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 Shayan Enferadi and Ali Javaheri. 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 called for an investigation into former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “neglect” in failing to recover nearly $2 billion in assets before the U.S. seized the funds in 2008.

Rouhani said the Judiciary, the Supreme National Security Council, the Judiciary, and other “relevant institutions” should scrutinize Ahmadinejad’s failure to use a ten-month period between 2007 and 2008 to recover the assets. Rouhani and Ahmadinejad have previously accused one another of contributing to America’s seizure of Iran’s frozen assets.

The website of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri published an audio recording of Montazeri condemning the Islamic Republic’s execution of around 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 during a meeting with senior officials. Montazeri called the executions “the greatest crimes of the Islamic Republic.” The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) ordered that the recording be taken down the day after its release, and a government official decried the recording as “incomplete and full of errors and distortions.” Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini designated Montazeri as his successor in the 1980s but later dismissed him following Montazeri’s criticism of the regime’s policies and human rights record.

Iranian news outlets reported that four members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade who were killed in Syria were buried in the city of Qom.

AEI Must-Reads

Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani: The Judiciary should investigate Ahmadinejad’s failure to recover assets. President Hassan Rouhani called upon the Judiciary, the Supreme National Security Council, and “other relevant institutions” to investigate former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “neglect” in failing to retrieve nearly $2 billion in assets held in Citibank accounts before U.S. seized the funds in 2008. Rouhani stated, “Between 2007 and 2008, we had a span of ten months when we could have withdrawn all of the money… but there was negligence in this issue.” Rouhani also stated:
    • On political infighting: “Constructive criticism is useful, and everyone should welcome it. But degradation, defamation, lying, and creating public worry are unlawful and crimes. The Judiciary should deal with these cases not because of any particular person or party, but in order to preserve the ideals of the [Islamic] Revolution.” Rouhani is likely responding to therecent increase in insults and criticism against him, which Vice President for Legal Affairs Majid Ansari attributed to the May 2017 presidential elections. (Mehr News Agency
  • Montazeri’s website releases audio recording of meeting on execution of political prisoners. The website of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri published an audio recording of him discussing the execution of political prisoners with former Chief Prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi and current Justice Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mostafa Pour Mohammadi in the summer of 1988. Montazeri’s son, Ahmad, stated that the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) ordered the recording to be deleted from Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s website the day after it was published. (Kaleme)
    • Regime official reacts to recording’s release. Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Ali Ansari, a member of Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s Office, stated that the recordings were not new material and can be found “in books attributed” to Montazeri. Ansari also said that “the content published from this meeting is incomplete and full of errors and distortions.”Montazeri published a memoir that discusses the executions in 2001.   (Tasnim News Agency

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Ohadi denies that an Iranian delegation will be sent to France for talks on Hajj stampede. Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, denied making a statementclaiming that a group of Foreign Ministry officials will join representatives from 24 countries in France to seek compensation for victims of the 2015 Hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia. An “informed source” at the Foreign Ministry also denied the statement. (ISNA
  • Khamenei’s Representative to IRGC: The U.S. intends to subvert the Iranian political system. The Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC, Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Saidi, criticized individuals “who say we must reconcile with America,” stating, “We have witnessed America alter its strategy over the years… but this has not changed America’s hostility with the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian political system. America intends to subvert the Iranian political system by establishing relations with Iran.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Zarif: “Our goals in the nuclear negotiations were much broader than just sanctions relief.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif downplayed the nuclear deal’s promised sanctions relief, claiming that Iran’s “strategic goals” included, among others, “protecting national honor, the world’s acceptance of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, and protecting Iran’s scientific and technical nuclear achievements.” He also responded to the nuclear deal’s critics, asking, “If our status was good before the nuclear deal, then why are Saudi Arabia and Israel so angry now?” (Tasnim News Agency)

Military & Security

  • Rouhani: “Can we solve our problems with filtering and censorship?” President Hassan Rouhani voiced his objection to strict censorship and filtering policies during a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Education, stating, “Is it possible nowadays for us to filter social networking sites daily? Can an individual live in the modern world with filtering and censorship?” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • IRGC Commander tours military facilities along western border. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the IRGC’s security operations along Iran’s borders during a visit to IRGC military installations in West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces, which have witnessed an uptick of violence recently. Jafari noted that the IRGC has prioritized economic development along the border. He claimed that the IRGC’s strategy of “anti-poverty programs and recruiting local security forces has had good results in West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces despite the efforts of the enemy.” IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour and Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Ebadollah Abdollahi accompanied Jafari on the trip. (Tasnim News Agency
  • Judicial authority denies executions in Urmia. A Judiciary official in West Azerbaijan province denied reports from activists that six prisoners were recently executed in a prison in Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan province. Human rights groups have criticized Iran for a recent spate of executions, including those of 20 alleged Kurdish Sunni militants on August 2. (IRNA

Casualties in Iraq & Syria

  • Four Afghan fighters buried in Iran. Iranian news outlets reported that four Afghan fighters killed in Syria were buried in the city of Qom. They were members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade. (Tasnim News Agency
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