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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged President Hassan Rouhani to implement the Resistance Economy doctrine more aggressively during his annual Persian new year message on March 20.

Khamenei stated that improving the Iranian economy is “the most urgent and essential” priority for Iran during his March 20 speech commemorating Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Khamenei took aim at President Rouhani’s economic policies, urging Rouhani to adopt more aggressive policies in accordance with the Resistance Economy doctrine, which stresses reliance on domestic production and reducing the economy’s dependency on oil and gas exports. Regime hardliners have criticized President Rouhani and his economic team for appearing to prioritize developing external ties with foreign countries instead of promoting economic self-sufficiency. Khamenei also downplayed the success of the nuclear deal, stating that “our banking transactions are stricken with problems despite the nuclear agreement. Iran’s money has also not been returned because Western countries and countries under their influence are afraid of the Americans.”

President Rouhani and his supporters reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to implementing the Resistance Economy in response to Khamenei’s speech. Rouhani noted during remarks on March 22 that “one important part of the Resistance Economy that is worth emphasizing is constructive interaction with the world.” Rouhani’s language highlights the disagreement between Khamenei and Rouhani regarding the extent to which Iran’s economy should be integrated into the world economy. For more information on the development and policies of the Resistance Economy, please see the Critical Threats Project’s report “Iran’s Economy of Resistance: Implications for Future Sanctions.

Iranian news outlets, meanwhile, reported the death of an IRGC lieutenant colonel in Syria.

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?


  • Khamenei: Improving the economy is the “most urgent and essential priority” for Iran.Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed problems with the nuclear agreement’s implementation and the Iranian economy during his annual Nowruz, or new year, message on March 20.
    • On the economy: Khamenei called this Iranian year the year of “The Resistance Economy: Action and Implementation” and stated, “Of course, we do not expect that this action and implementation will solve all the problems in the course of one year, but we are sure that if action and implementation is carried out in a systematic and correct manner, we will be able to witness the results at the end of the year.”
    • Khamenei stated that improving the Iranian economy is “the most urgent and essential” priority for Iran and emphasized the importance of domestic production. He called for President Hassan Rouhani to continue the “preliminary tasks” his administration has taken thus far to tackle economic issues but stated, “The task that needs to be continued is taking action, putting things into practice, and showing the results to the people on the ground.”
    • On missiles: Khamenei criticized the “propagandistic furor” surrounding the IRGC’s ballistic missile tests in early March and praised Iran’s missile program, stating, “It is Iranian talent that can send a missile a distance of 2,000 kilometers with an error of only a few meters.”
    • On the JCPOA: Khamenei accused the U.S. of failing to adhere fully to its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) despite carrying out its commitments “on paper.” He stated, “Our banking transactions are stricken with problems despite the nuclear agreement. Iran’s money has also not been returned because Western countries and countries under [the Americans’] influence are afraid of the Americans.”
    • Khamenei criticized the possibility of negotiating with the U.S. on non-nuclear issues, stating, “Just as the nuclear agreement was named the ‘JCPOA,’  [some individuals] are saying that negotiations with America on other issues, and even on the country’s Constitution, can lead to a ‘JCPOA 2, 3, and 4.’” Khamenei called such opinions “dangerous.” During a speech made in mid-February, President Rouhani noted that Iran must implement a “JCPOA 2” to resuscitate its economy.
    • “In the few months before America’s presidential race, the candidates have been competing with each other over bad-mouthing Iran. Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that the next [U.S.] administration will adhere to their miniscule commitments under the JCPOA.” ( (E) (
  • Rouhani highlights “JCPOA 2.” President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the importance of a plan he labelled “JCPOA 2” to boost the Iranian economy during remarks on March 20. He added that his goal for the upcoming Iranian year is to reduce unemployment and reach a five-percent growth rate.
    • Rouhani also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to implementing the Resistance Economy, a loose set of economic guidelines meant to insulate the Iranian economy from external pressures, including sanctions. During remarks on March 20 and 22, Rouhani called “constructive interaction with the world” an “important” component of the Resistance Economy and stated, “The administration in the year 1394 [2015-2016] took good steps in line with the Resistance Economy, and we must expand these measures in the year 1395 [2016-2017]. We hope we can implement the economy in the framework of the Resistance Economy doctrine which was considered by the Supreme Leader.” He noted that the administration has created a “headquarters” for coordinating Resistance Economy policies and that it has “started its work.” The complicated nature of Iran’s economic policy-making bodies, however, has led to hardliner criticisms that the Rouhani administration has not coordinated economic policy well. ( ( (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Rezaei criticizes Rouhani’s economic record. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei stated that just as former presidents Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to deliver on their promises to solve unemployment, President Hassan Rouhani “has sought to solve unemployment for the past three years. Much effort has been made, but this matter has still not been realized.” Rezaei also stated, “Administrations must permit the Islamic Revolution to enter the nation’s economy. If they themselves cannot [achieve anything], then they must give permission for revolutionary forces to expel poverty, unemployment, and prejudice from the country in the same way that they scared the Shah and Saddam from the country.” (Mehr News Agency)
  • Fazli: Resistance Economy policies will be priority of Interior Ministry. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli called “implementation of the Resistance Economy” doctrine “one of the Ministry of the Interior and the governors' most important policies.” (Mehr News Agency)
  • Jazayeri: The armed forces is ready to help implement the resistance economy. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri emphasized “the comprehensive readiness of the armed forces and the Basij for decisive performances in the resistance economy arena and the realization of the… [Supreme leader’s] suggestions.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy said that the armed forces’ “pattern of action to meet the country’s defensive and deterrence needs” could act as a “model for other sectors,” including the Resistance Economy. (Mehr News Agency)
  • Economic and Finance Minister praises economic record of Rouhani administration. Ali Tayyeb Nia emphasized the importance of the Supreme Leader’s recent reiteration of the need to establish Resistance Economy policies while praising President Rouhani and his administration for its past economic performance. He highlighted the administration’s success in “controlling and lowering the rate of inflation as well as establishing a path of growth outside of stagnation.” He stressed the administration’s commitment to “strengthen the national economy, reinforce domestic production, solve the problem of stagnation, maintain the downward trend of the inflation rate, and improve the business environment.” (ABNA)

Domestic Politics

  • Rafsanjani criticizes Khomeini’s disqualification. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticized Hassan Khomeini’s disqualification from the Assembly of Experts race. He claimed that Khomeini’s disqualification was decided upon “beforehand” and stated, “I had long conversation with the Supreme Leader about the disqualification of Mr. Hassan [Khomeini]. It was effective, but in the end, one individual sabotaged that all that work.” Rafsanjani did not name the individual. Rafsanjani also added that he had both a telephone conversation and a “long visit about important and sensitive topics” with President Hassan Rouhani following the February 26 elections.
    • Rafsanjani did not dismiss the possibility that he would run again for chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a position he previously held from 2007 until 2011. Rafsanjani lost the most recent race for the chairmanship against Mohammad Yazdi in March 2015. Yazdi lost his seat in the February 26 elections, however, which leaves the chairmanship open. Rafsanjani stated that he would make the decision whether to run “based on conditions in society.” (Donya-e Eqtesad)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Former Foreign Minister meets with Assad. Head of Iranian Strategic Council on Foreign Relations and former Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Damascus on March 19 to discuss recent developments in Syria. Kharrazi reiterated that the Syrian people must determine their own leader and that “no foreigner has the right to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs.” He also touted Iran’s advisory role in Syria, saying that without it, “the terrorists and their supporters would not have come to the negotiating table, and the situation today would not be in favor of Syria [the government].” (Alef)
    • Kamal Kharrazi also traveled to Iraq to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al Abadi on March 22. Kharrazi and Abadi stressed unity between their two countries in the fight against terrorism. (ISNA)
  • Iran condemns terror attacks in Brussels. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari condemned the March 22 terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. (IRNA)
  • Zarif travels to Turkey. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with both the Turkish president and prime minister on an official diplomatic visit to Turkey on March 19. Zarif emphasized the need to expand cooperation between the two countries, stating that “cooperation between Iran and Turkey is effective and useful in settling regional crises.” (Press TV) (E)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • IRGC lieutenant colonel killed in Syria. IRGC Lt. Col. Mohsen Mandani was killed in Syria “three days ago,” according to a March 22 report. He was reportedly from Fars province and was sent to Syria “more than a month ago.” (ABNA
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