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. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Key Takeaway: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Guardian Council’s disqualification of candidates and condemned the January 12 storming of the Saudi embassy.

Khamenei addressed the recent mass disqualification of candidates during a January 20 speech. Khamenei’s remarks indicate that he is unlikely to interfere with the vetting process at this time. Given that he is the only figure who could directly overrule the Guardian Council’s decisions, the vast majority of the disqualifications will therefore likely stand.

Khamenei also publicly reacted for the first time to the January 2 storming of the Saudi embassy in response to Saudi Arabia’s killing of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. Khamenei compared the storming to the 2011 storming of the British embassy, stating that “each was harmful to the country and Islam… I also disliked them.”

Iranian media reported that an Iraqi national and member of Iraqi Shi’a militia Kata’ib Hezbollah who had been killed in Syria was buried in Qom province, Iran.

Matthew McInnis analyzes the recent Iranian detention and subsequent release of U.S. sailors in his latest blog, “Five lessons learned from Iran’s detention of US naval crew.

Domestic Politics

  • Khamenei: People against our political system should not run for Parliament. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the ongoing parliamentary elections, in which approximately 60 percent of candidates, a large number of which were Reformists, were disqualified in the second of three rounds of qualification review.
    • While Khamenei called for a high voter turnout and called robust participation in elections a demonstration of Iran’s strength, he also clarified his January 9 remark that even Iranians who disagree with the Islamic Republic’s political system should vote in the elections. He stated, “This remark does not mean that the people should want to vote those who do not accept the system into Parliament.”
    • “There is no place in the world where people who disagree with the principles of that country’s establishment are allowed into the centers of decision-making. Even in countries like America, which markets itself as a symbol of freedom… people were shoved aside for having the slightest Socialist tendencies during the era of competition between the Eastern and Western blocs.”
    • Khamenei identified several additional “requirements for healthy elections,” which included “compliance of all organs in the elections with the law and respect for the framework of the law,” “not insulting legal institutions,” “not disturbing public opinion,” and “avoiding giving impractical and illegal promises.”
    • “Certain people are constantly repeating the word ‘extremists.’ They are alluding to the pious and faithful current, but revolutionary and faithful youths should not be accused of extremism; these youths are present in the arena with absolute devotion… Whenever it is necessary to defend [Iran’s] borders and national identity, they are in the middle of the arena.” 
    • On the Navy vessel detention: Khamenei gave his “profound gratitude” to the IRGC for the recent detention of two U.S. Navy vessels that had drifted into Iranian territorial waters, reportedly following a mechanical error. He stated that the IRGC “showed Iran’s identity and strength against the enemy’s aggression” and added, “Officials should also act this way in all areas by stopping the enemy anywhere it oversteps the lines of Iran’s national interests.”
    • On the Saudi embassy attack: Khamenei criticized both the January 2 storming of the Saudi embassy and the 2011 storming of the British embassy, stating that “each was harmful to the country and Islam… I also disliked them.” He again defended those he said are mistakenly called “extremists,” stating that “such a terrible and erroneous event like the attack on the Saudi embassy… should not be attributed to revolutionary and faithful youths.”
    • Khamenei also tweeted at President Rouhani, “Removal of sanctions alone is not enough for boosting economy and improving lives of people.” Khamenei is clearly pushing back on Rouhani’s promise of economic relief after the implementation of the nuclear deal. ( (

Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Khamenei: “America is the same old America.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the nuclear deal during his January 20 speech and reiterated his previous calls to continue distrusting the U.S.
    • Khamenei rejected the notion of the nuclear deal signaling an improvement in bilateral relations, stating, “America is the same old America. Be vigilant for its treacheries during the implementation of these very results of the nuclear talks… The opposite side has a propensity for treachery. Do not trust its smile and mask.” He further claimed that “the current goals and policies of the United States are the same violent and anti-Iran goals pursued during the areas of Reagan and Bush.”
    • Khamenei called efforts to “beautify the sinister face of the arrogance,” referring to the U.S., “heinous and dangerous.” He specifically criticized interpreting the nuclear negotiations’ outcome as a “favor” from the U.S., stating, “If the neighborhood bully takes your house and property by force and you finally manage to force him out of part of your house through your own effort and pain, is that the result of the bully’s favor, or of the fruits of your own power and efforts?”
    • He complimented Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, stating that they did “important and remarkable work,” but added, “Of course I believe that it could have been executed better.” (


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Zarif: U.S.-Iran rapprochement unlikely despite nuclear deal. Mohammad Javad Zarif stated in an interview with the Associated Press that “the prospect of restoration of diplomatic relations” between the U.S. and Iran “is far away, despite the nuclear agreement.” The Foreign Minister also responded to the new U.S. sanctions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program, calling them “illegal” and “an example of America’s addiction to coercion and compulsion.” Zarif reiterated the regime’s stance that its ballistic missile program is “legal” and for purposes of “self-defense.” (ISNA

Military and Security

  •  Interior Ministry: Over 150 people have been arrested in connection with Saudi embassy attack.  Deputy Interior Minister for Security and Law Enforcement Affairs Hossein Zolfaqari stated that 154 individuals have been arrested in connection with the January 2 attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The attacks occurred in response to Saudi Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr. (Fars News Agency) (E)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Iraqi national who was killed in Syria is buried in Iran. Mohammad Ali Abdul Razak Sharif was a member of Iraqi Shi’a militia Kata’ib Hezbollah who “was deployed” to Syria. He was buried in the city of Qom. (Basij News)
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