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: Iran sentenced two dual Iranian-American citizens to 10 years in prison on espionage charges.

Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced that a court sentenced Iranian-Americans Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, to 10 years in prison “on charges of spying and cooperation with the American government.” Four other individuals, including U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka, received the same sentence. The U.S. Department of Stateresponded with a statement calling for the “immediate release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Iran, including Siamak and Baquer Namazi.” Iran has detained a number of dual nationals, usually on security-related charges, since the nuclear agreement was signed in July 2015. These individuals include Iranian-American Robin Shahini, who was arrested in July 2016, and British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in April 2016. 

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi stated Saudi Arabia and “some American circles” may have circulated the claim that the Houthi rebels fired on the USS Mason in the Red Sea as part of a larger attempt to “draw Washington into direct combat” with the Houthis. Iran has repeatedly denied Western claims that it has provided military assistance to the Houthis, likely to avoid escalating tensions with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

An anonymous “informed government source” told an Iranian news agency that three ministers have resigned as part of an effort to “reshuffle and strengthen” President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet ahead of the May 2017 presidential election. The source identified the ministers as Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Mahmoud Goudarzi, and Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani. No official source has confirmed the resignation, and Fani has denied the rumors.

AEI Must-Reads

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Court sentences Iranian-Americans to 10 years in prison. Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi announced on October 18 that Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer Namazi, were among six individuals sentenced to 10 years in prison “on charges of spying and cooperation with the American government.” Dolatabadi did not specify when the court handed down the sentences. Iranian security forces arrested Siamak Namazi in October 2015 and Baquer Namazi in February 2016. Both are dual Iranian-American citizens. Mizan Online, a news outlet affiliated with Iran’s Judiciary, claimed that Siamak Namazi served as a “link between some disreputable elements inside the country and the U.S. government for [purposes of] infiltration” on a page posted on October 16. The page included video footage from “the moment of his arrest.” Dolatabadi identified the other four imprisoned individuals as U.S. permanent resident Nizar Zakka, Farhad Abd Saleh, Kamran Ghaderi, and Alireza Omidvar. (Mizan Online) (Mizan Online)
  • Ghassemi: Saudis and Americans may be trying to draw the U.S. into combat with the Houthis. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi stated, “The claim about missile fire from Yemen at an American warship could be a plot by the Saudis and some American circles to draw Washington into direct combat with [al Houthi political wing] Ansar Allah and the Yemeni people.” He added that “Saudi Arabia’s goal is to involve other [countries] in its problems by increasing tension in the region in order to find an escape outlet” for itself. 
    • Ghassemi also criticized the recent Syria talks in Lausanne, Switzerland. He stated that the participants were not able to “create a comprehensive understanding on this issue. Each participant simply stated his positions and view, and they did not exchange ideas.” (Fars News Agency(E) (Tnews) (Fars News Agency)
  • IRGC Commander: Some officials do not share the Supreme Leader’s views on foreign engagement. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari criticized “some officials” for having “conflicting views” with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei by “looking outwards” for “solutions to the country’s problems.” Jafari did not explicitly name the officials. Jafari also stated that the IRGC possesses intelligence that “Saudi Arabia is attempting to create insecurity in the country with the help of the Israelis.” (Fararu)

Domestic Politics

  • Three Rouhani ministers reportedly resign. An anonymous “informed government source” told Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Mahmoud Goudarzi, and Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani each resigned in an effort to “reshuffle and strengthen” President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet. An official source has not confirmed their resignations, however. Fani, whom Parliament has tried to impeach twice, denied on October 18 that he resigned. ISNA’s source also denied rumors that Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh and Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Ali Tayyeb Nia have resigned. A deputy in the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade denied that Nematzadeh resigned as well. (ISNA) (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)

Military & Security

  • Former IRGC Commander: America’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq helped Iran. Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi claimed that “America’s occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq benefited Iran. They destroyed our two enemies in the east and west. This increased our political power.” Safavi added that it is “possible” that “some regional countries including Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen” will be partitioned. Safavi noted, “It is possible that Saudi Arabia could also break apart in the long-term.” (Asr Iran)
  • PDO head: The U.S. will not invade Iran. Head of the Passive Defense Organization IRGC Brig.  Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali stated that “the possibility of a U.S. ground assault against Iran has been completely removed from the list of the country’s threats.” (Mizan Online)
  • Shamkhani: Our naval capabilities have forced regional countries to increase defense spending. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani praised Iran’s naval capabilities for forcing Iran’s enemies to incur greater “expenses.” He claimed that regional states have spent “billions of dollars” in order to counter Iranian strength. (Fars News Agency(E) 
  • Russian fleet arrives in Caspian port. The Russian frigate Tatarstan and the corvette Grad Sviyazhsk docked at Iran’s Bandar Anzali port along the Caspian Sea in Gilan province. This is the fourth time Russian warships have docked at Bandar Anzali, according to Tasnim News Agency. Russian warships previously docked at the port in 2007, 2014, and 2015. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)


  • Iran starts offering tender for oil and gas projects. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) announced that companies can submit applications to prequalify as bidders for developing nearly 50 Iranian oil and gas fields. (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Fars News Agency
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