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 with contributor 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: Three ministers resigned in a reshuffle intended to strengthen President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet ahead of the 2017 presidential elections.

Iranian media outlets confirmed the resignations of Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani, and Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Mahmoud Goudarzi. Rouhani appointed interim ministers to oversee each of the ministries until his administration proposes replacements to Parliament. Parliament must then approve the administration’s candidates. The administration will reportedly introduce the ministers to Parliament sometime next week. Jannati and Fani have both been controversial figures in Rouhani’s administration. Fani was undergoing impeachment proceedings, while hardliners criticized Jannati over permits his ministry gave for controversial concerts in the city of Qom.

Members of the reformist-moderate parliamentary faction praised the resignations. Mohammad Reza Aref, the faction’s head, said the cabinet changes were “in line with the faction’s demands” but “should have happened two or three months ago.” Senior reformists previously complained about several ministers to Rouhani himself. Rouhani may have reshuffled his cabinet in part to strengthen his support from the reformist-moderate base. Rouhani will require strong reformist support and the continuation of the moderate-reformist alliance to win a second term in May 2017.

AEI Must-Reads

Domestic Politics

  • Three ministers resign from Rouhani’s cabinet. Iranian media outlets confirmed the resignations of Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani, and Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Mahmoud Goudarzi. President Hassan Rouhani appointed interim ministers to serve until his administration proposes final candidates to Parliament, which must approve the ministers before they take office. The administration will reportedly propose its final choices for new ministers to Parliament sometime next week.
    • Rouhani appointed Abbas Salehi to lead the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Salehi previously served as deputy minister. 
    • Rouhani appointed Mohammad Bathaei to lead the Education Ministry. Bathaei previously served as deputy minister. Parliament had been in the process of impeaching Fani, but canceled the impeachment proceedings scheduled for October 25 following Fani’s resignation.
    • Rouhani appointed Nasrollah Sajjadi to lead the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs. Sajjadi previously served as deputy minister. (Fars News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency) (Mehr News Agency) (Alef) (Aftab) (Fars News Agency)
  • Reformist-moderate faction praises cabinet reshuffle. Mohammad Reza Aref, the head of the reformist-moderate parliamentary faction, praised the reshuffling of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet as “in line with the faction’s demands” in remarks on October 19. He stated that the reshuffling “should have happened two or three months ago” but added, “Now is a good time. We thank the president and the administration for doing this… The general feeling was that the cabinet had to be reshuffled in order to achieve a necessary and greater alignment between the Parliament and the administration.” The reformist-moderate faction’s spokesman, Bahram Parsaei, also praised the reshuffle. Parsaei asserted that Rouhani’s cabinet had originally been chosen to earn the confidence of the previous, conservative-dominated Ninth Parliament (2012-2016) and noted that voters “sent the message that changes must be made” in the spring 2016 parliamentary elections, when the reformist-moderate faction won a plurality of votes. Parsaei stated that the changes “can certainly have a positive effect on how the administration functions in the next year” and added that Parliament will support the administration when it proposes the new ministers. (Mehr News Agency)

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • Supreme Leader: How can we be optimistic about U.S. policy? Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent comment that Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region “hugely” complicates international efforts to assist Iran in improving its economic transparency and banking system. Khamenei stated, “A couple days ago a U.S. official said that as long as Iran continues supporting the ‘Resistance,’ it is not clear whether sanctions can be fundamentally removed… With these types of comments, how can we be optimistic about you?” Khamenei added:
    • “We have said multiple times that if you back down on the nuclear issue, they [the Americans] will bring up the missile issue. If you retreat again, they will put forth Iran’s support of the [Axis of] Resistance. If you continue to back down, they will bring up human rights. If you accept their values, they will try to remove [our] religious principles.”
    • “The electoral campaign in the U.S. and the issues put forth between the two candidates  are clear examples of the lack of spirituality and faith among power holders.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Velayati: Iran will not be directly involved in the operation to retake Mosul. Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati denied that Iranian forces will directly participate in the operation to liberate Mosul. Velayati added, “Iran has always conducted its advisory assistance according to the requests of the Iraqi government. If there is need for advisory assistance, we will not hesitate to provide it. We do not interfere in the internal affairs of the Iraqi state in any way.” (Basij Press)
  • Foreign Ministry dismisses U.S. State Department’s criticism of detained Iranian-Americans. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi dismissed “interventionist” statements from the U.S. State Department in response to Iran’s sentencing of six individuals, including two Iranian-American dual nationals, to 10-year prison terms on espionage charges. Ghassemi claimed that the U.S. is pursuing “intrusive policies” that increase Iran’s “distrust of the United States.” (Press TV) (E)
  • Zarif says the West is ready for a referendum in Syria. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated that Western countries, which he claimed had focused only on the removal of President Bashar al Assad, have now “accepted that the future of the [Syria] should be decided through a political referendum.” Zarif recently attended an international conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss a settlement to Syria’s civil war. (Fars News Agency) (E)
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