Iran News Round Up
A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.
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 Pendleton. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani implicitly criticized Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
President Rouhani lashed out against the U.S. and its regional allies for exacerbating tensions in the Middle East. He demanded that regional states abandon policies aimed at strengthening terrorists. Rouhani also censured a growing wave of Islamophobia in the West, stating that “unfortunately some people in the world today have declared that they should not allow Muslims to enter other countries. This is while they themselves are the founders and sponsors of terrorism.” Rouhani’s remarks about Islamophobia appear to be an implicit condemnation of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim immigration plan.
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari appointed IRGC Brigadier General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar as Imam Hossein Battalions Commander. Gheibparvar will be replacing IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, who was killed on October 8 in Syria. Nine Iranians, meanwhile, were killed in Syria, including two IRGC Navy members.
Matthew McInnis and Jordan Olmstead analyze domestic criticism of President Hassan Rouhani’s economic policies in their latest blog, “Is Rouhani’s image as economic savior crumbling?”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Rouhani criticizes Donald Trump. President Hassan Rouhani referred to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. during a December 9 cabinet meeting. Rouhani stated, “With the excuse of fighting terrorism, unfortunately some people in the world today have declared that they should not allow Muslims to enter other countries. This is while they themselves are the founders and sponsors of terrorism.” Rouhani also criticized regional countries for their "bad policies or lack of policies," which he claimed have exacerbated disagreements in the Middle East. He stated, "We must have good relations with all neighbors, and if a problem exists, we must resolve it."
On the economy: Rouhani’s cabinet also continued to review the 2016-2017 annual budget. Rouhani emphasized the importance of economic privatization and stated that the Sixth Development Plan will be in accordance with Resistance Economy principles. He added that he expects to submit both the annual budget and the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan to Parliament during the month of Dey (late December-early January). (President.ir) (President.ir)
- On the economy: Rouhani’s cabinet also continued to review the 2016-2017 annual budget. Rouhani emphasized the importance of economic privatization and stated that the Sixth Development Plan will be in accordance with Resistance Economy principles. He added that he expects to submit both the annual budget and the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan to Parliament during the month of Dey (late December-early January). (President.ir) (President.ir)
Zarif meets with Afghan president. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the 5th Heart of Asia Conference on December 9 in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Tabnak)
Zarif holds talks with his Chinese counterpart. Foreign Minister Zarif met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during his visit to Pakistan. (ISNA)
- Zarif holds talks with his Chinese counterpart. Foreign Minister Zarif met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during his visit to Pakistan. (ISNA)
Jafari highlights American impotence in the Middle East. IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke to families of Iranians from Khuzestan province killed in the Iraq and Syria conflicts. The IRGC Commander noted that “the fate of world and the future of Islam is characterized in the conflicts and wars of West Asia.” He also stated, “It is proven that America no longer has the ability to directly confront Muslim countries.” He added that while Iran is fighting the “global arrogance,” or the West, on multiple economic, cultural, and academic fronts, the “sweetest and best of these jihads are the defense wars.” He also stated, “God knows what will happen if we deploy a unit of our Basijis, who are ready for war, to the resistance front.” (Fars News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
- Salehi meets with U.S. energy minister in Oman. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi stated that he discussed the “elimination of barriers to the implementation of the JCPOA” during his meeting with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz in Oman. (YJC)
Military and Security
IRGC Commander appoints Hossein Hamedani’s replacement. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari appointed IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar as Imam Hossein Battalions Commander. Gheibparvar is replacing IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani, who was killed on October 8 in Syria. Gheibparvar previously served as IRGC Fajr Unit (Fars Province) Commander. (Mehr News Agency)
Artesh Ground Forces to hold counterterrorism drills. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told reporters on December 8 that the Armed Forces will hold counterterrorism maneuvers near Tehran “in the coming days.” The Artesh Ground Forces Commander stated that the maneuvers will be held “according to ISIS threats” and that "for the defense of our country, we will use every weapon that we can, with the exception of nuclear, chemical, and microbial weapons.”
- On Russia: Pourdastan said that the purchase of T-90 tanks from Russia is “on the agenda” and that “the Russians will have trips to Iran in the future. Our specialists will also go to Russia, and certainly some contracts will be concluded.”
On regional involvement: Pourdastan called Iran’s presence in Iraq and Syria “advisory” and stated, “This presence can be both ground and aerial.” (Fars News Agency)
- Two police officers killed in Sistan va Baluchistan province. An explosive device killed two police officers and wounded several others in the southeastern province of Sistan va Baluchistan on December 9. (YJC)
Saidi: People must be careful about who they vote for. Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Saidi stressed that the U.S. is “seeking to expand its influence among decision-makers” in Iran in order to “advance its goals.” The Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC also urged Iranians “to be careful about who they vote for. People must be elected who are supporters of thevelayat… People have a role in the creation of power, and through elections they can make a powerful parliament.” (Entekhab)
- Assembly of Experts member stresses vigilance against anti-revolutionary plots. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda reinforced his call for resistance against the West and warned against policies that are not in line with Islamic revolutionary values. The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader, who is also an Assembly of Experts member, added that economic prosperity and greed will lead the nation into the enemy’s hands. Alam ol Hoda also urged his domestic audiences not to empower anti-revolutionary elements. (Rasa News)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
- Haghighat Pour: The PMD file will be closed on December 15. Principlist Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour expressed his confidence that the IAEA Board of Governors will “close the file on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program” on December 15. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member added that Iran “considers the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) dependent upon closing the PMD file.” (ICANA)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Four Iranians from Mazandaran province killed in Syria. Moharram Ali Moradkhani, Ruhollah Saharaei, Abdolrahim Firouzabadi, and Mostafa Sheikholeslami were killed in Syria. All were identified as being members of the IRGC. Moradkhani reportedly held the rank of colonel. No unit affiliation was reported. (Tasnim News Agency) (Photo)
Two IRGC Navy members killed in Syria.
- IRGC Colonel Sattar Mahmoudi was stationed in Bushehr province. Mahmoudi was the “air defense commander” for the Fifth IRGC Navy District stationed at Bandar Bushehr. He was reportedly killed in the vicinity of Latakia, Syria.
- Habib Rouhi Chokami was reportedly from Gilan province. He was identified as being a member of the IRGC Navy “commandos.” No rank was reported. (Tasnim News Agency) (Tnews)
Three Iranians from Khuzestan killed in Syria.
- Mojtaba Abolghasemi was a member of the Basij Organization in Dezful, Khuzestan province. He reportedly was the commander of the Basij Beit ol Moghaddas Rapid Reaction Battalion based in Dezful.
- Asgar Charghandi was a cleric who was killed by “takfiri terrorists” in Syria.
- IRGC Sgt. 1C Ehsan Fathi was from Khuzestan province. No unit affiliation was reported, but it appears that he was a member of an IRGC commando unit. (Tasnim News Agency) (Fars News Agency) (Photo)
Two Fatimiyoun members killed in Syria.
- Mehdi Akhlaghi was a member of the Afghan Shi’a militia Fatimiyoun Brigade and was buried in Mashhad.
- Mehdi Ahmadi was a 17-year-old member of the Fatimiyoun Brigade and will be buried in Tehran. (Tasnim News Agency)