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 contributor Ali Javaheri. 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: Friday prayer leaders condemned Saudi Arabia as “thousands” of Iranians held anti-Saudi protests across Iran.
Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda claimed that Saudi Arabia caused “all the problems in the region” while Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ali Reza Erafi accused Saudi Arabia of promoting “terrorist thinking.” Iranian news agencies also reported numerous anti-Saudi protests across the country, where demonstrators claimed that Saudi Arabia is too “incompetent” to administer the Hajj. These Friday prayer speeches and protests follow severalremarks earlier in the week from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticizing Saudi Arabia and questioning its management of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. Abdullah Abdullahi met with Bank Sepah Director Mohammad Kazem Chagazardi to discuss expanding cooperation between the base and Iran’s financial industry, including Bank Sepah. The meeting follows reports from conservative newspaper Kayhan that “some” Iranian banks, including Bank Mellat and Bank Sepah, are ceasing business with entities connected to the IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base, the IRGC’s engineering wing, due to concerns over international sanctions. In response, Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Head Valiollah Seif issued a circular claiming that “Iranian financial institutions can have financial and business relations with any individual or institution, whether or not they are on the sanctions lists.”
British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to five years in prison on “secret charges,” according to her husband. A prison guard reportedly stated that the charges were related to national security. The IRGC Intelligence Organization arrested Zaghari-Ratcliffe as she attempted to leave Iran with her infant daughter on April 3.
- 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.”
- Marie Donovan analyzes how Russia’s use of an Iranian air base could improve Iran’s deterrence capabilities against the U.S. in “Russian Basing in Iran is about More than ISIS.”
- Christopher Harmer explains why international attention must turn to Moscow’s delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran in “The Strategic Impact of the S-300 in Iran."
Regional Developments & Diplomacy
- Friday prayer leaders criticize Saudi Arabia. Several Friday prayer leaders across Iran criticized Saudi Arabia during their sermons on September 9. Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ali Reza Erafi accused Saudi Arabia of promoting “terrorist thinking” in the Middle East. Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alam ol Hoda claimed that Saudi Arabia caused “all the problems in the region.” Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that Friday prayer leaders across Iran “emphasized that no Muslim will forget the crimes” of Saudi Arabia. State media also reported that thousands of Iranians held protests against Saudi Arabia in several cities after Friday prayers. Protesters condemned Saudi Arabia’s January 2016 execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr and asserted that Saudi Arabia is too “incompetent” to administer the Hajj. (Tasnim News Agency)
Rafsanjani: Saudi Arabia’s crimes are worse than those of Israel. Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani argued that Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen is worse than Israel’s involvement in Palestine during a meeting with political groups in Mashhad. He added that “the regime that claims to represent the Muslim world has spent the last year bombing the innocent and defenseless people of Yemen.” (IRNA)
- Iranian ambassador to IAEA: Report confirming Iranian compliance with nuke deal is nothing new. Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stated that the agency’s new report “does not contain any new point[s]” and “only confirmed Iran’s compliance” with the nuclear deal. Western media covered the confidential report on September 8. The report asserts that Iran has complied with provisions under the nuclear accord but has also begun manufacturing rotor tubes, which the deal allows Iran to produce only under certain circumstances. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)
Head of IRGC engineering wing discusses increased cooperation with Bank Sepah.Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base Commander IRGC Brig. Gen. Abdullah Abdullahi met with Bank Sepah Director Mohammad Kazem Chagazardi to discuss expanding cooperation between the Construction Base and Iran’s financial industry, including Bank Sepah. Abdullahi stated, “We expect that our cooperation for achieving the goals and policies of the Resistance Economy [doctrine] will expand in the future.” (Asr Iran) (Hamshahri)
- Tehran Friday prayer leader: Parliament must act against FATF regulations. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader and Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati called for parliamentary oversight of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations. He claimed, “I do not know how the government dared to sign such a secret agreement. They want to give financial intelligence to our enemies in order to confront money laundering.” (Mehr News Agency)
Military & Security
- Air Defense Commander: “We have air defense units at 3,700 points across the country.”Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base Commander Brig. Gen. Farzad Esmaili told reporters that the base maintains air defense units at “3,700 points across the country.” Esmaili added that air defense units existed at only 400 points in Iran when the Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base was first established as a separate military branch in 2008. Esmaili claimed that Iran’s airspace is “the most secure airspace in the Middle East.” The Khatam ol Anbia Air Defense Base is the branch of the Artesh responsible for Iran’s land-based air defense systems. (Mehr News Agency)