Iran News Round Up

The Iran News Round Up ran from February 2009-September 2018. Visit the Iran File for the latest analysis.

Key takeaway: Iranian military forces conducted exercises likely designed to pressure the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) not to declare independence.

Iranian Artesh and IRGC units conducted a new round of military exercises with Iraq’s military on the Iranian side of several Iran-Iraqi Kurdistan border crossings on October 1. The Eghtedar exercises represent another development in the escalation of Iranian security measures following the September 25 Iraqi Kurdistan referendum. The exercises were likely aimed at keeping KRG Head Massoud Barzani from declaring independence. Iran also seeks to leverage the exercises - and the larger coordination effort with the Iraqi central government following the referendum - as an opportunity to strengthen its influence within the Iraqi security structure. The regime may also fear that the referendum movement could lead to increased unrest among Iranian Kurds.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from September 29 - October 2.

AEI Must Reads
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October 03, 2017

The Moscow-Tehran Axis is a Coalition of the Weak.

Frederick Kagan discusses the inherent weaknesses in the Russo-Iranian alliance in, “The Moscow-Tehran Axis is a Coalition of the Weak.”

Citations & Links

Kurdish Referendum Developments
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October 03, 2017

Iran holds new phase of joint military exercises with Iraq near the Iraqi Kurdistan border.

Iranian Artesh, IRGC, and Iraqi units are conducting the Eghtedar phase of joint military exercises in Kermanshah Province near the Iraqi Kurdistan border. The Eghtedar phase of military exercises began on October 1. This phase of exercises is a continuation of the third round of Heydar-e Karrar war games, which began on September 24 near the Parviz Khan border crossing in Kermanshah Province, Iran.

  • The initial exercises of the Heydar-e Karrar games were exclusive to Iran’s Artesh forces, whereas the Eghtedar phase utilized both Artesh and IRGC forces, in addition to the presence of Iraqi forces. Artesh Ground Forces Deputy Commander Nozar Nemati noted that this most recent phase of the Heydar-e Karrar games was initiated due to “recent regional events,” possibly a reference to the September 25 Iraqi Kurdistan referendum. Armored vehicle, artillery, quick reaction, commando, drone, missile, and helicopter units participated, although Iranian news outlets did not specify the names of the units themselves. Conservative newspaper Kayhan reported that the Iraqi government requested that the Iranian and Iraqi militaries conduct the Eghtedar exercises.  
  • Iranian and Iraqi forces are conducting the Eghtedar phase of the exercises on the Iranian side of three border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan - Marivan, Kurdistan Province, Qasr-e Shirin, Kermanshah Province, and Piranshahr, West Azerbaijan Province. The Iraqi Defense Ministry also stated that it plans to seize Kurdish border checkpoints in coordination with Iran and Turkey. (Defa Press) (Tasnim News Agency) (Kayhan) (Defa Press) (IRIB)
October 03, 2017

Turkish General meets with high-ranking officials to discuss ongoing bilateral cooperation.

Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar discussed the Syrian conflict, the Iraqi Kurdish referendum, and other regional issues during separate meetings with President Hassan Rouhani, Armed Forces General Staff Chief IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani on October 2 in Tehran. Bagheri stated that Iran and Turkey will expand military cooperation to combat terrorism and bolster border security  following the meeting. Shamkhani emphasized the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum on September 25 was “irresponsible” and draws attention away from combating ISIS in the region. (Sepah News) (IRNA) (Tasnim News Agency) (ABNA)

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Tehran on October 4 to meet with President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They are expected to focus on the Iraqi Kurdistan independence issue. (Fars News Agency) (IRNA)

Citations & Links

1. Defa Press

2. Tasnim News Agency

3. Kayhan

4. Defa Press


Citations & Links

1. Sepah News


3. Tasnim News Agency


5. Fars News Agency


Nuclear Deal Developments
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October 03, 2017

Zarif: JCPOA has more than 50% chance of surviving.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Zarif stated that if President Donald Trump decertifies Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA on October 15, it would be a “violation of not only the spirit of the deal, but the letter of paragraphs 26, 28, and 29 of the deal.” The Foreign Minister did not describe what an Iranian response would be to these supposed violations. Zarif said that Iran would not pull out of the JCPOA immediately if the U.S. were to withdraw from the deal. He stated that Iran would wait to see what Congress decides to do and how the Europeans respond to the situation. Zarif remarked that Iran “has decided what [it] will do in each eventuality,” but that it would not announce any specific decision until the situation arises. The Foreign Minister believes that there is a “better than 50 [percent]” chance that the JCPOA will remain intact. Zarif’s comments came during an interview with Politico's Sandra Glasser on October 2. (Politico) (E)

  • Zarif calls on Europeans to step up to protect JCPOA. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on Europe “to lead,” in order to remain committed to the JCPOA and to “defy any subsequent U.S. sanctions.” Zarif said that he expects President Donald Trump to de-certify Iranian compliance on October 15, and warned that U.S. abolishment of the deal would “backfire” on the United States. Zarif clearly stated that Iran would not “observe the limitations that were agreed on as part of the bargain in this deal” suggesting Iran would resume enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. He did note, however, that Iranian uranium enrichment and nuclear-related activities would “always be peaceful.” (Financial Times) (E)

Citations & Links

1. Politico

2. Financial Times

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