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 contributors Ken Hawrey and 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 representative of Bahraini cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim in Iran vowed that “the Bahraini revolution will remain peaceful” unless Qassim is “assassinated or deported.”
Sheikh Abdullah Daqaq claimed that Ayatollah Isa Qassim “is currently free in his own house. But there is the possibility that the Bahraini forces could sweep in and attack the people any second. If such an incident were to occur, it would be a bloodbath.” The Bahraini government announced that it had revoked Qassim’s citizenship on June 20, almost a week after a Bahraini court suspended the activities of al Wefaq, the largest Shia political group in the country. Qassim’s representative in Iran blamed Saudi Arabia for the Bahraini government’s decision, stating, “We believe that Saudi Arabia is trying to compensate for its defeat suffered in Fallujah with the mistreatment of Shias in Bahrain.” Sheikh Abdullah Daqaq’s comments follow the June 21 statements from the Iranian Foreign Ministry and several senior parliamentarians encouraging protests against the government of Bahrain and warning that its treatment of Qassim could lead to an armed insurrection.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei downplayed the recent revelations that some senior government employees received “astronomical salaries” as well as other illegal financial perks. Khamenei stated that most officials have not been complicit in the controversy but added that “a few are very bad and must be dealt with.”
- Matthew McInnis analyzes President Hassan Rouhani’s ability to push through economic reforms in “Will Rouhani have a tough road to re-election?”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Isa Qassim’s representative in Iran: The Bahraini “revolution” will remain peaceful. Sheikh Abdullah Daqaq, the representative of Ayatollah Isa Qassim in Iran, stressed that the “revolution will remain peaceful” in Bahrain unless Qassim is “assassinated or deported” at a press conference in the Tasnim News Agency office in Tehran. He also stated:
- “This issue [of revoking Qassim’s citizenship] is a preface to imprisoning and deporting Sheikh Isa Qassim.”
- “Sheikh Isa Qassim is currently free in his own house. But there is the possibility that the Bahraini forces could sweep in and attack the people any second. If such an incident were to occur, it would be a bloodbath.”
- “We consider the kings of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain responsible for the events that have occurred.”
- “We believe that Saudi Arabia is trying to compensate for its defeat suffered in Fallujah with the mistreatment of Shias in Bahrain.”
- “Qassem Soleimani’s letter, God bless him, was a clear message to the government of Bahrain.” Soleimani issued a statement on June 20 warning the government that any “violation to Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim is crossing a red line that will create a fire in Bahrain and throughout the region and leave the people no choice but armed resistance.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Senior officials continue to condemn Bahrain. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati condemned the government of Bahrain for revoking the citizenship of Ayatollah Isa Qassim, Bahrain’s leading Shia cleric.
- Firouzabadi questioned the legitimacy of the Khalifa family to rule Bahrain, declaring that “impartial international bodies” should investigate the dynasty’s claim of having Bahraini origins.
- Velayati accused the Bahraini government of fomenting discord between ethnic and religious groups in the country and warned that this policy will be devastating to the regime. (Mehr News Agency) (Mehr News Agency)
Zarif comments on Boeing and Airbus deals, Bahrain during Paris visit. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in France on June 21 and held meetings with French President François Hollande, Senate President Gérard Larcher, and representatives from the country’s foreign and finance ministries on June 22. Zarif is also scheduled to meet with President and CEO of Airbus Fabrice Brégier to discuss Iran’s purchase of 118 Airbus aircraft.
- On Bahrain’s treatment of Shia cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim: Zarif said that Bahrain’s decision to strip prominent Shia cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim of his citizenship was unacceptable, but that Iran nevertheless considers maintaining good relationships with its neighbors an “unwavering policy.”
- On the purchase of Boeing and Airbus aircraft: At a hearing before the Senate’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Zarif stated, “Banking problems still exist which must be resolved before the implementation of contracts between Iran and France.” Zarif also said, “Iran can buy 118 Airbus aircraft and the 100 Boeing aircraft as well. The purchase of aircraft from America will surely remove the bottlenecks of the purchase from Airbus.”
- On the nuclear deal: Zarif stated, “French companies and banks should be worried about the campaign slogans of one of the American [presidential] candidates because no one can tear up the agreement or repeat the negotiations.”
- Zarif claimed that sanctions have been lifted “very” slowly due to the “existing psychological atmosphere.” Zarif added that “French-Iranian relations can be a model and example following the nuclear deal.” (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
Khamenei: A “small number” of officials are complicit in salary controversy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented on the recent controversy over a series of leaks revealing that senior Iranian government officials have been receiving exorbitant salaries and low-interests and loans well above the legal cap for government employees during a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet on June 22. Khamenei stated, “Everyone knows that this issue [of the salaries] is an exception. Most of the institutions’ administrators and people’s hands are clean, but a few are very bad and must be dealt with… According to information I received, the amount received by administrators of most institutions was within reasonable limits. The individuals who received [too much] were [limited to] a small number of administrators.” Khamenei referenced First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri’s investigation into the issue and stated, “This must be pursued in earnest, and the result must communicated to the public.” (Tabnak)
Rouhani: We must not look at our universities through a security lens. President Hassan Rouhani discussed the relationship between universities and the government during an iftar with university professors. Rouhani urged government officials to avoid “looking at universities and students through a security lens” and asked, “How do we not trust universities and then want them to trust us afterwards?” Rouhani’s comments come several days after Khamenei warned that the “atmosphere” in Iran’s universities must remain “revolutionary.” (Mehr News Agency)
- Proposal to investigate dual-citizen officials presented in Parliament. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini stated that a proposal to identify and investigate government officials with dual citizenship, particularly for “hostile” countries including the U.S. and UK, has been presented again to Parliament’s presiding board. The spokesman for Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission noted that the plan “had also been submitted to the ninth [previous] Parliament, but it was not reviewed in an open session. For this reason, representatives in the tenth [current] Parliament submitted their request again to the presiding board.” The plan involves government officials’ family members who are dual nationals as well. It specifically addresses the children of government officials who are born in the U.S. and Canada, countries that the proposal notes automatically bestow citizenship upon those born in them. Naghavi Hosseini stated, “Dual nationality is considered a secret transgression, and individuals try to hide it.” (IRIB)