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 and contributors Hirad Yaldaei and Ali Javaheri. 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: Senior officials accused the U.S. of being behind the Saudi-led airstrike that killed over 140 individuals and wounded more than 500 at a funeral in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

IRGC Air Force Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh blamed the U.S. and Israel for being “directly implicated” in the airstrike on October 8. Former Quds Force Commander IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi claimed that Saudi Arabia’s “arrogance” is due to “America’s support.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, offered to dispatch an Iranian aircraft with medical supplies to Yemen in a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. U.S. and Saudi officials have repeatedly accused Iran of transporting arms to the Houthis, including under the cover of “humanitarian shipments.” For more on Iran’s weapon shipments for the Houthis, please see “Signaling Saudi Arabia: Iranian Support to Yemen’s al Houthis.”

A deputy minister in Iran’s Economy and Finance Ministry downplayed the significance of the U.S. Treasury Department’s new guidance on Iranian sanctions. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control clarified on October 7 that non-U.S. banks can do dollar transactions with Iran if they do not pass through U.S. financial institutions. The clarification also permits transactions with non-sanctioned Iranian entities that are “minority owned” or “controlled in whole or in part” by individuals who remain under non-nuclear sanctions. Deputy minister Hossein Ghazavi claimed that the guidance does not resolve the “ambiguity” in Iran’s relationships with foreign banks, which still worry about dollar transactions violating U.S. sanctions. He stated that the guidance will not “create a palpable change” but acknowledged the move as a step in a “positive direction.”

AEI Must-Reads

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Iranian officials denounce Saudi-led airstrike in Yemen. President Hassan Rouhani condemned the Saudi-led airstrike that killed over 140 mourners and wounded more 500 at a funeral in Yemen on October 8. Rouhani criticized Saudi Arabia for “attacking their Muslim brothers without any reason” and continuing “the massacre of women and children in the holy month of Muharram.”
    • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon proposing that Iran's Red Crescent Society send humanitarian aid to Yemen. Zarif also proposed evacuating wounded civilians to Iran for treatment.
    • Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan claimed that “Yemen’s fury” will throw Saudi Arabia’s “empty palaces” into the “dustbin of history.”
    • IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, the president of the Supreme National Defense University, claimed that Saudi Arabia’s “arrogance” is due to “America’s support.” Vahidi added that the airstrike shows that Riyadh “does not respect any human, ethical, or political principle.”
    • IRGC Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh blamed the U.S. and Israel for being “directly implicated” in the airstrike.
    • Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi denounced Saudi Arabia and added that the “solution to this issue is for Islamic youth to come together and clean Islamic lands of Wahhabism. God willing, this will occur soon.” (Tasnim News Agency) (Press TV) (Tasnim News Agency) (IRNA) (Tasnim News Agency) (Press TV(E)
  • Russia and Iran agree on need for new diplomatic push on Syria. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Syria during a phone conversation on October 11. They reportedly emphasized the “need” for a diplomatic push to resolve the Syria crisis, which they stated can only be solved by a political agreement. (Asr Iran)
    • Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Russia’s envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, also met on October 10 to discuss the latest developments in Syria. Shamkhani called for closer counterterrorism cooperation among Iran, Russia, and Syria. Iranian media outlets recently introduced Shamkhani as the chief official “responsible for coordinating Iran’s political, military, and security efforts with Syria and Russia.” (Tasnim News Agency(E)
  • Kuwait arrests two Iranian citizens. Kuwaiti security forces arrested two Iranians for taking “suspicious pictures” of a Shia congregation hall in Hawalli governorate, Kuwait, on October 6. Kuwaiti authorities later released the two Iranians. (Jam News)


  • Economy deputy minister downplays U.S. Treasury Department clarification on sanctions. Hossein Ghazavi, a deputy minister in Iran’s Economy and Finance Ministry, praised the U.S. Treasury Department’s new guidance on sanctions as a step in a “positive direction.” He asserted that the clarifications will not “create a palpable change” in Iran’s relationships with foreign banks, however. Ghazavi stated that non-U.S. financial institutions “could not be 100 sure” before the clarification that they would not face “unpredictable risk” in providing services to Iranian customers. He added, “This ambiguity has not been resolved.” (Donya-e Eqtesad)
  • Royal Dutch Shell signs initial deal to return to Iran. The CEO of Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC), Marzieh Shahdaei, and Royal Dutch Shell’s Iran affairs department head Hans Nijkamp signed an initial deal on October 9 for future joint projects. (Tasnim News Agency(E)
  • Official confirms AT&T’s deal with Iranian company. RighTel Managing Director Majid Sadri confirmed that RightTel agreed to a partnership with AT&T to allow voice calls, text messaging, and data services between the U.S. and Iran. Mobile phones with U.S. SIM cards could not receive signal in Iran before the partnership. Sadri’s remarks follow a New York Times articleon RighTel’s deal with AT&T, which is currently the only American provider offering services in Iran. (Press TV(E)
  • Russian oil company and NIOC sign cooperation deal. Russian oil company Tatneft and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed a memorandum of cooperation to develop the Dehloran oil field in western Iran on October 8. The agreement is the first deal with a foreign company based on the new Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC), which was designed to attract foreign investment by providing international firms with greater incentives to invest in Iran’s energy sector. A subsidiary of Setad, an Iranian business conglomerate controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, signed the first contract modeled on the IPC in early October. (ILNA)

Military & Security

  • IRGC forces clash with Kurdish militants in western Iran. Iranian news outlets reported that IRGC forces clashed with fighters belonging to the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) near the city of Marivan, Kurdistan province. Separately, Iranian security forces also arrested 12 armed individuals in Kermanshah province. (Tasnim News Agency(E) (Mehr News Agency)
  • Jazayeri: Saudi Arabia and the U.S. do not have the “capability” to attack Iran. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri dismissed Saudi Arabia’s recent naval exercises in the Persian Gulf in remarks on October 11. Jazayeri, a deputy of the Armed Forces General Staff, called the exercises “simple” and stated, “Saudi Arabia does not have the capability to confront the Islamic Republic of Iran. Not only does Saudi Arabia and its allies lack the capability for such a thing, but America lacks it as well.” He also claimed that Iran has boosted its own military capabilities to the extent that Iran’s “great enemies do not even permit themselves to plan” for military conflict with it. (Mehr News Agency)
  • Senior IRGC commander killed in Sistan and Baluchistan province. Two IRGC members were killed when their “ultralight gyroplane” crashed into electrical cables near the city of Iranshahr, Sistan and Baluchistan province. One of the occupants of the gyroplane, Ahmad Mayeli, was reported as the “commander of the Saberin unit’s aviation battalion.” Each of the provincial IRGC units has a Saberin unit, which has limited special operations capabilities. Further information on the operation was not reported, but Sistan and Baluchistan province has witnessed an increasing number of clashes between Iranian security forces and militants in recent months. (Tasnim News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Official resigns over concert controversy. Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati accepted the resignation of Abbas Daneshi, the ministry’s managing director in the city of Qom, over a controversial concert on October 9. Senior clerics had criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s administration for issuing a permit for musical concert held in Qom, a center of Shia religious scholarship, last month. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a former Assembly of Experts chairman and Society of Qom Seminary Teachers head, called uponDaneshi to resign and criticized Rouhani’s administration in remarks on October 2. (Mehr News Agency)
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