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: Friday prayer leaders renounced President Hassan Rouhani’s call for greater global engagement by Iran.
Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda directly criticized President Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policy stance of “constructive interaction” with the world. Alam ol Hoda implied that proponents of the “constructive interaction” policy think that Iran cannot survive without economic relations with the U.S. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi asserted that opening up Iran to the world “will bring Iran back to the time of the Qajars and the Pahlavis,” two dynasties that ruled Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Rouhani has clashed with military leaders and hardline conservatives over the appropriate extent of Iran’s economic and diplomatic relations with the West.
At least three Iranian “technicians” died after ISIS militants stormed a power plant in Kirkuk, Iraq, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry and Iran’s ambassador to Iraq. ISIS launched a counterattack in several locations including the power plant in Kirkuk Province on October 21 after Iraqi and Kurdish security forces advanced toward Mosul.
Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani vowed that Iran will continue to arm Palestinian “resistance groups” in order to “defend the oppressed Palestinian people and to increase their ability to defend against the Zionist regime’s attacks.” Iran supports several Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
- The Critical Threats Project and ISW Naval Analyst Christopher Harmer assess Iran’s role in the recent anti-shipping attacks off the Yemeni coast in “Iranian involvement in missile attacks on the USS Mason.”
- Katherine Zimmerman and Emily Estelle explain the escalations in the Red Sea in the context of broader regional conflicts and the risk to the U.S. in their latest piece, “Escalation in the Red Sea: Yemen’s Civil War, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.”
- The Critical Threats Project team explains the significance of Iran’s upcoming 2017 presidential election and tracks important electoral developments in “Iran Presidential Election Tracker: Updates and Analysis.”
- J. Matthew McInnis argues that Washington should expect a new range of potentially escalatory behaviors from Iranian naval forces in “Five reasons the Middle East is becoming more dangerous for the US Navy.”
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
Friday prayer leaders criticize global engagement. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Kazem Sedighi criticized “those individuals who want to open Iran up to the world and believe that we cannot live without the U.S.” Sedighi added that “opening up to the world will bring Iran back to the time of the Qajars and the Pahlavis.” (Mehr News Agency)
- Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda directly referred toPresident Hassan Rouhani’s policy of “constructive interaction” during his Friday prayer sermon. He stated, “The enemy is the enemy, and interacting with the enemy makes no sense.” He added, “They say that without constructive interaction with the world, we cannot grow our exports, we cannot have economic development...They have replaced the noun ‘America’ with ‘world’ and its constructive engagement!” (ISNA) (Nasim Online)
- Esfahan Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat ol Eslam Mojtaba Mirdamadi claimed that some government officials “are wrong to think that interacting with the U.S. will solve the problems of the country.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Shahrekord Friday Prayer Leader Muhammad Ali Nekounam claimed that the U.S. is currently pursuing to establish communications with Iran in order to introduce “influence to the country.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Shamkhani: Iran will continue to arm Palestinian groups. Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani stated that Iran will continue to arm Palestinian “resistance groups” in order to “defend the oppressed Palestinian people and to increase their ability to defend against the Zionist regime’s attacks.”
On Iran’s role in Red Sea attacks: Shamkhani addressed “some American officials’ comments about Iran’s possible role in missile attacks on U.S. warships in the Red Sea.” He stated, “America’s allies in Yemen have been humiliated by the people of Yemen through successive failures. The attribution of these defeats to Iran is caused by... [an attempt to] escape from the burden of responsibility for war crimes.” (Press TV) (E) (IRNA)
- On Iran’s role in Red Sea attacks: Shamkhani addressed “some American officials’ comments about Iran’s possible role in missile attacks on U.S. warships in the Red Sea.” He stated, “America’s allies in Yemen have been humiliated by the people of Yemen through successive failures. The attribution of these defeats to Iran is caused by... [an attempt to] escape from the burden of responsibility for war crimes.” (Press TV) (E) (IRNA)
ISIS militants kill at least three Iranians in Kirkuk. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi confirmed the deaths of several Iranian “technicians” after ISIS militants attacked a power plant near Kirkuk, Iraq on October 21. Ghassemi stated that “preliminary figures” indicate that four Iranians died and three others were wounded in the attack. Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Danaeifar stated separately that only three Iranians died in the attack, however. (IRNA)
- Iran condemns Bahraini raid on offices of Shia political party. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghassemi criticized Bahrain for making a “historical and strategic mistake” by raiding the offices of al Wefaq, the largest Shia political group in the country. Iranian officials including IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani have publicly denounced the Bahraini government for its treatment of al Wefaq and a leading Shia cleric. (Press TV) (E)
Military & Security
- IRGC Commander: We will create Basij special forces units across the country. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari announced the creation of Basij Fatehin Special Forces units “throughout the country” during a ceremony honoring casualties from Tehran’s Fatehin unit in Syria. Jafari added, “We must consider expanding this front as part of our duty… Iran’s situation has evolved to such an extent that now other countries admit that they must negotiate with Iran over the future of Syria.” (Basij News)
- Supreme Leader’s deputy representative: We hope cabinet change will better combat Western cultural invasion. Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC Hojjat ol Eslam Abdullah Hajji Sadeghi discussed the recent resignations of the ministers of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Education, and Sports and Youth Affairs. Sadeghi stated that he hoped the cabinet changes are not simply “flattery and smiling at the people.” He stated, “The Ministry of Culture [and Islamic Guidance] does not have a good record, and honestly, does not perform well on topics related to the Islamic Revolution.” Sadeghi stated, “We hope this change will lead to dealing with [Western] cultural invasion, strengthening of the political system’s revolutionary, religious, and jihadi culture, and reinforcing of the country’s cultural institutions.” Sadeghi stated that the Rouhani administration’s decision to reshuffle the cabinet now “at least raises the suspicion” that the move is a tactic to better position Rouhani for the May 2017 presidential elections. (Basij News)