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 contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
Key takeaway: A senior Reformist leader accused Principlists of manipulating voter turnout, while regime officials criticized U.S. and British media “interference” in the elections.
Hojjat ol Eslam Rasoul Montajab Nia, a senior official in the Reformist National Trust Party, accused “Principlists and extremists” of skewing votes away from Reformists by bringing in “over a million people from villages” to vote in Tehran. He also condemned the mass disqualification of Reformist candidates from the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, calling the electoral process “a completely unequal and discriminatory competition.” For up-to-date analysis on electoral developments, please see the Critical Threats Project’s “Iran Elections Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”
Senior regime officials, meanwhile, accused U.S. and British media outlets of “interfering” in the elections. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated, “Unfortunately, today we see the support of some foreign media for a specific political faction. In this regard, it is necessary that solidarity and internal unity be preserved.” These comments are in response to BBC Farsi and RFE/RL articles covering the elections, including one BBC article in particular, titled “Could Yazdi, Jannati, and Mesbah be removed from the Assembly of Experts?” Rouhani administration spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stressed that the administration would counter any “foreign interference,” after IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri accused the Iranian Foreign Ministry of being “silent” on the issue of foreign media outlets, specifically the BBC, “interfering in the domestic affairs of the country.”
Matthew McInnis discusses Iranian perspectives on the possible deployment of Saudi Arabian and Emirati special operations forces to Syria in his latest blog post, “Iran isn’t sweating Saudi intervention in Syria.”
Reformist leader accuses Principlists of manipulating voter turnout. Hojjat ol Eslam Rasoul Montajab Nia, a senior official in the Reformist National Trust Party, accused a hardline Principlist faction of unfair election “tricks” and called for the Interior Ministry to investigate the issue on February 23. He stated, “Extremists have decided to bring over a million people from villages to Tehran. They designated a budget for them so that they can vote in Tehran and increase [the Principlists’] votes. The Interior Ministry must examine this issue because some institutions are spending public money to bring people to Tehran to vote.”
- Montajab Nia also accused “Principlists and extremists” of attempting to coerce the government into making Saturday, the day after voting, a holiday so that voters will “go on vacation and leave Tehran. That way they will not vote for the Reformist list… The extremists understand that if the people do not vote, [the Reformists] will lose. Therefore they want the people’s participation to be low. The government must not bow to this pressure.”
- On disqualifications: Montajab Nia condemned the mass disqualification of Reformist candidates from the February 26 elections. He stated, “A completely unequal and discriminatory competition has been set up between Reformists and Principlists that has been oppressive to the Reformists from step one. In the beginning, the people registered [for the elections] with hope… It seems like these people who registered became the nation’s enemies despite being the nation’s children.”
- “This tragedy is historic, that more than ninety percent of Reformist figures were disqualified. There was hope that the Guardian Council would revise [the results] and administer justice, but this council still disqualified the same number of individuals and confirmed a group of unpopular [Reformist] figures. They did not confirm specific figures who would have brought votes.” Rasoul Montajab Nia was among those disqualified from the Assembly of Experts elections. (ILNA)
Senior officials criticize “foreign media’s intervention” in elections. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli discussed foreign support for a “specific faction,” likely referring to the Reformists, during remarks on February 23. He stated, “Unfortunately, today we see the support of some foreign media for a specific political faction. In this regard, it is necessary that solidarity and internal unity be preserved.” His remarks indicate ongoing regime suspicion of Reformists. (Mehr News Agency)
- Judiciary Head Sadegh Larijani also accused U.S. and British media outlets of “trying to interfere” in the elections during a recent speech. He added, “The people… must not allow the Americans and the British to make their decisions for them.” (Entekhab)
- Rouhani administration spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stressed that the administration would counter any “foreign interference” in the elections during a press conference on February 23. (Mehr News Agency)
Jalali: Weakening the office of the Supreme Leader is the enemy’s strategy. Head of the Passive Defense Organization IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali warned about the “enemy’s” influence on the upcoming elections during a speech on February 21. Jalali stated that “anyone who brings up the issue of supervising the Supreme Leader, a leadership council, or questions the authority of the Guardian Council during the course of the elections” is acting “in accordance with” the enemy’s strategy. His comments were likely directed at Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who revived the notion of a “Leadership Council” in lieu of a single Supreme Leader during an interview in mid-December. (ISNA)
- Larijani: “I have not separated from the Principlists.” Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed his political leanings during a conference in Qom, where he is a candidate for the parliamentary elections. Larijani, who is running as an independent, claimed that he “has not separated from the Principlists” but rather “just thinks differently from some of them.” Larijani received a significant level of criticism from hardline Principlists after he managed to shepherd the nuclear agreement through a hurried parliament vote, which his opponents claimed was “illegal.” Larijani also noted that the economic problems facing the country “are very difficult, even with the nuclear deal.”(ISNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Azerbaijani president travels to Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani met with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Tehran to discuss regional developments. The two countries inked 11 agreements in various fields, including energy, health and medical science, and transportation. (Press TV) (E) (President.ir) (E) (ISNA)
- Iran calls proposed Saudi oil freeze a “joke.” Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh rejected any possibility that Iran will stop increasing its oil production and stated, “Some countries that are producing above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) have called on Iran to freeze its production at one million bpd… This is like a joke. They tell us they would freeze their oil production above 10 million bpd and that we should also in turn freeze our production at one million bpd?” Zanganeh’s remarks are in response to a Saudi proposal for Iran to freeze oil production in order to restore stability in the global market. (Press TV) (E)
Military and Security
Defense Affairs Committee head discusses S-300 shipment. Principlist parliamentarian Esmail Kowsari stated that the S-300 missile defense system “has been loaded for transport to us, as far as we know.” The head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission’s Defense Affairs Committee also rejected “America’s claims” that the missile defense system purchase conflicts with UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Kowsari stated, “It is better for Washington to explain to the world its use of atomic weapons and crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki before claiming that Tehran and Moscow’s relations violate Resolution 2231.” (Asriran)
LEF Commander: Security will be high during Friday’s elections. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari announced that over 250,000 security officials, including LEF and IRGC officials, will provide security for the elections. The officials will reportedly monitor the counting of ballots at polling stations. This development comes after the regime bolstered border surveillance and conducted arrests of several “counter-revolutionaries in eastern regions [of Iran].”
- Ashtari also stated,“There have been violations on the part of some candidates and their supporters. We have pointed those out to them. We have also witnessed cyberspace violations, which we are persistently investigating. In total, until this point, we have witnessed the least amount of violations approaching elections. [Violations] will be handled according to the law.” (Fars News Agency) (E) (YJC)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Qassem Soleimani meets with wounded “Defender of the Shrine” in Tehran hospital.Iranian news outlets circulated photos of IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani visiting a wounded “Defender of the Shrine” -- a term used for Iranian fighters in Iraq and Syria-- in an unnamed hospital in Tehran. (Ghatreh)
- Iranian killed in Damascus bomb blast. Hojjat Asadi was reportedly killed in the 21 February bomb blast in Damascus, which killed over 83 people. No further information on his identity or activities in Syria was given. (Mehr News Agency)