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Iran Press Review: 4 March

FDD Analysis

  • Bill Roggio, Senior Fellow, and Caleb Weiss write in The Long War Journal: “The operation, which involves more than thirty thousand Iraqi security personnel and militia forces, started on the morning of March 2. According to Al Jazeera, Iraqi forces and allied militias attacked the city from three sides while Iraqi aviation launched an aerial bombardment. As of yet, the US has not launched any airstrikes in support of the operation. The US has refused to support the Tikrit offensive because Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) elements are actively supporting the operation, anonymous US officials have told The Wall Street Journal.”
  • Clifford May, FDD’s President, writes in The Washington Times: “Remember when President Obama said that to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability, he would keep all options “on the table”? How long has it been since anyone took that warning seriously? Remember when President Obama said he didn’t “bluff,” that “when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” adding: “We’ve got Israel’s back.” Does anyone think those statements are still “operative”?”
  • Behnam Ben Taleblu, Iran Research Analyst, and Merve Tahiroglu, Research Analyst wrote in an FDD Policy Brief: On February 26, an Iran Air flight landed in Istanbul carrying a prominent passenger in seat 19F: former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Traveling to the Turkish Republic as a private citizen, Ahmadinejad was joined by a small entourage including two mid-level clerics, and a longtime friend and political confidant. Iran’s Foreign Ministry sought to emphasize the unofficial nature of Ahmadinejad’s visit, but the trip hits closer to home than Tehran may realize. Ahmadinejad attended a memorial ceremony on Friday in the Western city of Bursa for Necmettin Erbakan, Turkey’s first Islamist Prime Minister (1996-1997) and the founder and leader of Turkey’s most popular Islamist movement, National Vision (Milli Görüş).”
  • James R. Woolsey, FDD Chairman, writes in an op-ed with Peter Vincent Pry in The Washington Times: “Our attention these days with regard to security is understandably riveted on the Islamic State, or ISIS, and its hideous decapitations, rapes and live immolations. We must deal with the Islamic State, but it is not the gravest threat we face. The Israelis are right — we should awaken to the fact that the coming of a nuclear Iran holds special dangers and requires particularly urgent attention. There are four driving reasons. First, the Mideast abounds in clashing religious beliefs, but there is special danger in the Shiite doctrine held by many Iranians, including some of Iran’s national leaders: The return of the hidden Imam will bring the war that ends the world and creates heavenly bliss for believers. As America’s dean of Mideast studies, Bernard Lewis, puts it: During the Cold War, Mutual Assured Destruction was a deterrent; today it is an inducement.”

Politics

  • Ayatollah Abdul-Nabi Namazi, the Representative of the Supreme Leader to Kashan, warns against the politicization of universities in Iran, and is quoted in a headline in Resalat as saying:
    • “Universities should not be turned into arenas for political disputes.”
  • Iran’s First Vice-President to President Hassan Rouhani, Eshaq Jahangiri, comments on the importance of fighting corruption:
    • “In combatting economic corruption, we must not allow ourselves the slightest hesitation.”
    • “Fortunately, there is favorable cooperation today between the three powers (judicial, legislative, executive), and by using this opportunity we can take good steps in combatting economic corruption.”
  • Tasnim News Agency reports that: “One of the greatest bank debtors and economic corruptors was apprehended by the unknown soldiers of the hidden Imam in the intelligence organization of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was sent to jail.”

Foreign Policy

  • Condemning Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress, President Rouhani states:
    • “With the existence of the experience of the Holy Defense (a name in Iran for the Iran-Iraq War), again, an aggressive and malevolent person has come forth and has revealed his nature, and [he] says that if America is not with us, we will stand alone against Iran; this statement is laughable and ridiculous.”
    • Speaking about Ayatollah Khomeini and his popularity, Rouhani notes: “The refined personality of the Imam (Khomeini) was able to become successful by conquering the hearts of people; the Imam conquered hearts and [thus] his memory and his name remain eternal.”
  • Commenting on the Israeli Prime Ministers speech with respect to Iran’s foreign policy, Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament [Majlis], notes:
    • “We have no business with the mischievous words of Netanyahu, since Iran has never been and is not after creating an empire, rather, the slogans of the Islamic Revolution is against the power of domination of great power, against the usurping Israel, and has awoken the hears of Muslims. But these very words of his showcase the frustration and anxiety of this regime, and they must be worried, since every day for the past three decades the power of this regime has decreased.”
    • “Such arguments from the Prime Minister of the rotten Zionist regime shows that its concerns are not Iran’s nuclear stance of the creation of fears about it, its main fear is the influence of the ideology of the Islamic Revolution in the region.”
  • Reuters reports: “The Argentinian government took out full-page advertisements in local newspapers on Wednesday, stressing that a stalled agreement with Iran remained the best way to get to the bottom of the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center. An Argentine federal court last year struck down the controversial deal, which would have allowed the interrogation of Iranian suspects. Tehran denies any responsibility for the attack that killed 85 and refuses to extradite its citizens.”
  • Kayhan newspaper reports on the ruling of a Saudi Arabian court which approved a death-sentence for Sheikh Nimr, a Shiite activist in Saudi Arabia. Kayhan claimed:
    • “A sectarian sedition was approved”

Military & Security

  • Digarban reports that the bodies of 16 Iranian and Afghans who fell fighting in Syria (as defenders of the shrine) were repatriated back to Iran. The article further mentioned that the group of men contained commissioned members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
  • Tasnim News Agency provides a play by play of operation “Labaik ya Rasoul Allah” [At your service O Prophet of God], the operation presently underway is designed to liberate Tikrit.
  • Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the Deputy IRGC Commander, comments on Iran’s missiles, noting:
    • “Another one of our capabilities is coast to sea missiles, and these missiles are fired in such conditions that are totally unseen, meaning it will be unable to be detected and will be fired in movement.”
    • “These missiles have no imperfections and are completely Iranian, and we have used them for mass production.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Vatan-e Emrooz runs a headline quoting Obama reportedly saying: “Ten years of suspension, perhaps [an] agreement.”
  • Seyyed Abbas Eraqchi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister is quoted in Kayhan about the nuclear negotiations. He states:
    • “It is still too early to speak of progress in nuclear negotiations, however both sides will strive to reach further progress.”
      • The Kayhan piece further cites Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif as saying: “We had progress but much work remains.”
  • The head of Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Amoli-Larijani comments on nuclear diplomacy, noting:
    • “The nuclear negotiating team like always [should] defend the nuclear rights of the nation, and the negotiators must know that as long as they progress within the outlined strategic framework, they are trusted by the people, officials, and the Supreme Leader.”
  • Commenting about nuclear deal-making vis-à-vis the Netanyahu address and Congress, Larijani further notes:
    • “Netanyahu’s efforts strove to create fear in the American Congress that if an agreement takes place Iran can, in the future, with the same number of centrifuges, attain a nuclear weapon, and this matter is dangerous for their chaffy regime and the region.”
    • Looping in Israel’s nuclear deterrent: “It is interesting that the person who expresses this anxiety has for years relied on over 200 nuclear warheads, but states that since Iran has the potential for this capability…we must now take a stance against Iran, is this shame not the scene of international bullying?”
  • Fars News Agency reports a summary about differing and upcoming rounds of nuclear negotiations, noting: “A source close to the nuclear negotiations said that the next round of nuclear consultations of Iran and America at the ministerial level with the presence of the Deputies Helga Schmitt is slated to take place from the 24th of Esfand (March 15), however the location has not be clarified.”
  • Iranian international affairs analyst Hossein Sheikh al-Eslam is quoted in a Fars News Agency headline as saying: “America had no right to share the text of the secret negotiations of Iran and the 5+1 with Israel/America is servile before the Zionists.”
  • Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gholamali Khoshroo, writes a rebuttal to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Congressional address in The New York Times: “In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless. Despite that, alarmist rhetoric on the theme has been a staple of Mr. Netanyahu’s career. In an interview with the BBC in 1997, he accused Iran of secretly “building a formidable arsenal of ballistic missiles,” predicting that eventually Manhattan would be within range. In 1996, he stood before Congress and urged other nations to join him to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability, stressing that “time is running out.” Earlier, as a member of Parliament, in 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years.”

Economy & Trade

  • Fars News Agency reports: “An official with the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) said Iran's refineries are producing a considerable amount of gas on a daily basis, and noted that the country's natural gas production is predicted to increase by more than 200 billion cubic meters a day by the next year. "Iran's gas production is expected to rise by 200 billion cubic meters a day (bcm/d) by mid-March next year, as the country's ability to produce gas is improving significantly," NIGC ِDispatching Director Manouchehr Taheri said.”
  • Fars News Agency reported: “Iran's Aras Free Trade Zone joined the World Free Zones Federation according to an agreement signed by between the AFTZ and the World Federation of Free and Special Economic Zones (FEMOZA). The agreement was signed by AFTZ Managing Director Mohsen Khadem Arab-Baghi and FEMOZA President Juan Torrents in the city of Tabriz, Northeastern Iran, on Tuesday.”

Daily Picture(s)

  • Asr Iran reported the latest photo of IRGC – Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in Tikrit, Iraq.
  • Defa Press displays a picture of soldier (unknown) saluting a graffiti-image of IRGC-QF Commander Qassem Soleimani’s face.