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: A Foreign Ministry official voiced Iran’s support for Russia’s call to designate Syrian opposition groups Ahrar al Sham and Jaysh al Islam as terrorist organizations.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian reportedly indicated Iran’s support for Russia’srecent request that the UN designate the Salafi-jihadist Syrian opposition groups Ahrar al Sham and Jaysh al Islam as terrorist organizations. The designation would exclude the groups from any cessation of hostilities. Russian and Iranian support for the terrorist designation could be part of an effort to justify pro-regime military operations around Aleppo in the face of Western pressure to halt them.
IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami claimed that Iran will close the Strait of Hormuz to the U.S. and its “regional partners” if they threaten Iran. Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in the past.
- Paul Bucala analyzes the details and significance of the Artesh’s deployment to Syria in “The Artesh in Syria: A fundamental shift in Iranian hard power.”
- The Critical Threats Project has also translated an interview with the Artesh deputy commander on the deployment to Syria that hints at a transformation in the orientation of Iran’s conventional military. Read the translation here.
- 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?”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Abdollahian: Ahrar al Sham and Jaysh al Islam should be designated as terrorist groups.Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian arrived in Moscow and met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on May 4. Abdollahian reportedly voiced his support for Russia’s recent call for two Salafi-jihadist Syrian opposition groups, Ahrar al Sham and Jaysh al Islam, to be designated as terrorist organizations and therefore be excluded from the current cessation of hostilities. On April 27, Russia’s UN delegation requested that the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee designate both groups as terrorist organizations. (Mehr News Agency) (E) (Fars News Agency)
- Foreign Ministry protests draft of U.S congressional resolution. The Foreign Ministry issued a formal complaint to the Swiss Embassy in Tehran for using the name “Arabian Gulf” rather than “Persian Gulf” in a congressional resolution introduced on April 28. The statement also criticized American “interventionism in Iranian affairs.” The Swiss Embassy is the only form of official American representation in Iran through its U.S. Interests section. (Mehr News Agency) (E)
Military and Security
IRGC deputy commander threatens to block Strait of Hormuz. IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami warned that Iran will close the Strait of Hormuz to the U.S. and “its regional partners” if they threaten Iran. Salami added that the U.S. “should learn from recent historical truths,” likely in reference to the January detention of U.S. navy sailors in the Persian Gulf. He also stated that “America perceives our power to be much smaller than it is in reality. We will continue strongly in developing our deterrent power both on water and by missiles.” (ISNA)
- Soleimani allegedly in Aleppo. ABNA reported that IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was in the battlefields around Aleppo “over the past several days.” For more information on the Assad regime’s operations around Aleppo, please see the Institute for the Study of War’s “Aleppo Warning Update.” (ABNA) (Photo)
Rouhani pushes back on Supreme Leader’s criticism of English-language education.President Hassan Rouhani stated that Iranians “should be able to choose which language they want to learn” during remarks on May 4. He also praised India’s “mastery over the English language” for facilitating job growth in the country. Rouhani’s comments are likely in response to a recent speech by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had criticized the high level of interest in English-language education among Iranians. (Fars News Agency) (Leader.ir)
- Influential hardline cleric criticizes “high-ranking” government officials. Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a hardline senior cleric who lost his seat in the February 26 Assembly of Experts elections, criticized unnamed “high-ranking” government officials during a meeting with IRGC commanders on May 4. He stated that some Iranian officials, “despite having religious qualifications,” are deviating ideologically from former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He also criticized a single but unnamed official who stated that Iran should be “a country like Lebanon so that everyone can live and behave however they want.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Parliament to review Guardian Council’s objections to annual budget. Parliamentarian Zargham Sadeghi announced that Parliament will review the annual budget on May 8 in order to review sections that were rejected by the Guardian Council. Parliament referred the annual budget to the Guardian Council on April 20 for final approval, but the Council returned the bill to Parliament on May 1 after finding fault with several sections. The Guardian Council reportedly disapproved of the unconditional allocation of subsidies to households with five or more members regardless of income and the lack of clarity regarding the National Development Fund’s share in oil revenues. (Mashregh News Agency) (Fararu)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
- Five Fatimiyoun Brigade fighters buried in Iran. Of the five, one Fatimiyoun fighter was buried in Kerman, one in Esfahan, one in Markazi province, and two in Semnan province. (Bagher Shahr News) (Isaar) (Fars News Agency) (Merat News) (Tasnim News Agency)