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NOVEMBER 10, 2014
Key takeaway: The Supreme Leader met with the vice president of Iraq in Tehran, while trilateral talks between Iran, the EU, and the US kicked off in Oman ahead of the upcoming nuclear negotiations in Vienna on November 18.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Iraqi Vice President Nouri al Maliki and praised his role in stabilizing Iraq: “Your procedures in assisting the new government of Mr. Haidar al-Abadi and effort to create unity among the various Iraqi forces is very good and must continue.” Maliki spoke on behalf of Baghdad and said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has given the greatest assistance to the government and people of Iraq in the fight against terrorists and foreign agents.” Inviting Maliki to Tehran for direct talks suggests Khamenei may be conniving to reinforce Maliki’s political stature in the newly formed Iraqi government to safeguard regime interests in Iraq.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off trilateral talks on Sunday and met again on Monday in Muscat, Oman to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. The three representatives discussed Iran’s uranium enrichment and timetables for the removal of sanctions. Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi supported the Muscat talks; however, he reiterated Iran’s position on the Arak heavy water reactor by dismissing talks on converting Arak into a light water reactor.
november 7, 2014
Key takeaway: Basij Deputy Commander states that the Basij’s global resistance against the West has been operationalized.
Basij Organization Deputy Commander IRGC Brigadier General Ali Fazli stated “This interaction [with other countries] has started in the shadow of empathy, unity, fraternity, and if Islamic Resistance takes place in any of these countries it is a testimony to the footprint of the Revolutionary Guards.” This reflects the IRGC and the Basij’s long term regional ambitions and force projection through the Islamic Republic’s resistance strategy. He also noted the importance of “having [comprehensive] intelligence” of cyberspace in order to combat cyber-related threats, underscoring Iran’s concerted efforts to boost its cyber capabilities. Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance Ali Jannati, meanwhile, said that “….the cultural invasion [by the West] is not an illusion, but a reality,” highlighting the regime’s comprehensive defense of Islamic and revolutionary culture.
Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami dismissed President Obama’s comments that sanctions on Iran had led to the nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 by saying, “This analysis is wrong, because we are Husayn [third Shi’a Imam and grandson of the Prophet] and Ashura and our way is resistance; and if you want to be correct, understand the ultimatum that we gave at the negotiating table.”
Economy and Finance Minister Ali Tayeb Nia stated that Iran expects an economic growth of 4.6% this year “due to increased oil production and the production of large scale industrial enterprises…” underlining Iran’s anticipation of growth following the lifting of sanctions. Deputy Oil Minister in Petrochemical Affairs Abbas Sheri Moghaddam, meanwhile, stated that sanctions on the Iranian oil industry have been lifted “in appearance”, but that it is “still sanctioned” due to the continued freezing of Iranian assets overseas, emphasizing the remaining economic pressures on Iran.
NOVEMBER 6, 2014
Key takeaway: Representative of Iraqi Shi’a militia Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) states that Iraqi Shi’amilitias have pledged allegiance to the Supreme Leader.
Representative of Iraqi Shi’a militia AAH in Iran Hojjat al-Eslam Jaber Rajabi stated that, “Allegiance [bay’at] of Islamic resistance groups in Iraq to the Supreme Leader Hazrat-e Ayatollah Khamenei and following the orders of the holy authority of Qom is one of the positive points for us …Following the system and the Supreme Leader and the Iranian authorities is a religious practice and belief, not a political act.” IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Badr Brigade Commander Hadi al-Ameri, Meanwhile, attended a Muharram mourning ceremony in Tehran alongside the Supreme Leader. These events emphasize the close ideological ties of Iran and Iraqi Shi’a militias in the fight against ISIL.
Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s support for the Syrian government and its fight against terrorists: “There are no disagreements to help Syria fight against terrorism at higher levels… If it were not for the leadership of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian people’s resistance against the conspirators and takfiri terrorists, the world would witness a terrorist-governed Damascus.”
Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Gholam Hossein Dehghani emphasized that “last year [Iran] started a new chapter of cooperation with the IAEA” and stated that “A consensual solution is attainable”, underlining Iran’s strong desire for a comprehensive solution in the nuclear negotiations.
National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) member MP Mohammad Esmaili highlighted limitations on possible topics during the nuclear negotiations, stating that the Iranian team is “not permitted to engaged in other areas with the P5+1” NSFP member and Astara Representative MP Saffar Naimi Raz, moreover, said that “more than 90% of the nuclear issues have been resolved; the remaining items are on the number of centrifuges and the removal of sanctions.”
november 5, 2014
Key takeaway: Senior Iraqi military officials highlight IRGC Quds Force commander’s role in planning the operation liberating the city of Jurf al-Sakhar from ISIL occupation.
According to senior military officials in Baghdad, IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani helped lead the October 24 operation which liberated the city of Jurf al-Sakhar south of Baghdad. A Shi’a militia commander named Abu Zeinab stated that Soleimani started planning the operation three months ago. Their comments highlight Soleimani’s active role in Iraq’s fight against ISIL.
Senior Advisor to the IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, IRGC commander Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani stated that the IRGC’s involvement in construction projects began out of necessity: “No contract was available to transfer gas from Kermamshah to Qasr-e Shirin, so the IRGC accepted the responsibility…” This underlines the IRGC’s comprehensive involvement outside of Iran’s military and security affairs.
IRGC Zanjan county unit Commander Abol Fazl Tahmasbi announced that Zanjan Basij forces will hold a two-day military exercise, “Towards Beit al-Moghaddas”, in Zanjan province on November 6-7.
Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Gholam Hossein Dehghani stated that Iran “will never negotiate on issues related to national security and defense capability” in the nuclear arena, reiterating one of Iran’s key requirements during its nuclear negotiations with the P5 + 1.
NOVEMBER 4, 2014
Key takeaway: IRGC Navy Commander states that “…destroying and drowning American warships have been and will remain on our program.”
IRGC Navy Commander Brigadier General Ali Fadavi touted Iran’s naval presence in the Persian Gulf: “Protecting the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and for the American naval forces to exit [this area] are among the objectives [pursued by] the IRGC Navy….We are simulating this [mission] on a replica aircraft carrier because destroying and drowning American warships have been and will remain on our program.” These statements reaffirm the IRGC’s ambition of maritime dominance in the Gulf and the withdrawal of American forces in the region.
Iran’s Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Danaeifar met with Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeid to discuss enhanced bilateral ties. The defense minister hailed Iran for its support and underscored the importance of continued Tehran-Baghdad collaboration against terrorism. Their meeting highlights Iran’s support for the Iraqi government and its fight against ISIL.
Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani stated, “Canceling all sanctions is necessary for reaching a comprehensive agreement,” highlighting a key requirement of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team ahead of the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive deal between Iran and the P5+1.
Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham censured a terrorist attack on Shi’a Ashura mourners in al- Ahsa, Saudi Arabia that left five dead and 30 wounded. A Saudi criminal court, meanwhile, reportedly sentenced three Shi’as to five to ten years in prison for participating in protests in Eastern Saudi Arabia for greater recognition and rights. These events underscore the ongoing tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia over regional influence.
NOVEMBER 3, 2014
Key takeaway: Artesh and IRGC reiterate vehement anti-American statements ahead of the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran; Iranian-backed Shia militia states it will target American forces in Iraq.
The Artesh and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) released statements ahead of the November 4 anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran, reiterating the regime’s long-held stance against the US; for example, the IRGC stated, “America is still the Great Satan and the number one enemy of the Revolution and the Islamic Republic.” These statements indicate the continued depth of anti-American sentiment within the regime despite a potential final nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran.
Deputy Commander of the Iran-backed Shi’a militia group Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Mohammad Tabatabai stated that AAH will target all American forces in Iraq except those at the embassy, echoing similar earlier statements by Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kata’ib Hezbollah. Meanwhile, According to IRGC-affiliate news outlet Tasnim News Agency, a photo of IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Samarra, Iraq was recently taken during an operation against ISIL, confirming ongoing Iranian involvement in Iraq’s counter-ISIL campaign.
An Iraqi news site reported that Saudi King Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz suspended the death sentence of Shi’a cleric and prominent dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr after Head of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani sent a message warning King Abdullah of the consequences of the execution. Meanwhile, Arab and African Affairs Deputy to Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian responded to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal’s criticism of Iran: “The talks between the countries’ foreign ministers in New York and during my trip to Jeddah were constructive…but unfortunately Mr. Saud al-Faisal made negative and unconstructive comments a few days after each stage of negotiations.” These events highlight tension amidst recent warming of relations between the two countries.