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. 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: Incoming parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Aref confirmed that he will run for parliament speaker against current speaker Ali Larijani.

Aref, the recently elected head of the reformist-moderate “List of Hope” parliamentary faction, told reporters that he will “certainly” run for parliament speaker. Aref also urged parliamentarians who were endorsed by the list to join the faction in Parliament. Although candidates who ran under the List of Hope won a plurality of seats in the elections, it is still unclear how many lawmakers will join the faction. During the Hope faction’s first meeting, only 105 parliamentarians were present, far below the estimates that between 120 and 160 parliamentarians would join the faction. Aref dismissed concerns that this figure was somehow indicative of the faction’s weakness, stating, “One should not judge the strength of this faction on the first day.” Meanwhile, a reported 131 parliamentarians attended the first meeting of the rival principlist coalition.

Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani claimed that he is not “currently” planning on running in the internal election on May 24 to chair the Assembly of Experts. Rafsanjani had previously chaired the Assembly of Experts, and it is widely speculated that he will run in the upcoming election. Combatant Clergy Association member Hojjat ol Eslam Hossein Ebrahimi claimed that the race for the Assembly of Experts chairmanship will therefore be between Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. The current Assembly of Experts chairman, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, was not re-elected to the Assembly.

Russian presidential aide Vladimir Kozhin told reporters that Russia will send several more S-300 units to Iran by the end of the current year. Kozhin also confirmed that Iran has already received a single battalion of S-300 batteries. It remains unclear, however, what the total size of Iran’s planned S-300 arsenal will be.

AEI Must-Reads

Domestic Politics

  • Aref: “I will certainly run for parliament speaker.” Mohammad Reza Aref stated that he intends to run for parliament speaker against current speaker Ali Larijani. Aref also called upon the elected parliamentarians who ran under the “List of Hope” to join the Hope faction in Parliament during a meeting with reformist activists. Aref also downplayed concerns that the principlist faction will outnumber the Hope faction, stating, “One should not judge the strength of this faction on the first day.” (Asr Iran) (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency) (Asr Iran)
    • Aref also conducted an extensive interview with reformist newspaper Shargh on the race for parliament speaker. Aref called upon the Rouhani administration and the state’s “security institutions” to refrain from interfering in the race for parliament speaker. The large number of independents in the upcoming parliament will likely be the swing vote in the election. It is theoretically possible that outside interests, either from the Rouhani administration or elsewhere, could help influence these votes. (Fars News Agency)
  • Rafsanjani: I am not currently pursuing the Assembly of Experts chairmanship. Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani addressed the possibility of his selection as the new chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the body charged with selecting the new Supreme Leader. The Expediency Discernment Council chairman indicated that he is not “currently” pursuing the chairmanship.
    Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Hashemzadeh Harisi reportedly stated, “Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has no interest or intention in candidacy for election to the [Assembly of Experts] Board of Directors, unless other circumstances in the time remaining before the opening of the new Assembly of Experts change...” (Donya-e Eqtesad)  
    • Combatant Clergy Association member Hojjat ol Eslam Hossein Ebrahimi told reporters, “It seems that the race for the Assembly of Experts chairmanship will be between Ayatollah [Mohammad Ali] Movahedi Kermani and [Guardian Council member] Ayatollah [Mahmoud Hashemi] Shahroudi.” (Khabar Online

Military and Security

  • Artesh Ground Forces Commander: We are ready to confront threats beyond our borders. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan stressed that the Artesh ground forces are ready to confront any threat “whether on or beyond our borders” during an interview with reporters. The Artesh Ground Forces Commander added, “The Artesh will in no way be surprised, and if a threat does occur, we will go forth and confront it.” (Tasnim News Agency)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Jazayeri discusses fate of Iranians captured in Syria. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri answered a question regarding the Iranians captured by anti-regime forces in Syria. The Armed Forces General Staff Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy responded, “Until further notice, I do not have answer in this regard. Hopefully, however, we will avenge... their actions and crimes.” Jazayeri said that the possibility of an exchange between ISIS and Iran “depends on future circumstances.” Parliamentarian Esmail Kowsari told reporters earlier that rebels had captured “five or six” Iranians during the offensive on Khan Tuman. There have, in addition, been other recent reports of other Iranians captured by opposition forces. (Shoma News)
  • Kowsari: It is unclear if Israel killed top Hezbollah commander. Outgoing hardline parliamentarian Esmail Kowsari discussed rumors that Israel had killed senior Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine during an interview with Mizan news agency. Kowsari noted that the principal “criminals” in the region remain the “Zionists and the Americans” and that the “takfiri groups” are complicit in their “crimes.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi had blamed Israel for Badreddine’s death during remarks on May 13. Kowsari added that Hezbollah will appoint a successor for Badreddine “soon.” (Shahre Khabar)
  • Rezaei: “Saudi Arabia does not have the ability to continue to oppose our country.” IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei praised Iran’s advisory role in Iraq and Syria, stating, “Five years ago, when the takfiri elements began in Syria… Syria asked Iran for help; we said that we could not send divisions, but we could send advisors…. When [ISIS] attacked Tikrit and came near Baghdad, the Iraqi government requested help from us; we sent advisors to Iraq, and stood in front of them, and slowly Tikrit was released… Currently, parts of Syria and Iraq are in the hands of this group, but their advances have been completely stopped and limited.” Rezaei also downplayed the threat played by Saudi Arabia to Iran, stating, “Everyone - even the Americans - knows that Saudi Arabia does not have the ability to continue to oppose our country.” (Fars News Agency)


  • Statistical Center: Iran’s non-oil economy grew by only 0.9 percent. The Statistical Center of Iran announced that Iran’s non-oil economy grew by only 0.9 percent during the last Persian year (March 2015-March 2016). The Statistical Center added that the country’s industrial growth during the past Persian year declined by 2.2 percent. Iran’s non-oil economy had grown by nearly 2.8 percent during the previous Persian year (March 2014-March 2015). (Tasnim News Agency) (IRIB)
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