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: The Foreign Ministry condemned the Gulf Cooperation Council’s call for Iran to stop supporting “terrorist militias” and “inciting sectarian divisions.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) released a statement on December 7 calling upon Iran to respect “the sovereignty and independence of the GCC countries.” The statement also urged Iran to end its support for “terrorist militias.” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi called the “accusations” in the statement “baseless.” The statement follows Saudi Arabia’s recent sentencing of 15 men to death on charges of spying for Iran and Iran-linked malware attacks against Saudi government entities. Iranian officials have previously accused “regional counties” and Saudi Arabia in particular of supporting ethnic separatists in Iran.
Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri denounced recent criticisms against the Judiciary as assisting the “enemy” in remarks on December 8. The Judiciary has been at the center of a number of recent controversies. President Hassan Rouhani and other senior officials criticized a city prosecutor’s cancellation of a talk by outspoken moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari last month. The Judiciary also came under fire after reformist parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi was nearly arrested last month. Sadeghi had questioned Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani’s use of public funds in private bank accounts.
- 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
Foreign Ministry criticizes GCC statement. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi responded to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s December 7 statement calling upon Iran to respect “the sovereignty and independence of the GCC countries and to commit to the principles of good neighbourliness and to international laws, covenants, and norms in order to preserve the security and stability of the region.” The statement also called upon Iran to end support for “terrorist militias,” stop “inciting sectarian divisions,” and cease “harbouring terrorist groups.” Ghassemi denied the “accusations” in the statement as “baseless.” He also called upon the GCC to stop “interfering in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s international affairs, including attempts to foment sectarian and religious divisions.” Iranian officials have previously accused “regional counties” and Saudi Arabia in particular of supporting ethnic separatists in Iran. (Mehr News Agency)
Zarif: U.S. should stay “committed” to nuclear deal. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during remarks in Tokyo on December 8. Zarif stated, “I believe that the JCPOA will continue to be maintained because it has been negotiated by diplomats, and diplomats generally choose the correct approach after weighing all wrong options… I do not base my hope on the illusion that people will respect international law out of their good nature or goodwill. I believe that it is in the interest of the United States and other members of the international community to respect this multilateral agreement.” Senior Iranian officials have criticized the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) as a violation of America’s commitments under the nuclear deal, although Zarif downplayed the ISA’s effects in remarks on December 5. (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Fars News Agency)
- Hardline clerics blast sanctions act renewal. The Society of Qom Seminary Teachers, an influential clerical group, issued a statement condemning the renewal of the ISA. The statement noted that the ISA’s renewal “is a lesson and a message to [Iranian] officials that the only way to protect the honor and dignity of Islamic Iran is by relying on domestic capabilities and the Resistance Economy.” The statement warned that “Iran’s response” to the ISA’s renewal “will be decisive and overwhelming.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Parliamentarian lodges complaint against Judiciary head. Reformist parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi announced that he filed a complaint against Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani in Iran’s Clerical Court, a special court system for prosecuting crimes committed by Iran’s clerical establishment. Sadeghi also called upon the Judiciary to explain Larijani’s alleged personal use of accounts owned by the Judiciary. In November, Sadeghi called for an official inquiry into the scandal before judicial authorities confronted Sadeghi at his home and attempted to bring him to court in order to question him. Protesters intervened, however, and Sadeghi successfully resisted arrest. Sadeghi later claimed that his questioning of Ayatollah Larijani’s use of public funds in private bank accounts prompted the attempted arrest. (Kaleme)
Attorney general: Criticizing the Judiciary helps the enemy. Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri referred to recent controversies surrounding the extent of the Judiciary’s authority and stated, “For some time, there have been strange attacks against the Judiciary on media sites, social networks, and even the podium of Parliament. Dear brothers… is it wise to go along with the enemy?” He also added that Judiciary Head Sadegh Amoli Larijani recently provided evidence to “some parliamentarians” that he had not misused bank accounts belonging to the Judiciary. (Tasnim News Agency)
Rouhani administration spokesman: Only four officials received “astronomical salaries.” Rouhani Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht gave an update on the administration’s investigations into the “salary scandal,” in which leaks revealed that certain senior officials have been receiving illegal salaries and benefits. Nobakht stated that of the more than 90,000 cases investigated so far, only four individuals received “astronomical salaries” that were illegal. Hardliners have repeatedly used the salary scandal as a tool to criticize the Rouhani administration. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Tehran Friday prayer leader: The enemy has infiltrated our educational system. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi warned against the “enemy’s infiltration” in Iran’s universities. He stated, “We saw the slogan ‘Long live the reforms’ on Student Day. This means that the enemy has infiltrated Iran deeply… They bombard us with ideas day and night.” He also claimed that “Iran’s universities, training, and education are in the enemy’s possession.” Student Day marks the anniversary of the killing of three University of Tehran students by police forces during demonstrations against the visit of then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon on December 7, 1953. The current regime welcomes the celebration of Student Day as an opportunity to criticize the U.S., but university students have also seized upon the occasion as an opportunity to protest government crackdowns on free speech. During some university events commemorating Student Day this year, students protested the continued imprisonment of reformists Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, the leaders of the 2009 Green Movement protests. (Digarban)
Military & Security
Former Basij Commander confirms that Basij medics operate in Syria. Former Basij Commander and IRGC Cultural Deputy IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi praised the role of the Basij’s medical arm, the Basij Organization Medical Society, for being active “on the front lines of the Islamic Resistance” during a speech with Basij and IRGC officials in Mashhad. The regime uses the term “Islamic Resistance” to refer to its allies and the conflicts in which they are involved across the region, including in Syria. At least one member of the Basij Organization Medical Society has been killed in Syria in recent months. He was reported to have played a role supporting pro-regime operations around the city of Aleppo. (Mehr News Agency)
ICT Minister: Filtering does not solve any problem. Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mahmoud Vaezi noted that “filtering does not solve any problem” due to the fact that “currently there are 100 to 300 social networks.” Rouhani administration officials have occasionally clashed with security authorities over internet censorship in Iran. Vaezi also stressed the need to develop indigenous social network software. (Mehr News Agency)
- IRGC commander stresses importance of introducing Iranian youth to “martyrdom” culture. IRGC 16th Quds Division Commander Brig. Gen. 2C Mohammad Ali Haqbin stated, “The martyred defenders of the shrine are a practical model for young people. Thus it should be noted and stressed that there is a need, more than ever, to introduce and explain the culture of sacrifice and resistance to the Iranian youth.” “Defenders of the shrine” is a term used to refer to Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias fighting in Syria and Iraq. The 16th Quds Division has sustained multiple casualties in the Syrian conflict. (Tasnim News Agency)
CBI head: Currency change will not cause inflation. Central Bank of Iran Head Valiollah Seif claimed that the proposed change in denomination of Iran’s official currency from the rial to the toman would have “no inflationary effects.” Parliament and the Guardian Council must approve the legislation before it can be implemented. (Alef)
- Rouhani: OPEC members must work together to stabilize oil prices. President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the need for cooperation among OPEC members during a telephone conversation with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Rouhani stated that Iran intends to support price stability in the global oil market. (IRNA) (E)