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 Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi attributed the preservation of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen to the Islamic Republic’s advisory power.
IRGC Brigadier General Vahidi touted Iran’s advisory power and regional reach. The President of the Strategic Defense Studies Center and former IRGC Qods Force Commander claimed that Iranian advisors prevented the collapse of the Iraqi state, without direct and unwarranted intervention. Vahidi added that the successful preservation of Iraq, Syria, and Yemen was achieved “by way of the Islamic Republic.” Vahidi, however, made a deliberate distinction between Iran’s consultative roles in assisting the governments of Baghdad and Damascus and its “spiritual” support for Yemeni resistance against Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s supportive position on Syria; he was explicit in stressing that there will be no policy shift regarding this political crisis. Abdollahian indicated that Tehran favors an intra-Syrian resolution to the conflict and stated, “Those who intend to pass Mr. Bashar Assad know well that in the framework of the political process, only the Syrian people decide their own fate.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, led an Iranian delegation to attend the Syria peace talks in Vienna, Austria.
Matthew McInnis analyzes Iran’s broader strategy towards Russia by examining recent developments in economic, security, and nuclear cooperation between Tehran and Moscow, in his most recent blog, “Iran’s strategy to ‘entangle’ Russia.”
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Vahidi: Iran’s advisory power maintained Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi highlighted the Islamic Republic’s “spiritual” power in an October 28 speech at the Islamic Azad University of Hamedan. The President of the Strategic Defense Studies Center and former IRGC Qods Force Commander praised the Islamic Revolution’s culture of martyrdom and touted its global influence. The former Defense Minister lauded Iran’s successful involvement in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and stated:
- “If the Islamic Revolution were not in Iraq and Syria, all countries in the region, would have burned in the fire, which they provoked.”
- On Syria: “Today, after four years [everyone] has come to the conclusion that…Iran has proved its success.”
- On Iraq: “The Islamic Republic entered the scene in Iraq and prevented the collapse of Iraq, while completely pushing back the terrorists.”
- “The Islamic Republic is not directly present in the war and it only provides advisement, such that today the preservation of Iraq and Syria, by way of the Islamic Republic has been achieved.”
- On Israel: “The Zionists say, ‘leave the terrorists,’ because Iran is our main enemy.”
- “The Zionists have lost Gaza and they will also lose the West Bank and are witnesses to strength of the roots of a third intifada.” (Farhang News)
Zarif leads delegation to Vienna for Syria peace talks. Representatives from the U.S., Russia, France, the EU, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Oman, and China will begin the talks on October 30. Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry will likely also hold bilateral talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and its implementation on the sidelines of the peace talks. (ISNA)
- Zarif holds telephone conversation with German counterpart. Zarif discussed developments in Syria with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on October 28. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Firouzabadi: Saudi Arabia is a war criminal. Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi criticized Saudi Arabia’s presence in the upcoming Syrian peace talks, calling it “suspicious and illegitimate” on October 29. The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief called Saudi Arabia a “war criminal” for its “terrorist actions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon,” its “support” for ISIS, and its attacks on “hospitals, schools, and people’s homes, and the destruction of Yemen’s infrastructure.” (Sepah News)
Abdollahian: Iran has not changed its position on Syria. Amir Hossein Abdollahian stated, “No change has been made in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy of support for Syria… Tehran has always supported the political process and the fight against terrorism in Syria, and will… pursue the same track.” Speaking ahead of the Syria peace talks in Vienna, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs continued, “Those who intend to cross [Syrian President] Mr. Bashar Assad know well that in the framework of the political process, only the Syrian people decide their own fate.” (Alef)
Velayati: “Our national security depends on maintaining the security of our neighbors.” Ali Akbar Velayati responded to reports about Iranian advisors in Iraq and Syria; he claimed that networks circulating these headlines want to destroy the Islamic Republic. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor stressed that Iran will “not sit silent” as its “sworn enemies” plan to attack. Velayati reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to support its regional neighbors in their fight against terrorism, adding: “we have a duty to defend our religious brothers and we will defend Muslim lands…” (IRIB)
Islamic Republic of Iran appoints first female ambassador. Marzieh Afkham became the first female ambassador since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The former foreign ministry spokeswoman, who was appointed as Iran’s ambassador to Malaysia, will reportedly assume her post in Kuala Lumpur in two weeks. (Tabnak)
Foreign Ministry appoints new spokesperson and MENA director general. The Foreign Ministry announced the appointment of Hossein Jaberi Ansari, formerly the Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Department, as the Foreign Ministry’s new spokesman on October 28. Mohammad Irani, Iran’s former ambassador to Beirut, was appointed to replace Ansari as director general of the MENA Department. (ILNA)
- Foreign Ministry appoints new spokesperson and MENA director general. The Foreign Ministry announced the appointment of Hossein Jaberi Ansari, formerly the Director General of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Department, as the Foreign Ministry’s new spokesman on October 28. Mohammad Irani, Iran’s former ambassador to Beirut, was appointed to replace Ansari as director general of the MENA Department. (ILNA)
- Shamkhani meets with Pakistani prime minister. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani praised Pakistan’s restraint and “lack of military entry” in Yemen during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 29. (YJC)
Casualties in Iraq and Syria
Iranian possibly killed in Syria. Dana News reported that there are “rumors” that Ashghari Sharabiani was killed on October 23. Dana News referred to Sharabiani as a Basiji from Sharabian, East Azerbaijan province. (Dana News)
- Hezbollah fighter killed in Syria. Mohammad Hassan Saleh, also known as “Seyyed Rabih,” was killed in Syria. No further details on his rank or place of death were provided. (ABNA)
Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Zakani criticizes JCPOA. Principlist Parliamentarian Ali Reza Zakani warned that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is “full of contradictions” on October 29. He criticized sanctions relief under the agreement, stating that only “a small and trivial portion of the sanctions will be lifted.” While he praised the open letter from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approving the implementation of the nuclear deal, Zakani also criticized the response by President Hassan Rouhani. He stated, “He has expressed outwardly his own compliance with the decrees of the [Supreme] Leader, but he repeats his past talk about the nuclear agreement and speaks of the lifting of sanctions.” (Rasa News)
Ayatollah Khatami: Some people think the Supreme Leader only spent an hour writing his letter to Rouhani. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami discussed the JCPOA review process and missiles on October 29. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader stated, “Some imagine that the [Supreme] Leader only spent one hour writing the text of the letter to the president, but I am saying precisely that for 10 days, the country’s high-ranking officials debated and discussed with each other, and the Leader put most of his personal work aside so that this decision could be made.” Khatami also discussed Iran’s missile capabilities, stating, “The enemy wants to humiliate Iran, but we say to them that our arsenals are full of missiles that have the power to reach 1,500 kilometers, and if you take action, you will become helpless.” (Entekhab)
- Government ministers to testify on JCPOA implementation with members of Parliamentary commissions. Ministers of Parliament from the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Social Commission, Industry and Mines Commission, Agricultural Commission and Legal Commission will question several government ministers in order to monitor the JCPOA’s implementation during sessions next week, including: Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi, Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Mahmoud Vaezi, Minister of Economy and Finance Ali Tayyeb Nia, Minister of Justice Mostafa Pour Mohammadi and Minister of Agricultural Jihad Mahmoud Hajati. (IRNA)
Steadfastness Front members meet with Ayatollah Yazdi. Hardliner Parliamentarian Hojjat ol Eslam Mahmoud Nabavian described the meeting between fellow members of the Steadfastness Front and Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi on October 28. Yazdi expressed “regret that some ignored the illustrious and valuable record of the revolutionary era because of their own party, personal, or family interests.” (Mashregh News)
- Larijani meets with Ayatollah Yazdi. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi on October 29 in Qom. The report does not provide any details about the private meeting that took place in Yazdi’s home. (ICANA)
Military and Security
Iranian flotilla returns from Russia. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that the Iranian flotilla that left for the Russian port of Astrakhan on October 18 is due to return to Iran’s Anzali Port on the Caspian Sea on October 29. The Artesh Navy Commander called the Iranian flotilla’s presence in Astrakhan “a sign of power and strength.” (Fars News Agency)
- Pourdastan: We are prepared for proxy wars. Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan praised Iran’s military capabilities and stated that the Artesh Ground Forces have the “necessary preparedness” for successful participation in “proxy wars” and “asymmetric” conflict. (Defa Press)
CBI report: Despite lower inflation, interest rates remain high. A new analysis published by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) indicates that lower inflation rates in 2014 failed to reduce interest rates or increase the rate of capital mobilization. The report explains that expanded banking operations in the informal sector created balance sheet constraints for banks, leading to stubbornly high interest rates and suboptimal credit availability. (Mehr News)
- Nematzadeh: Iran will have oil and gas for 400 years. Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh encouraged Iranian oil companies to expand their operations abroad during his speech at a ceremony celebrating the opening of Phases 17 and 18 of the Pars South oil field. The Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade dismissed claims that Iran will exhaust its natural resources in 50 years, and stated that Iranian industry can extract natural resources for the next 400 years if it develops cutting-edge knowledge. (Tasnim News Agency)