Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

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: Parliament approved President Hassan Rouhani’s candidates to head the Culture and Islamic Guidance, Sports and Youth Affairs, and Education ministries.

Parliament voted to approve Reza Salehi Amiri as Culture and Islamic Guidance minister, Massoud Soltani Far as Sports and Youth Affairs minister, and Fakhreddin Ahmadi Danesh Ashtiani as Education minister. Their appointments follow the resignations of the heads of those three ministries last month. The vote reflects the stronger moderate-conservative presence in the current Parliament, which was elected in spring 2016. Rouhani had nominated all three for ministerial positions early on in his term, but the previous, conservative-dominated Parliament rejected all three.

IRGC Public Affairs Head Brigadier General 2nd Class Ramezan Sharif announced the formation of IRGC-controlled “development and prosperity” bases aimed at creating jobs and “eradicating poverty” in rural areas. The IRGC currently enjoys expansive influence in various sectors of Iran’s economy, particularly in energy and construction. The creation of IRGC-controlled construction bases at the provincial level is likely an attempt to strengthen the IRGC’s influence in Iran’s local economies.

AEI Must-Reads

Domestic Politics

  • Parliament approves Rouhani’s ministerial candidates. Parliament voted to approve Reza Salehi Amiri as minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Massoud Soltani Far as minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, and Fakhreddin Ahmadi Danesh Ashtiani as minister of Education. The confirmation took place over objections from hardliners who accused the nominees of participating in the 2009 Green Movement protests. (Press TV) (E) 
     
  • Rouhani: Some “revolutionary” people do not understand Iran’s problems. President Hassan Rouhani praised Parliament’s approval of his ministerial candidates. Rouhani stressed that “cooperation between the Parliament and the government will benefit the great Iranian nation.” He also stated, “Today, international organizations and the whole world admit that Iran is the best and safest country for foreign investment, despite the fact that some revolutionary people do not understand or comprehend the country’s problems.” [CCIR only:Rouhani stated, “The Iranian nation adopted the path of moderation [in the 2013 presidential] elections with a loud voice; and that shout was reiterated once again” in the February 2016 parliamentary elections.] (President.ir(E) (Fars News Agency)
    • Conservative parliamentarian Hossein Naghavi Hosseini criticized Rouhani’s cabinet reshuffle and questioned the qualifications of Fakhreddin Ahmadi Danesh Ashtiani, who Naghavi claimed was detained during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Naghavi Hosseini, who is the spokesman for Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, stated the Rouhani administration “should have done a cabinet reshuffle in the economic sphere, but has not yet taken a step in this regard.” (Basij News)
       
  • Ghalibaf responds to allegations of corruption in Tehran mayor’s office. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf discussed government documents leaked by Memari News on a corruption scandal in the Tehran mayor’s office. Ghalibaf claimed that the leaked documents were part of a “preliminary report” on corruption allegations. He added that “enemies and malicious individuals” have “misused the documents,” presumably in order to undermine the the mayor’s office. (Hamshahri

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Ayatollah Larijani meets with Ayatollah Sistani. Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani met with Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani on November 1 in Najaf, Iraq. Larijani also met with the heads of the three branches of Iraqi government during his multi-day visit to Iraq. (ABNA(E)  
     
  • LEF Commander: We are ready to assist other countries. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari stressed that the LEF is fully prepared to assist neighboring countries “in the field of security and policing.” Ashtari noted that Iran has “the best possible security conditions” among regional countries. (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Iran’s ambassador to Libya: We do not recognize the GNA. Hossein Akbari claimed that Iran will only recognize the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) as Libya’s official government after it receives a vote of confidence from Libya’s Tobruk-based House of Representatives. Akbari’s comments align Iran with Russia’s support of the House of Representatives. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in talks with Libyan officials in order to rally support for the GNA. (Fars News  Agency)

Economy

  • IRGC forms provincial construction bases. IRGC Public Affairs Head Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif announced the formation of IRGC-controlled “development and prosperity” bases intended to create jobs and “eradicate poverty” in rural areas. Sharif noted that these organizations will use the “valuable experience” of the IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base, the IRGC's engineering wing. (Mehr News Agency)

Military & Security

  • Basij Organization announces large-scale exercises. Basij Organization Deputy IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Fazli stated that the Basij Organization will hold the “Beit ol Moghaddas” exercises in 13 provinces and 72 cities on November 3-4. Over 350 battalions are expected to participate in the exercises. Fazli, who also commands IRGC Imam Hadi Base, noted that the IRGC Imam Hadi Base “will control and lead the exercises.” Fazli noted that the Beit ol Moghaddas exercises series began in 1390 (2011-2012), indicating that the Basij Organization is able to maintain a regular rhythm of planned, large-scale exercises. (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Judiciary issues verdicts for Saudi embassy attackers. The Judiciary issued verdicts for 20 individuals accused of participating in the January 2 attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The verdicts have yet to be announced publicly, however, according to judicial officials. Iranian officials have denied any official involvement in the attack, despite the fact that security forces were reportedly present when the attack took place and an influential hardline clericwith ties to security organizations was implicated in the attack. President Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly called for those implicated in the attack to be “brought to justice” in a transparent trial. Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, however, has previously said that Iranian officials should commute the sentences of the convicted individuals due to the “actions of Saudi Arabia.” An Iranian court conducted the two-day trial for the suspects in mid-July. (Mizan Online)
     
  • Intelligence minister: We do not have any dual citizens in the government. Intelligence Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi claimed that the Rouhani administration “does not employ any dual citizens at any level” of government. Alavi noted that the only dual citizens employed in the government resigned from their positions in early October. Alavi also dismissed the investigation into the administration’s dual citizen employees. He stated, “Unfortunately, various scenarios have been concocted by political opponents in order to weaken the administration. This conversation about dual citizen employees in the government is one of these scenarios.” (IRNA
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