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 Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Farzin Farzad, Diana Timmerman and Warren Marshall. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: The Foreign Ministry implored Yemeni parties and movements to keep to the September peace agreement. Former Ahmadinejad VP Mohammad Reza Rahimi was sentenced to five years on corruption charges. IRGC Brigadier General Majid Mir Ahmadi said that Hezbollah’s response to Israel’s January 18 airstrike will be “hard” and “painful.”
The Foreign Ministry implored parties and political movements involved in the recent turmoil in Yemen to remain committed to the September peace deal, in which the rebel al Houthi group agreed to withdraw from major cities in exchange for the formation of a more inclusive unity government. Iran has been careful to maintain relations with the administration and the al Houthis since September; the foreign ministry’s comments indicate Iran’s continued backing, for now, of a balance of power with a strong al Houthi position in the Yemeni government.
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi was sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges, making him the first high-profile former government official to be convicted during the current administration’s vocal anti-corruption campaign.
IRGC Brigadier General Majid Mir Ahmadi, MODAFL Human Resources Deputy, reiterated earlier IRGC commanders’ comments that Hezbollah would lead the response effort to the January18 Israeli airstrike in southeastern Syria which killed several Hezbollah members and IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi. The MODAFL Human Resources Deputy stated that the response would be “hard” and “painful” but “not hasty.” Qods Force Commander IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani purportedly attended Allah Dadi’s funeral in Tehran.
In an open letter to European and North American youth, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged them to consider the reasons behind Islamophobia’s “widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam” and to “…gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion.” The Supreme Leader’s comments echo the recent uptick in regime rhetoric pushing back against Islamophobia.
Supreme Leader addresses young European and North Americans in open letter. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the youth of Europe and North America to be attentive and seek out the truth about Islam, rather than succumbing to Islamophobia. Khamenei’s letter read in part:
- “Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy.”
- “American and European history is ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodshed wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.”
- “I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to current problems?”
- “What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.”
- “My second request is…try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion.”
- “I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices.”
- “I would like you not to allow [others’] building of derogatory and offensive images [of Islam] to create an emotional gulf between you and reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the media have removed geographical borders.” (Khamene.ir)
Rouhani: The West knows it is losing its conflict with religious followers. President Hassan Rouhani addressed government officials about the conflict between religion and freedom of expression. Rouhani stated that it is the task of all Muslims to know their identity and engage in peaceful public protest, but not to abuse others out of emotion. Rouhani condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and also criticized the “new wave” of Islamophobia in the West that has allowed ridicule of the prophet who is highly regarded by Muslims around the world. (President.ir)
Ahmadinejad’s Vice President sentenced to five years in prison and fined. Mohammad Reza Rahimi was convicted based on corruption charges and sentenced to five years and 91 days in prison. Rahimi, who was appointed Vice President by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, is the highest ranking official from that administration to have been convicted. Rahimi was also ordered to pay 28.5 billion rials as restitution and was fined an additional 10 billion rials. (IRNA)
Salami: The Islamic Republic is the guardian of unity among Muslim nations. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami spoke with members of the scientific community of the Oman National Defense College and emphasized the religious and geopolitical commonalities between Iran, Oman, and all Muslim nations. The IRGC Deputy Commander mentioned that until the successful Islamic Revolution in Iran the Muslim world was subject to Jewish and Christian authority. The IRGC Deputy Commander spoke out strongly against Israel, saying it is small and weak and only appears strong when Muslim countries are weak. He added that Iran has the military power to protect all Muslim nations, and praised the successes of Hezbollah and the Palestinians in their wars against the Zionist Regime. (Sepah News)
Tehran implores Yemeni groups to remain committed to the peace deal. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham pointed to the recent developments in Sanaa and called on all Yemeni parties to practice “self-restraint and avoid violence.” (Mehr News)
Rafsanjani: the historic defeat of Israel has already begun. Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani met with Ahmed Jibril, founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Rafsanjani said that on several occasions, Lebanese fighters in Lebanon and Gaza have publicized Israel’s failures. Rafsanjani also said that “The West and East of those [earlier] days, with all their difference, had a common role of building a multi-colonial outpost in the heart of the Middle East.” Jibril stated, “As the disciples and trustees of the Imam [first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini], you and Imam Khamenei transmit the revolution through difficult times.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Tehran Mayor on the polarization of society from economic policies. Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said that despite all the negative effects of economic hardship on the families of the Tehran municipality, its economic policies have been focused on both the progress and growth of its citizens and the development of the city. The Mayor of Tehran and former IRGC Brig. Gen. said that the city’s cultural sector and the development of cultural and educational spaces have increased substantially over the past decades. However, Ghalibaf emphasized that although culture is very important to society, in Tehran the cultural arena has trumped education, creating a divide. (ISNA)
Larijani: Muslims should unite in condemning Israel’s terrorist attack on Syria. During a meeting with a parliamentary delegation from Lebanon, Ali Larijani stressed that Muslims should “cohesively…strongly condemn” the recent “terrorist” Israeli airstrike in Syria. (Fars News Agency)
Moghaddam: Israel’s terrorist attacks on Lebanon gave birth to Hezbollah. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam compared Israel’s recent airstrike in Syria to its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, saying both events had backfired and produced unintended consequences for Jerusalem. Moghaddam added that Pakistan’s inability to control its border with Sistan and Baluchistan had forced Iran to secure both sides of the boundary line. According to Moghaddam, NAJA is also implementing water, electricity, and road-building projects in this region in cooperation with the IRGC. (Mehr News)
Hossein Hamedani attributes Hezbollah’s growing strength to enemy miscalculations. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani hailed IRGC Brig. Gen. Allah Dadi’s martyrdom and said:
- “God promised that if you resist…victory will be yours. God also promised that your enemies were created the most stupid and they will make mistakes.”
- “Once the enemy was wrong and came to southern Lebanon and Hezbollah was born. Then they went to Syria and another Hezbollah was born, and this year they came to Iraq and another Hezbollah was born.”
- “Today Hezbollah is like a shining sun in the region.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Qassem Soleimani reportedly attends funeral for fallen general. IRGC Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani reportedly attended the funeral of IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi. IRGC Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghani, Deputy Qods Force Commander, spoke at the ceremony and mentioned that “thanks to God, the land of the Zionist Regime is intersected with missiles of the resistance.” (Defa Press)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Imam Ali Brigades prepared to fight against Israel. The Iraqi Imam Ali Brigades expressed their “readiness to submit to and obey the Lebanese resistance and [Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General] Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah” against Israel in response to a January 18 airstrike which killed six Hezbollah members and an IRGC general in southeastern Syria. (Mehr News)
IRGC Brigadier General says Lebanese Hezbollah will respond to the Israeli attack. Seyyed Majid Mir Ahmadi said that Hezbollah is determined to show proper reaction to the airstrike, but will not act hastily; they will show Israel a “hard” and “painful” response. The Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) Human Resources Deputy said given the circumstances and the internal state of Israel, the response will require an accurate assessment to determine the appropriate time, place, and how to reciprocate. Mir Ahmadi added that the Syrian government has been established despite the efforts of terrorists to topple the regime and that Syria’s security situation will only improve in the coming months. Regarding Iraq, Mir Ahmadi said that the situation is much better than in Syria and that freedom and security will be returned to the Iraqi people, both Shi’a and Sunni, in those areas that have been captured by terrorists. (Defa Press)
Foreign Minister Leads Delegation to World Economic Forum. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will lead a delegation to attend the 45th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Zarif will be accompanied by Presidential Chief of Staff Mohamed Nahavandian, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, and Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi. Zarif briefly announced that his meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the nuclear negotiations will be comprehensive, with the possibility to meet with the foreign ministers of other P5+1 countries. According to foreign media, Zarif and Kerry agreed last week to meet on the 3rd and 4th of February in Zurich. (ISNA)
- Larijani meets with Pakistani counterpart. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani visited Sardar Ayaz Sadiq while in Turkey to attend the tenth meeting of the Parliamentary Union of Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries. Sadiq said the two states would continue to improve relations regardless of the wishes of Western countries. (Fars News Agency)
- New round of US-Iran negotiations in Zurich. Iran and the United States will hold two days of nuclear talks in Zurich beginning on Friday. The Iranian delegation will be led by Abbas Araghchi, International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister, and will also include Majid Takht Ravanchi, the Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs; Hamid Baeidinejad General Director for International Politics and Security; Davoud Mohammad Nia, adviser to the Foreign Minister; Mohammad Amiri, General Director for Safeguards Affairs at the AEOI; and Pezhman Rahimian of the AEOI. Wendy Sherman, Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, will represent the US delegation. Federica Mogherini, the new EU Foreign Policy Chief, and her deputy Helga Schmid will represent the EU. (IRNA)