Iran Press Review: 03 August

Analysis by FDD

  • Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow, writes in The Wall Street Journal: “Most backers of the nuclear accord with Iran hopefully insist that the theocratic regime will moderate once sanctions are lifted. Plugged back into the global economy, Iran will become less militant. The ‘pragmatists’—those surrounding President Hasan Rouhani, who supposedly want better relations with the West, will grow in strength; the ‘hard-liners’—the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the ideologically ardent clergy—will weaken. This is an unlikely scenario. Consider what happened after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, died in 1989. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the mentor of Mr. Rouhani, was elected president shortly afterward and remained in office until 1997. Mr. Rafsanjani, with Mr. Rouhani always at his side, encouraged and welcomed European engagement. A regime of global sanctions did not exist, and American sanctions were far less effective then. Tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and trade arrived.”

  • Oren Kessler, Deputy Director for Research, writes in National Interest: “After an initially cautious response to the Iran nuclear deal, Egypt upped the ante against Tehran last week, with both the Foreign Ministry and the Al-Azhar religious seminary condemning the Islamic Republic’s “interference” in Arab affairs. Cairo has been more circumspect than Israel and the Gulf states in condemning the agreement, but its quiet should not be mistaken for acquiescence—like them, it dreads the effect of a cash-flush and potentially nuclear-armed Iran on its interests and security. Egypt is, with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, a pillar of the Sunni Arab bloc opposed to the spread of Iranian influence in the region. Since Cairo’s July 2013 coup against the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, it has received tens of billions of dollars in Gulf aid—chiefly from the Saudis and United Arab Emirates, both of which share maritime borders with Iran and are directly threatened by its destabilizing regional behavior. With Egypt’s traditionally close ties with Washington at a nadir, Cairo is keen to avoid alienating its foremost regional allies and benefactors.”

  • Grant Rumley, Research Analyst, writes in Foreign Affairs: “No major actor in the Middle East will go unaffected by the recent nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 negotiators, and the Palestinians are no exception. First, the agreement will exacerbate tensions within Hamas’ military and political wings over who should benefit from Iran’s newfound sanctions relief. Second, it will embolden the Palestinian Authority’s campaign to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to international forums in hopes of relaunching talks, as its leaders believe their issue is the most pressing on the world’s diplomatic agenda now that the Iranian question is off of the diplomatic to-do list. Cash-strapped Hamas has already started jockeying for more Iranian cash, with some officials praising the deal. Others have used the deal as an occasion to comment on the Hamas–Iran relationship: senior Politburo member Moussa Abu Marzouk recently complained that Iran had cut funds to the movement, while Hamas’s man in Tehran insisted that relations were strong. For Fatah’s part, officials have taken the opportunity to request that the international community now turn its attention to the Israel-Palestine issue. As Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Shtayyeh said, the deal is an important development but the world should now focus on “the nuclear disarmament of Israel.” Statements like these serve Fatah’s desires not only to bring international attention to its cause but also to galvanize world opinion against Israel in its search for leverage.”

Politics

  • In a televised address, President Hassan Rouhani discussed his promotion of a “third way” for foreign policy that keeps interaction with world while preserving principles:

    • “During the [2013] presidential elections, the supreme leader said that anyone who has any disagreements with the system but loves his country should come and vote. We are feeling it today. Many inside and outside may have problems with the system but are happy about this agreement. The only [people] who are sad are the Zionists and maybe one or two countries in the region.”

    • “The idea that we have two options before the world, either submit to it or defeat it, is illogical. There is a third way, and that is interaction with the world. This interaction must of course be constructive and within the framework of national security.”

    • “We are very sensitive in the discussion of national security and one of the important achievements of the agreement is our national security.”

    • “The security we are considering is not only in the matter of war but also [towards] the creation of a safe environment for economic, social, and political activities. This environment is more secure in comparison to previous years. Implementing the agreement and the United Nations Security Council resolution will not create any problems for our national security and defensive power. Our armament sanctions have been transformed to five-year limitations, during which we can also have deals under certain situation that are stipulated in the resolution. The length of missiles [sanctions] have also been limited.”

    • “When we imported goods [during the sanctions era], costs were 20, 25, and even 40 percent higher, all of which came out of the people’s pockets. Sanctions traders reaped significant profit from this. Sanctions traders were active in Dubai, Europe, China, and Tehran and are of course angry about the agreement.”

    • “All the heads of state who called or wrote letters to me after the deal expressed their happiness. The entire world is happy about this deal except some warmongers and Zionists who are usurpers and occupiers.”

    • “We must remove the oppressive sanctions so the world’s gates are completely open to the people…gates through which we can export to the world and import foreign investment and technology.”

    • “We will stand upon the principles that we have in the region. But the agreement will create a new environment for the faster political resolution of problems. The final solutions to Yemen and Syria and political. All of our problems have a political resolution. So the environment will be facilitated for the steps we are about to take. Our principles will remain as they are.”

  • Eshaq Jahangiri, First Deputy to the President, slammed the Ahmadinejad administration’s record of corruption:

  • “During the sanctions area in the previous administration, some seeking profit made decisions, and some of the country’s monies are in their hands. I have not discussed this matter until now. I have many things to say, which I will at the right time.”

  • Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former President and the present Expediency Discernment Council head, announced his intention to run in the upcoming February 2016 Assembly of Experts race.

  • “Rouhani... got rid of the sanctions... The sanctions created radicalism. Radicals are usually more successful when there is sanction and threat... In the post-agreement era... one must pay attention to development.... And Rouhani must also pay attention to the rentier economy. Call it rentier corruption or whatever... It's institutionalized and must be cured. Ever since 1997, 20% of the voters are earnest supporters of the reformists... 15% vote for the fundamentalists... and 20% never vote... In other words, at every election, we are facing 40% grey votes... who shift and decide the winner... Some of them are economically disadvantaged and have not yet benefited from the improvement of the economy under Rouhani... Ahmadinejad managed to mobilize them by declaring he was going to catch all the thieves... This is populism.”

  • Hamid-Reza Jalaeipour, reformist theoretician, commented on the potential impacts of the nuclear agreement on domestic politics of the Islamic Republic. He called to attention pressures facing the Rouhani administration including institutionalized corruption:

  • Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, a spokesman during the Khatami administrations [1997-2005], expressed hope that the Rouhani government is ready to “liberalize the political atmosphere” after the nuclear agreement and, for example, allows formation of political parties.

  • Ali-Akbar Torkan, senior presidential adviser, said former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad managed to “employ 800,000 unqualified people” in government. 

Foreign Policy

  •  Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said Iran’s top priority post-deal is improving relations with neighboring countries especially Saudi Arabia:

    •  “After surpassing the temporary nuclear problem, more attention must be paid to the main priorities especially neighboring and regional countries. The eleventh administration has sought measures within this path. These measures include deepening comprehensive relations between Iran and regional countries from the environmental to the highest political and security levels. There is presently an appropriate opportunity facing all regional countries to overcome regional crises.”

    •  “We believe that Saudi Arabia’s reliance on force to overcome regional problems especially the Yemeni problem is a strategic error. Although we do not approve of Saudi Arabia’s approach, we believe that relations between Tehran and Riyadh must return to natural and acceptable levels.” 

    •  “If the Islamic Republic of Iran had intended on meddling in Yemen, the current situation [there] would be completely different.”  

Military & Security

  • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Mehdi Farahi, Logistics and Research Affairs Deputy at the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), discussed the Iranian military industry’s entry into the global market:

    • “The on-time delivery of products with high quality is the most important principle in the Ministry of Defense for producing equipment. We are entering the global market with strength.”

  • Head of the Passive Defense Organization, IRGC Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali, announced the establishment of the Passive Defense Center for Technical and Engineering Research.

  • Javan's lead article predicts an increase in the Islamic Republic's ability to assist its proxies in the wake of the nuclear agreement:

  • “There is no doubt that the achievements of the nuclear agreement, in spite of some weaknesses... increase the regional and international strength of the Islamic regime... and has been a source of happiness to the friends of Iran in the region, and of course the anger and unhappiness of the enemies...”

  • “Despite the negative depictions of Iran's assistance to the resistance front, Iran - for the most part spiritual and occasional material support of Iran - have stabilized the region by strengthening the tip of the fingers of the Islamic revolution and most of the support has been used on the practical struggle against terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the like... something about which America and the Westerners only talk about.”

  • “Iran's help to Muslims in other countries and the meek of the world is among the legal obligations of the governments of the Islamic Republic... according to the constitution.”

  • “This policy of the regime is a divine duty based in the Quran.”

  • Defa Press reports that a funeral ceremony will be held in Karaj tomorrow for “defender of the Shrine of Seyyeda Zeinab,” Mohammad Reza Ataei.  

Nuclear Issue

  • Hamid Baeedinejad, head of the Islamic Republic technical team of negotiators, said Iran has not agreed to inspections of the Parchin military site. 

  • Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani defended the nuclear agreement but protested the UNSC Resolution 2231 concerning the missile program as "unacceptable” and said “We do not abide by it. Therefore, we will move along as before with the missiles." 

    • Kayhan editorial also criticized the ballistic missiles provisions for creating an opening for the Islamic Republic’s overthrow:

      • “The Vienna agreement and the UNSCR 2231... not only present an end to the 12-years long nuclear problem, but also fuels the fire that counterpart is creating in order to weaken the foundations of the power of the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to overthrow the regime with little cost... After all, there is no doubt that regime overthrow has been the consistent goal of the West... The text of the agreement and the resolution humiliate the Islamic Republic by emphasizing the rules and regulations that only apply to this country... Should the Islamic movements and the line of resistance... consider the anti-Arrogance [anti-Western] flag of the Islamic Republic as half-mast... it would harm the prestige of the regime.” 

  • Ali-Akbar Nateq Nouri, the head of the Supreme Leader's inspectorate, said he is “optimistic” about the nuclear agreement because “the Americans themselves asked for it and messaged us through Oman.” 

  • Kayhan's editorial discussed the "humiliating aspects" of the nuclear agreement and particularly attacked the following points: 

  •  Even before the agreement is finalized, “Iran must independently... live up to its obligations towards the IAEA...”

  • “The IAEA must deliver its final assessment once Iran has lived up to its part of the agreement...”

  • “After the IAEA has submitted to Iran, questions on any possible ambiguities... will be discussed in Tehran to remove such ambiguities.”

  • “One must ask the negotiators: Would such discussions not involve interrogation of our scientists?”

  • “According to the agreement, ‘Iran and the IAEA agreed on another separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.’” 

Economy & Trade

  • Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, Plan and Budget director, said the Rouhani government is facing “severe budget deficit,” since “only 53% of the calculated sources of income have been realized. We are managing the country with half the planned budget.” According to a Sharq newspaper analyst, the government is managing budget deficiency by cutting development/construction projects, but warns such an approach could cause “severe economic stagnation.” Sharq further writes that in the best case, less than 50% of the development/construction projects would be used. 

Photo(s) of the Day

  • IRNA displays images of President Hassan Rouhani delivering televised address.