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 with contributors Ken Hawrey and Alice Naghshineh. 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: President Hassan Rouhani called for greater freedom of expression in a speech marking World Press Freedom Day.
President Hassan Rouhani stated that “critics should not be sent to prison” during a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair on May 3, which marks World Press Freedom Day. Meanwhile, 230 Iranian journalists wrote an open letter pressing Rouhani to honor their votes for him by investigating the cases of imprisoned journalists. The letter underscores challenges Rouhani will face if he seeks to implement his campaign promises by institutionalizing greater social freedoms rather than intervening on a case-by-case basis. The newly elected Parliament, in which his reformist and moderate supporters enjoy a plurality for the first time in over a decade, has limited authority to change press laws as the hardliner-dominated Guardian Council must ultimately approve all legislation.
Minister of Industries, Mines, and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh announced a ban on the import of Chevrolet cars into Iran, according to an unnamed official cited by Mehr News Agency. The ban contrasts with Rouhani’s remarks at the Tehran International Book Fair, where he also emphasized the “necessity” of foreign investment in Iran. The role of foreign investment has been a divisive issue among regime officials’ interpretation of the Resistance Economy, an economic doctrine aimed at insulating the Iranian economy from external pressures. Rouhani and his camp argue that foreign investment is key to protecting Iran from future sanctions, while hardline opponents advocate primarily economic isolation.
- Follow the latest developments from Iran’s elections, including the results of the April 29 runoff elections, in “Iran Elections Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”
- Matthew McInnis discusses the economic challenges facing President Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s newly elected parliament assumes office in his latest blog, “Will Iran’s new parliament be any better for Rouhani?”
Rouhani: Critics should not be sent to jail. President Hassan Rouhani called for greater freedom of expression during a speech at the Tehran International Book Fair on May 3, which marks World Press Freedom Day. He stated, “A critic is a blessing. Of course, someone should not be insulting while pretending to be a critic. But those who criticize should not get their work mired in a maze of paperwork [in order to get published]. Critics should not be sent to prison.” Rouhani’s comments coincide with the early release of Atena Farghadani, an Iranian cartoonist sentenced to prison for 12 years, from Evin Prison. Farghadani was arrested in August 2014, released, and arrested again in January 2015 for a cartoon depicting parliamentarians as animals for drafting legislation to limit access to contraceptives.
230 journalists write open letter to Rouhani. A total of 230 Iranian journalists wrote an open letter to Rouhani calling for him to investigate the cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists, including three journalists sentenced last week to 5 to 10 years in prison. The open letter read, “You are our president, and we voted for [Rouhani’s campaign slogan of] ‘Hope and Prudence’ so that we would have the Supreme Leader’s command of ‘maximum attraction and minimal repulsion,’ not the other way around!” (ILNA) (Asriran)
- 230 journalists write open letter to Rouhani. A total of 230 Iranian journalists wrote an open letter to Rouhani calling for him to investigate the cases of imprisoned Iranian journalists, including three journalists sentenced last week to 5 to 10 years in prison. The open letter read, “You are our president, and we voted for [Rouhani’s campaign slogan of] ‘Hope and Prudence’ so that we would have the Supreme Leader’s command of ‘maximum attraction and minimal repulsion,’ not the other way around!” (ILNA) (Asriran)
Rouhani administration spokesman and senior reformist politician defend disqualified reformist. Rouhani administration spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht and incoming reformist parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Aref both criticized the Guardian Council’s recent disqualification of Minoo Khaleghi, a reformist elected to Parliament from Esfahan. Nobakht and Aref also each reiterated President Hassan Rouhani’s call for Parliament to review Khaleghi’s qualifications rather than the Guardian Council. Nobakht stated that “legal disagreements exist between the administration and the Guardian Council” and added that the Interior Ministry is “taking action” regarding her case. Khaleghi’s disqualification has been uniquely controversial because the Guardian Council disqualified her outside of its official timeframe to do so. (Tasnim News Agency) (ILNA)
- Motahari: Supreme Leader may intervene in disqualified reformist's case. Influential moderate-conservative parliamentarian Ali Motahari told reporters that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may intervene to resolve the dispute over Khaleghi’s late disqualification. (ILNA)
- Deputy interior minister denies reports that undercover police will not report moral transgressions. Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaghari denied previous reports that a new 7,000-member undercover police unit in Tehran will not report “moral transgressions” like improper veiling. He criticized the false reports for “making up their own headlines” and stated that the plan for undercover agents “will be implemented in various dimensions. It is not only for moral issues.” President Hassan Rouhani criticized the plan for a new undercover unit during remarks on April 20. (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Abdollahian: Certain “terrorist groups” in Syria have violated the ceasefire. Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed the Syrian crisis during a meeting with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Secretary-General Christian Masset on May 2. Abdollahian stated, “Despite the Geneva agreements on the ceasefire in Syria, some terrorist groups have unfortunately violated this ceasefire by adopting an adversarial approach in a… move coordinated and planned with ISIS and al Qaeda.” (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency)
Larijani meets with Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, Ramadan Shalah, in Tehran. The pair discussed the need for Palestinians to “continue [the] Intifada” against Israel. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Iran forbids import of Chevrolet cars. An unnamed official in the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade announced a ban on the import of Chevrolet cars into Iran, according to Mehr News Agency. The Ministry reportedly canceled a shipment of 200 Chevrolet cars valued at $7 million based on an order from Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, the Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade. This development follows Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s public condemnation of the import of U.S. vehicles on April 27. (Mehr News Agency) (Mehr News Agency) (Leader.ir)
- Rouhani emphasizes foreign investment. President Hassan Rouhani emphasized the “necessity” of attracting foreign investment in Iran during his remarks at the Tehran International Book Fair on May 3. He also praised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a “win-win” facilitating Iran’s economic engagement with foreign countries. (ILNA)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
- Eight members of Afghan and Pakistani Shia militias killed in Syria. Aziz Hosseini, Ayoub Rezaei, and Gholam Yahya Rahmani were members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade. Saber Hossein, Mohsen Ali, Hossein Mozafer, Seyyid Gholam, and Naghib Ali were members of the Pakistani Shia militia Zeinabiyoun Brigade. They were buried in Qom on May 2. (ABNA)
- IRGC member killed during search for bodies of Iran-Iraq War veterans. Ali Reza Shamsipour was killed in Iraqi Kurdistan while searching for the bodies of veterans killed during the Iran-Iraq War. He had previously served in Syria. No further information regarding his rank or unit affiliation was provided. (Dana)
Military and Security
- Soleimani speaks at event in Gilan province. IRGC Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani discussed the history and importance of martyrdom culture during an event in Gilan province commemorating veterans killed during the Iran-Iraq War on May 3. (Defa Press)