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 Mehrdad Moarefian, Marie Donovan, and Paul Bucala, with contributors Ryan Melvin, Caitlin Pendleton, and Jordan Olmstead. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Key takeaway: Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s “attacks” in his November 8 speech on media censorship.

During his Friday Prayer sermon, Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi stated, “Someone who is in charge of the administration, and is the highest authority in the country after the Supreme Leader, must not deal with issues angrily, and should not speak bitingly” Sedighi also criticized Rouhani for being respectful to foreigners but “speaking in a different tone to believers, the faithful, and the country’s servants…”

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari announced that Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian will lead the Iranian delegation at the next round of the Vienna peace talks on Syria.

IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami said that Hezbollah has more than “more than 100,000 missiles and rockets” it can fire at Israeli forces in the “occupied territories.”

Matthew McInnis analyzes the arrests of journalists and businessmen in his most recent blog, “The coming crackdown in Iran.


Domestic Politics

  • Sedighi criticizes Rouhani’s November 8 speech. Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi reiterated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s warnings about foreign influence entering Iran under the “pretext” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on November 13. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader called considerations about foreign influence “the center of decision-making” in Iran and identified universities as a tool for blocking such influence, stating, “We want to educate individuals in such a way that they have a hatred for the ‘arrogance’ [Western dominance]… This is a necessary matter for culture-building in the country.”
    • On Rouhani: “Mr. President…said things [in his November 8 speech] that sting; who were you defending and who were you attacking? Someone who is in charge of the administration, and is the highest authority in the country after the Supreme Leader, must not deal with issues angrily, and should not speak bitingly…”
    • Sedighi noted that “it is a pity” Rouhani has one approach in speaking with foreigners, but “in attacking insiders, speaks in a different tone to believers, the faithful, and the country’s servants…”
    • On faith in universities: He called for universities to become more “Islamic,” and stated, “An Islamic university does not mean that individuals go become students and put a turban on their heads; it means that students are God-based and faith-based.”
    • On government: Sedighi claimed that some of Iran’s problems would be solved if the country’s leadership were more people-oriented and added, “Unfortunately, we did not train our leaders for service.”
    • On Syria: “Some ask what we are doing in Syria, then some group says that [Syrian President] Bashar al Assad must go, but on the issue of support for Syria and the preservation of Bashar al Assad, the Supreme Leader has signaled a [red] line from the start.”
    • Sedighi identified several points regarding Syria that Iran has “emphasized” repeatedly. The first is the matter of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity. The second is continuing the “serious fight” to eliminate terrorism, the roots of which are “ISIS, al Nusra, and the takfiris,” both in Syria and in the region. The third point is ensuring that Syrians, rather than “foreign governments,” determine their country’s fate. Sedighi also praised Syrians for “electing” Assad, a leader he described as standing “heroically against the great powers.”
    • On Saudi Arabia: Sedighi criticized the “scandalous actions of the UN and its secretary-general for supporting the government of Saudi Arabia.” He censured Saudi Arabia for eliminating the security of Yemen and the indiscriminate killing of women and children “for the past eight months” and stated, “In that time, the secretary-general of the UN has supported this feeble, weak, dependent, and dictatorial government of al Saud.”
    • On Nizzar Zakka: Sedighi discussed Lebanese-American Nizzar Zakka, who was recently arrested on grounds of connections to Western intelligence agencies. Sedighi stated, “This gentleman had a mission to launch a virtual social network with American goals…who was arrested and confessed to receiving their dollars and evil goals; others were arrested alongside him. They should take this point which the Supreme Leader of the Revolution emphasized seriously, because it’s a very serious warning.” (Mashregh News) (ILNA)
  • Haddad Adel: The enemy might want to “exploit” our media. Principlist Parliamentarian Gholam Ali Haddad Adel discussed the arrests of media professionals during Iran’s 21st Press Exhibition. He stated:
    • “I was not happy with the events that unfolded [the arrests]; however considering the conditions of our country and the position of Iran in defending the oppressed and combating ‘arrogant policies’ and the Zionist regime…we do not consider it unlikely that the enemy is thinking about exploiting our media and newspapers.”
    • “Before the 1953 coup, a similar thing happened; we witnessed that whenever they [the enemy] wanted to do something inside Iran and start some sort of trend, they turned to the newspapers and the reporters.”
    • “I can only ask the Judiciary to review this issue justly and fairly.” (Mehr News)
  • Shirazi praises Zarif during a meeting. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Qom on November 12. Shirazi praised Zarif for his work on the JCPOA, stating that “your efforts will be recorded in history… you made the impossible possible.” Shirazi also stated that in order to counter terrorist groups there must be parallel support from the “military, political, and intellectual” groups. Zarif added that there is “not a military solution” to regional crises, and urged greater communication between Muslims to reduce “the existing tension.” (Entekhab)

  • Khatami: There are “180 [foreign] satellite networks” in Iran. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reflected on the growing foreign influence during his Friday sermon. He stated that the world’s influence in Iran brings feelings of “intrigue and fear,” claiming that there are now “180 [foreign] satellite networks” broadcasting in Iran. Khatami added that these television channels are “undoubtedly aimed” at the “young people” who are increasingly neglecting to follow “their religion.” He also said that “people are afraid” that the influence could lead to sedition.” (Rasa News)


Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Abdollahian to lead Vienna talks on Syria. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari announced that Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian will lead the Iranian delegation at the next round of the Vienna peace talks on Syria. (Alef)
  • Naghavi Hosseini: The government must not trust America. Principlist Parliamentarian Hossein Naghavi Hosseini discussed Iran-U.S. relations during an interview with Fars News Agency. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member warned the government to be wary of U.S. policies and not be “fooled” by U.S. “deceit,” adding “America is the enemy of our nation and Islamic Republic and will not fulfill any of its promises.”  (Fars News Agency
  • Vaezi: Iran and Russia have close cooperation on regional issues. Mahmoud Vaezi discussed the expansion of Iran-Russia relations during an academic conference in Moscow. The Minister of Communications and Information Technology stated:
    • “Iran and Russia’s relationship is currently changing. There were good discussions by both sides in the nuclear negotiations. Iranian and Russian officials have had close cooperation on regional issues including on Syria and Afghanistan, and this cooperation can lead to greater stability in the region. We have also had regional cooperation in the past for establishing security in Tajikistan [Tajik Civil War] and Karabakh [Nagorno-Karabakh War].” (ILNA


Military and Security

  • Salami: Hezbollah has “more than 100,000 missiles and rockets” it can fire on the “occupied territories.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami spoke at a November 13 mourning ceremony in Mazandaran province  for the martyrs of the Hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia. The IRGC Deputy Commander warned about U.S. plots to spread sedition, claiming that America “enters by any way and trick to infiltrate” and influence a nation. He also stated,  “More than 100,000 missiles and rockets—to fire on any point in the occupied territories—are in the hands of Hezbollah.” (Sepah News)


Casualties in Iraq and Syria

  • Four Iranians killed in Syria.
    • Massoud Asgari, Mohammad Reza Dehghan, Mostafava Mousavi, and Ahmad Ataie were killed in the vicinity of Aleppo, Syria on November 12. No ranks or unit affiliations were provided. (Basij Press)


  • Iran and Russia reportedly reach $7-8 billion loan agreement. Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade Mojtaba Khosrotaj told Russian news sources that the “main conditions on [the] allocations” of a $7-8 billion loan “under joint projects” with Russian companies have been reached. Khosrotaj noted that the banks involved in the loan would now “work…to agree on the technical details of work in this scheme.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E)


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