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: The Interior Ministry confirmed that the 2017 presidential elections will be held on May 19, nearly a month earlier than originally planned.
The Interior Ministry announced that presidential elections will be held on May 19, citing concerns that an overlap with Ramadan could lead to low turnout if they were to be held as normal in June. Iranian media created confusion when it pulled reports that Guardian Council spokesman Abbasali Kadkhodaei had given an interview on the revised election date. The Guardian Council later confirmed the revised date in a statement. Elections for local office, as well as the midterm elections for empty seats in Parliament, will also be held on May 19.
Basij Organization Commander IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi reportedly toured Quneitra governorate in southern Syria, a strategically important area for IRGC, Lebanese Hezbollah, and other proxy forces.
- Caitlin Shayda Pendleton analyzes and translates a recent interview with the newly elected spokesman of the Guardian Council in “Is this proposal the future of Iranian elections?”
- J. Matthew McInnis and Daniel Schnur consider recent shifts within Iran’s military leadership, and what those changes may indicate for Iran’s military posture as it modernizes over the next decade, in “A new direction for Iran’s military?”
- J. 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.”
Presidential election to be held May 19. The Interior Ministry confirmed that the 2017 presidential election will be held on May 19, a month earlier than normal, in order to prevent it from occurring during Ramadan. The Guardian Council confirmed the date as well, but only after it denied reports in several media outlets that its spokesman had given an interview on the date. Elections for local office and the midterm elections for empty Parliament seats, including the seat for controversially disqualified reformist Minoo Khaleghi, will also be held on May 19. (Etemaad) (YJC) (Donya-e Eqtesad)
Rafsanjani’s daughter criticizes religious government. Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of influential Assembly of Experts member and Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, reportedly stated that she is “opposed” to religious government because it causes populations to become non-religious. Her remarks sparked criticism from several officials. Judiciary Cultural Deputy Hojjat ol Eslam Hadi Sadeghi, who was responding to a reporter’s question on whether Hashemi’s remarks indicate that secularism is spreading in Iran, called for such remarks to be “rejected” but added, “Such statements have been made by various individuals in the past. It is nothing new.” Ayatollah Hassan Mamdoohi, a member of the hardline Society of Qom Seminary Teachers, blamed Hashemi’s remarks on her “relationship with Baha’is” and called for the Judiciary to “confront” her. Hashemi was also the subject of controversy in May, when she refused to apologize for a controversial meeting with Baha’i leaders. (Jam Jam Online) (Tabnak) (Tasnim News Agency)
Iranian Azeris protest in Tabriz and Urmia. Protesters denounced an “anti-Azeri” article published in the Tarh-e No newspaper at demonstrations in Tabriz and Urmia, the provincial capitals of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan provinces respectively. (ANAJ)
- Conservative newspaper skips its July 27 edition. Vatan-e Emrooz, a conservative newspaper often critical of the Rouhani administration, announced that it will not release a July 27 edition due to “mischief that officials from an institution have created in the newspaper’s workflow.” An anonymous official with the conservative newspaper Iranreportedly told a separate news agency that Vatan-e Emrooz skipped its daily publication in order to save money to pay a debt to Iran. Vatan-e Emrooz reportedly used to print its editions using facilities owned by Iran. (Asr Iran) (Asr Iran)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Basij Commander travels to Syria. Iranian news agencies released photos of Basij Organization Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi in Syria during a “recent trip” to the country. Naghdi reportedly visited Quneitra governorate in southern Syria. (Defa Press)
- Former foreign minister: The Bahraini government must free imprisoned Shia politician.Former Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian criticized Bahrain's ongoing trial of leading Shia cleric Isa Qassim as an “insolent move.” He also called upon the Bahraini government to free Sheikh Ali Salman, the secretary-general of the al Wefaq party who was arrested by Bahraini security forces in December 2015. Abdollahian, who was recently appointed Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani’s adviser for international affairs, warned that “if the rulers of Bahrain do not learn from history and repeat their mistakes, there will certainly be damage done. The rulers of Bahrain must consider their own people rather than rely on foreigners.” (Mehr News Agency)
Military and Security
IRGC and Artesh Special Forces participate in Russian war games. Iranian news agencies released photos showing IRGC and Artesh troops participating in Russia’s International Army Games. The IRGC soldiers appear to be from the IRGC Ground Forces’ Saberin units, while the Artesh troops are from the 55th Airborne Brigade. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Officials to decide on whether to censor Pokémon Go. A senior official under the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance released a statement claiming that the popular game Pokémon Go does not conflict with Iranian censorship laws but does pose “certain security risks” for Iranian users, including storing user data outside of Iran. According to reports, officials are expected to make a decision on formally censoring the game “soon.” (Raja News) (Alef)
- Minister to propose expanding trade with Russia. Minister of Communication and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi will reportedly propose that Iran and Russia remove “customs hurdles” that obstruct trade expansion between the two countries. Vaezi is currently visiting the southern Russian city of Astrakhan and will travel to Moscow later this week. Vaezi is also a co-chairman of a Russian-Iranian commission on trade and economic cooperation. (Press TV) (E) (TASS) (E)