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: Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, will formally contest his disqualification as a candidate in the Assembly of Experts elections.

Hassan Khomeini stated that “the demands of the public” compelled him to formally contest his disqualification as a candidate in the February 26 Assembly of Experts elections. He stated that it is “unlikely” that the Guardian Council will reverse its decision to disqualify him, however. Khomeini has until January 30 to file his complaint; the Guardian Council will then review his and other disqualified candidates’ appeals and create a finalized list of approved candidates by February 9.

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.”

Domestic Politics

  • Khomeini protests his disqualification. Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini, a grandson of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, stated that he will file a formal complaint over his disqualification from the Assembly of Experts elections during a speech on January 29. Disqualified candidates have until January 30 to file complaints to the Guardian Council, the political body charged with overseeing the vetting process. The Guardian Council will then review the appeals and create a finalized list of approved candidates by February 9.
    • Khomeini added that it is “unlikely” that the Guardian Council will reverse its decision, given that it could not establish his religious credentials for the Assembly in the first round of review despite “the testimonies of grand ayatollahs, my lectures, and my writings.” Khomeini stated that he is nonetheless pursuing his complaint “ due to the demands of the public” as well as some clergymen and politicians. Khomeini also denied “rumors” that he had received an invitation to a religious examination, which he did not attend, for Assembly candidates in early January.
    • While Khomeini referred to himself as “a solider for the people, ideals, and path of Imam Khomeini,” he also defended the Guardian Council, stating that “no behavior should create the perception that [electoral] competition in the Islamic Republic is facing difficulty, or that the democratic institutions of this political order, including the Assembly of Experts… are [being elected] with the stain of closed competition.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader: The Assembly of Experts is not a political institution.Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader and Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda discussed the parliamentary and Assembly of Expert elections during his Friday prayer sermon. He applauded the Guardian Council’s extensive vetting process of candidates and argued that the Assembly of Experts “is not the field for politics or competition.” The Guardian Council has disqualified several prominent moderate candidates for the Assembly of Experts, including  Hassan Khomeini and his father-in-law Mohammad Mousavi Bojnourdi. (Asriran)

Military and Security

  • Jafari reiterates significance of cultural threat to the Islamic Revolution. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated, “As a military expert, I say that we do not have any defense or security concerns; they have instead been replaced by cultural concerns.” Jafari also stated:
    • “Our most important task today… is to protect the political, cultural, and moral boundaries of the Islamic Revolution; we must use all of our capacities in this regard.” 
    • “The cultural jihad in the Islamic Revolution is not less important than the martial and defensive jihad; today, our real need is on [the cultural] front. The cultural war is permanent and will never be finished; as long as there is an Islamic Revolution and an enemy, the cultural war and jihad is ongoing.” (Mehr News Agency)
  • Basij stages military drills. Basij Organization forces began military drills, named “Beit ol Moghaddas,” on the islands of Hormuz and Qeshm in the Persian Gulf on January 29. (Fars News Agency(E)
  • Artesh Navy reportedly surveils U.S. aircraft carrier. Iranian state TV reported that an Artesh Navy drone and Ghadir-class submarine took surveillance video and pictures of a U.S. aircraft carrier while conducting the third day of the Velayat 94 exercises off the southeastern Makran coast on the Iran-Pakistan border.
    • Sayyari touts new cruise missile. During a press conference at the conclusion of the third day of the exercises, Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari heralded the test-firing of the new surface-to-surface Nour cruise missile. Sayyari said the missile has a range of 150 km. (Fars News Agency) (E) (Tasnim News Agency) (Defa Press)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Rouhani: We are “not seeking tension” with the U.S. President Hassan Rouhani stated that Iran “is not seeking tension with the Americans” during an interview with French television channel FRANCE 24. He added that Iran and the U.S. “have a long road ahead, but our countries’ problems will not remain constant.” He also called upon Riyadh to “show the initiative” to restore diplomatic relations, claiming that Iran has already fulfilled its obligations after the January 2 attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran by condemning the attack and arresting the attackers. (IRNA)
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