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: IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani reportedly attributed decreases in Iranian support for Palestine to economic pressures rather than a change in Iranian policy during a meeting with Hamas officials last month.

Lebanese news outlet al Mayadeen reported that IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani met with a Hamas delegation in Tehran early last month. The IRGC Quds Force commander supposedly stated that past decreases in Iranian support to Palestine were due to economic restrictions, not a change in Iran’s policy position, and emphasized that Iran’s stance towards Palestine has not changed. Soleimani has been increasingly vocal in recent weeks after an extended period away from the public eye late last year. This week alone, Iranian media reported that Soleimani has given two separate speeches.

The Guardian Council, meanwhile, announced that it has confirmed the Assembly of Experts election results for each of Iran’s 31 provinces.

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 some 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

  • Soleimani: “Economic conditions,” not political change, decreased Iranian support for Palestine. A Hamas delegation met with IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran in the month of Bahman (January 21-February 19). The delegation also reportedly met with Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Lebanese news outlet al Mayadeen reported that Soleimani told the Hamas delegation that even “if sanctions are increased tenfold, Iran will not stop supporting Palestine.” Al Mayadeen reported that Soleimani said Iran’s position regarding Palestine has not changed following the nuclear deal, and that “the talks with the West were about the nuclear topic, and not about any other subject.” Soleimani also reportedly stated, “What has been clear from the beginning of the Revolution until now is that we are not willing to negotiate… with America on the issue of Palestine. I emphasize for you that [our] support for Palestine continues. Sometimes, this support has decreased slightly due to economic conditions; this [decrease] was only due to [the economic] conditions, not to change in [our] political position.” (ABNA)

Military and Security

  • Artesh Navy Commander plans to strengthen naval power after Persian new year. Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced his plan to increase Artesh naval capabilities in the Persian new year, which begins March 20. The Artesh Navy Commander added that building new weapons and equipment as well as continued deployment in international waters are all parts of this plan. (Defa Press) (Fars News Agency(E)
  • Suspect arrested in Tehran explosion. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari attributed the explosion in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar on March 16 to a “chemical compound” and announced the arrest of a suspect. He added that the chemical compound was “probably” for fireworks in new year celebrations and denied any “subversive” activity. (Tasnim News Agency) (YJC)

Domestic Politics

  • Guardian Council confirms Assembly of Experts election results nationwide. The Guardian Council announced that it has confirmed the Assembly of Experts election results for each of Iran’s 31 provinces in a letter to the Interior Ministry on March 17. (IRNA)
  • Zarif: I try not to be partisan. Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, “I never define myself in terms of domestic political factions… My views are clear and have not changed much, meaning [my] Reformist and Principlist friends have gone back and forth on their views over the last 30 years.” The Foreign Minister continued, “I have tried not to get caught on political lines… Moreover, I believe that the Foreign Ministry… must be non-partisan. Being partisan is at odds with the pursuit of the national interest.” (YJC
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