Iran News Round Up - September 18, 2015

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Mehrdad Moarefian, Marie Donovan, and Paul Bucala, with contributors Ryan Melvin, Caitlin Pendleton, and Jordan Olmstead. 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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Senior Military Advisor IRGC Major General Yahya Safavi highlighted Tehran’s joint cooperation with Moscow on regional issues, specifically the ongoing Syrian crisis. Safavi, moreover, attributed Iran’s growing regional influence to America’s failed military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

IRGC Major General Safavi claimed that Russia is in sync with Iran regarding regional crises, including Syria. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor accused the U.S., Israel, and “some Arab countries” of deploying “rented terrorists” to Syria to overthrow President Bashar al Assad. Safavi pointed to America and its regional allies’ opposition to the Syrian government and stated that “of course the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah in Lebanon are supporting the government and people of Syria as well as [providing] military consultations to the axis of resistance [Syria].” Safavi stressed that Iran’s “friendly” relations with Syria began with former Syrian President Hafez al Assad during the Iran-Iraq War. These statements follow recent reports alleging that IRGC Qods Force Commander Major Qassem Soleimani met with President Vladimir Putin on July 24 in Moscow. Safavi’s remarks also reaffirm increased Iran-Russia coordination. 

The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has created several pages on Iran Tracker to help clarify the hyper complex language of sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to provide additional information about some of the entities that will be freed of international restrictions.

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis and AEI Research Assistant Tara Beeny analyze Iran’s motives in increasing cooperation with Russia, and discuss the extent to which Russian and Iranian goals in Syria align in their most recent blog post, “Iran’s Russian Play in Syria.” 

Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Safavi: U.S. wanted an Iraqi government opposed to Iran, but Iran has a “friend” in Baghdad. IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Safavi criticized American intervention in the Middle East; he attributed ongoing regional crises and the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York to Washington’s foreign policy “blowback.” The Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor said that the U.S. “spent billions of dollars…[and thousands of lives] in two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but these two wars were victories in favor of Iran, it destroyed a tyrant like Saddam and Iraq’s Baathist regime.” Safavi touted Iranian influence in Iraq and stated:
    • “Americans wanted an enemy of Iran and a secular power in Iraq… [However], with the consciousness of the Iraqi marjas [Shia sources of emulation] and the intelligent people of Iraq, [there is] an Islamic parliamentary government and a friend of Iran, with a Shia majority in Parliament and a Shia Prime Minister at the helm of the country’s government…” 
    • “American power has been broken on regional and global scale; the Americans are no longer the global power…”
    • On former Syrian President Hafez al Assad: “The Syrian government of Hafez al Assad was Iran’s friend during the Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq War] and this friendly relationship continued during the time of his son Dr. Bashar al Assad.”
    • On the Syrian crisis: “Although the polices of America, the Zionists, and some Arab countries in the past five years, that sent thousands of rented terrorists to Syria to overthrow the Syrian government, which is the axis of resistance against the Zionist [Israeli regime], has created the crisis in Syria—of course the Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah in Lebanon are supporting the government and people of Syria as well as [providing] military consultations to the axis of resistance [Syria].”
    • On the regime of Israel’s collapse: “It is true that the Zionist regime will collapse and according to the wise words of [the Supreme Leader] Imam Khamenei, ‘this regime will not see the next 25 years.’” (Sepah News)
       
  • Deputy Speaker: We must not accept Western influence. Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi Fard called for unity in Iranian society to counter enemy advances. The Deputy Parliament Speaker, who is also a member of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), stated that “the Muslim world must not be an arena for Western culture” and said that Iranians must reject the enemy’s influence “in order to be victorious.” He added that if Iranians “had not resisted for the past 12 years, we would not be known in the world today as a country of knowledge, technology, and a full fuel cycle.” (ISNA)
     
  • Cultural Advisor warns officials about U.S. plots. Hamid Reza Moghaddam Far called the enemy’s “project of influence” the most important danger facing Iran today. The Cultural Media Advisor to the Commander of the IRGC said that the primary characteristic of the enemy’s “project of influence” is that the enemy is using the nuclear negotiations “as an opportunity to achieve their own goals.” He added that the enemy’s “project of influence” has “various security, cultural, political, and economic dimensions,” but that its political and cultural dimensions pose the largest threats.
    • Moghaddam Far stated, “Of course, the struggle for influence in the Islamic Republic is not a new affair, and we have been a witness to these types of struggles in the country since the first decade of the [Islamic] Revolution.” He added that the enemy’s new approach involves altering the “spirit of the [Islamic] Revolution” among officials instead.
    • Moghaddam Far rejected the idea that the nuclear negotiations should signal Iran’s willingness to negotiate on “other issues,” stating, “Every person who imagines such a thing opens the enemy’s path.” He also criticized those who believe Iran should now cooperate with the U.S. and said, “The meaning behind the words of a man who says that we must solve our problems with America is that either we or America must change.” (Tasnim News Agency)
       
  • Haghighat Pour: JCPOA being reviewed “on the basis of national interests.” Mansour Haghighat Pour stated that the JCPOA is being reviewed "on the basis of [Iran’s] national interests" rather than focusing on the U.S. position. The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA member noted that the JCPOA should be reviewed in Parliament as the U.S. "generally have problems with our [Islamic] Revolution" and it is essential to explain “to the people” the “pros and cons” of the deal by examining "the principles and criteria of the nuclear agreement for flaws.”(Fars News Agency)
     
  • Arani reflects on recent meeting that examined the JCPOA. Parliamentarian Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani described the September 15 meeting with representatives of the Armed Forces General Staff to discuss the JCPOA. The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA member stated that the meeting "analyzed and discussed ways to prevent” security issues in the JCPOA, and that "the commission will continue to address these issues." The second part of the meeting was attended by the Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Head Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi, who examined the JCPOA "from different perspectives including social, cultural, and economic..." Arani stated that the exchange of information and reports "at the meeting was very good, but it is not possible to release details." (ICANA)
     
  • Kamalvandi: IAEA and Iran cooperation on Parchin to remain confidential. Behrouz Kamalvandi stated he could not provide details "of [the] cooperation with the [IAEA] on the issue of Parchin..." The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman stated, "Arrangements have been made on Parchin, but given the fact that the subjects of our way of cooperation with the IAEA are to remain confidential between the two sides, I cannot provide any details." (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
     
  • Rafsanjani: The people will teach the radicals “a big lesson” in the elections. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani commented on the significance of the upcoming Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections during a meeting with university groups. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman claimed that “the people will teach the radicals a big lesson like the presidential election of 2013.” Rafsanjani defended the Rouhani administration’s policies despite the “political obstacles and excuses of its opponents.” Rafsanjani also described opponents of the JCPOA as “radical opponents of the national interest.” (Entekhab)
     
  • Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader: The enemy’s cultural influence is more important than “security influence.” Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda discussed Supreme Leader’s September 16 speech during his Friday sermon. The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, warned of the growing Western influence in Iran and noted that Khamenei considers “the enemy’s political, cultural, and intellectual influence riskier than security influence.” (Mehr News)

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Ayatollah Sedighi: The Zionists will vanish before 25 years. Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi discussed the recent clashes at the al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader stated, “The Zionists do not consider any borders… and the UN, meanwhile, is dead; the UN is silent on the crimes of a bloodthirsty regime in Yemen…” He continued, “To the Zionists, I say that these moves add to your unpopularity, and these transgressions will shorten the life of this fake regime; certainly, you will vanish before 25 years.” He reminded his listeners of the Supreme Leaders’ warning to remain vigilant against Western infiltration into Iranian cultural and political realms. He stated, “Some…say the [Islamic] Revolution is over; we must say that rather [they] have reached [their] end…this revolution has just begun…our Islamic Revolution has just created new fronts.” (Mashregh News
     
  • Ghalibaf: Hungary and Iran have very similar positions on the European refugee crisis. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf met with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó on the third day of his visit to Budapest. The mayor of Tehran stated that the two sides “hold positions very close to one another” on “migrants and the problems which central European countries are suffering today.” (YJC)
     
  • Iran and Turkey sign MOU to increase information sharing. Iran and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) calling for increased cooperation on trade and inspection issues. Director of the General Inspection Office Fazli Nasr Saraj explained that the agreement provides a foundation for the sharing of information, experiences, and academic cooperation and will contribute to brotherly cooperation between Turkey and Iran. (Tabnak)
     
  • Xi Jinping to visit Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to Iran in the next few months. (Mehr News) (E)

 

Economy

  • Nahavandian: Foreign businesses must bring investment and technology to Iran. Mohammad Nahavandian discussed opportunities to strengthen the Iranian economy in the post-sanctions era, stating that foreign businesses operating in Iran must bring investment and technology to the country. The President’s Chief of Staff also stressed that the government will not turn Iran into “a portal for the import of goods” and reiterated the government’s support for the Resistance Economy. (ILNA)
     
  • Iran and Algeria agree to establish joint bank. Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Valiollah Seif and his Algerian counterpart, Mohammad Laksaci, signed a MOU to establish a joint bank. Seif and Laksaci also agreed to exchange expert delegations, hold educational workshops, and encourage relations between commercial banks. (IRNA) (E
     
  • Iran has less than 10 million barrels stored at sea. Rokneddin Javadi stated that “Iran’s crude oil stored at sea is less than 10 million barrels,” and dismissed reports that Iran’s floating storage comprises 40 million barrels as “psychological warfare.” The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Managing Director added that Iranian crude oil sales will “rise by 500,000 barrels per day...in less than a month after the removal of sanctions,” due to negotiations with several countries that “will be made public when agreements are signed.”(Press TV) (E)