Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

Key takeaway: Hardline senior clerics censured President Hassan Rouhani’s statement of support for public referendums.

Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami stated that Iran’s enemies are gladdened by President Hassan Rouhani’s recent statement in support of using public referendums to resolve disagreements on certain issues. Khatami stated that such referendums will never be conducted. Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani also criticized Rouhani’s statement. Rouhani stated on February 11 that if the people disagree on certain issues, Iran will “bring the ballot box” and act according to Article 59 of the Iranian Constitution. Article 59 permits the people to vote on “vital economic, political, social, and cultural issues” if two-thirds of the Parliament approves a request for a referendum.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from February 14 - 15.

AEI Must Reads
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February 16, 2018

Iran’s Hardliners Can Leverage the Post-Protest Space

Marie Donovan argues that Iran’s hardliners are undermining the regime’s best chance at improving Iran’s economy in the long run in, “Iran’s Hardliners Can Leverage the Post-Protest Space.”

February 16, 2018

Iranian Anti-Regime Protests and Security Flaws

Mike Saidi demonstrates how the recent protests highlighted weaknesses in the readiness of Iranian security forces in a dataset using videos submitted by Iranian protesters. View the dataset here and the graphics here.

Citations & Links

Citations & Links

Domestic Politics
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February 16, 2018

Clerics censure Rouhani’s praise of public referendums.

Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami stated that Iran’s enemies are gladdened by President Hassan Rouhani’s recent statement in support of using public referendums to resolve disagreements on certain issues. Khatami stated that such referendums will never be conducted. Rouhani stated on February 11 that if the people disagree on certain issues, Iran will “bring the ballot box” and act according to Article 59 of the Iranian Constitution. Article 59 permits the people to vote on “vital economic, political, social, and cultural issues” if two-thirds of the Parliament approves a request for a referendum. (Radio Farda)

  • Prominent hardliner Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani stated that the “[Iranian] people held a referendum once and said yes to it,” in reference to the 1979 referendum on the creation of an Islamic Republic. He urged authorities “to avoid marginal issues and think about solving the problems of the people.” (Alef)
February 16, 2018

Ahmadinejad renews public criticism of the Judiciary.

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized the Judiciary during remarks on the steps of a Tehran courthouse on February 14. Security personnel prevented Ahmadinejad from attending a court session of his imprisoned former Deputy Vice President Hamid Baghaei. Baghaei was arrested in July 2017 and was later released, and was sentenced in December 2017. Ahmadinejad claimed that the Judiciary has falsely identified the deaths of detainees as suicides. Ahmadinejad’s former First Vice President Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei accompanied Ahmadinejad and also criticized the Judiciary. Mashaei stated that until the Judiciary explains the recent deaths of some detainees, the Judiciary has no right to arrest people. The regime has claimed that several detainees recently committed suicide, including Sina Ghanbari and Mohammad Heidari, who were arrested during the recent protests, and Iranian-Canadian academic and environmentalist Kavous Seyyed Emami. Ahmadinejad has increased his public criticism of Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani and the government at large over the last few months. (Radio Farda) (Radio Farda) (ISNA)

Citations & Links

1. Radio Farda
https://www.radiofarda.com/a/f8-conservatives-against-referendum-suggested-by-rouhani/29039165.html

2. Alef
http://www.alef.ir/news/3961125128.html

Citations & Links

1. Radio Farda
https://www.radiofarda.com/a/iran-ahmadinejad-lashes-out-at-judiciary-again-on-court-steps/29039173.html

2. Radio Farda
https://www.radiofarda.com/a/29040030.html

3. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/96112514160/%D8%A7%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D9%86%DA%98%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%88-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84-%D9%85%D8%AD%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%B1%DA%AF%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%B6%D9%88%D8%B1-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AF

Regional Developments and Diplomacy
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February 16, 2018

Rouhani heads senior delegation to India to discuss economic investment.

President Hassan Rouhani headed a senior Iranian political and economic delegation to India to promote bilateral economic relations during a three-day visit beginning on February 15. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Rouhani following Modi’s visit to Tehran in May 2016. Rouhani will meet with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on February 17. Rouhani will also sign 15 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on economic cooperation and trade with India. Rouhani aims to encourage Indian investments in Iran during his visit. The senior Iranian delegation includes First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, Vice President for Economic Affairs Mohammad Nahavandian, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi, Industry, Mines, and Trade Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari, and Rouhani’s Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi. (IRNA) (Tehran Times) (E) (Reuters) (E) (ILNA)

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82832968

2. Tehran Times
http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/421285/Rouhani-starts-three-day-tour-of-India

3. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-iran/irans-rouhani-seeks-indian-investment-amid-u-s-pressure-idUSKCN1FY1RP

4. ILNA
http://www.ilna.ir/%D8%A8%D8%AE%D8%B4-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-3/594037-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%A6%D8%AA-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%B5%D8%AF-%D9%87%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D8%B1%DA%A9-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF

Economy
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February 16, 2018

Central Bank addresses rial devaluation crisis.

The Iranian Central Bank announced on February 14 that it will introduce new policies designed to curtail the recent devaluation of the Iranian rial. The official exchange rate of the Iranian rial has devalued by roughly 25 percent since September 2017. The Central Bank announced that it would start to offer rial-based certificate of deposits (CDs) with desirable rates of return in order to disincentivize Iranians from exchanging their rials for U.S. dollars. Central Bank head Valiollah Seif claimed on January 22 that investors should not expect the Iranian rial to devalue any further than a value of approximately 46,500 rials to the U.S. dollar at the time. The rial has since dropped to the value of approximately 50,000 rials to the U.S. dollar as of February 14. Parliamentary Economic Committee head Mohammad Reza Pour Ebrahimi stated that the current state of the currency exchange market is “worrisome” and blamed the government for a “lack of management.” Further devaluation of the Iranian rial may result in increased inflation, which may be cause for future protests if Iranian wages are unable to keep up with the increase in prices. (Mehr News Agency) (Fars News Agency) (Mehr News Agency) (ISNA)

Citations & Links

1. Mehr News Agency
https://www.mehrnews.com/news/4227961/%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2-%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B7%D8%A6%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA

2. Fars News Agency
http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13961125001867

3. Mehr News Agency
https://www.mehrnews.com/news/4227546/%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%B4-%DB%B2%DB%B5-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B5%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2%D8%B4-%D9%BE%D9%88%D9%84-%D9%85%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AF%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%84-%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%85-%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2

4. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/96112514776/%D8%B3%D9%87-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%86%DA%A9-%D9%85%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%B4%D8%AF

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