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Iran Press Review: 25 Feb.

Analysis by FDD

  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, and Saeed Ghasseminejad, Associate Fellow, wrote in an FDD Report: “The White House insists that sanctions relief has provided Iran with less of a windfall than Tehran had hoped. The administration claims, that in the first half of last year, Iran’s direct revenues in cash and non-oil exports were over $2 billion less than Washington had predicted – $4.6 billion rather than $7 billion. Under the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) interim nuclear agreement signed on November 24, 2013, sanctions against Iran’s oil exports were suspended and selected direct cash transfers from Iranian-owned overseas accounts were allowed. Additionally, the P5+1 negotiators agreed to suspend U.S. sanctions on Iran’s auto industry and exports of petrochemical products.”
  • Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow, wrote in Mosaic: “Barack Obama has been eager for an Iranian diplomatic breakthrough since the beginning of his presidency, and Michael Doran, in “Obama’s Secret Iran Strategy,” has trenchantly laid out a chronology of the president’s aspirations. It’s hard, however, to find anything particularly secret about them. A perdurable myth among much of the American left and American “realists” alike is that the United States and the Islamic Republic ought to be able to find a strategic modus vivendi. Remember the attempt by Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright to engage Mohammad Khatami, the mild-mannered, sincerely cheerful “dialogue-of-civilizations” mullah who unexpectedly won the Iranian presidency in 1997. Arming his diplomacy with contrition, Clinton not only apologized for the CIA-supported 1953 coup against prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, he apologized for the West’s untoward actions against Persia for the last 150 years.” 

Politics 

  • President Hassan Rouhani addresses the people in Qom:
    • “We consistently respect critics, and just as to the supporters of government, we tell them that they enjoy the government's support, but there is no room for sabotage in this country. The saboteurs are ruining their own old house. Are they not aware of the economic statistics of the last 18 months? Don't they see [the government’s] control of inflation and the economic growth? In the past 18 months, 7000 unfinished industrial units became operational... Let us compare the statistics of this year with statistics of previous years. If the work done is important, it has been done by you the dear and noble people of Iran.”
  • Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's office, says the Ayatollah has “neither declared that he will participate in the elections for Assembly of Experts, nor does he deny it.”
  • Rafsanjani’s website releases hitherto unpublished portions of his October 2014 address to the representatives of Azad University:
    • “Hashemi pointed at ‘an ocean of destruction, corruption and theft’ during the tenure of the previous government. Discussing an Assembly of Experts session, he said: ‘Right here, I told the gentlemen, why do you approve of all the work of this [Ahmadinejad] government? How are you going to answer people and God tomorrow? Then, I told my deputy at the [Assembly of] Experts, now that he has been unmasked, you are saying this or that person led to his [Ahmadinejad's] deviation. But he [Ahmadinejad] is deviation personified. If you were wrong, honestly tell the people you were wrong and don't try to hide behind the back of someone else and claim the deviation was his work. People don't believe such things...’ Mr. Hashemi continued that the Rouhani government is facing an ocean of destruction with an empty treasury and the full cannons an extremist minority which possessed all the opportunities in the elections, but lost.”
  • Amir-Hossein Fallahian, son of Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Fallahian, a former Minister of Intelligence, passes away at the Khatam al-Anbia Hospital in Tehran.
    • Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences.

Foreign Policy

  • Marziyeh Afkham, the Spokesperson of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, rebuts Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments on Iranian interference in other nations, stating:
    • On Yemen: “Any kind of foreign involvement leads the conditions of this country towards further entanglement.”
  • A headline in Fars News Agency reports: “The return of 4 Iranian prisoners in Qatar to the country (Iran).”
  • According to the Turkish Daily Sabah, the government of Turkey has extradited Nima Golestaneh, an Iranian national, to the United States, on charges of “cyber activities against the United States.”
  • Fars News Agency reviews “one year of relations [between] Tehran and Baghdad.”  
  • Fars News Agency reports: “Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian underlined Tehran's readiness to expand all-out ties with African states and share its experiences with those countries in different fields. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to share its experiences in different areas with African countries," Amir Abdollahian said in a meeting with Guinea-Bissau's National Education Minister Odete Semedo on the sidelines of the meeting of the Science Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran on Wednesday.”

Military & Security

  • Iran hosts the Great Prophet 9 war game and military exercise of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Persian Gulf:
    • Major General Mohammad-Ali Aziz Jafari, the IRGC’s Commander, states in a press conference:
      • “[Up] to this moment, this war game... has targeted enemy [United States] naval vessels and has achieved all its goals... We demonstrated to the enemy that our capabilities aim at securing the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz... We also demonstrated our brotherhood [with neighboring countries] and proved that our problem is with extra territorial enemies. God willing, the solidarity of the regional countries increases and the enemy leaves our region so we achieve total security in our region.”
    • Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the Deputy Commander of the IRGC, notes at a press conference:
      • “There are no limits to many of the capabilities of the Guards which are en par with the capabilities of the enemy... coast to sea and sea to sea missiles of the Guards, the sea mines and air sea capabilities of the Guards have no operational limits... We have also capabilities which we shall not unveil before use in the scene.”
    • IRGC units conduct attacks against a mock aircraft carrier.
    • The IRGC outlet Sepah News touts that during the exercise, the Fatteh-110 and the Zelzal ballistic missiles were fired and reportedly hit targets as far as 270 kilometers away.
    • Defa Press further reports that “additionally, various UAVs of the naval, aerospace, and ground forces of the IRGC” also were active in the drill and its vicinity.
  • In a press conference on the sidelines of the Great Prophet 9 exercise, Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament, noted:
    • “Westerners should know that by increasing [the number of] boats, they cannot change the conditions of the region.”
    • “We have capable and intelligent forces in the southern waters, and we can, with the assistance of these forces, establish security with other countries.”
    • On foreign forces in the Persian Gulf: “We have no need for other countries (referring to extra-territorial forces in the Persian Gulf) in the region.”
  • Additionally commenting on the drill was Commander Ali Fadavi, Commander of the IRGC-Navy (IRGC-N), who proclaimed:
    • “In the ninth exercise of the Great Prophet, we witnessed the parade float at the global level.”
    • “In this day ballistic missile and rocket firing vessels, missile firing helicopters, and coast-to-sea missiles of the cruise and ballistic variety were tested.”
  • When reporting on the Great Prophet 9 military exercise by the IRGC-N, Tasnim News Agency ran a headline calling the drills:
    • “The enactment of the nightmare of “American marines” in the Strait of Hormuz.”
  • AP and other outlets covered the exercise, including Buzzfeed.

Nuclear Issue

  • President Hassan Rouhani, in his address to the people in Qom, touches on nuclear diplomacy:
    • “In the past year, we have taken an important step which was the temporary agreement, which led to removal of some of the sanctions. Sanction is an injustice to the people, and development the inalienable right of the people of Iran... We will continue negotiations, but our negotiation partners should know, the people of Iran will never abandon the path of their scientific development and will continue it. The negotiation partner should know that the end of these negotiation and the result of an agreement should be removal of all the illegal and unjust sanctions.”
  • President Hassan Rouhani is quoted in the front page of Resalat, leading with the following statement above the fold:
    • “The result of the (nuclear) agreement must be the repealing of all sanctions.”
  • Mohammad-Baqer Nowbakht, the Rouhani government spokesperson, tells the press:
    • “We are confident that we can reach a conclusion to the negotiations by March 31st (11th of Farvardin).”
  • Former Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and current representative of the Supreme Leader to the SNSC, Saeed Jalili, weighs-in on nuclear diplomacy:
    • “In negotiations we have clear logic, and we are defending a truth. At a time when a dictator ruled thirty six years ago, America and several European countries had signed nuclear agreements with him. Now what has happened today that they act in this manner.”
    • “If the permission for negotiations has been given by the Leadership, it is to display the illogic of America.”
  • Elyas Naderan, a member of Iran’s Parliament [Majlis], states:
    • “Unfortunately, despite the Geneva Agreement which the Americans had accepted, in the first phase, 4.2 billion dollars, in the second phase, 8.2 billion dollars, and in the third phase, 700 million dollars of Iran’s assets were supposed to be freed and given to the foreign exchange authorities of the country, this clause of the agreement has not been enacted, and the American side as not abided by his portion of the agreement.”    
  • Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reports that Isfahan University’s College of Science and New Technologies was host to the 21st annual Iranian Nuclear Conference.”
  • David Ignatius wrote in The Washington Post: “Prussian King Frederick the Great offered this rebuke to those who refused to allow any concessions: “If you try to hold everything, you hold nothing.” President Obama might make a similar retort to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attack on the alleged “bad deal” the United States is contemplating with Iran. Netanyahu rejects any concessions that allow Iran to enrich uranium; he thinks the U.S. goal of a one-year “breakout” period before Iran could build a bomb isn’t enough.”

Economy & Trade

  • Assadollah Asgar-Owladi, head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, notes that three Chinese banks have opened a “$44 billion” line of credit to Iran.
  • Fars News Agency reports: “Iranian Minister of Economy Ali Tayyebnia said that his ministry is resolved to unify forex rate to accelerate curbing trend of the country's inflation rate. “The conditions for unifying forex rate should be met to pave the ground for the materialization of predicted growth for the country's economy,” Tayyebnia said.”
  • Reuters reported: “At least $1 billion in cash has been smuggled into Iran as it seeks to avoid Western sanctions, a bigger figure than previously reported, Iranian officials and Western intelligence and diplomatic sources say. Sanctions imposed by the West over Iran's nuclear program have shut Tehran out of the global banking system, making it hard to obtain the U.S. dollars it needs for international transactions.”

Religion, Society and Culture

  • Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Younesi, Iran’s former Minister of Intelligence, warns against the “religious radicalism of certain groups,” and against religious and ethnic minorities. Younesi also commented on the case of Canadian/Iranian photographer and journalist Zahra Kazemi, who was killed while in detention in Tehran: “For several years we have had problems with the government of Canada because of the Zahra Kazemi incident. All the documents concerning the perpetrators exist. God punished them in a way, and divine justice was executed, but that [the murder of Zahra Kazemi] was the will of individuals for which the Islamic Republic still is paying a price.”
  • Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, addressing the Conference of Islamic Sects, launches a new round of attacks against the followers of the late Ayatollah Shirazi, whom he accuses of being Saudi/British agents.

Daily Picture(s)

  • Defa Press reports pictures from the “sidelines” of the Great Prophet 9 military exercise.
  • Tasnim News Agency displays photos of the impact from the IRGC firing “missiles and rockets” at the mock-up of a U.S. carrier.
  • Fars News Agency also carries photos of the drill.