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. 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: Iran and Boeing finalized an agreement for the purchase of 80 commercial aircraft in a move that will revitalize Iran’s aging civilian fleet.
Iran Air Chairman Farhad Parvaresh specified that Boeing will deliver the planes over the course of 10 years and that the first deliveries will be made in April 2018. The $16.6 billion deal is the largest agreement between Iran and an American company since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Boeing agreed to the sales despite pledges by President-elect Donald Trump to rip up or renegotiate the terms of the nuclear agreement, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in January 2016. The Boeing deal will help modernize Iran’s antiquated fleet after years of sanctions prevented the purchase of new aircraft. There are significant concerns over Iran’s documented use of civilian aircraft to transport cargo on behalf of the IRGC, however. For more information on Iran’s military use of civilian airlines, particularly in support of its ongoing activities in Syria, please see “Iran’s Airbridge to Syria.”
- Paul Bucala and Marie Donovan analyze recent changes to Iran’s military command structure in “A New Era for Iran’s Military Leadership.”
- J. Matthew McInnis and Ashton Gilmore argue that understanding Iran’s use of force is essential to prepare for potential crises with Tehran and develop effective strategies to respond to a modernizing Iranian military in “Iran at War: Understanding why and how Tehran uses military force.”
Iran, Boeing finalize deal for 80 jetliners. Iran Air Chairman Farhad Parvaresh confirmed that Iran and Boeing have finalized a deal for the purchase of 80 aircraft during the agreement’s signing ceremony in Tehran on December 11. The agreement is worth $16.6 billion for 80 planes, which will be delivered to Iran over the next 10 years. Parvaresh specified that the first deliveries will take place in April 2018. Separately, Airbus and Iran are reportedly at the “very final stage” of an agreement for the purchase of dozens of planes. (Tasnim News Agency)
Khatam ol Anbia Construction headquarters commander criticizes agreement with Hyundai. IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Headquarters Commander Brig. Gen. 2C Abdollah Abdollahi criticized the recently announced agreement between Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries for the construction of ten container ships. Abdollahi called upon President Hassan Rouhani to “cancel the agreement” and transfer the contract to domestic companies. Abdollahi mentioned Iran Marine Industrial Company as one possible choice. Coincidentally, Khatam ol Anbia owns or controls Iran Marine Industrial Company. (Tasnim News Agency)
- First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri defended the contract and claimed that it had originally been signed in 2008 but was suspended after the imposition of sanctions. (Eqtesad Online)
- Managing Editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan Hossein Shariatmadari criticized the deal in an editorial. He accused the Rouhani administration of “ignoring the problems of the people.” (Fars News Agency)
- IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari commended Khatam ol Anbia’s focus on “domestic production” during a meeting with Khatam ol Anbia officials. (Fars News Agency)
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
Defense minister: Donald Trump’s election has caused unease in the region. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan commented on the impact of the U.S. presidential elections on regional stability during remarks at a conference in Tehran on December 11. He stated, “The president-elect, despite the fact that he is a businessman, has chosen advisors that might chart a different course for him. This election has led to some deal of worry in some countries, particularly in the Persian Gulf.” Dehghan added, “It is possible that the enemy may want to impose a war on us based upon false conclusions and only relying upon their material capabilities… The result of such a conflict would be the destruction of the city-states along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf.” He also stated:
- “Based on evidence and regional indicators, it is expected that after ISIS is defeated in Iraq, it will go to Central Asia or Libya or toward the Jordanian border.”
- “Currently, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen are practically on the verge of breakdown. Continuation of this trend could lead to the formation of new political entities. The climates in Iraq and the Kurdish canton and autonomous regions in Syria and Yemen are tangible examples of this trend.” Dehghan stressed that “timely and accurate management of the conflict in Mosul” is necessary for a sustainable peace after ISIS withdraws from the city. He stated that “the first step” of this management requires other countries “to abstain” from provoking ethnic conflict. (Tasnim News Agency) (Shargh)
Khamenei meets with senior Iraqi parliamentarian. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) leader Ammar al Hakim in Tehran on December 11. Khamenei praised recent developments in Iraq “as being beneficial to Iran.” He also “expressed pleasure” over the policies of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi, in particular toward the Popular Mobilization units (PMUs), some of which enjoy close ties to Iran. He added, “The popular mobilization… must be strengthened and supported.” (Mizan Online)
Zarif meets with PIJ head. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Head Ramadan Shallah in Tehran to discuss regional developments. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani also met with Shallah. (Fars News Agency)
Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan: We have contact with the Taliban. Tehran’s ambassador to Kabul, Mohammad Reza Bahrami, claimed that Iran “has contact with the Taliban, not a relationship,” during an interview with an Afghan news agency. He added that the Iranian government is “interested in building the groundwork for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.” Tehran has been implicated multiple times in providing financial and material support to the Taliban. Most recently, a hardline Iranian news agency reported that former Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour held “various negotiations with different organizations” in Iran over a two-month period before being killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan on May 21. In a 2015 article, the Wall Street Journal reported that Tehran has ramped up its support for the Taliban and operates at least four training camps for the group, citing a Taliban commander and Afghan officials. Afghan lawmakers have recently called for an official inquiry into Taliban-Iran relations. (Asr Iran)
Parliamentarian: There are more than one million Iranians ready to fight in Syria and Iraq. Abolfazl Hassan Beigi, a member of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told reporters that “more than a million individuals in Iran are in line to fight in Syria and Iraq.” He also praised the role of Iranian students as a source of manpower in the Syrian conflict, stating that a “considerable number of these individuals are young and teenagers.” (Mizan Online)
Foreign Ministry condemns prison sentence for prominent Bahraini cleric. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi condemned the decision by a Bahraini court to uphold the prison sentence for Bahraini cleric Sheikh Ali Salman, the al Wefaq party secretary-general who was arrested by Bahraini security forces in December 2014. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Separately, Ghassemi also denounced comments made by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir in a recent press conference accusing Iran of supporting terrorism. Ghassemi criticized the two diplomats as trying to “cover up their own roles in supporting takfiri terrorism.” (Fars News Agency)
Military & Security
- Artesh ground forces hold military drills in southeast Iran. The Artesh Ground Forces launched a multi-day exercise named the Mohammad Rasoul Allah 4 exercise in southeastern Iran on December 11. Artesh Brig. Gen. Kamal Payambar, the spokesman for the exercises, claimed that the exercises involve “multiple units from the Artesh Ground Forces with support from the Artesh Air Force and the Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base.” He noted that the Artesh Ground Forces Velayat Headquarters is responsible for coordinating the exercise. Payambar added that the first part of the exercise will involve “deploying [Artesh] quick reaction forces from other geographic areas to the operational area by ground and by air.” The Artesh stated earlier this year that it will focus on developing its quick reaction forces. (Farda News)
IRGC Commander: We expect the Basij’s role to become “more effective.” IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari called for the Basij to strengthen its activities in “various spheres” and pursue “effective and strategic” measures during his speech at a ceremony honoring the appointment of IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar as head of the Basij Organization. Jafari also praised former Basij Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi’s record and noted that his new position as IRGC cultural deputy requires coordinating with the Basij. Brig. Gen. Mohammad Shirazi, the head of the Military Bureau in the Supreme Leader’s Office, also spoke at the ceremony. (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
Defense minister to travel to South Africa. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan departed for South Africa as part of an official visit at the invitation of the South African defense minister. The Artesh Navy 44th Fleet recently visited a port in South Africa during its tripalong the African coast and reportedly into the Atlantic. (Tasnim News Agency)
- New Basij Commander: The Green Movement leaders are “political filth.” Basij Organization Head IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar claimed that Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, the reformist leaders of the 2009 Green Movement protests, are “political filth” and could “not be cleaned with the water from the Zamzam well,” a reference to a sacred well near the city of Mecca. Gheibparvar added that “one of his greatest honors was acting decisively” as an IRGC officer during the protests. (Asr Iran)