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: The Guardian Council announced its finalized list of approved Assembly of Experts candidates. Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, was among those disqualified.

The Guardian Council approved 161 candidates to run in elections for the 88-seat Assembly of Experts, which is charged with selecting the next supreme leader. Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, who had formally appealed his earlier disqualification as a candidate in the Assembly of Experts elections, was once again rejected. The Guardian Council stated that Khomeini was disqualified because he did not possess an adequate level of Islamic knowledge “in order to discern the qualifications for the next supreme leader.” For further analysis on election-related developments in Iran, see the Critical Threats Project’s “Iran Elections Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”

Iranian news outlets reported an additional three Iranian casualties in Syria.

Matthew McInnis explains Iran’s perspective on the stalled Geneva negotiations, its recent strategies in the Syrian conflict, and its broader goals for a final settlement in his latest blog post, “Syrian peace talks still a sideshow for Iran.”

Domestic Politics

  • Guardian Council finalizes list of approved Assembly of Experts candidates. The Guardian Council, the conservative-dominated body charged with overseeing the vetting process for electoral candidates, released its final list of approved candidates for the Assembly of Experts election on February 10. President Hassan Rouhani, Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Intelligence Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi, current Assembly Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, and current Assembly member Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi were among the 33 candidates confirmed for Tehran province. 
    • Hassan Khomeini’s disqualification upheld. The Guardian Council upheld the disqualification of Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, a Reformist-inclined grandson of former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini. Hassan Khomeini does not possess an adequate level of Islamic knowledge “in order to discern the qualifications for the next supreme leader,” according to the Guardian Council. (MOI) (ANA) (Khabar Online)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Shamkhani: Saudi troop deployment to Syria would be “very dangerous.” Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani discussed Saudi Arabia and other regional countries’ statements expressing readiness to deploy forces to Syria during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Tehran. Shamkhani stated that while that the statements “are by no means proportionate to [those countries’] military capabilities, the potential presence of ground troops without the legitimate consent or request of [the] Syrian government amounts to an interventionist and highly dangerous decision with unfathomable security repercussions for all the regional countries as well as Europe…” (Press TV) (E)

Military and Security

  • Iran to introduce ballistic missile update. Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced that Iran will unveil a “precision” upgrade to its Emad ballistic missile during the next Iranian year, which begins on March 20. Washington’s new sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program were in part motivated by an October test-firing of the Emad missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Dehghan maintained in his announcement that the Emad missile does not violate any U.N. resolution or the nuclear deal because Iran “has never and will never use a nuclear warhead” with its missiles.
    • Dehghan stated that Russia will deliver S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems in two parts, both within the first half of 2016. The first is scheduled to arrive in Iran within the first three months of 2016 and the second within “two or three” months after the first delivery. 
    • He also stated that Iran is developing “Karar tanks” rather than Russian T-90s, which Iran recently stated it was “no longer interested” in purchasing. Dehghan claimed that the Karar tank will have “greater mobility, fire rate, and space for its crewmembers” than the T-90s.
    • Dehghan added that Iran and Russia have begun talks to purchase Russian Sukhoi-30 fighter jets. He did not specify a timeline or the number of jets, but he did state that Iran has requested to “participate” in the fighter jets’ production. Dehghan denied that Iran has arranged for the purchase of J-10 fighter jets from China. (Khabar Online)
  • Jafari reiterates call to “strengthen” the Islamic Revolution domestically. IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari reiterated his call from June 2015 to strengthen the domestic “dimensions” of the Islamic Revolution during a speech to IRGC members on February 10 in East Azerbaijan province. The IRGC commander stated that, while the “external dimension” of the Revolution has made “remarkable progress” thanks to the “re-directing of the Supreme Leader and the nation’s resistance against bullying,” Iranians must “focus our attention on the domestic scene in order to strengthen the foundations of the Islamic Revolution.” (Fars News Agency)
  • IRGC statement reaffirms its reasons for fighting in Syria and Iraq. The IRGC released a statement on February 9 declaring that Iran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria is dedicated to fighting ISIS. The IRGC additionally warned Iranians of the U.S.’ attempts to “infiltrate” Iran “under the cover” of the implementation of the nuclear deal. The statement was released ahead of February 11, the holiday celebrating the founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran. (Press TV)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC colonel killed in Syria. Iranian news outlets reported that IRGC Col. Saadat Khavae was recently killed in Syria. No unit affiliation was reported. (Modafin
  • Two Iranians killed in Syria. Abbas Kardouni and Ali Ghorbani were from Khuzestan province and purportedly volunteered to go to Syria. No further information about their ranks or unit affiliation was provided. (Tasnim News Agency)
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