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. 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: Parliamentarians criticized the attempted arrest of reformist parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi, underscoring tensions between Parliament and the conservative-dominated Judiciary.
Judicial authorities attempted to arrest Mahmoud Sadeghi on November 27 after the parliamentarian had called for an official inquiry into allegations that Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani misused public funds. Sadeghi successfully resisted arrest and later condemned the Judiciary’s actions as “illegal.” Moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari called the move a dangerous precedent for the Judiciary's oversight of parliament and stated that “the main problem is that the Judiciary does not answer to anyone.” Prominent reformist parliamentarians such as Deputy Parliament Speaker Masoud Pezeshkian similarly criticized the Judiciary’s actions. Iranian law prohibits law enforcement officials from prosecuting parliamentarians on the ground of opinions expressed in their official duties. This is not the first time that the Judiciary has attempted to jail a parliamentarian, however. An Iranian parliamentarian in the reformist-dominated sixth parliament (2000-2004) was similarly arrested after criticizing the head of the Judiciary at that time. The Supreme Leader appoints the head of the Judiciary.
An “informed source” in the IRGC Navy dismissed reports that a small IRGC vessel aimed a machine gun at a U.S. helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian officials have denied repeated reports of IRGC Navy vessels harassing American warships in the Persian Gulf.
- J. Matthew McInnis discusses the factors which could propel President-elect Donald Trump to pursue revised terms of the nuclear deal in “Why Trump Might Not Need to Rip Up the Iran Nuclear Deal.”
Motahari: “The Judiciary does not answer to anyone.” Moderate-conservative Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari issued a letter to Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi criticizing the attempted arrest of reformist parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi. Motahari claimed the Judiciary’s actions set a precedent for parliamentarians to always be “worried about imprisonment and being summoned by the authorities.” He added, “The main problem is that the Judiciary does not answer to anyone.” Motahari is the brother-in-law of Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani. Motahari, who is also a member of the reformist-backed Hope parliamentary faction, has similarly found himself in an ongoing controversy over the limits of judicial authority. Motahari was scheduled to deliver a speech in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan province on November 20. The city prosecutor reportedly ordered security forces to cancel the speech, however, and sealed the reformists’ local office. (ISNA)
- Other prominent reformist parliamentarians have similarly criticized Sadeghi’s attempted arrest. Deputy Parliament Speaker Masoud Pezeshkian claimed that the Judiciary’s actions were “disrespectful to the people and Parliament.” Pezeshkian affirmed that Parliament will “certainly investigate this issue and defend the honor of Parliament.” (Entekhab)
- Reformist parliamentarian Soheila Jelodarzadeh stated that the “insulting and violent treatment of a representative of the people is a symbol of illegality in the country.” (ANA)
- Mahmoud Sadeghi reportedly appeared in court late on November 29. He was released after posting bail. The exact charges leveled against him remain unclear, however, according to Iranian reporting. (Aftab News)
- Parliamentarians request inquiry into cancelation of Motahari’s speech. Parliamentarian Bahram Parsaei, the spokesman for Parliament’s Article 90 Commission, announced that ten parliamentarians requested an official parliamentary inquiry into the Mashhad city prosecutor’s cancellation of Ali Motahari’s speech. Parsaei told reporters that the Article 90 Commission will launch an investigation in the near future. The Article 90 Commission is the parliamentary body responsible for investigating complaints against any of three branches of government. (Khabar Online)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
IRGC official denies reports that Iranian warship aimed gun at U.S. helicopter. An “informed source” in the IRGC Navy dismissed reports that a small IRGC vessel trained a machine gun at a U.S. helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz as part of an American “propaganda campaign.” The unnamed individual criticized the U.S. for its “inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.” (Fars News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
- Abdollahian: Pro-regime forces will “completely liberate Aleppo” soon. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the international affairs advisor to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, congratulated Syrian pro-regime forces on their recent advances in Aleppo city’s eastern neighborhoods. Abdollahian claimed that pro-Assad forces are “about to completely liberate Aleppo.” A news source linked to the Syrian government reported that Iranian-backed forces are also readying for operations along the outskirts of southwestern Aleppo city to recapture the strategically important town of Khan Tuman. Iran suffered over 35 casualties during a rebel offensive on the town of Khan Tuman in May. For the latest on the regime’s operations around the city of Aleppo, please see the Institute for the Study of War’s latest Aleppo Campaign Update. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Rouhani and Putin discuss OPEC production quotas. President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly expressed support for OPEC’s plans to reach a consensus on member states’ production quotas during a telephone conversation on November 28. According to a Russian statement on the meeting, Rouhani and Putin “agreed to continue to coordinate their efforts on the world energy markets, including the dialogue on energy between Russia and OPEC.” OPEC member states have been engaged in negotiations for weeks to finalize production quotas after OPEC reached a preliminary agreement to stabilize market prices in September. (Fars News Agency) (Fars News Agency) (E)
- Oman boosts trade with Iran. Iranian news agencies circulated a report from Oman’s National Center for Statistics and Information claiming that the value of Iran’s exports to Oman increased by 396.2 percent in the first six months of 2016 following the removal of economic sanctions in January. Iranian media outlet Press TV stated that Oman is on track to replace the United Arab Emirates as “Iran’s most important regional trade partner.” (Press TV) (E)
Military & Security
Iranian security forces reportedly kill ISIS “ringleader.” Intelligence Minister Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Alavi stated that Iranian security forces killed an “ISIL ringleader” named Abu Ayesheh Kurdi on the Iran-Iraq border on November 28. Kurdi was reportedly attempting to travel to Tehran. Iraqi officials reported that they had killed an ISIS operative with the same name in April. (Fars News Agency) (E)
- Sayyari: The Artesh will unveil new vessels soon. Artesh Navy Commander RADM Habibollah Sayyari announced that the Artesh Navy will unveil a second Fateh-class submarine and a Moudge-class frigate named Sahand currently under construction “in the near future.” (Fars News Agency) (E)