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 Alice Naghshineh. 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 Guardian Council’s spokesman attacked the vetting process for candidates, indicating dissension within the Guardian Council itself over Iran’s electoral laws.

Nejatollah Ebrahimian, the spokesman for the body charged with vetting electoral candidates, called Iran’s electoral laws “very flawed” and criticized the Guardian Council’s review of candidates as neither “efficient nor effective.” His comments follow a controversial election cycle in which the Guardian Council approved only half of registered parliamentary candidates and 20 percent of Assembly of Experts candidates. A disproportionate number of disqualified candidates were likely reformists.

The Guardian Council must still verify the February 26 election results. For detailed analysis of the elections, please see the Critical Threats Project’s “Iran Elections Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”

Matthew McInnis discusses Iranian perspectives on the possible deployment of Saudi Arabian and Emirati special operations forces to Syria in his latest blog post, “Iran isn’t sweating Saudi intervention in Syria.”


  • Guardian Council Spokesman: The review of candidates was not “efficient or effective.”Guardian Council Spokesman Nejatollah Ebrahimian criticized the Guardian Council’s review of candidates as neither “efficient nor effective” during an interview with the newspaper Etemad. Ebrahimian stated that the information passed from “intelligence agencies” to the Guardian Council was “contradictory.” He pointed to the large number of candidates who registered for the parliamentary elections, stating, “In twenty days you cannot review six thousand complaints of disqualified candidates based upon contradictory reports. The constitution requires that you give each individual an opportunity to present a statement and offer a defense… The review of candidates requires at least a year.” He added, “In my opinion, our electoral laws are very flawed.” Ebrahimian was referring to the Guardian Council’s efforts to review the complaints of candidates disqualified by the Provincial Supervisory Boards, which disqualified over 60% of parliamentary candidates. For more information on the candidates’ vetting process, please see the Critical Threats Project’s “Iran’s 2016 elections: The process, the players, and the stakes.
    • Ebrahimian also noted in the interview that he has “serious differences with the Guardian Council Secretary [Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati].” Ebrahimian submitted his resignation from the position of Guardian Council spokesman in mid-January after the first round of disqualification results was issued. Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannatireportedly did not accept his resignation. Reports which were later denied by Ebrahimian suggested that several other Guardian Council members had also submitted their resignations due to differences with Jannati. (ISNA) (ANA)
  • Top Reformist newspaper calls for politicians to rally behind Rouhani’s agenda. The daily newspaper Shargh published an editorial discussing priorities for the upcoming Parliament. It stated that elected parliamentarians must help fulfill “President Rouhani’s promises, which have faced serious roadblocks until now.” It also called for Reformist parliamentarians to make improving Iranians’ livelihoods their “most important priority.” (Shargh)
  • Haddad Adel: I have not yet decided whether I will protest the election results. The head of the Principlist parliamentary faction Gholam Ali Haddad Adel told reporters that he is still debating submitting a formal protest of the election results. Preliminary results showed Haddad Adel in the running at 7th place in the Tehran parliamentary elections, but final results placed him in 31st place, narrowly missing the cutoff. Haddad Adel is also the father-in-law of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s son and the former spokesman of the Principlist Coalition Central Council in the 2016 elections. (Alef)
  • Notable Principlist parliamentarians accept election defeat. Several ousted Principlist parliamentarians appeared to accept the election results during remarks published on March 1. Ahmad Tavakkoli acknowledged that his constituency decided to “vote for new faces,” while Ali Reza Zakani stated that the results “must be respected after verification by legal channels.” Tavakkoli and Zakani were among the most outspoken critics of the nuclear deal. Mashregh News, which published the parliamentarians’ remarks, stated that “while reformists trumpet their whisperings of fraud, those who were not elected to Parliament have submitted to the vote of the people and have announced their own readiness to help the newly elected officials better assist the people.” (Mashregh News)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Khamenei’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor: The Syrian ceasefire is just an excuse to change the Assad regime. Ali Akbar Velayati claimed that the “Americans are pursuing regime change in Syria, and the Syrian ceasefire is just an excuse to change the Assad regime.” The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor added, “Any decision on Syria’s future is only possible with the will of the Syrian people, not with the decisions of the U.N. or other governments.” (Tasnim News Agency)

Military and Security

  • Former IRGC Commander: A CIA official recently traveled to Iran. Former IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei claimed, “A CIA official who is responsible for the ‘influence project’...came to Tehran during the month of Khordad [May 22-June 22] and visited all of the universities.” Rezaei promised that he would “release documentation on this individual in the future.” Hardliners generally view Iran’s universities as hotbeds of sedition and anti-regime activity.
    • Rezaei also accused “the enemies” of launching “soft war” against Iran during the recent parliamentary and Assembly of Expert elections. Rezaei stated that these “enemies” attempted to “change the opinions of the people” on certain candidates. (Mashregh News)
  • Qassem Soleimani reportedly in Nabl and Zahra. A released video purportedly shows IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani distributing candy to children in Nabl and al Zahra in Aleppo province. The video does not provide a date. (Aparat)


  • Parliamentary Economic Commission member: The new Parliament will review annual budget and 6th Five-Year Development Plan. Mohammad Reza Pour Ebrahimi stressed the need to accelerate the review of the country’s budget. He stated, “Parliament has been trying to review and approve this bill. It will take until the end of Ordibehesht 1395 (≈ mid-May 2016) to finish the final review of it.” He highlighted the necessity of passing a three-month emergency bill in light of the delay in approving the budget and insufficient time for reviewing it. He also announced that the 6th Five-Year Development Plan “will not come before the current Parliament.” The newly elected Parliament assumes office in May. Hardline parliamentarians have routinely criticized the administration for failing to present the budget and the 6th Five Year Plan on time. According to parliamentary procedure, the administration was required to submit the annual budget to Parliament for review by Azar 15 (≈ December 6). Some hardliners have publicly accused the Rouhani administration of intentionally trying to delay review of the budget and the 6th Five Year Development Plan so that the next -- and now definitively more Rouhani-friendly -- Parliament can pass the legislation. (ICANA)


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