Note: I have posted only the parts relevant to Iran, the rest of the details can be found in the link below.
Mattis Speaks to Reporters About South Asia, North Korea, Iran
By Lisa FerdinandoDoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2018 — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis discussed strategy in South Asia, issues on the Korean Peninsula and Iranian illicit weapons activities, in an impromptu discussion with Pentagon reporters today.
The protests in Iran have had no impact on his assessment of the country, Mattis said, adding that he keeps his advice to President Donald J. Trump confidential. But the United States watches all the time for indicators of illicit Iranian activities, he said.
Mattis noted that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley visited Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in the nation’s capital last month to see illegal Iranian equipment on display. “So if anyone thinks they’re not exporting ballistic missiles or weapons or explosive boats like down to Yemen, there it is,” he said. “We all know what they’re doing in Syria. We’ve seen what they’re doing from Bahrain to the eastern province of Saudi Arabia.”
The displays in the hangar included missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, antitank weapons and a Shark-33 boat used to attack a Saudi frigate. Examination of the weapons trace them back to Iran and industries owned and operated by the Iranian government or Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Mattis said his intent is to “show that to the world clearly.” The Iranian people are not supporting the export of terrorism or “whatever the revolutionary regime people want to call it,” he added.
“They’re not buying it there at home,” the secretary said. “We’re not buying it internationally.”
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 deals specifically with Iranian arms transfers and its ballistic missile program. Iran has repeatedly violated the resolution.
Iranians want jobs, but the regime is busy waging wars
Scott Peterson (Stark Reality)
Filed on January 04, 2018
"Leave Syria, find a solution for us!" is one chant heard on the streets, where social media and state television have shown buildings and cars on fire
The violent protests in Iran that entered their sixth day on Tuesday have brought to the surface several underlying and destabilising forces in Iranian society, among them anger at the top clerical leadership and a degree of resentment at some of the government's cherished foreign policy commitments.
The protests, which have delivered the worst scenes of unrest witnessed in the Islamic Republic since millions took to the streets over a disputed presidential vote in 2009, have so far left 22 people dead. They have also exposed a political miscalculation by hard-line foes of President Hassan Rouhani, by launching the protests in an effort to discredit his economic policies, then seeing them spin violently out of control.
Still, the protests are fundamentally about the economy more than anything else. Stubbornly high poverty and unemployment, the failure to extract a peace dividend from the much-heralded 2015 nuclear deal, and the continuing problem of entrenched corruption that was one of Rouhani's own rallying cries in the last election.
The protests began in the shrine city of Mashhad as an attempt by hard-line factions to undermine Rouhani. But as they have morphed into a broader, nationwide public challenge against Iran's top leadership, protesters from even remote corners of the nation often considered to be bastions of regime support have torn down posters of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and chanted "Death to the Dictator!"
The numbers of people on the streets are far smaller than in 2009 - several tens of thousands in total, it appears this time - but the protests have been fuelled by a constellation of reasons for discontent, including Rouhani's latest austerity budget.
Still, in his first public comments since the violence began, Ayatollah Khamenei accused "the enemies of Iran, using various tools at their disposal, including money, weapons, political means and their security apparatuses," to harm the Islamic Republic.
One target for protesters' chants has been Iran's years-long and expensive projection of power abroad, especially in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, where Iran has spent billions of dollars propping up Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, creating Shiite militias in Iraq to fight Daesh, and ensuring the military prowess of its vital ally, the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.
While that effort has given Iran more influence and leverage across the Middle East than at any other time since the 1979 Islamic revolution - and turned the commander of the Revolutionary Guard's Qods Force, Maj Gen Qasim Soleimani, into a national hero in Iran - the cost has raised some eyebrows.
"Leave Syria, find a solution for us!" is one chant heard on the streets, where social media and even state television have shown buildings and cars on fire and military bases under attack. Another chant has been: "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon, we sacrifice our lives for Iran!"
From the outside, it may appear easy to connect the dots between the costs of Iran's intervention abroad and the scale of domestic economic woe. But analysts inside the country say Iran's current unprecedented status in the Middle East is not likely to have been made at the expense of economic prosperity at home, where mismanagement and corruption are more critical factors.
The fact is around 30 million Iranians are under the relative poverty line.
Iran's gross domestic product has grown roughly 20 per cent in the past five years, and inflation during Rouhani's four and a half years in office has dropped from 40 per cent to 10 per cent. But food prices remain high, and few Iranians feel the benefit of the landmark nuclear deal, which Rouhani promised would bring prosperity as US and other sanctions were lifted.
Officials have stated that 12 million Iranians out of a population of some 81 million are living under the "absolute" poverty line. For a country that received hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue over the past decade.
Still, he estimates that only 20,000 or 30,000 people nationwide are taking part in the current protests, many of them lower and working class - not Iran's large middle class that formed the backbone of the far larger 2009 Green Movement protests. Iran's substantial reformist faction and leaders have so far steered clear of the current unrest.
Iran's interventions abroad - ostensibly to fight Daesh and "terrorists" beyond Iran's borders, commanders say, and in their view as a means of exporting Iran's revolution through proxy Shiite forces - have long been a subject of complaint when times get tough.
More recently, other economic issues have made headlines in Iran. Rouhani last month, for example, criticised and detailed for the first time how large volumes of cash are given to religious and cultural institutions, and the out-sized role they play in Iran's economy. His budget proposed welfare cuts and a rise in fuel prices.
On top of that, millions of investors have also been stung by the collapse of unauthorised lending companies that grew during the freewheeling era of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Nor is there a single overriding grievance, with a host of economic concerns - including the cost of foreign intervention - all bundled together.
About 3,700 people arrested during Iran protests, legislator says
By Sara Shayanian | Jan. 09, 2018
Iranian students clash with riot police during an anti-government protest around the University of Tehran, Iran. Photo by EPA
Jan. 09 (UPI) -- About 3,700 people were arrested nationwide during the recent anti-government protests in Iran, a member of the country's parliament said.
Mahmoud Sadeghi, a Tehran MP, announced the official count on Tuesday after the state-run ICANA news agency reported that 1,000 people had been arrested during the week of demonstrations that began in December.
"Due to the fact that several security organizations had made the arrests, it will take some time to give an accurate count," Sadeghi said.
Protests over food prices and other economic problems began Dec. 28 in Iran's second-largest city of Mashhad, where the provincial government of the northern region of the city said 85 percent of detainees there were released after signing a pledge not to re-offend. Violence that broke out at several protests killed 22 people after unrest spilled into more than 80 cities across Iran.
Iranian officials accused the country's "enemies" of instigating and orchestrating the protests -- the country's first large-scale demonstrations since the 2009 election. Tens of thousands took part in subsequent pro-government rallies to support the establishment leadership.
"This is due to our people's continued support. The solid people's stand will again tell the U.S., U.K. and those who live in London that you failed this time and will fail again." Human rights activists are now concerned about protesters dying in prison.
"I spoke to a prisoner in Evin prison and I was told that three detainees had lost their lives," Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer, told The Guardian. "When authorities resort to mass arrests, they cannot claim to protect their rights. It is not possible in such a situation for the judicial process to take its due course."
Iran Lifts Restrictions on Messaging App Telegram January 13, 2018
Iran has lifted restrictions on the messaging app Telegram, the state news agency IRNA reported on Saturday.
The popular service had been blocked during recent public protests, the most serious nationwide unrest in the Islamic republic since 2009.
"An informed source announced that the filtering of the Telegram messenger has been ended and it is being used by users," IRNA reported.
The AP news agency said it had spoken with residents in several cities, including Shiraz, Isfahan, Bandar Abbas, Rasht, and Oromieh, all of whom confirmed that they had access to the app.
Earlier this month, Iran shut down Telegram and the picture-sharing app Instagram, claiming protesters were using them to spread unrest.
At least 22 people were killed and 1,000 others arrested in the anti-government protests that began in late December, sparked at first over rising consumer prices.
As the protests subsided, Tehran last week lifted restrictions on Instagram.
Many Iranians access Telegram using virtual private networks and other tools to bypass government filtering of the Internet, residents said.
But officials said hundreds of companies using the app for their marketing and sales had been hard-hit by the social-media restrictions, and President Hassan Rohani was quoted as saying about 100,000 people had lost their jobs.
Iran continues to impose restrictions on the Internet and social media, with Facebook and Twitter still blocked.
Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.