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: Friday prayer leaders downplayed the economic benefits of the nuclear deal, several days after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that the deal has had “no tangible effect” on the Iranian economy.

Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda mocked President Hassan Rouhani for claiming that Iran has received “honor” through the nuclear deal, as Rouhani did most recently in a speech on August 1. Interim Tabriz Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ali Haji Zadeh expressed frustration over the deal’s sanction relief, stating, “When the nuclear deal was signed, people said that it would remove sanctions. Yet nothing of the sort has been seen.” The Supreme Leader’s Office often helps plan Friday prayer speeches, indicating a coordinated effort to de-emphasize the impact of the nuclear deal’s sanction relief.

Former conservative parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakkoli criticized the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) after President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet approved an amended version on August 3. Tavakkoli dismissed the revisions, stating, “Despite several reforms to the text of these contracts, the Oil Ministry is seeking to use foreigners’ capabilities and ignore domestic capabilities… Most of the previous criticisms of the IPC remain [even after the cabinet’s revisions].” Finalizing the IPC has taken much longer than the Rouhani administration had anticipated. Critics accused the first IPC draft of granting foreign firms too much control over Iran’s oil reserves and failing to sufficiently guarantee the transfer of technology to Iranian companies.

AEI Must-Reads

  • Caitlin Shayda Pendleton analyzes and translates a recent interview with the newly elected spokesman of the Guardian Council in “Is this proposal the future of Iranian elections?
  • 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

  • Friday prayer leaders dispute nuclear deal’s impact. Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda implicitly called President Hassan Rouhani “Mr. Gullible” for expecting that Iran would find “honor” through the nuclear deal. Rouhani has defended the nuclear deal for bringing “honor” to Iran several times in the past. (Raja News)
    • Ilam Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Naghi Lotfi claimed, “The people are tired of the empty slogans about the nuclear deal. They consider it to be a victory for our vengeful enemies like America.” (Mehr News Agency)
    • Interim Tabriz Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ali Haji Zadeh stated, “When the nuclear deal was signed, people said that it would remove sanctions. Yet nothing of the sort has been seen.” (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Ahvaz Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Mousavi Jazayeri stated, “It has been clarified that negotiations with the U.S. and the nuclear deal have produced nothing for Iran except for hurting the Iranian nation.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Ahmadinejad denies return to politics. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied that he is currently re-entering politics but claimed that he may do so in the future. He stated, “I am involved in the country’s affairs, but it is not expedient now for me to enter [politics]. I will be in the service of the nation when the time comes.” He made the remarks at a rally in Yazd province, where attendees reportedly urged him to run for president in the upcoming presidential elections. News outlets have speculated that Ahmadinejad has been planning running for a third presidential term in the elections, scheduled for May 19, 2017. (Entekhab)
  • Vice president accuses state broadcasting company of bias. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht claimed that the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is attempting to “discredit” the Rouhani administration. The vice president stated, “Unfortunately some have acted unjustly toward the administration.” Nobakht has accused IRIB of biased programming multiple times in the past, particularly for its negative coverage of the nuclear deal. (IRNA)
  • Zahedan Friday Prayer Leader criticizes executions of Sunni “extremists.”  Sunni cleric Molavi Abdul Hamid critiqued the Iranian government’s execution of twenty Kurdish “extremist” militants during his Friday prayer sermon in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province. He claimed that executions have “negative consequences” and called upon officials to consider “the sensitive conditions in the region.” He added, “Enemies are always seeking to exploit divisions and insecurity [in Iran].” Sistan and Baluchistan is comprised of a majority Sunni population.  (Tabnak
  • Green Movement leaders mark 2,000 days under house arrest. Reformist website Kalame reported that Zahra Rahnavard, one of the reformist leaders imprisoned after the 2009 Green Movement protests, delivered a message to her children marking more than 2,000 days under house arrest. She stated, “If two thousand years pass, I will have no wish except the dignity of my country and freedom and justice for the people.” Senior officials have not indicated that Rahnavard or the other imprisoned reformist leaders of the 2009 protests, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, will be released from house arrest in the near future. (Kalame)


  • Conservative politician: Most criticisms of the IPC remain after Rouhani cabinet’s revisions. Former parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakkoli criticized the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) for being too favorable to foreigners in remarks on August 5. Tavakkoli stated, “Despite several reforms to the text of these contracts, the Oil Ministry is seeking to use foreigners’ capabilities and ignore domestic capabilities.” Tavakkoli referenced a five-hour meeting held today with critics of the IPC and reiterated that “the primary criticism was the Oil Ministry’s approach of outsourcing work to foreigners… Most of the previous criticisms of the IPC remain [even after the cabinet’s revisions].” (Tasnim News Agency)

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Artesh Ground Forces Commander: The nuclear deal did not end hostility with U.S. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan emphasized that America’s hostility with the Iran is “fundamental” during the swearing-in ceremony for the new commander of the Artesh’s Northwest Operational Headquarters. Pourdastan also stated:
    • “Be careful of the enemy. Put aside your optimism on whether all sanctions will be lifted.”
    • “The U.S. promised more with the nuclear deal than Iranian officials...They wanted to make the people hopeful so that they would go protest in the street. The Americans are upset about the lost opportunity with the 88 fitna [the 2009 election protests].”
    • On instability in Iran’s northwest: “The IRGC, the Basij, the Artesh, and the Law Enforcement Forces are at the utmost readiness. The Americans’ new strategy is to pit religion against religion.” Iran has experienced an uptick of instability in the Kurdish-populated northwest, which Iran has attributed to U.S. and Saudi-backed Kurdish rebels. (SNN)


  • Tehran Friday Prayer Leader: Saudi Arabia will be punished for blocking Hajj pilgrimage.Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani criticized Saudi Arabia for “obstructing” the Hajj and claimed that Saudi Arabia will face “divine punishment” for its actions. Iran and Saudi Arabia were unable to reach a formal agreement on the Hajj after Iran refused to comply with a number of “new restrictions” that Saudi Arabia attempted to impose on Iran’s pilgrims, such as limitations on the number of Iranian health clinics open during the Hajj. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • NSFP chairman: ISIS sent terrorists to Iran from Mosul and Raqqah. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission, discussed ISIS’s efforts to attack Iran during a press conference in Damascus. He stated that ISIS has dispatched terrorists from Mosul and Raqqah to carry out operations in Iran but claimed that “all of them have been identified and arrested by Iranian security forces.” Iranian security forces have announced multiple ISIS-linked arrests over the summer, including thearrest of two “ISIS-linked” Iranian nationals in May and the arrests of a number of individuals allegedly connected to one of the “largest terrorist plots” in Iran in June. Boroujerdi added that Assad’s victory in Syria would “redraw the map of the entire region.” (Mehr News Agency) (Press TV)


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