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: Senior officials praised the results of the negotiations between Iran, Russia, and Turkey on brokering a ceasefire in Syria.
The foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, and Turkey met in Moscow on December 20 to draw up a roadmap for ending the ongoing crisis in Syria. The three sides released an eight-point statement called the “Moscow Declaration” outlining general priorities and abstract principles that any peace agreement should contain, including ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. The statement also stressed the three countries’ “readiness” to act as a guarantor for any political agreement between the Syrian government and the opposition. Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati praised Turkey for holding negotiations with Russia and Iran and added that the talks “formed a premise for achieving… the liberation of the Syrian government and people from the hands of foreigners.” Questions remain over whether the three countries can overcome their differences to formulate a peace accord, however.
- 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.”
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
Velayati hails “Moscow Declaration.” Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati praised the December 20 meeting of the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, and Turkey regarding the Syrian crisis as a “major development.” He stated, “In the past, Iran and Russia have been on one side, and Turkey on the other. Today, however, these three countries have formed the premise for achieving… the liberation of the Syrian government and people from the hands of foreigners.” Velayati “expressed hope that through this meeting, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the legitimate government of Syria will be stabilized, the people will escape this ruinous war, the terrorists will be driven out of Syria, and Syria will be out of the hands of foreigners.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Asr Iran)
Shamkhani praises trilateral ministerial meeting. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani applauded the trilateral negotiations between the Iranian, Russian, and Turkish foreign ministers for “completely supporting the independence and sovereignty of Syria and giving priority to the political process.” Shamkhani added that the results of the talks represent the “true strategy of the Islamic Republic since the outbreak of terrorism in Syria.” (Fars News Agency)
“Informed source” denies Iranian casualty in Yemen. The IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency ran a report quoting an “informed source” denying Yemeni reports that an Iranian officer had been killed in Yemen. A Yemeni military commander had claimed that a Saudi-led coalition airstrike killed an Iranian commander and two Lebanese engineers in Hajjah governorate. Iran has consistently denied the presence of Iranian operatives on the ground in Yemen, although Iran has been implicated in supplying light weapons to Houthi forces. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Hardline parliamentarian: UNSC Resolution 2231 does not prevent Soleimani from traveling to other countries. National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member Javad Karimi Ghodousi dismissed U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby’s recent comment that IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s visit to Aleppo constituted a violation of UNSC Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal and placed an international travel ban on Soleimani. (ANA)
Deputy foreign minister travels to Syria, Lebanon. Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari traveled to Syria to meet with Syrian President Bashar al Assad and senior Syrian officials. Ansari is also slated to travel to Lebanon. (Fars News Agency)
Iran limits consular services in Turkey. The Iranian embassy in Turkey released a statement announcing that Iran’s consulates in Istanbul, Trabzon, Erzurum, and Ankara will operate on a limited schedule on December 22 and 23. The statement also warned against visiting the diplomatic missions other than during the specified times. This announcement comes in response to the recent assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey and demonstrations outside of Iranian diplomatic facilities in Turkey. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Rouhani visits Armenia. President Hassan Rouhani met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan on December 21 as part of his broader tour of Central Asia. The tour will include visits to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Iranian and Armenian officials signed five memoranda of understanding aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries in cultural and economic spheres. (President.ir)
Military & Security
Iran and Iraq stage joint naval drills. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense stated that the Artesh Navy and the Iraqi Navy staged a drill at the mouth of the Shatt al Arab waterway bordering the Persian Gulf. The two sides reportedly staged a drill in the same location on December 15. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Pourdastan highlights facets of U.S.’s conflict against Iran. Artesh Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan stated that the U.S. is using “the same methods with new actors” to conduct a “combined war” against Iran, including “launching proxy wars in the region, violating the nuclear deal, and perpetuating soft war, whose main target is the young people,” during a speech at Shahid Sattari Aviation University. (Khabar Online) (Fars News Agency) (E)
- Iran arrests 1,200 “cyber criminals” in first eight months of 2016. Tehran’s police chief, Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Brig. Gen.Hossein Sajedinia, announced that 986 men and 298 women had been arrested for “cyber crimes” that violated “moral, social, and economic” laws. (Mehr News Agency)
Parliamentarian claims that foreign minister called JCPOA a “mistake.” Hardline parliamentarian Javad Karimi Ghodousi provided journalists with excerpts of a speech Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif allegedly gave to Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy commission. Ghodousi accused Zarif of admitting he was “wrong in trusting [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry” and that the he “accepts responsibility for the mistake of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].” (Tabnak)
- Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi called Ghodousi’s claims “untrue and unethical.” Ghassemi stated that Ghodousi was not present at the commission’s meeting with Zarif. Ghassemi also stressed that leaking the details of such confidential meetings is against the national security interests of Iran. (IRNA)