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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that Iran is currently in a “war of willpower” with the U.S. and its allies.
Khamenei stated that the chances of a conventional war breaking out against Iran are “extremely weak.” He nonetheless stressed that Iran is currently waging an “asymmetrical war” against the “Arrogance,” a term generally referring to the U.S. and its allies. He called upon Iranians to “be vigilant so that the propaganda and temptations of the enemy do not weaken our willpower.”
Iran, Afghanistan, and India signed an agreement aimed at developing the Chabahar port in Sistan and Baluchistan province into a regional transit hub linking the three countries. During his trip to Tehran on Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged nearly $500 million to invest in the port, which will provide India with a trade route to Afghanistan and Central Asia that bypasses Pakistan.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari rejected reports that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour entered Pakistan from Iran before being targeted by a U.S. airstrike. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry announced on May 22 that a passport found at the location of the drone strike bearing the name Wali Muhammad with a picture that resembles Mansour also contained an Iranian visa.
Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan discussed the Artesh Ground Forces’ operations in Syria during a speech at the Beit ol Moghaddas military exercise in Esfahan province. He stated, “The mission of the Artesh Ground Forces is not constricted by our borders..and we witnessed in recent weeks troops from the 65th NOHED [Airborne Special Forces] Brigade perform in an advisory capacity in Syria along the IRGC Quds Force.”
- Caitlin Pendleton discusses how a reformist parliamentarian’s late disqualification could transform Iran’s domestic political scene in “Iran’s Guardian Council pushes the limits of its electoral control.”
- Paul Bucala has published a map depicting recent reports of Iranian military activity in Syria in “What the Khan Tuman defeat means for Iran.”
- Paul Bucala discusses the implications of the Artesh’s deployment to Syria in “Is Iran’s regular military pivoting to force projection?”
- Matthew McInnis analyzes the future of Iran-Iraq relations following the storming of the Iraqi parliament by supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr in “Is Iran’s Iraq policy coming apart?”
Military and Security
Khamenei: We are in a “war of willpower” with America. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the outbreak of a “traditional military war” against Iran “unlikely” during remarks at an Imam Hossein University graduation ceremony on May 23. He added that Iran is nonetheless fighting “an asymmetrical war against the Arrogance,” a term referring to the U.S. and its allies. He called this asymmetrical war a “war of willpowers” and urged Iranians to “be vigilant so that the propaganda and temptations of the enemy do not weaken our willpower.” Khamenei also derided U.S. opposition to Iran’s missile program by asserting that American “hullabaloo has no influence” on the program. (Leader.ir)
Artesh Ground Forces Commander: Our operations are not constrained by Iran’s borders. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan discussed the Artesh’s operations in Syria during a speech at the Beit ol Moghaddas military exercise. Pourdastan stated, “Whenever the command is given down the chain-of-command, we are ready to defend the nation’s interests in various regions...The mission of the Artesh Ground Forces is not constricted by our borders, and we witnessed in recent weeks troops from the 65th NOHED [Airborne Special Forces] Brigade perform in an advisory capacity in Syria along the IRGC Quds Force.” (Fars News Agency)
Artesh conducts second day of Beit ol Moghaddas military drills. Deputy of Artesh Ground Operations Brig. Gen 2C Ali Mehrabi announced the start of the second day of the Beit ol Moghaddas military drills in Esfahan province. Artesh infantry, mechanized, and armored units as well as soldiers from the Artesh’s newly-formed quick reaction unitand the 65th Artesh Special Forces Brigade reportedly took part in the drills. (Mashregh News)
- Artesh conducts second day of Beit ol Moghaddas military drills. Deputy of Artesh Ground Operations Brig. Gen 2C Ali Mehrabi announced the start of the second day of the Beit ol Moghaddas military drills in Esfahan province. Artesh infantry, mechanized, and armored units as well as soldiers from the Artesh’s newly-formed quick reaction unitand the 65th Artesh Special Forces Brigade reportedly took part in the drills. (Mashregh News)
- Two Iranian nationals with links to ISIS arrested for planning attack in Tehran. A Ministry of Intelligence and Security official in the northern province of Hamedan announced the arrests of two Iranian nationals who were members of “terrorist groups, especially the terrorist group Daesh [ISIS],” on May 22. He added that the two Iranians were travelling “from the border to Tehran” when they were arrested. (Fars News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Iran, India, and Afghanistan sign Chabahar port agreement. India, Iran, and Afghanistan signed an agreement to develop the port of Chabahar in the southern province of Sistan and Baluchistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that “500 million dollars from India” will be pledged to develop the Iranian port. The port of Chabahar is strategically significant to India because it provides India with an access route to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia that bypasses Pakistan. (IRNA)
Iran and India sign 12 Memorandums of Understanding. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed 12 Memorandums of Understanding with the Islamic Republic during his diplomatic visit to Iran. The memorandums include the development of the Chabahar port, the development of the Chabahar-Zahedan railway, and cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of India and Iran’s School for International Relations. Modi’s visit marks the first time in 15 years that an Indian Prime Minister has visited Iran. (President.ir) (IRNA)
Ashraf Ghani arrives in Tehran. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Iran on May 23 to meet with President Hassan Rouhani and sign the trilateral Chabahar port agreement. During the meeting, Rouhani emphasized the need to promote “development projects” in Afghanistan in order to fight the “dissemination of terrorism” and the “distribution and production of narcotics.” (IRNA)
Foreign Ministry denies Taliban leader visited Iran before drone strike. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari “strongly rejected” reports that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour entered Pakistan from Iran before being targeted by a U.S. airstrike. He stated that “the relevant authorities have rejected that this man entered Pakistan at this time from Iran.” Ansariadded, “Iran welcomes any action for the purpose of bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.” Ansari also discussed Iranian-Saudi relations, stating, “If Saudi Arabia does not change its approach...it will be responsible for preventing Iranians go on the Hajj.” (Fars News Agency)
Soleimani: If it were not for Iran, ISIS would control all of Syria. IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani praised Iran’s regional presence during a speech in Qom. He stated:
- “If Iran had not aided the preservation of the Syrian state, today ISIS would control all of Syria...In Iraq despite all of the America’s efforts they have been forced to retreat yet again and in the current situation, Sunni, Shia, and Kurds are proud of their friendships with Iran.” (Fars News Agency)
- Deputy Oil Minister: We have no intention to freeze oil production. Deputy Oil Minister Rokneddin Javadi stated that “the volume of Iranian crude oil exports excluding condensed natural gas has increased to two million barrels per day.” Javadi added that the country “has no intention to reduce oil production.” (Mehr News Agency)