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 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: Ali Akbar Velayati claimed that Syrian President Bashar al Assad “is stronger than ever before” and that Iran remains committed to Assad.

The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Velayati reiterated that Iran would remain steadfast in its support of regional resistance against the West. Velayati touted Iran’s success in thwarting U.S.-led plots in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, by mobilizing Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi forces, specifically in support of Syrian President Assad. Velayati claimed that Assad is “stronger than ever before,” adding that Iran “will never stop helping Assad…the President of Iraq, the Lebanese resistance, Palestine, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad in Palestine.” He also stated that Iran’s strategic relations with China and Russia are growing.

Coordination Deputy for the Representative of the Supreme Leader IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Hossein Sepehr, meanwhile, attributed Iran’s diplomatic strength and leverage in international negotiations to the IRGC’s advisory missions.

Matthew McInnis analyzes Iran’s rhetoric following the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, and explains why Iran should not be considered a partner in the fight against the Islamic State, in his most recent blog, “After Paris, can Iran be counted on to help defeat ISIS?

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Velayati: “Assad is stronger than ever before.” The Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader discussed regional developments during a news interview with a Lebanese newspaper. He stated:
    • On Syria: “The president of Syria is stronger than ever before.”
    • “There was a time when the armed opposition was advancing in Damascus and were at a distance of 200 or 300 meters from President Assad’s office; where are they now?”
    • “No one supported Bashar Assad to the extent of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even Russia did not give the necessary support. ”
    • “If we did not support Syria and we left Damascus, Syria’s fate would be worse than Libya’s.”
    • “They [the West] want to divide Syria into five countries and Iraq into three countries.”               
    • “We have stood up to this plan and will continue to stand up to it.” 
    • On Iran’s role in the region: “With the help of Hezbollah and Iraq, we provided the necessary support for Bashar Assad and we defeated the American’s plan in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. We will never stop helping Bashar al Assad and the President of Iraq, the Lebanese resistance, Palestine, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad in Palestine.”
    • On Iran’s relationship with Russia and China: “Our cooperation with Russia expands by the day and in my personal opinion, our relationship with Russia is currently evolving into a strategic relationship. A similar thing is occurring with our relationship with China.” (Mehr News
       
  • IRGC commander: The IRGC’s advisory missions support the work of Iranian diplomats. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Sepehr discussed the IRGC’s “advisory missions” in the Middle East during a meeting with Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ali Asghar Dastgheib on November 19. The Coordination Deputy for the Representative of the Supreme Leader in the IRGC stated, “The IRGC’s advisory missions have produced strong support for the efforts of Iranian diplomatic officials.” He added that the IRGC’s “presence” in advisory missions is “good support for the country’s political officials in negotiations with foreign countries.”
    • Sepehr also stated that “around 4,000 clerics” have permanent or part-time work doing “cultural activities” in “various levels of the IRGC.” Sepehr credited “religious insight” for much of the Basij and the IRGC’s foreign and domestic successes.
    • Dastgheib emphasized the importance of the IRGC’s role and quoted former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, stating, “If there were no IRGC, there also would be no country.”
    • “Today, there are no guidelines issued in the IRGC except those to which the Representative of the Supreme Leader gives his judicial approval; other than that, all products in the IRGC must be approved by the Representative of the Supreme Leader and the structural networks which were created for this subject.” (ISNA)
       
  • Abdollahian discusses Syria peace talks. Hossein Amir Abdollahian discussed the Vienna II peace talks on Syria during an interview with Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA). He stated, “The start of the political process and the implementation of the timetable of the Vienna II declaration are subject to the ceasefire in Syria.” The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs stated, “At the Vienna II talks, we did not allow anything to be said about the legitimate Syrian president, Bashar al Assad.” He stated, “In the Syrian political process, the constitution which will be put to a referendum is the main criterion.” (ISNA)
     
  • Jahangiri meets with Russian counterpart. Eshagh Jahangiri discussed counter-terrorism cooperation with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in Tehran on November 19. The First Vice President claimed that the recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon and France proved both the “legitimacy” of Iran and Russia’s stance on terrorism and the fact that effective counter-terrorism necessitates international cooperation. (ABNA)
     
  • Iran and Russia ink space research cooperation agreement. Vice President for Science and Technology Affairs Sorena Sattari met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Following the meeting, Rogozin announced that Russia and Iran have made “an agreement on expanding space research cooperation.” Sattari also referenced Russia and Iran’s joint “high commission on technological cooperation,” which “is comprised of 10 specialist committees and subcommittees in the fields of space and aeronautics, nanotechnology, biological and medical technology, energy, and information technology.” The two countries formed the high commission “earlier this year.” (Press TV) (E)
     
  • Zarif meets with UN Special Envoy to Yemen. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in Tehran on November 18.  Zarif stressed that Iran supports the UN’s measures to resolve the crisis in Yemen. (Press TV) (E)
     
  • Larijani: Western countries know that they cannot solve regional issues without Iran. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed regional developments during a ceremony in Qom province. Larijani stated, “Western countries can never think about subverting Iran because they have reached the conclusion that they cannot solve many of region’s problems without Iran.” Larijani also discussed economic developments and claimed that a strong private sector can solve many of the economic issues in the country. (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Ohadi: We are still missing 17 Iranians from the Hajj stampede. The Head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Saeed Ohadi told reporters that 17 individuals have still not been accounted for from the Hajj stampede. He added that Iran’s former Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi “is still among the missing and we do not have any information about his condition.” (ABNA)

 

Reactions to the Paris Terrorist Attacks

  • Salami: Countries that once complimented the takfiris have now been attacked by them. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami referenced the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks and claimed that Europe’s “security system has collapsed.” The IRGC Deputy Commander stated, “Those countries that called the takfiris a civil, freedom-loving coalition in the past have now witnessed the creation of insecurity by those same [takfiris] in their homelands.” Salami added that the “global arrogance” [America and the West] seeks to “divide up Islamic countries and nations, but America has relinquished its past fundamental and superficially grand role in the region and has turned into a regular actor.” (Sepah News)

 

Military and Security

  • Sayyari: We hope to operationalize the frigate Sahand by March. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told reporters that he hopes the frigate Sahand will be operationalized by March 2016. The Artesh Navy Commander added the Navy has successfully escorted 2,500 ships in the Bab el Mandeb Strait, located between the Arabian Peninsula and Yemen, over the past six years. (Fars News Agency)

 

Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Salehi: Arak reactor document signed. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the P5+1 foreign ministers have signed the “official document” on redesigning and modernizing the Arak reactor. Salehi added that the JCPOA’s implementation “now depends on Iran’s actions since Europe and America have issued the required instructions regarding the removal of sanctions.” (Entekhab)
     
  • Najafi reacts to IAEA report. Reza Najafi stated that a recent IAEA report demonstrates that “all nuclear activities in Iranian facilities are continuing under the supervision of the IAEA and have not deviated from peaceful intentions.” Iran’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA Board of Governors also claimed that the IAEA report recommended that all previous UN Security Council resolutions imposed against Iran should be removed on the basis of Resolution 2231. (IRIB)

 

Domestic Politics

  • Naghdi: “Influence” has become a strategy for subverting the state. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi discussed the threat posed by foreign “influence” during a speech at a Basij conference. The Basij Organization Commander stated: “There has always been influence and we have always dealt with this issue since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution. However, this issue is important in today’s conditions because influence has transformed from a tactic into a strategy for subverting the state.” (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Telegram will be blocked if it does not observe the Islamic Republic’s rules. Abdol Samad Khoramabadi, a senior official in the Chief Prosecutor’s Office, stated that the Committee Charged with Determining Offensive Content has ruled that the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology must “filter and block” the popular messaging application Telegram if “it does not observe the regulations and laws of the Islamic Republic” and remove “offensive content.” (Ghatreh)

 

Economy

  • Hamedani calls for increased government supervision of the economy. Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani called for “precise and complete” government supervision of the economy to combat inflation and solve problems in the banking sector during a meeting with senior officials from Iran’s Chamber of Commerce.  Hamedani also mentioned his discussion of economic problems with President Rouhani in a recent meeting. (Rasa News)
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