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: Iran accused Saudi Arabia of supporting the participation of terrorist groups in the upcoming Syrian peace talks.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian accused Saudi Arabia of pushing for “terrorist groups” to participate in the Syrian peace talks, which are scheduled to begin on January 29 in Geneva, Switzerland. President Hassan Rouhani also said that “Syria’s problem” is not its President Bashar al Assad during a press conference with French President Francois Hollande on January 28.

Iranian and French companies signed several economic agreements during President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to France, including the purchase of Airbus planes. French oil and gas company Total signed an agreement with the National Iranian Oil Company that allows Total to purchase between 150,000 and 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Iran.

Iranian news outlets reported that two Afghans killed in Syria were buried in Iran.

Matthew McInnis explains the challenges facing President Hassan Rouhani following Implementation Day, including marshalling support for his budget and the Sixth Five-year Development Plan, dealing with dismal economic projections, and preparing his coalition for the February 26 elections, in his latest blog post, “After the nuclear deal, Rouhani’s real fights are just beginning.”

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Abdollahian: Saudi Arabia must not include terrorist groups in Syria peace talks. Hossein Amir Abdollahian accused Saudi Arabia of pushing for “terrorist groups” to participate in the upcoming Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland on January 29. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs called Saudi Arabia’s behavior “counterproductive” and stated, “Terrorists with a new mask must not be present at the negotiating table with the representatives of Syrian [government] officials. This is the most important condition.” Abdollahian also noted that the countries involved in the talks have also failed to agree which groups should be designated as “terrorist.” Abdollahian nonetheless stated that Iran “is optimistic” about the talks. Abdollahian, who met with Russian officials in Moscow yesterday, also said, “We will continue to support Syria in all areas. Iran and Russia will support this country as it deals with the dangers it faces.” (Mehr News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
  • Rouhani: “Syria’s problem” is not Assad. President Hassan Rouhani called for intelligence cooperation between Iran and France in counterterrorism efforts in Iraq during a press conference with French President Francois Hollande. Rouhani referred to Syrian President Bashar al Assad and stated, “Syria’s problem today is not this or that person, but rather terrorism, ISIS and the people who buy oil from it, sell weapons to it, and politically support terrorist groups.” (Mehr News Agency) (ISNA) (ILNA)

Domestic Politics 

  • Principlist leader emphasizes Principlists’ opposition to American influence. Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani discussed the upcoming elections to Parliament and the Assembly of Experts in a speech on January 28. The Secretary-General of the Principlist Combatant Clergy Association reiterated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s concerns that the U.S. “wants to infiltrate Parliament and the Assembly of Experts,” the body charged with selecting Khamenei’s successor, and emphasized the Principlists’ devotion to blocking American influence.
    • Kermani added that the Principlist Coalition Central Council, a centralized body of prominent Principlist figures, will be submitting a 30-person list of its endorsed Principlist candidates for Tehran soon. He added that there will be a nationwide list as well. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Haddad Adel: Nearly all the Principlist candidates for Tehran were approved. Principlist Parliamentarian Gholam Ali Haddad Adel told reporters that the Guardian Council has disqualified only “one or two” of the 180 Principlist candidates who have registered for parliamentary elections in Tehran. The Guardian Council is currently reviewing appeals from candidates who have been disqualified in the second of three rounds of qualification review and will create a semifinal list of candidates by February 5. (ILNA)
  • No reformist parliamentary candidates approved to run in Fars province. Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported that the Provincial Supervisory Boards, which fall under the Guardian Council and conducted the second round of qualifications review, have rejected the qualifications of Reformists in all nine parliamentary electoral districts in Fars province. The Provincial Supervisory Boards have come under increasing criticism from moderates for disproportionately disqualifying reformist candidates. (ILNA)
  • Rouhani approved to run for the Assembly of Experts. The Guardian Council has approved the qualifications of President Hassan Rouhani, who is currently a sitting member of the Assembly of Experts, to run for reelection in the Assembly of Expert elections. (Alef)
  • Guardian Council member defends vetting process. A group from among the 50 sitting parliamentarians who were recently disqualified from the upcoming parliamentary elections met with Guardian Council member Mohsen Esmaeili on January 28. Esmaeili emphasized the importance of disqualifications, telling the parliamentarians, “If someone who is unqualified to enter Parliament does enter Parliament due to our carelessness or exceptions, then we [the Guardian Council] have acted against the right of the people.” Esmaeili is an influential part of the vetting process as a member of the Guardian Council, which is charged with overseeing the disqualifications. (ISNA)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Afghan fighters buried in Tehran and Mashhad.
    • An Afghan fighter killed in Syria was buried in Tehran province. He was likely a member of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade, an IRGC-linked unit largely recruited from Afghan refugees in Iran.
    • Moheb Ali Rahman, a member of the Fatimiyoun Brigade killed in Syria in April, was buried in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province. His body was only recently identified. (Tehran News) (Defa Press)
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