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Iran Press Review: 13 March

Analysis by FDD

  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Long War Journal: “The civil war in Syria risks exacerbating the sectarian and ethnic conflicts in geographically distant Afghanistan and Pakistan. The deaths of 62 Shiite Afghan nationals killed in combat in Syria since September 2013 testifies to that threat: there is every reason to expect surviving Shiite Afghan veterans of the civil war in Syria to relocate to Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight Sunni groups, including the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, some of whose members also are present in Syria. The 62 individuals were identified through a survey of Iranian media coverage of the funerals of Shiite Afghan nationals killed in combat in Syria. They were all members of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, which, according to the Islamic Republic media was “established in Kabul by Afghan Shiites.” However, all individuals analyzed were buried in different cities in Iran, their families were present in the funeral processions, and the photos clearly indicate that the “martyrs” were well known figures in the cities where the processions took place. This suggests Fatemiyoun Brigade combatants were recruited among Afghan refugees in Iran rather than in Kabul, Afghanistan. The presence of Martyr Foundation [Bonyad-e Shahid] representatives at the funeral services and compensation of the families by Islamic Republic authorities provide additional proof of official recruitment of the Afghan combatants.”

Politics

  • Ayatollah Abbas Ka’abi, the Khuzestan Representative in Iran’s Parliament [Majlis], comments on the recent Assembly of Experts election:
    • “The election of the leadership of the Assembly of Experts took place in a packed environment of knowledge, piety, the clergy and spirituality.”
    • “The decision-making of the representatives was based on the discernment of duty and adherence to provisions, and this action was not at all factional or political like other elections and shall not be.”
  • Mashregh News reports on the televised interview of Masoumeh Ebtekar, the current head of Iran’s Environmental Protection Organization who in her youth, was also involved in the 1979 Hostage Crisis. In her interview with Shenasnameh, Ebtekar noted:
    • On politics/elections: “In the first round I voted for Moein and in the second round I voted for Rafsanjani, and in the election of [13]88 (2009) I voted for Mir-Hossein Mousavi.”
    • On women: “I am confident that Iranian women adhere to different role-models than Western women. However, Iranian women, as global citizens must use global wisdom and experiences and be able to benefit from these experiences at the highest levels. However, the role of being Iranian is very important. The scope of Iranian civilization and its influence and impact and its richness requires that we preserve it. Islamic identity is also important. We have a lot to say about Islamic identity. However, today many efforts are undertaken for the deviant face of religion to be presented, but Islam has a great treasure-trove of human knowledge. Iranian women can, by benefitting from this treasure-trove, do away with the many of the shortcomings that exist in women’s fields in human society.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed-Ali Khomeini commemorates the anniversary of the death of his father, Hojjat al-Eslam Ahmad Khomeini, who was the son of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic. Praising his father’s legacy, Seyyed-Ali Khomeini said:
    • “The deceased Seyyed Ahmad Khomeini had a firm belief with all his being in the ideals of the Revolution and the Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini), and until the end of his life he proceeded along the path of the Revolution and the Velayat [Guardianship].”

Foreign Policy

  • Commenting on the recent foreign policy faux-pas by Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Younessi (about an ‘empire’), the former Iranian Minister of Intelligence, Esmaeil Kowsari, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, proclaims:
    • “Since the recent statements of Mr. Younessi have damaged our national interests, the government must remove him from responsibility, and the security and legal apparatuses must severely deal with Younessi so that no official dares to say such statements which hurt the national interests of the country.”
    • “Younessi must take back his words, and the government must remove him from his post.”
  • Another member of Iran’s Parliament, Mohammad-Saleh Jokar, who also is a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee comments on Younessi’s statements and also Iran’s foreign policy:
    • “Every country is independent, and has independent government, Iraq has an independent government, and must be separate from discussions which can be stressful.”
    • “In the present situation where a strong and coherent union has taken place between regional states, and Islamic civilization has found its true identity, such regrettable statements must not be presented.”
  • Shahindokht Molaverdi, an Iranian Vice-President for Family Affairs and Women, meets with Giovanna Martelli, an advisor to the Italian Prime Minister. According to Fars News Agency, the meeting took place in New York City on the sidelines of the recent women’s conference.
    • Additionally, Molaverdi also met with the Norwegian Minister for Women’s Affairs.

Military & Security

  • Hadi al-Ameri, the Secretary General of the Badr Organization of Iraq, weighs-in on the role of Iranian advisors in Iraq and states:
    • “Iranian advisors accompany us in war and they give us the best advisors, and we take pride in them.”
    • “After we liberate Tikrit and Kirkuk they [the Iranian advisors] will accompany us in the complete liberation of Ninevah and al-Anbar.”
    • “Whomever speaks of the Iranian advisors in Iraq, must stand before them with respect; because if they and Qassem Soleimani were not brothers, presently all of Iraq would be under the domination of DAESH (the Persian and Arabic acronym for the Islamic State). In order to show thanks to this hero, the people of Iraq should build him a statue.”
  • Javan reports parts of an interview with the leader of Liwa Abu al-Fadhl al-Abbas (Abu al-Fadhl al-Abbas Brigade) in Iraq, who commented on the effort to combat DAESH. Javan titled the article: “If DAESH has America we have Qassem Soleimani.”
    • “After the Fatwa from the Marja [source of emulation] and especially the commands of the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Basij and faithful forces gathered together in Syria and the city of Damascus to defend the shrine of her Excellency Zainab and the popular brigades of his Excellency Abu al-Fadhl al-Abbas was created.”
    • “America and the Westerners unfortunately have duplicity in their policies and they have always assisted terrorist groups, exactly the opposite of what they purport themselves to be in the world. With the help of God, our Basiji’s will not allow the plans of the enemy to be enacted in the region.”
    • “Our Basij forces in the world of Islam are prepared and have the capability to wipe-clean the DAESHi’s from the world, and we will eliminate all of them.”
    • “The iron-hand which combats terrorists and the only supporter of us Basiji’s in the axis of resistance, is only the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with the help of God, these assistances will continue.”
  • During Friday Prayers in Tehran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami gave a sermon where he stated:
    • “We hope that God Almighty gives patience to the people and army of Iraq until the time that the roots of DAESH are eradicated from this country, and to be sure that God will help them.”
    • “Islamic Iran is a government that in the arena of combatting terrorists…came to the square and helped Iraq.”
    • “The world has realized that America has problems with the fundamentals of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and does not want an Islamic system to exist, but you the great nation of Iran have proven that you are a nation that does not tire, but by the grace of God, you will tire out the enemy.”
  • The Washington Post reported: “The Obama administration is seeking to assure U.S. allies and congressional skeptics that the nuclear accord it is contemplating with Iran will not lead to a broader detente with the Islamic republic. “We are not seeking a grand bargain,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry declared last week during a visit to Riyadh he made with the explicit purpose of countering Saudi Arabian suspicions to the contrary. “We will not take our eye off of Iran’s other destabilizing actions in places like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.” The political imperative behind this clarification is easily understood. In recent months, the notion that President Obama is prepared to scrap the 35-year-old U.S. policy of seeking to contain Iranian influence in the Middle East has been widely accepted by Arab and Israeli officials and U.S. commentators; opposition to such a reversal is one reason the prospective nuclear deal is generating bipartisan unease in Congress.

Nuclear Issue

  • Elsewhere in his Friday Prayer speech, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami noted with respect to Iran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    • “Unfortunately, some in the country are after doing the toiletries for America’s face, they want to show America as a peace-seeking country, but you great people of Iran have shown in the nuclear negotiations that it is not as such, they are the very same iron hands that have been covered in velvet. A group within the country said that some are consistently giving America excuses, but now that over the past year that you have not given America any excuses, this time period shows that diablerie is latent in the genes of American government officials.”
    • “The word is this, that these negotiations over the past one and half years have emphasized the early saying in the Revolution of Imam Khomeini, who stated that ‘America is the Great Satan.’”
  • The Friday Prayer Leader of Yazd, Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Nasseri, comments on the recent letter by 47 Senators sent to Iran:
    • “By stating that they will act against Iran if the government of America is silent against Iran’s nuclear activities, the American Senators have trampled on America’s honor in the international community more than before.”
    • “We must not focus our perspective and hope on the outcome of negotiations (with the P5+1).”
  • Bloomberg reported: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister criticized U.S. Republican lawmakers for questioning nuclear talks with Iran, saying in Washington that they’re undermining efforts to forge an agreement. Wading into the U.S. debate as six world powers seek a deal to halt any attempt by Iran to build a nuclear bomb, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the letter by 47 Republicans fuels mistrust among Iranian negotiators and is “not helpful.””
  • Reuters reported: “Major world powers have begun talks about a United Nations Security Council resolution to lift U.N. sanctions on Iran if a nuclear agreement is struck with Tehran, a step that could make it harder for the U.S. Congress to undo a deal, Western officials said. The talks between Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — the five permanent members of the Security Council — plus Germany and Iran, are taking place ahead of difficult negotiations that resume next week over constricting Iran's nuclear ability.”

Economy & Trade

  • Fars News Agency reports: “Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh announced that his ministry is planning to considerably increase the volume of the country’s oil derivatives exports in the next Iranian year (starting March 21, 2015). “We are planning to export 20 million tons of oil derivatives in the new Iranian year,” Zanganeh told reporters on Friday.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Fars News Agency displays photos of Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami leading Friday Prayers in Tehrand