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: Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei claimed that the “alliance” between Russia, Turkey, and Iran “must be strengthened.”
Rezaei’s comments come days after the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, and Turkey released the “Moscow Declaration” outlining priorities for brokering a peace deal in Syria. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati appeared to refer to the talks -- which noticeably did not include the U.S. -- when he stated that “recent developments show that tremendous gains such as the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region can be achieved without America and the West.”
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s recently unveiled “Citizen Rights Charter” for failing to “respect the Constitution.” On December 19, Rouhani released the 120-article “Citizen Rights Charter” that includes protections for freedom of speech, assembly, and privacy and notes citizens’ rights to clean water. Yazdi claimed that Rouhani’s decision to release the charter failed to comply with the normal procedures of parliamentary and Guardian Council review. He stated, “This charter is not a resolution or legislation. Rather it is election propaganda and contrary to the law.” The charter is likely part of Rouhani’s outreach to reformist and moderate groups ahead of the May 2017 presidential elections. Rouhani made the creation of a human rights charter part of his presidential campaign platform in 2013, but has focused most his first term on economic issues and the nuclear negotiations.
- 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
Rezaei: Iran-Russia-Turkey alliance must be strengthened. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei discussed the recent negotiations between Iran, Turkey, and Russia regarding the crisis in Syria, Iran’s foreign policy in the region, and the Rouhani administration’s response to the U.S.’s renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) during an interview on state-run television on December 21. He stated:
- On the negotiations: Rezaei stressed that “this three-way alliance must be strengthened in the short term… The Turkish government is concerned about America, and this country [Turkey] is facing two different paths...”
- He also stated that “the liberation of Aleppo shows that the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy in Syria and Iraq has been entirely logical. From the beginning, we stated that the legitimate government of Syria must be recognized and that any intervention is doomed to fail.”
On Rouhani’s response to the ISA’s renewal: Rezaei called the Rouhani administration’s response to the ISA’s renewal, including its call to develop nuclear-powered ships, “insufficient.” He continued, “The government should do more; it is the duty of the Supreme National Security Council and [Iran’s] JCPOA Supervisory Board.” He added that Iran’s “foreign policy reputation must not be tarnished.” Iran’s JCPOA Supervisory Board is a panel charged with monitoring the implementation of the nuclear deal under the supervision of the SNSC. (Bartarinha)
Velayati: We don’t need the West to defeat terrorism and extremism. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati stated, “Recent developments show that tremendous gains such as the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region can be achieved without America and the West,” during a meeting with Syrian Ambassador to Iran Adnan Hassan Mahmoud. Velayati continued, “Efforts must made to preserve these continuous victories, as the enemies will make greater efforts to defeat the Resistance.” Iran uses the term “Axis of Resistance” to refer to its network of allies and proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Rouhani travels to Kazakhstan. President Hassan Rouhani met with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana as part of his larger Central Asia tour. The two signed five memoranda of understanding for increasing cooperation between their countries, including in tourism, transportation, and banking. On the sidelines of the visit, officials from Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) signed an agreement with Kazakhstan’s KTZ Express to expand cross-border trade between the two countries. Rouhani will complete his Central Asia tour with a trip to Kyrgyzstan. (Press TV) (Mehr News Agency)
Yazdi: Rouhani’s “Citizen Rights Charter” is unconstitutional. Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s recently unveiled “Citizen Rights Charter,” which includes protections for freedom of speech, assembly, and privacy and notes citizens’ rights to clean water. Yazdi claimed that the document is “not a resolution or legislation. Rather it is election propaganda and contrary to the law.” He added,
- “If this charter is some sort of legislation it should be sent to Parliament and reviewed by the Guardian Council. If this is some sort of government decree, it should be sent to the parliament speaker so it can be reviewed as to whether it violates the Constitution.“
- “Unfortunately, this is the first time that such a document has been directly sent to the people...and it does not respect the Constitution.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Former IRGC Commander: I am not planning on running in the 2017 presidential elections. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei told reporters that he currently has “no plan” for running in the 2017 presidential elections. Rezaei ran in both the 2009 and the 2013 presidential elections. Rezaei, however, appeared to return officially to active duty in 2015. Active-duty IRGC personnel are forbidden from participating in elections. For more on Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, please see “Iran Presidential Election Tracker: Updates and Analysis.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Airbus deal signed. Farhad Pavaresh, the managing director of Iran Air, announced that Iran Air and Airbus have signed a deal valued at “less than $10 billion” for the purchase of 100 aircraft. The two sides finalized the contract earlier this week. The initial agreement envisioned 118 aircraft valued at over $25 billion, but regulatory issues and domestic political pressure in Iran led to a more modest deal. Iran Air also finalized a $16.6 billion agreement for the purchase of 80 commercial aircraft from Boeing on December 11. (Khabar Online)
Military & Security
New Basij Commander meets with clerical leaders in Qom. IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar met with senior clerics in the city of Qom on December 22, including Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, and Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani. Gheibparvar warned that the “enemy has tried to defeat us through cultural tools rather than guns and bullets.” He added that the Basij “must be active in all affairs because the Basij is not a particular party or group but is the party of the Islamic Republic.” The recent appointment of Gheibparvar--- who has broad experience in managing IRGC Ground Forces units-- signals the regime’s intention to strengthen the military credentials of the Basij’s leadership.
- During the meeting, Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi claimed that Westerners are “terrified and worried about the expansion of the Basij.”
- Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani emphasized the need for “reinforcing” the Basij in “cultural and intellectual spheres.”
- Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi called upon the Basij to “pay more attention to the younger generation which will be entrusted with guarding the political system.” (Fars News Agency)