Iran News Round Up

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

Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani instituted the first change to his economic team following weeks of pressure from hardliners and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Rouhani announced that Iranian Ambassador to China Abdol Nasser Hemmati will replace Valiollah Seif as the new Central Bank of Iran (CBI) head on July 25. Seif’s dismissal follows a July 15 meeting with Khamenei and calls from hardliner parliamentarians to initiate interpellation proceedings to remove senior Rouhani administration officials from their positions if Rouhani does not. Khamenei likely pressured Rouhani to remove Seif in order to avoid parliamentary interpellation proceedings, fearing the cultivation of domestic controversy and the appearance of regime infighting. Protesters have frequently attributed Iran’s deteriorating economic condition to Seif, employing anti-Seif chants and imagery during demonstrations. Hardliners will likely push for the removal of additional Rouhani administration officials, including Planning and Budget Organization head Mohammad Bagher Nobakht and Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Massoud Karbasian.

This Iran News Round Up predominantly covers events from July 19 - 26.

Domestic Politics
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July 26, 2018

Seif ousted as CBI head amidst hardliner pressure

President Hassan Rouhani replaced Central Bank of Iran (CBI) head Valiollah Seif with current Iranian Ambassador to China and former Central Insurance of Iran Managing Director Abdol Nasser Hemmati on July 25. Seif’s dismissal follows a closed-door meeting between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and members of Rouhani’s cabinet on July 15. Seif’s ouster also follows increased hardliner demands for a change to Rouhani’s economic team after the late-June merchant-class protests in Tehran. Hemmati also previously served as the managing director of Sina Bank and Melli Bank. The EU designated Hemmati for abetting Iran's ballistic missile program in 2011 during his tenure with Sina Bank. The EU later removed the sanctions in 2014 after Hemmati appealed the ruling in a European court. (President.ir)

  • Parliament presents plan to Parliamentary Leadership Board for interpellation of Karbasian. Conservative Parliamentarian Ahmad Alireza Beigi announced on July 23 that Parliament presented a plan for the interpellation of Economic Affairs and Finance Minister Massoud Karbasian to the Parliamentary Leadership Board. Ninety parliamentarians signed the proposed plan. Karbasian’s forthcoming interpellation may lead to his impeachment. (Alef)
July 26, 2018

Rouhani denies Nobakht resignation

Planning and Budget Organization head and Rouhani ally Mohammad Bagher Nobakht told reporters on July 25 that he tendered his resignation and that President Hassan Rouhani rejected his request. Nobakht stated that he was unable to convince Rouhani to accept his resignation and that he is hopeful Rouhani will make the “necessary decision” soon. Nobkaht’s resignation letter follows weeks of hardliner pressure for a change to Rouhani’s economic team. (ISNA)

July 26, 2018

Khamenei supports closing Strait of Hormuz if U.S. global partners discontinue Iranian oil purchases

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for President Hassan Rouhani’s July 3 implicit threat to close the Strait of Hormuz during a meeting with Foreign Ministry officials and ambassadors on July 21. Rouhani suggested that Iran may close the strait if the U.S. successfully persuades global partners to halt their purchases of Iranian oil on July 3. Khamenei also stated that there is no benefit to negotiating with the U.S., but that Iran will continue to negotiate with Europe. (Khamenei.ir)

  • Rouhani rejects possibility of talks with U.S. Rouhani stated that entering talks with the U.S. qualifies as surrender on July 22. Rouhani expressed pride in Iran’s involvement in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Rouhani reiterated his threat to close the Strait of Hormuz and warned the U.S. of “not playing with [fire].” U.S. President Donald Trump responded to Rouhani’s remarks, warning that Iran “will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before” if Iran threatens the U.S. again. (President.ir) (Twitter) (E)

  • Bagheri: U.S. centers of deployment and interest within Iran’s reach. Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) Chief IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri reiterated Rouhani’s July 22 warning for Iran’s “enemies, especially the U.S., to not play with [fire]” and reminded the U.S. that “[U.S.] centers of interest and deployment are within the reach of Iran’s overt and covert defensive power.” Bagheri also warned that the U.S. would “come face-to-face… with a stiff, unimaginable, and regret-inducing response” if the U.S. acted against Iran. Bagheri made his remarks during a meeting with ambassadors and leadership of the Foreign Ministry on July 24. (Sepah News)
July 26, 2018

Water-related protests continue in Borazjan

Residents in Borazjan, Bushehr Province protested over water and power shortages on July 21. Protesters set fire to tires in the middle of a bridge, shutting down traffic for several hours. Thousands of Borazjan residents held protests over water shortages and government mismanagement on July 7. Water shortages have resulted in deadly protests across Iran. (Instagram)

July 26, 2018

EDC lifts ban on religious minorities holding seats on city councils

The Expediency Discernment Council (EDC) announced on July 21 its support for parliamentary legislation allowing non-Muslims to hold positions on city councils, overturning a December 2017 Guardian Council decision. The Guardian Council ruled that Zoroastrian politician Sepanta Niknam cannot occupy his position on the Yazd City Council, arguing that non-Muslims cannot serve on a city council where the majority of the constituency is Muslim. The regime likely seeks to appease religious minorities and dispel sentiments of regime discrimination against non-Muslim communities in order to mitigate the likelihood that protests will erupt among these demographics. (Reuters) (E) (Alef)

Citations & Links

1. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/105419

2. Alef
http://www.alef.ir/news/3970501128.html

Citations & Links

1. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/97050402227/%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AE-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%BE-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D8%A3%D9%86-%D8%B1%DB%8C%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%81%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%85

Citations & Links

1. Khamenei.ir
http://farsi.khamenei.ir/news-content?id=40156

2. President.ir
http://president.ir/fa/105358

3. Twitter
https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1021234525626609666

4. Sepah News
http://sepahnews.org/index.php/sepahnews/item/5944-%D9%87%D8%B4%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D8%B1%D9%84%D8%B4%DA%A9%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%82%D8%B1%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%B3%D8%AE%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%9B-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A7%DA%A9%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%AF%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%B3-%D9%82%D8%AF%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%9B-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D9%8F%D9%85-%D8%B4%DB%8C%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D9%86%DA%A9%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AF.html

Citations & Links

1. Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/p/Blh_vL3ArZ1/?taken-by=amadnews.official

Citations & Links

1. Reuters
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-religion-councilor/iran-lifts-ban-on-non-muslim-city-council-member-after-outcry-idUSKBN1KB0KA

2. Alef
http://www.alef.ir/news/3970430176.html

Military and Security
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July 26, 2018

Soleimani to Trump: I am your enemy

IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani warned U.S. President Donald Trump to not start a war with Iran and to not insult President Hassan Rouhani during a televised speech in Hamedan, Hamedan Province on July 26. Soleimani told Trump that “I am your enemy, the [IRGC] Quds Force is your enemy” and that “there is not a night that we sleep and that we do not think of you!” Soleimani also stated that the “Red Sea is no longer safe for U.S. presence.” Soleimani’s comments about the Red Sea come one day after Iranian-supported al Houthi militants attacked two Saudi-led Coalition tankers along Yemen’s Red Sea coast on July 25. Soleimani’s statements follow an increase in escalatory rhetoric between Trump and Rouhani, including an indignant tweet from Trump aimed at Rouhani on July 22. (ISNA) (Aparat) (Tasnim News Agency)

July 26, 2018

Zolfaghari: Iran will deal with terrorists across borders if neighbors do not

Deputy Interior Minister for Security Hossein Zolfaghari stated that if neighboring countries do not act against terrorist groups located in their territory then Iran will target terrorists along the borders on July 23. Zolfaghari’s statement follows an increase in deadly border clashes between Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Border Guard, Basij, and IRGC forces in southeastern Iran near the Pakistan border and northwestern Iran near the Iraqi Kurdistan-Turkey tri-border area in recent months. Zolfaghari’s statements may signal Iran’s willingess to take offensive action beyond Iran’s borders in order to target terrorist groups that challenge regime security. (Tasnim News Agency)

  • PJAK militants kill 11 Iranian fighters in northwestern Iran. Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) militants attacked an IRGC outpost in Dari, Marivan County, Kurdistan Province in northwestern Iran on July 21. PJAK forces killed 11 IRGC and Basij fighters during the engagement. PJAK claimed responsibility for the attack and said the assault was in retaliation for the killing of a PJAK member in Iraqi Kurdistan. IRGC spokesman Brig. Gen. 2C Ramazan Sharif accused PJAK of working on behalf of the U.S. and vowed that Iran will avenge the attack. (Defa Press) (Fars News Agency) (ANF Persian) (Rudaw) (E)

July 26, 2018

Former IRGC Navy commander expresses reluctance to closing Strait of Hormuz

Former IRGC Navy Commander and current Aseman Airlines Managing Director Hossein Alaei stated that "Iran is able to close the Strait of Hormuz but [one] must also calculate the costs of [closing the Strait of Hormuz]. Alaei noted that “[on the other hand], the U.S. is capable of [re-opening] the Strait of Hormuz after Iran closes it down." Alaei has criticized regime officials and motives in the past. (Tabnak)

Citations & Links

1. ISNA
https://www.isna.ir/news/97050402227/%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AE-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%BE-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%B4%D8%A3%D9%86-%D8%B1%DB%8C%DB%8C%D8%B3-%D8%AC%D9%85%D9%87%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%A7-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%81%DB%8C%D9%84%D9%85

2. Aparat
https://www.aparat.com/v/zVj9O

3. Tasnim News Agency
https://www.tasnimnews.com/fa/news/1397/05/04/1786491/%D8%B3%D8%B1%D9%84%D8%B4%DA%A9%D8%B1-%D8%B3%D9%84%DB%8C%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C-%D8%AF%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%B1%D8%AE-%D8%AF%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%B6%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%B1%D9%88%DB%8C-%D9%82%D8%AF%D8%B3-%D8%AD%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%81-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA

Citations & Links

1. Tasnim News Agency
https://www.tasnimnews.com/fa/news/1397/05/01/1783557/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B5%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%86%DB%8C%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%88%D8%B2%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%87%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A7%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%DA%AF%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%87%DA%A9-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D9%86%DA%A9%D9%86%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%BE%D8%A7%DB%8C%DA%AF%D8%A7%D9%87-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA-%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%AE%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%DB%8C-%D8%B2%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85

2. Defa Press
http://defapress.ir/fa/news/300940/%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%AA-%D8%A2%D9%87%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AF%D9%87-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D9%85%DB%8C%D9%84-%D9%87%D8%B2%DB%8C%D9%86%D9%87%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%82%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA%E2%80%8C%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA

3. Fars News Agency
http://www.farsnews.com/13970430000515

4. ANF Persian
https://anfpersian.com/khrdstn/%DB%8C-%D8%B1-%DA%A9-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%AE%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B4%D9%87%DB%8C%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%88-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%88-%D8%B1%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85-%DA%A9%D8%B1%D8%AF-45474

5. Rudaw
http://www.rudaw.net/mobile/english/middleeast/iran/21072018?ctl00_phMainContainer_phMain_ControlComments1_gvCommentsChangePage=3_50

Citations & Links

1. Tabnak
http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/news/818675/%D9%81%D8%B1%D8%A2%DB%8C%D9%86%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%86-%D8%AA%D9%86%DA%AF%D9%87-%D9%87%D8%B1%D9%85%D8%B2-%D8%A8%D9%87-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D8%B3%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%B9%D9%84%D8%A7%DB%8C%DB%8C

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