Iran Press Review 27-28 July

Analysis by FDD

  • Tony Badran, Research Fellow, writes in NOW Lebanon: “With the nuclear deal finally out of the way, President Obama can now get down to what, for him, has always been the real business—engaging Iran on regional issues. As one administration official has acknowledged, the US president sees Iran as “the key to peace” in the Middle East. But first, as Obama told Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in one of his letters, the formality of the nuclear deal had to be concluded. Obama wants to integrate Iran into a regional concert system presumably based on “equilibrium.” However, this would be akin to establishing equilibrium in Europe at the height of Napoleon’s power. Such a “balance" would naturally have been dictated by Napoleon, to the advantage of his imperial power. In other words, it doesn’t stand a chance.”
  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, wrote in The Hill Times: “The nuclear deal that six world powers signed with Iran earlier this month will soon remove most international sanctions in exchange for Iran’s acceptance of long-term restrictions on its nuclear program. The Canadian government, by contrast, has wisely announced that it will keep its sanctions in place for now. The goal of sanctions was to persuade Iran to accept limitations on its nuclear activities. But the deal falls short of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon while removing all instruments of economic pressure on Tehran. That Canada has chosen to retain some measure of leverage for the West is sound. Ottawa will minimize the likely use and abuse of Canada’s economy by Tehran, were the Islamic Republic to continue its illicit procurement and money laundering activities. There are good reasons to be skeptical. The deal fails to institute a strong verification mechanism to minimize the risk of Iran successfully cheating. It removes most restrictions after a decade, ensuring that Iran will eventually be able to pursue nuclear weapons, faster and more efficiently, once the deal sunsets. Iran will be on a fast track to reviving its economy, despite the regime’s financial support for terrorism and insurgency across the Middle East. Most importantly, the deal lifts most sanctions, opting for a snap-back mechanism if Iran cheats.”
  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, and Saeed Ghasseminejad, Associate Fellow, wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: “Of all the sanctions to be lifted in last week’s Iran nuclear agreement, few are more significant than those against a shadowy $100-billion network of foundations belonging to the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. The U.S. delisting of the Headquarters for the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order – also known as EIKO or Setad – will pump tens of billions of dollars into the supreme leader’s personal coffers, helping him secure his grip on the Iranian people, and bolstering Iran’s ability to promote its agenda abroad. EIKO’s name refers to an edict issued by Khamenei’s predecessor, Ruhollah Khomeini, shortly before his death in 1989, to manage and sell all property abandoned in the chaotic period following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. From that original mandate, the network has grown into a vast business conglomerate – everything from agriculture to leisure resorts, parking lots and residential complexes – but one that remains unknown to many Iran watchers and even most Iranians.”
  • Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: “The Iran nuclear deal signed July 14 stipulates that eight years after its implementation, the European Union will delist a construction conglomerate owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In so doing, the EU will inject a massive cash flow into one of the IRGC’s other primary industries: terrorism. Khatam al-Anbia (literally, “Seal of the Prophets”) was born as an IRGC engineering corps during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), building trenches and fortifications. Since then, it has developed into the largest contracting company in Iran – potentially even the country’s largest firm outright – benefitting from government contracts on a no-bid basis.  Its projects now include developing Iran’s massive South Pars gas field, building a pipeline to Pakistan, and a Tehran metro line, to name a few.”
  • David B. Rivkin, Senior Fellow, along with Less A. Casey, wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “The Iranian nuclear agreement announced on July 14 is unconstitutional, violates international law and features commitments that President Obama could not lawfully make. However, because of the way the deal was pushed through, the states may be able to derail it by enacting their own Iran sanctions legislation. President Obama executed the nuclear deal as an executive agreement, not as a treaty. While presidents have used executive agreements to arrange less-important or temporary matters, significant international obligations have always been established through treaties, which require Senate consent by a two-thirds majority.”
  • Benjamin Weinthal, Research Fellow, wrote in The Jerusalem Post: “Along with the Iran nuclear agreement, the European Union has agreed to remove sanctions on Iranian entities and individuals deeply involved in terrorism. Making matters significantly worse from the Israeli and European Jewish perspective is Europe’s decision to allow the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as it usually called in the West, broad latitude to operate within the EU starting in 2023.”
  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, wrote in Business Insider: “The nuclear deal that the six world powers signed with Iran last week commits the United States to eventually removing a ban on Iranian graduate students applying for advanced degrees in nuclear sciences at American universities. Other clauses in the agreement establish a framework for nuclear cooperation between the deal’s other signatories — which happen to be world leaders in nuclear technology — and Tehran. That the deal would trade economic relief for nuclear concessions was to be expected. Education, however, is a different matter.”

Politics

  • Heightened tensions in the Iranian Parliament - Speaker Ali Larijani said in today’s open session:
    • “Some have said that the dog of Ahamdinejad and [Ahmadinejad’s former advisor Esfandiar Rahim] Mashaei has more dignity than Larijani. How can it be that someone’s dog has more dignity than a Muslim when I have declared that Mohammad was the prophet of God?”
    • MP Nader Ghazipour denounced this and called for establishing an investigatory committee.  
    • The most vocal critics of Larijani denied that they have insult the Speaker. MP Hamid Rasaei said, “One of our criticisms of Mr. Larijani is his advisors. Unfortunately, some surrounding him are attempting to destroy his relations with Principlists and concerned representatives with incorrect and made-up news.”
  • Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht marginalized the Parliament’s role in reviewing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and announced the holding of an emergency cabinet meeting regarding foreign investment:
  • “The Parliament is not supposed to vote on this agreement. Based on the Parliament’s resolution, the agreement will be reviewed in the Supreme National Security Council, and the Parliament can relay its opinions to the council.”
  • “In this meeting that was held with the President’s presence, each of the economic bodies announced their plans for the post-sanctions environment. The President emphasized that our economy must not whatsoever become a market for importing foreign goods and that must rather seek securing resources that we need.”
  • Iran’s three goals with European companies: “Cooperation for the necessary investments, the necessary technology, and creating markets for exporting our non-oil goods.”
  • Jahangiri’s office “welcomes Mr. Ahmadinejad's complaint!”
  • Nobakht also said that the administration has “documents” about the “previous administration’s violations.”
  • Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on July 27 filed a complaint against Eshaq Jahangiri, a current Vice-President, for libel against the former executive.
  • “As we know, Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Larijani separately brought news to my father that ‘the Expediency Council has decided to disqualify you, it's better if you leave the race,' but he said ‘I will not do so. I promised to run and this is what the people expect from me.’ However, after he was disqualified, he felt relief since the burden of responsibility had been taken away from his shoulders.”
  • Fars News Agency, reported on July 28 that Reformist parties are planning the upcoming formation of the “Reformists Parliament.” Iranian Parliamentary elections will be held in February 2016. 
  • Aftab-e Yazd interviewed Fatemeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, daughter to former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, on the 2013 presidential elections:

Foreign Policy

  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini in Tehran and discussed JCPOA and renewed Iranian relations with the EU.
  • The Supreme Leader’s office on July 28 sent a delegation to Najaf, Iraq, to introduce Ayatollah Khamenei’s new representative in Iraq, Ayatollah Mojtaba Hosseini:
    • Ayatollah Hosseini replaced Ayatollah Sheikh Mohammad Mehdi Assefi after the latter passed away on June 4. Hosseini was previously the Supreme Leader’s Representative to Syria and to Sunni Affairs in Sistan va Baluchistan province.
    • The delegation included International Communications Deputy to the Office of the Supreme Leader, Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Qomi, and Supreme Advisor to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Taskhiri.
  • Commenting on the potential for Turkish-Iranian cooperation, Eshaq Jahangiri met with Ankara’s Ambassador to Tehran, Reza Hakkan-Tekkin, on July 27 and expressed hope for increasing bilateral cooperation:
  • “However, the two countries have differing viewpoints on some regional upheavals, but this issue must not create an obstruction in the path of developing relations and ties between the two countries.”
  • “Iran and Turkey enjoy many plentiful fields to expand bilateral cooperation, such as; terrorism, energy, technology, and collegiate affairs. Tehran welcomes Turkish investment.”
  • “We are hopeful that, however quickly, the activities of the new Turkish government commence, and Tehran and Ankara can grow their relations more than before.”
  • “The Americans are not only afraid of the slogan ‘Death to America’ but also fear the slogans ‘Independence, Freedom’ and the slogan of ‘Neither East, Nor West.’”
  • “Our civilization is several thousand years [old] and the lifespan of America does not reach several centuries so that it may speak about Iran and Iranians.”
  • “This slogan [‘Death to America’] has had such an impact on their heart and souls that they fear our slogans; much like this phrase that the Imam [Khomeini] said ‘America cannot do a damn thing’ and Carter said that ‘this phrase made me cry.’”
  • “The wall of mistrust between America and Iran is tall, and it must be America that must strive to shorten this wall.”
  • Zarif called “extremism and terrorism a threat for all regional countries” and pledged Iranian cooperation.
  • “This behavior forces the Iranian side[s] to think twice about signing any kind of contract with French companies. They will ask themselves can they trust [them]? It is because of this reason that French companies must strive much more than the rest.”
  • Hojjat al-Eslam Reza Akrami, the Chairman of the Cultural Council for the Presidency, comments on sloganeering, Iranian diplomacy, and mistrust between the U.S. and Iran. He is quoted in a headline by Defa Press as having said, “Our Atomic Bomb is the Slogan ‘Death to America:’”
  • According to IRNA, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, visited on July 27 the holy shrines of Imam Hussein and al-Abbas al-Fadl in Karbala and the shrine of Imam Ali, the first Imam (patron saint) of Shiite Islam, in Najaf. While in Najaf, Zarif met with Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Sistani, and briefed him on the results of Iran’s nuclear diplomacy.
  • Iran’s Ambassador to France, Ali Ahani, on July 27 weighed in on the prospects for commercial ties between France and Iran in the aftermath of the JCPOA. He called French behavior during the negotiations problematic for commercial prospects:

Military & Security

  • Defa Press reported on July 28 that Mostafa Bakhti and Mojtaba Bakhti, two brothers and “defenders” of Sayyida Zaynab’s shrine, have been killed in the vicinity of Palmyra, Syria.
  • President Hassan Rouhani on July 27 addressed a crowd in Sanandaj, the capital of Iranian Kurdistan: “Had it not been for Iran, Erbil and Baghdad would have fallen [into the hands of DAESH].”
    • Rouhani also pledged to “cleanse Iraq of terrorists.”
  • Chairman of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, on July 27 visited the wounded of Iraqi fighters hospitalized in Tehran and pledged his support:
  • “The Islamic Republic of Iran considers its humanitarian and Islamic duty to support fighters who have been injured in combating takfirist, DAESH [fighters], American criminals and their regional allies.”
  • Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili, Commander of the Artesh Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, on July 27 announced the unveiling of a “thousand-kilometer strategic radar with the capability of identifying aerial targets in less than a second” on September 1 in Tabas, site of the failed attempted American rescue of hostages in 1980.

Nuclear Issue

  • Ali Akbar Salehi, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head, said on July 27 that “Secretary Kerry mistakenly announced that concrete would fill the heart of the Arak reactor:”
    • “…[T]hey wanted us to put concrete in the tanker because they were concerned that we would place it in its original place. We are not planning to place the tank in its original place. If one day everything falls apart, we will install a new tanker instead of the [older] one.”
    • “[What we signed] with the International Atomic Energy Agency is not secret.”
  • Kayhan’s lead article on July 28 criticized the Parliament’s marginalization in the JCPOA review process:
  • “In spite of the special position of the parliament... in affairs of the country, there are certain currents weakening or even neutralizing its role at critical junctures. Right now, representatives of the nation are carrying an important vocation reviewing the Vienna agreement - as the Constitution has empowered them to.”
  •  “All writings, analyses and positions of Kayhan concerning the agreement revolve around the imbalance of concessions given [by Iran] and those received, along with violation of various red lines of the regime... But which red lines...? Mr. Eraqchi... and Zarif... have on several occasions said that restrictions of Iran's arms and missile programs - as described in Resolution 2231 - are significantly weaker than in the 1929 Resolution of the year 1989... That is not true, and the 2231 is much fiercer... Mr. Eraqchi claims we no longer are subjected to Article VII of the UN Charter, but he had to admit some clauses of the Resolution were referring to Article VII.”
  • On the other hand, Sharq’s editorial calls “annulment of [UNSCR 1929] one of the biggest security achievements [of the Vienna Agreement].”
  • Kayhan on July 27 criticized the Iranian negotiation’s team acceptance of the arms and ballistic missile terms in the nuclear agreement:
  • Parliamentarians Ahmad Tavakoli, Gholam-Reza Mesbahi-Moqaddam, Habib-Allah Aqajari, and Rouhollah Hosseinian criticized “attempts at marginalizing the Parliament from investigating the nuclear agreement.”
  • “Our nuclear gain was to impose our right to enrichment upon the counterpart... The United States for years had said it would not under any circumstance allow enrichment in Iran, but in the end it accepted it... This is a great retreat for the America and a huge victory for us... Today, even a US ally like South Korea does not have the right to enrichment... That is also true of Australia, whose enrichment is limited to laboratory level.”
  • “Russia has always claimed that they were interested in the agreement and wanted to support it in any way... Now it is very clear. Russians should explain where in the agreement have they put in a word in Iran’s favor...? I’m not criticizing the Russians. It is a problem in our foreign policy that we, in order to secure our economic survival, have become dependent on a couple of states.”
  • “We do not want to restrict our relations with Russia and China, we want to expand our relations. However, under circumstances where we have a balanced foreign policy, we have a greater range of choice and can create competition in all fields.”
  • “The reality is that Congress and the White House are pursuing a common goal but through two different means. The truth is that the conflict between the two institutions is tactical. In other words, despite the difference between Congress and the White House concerning all other issues, there is no disagreement between them when it comes to guaranteeing the security of the regime occupying Quds and in enmity against the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
  • An analyst in Etemad writes that the secret negotiations between the Ahmadinejad government and the United States reached a dead end because of Ahmadinejad's insistence on controlling the process himself and not allowing the Supreme National Security Council a significant role in those negotiations.
  • Cyrus Nasseri, a former nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005, discussed the Islamic Republic’s wins and losses in the nuclear negotiations:
  • Kayhan analyzed the debate over the JCPOA in the U.S.:
  • Kayhan’s Mohammad-Javad Akhavan weighed in on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s statements concerning “continuing struggle against Arrogance” and offers his own perspective.

Economy & Trade

  • Massoud Nili, Senior Adviser to the President, on July 28 said that the economy is at “the critical juncture of an important decision.”
    • “If we don’t act correctly, the economy’s condition will become worse than the sanctions era.”
    • “Based on the most optimistic scenarios, if the trends of implementing the agreement continue without any disruptions, we will by the end of the last quarter of [the Persian] year [in the spring] witness the lifting of all economic sanctions in trade, technology, finance, and energy. In this case, we will begin 1395 without the existence of any economic sanctions and with an optimistic outlook. We can therefore be hopeful for the results of lifting sanctions to show their effects on the Iranian economy next year.”  
  • Amir Hossein Zamani, International Affairs and Commerce Deputy to the Oil Minister, announced that 30 European companies attended a joint investment conference last week in Vienna.
  • According to Amir-Hossein Zamani-Nia, 20 companies are engaged in negotiations with the National Iranian Oil Company.
  • A certain Mojtaba Haqirian reportedly presents himself as the Iran-America Chamber of Commerce Deputy, but says the U.S. Government has not yet approved of it. Haqirian dismisses that a certain Ekram Manafzadeh is the Chairman of the Chamber since “that individual was not approved by the Presidency of Iran and Hadi Sadeqi will be taking that position.” Sadeqi was previously the head of the Islamic Republic Interest Section in the United States. Haqirian also says a certain “Dr. Huffington,” is “our legal representative in the United States.”
  • Aftab-e Yazd runs a background story on “victims of imports from China.”
  • Fararu’s analyst comments: “One can’t get rid of the Chinese so easily... it will take some time!”
  • Q: “Recently, Valiollah Seif, Central Bank governor, declared Iran has $29 billion in frozen assets abroad, but earlier the number was estimated to more than $140 billion. You have recently mentioned the frozen assets abroad are between $20 to $25 billion... What has become of our foreign assets since they shrunk?”
  • A: “Any statement concerning the size of the frozen assets is an estimate unless the data comes from the Central Bank.”
  • Q: “But President Obama estimated Iran's frozen assets abroad was about $150 billion.”
  • A: “This is just his guess and estimate.”
  • Q: “The Central Bank governor... said $29 billion of our frozen foreign currency is in Japan, South Korea, the UAE and India... Mr. Asgar Owladi, the Chairman of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce also said our frozen assets in China amount to €18 billion.”
  • A: “Our assets in China are not frozen... However, according to an agreement, a part of our assets are in the possession of the government of China... In spite of these amounts not being frozen, they are in a state worse than frozen. These arrangements were made during the Ahmadinejad era and it was an evil agreement. I did not sign it, it was signed later... The money is not frozen but is in…China, and they are not honest care takers. They are businessmen and only pursuing their own interests.”
  • Sharq on July 25 interviewed Tahmasb Mazaheri, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI):
  • Bloomberg Business reports: “In the 36 years since the Islamic revolution swept over Iran, the country has tapped international debt markets exactly twice. Those bonds, worth a total of just 1 billion euros, have long since disappeared from traders’ screens, having matured almost a decade ago. But now, in the aftermath of Iran’s deal earlier this month with international powers to end sanctions, investors like Hans Humes are anticipating that drought will end soon.”

Religion, Society & Culture

  • President Rouhani, visiting Kurdistan province, promised that classes in Kurdish language and literature will be established at universities in Iranian Kurdistan.

Daily Picture(s)

  • U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, shown as a rock star in a political cartoon depicting his crutch as an electric guitar, in today’s Etemad.
  • Alef displays images of EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.