Iran News Round Up - January 4, 2017
A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton with contributor Wali Miller. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
Key takeaway: Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei called on President Hassan Rouhani to disclose his 2013 campaign finances in the latest round of criticism between the hardline Judiciary and the Rouhani administration.
Ejei reacted to Rouhani’s call for the Judiciary to be more transparent and responsive to the public during a press conference on January 4. Ejei stated that the Judiciary’s accounts are already transparent and added that Rouhani “should also tell the public how much he has spent during the presidential elections and from which sources and people he has received money.” Rouhani had been responding to claims by Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani that Babak Zanjani, a billionaire businessman sentenced to death on corruption charges, may have made financial contributions to Rouhani’s 2013 election campaign.
- The Critical Threats Project team explains the significance of Iran’s upcoming 2017 presidential election and tracks important electoral developments in “Iran Presidential Election Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”
- Judiciary spokesman calls for Rouhani to disclose 2013 campaign financing. Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei commented on the ongoing feud between Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani and President Hassan Rouhani, who recently called for more transparency in the Judiciary. Ejei responded to Rouhani’s statement by saying that Rouhani “should also tell the public how much he has spent during the presidential elections and from which sources and people he has received money.” (Asr Iran)
- Rouhani Advisor Akbar Torkan dismissed claims from Larijani that Rouhani may have received election financing from Babak Zanjani, a businessman recently sentenced to death on corruption charges. Torkan added, “We are ready to disclose our sources of money on the condition that all the candidates of that election come forward and say where they received money and where they spent it.” (ISNA)
- Tehran Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri warned against corruption in the Judiciary and by “some judges” in remarks on January 4. Montazeri stated that Iran “has a Judiciary that has entered the valley of corruption after several years… The judicial branch today has a dire need for revolutionary, pure, and religious judges.” (Mehr News Agency)
- Forty-six parliamentarians request investigation into Rouhani’s brother. Forty-six members of Parliament asked the Judiciary to investigate Hossein Fereydoun, President Hassan Rouhani’s brother and advisor, on allegations of corruption. In July 2016, hardline parliamentarians accused Fereydoun of corruption due to his alleged role in recommending the appointment of several bank directors who were later ousted due to their involvement in the “astronomical salary” scandal. (Mehr News Agency)
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
- Foreign Ministry: No decision made on whether Iran will participate in Hajj. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi denied that Iran and Saudi Arabia have made a final decision on whether Iran will attend next summer’s Hajj pilgrimage. Ghassemi stated that the final decision “remains to be made after a possible invitation from Saudi Arabia and subsequent talks.” Ghassemi added that Saudi Arabia has not included Iran in the list of countries to which it sent “invitation letters,” however. Iran did not participate in the last pilgrimage after tensions grew between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the deaths of 460 Iranians in the 2015 Hajj stampede and over Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
- Assad: Iran helped the Syrian government achieve its recent victories. Syrian President Bashar al Assad met with National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi in Damascus. Assad hailed Iran’s support for the Syrian government, stating, “We must thank Iran because these victories were achieved with Iran’s support.” Boroujerdi also congratulated Assad on the regime’s recent advances, “particularly the liberation of Aleppo.” (IRNA)
- Iran refers gas dispute with Turkmenistan to international courts. The National Iranian Gas Company announced that it will file a suit against Turkmenistan in international courts over Turkmenistan’s decision to cut gas exports to Iran “despite hours of discussion.” Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, meanwhile, reassured Iranians that Mazandaran province, which relies heavily on gas exports from Turkmenistan, will not face a gas shortage due to the move. (Fars News Agency) (ISNA)
Military & Security
- Interior Ministry denies Arab separatist attacks. Interior Ministry Spokesman Salman Samani denied reports that an Arab separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of al Ahwaz, had damaged two oil pipelines in Khuzestan province. Khuzestan has witnessed occasional instability from Arab separatist groups. (Khabar Online)