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: Iran’s participation in the Hajj remains uncertain despite comments by the undersecretary of Saudi Arabia’s Hajj Ministry that a preliminary agreement has been signed.
Hussein Sharif, the undersecretary of the Saudi Hajj Ministry, stated that negotiations have been “positive” and that the two countries reached a preliminary agreement on travel arrangements on May 26. Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Ali Jannati reacted to Sharif’s comments by stating that “if Saudi Arabia cannot fulfill the Islamic Republic’s demands, then the Hajj will not happen this year… I do not think Saudi Arabia’s policies have changed overall.” Jannati “tentatively confirmed” the cancellation of the Hajj for Iranian pilgrims following Saudi Arabia’s refusal to comply with Iranian demands on issues including the issuing of visas and pilgrim safety on May 12.
Iranian news outlets reported that the Organization for the Registration of Deeds and Estates, an organization under Iran’s Judiciary, was hacked on May 26. This attack follows the hack of another website belonging to the Iranian Statistics Center, which was reported in the Iranian press on May 25. Iran Supreme Cyberspace Council Secretary Abolhassan Firouzabadi downplayed the attacks, stating that hacking is “not unusual” worldwide.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran’s enemies are striving to influence decision-makers as part of an ongoing “soft war” against Iran. He delivered his remarks to members of the Assembly of Experts, a body that is constitutionally charged with selecting the next Supreme Leader and that recently elected a hardline cleric as its chairman. Hardliners often give the threat of foreign influence as a reason to conduct arrests and criticize policies of international engagement.
- 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?”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Jannati reiterates uncertainty of Iranian participation in the Hajj. Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Ali Jannati referenced an Iranian delegation currently in Saudi Arabia for talks on the Hajj and stated, “The Iranian delegation must return so we can see if it has been able to reach an understanding with Saudi Arabia or not. If Saudi Arabia cannot fulfill the Islamic Republic’s demands, then this year the Hajj will not happen… I do not think Saudi Arabia’s policies have changed overall.” Jannati’s comments are in reaction to Hussein Sharif, the Saudi Hajj Ministry’s undersecretary, who stated on May 26 that Saudi Arabia and Iran have reached a preliminary agreement on travel arrangements for the Hajj. (Press TV)
Second Iranian government website hacked. Iranian news outlets reported that the Organization for Registration of Deeds and Estates, an institution under the Judiciary, was hacked on May 26. Some Iranian news outlets have published a Google search result for the Organization, reading, “This Site Dominated by Mafia Hacking Team.” This attack follows the hack of another website belonging to the Iranian Statistics Center, an Iranian governmental institution responsible for publishing socio-economic statistics, which was reported in the Iranian press on May 25. (YJC)
Iranian official confirms cyber attacks on multiple government websites. Abolhassan Firouzabadi, the secretary of the Iran Supreme Cyberspace Council, acknowledged that “some” government websites were recently hacked but downplayed concerns regarding the attacks. He stated, “Hacking is not unusual, and every day we witness these cases in the world… In Iran we have strong security teams to confront these types of attacks.” He also added that the name the hackers used was “fictitious.” (Fars News Agency)
Saudi government statistics websites hacked. The websites for the Central Department of Statistics and Information of Saudi Arabia and the General Authority for Statistics were reported to have been hacked on May 26. Tasnim News Agency stated that while “no group has claimed responsibility” for the attacks, “some Iranian users are saying that the attack is in retaliation” for the May 25 attack on the Iranian Statistics Center’s website. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Tasnim News Agency reported that a website belonging to King Abdulaziz University, a Saudi university based in Jeddah, was hacked following the two attacks on the Saudi statistics websites. Text posted on a hacked page of the King Abdulaziz University website claimed that an Iranian hacking group named “Shahin” was responsible for the attack. (Tasnim News Agency)
Supreme Leader warns of enemy infiltration in Iran’s “decision-making centers.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed an ongoing “soft war” between Iran and its enemies and called for Iranians to resist global powers during remarks given to the Assembly of Experts on May 26. Khamenei identified three of the enemy’s strategies in this soft war as establishing “influence in decision-making centers,” “changing the beliefs of the people,” and “changing officials’ stances and calculations.” He also identified the IRGC, the Guardian Council, and the clerical establishment as among the enemy’s specific targets. He added that the enemy resorted to soft war after “hard war,” particularly the Iran-Iraq War, failed to overthrow the Islamic Republic. (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Leader.ir)
- Assembly of Experts statement: We must avoid a JCPOA 2 or 3. The Assembly of Experts released its first statement under the chairmanship of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. The statement criticized “opposing sides, particularly the U.S.,” for failing to implement commitments under the nuclear deal fully. It also called for Iranian officials to “avoid a JCPOA 2 or 3 that puts the capabilities of the great Iranian nation at risk of foreigners’ greed.” President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly called for a “JCPOA 2” to boost Iran’s economic conditions, including through economic engagement with the international community. (Shargh) (Fars News Agency)