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: Senior Iranian officials downplayed the significance of the partial Russian withdrawal from Syria and reiterated their support for the Syrian nation. 

Iranian leaders emphasized the continuation of Iranian policy following the sudden Russian withdrawal of military assets and personnel from Syria. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati claimed that the withdrawal “will not change the overall cooperation among Iran, Russia, Syria, and allied forces like Lebanese Hezbollah.” He stressed that the Russians are still “participating in the crucial battle against the terrorists, and they will intensify this fight wherever it is necessary.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the withdrawal as a “positive sign,” while Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani reiterated Iran’s support for the Syrian nation.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned of attempts to “de-revolutionize” the Qom Seminary during a meeting with seminary students on March 15. He also highlighted the ongoing threat of indirect as well as direct opposition to the values and ideas of the Islamic Revolution. Khamenei’s comments may be in response to President Hassan Rouhani’s March 14 statement challenging the use of the term “revolutionary.”

Two IRGC members from Zanjan province were reportedly killed in Syria.

Frederick W. Kagan has published an annotated translation of a transcript from Vladimir Putin’s meeting with his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense. In the meeting, Putin ordered the withdrawal of the Russian forces from Syria. Read the translation here.

Matthew McInnis discusses Iran’s calculations following the partial Russian withdrawal from Syria and the consequences if Russia scales back its use of airpower in his latest blog, “Did Putin just leave Iran holding the bag in Syria?

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Velayati: Russian withdrawal “will not change” cooperation. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati discussed the withdrawal of the “main part” of Russia’s military forces from Syria following a meeting with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on March 15. Velayati stated, “The reduction of Russian forces in Syria will not change the overall cooperation among Iran, Russia, Syria, and allied forces like Lebanese Hezbollah.” Velayati was responding to a question of “whether it has been decided that Iranian forces will take the place of Russian forces” in Syria. Velayati added that while Russia “may reduce its air force… the Russians are participating in the crucial battle against the terrorists, and they will intensify this fight wherever it is necessary. This is something we have heard from senior Russian officials, including Mr. [Vladimir] Putin himself.” (IRIB)
  • Zarif: Russian withdrawal could be a “positive sign.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, “The fact that Russia announced that it is withdrawing part of its forces indicates that it doesn’t see an imminent and impending need to resort to the military option in order to maintain the ceasefire… That in and of itself could be a positive sign. We have to wait and see.” He also “stressed the need to continue the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups in the region, and stated that different countries and the international community must provide clear signals and messages regarding confrontation with terrorist groups.” (Press TV(E) (Fars News Agency
  • Firouzabadi: Zionists demand the removal of Assad. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi criticized Saudi Arabia’s and Syrian opposition groups’ demands for Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s removal. He stated, “Political insistence on rejecting or designating a leader or president of a country is undemocratic.” (Defa Press) (Sepah News)

Domestic Politics

  • Khamenei: Beware of attempts to “de-revolutionize” the seminaries. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed attempts to “de-revolutionize” the Qom Seminary, one of the most influential seminaries for Iranian clergymen, during a meeting with seminary students in Qom on March 15. The Supreme Leader warned that “due to the outstanding and unique role of the Qom Seminary in the Islamic Revolution, motives and plans to ‘de-revolutionize’ the Qom Seminary now exist.” Khamenei stressed that such plans are a “danger” which must be confronted with “wise thought and planning.” Khamenei stressed that “the Qom Seminary must remain a “domain of revolution and the cradle of revolution.”
    • Khamenei also discussed “practices in opposition to the revolution.” He stated, “Sometimes, these practices explicitly oppose the revolution; other times, they indirectly oppose the foundations and principles of revolutionary dogma, which is the reason for… repeated emphasis on the need for vigilance in the face of the arrogance and America.” (
  • Judiciary head claims “disgusting” interference in elections. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani asserted that "anti-revolutionaries abroad" and "people who disagree with the essence of the regime" did all they could months before the elections to prevent certain individuals from entering the Assembly of Experts. Larijani identified their targets as Mohammad Yazdi, who did not receive enough votes to retain his Assembly of Experts seat, and Ahmad Jannati, who barely received enough votes to retain his seat. Larijani also claimed that a number of people within Iran presented a list that included the names of "unknown" candidates -- a likely reference to reformist-moderate candidates -- and told people to vote for them. He referred to the success of that list, saying that "it is strange that the anti-revolutionaries’ desires were [actually] met." (Mehr News)
  • Parliamentarians criticize Guardian Council vetting. Several sitting parliamentarians whom the Guardian Council disqualified from the February 26 elections have complained about the vetting process during recent open sessions of Parliament, according to reformist newspaperShargh. Mansouri Bidkani, a representative from Esfahan Province, claimed that the Guardian Council disqualified him based on “false reports” and stated, “A fundamental problem in the election laws caused the Guardian Council to have an insufficient amount of time to conduct a complete investigation into the files of 12,000 candidates.” (Shargh)



  • Guardian Council approves emergency budget. The Guardian Council approved the emergency budget on March 15, concluding that it is not “contrary to Shari’a or the Constitution.” Parliamentarian Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi Fard said in a plenary session of Parliament that the emergency budget will allow work to continue on the 6th Five-Year Development Plan and annual budget. (Tasnim News Agency) (Mehr News)


Military and Security

  • Iranian space rocket to be tested next year. The head of the National Space Center, Manouchehr Manteghi, announced that the satellite launch vehicle Simorgh will be tested twice during the next Iranian calendar year before finally being launched in the month of Bahman (January 20-February 18, 2017). Manteghi noted that the first test will occur “early next year,” (after March 20, 2016) and the second test will occur during the Persian month of Shahrivar (August 22 - September 21, 2016). The Simorgh is a multi-staged rocket designed to deliver a satellite into orbit. It shares certain technological features with an ICBM, however, which could potentially be adapted for the development of an ICBM-type delivery vehicle. Recent activity at the Imam Khomeini Space Center appears to corroborate Manteghi’s statement that the Simorgh will be launched soon after the Persian new year. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • IRGC Navy: We collected thousands of pages of information from the captured U.S. sailors. Commander of the IRGC Second Naval Zone Rear Admiral Ali Razmjou claimed that “thirteen thousand pages” of information were recovered from the American sailors who were temporarily detained on January 12. (Mashregh News


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Two IRGC members killed in Syria. IRGC Captain Daud Moradkhani and Rahman Barami were reportedly from Zanjan province. No further information was given either on their ranks or unit affiliations. (Mehr News Agency)
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