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: IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari praised coordination between the IRGC, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and the police during the 1999 student protests and the 2009 Green Movement, reflecting the regime’s renewed fear of and preparation for protests during the February 26 elections.
Major General Jafari praised the “coordination, unity, and cooperation” of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), the IRGC, and Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) during the 1999 student protests and the 2009 Green Movement. Jafari also emphasized the importance of continued coordination in the face of ongoing “security, intelligence, and soft-war” threats. Rhetoric from security officials such as LEF Commander Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari has similarly reflected the regime’s renewed preparation for protests during the February 26 elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts.
Reuters reported that Russia will make the first of two deliveries of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran on February 18, according to Russian news outlet RIA. Reuters also reported that RIA stated that Russia is set to sign a contract “this year” to provide Iran with Sukhoi Su-30s fighter jets. Su-30s would significantly improve Iran’s air capabilities, given that Tehran’s air force is mostly comprised of outdated U.S. and Soviet airframes.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Guardian Council’s vetting of candidates for the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections. He also condemned “those inside the country who agree with the enemy’s call for the destruction of the Guardian Council.”
Iranian news outlets reported the deaths of two Fatimiyoun brigade members in Syria. Seven members of the Pakistani Shia Zeinabiyoun brigade, meanwhile, were buried in Qom. The Fatimiyoun and Zeinabiyoun brigades are part of the Iranian-backed Shia paramilitary forces that fight in support of the Assad regime.
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.”
- Jafari praises MOIS-IRGC-LEF coordination during 2009 Green Movement. Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the “coordination, unity, and cooperation” of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), the IRGC, and Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) during the 1999 student protests and the 2009 Green Movement at a meeting of the Council for Intelligence Cooperation. The IRGC Commander also stressed the importance of continued “coordination” in the face of a variety of “security, intelligence, and soft-war” threats as well as “socio-cultural and economic threats.” The Council for Intelligence Cooperation was created to provide coordination between the “various intelligence units of the country’s security-intelligence apparatus.” MOIS, the IRGC Intelligence Organization, the IRGC Counter-Intelligence Organization, the Artesh Intelligence Organization, and the LEF Intelligence Organization are among the members of the council.
Khamenei defends Guardian Council vetting. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a speech on the upcoming elections to “thousands” of Iranians in East Azerbaijan province on February 17. Khamenei stated that the U.S. is seeking to spread doubt on the validity of the Guardian Council, the electoral vetting body that has disproportionately disqualified Reformist candidates from the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections. Khamenei claimed that the U.S.’s “plan for the destruction of the Guardian Council and calling into question its decisions has begun... [This plan] renders elections illegitimate so that the elected Parliament and its resolutions will be illegal… The goal of this clever plan is to place the country in a legal vacuum.” Khamenei further condemned “those inside the country who agree with the enemy’s call for the destruction of the Guardian Council.”
- On U.S.-Iran relations: Khamenei called for Iranians to be vigilant against a “network of influence” that “dominates the policies of the U.S. and most European governments. The Americans’ approach in the nuclear issue must also be assessed within this framework.”
- “An American official has said in the past few days that ‘we are working to ensure that investors do not have the gall to go to Iran’… Such statements show the deep enmity the U.S. has for the Iranian nation… One of the goals of the people who pursued nuclear negotiations in the past two years was an economic expansion through foreign investors, but the Americans now stand against such a thing… This is why it has been said many times that the Americans are untrustworthy.” (Khamenei.ir)
- Interior Ministry: Parliamentary candidates’ names for most districts have been released. Interior Ministry Spokesman Hossein Ali Amiri stated that the names of approved parliamentary candidates for “most” electoral districts have been released to the relevant provincial governors. The Guardian Council announced the final statistics for approved and disqualified candidates on February 16 and gave the list of those names to the Interior Ministry, which has then given the lists to provincial governors to publish publicly. Candidates will begin campaigning on February 18. For more information on the Guardian Council’s vetting process, see the Critical Threat Project’s “Iran’s 2016 elections: The process, the players, and the stakes.” (ISNA)
- Intelligence minister calls for a more docile Parliament. Intelligence Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi stated that Iranians should elect “a Parliament that critiques rather than harasses the administration.” Alavi, who is also a current member of the Assembly of Experts, appeared on a moderate candidate list with President Hassan Rouhani in the current Assembly elections and was appointed intelligence minister by him in 2013. (ISNA) (IRNA)
Military and Security
Russian news outlets: Russia to make first S-300 delivery on Thursday. Reuters reported that Russia will make the first of two deliveries of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran on February 18, according to Russian news outlet RIA. (Reuters) (E) (Fars News Agency) (E)
RIA: Russia to sign contract to supply Su-30s to Iran. Reuters also reported that RIA stated that Russia is set to sign a contract “this year” to provide Iran with Sukhoi Su-30s fighter jets. (Reuters) (E)
- RIA: Russia to sign contract to supply Su-30s to Iran. Reuters also reported that RIA stated that Russia is set to sign a contract “this year” to provide Iran with Sukhoi Su-30s fighter jets. (Reuters) (E)
- Firouzabadi: IRGC to conduct missile exercises in the next month. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi stated that the IRGC will conduct missile exercises “in less than a month” in order to “test and evaluate the accuracy and power of [its] missiles.” The Armed Forces General Staff Chief outlined the “maintenance of the preparedness of the armed forces and the strengthening of missile power” as the exercises’ purpose. (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Martyr foundation head: 123 Iranian casualties were from Tehran. Nader Nasiri, the director-general of the Foundation of Martyrs and the Affairs of Self-Sacrificers, told reporters that 123 “defenders of the shrine” -- a term generally used to refer to Iranian casualties in both Iraq and Syria -- have been from Tehran province. He also reiterated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s previous statement that “if we do not fight the enemy in Syria and Iraq today, then tomorrow we will have to fight the enemy in Tehran.” (Baharestaneh)
- Two Fatimiyoun Brigade members killed in Syria. Jamalaldin Mohammadi was reportedly born in 1370 [1991-1992] and Ali Asghar Mohammadi in 1371 [1992-1993]. They were buried in Kerman province. (Mehr News Agency)
- Seven Pakistani fighters buried in Qom. Iranian media reported that seven Pakistani fighters killed in Syria were buried in Qom on February 17. They were reportedly members of the Zeinabiyoun Brigade. Names were not reported. (Defa Press)
Oil Minister: Iran supports any measure to stabilize the price of oil. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh met with oil ministers from Iraq, Venezuela, and Qatar in Tehran on February 17 following Saudi Arabia and Russia’s February 16 agreement to freeze oil production at January levels. Zanganeh backed down from voicing support for halting oil production during a press conference after the meeting, but he stated that Iran “supports any action for stabilizing market conditions and improving the price of crude oil.” OPEC and Russia have been engaged in discussions to cut crude oil production in the face of weak demand from consumers. Iranian officials, however, have voiced their intention to expand oil production considerably in the post-JCPOA environment, threatening to drive prices even further down. In response to Russia and Saudi Arabia’s agreement, one senior official in the Iranian oil ministry noted, “Iran will not have negotiations to stop oil production before it reaches its post-sanctions share [of the oil market].” (Donya-e Eqtesad) (Press TV)
- Iranian banks reconnect to SWIFT. Hamid Baeidinejad, the Foreign Ministry’s Director for Political and International Affairs, declared that the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and 15 other banks have been successfully connected to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system. SWIFT is an international organization that provides a secure international transaction network to member banks. Baeidinejad explained that “connecting to SWIFT will facilitate exchanges between Iranian and foreign banks. This is a huge success for normalizing the relationship of Iranian banks [with foreign financial institutions].” (IRNA)