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: Assembly of Experts Chairman and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi warned that some candidates for the Assembly of Experts elections have “other, hidden goals.”

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi called for Iranians to remember the importance of the Assembly of Experts elections and claimed that they “must not be in the shadow of the parliamentary elections.” The Assembly of Experts Chairman and Guardian Council member warned, “Eight hundred individuals have signed up for the Assembly of Experts elections, and it seems that there are other, hidden goals for some of these people. We must be careful.” According to numbers released by the Interior Ministry, 801 candidates officially registered for the Assembly of Experts elections.

Approximately 8,167 candidates have filed for the upcoming parliamentary elections as of December 24. Registration will close for Parliament on December 25.

Iranian news outlets reported that IRGC Colonel Abbas Alizadeh was killed in Syria.

Matthew McInnis critiques the argument that the U.S. should hasten sanctions relief in order to empower moderate Iranian leaders or avoid raising the ire of hardliners in his latest blog post, “The U.S. can’t play Iranian domestic politics.

Domestic Politics

  • Ayatollah Yazdi: We must be careful about the Assembly of Experts elections. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi called for Iranians to remember the “importance of the Assembly of Experts.” He stated that the elections for the Assembly of Experts “must not be in the shadow of the parliamentary elections.” The Assembly of Experts Chairman and Guardian Council member continued, “The most important element of the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the Assembly of Experts because the Supreme Leader is elected by this assembly.” Yazdi also stated:
    • “Eight hundred individuals have signed up for the Assembly of Experts elections, and it seems that there are other, hidden goals for some of these people. We must be careful.”
    • “Members of the Assembly of Experts must have certain qualifications… Even though registering for elections for the Assembly of Experts is free, I have seen a woman wearing an inappropriate hijab register for these elections. Officials have said that registering is free and that there is no problem, but this situation is not appropriate.” (Mashregh News) (Fars News Agency)
  • 801 candidates register for Assembly of Experts elections. According to the Interior Ministry’s latest numbers, 801 candidates registered for the Assembly of Experts elections, which are slated to be held in February 2016. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Over 8,000 register for parliamentary elections. As of December 24, approximately 8,167 candidates have filed for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Hassan Bayadi, the Secretary-General of the Young Developers Society, registered as a candidate for parliamentary elections on December 23; he told reporters that Abdol Hossein Rouholamini, Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei’s representative to the Principlist Coalition Council, has registered as well. (ILNA) (Mehr News Agency)
  • Motahari: “I will protest if they reject my qualifications, but I will not beg!” Conservative Parliamentarian Ali Motahari spoke with reporters after registering his candidacy for the parliamentary elections. He stated that he would protest any rejection of his qualifications and reiterated his previous comments about the Assembly of Experts’ oversight over the Supreme Leader:
    • “It is clearly understood from the Constitution that the Assembly of Experts has the responsibility to oversee the Supreme Leader… It is a duty in the Constitution that the Assembly of Experts monitors the conditions of the Supreme Leader. An official in an office that cannot be criticized is not only dangerous for that official but also for Islam.” (ILNA)
  • Ghalibaf and Velayati representatives named in Principlist Coalition. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati and Mayor of Tehran Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf introduced their respective representatives to the Principlist Coalition Council. The managing editor of the newspaper Hamshahri, Mehdi Zakeri, was named Ghalibaf’s representative, while National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi was named Velayati’s representative. Zakeri was also named a member of an “action committee” following a December 20 resolution that formed several subcommittees within the Principlist Coalition. (Alef)
  • Velayati: The Principlists will submit a single list to Parliament. Ali Akbar Velayati discussed the upcoming elections on the sidelines of a visit with “Iraqi cultural activists.” The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor called for greater voter turnout in the elections and claimed that the Principlists “have decided to present one list [of candidates] for the parliamentary elections.” (Entekhab)
  • Shirazi: Candidates must respect the results of the elections. Grand Ayatollah Makarem Naser Shirazi stressed the importance of respecting both the people’s vote and the results of the upcoming elections during a speech at Qom. He stated that participating political groups, candidates, and factions must refrain “from destroying one another.” Shirazi also stated the candidates must avoid “giving the people false promises” and argued that “false promises may be effective on naïve people, but… will cause mistrust and the distancing of the people.” (Rasa News)
  • Nobakht: Some national television stations have become partisan. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht criticized the decision by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) not to air an interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on December 21. The Rouhani administration spokesman claimed that some “national” television stations have become “partisan” and added, “IRIB has proven many times that it is only trying to find some problem, highlight it, and attribute it to the administration!” (Asiran)
  • Nategh Nouri: Society needs pluralism. Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri stressed the importance of political plurality during a recent speech. The former Parliament Speaker stated, “If we are not able to tolerate each other’s political viewpoints, society will not advance.” Nouri also praised his record as Parliament Speaker in the Fifth Parliament (1996-2000), explaining that he behaved in such a way so that “there was no tension between the parliamentary majority and minority for even one day.” (Entekhab)


Military and Security

  • Pakpour discusses security in Sistan va Baluchistan province. Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour discussed domestic and regional security during the inauguration ceremony of several field hospitals in Sistan va Baluchistan province. The IRGC Ground Forces Commander stated that “9,000 popular forces have been absorbed into the IRGC to provide security for Sistan va Baluchistan province.” Pakpour added that the IRGC “has a people-centric and anti-poverty approach on its agenda next to the provision of security for Sistan va Baluchistan and the border regions of this province.” (Basij Press)


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC Colonel killed in Syria. IRGC Col. Abbas Alizadeh was from Juybar, Mazandaran province. He is reported to have “retired” from the IRGC and “volunteered” to fight in Syria. He is also reportedly the 12th Iranian casualty from Mazandaran province in Syria. (Shahid News) (Fars News Agency)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Larijani: Some regional states are seeking to revive past empires. Ali Larijani called the economy “the primary issue” facing Iran during speeches in Qom on December 24. The Parliament Speaker credited poor economic conditions “partially to mismanagement and partially to the use of sanctions… The solution to this issue is perseverance, the realization of the Resistance Economy, and support for production.” He also stated:
    • “In current conditions, some problems have been created due to some regional countries’ mischief and the lowering of the price of oil. Of course, they imagined that with these actions, the West’s bargaining power with Iran on the nuclear issue would increase. This fantasy of theirs was a mistake.”
    • On regional issues: “Some regional countries are currently pursuing erroneous policies. Some are also seeking to revive their own past empires, but the era of empires has certainly come to an end. This is wishful thinking, and it will have great costs for the region.”
    • “The terrorists’ thoughts certainly have no relationship with Islamic sects. All the various sects of Sunni Islam reject and deny the positions and thoughts of ISIS and regional terrorist groups. It is only the Wahhabis. Therefore one must not connect the thoughts of ISIS with Islam.”
    • Larijani stated that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, “Iran strove to propose solutions that are to the benefit of the Syrian nation. At that time, a group inside and outside Iran said, ‘Why is Iran standing against the terrorists and paying the price?’ But today those same countries and individuals have been faced [with how] Iran has taken a precise and calculated stance and [how] the perseverance of the Islamic Republic against terrorism has been a correct act.”
    • “Countries that strong-armed in the past… have been caught up in current conditions and are declaring that regional stability is impossible without Iran.” (Fars News Agency) (Mehr News Agency)
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