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Iran Press Review: 05 Jan.

Analysis by FDD


  • Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran Research Analyst, wrote in The National Interest: “The Islamic State rages next door and the U.S. Congress is threatening new sanctions, but Iranian officials remain preoccupied by a different challenge, one that has haunted them for decades: “American Islam.” “American Islam” isn’t the Islam practiced by Muslims across the United States. Rather, it is what the Islamic Republic perceives to be a depoliticized perversion of the true faith, devoid of the revolutionary sentiment that guides the Islamic Republic. As Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei lamented in 2010, “American Islam means ceremonial Islam, an Islam that is indifferent in the face of oppression.””
  • Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran Research Analyst, wrote in anFDD Policy Brief: “President Barack Obama’s overturning of Washington’s longstanding commercial and diplomatic isolation of Cuba earlier this month has grabbed the attention of another country chafing under U.S. sanctions: the Islamic Republic of Iran. Obama’s abrupt change of course on Cuba resonated widely in the Iranian press. The hardline newspaper Kayhan exulted that America had “admitted the ineffectiveness” of sanctions against Havana, while the Islamic Republic News Agency touted what it described as Washington’s belated “regret” over the embargo.”
  • Bill Roggio, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Long War Journal: “An Islamic State sniper gunned down a general in Iran's Qods Force who was advising Iraqi troops and Shiite militias in the battleground city of Samarra in central Iraq. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) announced that Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi was "martyred" while serving in Samara, close to the "shrine of Imam Hassan Askari" on Dec. 27, 2014, Jahan News, a hard-line Iranian media outlet reported. Taqavi was killed by an Islamic State "sniper," ABNA noted.”
  • Research Fellow, Benjamin Weinthal, wrote in National Review Online: “President Obama has penned at least four letters to Iran’s fanatically anti-American Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Obama’s goal is to melt away Khamenei’s severe distrust of the United States. “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us,” declared Obama at the start of his presidency in 2009.”
  • Director of Policy for Canada, Sheryl Saperia, wrote in The Canadian Jewish News: “Over a year ago, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki insisted that, “If Iranians don’t get to a ‘yes’ at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions.”  Speaking about the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) negotiations, she was offering assurance that Barack Obama’s administration was serious about dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure through tough diplomacy. Another deadline has passed, no agreement has been reached, and negotiations have been extended yet again because Iran refuses to make the necessary concessions. Nonetheless, additional sanctions have not been imposed. On the contrary, sanctions worth billions of dollars have been lifted even though Iran continues to stonewall nuclear inspectors and has reportedly intensified efforts to obtain components for a heavy water reactor, which could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.”
  • Saeed Ghasseminejad, Associate Fellow and Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “Hasan Rouhani submitted his 2015 budget proposal earlier this month to the Majlis, Iran’s parliament. The proposal suggests that, contrary to the Iranian president’s reputation for moderation in the West, “Rouhanomics” is really about bolstering the regime’s repressive apparatus while at the same time modifying some of the more reckless policies of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Rouhani came to power last year riding a wave of discontent with Mr. Ahmadinejad’s mismanagement of the economy and the pain inflicted by mounting international sanctions. With a looming economic crisis at hand, Mr. Rouhani successfully extracted sanctions relief from the West and launched widely publicized corruption probes against Ahmadinejad cronies while restoring competent technocrats at the helm of state-owned companies.”
  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, wrote in The National Interest: “St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN) is a miniscule Caribbean nation whose biggest employer is the state sugar corporation and whose currency features wading sea turtles and the visage of Queen Elizabeth II. It is also one of the most attractive destinations for Iranian businessmen seeking to exploit citizenship-for-investment programs to skirt international sanctions over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Thirty years ago, in a bid to spur foreign investment, SKN became the world’s first country to allow foreign investors to obtain citizenship. Many other countries have since followed suit, and in recent years, many more countries have joined this club by offering citizenship or residency fast-track programs through investment. They include economic heavyweights such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and several other European countries, alongside the older programs in Caribbean islands like Antigua and Dominica. But SKN terms for citizenship remain among the most lax in the world: no residency is required and a passport is provided within three months in exchange for $250,000 or a qualifying investment in real estate.”

Politics


  • Hassan Ghashghavai, the Foreign Ministry Deputy for Consular and Parliamentary Affairs, notes:
    • “Zarif, the Foreign Minister, will answer the questions of [Parliamentary] representatives on Tuesday in an open session of Parliament.”
  • Sepah News reports on the “memorial ceremony” for Hamid Taghavi, a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander during the 8-year Iran-Iraq War, who recently died in Samarra, Iraq.
    • Defa Press reports that IRGC Quds-Force (IRGC-QF) Commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, attended the ceremony.
  • Jahan News releases a list of Rouhani's close relatives who are currently employed in government.
  • An editorial in Kayhan warned against the political legacy of the 2009 anti-regime protests in Iran:
    • “During the sedition of 2009, Mir-Hossein Mousavi depicted the Palestine issue as an issue purely relevant to the Palestinians, and the viewpoint was reflected at the street level with the slogan: ‘Neither Gaza, Nor Lebanon [My Life Be Sacrificed for Iran]...’ The time of such slogans being chanted in the streets is over, but vast parts of the elites, and in particular in the mass media, a similar goal is being pursued... indifference towards Lebanon, and Gaza, has spread towards any other place where there is a trace of resistance in the face of the United States and the Zionist regime, including Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the like... A movement is pursuing relations with Saudi Arabia at any price... and a movement is trying box Iran in in its geographical borders... Those who today say: ‘Military power does not mean immunity,’ are directly aiming at the Guards and the Basij. In other words, the sedition was defeated, but is alive.”

Foreign Policy


  • Rostam Qassemi, the head of the Iran-Syria Economic Relations Development Committee, proclaims in a meeting with the Syrian Prime Minister:
    • “The steadfastness of the nation and officials of Iran alongside the nation and officials of Syria, has had an important role and effect in strengthening the axis of resistance against the plans of the Zionists and the schemes of the Westerners for the region.”
    • “The year of 2015 will be for the axis of resistance and all nations that suffer from the power of Westerners, Zionists, and terrorists.”
    • “The economic and trading relationship between these two countries has had a tangible growth.”
    • “Iran will not hesitate to spare any effort to offer various types of aid and support to the nation and officials of Syria.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Saeedi, the representative of Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to the IRGC, notes:
    • “Today, Islamic Iran, by the grace of the pure blood of the martyrs and the following of the Velayat of the nation has a powerful and impactful presence in the region and the world.”
    • On consensus: “If there is no consensus, the truth will not reach power, as this is a law and tradition.”
    • On challenges to the Islamic world: “The first problem of the world of Islam was disintegration, through planning, colonialism identified this great treasure since it knew that using this great treasure and consensus of Muslims is to the detriment of the West, they divided up the Ottoman and Iranian empires, because managing small components is easier…The second problem that the late Imam (Khomeini) combatted was the creation of columns (in the political sense), the West was seeking to create columns. They created Reza Khan in Iran and Ataturk in Turkey, and this formula up until today continues in some Islamic countries…[Saudi] Arabia spent 13 billion dollars against Iraq and Syria, and Qatar and [Saudi] Arabia fight on behalf of America in the region…The third injury was the creation of religions; Baha’ism in Iran and Wahhabism in [Saudi] Arabia were built and at present this trend continues…the creation of religion for the removal of the fundamentals of religion.”
  • According to Sharq, only $7.4 billion of $100 billion frozen assets of the Islamic Republic have been freed because of the negotiations.
  • During an interview with Tejarat-e Farda, Hamid Hosseini, the Chancellor for Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce discusses the role of Reza Zarrab, an Iranian/Azeri citizen prosecuted in Turkey on corruption charges:
    • “A few weeks ago, Mr. Zangeneh (Minister of Oil) visited Turkey and desired to meet Mr. Erdogan. Reza Zarrab prepared the meeting... We don't appreciate our people and opportunities, and therefore act against our own forces and capacities in other countries... This Reza Zarrab whom we have criticized, managed to free some of our assets through his contacts, but we still see some Iranian authorities delivering interviews against him. Well, what is the benefit of that for us...? We have many such kind of people all over the world, but there are certain currents within Iran which try to depict them as intelligence agents of foreign countries... Do you remember Ahmad Ramezani and the influence he exerted in Russia? What happened to him?”
  • Marziyeh Afkham, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, spoke out against new sanctions:
    • “At a time when negotiations are taking place between Iran and the 5+1 Group, this move is a breach of the principle of good will and one questions the resolve of the United States to solve the issues... In our view, the decision of the United States government will not have any impact on the trade relations between Iran and other countries.”
  • Commenting on a new Congress threatening to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Afkham said: “What counts for us, is that the governments are bound by any agreement reached.”
    • Donya-ye Eqtesad attacks the new designations as “contrary to the spirit of the Geneva Agreement.”
  • According to the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the next round of Iran/U.S. negotiations will also include an exchange of prisoners between the Islamic Republic and the United States. The names of Iranian/American dual citizens currently imprisoned in Iran, chiefly Saeed Abedini, Jason Rezaeian, and Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, were specifically mentioned in Sharq's article on the matter.

Military & Security


  • Hadi al-Amari, the Commander of the Badr Brigade in Iraq, comments on the situation in Iraq and Iran’s role:
    • “The liberation of Iraq is achieved through the unity of the people.”
    • “In the event of the lack of the steadfastness of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Haj Qassem Soleimani, at present there would not be a government with the with the Prime Ministership of Heidar al-Abadi in Baghdad.”
  • Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, the Commander of Iran’s Basij Forces, proclaims:
    • “The Late Imam insisted that until disbelief and polytheism [Kufr va Shirk] exists and the call of Islam has not resonated in the world, resistance exists, and as long as resistance exists, we exist.”
    • On sloganeering: “Our ideals are not centrifuges, but rather the destruction of the palace of the oppressors and the White House of America and the elimination of Zionism.”
    • On American grand-designs: “The Americans, which have taken up the command of DASEH (the Persian/Arabic acronym for the Islamic State), and through the American Embassy guide the terrorists and drop arms shipments from American planes for DAESH, cannot deny their conspiracy…Whatever conspiracy the Americans enacted, its resulted were used against them. The started the Imposed War (one of the names given to the Iran-Iraq War in Iran) but our Armed Forces grew strong, or they intellectually embargoed us, but from its heart came satellites and technology.”               
  • Sepah News reports: “The public relations department of the IRGC Ground Forces Quds Base reported on the apprehension of the members of one terrorist team in the region of “Sarbaz” in the South-East of the country.”
  • Mohsen Rezaie, the Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council and once the Commander of the IRGC, states:
    • “The Expediency Discernment Council is in a state of compiling and preparing strategic reports on 27 strategic fields of the country.”
  • Asr-e Iran, quoting “Arab sources” reports on death of three Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in Syria.
  • Farda News traces the terrorist incidents in Sistan and Balouchistan province to Pakistan, and accuses Saudi Arabia of funding Sunni radicals in Iran.
  • Former Iranian President Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the current Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council, commented on the situation in Iraq:
    • “Should a new battle field be formed in Iraq, Iran needs to do the real work. I'm not saying we have forces in Iraq. We are giving them advice, we direct them and provide arms. The Americans too have admitted that the Mosul Dam and Amerli city were liberated with Iran's help... Mr. Maleki would not resign, until Iran pointed to it.”
  • Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, Army chief, addressed the Artesh [national Army] top brass in Mashhad:
    • “The enemy is operating close to our borders... [the] Islamic State conquers five provinces in Iraq in the course of fifteen days. Therefore, this force is certainly supported by the West... The enemy is increasing its activities in our western and eastern borders, and we must therefore be totally prepared.”

Nuclear Issue


  • Seyyed Yasser Jebreili, a foreign policy analyst in Tehran, notes:
    • “If Iran completely shuts down its nuclear program, America will not remove any sanctions, but will rather add to them, because its problem is with the Islamic Republic.”
    • Adding to that sentiment, Jebreili said: “As long as the Islamic Republic is in power, America will have structural issues with Iran, because America’s regional interests are under the influence of Iran.” 
  • President Hassan Rouhani addresses the Iran’s Economy Conference:
    • “Our ideals are not related to the centrifuges. Our ideals are related to our brain, heart, and determination, and not to the centrifuges... In case we encounter problems, I'll discuss it with the people.”
  • Rebutting Rouhani’s aforementioned commentary, Fars News Agency reports comments from Gholamreza Sadeghian inJavan, who noted:
    • “The centrifuges are the evidence of progress in the country in the fields of science and technology, and as such, one ideal of the Revolution was this very scientific progress and making up for [a] 200 year history of having fallen behind. Therefore, centrifuges are linked to our ideals, much like the land [lit. soil] of Iran is linked to our ideals.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “Iranian President's Chief of Staff Mohammad Nahavandian said Iran will continue defending its rights in the upcoming nuclear talks with the six major world powers regardless of economic or political challenges. Nahavandian played down the effectiveness of oil price fall on the country's economy and said, “Exaggerating this issue (oil price fall) is not right."”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) may undergo a restructuring and development plan following its decision to launch nuclear cooperation with other countries in addition to Russia, Iran's nuclear chief said. "The AEOI has stepped into a new phase; with the contract endorsed with Russia whose implementation is due to start in the near future, the AEOI is facing a large volume of work," AEOI Chief Ali Akbar Salehi said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran on Saturday.”
  • Reuters reported: “Iran denied on Saturday that it had reached an agreement with the United States to ship its surplus enriched uranium to Russia under new concessions aimed at clinching a comprehensive nuclear deal with six world powers. The Associated Press, citing diplomats, said on Friday Tehran and Washington had tentatively agreed on a formula to ship to Russia much of the material that could potentially lead to manufacture of atomic arms by the Islamic republic.”
  • The AP reported: “Iran and the United States have tentatively agreed on a formula that Washington hopes will reduce Tehran's ability to make nuclear arms by committing it to ship to Russia much of the material needed for such weapons, diplomats say. In another sign of progress, the two diplomats told The Associated Press that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalog outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes.”

Economy & Trade


  • Eshaq Jahangiri, the First Vice-President, states during the Iran Economy Conference:
    • “The return of economic stability to the country is impossible by enacting short-term policies.”
    • “The main issue and desire of the government is job creation for the youth.”
    • “In the field of the economy, the government is in need of public support.”
  • Tasnim News Agency covers reporting on Iran by The World Bank, noting:
    • “By assessing 6 indices of governance in Iran in 2013, The World Bank announced that that Iran has progressed in 2 indices during this year but 4 indices are worse-off when compared to the previous year.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabifard, the Vice-Chairman of the Iranian Parliament, comments on the politics of oil pricing:
    • “The situation of oil prices today, is a final bullet to the single-product countries whose entire being is contained within petro-dollars; countries which were first-tier friends of America, with these conditions, are definitely not sustainable.”
  • President Hassan Rouhani addresses the Iran’s Economy Conference:
    • "Two years in a row, the country experienced negative growth: -6.8% and -1.9%... Inflation surpassed 40%... the currency market was fluctuating wildly... the government had debts to the banking sector, the contractors and various companies... In the past ten years, the number of employed people increased from 20.6 million to 21.5 million, which shows our economy is not creating jobs.”
    • “[A] referendum concerning important issues of the country is of great importance. The Constitution tells us that in important economic, social, political and cultural issues, rather than passing laws in the parliament, the bill or a program should be referred to the popular vote for a referendum. Let us, for one times stake, ask the people when it comes to a very important issue about which there may be disagreements... [The issue being] controversial is not important. Opinions are not always similar. Let us, for once, ask the people when it comes to a single issue which is of great importance to us and impacts our life. The parliament is in its position, and we respect it. Let them vote and pass laws. But once in a year, every ten years... now, after 36 years this principle of the Constitution has not been executed.”
    • “You [the economists] say, demand taxes from everyone, which is completely true. One can't have an institution which engages in economic activity but does not pay taxes. But as soon as you say, institution x too must pay taxes, see what transpires.”
    • “In the first step, we managed to control inflation, but it is up to you honorable economists to explain it to the general public. When we tell the general public that inflation has been reduced from 20% to 17%, they say 'nothing has become cheaper.' Reducing the inflation [rate] is something totally different than declining prices... If the people are not with us, we will be defeated.”
      • Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of Kayhanemphasizes in an interview with Fars News Agency that the President can’t “bypass the parliament,” or “the Leader,” by directly appealing to the popular vote and demanding a referendum on important issues.
  • Bloomberg reports: “Iran’s oil exports have fallen 60 percent to 1 million barrels a day, the Tehran-based Shargh newspaper reported, citing comments by Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. Iran, constrained by international sanctions on its energy and financial industries, “won’t give in over 1 million barrels a day,” the paper reported Zanganeh as saying yesterday at a conference in Tehran. The minister didn’t elaborate, nor did he specify dates for the 60 percent cut in the nation’s exports, according to Shargh.”
  • Reuters reports: “Crude prices will vary between $60 and $90 in the coming months, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the ministry's official SHANA website, adding the only lever OPEC could use to influence the market was supply. “It is predicted that oil prices would reach $60-90 in the coming months,” Zanganeh said.”

Daily Picture(s)


  • Asr-e Iran highlights an “Islamic fashion show” in Tehran.
  • Fars News Agency displayed photos of Iran’s Armenian Christian minority celebrating New Year’s in the Vank Church of Isfahan.
  • Fars News Agency additionally displayed photos of the naval drill in the Jask region. President Hassan Rouhani was present