Iran News Round Up
The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.
Key takeaway: Senior Iranian officials called for electoral candidates to be vetted according to their stances on “sedition” ahead of the anniversary of the December 30 pro-government protests.
Iranian officials escalated rhetoric against “seditionists” as the registration period for parliamentary elections closed on December 25, initiating the review process for candidates’ qualifications. Guardian Council Spokesman Nejatollah Ebrahimian stated that candidates must not have “partnered or cooperated in the illegal acts that occurred” during the 2009 Green Movement protests, while Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the Guardian Council’s ability to vet unqualified candidates. Meanwhile, Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda warned against seditionists gaining power in the elections and added that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called the 2009 Green Movement protests a “red line.” The Guardian Council will submit a final list of qualified candidates for the Assembly of Experts by February 10 and a final list of candidates for Parliament by February 16 to the Interior Ministry.
Senior officials commemorated the anniversary of the December 30, 2009 pro-government protests, which were organized against the Green Movement protests earlier that year. Armed Forces General Staff Deputy IRGC Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri warned that those plotting against the Islamic Revolution will not be treated with the same “leniency” with which the “leaders and agents of sedition” during the Green Movement were treated.
Iranian news outlets reported that six Iranians were killed in Syria. One of them, IRGC Lieutenant Colonel Mohsen Faramazi, previously served as a bodyguard for Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani. Another, Davoud Javanmard, was a former employee of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
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.”
? Registration closes for parliamentary elections. The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that 12,123 candidates registered for parliamentary elections by the closing of the registration period on December 25. During the last parliamentary elections in 2012, only 5,283 candidates registered for elections.
o Several former ministers under presidents Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered for the parliamentary elections. Mohammad Soleimani, Ahmadinejad’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology; Hamidreza Haji Babaei, Ahmadinejad’s Education Minister and a former member of the Supreme National Security Council; Gholamreza Khajeh Sarvi, Ahmadinejad’s Deputy Science Minister; and Mohammad Nazemi Ardakani, Ahmadinejad’s Minister of Cooperatives, each registered. Ahmad Khorram, Khatami’s Minister of Roads and Transportation, registered as well. (IRNA) (Entekhab) (ISNA)
? Timelines announced for Guardian Council review. The Interior Ministry announced timetables and procedures for the review of candidates in the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections.
o For Parliament: Provincial panels will inform candidates of the results of their review on January 5. Candidates have until January 9 to file complaints regarding the rejection of their qualifications.
o Provincial supervisory boards will review candidates’ qualifications from January 10 to January 16.
o The Guardian Council will complete its review of the candidates from January 17 to February 5. The Guardian Council will then review any official complaints from candidates who have been rejected and will confirm all disqualifications. It will then submit a final list of candidates to the Ministry of Interior by February 16, which will be published by provincial governors by February 17.
? Ebrahimian: Candidates are currently being reviewed. Nejatollah Ebrahimian discussed the review of candidates for the upcoming elections during an interview with Mehr News Agency. The Guardian Council Spokesman stated:
o “The number of people who have registered as candidates for the first time is very large. Therefore, the number of individuals we have already reviewed as a proportion to all of the candidates is not very large.”
o “However, the information which we have collected before [when individuals registered as candidates in previous elections] will be able to help.”
o “The provincial panels have started reviewing the qualifications of the parliamentary candidates. Afterwards, it will be the turn of the provincial supervisory boards. Then it will be the Guardian Council’s turn.”
o The Guardian Council Spokesman stated that the Guardian Council will disclose information about the religious tests to determine qualifications for membership in the Assembly of Experts later this week.
o Ebrahimian: We must review the candidates’ responses to the Green movement. During a separate interview with Tasnim News Agency, Ebrahimian commented that the electoral candidates must not have “partnered or cooperated in the illegal acts that occurred in 1388 (the 2009 election protests).”
? Jannati: “Do all 800 people who registered for the Assembly of Experts consider themselves clergymen?” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati stated that “approbatory supervision” by the Guardian Council is “the right of the people” during his Friday prayer sermon in Tehran on December 25. The Guardian Council Secretary praised the Guardian Council’s ability to vet unqualified candidates and added, “I don’t understand where this culture in which some are saying that the people must determine qualifications came from. This means the law is nothing!” He added, “If you can wipe this pillar [the Guardian Council] from the Constitution, velayat-e faqih could also be eliminated with a referendum.”
o Jannati said that he views statistics reporting the increase in the number of electoral candidates as “ambiguous.” He stated, “Do all 800 people who registered for the Assembly of Experts consider themselves clergymen? Aren’t some of them incapable of clearly reading even one phrase in Arabic, the Quran, or a single book of religious jurisprudence? …It is the same for those who registered their candidacies for Parliament!”
o On sedition: Jannati called for maintaining domestic unity; he referenced the anniversary of the pro-government December 30 protests in 2009 and stated, “You the people, came to the stage… and in one day you put out the fires of the sedition. Now that this sedition has been silenced, why did some remain silent, not go alongside the people, and support or defend them off and on with [only] insinuations?” Jannati added that “the unity of December 30 must continue, and wherever there is a sedition, you the people must silence it.” (Mehr News Agency)
? Fazli: The government must be accountable to disqualified candidates. Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli discussed the evaluation of political candidates’ credentials in the upcoming elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts. The Interior Minister emphasized that the government must be “accountable” to issues arising from disqualifications and stated that the Guardian Council will act according to its powers of “approbatory supervision.” Fazli added, “We held a meeting with members of the Guardian Council and [Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad] Jannati, and we reached an agreement on all of these concepts so that, God willing, we can pursue our path with greater coordination in a lawful manner.”
o Fazli referenced the increase in the number of candidates from 493 in the last Assembly of Experts election to 801 this year and stated that he does not think there will be a “shortage of time” to examine their qualifications. He also called upon individuals who believe there is activity “behind the scenes” to inform “relevant [government] institutions.” (IRNA) (Entekhab)
? Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader: The Supreme Leader stated that our red line is sedition. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda warned against seditionists gaining power in the upcoming elections during his Friday prayer sermon in Mashhad on December 25. The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader and Assembly of Experts member accused the U.S. and Israel of “very clearly” aiding the 2009 protesters and added that “the seditionists’ home base is America.” He stated that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “declared from the start… that sedition is our red line.” (Mehr News Agency)
? Shiraz Friday Prayer Leader: The Guardian Council must pay “special attention” to Assembly of Experts elections. Ayatollah Asadollah Imani identified the Assembly of Experts as a uniquely powerful institution within the Iranian political system and called for the Guardian Council to pay “special attention” to elections for it during his Friday prayer sermon on December 25. The Shiraz Friday Prayer Leader specified that the Guardian Council has powers of “approbatory supervision” when vetting candidates and called for the Assembly of Experts to remain free of “political and factional issues.”
o Imani also referred to the 2009 election protests and stated, “The 2009 sedition is a red line for people who say that we believe in the Constitution and in the guardianship system... It is expected that this red line will be completely observed and maintained [in the elections], meaning that individuals should declare what their stances are in relation to sedition.” (Mehr News Agency)
? Resaei: The “great sedition” is still ahead. Principlist Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Hamid Resaei called Iranians to “be wary of the enemy’s plots” during a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the pro-government December 30 protests in 2009. Resaei added, “The seditions of the past have ended; however… the great sedition is still ahead.” (Fars News Agency)
? Hossein Fadaei: Rafsanjani's comments have polarized society. Society of the Self-Sacrificers Secretary Hossein Fadaei issued a statement criticizing Rafsanjani’s December 13 remarks that the Assembly of Experts’ constitutional duty includes supervising the Supreme Leader and the possibility of a “Leadership Council” replacing the Supreme Leader. Fadaei wrote:
o “The Constitution is opposed to the concept of a Leadership Council… The conversation about the ‘Leadership Council’ and the Assembly of Experts supervision over the Supreme Leader has polarized society on the eve of the elections; it has created serious doubt among people. Some do not want Rafsanjani to be involved in this issue [of the Supreme Leader’s succession].” (Tasnim News Agency)
? Mesbah Yazdi: Some are seeking to get rid of velayat-e faqih. Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi discussed internal political developments during a conference with IRGC political officials. The Assembly of Experts member claimed, “Some individuals inside the country are trying to lay the groundwork for doing away with the velayat-e faqih legally and through the Assembly of Experts.” Yazdi added:
o “One must note that those people who are laying the groundwork for a referendum also have a plan for afterwards; therefore we must be aware that the danger today is not related to the military but rather is related to culture and thought.” (Fars News Agency)
? Zakani: “There is another sedition coming.” Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani denounced individuals “who seek to make a ‘Leadership Council’” during a recent speech. The former head of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA claimed that “those individuals” who present the enemy’s ideas are “infiltrators” and warned, “There is another sedition coming.” (Raja News)
? Larijani registers for parliamentary elections. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani officially registered for the parliamentary elections on December 24. When reporters asked about his political affiliation, Larijani responded, “I have entered the elections independently and what is important for me is pursuing the goals and principles of the Islamic Revolution.” Larijani also responded to a question about whether the Followers of the Velayat political faction would join the Principlist Coalition, stating, “They must make their own decision about this issue. It does not have anything to do with me.” (ILNA)
? Ebrahimi: Ali Larijani is on the Principlist Coalition Council. Hossein Ebrahimi, a senior member of the Combatant Clergy Association, told reporters that “no Principlist is outside the sphere of the Principlist Coalition Council” and added that former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati, and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani are represented on this council. He also added that parliamentarians Alaeddin Boroujerdi and Kazem Jalili are the representatives for Velayati and Larijani respectively. (Fars News Agency)
? Haddad Adel: “Division is threatening the Principlist movement.” Principlist Parliamentarian Gholam Ali Haddad Adel noted that divisive currents are threatening the Principlist movement ahead of the February elections. Haddad Adel, who is also the head of the Principlist Faction in Parliament and spokesman for the Principlist Coalition Council, called for his fellow Principlists to “put aside differences” for the sake of unity. (ISNA)
? IRIB Deputy: The national media is not opposed to the Rouhani administration. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Deputy Payman Jabali wrote an op-ed in response to Mohammad Bagher Nobakht’s recent criticism of “partisanship” in the national media. Jabali defended IRIB, claiming that the media is obligated to “reflect” the record of the Rouhani administration. He also accused the Rouhani administration of expecting IRIB to only “justify” its policies. (Raja News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
? Rouhani: I invite those who bomb fellow Muslims to “choose the correct way.” President Hassan Rouhani stressed the importance of “unity, non-violence, and the spread of Islamic friendship” during his speech at the opening of the 29th Conference on Islamic Unity. He stated:
? “If one day our concern was that foreign powers would pay for plundering and occupying Muslim lands, today we are in a position that a country with an Islamic flag pours bombs and missiles on the heads of innocent Muslims, and groups take a knife to the face of Islam and Muslims in the name of religion, Islam, and jihad.”
? “Maybe we don’t believe that one day the Zionist regime would be forgotten as the main aggressor in the Muslim world, even excluded from the front page news; instead, the news of killing Muslims by claimants of Islam… is headlining the news.”
? “In the current global conditions, there is no way except that all Muslims… unite; I invite all Islamic countries inside and outside the region – even those who, to date, drop bombs and missiles on their neighbors – to choose the correct way.” (President.ir)
? Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds to Erdo?an. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari responded to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s accusation that Iran has pursued “sectarian” policies in Syria during a press conference on December 28. Ansari stated that Erdogan’s remarks had “specific political objectives” and were made “within the context of the ongoing conflicts in the region.” Ansari added that “this is not the first time that we have seen such comments made about Iran.” He also stated:
o On Iran-Saudi relations: “On the sidelines of international conferences, there has been diplomatic contact between the two sides. I hope that this contact paves the way for improving the current state of affairs.”
o “Iran is fully ready to [change the relationship] if Saudi Arabia shows the desire for relations between both countries to develop.”
o On the Syrian peace talks: Ansari stated that Iran had successfully managed to block efforts to include names of “some Iranian organizations and institutions” on the list of terrorist groups operating in Syria.
o On the S-300: “The S-300 contract is currently being implemented… Russia has announced that some parts of the S-300 system will be delivered to Iran in January 2016.” (ISNA)
o Ansari: The Arab League’s claims are “biased and incorrect.” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari dismissed a statement issued by the Arab League Council of Foreign Ministers accusing Iran of “interference” in the internal affairs of regional countries. Ansari called the statement “unconstructive, biased, and incorrect.” (Fars News Agency)
? Rezaei encourages China to take a “more active role” in anti-ISIS fight. Mohsen Rezaei emphasized areas of economic and security cooperation during a meeting with a Chinese delegation. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary stated, “China could help bring more peace and stability to the region with a more active role in the struggle against ISIS.” Rezaei also added that Iran is “ready” to engage with China’s Muslim community in order to confront the spread of “takfiri currents” in Central Asia. (Tabnak)
Military and Security
? Salami: “IRGC operational units” have received the Emad missile. IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami stated that Emad ballistic missiles have been delivered to “operational IRGC units” and may be used in future IRGC exercises. (Fars News Agency)
? Salami: The IRGC security unit battles “every intelligence service in the world.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami spoke at a conference for the IRGC Protection and Security Organization in Tehran on December 26. The IRGC Deputy Commander stated:
? “The IRGC Protection and Security Organization battles every intelligence service in the world…”
? “Each tactic can only be successful once because the enemy learns how to deal with it; therefore, staying within the established rules and doctrine is the first scourge and failure. It must constantly change because the face of the threat is constantly changing.”
? “Several fronts should be opened against the ‘global arrogance’ [America and the West], so that its energy is distributed throughout the region.”
? “If they [the Saudis] want to intervene militarily in Syria, they do not know the prospects after the intervention and will have no choice but to go to the [negotiating] table…” (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
? Jazayeri: We will not treat anti-revolutionaries with leniency. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri spoke at a meeting regarding the December 30, 2009 pro-government protests. The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy stated, “One of America’s major strategies to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly attacking the highest element of the political system, meaning the model of leadership based on the absolute guardianship of the jurist. It [the strategy] has been at the head of the enemies’ attacks from the beginning of the Islamic Revolution until now. The enemies’ greatest investment has been a focus on this important phenomenon.” Jazayeri warned of Iranians who are “in line with the strategies of external enemies” and “have sought to confront the principles and values of the Islamic Revolution.” Jazayeri warned that those who plot against the Islamic Revolution currently will not be treated with the same “leniency” with which the “leaders and agents of sedition” during the 2009 Green Movement have been treated. (Defa Press)
? Six Iranians killed in Syria.
o IRGC Lt. Col. Mohsen Faramazi was from Tehran. He previously served as a bodyguard for Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani. No other unit affiliation was reported.
o Davoud Javanmard was a former employee of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). He is reportedly the first IRIB employee to have been killed in Syria.
o Ruhollah Talebi was an IRGC member from East Azerbaijan province. He was reportedly killed in the vicinity of Aleppo. He appears to have been a member of the East Azerbaijan provincial IRGC unit. No information was reported on his rank.
o Mohammadreza Ali Khani was an IRGC member from Khuzestan province.
o Ghasem Teymouri was an IRGC member from Gilan province. No rank or unit affiliation was reported.
? Parliamentarians issue statement to Rouhani on the economy. Two hundred and five parliamentarians issued a statement to President Hassan Rouhani on the “deep and unprecedented” economic slowdown in Iran. The statement also urges Rouhani to avoid “excessive importation” of foreign goods. (Mehr News Agency)
? Iran signs energy agreement with Armenia, Georgia, and Russia. Iranian media reported that Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian signed an agreement with his Armenian, Georgian, and Russian counterparts to develop an interlinked power transmission system between the four countries. (Press TV) (E)