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 with contributor Ken Hawrey. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key Takeaway: Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani challenged the Guardian Council’s right to vet candidates, stating, “Where did you get your qualifications? Who allowed you to judge?”

Rafsanjani criticized the Guardian Council’s recent disqualification of Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini in one of the most direct public challenges to the Guardian Council’s role in the electoral process yet. President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, emphasized the importance of high voter turnout in the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections during a speech at former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum for the Ten Days of Dawn celebrations, which mark the anniversary of Khomeini’s return to Iran in 1979 after 14 years of exile.

IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi implicitly accused members of President Rouhani’s cabinet of supporting the infiltration of Western values into Iran. The Basij Organization Commander criticized their personal wealth and called materialism “the main cause of the increase of infiltrators in Islamic Iran.”

Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati arrived in Moscow on a four-day trip to meet with Russian officials and discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Matthew McInnis explains the challenges facing President Hassan Rouhani following Implementation Day, including marshalling support for his budget and the Sixth Five-year Development Plan, dealing with dismal economic projections, and preparing his coalition for the February 26 elections, in his latest blog post, “After the nuclear deal, Rouhani’s real fights are just beginning.

Domestic Politics

  • Senior officials mark Ten Days of Dawn. President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the importance of high voter turnout in the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections during a speech at former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum on January 31. The mausoleum visit marked the beginning of the Ten Days of Dawn celebrations, which commemorate the establishment of the Islamic Republic and end of the Pahlavi monarchy in 1979.
    • Rouhani tweeted a photo of himself during the visit with Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, who complimented Rouhani as “one of the children of Imam [Khomeini] and soldiers of the Imam’s path.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website also published images of himself with Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of Supreme Leader Khomeini, during the mausoleum visit. Hassan Khomeini recently protested his disqualification from the Assembly of Experts election. ( (
  • Rafsanjani: Who gave the Guardian Council the right to vet candidates? Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticized Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini’s disqualification by the Guardian Council during a speech commemorating the Ten Days of Dawn. Rafsanjani pointed to the Guardian Council and stated, “Where did you get your qualifications? Who allowed you to judge?” (Asiran)
  • Rouhani: Iran will use elections to “move forward.” President Hassan Rouhani met with Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on February 1. Rouhani discussed how to improve coordination among the three branches of government and how Iran  can best hold “passionate, healthy, and competitive elections.” (ISNA)
  • Guardian Council Spokesman: 6,000 candidates are protesting their disqualifications.Nejatollah Ebrahimian discussed the Guardian Council’s efforts to review complaints from disqualified candidates. The Guardian Council spokesman stated that nearly 6,000 parliamentary candidates are contesting their disqualifications and added that the Guardian Council is closely reviewing these cases. Ebrahimian noted that 20 days for the Guardian Council’s review “is not sufficient,” however, and stated that the electoral laws stipulating timetables for qualification review “need to be seriously reviewed.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Mohsen Rezaei: The elections will be competitive. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei discussed the Guardian Council’s disqualifications during a press conference on January 30. Rezaei stated that “all political groups” will be represented in the elections “despite the disqualifications that have occurred.” He stated, “The [number] of Reformist candidates is 2.5 times the number of parliamentary seats, the [number] of Principlists is three times the number of parliamentary seats, and the [number] of independents is three times the number of parliamentary seats.” Rezaei added that “all complaints about the electoral process must go through the legal channels…the reason for the 88 sedition [2009 anti-government protests] was that people took their protests out to the street instead of the legal channels.” (ANA)

Military and Security

  • Hajizadeh: The IRGC response to new American ballistic missile sanctions will be “aggressive.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh referred to new U.S. sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and stated that “concessions and retreat in the face of the enemy will not be correct.” The IRGC Air Force Commander continued, “Today, [the enemies] have raised the issue of missile sanctions and expect us to retreat; however, the IRGC’s response to this American demand will be aggressive… We have redoubled our efforts, and the Americans’ demand has backfired.” Hajizadeh added that “we will never allow a relationship” between Iran and the United States. (Fars News Agency)
  • Khamenei gives award to IRGC Navy commanders involved in U.S. sailor detainment. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei awarded the Fath (Victory) medal to IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi and four other IRGC Navy commanders who detained the 10 U.S. Navy sailors on January 12. The medal is among the highest honors for military members and politicians. Khamenei also “agreed to the promotion” of several unnamed personnel and commanders involved in the detainment. It is likely that one of them was Ahmad Dolabi, the commander of the IRGC Navy 2nd Zone 214th Hazrat-e Amir Special Forces, who had described his unit’s involvement in the operation at Friday Prayers in Bushehr province on January 15. (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
  • Fadavi claims IRGC Navy collected intelligence from U.S. sailors. IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi stated that a large amount of intelligence was collected from the 10 U.S. Navy sailors captured on January 12. According to Fadavi, this information was obtained from laptops and mobile phones confiscated from the sailors. (Fars News Agency)


  • IPC contract conference in London canceled. National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Deputy Head for Investment Ali Kardor announced that a conference scheduled this month in London to present the full terms of the Iranian Petroleum Contract (IPC) has been canceled due to visa issues. The IPC replaces the “buyback system” that required Iran to pay foreign contractors a fixed price for all hydrocarbons recovered in a project. The new model will allow contracts to last for up to 25 years instead of the previous five to seven-year contract model under the buyback system. (Press TV) (E) (Press TV
  • Police arrest protesters outside Oil Ministry in Tehran. Protesters gathered outside of the Oil Ministry in Tehran on January 30 to protest the terms of the IPC. Many of the protesters were allegedly students linked to the Basij. Riot police broke up the protests and detained as many as 60 protesters, according to one news source. Eye-witnesses also reported that police “severely beat” many of the protesters.
    • Conservative Parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakkoli voiced his support for the protesters during an open session of Parliament. Tavakkoli stated that the IPC issue is “so important that even if dozens of protests occur across the country, this would not be enough.” (Tehran News) (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Basij Commander criticizes Rouhani trip to Europe. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi called President Rouhani’s trip to Italy and France “a stab in the back to the Resistance Economy.” The Basij Organization Commander stated that if such trips continue, “we will have to shut down the country's technical universities.” Naghdi warned, “Influence in Iran has occurred; the people who speak against the Leader hours after his speech are examples of this influence.” Naghdi criticized Rouhani’s cabinet members for their personal wealth, stating that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had “warned Iranians” against such people; he also called materialism “the main cause of the increase of infiltrators in Islamic Iran.” (Tabnak)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Supreme Leader’s senior advisor promotes Iran-Russia ties in Moscow. Ali Akbar Velayati arrived in Moscow on February 1 to meet with Russian officials and discuss strengthening Iran-Russia ties, particularly for cooperation on regional issues. Velayati will be in Russia until February 4 and travelled there at the invitation of Leonid Petrovich Reshetnikov, the director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies. (IRNA
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