions to the arts, his vibrant spirit, and his resilience in the face of prolonged illness.

In addition to the outpouring of grief from the Iranian film community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Reza Davoudnejad. The organization recognizes his significant contributions to the arts and his courageous stance on social issues, highlighting how his work resonated not just within Iran but also among the Iranian diaspora and will continue to inspire future generations.

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