Iran News Round Up

A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.

[Notice: The Critical Threats Project has discontinued the Iran News Round Up. We are now providing timely analysis and updates through our Iran File.]

Key takeaway: Tehran may retaliate militarily against anti-regime Arab separatists and possible foreign backers, such as Saudi Arabia, that organized the September 22 attack in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province in the near future.

Regime officials blamed the Iranian-based Ahvazi-Arab separatist group al Ahvaziyeh for a deadly terrorist attack during an armed forces military parade commemorating the Iran-Iraq War on September 22. The attack resulted in at least 25 deaths, including IRGC members, conscripted soldiers, and innocent bystanders. Regime officials promised to punish those responsible for the attack. The attack follows an increase in border violence by anti-regime insurgents along Iran’s northwestern and southeastern borders. The attack also follows an escalation of anti-Arab sentiments amongst Iranians after anti-Arab protests in Khuzestan Province and the burning of the Iranian consulate in Basra, Iraq both in early September. The regime has issued military responses to terror attacks on Iranian soil in the recent past, including responses to the Islamic State (IS) in June 2017 and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in September 2018.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from September 14 - 24.

Military and Security
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September 24, 2018

Terror attack in Ahvaz kills at least 25 Iranians

Terror attack in Ahvaz kills at least 25 Iranians. A terrorist attack on an armed forces military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province on September 22 resulted in the death of at least 25 Iranians, including IRGC members, conscripted soldiers, and one child. Tehran officially blamed an Iran-based ethnically-Arab separatist group for the attack, al Ahvaziyeh, immediately following the attack. An al Ahvaziyeh senior official claimed responsibility for the attack during an interview with a Persian language, anti-regime news outlet in the UK. Iranian officials have also blamed Saudi Arabia and the U.S. for the attack, calling them supporters of terrorist groups in Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported that al Ahvaziyeh maintains ties with Saudi Arabia. Islamic State (IS) Khorasan also claimed responsibility for the attack after they issued a video on September 22 following the attack via their media outlet. It remains unclear which group was responsible for the attack. Al Ahvaziyeh has been behind several attacks against regime officials and property over the last 13 years and has openly called for the creation of an independent Ahvazi-Arab state. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei noted that Iran would offer a “stern punishment” to those who undertook the attack. (Tasnim News Agency) (SITE) (Wall Street Journal) (E) 

September 24, 2018

Artesh and IRGC air forces participate in joint-military drills near the Strait of Hormuz

Artesh and IRGC air forces participate in joint-military drills near the Strait of Hormuz. The Artesh Air Force and IRGC Aerospace Force staged preparatory drills on September 19 near the Strait of Hormuz, before the start of the annually-celebrated Iran-Iraq War Sacred Defense Week on September 22. The Artesh Air Force and the IRGC Aerospace Force staged the military drills at the Shahid Abdol Karimi Ninth Artesh Tactical Airbase in Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province. The Artesh and IRGC navies will also participate in a parade on September 22 in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman as part of Sacred Defense Week processions. IRNA reported that 600 small and heavy boats will participate in the parade. (Defa Press) (Defa Press) (IRNA)

Citations & Links

1. Tasnim News Agency
https://www.tasnimnews.com/fa/news/1397/07/02/1836318/%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%D9%87-%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B7%D9%85%D8%A6%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%8B-%DA%AF%D9%88%D8%B4%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%AE%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%87%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AF

2. SITE
https://ent.siteintelgroup.com/jihadist-threat/819-site-intel-group-9-22-18-is-iran-comm/file.html

3. (Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-seethes-at-saudi-arabia-west-after-deadly-terror-attack-1537722880

Citations & Links

1. Defa Press
http://defapress.ir/fa/news/309684/%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%AC%D9%86%DA%AF%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA%D8%B4-%D9%88-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B1%DA%98%D9%87-31-%D8%B4%D9%87%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%88%D8%B1

2. Defa Press
http://defapress.ir/fa/news/309687/%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B4%DB%8C%D9%86-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%87-%D9%86%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D9%87%D9%88%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3

3. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83038946

Domestic Politics
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September 24, 2018

Parliamentarians resume efforts to interpellate senior Rouhani administration officials

Parliamentarians resume efforts to interpellate senior Rouhani administration officials. Fifty parliamentarians signed a letter to interpellate Roads and Urban Development Minister Abbas Akhoundi on September 19. Parliamentarians are still gathering signatures before submitting the letter to the Parliamentary Leadership Board to initiate an interpellation proceeding for Akhoundi. Parliamentarians have cited grievances over the mismanagement of the housing market, rising housing prices, and infrastructure development. Hardliner-led efforts have resulted in the interpellation and subsequent impeachment of several President Hassan Rouhani administration officials, including Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Massoud Karbasian and Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare Minister Ali Rabiei. (Tasnim News Agency)

September 24, 2018

Legislation prohibiting retirement-age individuals from government jobs implemented

Legislation prohibiting retirement-age individuals from government jobs implemented. President Hassan Rouhani announced the implementation of Parliament- and Guardian Council-approved legislation prohibiting retirement-age individuals from holding positions other than top leadership offices in government on September 18. Parliament and the Guardian Council both approved the legislation on July 25 and August 15 respectively. The newly-implemented law may result in the *removal of the recently-elected Tehran City Mayor Mohammad Ali Afshani from office. Iranian officials have advertised the legislation as a means to promote the participation of youth in government and to increase employment opportunities for young Iranians. Iranian media noted on July 29 that Tehran City Council head Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani may replace Afshani due to the legislation. Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani is the son of late President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. (President.ir)

Citations & Links

1. Tasnim News Agency
https://www.tasnimnews.com/fa/news/1397/06/28/1832031/%D8%B7%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%DB%8C%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%A2%D8%AE%D9%88%D9%86%D8%AF%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87-50-%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%B1%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%AF

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/106107

Regional Developments and Diplomacy
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September 24, 2018

Rouhani arrives in New York for UN General Assembly meeting

Rouhani arrives in New York for UN General Assembly meeting. President Hassan Rouhani arrived in New York City, New York on September 23 in order to participate in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). U.S. President Donald Trump offered to talk with Rouhani with “no preconditions” but Iranian officials have denied the requests. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also noted Trump’s openness to meet with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei previously issued a *prohibition on negotiations with the U.S. during a speech on August 13 following the reimposition of the first round of U.S. sanctions lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on August 7. Rouhani will likely use the public platform to announce Iran’s continued adherence to the JCPOA and issue a warning against U.S. threats to cut off Iranian oil exports with the reimposition of the second round of U.S. sanctions on November 5. Rouhani may also issue a public rebuke of Saudi Arabia and criticize the Kingdom for their purported support of the terror attack against an armed forces military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province on September 22. (President.ir) 

September 24, 2018

Iranian officials confer with Iraqi government formation actors

Iranian officials confer with Iraqi government formation actors. Iranian Ambassador to Iraq and former IRGC Quds Force official Brig. Gen. Eraj Masjedi condemned the Iraqi protesters who set fire to the Iranian consulate in Basra, Iraq on September 7 during meetings at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Masjedi met separately with unidentified Iraqi Badr Organization members and affiliated Iraqi Council of Representatives (CoR) parliamentarians on September 15, Iraqi National Wisdom Trend Central Council members on September 16, and also with Iraqi Prime Minister senior advisor Walid al Hilli on September 17. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also spoke with newly-elected Iraqi Council of Representatives (CoR) Speaker Mohammad al Halbousi on September 16. (IRNA) (IRNA) (IRNA) (ICANA)

September 24, 2018

Salehi seeks to secure international cooperation on nuclear energy during Vienna visit

Salehi seeks to secure international cooperation on nuclear energy during Vienna visit. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi discussed nuclear cooperation in separate meetings with China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) Director Zhang Keijan, Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Director General Alexei Likhachev, British Defense Ministry Chief Scientific Advisor on Nuclear Science Robin Grimes, and French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) General Administrator Francois Jacq during an official visit to Vienna, Austria from September 17 - 19. Salehi traveled to Vienna to participate in an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference. Salehi and Grimes discussed British participation in the redesign of a heavy-water nuclear reactor in Arak, Markazi Province in order to limit the amount of plutonium the reactor produces as a byproduct. Salehi also discussed power plant construction plans with Likhachev. Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian announced on August 25 that Iran and Russia have begun talks to construct a nuclear power plant capable of generating 3,000 megawatts (MW) in Iran. (IRNA) (Associated Press) (E) (IRNA) (Tasnim News Agency) (E)

September 24, 2018

Zarif and Cavusoglu discuss Russia-Turkey Idlib agreement

Zarif and Cavusoglu discuss Russia-Turkey Idlib agreement. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed the Russia-Turkey agreement on Idlib Governorate, Syria during a phone call with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on September 18. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to establish a 9 to 12 mile demilitarized zone in Idlib Governorate during a meeting in Sochi, Russia on September 17. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghassemi separately expressed Iran’s support for the agreement. (IRNA) (Defa Press)

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/106164

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83034308

2. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83035262

3. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83036563

4. ICANA
http://www.icana.ir/Fa/News/403061/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D9%84%D9%81%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%DA%A9%D8%AA%D8%B1-%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%AC%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%B1%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83037962

2. Associated Press
https://apnews.com/ed820eb2a3f84c7b82ed351e2adbceb9

3. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83035812

4. Tasnim News Agency
https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2018/09/17/1830465/iran-s-nuclear-chief-in-vienna-for-iaea-conference

Citations & Links

1. IRNA
http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/83037673

2. Defa Press
http://defapress.ir/fa/news/309552/%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A8%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%87-%D9%88-%D8%AA%D8%B1%DA%A9%DB%8C%D9%87-%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%87-%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%84%D8%A8

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