Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

Key takeaway: Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) are militarizing local security forces and boosting coordination with military forces in preparation for future internal security challenges.

Basij Organization Commander IRGC Brigadier General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar said the Basij and the LEF have begun a "new chapter in cooperation" on March 17. Gheibparvar's comments follow the signing of a cooperative agreement on March 3 between the LEF and the Ministry of Defense to increase defense cooperation. Defense Minister Artesh Brigadier General Amir Hatami expressed the Defense Ministry's readiness to provide police forces with the necessary equipment to meet their needs, including helicopters and drones.

The late-December 2017 widespread anti-regime protests exposed grave security flaws in the front-line defenses in several of Iran's smaller cities. The February 19 Gonabadi Dervish protests in northern Tehran also resulted in the death of five officials, including two Basij Organization members, after a protester used a vehicle to attack security forces.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from March 16 - 20

Military and Security
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March 21, 2018

Basij Organization and LEF boost cooperation to maintain internal security.

Basij Organization Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar emphasized the importance of close cooperation between the Basij Organization and the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) on March 17. Gheibparvar stated that the Basij Organization and the LEF have held several meetings at the city and provincial levels and have begun “a new chapter in cooperation.” Gheibparvar cited the late 2017 to early 2018 anti-regime protests and the February 19 Gonabadi Dervish protests as examples of close cooperation between the Basij Organization and the LEF. Gheibparvar noted that the LEF and the Basij have implemented their cooperative plans in the “farthest points of the country.” Gheibparvar thanked the LEF for its “self-restraint” and “tact” in dealing with protesters during the recent protest incidents. The widespread anti-regime protests throughout Iran exposed security flaws in several Iranian cities. (Basij.ir)

Citations & Links

1. Basij.ir
http://basij.ir/story/31876/%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%AC-%D8%A7%D9%85%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%AE%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AE%D9%88%DB%8C%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF

Domestic Politics
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March 21, 2018

Rumors continue to circulate regarding Najafi’s resignation.

Tehran City Council spokesperson Ali Eta said that reformist Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi’s resignation was not due only to his illness and that Najafi “made his decision [to resign] some time ago.” Eta noted that the news regarding Najafi’s ailment is “from [within] the last month” and that “additional pressures” existed. Eta did not specify the exact nature of the pressures placed on Najafi. Tehran City Council head Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani had stated that Najafi’s resignation was due to Najafi’s poor health. Najafi’s resignation follows Judiciary criticism over his attendance at a performance of a young women’s dance ensemble during an event at Tehran’s Milad Tower on March 7. Unconfirmed reports alleged that Najafi may have been pressured to resign following this incident. The Tehran City Council has yet to approve the resignation. (YJC) (Radio Farda) (Radio Farda)

  • Tehran City Council member Bahare Arvin discussed Najafi’s resignation in a post on her Telegram account on March 18. Arvin commented that many of Najafi’s opponents, including some reformists, had targeted and threatened Najafi during his seven months as Tehran City mayor. Arvin also suggested that “pressures from some security institutions” played a role in Najafi’s resignation. Arvin criticized the Judiciary’s response to Najafi’s attendance at the event in Tehran’s Milad Tower. Arvin noted that the fall-out after Najafi’s attendance at the event coupled with Najafi’s recently-announced “hard-to-treat” illness led to the resignation. The Tehran City councilwoman implied that she will vote against Najafi’s resignation during the Tehran City Council’s next meeting on March 25. (Telegram)

 

March 21, 2018

Government begins implementing finalized 2018-2019 budget.

The Expediency Discernment Council (EDC) resolved a dispute between Parliament and the Guardian Council about the  budget for the new Persian Calendar year [March 20, 2018 - March 20, 2019] and approved the final budget. The new budget took effect on March 20. Parliament approved the budget on March 11 after making amendments at the request of the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council subsequently approved the budget except for parts of Section 11 concerning the reclamation of land located on the outskirts of cities. (President.ir) (IRIB)

March 21, 2018

Security forces continue targeting Ahmadinejad-era officials.

Security officials arrested former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s First Vice President and later Chief of Staff Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei on charges of spreading propaganda against the regime. The Judiciary also sentenced Ahmadinejad’s former Vice President Hamid Baghaei to 15 years in prison on March 13. Mashaei allegedly lit a copy of Baghaei’s verdict papers on fire in a public protest. (IRNA) (IRNA) (E) (Radio Farda) (E)

Citations & Links

1. YJC
https://www.yjc.ir/fa/news/6477778/%d8%b4%d9%87%d8%b1%d8%af%d8%a7%d8%b1-%d8%aa%d9%87%d8%b1%d8%a7%d9%86-%d8%a7%d8%b2-%d9%85%d8%af%d8%aa%db%8c-%d9%82%d8%a8%d9%84-%d8%aa%d8%b5%d9%85%db%8c%d9%85%d8%b4-%d8%b1%d8%a7-%d8%a8%d8%b1%d8%a7%db%8c-%d8%a7%d8%b3%d8%aa%d8%b9%d9%81%d8%a7-%da%af%d8%b1%d9%81%d8%aa%d9%87-%d8%a8%d9%88%d8%af-%d8%a8%db%8c%d9%85%d8%a7%d8%b1%db%8c-%d9%86%d8%ac%d9%81%db%8c-%d8%aa%d9%86%d9%87%d8%a7-%d8%b9%d9%84%d8%aa-%da%a9%d9%86%d8%a7%d8%b1%d9%87%e2%80%8c%da%af%db%8c%d8%b1%db%8c-%d9%86%db%8c%d8%b3%d8%aa

2. Radio Farda
https://www.radiofarda.com/a/f4_tehran_mayor_resign_reasons_pressure_insulting/29109628.html

3. Radio Farda
https://www.radiofarda.com/a/tehran-mayor-summons-over-kids-dance-milad-tower/29090549.html

4. Telegram
http://telegra.ph/%D8%A8%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AE-%D8%A8%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7-03-18

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/103470

2. IRIB
http://www.iribnews.ir/fa/news/2074679/%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%AC%D9%87-%DB%B9%DB%B7-%DA%A9%D9%84-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%BA-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82865411

2. IRNA

3. Radio Farda
https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-jails-ahmadinejad-vice-president-corruption/29097818.html

Regional Developments and Diplomacy
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March 21, 2018

UK, France, and Germany reportedly propose new EU sanctions on Iran.

Two unidentified European officials claimed that the UK, France, and Germany proposed new EU sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile proliferation as well as its support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad on March 16. Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araghchi warned that new EU sanctions on Iran would be a “big mistake” and have direct implications on the continuity of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Araghchi stated that Europe should instead seek to ensure that the U.S. remains committed to the JCPOA. EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini later denied that there are any EU proposals from the UK, France, and Germany for pending sanctions on Iran on March 19. (Thomson Reuters Foundation News) (E) (IRNA) (EEAS) (E)

March 21, 2018

Omani foreign minister discusses Yemeni conflict and bilateral ties during visit to Tehran.

Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi met separately with President Hassan Rouhani, Presidential Chief of Staff Mahmoud Vaezi, Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, and Central Bank Governor Valiollah Seif during an official visit to Tehran on March 16-18. Rouhani and Shamkhani emphasized the need for conflict resolution in Yemen through initiatives similar to those outlined in Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s four-point plan for Yemen. Zarif’s proposal recommends the establishment of a ceasefire, the provision of humanitarian assistance, intra-Yemeni dialogue, and the formation of an inclusive national unity government. Rouhani and Seif promoted bilateral banking and investment ties as well as the use of national currencies in conducting business between Iran and Oman. (President.ir) (IRNA) (IRNA) (Alef) (IRNA) (IRNA)

Citations & Links

1. Thomson Reuters Foundation News
https://news.trust.org/item/20180316170324-0nvxn

2. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82864421

3. EEAS
https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/41572/remarks-hrvp-mogherini-upon-arrival-foreign-affairs-council_en

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/103457

2. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82866328

3. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82865097

4. Alef
http://www.alef.ir/news/3961227039.html?show=text

5. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82865248

6. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82865238

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