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 contributor 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 defended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) one day after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called it “useless.”

Rouhani reiterated his previous remarks that the JCPOA “has been implemented very well in some areas, like oil exports,” during a televised interview. He appeared to agree with Khamenei’s rejection of non-nuclear negotiations with the U.S., however. Rouhani stated, “If America had implemented the JCPOA precisely and with good will, perhaps we could have trusted them and been agreeable to negotiating on other subjects with them.”

A British-Iranian citizen detained by the IRGC in April has appeared in court, according to a statement released by her family. The IRGC had arrested Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe due to her alleged involvement in plotting “the soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” Iranian news outlets have not yet commented on her court appearance or specified the charges against her.

Iranian news outlets reported the death of a Basij member in Syria, where fighting has intensified as opposition forces have sought to break the regime’s siege of Aleppo.

AEI Must-Reads

  • J. Matthew McInnis and Daniel Schnur consider recent shifts within Iran’s military leadership, and what those changes may indicate for Iran’s military posture as it modernizes over the next decade, in “A new direction for Iran’s military?
  • Paul Bucala and Ken Hawrey document Iran’s aerial resupply network to Syria as part of Tehran’s expanding ground campaign to support Assad in “Iran’s Airbridge to Syria.”

Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani: We could have negotiated on non-nuclear issues if the U.S. had implemented the accord with good faith. President Hassan Rouhani discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during an interview on August 2. Rouhani claimed that the U.S. has not fully carried out its commitments under the JCPOA and stated, “If America had implemented the JCPOA precisely and with good will, perhaps we could have trusted them and been agreeable to negotiating on other subjects with them.” He also noted the “sluggish” pace of major foreign banks entering the Iranian economy since the accord. Rouhani still defended the nuclear agreement, however, reiterating his argument from August 1 that the JCPOA “has been implemented very well in some areas, like oil exports… The increase in [our] oil production and exports in such a short period of time after the JCPOA surprised the world.” Rouhani also defended his administration’s “decisive” efforts to address the ongoing salary scandal, in which leaks revealed that certain government employees had been receiving exorbitant pay. (Mehr News Agency)
  • Rouhani appoints new managers amid salary scandal. Rouhani appointed his administration spokesman, Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, as vice president and head of the Planning and Budget Organization. Rouhani also revived the Administrative and Employment Organization and appointed reformist politician Jamshid Ansari as vice president and its head. (YJC) (ISNA)
  • Salary figures in Bank Mellat case released. Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said one of the accused people in the Bank Mellat case earned 2.2 billion toman (approximately $710,600) in salary and bonuses over a 16-month period. Dolatabadi’s comments appear to be aimed at former head of Bank Mellat Ali Rastegar Sorkhei, whom the IRGC Intelligence Organization arrested on corruption charges on July 19. (Tasnim News Agency)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Deputy foreign minister: The EU should open an office in Tehran. Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi told reporters that the EU should open an office in Tehran because “there will be great cooperation on a number of issues in the new era of relations between Iran and the EU.” The deputy foreign minister also expressed optimism that Iran could restore diplomatic relations with Canada if the Canadian government distances itself from the “hostile actions” of the previous administration. The Canadian and Iranian governments cut diplomatic ties in 2012. (ISNA)
  • Foreign Ministry: Attacking the Saudi embassy was unacceptable. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi issued a statement criticizing the January attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran in response to a widely circulated letter written by Hassan Kurdmihan, an influential cleric accused of having a “leadership position” in the attack. Kurdmihan claimed that Rouhani was complicit in allowing the protesters to storm the embassy and requested that the Rouhani administration try the Foreign Ministry for “violating the dignity of the Iranian nation.” The Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed Kurdmihan’s letter as “baseless” and stated, “No sane person would commit an action that was in the interests of the enemies and the allies of Israel.” On July 19, an Iranian court in Tehran finished the two-day trial for 19 suspects accused of being involved in the attack, although final sentences have not yet been announced. (Asr Iran) (Fars News Agency)
  • Former deputy foreign minister criticizes Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with MEK. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, a former deputy foreign minister and current international affairs adviser to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for meetingrecently with Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) President Maryam Rajavi. Abdollahian accused Abbas of “supporting terrorism” by meeting with the head of the MEK, a controversial and exiled Iranian opposition group. Abdollahian called the meeting a “source of regret for the Palestinian nation” and criticized Abbas for his “lack of focus on pursuing the rights of the Palestinian people.” (ISNA)

Military and Security

  • Soleimani visits family of Fatimiyoun fighter. IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani visited the family of a Fatimiyoun Brigade fighter killed in Syria. Soleimani praised the role of the Fatimiyoun in the “Axis of Resistance” and claimed that the “victory of the resistance forces is not limited to preserving the sanctity of the holy shrines.” (Khabar Online)
  • Russia and Iran reportedly discussing future joint military drills. Iranian media circulated reports from Russian news agencies such as Sputnik that claim IRGC Brig. Gen. Vali Madani -- the commander of the Iranian team at the International War Games in Russia -- and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the prospect of bilateral military exercises on the sidelines of the games. (Press TV) (Mehr News Agency)
  • Judiciary announces execution of militants. The chief prosecutor for Kurdistan province announced the execution of a number of alleged “takfiri terrorists” in the province. The individuals were accused of planning to commit “armed operations” within Iran, among other crimes. (Mashregh News Agency)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Basij fighter killed in Syria. Iranian news outlets reported that Farid Kaviani Lard was recently killed in Syria. He was from Ardabil province. (Basij News) (ISNA
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