Iran News Round Up - September 19, 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, with contributor John Lisnewich. 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

  • Eleven political prisoners from the 2009 post-election protests, including prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, were freed yesterday. These releases reportedly signal a new "approach" and “can be counted among reforms and are also indications of the changing political space of the country and the widening of political and social freedoms.” However, several other prisoners still languish behind bars. 
  • Several politicians and lawmakers welcomed these releases:
    • Islamic Motalefeh Central Council member Hamid Reza Taraghi: “This matter has no relation to the country’s current situation and political space. Rather, they were released based upon completing their sentences and according to the Judiciary system’s order…. It is possible that Reformists may seek to benefit from this matter, but I do not think it will have much of an effect unless these individuals seek to pursue their previous positions and paths of conflict with the system by their presence in society. This matter will harm the political space that the Eleventh Administration has created and cause the emergence of new challenges.” 
    • Principlist party member MP Hojjat al-Eslam Mehdi Mousavinejad: “with the release of the [2009] incident prisoners, a good opportunity has been created to achieve the supreme goals of the revolution and the system.”
    • Principlist MP Rajab Rahmani:
    • National Trust Party Spokesman Hojjat al-Eslam Rasoul Montajeb Nia: “I am not aware whether these individuals completed their sentences or were pardoned, but in any case the country’s environment has changed and the environment of love, intimacy, unity and peace rules. The people hope that just as their economic issues will be resolved and concerns minimized with God’s grace, so too will prisoners be pardoned by officials and those who are under house arrest will, God willing, be removed from house arrest so that the people become more hopeful.” 
    • Iran Islamic Party Secretary Abolghassem Raoufian: “The prison length was certainly punishing and those who have tolerated imprisonment will be considered for an Islamic pardon, with attention to the type of crime, a modification in [their] method of thinking, and a confrontational approach criticizing matters from their points of view.”  
    • University Instructors Islamic Association Secretary Mohammad Ali Hazeri: This matter strengthens and intensifies the hopeful outlook that was created with the formation of the new administration and will create a way to increase sympathy and alleviate quarrels…. This release fulfills part of the expectations of society and the people of the [June 14, 2013] elections. We hope it does not remain at this stage and lead to the eventuality of the alleviation of all illegal behaviors. ”  
  • Cultural Parliamentary Commission member and Qazvin MP Hojjat al-Eslam Morteza Hosseini addressed the Second “Religion in Local Media Festival” and stated, “Most reporters are oppressed and have an effective role in enlightening the people with the smallest equipment salary. We hope that we can conduct the necessary support for this group against the comprehensive media law that will be approved in the Cultural Commission. It seems that some of us who have had material written against us have been hurt from another place while we were prepared to be subjects of fair criticism. Any place they see a point of weakness from us, they should honestly and realistically mention it so that we are reformed, because we believe that if officials are not criticized , society will not be reformed. However, this is different from destructive, accusatory and agenda-based criticism that is not constructive.” 
  • Head of Judiciary Human Rights Center Mohammad Javad Larijani reacted to Supreme Leader Khamenei’s “heroic flexibility” speech and discussed repairing Iran’s international image:
    • “Interaction is our basis of discussion in foreign policy, which is sometimes accompanied with dialogue, laughter and frowning. Today is the time for the enemies’ diplomacy to notice the Islamic Republic’s dignity and special place in the world. Iran supports Syria as a Resistance country, but the West has attempted to overthrow governments related to the Resistance.”
    • “The [IRGC] has been a thorn in the enemies’ eyes, and whenever we mention this institution it disrupts the enemy’s psychological situation. It is very important within the Islamic system’s democratic identity and Iran’s regional influence. The Supreme Leader’s statement regarding heroic flexibility was very meaningful and from a position of strength. Because our diplomacy moves in the balance of this capability, we must plan in the international scene and pay attention to some dimensions.”
    • “Strategy means that we know what to do, not that we release our arrow and say we have struck the goal wherever it hits. Diplomats must move in a justified strategic framework. We must have plans even for the simplest negotiations.”
    • We must repair our image in the world and be sensitive regarding our image on the international stage. Speech positions are each an opportunity for this act. The Supreme Leader also wants to elevate our diplomacy, and now is the time. The country’s diplomatic establishment is accompanied by fresh forces that must advance this project.” 
  • Asr-e Iran reacted to the release of political prisoners and tied it to nuclear negotiations: “Rouhani’s great art is that he was able to place ‘confidence-building in the system’s various levels’ in his agenda without media creation and propaganda. [One] can call this confidence building the complete granting of authority to the new administration in the nuclear issue, and of course its other example is releasing the [2009] Evin prisoners.” 
  • An editorial on Alef discussed Law Enforcement Forces' confrontations with hejab violators. It reads in part, “There is no doubt regarding the precise and widespread necessity of confronting improper hejabs that is desired by all the people and the will of the noble Iranian nation. However, we know that to fulfill this sacred goal we must not justify any instruments. If we conduct these with more complete content and proper planning, they will not follow with such negative results.” 

Regional Developments

Diplomacy

  • Before his anticipated attendance at the United Nations General Assembly, President Hassan Rouhani discussed letter exchanges with President Barack Obama, nuclear negotiations, Israel, Syria and the prospect of renewed Iran-US relations:
    • “What we seek in this country [Israel and Palestine] is the rule of the people’s will. We believe in the ballot box.”
    • “Israel must not permit itself to give opinions regarding an administration that came to work with democratic and free elections.”
    • “We do not seek war with any country. We seek peace and stability between all regional countries.”
    • “A commission for citizens’ rights will be established…. The administration’s outlook is that the people must have access to all global information. Our outlooks in this matter must be based on maintaining our national identity and ethics.”
    • “Regarding the nuclear program, the Iranian administration has entered it with its full power and has complete control. Under no circumstances do we seek weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”
    • “From my point of view, the tone of Obama’s letter was positive and constructive.”
    • “A meeting with Obama is not on my travel agenda, but anything is possible in the political world. Of course it depends on the conditions that come to be.”
    • “We want to clearly express our stances on foreign politics and international issues, including nuclear and regional issues, during the UN General Assembly, and we expect the world to listen closely to our voice.”
    • “My voice is really just repeating the voice of the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation adopted the moderate and central path, and moderation and centrality in foreign politics means interaction with the countries of the world.”
  • President Rouhani discussed Hajj and repairing relations with Saudi Arabia in a meeting with senior Hajj Agency officials:
    • “Despite multiple monetary and currency issues that the administration faces this year, since this Hajj has high importance, it did all it could regarding securing the necessary currency for the comfort of pilgrims. By prioritizing this matter, it was able to secure the necessary currency for pilgrims through the Central Bank.”
    • “This matter [of repairing relations with Saudi Arabia] was emphasized both in the Saudi Arabian King’s letter of congratulations and my thank-you letter to him. Both of us are interested to overcome minor tensions in the path of securing bilateral and Islamic world interests.” 
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed the nuclear issue. Zarif will reportedly meet with EU Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Monday while he is attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York City:
    • “Military actions and violent operations do not solve any problem. One cannot use war as a tool to arrive at political goals. People who believe that they can arrive at their desired goals through suppression and entering war are making a grave mistake.” 
    • “Our goal is proper interactions to solve the nuclear issue, not negotiations [for the sake] of negotiations. We ask for a path to a solution that respects the rights of Iranian Muslims, and that can, of course, resolve some of the worries of the international community. We believe that one can arrive at a solution that is acceptable to all sides.” 
    • “Iran wants interactions with the international community and the UN to be united.” 
    • “In the current world, one cannot achieve security in the presence of insecurity for others, nor can an opposing side achieve victory at the cost of the loser.” 
  • Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani will reportedly attend the IPU International Conference in Switzerland per the invitation of his Serbian counterpart and will meet with senior Serbian officials before attending the conference.  

Military and Security

Photo of the Day

  • Head of the Basij Organization Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi and brother of former IRGC Missiles Unit Commander Brig. Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam. Moghaddam was killed in an explosion at an IRGC munitions facility outside of Tehran in 2011.