Tracker

Iran Situation Report: October 2014

October 31, 2014

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october 31, 2014

Key takeaway: IRGC commander stresses the strategic importance of passive defense and resistance, while Armed Forces General Staff Commander echoes Supreme Leader's call for soft war strategies in the cyber realm.

Head of the Passive Defense Organization IRGC Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali underlined the core values of resistance and its strategic importance: “Passive defense means suppressing the enemy’s threats. In other words, passive defense means knowing the enemy and preparing against it, warn it and resist against the enemy, and continuing till victory.” Armed Forces General Staff Chief Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, meanwhile, reiterated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s call for revamping Iran’s soft war strategy and said “In the recent meeting with the Supreme Leader [and] with regards to the soft war base, he emphasized the prioritization of soft war cyber operations.” 

 Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian voiced the regime’s opposition to foreign intervention in Syria by saying, “Aiding the people in Kobani must not transform into a reason for foreign meddling…We warn against recent foreign movements surrounding the Ayn al-Arab area and the messages of this country’s disintegration. Some pursue specific goals by taking advantage of the region’s situation.”

 National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman Ardebil Representative MP Mansour Haghighat Pour attributed the parliament’s recent vote of no confidence for President Hassan Rouhani’s nominee for Science Research and Technology Minister Mahmoud Nili Ahmad Abadi to lack of qualifications; “It would have better if the president had presented parliament with a better and more experienced person…” This recent setback for the Rouhani administration reaffirms ongoing tensions between reformists and hardliners in parliament. 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and US Secretary of State John Kerry are scheduled to meet in Muscat, Oman November 9-10 ahead of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.

 

OCTOBER 30, 2014

Key takeaway: Senior cleric praised IRGC Quds Force Commander Soleimani’s strategies in Iraq and Syria, while Iraqi ambassador to US underscored Iranian efforts in Iraq.

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani met with the Head of the Passive Defense Organization IRGC Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali and touted IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Soleimani’s success in Syria and Iraq by saying, “…Soleimani is active in Syria and Iraq with his thought. There are plenty of armed individuals, but this commander’s thought is more effective.” Hamedani’s statement highlights the IRGC’s regional strategy of resistance, which is predicated on mobilizing indigenous volunteer forces. Iraqi Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily, moreover, reaffirmed Iran’s active role in combatting ISIL in Iraq, calling Iran “a smart regional and actor…” and Soleimani’s presence in Iraq a “natural” reaction to recent developments.

Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian echoed regime rhetoric and the Supreme Leader’s assertion that ISIL is byproduct of the US: “America is making a strategic mistake by arming anti-Syria takfiri groups. America should reconsider this policy.”

President Hassan Rouhani reacted to parliament’s vote of no confidence for his Minster of Science, Technology, and Research (STR) nominee Mahmoud Nili Ahmad Abadi, but expressed hope and said “We hope that the next man we introduce will receive a vote of confidence from parliament.” Rouhani’s statement underlines the ongoing tension between reformists and hardliners in parliament.

Armed Forces General Staff Chief Major General Hassan Firouzabadi attended a meeting of Ministry of Intelligence Service directors and emphasized the need for military-intelligence cooperation: “Cooperation and interaction must be our basis. The cooperation and interaction of the defense and intelligence institutions have continuously protected the country against surprise and security crises and has reduced its vulnerability.”

 
october 29, 2014 

Key takeaway: Parliament gives a vote of no confidence to President Rouhani’s nomination for Science, Research and Technology minister, underscoring the ongoing rift between Rouhani’s technocratic approach and conservative officials’ hardline approach that seeks to enforce stringent Islamic ideals on society.

President Hassan Rouhani defended his nomination for the Minister of Science, Research and Technology (SRT) Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi before the parliament by saying, “We need a new doctrine in science education and new planning. We don’t want the university to be the center of political games. We do not want our universities to be the arena for one [political] wing or another…. Moderation should prevail in our universities.” Rouhani’s address underscored the ongoing tension between hardline conservatives and reformists in parliament.  Parliament, meanwhile, cast a vote of no confidence for the nominee, marking the second time Rouhani has met resistance from hardliners in the selection of the SRT Minister. In August 2013 parliament impeached former SRT Minister and Rouhani appointee, Reza Farji Dana.

Tehran representative and reformist MP Ali Motahari spoke about why President Rouhani’s nomination for SRT minister was not accepted by parliament: “Parliament is very sensitive after the issues of 2009, and also the government does not have a perfect relationship with parliament or even among its supporters in parliament.”

National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman and MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi discussed the US-led coalition against ISIL during an interview with French media outlet France 24. Boroujerdi echoed the Supreme Leader’s assertion that ISIL is a byproduct of US intervention in the region and said "The very countries that created the Islamic State group are now part of a coalition that ... wants to destroy them… How can a contradiction like this be resolved? It's only natural that we cannot trust [the coalition].” Boroujerdi also reiterated Iran’s commitment to supporting the Iraqi government in its fight against ISIL: “We will not take any steps without coordination with the Iraqi government…”

An unnamed Iraqi security official claimed that IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Badr Brigades Commander Hadi al-Amri are leading the fight to liberate the city of Bayji north of Baghdad. This unverified claim comes after a series of photos were published online that show Soleimani alongside Iraqi Shi’a militiamen from Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Hadi al-Amri. 

 

OCTober 28, 2014 

Key takeaway: Iranian official confirmed IRGC Quds Force Commander’s role in recent operation with Iraqi Shi’a militiamen south of Baghdad. 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei highlighted the important role pilgrimage plays in developing Iran’s relations with the Muslim world. Khamenei, moreover, pointed to the divisive plots of the US aimed at polarizing Sunnis and Shi’as: “Building up walls between the Islamic Republic and the rest of the Islamic world is one of the devices of the enemy [against] the unity of the Islamic Ummah; and we must make the best use of the opportunity to go on Hajj of the Islamic Ummah to remove the artificial wall and change perceptions and false beliefs shaped by the false propaganda of the enemies.” Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Haeri Shirazi, meanwhile, pointed to the death sentence of Shi’a cleric and prominent dissident Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr that was recently issued by Saudi courts, as a sign of weakness and decline. Shirazi added that the verdict is in retaliation of Iran’s success in Syria: “America and Saudi Arabia have for years wanted to intervene in Syria, and now they see Syria has learned from the fighting techniques of Iran and they are upset.”

Parliamentary Representative of the people of Bandar-e Mahshahr, MP Habib Aghajeri discussed last week’s operation in the city of Jurf al-Sakhar south of Baghdad  and touted IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani’s success in mobilizing local militias by saying, “Every media outlet and Western official acknowledges General Soleimani’s power and influence in the region.” Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al-Abadi also hailed the operation dubbed “Ashura” a success; “We freed Jurf al-Sakhar without the help of foreign countries…”

Representative of Iraqi militia Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) Hojjat al-Eslam Jabar Rajabi visited Iran touting the regime as the leader of global resistance: “From the first day, with the authority of the dear Leader of the free world Khomeini, this axis [of resistance]…the reactionary Arabic, Hebrew, and American coalition could not undermine the resistance; rather, each day the axis of resistance finds more strength than the previous day.” The statement underscores Iran’s role in leading and supporting armed resistance against the West and its regional allies.

The next round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 is scheduled for November 18 in Vienna, Austria. An unnamed source close to the Iranian nuclear negotiations team said, “Last week’s expert-level talks between Iran and the P5+1 went well and results in all areas have been achieved.” With the November 24 deadline fast approaching this statement suggests the negotiating parties have narrowed the technical gaps enough to proceed with ministerial-level talks. 

 

october 27, 2014 

Key takeaway: IRGC Quds Force Commander reportedly played significant role in key operation against ISIL, south of Baghdad, while President Rouhani underscored Iran’s willingness to collaborate internationally to combat terrorism.

According to Iraqi social media reports, IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was in Tehran during Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al-Abadi’s visit with senior Iranian officials last week and promptly returned to Iraq to “liberate” the city of Jurf al-Sakhar (South of Baghdad). The operation was called “Ashura,” the “anti ISIL coalition” was led by Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) on October 24. Soleimani was also photographed with the Head of Badr Brigades Hadi al-Amiri, reaffirming the Quds Force Commander’s deep ties with Iraqi Shi’a militias. Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Culture Deputy IRGC Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, meanwhile, reiterated regime criticism of the US and its coalition against terrorism by saying, “America and the so-called Coalition against ISIL, while claiming to be confronting this terrorist and criminal group, have sent shipments of weapons, food, and medicine to ISIL in the Jalawla [Iraq] region, this clearly demonstrates the lies of the Coalition and America.” 

President Hassan Rouhani announced Iran’s willingness to cooperate with all countries in an effort to combat terrorism: “The disease of terrorism and extremism is more dangerous than the disease of Ebola, and the only solution to combat this threat is collaboration, cooperation, and coordination of countries; the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to effectively coordinate with all countries.” Rouhani’s statement, however, does not negate the fact that the Supreme Leader is adamantly opposed to cooperating with the US, because he believes a US-led coalition is insincere and ineffective.

Border Guards Commander Brigadier General Qassem Rezaei met with Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban in Baghdad on Sunday to discuss measures to increase border security along the Iran-Iraq border. Deputy Foreign Minister for Asian and Oceania Affairs Ibrahim Rahimpour arrived in Pakistan on Monday, to meet with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaundhry in Islamabad in reaction to the recent border clashes in Sistan va Baluchistan province. The two meetings highlight Iran’s concerted effort to secure its western and southeast border. 

International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi reiterated the regime’s position on nuclear negotiation and the prerequisite for reaching a final deal with the P5+1 by saying, “The removal of sanctions must be arranged and the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept a single sanction in a Comprehensive Nuclear Agreement.” An unnamed member of Iran’s nuclear negotiations team, meanwhile, dismissed an LA Times report claiming that the potential for extending talks beyond the November 24 deadline remains a possibility:  “The paper’s report is not true and the extension of the negotiations is not on the agenda. All the attention is focused on the serious continuation of the negotiations until November 24.”

 

OCTOBER 24, 2014

Key takeaway: Senior clerics condemns recent wave of acid attacks against women, while President Rouhani calls for an investigation of the attacks. Law enforcement commander denies reports of border clashes with Pakistani forces. Deputy Foreign Minister says that Iran “welcomes” sincere collaboration with neighbors to combat terrorism.

Reports of unknown assailants carrying out numerous acid attacks against women in the popular tourist destination of Isfahan led President Hassan Rouhani to direct an investigation into finding the individuals responsible. Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader and Expediency Discernment Council member Ayatollah Ali Mohavedi Kermani condemned the attacks as “tragic and inhumane” and promised “very harsh sentences” for the assailants. 

Sistan va Baluchistan Law Enforcement Forces commander Brigadier General Roham Bakhsh Habibi denied reports of border clashes between Iranian and Pakistani forces. Western media outlets have provided a conflicting account, claiming Pakistani and Iranian forces have exchanged mortar fire along the Baluchistan border. The Iran-Pakistan border has witnessed numerous exchanges of fire in the last month, including two separate attacks in Saravan, Sistan va Baluchistan province on October 9 which killed four Iranian officers. 

Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that Iran “welcomes” “any bilateral and regional cooperation with Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other regional Muslim countries” in the fight against terrorism to highlight Iran’s push for an alternative coalition that diminishes or excludes the US. 

IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was photographed alongside the Ali Imam Brigades Commander Shabl al-Zeidi, confirming ongoing Iranian involvement in Iraq’s counter-ISIS campaign. 

 

OCTOBER 23, 2014

Key takeaway: Supreme Leader leads prayers during funeral ceremony for former Assembly of Experts chairman. IRGC Deputy Commander touts Iran's rising global influence, while the foreign ministry reiterates Iran's support for Lebanon’s security.

IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami attended a memorial held for the Iran-Iraq war martyrs of Najaf Abad, Isfahan and spoke on Iran’s global rise, noting “America today has become a main actor of a socially excluded arena; and in its place, the Islamic Revolution has become an actor in a directorial area through the actions of the Supreme Leader.” This statement reflects Iran’s regional ambitions.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham reiterated Iran's support for the Lebanese government and military in its fight against terrorism, stating "When provided with sufficient equipment, the Lebanese army will be able to effectively fight the terrorists…In the past, we have witnessed that some parties have announced their readiness to help the Lebanese army, but in the process of following through with promises they have taken no action." These remarks seem to suggest Iran’s intent to increase its leverage within the Lebanese political system. 

At the appointment ceremony of Amir al-Momenin University Complex Commander Brigadier General Yunes Amiri, IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour announced an upcoming “revision” that optimizes IRGC training “in the field of combat.” Pakpour called this a response to the threat of ISIL.

Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari visited the Qingdao naval base in Shandong Province, eastern China. This was the second leg of Sayyari’s China trip aimed at strengthening military ties and bilateral cooperation between Tehran and Beijing. The Defense Minister of the People’s Republic of China Chang Wanquan met with Sayyari and conveyed Beijing’s intent for increased bilateral ties. 

 

OCTOBER 22, 2014

Key takeaway: Supreme Leader stresses self-reliance and scientific advancement; Judiciary Head warns against sedition. Iraqi prime minister meets with Parliament speaker.

 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed students and athletes and stressed self-reliance and scientific advancement, noting “Iran has to rely on its resources of intelligence and young talent to run the country, and should not rely on volatile revenue sources and underground oil." This statement reflects Iran’s interest in widespread efforts to wean its economy off oil. 

Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Amoli Larijani warned against a repeat of the 2009 Green Movement. He stated “We will not allow the sedition again which they want to unfold and cause trouble. The judiciary shows no fear of the attacks which are constantly escalating...,” highlighting the regime’s vigilance against popular protests like that of 2009. 
President Hassan Rouhani nominated Dr. Mahmoud Nili Ahmad Abadi as the Minister of Science, Research and Technology (SRT).  The nomination comes on the heels of the Parliament’s impeachment of Rouhani’s first SRT Minister Farji Dana in August, which reflected the ongoing tensions between Rouhani and more conservative members of the government. 

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani met with newly elected Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al-Abadi and reiterated Iran’s support for the new Iraqi government in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), stating "In helping the government and the people of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not give the terrorist groups permission to endanger and threaten the security, independence, and territorial integrity of Iraq.” 

President of the Strategic Defense Studies Center and former Defense Minister Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General Ahmad Vahidi maintained that Iran’s aid to the Lebanese military would be according to the latter’s materiel needs, reflecting Iran’s intent to secure and expand its role in Lebanon. 

 
OCTOBER 21, 2014

Key takeaway: Assembly of Experts Chairman and senior cleric passes away.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condoled the passing of Assembly of Experts Chairman Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani and praised him as “one of the first tough fighters for the difficult path of the revolution and [one of the] the brave honest loyalists to the Imam.” Mahdavi Kani’s death and the Supreme Leader’s health following his prostate surgery last month renew focus on the Assembly of Experts and its role of choosing the next Supreme Leader. 

Head of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi announced that spies from foreign intelligence security services have been arrested in the southwestern province of Bushehr, bordering the Persian Gulf. He did not specify the intelligence services or how many were arrested.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari stated that a range of revolutionary missiles have covered all the occupied Palestinian territory from north to south. This underscores Iran’s commitment to materially support Palestinian resistance movements.

The Supreme Leader reiterated Iran’s support for the new Iraqi government and its security forces during Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al Abadi’s visit to Tehran: “We are with you and your administration, and like the previous government we will strongly defend you." Meanwhile, according to a recently released image by Shi'a media outlet ABNA, IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was photographed with what appears to be men from the Iraqi Shi’a milita Asa'ib Ahl al Haq (AAH) in Iraq. This confirms Iran’s ongoing involvement in Iraq’s security situation.

Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Petrushev for talks concerning international and regional issues and Secretary Petrushev spoke about Iran's right to a peaceful nuclear program.

Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari met with Chinese Rear Admiral Wang Yang during a formal visit at the Shanghai Naval Base. The visit comes on the heels of last month’s joint China-Iran naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. 

The Iranian nuclear delegation will arrive in Vienna on Wednesday for expert-level talks scheduled until Thursday. The negotiations will be centered on enrichment capacity and complete removal of sanctions and the duration of a final nuclear deal.  

 

OCTOBER 20, 2014 

Key takeaway: Senior IRGC Commanders discuss regional security and censure US policies in the Middle East, while Iranian officials continued its diplomatic outreach, holding meetings with Lebanon’s defense minister ahead of scheduled talks with Iraqi premier. Senior nuclear negotiator claims that the US has accepted 4,000 operational centrifuges, significantly higher than the previous US demand of 1,300.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani along with several other senior IRGC commanders attended a memorial service marking the five-year anniversary of the Pishin, Sistan va Baluchistan bombing. Addressing reporters on the sidelines of the event, Soleimani slammed the US strategy against ISIL and its efforts in Syria, calling them a “failure.” Soleimani added, “I’m sure any move, large or small, including America’s war against terrorism and the terrorist acts of ISIL will have no other result other than failure…” IRGC Air Force Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, moreover, attributed regional unrest to the US: “As a result of America’s actions, countries in the region are insecure, but Iran is witnessed to be an island of stability.”

Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with United Nations (UN) special envoy to Syria Steffan de Mistura and reiterated Iran’s commitment to fight ISIL and its willingness to help resolve the ongoing crisis in Syria: “[Iran]will continue confrontation with the terrorist groups and is ready to cooperate with the United Nations as the only legitimate source in this regard.” IRGC Ground Forces Deputy Commander Brigadier General Abdollah Araghi, meanwhile, reaffirmed the IRGC’s role in Iraq and Syria: “The [IRGC] ground forces in these two countries have an advisory role.”

Expediency Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani met with Palestinian Islamic Resistance (PIJ) Secretary-General Ramezan to reinforce the Supreme Leader’s call to expand the armed resistance in Palestine: “If you want Israel to fall to its knees by its own strength then you have to plan new steps that will take them by surprise.” 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Maqbal in Tehran to convey the regime’s full-fledged support for Lebanon’s security. Defense Minister IRGC commander Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan echoed Zarif’s statement, while promising material support, “We should be ready again in the future to equip Lebanon and to help them against ISIL and other terrorists groups…. These items, which are mainly ground-based and are for dealing with terrorist groups, are ready to send to Lebanon… Anything we put in the hands of the Lebanese army now, is an urgent action for response to a possible threat.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al Abadi is scheduled to arrive in Tehran tomorrow to discuss recent developments and measures to enhance bilateral cooperation, meantime, Abdullah Mohammad Salem al Ghaban, a member of the Iranian-backed Badr Organization, was elected as Iraq’s interior minister.

 
OCTOBER 17, 2014

Key takeawayFuneral procession was held for an IRGC commander reportedly killed in Syria; senior officials continue to censure US-led coalition against ISIL.

 According to a Syrian pro-opposition media outlet, IRGC Brigadier General 2nd Class Seyyed Jabar Farid Darisavi was killed by rebel forces during clashes near Handarat, north of Aleppo city this week, reaffirming the IRGC’s ongoing campaign in Syria. IRGC Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, meanwhile, attributed the ongoing crisis in Syria to US foreign policy by saying, “In the past America has used ISIL, and is now using the fight against ISIL, as a means of destroying the infrastructure of Syria.”

International Affairs Deputy to the Office of the Supreme Leader Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Qomi addressed the "At the Court of Imam Ali" conference in Mashhad, which included a number of participants from Yemen and Lebanon. Qomi echoed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s call to expand regional resistance, praising the Head of the Ansarallah movement in Yemen, Abdolmalek al Houthi for his revolutionary zeal: "There is a similarity between the revolution of the Yemeni people and Iran's Islamic Revolution, and that is having a 'leader reliant on the Qur'an and the Ahl-e Bayt [Family of the Prophet].' The Islamic Awakening in Yemen, therefore, has been managed better than other countries, and it has been due to this leadership."

Defense Minister IRGC commander Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan officially invited his Lebanese counterpart Samir Moqbel to Tehran, where he arrive on Saturday, for talks on enhancing bilateral relations between Tehran and Beirut. Moqbel’s visit comes after Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani’s visit to Lebanon on September 30, when Shamkhani pledged Iran’s support to Lebanon.

Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) issued a warning to Saudi officials against carrying out the execution verdict of prominent Shi’a Sheikh Nemr Baghar al Nemr. Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reinforced the LH public statement adding, “I say this to the Saudi government, and it will not be easy to swallow, the execution of spiritual freedom has hard repercussions, and the price will be heavy for you.” The statements suggest that there will be heightened fears of Shi’a-Sunni unrest in the region. 

 
OCTOBER 16, 2014

Key takeawaySupreme Leader and senior officials meet with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Secretary-General in Tehran. Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 conclude in Vienna without a major breakthrough.

Representative of the Supreme Leader in the IRGC Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Saidi outlined threats facing the Islamic world today, while echoing the Supreme Leader’s assertion that the US creates regional instability. Saidi added: “America pursued the propagation of the three  types of takfiri: Wahabbism, secularized Islam, and Shi’a extremism by directly attacking the sanctities of other Muslims.” Saidi, meanwhile, praised the revolutionary ideals of the Islamic Republic and touted Iran’s growing influence by saying, “The Islamic system’s strategic depth is in various dimensions. Our borders today are in Lebanon and the Mediterranean coast…”

Parliament Executive Board member Mohammad Dehghan underscored Iran’s regional influence, citing Yemen’s al Houthis as a model of Resistance; “This is why Saudi Arabia wants to hold talks with Iran. However, Iran refuses to negotiate with this country.”

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his support for Palestine and the armed resistance during his meeting with PIJ Secretary-General Ramezan Abdullah: “The resistance must increase its preparedness day by day and increase the reserves of power inside Gaza.” Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani reinforced Khamenei’s remarks stating, “Rebuilding Gaza and improving its defense capabilities in the face of attacks by the child-killing regime [Israel] are on Iran’s agenda.” 

Iranian officials warned Riyadh after a Saudi court sentenced prominent Shi'a dissident Sheikh Nemr Bagher al Nemr to be executed: National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission Spokesman MP Hossein Naghavi Hosseini said, “The terrorist-centered regime will be closer to downfall with the execution of Ayatollah Nemr.” The court’s verdict and the ensuing hyperbolic rhetoric from Iranian officials reaffirm the deep-seated ideological chasm between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Expert level talks were held today between Iran, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. Following the meeting Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that there would be another round of negotiations: “Since these talks began in New York and continued in Vienna, the parties have discussed the road to solutions rather than just looking at problems…. Next week or the week after experts will meet to discuss the remaining issues in dispute, and in three to four weeks a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and the United States along with Ms. Ashton the EU Foreign Policy Chief will take place.”

 
OCTOBER 15, 2014

Key takeawayPresident Rouhani briefs the nation on internal and external affairs during televised address, highlighting economic growth and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s improving diplomatic relations in the international arena. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and Secretary of State John Kerry held trilateral talks in Vienna ahead of comprehensive negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.

Senior Political Adviser to the Representative of the Supreme Leader in the IRGC Brigadier General 2C Yadollah Javani discussed the ongoing fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, reiterating the Supreme Leader’s assertion that the terrorist group is a byproduct of the US and its allies. Javani, moreover, acknowledged a recent photo of Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani with Kurdish Peshmerga forces and gave high praise to the Quds Force Commander: “…Soleimani is a world renowned figure and hero…his leadership style as that of the Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq war].”

Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebron Bassil to talk about Iran’s military “gifts” to the Lebanese armed forces: “First it is unconditional, second there is no mediation of a third country, and most important of all these gifts include arms and ammunition to the Lebanese Army.”

President Hassan Rouhani praised the administration’s efforts in creating growth from a dire economic state: “We faced stagflation since the beginning of the administration.” Rouhani, furthermore, seemed optimistic in the prospects of reaching a final nuclear with the P5+1 by saying, “The entireties of matters are agreed upon by both sides. No one now seeks to [dismantle] Iran’s enrichment; this matter has been forgotten and eliminated. There is no longer a discussion whether Iran should have power plants for radio-medicine in Arak… In this latest New York trip, we have negotiations with the President of France, and he introduced that they want to have nuclear relations with and give modern nuclear technologies to Iran.”

Foreign Minister Zarif addressed the press regarding the current stage of nuclear negotiations and said, “In this round of talks, we are discussing a solution to put an end to the differences. There are, indeed, considerable differences, but that does not mean these differences cannot be settled.”

Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Secretary-General Ramazan Abdullah Mohammad Shalah arrived in Tehran yesterday. Shalah is scheduled to meet with Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani and other senior Iranian officials. Details regarding the meeting have not been released yet, however, Shamkhani’s direct talks with the Secretary General of PIJ underscore Iran’s support for Palestinian resistance and its efforts to expand in the West Bank.

Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced that Iran and Russia held joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea in the vicinity of Astrakhan.

The first Iran-Europe Forum was held in London today, where dozens of international and Iranian firms are set to discuss investment opportunities in Iran with the potential lifting of sanctions.

 
OCTOBER 14, 2014

Key takeaway: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei implored the Muslim world to unite against terrorism and the West’s divisive plots during a speech commemorating Eid al Qadir. 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a large gathering on the occasion of Eid al Qadir, which commemorates the day the Prophet Mohammad appointed Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor, on the topic of Western division of Shi’as and Sunnis: “This policy [of Shi’a-Sunni division] was the main part of colonialism for many years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic system, because we saw the open thinking of the Islamic Republic throughout the Muslim world, so they put more emphasis on divisive policies, became more insistent, and invested in separating the Muslim world from the Islamic Republic.” Khamenei’s remarks reiterate his earlier messaging urging greater Shi’a-Sunni unity in the face of the crises in Iraq and Syria. 

Iranian officials reacted to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal’s criticism of Iran for its role in exacerbating regional crises: Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated, “Tehran helps the governments and nations of Iraq and Syria in fighting terrorism within the framework of international rights.” National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary (NSFP) Commission Chairman and MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi argued, “The word occupation best fits Saudi Arabia, because its troops occupy and clearly violate the defenseless people of Bahrain.” These statements reflect Iran’s public projection of itself as the primary defense against regional terrorism. 

Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam attended the funeral ceremony of seven LEF members killed in a plane crash on October 11 along Iran’s eastern border. He rejected the notion that terrorists caused the crash. 

Foreign Minister Zarif spoke in Vienna concerning the nuclear negotiations and expressed some doubt that the latest round of talks could pave a way to a final agreement: “Of course it is unlikely to reach an agreement in these negotiations, because the issues that remain to be resolved are huge.” 
Representative of the Supreme Leader in Iraq and Ahul-e Bayt World Assembly Supreme Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Mehdi Asefi inspected an Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl-e Haq military base in Samarra, Iraq, reaffirming Iran’s role as coordinator of Shi’a miltia in Iraq. 

 
OCTOBER 10, 2014

Key takeaway: The National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission sent a special commission to the site of the October 8 attack against IRGC personnel in Saravan, Sistan va Baluchistan province, along the Iran-Pakistan border.

Sistan va Baluchistan Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi also announced that 14 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

IRGC Navy Commander Brigadier General Ali Fadavi stated that the nature of the enmity between America and Iran is the same as the nature between right and wrong, and that Iranian military has changed, stating “In the years 87 and 88… Iran did not have the means to go to war with America, however, due to the strengths of a man of God, when a man becomes bound with God his strength is limitless.” His comments reflect Iran’s recent uptick in confidence in its military strength. 

Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the US airstrikes in Syria are politically motivated, adding: “The illegal and maddened airstrikes by America in Syria will have no other result other than strengthening extremists in the region.” This reflects Iran's continued suspicion and doubt over American involvement in Syria. Abdollahian also discussed Iran’s ongoing talks with Turkey regarding ISIL and military operations in Syria, stating: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will work within the same international legal framework that it did in aiding Syrians in their fight against terrorists, to provide any necessary support to the Kurds of Kobani.”

International and Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi spoke about the trilateral meetings that will take place October 15 between Iranian, American, and EU representatives: “The time is rapidly passing, and still it is not hopeless until we get to the 24th of November, and if this next round is not enough to get results, we will definitely not reach a final result by [the deadline]…There is still a possibility of renewed talks.”  

 
OCTOBER 9, 2014

Key takeawayReports claim that four Iranian officers were killed in two separate attacks near Saravan in Sistan va Baluchistan province close to the Iran-Pakistan border. 

Iranian media outlets have released conflicting reports about the method of attack and number of wounded during two separate attacks near Saravan in Sistan va Baluchistan province. One source claims one dead and three injured, while Sistan va Baluchistan Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi stated: “After carrying out an ambush this group carried out a mortar attack on an outpost in the Saravan region where, unfortunately, one law enforcement officer was martyred and another soldier was wounded.” 

National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member and former IRGC commander MP Mohammad Esmail Kowsari responded to the attacks with sharp criticism by saying, “The Pakistani government has practically no control over the border areas and if they really cannot control it they better tell us so that we ourselves could take action.” LEF Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, moreover, stated: “We should use more diplomatic action; it is unacceptable that Pakistan can be a safe haven for terrorists.” The statements made by Kowsari and Moghaddam underscore the regime’s lack of trust in Pakistani security forces and Islamabad’s efforts to combat terrorism. 

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani reiterated Iran’s opposition to the US-led coalition against ISIL by pointing to its ineffective strategy: “Aerial bombings against the terrorists will be irrelevant, and for every reason Iran does not take this coalition seriously, but we will fight against terrorism and act upon it.”

Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem announced that yesterday's attack on Israeli forces in the occupied territory of Shebaa Farms in southern Lebanon shows that "the eyes of the resistance have been completely open and it is ready to confront the enemy Israel, despite [LH] being engaged in Syria and in Lebanon's eastern front."

Iran’s Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors Reza Najafi said Tehran is not obligated to grant visas to IAEA employees, per the agency’s regulations. The move to deny visas seems to be in response to what Iran claims to be leaked reports about its meeting with the IAEA in Tehran.

 
OCTOBER 8, 2014

Key takeawaySenior officials tout Iran’s regional influence and revolutionary zeal, while praising the resistance forces in Palestine and Syria. Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are set to resume on October 15 in Vienna. 

IRGC Qods Force Deputy Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ghani praised the Sacred Defense (Iran-Iraq war) culture, attributing regional resistance to the revolutionary values of the Islamic Republic: “If we see that fourth and fifth generation fighters go up against the Israeli army and overcome them, it is because of…the Sacred Defense.” Lebanese Hezbollah (LH) released a statement claiming responsibility for planting an anti-tank bomb that wounded three military personnel in the occupied territory of Shebaa Farms in southern Lebanon on Tuesday, marking the first time LH took credit for attacking Israeli forces since the 33-day war in 2006. The attack suggests a calculated move by LH to project its capabilities in reinvigorating the northern front against Israel. 

Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali met with the Head of the Druze Lebanese Democratic Party Talal Arslan, ensuring him that Tehran is prepared to supply Lebanese forces with military hardware. The pledge to support the armed forces of Lebanon signifies a potential move by Iran to enhance its political leverage over the Lebanese government.

Tehran’s Ambassador to Damascus Mohammad Reza Raouf Sheibani lauded Iran’s Basij forces and the moral support of “millions” of Iranians for inspiring the formation of the Syrian volunteer forces. “The popular defense, which in reality is appropriately modelled based off the highly capable Basij…” Sheibani, however, made it clear that “no forces” have been sent to fight in Syria, underscoring the regime’s rhetorical position of nonintervention. 

Senior Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader’s Representative in the IRGC Major General Yadollah Javani warned Turkey about the US-led coalition against ISIL, by saying, “if Turkey does not correct its behavior the Syrian and Iraqi crises will undoubtedly become Turkish crises as well and its leaders should not be deceived by America’s displayed actions.” Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani criticized coalition efforts in combatting terrorism: “The situation…of Kobani in northern Syria is currently faced with, is proof of the ineffectiveness of the coalition…and certain countries in the region…”Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, meanwhile, announced that Iran is prepared to dispatch humanitarian aid to the Kurdish city of Kobani, Syria. 

Trilateral talks between Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Zarif, and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton will take place next week in Vienna. The three officials will meet to set the agenda for the latest round of negotiations. 

 
OCTOBER 7, 2014

Key takeawayIran’s operations lead in Syria has been confirmed by IRGC commander. Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander criticizes US-led airstrikes in Syria and blames the West for regional crises.

Greater Tehran IRGC Hazrat-e Mohammad Rasulollah Unit Commander Brigadier General Mohsen Kazemeini confirmed the role of former unit commander Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani in leading Iranian efforts in Syria. This is the first time a senior official has made the identity of Iran’s operations lead in Syria public. Hamedani, however, appears to have been the unofficial operations lead since 2012, given his undisclosed relocation after Kazemeini took over his post in Tehran. 

LEF Commander Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam censured the US-led coalition against ISIL, calling the airstrikes ineffective and an insincere effort to combat terrorism. Moghaddam, moreover, reiterated the Supreme Leader’s assertion that the US and its allies have created and funded terrorist groups by saying, "Today, the enemies have created, strengthened, and trained terrorist groups and tomorrow will trample state sovereignty and [intervene] under the pretext of the same terrorists."

Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati met with former French Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin to discuss upcoming nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 and Iran’s commitment to regional security. Velayati reiterated Tehran’s pledge to support its allies: “Due to the long relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran with Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, Iran will continue to send aid and demand other countries to send aid.”

Head of the Ministry of Intelligence Services (MOIS) Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi briefed the Parliament on the agency’s annual report and dismissed hardline conservative charges claiming that MOIS officials are not confronting elements of sedition. National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission member Javad Karimi Ghodousi, furthermore, accused former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani of being “the great actor” in the 2009 post-election protests. Karimi Ghodousi added, “I announce that I will always stand against sedition.” Ghodousi’s divisive statements underscore the ongoing tension between hardliners and reformists.  

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh urged Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, including Saudi Arabia to reduce production, reflecting concerns over future Iranian oil market shares and oil revenues in light of US shale revolution. 

 
OCTOBER 6, 2014

Key takeawayConservative Iranian media outlet Mashregh reports “severe fires" in the “vicinity” of Parchin military complex.

Defense Ministry reports fire in eastern Tehran, Saham news (pro-reform) makes connection to Parchin and BBC circulates the headline. An unnamed defense official released a statement to ISCA News (Iran Students Correspondents Association; conservative media outlet), that the fire was "due to chemical material," and part of "normal events in the Defense Industries factory."

Deputy Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Reza Talaei-Nik reaffirms Iran’s commitment to support Baghdad and Damascus in combatting ISIL; “All of our activities [against ISIL] would be conducted in coordination and cooperation with the governments of Iraq and Syria.”

IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani was reportedly seen alongside Kurdish Peshmerga forces, highlighting his role in commanding Iranian efforts in Iraq.

President Hassan Rouhani called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the Bilateral Security Agreement recently signed between the US and Afghanistan and reiterate the Islamic Republic’s opposition to American intervention in regional affairs; “Be sure that any agreement you make with other countries does not go against Iran or harm the people of your country.”

European court lifts sanctions on five Iranian entities: National Iranian Tanker Company, Sorinet Commercial Trust, Sharif University of Technology, Moallem Insurance Company, and Sina Bank. Iranian trade grows by 22% to 53 billion dollars and Head of the Iran Trade Expansion Organization Valiollah Afkhami expresses hope for 110 billion dollar volume by March 2015, reflecting Tehran's efforts in increasing non-oil manufacturing exports. 

International Atomic Energy Agency officials arrived in Tehran on Monday.

 
OCTOBER 3, 2014

Key takeawaySupreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a message to Iranian Hajj pilgrims emphasizing the importance of Islamic unity. 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a message to Iranian Hajj pilgrims attending an annual Tehran-sponsored political rally in Saudi Arabia. He discussed the importance of Islamic unity and the Palestinian issue, reflecting Iran’s commitment to lead a regional movement of Islamic resistance.

Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami reiterated Iran’s nuclear negotiations red lines ahead of the nuclear negotiations, highlighting the importance of the preservation of the Arak heavy water reactor and the enrichment capacities of the Fordo and Natanz facilities to the regime. 

Securities and Exchange Organization Exchanges and Markets Supervision Director Mohammad Reza Khajeh Nasiri announced plans to operationalize a currency exchange investment fund, which is “necessary to increase the presence of foreign investors.” This move represents Iran’s latest efforts towards integration into the global economy. 

Palestinian Red Crescent official Salim Abu Ras announced that Iranian medical aid has arrived in Gaza, confirming Iranian promises of support to the Palestinian people in the wake of the Hamas-Israel conflict earlier this year.  

 
OCTOBER 2, 2014

Key takeawayPresident Hassan Rouhani emphasized the resolution of the nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 and Iran’s integration into the global economy, highlighting Iran’s need for a final deal for successful economic expansion. 

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani praised the IRGC and the Basij and stated that “the path of their strengthening should continue,” reflecting public conservative support within the government for the IRGC. The Speaker also censured US policies in Afghanistan and Syria, arguing that the US is creating an “alliance to destroy the infrastructure” of the Syrian government. These comments echo strong regime opposition to US policy across the Middle East. 

IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami extolled Iran’s hard power and called the US a power in decline, reiterating regime confidence in its military strength.

Iran’s Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors Reza Najafi announced that Iran and IAEA officials will hold talks next week in Tehran. 

Iran Customs Director Massoud Karbassian met with the Republic of Azerbaijan and Economy Industry Minister Shahin Mostafayev and announced that the two countries have agreed to provide 24 hour border access. Mostafayev also announced Baku’s inclination to establish a joint chamber of commerce, underlining a recent uptick in bilateral relations.  

 
OCTOBER 1, 2014

Key takeawaySupreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Palestinian leaders in Damascus and reinforced Iran’s support for the Islamic resistance movement. 

Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi stated that US intelligence is politically motivated and influenced by Israel, reiterating a long-standing regime position that Israel exerts extensive control over American politics. IRGC Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour announced plans are underway to develop a new combat Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for the IRGC, and noted that “IRGC UAVs are monitoring the northwest, southwest, and western borders around the clock,” reflecting regime security concerns in those areas. 

Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani met with Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Palestinian leaders in Damascus. He reinforced Iran’s support for Islamic resistance against Israel and reproached “the policy of silence” on the issue adopted by “many Sunni states,” reflecting Iran’s aspirations to lead the Islamic resistance movement.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticized the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He argued that “instead of a fundamental fight against ISIL, Syria’s infrastructures are being attacked,” echoing Iran’s continued condemnation of US involvement in Syria. Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jafari praised Iran and other states’ support for Iraq in the fight against ISIL, reinforcing Iraq’s position on Iran’s involvement in the crisis.