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Iran Press Review: 12 March

Analysis by FDD

  • Clifford May, President, wrote in The Washington Times: “The Lord works in mysterious ways. That sentence does not appear in the Koran. Nor, actually, is it found in the Bible. But in recent days it has probably occurred to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader. On the one hand, he is reportedly suffering from cancer, an advanced stage. On the other hand, he is tantalizing close to winning battles he has been fighting for more than a quarter-century, since he assumed the mantle of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, charismatic leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
  • Behnam Ben Taleblu, Iran Research Analyst and Patrick Megahan, Military Affairs Research Associate, wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: “Iranian defense officials over the weekend announced the successful test-firing of the Soumar, a new and indigenously produced land-attack cruise missile. The unveiling ceremony of this missile, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, was intended to be a strong statement by Tehran as negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program come to a head. Despite the grandstanding, the missile closely resembles the Soviet-built Kh-55, which was reportedly provided to Iran by Ukraine in 2001. While it is unclear whether the Iranians have ever test-fired any of the six missiles Ukraine provided, the projectiles almost certainly were dissembled and reverse-engineered to develop the Soumar. Such activities are a tradition for Iran’s arms industry, given long-standing international arms embargos against the country.”
  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow and Michael Pregant, wrote in The Long War Journal: “Testifying on Capitol Hill on March 3, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey characterized the joint attempts of the Iraqi military, Iraqi Shia militias, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) at taking back control of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, from the Islamic State, as “a positive thing.” “Frankly,” General Dempsey said, “it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism.” General Dempsey’s caveat is an interesting one, since there is every reason to believe that Shia control of Tikrit will result in further sectarianism. While the US administration says in its most recent National Security Strategy that it desires to “degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL [Islamic State]” in an attempt to “support Iraq … free itself from sectarian conflict and the scourge of extremists,” Tehran is actively perpetuating the sectarian crisis in Iraq.”

Politics

  • The Governor-General of Fars province, Seyyed Mohammad Ahmadi, was called to Tehran by the Interior Ministry over issues surrounding the recent attack on Parliamentarian Ali Motahari in Shiraz. Hossein-Ali Amiri, the Deputy Minister of Interior told the press that:
    • “The Minister of Interior…has sought from the security and law-enforcement deputies of this Ministry to however quickly, identify the agents in this incident.”
  • Hassan Rahimpour Azghadi, a member of Iran’s Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution (SCRC), comments on secularism in Iran, and puts the onus on Iran’s seminaries:
    • “The root of secularism are in the theological seminaries. The legal scholars [Fuquha] that do not think about creating systems and are only after worship and personal transactions…are the best justification for secularism.”
    • “A theological seminary that knows the arenas of talent, architect, international relations and politics to be unrelated to itself is a secular theological seminary.”
    • “I am sorry to say that today, we still, in the fourth-decade of the Revolution, do not have a book on architecture from the perspective of the seminary so that we can hold our head up high in the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution.”
  • Sajjadi, a former advisor to the 2009 presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, comments on former President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s failed leadership bid for the Assembly of Experts, and blames Rafsanjani and some of his recent commentary on the candidates for his defeat.
  • Kayhan reported that Tehran’s Friday Prayers will be led by Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, and will additionally feature speeches by Hojjat al-Eslam Hamid-Reza Arbab Soleimani, Mohandes Jalali, and Hojjat al-Eslam Shahidi.
  • A declaration following the fourth round of the seventeenth session of Iran’s Assembly of Experts read in part:
    • “Officials must be coordinated with the vision that the great nation of Iran used in nullifying the sedition [fitnah] of [13]88 (a reference to the Green Movement and its supporters in the summer of 2009); and while observing the principle of meritocracy in selfless forces…should know the sedition to be the redline of the Islamic system.”

Foreign Policy

  • Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament [Majlis], comments on his regional trip, most recently to Qatar:
    • “In the past 36 years from the victory of the Revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not attacked any country, however some countries, including Iraq have attacked our land and some countries in the region had helped it.”
    • “Although the main work is on the shoulders of the people of this country, Iran has taken to helping Iraq and countries in the region to combat DAESH (the Persian and Arabic acronym for the Islamic State).”
    • On Yemen: “We have no forces in Yemen…and this country must solve its problems domestically with negotiations and discussions.”
    • On the region: The problem of [this] region is that some come [from] elsewhere and mess this [location] up.”
  • According to Kayhan, during the visit of President Rouhani to Turkmenistan “17 documents of cooperation in the various economic, cultural, political, legal, and technical arenas were signed.”
  • Fars News Agency ran a headline reporting: “The Guards’ Imam Hossein University state preparedness to work with the Pakistani Army.”
  • Haaretz reports: “Hamas leader Khaled Meshal met with a senior Iranian official in the Qatari capital Thursday, reflecting the group’s efforts to return to Iran’s orbit, Palestinian sources close to Hamas said. Hamas and Tehran were close before the group broke with Syrian President Bashar Assad during the Syrian civil war.”

Military & Security

  • Major General Mohammad-Ali Aziz-Jafari, the Commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) states in an address:
    • “Today, it is not only Palestine and Lebanon, but rather the people of Iraq and Syria which acknowledge the effective role of the Islamic Republic. In this area, they are appreciative of the nation of Iran, and contrary to the propaganda of the enemy and the creation of the debate between the Arabs and the Ajam, that which we are witnessing is the closeness of the two nations more than [ever] before.”
    • “If the enemies want to display their strategic ignorance against the Islamic Revolution and the system of the Islamic Republic, we will proceed towards their collapse. His Excellency Imam Khamenei has given the Islamic world a reality, namely a pole of power and America from a global manager and moderator to a declining actor.”
    • “We have become powerful to such a degree that we have no worries about the irrational behavior of the enemy. We will pass through any desired scenario the enemy. Our recent history has proved this. Our strategies are firm and decisive.”
  • Defa Press reports part of the message by Major General Hassan Firoozabadi, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces to Hossein Ashtari, the new Commander of Iran’s Law-Enforcement Forces (LEF).
    • Additionally, Major General Firoozabadi took the outgoing LEF Commander, Esmaiel Ahmadi-Moghaddam as his own “Senior Advisor” to the Armed Forces Staff. Resalat further reported that previously, Ahmadi-Moghaddam served as head of the Iran’s LEF for ten years.
  • Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the Deputy Commander of Iran’s IRGC states during a ceremony:
    • “In the situation where the world of Arrogance [Istikbar] is seeking to put pressure on us and sanction us, engaged and knowledgeable persons like Doctor Alavian play a significant role in rendering ineffective the will of [our] enemies.”
  • Asr Iran cites Arabic language reporting about the planned attack on Iran’s embassy in Lebanon, noting that the plan was halted when a Syrian female named Fatimah al-Khaldah was apprehended.
  • You Tube hosts a video showing IRGC Quds-Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani speaking Arabic which calls for “support of Iraqi people”

Nuclear Issue

  • Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, comments on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy during a meeting with the Assembly of Experts:
    • “The nuclear team that the esteemed president has chosen are sincerely good, trusted, accepted and are sympathetic, and are in a state of work and striving. However, with the presence of these brothers I am worried, since the opposing side are sly and people of deceit and deception and they [P5+1 nuclear negotiators] stab [you] in the back with daggers.”
  • Ala al-Din Boroijerdi, the head of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, is quoted by Tasnim News Agency as saying:
    • “In this regard, we announce to America to not [even] think about Islamic Iran back-tracking in the nuclear arena”
    • “It was the sanctions of the enemies and the termination of cooperation with them allowed us to indigenize nuclear technology”
  • Kayhan runs a headline reading: “90 percent [chance] that the sanctions will not be removed in the eventual agreement.” Kayhan further went on to cite an article in Alef which listed several things Iran “appears” to have reportedly agreed to:
    • 1) “Changing the Arak heavy water site to light water”
    • 2) “The complete stop of Fordow”
    • 3) “The stopping of 20 percent enrichment”
    • 4) “Acceptance of a centrifuge cap of 6 thousand first-generation centrifuges”
    • 5) “Changing the order of the centrifuges”
    • 6) “Unannounced and extensive inspections…”
  • Reuters reports: “Iran's Supreme Leader hit out on Thursday at a letter by U.S. Republican senators threatening to undo any nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran, saying he was worried because the United States was known for "backstabbing", Mehr news agency reported. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the ultimate authority on all Iranian matters of state, added at a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and senior clerics that whenever negotiators made progress, the Americans became "harsher, tougher and coarser".”

Economy & Trade

  • Elyas Naderan, a Tehran Representative in Iran’s Parliament, is quoted by Tasnim News Agency as saying:
    • “The economic problems of the country can be solved by ‘resistance economics’.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: Iran and China plan to considerably increase the volume of their trade transactions to $60bln, a senior trade official announced. Iran and China hope to bring the level of their trade exchanges to $60bln from the current $52bln in a year or so, Head of Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce Asadollah Asgaroladi said.”

Human Rights

  • The Huffington Post reports: “Boxing legend Muhammad Ali is lending his voice to call for the release of Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post reporter who has been detained in Iran since July 2014 for unclear reasons. In a statement issued Thursday by the National Press Club, Ali called Rezaian "a man of peace and great faith, a man whose dedication and respect for the Iranian people is evident in his work."”

Daily Picture(s)

  • During his trip recent trip to Turkmenistan, President Rouhani gifted the Turkmen President a coach bus from the Iranian firm, “Oghab Afshan.”
  • Elsewhere in his trip to Turkmenistan, President Rouhani planted a tree in Ashgabat’s Independence Park.