Subscribe to FDD

Iran Press Review: 19 March

Analysis by FDD

  • Clifford May, President, wrote in The Washington Times: “Philosopher-comedian Lily Tomlin used to say, “No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.” Has that ever been truer than it is in Washington right now? Last week, we learned that the deal the Obama administration has been attempting to negotiate with the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be “legally binding.””
  • Bill Roggio, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Long War Journal: “In the wake of an offensive to liberate the central Iraqi town of Amerli from the Islamic State last summer, Shiite militias raided 30 villages in the surrounding area in reprisal attacks against Sunnis. The militias looted, burned thousands of buildings, and abducted at least 11 people, according to Human Rights Watch. The US military provided air support to Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shiite militas during the initial fighting against the Islamic State in Amerli. “After US air strikes and Iraqi fighters broke the siege [of Amerli], pro-government militias began to raid Sunni and mixed Sunni villages in the areas surrounding Amerli,” HRW stated in a report, titled After Liberation Came Destruction, which was released today.”
  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Long War Journal: “A comparative analysis of funeral services held in Iran for seven Shiite Pakistani nationals killed in combat in Syria and Iraq (Table 1, below), and those of Shiite Afghan casualties in Syria, provides insight into Tehran’s use of non-Iranian Shiites in its struggle against regional Sunni adversaries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and their salafist jihadist affiliates. As with the Afghan casualties, the funeral processions of all Shiite Pakistani “martyrs” killed in Syria and Iraq took place in Iran, in the presence of their family and relatives, which indicates that they were residing there prior to their deployment, and did not volunteer for combat from Pakistan. In the case of Javid Hossein, Iranian media outlets admit that he was a resident of Qom.”

Politics

  • Ahmad Tavakolli, a member of Iran’s Parliament [Majlis] representing Tehran, critiques Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, citing his seeming lack of tolerance for criticism, and linked it to his campaign slogans which presented Rouhani as a moderate and patient man. Tavakolli specifically mentioned the Rouhani administration’s rhetoric towards other government officials.
  • Resalat reported that Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Younessi, Iran’s former Minister of Intelligence who recently made controversial comments about an Iranian empire, will be brought before Iran’s Special Clerical Court (SCC).

Foreign Policy

  • Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, comments on Syria, stating:
    • “Iran will continue its support of the Syrian people.”
    • “The role of Bashar Assad in preserving the national unity of Syria and combatting terrorism is undeniable.”
    • “Iran knows the security of the countries in the region, specifically the security of Syria to be an important factor in the security of the entire region.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Younessi meets with the Representatives of Iran’s religious minorities in the Parliament, and speaks more broadly about his recent comments, and Iran’s foreign policy designs:
    • “That which I said was not new.”
    • “Throughout history, the nation of Iran has had ethnic and cultural ties with its neighboring nations, and was affected by the events that befell the Yazidi’s and other ethnicities and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.”
    • “As a powerful country on its own, the Islamic Republic of Iran knows itself to be a friend and supporter of the countries and people of the region and has always emphasized the territorial integrity and independence of those countries.”
    • “Some political currents reflected my statements in a different fashion, in a way that foreign outlets that are against the Islamic Republic of Iran and are angered by the spiritual influence of Iran in the region of the Middle East, took to the media space and distorted my statements.”
  • Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Tehran, Nasir Ahmad Nour, stressed the importance of the Iran-Afghanistan relationship. The Afghan Ambassador further stated:
    • “In truth, the major and fundamental problems of Afghanistan originated with the occupation of this country by foreigners.”   

Military & Security

  • Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, the Commander of Iran’s Basij Forces, notes:
    • “The youth of the present era must be prepared to liberate Quds [Jerusalem], and because of this they must prepare themselves for a decisive battle.” 
  • Tasnim News Agency reports: “The Public Relations and Propaganda Deputy of the Qa’em al- Mohammad Seman Province unit of the Guards (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – IRGC) reported on the destruction of the corruption-promoting network on social networks.” 
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s Minister of Intelligence, states:
    • “With silent struggles and risking their lives, the unnamed soldiers of the Hidden Imam, took away the security of the enemy in the year [13]93 (2014/2015).”
    • “The unnamed soldiers of the Hidden Imam are awake on all stages and will not permit a conspiracy against the nation and dear country of Iran by those who wish ill for the Revolution.”
  • Additionally, Alavi notes:
    • “This lasting security is always accompanied by exhilaration and happiness, and this security would not come about without the presence of you people and the efforts of your children in the Ministry of Intelligence.” 
    • “The enemy has always targeted our security, but by the grace of God before any action, all the terrorists were captured and their weapons recorded.”
  • Reporting from Syria, Tasnim News Agency runs a headline reading: “The Syrian army gained complete control of the strategic region of ‘Handarat’ in Aleppo.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Hojjat al-Eslam Al-Hashem, the Head of the Political-Ideological Bureau of the Artesh [National Army] states:
    • “Today, if our officials defend the prestige of the Islamic Republic of Iran with strength in the nuclear arena, it is by the grace of the blood of the martyrs, and an honor that our warriors created in the arenas of gallantry and saga-creation.”
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, comments on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    • “We are in a state of movement. We have reached a stage where the negotiations have become severely entangled, we are in the final stages of negotiations and have intensive discussions.”
    • “Engaging in these intense discussions means that we are getting somewhere.”
    • “We still have some space from where we can say we have reached [a point of] mutual understanding.”
    • “We will stay as long as needed.”
  • Zarif’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Eraqchi, was quoted in a headline in Fars News Agency: “There has still not been any agreement over anything/the possibility of the continuation of negotiations until Sunday/the announcement of comprehensive framerwork by the 11th of Farvardin (March 31st, 2015).”
  • Fars News Agency comments on the next steps for Iran’s nuclear negotiations and reports:
    • “A source close to the nuclear negotiating team told Fars News Agency that the continuation of the negotiations depends on the progress of the next 2 days, and if we reach a stage where can compose the text we will continue the negotiations.”
    • “The last round of consultations took place on Thursday between Zarif and Kerry and [their] deputies and concurrently, Salehi and Muniz took to discussions.”
  • Prior to attending the last full cabinet meeting of the Iranian calendar year 1393, President Rouhani met with reporters, proclaiming:
    • “We had good success in the field of foreign policy and in the relations between us and our neighbors and the world, and with the 5+1 negotiations we reached good successes.”
  • Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, was quoted in a headline about nuclear negotiations by Tasnim News Agencyreading: “The possibility of the presence of the 5+1 Foreign Ministers in this round of negotiations is unlikely.”
  • Tasnim News Agency further reported on a session of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) relating to the nuclear issue:
    • “Moments ago, a report was published based on the recess of a session of the nuclear committee of the National Security Council which is an expert and decision-making committee under the Supreme National Security Council.”
    • “This committee convenes sessions to speak of expert [level] nuclear issues and Ala al-Din Boroujerdi, the head of the National Security Committee of the Parliament partook in this session as an observer.”
  • AP reports: “A draft nuclear accord now being negotiated between the United States and Iran would force Iran to cut the amount of hardware it could use to make an atomic bomb by about 40 percent for at least a decade, while offering immediate relief from sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy, officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. As an added enticement, elements of a U.N. arms embargo against Iran could be rolled back.”
  • Fars News Agency reported: “Hossein Shariatmadari, a veteran Iranian politician and journalist, cautioned that Iran should never accept to sign a final nuclear deal with the world powers under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter as such a move means that Iran's nuclear program is a threat to global peace and security. During the past few weeks and, specially after the letter of 47 US senators in which they had announced that any possible agreement with Iran will only be valid by the end of Obama's presidency and the next US president can cancel or ignore the agreement, serious discussions have been made over the necessary assurances that both sides should provide to guarantee commitment to their undertakings in any possible agreement. Subsequently, some officials in Tehran and the western capitals said that any final agreement should receive the approval of the UN Security Council in a resolution to make binding on everyone.”
  • Bloomberg reported: “When nuclear monitors said Iran had started testing a single advanced centrifuge last year, some U.S. politicians and analysts jumped on the report as proof the Islamic Republic can’t be trusted. To U.S. officials negotiating with Iran, it was probably just a mistake -- one that shows the pitfalls in the highly technical accord being discussed. Describing the incident in detail for the first time, U.S. officials, who asked not to be identified following diplomatic rules, said the testing was probably done by a low-level employee on Iran’s nuclear program who didn’t understand the limits placed on his experimentation.”
  • AP reported: “American and Iranian negotiators raced to fill out a framework for rolling back Iran's nuclear program and punitive U.S. economic sanctions, hoping for enough progress to call in other world powers for the finishing touches on an agreement next week. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Iranian atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi met again Wednesday in the Swiss city of Lausanne to discuss the technical obstacles to a deal. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were to join the talks later.”
  • The Guardian reported: “The Iranians are bullish and the Americans are cautious thirteen days before deadline. Meanwhile, the Netanyahu win in Israel has cast an air of uncertainty and urgency over the negotiations on the shores of Lake Geneva. At each stage of the Iranian nuclear negotiations the luxury hotel venues have grown steadily posher. The Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne represents a new peak. An imposing edifice on the banks of Lake Geneva, crammed with solid marble and surrounded by sprawling lawns, it is where the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923, marking the final death rites for the Ottoman Empire and defining the borders of modern Turkey.”

Economy & Trade

  • In the same address to reporters, Rouhani further noted:
    • “Despite the sanctions and the decrease in the price of oil, the nation of Iran has achieved many successes in different stages.”
    • “The economic problems have not yet ended. People still have problems, but the volume of our non-oil exports was a record, and we reached nearly 50 billion dollars in this arena. We did not think our development budget in [13]93 would reach 30 thousand billion Tomans. These were all success which were awarded to the nation of Iran.”
  • Fars News Agency reported: “The trade exchange between Iran and the world states amounted to $150bln in the current Iranian year (which ends on March 20), First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri said. Jahangiri said Thursday that 18 months after President Hassan Rouhani took office, the government has managed to slash a more-than-40 percent inflation rate to 16 percent.”
  • Fars News Agency reported: “Pasargad Energy Development Company (PEDC), a subsidiary of Pasargad private Bank, is to invest nearly $3bln in the construction of a large petrochemical complex in the Southern province of Fars. The complex, which is to be built in the Parsian Energy Intensive Industrial Zone in Fars Province, will have eight production units.”

Human Rights

  • Iran’s Minister of Justice, Hojjat al-Eslam Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi commented on Iranian prisons:
    • “In Iran’s prisons, human rights are not violated.”
    • “The issue that exists is that the number of prisoners is too high, and whether desired or undesired, it causes problems to exist, but their rights are not violated.”
  • The New York Times reported: “Increasingly desperate to return to the United States, a Marine veteran of Iranian descent who has been incarcerated in Iran for three and a half years has renounced his Iranian citizenship, requested deportation and accused Iran of using American prisoners as “bargaining chips,” his family said Monday. “Once deported, he promises never to return,” the family of the Marine veteran, Amir Hekmati, a dual citizen of the United States and Iran, said in a statement.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Fars News Agency displayed photos of Iran’s Mazandaran province.
  • Defa Press reported a new photo of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, in Iraq wearing a Keffiyeh.