Iran News Round Up - September 17, 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

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Politics

  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with IRGC commanders, veterans and personnel and discussed IRGC political participation and nuclear weapons:
    • “The IRGC entered the jihad and resistance field from the depths of faith and belief.  It trained the most intelligent and strongest military commanders and strategists as well as the best managers in non-military areas in parallel and placed them at the hands of government organs.”
    • “Though the world has changed, that cannot be a justification for the change of ideals, goals, or the correct path.”
    • “To defend the Revolution, the IRGC must certainly have sufficient and complete knowledge of events and various currents.”
    • “It is not necessary for the IRGC to be active in the political scene, but guarding the Revolution requires a precise understanding of realities. Therefore, the complex that is the Revolution’s guardian arm cannot be blind regarding various deviant, non-deviant, or other political currents.”
    • “The Dominant System [West] has divided the world into two areas of oppressor and oppressed, but the Islamic Revolution has brought the logic of anti-oppression and avoiding oppression. This logic caused the Revolution’s message not to be limited to Iran’s borders and to be accepted by other nations.”
    • “The Dominant System and its dependents are pursuing the three fundamentals of ‘war-seeking, poverty-creation and spreading corruption.’ Islam opposes all of these policies and this opposition is the basis of fundamental tension with the Revolution.”
    • “The nuclear matter must be evaluated within this outlook.”
    • “We do not accept nuclear weapons, neither due to nor not due to America, but because of our beliefs. When we say that no one must have nuclear weapons, we certainly do not pursue them, but the true goal of Iran’s opposition in this field is another matter.”
    • “Of course, these few countries do not want their monopoly to be broken in the nuclear energy field... Therefore, the turmoil and tension created by America, the West and their related currents in the nuclear discussion must be understood and analyzed within the framework of the deep tension between the Dominant System and the Islamic Revolution.”
    • “Imam Khomeini’s grandeur was such that the enemies respect him, but in the depth of the enemies’ gaze, no one was hated more than that bright sun because the late Imam understood their hostile goals with complete awareness and determinedly stood against them like a strong dam.”
    • “Today is like this as well, and anyone who is more loyal to the Revolution’s main message and analyzed the enemies’ conspiracies and behaviors within the framework of the tension between the Dominant System and the Islamic Revolution will be the subject of hate and anger more than others in the eyes of the Arrogance.”
    • “The diplomatic field is the field of smiling and requested negotiations, but all of these behaviors must be understood within the framework of the fundamental tension.”
    • I do not oppose correct diplomatic movements. I believe in what was called ‘champion flexibility’ years ago because this movement is very good and necessary in situations but it must be binding to fundamental conditions.”
    • “A good wrestler sometimes shows flexibility due to technical reasons but does not forget his opponent or his main goal.”
    • “All of these achievements were accomplished in the oven of the enemies’ pressure and conspiracies, and this valuable experience demonstrates that no obstacle can stop a faithful, coherent and determined people that know their way.”
    •  “Today, the IRGC, utilizing Islamic Revolution experiences, is capable of strongly surpassing all of the Revolution’s challenges and traversing the path of progress while looking to the Islamic Revolution’s ideals.”
    • “With deterrence and total power, the IRGC has placed its offensive power in all dimensions in the exposure of modernization and increased readiness.” 
  • Asr-e Iran reacted to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s use of the phrase “champion flexibility” in promoting diplomacy in an op-ed:
    • “’Champion flexibility’ reminds us of a book that Ayatollah Khamenei himself translated when he was thirty years old in 1969.”
    • “‘Hassan’s Peace’ was written by Razi Al-e Yassin, born in 1869 and died in 1953, that was first translated by a combatant and young cleric named ‘Seyyed Ali Khamenei.’”
    • “Due to Shi’a beliefs, the translator preferred to translate the book as ‘Imam Hassan’s Peace’ and write the phrase ‘History’s Most Glorious Champion Flexibility.’”
    • Imam Hassan briefly succeeded his father Ali, the Fourth Caliph, and later entered an agreement with Muawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan, who assumed the Caliphate and established the Umayyad Dynasty in 7th century AD.   
  • President Hassan Rouhani issued the order to execute the recently passed Parliamentary resolution that establishes a commission that pursues “the legal-political role and the interventions of America and England in the 1953 coup.” The commission will consist of Foreign Minister (head of the commission), Attorney General, Intelligence Minster, IRGC Plenipotentiary Representative, Economic and Monetary Affairs Minister, National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Chairman, Judicial and Legal Parliamentary Commission Chairman and Planning, Budget and Calculation Parliamentary Commission Chairman. The commission will provide recommendations to Parliament on strategies “to pursue spiritual and material compensation.”  

Diplomacy

Military and Security

  • Head of IRGC Public Relations Brig. Gen. 2C Ramazan Sharif discussed the IRGC's economic activities, challenges, and competition with the private sector and also addressed claims about IRGC economic participation and upcoming cooperation with the Rouhani Administration in an interview with Etemaad newspaper:              
    • IRGC economic entry: “From the beginning of the IRGC’s entry to the construction field following the [Iran-Iraq] war, we have attempted to aid the country with our manpower and our equipment's capabilities. During the Imposed War, the IRGC gained good experiences in the engineering field. Given the country’s widespread destruction due to eight years of Sacred Defense and the country’s need for construction, we gained permission from the Supreme Leader to be active in the construction field. Of course, this matter was predicted in the constitution as well, but the IRGC requested permission from the Supreme Leader nonetheless.”
    • Expansion of IRGC economic activity beyond development: “Be mindful that with the occurrence of sanctions, foreign companies either quit their projects or were no longer willing to invest in Iran. For this reason, the IRGC’s presence became more prominent. For example, the Oslaviyeh-Iranshahr [natural] gas project transfer was due to the lack of domestic competition.”
    • Why does IRGC compete with the private sector? We enter areas in which the private sector does not have the capability to execute or in which our competitors are foreign companies.”
    • Why do you seek to prevent foreign investment? The IRGC has never sought to prevent foreign investment, but we will prevent foreign greed. Their presence is not accompanied by technical transfer or the training of Iranian experts, and they conduct the project from zero to 100. For example, look at the fact that, since the discovery of oil in Iran until today, the Southern Pars Phases 15 and 16 refineries have only recently been indigenized by the IRGC. This is because the foreigners never transfer technical knowledge to us. The other matter is their estimated project costs, which are multiple times the cost that the IRGC requires to execute the same project. It is natural that in such situations, the manager, the government, prefers projects to be executed with less cost. Small domestic companies cannot execute what the IRGC performs .”
    • Large companies can perform them though. Why do you compete with them? IRGC Commander Jafari said last year that the IRGC does not enter projects less than 100 million dollars. Generally, the projects we enter are in a form that are either in difficult terrain or for other reasons have high investment risk. It is for this reason that they do not enter. If they enter, their costs are high and the government prefers again to work with Khatam al-Anbia Construction Base and other Ghorbs [construction bases].”
    • A claim regarding Khatam Base is that it gets the project from the government and then divides it among the private sector to advance the work. It seems that Khatam Base has been transferred to a large economic holding company. Do you affirm this? In my opinion, this claim is incorrect. Currently, 150,000 people are working in Khatam al-Anbia Construction Base, the majority of whom are composed of technical and engineering degree graduates. If a base did not exist, the IRGC would be questioned about what they have done to reduce inflation and unemployment. This is the IRGC’s source of pride, that even with massive propaganda against it, it still continues its work with strength. In this amount of time, numerous contractors were trained by the IRGC and today some are IRGC competitors in projects.”
    • But your statements did not discuss competition with the private sector. Do you accept the formation of competition? Competition is for receiving large projects and the base participates in it with attention to its resume and capabilities. Various ministries that are managers review the matter. Coincidentally, there have been times when, even with the base’s participation in the bidding, the work was transferred to another contractor.”
    • “Isn’t the formation of this competition to the country’s economic detriment? My question for you is why does no one pursue the political connections of large companies who are IRGC competitors?”
    • “What is the political connection of these companies? 70-80% of large companies who are our competitors are linked to the nationalist-religious [network]. Large Nationalist-religious companies get projects and no one asks any questions from them, but everyone disrupts the IRGC. Former Khatam al-Anbia Base commander Brig. Gen. [Rostam] Qassemi and current commander Brig. Gen. [Abdollah] Abdollahi have announced that less than 3-5% of the country’s civil projects are at the hands of the IRGC. The reason for this widespread attack against the IRGC is not technical and economic [reasons]. It is best that the partisan connections of the rest of the contractors be reviewed.”
    • Another question that is introduced a lot in the private sector is the method of acquiring equipment and machinery that the base possesses. It is sometimes said that the IRGC uses a special rate to purchase machinery, especially from government companies. Please describe the health of contractors that you sign with. Acquiring our equipment is completely healthy and we do not use any loans. In the IRGC, there are intelligent individuals who do not get scammed. Today, we have unique equipment that we thought to purchase, not rent.”
    • What is the government’s debt to the IRGC at this point? Khatam al-Anbia Base officials can say, but I am aware to this extent that all administrations were in debt to the Khatam Base. From one side, we are the last contractors who can collect our debt.”
    • Sometime ago, a news story was published, which said there is the possibility of Khatam al-Anbia Base’s entry to the Tehran-North highway. Do you believe that with attention to Dr. Rouhani’s request from the IRGC that you will enter this project? I am not immediately aware about Tehran-North, but discussions were introduced recently and it was decided that the IRGC should present its estimate to execute this project to the Road and City Construction Ministry.”
    • What was your overall take of the meeting with the President? Today, Dr. Rouhani designed several new points. Due to his familiarity with IRGC activity from being the Supreme Leader’s representative in the Supreme National Security Council and his familiarity with the IRGC, especially his familiarity recently gained during his first appearance among IRGC commanders as President; in addition to approving IRGC construction activities, he requested the IRGC’s serious participation in aiding goods production and people’s livelihood, along with confronting the smuggling of goods and currency, which is one of the serious obstacles to the implementation of production and employment in the country. An IRGC commander in the construction field said that our help is at the administration’s service. In the second part, he said that after approving regulations and passing legal stages, we are at the administration’s service with all of our capability so that the slogan of the economic epic is fulfilled.” 
  • IRGC Aerospace Force Commander BG Amir Ali Hajizadeh discussed regional security matters and the growth of his force's power and its recent developments during a special television broadcast:
    • “The security that we witness today has its roots in the decisions and measures of the Imam [Khomeini] and the Supreme Leader.”
    • “If the front and front lines of our clashes with Iraq were in Ahwaz during the Imposed War [Iran-Iraq War], today we witness that this front has gone to the Mediterranean shores, and the Basij of Hezbollah are confronting Arrogance [the West and US] on the Mediterranean shore.”
    • “Western Asia is located on the fault line of war and insecurity, and four big wars are occurring in our region. Countries surrounding us are laden with insecurity, but Iran is a stable and secure ship.”
    • “Thus the enemies neither want nor have the will to transfer insecurity to our country... If they do not take action against us, it is because of the level of capability of the IRGC and our armed forces.”
    • “In all international law, defense is the legitimate right of each country. During the past war, the world did not sell us any type of equipment, a few years after the war sold us limited radar and defense equipment, which was also cut, and now has not sold us anything for several years.”
    • “So, today we have become completely self sufficient in some short-, medium- and long-range missiles, liquid and solid rocket fuel, and missile platforms and support.”
    • “We did not have any UAVs at our disposal other than UAVs that have fallen around our country or that we have hunted down like the RQ170 or others that we were able to put down over the sea. But today, with the help of experts, we are one of the top countries in this field, and we have good capabilities.”
    • "During the Sacred Defense week [a week commemorating the Iran-Iraq War in which IRGC commanders unveil new developments], we will unveil our newest UAV. A UAV that has its  installed and tested bombs and missiles completely inside of it.”
  • IRGC Ground Forces Deputy Commander BG Abdollah Eraghi also spoke on the broadcast about his force's status, effects on regional developments, and increased power:
    • “The Ground Forces have succeeded in their own mission. The Supreme Leader has considered this force the backbone of the IRGC.”
    • “Our Sunni brothers are in the Northwest and Southeast of the country. Other countries make an effort to create problems and bring discord, but the Martyr Shoushtari Brigade creates security and stability for the people and our Sunni brothers [Nour Ali Shoushtari was former IRGC-GF Deputy Commander, killed in 2009 in a bombing in Zahedan. He was well known for working with Sunni tribes in the southeast].”
    • “The new developments of this force, in its methods of fighting with tanks and artillery and its preparation based on passive defense principles, have been shown to be successful in exercises.”
  • IRGC Navy Commander BG Ali Fadavi, also on a broadcasted program, spoke on the power of the IRGC's Naval Forces, their increased strength in the Persian Gulf compared to US forces, and their plans to help with construction projects:
    • “Today, we see more than 100 of our boats patrol the Persian Gulf daily in such a way that Americans see them everywhere.”
    • “The ability of the IRGC Navy is defined on five grounds: swift boats, missiles, naval air force, UAVs, and jihadi commandos.”
    • On the main accomplishment of the IRGC Navy: “This matter is also clear to the enemy. Before any assault, they must measure its costs, and this cost is great, so the enemy gives up. This is the ability of deterrence... America needs legislation to enter into any war, and we know that they will not be able to obtain this approval in the case of a war with Iran.”
    • “Today, America is confronted with one great challenge, and it does not have the leverage of its past power at its disposal. The only reason for their presence in the Persian Gulf is to dominate oil and gas energy resources in order to control other countries like China, India, Japan, and Europe. Therefore, it is not able to be in the Persian Gulf.”
    • “When they are in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, or waters near Iran, they will see the capabilities of the IRGC Naval Forces, capabilities that they themselves will acknowledge, and be forced to change their ancient strategy in the face of these capabilities.”
    • On the IRGC’s activities in the construction field: “For example, Ghorb Naveh is considered one of the IRGC Navy’s important arms in matters of construction. Today, the Ghashm-Bandar Abbas Bridge has been constructed by this group.”
  • Conservative Iranian media reacted to the announcement of the lift on Facebook filtering. An op-ed on Alef recommended several conditions to allow Facebook to operate in Iran: “1) Facebook must respect the Islamic Republic's cultural and filtering laws 2) The government should produce and distribute home filtering software 3) Produce powerful domestic social networks as alternatives to Facebook 4) Widespread advertisement of domestic social networks 5) Beginning the movement of widespread culture-creation in the country 6) Updating the country’s laws regarding computer crimes.” 

Nuclear Issue

  • Head of the Iran Atomic Energy Agency Ali Akbar Salehi stated, “We are optimistic about the upcoming P5+1 meeting when the two sides participate with good will and are committed to resolving the aforementioned issue based on a win-win approach.”  

Economy

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