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 Shayan Enferadi. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Key takeaway: IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari warned that “some politicians” are implicated in the case against the former head of Bank Mellat, whom the IRGC Intelligence Organization arrested on corruption charges on July 19. 

The IRGC Commander clarified that Ali Rastegar Sorkhei, the former head of Bank Mellat, was arrested due to his involvement in a corruption scam “larger” than the ongoing scandal over exorbitant salaries for government officials. Jafari also championed the IRGC’s role in investigating cases related to “security issues, economic corruption, and the issue of ‘influence.” Iranian officials have repeatedly warned that the U.S. and its allies are attempting to subvert the Iranian regime by “influencing” Iranian decision-making. In September 2015, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneisingled out the IRGC Intelligence Organization as being responsible for countering Western “infiltration” in the wake of the nuclear deal.

The twelve-member Guardian Council re-elected hardline cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati as its secretary general, a position he has held since 1992. Abbasali Kadkhodaei and Mohammad Reza Alizadeh were also elected as the Council’s spokesman and vice president respectively. Jannati was also recently elected chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a group of clerics formally charged with selecting the next supreme leader.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against three senior al Qaeda members located in Iran. Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi worked as a “mediator” with Iranian officials as early as 2015, according to the Treasury, while Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn controlled the financing and organization of al Qaeda members in Iran. Iran has a long record of giving limited support to al Qaeda members, allegations that Tehran has repeatedly denied.

AEI Must-Reads

  • Paul Bucala and Ken Hawrey document Iran’s aerial resupply network to Syria as part of Tehran’s expanding ground campaign to support Assad in “Iran’s Airbridge to Syria.”
  • Michael Rubin discusses recent warming in Iran-Russia ties in the context of the historical popular enmity between the two states in “Iran-Russia Relations.”

Domestic Politics

  • IRGC Commander: The former head of Bank Mellat was implicated in more than the salary scandal. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari discussed the IRGC’srecent arrest of Ali Rastegar Sorkhei, the former head of Bank Mellat, and one of his deputies on the sidelines of a meeting with IRGC Ground Forces commanders in the city of Mashhad. He stated:
    • “People believe that this arrest was related to the ‘astronomical salary’ issue. Certainly, this was one of the violations. But this individual was arrested due to his involvement in a larger corruption scam.”
    • Jafari noted that the arrested individuals were part of a “network, and some politicians are also involved in this network.”
    • “This is only one of the intelligence projects that the IRGC is pursuing in relation to security issues, economic corruption, and the issue of ‘influence.’” (Khabar Online) (Basij Press) (Raja News)
  • Jannati re-elected as Guardian Council secretary general. The Guardian Council re-elected Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati as the Council’s secretary general for a six-year term. Abbasali Kadkhodaei and Mohammad Reza Alizadeh were also elected as spokesman and vice president of the Council, respectively. Jannati, who is also chair of the Assembly of Experts, has been secretary of the Guardian Council since 1992. (ANA)
  • Larijani: Iran has no choice but to “counteract” West’s “injurious” actions against nuke deal. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s bi-annual report on the nuclear deal and the three Iran-related bills recently under Congressional review. He stated that the Parliament, “utterly regretting the UN chief’s move, is warning the US administration and its House of Representatives and Senate that such injurious measures against the nuclear agreement have reached such a point that there is no way left for Iran but to counteract.” Larijani continued, “It is necessary that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as per the law, [prepare] a plan for the launch of a nuclear plant for enrichment in grades needed in the country.” Larijani also censured the U.N. secretary general’s criticism of IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s trips to Iraq, stating: “Instead of thanking Iran and the Quds Force… you issue this false indictment.” (Press TV) (E) (Mehr News Agency)
    • Salehi: The AEOI isn’t going to build an enrichment facility. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi reacted to Larijani’s suggestion that the AEOI craft a plan to construct an enrichment facility. He stated, “Mr. Larijani’s purpose [for discussing] the building of an enrichment facility was the debate on the reversibility [of the nuclear deal]. A new facility isn’t on the agenda.” (Mehr News Agency

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Shamkhani: Unlike other neighbors, Iran condemned Turkey coup immediately. Ali Shamkhani discussed the attempted coup in Turkey and Iran-Russia cooperation in Syria during an interview with Lebanese newspaper al Ahed.
    • On the attempted coup: The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) secretary criticized regional countries who adopted a “hybrid stance against the military coup in Turkey” for “pursuing their own interests.” He stated, “Iran condemned the coup from its first moments and considered it to be a violation of democracy and popular sovereignty.” 
    • On Syria and Iran-Russia cooperation: Shamkhani called Iran, Russia, and Syria’s military cooperation “successful.” He also “said that the conspiracy to weaken the Syrian government is a Zionist-US plot aiming to abolish the Resistance movement to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.” (IRNA) (E) (Mehr News Agency)
  • Abdollahian: The Foreign Ministry’s regional policies have not changed. Former Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said that IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani is invaluable to the governments of Iraq and Syria and that the region is indebted to him. He also rejected the notion that the Foreign Ministry’s regional policies changed when Abdollahian was replaced as deputy foreign minister He added that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif must manage the country’s regional policy within the framework of the Constitution. (Mehr News Agency(E) (IRNA)
  • Sheikholeslam to become new ambassador to Syria. Hossein Sheikholeslam, the current international affairs deputy to the parliament speaker, will become the Iranian ambassador to Syria, according to a report from Mashregh News. Former Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian is replacing Sheikoleslam as the new international affairs deputy to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. (Mashregh News)

Military and Security

  • Defense Minister: The S-300 system has been delivered and deployed. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan reportedly confirmed that Russia has delivered the S-300 missile defense system during a meeting with Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission. Dehghan added that Iran has “integrated” it into Iran’s missile defense network. Tasnim News Agency recently reported that Iran received the PMU-2 version of the S-300, which is significantly more advanced than the PMU-1 version some observers assessed Iran had purchased. (Fars News Agency(E)
  • Intelligence forces arrest “saboteurs” in southeastern province. Brig. Gen. Hossein Rahimi, the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) commander of Sistan and Baluchistan province, announced that Iranian intelligence forces arrested “a group of saboteurs” planning to conduct attacks in the southeastern border city of Khash, Sistan and Baluchistan province. (Tasnim News Agency(E)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Five Afghan fighters to be buried in Tehran. Iranian news agencies reported that the bodies of five Fatimiyoun fighters will be buried in Tehran on July 21. They were reportedly killed near the city of Aleppo, Syria. (Tasnim News Agency
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