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Iran Press Review: 23 October 2014

Analysis by FDD

·      Research Fellow Benjamin Weinthal reviews Dancing with the Devil in The Jerusalem Post: “To understand the foreign policy goals of European engagement with Iran during its nascent phase, it is worth recalling a joke of the time. In 1984, Germany’s then-foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher pursued the concept of “critical dialogue” to revive diplomacy with Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. This was supposed to be a kind of carrot-and-stick policy to improve the Islamic Republic’s incorrigibly reactionary human rights record with tough-love criticism; the incentive part of German engagement meant economic and diplomatic benefits to the mullah regime.”

·      Iran Research Analyst Behnam Ben Taleblu writes in The National Interest: “For a conflict that still captivates much of Iran’s ruling elite, the Iran-Iraq War gets very little attention in the United States. Over the years, we’ve regularly seen events commemorating the August 19, 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Op-Eds on the 1979 Islamic Revolution are always with us. The date September 22, 1980—when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Iran—hasn’t, however, been compelling for Iran watchers, let alone the general foreign-policy crowd in Washington. This is a mistake. No single event has defined Iran’s revolutionary ideology, politics, perspectives on society and security more than the Iran-Iraq War. Here are four reasons why that conflict still matters, and why the West ignores its legacy at its own peril.”

·      Behnam Ben Taleblu further writes in a Policy Brief: “Another man of the cloth has perished. Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani, the Chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, passed away this Tuesday while hospitalized with a coma in Tehran. On the surface, it may just seem like another elderly cleric in the Islamic Republic has met his maker. But the death of the head of Iran’s most influential clerical body re-invigorates a volatile debate around succession and the transfer of power in the Islamic Republic.” 

Politics

·      Fars News Agency covers the funeral ceremony and memorial prayers for the deceased Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi Kani:

o   “His Excellency Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution entered Tehran University minutes after the start of the ceremony to pray over the body of the late Excellency Ayatollah Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi-Kani the former Chairman of the Assembly of Experts.”

o   “The heads of the three branches of government [lit. power] and the Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council were accompanying the Supreme Leader.”

o   “Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Ayatollah Alam al-Hoda, Ayatollah Yazdi, Ayatollah Reyshahri, Ayatollah Mousavi Jazayeri, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Gholamali Haddad-Adel, Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Mahmoud Alavi, Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, Commander Mohammad-Reza Naqdi, Commader Hossein Dehqan, Hojjat al-Eslam Ali-Akbar Nateq-Nouri, Major General Firoozabadi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hojjat al-Eslam val Moslemeen Rahimian were of the civilian and military officials present in this ceremony.”

·      The outpouring of admiration for the deceased Mahdavi-Kani continues:

o   Khattam al-Anbiya Air Defense Commander Farzad Esmaieli: “Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani was a loyal companion of the Revolution who spent all his capabilities for the Revolution.”

o   Former Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi: “Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani was a point of hope for all peoples that always looking for a political but political-revolutionary movement.”

o   Former Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili: “Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani is the evidence of 50 years of Mojahedin-like [those who engage in Jihad] in the path of pure Islam, was a movement that his Excellency Imam Khomeini started.”

o   Ayatollah Asgar Dirbaz, a member of the Assembly of Experts: “Prior to the Revolution, Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani was of the combatant and sympathetic personalities of the Revolution and served many people who due to Islam rebelled against the idolatrous regime (the former Pahlavi dynasty).”

·      Tasnim News Agency reports comments pertaining to who will take up the mantle of the chairmanship of Association of Combatant Clerics, a party Mahdavi-Kani had founded. Accordingly, Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Reza Taghavi, the Chairman of the Council for Policy of Friday Prayer Leaders notes:

o   “Ayatollah Movahedi-Kermani has until presently served as his deputy, and in the future there will be a discussion.”

o   Regarding the leadership of the Assembly of Experts: “There are known-faces in the Assembly of Experts and at present, Ayatollah Shahroudi is leading the sessions, therefore in the first session there will be an election for the Chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts.”

·      Hojjat al-Eslam Seyyed Mohammad Hassan Abutorabifard, the First Vice-President of the Parliament [Majlis] comments on Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani and the ‘sedition’ or Fitnah (the word used to describe the Green Movement and its supporters by hardliners).

·      In a speech today, Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi highlighted the notion that: “Recently some, by engaging in movements, are seeking to revive the sedition, but you must not ever allow this to be realized and we must always appreciate solidarity and unity in the country.”
 

Foreign Policy

·      Speaking in Najafabad, Commander of Iran’s Basij Forces Mohammad-Reza Naqdi exclaims:

o   “Due to the heavy defeat the enemy has suffered at the hands of the thought of the Islamic Revolution, they have turned to a severe culture and ideological war and conspiracy. And in this path the mass media is widely used.”  

·      Seyyed Mehdi Mousavinejad, a member of Iran’s Parliament [Majlis] comments on the Saudi decision to execute the prominent Shi’ite cleric, Sheikh Nimr:

o    “The decision to execute Sheikh Nimr from the courts of [Saudi] Arabia expresses the hatred and hostility of the officials of this country for Shi’ites and true Muslims.”

o   “That which is presently happening in [Saudi] Arabia is the hidden hands of the Zionists administering this country.”

·      The Gulf Times reports: “Qatar’s Minister of Economy and Commerce HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed al-Thani has visited Iran, accompanied by a delegation that included a number of businessmen and CEOs of Qatari companies to discuss economic and trade relations between Qatar and Iran and ways to strengthen them. During the visit, which came at the invitation by the Iranian side, HE the Minister met with the First Vice President of Iran Eshaq Jahangiri Kouhshahi where they exchanged views on aspects of co-operation between the two countries. The Iranian Vice President wished the State of Qatar success in achieving the development process and progress.”

Military and Security

·      The Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami exclaims:

o   “America, has been transformed from the main actor in the region to sitting on the sidelines, and in its place, the Islamic Revolution with the prudence of the Supreme Leader has been turned into the most important administrator of the region.”

o   “Islamic Iran has no fears of any international powers, and stands against their excessive demands.”

·      Mohammad Pakpour, the Commander of the IRGC’s Ground Forces notes:

o   On regional issues/threats: “These threats cause us to pay more attention to [our] training and to have a review of our trainings, so that we can take advantage of our trainings in combat and in the battlefield.”

o   “The groups which our enemies had created in the region for their own interests in this present time have had their leash torn and acts against them.”

·      Reuters reports: “China wants to have closer military ties with Iran, the Chinese defense minister told the visiting head of the Iranian navy on Thursday, state media reported, reaffirming diplomatic links despite controversy over Iran's nuclear plans. Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan told Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari that the two armed forces have seen "good cooperation on mutual visits, personnel training and other fields in recent years", China's official Xinhua news agency reported.”

Nuclear Issue

·      Hamid Baiednejad, the leader of Iran’s technical nuclear negotiating team comments on the recent negotiations and notes: “The negotiations took a total of 10 hours.”

·      The AP reports: “America’s chief nuclear negotiator believes that some U.S. allies and members of Congress don’t want diplomacy with Iran to succeed. The undersecretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, concedes the nuclear talks are controversial. She says some fear they’ll collapse while others fear they’ll succeed.”

·      William Tobey writes in Foreign Policy: “Facing a complex and difficult task in negotiating an agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue, the Obama administration is beginning to leak what many observers have long understood -- that it sees no point in trying to obtain Congressional approval for any nuclear deal with Iran. First, it is by no means clear that Iran's Supreme leader is willing to abandon any nuclear weapons ambitions.  Tehran's disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the "possible military dimensions" of its program remain grudging, incomplete, and inaccurate -- not behavior indicative of a strategic decision to use nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes in return for the easing of Iran's political and economic exile.  This has left the IAEA Director General, Yukya Amano, unable to "conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."”

 Economy

·      Fars News Agency reports: “Iranian and Dutch officials are due to explore different avenues for the further expansion of trade and economic relations between the two countries. Head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce Gholam Hossein Shafeyee, heading a delegation, arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday to meet the Dutch officials on bilateral relations and mutual cooperation.”

·      Reuters reported that: “Boeing said on Wednesday it had sold aircraft-related goods to Iran Air in the third quarter, marking the first acknowledged dealings between U.S. aerospace companies and Iran since the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis. The Chicago-based aerospace and defense company said in a filing that it sold aircraft manuals, drawings, navigation charts and data to Iran Air to help improve the safety of Iran's civil aviation industry.” 

Human Rights

·      Dr. Ahmad Shaheed, The United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran notes that: “Next week, I will officially present to the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly my seventh official report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Per his weblog, these are some points the report is expected to elaborate on:

o   “Between July 2013 and June 2014, at least 852 individuals were reportedly executed, representing an alarming increase in the number of executions, even in relation to the already-high rates of previous years.”

o   “66 per cent of Iranian women have reportedly experienced domestic violence, and Iran lacks a sufficient legislative framework to combat such offenses.”

o   “As at June 2014, at least 300 minority religious practitioners were reportedly imprisoned.”

·      The New York Times reported: “Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of the historic city of Isfahan on Wednesday to protest several acid attacks on women. The attacks had coincided with the passage of a law designed to protect those who correct people deemed to be acting in an “un-Islamic” way. A local official said on Wednesday that “eight to nine” women had been attacked over the past three weeks by men on motorcycles who splashed them with acid in Isfahan, one of Iran’s largest urban centers and the country’s chief tourist destination. Some of the women were blinded or disfigured.”

Culture, Society, and Religion

·      In anticipation of the Ashura holiday, Khamenei’s personal website has had Hojjat al-Eslam Mohammad-Hossein Fallahzadeh answer questions pertaining to its rituals. One of the popular questions referenced the permissibility of Qameh-zani, or cutting oneself with a blade in order to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. This is his take on Khamenei’s legal opinion:

o   “Well, the opinion of Khamenei [lit. The Sir] about Qameh-zani, perhaps many have heard this, that he [Khamenei], given the present situation knows it to be haram [forbidden]. His interpretation is that it has had no record (for precedence) – this work has possibly now found a record but in the past, there was no record of the believers doing such things as Qameh-zani – in addition to that today they are using this action against the school of the Ahl al-Bayt [household of the prophet Mohammad] and Shi’ites.”

·      Dr. Hossein Ardestani, the president of the Holy Defense Documents and Research Center sights the importance of studying the Iran-Iraq War: “The written research which have been produced about the Holy Defense [Defa-e Moqadas – the name given to the war in Iran] are very weak; therefore we in this center are trying to focus more on the studies about the Holy Defense.” He continued: “We in this center are not working for the past or about the past, but rather we are working for the future.”

Daily Picture(s)

·      Fars News Agency documents the funeral procession of the deceased Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani.

·      Fars News Agency highlights Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei leading a congregation of officials from the Islamic Republic in prayer in honor of the deceased Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani.