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: Officials defended Russia’s use of an Iranian air base to launch airstrikes in Syria as constitutional.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, asserted that Russia’s use of Shahid Nojeh Air Base in northwestern Iran “does not contradict the Constitution.” Article 146 forbids the establishment of foreign military bases in Iran. Boroujerdi stated that the base “has not become a Russian base” and claimed that Russian planes landed there only to refuel. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also “rejected speculation” that Iran “gave” Shahid Nojeh Air Base to Russia. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on August 17 that it conducted air strikes from Iran for the second day in a row.

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Officials confirm Russian use of Iranian air base. Senior Iranian officials released statements justifying Russia’s use of Shahid Nojeh Air Base in the northwestern province of Hamedan.
    • Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the conservative chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told reporters that Russia’s use of Shahid Nojeh Air Base “does not contradict the Constitution. The Hamedan air base has not become a Russian base, and no aircraft has been stationed there. The only thing that happened is that the Russian aircraft were given permission during a flight to use this base for refueling.” Boroujerdi stated that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council had authorized Russia to use the base and that the use complies with a “four-nation cooperation agreement” among Iran, Russia, Syria, and Iraq. He added that permitting Russia to use the base “continues the Islamic Republic’s objective of fighting terrorism.” (IRNA)
    • Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani “rejected speculations that Tehran has provided Moscow with control over an air base in western Iran” during a session of Parliament, according to Fars News Agency. Larijani stated that Iranian cooperation with Russia on regional issues such as the Syrian civil war “doesn’t mean that we have given a military base to Russia, and if the media outlets have raised such a point, it is now rejected… Iran and Russia enjoy close views on the solution to the crisis of terrorism in the region and [have] close cooperation, but no military base has been granted to Russia or any other country at all.” Larijani briefly discussed Yemen as well, stating, “We have close cooperation with Russia on Syria, and we are pleased that Russia is paying more attention to the Yemen issue too." (Fars News Agency) (E)
  • Velayati: The West’s view on Assad’s overthrow has changed. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati discussed the Syrian crisis with reporters after meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende in Tehran on August 17. Velayati stated, “The view of Westerners, including Norway, regarding Syria has changed. Presently there is not a debate on [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad leaving or overthrowing the Syrian government. This an important development.” In separate remarks, Velayati stated that Iran has “a new look to the East” and praised Iran-Russia cooperation as “strategic and comprehensive.” (Tabnak) (Fars News Agency)
    • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also met with Brende to discuss strengthening bilateral relations and economic cooperation. Iran and Norway signed three “export credit” cooperation agreements to fund development and infrastructure projects in Iran during the meeting. Norway also offered Iran a €1 billion credit line. (Mehr News Agency

Domestic Politics

  • Parliament votes to curb Guardian Council’s authority. Parliament approved “the generalities of a proposal” to limit the Guardian Council’s power to vet electoral candidates on August 17. Parliament must still approve the “details” of the proposal at a later date. The proposal prevents the Guardian Council from disqualifying a candidate after election day if the elections were “healthy.” The proposal was prompted by an internal parliamentary inquiry that had asked “whether the Guardian Council can disqualify a candidate after a healthy vote by the people and after accepting his or her qualifications, thereby annulling the votes.” Parliament is reacting to the Guardian Council’s handling of the spring 2016 parliamentary elections. The Guardian Council previously conducted its vetting process in formal intervals before election day. The council controversially disqualified a reformist candidate after she had won a seat in the spring 2016 elections, however. Senior officials including President Hassan Rouhani accused the Guardian Council of overstepping its legal authority by disqualifying a candidate after election day. For more information on the significance of the Guardian Council’s disqualification powers, see “Iran’s Guardian Council Pushes the Limits of Its Electoral Control.”
    • Conservative Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani rejected a parliamentarian’s criticism that the proposal would alter Iran’s electoral laws. Larijani stated, “The dates in which the Guardian Council announces its opinions on candidates’ disqualifications are stated precisely in the election law. This inquiry clarifies that issue.” Moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari stated that the proposal and inquiry are important to prevent the Guardian Council from using the reformist candidate’s post-elections disqualification as precedent in future elections.
    • Mehr News Agency reported that 129 parliamentarians voted for the proposal while 63 voted against it. (Hamshahri) (Mehr News Agency)
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