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: Police chief Hossein Ashtari said the police will “certainly confront” candidates who attempt to hold “street meetings or gatherings,” reflecting the regime’s ongoing fear of protests during the upcoming elections.
Law Enforcement Forces Commander Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari stated that candidates in the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections “have not been given permission” to hold “street meetings or gatherings” during an interview on February 12. Ashtari’s comments reflect the regime’s ongoing fear of and preparations for any protests. He added that the police will “confront” those who “want to assist illegal and anarchist movements, either in cyberspace or in reality.”
Police arrested several of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani’s supporters as they campaigned during the February 11 rallies marking the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, according to Rafsanjani’s staff, though they were released “several hours” later. Rafsanjani’s staff penned a letter to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli requesting “clarification” for the cause of the arrests, given that the campaign period for Assembly of Experts candidates legally began on February 11.
Rafsanjani stated that “in the past few years, both the republican and Islamic characteristics of our political system have been weakened” during a February 12 television program promoting his campaign for the Assembly of Experts. He did not comment on the arrests during the program. Rafsanjani likely intended the comment as a jab at Iran’s political hardliners, who have recentlyslammed Rafsanjani’s comments challenging the Guardian Council’s right to vet electoral candidates.
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.”
Police chief: The police will confront candidates holding street gatherings. Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari described the police’s “do’s and don’ts for candidates” during the election cycle in an interview on February 12. When asked whether candidates “can hold street meetings or gatherings,” the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander stated, “Such permission has not been given to candidates… In such a case, the police will certainly confront the offenders.” Ashtari also warned that the police will “confront” those who “want to assist illegal and anarchist movements, either in cyberspace or in reality.” (ISNA)
Rafsanjani criticises decline in “republican and Islamic characteristics” of the Iranian political system. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani promoted his candidacy for the Assembly of Experts during a television program on February 12. The Expediency Discernment Council Chairman stated:
- “In the past few years, both the republican and Islamic characteristics of our political system have been weakened… I promise that our position in the world will improve by several steps, and truly, we will be known as a civilized, Muslim, progressive, and exemplary country…” Rafsanjani stated that the “expectation” for elections is that they will “strengthen the republican and Islamic” character of Iran and help form a “healthy society.” He added that there have been “some problems” with “approvals, disqualifications, the number of ballot boxes, and so on.”
- “My opinions are the same opinions upon which the Islamic Republic was based. The Islamic Republic was proposed and accepted based on the language of the people.”
- Rafsanjani recounted debates regarding the formation of a Leadership Council in lieu of a single Supreme Leader, but expressed satisfaction with the selection of the current Supreme Leader. He stated, “From the past until now, we have been satisfied with the election of the Supreme Leader. We don’t see anyone better or better-suited to running the country than Ayatollah Khamenei…”
Staff members arrested during rally. Rafsanjani’s staff wrote a letter to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli protesting the arrest of several supporters as they campaigned during the February 11 rallies marking the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The letter requests “clarification” for the cause of the arrests, given that the campaign period for Assembly of Experts candidates legally began on February 11. It also requests that confiscated banners and brochures be refunded. According to the letter, the supporters were arrested “for several hours” and then released. (Mehr News Agency) (Kaleme) (Ghatreh)
Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC criticizes “Leadership Council.” Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Saidi warned that “some are seeking a new sedition by planning a Leadership Council” during a speech to Basij Organization members. The Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC criticized such a council as an “absurd debate” and urged Iranians to “remain vigilant” against such debates. His comments are a likely criticism of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who revived the debate surrounding a Leadership Council in lieu of a single Supreme Leader during an interview in mid-December. (Fars News Agency)
- Supreme Leader’s Deputy Representative to the IRGC warns of “sympathizers with Obama.” Hojjat ol Eslam Abdollah Haji Sadeghi attended a commemoration ceremony on February 11 for six Iranians killed in Syria during operations to break the opposition’s siege of Nubl and al Zahra. The Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC applauded the “anti-arrogance” -- arrogance referring generally to the West -- character of the Iranian casualties and stated, “Today a group inside the country is describing the  Revolution as [only] the overthrow of one government and its replacement by another government. Based on this, they are saying that continuing on the path of Imam [Khomeini] and his ideals is meaningless… They are sympathetic to [President Barack] Obama because he said that the people of Iran must choose between the slogan ‘Death to America’ and a prosperous economic life.” (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency)