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
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
Key takeaway: Iranian and Saudi Arabian officials engaged in another round of criticism regarding the September 24 Hajj stampede.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi reacted to the Saudi response to Iran’s criticism of Saudi Arabia regarding the Mina stampede. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubayr had stated on September 27, “The Iranians should refrain from politicizing the tragedy.” Al Jubayr had also reacted to Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader and Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Emami Kashani’s call for the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to take over Hajj management, saying that such criticisms contradict the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi responded that Iran is "not politicizing this incident," but asking that there be "accountability and full transparency" about what occurred in Mina.
Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei stated that “it is possible” for Russia to enter Iraq “for the benefit” of the Iraqi government. An unnamed “high-ranking diplomatic official,” meanwhile, dismissed an October 2 Asharq Al-Awsat report claiming that Iranian troops have joined Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces in a ground offensive in Syria supported by Russian airstrikes as a “sheer lie.”
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador to Iran, citing Iranian “interference” in Bahraini affairs. The Iranian chargé d'affaires to Bahrain was also ordered to leave Bahrain within 72 hours. Mohsen Rezaei stated, “We all know that this country [Bahrain] is under the control of Saudi Arabia and that the army of this country has a presence in Bahrain.” National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman Mansour Haghighat Pour called Bahrain’s actions a sign of its “dependence on Saudi Arabia.”
AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis and AEI Research Assistant Tara Beeny analyze recent the Iranian parliamentary moves toward a resolution concerning the JCPOA, and examine how this internal debate provides insight into Iran’s plans for compliance with the nuclear agreement, in their most recent blog post, “Is Iran already gaming the nuclear deal?”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Araghchi: We are not "politicizing" the Hajj stampede. Abbas Araghchi met with his counterparts at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. The OIC meeting was originally to discuss resolutions in support of Palestine, however the Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs was criticized by the Saudi Foreign Minister for "the politicization of the [Hajj] incident." Araghchi stated that Iran is "not politicizing this incident," but asking that there is "accountability and full transparency" about what occurred in Mina. Araghchi added, “Nearly 200 Iranian pilgrims are still missing...and unfortunately, it is likely they have died... We want Saudi Arabia to take responsibility....And to adopt measures to avoid the recurrence of such incidents in the future." (Alef)
- Saudi Foreign Minister: “The Iranians should refrain from politicizing the tragedy.” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubayr refused a request from Foreign Minister Zarif for a meeting on September 27 on the sidelines of the UNGA to discuss the tragedy. He later expressed his hope that the Iranians will begin to show more “appreciation and consideration” for those that went through the tragedy and wait for the results of the investigation, repeating that “this is not a situation that should be exploited politically.” (al-Sharq al-Aawsat)
- In a September 29 interview with al-Arabiya, al Jubayr said that the Iranians are the last ones who should speak about Hajj affairs because they have been the cause of problems and annoyances for other pilgrims in the holy cities in past decades. He further stated that Iran’s criticisms of Saudi Arabia’s Hajj administration contradicts the principles of sovereignty and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. (CNN) (BBC)
- The Saudi Ministry of Health tried to deflect the criticism of the way it administers the Hajj by saying in a statement that “perhaps the cause of the tragedy was pilgrims not committed to official instructions,” possibly referring to reports that the Iranians caused the chaos. (BBC)
Boroujerdi: Saudi management was focused more on Yemen than on the Hajj. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi stated that the Saudi government was "focused on the Yemen [conflict], and the management of the Hajj [was] left in inexperienced hands." The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman stated that the top priority currently is to "transfer the bodies of the dead and treat the injured." In addition, Boroujerdi spoke of the need for a "fact-finding committee" with "all 24 countries affected by the current situation" to show the Saudi government "that we are not joking on this issue." (Majlis News)
Shirazi meets with Larijani to discuss the Hajj stampede. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi met with Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in Qom to discuss the Hajj stampede. Shirazi stated that the Hajj has a long history of incidents similar to the stampede, and insisted that the criticism of the incident should not stop once the "pilgrims return home." In addition, he added that the level of criticism towards Saudi Arabia was “appropriate" given the immense number of people participating in the Hajj. (Fars News Agency)
Information on the 465 Iranians killed in Saudi Arabia has been released. According to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the Hajj Pilgrimage Organization has released “the names and other details” of the 465 Iranian pilgrims killed in last week’s Hajj stampede. (IRIB)
Rezaei: If we show weakness, the U.S. and Israel will attack. Mohsen Rezaei discussed Iranian security and regional crises during an interview on state television on October 2.
- On Iranian strength: The Expediency Discernment Council Secretary claimed that if Iran ends its opposition to the U.S. and Israel and thus “shows weakness, they will attack us, 100 percent. But if we increase our power every day, the enemy will not have the nerve.” Rezaei also criticized those who accuse Iran of warmongering and stated, “We are never seeking war, but it is good for them to study Iranian history and understand that every time statesmen in Iran were weak or became reliant on foreigners, insecurity intensified in the country, and Iran became the subject of an invasion and suffered damage… This process was seen in the Qajar and Pahlavi eras. It would be good for intellectuals to take these facts into consideration.”
- On Russian involvement in the Middle East: Rezaei discussed Russia’s recent involvement in Syria and stated that “it is possible” for Russia also to enter Iraq “for the benefit” of the Iraqi government.
- He added that Russia’s reasoning behind such a move is that it considers regional terrorism to be a “detriment” to itself as well.
- Rezaei stated that Iran is not “optimistic” about regional security and claimed that ISIS is planning activities in the north of Afghanistan and in Central Asia. He added ISIS will be “a serious threat for western China” as a result.
- Rezaei stated, “Of course, we don’t think that conditions will transpire like a world war, but security threats in the region are vast.” He added that although Iran is “situated among these threats, it has complete power and security.”
- On Saudi Arabia: “We see in Saudi Arabia’s government, unfortunately, that this country is continuing its irrational behaviors. We have even heard that it has been arranged for the Iranian consulate in Bahrain to be shut down. We all know that this country is under the control of Saudi Arabia and that the army of this country has a presence in Bahrain.”
- Rezaei accused the “new generation of Saudi leaders” of supporting terrorism in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. He also stated, “We have not forgotten that this same government of Saudi Arabia was supporting Saddam [Hussein] in the past.”
- Rezaei discussed potential causes of the Hajj stampede, stating that “the strongest possibility is that there were not experienced forces this year [at the Hajj]. It is likely that the [experienced] forces were entering Yemen alongside Saudi Arabia’s land divisions.” Rezaei also called for the formation of a fact-finding committee composed of countries affected by the stampede. (IRIB)
Kermani: The world is waiting for Saudi Arabia’s apology. Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani criticized Saudi Arabia’s response to the Hajj stampede during his Friday sermon. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader stated, “Saudi officials must know that they are not only responsible for the Mina disaster, but also that the whole world is waiting for Saudi Arabia’s answer about the causes of the Mina incident…” Kermani also added, “There are statistics that 4,700 people lost their lives in the stampede; around 470 individuals lost their lives from Iran. All these issues and disasters of the Hajj are not hidden from Islamic countries nor from Iran; Saudi officials should be scared of the Supreme Leader’s [September 30] warning.” (Mashregh News)
Senior diplomat denies claims about Iranian troops in Syria. An unnamed “high-ranking diplomatic official” dismissed an October 2 Asharq Al-Awsat report claiming that Iranian troops have joined the fight in Syria. The official stated that the Arab report is a “sheer lie.” (IRNA) (E)
?Zarif discusses bilateral issues with foreign ministers of Algeria, Syria, and Cyprus. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed various issues during separate meetings with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
- Syria: Zarif discussed recent developments in the Syrian conflict and the importance of confronting terrorism and extremism across the Middle East.
- Algeria: Zarif and Lamamra discussed cooperation to stabilize decreasing oil prices and efforts to end the crisis in Syria, and the Hajj stampede.
Cyprus: Zarif and Kasoulides discussed various elements of the crisis in Syria, including the refugee crisis. Both foreign ministers also expressed their support for strengthening bilateral ties. (Tasnim) (E) (ILNA)
Bahrain recalls its ambassador to Iran. The Foreign Ministry of Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Iran in response to Iranian “interference” in Bahraini affairs. The kingdom also ordered the Iranian chargé d'affaires to leave the country within 72 hours. (ABNA)
- Haghighat Pour: Bahrain’s recall of its ambassador demonstrates its dependence on Saudi Arabia. Parliamentarian Mansour Haghighat Pour discussed the Bahraini government’s recent recall of its ambassador in Iran and its order for the Iranian chargé d'affaires in Bahrain to leave within 72 hours. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman called the actions a sign of Bahrain’s “dependence on Saudi Arabia.” Haghighat Pour also claimed that Saudi Arabia cultivates “Iranophobia” throughout the region because it cannot act against Iran directly. (ICANA)
Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Khatami: The enemy wants to depict us as tired of the slogan “Death to America.” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami warned Iranians of American influence, and stated that “thieves want to enter Iran through the window of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).” The Interim Friday Prayer Leader added that “the enemy wants to depict the Iranian nation as a nation tired of [the slogan] ‘Death to America’ and likewise pretend that the people want relations and discussions with America.” Khatami claimed that the U.S.’s “mischief has not lessened” since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He also stated, “Until the last person, until the last breath, until the last drop of blood, we have stood by the banner of velayat-e faqih [guardianship of the jurist], and we will stand until the end.” (Rasa News)
- Alam ol Hoda: The enemy is seeking influence in the elections. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda warned of the enemy’s influence in the elections during his Friday sermon. The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader, who is also an Assembly of Experts member, stated, “The enemy considers the elections the best time for expanding influence among the masses; therefore we must be wary more than ever.” (Mehr News)
- CBI files appeal against appropriation of funds by U.S. court. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider an appeal by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) against the appropriation of $1.75 billion in Iranian assets to pay the families of the victims of Marines killed in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. The CBI argues that the ruling violates a 1955 Iran-U.S. treaty that forbids the expropriation of each country’s assets located in the other’s territory. (Press TV) (E)