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 Shayda Pendleton. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Key takeaway: Major General Hassan Firouzabadi rejected the possibility of electing a Leadership Council in lieu of a single Supreme Leader.

Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief Major General Firouzabadi reacted to Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s November 13 comments on the possibility of the Assembly of Experts electing a Leadership Council in place of a Supreme Leader. Firouzabadi stressed that the seditionists are using the idea of a Leadership Council as a “new gimmick,” and argued that such a council would break the “strength of [Iran’s] unity against America and the Zionists.”

Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, filed his candidacy for the fifth Assembly of Experts elections.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that there seems to be “no consensus” on certain major issues in the Syria peace talks in New York during a press conference on December 18.

National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission members Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani and Vahid Ahmadi stated that any new missile-related sanctions “would violate” and “damage” the nuclear deal.

A Fatimiyoun Brigade member killed in Syria was buried in the northern province of Alborz.

Matthew McInnis analyzes recent reports of Iran’s drawdown in Syria, and explains the movement is more likely to be a pre-planned redeployment, re-consolidation ahead of negotiations, or simply disinformation, in his latest blog post, “Is Iran recalibrating in Syria?

Domestic Politics

  • Firouzabadi criticizes suggestion of a “Leadership Council.” Armed Forces General Staff Chief Major General Hassan Firouzabadi wrote an open letter to the Iranian people censuring the possibility of a “Leadership Council” in lieu of a single Supreme Leader. 
    • “Today, [now] that the sword of sedition is dull – a new gimmick called the “council” will be used as a constitutional strategy for emergency conditions with a council plan in the Assembly of Experts, a dynamic…Supreme Leader in the country.”  
    • “The people must be aware that the key to breaking the internal strength of Islamic Iran’s authority, today, is this word ‘council.’ The people who use this word are the ones who cause trouble for Friday prayer leaders…those who….remained silent [regarding] the extremists deconstructing the sacred system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
    • “Never in history have we seen a conciliar imamate [Shi’a doctrine of leadership of the Muslim community] and a conciliar commander-in-chief.”
    •  “If a council replaces the position of the absolute guardianship of the jurist which is defined in the Constitution...the strength of [Iran’s] unity against America and the Zionists and the imperialist and reactionary enemies will be broken.”
    • “Public consciousness and awakening is necessary so that no damage is done to the country [and] the path of the enemy’s influence to break the country and the revolution, God forbid, is not opened.” (Defa Press)
  • Hassan Khomeini registers candidacy for Assembly of Experts. Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, filed his candidacy for the fifth Assembly of Experts elections. (YJC)
  • Larijani rumored to have joined Principlist coalition. Iranian media outlets have reported that Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has joined the Principlist coalition following the conclusion of the “four-person meetings” between himself, former Parliament Speaker Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, and Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadaei.
    • Larijani ally denies claims. The head of the Followers of the Velayat political faction, Parliamentarian Kazem Jalali, denied media reports that Larijani and the Followers of the Velayat political faction have joined the Principlist Coalition. (Jahan News) (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Candidates continue to register for Assembly of Experts elections. Head of Iran’s elections committee, Mohammad Hossein Moghimi announced that 86 candidates have filed their candidacy in the first two days of registration for the Assembly of Experts elections. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Bahonar: The Reformists will have an “expanded presence” in the elections. Principlist Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Bahonar warned that due to the “expanded presence of the Reformists in the elections compared to years past...there needs to be unity within the various parts of the Principlist movement.” (Fars News Agency
  • Ayatollah Kermani appoints a prominent Principlist as his advisor. Combatant Clergy Association Secretary General Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani appointed Hojjat ol Eslam Yadollah Habibi as his advisor. Kermani stated that his decision was based on Habibi’s “precious qualifications and record” of serving the Islamic Republic. Habibi served as the Supreme Leader’s Representative in the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics and Secretary General of the Resistance Front of Islamic Iran. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Alam ol Hoda: The enemy is trying to subvert the clergy. Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader and Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda warned of enemy “conspiracies” aimed at creating divisions “between the clergy and the elite” during his Friday prayer sermon. (Fars News Agency)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Foreign Minister Zarif: There is “no consensus” on major issues. Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed the press about the Syrian peace talks in New York on December 18. The Foreign Minister stated that there seems to be “no consensus” on two important issues and that he has yet to see an agreeable list of Syrian opposition groups. Zarif stressed that the Syrian opposition must meet “conditions” set for qualified opposition groups. He added that identifiable “members of al-Qaeda do not satisfy the conditions.” Zarif also announced that the peace talks are scheduled to resume on January 1, 2016. (Entekhab) (Press TV) (E)
  • Khatami encourages attendance at demonstrations over clashes in Nigeria. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami discussed the recent clashes between the Nigerian military and Shi’as, Turkey’s deployment of soldiers to Iraq, and the IAEA’s closure of the file on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program during Friday Prayers in Tehran. 
    • Khatami denounced the “heinous crimes” of the Nigerian military; “I can say with certainty that hundreds of Shi’a were slaughtered in this crime…even the bodies [of the victims] were not delivered to their families. This is a Zionist crime.”
    • Khatami thanked the grand ayatollahs and other officials for expressing their sympathy for those affected in the violence and encouraged the faithful to attend a rally after Friday Prayers “in condemnation of [the military’s] crimes.”
    • Khatami stressed the importance of the people’s participation in the Assembly of Experts, stating that while the Guardian Council determines competency, the people select the “fittest” candidate. Khatami suggested that the people determine the fittest candidate by looking at “his friends;” he stated, “If those who support him are pious and have values, he [the candidate] is a good person…”
    • On Turkey’s deployment to Iraq: “[Turkey’s] invasion of Iraq was pro-American; we therefore say to our neighbors, learn from Saddam [Hussein], America will use you as a tool.”
    • On the PMD file closure: “This case was closed with the efforts of respected officials; I therein congratulate the President and the negotiating team.” (ISNA) (Fars News Agency)


Military and Security

  • Parliamentarian: Any new missile-related sanctions will violate the spirit of the nuclear deal. Vahid Ahmadi discussed Iran’s test firing of the Emad ballistic missile during an interview with Islamic Consultative News Agency. The Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission’s Foreign Relations Committee stated:
    • “The claims that Iran’s missile testing, including the test firing of the Emad missile, violated the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution, is completely incorrect.”
    • “Even if this claim were true, the Islamic Republic would not limit its missile-related activity.”
    • “Iran several times has said that none of Iran’s missiles are missiles with nuclear warheads.”
    • “In the case that new missile related sanctions [are imposed] by America, this move would violate the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)...” (ICANA)
  • Sani: Any missile-related sanctions would damage the nuclear deal. Mohammad Reza Mohseni Sani warned that any “new missile related sanctions would damage the nuclear deal” during a news interview. The NSFP Commission member stated, “In the JCPOA and the nuclear negotiations, it was emphasized that there would be no imposition of new sanctions…” (Majles News)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Fatimiyoun Brigade fighter killed in Syria. Mohammad Reza Ali Zadeh was buried in Alborz province. (Ghatreh)
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