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 pushed back against President Hassan Rouhani’s criticism of the Guardian Council’s growing involvement in elections.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Guardian Council’s supervisory role in elections as its “legal” and “rational right.” He added that some objections to the role of the Guardian Council] are “gratuitous.” The Supreme Leader is likely referring to President Rouhani’s August 19 critique of the Guardian Council’s expanding oversight of elections.
IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi criticized UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 as “against Iran’s security and independence” and unacceptable. Parliamentarian and former IRGC commander Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, meanwhile, claimed that the nuclear agreement is “the cause of Iran’s stagnancy. In this regard, no one is [being] held accountable.”
Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy Mohammad Bagher Nobakht acknowledged that in response to the Supreme Leader’s September 3 speech, the Rouhani administration will cooperate with a parliamentary review of the JCPOA.
The Critical Threats Project of the American Enterprise Institute has created several pages on www.irantracker.org 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 and AEI Research Assistant Tara Beeny analyze recent attacks on Iranian vehicles travelling in Turkey in the context of expanding Turkish involvement in Syria and Iranian media reports claiming Turkey’s support to ISIS in their most recent blog post, “Are Iran-Turkey relations on the rocks?"
AEI Event: Thursday, September 10 at 3pm - A new Yemen model: The way forward against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. RSVP here.
Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal
Supreme Leader praises Guardian Council’s role in elections. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his warning about U.S. plots to exploit the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in a speech on September 9 in Tehran. The Supreme Leader identified the Resistance Economy, scientific development, and Islamic Revolutionary principles as three crucial factors that the government must utilize to combat enemies of the Islamic Revolution. He also advised against labeling “faithful” and “revolutionary” people as “extremists.” Khamenei urged regime officials to remain vigilant against U.S. duplicity and stated:
- On elections and the Guardian Council: “One of the greatest blessings of the Guardian Council is to watch for any wrongdoing” in elections. Khamenei added: “The Guardian Council is the regime’s discerning eye in elections…”
- “The Guardian Council’s oversight in the elections is approbatory and effective; this is their right, it is their legal right, it is their rational right; [however] some objections [to the Guardian Council’s rights] are gratuitous.”
- “Elections in Iran are in conformity with the international laws, being regarded as the safest and best elections in the world; some ill-wishers inside the country, however, try to harm the sound elections and always talk about vote rigging and cast doubt about soundness of elections in the country.”
- “Well, the enemy talks: Americans and their propaganda agents are constantly speaking against our elections. Americans were present in Iran during the tyrant [Shah’s] regime, but the Americans never criticized the sham and mockery of Parliament [under the Shah].”
- “Some people insist on disguising this Great Satan [America] as the savior angel. The Iranian nation expelled this Satan [from the country in 1979]; we must not allow it to return through the window after we kicked it out through the door.”
- “What happens if religion, the [Islamic] Revolution, and loyalty to the interests of the country and wisdom are put aside? [The Americans] want to kill the heroic and revolutionary spirit of the [Iranian] youth…”
- On the nuclear deal: “[Just] days after the JCPOA agreement— the fate of which remains unclear in Iran and America—Americans serving in Congress are busy plotting and designing legislation against Iran.”
- Khamenei reiterated his position regarding compartmentalized negotiations with Washington, stressing: “We agreed to hold negotiations only on the nuclear issue…and thank God, our negotiators appeared to have done a good job in this field; however, in other areas we are not negotiating with America.”
- “Of course we [Iran] will enter negotiations…with all countries at various levels (state, tribal, and religious), except for the Great Satan [the U.S.].”
On the Israeli government: “Some Zionists [Israeli officials], based on the results of the negotiations, say that they have been relieved of concerns with Iran for [the next] 25 years, but we [Iran] say unto them: ‘you [the Israeli regime] will not see the next 25 years,’ and with the grace of God, nothing called the Zionist [occupying] regime will exist in the region.” (Khamenei.ir)
Kowsari: The nuclear agreement causes Iranian stagnancy. Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari criticized the nuclear agreement, stating that “not a single sanction has been cancelled.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member added that the nuclear agreement “is the cause of Iran’s stagnancy. In this regard, no one is [being] held accountable.” He also discussed Iran’s history of nuclear activity and stated, “America consented to Iran’s nuclear program before the [Islamic] Revolution because all nuclear work was done for America’s benefit. But with the outbreak of the [Islamic] Revolution, [those benefits] fell from their hands. Then their opposition began.” (Rasa News)
Nobakht: The Supreme Leader is the ultimate authority for the JCPOA review process. The Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stated: “The administration had [previously] offered its official view, which was presenting the JCPOA to Parliament was not necessary. However, the Supreme Leader indicated that the Parliament must not be sidelined on reviewing the JCPOA. Considering the remarks by the Supreme Leader – who is the ultimate authority for the administration – the JCPOA is currently being reviewed in Parliament and the administration will grant any assistance and necessary information for the review.” (ISNA)
Naghdi: UNSCR 2231 is unacceptable. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi discussed America’s “harsher tone” following the nuclear negotiations, stating, “Our enemies threaten Iran with a military attack every day. It is clear that the arrogant powers’ problem with us is not a nuclear problem.” The Basij Organization Commander also discussed UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, stating that it is “against Iran’s security and independence. In no way is it acceptable to the nation… Accepting the resolution under these conditions means accepting the arrogant powers’ domination over Iran. America seeks influence in Iran with the nuclear agreement.” (Basij)
Shariatmadari: Parliamentary review “will expose the weak points” of the JCPOA. Hossein Shariatmadari described the JCPOA as being “disastrous” for Iran’s economy and security in a September 9 editorial in Kayhan. The Managing Editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan called on the administration to stop inhibiting public criticism of the nuclear deal and allow a parliamentary review. Shariatmadari added, “Reviewing the nuclear deal in Parliament will expose the weak and damaging parts from the seemingly hidden layers of this document and bring them out for judgement in the public sphere. Contrary to the beliefs of the president and the negotiating team, this approach is grounded in the Constitution...” (Kayhan)
Shirazi: The JCPOA must be reviewed, not quarreled over. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi called the JCPOA a “victory” and stated that it must be “reviewed” rather than “quarreled over.” He added, “Debate, review, and conversation about the JCPOA must be friendly, affectionate, logical, reasonable, and set to solve the problem.” (ABNA)
- Parliament’s JCPOA commission will inspect Arak’s nuclear facilities. Members of the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA are scheduled to inspect Arak’s nuclear facilities on September 14. (Tasnim News Agency)
Rouhani: A Resistance Economy headquarters will be formed soon. President Hassan Rouhani said that the government has decided to “strengthen” the Resistance Economy during a cabinet meeting on September 9. Rouhani stated, “A Resistance Economy headquarters chaired by the first vice president will be formed soon.” He added that he anticipates economic changes in the “conditions of the country after the JCPOA” and called for governors to “introduce the talents and characteristics of their own provinces to foreign investors in order to attract investment.”
- Rouhani discussed expanding trade with Central Asia and countries bordering the Caspian Sea, stating, “If we can establish a good connection with this region and the Eurasian countries, we can make good use of the region.”
- He also discussed domestic and foreign tourism in northern Iran, calling the current facilities there “inadequate” to attract more tourism and stating that “much work must be done.” (President.ir)
Hosseini: Lack of “national consensus” on how to implement the Resistance Economy. Heydar Mastkhadmin Hosseini spoke about the lack of a consensus approach towards implementing the Resistance Economy. The former Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance, who is also a former Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Deputy, outlined different approaches to the Resistance Economy:
- Hosseini stated that the first approach requires a "set of attitudes about the economy" to give strength in austerity measures without the influence from the “outside” world economy. The country would need to become more self-sufficient at producing its “needs.”
- The second approach must “consider” the possibility of “pressure and sanctions" against a “defined” Iranian economic program.
- Hosseini stated that the third approach is to "use the full capacity of the domestic economy" that "in other words...is intended to deliver maximum productivity." The five-year annual economic growth of eight percent would be defined as “5.5% of [the] GDP and 2.5% annual growth in productivity growth…” Hosseini stated, "If we look carefully, we fill find that these different approaches can lead us to the desired result."
On the gap in the “national consensus”: Hosseini insisted that all of government should come together "for this important debate." Hosseini stated that while the Sixth Development Plan will be codified in "the next few weeks," there is currently a "serious gap" between the policies and "a national consensus." As an example, Hosseini described the "strategic plan…in the industrial sector," where there are some items increasing in production, "while cars and cement now are facing a surplus." The Resistance Economy "must be developed in such a way that both the boom and [the] bust have the ability to run the country." (Tabnak)
- Vice President: Government is "pursuing" the Supreme Leader's Resistance Economy. Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri stated, "The government deeply believes in all sections of the Resistance Economy; hence we should prepare the ways for implementing them and making them operational…." (IRNA) (E)
- CBI Deputy meets with Austrian delegation. Akbar Komijani met with Austrian President Heinz Fischer and other senior Austrian officials in Tehran. The CBI Deputy Head stated that both parties are interested in “improving economic and trade relations.” He added that this meeting was "to review the current bank and financial situations." In addition, Komijani stated that Iran has "made good progress” with respect to its “innovations in banking services," which will only get stronger as financial interactions increase "with the European banks and [the] Austrian banking system." Komijani also urged that Iran "has no problem paying [its] debt to European countries." (YJC)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
Khamenei meets with Austrian president. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for expanding Tehran-Vienna relations during a meeting with Austrian President Heinz Fischer on September 8. Khamenei stated, “Some European countries follow America; this, however, is illogical and groundless. Of course, Austria is not among these countries.” In response to a question from President Fischer on the future of relations between Iran and European countries, the Supreme Leader stated “Remarks have been made by European governments; however, we should wait for the actual effects of these comments.” (Khamenei.ir)
- Rouhani holds press conference with Austrian counterpart. President Hassan Rouhani held a joint press conference with Austrian President Heinz Fischer on September 8. The two discussed ways to expand economic trade between Iran and Austria. President Rouhani also discussed the conflict in Syria, claiming that Iran is ready to sit at the negotiating table with “regional countries and [the] great powers.” Rouhani added, “The type of table is not important, but what is important is achieving peace and stability in the region.” President Fischer noted that he expects trade between the two countries to reach a volume of 300 million euros. (ISNA)
Larijani: Iran desires discussions on human rights with Austria. Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani stated that the Judiciary seeks joint meetings to discuss human rights issues in a meeting with Austrian President Fischer. (Mehr News) (E)
- Tehran says its embassy in Sanaa is still open. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham dismissed reports from Arab media outlets claiming that Iran has closed its embassy in Yemen. Afkham stated that Iran’s embassy “continues operation as usual, while Iranian Ambassador to Yemen Seyyed Hossein Niknam returned to the country yesterday to use his annual leave." (MFA) (E)
Regional countries to send oil delegations to Iran. Amir Hossein Zamani Nia stated that delegations representing Kuwait, the UAE, and Iraq's oil industries will visit Iran. The Deputy Oil Minister for International Affairs and Trade stated, "I stressed that our neighbors are our best trade partners in terms of [economic] policy and security." He added that the "dire" gas situation in neighboring countries will be eased "after launching the remaining phases of the South Pars" gas fields. In addition, Zamani Nia stated his pleasure at the return of oil companies into Iran, and mentioned that relations can "change" to allow U.S. companies, rather than "their agencies," to work in Iran. (ISNA) (E)
Iran and Russia discuss Syrian refugee crisis. Deputy Foreign Minister Ibrahim Rahim Pour and his Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov discussed the Syrian refugee crisis during a meeting in Moscow. Rahim Pour and Morgulov blamed ISIS and “policies of those countries who have stood against the legal government in Syria” for the refugee crisis. (Fars News Agency) (E)
- Iran and Ecuador express commitment to deeper cooperation. Deputy Parliament Speaker Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi Fard stated that Iran and Ecuador should expand political, economic, and cultural relations in a meeting with Head of the Ecuadorian Parliament’s Education Commission Himna Ponse. An Ecuadorian parliamentary delegation arrived in Tehran on September 6 for discussions with senior Iranian officials. (Fars News Agency) (E)
Military and Security
Artesh Ground Forces deputy: Northwestern Iran is not insecure. Brig. Gen. 2C Kiomars Heydari stated, “PJAK is involved with the government of Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan; perhaps for the same reason conflict occurred at one of our outposts, but this does not mean insecurity.” The Artesh Ground Forces Deputy Commander stated, “I do not believe that this area [northwestern Iran] is insecure; maybe a group like PJAK is active on our borders, but this is not related to the security of our borders.” Heydari’s comments followed reports that two IRGC members were killed and two other wounded during an engagement with PJAK fighters in Khoy county, West Azerbaijan province, on September 7. (Defa Press)
- Moscow: Contract to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to be signed “soon.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated, “The new contract to deliver the S-300 missile systems to Iran will be signed in the near future.” When asked “whether there were difficulties in the Iran-Russia S-300 missile system negotiations,” Ryabkov stated, “There is no problem with Iran in this regard; this deal will be signed soon. All the political decisions have already been made.” (Tabnak)