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: Influential regime hardliners denounced Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s comments challenging the Guardian Council’s right to vet electoral candidates. Their complaints mark the continued rhetorical escalation within the regime elite about the vetting process and the role of the Guardian Council.
Several prominent conservative figures spoke out against Rafsanjani’s February 1 comments challenging the Guardian Council’s right to vet electoral candidates. The hardliner newspaper Vatan-e Emrooz published an article calling for the Guardian Council to disqualify Rafsanjani from the upcoming Assembly of Experts elections because he has “officially questioned the structure of the Islamic Republic.”
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, meanwhile, stated that the Interior Ministry assesses that 10,000 candidates of the over 12,000 who registered are eligible to run for Parliament. The Provincial Supervisory Boards – which fall under the Guardian Council rather than the Interior Ministry — have allowed only approximately 6,000 candidates to run. As a member of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, Fazli’s comment reflects the ongoing disagreement between Rouhani and the Guardian Council over how extensive the vetting process should be. The initial review of candidates overseen by Fazli’s Interior Ministry organs at the district level had approved approximately 10,000 candidates, so he appears to be suggesting that the Guardian Council should not have disqualified more than a handful of those the Interior Ministry allowed to pass. For in depth information on the vetting process, see “Iran’s 2016 elections: The process, the players, and the stakes” by CTP Iran Analysts Caitlin Shayda Pendleton and Paul Bucala.
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.”
Hardliners criticize Rafsanjani’s comments on the Guardian Council. A number of influential hardliners pushed back against Rafsanjani’s February 1 comments challenging the Guardian Council’s right to vet electoral candidates.
- Principlist Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Hamid Resaei called Rafsanjani “deviant” and corrupt” in a statement he released condemning Rafsanjani’s comments.
- Newspaper Vatan-e Emrooz published an article calling for the Guardian Council to disqualify Rafsanjani from the upcoming Assembly of Experts elections because he has “officially questioned the structure of the Islamic Republic.”
- Managing editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan Hossein Shariatmadari wrote an op-ed denouncing Rafsanjani’s remarks. Shariatmadari noted that Rafsanjani has lost a potential ally in the Assembly of Experts with Hassan Khomeini's disqualification from the election. (Fars News Agency) (Vatan-e Emrooz) (Kayhan)
- Fazli: 10,000 parliamentary candidates are eligible to run. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli discussed the Interior Ministry’s talks with the Guardian Council on the vetting process during a conference for anti-narcotics police. Fazli stated that the Interior Ministry assesses that “nearly 10,000 candidates” of the over 12,000 who registered are eligible to run for Parliament, even though the Provincial Supervisory Boards – which fall under the Guardian Council — have allowed only approximately 6,000 candidates to run. Fazli added that the Guardian Council has promised to “assist and cooperate” with the Interior Ministry in reviewing complaints from disqualified candidates. (ISNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Rouhani: We have no problem if U.S. entrepreneurs come to Iran. President Hassan Rouhani discussed his attempts to rehabilitate Iran’s global image and desire to expand its economic relations globally during an interview broadcast live on state television on February 2.
- On global economic engagement: “We need to export and import. We need to engage with the world. Of course this does not means all of the country’s issues will be solved by interacting with the world, but one of the conditions for the social prosperity and development of a country is interacting with the world.”
- Rouhani noted that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that “sanctions created 40 percent” of Iran’s problems, and that other domestic issues caused the remaining 60 percent.
- “Even if entrepreneurs from the U.S. are ready to come and invest in Iran, we have no problem. We want to work with the entire world, not only Europe.”
- On the elections: “Concerns that the elections have been engineered should not occur within the minds of the people… We must strive to have open and competitive elections.”
- On regional developments: “We do not want to become the dominant power in the region… We want the region to be powerful.” (President.ir) (E) (Fars News Agency)
Military and Security
Pourdastan: Iran no longer interested in buying T-90 tanks from Russia. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan stated that Iran is no longer interested in purchasing T-90 tanks from Russia, claiming that Iran “can manufacture similar models” instead “and plan[s] to do so in the near future.” The Artesh Ground Forces Commander had said in December 2015 that Iran was interested in purchasing T-90s from Russia. (Fars News Agency) (E)