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 accused some conservative media outlets of acting like “secret police” and launching slanderous attacks against the administration.
President Rouhani strongly reiterated his November 4 remarks criticizing the arrests of several media personnel and stressed the need for legal justification in cases involving media misconduct. Rouhani censured regime hardliners for misusing legal texts to suppress freedom of the press. He also warned against the increased oversight role of security institutions in assessing media regulations.
Principlist Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari claimed that IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani was killed in a high-speed traffic accident in Syria, rather than by ISIS militants as initially reported. Kowsari also dismissed the uptick in the number of Iranians killed in Syria, as simply the result of “an increase in the number of advisors on the battlefield and their success in suppressing [terrorist groups].” Meanwhile, five more Iranians were killed in Syria. Two of them, Mousa Jamshidian and Mohammad Tahan were IRGC members and held the rank of Major.
Matthew McInnis analyzes Iran’s strategic goals heading into the Vienna peace talks in his most recent blog, “Iran’s Treacherous Landscape in Vienna.”
Rouhani: Security institutions cannot interpret laws governing the media. President Hassan Rouhani underlined the importance of moderation and rationality in the media in a November 8 speech marking the inauguration ceremony of the 21st Tehran Press and News Agencies Exhibition. Rouhani called on media outlets to refrain from radicalism and inciting public fear; he also defended the people’s right to express criticism. Rouhani added:
- “If the people are not hopeful, the Resistance Economy and long-term goals may not be realized.”
- “[We] must always be careful of enemy plots, but slander and scaring people do not lead to security… destroying the administration’s face with the people’s money is not acceptable.”
- “We should not act in a way so that it is perceived today that we strive to create strategic imbalance; this is the greatest risk that can threaten a community.”
- "Let us go hand in hand in order to build an Iran in which economic, scientific and technological prosperity is at an acceptable level; this is the government's first desire of the media, for the creation of hope in the post-JCPOA space… Why must we unduly frighten the people about the enemy every day and paint a black picture of society's condition for them?"
- On arresting media personnel: “It is very undesirable when media, not yet fully born and without complete introduction…is shut down for false reasons.”
- Rouhani stressed the need for legal clarification in cases where punishment is being rendered. He encouraged objective and measured steps, “rather than ordering the closing down [of media outlets] in the first step.”
- “If the law is clear, a collective mass cannot misuse one word or [certain parts of a law] to play with the right to freedom of the press. As we need media, we also need a transparent system for press and media.”
- “If the media are perpetrators of violations, the media regulatory body is the one that can say it is in violation, not some other entities who announce an indictment… We need clear media regulations, and the viewpoint of one security officer cannot assess the criteria of media activity.”
- “Attempting to discredit the honor of individuals is contrary to Islamic teachings, being revolutionary does not mean lying and accusing…”
- "It makes no sense for media to have a permanent security margin... so that they [certain media outlets] can also act like the secret police… You [the reader] become aware of [another media outlet’s] content …who will be arrested tomorrow, what is going to be closed down tomorrow, and which individual’s reputation will be damaged.”
- “If all media in the country were equal before the law, our country will be revolutionary, and if it is contrary, our path is against the [Islamic] Revolution…”
On elections: "In the month of Esfand [February-March] this year, two important elections will be held. All people must be hopeful that they will come before the ballot box and see individuals with their [own] opinions represented on the electoral lists." (President.ir) (President.ir) (E)
Zarif: Now is the time to plan resistance to foreign influence. Mohammad Javad Zarif called for greater organization against foreign influence in the post-Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) period during a meeting with Iranian ambassadors and governors on November 9. The Foreign Minister stated, “I suggest to pro-government friends that they stop debating about the JCPOA because we must move toward welcoming post-JCPOA opportunities… We are all mindful of the Supreme Leader and worried about [foreign] influence. The Foreign Ministry considers influence with precision and believes that the best method for opposing influence is having active initiative. Now is the time for us to seek active initiatives for the best [possible] welcoming of the JCPOA.” Zarif added that the JCPOA can be an “opportunity” for Iran if it plans properly and remains unified. He warned that Iran’s enemies have made a “long-term investment” in harming Iran by manipulating internal disagreements and presenting a “security image” of Iran to the world. (ISNA)
Rahmani Fazli: The Judiciary will provide me with documents related to the media arrests. Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli also discussed the threat posed by foreign influence during the meeting with Iranian ambassadors and governors. The Interior Minister, who is also the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Head, stated, “The topic of influence and the causes of influence are an important issue in all countries and our country also has many enemies; these enemies desire to have influence in our security and decision making centers and have taken measures to create influence on the decisions [of officials].” He also stated:
- “The Ministry of Intelligence, the Judiciary, the IRGC, and our other military units have a role [in countering foreign influence] and, god willing, we have a favorable condition in the realm of “influence” with regards to observation, control, and our actions.”
- “We must try to not use this issue for political issues or for leveling accusations at each other; because this would be unkind to the valuable orders of the Supreme Leader.”
- “Our expectation is that we will follow this issue and not point fingers at each other and say this is influence or that is influence. Influence and influential have different definitions and the relevant institutions of government must take actions proportional to those definitions.”
- “It is normal that the judiciary issues the arrest order and acts as the executive body and manager of the case and for this reason I asked for the Judiciary and its First Deputy to present some of the documents on the case which are now being reviewed; it has been arranged that they will present these documents to me as the head of SNSC.” (Mehr News)
Shamkhani defends President Rouhani. Ali Shamkhani commented on the recent arrests of members of the media “on charges of influence” against the state during an interview on November 8. The SNSC Secretary added:
- Shamkhani defended President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks criticizing the hardliners and demanding a freer media. He stated the country needs to be “vigilant,” but added that the “worst approach” in countering infiltration is to turn it into a “factional” issue to marginalize rivals, which Shamkhani stated has “sometimes been done.” He added that the values of the Islamic Revolution “cannot stop, especially in foreign policy” during an interview.
On the JCPOA: Shamkhani stated that the 22 months of negotiations had “ups and downs,” but now “we continue our nuclear activities” while the “elimination of economic and financials sanctions” will ease the pressure on the people. He stated preparations according to the JCPOA have been “started up” at Natanz and Fordow, but he declared that there will be a “very explicit” response if the West violates the JCPOA. (Asriran)
Boroujerdi defends IRGC arrests. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi discussed the IRGC Intelligence Organization’s recent arrests of members of the media on the sidelines of the21stTehran Press and News Agencies Exhibition. He stated, “Along with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), one of the IRGC’s missions and responsibilities is to protect the country’s security.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman continued, “The IRGC is responsible for defending the territorial integrity and internal and external security, whose zenith we witnessed during the Imposed War [Iran-Iraq War.] Considering this legal structure, the arrest of some “infiltrator” journalists is not without reason; the speculations being uttered that these arrests are political and connected to the JCPOA are not fair and realistic.” (Farhang News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Firouzabadi: U.S. Secretary of Defense Carter is wrong about Syria and Iraq. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi responded to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s comments claiming that Arab countries need to engage more in Syria and Iraq and stated that Iran does not have any “territorial disputes” and has “established diplomatic relations” with all its neighboring countries. The Armed Forces Chief of Staff called the U.S. and Israel the main enemies of Iran, stating, “America and the allies of the White House enjoy killing Muslims. Thetakfiri terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria Yemen, Lebanon, and northern Africa have not satisfied their desire, so that is why they want to set Muslim countries against each other.” (Sepah News)
Defense Minister responds to U.S. Defense Secretary’s comments. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan responded to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s recent comments, stating that the U.S. and Israel’s strategy is to “continue [creating] insecurity, war and bloodshed in the region” during an interview on November 8. The Defense Minister added that “once the U.S. and its war machine’s impact was important, but today even the children of the street…are mocking and challenging the U.S. military authorities.” (Sepah News)
Velayati: Iran will attend the next round of Syria peace talks. Ali Akbar Velayati stated on November 7 that Iran will participate in the next round of Syria peace talks. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor emphasized that Iran will not abandon its “red lines” during the talks and reiterated Iranian support for Syria, stating that Iran “will not hesitate to help the Syrian nation in any way it can. In addition to the field of defense, we support Syria as an ally in the political field.” He added:
- “In the past, the people who held the Geneva I and II sessions were in no way welcoming of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s participation in these negotiations, and if they did want us to participate, they set preconditions that we did not accept... After five years of resistance, the Syrian government and its supporters now have the upper hand, and everyone has admitted that without the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no possibility of reaching a political solution for Syria.”
- “Without a doubt, no one has the right to interfere in Syria’s domestic affairs; this is the right of the nation of this country. Talks on Syria must clarify that this duty is with the people of this country and that Syria-Syria dialogue is crucial.”
- Velayati praised the Syrian government as a “defender” of the Syrian nation and stated, “If it was put to a vote today, Mr. Bashar al Assad would bring in more votes than any other contender.”
- When asked why Iran continues to support the Syrian government, Velayati emphasized the value of Syrian support for Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. He also described Iran’s “presence in the region, especially Syria,” as a “golden ring in the chain of resistance against the invading Zionists.” (Tabnak)
- ?Foreign Ministry summons Saudi chargé d’affaires over execution of Iranian nationals.The Foreign Ministry summoned Saudi chargé d’affaires Ahmed al Muwallid to protest the three Iranian nationals executed in Saudi Arabia for allegedly smuggling hashish. Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi censured Saudi Arabia for failing to “do bilateral ties justice” by preventing the implementation of the executions, and warned that Iran would respond with a “proportionate” diplomatic action. (Press TV) (E)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Kowsari: Hamedani killed in a car accident. Parliamentarian Esmail Kowsari elaborated on the death of IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani and the role of Iranian advisors in Syria during an interview on national television. The NFSP Parliamentary Commission member stated that Hamedani was killed in a high speed car accident while on a narrow road, but he should still be considered a “martyr” because of his decades of service for Islam and the regime. Kowsari also stated that the number of Iranian martyrs in Syria has increased because of “an increase in the number of advisors on the battlefield and their success in suppressing [terrorist groups],” but denied reports that 2,000 Iranian military advisors have entered Syria. (Jahan News)
Two IRGC Majors killed in Syria.
- IRGC Major Mousa Jamshidian was in the IRGC 8th Najaf Ashraf Armored Division, which is based in Esfahan province.
- IRGC Major Mohammad Tahan was in the IRGC Ghaem al Mohammad unit, Semnan province. (Najafabad News) (Basij News)
IRGC and Basij members killed in Syria.
- Ismael Siratniya was a member of the Greater Tehran IRGC Mohammad Rasoul Allah unit. No information on his rank was reported.
- Captain Mohammad Hossein Azizabadi was a member of the IRGC 21st Imam Reza Independent Armored Brigade, which is based in Nishapur, Khorasan Razavi province.
- Mohammad Hossein Mohammadkhani was a member of the Basij Organization, based in Yazd province. (Shahid News) (Alef) (Shahid News)
Larijani: Many of our problems are from mismanagement, not sanctions. Ali Larijani criticized economic mismanagement while discussing Iran’s post-sanctions economy during a meeting of the Alborz Provincial Administrative Council on November 8. The Parliament Speaker emphasized that many of Iran’s problems are not derived from sanctions and blamed “mismanagement” for several of the country’s greatest concerns, particularly worsening inflation and debt owed to the private sector. Larijani stated, “We must help the private sector grow. Most of this mismanagement has caused the private sector to become a creditor.”
- Larijani referenced Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s concerns about an economic depression and said “special attention” is being paid to the issue. Larijani added that Parliament “has accepted several laws for bypassing a depression… but this is not sufficient; [the laws] must reach the implementation stage.”
- Larijani emphasized that Iran’s economy “will not fundamentally change for another year in the future. There must be a change in strategy in the meantime. Within this framework, we cannot maintain an eight percent jump [in economic growth] in the country; this jump will occur with the help of the people… Development in the country is impossible without the presence of the people and the private sector.”
- Larijani added that Iran must have greater investment and called it a “solution to overcoming the problem of unemployment.” (Fars News Agency)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
- Zakani: Centrifuge collection has stopped. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani stated on November 8 that centrifuge collection at nuclear facilities has “stopped” after officials received a “reminder.” The Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA Head called the recent centrifuge collection “incorrect” and a “contradiction” of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s guidelines for the nuclear deal’s implementation. Zakani also claimed that the special commission will continue its “activities” and stated, “After the reopening of Parliament next week, we will certainly pursue this issue [of centrifuge collection] in the commission.” (Mehr News)