Iran News Round Up

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

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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised the Rouhani administration’s efforts to implement the Resistance Economy doctrine.

Khamenei lauded the formation of the Resistance Economy Command Headquarters, which is chaired by President Hassan Rouhani’s First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri. Khamenei’s comments soften his March 20 statement urging Rouhani to implement more aggressively the Resistance Economy doctrine, which seeks to insulate the Iranian economy from external pressures, including sanctions.

Iran news outlets reported that two more IRGC members were killed in Syria. Three members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade and four members of the Pakistani Shia militia Zainabiyoun brigade were buried in Qom.

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 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.’”

Domestic Politics

  • Supreme Leader praises Rouhani administration’s Resistance Economy efforts. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised President Hassan Rouhani’s administration for steps taken to implement the Resistance Economy, an economic doctrine designed to insulate the Iranian economy from external pressure, during a meeting with senior officials on April 6. Khamenei specifically praised the formation of the Resistance Economy Command Headquarters, chaired by First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri. He added that Jahangiri can play a “special role” in the implementation of the Resistance Economy as chairman.
    • Khamenei also criticized the U.S. as “a symbol of immortality” and stated, “One cannot trust the Americans. Some other Western countries cannot be trusted either. Therefore we must trust our own capabilities. America’s positions and approaches confirm such a view.” (Leader.ir)
       
  • Reformist Council includes independents and principlists in endorsed candidate list for runoff elections. The Supreme Reformist Policymaking Council announced the finalization of its “Omid” (Hope) list of endorsed candidates for the runoff parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 29.   Council member Ali Sufi told reformist newspaper Shargh that the Council “has supported independent candidates in addition to reformist candidates in some districts. It has supported moderate principlists in some other districts. This number is very small. In other words, from among the 52 candidates that the Policymaking Council has introduced for the second round, the number of moderate principlists is fewer than the fingers on one’s hand -- meaning four people.” He defended reformists endorsing some principlist candidates by explaining that the Council endorsed only the “moderate principlists” who are running against “extremist principlists.”Sufi added that the Supreme Reformist Policymaking Council has not endorsed any candidates in several electoral districts for one of two reasons: either all remaining candidates are reformists, or they are all “extremist principlists” and therefore unacceptable to the Council. (Shargh)
     
  • Advisor to Rafsanjani: “There is no difference between Larijani and Aref.” Hojjat ol Eslam Timur Ali Asgari, an advisor to Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, praised both current Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Mohammad Reza Aref, a senior reformist parliamentarian whom many have suggested as a potential successor to Larijani. Asgari stated that if these two individuals have “rational cooperation,” then the next parliament will have “good management.” He also referred to the possibility of Aref becoming deputy speaker of parliament, saying, “If he agrees, the groundwork for accepting this designation is ready.” (Tasnim News Agency)

Military and Security

  • New explosives plant opened. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan stated that “the Ministry of Defense is simultaneously considering efforts to increase the accuracy of weapons systems and to increase the power and influence of the warhead of different weapons” at a ceremony opening a “new generation [Octagen] explosives production plant.” The Defense Minister said that “achieving technical knowledge of the production of Octagen explosives and its synthetic products have been put on the [Ministry of Defense’s] agenda.” Octagen, also called HMX, is used “for military purposes to implode fissionable material in nuclear devices, as a component of plastic-bonded explosives, as a component of rocket propellant, and as a high explosive burster charge.” Defa Press described “Octagen explosives” as a “strategic product which is applied in a variety of ballistic and cruise missiles, air defense, and armor-piercing and naval weapons and increases their efficiency and effectiveness.” (Defa Press)
     
  • Iranian media claims Su-30 fighter jet deal will not be finalized until end of 2016. Fars News Agency reported that the sale of Russian Su-30 fighter jets to Iran will be not be finalized until the end of this year. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannonstated on April 5 that the United States will “use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to block any sale of Su-30 fighter aircraft to Iran.” (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Aref stresses importance of both “negotiations and defensive capability.” Senior reformist parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Aref discussed Iran’s military capabilities during an interview on April 6. He stated, “If we consider the position that the Supreme Leader has always held regarding the defense sector and scientific and technological policies, then we understand that the first priority is strengthening defensive capability.” He added, “We are a people of negotiation. Negotiation and strengthening defensive capability go side-by-side and are not separate.” Aref’s remarks mirror Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s March 30 speech, in which he called for “both negotiations and missiles.” (Tasnim News Agency)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Rouhani urges Azerbaijan and Armenia to observe ceasefire. President Hassan Rouhani discussed the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh during telephone calls with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. Rouhani called for restraint and expressed his hope for a peaceful settlement. (Mehr News Agency)
    • Hardliner parliamentarian Hossein Sobhani Nia called for the international community to “review the causes” of the recent violence in Nagorno-Karabakh. He noted that it is “possible that Westerners with the support of the Americans and the Zionist regime had a role in this conflict.” (Mehr News Agency)
    • Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Border Commander Qassem Rezayee told reporters that a “serious message” had been sent to the parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh about cross-border fire with Iran. (Defa Press)
       
  • Iranian Hajj delegation invited to Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials invited Chairman of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi along with an Iranian delegation to travel to Saudi Arabia on April 14. Ohadi stated that the purpose of the trip will be to discuss arrangements for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. This visit will mark the first diplomatic exchange between Iran and Saudi Arabia since ties were severed on January 3. Iranian officials repeatedly criticized Saudi officials for what they perceived as Saudi mismanagement of the Hajj, after a stampede during it last year left over 2,000 people dead, according to a Reuters tally. (Tasnim News Agency)

Economy

  • Jahangiri: Privatization crucial for Resistance Economy. First Vice President and Chair of the Resistance Economy Command Headquarters Eshagh Jahangiri emphasized the importance of “turning over [economic] affairs to the people and the private sector.” He deemed this transfer “one of the most important approaches of the Resistance Economy” and mentioned the need to attract foreign capital into the Iranian economy this year. (ISNA)

Casualties in Syria and Iraq

  • Two IRGC members killed in Syria. Mohammad Jabali and Abufazl Rahchamani were both from Tehran province. No further information on their ranks or unit affiliation was provided. (ABNA)
     
  • Seven Afghans and Pakistanis killed in Syria. Three members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade and four members of the Pakistani Shia militia Zainabiyoun brigade were buried in Qom. The Zainabiyoun and Fatimiyoun Brigades are among the Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary forces that fight in support of the Assad regime. Many of them are recruited from Afghan and Pakistani expatriate populations in Iran. (Mehr News Agency
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