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 Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised improved Iran-Iraq relations during a meeting with the president of Iraq Fuad Masum. Ali Akbar Velayati criticized the upcoming GCC summit as a show of Iranophobia. Ali Larijani stated that Iran would defend Saudi Arabia in the event of an Israeli attack.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Iraqi President Fuad Masum in Tehran on April 13. Khamenei stated, “The current [Iran-Iraq] relationship…is unprecedented as compared with previous years and this trend shows the wisdom of the Iraqi brethren…”

Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati stated that the upcoming GCC summit at Camp David is a “demonstration of Iranophobia which…cannot strengthen the position of the Arab countries to undermine…Iran.” Velayati also said that the summit “will not be constructive in any case” due to the absence of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Velayati also stated “Riyadh has abandoned its traditional view regarding regional issues, and has taken up a contrasting position. Any dialogue with the Saudis must be accompanied by a change in their policy.” Velayati’s comments echo the Supreme Leader’s April 9 critique of the Saudi Arabian government: “Despite disputes, we always said the Saudis would display composure with us, but now inexperienced youngsters have come to power and replaced composure with barbarism.”

Addressing a Parliamentary session, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stated that despite Saudi Arabia’s recent airstrikes in Yemen, Iran would defend Saudi Arabia in the event of an Israeli attack “because your nation [of Saudi Arabia] is Muslim.” Like Mohsen Rezaei’s similar comments earlier this week, Larijani’s statement reflects Iran’s self-projection as the power responsible for regional security.

The Ministry of Defense reiterated Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Headquarters Deputy IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri’s warning yesterday against any attacks on the Iranian Red Crescent Society vessel carrying humanitarian aid supplies to Yemen. The “Iran Shahed” left Bandar Abbas, Iran, on May 11; IHS Jane’s stated that the vessel was near Ras al Hadd in the Gulf of Oman at 06:00 GMT on May 12.


Official Statements

  • Khamenei meets with the President of Iraq. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Iraqi President Fuad Masum on May 13, in Tehran. The two discussed regional developments and the ongoing Yemeni crisis and Khamenei stated:
    • “Considering Iraq’s position, it certainly can be influential on regional issues and this capacity must be used more and more.”
    • Khamenei highlighted Iran’s close ties with Iraq and said, “The current relationship… is unprecedented as compared with previous years and this trend shows the wisdom of the Iraqi brethren and it should keep on continuing like before.”
    • On Yemen: “The Saudis committed a big mistake in Yemen and the impacts of the crimes they have committed will certainly backfire on them.”
    • “They [the Saudis] attacked Yemen based on a request by the fugitive and ousted Yemeni President [Abd Rabuh] Mansour Hadi who committed treason against his country under the most volatile conditions.” (
  • Rouhani holds joint press conference with Iraqi president. President Hassan Rouhani and his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Masum discussed regional developments in a joint press conference on May 13, in Tehran. Rouhani underlined Iran’s commitment to supporting the Iraqi people and called for increased Tehran-Baghdad cooperation to safeguard Iraq’s security. Rouhani warned against foreign intervention in Iraq’s internal affairs, stating:
    • “Those who are sitting on the other side of the world hatching plots for the future of Iraq, we declare that the nation of Iraq is a unified and sovereign country. The Iraqi people as a great nation have their own plans for the stability and unity of the country.” 
    • On increasing bilateral relations: “Today we [Rouhani and Masum] discussed ways to enhance mutual cooperation on such areas as connecting railway networks and highways, passenger issues, energy, agriculture and industry.”
    • On Yemeni crisis: “The Yemeni issue is not a political or a regional issue, but a humanitarian one for the regional countries and the world.”
    • "The poor and oppressed people [of Yemen] have been under continued attacks by the aggressors for nearly two months. A ceasefire in the real sense of the word has to be established in Yemen.”
    • President Masum praised Iran for its support: “Iran simultaneously provided aid to refugees, [while] helping the Iraqi Army and the people fight against ISIS, all of which we are very grateful for.” (
  • Zarif censures Obama’s anti-Iran statements. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denounced President Barack Obama’s remarks on May 13, in an interview with Arab media outlet Asharq al Awsat. Obama called Iran a “state sponsor of terrorism” and said that countries in the region are right to be concerned. Zarif criticized the U.S. president and said, “America has resorted to projecting blames on others; President [Obama’s] statements are merely a repetition of his previous unfounded accusation in order to appease [Washington’s] regional allies." (Fars News Agency) (E) 
  • Rezaei: the Saudis are using napalm indiscriminately. Mohsen Rezaei criticized Saudi aggression against Yemen in a May 11 interview with Lebanese media outlet al Maydin TV; his statements were published late Tuesday night. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary stated:
    • “We think that the Saudi army has no clear understanding of what is happening. What we see on the ground is not consistent with any rational war and standard principles.”
    • “When you martyr 4,000 people and leave 6,500 others wounded, what is the purpose? The Yemen battle is not a military war; it is a war on food and water, a war on families, women and children.”
    • “The Saudis are conducting 110 to 120 sorties in Yemen’s northwestern Sa’ada Province on a daily basis, manically attacking everything, which shows they have no clear target for their airstrikes.”
    • “They [the Saudis] are using forbidden bombs like napalm…without having a clear objective. Two weeks ago, they bombed Aden with 150 sorties on a daily basis. This is questionable because evidence points to a childish, aimless and futile war [of aggression].”
    • “They [the Saudis] claim that Sa’ada is the capital of the Houthis. The Houthis are people [that live among] many tribes. Do the Saudis want a Houthi tribal massacre? This act is nothing other than genocide. This genocide is not different than the Holocaust or the mass murder of Armenians. Houthis are a great tribe. The Houthis make up a large portion of the Yemeni population. Does Saudi Arabia want to fight against all these tribes? These attacks are indiscriminate.”
    • Rezaei claimed that Washington and Riyadh are trying to disintegrate the region, stating: "Under this plan, the Saudis are responsible for the disintegration of Syria and Yemen, while the responsibility for the disintegration of Iraq rests directly with the Americans." (YJC)
  • Velayati: GCC summit at Camp David “a demonstration of Iranophobia.” In an interview with the Financial Times, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati discussed the upcoming GCC summit at Camp David and U.S.-Iran relations:
    • “Iran finds the summit between America and Persian Gulf Cooperation Council authorities this week at Camp David a demonstration of Iranophobia which has no benefit for the nuclear talks and cannot strengthen the position of the Arab countries to undermine the Islamic republic of Iran.”
    • “According to IRIB News Agency,” Velayati also stated, “We do not imagine that America hesitates in its support for Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are now calling for more support for itself from America. The Camp David meeting will not be constructive in any case, because the king of Saudi Arabia has decided not to attend.”
    • Velayati also stated, “Saudi Arabia has a tribal and non-democratic government which supports extremist groups in the Middle East…On the other hand, this government is bombing civilians in Yemen. Riyadh has abandoned its traditional view regarding regional issues, and has taken up a contrasting position. Any dialogue with the Saudis must be accompanied by a change in their policy. They are trying to satisfy their sense of hegemony.”
    • Velayati also stated, “The Saudi policy in Yemen has failed, and should not be repeated in Syria. Iran and Syria have a strategic relationship that will continue. We will not stop our support for Lebanon and Syria. Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are in close interaction with each other.”
    • In the Financial Times interview, Velayati stated: “Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati stated that even if the P5+1 and Iran reach a final nuclear deal, “normalization of relations with the U.S. is not likely.” He stated, “The U.S. will continue the same old policies.” Velayati also warned that, “We think this agreement is very delicate and very sensitive so both sides should be careful and avoid thinking that we are at the end of the negotiations.” (Fars News Agency) (E) (Tabnak)
  • Larijani: Saudis have tried to sabotage the negotiations. Addressing a Parliamentary session, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stated that it was “ugly” that former Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal traveled to Vienna amidst ongoing negotiations in November 2014 and asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “for the failure of the negotiations.” He “underlined that even if the negotiations fail, Saudi Arabia will gain nothing;” Larjani also indicated that “Iran will continue development of its nuclear technology speedily to make the U.S. and its allies regret their deeds in the next few years.” Larijani also stated: “From the viewpoint of the Islamic Republic, the negotiations framework is clear; such awkward maneuvers from the Senate will have the least impact on the fate of the negotiations.” Larijani also criticized the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen as un-Islamic, stating “Is the war against the innocent people of Yemen that the Saudis have created…consistent with the logic of the dignity of the Prophet’s mission, or with the logic of ignorance?” reacting to an “Arabic official’s” comments about the “Shi’ite crescent,” Larijani stated, “the Saudis claim that the Iranian moral influence or military power is detrimental to their survival… even today with all the evil you have committed against the nation of Yemen, if God forbid, Israel does attack you, Iran will defend you because your nation is Muslim.” (Mashregh News) (Fars News Agency) (E)
  • Ministry of Defense responds to Pentagon statement on Iranian aid shipments. After the Pentagon warned Iran to dock the Red Crescent vessel carrying humanitarian aid at the UN supply hub in Djibouti rather than in Yemen, the Ministry of Defense warned the U.S. and Saudi Arabia not to interfere in “Tehran’s humanitarian aid deliveries,” and stated that “the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will be responsible for the consequences of any provocative moves.” The Ministry of Defense also stated, “There is no guarantee that the aid will be delivered to the oppressed Yemeni people and if the international organizations, specially the UN, really want to help the oppressed Yemeni people, they should adopt the necessary measures to prevent the Saudi regime's savage attacks and fully stop them." (Fars News Agency) (E)  


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Tehran coordinates with UN to dispatch humanitarian aid to Yemen. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham stated that an Iranian cargo ship carrying medical and food supplies will be delivered to the Yemeni people with the help of the UN. (MFA(E) 
  • Iran prepared to send planes carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen. Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran is ready to send three planes to deliver humanitarian aid supplies within 24 hours. (Press TV(E)


Nuclear Talks

  • Second day of nuclear talks kickoff in Vienna. An Iranian delegation led by Abbas Araghchi, International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister, and Majid Takht Ravanchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs, met with EU Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid on May 13. The deputy-level negotiations are scheduled to continue until May 15, in the Austrian capital. (Mehr News(E) 
  • Iran will not open up its military facilities for inspection. Behrouz Kamalvandi dismissed IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s May 12 remarks on the Additional Protocol, stating that it is “his own interpretation…”  The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Spokesman added: “First of all, the Islamic Republic of Iran has neither approved, nor implemented the Additional Protocol yet; secondly, no article of the protocol envisions a specific obligation regarding access to the military sites of the signatories." (Tasnim News Agency(E)


Military and Security

  • Artesh Ground Forces to hold exercises in Isfahan province May 23-24. “Beit al Moghaddas 27” “two stage missile exercises” will be held in Maranjab and Nasrabad, Esfahan province. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan stated, “The first phase of the exercise will be held… by the 84th Missile Group based in Aran Bigdol.” He also stated that the Artesh “Ground Forces will also stage electronic warfare in Esfahan.” (Kayhan) (ISNA)
  • 34th Fleet destroyer Alborz fends off “hostile” terrorist activity. “Several days ago,” the Alborz purportedly “…observed a boat coming from Yemen towards the destroyer Alborz at all speed.” The Alborz’s commander Lieutenant Commander Hassan Maghsoudlou “immediately ordered personnel to go into operational mode.” The Alborz “escaped the terrorists without firing a bullet.” The Sacred Defense News Agency stated, “It is likely that these terrorists were puppets of foreign countries and the Western-Arab coalition, who wanted to [strike] a blow against Islamic Iran and its presence in international waters…” (Defa Press)


Domestic Politics

  • MOIS makes embezzlement case arrest. MOIS operatives arrested and imprisoned a man accused of embezzling 300 billion tomans from a bank in Qorveh, Kurdistan province. (Basij News)
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