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 and contributors Shayan Enferadi and Hirad Yaldaei. 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: A Tehran revolutionary court sentenced U.S. permanent resident and Lebanese citizen Nizar Zakka to 10 years in prison on espionage charges.

Zakka was arrested last year while traveling to a conference in Iran. Iranian security services have increasingly targeted individuals with foreign connections. The IRGC Intelligence Organization recently claimed that dual nationals are national security threats because they are uniquely susceptible to foreign influence. British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison earlier in September, reportedly on charges relating to national security.

Three members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade who were killed in Syria were buried in the central province of Yazd on September 18. Another Fatimiyoun Brigade member was buried in Tehran province on September 18.

AEI Must-Reads

  • J. Matthew McInnis explains what Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recent speech declaring Iran’s “inalienable right” to “offensive and defensive capabilities” could mean for Iran’s future military developments in his latest blog post, “Ayatollah Khamenei takes Iran on the offensive.

Military & Security

  • Iran sentences U.S. resident to 10 years in prison. A Tehran revolutionary court sentenced Nizar Zakka to 10 years in prison on espionage charges, according to his U.S.-based lawyer. Zakka is a U.S. permanent resident and Lebanese citizen who was arrested last year while travelling to a conference in Iran. Iranian media reported at the time of Zakka’s arrest that he has “deep links” with U.S. intelligence services. The court also fined Zakka over $4 million. Iranian officials have not yet commented on the case, but Iranian media circulated reports on his sentence by citing “claims from Western media” on September 20. (Farda News)
  • Reformist newspaper editor arrested. Security forces reportedly arrested Sadra Mohaghegh, an editor at the reformist newspaper Shargh, for his “relationship with counterrevolutionary media” on September 19. (Kaleme)
  • Bagheri appoints Rabbani as AFGS operations deputy. Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Chief IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri appointed IRGC Brig. Gen. Mehdi Rabbani as AFGS operations deputy. Rabbani has previously served as IRGC operations deputy and as commander of IRGC Sarallah Base. Rabbani replaces IRGC Brig. Gen. Ali Shadmani, who was recently appointed IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Base coordination deputy. During Rabbani’s appointment ceremony, Bagheri stated, “Given that the enemy can improve his capabilities day by day, our deterrence must be more dynamic and more flexible.” (Fars News Agency
  • IRGC capture two “Pakistani terrorists” in southeastern province. IRGC forces reportedly captured two “Pakistani terrorists” in Saravan, Sistan and Baluchistan province. Security forces also discovered two pressure bombs during the raid. Iranian news outlets have reported an increasing number of clashes between Iranian security forces and militants in Sistan and Baluchistan. An IRGC 2nd lieutenant was killed during a firefight in that province on September 2. (Tasnim News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Khamenei reportedly forbids Ahmadinejad from 2017 election. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “explicitly prohibited” former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from entering the 2017 presidential election, according to former Fars News Agency Director Mehdi Fazaeli. Several media and political circles reported on the meeting between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, but no details were published. News outlets have speculated that Ahmadinejad has been planning a bid for a third presidential term in the elections, which are scheduled for May 19, 2017. (Fars News Agency)

Casualties in Iraq & Syria

  • Four Fatimiyoun fighters buried in Iran. Hamid Vafaei, Nemat Ahmadi, and Hassan Khavari, who were “killed in Syria recently,” were buried in the central province of Yazd on September 18. Vafaei was reportedly from Alborz province. Mohammad Yousefi was buried in Tehran province on September 18. (Defa Press) (Defa Press) (Defa Press) (Defa Press)


  • Khamenei reiterates calls for the implementation of the Resistance Economy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran’s “enemies want economic conditions to worsen in order to create discontent with Islam and the political system.” Khamenei added that the “administration, the Parliament, and officials working in different sectors are obligated to make plans and take action against the objectives of the enemy.” (
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