Iran Press Review 18 May

Analysis by FDD

  • Boris Zilberman, Deputy Director for Congressional Relations, writes in an FDD Policy Brief: “President Obama insists that international sanctions, soon to be removed, can be “snapped back” should Iran violate the terms of a potentially impending nuclear deal. Re-implementing sanctions, however, is easier said than done. It requires overcoming massive diplomatic, economic, and psychological hurdles. A case in point is Russia, which stands to benefit from the post-sanctions environment, and is already signaling its lack of enthusiasm for renewing the sanctions regime. So far this year, Moscow and Tehran have signed a military cooperation agreement, and the Kremlin has lifted a ban on the export of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. The two sides also signed a banking cooperation agreement in March, and this month Tehran announced plans for a joint rial account for Russian banks, enabling Iranian exporters to Russia to receive payment in their own currency.”

Politics

  • Sharq interviews Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, former Spokesperson for the government of President Mohammad Khatami:
    • “Ramezanzadeh's most important criticism of the government is that Rouhani's cabinet is not a political cabinet, and Mr. Rouhani thinks he alone can carry the entire weight [of politics]. However, some recent developments such as issuing activity permit to the Ettehad-e Mellat-e Iran [Iranian Nation’s Unity Party] is a good and important step taken by the government. Ramezanzadeh dismisses any relationship between the Unity of the Nation with Mosharekat [Khatami's reformist party] but says ‘If they ask for help, we will help them.’”
  • Etemad praises the wisdom of Reza Faraji-Dana, who chose to do research at Waterloo University in Ontario, Canada, instead of accepting President Hassan Rouhani’s invitation to him to join the government.
  • Ahmad Tavakoli, a Member of Parliament and the owner of the Alef news website, defends the work of the site and calls for freedom of the press at the Revolutionary Tribunal facing charges of libel from Ahmadinejad-era government officials.

Foreign Policy

  • Iran’s Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, weighs-in on foreign policy and proclaims:      
    • “In regional affairs, our country has chosen a method with a sublime and specific character, and this is very valuable.”
    • “It is very valuable that the country of Iran, with reference to external desires and pressures, has not been ready to step back from its goals and the defense of Islamic values.”
    • “Iran has been a responsibility-accepting country in the region, and this…will without a doubt will have problems and difficulties to follow.”
  • Iran’s Minister of Defense, Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, travels to Iraq and meets with his Iraqi counterpart. Dehqan stated that:
    • “The condition of the region, such as the progression of the crisis and insecurity in the joint security environment of Iran and Iraq has made close defense cooperation between the two countries inevitable.”
    • “Iran, with all its capabilities, stands beside the government and nation of Iraq.”
  • Former Foreign Minister and current Advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader on International Affairs Issues, Ali-Akbar Velayati, comments on Iraq:
    • “If the government of Iraq formally asks of Iran, the Islamic Republic will answer them, and will have phases in relation to helping Iraq to combat Daesh (the Persian/Arabic acronym for the Islamic State).”
    • “I am confident that al-Ramadi, much like Tikrit, will gradually be removed from the control of Daesh.”
  • Fars News Agency reports: “The Iranian foreign ministry summoned Bahrain's charge d'affaires in Tehran on Monday to protest at the Arab country's disrespectful remarks against the Iranian leader. Bahrain’s chargé d'affaires was summoned to the Iranian foreign ministry in the absence of the country's ambassador after Tehran's envoy to Manama was called to the Bahraini foreign ministry to be informed of the small island state's protest at the recent statements of the Iranian leader.”
  • Islamic Republic News Agency reports: “Iranian Supreme Leader's Advisor in International Affairs Ali-Akbar Velayati arrived here Monday to hold talks with top Lebanese officials. Upon arrival, Velayati was welcomed by Iran's Ambassador to Beirut Mohammad Fathali and a number of political and religious officials of Lebanon.”
  • The Tehran Times reports: “The Supreme Leader's advisor in international affairs has said that any prospective meeting on the Yemeni crisis must be held in a non-interested country, noting that Yemen’s affairs do not concern other countries, including Saudi Arabia. Ali Akbar Velayati made the remarks in Beirut on a trip to attend the closing ceremony of an international conference on Palestine.”

Military & Security

  • Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, weighs-in on various issues:
    • Commenting on the usage of ethnicity to undermine Iran in Iranian Kurdistan: “In the early years of the [1979] Revolution, the anti-Revolution [movement] utilized all its capacities to make this region insecure, however the efforts and hearts of the people and the Kurdish Ulema were with the Revolution, and they even martyred some of the Kurdish Ulema.”
    • “However, the enemy cannot use ethnic provocations in Iran about the Kurds, however they are after provoking the fires of religious prejudice and a Sunni and Shiite conflict against each other, and due to neglect, some become the toy and ensnared of these schemes.”
    • On Sunni/Shiite issues: “Do they really have an interest in the Sunni’s?”
    • “They are against everything which has a sign of Islam, and for them, there is no difference between Sunni and Shiite, and issues like religion and ethnicity are excuses for their creation of discord.”
  • Kayhan reports portions of an article from al-Mayadin:
    • “The extensive operations of Hezbollah and the Syrian Army in the region of Qalamoun has created many fear and worries amongst the regimes of the region, such as Israel, [Saudi] Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar.”
    • “The retreat of al-Nusrah terrorists from Qalamoun has drawn the Ministry of War of the Zionist regime to provide similar scenarios for the region of al-Jalil, since this region has fewer highs and lows [in its terrain] than Qalamoun, and the forces of resistance know it like the palm of their hand.”
  • Defa Press reports of the new Commander of the Quds unit of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) branch in Gilan, Commander Mohammad Abdollahpour. He replaced Commander Hamoun Mohammadi.
  • Tasnim News Agency praises Iran’s new ability to domestically produced drones with the advanced Wankel motor.

Nuclear Issue

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, states:             
    • “In reality, we have been very frank about the number of centrifuges that will remain in the Natanz and Fordow sites and also about the fate of the Arak Heavy Water Reactor. It is completely clear that all economic and monetary sanctions from the European Union and America that have been applied will be removed.”
    • “This agreement is an examination so that we can see to what degree America has forgotten the delusion of overthrowing the government of Iran, and the delusion enmity and hostility with the nation and Revolution of Iran.”
    • “We don’t talk about good relations with America. We have problems with America. Iran and America have different viewpoints about global issues and we are not slated to do away with our views. This is a part of our identity, however struggle and controversy are not a necessary for the preservation of this identity. At present, we negotiate with America over one issue – the nuclear issue. An agreement in this area can serve as the basis for the possibility to interact on other issues as well.”
  • Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Iran’s former Chief of Judiciary, notes:
    • “How come it only is us who must be verified? How come their annulment of sanctions is not verified? When did we lie? When did we engaged in such savage aggressions? You are liars, and you must be verified... Today, America needs these negotiations more than us... Sanctions should not force our officials to hasten. The work must progress with dignity and strength, and [Islamic Republic negotiators] should not be deceived by the smiles of the enemies... Today, most US options have been defeated and one must not fear it. A single word of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution will foil all their options on the table. Of course, this country is also facing domestic human rights problems, is not as strong as before and is facing many problems.”
  • In a meeting with the Foreign Minister of Hungary, President Hassan Rouhani comments on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    • “Just as Iran had proven, it is transparent and it is present with a strong will in the [nuclear] discussions. Iran’s activities are under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and its nuclear activities will continue along the peaceful path.”
    • “Up until present, good progress has been created in nuclear negotiations between the two sides, and if serious will exists in the opposing side, we can reach a deal in the allotted time.”

Economy & Trade

  • Masoud Nili, an economic adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, notes:
    • “In case the sanctions are totally removed, within a year we will return to the conditions prior to the sanctions. The foreign currency revenue will jump start, and the cost of Iran's access to the international markets will reduced... But there are also those who say that the problems will not be solved even if the sanctions are removed... But one must not spread hopelessness among the public.”
  • The front page article of Aftab-e Yazd reported:
    • “Yesterday, an Oil Ministry official [Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia] declared that there are no restrictions concerning American investments in Iran’s oil sector. Aftab-e Yazd analyzes these statements with a group of experts.”
      • Hassan Moradi, an academic: “This is a win win game... In the case of annulment of the sanctions, oil companies will compete with each other. With the green light which the Oil Ministry International Affairs Deputy has given, we shall see Iran entering the global economy... The economy will grow very rapidly and will open new horizons to the country.”
  • Aftab-e Yazd reports:
    • “While the pipeline exporting Iran's natural gas to Pakistan has not been completed because of Islamabad foot-dragging, there are reports on Tehran/Kabul negotiations to export Iran’s natural gas to Afghanistan.”

Human Rights

  •  The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Human Rights Committee issues a statement dismissing Dr. Ahmad Shaheed’s report concerning the execution of 340 people in Iran in 2015.

Daily Picture(s)

  • Defa Press displays a picture of the Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of Iran’s IRGC Quds-Force (IRGC-QF), alongside Abu-Azrael, a member of Ktaib Imam Ali during operations in Tikrit, Iraq.