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: Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli moderated his criticism of the mass disqualification of parliamentary candidates, indicating that the Interior Ministry is unlikely to contest the results of the Guardian Council’s review.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated that the ongoing review process for parliamentary candidates has proceeded “well” so far and that he is “satisfied” with his interactions with the Guardian Council during an interview on February 4. While the Interior Ministry conducted the first of three rounds of qualification reviews, Provincial Supervisory Boards recently disqualified nearly 60 percent of parliamentary candidates, including 99 percent of Reformist candidates, during the second round. The Guardian Council is currently reviewing the disqualifications and is expected to release its semifinal list of parliamentary candidates to the Interior Ministry tonight or tomorrow. This announcement will be followed by a final appeals process for disqualified candidates, and the Guardian Council will release a final list of parliamentary candidates on February 16.
Assembly of Experts Chairman and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi emphasized the role of the Assembly of Experts, the body charged with selecting the next supreme leader, by stating that the Assembly’s duties include “supervising” the Supreme Leader to ensure that he remains fit for office. Yazdi’s comments are surprising, given that the Assembly of Experts’ ability to “supervise” the Supreme Leader – as enshrined in Article 111 of the Iranian Constitution – is a particularly controversial topic among regime members. The conservative establishment denounced this notion as “erroneous and incorrect” when Ayatollah Ali Akbar Rafsanjani mentioned it during an interview last year. Yazdi also defended the Guardian Council’s extensive vetting of candidates for the Assembly by stating, “The Assembly of Experts is not the place for the immature, the politically biased....” For more information on the Guardian Council’s vetting process for the Assembly of Experts, see “Moderates face uphill battle in Assembly of Experts” by Iran analysts Paul Bucala and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton.
Iranian news outlets reported that at least five additional Iranians were killed in Syria. Two were reportedly killed in the new pro-regime offensive to re-establish supply lines to several besieged towns northwest of Aleppo City.
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.”
Interior Minister praises vetting process. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli expressed his “satisfaction” with the Guardian Council’s ongoing review of disqualified parliamentary candidates on February 4. He stated that “from a legal perspective, the Interior Ministry does not have a relationship with the rejection or confirmation of qualifications in the Provincial Supervisory Boards,” but added that the Interior Ministry pursued the issue of disqualifications with the Guardian Council “due to feelings of responsibility.” While the Interior Ministry conducted the first round of qualification reviews, the Provincial Supervisory Boards recently disqualified nearly 60 percent of parliamentary candidates during the second round of qualifications review. The Guardian Council is currently conducting the third and final round. Fazli said that the reviews have proceeded “well” so far and stated, “The number of those who were accepted is such that we will have good competition among candidates… God willing, the framework of the Constitution will be implemented, the rights of people will not be damaged, and a healthy electoral competition will take place.” The Guardian Council is expected to release its semifinal list of parliamentary candidates to the Interior Ministry tonight or tomorrow. This announcement will be followed by a final appeals process for disqualified candidates, and the Guardian Council will release a final list of parliamentary candidates on February 16. (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
Yazdi: Supervision of the Supreme Leader is a duty of the Assembly of Experts. Assembly of Experts Chairman and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi called the Assembly of Experts a “critical base” of the Islamic Republic “alongside the Supreme Leader” during a conference entitled “The Status, Function, and Workings of the Assembly of Experts.” Yazdi stated that the Assembly’s duties include “supervising” the supreme leader’s religious and managerial qualifications in order to ensure that he remains fit for office. Yazdi also defended the Guardian Council’s extensive vetting of candidates for the Assembly by stating, “The Assembly of Experts is not the place for the immature, the politically biased, or the elderly who cannot work.”
- Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani also defended the Guardian Council’s vetting process during a speech delivered at the conference. The Supreme Leader’s Chief of Staff added that Assembly of Experts’ “supervision of the Supreme Leader means ensuring that the Supreme Leader does not lose his conditions of leadership.” Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the Assembly of Experts vice chairman, also defended the Guardian Council’s disqualification process during a speech at the conference.
- Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda warned that “the enemy’s best way to infiltrate” Iran is by means of “Western-leaning people entering the Parliament and reaching the political system’s decision-making veins.” (Fars News Agency) (ILNA) (ISNA) (Mehr News Agency) (Mehr News Agency) (Mehr News Agency)
Former BBC reporter arrested. Translator and former BBC Persian reporter Bahman Daroshafaei was reportedly arrested in his home on February 3. There are still no official reports explaining the reasons behind his arrest. (Kaleme)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Basij Organization member killed in Syria. Ali Hajjivand was a member of the Basij Imam Hossein Battalion located in Dezful, Khuzestan province. The Basij Imam Hossein Battalions are composed of Basij war veterans and are integrated into the IRGC’s provincial ground units. (Fars News Agency)
Two IRGC members killed in Syria. Mohammad Hossein Saraji and Sajjad Roshanaei were both members of the IRGC 17th Ali Ibn-e Abi-Taleb Division. Fars News Agency reported that they were killed in the new pro-regime offensive to re-establish supply lines to several besieged towns northwest of Aleppo City. (Fars News Agency)
- Two Iranians killed in Syria. Rahman Payee and Eyman Azarbouyeh were reportedly killed in Syria. No information on their ranks or unit affiliation was given. (Fars News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Zarif: We have sent $2.8 billion in aid to Syria. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to London to attend a conference on providing “financial aid to Syria.” The Foreign Minister reportedly “called for the establishment of a ceasefire in Syria.” Zarif also mentioned that Iran has sent $2.8 billion in aid to Syria over the course of the conflict and added that Iran is “focusing its efforts on sending humanitarian aid to displaced Syrians,” including the establishment of clinics and hospitals. Zarif also held separate meetings with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and British Prime Minister David Cameron. (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency) (Video)