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Iran Press Review: 2 March

FDD Analysis

  • Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Weekly Standard: “This week, prosecutors in New York introduced eight documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan as evidence in the trial of a terrorism suspect. The U.S. government accuses Abid Naseer of taking part in an al Qaeda’s scheme to attack targets in Europe and New York City. And prosecutors say the documents are essential for understanding the scope of al Qaeda’s plotting. More than 1 million documents and files were captured by the Navy Seals who raided bin Laden’s safe house in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011. One year later, in May 2012, the Obama administration released just 17 of them.”

Foreign Policy

  • Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, meets with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on the sidelines of a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Iranian Diplomacy further reported that Zarif is “supposed to meet with John Kerry in the evening today at local time.”
    • Tasnim News Agency reports that Zarif and Kerry have met in Montreux, Switzerland for negotiations. Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to start on Thursday, March 5th. The parties reportedly present in each delegation for today’s talks are as follows:
      • U.S.: Secretary of State John Kerry, Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz 
      • Iran: Foreign Minister Zarif, Deputy Foreign Minister’s Eraqchi and Ravanchi, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Ali-Akbar Salehi, and Presidential Advisdor Hossein Fereidoun 
  • In a meeting with the former head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi in Qom, GrandAyatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi comments on the forces that benefit from DAESH (the Persian and Arabic acronym for the Islamic State – IS):
    • “There is no doubt that the existence of DAESH is in the interest of the Americans and Westerners, and it is natural for them not to do away with something that is in their interests.”
  • Ali-Akbar Velayati, the former Foreign Minister of Iran during the Iran-Iraq War and currently the Chairman of the Center for Strategic Research, comments on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:
    • “The statements of Netanyahu are not trustworthy because he is an iterant personality that many extreme Zionists and many Zionists who share a common goal with him, do not accept the light and humiliating methods of Netanyahu.”
  • Bloomberg reported: “Yemen’s Shiite Muslim Houthi group is boosting ties with Iran shortly after Sunni Gulf Arab monarchies moved their embassies to a southern port city to back the government of President Abdurabuh Mansour Hadi. An Iranian flight carrying medical supplies arrived in Sana’a, the capital controlled by the Houthi movement, on Sunday, a day after the two countries signed an aviation agreement, al-Masirah television reported. Saleh al-Sammad, an official with the group, is also leading a delegation to Tehran to discuss political and economic cooperation. Before the announcements, there were scarce signs of overt cooperation between Iran and the group.”

Military & Security

  • Commenting on the origins of DAESH, Mohammad-Javad Zarif states:
    • “Is this not terrifying, that DAESH’s terrorists which decapitate foreigners speak European languages with a native accent?”
  • Defa Press reports that Alireza Tavassoli, the head of the Afghan Fatimiyoon Brigade fighting in Syria was recently killed. The report claims that Tavassoli was killed while fighting “Saudi mercenaries” in defense of the shrine of Zainab. The article attests that despite his reported death in defense of the Shrine (located south of Damascus), he died in Daraa.
  • Brigadier General Seyyed Massoud Jazeyeri, the head of the Defense Propaganda Headquarters, responds to reported threats against Iran by the U.S. Secretary of State. Jazayeri proclaims:
    • “In the event of stupid military move by America against Iran, we will show the true power of the Islamic Republic to them.”
    • “Our solid defense and our widely dispersed offense will force America to leave the strategic area of West Asia.”
  • Fars News Agency comments on the next target of Iran inside Iraq for liberation – the city of Tikrit. Fars News Agency reported that according to a well-informed source, IRGC-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani “entered ‘Tikrit’ Saturday evening for supervision and consultation to field commanders.” Fars also provided photos of his arrival.
  • Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the Commander of Iran’s Artesh [National Army] Navy traveled to Astana, Kazakhstan, this Sunday and is scheduled to meet with the Kazakh Defense Minister, Imangali Tasmagambetov. YJC further reported that “Rear Admiral Sayyari is also slated to give a speech to Kazakhstan’s National Defense University, visit shipbuilding plants in the city of Uralsk, and also to travel to the city of Aktau, a seaport on the Caspian Sea.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Seyyed-Reza Hashemi, a Representative of the Student Basij Organization of Iran University of Science and Technology, comments on American unreliability and Iranian leverage in nuclear negotiations:
    • “On the one hand, America is in a state of negotiations with Iran specifically in relation to nuclear discussions, and on the other threatens Iran with the military option. This situation once again endorses American untrustworthiness.”
    • On the recently concluded Great Prophet 9 military drill and negotiations:
      • “This drill showed that Iran’s regional power is greater than that which enemies imagine, and is such that it does not allow America to easily speak about a military option.”
      • “Additionally, this drill is a powerful tool in the hand of our diplomats to pressure to American and Western sides in nuclear negotiations until they [can] stand against the bullying of the American and Western sides.”
  • Jafar Qanadbashi, an Iranian political analyst, weighs-in on nuclear negotiations:
    • “A good agreement from the perspective of the Islamic Republic has two parts, in the first level the endorsement of enrichment be it from the perspective of [Iran’s] needs or the level of enrichment, and in the next stage, the removal of all sanctions at once and speedily, and the Islamic Republic’s logic will not fall short of its own rights at any point in reaching a good agreement.”
  • Commenting on lifting sanctions, Fouad Izadi, an analyst of American affairs in Iran, notes:
    • “John Kerry has told Congress that in the end, you will vote about the sanctions because the anti-Iran sanctions had been approved by Congress and these sanctions must be removed by Congress. Therefore, if an agreement takes place, Congress must vote to see if the sanctions must be removed or not, from this perspective, the opposing side which must be satisfied is the American Congress not just the Executive branch of this country.”
    • “The condition of the American Congress is not favorable, and Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of the Zionist regime has traveled to America to speak to Congress, and the majority of Congress is in the hands of the Republicans.”
    • “Not only is the American Congress not in a mood to remove sanctions, but is rather seeking to increase them, therefore, the Leadership has said that whether or not a deal takes place, it is unclear whether the sanctions will be lifted.”
  • Elsewhere, commenting on nuclear issues, Ali-Akbar Velayati said:
    • “The Islamic Republic of Iran in the nuclear arena takes strides within the framework of global regulations and the NPT, and has been pursuing its own legal right.”
  • Talking to Reuters and quoted in Tasnim News Agency, Mohammad-Javad Zarif comments on Iran’s nuclear diplomacy:
    • “In nuclear negotiations we will proceed until wherever we can.”
    • “Since of the previous discussions, we have attained developments and if political will exists for the repealing of sanctions ‘in this period of time we can reach an agreement.’”
  • Ray Takeyh, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in The Washington Post: “On the surface, there is not much that commends Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An anti-Semite, he has frequently questioned the Holocaust and defamed Israel in despicable terms. As a conspiracy theorist, he endlessly weaves strange tales about the United States and its intentions. As a national leader, he has ruthlessly repressed Iran’s once-vibrant civil society while impoverishing its economy. And yet Khamenei is also a first-rate strategic genius who is patiently negotiating his way to a bomb. After years of defiance, Khamenei seems to appreciate that his most advantageous path to nuclear arms is through an agreement. To continue to build up his atomic infrastructure without the protective umbrella of an agreement exposes Iran to economic sanctions and the possibility of military retribution. While in the past Khamenei may have been willing to cross successive U.S. “red lines,” the price of such truculence was financial stress that he feared could provoke unrest. Unlike many of his Western interlocutors, Khamenei appreciates that his regime rests on shaky foundations and that the legitimacy of the Islamic revolution has long been forfeited. The task at hand was to find a way to forge ahead with a nuclear program while safeguarding the regime and its ideological verities.”
  • Jeffrey Goldberg writes in The Atlantic: “The perverse genius of Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides (and their Republican handmaidens) is that they have managed to turn a moment in which President Obama should have been busy defending his pursuit of a nuclear agreement with a dangerous adversary into a stress test of the U.S.-Israel relationship. But on Wednesday, the day after Netanyahu delivers his reelection speech to Congress to 23, or 19, or 31 standing ovations (advice to viewers: study the Democrats as they arrange their facial expressions in complicated and interesting ways), the focus will return to the president, his plans for the Middle East, and the many promises he has made about Iran and its nuclear program.”

Economy & Trade

  • Resalat runs a headline about Iran’s Statistical Organization, quoting economic documents from Tehran University. The headline reads:
    • “In all the countries of the world, the statistical organization is not linked to the government.”
  • Fars News Agency reported: “Tehran and Moscow plan to considerably boost their trade exchanges in the near future, Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanayee announced on Sunday. "The two countries (Iran and Russia) are serious about increasing the value of their trade exchanges to $70 billion," Sanayee told FNA today.”

Human Rights

  • IRNA reports: “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday voiced Iran's readiness to boost cooperation with UN human rights commissioner. He made the remarks in a meeting in Geneva with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.”
  • The Washington Post reported: “A Washington Post reporter imprisoned in Iran has been granted access to an attorney — but not the one of his choosing. Jason Rezaian, who has been the paper’s Tehran correspondent since 2012 and holds U.S. and Iranian citizenship, has spent 222 days in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Family members say that their preferred attorney was blocked by the country’s Revolutionary Court, which last week had given them a deadline of March 2 to present one that was “acceptable.””

Daily Picture(s)

  • Officials from the two Iranian vessels that docked in Jakarta on Friday last week have been meeting with Indonesian political and military officials, as documented by Fars News Agency
  • Tasnim News Agency displayed photos of yesterday’s meeting between President Hassan Rouhani and the Foreign Minister of Italy.