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Iran Press Review: 20 March

Politics

  • Hajjiyeh Sakineh Payvandi, the mother of Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, passed away in Iran at the age of 90. Her funeral will be held in the town of Sorkeh this Sunday, and her memorial service will be held on the same day in the city of Semnan. Numerous members of Iran’s political elite offered their condolences, including, but not limited to:
  • Defa Press runs a list of titles Iran’s Supreme Leader bequeathed to each new year since 1369 (1990/1991). Below are a few from recent history:​​
    • 1393 (2014/2015): “The year of economics and culture with national resolution and Jihadi management.”
    • 1392 (2013/2014): “The year of political and economic epics”
    • 1391 (2012/2013): “The year of national production and support of Iranian labor and capital”
    • 1390 (2011/2012): “The year of economic Jihad”
    • 1389 (2010/2011): “The year of doubled effort and labor”

Foreign Policy

  • Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, comments on regional perceptions of an Iran nuclear deal:
    • “Some of the countries which believe a nuclear agreement between Iran and the West to be against their interests, must really look and see wherein the interests of the region lies.”
    • “I don’t see a reason for the worries of some our neighbors, and the governments which express concern over this agreement must revise their stance and perspectives.”
  • President Barack Obama felicitates the Iranian people on the occasion of Norooz [New Day – Persian New Year] and reiterates the importance of a nuclear deal.
  • Elsewhere, on Twitter, Zarif responds to Obama’s message, stating:
    • “The people of Iran have made their decision: ‘Engagement with the West.’”
    • “The time has come for America and its allies to choose: ‘Pressure or an agreement.’”
  • The U.S. Department of State put out the following press release with respect to the passing of Hassan Rouhani’s mother: “We extend our deepest condolences to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Dr. Hassan Rouhani and his family on the passing of his mother, Mrs. Sakineh Peivandi. Such a loss is especially hard coming on the eve of Nowruz, traditionally a time when families gather together in joy and hope. We share in his grief and that of his brother, Presidential Special Advisor Hossein Fereydoun, who has been participating in the talks in Lausanne, and we keep their family in our thoughts.”

Military & Security

  • Mashregh News reports on the death and burial of Masoud Taheri, another member of Iran’s all-Afghan fighting brigade in Syria, dubbed Tip-e Fatimiyoon [the Fatimiyoon Brigade]. Taheri was given the honorific of martyr [Shahid], and was listed as one of the “defenders of the shrine of ‘the lady of resistance’ Her Excellency Zainab the elder.” Mashregh further reports that he was fighting “American Islam” and “Saudi agents” in Syria. He was buried in Behest-e Zahra [the Paradise of Zahra] cemetery.
  • Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, the Commander of Iran’s Basij Forces, states:
    • “Just yesterday, three agents of the Law-Enforcement Forces (LEF) of the Islamic Republic, were martyred by the bombs of terrorist agents of America…who were trained and equipped in Pakistan.”
  • Politico reports: “Former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus says the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not the biggest threat facing the United States in Iraq. “In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran,” Petraeus said in written comments to The Washington Post’s Beirut bureau chief, Liz Sly.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Ayatollah Movahedi-Kermani, who led the last Friday Prayers for 1393 in Tehran, is quoted in an Islamic Republic News Agency headline, saying: “[We] must say huzzah to the Iranian negotiating delegation.”
  • During Friday Prayers in Gilan, Ayatollah Zain al-Abedin Ghorbani, the Representative of the Supreme Leader to Gilan Province and a member of the Assembly of Experts, states:
    • “Iran’s diplomats defended Iran’s honor in the negotiations, and these negotiations are an experimental stage for the West.”
  • Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, comments on ongoing U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy:
    • “We have reached a very sensitive point… Discussions have reached very granular points.”
    • “At present, Mr. Salehi and Muniz are in discussions and we hope progress is attained.”
    • Elsewhere, Seyyed Abbas Eraqchi, a Senior member of Iran’s nuclear negotiation team and Deputy Foreign Minister notes:
      • “The negotiations will commence from the beginning on the 5th of Farvardin (March 25, 2014)
      • “During the past few days very serious and intensive negotiations took place between Iran and the 5+1. Now is the time where we need more consultations and cooperation.”
      • “For this purpose, the American Secretary of State and Foreign Ministers of European countries will meet tomorrow in Berlin.”
  • Reuters reports: “The British, French and German foreign ministers are due to meet Iranian nuclear negotiators in Lausanne on Saturday, European diplomatic sources told Reuters, adding that a final decision would depend on talks among officials on Friday. It was not immediately clear if the foreign ministers would be joined by the Russian, U.S. and Chinese counterparts who are part of a process aimed at ending a confrontation over Tehran's nuclear program. The sources spoke after the French, German and British leaders met the EU foreign policy chief in Brussels.”
  • AP reports: Iran and six world powers are close to a nuclear agreement and are expected to iron out most of their remaining differences by the weekend, but another round of talks likely will be needed to seal any deal, a senior Russian official said Friday. Senior Russian negotiator Sergey Ryabkov told The Associated Press that while some differences remain, negotiators are expected to "finish their main work" by Saturday, with another session likely next week, he said.”
  • The Wall Street Journal reported: “When international sanctions on Iran would be lifted has emerged as one of the largest remaining stumbling blocks to an agreement to constrain Tehran’s nuclear program by a March 31 deadline, according to U.S., European and Iranian officials. Tehran’s negotiators in Switzerland, according to these diplomats, have hardened their position that United Nations sanctions on their country be repealed at the front end of any deal reached this month with the U.S. and other global powers.”
  • The Hill reported: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on a bill allowing Congress to weigh in on any Iran deal in mid-April — weeks after a deadline U.S. negotiators face for reaching an agreement with Tehran. Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Thursday that the committee will vote on their legislation on April 14.”

Economy & Trade

  • Reuters reports: “Brent crude oil fell below $54 a barrel on Friday and was on track for its third straight weekly loss, hurt by worries of rising supplies from OPEC and the United States. Intensive efforts to clinch a deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme fed concerns that freeing up its flow of oil exports would pile more pressure on the market.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Mashregh News Agency displays photos of the burial ceremony of Masoud Taheri, another member of Iran’s all-Afghan fighting brigade in Syria.
  • Iranian Students News Agency displays a photo of President Rouhani kissing the hand of his mother.
  • Mashregh News Agency citing Iranian Students News Agency displays photos of a recent meeting in Switzerland between John Kerry and Hossein Fereidoun, where Kerry offered his condolences. Wendy Sherman and Ernest Muniz were present on the U.S. side, as well as Ali-Akbar Salehi and Mohammad-Javad Zarif on the Iranian side.
  • Mashregh News Agency citing Iranian Students News Agency provides photos of the Iranian nuclear negotiating delegation on the sixth day of negotiations with the United States.