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: IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari downplayed the achievements of the nuclear agreement during a meeting with IRGC commanders.

Jafari denounced taking the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a “model” for solving “other issues” in Iran, stating, “What achievements has the first JCPOA brought that should make us look towards other JCPOAs? …Individuals who speak today about a series of JCPOAs are unknowingly moving down a counter-revolutionary path.” Jafari’s remarks are likely a criticism of President Hassan Rouhani, who has advocated a “JCPOA 2” for economic development and political unity in the post-JCPOA period.

Jafari also stated that the IRGC has been improving its capabilities “for years based on the presumption of a widespread war with the United States and its allies.”

A senior official in the Russian Foreign Ministry told reporters that Russia will begin the first shipment of the S-300 missile defense system to Iran in the near future.

Iranian media reported the deaths of three Iranians in Syria, including two from February whose deaths were only recently confirmed.

AEI Must-Reads

Paul Bucala and Frederick W. Kagan debunk Iran’s repeated assertion that it is only training, advising, and assisting Syrian forces by analyzing data collected from Iranian media reports on military casualties in the Critical Threats Project’s latest report, “Iran’s Evolving Way of War: How the IRGC Fights in Syria.

Matthew McInnis discusses Iran’s calculations following the partial Russian withdrawal from Syria and the consequences if Russia scales back its use of airpower in his latest blog, “Did Putin just leave Iran holding the bag in Syria?

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Jafari: “Individuals who speak about a series of JCPOAs are unknowingly moving down a counter-revolutionary path.” IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and praised the IRGC’s preparedness for the “military option” during a meeting of IRGC commanders on April 5. He stated, “We have been building up our power for years based on the presumption of a widespread war with the United States and its allies. We have dedicated all of our capabilities and capacities for a decisive victory against such enemies.” 
    •  Jafari also praised Iran’s political system for its ability to withstand “crises” including “war, terrorism, sanctions, the 1388 [2009] sedition, and political developments like the coming to power of a government like the Reformist [Khatami] administration and a parliament like the sixth Parliament,” which had a strong Reformist majority.
    • On the JCPOA: “What achievements has the first JCPOA brought that should make us look towards other JCPOAs? …Individuals who speak today about a series of JCPOAs are unknowingly moving down a counter-revolutionary path.”
    • On regional involvement: “We will support the survival of the Syrian regime, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. We will never permit the disintegration of even one of the Islamic lands… We will never abandon the people of Palestine and Yemen.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Zarif calls for end to clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke with his Armenian counterpart over the phone on April 5 to stress the need to “stop the clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh and reinstate calm in the region.” He also announced “Iran’s readiness to play a role in this.” Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to a new ceasefirelater that day. (Mehr News Agency)
    • Zarif also met with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Azerbaijan in Ramsar, Iran to discuss expanding cooperation in various fields, including counterterrorism, energy, and transportation. He discussed recent developments in Nagorno-Karabakh with his Azerbaijani counterpart as well. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Iranian news agency criticizes Saudi Arabia’s Mahan Air ban. AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA) reacted to Saudi Arabia’s recent ban on flights by Iran’s Mahan Air in Saudi Arabia by publishing an article titled, “Saudi Arabia has banned something that does not exist!” The secretary of Iran’s Airline Companies Association, Maghsoud Asadi Samani, stated in an interview with ABNA, “It seems the news about the ban of aircraft crossing through Saudi Arabian airspace is simply inconsistent with reality.” The U.S Department of Treasurysanctioned Mahan Air in 2011 “for providing financial, material and technological support” to the Qods Force. According to Flightradar24, a flight-tracking website, Mahan Air flights have been regularly travelling from Iran to Damascus, Syria and the cities of Baghdad and Najaf in Iraq. (ABNA)


  • Nobakht: There is no limitation on American investment in Iran. Rouhani Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stated that Iran “can certainly use American investment within [the country]. There is no limitation.” He added that American investment “is not actually our priority” after clarifying that “our priorities are neighboring and European countries.”
    • Nobakht also announced that 882,000 Iranians entered the workforce last year, with 667,000 of those securing jobs. He added that 214,000 were unable to find work, increasing the total of unemployed Iranians to approximately 2.5 million. Nobakht also predicted a 5-6 percent growth rate this year in light of the JCPOA and the lifting of sanctions. He listed strengthening local production and exports, stimulating the real estate market, implementing private sector development projects in underserved areas, and maintaining Iran’s positive trade balance as economic priorities. The Rouhani administration has repeatedly promised that the nuclear deal will revitalize economic growth in Iran. (Mehr News Agency)


  • Parliamentary Joint Budget Commission approves 6th Five-Year Development Plan. A member of Parliament’s Joint Budget Commission told reporters that the commission has approved the “entirety” of the 6th Five-Year Development Plan, a document intended to guide government policy over the next five years. The next parliament will be tasked with reviewing the details of the plan and finally approving it in an open session. (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Separately, parliamentarian Mohsen Farangi told reporters that Parliament’s Board of Directors will begin their review next year’s annual budget. Parliament approved the passage of the two-month emergency budget on March 14 in order to provide the government with short-term relief while it reviews Rouhani’s budget proposal. (ILNA)

Military and Security

  • IRGC forces destroy MEK cell in Sistan and Baluchistan province. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Marani, the head of the IRGC Ground Forces Quds Base in Sistan and Baluchistan province, told reporters on April 3 that IRGC forces have killed five members of group “affiliated” with Mujahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MEK) in the province. He named “Ahmad Sahouei” as the group’s leader. (Press TV(E)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

Three Iranians killed in Syria.

  • Hamid Reza Ghasem Pour was killed in Syria by “takfiri terrorists.” His funeral will be on April 7 held in  Fars province, where the IRGC 19th Fajr division is located. (Sobh-e Abadeh)
  • Ehsan Mirsiar was killed in Syria on February 10 by “takfiri forces.” He was part of the Saberin unit attached to the Mohammad Rasoul Allah unit of Greater Tehran. According to Tasnim News Agency, “it was believed that he had been captured by the takfiri forces” before his death was confirmed. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Asghar Falahpisheh was killed in Syria on February 11 “simultaneously with Reza Farzaneh,” the former commander of the IRGC 27th Mohammad Rasoul-Allah Division. Falahpisheh’s death was not confirmed “until now.” His funeral will be held on April 7. He is also reportedly a veteran from the Iran-Iraq War. (Defa Press) (Shabestan)
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