Iran News Round Up

The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.

Key takeaway:  Iranian officials continue to behave as though the regime does not consider the ongoing protests an existential threat to its survival.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari and the IRGC are exploiting the protests to disparage domestic rivals. Jafari - and the regime - would be more likely to focus on demonstrating a united regime front if they considered the protests an immediate threat to the regime. Jafari disparaged President Hassan Rouhani and targeted populist former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his first public reaction to the protests.  An IRGC-backed internet TV channel, Avant TV, also published and promoted an anti-Rouhani video intended to portray the protesters as chiefly displeased with Rouhani administration’s economic policies. In reality, anti-regime sentiments have dominated the protests.

Officials also continue to de-escalate the situation by separating (what they hope are) the “reconcilables” dissatisfied with Iran’s economic situation from the “irreconcilables” interested in overthrowing Khamenei.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from January 1 -3. Additional Critical Threats Project analytical products on the protests are forthcoming.

Military and Security Reactions to the Protests
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January 04, 2018

Jahromi: The SNSC decided to block access to Telegram temporarily

Information and Communication Technology Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi stated on January 3 that the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) decided to block the messaging application Telegram “temporarily.” Jahromi argued that Telegram channels allowed platforms for terrorists to coordinate vandalism and target government authorities and mosques. Jahromi warned that Telegram will remain blocked in Iran if Telegram “does not respect the will of the Iranian people” and allows “terrorist channels” to continue operating in Iran. Telegram CEO Pavel Durov confirmed that Telegram suspended the Amad News channel after it instructed subscribers to attack security forces with Molotov cocktails. Iranian authorities have restricted the public’s access to messaging and social media platforms, including the messaging applications Telegram and Whatsapp, and the social media platform Instagram at varying points during the protests.  (IRNA) (IRNA) (E) (Twitter) (E) (Twitter) (E) (Twitter) (E) (Twitter) (E) (Twitter) (E) (Twitter) (IRIB News)

January 04, 2018

State media: Pro-government demonstrations occurred in rural locations of anti-regime protests

State media reported that pro-government demonstrations occurred on December 3 in dozens of locations, including several of the smaller cities in which security forces and protesters were killed over the last few days such as Tuyserkan, Hamedan Province, and Khomeini Shahr, Esfahan Province. The pro-government demonstrations also occurred in Nahavand, Hamedan Province, Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, Qom, Qom Province, Astaney-ye Ashrafiyeh and Sankalak, Gilan Province, and Nowshahr, Mazandaran Province as well as Markazi, Kermanshah, North Khorasan, Tehran, and Ilam Provinces. Radio Farda published a user-submitted video claiming that a group of students were forced to attend one pro-government rally under threat of being kept from taking their exams. (Mehr News Agency) (E) (Instagram) (ABC) (E) (Fars News Agency)

January 04, 2018

LEF Commander: We have arrested 70 percent of protest organizers

Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari stated that security forces have arrested 70 percent of the protest organizers. IranWire reported that security forces have arrested “more than 1000 people” overall since the protests began on December 28. 450 people in Tehran had been arrested by January 2, as well as 130 people in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province, and more than 100 people in Esfahan province. Iranian state TV reportedly broadcast the confessions of some of the arrested individuals. (Iran Wire) (E)

  • Boroujerd Judiciary head Hamid Reza Bolhassani claimed that Iranian authorities arrested a European citizen in Boroujerd, Lorestan Province for instigating protests. Bolhassani said that European intelligence agencies trained the individual to provoke riots in Boroujerd. Tehran Revolutionary Court head Mousa Ghazafarabadi stated on January 2 that the death penalty is among the possible punishments for individuals arrested during the protests. (Associated Press) (E) (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Tehran Prosecutor General Jafar Dolatabadi met with individuals arrested during the protests in Tehran on January 3. ILNA reported that Dolatabadi arranged for detainees with “special situations” to make telephone calls to their families. (ILNA)

Citations & Links



3. Twitter

4. Twitter

5. Twitter

6. Twitter

7. Twitter

8. Twitter

9. IRIB News

Citations & Links

1. Mehr News Agency

2. Instagram

3. ABC

4. Fars News Agency

Citations & Links

1. Iran Wire

2. Associated Press

3. Tasnim News Agency


Domestic Political Reactions to the Protests
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January 04, 2018

Reformist politicians criticize protests

Omid Faction Leader Mohammad Reza Aref, Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahhari, and Tehran City Council Chairman Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani affirmed the people’s right to protest but stressed that the protests must remain peaceful. Rafsanjani stated that “the street protests are not the correct way to express demands, because demands get lost in the radical shouts.” Islamic Iran Participation Front Central Council member Hamid Reza Jalaeipour stated, “The reformists are wholeheartedly against the gatherings in the streets… such actions are to the detriment of Iran and of the people.” Former parliamentarian Mohammad Kianoush-Rad, Tehran City Council member Mahmoud Mirlohi, and activist Ali Soufi said that Iran lacks the civil institutions to address protesters’ demands and media outlets to express their frustrations. Reformist leadership and politicians have been notably absent from the protests. (Aftab Yazd)

  • Reformist groups decline Interior Ministry offer to apply for protest permits. News outlet Jamee Farda reported that the Interior Ministry offered reformist groups the opportunity to apply for legal permits to protest. Reformist groups did not appear to have accepted the Interior Ministry’s offer as of this past weekend. National Trust Party party member Esmail Gerami Moghadam said that his party is against the protests because “it’s possible for the situation to get out of hand and for us not to control the event.” (Jamee Farda)
January 04, 2018

Hatami: Peace is the “best way to ensure” the people’s needs are met

Defense Minister Artesh Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami stated that Iran’s government and institutions will not hesitate to attempt to resolve the “people’s problems,” in a statement on January 1. Hatami stressed that “maintaining peace and order, adherence to the law and the rule of law, and strengthening unity, coordination, and coherence for the pursuit of the people’s demands and needs are the best way to ensure public safety and the appropriate responses to the needs of the people.” (Defa News)

January 04, 2018

Jannati: Protesters with economic grievances are distinct from anti-regime protesters

Guardian Council Chairman Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati stated that “foreign” actors were responsible for the “design” of the recent protests, “which were coordinated by some domestic elements and with the use of cyberspace” in a statement on January 3. Jannati also stated that “two different groups” have participated in the protests: those who participated out of “dissatisfaction over economic issues,” and those who sought who “sought to turn these gatherings into weapons to hit the country.” Jannati stressed that “the government and related institutions should address the demands” of those protesting over economic issues, but stressed that the second group is “separate” from the first group and participated in the protests “at the provocation of the enemies of Islamic Iran.” Jannati also praised the regime-mandated pro-government rallies in several major cities on January 3. (IRNA) (E)

  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Iran’s “enemies” for using “different tools including cash, weapons, politics, and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic” during his first public reaction to the ongoing protests on January 2. Khamenei stated he would “share” additional thoughts on the protests “at the right time.” ( (E)

Citations & Links

1. Aftab Yazd

2. Jamee Farda

Citations & Links

1. Defa News

Citations & Links



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