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 Mehrdad Moarefian, Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Pendleton. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani reiterated his call for fair elections, while his conservative opposition escalated anti-reformist rhetoric ahead of the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections in February 2016.

President Rouhani insisted on open and transparent elections; he urged the Iranian nation to mobilize as a unified “power” in the upcoming elections. Rouhani appealed to “all apparatuses” of government to facilitate “legal” elections. Rouhani’s political adversaries, meanwhile, warned of threats to the Islamic Revolution from “counter-revolutionary” elements. Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami suggested that anti-revolutionary currents want to destabilize the political structure of the regime. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi stressed that “the Assembly of Experts must not become an arena for sedition and seditionists.”

Political infighting continues to fuel rumors of a Reformist coalition headed by Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and former Speaker Hojjat ol Eslam Nategh Nouri. Principlist Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari criticized the Reformist bloc for failing to produce a serious agenda for the Iranian nation. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member claimed that reformists shift factional alliances in every election cycle. Kowsari added that in the run-up to the February 2016 elections, reformists are filing “under Nategh Nouri and Ali Larijani’s umbrella.”

Matthew McInnis and Jordan Olmstead analyze domestic criticism of President Hassan Rouhani’s economic policies in their latest blog, “Is Rouhani’s image as economic savior crumbling?

Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani calls for competitive elections. President Hassan Rouhani discussed his expectations for the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections during a cabinet meeting in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi province, on December 11. Rouhani emphasized that elections must be “legal, healthy, and lively” and called for “each Parliament… to be stronger than the previous Parliament.” He added that he hopes the elections will be a “manifestation of unity, national power, and greater solidarity of the Iranian nation.” Rouhani also called for “all apparatuses” to work towards creating such elections and stated, “All those interested in serving the people must be represented in the elections.”
    • On terrorism: Rouhani condemned “violence and terrorism” in the name of Islam. He stated, “Unfortunately, terrorists who have no relation whatsoever with the commandments of the Quran and Islam call themselves Muslims; this very issue causes world’s opinion to reach an incorrect verdict on Islam and Muslims… Showing Islam’s true face of mercy and compassion will attract the world’s opinion.” (
  • Interior Minister initiates Assembly of Experts elections. Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli ordered administrative processes for the Assembly of Experts elections to begin on December 12. The Interior Minister specified that candidates can submit their names for consideration from December 17 until December 23. Voting will take place on February 26, 2016. (IRIB)
  • Khatami: Anything encouraging Iran-U.S. relations counts as malign influence. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami discussed the threat of Western influence in Iran and the forthcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader and Assembly of Experts member stated:
    • “Some whisper of negotiation and a relationship with America and seek to lessen hatred against America within Iran. A gentleman says that the JCPOA negotiations were such that we have established a relationship with America, [but] there is nothing other than anti-arrogance in our relations with America.” 
    • “Since Eid al Fitr [a religious holiday in mid-July marking the end of Ramadan] until now, the Supreme Leader has raised the word ‘influence’ 80 times.”
    • “Political and economic influence – and even worse than these, cultural influence – exist… Anything which seeks to lessen the people’s hatred of a relationship with America is influential.”
    • Khatami also censured “some articles and papers which intend to whitewash America’s image.” He also stated that “any movement which tries to lessen the people’s religiousness, such as musical concerts, are ‘influence’ movements.”
    • Khatami also stated that “destroying the political system and allying it with the counter-revolutionaries must not occur in the [parliamentary and Assembly of Experts] elections.” He also warned that in the forthcoming elections, “officials and observers… must act in a law-oriented fashion; any violations will be met with legal action.” (ISNA)
  • Sedighi: The Guardian Council has the right to approve or reject candidates for office. Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi stressed the importance of the Guardian Council in vetting candidates for public office during his Friday prayer sermon. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader claimed that “from day one” the Guardian Council has had “approbation supervision” over elections. Sedighi added that “people inclined towards the West” have also opposed the Guardian Council “from day one.” Sedighi also stated:
    • “In order to put some key positions of the country into the hands of the people, some jurists and experts in Islamic law… must review the qualifications of these individuals.”
    • “These experts in Islamic law are not trampling on the rights of the people. It is the right of the people to have good officials.”
    • “The Assembly of Experts must not become an arena for sedition and seditionists.”
    • “Our political system is an Islamic political system with the guardianship of the jurist. The jurists and experts in Islamic law of the Guardian Council have the responsibility to review and to supervise.”
    • “This sort of movement [against the Guardian Council] always comes from those who are worried that they will not be elected.”
    • “The Guardian Council, the IRGC, the Basij… these are always hated by our enemies. But you who are inside the country, why do you sound the same and cause conflict in this way?”
    • Sedighi stated that some Iranians want to become candidates in elections despite “knowing that their qualifications will not be approved” by the Guardian Council. (Fars News Agency) (ISNA)
  • Alam ol Hoda: The enemy wants to infiltrate Iran through the economy. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda condemned increasing economic ties with “the enemy” during his Friday prayer sermon. The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader claimed that the rationale behind “expanding relations with the enemy to remove economic problems” stems from “the influence of the enemy.” (Rasa News)
  • Reformist camp pursues prominent cleric and scholar. Reformists from Yazd province are reportedly gauging Ayatollah Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad’s interest in entering the Assembly of Experts elections. Damad is a Reformist and a leading scholar and philosopher in Iran. Currently, he is a ranking Islamic law professor at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. (ILNA)
  • Kowsari: Reformists have failed to produce a clear manifesto. Principlist Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari claimed that reformists do not know what they are pursuing. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member stated that reformists “are bewildered, and an individual who is bewildered in agenda-setting will also be bewildered with their own policies.” Kowsari added that the reformists are not independent, stating, “In each [election] cycle, they [the reformists] go under the umbrella of a single person… Sometimes they go under the umbrella of Rouhani and [Ayatollah Ali Akbar] Hashemi [Rafsanjani], and in this cycle they want to go under Nategh Nouri and Ali Larijani’s umbrella.” (Alef)  



  • Economic and Finance Minister to address Parliament on fiscal policy. Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani told reporters that Economic and Finance Minister Ali Tayyeb Nia is scheduled to address the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission on the Rouhani administration’s fiscal policies on December 13. The NSFP Commission member claimed that the administration’s policies “have created discontent in society.” (ICANA)


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Fatimiyoun Brigade “senior commander” killed in Aleppo. Hossein Fardaei was a “senior commander” of the Afghan Shi’a Fatimiyoun Brigade. He was killed in Aleppo on December 10. No rank was provided. (Tasnim News Agency
    • Hossein Dadahmadi, who was from Afghanistan, was “recently” killed in Syria. He will be buried in Kashan, Isfahan province. No unit affiliation or rank was reported. (Fars News Agency
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