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: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor held direct talks with Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Damascus, while IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani personally dismissed reports claiming that he has been injured in Syria. 

Ali Akbar Velayati met with senior Lebanese officials in Beirut to discuss recent developments in Syria. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor also met extensively with President Assad to reassure him that Iran will continue to support the central government of Damascus and the people of Syria in their fight against terrorism. Velayati added: “Iran will not accept any peace plan that has not been approved by the Syrian government and nation." Meanwhile, the Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor IRGC Major General Yahya Safavi stated that Turkey had made a “strategic mistake” in downing the Russian fighter jet on the Syrian-Turkish border. Safavi also criticized Turkey’s support for “mercenary terrorists in Iraq and Syria,” and claimed that these issues will “have a high cost” for Turkey.

IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani rejected recent reports about his physical health in an interview from his office in Tehran. The IRGC Qods Force Commander reportedly smiled when asked about rumors of him being killed in Syria and stated, “This [martyrdom] is what I have come to search for in all plains and mountains." Meanwhile, 12 Iranians—including an IRGC Brigadier General Second Class—were killed in Syria. 

Iranian officials unveiled the details of the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) on November 28  during a two-day oil and gas conference for representatives from foreign oil companies, including BP, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, and Gazprom. The IPC replaces the “buyback system” that required Iran to pay foreign contractors a fixed price for all hydrocarbons recovered in a project. 

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 meets with Assad in Syria. Ali Akbar Velayati held two meetings with Syrian President Bashar al Assad on November 29 in Damascus. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor reiterated Tehran’s commitment to a political solution supported by the government and people of Syria. Velayati also stated:
    • “During my meetings with Syrian President [Assad] and Foreign Minister [Walid Muallem] I emphasized Iran's fundamental stance concerning Syria, and I said that Iran will not accept any peace plan that has not been approved by the Syrian government and nation. Iran praises the brave resistance of the Syrian government and nation in their ongoing fight against the takfiri terrorists." (Fars News Agency) (E)
    • Velayati: Iran’s ties with Iraq and Syria are strategic. Velayati discussed his official meetings with senior Syrian officials and President Assad. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stated that “the world has realized the rightful stance of Iran, the resistance of Syrian people, as well as Russia’s measures in fighting terrorism. Certain European countries are now attempting to join this movement with Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Russia at the forefront.” Velayati also stressed that Iran’s relations with Iraq and Syria are “completely strategic” and are expanding. (Mehr News)
    • Velayati leads delegation to Lebanon. Velayati led a delegation to Beirut to discuss issues of mutual concern between Tehran and Beirut. Velayati emphasized the need to cooperate with the Syrian government and people in their fight against terrorism. Velayati was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian. (Tabnak
  • Safavi: Turkey committed a “strategic mistake.” IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Safavi condemned the downing of the Russian fighter jet by Turkey, and stated that Turkey had made a “strategic mistake.” The Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor also criticized Turkey’s support for “mercenary terrorists in Iraq and Syria,” and claimed that these issues will “have a high cost” for Turkey. (Mehr News)
  • Larijani: The downing of the Russian jet was a “huge mistake.” Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani called Turkey’s downing of the Russian fighter jet “a huge mistake” and claimed that that the move would foster regional instability. (IRNA)
  • Firouzabadi compliments Putin’s actions against terrorism. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “action to crack down on Islamic sedition is commendable.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief added that Putin’s “courage and intelligence” is “an honor for the Russian people,” and represents a “forward-looking and visionary leadership.” Firouzabadi also added that Russia’s stance on imperialism, Zionism, and terrorism is “well understood.” (Sepah News)
  • The Supreme Leader pens open letter to Western youth. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed “the youth in Western countries” in an open letter on November 30. In his letter, the Supreme Leader censured U.S.-led intervention in the Middle East.  Khamenei urged his Western audiences to learn the true teachings of Islam and “to lay the foundation for appropriate and honorable interaction with the Muslim world,” in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. Khamenei previously wrote an open letter to Western youth on January 21, 2015. ( ( (E)
  • Rezaei: Americans want to infiltrate Iran through our economy. Mohsen Rezaei discussed Iran-U.S. relations during a conference with Basij Organization members. The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC Commander praised the role of the Basij Organization and the IRGC in expanding Iran’s influence. He claimed that American policy-makers have admitted that “America has no way forward in the region unless it engages with Iran” due to Iran’s increasing power in the region. Rezaei also stated:
    • “What benefit comes with having relations with America? The Americans, through ISIS, have destabilized Syria and Iraq. They have made 15 million people homeless.”
    • On reconstituting  borders: “Those people who want do away with the borders of countries in the region; do they not know that this policy is detrimental to Muslims? We have clearly said that absolutely no border must be changed and that no country can be broken up apart.” 
    • On the downing of the Russian jet: “Both countries [Turkey and Russia] must show restraint so that an expanded conflict in the region is avoided. This would only be in the interests of the Zionists and the terrorists.”
    • On influence: Rezaei warned that Americans hope to infiltrate the country through the economy and urged Iranian officials “to be wary of this issue both inside and outside of our borders.” (Tasnim News Agency)


  • ?Kermani: The goal of the Americans in negotiations is to infiltrate Iran.
    • On elections: “Both the parliamentary and the Assembly of Experts elections are important; however, the elections for the Assembly of Experts are more important.”
    • On Syria: “The situation in Syria is improving… One million displaced Syrians have been able to return to their homes after Russia’s air operations.”
    • On the downing of the Russian jet: “We hope that they [Russia and Turkey] behave wisely and the situation improves.” (Mehr News)


Causalities in Iraq and Syria

  • 12 Iranians killed in Syria.
    • Parviz Bamripour was buried on November 29 in Zeh-e Kalut, Kerman province. No information on unit affiliation was provided.
    • Hamid Siahkali Moradi was buried in Qazvin on November 29. He was reportedly a member of the IRGC 82nd Saheb Al Amr Brigade. No information on his rank was provided.
    • Seven “Shia and Sunni” Iranians were buried in Sistan va Balochistan province on November 29. Salman Barjasteh, Omar Molazehi, Morad Abdullahi were killed in Aleppo. Mohammad Bamri, Asghar Bamri, Parviz Bamri, and Mohsen Sajadi were also killed without a specified location. No information on unit affiliation or rank was provided.
    • IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Abdolreza Mojiri was buried in Khomeini Shahr, Esfahan province on November 28. He was killed in Aleppo and was a member of the IRGC 14th Imam Hossein Division, which is based in Esfahan province. He was also reportedly the commander of the 123rd Imam Hossein Battalion of Esfahan province.
    • Javad Mohammadi was killed in Syria by “terrorist groups” and was buried in Pishva city, Tehran province. No details on rank or unit affiliation were provided.
    • Abd al Rashid Rashvand was killed in Aleppo on November 27. His funeral will be held on December 2 in Karaj, Alborz province. He was reportedly a member of the IRGC 10th Seyyed al Shohada Division and commander of the Imam Hossein Battalion of Alborz province. (Fars News Agency) (Mehr News) (Fars News Agency) (E) (Tasnim News Agency) (Tnews) (Ghatreh) (Dana) (IRNA)
  • Seven Pakistanis killed in Syria. Seven members of the Pakistani Shi’a militia Zainabiyoun Brigade died were buried in Qom. Their names and ranks were not provided. (Jahan News)
  •  Four Afghans buried in Tehran province.
    • Mohammad Abbasi was buried in Damavand city.
    • Mohammad Hossein Hashemi was buried in Tehran city. He was reportedly a member of the Afghan Shi’a militia Fatimiyoun Brigade. 
    • Zaher Rahimi and Hossein Modabber were buried in Absard city, Tehran province. (Entekhab) (Fars News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)



  • Large oil and gas conference held  in Tehran. A two-day conference began on November 28 in Tehran to “lay out 50 oil and gas projects for [national] development through foreign investment.” The conference consisted of 250 representatives of over 137 companies, including Respol, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Technip, Eni, and Gazprom. The details of the Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) were unveiled during the two-day conference to participants. The framework of the IPC was released earlier in November. The new model will allow contracts to last for up to 25 years instead of the previous five to seven year contract model under the buy-back system. (Press TV) (E)
  • Zanganeh: The new Iranian model oil contract is “not ideal.” Bijan Zanganeh acknowledged that the terms of IPC are “not ideal” during a conference unveiling the terms of the new model contract in Tehran. The Oil Minister emphasized that the new IPC can still “meet the demands of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and international companies under current conditions." (Tasnim News Agency)      
  • Parliamentarians criticize new oil contract as being harmful to Iran. Several parliamentarians voiced their concerns over details of the IPC that were unveiled during the two-day conference. Principlist Parliamentarian Ahmad Tavakkoli stated, “From the legal point, there are many faults… [the IPC] contradicts state expediency and promotion of local oil firms in many respects which could inflict huge losses on the country; under the new framework, a foreign investor will carry out certain operations at our expense which are not allowed by the Constitution.” (Press TV) (E)
  • Hassan Khomeini: We cannot blame Rouhani for all the country’s economic problems. Grandson of Ruhollah Khomeini Hojjat ol Eslam Hassan Khomeini defended President Hassan Rouhani’s economic policies during an economic conference in Tehran. Hassan Khomeini called poverty and unemployment “the Iranian people’s greatest problem,” but argued, “We must not blame the [Rouhani] administration for all of the country’s economic issues.” (Entekhab)
  • Fiat in talks for a joint venture with Iran Khodro. Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh announced that Fiat Automobiles is in talks for a joint venture establishment with automaker Iran Khodro to produce three million automobiles over 10 years. The Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade delivered the remarks on the sidelines of a joint Iran-Italian trade summit. (Press TV) (E


Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Araghchi: If the IAEA does not close the file on PMD, the JCPOA’s implementation will be halted. Abbas Araghchi claimed that if the IAEA does not “close the file on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program” this would mean “the issue of PMD could be raised in the future.” The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs warned that in such a situation “the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) implementation would be halted,” and Iran could then “restart its nuclear-related activities.” (Tabnak)
  • Shamkhani: Implementing the nuclear depends on “closing the PMD file.” Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani told reporters that “all of the Islamic Republic’s officials believe that the way forward for the JCPOA’s implementation is to close the file on PMD.” (Tasnim News Agency
  • Saidi: The JCPOA is a not a model for solving regional issues. Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Saidi discussed Iran’s foreign policy and the threat posed by Western influence during an extensive interview with Tasnim News Agency. The Supreme Leader’s Representative to the IRGC responded to a question about President Hassan Rouhani’s statement that the JCPOA is “a model and a framework for solving regional issues,” stating, “This analogy is a certainly a great threat against our national security and our independence. We must not be mistaken about this…” Saidi added, “Unfortunately, today we see this perspective in statesmen and some politicians…” Saidi elaborated that this perspective includes the view that “the only solution to issues is looking outwards.” Saidi also responded to a question about the expansion of Western influence in Iranian society, stating:
    • “One of the main issues is that we are observing a submissive state in some statesmen. This is a very dangerous issue. In truth, the ‘beautifying of America’ and the driving away of loathing is being done by whom [in Iran]? It is being done through art, news articles, editorials, debate, various media outlets, and cyberspace.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Haghighat Pour: Our review of the JCPOA’s implementation does not conflict with the SNSC’s. Principlist Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour discussed the NSFP Commission’s and the SNSC’s monitoring of the JCPOA’s implementation during an interview with Islamic Consultative News Agency (ICANA). The NSFP Commission member stated: “The SNSC’s and the NSFP Commission’s monitoring of the JCPOA’s implementation does not conflict with each other and a greater review  [of the implementation process] is not a problem…They will look at macro issues, but we will work with the operationalization [of the JCPOA’s implementation].” (ICANA)
  • Parliamentarians to visit nuclear sites. Parliamentarian Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani stated that several members of the NSFP Commission will visit Fordow and the Arak nuclear facilities “next week.” The NSFP Commission member added the parliamentarians will visit Natanz on December 5. Arani also stated that the visits are to ensure that the JCPOA is being properly implemented according to the conditions set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He added that Iran “is waiting for the closure of the PMD file in order to act on its commitments based on the JCPOA.” (ICANA)
  • Salehi: The JCPOA will be implemented by mid-January. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the JCPOA will be implemented by the middle of the Iranian month of Dey [December 22- January 30]. (Jamaran)


Military and Security

  • Soleimani says he welcomes martyrdom. IRGC Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani responded to recent reports claiming that he has been severely wounded in Syria in an interview with Arab language news outlet Al Waqt on November 30 in his personal office in Tehran. The IRGC Qods Force Commander reportedly smiled and stated that he is in search of martyrdom; adding: “This [martyrdom] is what I have come to search for in all plains and mountains." (ISNA)
  • Foreign Ministry: We deny conducting any cyber attacks against the U.S. Hossein Jaberi Ansari denied recent reports that Iranian hackers have ramped up cyber espionage operations against the U.S. The Foreign Ministry Spokesman stated, “In the past few years, Iran has been the victim of serious cyber attacks like Stuxnet. Iran, however, does not respond to these illegal attacks with any retaliatory cyber attacks. (Entekhab)
  • Naghdi: Kerry personally directs the operation to overthrow the Iranian state. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi discussed the threat posed by Western influence during a speech delivered at Friday prayers in Rey city, Tehran province. The Head of the Basij Organization described the expansion of “influence” as the U.S.’s  “weapon” against the regime. He added that the U.S. “has allocated more than two billion dollars for overthrowing the Iranian state.” Naghdi also claimed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was personally organizing clandestine operations to overthrow the regime, stating:
    • “200 million dollars [of the two billion] is spent under the personal management of John Kerry.”
    • “That same man which was smiling across [from us] at the [nuclear] negotiating table has personally planned 34 ‘subversion projects’ and is currently managing and leading them.”
    • “Some of the individuals arrested personally received orders from John Kerry through a middleman.”
    • “The arrested spies were not just informers; rather, they were trained for operations.”
    • “The way to confront [influence] is through unity and discretion.” (Fars News Agency)


Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani: Government trying to register the “Arba’een procession ritual” to UNESCO. President Hassan Rouhani met with his cabinet on November 29, during which Rouhani called for “all concerned authorities in the coming days” to provide “pilgrims an easy and safe return” while in Karbala, Iraq. Massoud Soltanifar, the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts, and Tourism Organization head, described efforts to register “the Arba’een procession ritual” as an Islamic spiritual heritage with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Cabinet members also discussed a report of next year’s budget that included “investment growth and [ways to] lower inflation.” (
  • Morteza Agha Tehrani: The Principlist Coordinating Council has “started its work.” Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Morteza Agha Tehrani discussed preparations among the Principlist political parties ahead of the February parliamentary elections. The Secretary General of the Principlist Steadfastness Front stated that three Principlist parliamentary parties-- the Steadfastness Front, the Society of the Devotees of the Islamic Revolution, and the Islamic Coalition Party-- have formed the Principlist Coordinating Council to help unify the Principlist bloc for the upcoming elections. Tehrani stated that parliamentarians Haddad Adel and Mohammad Reza Bahonar have also joined the Principlist Coordinating Council. Bahonar is also the chairman of the Islamic Society of Engineers, another Principlist parliamentary party. Tehrani expressed his hope that other parliamentarians would join the council: 
    • “We hope to expand these meetings [of the Principlist Coordinating Council] and if another individual wants to work with us, we will not refuse... If we are able to advance sufficiently far enough, we hope that we can achieve a unified list [of candidates] for the elections.” (Jahan News)
  • Funeral for Roknabadi held in Tehran. Ghazanfar Roknabadi’s funeral was held in Tehran on November 27. Iran’s former ambassador to Lebanon was reportedly killed in the September 24 Hajj stampede but his body was only recently identified in Saudi Arabia. (Mehr News)
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