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

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Key takeaway: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that Saudi Arabia must “accept its heavy responsibility” for the stampede that killed 95 Iranian citizens outside of Mecca.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement claiming that Saudi Arabia “is obligated to accept its heavy responsibility” for the September 24 stampede that killed over 700 pilgrims, including 95 Iranian citizens, outside of Mecca. Khamenei also called for three days of national mourning. The Foreign Ministry has reportedly summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d’affaires to lodge an official complaint. 

The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has created several pages on Iran Tracker to help clarify the hyper complex language of sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and to provide additional information about some of the entities that will be freed of international restrictions.                                                                           

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis analyzes the effectiveness of Iranian policy in Iraq and discusses reports that Tehran’s leadership has reigned in IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in his most recent blog post, “Is Iran’s strategy in Iraq adrift?

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Supreme Leader: Riyadh must bear responsibility for Hajj stampede. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement on the stampede that killed more than 700 people, including 95 Iranians, on September 24 in the city of Mina, near Mecca. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences to the families of the dead Iranian pilgrims and called for three days of national mourning. The Supreme Leader also stated, “The Saudi government is obliged to accept its heavy responsibility in this tragedy and meet its obligations in compliance with the rule of righteousness and impartiality. Mismanagement and improper measures that were behind this tragedy should not be neglected.” (IRNA) (
  • Deputy Foreign Minister: Riyadh is responsible for safety of pilgrims. Hossein Amir Abdollahian censured Saudi authorities for not ensuring the safety of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. The Deputy Foreign Minister announced that the Foreign Ministry has formed a “special committee for urgent consideration of Iranian pilgrims.” (Entekhab
  • Tehran summons Saudi diplomat over Hajj stampede. The Foreign Ministry summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d’affaires in protest of the deadly stampede near Mecca. (ILNA)
  • Boroujerdi: “Saudi mistakes cannot be forgiven.” Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to protect Hajj pilgrims and stated that the deadly stampede in Mina highlights “the Saudi government’s incompetence…” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman added that Riyadh’s mistakes are inexcusable. International Affairs Deputy to the Speaker of Parliament Hossein Sheikholeslam also stated, “We condemn this incompetence of Saudi Arabia… the internal rivalries of the al Saud family are resulting in injuries to Muslims.” (ICANA) (YJC)
  • Supreme Leader’s Representative: We will search all hospitals for Iranian pilgrims. Hojjat ol Eslam Ali Ghazi Askar reassured Iranians that the Foreign Ministry and the Hajj Pilgrimage Organization will search all hospitals to identify dead or injured Iranian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia. The Representative of the Supreme Leader to Hajj Affairs claimed that “the Saudis will not even allow our [officials] on the scene to identify our wounded…” (Raja News 
  • Tehran condemns suicide bombing in Yemeni capital. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham condemned a suicide bomb attack that killed 25 people at a mosque in Sana’a. (IRIB)
  • President Rouhani: If there was no Iran, Mecca and Medina would be occupied by terrorists. President Hassan Rouhani discussed regional developments with reporters before leaving Tehran for the United National General Assembly in New York. Rouhani praised the nuclear deal as a “great achievement for the Iranian nation and world peace.” He stressed that the deal will allow for greater cooperation with the world, stating “Our task during this trip…is describing how to use the space after the nuclear deal for economic activity…and greater interaction with the world; this is our goal under the term ‘Constructive Engagement’ and my promise to the people of my country.” Rouhani also discussed ongoing regional crises and stated:
    • “Everyone acknowledges that if [a country] wants to really confront terrorism, this is only feasible with the cooperation of Iran.” Rouhani added, “If there was no Iran or its armed forces, and if there was none of the Supreme Leader’s guidance, there would be no Baghdad or holy shrines; even Mecca and Medina would be occupied by terrorists…Some countries in the region think that they are very powerful. See what has happened to Iraq with their strength. Syria, with its strong army, is struggling with terrorists… just as we defended Karbala, Najaf, and Samarra, we will also defend Mecca and Medina.  (
  • Safavi: “Russian-Iranian coordination” in the region has begun. IRGC Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi addressed Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) veterans of the Iran-Iraq War, stated, “Russian-Iranian coordination in dealing with terrorists rented by Americans and Westerners with money from some Arab countries has been launched…” The Supreme Leader’s Senior Military Advisor said that “the Russian Federation’s participation on the politico-military scene in western Asia, especially Syria, is one of the most important changes” in the “structure of power in the international system and the formation of a multipolar system of power in the world...” (Sepah News) (Please see the September 22 Iran News Round Up for additional coverage of Safavi’s speech.)
  • Zarif meets with Australian counterpart. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed ways of improving bilateral ties and the current crises in the Middle East with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in New York.  (Tasnim News Agency(E)

Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Ayatollah Khatami: America’s claim of thawed relations with Iran post-deal a “pressing” issue. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said that America’s claim that Iran-U.S. relations are thawing in the wake of the nuclear deal is a “more pressing issue than the issue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) itself.” The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader claimed, “We have 180 degrees of difference with America; America is the enemy of the Muslim world…” He continued, “The Americans are drawing a new map for Iran – following the nuclear sanctions, [they want] to pursue human rights sanctions; their goal is our religion.” Khatami also expressed his support for Parliament’s review of the JPCOA, stating: “People who beat the Parliament in this regard are acting against the opinion of the Constitution and the Supreme Leader.” He also warned political parties not to treat Iran’s universities as recruiting grounds. (Mashregh News)
  • Supreme Leader issues Sacred Defense Week statement. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a message commemorating Sacred Defense (Iran-Iraq War) Week. Khamenei stressed that “Martyrs and martyrdom are the symbol of life and brilliance in Islamic culture; the passage of time cannot and will not dim the effect of the name and the memory of the dear martyrs.” (
  • Ayatollah Alam ol Hoda: The Sacred Defense is a symbol of sacrifice in the path of God.Ayatollah Alam ol Hoda discussed the Sacred Defense during his sermon for Eid al Ahda (Feast of Sacrifice), or Eid-e Qorban in Persian. The Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader, who is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, urged government officials to emulate the “warriors of the Sacred Defense” in order to combat the “threats of the enemy.” (Rasa News


  • Tayyeb Nia: Iran supports China’s increasing global role. Ali Tayyeb Nia stated that Iran welcomes the return of China to its pivotal role in the international community during a ceremony at the Chinese embassy in Tehran. The Economic and Finance Minister expressed Iran’s readiness to emulate the Chinese development experience in Iran. Tayyeb Nia added that Iran is eager to improve bilateral ties with China after sanctions are lifted, especially in the fields of investment, science, and technology. (IRNA(E)   
  • Iran and China sign trade deal. Bahman Salehi, CEO of the Iran Power and Water Equipment and Services Export Company (SUNIR), announced an agreement with China’s Shandong Electric Power Corporation (SEPCOIII) that will grant Iran the exclusive right to export electrical goods, equipment, and services to more than a dozen Asian and African countries for five years. The countries include Iraq, the UAE, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Syria, Qatar, and Oman. Salehi stated that SUNIR and SEPCOIII will hold meetings to resolve technical details, and added that SUNIR has agreed to cooperate with SEPCOIII on power projects through engineering, procurement, and construction in Iran and third-party countries after sanctions against Iran are lifted. (Press TV(E)
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