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: Friday prayer leaders denounced the attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an but criticized Turkey’s continued support for opposition groups in Syria.
Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami stated that “opposing the coup does not mean that we do not have any criticism of the Turkish president.” He also called for Erdo?an to apologize for supporting ISIS in Syria and normalizing relations with Israel. Interim Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Hashem Hosseini Bushehri, meanwhile, called the coup a “golden opportunity” for the Turkish government to “reconcile with its neighbors and cease all of its policies aimed at destroying the military and economic foundations of Syria.” The sermons appear to qualify Iranian authorities’ previous statements of support for the Turkish government following the attempted coup on July 15.
- Matthew McInnis analyzes Iran’s offensive cyber strategy in "How much should we fear Iranian cyber proxies?"
- 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.”
Tehran Friday prayer leader: We still take issue with Turkey’s foreign policy. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami condemned the recent coup attempt in Turkey during his Friday prayer sermon. He clarified, however, that “opposing the coup does not mean that we do not have any criticism of the Turkish president. A little while ago, the Turkish president apologized to Russia for the downing of the Russian warplane, but the Turkish president owes two other apologies.” Khatami specified that President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an “must apologize” for supporting ISIS in Syria and normalizing relations with Israel. (Mehr News Agency)
- Interim Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Hashem Hosseini Bushehri called the attempted coup in Turkey a “golden opportunity” for the Turkish government to “reconcile with its neighbors and cease all of its policies aimed at destroying the military and economic foundations of Syria.” (Fars News Agency)
- Hamedan Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ghiaseddin Taha Mohammadi stated that Erdo?an “arrested about ten thousand people on charges of treason against democracy… With the excuse of reviving the Ottoman Empire, he has displaced many Syrians and Iraqis in dealing with the Islamic State.” (ISNA)
Moderate group defects from coalition with reformists. A group of parliamentarians affiliated with the moderate-reformist coalition known as the “List of Hope” left the coalition in order to form a separate faction, according to reformist newspaper Shargh. The Hope faction had formed in the run-up to the spring 2016 parliamentary elections and had received a plurality, but not a majority, of seats in the 290-member Parliament. Thirty-five parliamentarians, including some from the conservative Followers of the Velayat faction, reportedly attended the first session of the newly-formed faction. Mohammad Sadeghi, a member of the Hope faction’s presiding board, said that the politicians who left the Hope faction are attributing their decision to the fear of disqualification by the Guardian Council, which vets all electoral candidates and has disproportionately targeted reformists. He called the politicians’ reasoning “unjustified” and an “excuse,” stating, “The Guardian Council certainly does not disqualify someone based on their membership in a political faction.” Sadeghi also noted that “the future of the Velayat faction is not bright.” The defections from the Hope faction will further weaken its influence in Parliament after it failed to secure more than a handful of parliamentary commission chairmanships. (Shargh) (ILNA)
- Parliamentarian stresses importance of political parties. Deputy parliament speaker and moderate-conservative politician Ali Motahari called political parties one of the “important necessities of democracy” during an interview on July 21. He stated, “The people were bewildered during the elections and didn’t know who to trust. They voted based on their knowledge of candidates’ parties… Parties can promote honesty and righteousness in society.” He added that political parties are compatible with velayat-e faqih, or guardianship of the jurist, the doctrine behind the institution of the supreme leader. Iran currently has a weak party system. (ILNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader criticizes U.S. Congress for “bills against Iran.” Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda claimed that Congress has “passed 52 bills against Iran since the JCPOA was signed” and noted that the UN has not had “any response” to the U.S., even when it has criticized Iran’s missile tests for being “inconsistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal. Alam ol Hoda added that “the enemy is aware of our power, but unfortunately we are not.” (Mehr News Agency)
Military and Security
- Iran sends seven teams to Russia’s International Army Games. IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, the new head of the Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS), announced that Iran is sending 204 Artesh, IRGC, Law Enforcement Forces, and Basij Organization personnel in seven teams to participate in the International Army Games, which are scheduled to be held from July 30 to August 13 in Kazakhstan and Russia. The International Army Games will feature forces from 19 countries, including Venezuela, China, and Egypt. (Defa Press) (TASS)