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: President Hassan Rouhani pushed back on the IRGC Intelligence Organization’s arrest of several members of the media.
An IRGC Intelligence Organization representative released “new details” on the recent arrest of several media professionals with alleged ties to the UK and U.S. governments. The IRGC accused the arrested individuals of being part of a network attempting to “influence” Iranian public opinion and “pollute some domestic publications” in order to “lay the groundwork for America’s official presence in Iran.” President Hassan Rouhani also pushed back on the arrests during a November 4 cabinet speech. The New York Times reported that Rouhani stated, “Let us not go and arrest one person here, another there, based on an excuse and without any reason, and then make up a case and aggrandize it, and finally say this is an infiltration movement.”
Hardliner Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Nabavian called for the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to remain “active” in monitoring the implementation of the nuclear deal.
Six more Iranians were also killed in Syria. One of them, Ghadir Sarlak, was a member of IRGC Mohammad Rasoul Allah unit, which is based in Tehran province.
Matthew McInnis and Tara Beeny analyze Iran’s broader strategy towards Russia by examining recent developments in economic, security, and nuclear cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, in their most recent blog, “Iran’s strategy to ‘entangle’ Russia.”
Military and Security
IRGC releases details of arrests. “Mr. Asef,” who described himself as one of the “experts” at the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, released “new details” on the IRGC’s arrest of several “agents” to state TV on November 4. Asef claimed that the individuals in this “media network” sought to alter Iranian public opinion and “pollute some domestic publications” in order to “beautify the image of America, ‘counterfeit’ human rights, and lay the groundwork for America’s official presence in Iran.” He also claimed that U.S. “spy services” funded the “agents,” while the UK provided them with “political and diplomatic guidance.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Iranian Cyber Police Chief: We will hold six “cyber exercises” across the country. Iranian Cyber Police (FATA) Chief IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Kamal Hadian Far told reporters that FATA is planning on holding six “cyber exercises” across the country. Kamal Hadian Far also claimed that FATA had been equipped with 11 new “digital evidence laboratories” that enjoy “the latest equipment.” (YJC)
Fazli: Our red lines are the holy shrines and 40 kilometers from our borders. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli discussed the threat posed by ISIS during a speech in Tabas city, South Khorasan province. Fazli reiterated that Iran’s “red lines” regarding ISIS are the “holy shrines and 40 kilometers from our borders.” He also praised Iran’s growing role in the region and stated, “Today the countries of the world do not have a solution except for inviting Iran as an influential and important country in the region for solving the Syrian crisis.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Parliamentarian criticizes Rouhani administration’s handling of Khamenei’s requirements. Hardliner Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Nabavian called for President Hassan Rouhani’s administration to “clearly announce” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s requirements for the nuclear deal to the P5+1. Nabavian stated that “the most important point in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” is for the administration to announce Iran’s requirements “to the opposing side, and to say, ‘We are implementing the JCPOA, contingent upon these conditions...' Unfortunately, the government has not yet done this.” Nabavian also called for the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA -- of which he was a member--to “remain active” in monitoring the implementation of the JCPOA. He additionally called for the government to quickly form a committee to oversee the JCPOA’s implementation by other parties, as stipulated in Khamenei’s October 21 letter to Rouhani. (Farhang News)
- Salehi meets with Japanese Prime Minister. Ali Akbar Salehi met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on November 5. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Head predicted that Implementation Day will be in “late December,” after the IAEA announces its assessment of Iran’s nuclear program “by December 15.” Salehi also referenced a plan to create a “nuclear safety center” and “welcomed” Japan’s assistance. (Fars News Agency)
Rafsanjani’s office responds to Zakani’s comments. The Office of Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani published a lengthy statement in response to Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani’s “spiteful and humorous” remark during a news interview that Rafsanjani “prefers a controlled and limited election.” The statement claims that Zakani, as an individual who received only a limited number of votes in the last parliamentary election and has “confronted the decisive vote of lawmakers and the approval of the Supreme Leader,” does not have the right to “spread insults to the elders of the political system.” (ILNA) (Tasnim News Agency)
Human Rights Council Secretary: Human rights sanctions are a pretext for domination. Mohammad Javad Larijani referenced human rights sanctions against Iran and stated, “Even America has said, ‘If we lift Iran’s nuclear sanctions, we will continue human rights sanctions against Iran.’ America needs sanctions for world domination and has to say something... Western human rights are an intellectual banner that influences the people’s minds in order to dominate them.”
- The Secretary of Iran’s Human Rights Council warned against foreign influence; he stated that the U.S. has deliberately invested in “the development of Internet networks and access to Iranian users," which in turn requires Iranian “management and correct use” to ensure “scientific advancement” rather than foreign influence.
- Larijani criticized how Iranian opponents of the JCPOA “have been called unlawful,” calling their treatment “incorrect.” (Rasa News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Iraqi Shi’a militia Hezbollah al Nujaba extols the virtues of Qassem Soleimani. Iraqi Sheikh Akram al Kaabi praised IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani for protecting Muslims. The Hezbollah al Nujaba Secretary General thanked Iran for supporting the Iraqi people in the fight against ISIS and stated, “Soleimani is not just Iran’s representative, rather, [Soleimani] is considered a representative of Islam and Muslims, due to his direct relationship with the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]...” Kaabi also hailed the IRGC, declaring: “The IRGC is a force that protects and preserves the Islamic Revolution, not just in Iran, but in the world.” (Raja News)
Abdollahian: We are following up on the Hajj stampede. Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated, “Saudi Arabia is responsible for the Mina disaster [September 24 Hajj stampede], and should bear all consequences, including its legal ones.” The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs stated that in addition to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s “plan with UN officials,” Iran is also following up the status of missing pilgrims with the Red Cross. (IRIB)
Hossein Sobhani Nia: The evidence shows that Roknabadi is still alive. National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member Hossein Sobhani Nia claimed that Iran has evidence that Iran’s former Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi is alive and was “transferred to a hospital in an ambulance” shortly after the Hajj stampede. Hossein Sobhani Nia added, “The issue of Roknabadi is one of the most important issues that is being given attention; and the Saudi government must be held accountable on this issue.” (IRNA)
- Abdollahian: South African delegation to visit Iran. Hossein Amir Abdollahian announced that a 160 member South African economic delegation will travel to Iran “in the near future” to conduct feasibility studies on business projects. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs also stated that South African First Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa will arrive in Tehran on Saturday to lay the groundwork for South African President Jacob Zuma’s upcoming trip to Tehran. (IRNA) (E)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Hezbollah commander killed in Syria. Ali Hossein Balkhi, also known as “Hajji Javad,” was a Hezbollah “field commander.” (ABNA)
IRGC and Basij members killed. Ruhollah Ghorbani and Ghadir Sarlak were “hit by missiles” “near Aleppo” on November 4. Ghorbani was a Basij Organization member, while Sarlak was a member of IRGC Mohammad Rasoul Allah unit, which is based in Tehran province. (Fars News) (Ghatreh)
- Four Iranians killed in Syria.
- Italian companies submit proposal for investment agreement. A statement by the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), a component of the Iranian Ministry of Industry, Mining, and Trade, announced that Italian firms Danieli and FATA submitted a proposal to invest up to $4 billion in Iran’s steel and aluminum industry. The two sides also reached an agreement to establish a joint company to operate two iron ore processing plants. (Press TV) (E)