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: President Hassan Rouhani and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused one another of contributing to America’s seizure of frozen Iranian assets.
President Hassan Rouhani joined other senior officials, including Central Bank of Iran Chief Valiollah Seif, in blaming former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for contributing to the U.S. seizure of almost $2 billion in Iranian frozen assets. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that victims of terrorist attacks attributed to Iran can collect the assets. Ahmadinejad’s office, meanwhile, released a statement blaming the Supreme Court’s decision on the Rouhani administration, which he claimed has “portrayed the Iranian nation as weak to the international community.” Ahmadinejad has recently implied that he is considering running in the 2017 presidential elections, when Rouhani will likely run for reelection.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of fostering anti-Iranian sentiment in order to keep foreign companies from dealing with Iran. Khamenei claimed that the U.S. has told “banks that they can deal with Iran on paper… but in practice [has created] Iranophobia among the banks so they do not approach Iran.” Khamenei previously accused the U.S. of lifting sanctions only “on paper” during remarks on March 10.
- Matthew McInnis discusses prospects for the Persian Gulf’s regional powers to collectively manage regional security issues, including proposals for an OSCE-style collective security organization, in his latest blog, “Can Saudi Arabia really ‘share the neighborhood’ with Iran?”
- The Iranian Foreign Ministry identified key challenges for the nuclear deal, including Iran’s financial system and U.S. “sabotage,” in its first official report evaluating the deal’s implementation. The Critical Threats Project translated an excerpt from the report here.
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Rouhani criticizes Supreme Court ruling and Ahmadinejad. President Hassan Rouhani condemned the recent Supreme Court ruling permitting terrorist attack victims to collect $2 billion in Iranian frozen assets as “a theft” and “illegal” during a cabinet meeting on April 27. He stated, “The Iranian nation will stand against this wrong ruling, and the government of the Islamic Republic will use everything in its power to defend the rights of the Iranian nation.” Rouhani also criticized former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by calling the Supreme Court ruling unjust despite “the negligence of past administrations.” Senior officials, including Central Bank of Iran Chief Valiollah Seif, have blamed Ahmadinejad for the asset seizure because his administration made investments in the dollar. Those investments were among the frozen assets. (President.ir) (Donya-e Eqtesad)
Ahmadinejad blames Rouhani administration for Supreme Court ruling. Ahmadinejad’s office released a statement blaming the Supreme Court ruling on the Rouhani administration, which he claimed has “portrayed the Iranian nation as weak to the international community.” The statement further asserted that the U.S. “did not dare encroach upon the Iranian nation’s resources” under the Ahmadinejad administration due to the administration’s “wise approach.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Supreme Leader: The U.S. has lifted sanctions only on paper. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the U.S. of creating “Iranophobia” in order to dissuade foreign companies from dealing with Iran during a speech delivered to industrial workers in Tehran. Khamenei criticized the U.S. for “telling banks that they can deal with Iran on paper… but in practice creating Iranophobia among the banks so they do not approach Iran.” Khamenei added, “America acts deceitfully and then complains about why we are pessimistic [about America].” The Supreme Leader also stated:
- On foreign trade: “We are engaging [economically] with the world, but importing, selling, and consuming foreign goods in fields with domestic production must be recognized as antithetical to our values.”
On the elections: “The second round of parliamentary elections is not less important than the first. All eligible voters must participate.” (Leader.ir)
Velayati: Assad is Iran’s red line in Syria. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, discussed Syrian President Bashar al Assad during a meeting with Belgian Senate President Christine Defraigne on April 27. Velayati stated that Assad staying in office “for the remaining five years” of his presidential term is a “red line” for Iran. He added that “when the Europeans accept this issue, other problems can be discussed.” (ISNA)
Velayati: Saudi-backed Syrian opposition groups are causing Syrian peace talks to fail. Velayati also met with Syrian tribal leaders on April 27. On the sidelines of that meeting, the Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stated that “the ‘Riyadh group’ is making” the Syrian peace talks in Geneva “stop and fail.” The “Riyadh group” refers to Syrian opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia. Velayati claimed that because these opposition groups “are not logical in the political negotiations, they intend to repeat their failed experience and turn their attention militarily to the issue of Syria. This is why we have seen them violate the ceasefire around Aleppo.” (Mehr News Agency)
- Velayati: Saudi-backed Syrian opposition groups are causing Syrian peace talks to fail. Velayati also met with Syrian tribal leaders on April 27. On the sidelines of that meeting, the Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stated that “the ‘Riyadh group’ is making” the Syrian peace talks in Geneva “stop and fail.” The “Riyadh group” refers to Syrian opposition groups backed by Saudi Arabia. Velayati claimed that because these opposition groups “are not logical in the political negotiations, they intend to repeat their failed experience and turn their attention militarily to the issue of Syria. This is why we have seen them violate the ceasefire around Aleppo.” (Mehr News Agency)
Deputy Foreign Minister: Assad has the right to stand in any elections in Syria. Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed the Syrian crisis during a meeting with faculty members of Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs stated, “Iran, Russia, China, Lebanon, and Egypt believe that the Syrian people should decide the future of their country. With or without Bashar al Assad, this decision [regarding the country’s future] should not be made in New York or Vienna.” Abdollahian continued, “National unity, territorial integrity, and the taking of measures to prevent the partition of Syria are very important to us… If the political process in Syria is drawn out to elections, Bashar al Assad should have the right to participate in the elections.” Abdollahian also stated, “We sent advisory forces, truly, to fight terrorism in Syria. At the present time, combat and fighting forces have not been sent from Iran [to Syria]; they have an advisory presence.” Abdollahian explained that some members of these “advisory forces” have been killed “due to their proximity to the theater of operations.” He noted that “if necessary,” Iran will send “more advisory forces” to Syria. (YJC)
Judiciary head to visit Iraq. Judiciary Spokesman Hojjat ol Eslam Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei announced that Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani will visit Iraq “within the next few days for an official visit.” Ejei added that “given the possibility of making a pilgrimage to the holy Shiite sites in the Iraqi cities, [Larijani’s] visit may last for more than three days.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
- 140 Iranian state-run companies open to foreign investors. Deputy Head of the Iran Privatization Organization Davoud Khani announced the transfer of “around 140 businesses including both state-run corporations and financial institutions” to the private sector. He invited foreign and domestic investors to buy shares in these entities and added, “Since 1380 (March 21, 2001 - March 20, 2002), the Iran Privatization Organization has transferred 50 percent of the 1,100 [state-run] companies” that it had placed on a list of entities designated for transfer to the private sector. (Mehr News Agency)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
- Two casualties in Syria to be buried in Esfahan. Mohammad Shah Hosseini and Ghorbanali Soltani were both from Esfahan province. Soltani was a member of the Fatimiyoun Brigade, an Iranian-backed Afghan Shia militia fighting in support of the Assad regime. No information on Shah Hosseini’s rank or unit affiliation was provided. (Fars News Agency)