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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Bahrain’s decision to revoke the citizenship of a top Shia cleric could lead to an uprising against the government.

Khamenei condemned the Bahraini government’s treatment of Ayatollah Isa Qassim in his first public comments on the crisis in Bahrain on June 26. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, a deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts, announced that he held a phone call with the Bahraini cleric in which he vowed “to do whatever is necessary to defend and settle Ayatollah Isa Qassim’s innocence.” Bahraini security officials summoned senior Bahraini Shia clerics for questioning on June 23, nearly a week after suspending the country’s largest Shia opposition group, al Wefaq, on terrorism charges. Bahraini authorities have repeatedly accused Iran of seeking to foment instability on the island, including by smuggling weapons and personnel into the country.

The IRGC Ground Forces clashed with suspected Kurdish militants in West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces. The IRGC released a statement claiming that five members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, including two of its commanders, were killed in the firefight. This engagement marks an escalation in instability in northwestern Iran, where IRGC troops and Kurdish forces previously clashed on separate occasions on June 13 and June 16

IRGC Public Affairs Head Brigadier General Second Class Ramezan Sharif downplayed Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s recent comment that Hezbollah receives “all of its financial resources from Iran.” Sharif stated that Tehran’s support for Hezbollah is “not a secret issue and has repeatedly been stated in the Supreme Leader’s speeches.”

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Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Khamenei: Now no barriers prevent Bahraini youth from an uprising. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized “the foolishness of Bahrain’s rulers” and stated that Ayatollah Isa Qassim “is an individual who could prevent the people of Bahrain from taking harsh and armed movements as long as he could speak with them. The rulers of Bahrain do not understand that their aggression toward this learned scholar means lifting the barrier preventing the epic and passionate youth of Bahrain from taking any action against the regime.”
    • On Iraq and Syria: Khamenei, who delivered his remarks during a meeting with the families of fighters who have died in Syria, also blamed “the world powers” for creating ISIS. He stated, “The primary goal of launching the takfiri terrorist groups and their actions in Iraq and Syria was to attack Iran, but the power of the Islamic Republic crippled them there.” ( (Fars News Agency)
  • Shahroudi has phone call with Ayatollah Isa Qassim. Assembly of Experts Deputy Chairman Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi reportedly had a phone call with Shia cleric Ayatollah Isa Qassim. Sharoudi stated during the call that he is ready “to do whatever is necessary to defend and settle Ayatollah Isa Qassim’s innocence.” (IRNA
  • Shamkhani travels to Moscow to discuss Syria crisis. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani arrived in Moscow on June 27 to discuss the situation in Syria with Russian officials. Iranian media outlets recently introduced Shamkhani as the chief official “responsible for coordinating Iran’s political, military, and security efforts with Syria and Russia.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Supreme Leader’s deputy representative to the IRGC: Soleimani is not running for president. Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC Abdullah Haji Sadeghi called rumors that IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani is considering running in Iran’s 2017 presidential elections “false and incorrect analysis and interpretation.” (Defa Press)
  • Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization head: Saudi Arabia gave Iran “discriminatory” contract.Saeed Ohadi called Saudi Arabia’s claim that it offered Iran the same contract as other countries for participation in the Hajj pilgrimage a “complete lie.” The head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization stated, “Not one of the restrictions and prohibitions that were proposed for Iranian pilgrims applied to any of the other Muslim countries participating in the Hajj.” Iran announced in late May that it will not send its pilgrims on the Hajj this year after reported differences on issues including travel arrangements. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • IRGC public relations: Iran’s support for Hezbollah is not secret. IRGC Public Affairs Head Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif responded to Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s recent speech in which Nasrallah dismissed financial sanctions against Hezbollah because it receives “all of its financial resources from Iran.” Nasrallah also stated, “We receive our money in the same way we import rockets from Iran.” Sharif stated that Iran’s support for Hezbollah is “not a secret issue and has repeatedly been stated in the Supreme Leader’s speeches.” He added that it is highly unlikely that Nasrallah’s disclosure will result in new consequences for Iran. (Aftab News)

Military and Security

  • Judiciary officials provide more details on arrests of British-Iranian and Canadian-Iranian citizens. Yadollah Movahed, the Judiciary head in Kerman, discussed the IRGC Intelligence Organization’s arrest of British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe on April 3. Movahed stated, “In 1393 [2014-2015], the IRGC Sarallah Unit’s intelligence department identified and arrested members of one of the groups that conducted activities against the country’s security by designing websites and carrying out campaigns in the media” during the 2009 presidential election protests. He added, “Some of the group was outside Iran, including the suspect Nazanin Zaghari.”
    • Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi also referenced the recent arrest of Homa Hoodfar, a Canadian social anthropologist and professor. He stated that Hoodfar had been involved “in the fields of feminism and security crimes” and noted that her case is being investigated in the Tehran court system. (Mizan Online)
  • IRGC clashes with Kurdish rebels. The IRGC Ground Forces released a statement on June 25 detailing operations in West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan provinces that killed five members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, including two of its commanders, on June 24. The statement claimed that no IRGC fighters were injured during the clashes and added that a large amount of weapons and ammunition were seized. The IRGC Hamzeh Seyyed al Shohada Operational Base, the IRGC Ground Forces headquarters responsible for northwestern Iran, announced on June 25 that fighting was continuing near Mahabad county in West Azerbaijan province and Sarvabad county in Kurdistan province. Kurdish Media, which belongs to the DPIK, reported that the IRGC used artillery during the operations but did not confirm the number of casualties.
    • IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour referenced the clashes and stated that the “terrorists’ primary bases” are located in northern Iraq. He emphasized that Iran will target those bases if Iraq does not “act upon its commitments” to secure the area. (Mehr News(E) (IRNA) (Tasnim News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Supreme Cyberspace Council: “Media activity” on social media requires new permits.Abdolhassan Firouzabadi, the head of the Supreme Cyberspace Council, announced that individuals conducting “media activity” on social networks will be required to apply for government permits. This announcement follows increased efforts by the Supreme Cyberspace Council, the highest governmental body in Iran tasked with coordinating cyber policy, to bolster the state’s control of its telecommunications network. (Asr Iran)
  • Supervisory body sends report on salaries to heads of government branches. Nasser Seraj, head of the General Inspection Office (GIO), announced that the GIO has sent a report to the heads of the three branches of government on the salary controversy. Certain government officials have been accused of receiving salaries and other benefits far above the legal cap. Seraj noted that the report includes “names and amounts received.” The GIO is one of Iran’s anti-corruption bodies and is linked to the Judiciary. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri is also leading a separate investigation into the salaries. (Tabnak)
  • IRGC public relations: IRGC officers are not being paid exorbitant salaries. IRGC Public Affairs Head Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif dismissed rumors that senior IRGC officers were being paid “unusually” high salaries. Sharif stated, “If there were not security concerns, we would publish our salaries.” He also added that the IRGC’s salaries are less than those of the Artesh or the Ministry of Defense. Sharif also criticized the development of the salary scandal into a “political fight.” (ILNA)
  • Khatami: Officials should apologize for salary scandal. Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami called the “exorbitant salary” scandal unacceptable and said that the implicated officials must apologize. He also called for a legal mechanism to prevent a similar recurrence as the only way to put the public’s conscience at ease. (Negaam)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Iranian from Gilan killed in Syria. Mohammad Reza Yaghubi was recently killed in Syria, although the location of his death or unit affiliation was not disclosed. It is likely that he was killed south of Aleppo, where Iranian forces have historically been concentrated. Fighting around Aleppo has intensified recently as Jabhat al Nusra and other opposition groups haveannounced a new offensive targeting several villages south of Aleppo. (ABNA
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