Iran News Round Up
The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.
A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton with contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. 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.
Key Takeaway: The IRGC Ground Forces launched the second day of “Great Prophet” military drills in southeastern Iran.
Today marked the second day of “Great Prophet” military drills that are taking place in the southeastern provinces of Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Kerman, and South Khorasan. According to IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, several IRGC Ground Forces divisions and brigades as well as Saberin special forces are participating in the drills. Meanwhile, Parliament approved the allocation of approximately $1.2 billion for bolstering Iran’s defense capabilities.
Iranian news outlets reported the death of another Artesh officer in Syria, bringing the total number of Artesh casualties in Syria to five. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan stated today that Artesh officers are in an advisory capacity “alongside the IRGC” in Syria.
Iran, India, and Afghanistan finalized a draft agreement that would transform the Chabahar port in Sistan and Baluchistan province into a regional economic hub linking India to Afghanistan. The Iranian port is significant because it provides India an alternative access route to Afghanistan and Central Asia that bypasses Pakistan.
- Frederick W. Kagan discusses current and requested Iranian and Russian assets in the Middle East in “Iran’s Plans to Transform the Middle East Military Balance.”
- Frederick W. Kagan and Vice Admiral John Miller (USN, Ret.) examine how Iran’s military shopping list could force the West to alter how it operates in the Persian Gulf in “Iran is muscling up. We should push back.”
- Paul Bucala analyzes Iran's deployment of Artesh special forces to Syria in "Iran in Syria: flexing more, not less, military muscle." See also Bucala and Frederick W. Kagan, “Iran’s Evolving Way of War: How the IRGC Fights in Syria.”
- Alice Naghshineh and Ken Hawrey have published a translation of an article from Iranian newspaper Shargh that provides insights into the Artesh’s evolving rhetoric towards the Syrian conflict and the organization of the Artesh 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade, elements of which have deployed to the conflict. Read the translation here.
- Marie Donovan discusses IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari’s warning to President Hassan Rouhani not to engage further with the West in “IRGC Commander warns President Rouhani to back off.”
- Matthew McInnis discusses Iran’s consensus on the need to strengthen its ballistic missile program and U.S. strategies for mitigating and responding to Iranian missile advances in his latest blog, “Iran’s missile happy ‘moderates.’”
Military and Security
IRGC launches second day of “Great Prophet” military drills. Today marked the second day of “Great Prophet” military drills that are taking place in Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchistan, Kerman, and South Khorasan provinces. The drills will run through April 14. According to IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, the drills will feature several IRGC Ground Forces divisions and brigades as well as Saberin special forces.
- IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami highlighted the participation of local Baluch tribes in the “Great Prophet” military drills. Tasnim News Agency reported that “more than 50 Baluch tribal representatives” were present for the “Great Prophet” military drills in the area.
- Pakpour confirmed that “three exercises were conducted in the south east of the country for the second day of the Great Prophet military drills.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
Pourdastan: The Artesh is “alongside the IRGC” in Syria. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan reiterated remarks from yesterday that the Artesh soldiers currently in Syria are serving in an “advisory” role. The Artesh Ground Forces Commander stated, “Our mission in Syria is an advisory one, and we have a presence close to both the Syrian Army and the IRGC. In this regard, we are providing training assistance to them.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Defa Press)
Parliament allocates 35 trillion rials for strengthening defense capabilities. Tasnim News Agency reported that Parliament approved the allocation of 35 trillion rials ( $1.2 billion) for the enhancement of the country’s defense capabilities. Parliament agreed on the general outline of this year’s annual budget on April 10, but is in the process of finalizing the budget’s details. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Supreme Reformist Policymaking Council member: We will support Aref if we gain the majority. Abdollah Naseri addressed the possibility of the withdrawal of prominent reformist Mohammad Reza Aref from consideration for parliament speakership, saying “This decision is Aref’s.” Ali Larijani has served as speaker of parliament since 2008, but many have suggested Aref as a potential successor to him. Naseri stated that reformists will “certainly vote for and support Aref” if they secure “the majority of the seats in the next Parliament.” Runoff electionsfor 69 of 290 parliamentary seats will be held on April 29. (Mehr News Agency)
Regional Developments and DIplomacy
Rouhani departs for Turkey. President Hassan Rouhani traveled to Turkey to attend the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit on Thursday and Friday. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Chabahar port agreement established between Iran, India and Afghanistan. India, Iran, and Afghanistan have agreed on the text of the “International Transport and Transit Corridors Agreement” linking Mumbai, the port of Chabahar in southeastern Iran, and Afghanistan. A formal signing ceremony for the agreement is planned within two months. The port of Chabahar is strategically significant to India because it provides India with an access route to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia that bypasses Pakistan. (IRNA)
Parliament decreases National Development Fund’s share in oil revenues. Parliament agreed on April 13 to lower the percentage of oil revenues allocated to the National Development Fund to 20 percent. The Fifth Five-Year Development Plan reportedly set the fund’s share at more than 30 percent. The administration decreased this to 20 percent “due to a fall in oil revenues.” The National Development Fund channels Iran’s oil revenues into productive investments. (Mehr News Agency)
Jahangiri reasserts administration’s “command” over the Resistance Economy. First Vice President and recently-appointed head of the Resistance Economy Command Headquarters Eshagh Jahangiri stated during an opening ceremony for an exhibition on petrochemical products that “some people accuse the administration of not having done anything in the context of the Resistance Economy.” Jahangiri continued, “The Supreme Leader has solved this. He has ordered that command of the Resistance Economy be in the hands of the administration and the First Vice President.” (Donya-e Eqtesad)
- Mesbahi Moghaddam criticizes administration’s record on subsidies. Member of the Budget and Planning Parliamentary Commission Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam blamed the administration for not having “taken serious steps” towards removing the subsidies of high-income earners. He claimed, “Over the past two years in the annual budget, we asked the administration to cut the subsidies of the rich, since the resources for paying the subsidies were not sufficient.” He added, “The administration has cut the subsidies of only a small number of recipients.” The Iranian subsidy system has become a topic of great debate as Parliament works to finalize the annual budget. (Tasnim News Agency)
Casualties in Syria and Iraq
- Fifth Artesh fighter reported killed. Capt. Hamdollah Bakhshande appears to have been a member of the Artesh’s Special Forces. No further information on his unit affiliation was reported. (qasemsoleimani.ir)