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
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
Key takeaway: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded that Iranian officials address the threat of foreign influence networks and criticized some officials for accusing the Basij Organization of being radical.
Supreme Leader Khamenei hailed Basijis as representatives of the Iranian nation and defended the Basij Organization against officials accusing them of “radicalism and extremism.” Khamenei advised officials to remain vigilant against foreign plots to infiltrate the Iranian government. He stressed that the threat posed by “influence” should not be neglected just because some officials may seek to politicize it for factional benefits. Khamenei’s explicit warning and defense of the IRGC and Basij forces are in response to President Hassan Rouhani’s criticisms of the recent arrests of several individuals allegedly tied to media networks plotting to infiltrate Iran.
The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati called Putin’s meeting with the Supreme Leader “one of the most important events in the history of the Islamic Republic’s foreign relations.” Velayati also stated that during the meeting Mr. Putin claimed that “no type of agreement would occur with the other countries participating in the Vienna talks without coordinating with Iran.”
President Hassan Rouhani said that the downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkey was in the “interests of the terrorists.” Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also urged for a de-escalation of tensions between the two countries.
IRGC Public Relations released a statement commemorating the 37th anniversary of the Basij Organization on November 26th.
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?”
Supreme Leader: Foreign influence and infiltration threats should not be ignored. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a speech on the occasion of Basij Day on November 25 in Tehran. The Supreme Leader addressed Basij Organization commanders on the threat of foreign influence, infiltration, U.S. enmity, and regional crises. Khamenei hailed Basijis as representatives of the Iranian nation and “indefatigable” forces prepared to take their “talents” wherever necessary. He also criticized individuals accusing the Basij Organization of “radicalism and extremism.” Khamenei added that these critics are facilitating infiltration projects seeking to “weaken” the Islamic Republic’s values.
- On foreign infiltration: “Among the very important topics in ‘soft war’ is [the enemy's’] use of the ‘infiltration project.'”
- “Some reacted to the issue of influence and said that this issue will be used by factions as means of partisan benefits. Of course those people that use it for partisan [gains] are wrong. However, these things [factional disputes] should not neglect the principle of ‘influence.’”
- “An important target of influence is the ‘decision-making’ [process]. The person or persons responsible for the infiltration attempts to influence social movements and to [exploit] the country’s various problems in the decision-making process…”
- “Infiltration of movements means formation of networks inside the nation using money and sex appeals to change the beliefs, ideals, views and lifestyle of our people.”
- “At the same time that they smile at you and embrace you, they plunge their dagger in your heart.”
- On Syria: The Supreme Leader criticized the U.S and its allies for intervening in Iraq and Syria, stating: “What right do you have to make decisions from the other side of the world, for the Syrians?”
- On Bahrain: “What is wrong with the demands of the Bahraini people? They demand suffrage for all. Don’t you [the West] claim democracy?”
- Khamenei condemned the government of Bahrain and stated, “It is embarrassing enough that a tyrant minority in Bahrain, which follows Yazid [Sunni Caliph who killed third Shi’a Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq], rules.” (Khamenei.ir) (ABNA) (E)
Parliamentarians respond to Supreme Leader’s remarks on foreign influence.
- Haghighat Pour: Principlist Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour stated that one should not “condemn the Basij as extreme” and added, “If the entrance of the Basij into various arenas of the country is of such a type that it improves the system, [then] these actions are in the Basij’s line of duty and are not at all extreme.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman reiterated Khamenei’s remark that “the influence of a trend” is more dangerous than “the influence of an individual.”
Heidar Pour: NSFP Commission member Principlist Parliamentarian Avaz Heidar Pour praised the Basij and stated, “Unfortunately, some are moving in the direction of destroying the Basij and accuse it of extremism. In reality, this group works to fulfill the enemy’s project through influence.” (ICANA)
Motahari: The arrests of reporters might be aimed at creating fear before the elections. Conservative Parliamentarian Ali Motahari discussed the arrests of reporters during a conference with university students in Tehran. Motahari claimed that “there is the worry” that the recent arrests of reporters are aimed at “creating fear in the newspapers and the media” before the elections. (ISNA)
Zakani stresses need for unity in Principlist camp. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani discussed the need for unity within the Principlist faction and the Supreme Leader’s support for the nuclear negotiating team. He stated:
- On the forthcoming elections: “If the Principlists across the country can reach unity, the majority of the next parliament will be Principlist…the experiences of past elections show that whenever we were not together, we were damaged… but our divisiveness caused our opponent’s victory.”
- On the Supreme Leader and the negotiating team: “As the Supreme Leader stated in his [October 22] letter [to President Hassan Rouhani approving the nuclear deal], the negotiating team’s work is not flawless; but accusing them of treason is not correct and we do not accuse them...” Zakani continued, “The Supreme Leader’s support for the negotiating team, drawing of red lines, and his letter to the president expressing the shortcomings of the JCPOA… all [of these actions] were wise.” (Entekhab)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Rouhani: The responsibility for the downing of the Russian jet is with the “initiator.” President Hassan Rouhani discussed recent regional developments and Iran’s energy exports during a cabinet meeting on November 25.
- On Russian-Turkish relations: Rouhani referenced Turkey’s November 24 downing of a Russian fighter jet allegedly flying over Turkish territory and stated, “Everyone should note that these provocative actions and their abundant consequences are, from a legal perspective, on the shoulders of the initiators. All countries should be watchful. We urge our friend and neighboring country Turkey to be seriously watchful of the situation because conditions are very tense.”
- “Russia and Turkey are both neighbors and friends of Iran. It is very important to us that the relations between our neighbors are cordial. We are not at all content for there to be disputes between our neighbors or for disputes to be created in their relationship; it is in the interest of neither us nor the region. We urge these countries [Russia and Turkey] to take precautions to prevent the recurrence of these types of incidents… These types of incidents are in the terrorists’ interest.”
- On terrorism: “What has happened in Paris, Mali, the downing of [the Russian] plane in Sharm al Sheikh, Beirut, and recently Tunisia, and of course what is repeating daily in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, illustrates the danger of the microbes of terrorism spreading to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe and America. Consequently, it demonstrates the necessity of global resolve for combating this ominous phenomenon.”
- “We have not yet seen a serious resolve from the West to combat terrorism… We hope to witness such resolve from Westerners in the coming days and weeks.”
- “If NATO truly wants to fight terrorism, it must show its seriousness on this issue… The Russians are battling with the terrorists, and Iran, from the start of the Revolution throughout recent decades and years, has fought with the terrorists. [Iran] has always helped any country that has been the target of terrorist attacks.”
On energy: Rouhani called the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) a demonstration of Iran’s growing “esteem” worldwide and stated, "In the coming years, we will develop the gas industry and gas production, and we will develop gas exports to the same extent. Efforts should be focused on exporting gas as a clean fuel. Therefore, one of the priorities of the the next administration will be the development of production and exports through both pipelines and LNG [Liquified Natural Gas].” (President.ir)
Zarif: Downing of Russian jet sends the wrong message to terrorists. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for all parties to show “restraint” in the aftermath of Turkey downing a Russian fighter jet on Tuesday, and warned that “these developments send a very mistaken message to the terrorists.”
Zarif calls Lavrov. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari announced that Zarif called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to offer his condolences on the downing of the Russian jet. Zarif stated that the incident demonstrates “the sensitivity of the conditions in Syria and their effect on global peace and security,” as well as the “necessity of confronting terrorism with an international coalition.”(Fars News) (Mehr News)
- Zarif calls Lavrov. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari announced that Zarif called his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to offer his condolences on the downing of the Russian jet. Zarif stated that the incident demonstrates “the sensitivity of the conditions in Syria and their effect on global peace and security,” as well as the “necessity of confronting terrorism with an international coalition.”(Fars News) (Mehr News)
Velayati: The meeting between Putin and Khamenei was one of the most important meetings in the history of the Islamic Republic. Ali Akbar Velayati stressed the significance of Putin’s trip to Iran during a news interview. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stated:
- “In the history of the Islamic Republic, I have not seen a visit with that level of quality, importance, and content.”
- “Putin’s move to come to visit the Supreme Leader as soon as he arrived in the country…was very important and full of meaning.” Velayati claimed that this move indicated “how important” the trip was to Putin and “which part of the trip was most important to Putin, meaning the visit with the Supreme Leader.”
- “If I were to describe the meeting in one word, I must say that this meeting was completely friendly but at the same time frank and strategic.”
- “This meeting was around two hours and very important and strategic issues were discussed, both about bilateral relations and also about regional issues and international cooperation.”
- “Therefore, this meeting was not just a visit out of respect of the Supreme Leader but a serious meeting between the highest officials of the two countries.”
- “Regarding the Syria issue, Mr. Putin stressed that no type of agreement would occur with the other countries participating in the Vienna talks without coordinating with Iran.”
- “Both Mr. Putin and the Supreme Leader stressed that they would not follow any solution to the Syrian crisis that was not satisfactory to the Syrian government.”
- “In my opinion, this was one of the most important events in the history of the Islamic Republic’s foreign relations.” (Fars News Agency)
Jazayeri: Russia will stand firm. IRGC Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri claimed that Russia is “aware” of the U.S.’s vulnerabilities in Syria and would “not abandon its position” against the “downing of its plane.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy also discussed the threat posed by ISIS to Europe and urged for the European governments “supporting terrorism” to “remove themselves from this sinkhole.” (Fars News Agency) (Sepah News)
Deputy Parliament Speaker: Iraq’s real alliance was with Iran. Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Aboutorabi Fard criticized the potential normalization of Iran-U.S. relations during a speech to Basij veterans in Hamedan province on November 25. The Deputy Parliament Speaker stated, “Military, economic, and political relations with America has brought power to no government... The group known as Daesh [ISIS] had captured a third of Iraq, and the government of America not only did not assist its military alliance in Iraq, but it also helped Daesh… Iraq’s real alliance was with the Basij, the Iranian nation, and [IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem] Soleimani… If economic and political relations with America brings power, then Egypt should be the greatest power in the region, but some of America’s friends in the region are weak and servile.” He also credited Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the “astuteness of the Syrian people” for blocking enemy goals in Syria throughout the past five years. (YJC)
- Former diplomat’s body identified in Saudi Arabia. Former Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi’s body was identified in Saudi Arabia over two months after being killed in the 24 September Hajj stampede. His daughter confirmed the death and said “it is not clear” when Roknabadi’s body will be “repatriated” to Iran. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Araghchi meets with Amano in Vienna. Abbas Araghchi met with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, EU Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid, and Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation Stephen Mull to discuss the JCPOA implementation in Vienna. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs stated that the next meeting of the Joint Commission between Iran the P5+1 will be on December 16 in Vienna. Araghchi also stated that the JCPOA’s implementation is to begin in “early January.” (ISNA)
- Shamkhani: Both sides of the JCPOA agreement “must fulfil its obligations.” Ali Shamkhani discussed the role of the JCPOA Advisory Committee during an interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary stated that Iran is “in good faith with its [nuclear] obligations and the other side [of the JCPOA agreement] must fulfill its obligations.” He asserted that the “utmost care and vigilance” will be needed in this regard.
?Shamkhani stated that committee members have met “three times,” and have discussed the agreement within “the framework set by the Supreme Leader.”
?Shamkhani stated that the main issues so far have been on “the terms of sanctions and the reconstruction of Arak [heavy water reactor.]” (IRIB)
Naghavi Hosseini criticizes Rouhani administration stimulus package. Principlist Parliamentarian Hossein Naghavi Hosseini criticized President Rouhani’s recently unveiled economic stimulus package. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member stated, “The president’s economic theories and perspectives lack serious economic principle...” Hosseini claimed that despite Rouhani’s promises to energize the Iranian economy during his presidential campaign, “nothing has happened in the Iranian economy.” (Fars News Agency)
- Iran and Russia agree to railway route. Mohsen Poursaeed-Aghaei announced that the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) and JSC Russian Railways signed a $1.27 billion agreement to electrify a train line connecting north-central Iran and northeastern Turkmenistan. The RAI Managing Director explained that the project, which will take 36 months to complete, would substantially increase passenger train capacity and total transit volume. (Press TV) (E)
Military and Security
- IRGC celebrates anniversary of Basij’s foundation. The IRGC Public Relations Department issued a statement commemorating the 37th anniversary of the Basij Organization while praising the excellent “mobilization of young people in the age of modern ignorance.” (Sepah News)