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: The spokesman for the Guardian Council announced that he believes around a quarter of the parliamentary candidates who had been disqualified may be allowed to run.

Guardian Council Spokesman Nejatollah Ebrahimian told reporters that his “guess” is that the Guardian Council has overturned the disqualifications of “more than 20 or 25 percent” of parliamentary candidates in the latest round of qualifications review. He did not announce official statistics, the number of Reformist candidates, or their provincial breakdown. The impact of the decisions on the outcome of the elections is therefore impossible to determine at this time. The Guardian Council was scheduled to submit a semifinal list of parliamentary candidates to the Interior Ministry, which has advocated for allowing even more disqualified candidates to run, on February 4. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated yesterday that he is “satisfied” with his interactions with the Guardian Council, possibly indicating that some compromise between the Rouhani administration and the Guardian Council had been reached.

Iranian media has reported the deaths of at least 11 Iranians in Syria over the last two days. Many of them were reportedly killed during operations to break the opposition’s siege of the towns of Nubl and al Zahra, which are located north 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.”

Domestic Politics

  • Guardian Council spokesman discusses disqualification reversals. Guardian Council Spokesman Nejatollah Ebrahimian told reporters that around a quarter of the disqualified parliamentary candidates have had their disqualifications reversed by the Guardian Council in the latest round of qualifications review. He stated, “Based on the work that I did myself, my guess is that more than 20 or 25 percent of the people [who were originally disqualified] have had their qualifications confirmed.” He added that “complete statistics” for reversed disqualifications “are not yet clear.” Further information on the disqualifications, including the number of Reformist candidate approvals, has not yet been published.
    • The Guardian Council released a statement informing candidates who remain disqualified that there is still one remaining appeals process. Disqualified candidateshave until February 8 to file a complaint, and the Guardian Council will submit its finalized list of candidates by February 16 to the Interior Ministry. (ISNA)
  • Alam ol Hoda fires back at Rafsanjani’s criticism of Guardian Council. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda criticized Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s February 1 comments, in which he challenged the Guardian Council’s right to vet candidates by stating, “Where did you get your qualifications? Who allowed you to judge?” Alam ol Hoda stated, “Unfortunately, some people inside the country are pleasing the enemy by insulting Guardian Council members and are paving the way for its [the enemy’s] influence.” The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader said that the Guardian Council received the right to govern from former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini and added, “Must we question this qualification?” Alam ol Hoda also highlighted several reasons “why the West considers the current moment appropriate for infiltration” into Iranian society, including some “political currents’ attachment to the West." 
    • Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani reiterated the Supreme Leader’s January 20 call for high voter turnout in the February Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections during his Friday prayer sermon. (Mehr News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Reformist politician: “The current situation is not favorable for the Reformists.” Hossein Marashi, a member of the Reformist Policymaking Committee, discussed the Reformists’ efforts ahead of the parliamentary elections during a lengthy interview with Iranian Student News Agency. Marashi noted that the “current situation” is not ideal for Reformists but expressed cautious optimism that the Guardian Council’s reversal of disqualifications “would change this atmosphere.” He denied rumors that the Reformists would form a coalition with “moderate Principlists” and instead noted that the Reformists will only “support” the “moderate Principlists” during the elections. Marashi also noted that the Assembly of Experts elections will be “more restrictive” than the parliamentary elections for the Reformists. (ISNA)
  • Haddad Adel praises Principlists as defending against enemy infiltration. Spokesman for the Principlist Coalition Gholam Ali Haddad Adel praised Principlists for serving as “the defense of [Iranian] values” during a Principlist conference on February 5. He also warned that “the enemy” seeks to infiltrate Iranian politics through the ongoing Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections; he stated that the enemy “intends to make a specific [political] current victorious by engineering the elections through a false propaganda campaign and labelling revolutionary forces as radicals and extremists.”
    • Haddad Adel told reporters separately that the Principlist Coalition will publish a list of its endorsed candidates for Tehran province within three days. He warned, “Even if the Principlists were united, their victory would not be easy.” (Mehr News Agency) (IRNA)

Regional Developments and Security

  • Rezaei disparages Saudi Arabia’s and Turkey’s “desperate” involvement in Iraq and Syria. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei said that Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s “desperate attempts at supporting insurgents in Iraq and Syria” are “pointless.” The former IRGC Commander congratulated “the Supreme Leader, the people and the government of Syria, and each of the Resistance Front fighters” on lifting the opposition’s siege of the towns of Nubl and al Zahra, Aleppo province. (Asr Iran)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Supreme Leader meets with families of Iranians killed in Syria and Iraq. Khat-e Hezbollah, a publication distributed by, published Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's comments during a meeting with the families of Iranians killed both in Syria and Iraq. The Supreme Leader praised the service of Iranians and noted, “If your martyrs had not gone to fight the enemy, the enemy would have come to enter our country. We would have to fight the enemy here in Kermanshah and Hamedan and other provinces…” A disproportionate majority of Iranian casualties that have been reported in recent months have been killed in Syria, with over 20 casualties reported over the past few days. (Tabnak)
  • 11 Iranians reportedly killed in Syria.
    • Ahlul Bayt News Agency reported that Firouz Hamidizadeh and IRGC 1st Lt. Mohammad Ebrahaim Tofighian were killed “in the past few days during operations” to break the opposition’s siege of Nubl and al Zahra, which are located north of Aleppo City. Hamidzadeh and Tofighian were both from North Khorasan province. (ABNA)
    • Hojjat ol Eslam Mohammad Ali Ghalizadeh was reportedly the Supreme Leader’s representative to the “security unit” within the Ali Ibn Abu Taleb unit of Qom province. He will be buried in Qom province. (Basijnews)
    • Ali Akbar Arabi was reportedly the deputy commander of the 3rd Imam Hossein Battalion of IRGC 17th Ali Ibn Abu Taleb Division, which is based in Qom province. He will be buried in Qom province. (Basijnews)
    • Morteza Torabi was the commander of Basij Beit al Moghaddas battalion in Hamedan province. He previously was a member of the IRGC Ansar al Hossein unit of Hamedan province. (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Ali Hossein Kahkesh and Javad Mohammadi were reportedly killed in the vicinity of Nubl and al Zahra. No ranks or unit identifications were reported. (ABNA) (Tasnim News Agency)
    • IRGC Col. Safdar Heydari was reportedly from Fars province. (ABNA)
    • IRGC 2nd Lt. Hojatallah Bagheri and IRGC 2nd Lt. Ahmad Rezaei were reportedly killed “in the vicinity of Aleppo.” Ahmad Rezaei was reportedly from Nishapur, Razavi Khorasan province.  (ABNA)
    • IRGC 2nd Lt. Abuzar Daoudi appears to have been a special forces member of the IRGC Ground Forces. He was reportedly from Fars province. (
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