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: Vice President for Legal Affairs Majid Ansari called for the Judiciary to investigate “recent insults” against President Hassan Rouhani amid an increasingly hostile domestic political environment.
Ansari attributed the “unprecedented affronts” in Iranian politics to the upcoming presidential elections in May 2017. Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi similarly stated on August 7 that “insults, spreading lies, and printing falsities” against officials are crimes. Rouhani has come under increasing criticism for America’s perceived lackluster implementation of the nuclear deal, including from a Friday prayer leader who recently called him “Mr. Gullible” for believing Iran would benefit from the deal.
Iranian news agencies circulated comments from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin that Russia has delivered “half” of the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran under the existing contract. One news outlet interpreted Rogozin’s remarks as “meaning that two battalions of the S-300 system have been delivered to Iran.” Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghanannounced in August 2015 that Iran’s contract with Russia specified the purchase of four S-300 battalions.
- 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?”
- Vice president: The Judiciary must investigate insults against Rouhani. Majid Ansari, the vice president for legal affairs, called for the Judiciary to investigate “recent insults” against President Hassan Rouhani on August 8. Ansari criticized “unprecedented affronts and insults” in Iran and claimed that unnamed officials have been attempting to bait Rouhani into engaging in “illogical confrontations.” He also attributed the increase in insults to the upcoming presidential elections in May 2017, stating, “Those who have saddled the electoral horse and galloped to the arena of misconduct must return to the arena of morality and observe the law.” Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi similarly stated on August 7 that “insults, spreading lies, and printing falsities” against government officials are crimes. (ISNA) (ISNA)
Khamenei meets with MOIS officials. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with top officials at the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), including its head, Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi, on August 9. Khamenei labelled “any effort to weaken the faith of the people and officials” as “treason.” He also stated:
- “The Ministry of Intelligence is the hard shell of the establishment. It must not be vulnerable in any way. This ministry must therefore pay greater attention to strengthening key elements such as faith and spirituality than any other [government] apparatus.”
- “The Ministry of Intelligence must be present in any sector that the enemy can use for a base to attack the Islamic establishment. It must consider that area to be its area of activity.” (Mehr News Agency)
Military & Security
Russia finishes delivery of first half of S-300 contract. Iranian news agencies circulated comments from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin that Russia has delivered “half” of the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Iran under the existing contract. Tasnim News Agency interpreted these comments as “meaning that two battalions of the S-300 system have been delivered to Iran.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Police station attacked in Sardasht. Sardasht Mayor Aziz Hassani announced that two unidentified individuals riding a motorcycle threw hand grenades into a police station in the northwestern city of Sardasht in West Azerbaijan province on August 8. Iranian security forces and Kurdish militant groups have clashed in the northwestern provinces of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and Kermanshah on several occasions since mid-June. Iranian security forces have also conducted operations against Kurdish militant groups over recent weeks. (Tabnak)
Iran bans Pokémon Go. Abdolhassan Firouzabadi, the head of the Supreme Cyberspace Council, announced the decision to block the popular gaming application Pokémon Go due to “security concerns” about user data. In May, officials in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance released a statement claiming that Pokémon Go poses “certain security risks” for Iranian users, including storing user data in servers located outside of Iran. Iranian officials had requested foreign messaging services store data on Iranian users in servers located inside Iran, or else risk being blocked. (IRIB)
- Journalist sentenced to prison for “propaganda” and “insults.” Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, the lawyer for prominent journalist Isa Saharkhiz, announced that Saharkhiz has been sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting officials” and “spreading propaganda against the system.” Saharkhiz was one of several journalists arrested in November 2015, when the IRGC broke up an alleged “infiltration network cooperating with hostile Western governments.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Zeitoons)
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
Shamkhani stresses unity in Iraq. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani called for political unity in Iraq during a meeting with Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Deputy Secretary General Barham Salih. Shamkhani stated that Iran actively supports “increasing cohesion and friendship among the Kurdish groups in order to participate actively in the economic and political structure of the Iraqi state.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Iranian diplomatic team travels to France. Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization, said that a group of representatives from the Foreign Ministry will travel to France to seek compensation for Iranian victims of the 2015 Hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia. Ohadi added that Iran is coordinating with 24 other countries whose nationals were also killed in the stampede. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
Senior parliamentarian: Iran is ready to send arms to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission, emphasized Iran’s readiness to send weapons to the Lebanese Armed Forces during an interview with Al Alam, an Arabic-language broadcasting service owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Boroujerdi also blamed Saudi Arabia for “plots to normalize relations with Israel.” (Farda News)
- Iran and Azerbaijan sign cooperation agreements. President Hassan Rouhani and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed multiple agreements to expand cooperation between the two countries during the trilateral summit in Baku, Azerbaijan. The two pledged to develop the North-South Transport Corridor, which would connect St. Petersburg to Mumbai, and signed agreements on cyber-security, tourism, agriculture, and establishing a regional bank between the two countries. (ISNA) (Press TV) (E)
- Iran announces plans to build refinery in Indonesia with Chinese investment. Hassan Khosrojerdi, the head of the Iranian Oil Products Exporters Union, announced plans for the construction of an $8.4 billion refinery in Indonesia. Khosrojerdi claimed that all “work related to the construction has been finalized” but noted that Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company has not yet signed an oil purchase agreement to refine Iranian crude oil at the location. Khosrojerdi also told reporters that “Iran and Indonesia will possess 30 and 20 percent of the refinery’s share respectively, while the remaining portion will be owned by China.” A delegation of Indonesian oil officials is currently in Iran to discuss the agreement with Iranian officials, according to Khosrojerdi. (Mehr News Agency)