Iran News Round Up - August 15, 2013

 A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Will Fulton and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Politics

  • President Hassan Rouhani defended his cabinet appointments, praising them for their bipartisanship. He also criticized the Parliament’s “tone” during debates but said that he recognized all criticisms. 
    • Defending Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi for Minister of Roads, Housing and Urban Construction: “He had the courage to say in the presence of the Supreme Leader during sensitive years that not only no cheating has taken place in the election but that there is no possibility to cheat in Iranian elections. I congratulate him for expressing his belief; he is one of the individuals who will be committed to the system, [Supreme Leader] and the velayat-e faqih.” 
  • During the pre-vote Parliamentary debates of Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet appointments, there has been heavy opposition to Rouhani’s Oil Minister nominee Bijan Zanganeh, who was Oil Minister during Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s administration. The opposition, consisting of Principlists, alleges rampant corruption, rent-seeking and “shameful oil agreements” during Zanganeh’s Ministry. MP Ali Reza Zakani criticized all oil agreements during Zanganeh’s tenure and stated, “[R]ecorded statements of Mr. Zanganeh exist, and if you are inclined, I will put on the recording so you can observe what was his saying ‘yes’ was about.” Zanganeh's supporters defended his record and expertise. 
  • Addressing the Parliament, Zanganeh said, “The massive importance of oil in the country has caused the enemies of the Islamic Republic system to [emphasize] oil industry imposed sanctions, and from this, oil is the main target of our enemies’ dishonorable sanctions.” His immediate priorities in the oil industry:
    • Bringing oil production capacity to 2005 levels [4 million barrels per day] from current levels [2.56 million barrels per day].  
    • Utilizing “oil diplomacy to overcome current conditions”
    • “Southern Paris field phases must be completed as soon as possible…”  
    • “Completing gasoline [refinery] design and completing the stage-to-stage Bandar-e Abbas refinery will be my most important priorities.”
    • "Reforming agreements so that we can have more capital for expanding domestic and joint fields…”
    • He added, “Today, oil seriously needs investment and strengthening professional management to attract investment…”
  • Several Oil executives and specialists announced that their signatures were forged in statements supporting Zanganeh and urged the Judiciary to investigate.
  • Rouhani’s proposed Energy Minister Hamid Reza Chit Chian announced that Iran has reached a water shortage crisis.
  • Some MPs criticized and others expressed support for Rouhani’s proposed Minister of Intelligence Mohammad Alavi. MP Bahram Biranvand criticized the proposal to establish a Presidential Political Security Directorate and MP Hamid Rasaei criticized Alavi’s lack of direct Intelligence Ministry experience. His supporters defended his record and integrity. When he addressed the Parliament, Alavi laid out his priorities:
    • “Attempting to increase public trust toward the minister;  Lack of interference in the private space of individuals; Not making the country’s environment a security environment and activating hidden diplomacy.”
    • “Maintaining the place and role of the Ministry of Intelligence's authority within the ray of the Supreme Leader’s guidance; maintaining the independence of the ministry and preventing political currents from affecting it; abiding by religious and legal laws and ethical values; maintaining personnel; codifying a professional ethics manual; utilizing cutting edge technology; and creating hope among employees by attending to their spiritual and material needs.”
    • He added, "The Ministry will not be a tool to settle political disputes.”  

Regional Developments

Diplomacy

Military and Security

Nuclear Issue

Economy

  • According to Alef, investors in Iran's housing market have made 70-150% profit in the past two years. The housing market has reportedly stabilized and “7% of the bubble has been eliminated with 13% left,” citing measures that legalized the buying and selling of residential units without requirement to acquire government approval of ownership last week. 
  • Outgoing Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi stated that the country is under “total sanctions and working in these circumstances has its own special features." He added that several phases are almost completed. 

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