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: Parliamentarians debated a bill that would require the IRGC Intelligence Organization and the Judiciary to approve appointments to “sensitive government positions.”
Parliamentarians renewed debate on the bill during the last session of the principlist-dominated ninth Parliament on May 24. The IRGC Intelligence Organization and the Judiciary would join the Ministry of Intelligence and Security in confirming security-related appointments. The Guardian Council, which must approve legislation before it becomes law, had rejected the bill in March after finding several parts to be unconstitutional and will need to approve the amended legislation. It is unclear what the tenth Parliament, which opens on May 27, will do with the bill.
Iranian news outlets reported that a Basij member from Golestan province died from wounds suffered on the battlefield near Fallujah. He is the second Iranian to be killed in the offensive launched by the Iraqi government to liberate the city.
- Follow the latest electoral developments in Parliament and the Assembly of Experts in the Critical Threats Project’s “Iran Elections Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”
- 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?”
Parliamentarians debate bill on Rouhani administration appointments. On May 24, lawmakers reentered debate over legislation originally rejected by the Guardian Council in March that would require the Judiciary and the IRGC Intelligence Organization, in addition to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, to approve appointments to “sensitive government positions.” The Ministry of Intelligence and Security is currently the only government entityformally responsible for confirming security-related appointments. The legislation also prevents dual citizens, individuals who do not have a “belief and commitment to the Constitution and the Guardianship of the Jurist,” and others from being appointed to “sensitive government positions.” Majid Ansari, the vice president for legal and parliamentary affairs, criticized the proposed legislation and requested that it be reviewed in the upcoming parliament. The Guardian Council reportedly found several elements of the original legislation to be in conflict with the separation of powers clause in Article 57 of the Iranian Constitution. Conservative parliamentarian Ali Motahari, who opposes the bill, stated during the May 24 Parliament session that the Guardian Council’s objections to the bill have not yet been properly addressed. (ISCA) (ISCA) (Ettelaat) (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency)
Hardline newspapers celebrate new Assembly of Experts chairman. Kayhan ran its lead story on Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati’s election as the Assembly’s chairman under headline “Thorn in the eye of the British becomes Assembly of Experts chairman.” The headlinereferences a pre-election conspiracy that foreign media, particularly BBC Persian, sought to interfere in the Assembly elections by discouraging the reelection of Jannati, outgoing Assembly Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, and Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, all of whom are prominent hardliners. Both Yazdi and Mesbah Yazdi lost their seats. Conservative newspaper Vatan-e Emrooz mocked a reformist slogan during the elections by covering Jannati’s election with the headline “Repeat Jannati.” Former reformist president Mohammad Khatami had called for the electorate to “repeat” its vote for the joint reformist-moderate candidate list in the parliamentary runoff elections. (Kayhan) (Vatan-e Emrooz)
Larijani criticizes reformist politician’s disqualification. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani criticized the Guardian Council’s controversial post-election disqualification of Minoo Khaleghi, a reformist politician who had won a seat in the February 26 parliamentary elections. Senior officials including President Hassan Rouhani and his administration have argued that only Parliament has the legal right to evaluate parliamentarians’ credentials after election day. The Guardian Council otherwise vets electoral candidates before voting takes place. Larijani stated, “We must adhere to the country’s legal system. Because the law has explicitly given a time frame for the Guardian Council’s assessment [of candidates], my opinion is that this issue cannot be extended after the elections. The Guardian Council’s interpretation [of its powers] differs, however.” Larijani added that he has raised the issue of Khaleghi’s disqualification during a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Conservative parliamentarian Ali Motahari, meanwhile, stated in an interview that Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli’s “delay” in handling Khaleghi’s case is “worthy of impeachment” and emphasized that Khaleghi’s case “is not over.” Motahari is an outspoken critic of her disqualification. For more information on the significance of Khaleghi’s disqualification, see “Iran’s Guardian Council pushes the limits of its electoral control.” (ISNA)
Aref reiterates his “serious candidacy” for parliament speaker. The Telegram channel of the reformist-moderate List of Hope published a statement by Mohammad Reza Aref, a senior reformist politician and incoming parliamentarian, reiterating that he will challenge current parliament speaker Ali Larijani for the position. The vote for parliament speaker will be held on May 27. Aref referenced his own withdrawal from the 2013 presidential elections to consolidate reformist votes for President Hassan Rouhani and stated, “Sometimes it is right to stay, and sometimes it is right to step aside.” Aref also addressed the possibility of losing the internal election for parliament speaker, stating, “If the [reformist-moderate] faction of Hope is not the majority faction, we must not compromise our commitments in Parliament. We will pursue our programs to the best of our ability in various parliamentary commissions.” (Fars News Agency)
Military and Security
Iranian Statistics Center hacked. Iranian news outlets reported that the Iranian Statistics Center, an institution under the Iranian government responsible for publishing socio-economic statistics, was hacked by an unknown group. Some Iranian news outlets have published screenshots of a google search result for the Center, reading “Hacked by Da3s Hacker Group” in Arabic. Tabnak, a conservative media outlet, claimed that a Saudi-affiliated hacking group perpetrated the attack. (Tabnak) (irdiplomacy)
Joint naval drills with India to be held May 26. Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari held a welcome ceremony for Indian naval vessels to highlight tomorrow’s joint naval drill. The joint military drills will be held to the east of the Strait of Hormuz. (Defa Press) (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
- Pourdastan: The 28th Beit ol Moghaddas exercises were designed to train for proxy wars. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Ahmad Reza Pourdastan praised the recent Beit ol Moghaddas military drills conducted in Esfahan and emphasized the “very effective” role played by the Artesh Ground Forces. Pourdastan also commented on Iran’s role in the Syrian conflict, stating that “developments on the [battle]field show that the presence of Iranian advisor forces is needed.” (Defa Press)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Iranian dies from wounds suffered near Fallujah. Iranian news outlets reported that Ghorban Najafi, an Iran-Iraq war veteran and Basij member from Golestan province, died on May 24 in a Tehran hospital from wounds suffered on the battlefield near Fallujah. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Seven Fatimiyoun fighters to be buried in Iran. Seven members of the Afghan Shia militia group killed in Syria will be buried in Mashhad on May 26. (Tasnim News Agency)