Iran Press Review 19-20 May

Analysis by FDD

  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, and Saeed Ghasseminejad, Associate Fellow, write in The National Interest: “The looming nuclear deal will soon unshackle Iran’s economy from the burden of Western sanctions. Who stands to benefit from this opening? While Iran’s public sector, state-controlled religious foundations, and the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps are routinely named as the principal players in Iran’s economy, Princeton University’s Kevan Harris has recently dismissed excessive focus on the guards’ and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s control over the economy as “analysis via rumor mill and scholarship via scaremongering.””
  • Sheryl Saperia, Director of Policy for Canada, writes in The Canadian Jewish News: “In a desperate attempt to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, the Obama administration has forfeited many of its core demands. The framework announced last month in Lausanne, Switzerland, abandons UN Security Council resolutions calling for Iran to halt its enrichment activities and is ambiguous on both compliance verification and penalties for violation. If a deal is concluded in line with the Lausanne parameters, there is broad agreement that Iran will be within arm’s reach of a nuclear weapon shortly after its 10-year probation period has expired. Barring any other interdiction of Iran’s weapons program, the only question remaining for the West will be the nature and assertiveness of the regime in possession of nuclear weapons capability.”
  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, writes in The National Post: “Almost two years into the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, and just as long after the start of the latest round of nuclear negotiations with Tehran, human rights in Iran show no signs of improvement. On the contrary there is continuity — and in some cases deterioration — in the state of human rights in Iran compared to the pre-Rouhani era. This situation is closely linked to the nuclear negotiations. Negotiations and the regime’s concessions — as small as they may seem to the P5+1 negotiators — make the regime appear weak in the eyes of many Iranians. A weakness the regime then tries to compensate with increased repression.”

Politics

  • Mohammad Nahavandian, President Hassan Rouhani’s Chief of Staff, dismissed rumors about a cabinet shuffle.
    • Masoud Pezeshkian, an Etemad columnist, notes: “The cabinet is in trouble... which is disrupting the work of the executive branch... but a cabinet shuffle is not likely to solve those problems... the macro policies are to blame... not the ministers.”

Foreign Policy

  • In an address at Imam Hossein University today, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei proclaimed:
    • “Today your name, the name of the nation of Iran is a loud and proud name amongst nations and amongst the learned free-people of the world. [What about] amongst governments? Governments much the same; governments are composed of peoples…those that are not drowned in passions, those who have not accepted the servitude of the arrogance (a reference to America) with their heart and soul also admit to the greatness of the nation of Iran, and the greatness of a system which has been able to make this nation progress as such. In the gatherings which have been held in our country - whether it be the Islamic Conference or the Non-Aligned Movement – the most amount of leaders and upstanding officials of the world gathered here and expressed an interest. It is said that Iran is isolated! Isolated are the people who only by force, only by money, only by way of the dollar can attract hearts; not [by] their message, not their comments, [and] their actions have not created any appeal in the world. My dearest youth, dearest children of the nation of Iran! It is you with this most-glorious flag. In this university, and in all points in different areas of the country, our youth faithfully proceed along this path.”  
  • Grand Ayatollah Nouri Hamadani comments on Saudi Arabia:
    • “Saudi Arabia has no choice but to take refuge and save itself with America and the Zionists since they are afraid.”
    • “The leader of a society bust not be a bribe-acceptor, since [if] he has this characteristic, [he] will trample upon the rights of people.”
  • In a speech in East-Azerbaijan province today, President Hassan Rouhani proclaims:
    • “Our nation, our government and the Supreme Leader, our system, all and all, in a coherent and integrated effort, have introduced and will introduce the real face of the great nation of Iran to the world.”  
  • Yesterday in Syria, Ali-Akbar Velayati met with President Bashar al-Assad and commented on regional strife and those fanning the flames of violence:
    • “Doubtlessly, these actions will only grab the skirts of the [very same] countries in the region, and their imaginations and their illusions of dominance over the region and the creation of discord and even the disintegration of some countries will never be realized, and much like always, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be present beside the resistance of the government and people of Syria.”
    • “We hope to see the abolition of the evil of terrorism, extremism, and Takfiri currents.”
    •  “The resistant countries of the region [like] Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq will be victorious in this struggle, and we wish to see the eradication of divisiveness and the current of oppression and crime in the region.”
  • Elsewhere, quoted in al-Safir on regional matters, Ali-Akbar Velayati noted:
    • “If a nuclear deal takes place or doesn’t take place we will be steadfast in our support to the government of Syria.”
    • “When we support Iraq, it is because our interests and the interests of the countries of the region is in this, that Iraq remain united and healthy. When we support the resistance in Lebanon, it is because this issue is in the depths of our Iranian beliefs. Zionism is the shared enemy of us all. What right does the American Congress have to interfere in the dissolution of Iraq? They are after creating a civil war in Lebanon, but we will not allow for such a thing to happen, much like we were against their efforts to divide Iraq and other countries of the region, we will resist.”
    • “Any negative upheaval in neighboring countries will have negative repercussions for our country, we have neighboring countries.”
  • Jam-e Jam reported that a political delegation of the Afghan Taliban is visiting Tehran.
    • Tasnim News Agency reports that the delegation is led by a man named Tayyeb-Aqa.
  • The Guardian reported: “A former Iranian foreign minister and another ex-official have denied Tehran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Argentina that has come under renewed scrutiny after the death of an investigator. Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran’s foreign minister in 1994 and current foreign affairs adviser to the country’s supreme leader, described allegations of Iranian involvement in the attack that killed 85 people and injured hundreds “unfounded, false” and a “lie”.”

Military and Security

  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Commander, Major Mohammad-Ali Aziz-Jafari, at Iran’s Imam Hossein University:
    • “The guarding of the Islamic Revolution against the enemies takes place in the shadow of the power of our swords and the power of faith and technologies which create the balance of terror and danger for the enemies.”
  • Former Commander of Iran’s IRGC and current Advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, comments on regional security issues:
    • On the Iran-Iraq War: “The Iraqi’s announced the occupation of Khurramshahr to be their biggest victory (during the war). Whereas the liberation of Khurramshahr was a Iran’s strategic victory and Iraq’s strategic defeat.”
    • On strategy: “Even now, our strategy is defensive and an attack strategy does not exist in our doctrine. We now possess a powerful government and leadership from the perspective of political stability, defense and cultural power, and political influence in the region.”
    • On Israel: “They are aware of the power of Iran and Hezbollah. More than 80 thousand missiles are ready to be fired at Tel-Aviv and Haifa and Iran is a powerful which will give them a crushing response.”
    • On American strategy: “With a new plan for the Middle East, America is after the dismemberment of Arab countries, and the proxy-wars that Arab countries have created, and the activities of terrorist groups in the region has no result other than the increase of American military bases in the region and the sale of billions of dollars of American weaponry.”
  • Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff puts out a declaration on honor of IRGC-day, noting:
    • “With an Ashura-like and epic-creating presence, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has made the threats and seditions planned in the camps of the dominant system and the arrogance (a reference to America) against Islamic Iran face mortifying and instructive defeats.”
  • Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, Commander of Iran’s Artesh (national army) Ground-Forces proclaims that starting tomorrow, a seven day-long military drill codenamed Bayt al-Moghadas will take place in Iran for the Artesh Ground Forces.
  • Commander Mohammad Soleimani, the Commander of Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiair’s IRGC division, the Ghamar Bani-Hashem unit, comments on the importance of the liberation of Khurramshahr, a turning point in the Iran-Iraq War:
    • “If the martyrs and soldiers were able to conquer Khurramshahr and liberate thousands of kilometers of occupied land by the Ba’athist enemy, it was due to their adherence to the ideas of Imam Khomeini.”
    • “The epic of Khurramshahr is one of the golden pages of the history of the Revolution and it must be the great lesson at the forefront for the younger-generation and nation of Iran.”
  • Fars News Agency reports that the Alborz warship of the thirty-fourth naval flotilla approached the Iran Shahed vessel.  
  • The Islamic Republic’s authorities celebrated the Kurdish Peshmerga at a conference in Sanandaj:
    • Ali Larijani, Speaker of Iran’s Parliament: “10,000 Sunni martyrs [of the Iran-Iraq war] shows the degree of integration for the sake of preserving the ethos of the Islamic revolution.”
    • Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, Iran’s Basij Forces Commander: “In Iran, the Muslim Kurdish Peshmerga fought within the army of the pious against the infidels.”
  • Kayhan editorialized:
    • “How come the revolutionary movement of Ansar-Allah does not give a ‘becoming’ answer compared to what it is receiving [from Saudi Arabia]? Does silence not embolden the aggressor regime in the onslaught against the innocent people of Yemen...? The first moves of Ansar and its concentration on internal defense prevented formation of a military alliance with presence of countries like Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt in the Saudi axis.”
  • Mahmoud Vaezi, Iran’s Minister of Information Technology, evaded questions about the alleged conflict between the Rouhani government and Iran Telecom, which is owned by the IRGC:
    • “Political and factional issues is not involved in our work.”
  • Mohammad Salari, Tehran Islamic City Council member, criticized the near monopolization of the Iranian capital’s construction and development budget.
  • Fars News Agency reports: “The Iranian cargo ship carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen will dock at Djibouti port to be inspected by the United Nations. The ship named 'Iran Shahed' which was sent by the Iranian Red Crescent Society to Yemen on May 13, loaded with pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, will then head to Yemen's al-Hudayda port after being inspected.”
  • Reuters reports: “A Yemen-bound Iranian aid ship is not being escorted by Iranian warships and is due to arrive in the port of Hodaida on Thursday, two foreign activists onboard the vessel told Reuters on Tuesday. A coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia has imposed searches on all ships trying to enter Yemen in a bid to prevent weapons being smuggled to the Iran-allied Houthi group which controls much of the country, including Hodaida.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Behrouz Kamalvandi, the Spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), weighs-in on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    •  “It is with knowledge that we find capability. If we are not armed with knowledge, we will not realize that which we are after in the international stage. The stage today in the international [community] has for years been involved in the issue of authority.”
    • “Due to the grace of the efforts of our scientists, today in the nuclear issue the Islamic Republic of Iran enjoys great authority and prestige. On one side of the table sits 80% of the world’s military economic power that even have veto-rights. But that which our country is after…is the preservation of nuclear achievements, specifically enrichment as the mother and branch of this industry.”
    • “It is not necessary for someone to formally recognize the official rights of a nation…We are the tenth country in the world to do enrichment and today we have entered the club of enrichment.”
  • Elsewhere in his address at Imam Hossein University, Ayatollah Khamenei touted:
    • “In opposing the excessive-demands, a strong wall of determination and trust and national strength must be brought about.”
    • “Just as it has been said before, no permission of any sort will be given for an inspection of not even one of the military sites and also discussions with nuclear scientists and other sensitive disciplines and an insult to their privacy.”
    • “I will not allow for foreigners to come and speak with scientists and the dear and up-standing children of this nation and to interrogate them.”
    • “The enemy is immodest and shameless, and anticipates that we allow them to talk with our scientists and researchers about a fundamentally domestic and national progress, but absolutely no such permission will be given.”
    • “The enemies of the Islamic system and those who await the decision of the system should clearly understand this issue.”
  • Elsewhere in his speech, President Rouhani proclaimed:
    • “Our people stand behind the nuclear negotiators, whom by the interpretation of the Supreme Leader, are fruitful children of the Islamic Revolution. You should know that the end of these negotiations, by the power of God, will have honor and pride for the nation of Iran.”
  • Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani, commented on the use of sanctions against Iran to stop its nuclear program:
    • “The policy of imposing sanctions against Iran by the West was a strategic mistake since this action was unable to make Iran stop pursuing its legitimate rights in using peaceful nuclear science.”
  • Esmaeil Kowsari, a Member of Parliament, demanded that Deputy Foreign Minister Eraqchi, a senior nuclear negotiator, “correct” his statements concerning the “possibility of IAEA inspection of military sites.” “We will under no circumstance... allow inspection of military sites.”

Human Rights

  • Jason Rezaeian, the imprisoned journalist from The Washington Post is slated to be formally tried on May 26, 2015.

Daily Picture(s)

  • Defa Press displays a picture of former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaie, who has not donned his IRGC uniform with rank for 18 years.
  • Fars News Agency shows pictures of residents of Ahar, in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, who wrote out their requests and opinions on a white-board for President Rouhani’s trip to the region.