Iran News Round Up
A selection of the latest news stories and articles published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Analysts.
A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Katherine Faley, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin. To subscribe to this daily newsletter, e-mail email@example.com.
(E) = Article in English
Tabnak interprets Clinton’s ‘defense umbrella’ remark as acceptance of Iran as nuclear power; Russia confirms Bushehr nuclear plant to begin operation by end of 2009; controversy continues over Rafsanjani’s Friday prayer speech; Supreme Leader rejects Ahmadinejad’s selection of vice president; Iran’s Foreign Minister criticizes Clinton’s remarks on Islamic Republic; Afghan security forces arrest three Iranian would-be suicide bombers in western Afghanistan; Iran stepping up expulsion of Afghan refugees; Iran’s Oil Minister says reaching out to EU natural gas market tops Iran’s export agenda
- Tabnak News Agency interprets Hillary Clinton's promise of a nuclear umbrella for the Persian Gulf states as de facto acceptance of Iran as a nuclear power.
- (E) Secretary of State Clinton stated: "If the US extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the [Persian] Gulf, it is unlikely Iran will be any stronger or safer… They [Iranians] won't be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can once they have a nuclear weapon."
- (E) Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman met with Brazilian President Luca da Silva and stated: "I believe that Brazil, more than other countries, could try to convince the Iranians to stop their nuclear program.”
- (E) Iranian and Russian energy officials announced that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be ready for operation by the end of 2009.
- (E) Russian Atomic Agency Chief Kiriyenko confirmed the recent announcement by Iranian officials that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will begin operation by the end of 2009.
- Former President Mohammad Khatami suggests a referendum with regard to the Ahmadinejad government.
- Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari claims former President Khatami's suggestion in reality is the suggestion of Michael Ledeen and the CIA.
- Iraj Fazel, former Minister of Higher Education and Head of Academy of Medicine, in an open letter condemns what he calls the "electoral coup" and says "we did not engage in the revolution so that [a revolutionary government] should kill the youth and imprison them in dungeons."
- Continued debate about Rafsanjani's Friday Prayer sermon:
- Former President Mohammad Khatami says the Friday sermon of Rafsanjani was an expression of Rafsanjani's "devotion to the regime."
- Hojjat al-Eslam Majid Ansari, executive Secretary of the Combatant Clergy Association commenting on Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi attacks against Rafsanjani says: "The clergy has before been severely harmed because of such harsh statements...Rafsanjani is still the man solving the the great crises...with regard to Yazdi, we don't expect anything else from him...Only, we deplore the fact that he uses his position as the head of the Supreme Council of the Theological Seminary of Qom to make such statements which also tarnishes the image of the seminary in the public opinion...Yazdi...should think of restoration of the place of the clergy...Such statements do not harm the elevated position and respect of Hashemi Rafsanjani..."
- Jahan News questions absence of Rafsanjani from the political arena, asks how come he is too frail to show up at state occasions but just strong enough to voice opposition against the government; asks if Rafsanjani's governments were Islamic or just new symbols of aristocratic leadership?
- In the wake of Rafsanjani cancellation of his visits in Mashhad, Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani refutes news of his hospitalization.
- Ayatollah Dastgheib in a declaration expresses his support for Rafsanjani's Friday Prayer speech, says "the revolution and Islam can't be saved by using hot and cold weapons."
- Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, son of the former president, attacks Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader in the Revolutionary Guards Hojjat al-Eslam Mojtaba Zolnouri and says contrary to Zolnouri's claims, his father did not support Rezai's presidential campaign with 50 billion rials. Mohammad Rafsanjani also threatens to file a complaint against Zolnouri at the Clergy Court
- Ali Ahmadi, senior member of Mohsen Rezai's Election Headquarters, attacks claims made by Hojjat al-Eslam Mojtaba Zolnour, Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader in the Revolutionary Guards who said the Rafsanjani family has transferred substantial funds to the Rezai campaign.
- Tabnak News Agency attacks Hojjat al-Eslam Rasayi who in the Hamadan headquarters of Ahmadinejad claimed that it was then Revolutionary Guards Commander in Chief Mohsen Rezai who "forced the Imam [Khomeini] to drink from the chalice of poison." Tabnak also refutes the story of the Rezai campaign receiving any sum from "a political grouping with whom Dr. Rezai has the greatest difference of opinion."
- Mohammad-Reza Bahonar, Habib-Allah Asgar-Owladi and Yayha Al-e Eshagh, members of the Front of the Followers of the Line of the Imam, and the Leadership hold a meeting with Mousavi in which they urged him to continue his presence in the political arena within the framework of the law. "We urged him to use all legal means such as running a personal website, a newspaper and a party." According to ILNA, Bahonar's answer with regard to Mousavi's reaction was: "He [Mousavi] has still some protests with regard to matters that arose during the election, but we urged him to follow up on the issues within the framework of the law."
- Cleric Mehdi Tabatabaei criticizes Ahmadinejad's debate style at the presidential debates and says "had he not ridiculed the rivals we would not have experienced all this."
- Ayatollah Khamenei's website opens a new section about historical issues related to personal life and experiences of the Supreme Leader.
- Asr-e Iran's analyst points out that Ahmadinejad's appointment of Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh as Senior Assistant [Dastyar-e Arshad] - a novelty in Iranian state administration - is a legal loop hole through which Ahmadinejad can keep protect him against attacks and questioning by the Parliament.
- Former interior minister Ali Kordan, writing from Vienna where says he is receiving medical treatment, says he has earlier intended to publish his memoirs, but that the title of the volumes is not Efshagari [Disclosure] as suggested by some sources in the Iranian media and that under present circumstances "with the glorious tenth presidential election" he does not want to release his memoirs.
- Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami to lead this week's Friday Prayer, along with Hojjat al-Eslam Saidi, Representative of the Supreme Leader in the Revolutionary Guards, speaking on the occasion of the "Guards' Day."
- Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh, Senior Assistant to Ahmadinejad, says the Iranian President's decision to appoint Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei First Vice President is unchanged.
- Arsalan Fathi-Pour, Head of the Economics Committee of the Iranian Parliament: "The greatest honor of the ninth parliament is the fact that it totally obeys the Guardian Jurist."
- (E) Supreme Leader Khamenei disapproves of Ahmadinejad’s choice for Vice President.
- Student Basij Chief at Imam Sadeq University demands immediate ousting of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, warns against "more serious reactions of the student movement" in case he remains in Ahmadinejad's cabinet.
- Hojjat al--Eslam Mohammad-Hassan Abou-Torabi-Fard demands immediate resignation of Rahim-Mashaei as First Vice President, says the Supreme Leader has earlier expressed that he is not pleased with him.
- Hojjat al-Eslam Ahmad Salek, Society of Combatant Clergy Central Committee Member, says those criticizing Rahim-Mashaei are greater lovers of the regime than even Ahmadinejad.
- Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi says appointment of Rahim-Mashaei as First Vice President is illegal.
- Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, Assembly of Experts Member says immediate dismissal of Rahim-Mashaei would be a sign of Ahmadinejad's loyalty towards the Supreme Leader.
- Islamic Republic of Iran Voice and Vision censors Ahmadinejad's interview in which he defends Rahim-Mashaei.
- (E) Amid controversy over his VP appointment, President Ahmadinejad called Esfandyar Rahim-Masha'i “one of the most pious, devoted and creative managers in the country,” adding that “if they [Masha'i's critics] knew him better they would [change] their minds.”
- Ahmadinejad defends Rahim-Mashaei's track record.
- Hojjat al-Eslam Gholami, head of the Center of Cultural and Social Studies comments the affair about appointment of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei as First Vice President: "Ignoring the order of the Guardian Jurist entails a heavy price and the revolutionary people of Iran will not compromise with anyone in this regard...Not abiding by the order of the Supreme Leader by the government takes all legitimacy from the Ahmadinejad government... The viewpoints of this person with regard to Islam and the Islamic revolution are deviant, eclectic and indefensible and most certainly such an individual can't be in sensitive positions of the country.
- Alef News Agency claims Ahmadinejad's cabinet ministers are against appointment of Mashaei too.
- According to Asr-e Iran, the cabinet ministers left a meeting in protest as they saw Rahim-Mashaei at the head of the table and not Ahmadinejad.
- (E) Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Saffar-Harandi reportedly left Wednesday’s cabinet meeting after arguing with President Ahmadinejad over his vice presidential appointment.
- Ahmadinejad appoints Mehrdad Bazrpash, Vice President and Head of the National Youth Organization, Parviz Davoud Senior Presidential Advisor, Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi Senior Presidential Assistant, Ali-Akbar Salehi Vice President and Head of the Nuclear Energy Organization, Mohammad-Javad Hajj-Ali-Akbari Presidential Advisor in Youth Affairs, Masoud Zaribafan Vice President and Head of the Martyr Foundation and affairs of the Self Sacrificers, Hamid Baghayi Vice President and Head of the National Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization, and Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei First Vice President.
- Mousavi: "We want to operationalize some ignored capacities of the Constitution...we have reached an atmosphere when an individual like Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] is not tolerated. If in parts of the leadership not even Mr. Hashemi [Rafsanjani] is tolerated, the society necessarily is developing towards militarization and further securitization and no one welcomes this... We are using the Constitution, we are not breaking the framework... It is a national necessity to constantly continue the debate about the recent election so the issue is kept alive and does not die out under the pile of news on post election events. No one should forget under what circumstances the government was shaped. The fact taken into consideration that the supporters of fraud have the public tribunes in their control, such as the Voice and Vision, the media should consider it one of their duties to write about the events..."
- Ghavam Nowzari, Kowgiloyeh and Boyer Ahmad Governor General warns that those executives who did not support Ahmadinejad's campaign will be purged and stressed the importance of using "expertise" rather than "party political loyalty."
- Asr-e Iran says contrary to The Guardian's claim that Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini, traveled abroad in order to avoid Ahmadinejad’s inauguration, Hassan Khomeini leaves Iran once a year for academic trips.
- (E) In the midst of renewed election protests, Head of Iran’s National Security Commission stated that “the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission will present a report to the Parliament Speaker [Ali Larijani] on its talks with influential figures about events that occurred after the June 12 vote,” adding that “Iranian authorities should carefully examine the post-election happenings in an effort to gain more experience [on such incidents] and prevent similar cases in the future.”
- (E) Mir-Hossein Mousavi condemned the Iranian media bias, accusing some broadcasters of “making up false and fictional accounts and writing scenarios.”
- Foreign Minister Mottaki: "The Obama administration has on several occasions shown positive signs with regard to Iran, including Obama’s expression of his inclination towards negotiations with Iranian authorities, but in reaction to Iran's answers, they made dishonorable gestures including Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States who has said we are committed to negotiations with Tehran but will not wait for ever...We can't wait forever too before we witness real change in the policies of the Americans."
- With regard to Syria's relations with Israel, Mottakki adds: "Syria is an independent country and takes decisions based upon its national interests, but those who are hoping for change in Syria's constant position, their wish will not come true and we tell to all those hoping to see parting, distance and discord in the strategic Syria/Iran relations that they are delusional and that their hopes will never come true."
- Mir-Mohammad-Hossein Rasam, employee at the British Embassy in Tehran, bailed out of prison.
- Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani meeting Iraqi National Congress Secretary: "Iran will do its utmost to help the people of Iraq and build a prosperous and independent Iraq."
Syria’s President Assad receives Muqtada al-Sadr and other members of the Shi'a clergy in Damascus to discuss "consolidation of the national reconciliation among the Iraqi groups.”
- Muqtada Sadr, visiting Damascus, says the Arab countries should have a greater presence in Iraq so Iran does not fill the vacuum and does not exploit the situation to its benefit.
- (E) On the meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki and senior negotiator Saeb Erekat, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qashqavi stated: “In response to Erekat's call [for Iran’s help unifying Hamas and Fatah], Mottaki reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran's support to uni[f]y the different Palestinian groups is one of the permanent IRI strategic approaches.”
- (E) Reacting to the fatal stabbing of Egyptian Marwa el-Sherbini, Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Shahroudi stated: "The tyranny, hegemony and the false claims of certain western countries on human rights should be unveiled and displayed to the Muslims and other world people.”
- (E) Iranian Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Soltaniyeh announced that Iran officially became a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
- (E) Majlis Speaker Larijani discussed Iran’s continued support of Iraqi reconstruction with Secretary of Iraqi National Congress Ahmad Chalabi.
- (E) The EU released a statement Thursday that “reiterated its concern for the detained French citizen, Ms. Clotilde Reiss, and demanded her immediate release” from Iranian prison.
- (E) Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qashqavi blamed the countries which have imposed sanctions on Iran for last week’s crash of the Tupolev flight headed to Yerevan, stating: “Although we have had great accomplishments in aviation industry, this does not negate the responsibility of those countries that imposed sanctions against Iran.”
- Afghan security forces have arrested seven would-be suicide bombers, including three Iranians, in western Afghanistan. According to the provincial governor of Nimroz, security officials in the province have arrested three Iranian nationals wearing explosive vests. The Afghan province of Nimroz shares borders with both Pakistan and Iran.
- Hasht-e Sobh reports that Iran has stepped up expelling Afghan refugees. According to the report, more than 200,000 Afghan refugees have returned home from Iran over the past six months, showing a 25% increase compared to last year. Most of the deportees are young men who had migrated to Iran for employment. Some 900,000 Afghan refugees are registered in Iran and the remaining one million are considered illegal immigrants. Many of those evicted claim that Iranian authorities have imprisoned, humiliated and tortured them before eviction. One refugee deported said: “I worked at home when the police came and arrested me… They beat me and jailed me for three days. After that, without giving me some time to settle my business and receive my salary, they deported me to Afghanistan.”
Human Rights and Labor
- Sixty-three students from Tehran, Semnan, Tabriz and Mashhad universities are summoned to disciplinary committees following their post election student activism.
- Former President Mohammad Khatami meets family members of imprisoned political activists Hamzeh Ghalebi and Hossein Tajik from the Mousavi campaign.
- For the first time, Iranian media release the news that Shapour Kazemi, brother of Zahra Rahnavard, Mousavi's wife was arrested a few days after the presidential election and has been held prisoner since.
- 18-year-old Mohammad Kamrani is the latest known victim of the post election unrest which, according to official sources, killed no more than 20. According to unofficial sources the death toll is much higher.
- Mehdi Khazali, son of Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Khazali, who delivered interviews with Persian language media outside Iran and criticized the Islamic Republic, is freed from prison.
Black boxes of the crashed Iranian Tupolev plane still not found.
- The Islamic Republic's Ambassador to Moscow: "Tupolev is a beautiful and safe airplane, just like Airbus!"
- Members of Syria's Chamber of Commerce discuss business opportunities with members of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, mutual investments in car manufacturing, agriculture, and cement industries, discuss connection of between Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Hamid-Reza Ameli, head of the Iranian trade delegation also stresses that the two countries are considering establishment of a Syrian/Iranian Bank.
- A Chinese company produces Bahman cigarettes in Bandar Anzali.
- According to Oil Minister Nowzari, reaching out to the European natural gas market is the major goal of Iran's gas exports in five years.
- (E) Regarding plans for the Peace Pipeline, an Iranian oil official affirmed that “Iran’s priority is to supply India with gas through Pakistan's soil,” not through the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean as an Indian energy official had stated earlier this week.
- (E) Venezuelan energy officials will meet with their Iranian counterparts this week “to boost cooperation in technical and engineering fields.”
- (E) Iran unveiled Iran-Alborz, a semisubmersible oil rig in the Caspian Sea, built in cooperation with Swedish company GVA.
- Iran Statistics claims unemployment is down to 11.1 percent of the labor force.
- Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nowzari says in the future, refineries will be built by the private sector and not by the government. Nowzari also stresses that "the government will issue authorization for establishment of refineries wherever there is access to cheap oil and it is possible to refine it."
- (E) Interest of Bank Mellat’s stock increased 21 percent more than expected.
- (E) Tehran’s Stock Exchange sold 6 percent of Iran’s North Drilling Company in less than 60 seconds.
- (E) Iranian Oil Minister Nozari announced the discovery of 46 oil fields in the Caspian Sea.
- Jahan News claims "an individual son of an important person at the head of a wealthy mafia" [Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former President's son] attempted to buy up newspapers prior to the presidential election to monopolize the news.
Military and Security
- According to the Law Enforcement Forces, 40 individuals were arrested during last Friday's Prayer in Tehran.
- "Last week, some foreign news sites announced that during a live radio transmission of Radio Javan discussing the SMS system being out of order, the journalist of Radio Javan was met with the improper behavior of someone who presented himself as a senior member of a military institution. In the first days following release of the news in unofficial news sites the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting officials did not react, but yesterday a news agency close to the government made some disclosures about the details of this event..." According to Aftab-e Yazd,plainclothes agents often intervene in the work of Iranian state radio.
- Abd al-Hamid Rigi, brother of Jundallah terrorist group leader Abd al-Malek Rigi, meeting representatives of the Iranian press says his brother is the "agent of the divisive policies of the United States in the region." Execution postponed yet another week.
- A tape recording of an alleged meeting of the IRGC and regional intelligence chiefs evaluating what appears to be the recent unrest in Iran, but which also could be a routine seminar on internal security taken place earlier: The mobile network being cut off is also a problem for the Basij and for the Law Enforcement Forces; the demonstrations were led by motorcyclists in the front and in the end of the line functioning as a communicators to the heads of the demonstrations; the security forces informants should not communicate through wireless since they would be identified and killed by the demonstrators; one must have priorities when it comes to crowd control; at Monday's demonstrations 20 areas in Tehran experienced demonstrations and we need to think about how to prioritize; if you communicate to your commanders in angry words you lose control of your people and ultimately crowd control; we have studied crowd control mechanisms in seventeen countries and we identified many different kinds of unrests. Therefore, we should not respond to all unrests in a uniform manner, but need to adapt our methods of crows control to the particular type of unrest we are facing; we also need to diversify the crowds and their leaders; they don't have serious leaders and their leaders are made in action not in the course of previous planning; we also need to be aware of the fact that the intelligence we gather should not be distributed to too many centers since this could provoke sensitivities in too many centers who will impose their sensitivities upon the forces in reaction to the intelligence with deliver to them; intelligence work must continue after the crows so must analysis of the events and the like; in some instances arrests must take place and some not but intelligence must be gathered about the influential individuals who are engaged in the unrests.
- Kayhan discloses news of existence of a project called "the clergy against the clergy and the regime" which allegedly is taking shape in Qom and is led by "a circle of radicals." "This circle, which for the past couple of years has been a joint project of the CIA and the MI6 of England, was energized during the recent unrest and for the first time two official mouthpieces of the CIA, Radio Farda and Gooya News reported of the intra clergy warfare..."
- Alef News Agency releases a part of opposition figure Dr. Mohsen Sazegara's personal video broadcasts to Iran as "foreign intervention in internal Iranian affairs" and "meddling of the foreign media."
- Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Mohammad-Ali Al-e Hashem, the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Ideological/Political Indoctrination Chief ,stresses that the reason behind popularity of the Army is the fact that this institution keeps away from politics.
- Plainclothes agents attacked Hojjat al-Eslam Abdollah Nouri last Friday at Tehran's Friday Prayer.
- Mohammad Pakpour, IRGC Ground Forces Chief, speaking in Tabriz says "we will not tolerate any one dealing blows to the principles of the revolution… The enemies should know that the Revolutionary Guards does not allow conspiracies aiming at the fundamentals of the revolution in the hands of the agents of world imperialism in any front."
- The Intelligence Ministry claims to have destroyed a PEJAK cell in Urumiyeh, killing two and arresting one.
- Zohreh Elahian, member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the Parliament, says the confessions of imprisoned political activists will soon be aired on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting in order to "inform the people about the real hands directing the recent affairs."
- The SMS service in Tehran reconnected and operational.
- Islamic Republic of Iran Army congratulates the Revolutionary Guards upon the Guards' Day.
- (E) Tehran’s Police Chief said of illegal protests: “It is the duty of the police to ensure security and order in the society. Therefore any illegal gatherings which may lead to breach of the peace will be firmly dealt with.”
- (E) In the West Azerbaijan province, Iranian security forces clashed with unidentified gunmen.
- (E) 6 Iranian pilgrims were killed in Iraq Tuesday night.
- (E) Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qashqavi called the attack “cruel and inhumane in the true sense of the word” and criticized the Iraqi government for its failure to “act in a more responsible manner with respect to the life and safety of our [Iranian] nationals.”
- (E) Iran’s Prosecutor General Dorri-Najafabadi condemned the attack and said, “sowing discord among the united Islamic nations was a strategy that the arrogant powers [tried] to [achieve] through such attacks against the innocent civilians.”
- (E) 6 Iranian pilgrims were killed in Iraq Tuesday night.
- (E) The commander of Iran’s Ground Forces accused the West of spreading “Iranophobia” in the region as a means to destabilize Iran.
Religion, Culture, and Society
- Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi says "time has come for use of friendlier language in the public media." The Grand Ayatollah stresses the need to be vigilant under present circumstances but also expresses optimism with regard to future developments in Iran.
- Following death of 46 Iranian pilgrims in Iraq, the Islamic Republic prohibits individual Iranians to take on pilgrimage tours to Iraq, leaving organized tours as the only legal option.
- (E) Iran to adapt the American television series “Prison Break” to radio because the show “has a fascinating, anti-U.S. story.”
- (E) Serbia hosted an Iranian cultural festival showcasing photography and crafts.
- (E) Khajou Bridge, built in the 1650s, is being restored.
- (E) In December, Tehran will host a conference on the history of Islamic civilization in Iran.
Photos of the Day
- A demonstrator with a slogan: "Mashaei, Fear Wrath of God!"
- Appointment ceremony of Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Mohammad-Ali Al-e Hashem, the new head of the Political and Ideological Indoctrination Bureau of the Army.