By Pooya Stone

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter announced on Tuesday that they had removed hundreds of fake accounts used in a covert Iranian influence campaign.

The Iranian propaganda campaign pushed posts that criticised Donald Trump and Israel, while promoting the Iran nuclear deal, according to an investigation by cyber security firm FireEye, who discovered the malign operation.

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Iran Focus

London, 23 August - On Tuesday, in a press release, Facebook announced that an Iranian propaganda campaign created fake Bernie Sanders supporters online.

The Facebook Newsroom website said that it had removed 652 pages associated with political influence campaigns traced to Iran from its social media platform, “including coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US.”

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Iran Focus

London, 11 August - Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said publically that he thinks current President Hassan Rouhani must leave office.

After days of increased protest by the people of Iran, Ahmadinejad posted a video on his Telegram social media account on Thursday, where he explained that Rouhani is unfit for public office.

He said: “Your continued presence is at the expense of the country.”

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Iran Focus

London, 22 August - Facebook and Twitter announced on Tuesday night that they’ve thwarted a network of suspicious accounts that appear to come from Iran.

First, Facebook reported that it had removed over 650 pages, groups, and accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. Then, less than an hour later, Twitter tweeted that it had taken down nearly 300 accounts, many from Iran.

This is an important reminder not just that Iran is now one of the adversaries targeting American tech companies, but also that the Silicon Valley businesses are prepared to work together and proactively share these details with their competitors to remove malign influences from their social media sites.

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Iran Focus

London, 10 August - A religious school in northern Iran was attacked on Friday, as the popular people’s protest continued to grow in size and scale in Iran.

About 500 protesters attacked the seminary in the province of Alborz by hurling stones at the building, which led to several arrests by the state security forces, according to Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency on Saturday.

Protests rocked major cities across Iran this weekend, including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad, as the people continue to express their anger at the failing economy and corrupt politicians.

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Iran Focus

London, 21 August - The special forces branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is seeking to “wreak havoc” at the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia by recruiting Islamic extremists at the ritual pilgrimage, according to Iranian dissident group, the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

MEK representative Shahin Gobadi warned that the Iranian Regime was attempting to “exploit the Hajj situation” by deploying Revolutionary Guards and cautioned the over two million Muslims visiting Mecca to be wary of the Regime’s attempts to carry out terrorist activity abroad.

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Iran Focus

London, 10 August - On Tuesday, the European commission used to maintain trade with Tehran and convince it to abide by the 2015 nuclear deal despite US withdrawal. In response to US President Trump’s sanctions on Iran, it is using a “blocking statute” that shields EU businesses from the effects of US sanctions and gives any firm hit by them the right to claim compensation.

The commission declared that it “forbids EU persons from complying with those sanctions, unless exceptionally authorized to do so.”

According to Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, firms “should comply with European legislation rather than with American ones.”

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Iran Focus

London, 17 August - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as Washington's special representative for Iran on Thursday.

This announcement came as the Trump administration is increasing economic pressure on Iran by restoring sanctions last week, which are designed to get Iran to close down its nuclear weapons programme and end its support for militant groups in the Middle East, where Iran is exacerbating several conflicts.

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Iran Focus

London, 9 August - August 6th was the deadline for the first round of U.S. sanctions that target companies who continue to do business in Iran following the U.S. exit from the nuclear deal with Iran.

U.S. President Trump announced that the U.S. would exit the Iran Nuclear Deal, also known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in May 2018. He also issued a National Security Memorandum ordering several government institutions, including the Treasury Department, to prepare the framework for reimposing sanctions on both U.S. and international companies operating in Iran.

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Iran Focus

London, 17 August - The Iranian Minister of Industry, Mines and Business has said that fluctuations in the local forex market over the past four months has tripled the number of applications for import licenses, which have now risen to $250 billion.

Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari described the figure as “unbelievable” and described those seeking licences as profiteering individuals who are trying to “fish in troubled waters”, which is believed to be a reference to the current economic crisis facing Iran.

The $250 billion figure is also triple that of Iran's annual oil income.

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Iran Focus

London, 7 August - The people of Iran are deeply concerned about the economic future of Iran. They are suffering from the rising prices that are making the essentials unaffordable to many. The value of the rial – Iran’s national currency – has fallen sharply in the past few weeks.

Reports from inside Iran indicate that the protests are turning violent, with police cars and tyres being burned in the street. There were also reports highlighting that at least one protester has been killed in recent days. Details, however, are very hard to come by as the state media is heavily controlled and prevented from publicising information that shows the government in a negative light.

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Iran Focus

London, 16 August - Last week, US sanctions on Iran came back into force, fulfilling a promise that Donald Trump made in May when he pulled the US out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump tweeted: “Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States.”

On the same day, the EU instituted a “blocking statute”, which was supposed to protect any European firms doing business with Iran from current and future US sanctions. In fact, it bars any EU individual or company from complying with US secondary sanctions, which means that European firms who still wish to trade with the US are being penalised. It also allows EU firms affected by the sanctions to sue the US, but there is no method in place to reclaim any settlement.

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Iran Focus

London, 6 August - On Sunday, the Iranian people had been protesting for six days straight against the Mullahs’ Government that has destroyed the Iranian economy.

The Iranian people have been telling the world for a long time that the Government’s corruption and mismanagement has caused many problems in their country, from a lack of jobs to high food prices to severe water shortages. They advise that the Government spends the people’s money on foreign adventurism across the Middle East (i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Yemen), while ignoring problems at home. This negligence has caused the people to take to the streets, despite the threats of violence from the Government’s security forces and the risk of imprisonment or execution.

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Iran Focus

London, 14 August - The Trump administration is keen to put an end to the Iran threat. Before even becoming president, Trump had criticised the weak Iran nuclear deal and said that he would scrap it. Although it took a while to do, Trump finally announced in May that the United States was exiting the one-sided deal. And since then the administration has been putting the Iranian regime under intense pressure.

It has been two years since the sanctions were lifted and now they have been re-applied. Iran had a real chance to get back into the global arena and Western companies certainly took the opportunity to make some money in Iran.

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Iran Focus

London, 6 August - Iran is expected to take a series of actions this week designed to show strength at home and abroad, as nationwide protest rage on, the economy continues to fall, and US sanctions roll back into place.

An uprising that began in December has taken on new life in recent weeks as the Iranian people have taken to the street for strikes and rallies on a daily basis to protest the Government’s corruption and mismanagement that has caused so many crises in Iran.

One man in Karaj was shot dead for protesting against the failing economy, while hundreds were arrested in many cities from Eshtehard to Arak.

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Iran Focus

London, 14 August - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, delivered a speech on Monday 13th August. It was clear to see that he does not see any way out of the desperate situation.

For the past few weeks, the country’s national currency – the rial – has been sharply falling. The more its value decreases, it seems that the people’s anger increases. Protests have been continuing and the uprising and unrest is getting stronger.

The Supreme Leader has been silent over the past few weeks, but he finally broke it by trying to encourage and persuade the country’s leadership that the situation is not as desperate as it appears. He said: “They are propagating viciously that the country has reached a deadlock and it has no way out other than to seek refuge from this Satan or Great Satan. Whoever states that we have reached a deadlock, he is either ignorant or his words are treacherous.”

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Iran Focus

London, 4 August - Fresh protests broke out across Iran on Thursday in response to the failing economy, the drastic devaluation of the rial, and yet more economic problems ahead of returning US sanctions.

About 100 people took to the streets in Sari, northern Iran, according to Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, as well as unspecified numbers in the cities of Shiraz, Ahvaz and Mashhad. IRNA reported that these protests were broken up by police.

This follows on from protests on Tuesday and Wednesday, when 200 people took part in a protest in Karaj, west of Tehran. Videos posted on social media, which were said to be filmed in Gohardasht, a suburb of Karaj, showed protesters shouting “Death to the dictator” as they set fire to police vehicles. The police were seen spraying the protesters with tear gas.

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Iran Focus

London, 13 August - Protesters in Iran have taken to the streets yet again to voice their anger at the government’s “widespread corruption, crippling inflation, and injustice”, which have caused the current crises in the country and reject the mullahs’ claims that the US is to blame for Iran’s economic woes.

Murad, an electrician from Tehran, bravely told the Daily Telegraph that Iranians are no longer “blaming the president of a foreign country” and are directing their anger solely at the government. He did not give his last name, due to the dangers associated with speaking to the foreign press.

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Iran Focus

London, 3 August - Protests continued across Iran on Tuesday night as striking workers and the impoverished people refused to leave the streets, where they were demonstrating against a failing economy and the Regime as a whole, after the rial’s sudden loss in. value over the weekend.

In the past six months, the rial’s value has dropped by more than 120%, while the cost of living has shot up and the country has been plagued by water shortages and power outages.

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