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: Tehran’s hardline interim Friday prayer leader praised the winners in the February 26 elections, suggesting that the regime does not feel deeply threatened by the reformist-moderate bloc’s success.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami congratulated successful candidates in the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections during his Friday prayer sermon. The interim Tehran Friday prayer leader maintained that Iranians refused to elect “candidates with plots,” despite the reformist-moderate bloc gaining a significant number of additional seats in both bodies. Reformist candidates are often accused of colluding with the West. Khatami’s approval of the preliminary election results may indicate that the regime does not feel deeply threatened by the results. The Guardian Council must certify the election results before they are official.

Iranian media reported that 18-year-old Mohammad Akbari was the tenth Afghan from Damavand county, Tehran province to die in Syria.

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.” For the latest analysis on Iran’s elections, see the Critical Threats Project’s “Iran Elections Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”

Domestic Politics

  • Interim Tehran Friday prayer leader: New candidates will not change the political system’s “general strategy.” Ahmad Khatami, a hardline Assembly of Experts member who was reelected to the body in the February 26 elections, praised the election results during his Friday prayer sermon on March 4. He emphasized that “outsiders must understand that the general strategy of the Islamic system will not change with a change in people” and stated, “Some candidates came onto the scene with plots, but the dear people of Iran elected other candidates. We must therefore congratulate these vote-bringing candidates.”
    • Khatami defended the Guardian Council’s right to vet electoral candidates. He maintained that “avoiding the weakening of the [political] system does not mean failing to use one’s right to protest,” but he added, “If I saw an [electoral] violation, it would be my legal right to complain… but I do not have the right to bring the Guardian Council and the Interior Ministry under question because they are legal and electoral institutions.” (Mashregh News)
  • Senior Reformist politician: The elections showed that the Reformists cannot be eliminated. Hossein Marashi, a member of the Supreme Reformist Policymaking Council, discussed the election results in an interview on March 4. Marashi stated, “These elections demonstrated that no one can eliminate a faction – a faction that has roots in the [1979 Islamic] Revolution, the political order, and the people. It cannot be eliminated with slogans or slander. This faction has reputable individuals, such that people saw what one short video message from Mohammad Khatami in Tehran can do!” Khatami, who was president from 1997 to 2005 and remains an influential Reformist politician despite a media ban on his image, released a short video before the elections encouraging Iranians to vote for candidates in the reformist-moderate bloc.
    • Marashi also defended Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s record of requesting the release of political prisoners during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Marashi added that the imprisonment of Rafsanjani’s children was the result of “the ugliest slander.” Rafsanjani’s son, Mehdi Rafsanjani, was imprisoned in 2015 on a 10-year corruption charge, while his daughter Faezeh served a six-month sentence for protesting the 2009 presidential election results. (ISNA)
  • Conservative parliamentarian predicts increase in Reformist influence. Esmail Jalili, a member of the conservative Followers of the Velayat faction, credited the Principlists’ relatively poor showing in the elections to internal divisions while Reformists remained “organized.” Jalili added that “the influence of Reformists in the next Parliament will be greater than in the current Parliament, but we must wait for the second round of elections before we can reach a final analysis of its structure, of course.” An Interior Ministry official recently stated that 69 seats will be determined in run-off elections scheduled for mid to late April. (ISNA)
  • Former Assembly of Experts member passes away. Ayatollah Abbas Vaez Tabasi was also the head of the Astan Quds Razavi Foundation, which manages the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Moghtadaei: Subversive individuals stole votes from the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers. Society of Qom Seminary Teachers Deputy Head Ayatollah Morteza Moghtadaei claimed that “more than 80 percent” of Iranians voted for the Society of Qom Seminary Teachers list in the  elections. He stated, “That figure was previously 90 percent. This 10 percent decrease was due to others’ subversion.” Moghtadaei, who won a seat in the Assembly of Experts elections last week, continued, “When the time is necessary, the members of the Assembly of Experts will choose a supreme leader from among the mujtahids. If this assembly is not ready, a big problem will arise.” (ISNA)

Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Afghan killed in Syria. President of the Martyr and Veterans Affairs of Damavand Amir Moradi stated that Mohammad Akbari is the tenth Afghan from Damavand county to be killed in the Syrian conflict. Akbari, who was 18 years old, will be buried in Absard, Damavand county, Tehran province. (Fars News Agency)
  • Iranian killed in Syria. Mehdi Sameni Rad was buried in Tehran on March 3. No unit affiliation or rank was reported. Iranian news outlets reported that he was killed on February 11, but his body was only recently recovered. (Defa Press
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