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
Key takeaway: IRGC Public Affairs Head Brigadier General Second Class Ramezan Sharif acknowledged that eight Iranian nationals were killed in Syria “in the last few days.”
IRGC Public Affairs Head Brigadier General Second Class Ramezan Sharif announced that eight Iranians have been killed in Syria “in the last few days.” Sharif claimed that two of those killed-- Abdollah Bagheri Neyraki and Amin Karimi—were members of the IRGC Ansar al Mahdi Security Unit, which is responsible for providing security to senior regime officials. Abdollah Bagheri Neyraki was also a bodyguard for former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “years.” In addition, a senior commander in the Afghan Shi’a militia Fatimiyoun Brigade, Reza Kharavi, was reported to have been killed in Hama Governorate, Syria.
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on October 22. This meeting comes amidst reports that the recent Russian delegation to Tehran led by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak discussed investment contracts worth between $35 and $40 billion with Iranian officials.
Frederick Kagan highlights the Supreme Leader’s interpretation of the nuclear deal and his plan for its implementation in a blog post, “Khamenei’s nuclear signing statement reveals Iran’s attempt to control the playing field.” Kagan also discusses how the Supreme Leader’s implementation plan will likely harm President Hassan Rouhani politically in the spring election in a separate blog post, “Another nuclear headache for Iran’s president — and for Obama.”
Matthew McInnis analyzes recent reports of Iranian deployments into Syria in support of the offensive towards Aleppo, and discusses the implications for Iran’s role in the ongoing conflict, in his most recent blog post, “Iranian deployments indicate a shift in the Syria conflict.”
Military and Security
Senior commander in Fatimiyoun Brigade reportedly killed. Reformist news outlet Etemad Melli reported that “a senior commander” in the Afghan Shi’a militia Fatimiyoun Brigade, Reza Kharavi, was killed in Syria along with 15 Iranian nationals. (Etemad Melli)
IRGC Public Affairs Head: 15 Iranians have not just died in Syria. IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif responded to circulated reports claiming that 15 Iranian nationals had been killed in Syria. The IRGC Public Affairs Head stated, “Two people from… the IRGC Ansar [al Mahdi Security Unit] have been martyred; the figure of 15 men is not correct.” He stated that the two IRGC Ansar al Mahdi Security Unit members were Abdollah Bagheri Neyraki (see below), and Amin Karimi. He noted that “5 to 6 people…from Khuzestan and Qom provinces …Eslamshahr [Tehran province], and Khorasan Razavi province, [along] with two people from the IRGC Ansar [al Mahdi Security] Unit forces [make] a total of eight people who were martyred in the last few days.” The Ansar al Mahdi Security Unit is tasked with protecting senior Iranian officials. (YJC) (Fars News Agency)
Former Ahmadinejad body guard killed in Syria. Abdollah Bagheri Neyraki, who was reportedly a body guard for former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “years,” was killed in the vicinity of Aleppo city on October 22. Bagheri reportedly traveled to Syria “voluntarily” in the beginning of the Persian month of Mehr [September 22- October 22]. His funeral will be in Tehran. Several news outlets have published photos of Ahmadinejad visiting the Bagheri family following Abdollah Bagheri’s death. (Raja News) (Entekhab)
- Former Ahmadinejad body guard killed in Syria. Abdollah Bagheri Neyraki, who was reportedly a body guard for former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “years,” was killed in the vicinity of Aleppo city on October 22. Bagheri reportedly traveled to Syria “voluntarily” in the beginning of the Persian month of Mehr [September 22- October 22]. His funeral will be in Tehran. Several news outlets have published photos of Ahmadinejad visiting the Bagheri family following Abdollah Bagheri’s death. (Raja News) (Entekhab)
IRGC 33rd al Mahdi Brigade member killed in Syria. IRGC member Mohammad Estekami was killed in Syria, although no exact date of death was given. He was reportedly a member of the IRGC 33rd al Mahdi Brigade. His funeral will be held in Jahrom city, Fars province. His rank was not reported. The 33rd al Mahdi Brigade is based in Jahrom. (Defa Press) (Ghatreh) (Photo)
Two Basij members killed in Syria. Basij Organization member Hadi Shojah was killed in Syria on October 22. Shojah was a Basiji based in Chahardangeh district, Elamshahr county, Tehran province. His funeral will be held in Chahardangeh district. Milad Mostafavi, reportedly another Basij organization member, was also killed in Syria. Mostafavi is reported to be from Hamedan province. (Tehran News)
- Defense Minister: Imam Hossein inspires us to stand against oppression today. IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan discussed the values of Ashura [day commemorating the death of the Hossein, the 3rd Shi’a Imam, during the Battle of Karbala] during a speech in Zanjan province on October 23. The Defense Minister stated, “A society that continues the path of Imam Hossein is a society that is living and dynamic and does not accept abasement or humiliation... The endurance and persistence of the Hosseini movement demonstrated that in no circumstance will humanity [live] under oppression.” Dehghan referenced “Ashura-like arenas in Yemen, Syria, [and] Iraq” and stated that Iran’s appreciation for Imam Hossein’s “crusade” permits Iran “to stand in outspoken opposition against bullying without a single worry because the result is either martyrdom or victory. Each is a state of honor, greatness, and excellence, against which a higher honor does not exist.” (ISNA)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Larijani meets with Putin in Russia. Ali Larijani met with President Vladimir Putin on October 22 in Sochi. The two discussed recent developments in the Middle East, specifically Iraq and Syria. The Parliament Speaker expressed Iran’s gratitude for Russia’s support during the nuclear negotiations and attributed the “constructive” P5+1 model for negotiations to President Putin. Larijani praised Tehran-Moscow relations and stated that the Iranian nation “will not forget” what Russia did to help Iran during the sanctions era. (ICANA)
Larijani promotes expanded Iran-Russia ties. Larijani addressed the press about his official visit to Russia, where he spoke at the 12th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club on October 22 in Sochi. The Parliament Speaker said that the meeting focused on the Syrian crisis and counter-terrorism. Larijani reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to fighting terrorism in his speech; he also held a series of talks with several foreign representatives on the sidelines of the meeting. (ILNA)
- Larijani promotes expanded Iran-Russia ties. Larijani addressed the press about his official visit to Russia, where he spoke at the 12th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club on October 22 in Sochi. The Parliament Speaker said that the meeting focused on the Syrian crisis and counter-terrorism. Larijani reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to fighting terrorism in his speech; he also held a series of talks with several foreign representatives on the sidelines of the meeting. (ILNA)
- Rouhani invites Putin to Tehran. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri invited President Putin on behalf of President Hassan Rouhani to attend an upcoming meeting of Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Tehran. (Entekhab)
Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Zakani: The government accepts the consequences of rejecting missile restrictions in Annex B. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani discussed the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and UN missile restrictions during a televised interview on October 22.
- The head of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA discussed Annex B of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which contains missile restrictions. Zakani stated that the government “has formally announced that we do not accept this annex… This issue [the annex], although a violation of the JCPOA, has consequences for us, but the government is prepared to accept these consequences for the preservation of our national defense.”
- Zakani claimed that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) did not give the JCPOA review commission all relevant documents, and that the IAEA’s explanations “were also not complete. In reality, the verbal information that they gave to us in the [Special Parliamentary] Commission was incorrect.”
- “Unfortunately, many officials do not have correct information about the JCPOA’s documents.”
- On implementation: Zakani discussed the panel that the Supreme Leader said must be formed in his recent letter to President Rouhani on the nuclear deal’s implementation. Zakani stated that the panel, which will be selected “in the Supreme National Security Council,” must be “skillful so that the enemy does not have hope” and must also “believe in America’s animosity.”
- Zakani stated that both “supporters and critics of the JCPOA must help the government implement” the JCPOA and called for Parliament and the government to go “hand-in-hand” in implementing it.
- Zakani discussed “statements by Mr. [Abbas] Araghchi that all economic sanctions will be cancelled and the American Congress’s sanctions will be stopped based on the text of the JCPOA.” Zakani stated, “These statements are perhaps more like a wish.” (IRIB)
Iran rejects JCPOA claims made by New York Times. Hamid Babaei, a “media expert” for Iran in the UN, wrote a letter to the editor in the New York Times in response to a recent article claiming that “most Iranian Parliament members are unaware of the contents” of the JCPOA. Babaie wrote, “Not only all the Iranian Parliament members, but also a strong majority of the enthusiastic Iranian citizens, too, are well aware of the entire contents of the JCPOA.” (IRNA)(E)
Khatami: The Supreme Leader’s letter settles JCPOA debate. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami stated that “the Supreme Leader’s deep, precise and historic letter closes the JCPOA file” during the Tehran Friday prayer sermon. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader added that “if the world wants to know the nation of Iran’s position on the JCPOA, [they should know that] this letter is the nation of Iran’s position.” (ABNA)
Raisi: The Supreme Leader has removed all the ambiguities in the nuclear deal. Hojjat ol Eslam Ebrahim Raisi praised the Supreme Leader’s letter to Rouhani during a speech at Tehran Friday prayer. The Chief Prosecutor stated that the Supreme Leader’s orders “removed the ambiguities and [filled in] the gaps in the JCPOA.” Raisi also reiterated the Supreme Leader’s warnings about Western infiltration in the wake of the nuclear deal and urged for officials to be “wary” of the “enemy’s influence.” (Rasa News)
- Shabestari: The Supreme Leader’s letter will prevent the enemy from exploiting internal divisions. Ayatollah Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari stated that the Supreme Leader’s letter to President Rouhani “blocked the path to enemy mischief” by giving “conditional assent” to the JCPOA during his Friday prayer sermon in Tabriz. (Tasnim)
- Tehran and Moscow plan $40 billion worth of investment contracts. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated that Iran and Russia have taken steps to finalize a list of medium and long-term investment contracts worth between $35 and $40 billion. Novak also stated that a delegation of Iranian bankers will travel to Russia in order to discuss establishing a joint bank. (Mashregh News)