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: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Syria and Yemen on the last day of his two-day visit to Lebanon.

Zarif rejected the possibility that a military solution could solve either conflict and added, “The only path is talks among the people of Syria and Yemen.” As part of his trip to Lebanon, Zarif met with newly elected Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, and Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. After meeting with Bassil, Zarif stated that the imprisonment of Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident, is “a problem between the United States and Iran” rather than between Lebanon and Iran. An Iranian court sentenced Zakka to 10 years in prison on espionage charges in late September. Iran continues to detain several American citizens.

Zarif also met with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, the leader of the Saudi-linked Future Movement, to discuss regional developments and “relations between Tehran and Beirut after the election of Michel Aoun.” Hariri was a long-time rival of Hezbollah-allied Aoun until he endorsed Aoun’s bid for the presidency in late October. Iranian officials have praised Aoun’s election as a victory for Lebanese Hezbollah.

Iranian news outlets reported the death of an IRGC Quds Force operative near the city of Aleppo. Hadi Zahed had served in Syria since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, according to news reports. The IRGC Quds Force continues to spearhead Iran’s activities in Syria, although Iran has increasingly relied upon troops from the IRGC Ground Forces and Basij to serve as part of its rotational deployments to the country.

AEI Must-Reads

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Zarif meets with senior Lebanese officials. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Syria and Yemen during his two-day visit to Lebanon on November 8. Zarif stated that military solutions cannot solve either conflict and added, “The only path is talks among the people of Syria and Yemen.”
    • Zarif also met with Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on November 8. Zarif and Hariri discussed regional developments, “particularly relations between Tehran and Beirut after the election of Michel Aoun” as president, according to Press TV. Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah and appointed Hariri prime minister on November 3. Zarif also reportedly stated that Iran is ready to cooperate with Lebanon on “the danger of the Zionist [Israeli] regime and the danger of extremism.” Zarif arrived in Lebanon on November 7, when he became the first foreign minister to meet with Aoun and pledged that Iran is “determined to improve cooperation” with Lebanon.
    • On imprisoned U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka: Zarif met with his Lebanese counterpart Gebran Bassil on November 7, when Zarif again called for expanded bilateral relations and stated that Beirut and Tehran share common opportunities for economic cooperation “under the new global order.” At a press conference after the meeting, Zarif stated that the imprisonment of Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and U.S. permanent resident, is “not a problem between Iran and Lebanon. It is a problem between the U.S. and Iran.”
    • Separately, Zarif discussed “political developments in Lebanon and the region” with Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and several other Hezbollah officials on November 8. (ISNA) (Press TV) (E) (Fars News Agency) (E) (Tasnim News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Rouhani administration spokesman responds to criticism of press law. Rouhani Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht responded to remarks made by hardline Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani during a press conference on November 8. Larijani had called Rouhani’s commentary on media censorship “defamation” of and “insulting” to the Judiciary, which is charged with monitoring the press. Nobakht claimed that the Rouhani administration is “committed to freedom and thought and speech. Critics… insult and slander and act beyond the scope of the law.” The Rouhani administration has announced its intention to pass a new press law that would take some press supervision away from the Judiciary. (Hamshahri)
    • President Hassan Rouhani’s official Twitter account retweeted, presumably in response to Larijani’s comments, “The President is responsible for implementing the Constitution and will use all of its power to implement it, although some may not be happy about it.” (@Rouhani_ir)
  • Vice president: The Judiciary and Friday prayer leaders should respect the decisions of the Ministry of Culture. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri called for the Judiciary, Friday prayer leaders, and “revolutionary forces” to “respect” the decisions of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry on November 7. Jahangiri also warned individuals who “act outside the law,” stating, “The law must be respected in the country... To those gentlemen who think that they can act outside of the law, I say that I am sure the day will come when they will be hurt by acting in such a way.” Jahangiri made the remarks at a farewell ceremony for former Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati, who resigned last month amid hardliner criticism over a permit his ministry gave for a controversial concert in the city of Qom. (ISNA)

Military & Security

  • IRGC Navy Commander: We are building a new high-speed catamaran. IRGC Navy Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi announced that the IRGC Navy is currently constructing a larger version of the Shahid Nazari, a high speed catamaran unveiled in September. Fadavi claimed that the new vessel will enter service by the end of the current Persian calendar year (March 2017). Fadavi noted that a company affiliated with Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base, the IRGC’s engineering wing, is currently building the warship. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • IRGC forces intercept two “terrorist groups” in western Iran. IRGC Public Affairs Head Brig.  Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif announced that IRGC Ground Forces and the Intelligence Ministry intercepted two “terrorist teams” affiliated with the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan in western Iran. (Tasnim News Agency)
    • Sharif also stated, “Iranian interests are linked to the interests of Iraqi Kurdistan. The enemies of the Islamic Revolution and the supporters of takfiri terrorists will not be able to damage our relationship.” On November 7, Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi warned Head of the Kurdistan Regional Government Masoud Barzani against allowing “the Saudi consulate [in Iraqi Kurdistan] to give arms to anti-revolutionaries.” (Tasnim News Agency)


  • Total and CNPC sign oil deal with Petropars. Total and Chinese state oil company CNPC signed an agreement to develop the next phase of the South Pars oil field located in the Persian Gulf. Total will own a stake of 50.1 percent in the project, CNPC will own 30 percent, and Petropars, a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), will own 19.9 percent. The U.S. sanctioned Petropars in 2010 but removed sanctions after the implementation of the nuclear deal. Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh praised the agreement, stating, “I hope that this agreement has allayed the concerns of foreign companies so that they can enter the Iranian economy.”
    • Zanganeh also defended Iran’s controversial oil contract model. He stated, “Some people accuse us of not giving [energy] projects to Iranians. But we need technology… and above all, we need money.” (Fars News Agency)

Casualties in Iraq & Syria

  • IRGC Quds Force member killed near Aleppo. Hadi Zahed was an IRGC Quds Force operative who had been fighting in Syria since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011. (Raja News)
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