Iran News Round Up - November 5, 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 Lesnewich. 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.
- Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Ali Jannati stated that “not just Facebook but all social networking websites” should be accessible and that “we must reduce the filtering of internet websites to the minimum and [only based on] necessary positions.”
- Head of the Front of Followers of the Line of the Imam and Supreme Leader and member of the Islamic Coalition Party [an influential traditional conservative party] Habibollah Asgaroladi died of heart issues in a hospital at the age of 81. His funeral will be held Thursday morning. Asgaroladi had reportedly been in the hospital since late August/early September, during which time he was visited by high-ranking officials such as former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Hojjat al-Eslams Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri and Hassan Khomeini, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, and Head of the Center for Strategic Research and Senior Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, among others.
- Judiciary Branch Human Rights Headquarters Secretary Mohammad Javad Larijani said, “It is not correct to say that we are in a diplomatic battle with America because diplomacy does not have the tolerance for battle. What is needed for us is a jihadi resistance on a broad spectrum and our diplomacy must be in its service.”
- MP Mehdi Bazrpash criticized “some recent appointments” of “individuals possessing two allegiances” to senior ministry posts. He said, “The appointment of individuals possessing a government record, or who were at least active in  sedition-creation, active in the famous resignation of the Sixth Parliament [2000-2004 when Reformists held majority] or the resignees of that time, creates more concerns for the nation than before. Many of the people do not notice the reason for the insistence of appointing such individuals.” Bazrpash added that many appointees “are active in the private sector and currently are not ready to give up those activities.”
- Semi-official IRGC media affiliate Fars News Agency criticized the recent appointment of MPs from the Sixth Parliament in Rouhani’s cabinet as the return of the “supporters of extremists.”
- Vice Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Ahmad Reza Dastgheib argued that “the Supreme Leader considers diplomatic mobility a necessity” and responded to critics of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s statements to the commission yesterday.
- “The Supreme Leader has recognized the nuclear negotiations process in a transparent manner, and emphasized the need for diplomatic mobility and the reliance on internal capabilities to increase the prestige and power of Iran.”
- Dastgheib also responded to other commission members who were unconvinced by Zarif’s answers to their questions [see Nov. 4 INR]: “I respect other members’ opinions, but overall it seemed to me that the Minister of Foreign Affairs responded convincingly to the questions of the representatives and avoided vague [statements].”
- Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar discussed waning US economic power in comparison to Asian powers and advocated the Down with America slogan, saying: “Down with America means down with bullies, destroyers, greedy [people], sanctions, and other things. Across the world, this slogan is a sign of the Iranian Revolution and has become a symbol.”
- Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Marzieh Afkham commented on issues connected to sanctions, said that Iran “does not want to pre-judge negotiations,” denied an Iranian military presence in Syria, and claimed that Iran had “still not received any type of invitation” to the Geneva 2 talks:
- “The sanctions have not had any type of influence on the nation of Iran, nor have they led to any type of political change. If the Americans think that Iran has come to the negotiations table due to this pressure, they are mistaken and must move to a realistic position and reform their analysis.”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- A Lebanese Hezbollah official announced that the group, in coordination with other security forces, will take “special security measures” during Ashura in the Zahiyeh Shi’a quarters of Beirut.
- Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned against the penetration of “fifth columns” during the Shi’a Ashura religious mourning ceremony in various areas of Lebanon, and said, “The security environment of the country and the region and the challenges that it faces necessitate such [security] provisions and laws.”
- President Hassan Rouhani met with the Vatican’s new ambassador to Tehran and promised to respect religious minorities’ freedom to practice and celebrate their religion, while adding, “Today we have shared goals and shared enemies. Extremists and terrorists are our common enemies, and human interaction and cooperation in eliminating poverty and inequality are our shared goals.”
Military and Security
- IRGC Ground Forces (IRGC-GF) Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Abdollah Araghi discussed border security efforts and values:
- “In other countries, they design an operation or exercise in appearance and put their equipment on display, but if the matter of action comes and an enemy threatens them they will never come to the field. Whereas during the Sacred Defense era [Iran-Iraq War], a fifteen year old teenager straps a grenade around his waist, and when they ask why do you want to do this he says ‘God’s satisfaction and martyrdom.’ Therefore, our country’s values are never comparable with those of other countries.”
- “A guerilla force can remain hidden for decades in any country, and none of the world’s armed forces can claim that they have completely destroyed a guerilla force. Of course, perhaps an element of [this force] can be degraded, but they can never say they have destroyed it completely. Therefore, the recent clashes in Saravan are a clear sign of this issue.”
- “Per the order that the Supreme Leader issued, our position has been completely offensive and we will not have any defensive position whatsoever in the IRGC-GF. We will kill the terrorists wherever they are. We will identify them before they even enter our borders....”
- “Based on its own needs, the IRGC-GF uses people-based divisions, and if war occurs, certainly the IRGC-GF will go to the field with these same divisions and people’s forces at the asymmetric level.”
- “It’s been approximately four years that [the IRGC] has researched asymmetric warfare, and with the analyses of experts, specialized researchers, and the implementation [of their findings] in the field during exercises, such as in Yazd, Kerman, and Khorasan with infantry, mechanized, air assault and commando forces, we have arrived at a specialized policy which has been implemented in the IRGC-GF.”
- Armed Forces General Staff Deputy of Basij Affairs and Cultural Defense Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri published a letter praising Bandar Charak Sunni Friday Prayer Leader Massoud Rahbar’s condemnation of the “jihad by marriage fatwa” [a fatwa issued, and then later reportedly renounced, by Mohammad Al-Arifi which allowed for girls as young as 14 to have “pleasure marriages” with Syrian rebels] and “the crimes of Wahabbi terrorists in Syria.”
- Jazayeri’s letter commended Rahbar for “taking wise, intelligent, and determined stances against the distortion and bid’a [innovation] in the religion.”
- He added that “There is no question that the strategy of Global Arrogance [the US and West] and the enemies of Islam and the umma is to create deviations in the religion.”
- Law Enforcement Forces Border Operations Command Deputy Col. Habibollah Mardan Pour announced the elimination of a “banditry band” and the death of four “armed bandits” in the country’s eastern borders. He elaborated, “Special designs will be implemented in the country’s borders to confront bandits and terrorist groups, and the zealous border guards will stand against the entrance of any sort of insecurity from outside the country with all their abilities while guarding the Islamic homeland.”
- Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Head of the International Atomic Energy Association Yukiya Amano has been invited to Iran: “I invited Mr. Amano to Tehran on November 11th, and we hope that he accepts this invitation, though he has yet to give a definitive response.”
- President Hassan Rouhani met with the new Austrian ambassador to Tehran and expressed his pleasure with the state of negotiations: “Good advances have been produced in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 negotiators in the nuclear context… . In the negotiations this week in Geneva we will see new and more effective steps in the advancing of these negotiations.”
- Head of the Central Bank Valiollah Seif announced that changing the interest rate at the moment is not “expedient” and that the Central Bank will instead recommend the increase of the bond rates.
- First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri announced that 100,000 billion tomans [approximately $40 billion] of government assets have been auctioned to the private sector in recent years and said, “From this amount of transfer, 17% was transferred to the private sector and the rest to companies and quasi-governmental institutions. We must transfer them to the private sector.” He stated that reforming public sector management and creating an environment for the private sector are "key for the country’s economic growth.”
- Per an agreement between the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), the breakup of the National Iranian Gas Exports Company (NIGEC) was cancelled after NIOC opposition. NIGEC will operate under the management of NIOC. NIOC International Affairs manager Ali Reza Kamel was appointed NIGEC Managing Director.
Photo of the Day
- Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani helps bury IRGC Brig. Gen. 2nd Class Mohammad Jamali Zadeh (Paghel’eh), killed in Syria this week.