Iran News Round Up - December 29, 2016

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Key takeaway: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “welcomed” the Syrian ceasefire agreement recently prepared by Turkey and Russia. 

Zarif discussed the agreement the telephone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. According to sources cited by Reuters, the agreement calls for Syria to be divided into “informal zones of regional power” and for Bashar al Assad to remain as the country’s president for an undetermined time period.

Senior military and political officials commemorated the anniversary of the 2009 anti-Green Movement protests. The December 30, 2009 protests were organized in response to the Green Movement earlier that year. IRGC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami stated that “the Iranian nation nipped the seditionists’ sinister goals in the bud” during the protests.

AEI Must-Reads

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Zarif hails Syrian ceasefire agreement. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reportedly “welcomed” the Syrian ceasefire agreement recently prepared by Turkey and Russia during a telephone call with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on December 28. (ISNA)
     
  • IRGC official comments on U.S. abstention from voting on UNSC resolution on Israel. IRGC Public Affairs Head Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif discussed the U.S.’s decision to abstain from voting on the UN Security Council’s resolution condemning Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Sharif stated, “America has come to a good understanding of the realities of the Middle East - that these events [e.g. the continued settlement construction] will lead eventually to the destruction of Israel.” (Tasnim News Agency) (E) (Entekhab)
     
  • Defense minister: Turkey must end its support for terrorist groups in Syria. Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan discussed collaboration between Iran, Syria, Russia, and Turkey on the Syrian crisis and the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in a December 27 interview with Russian state-funded news outlet RT. He stated: 
    • On regional cooperation: “If Iran, Russia, and Syria were to reach an agreement with Turkey to end Turkish support for those terrorist groups, particularly IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and start fighting them, then I think we would see the situation in Syria improve.”
    • “We shouldn’t let [the] Islamic State or Al-Nusra groups take part in the ceasefire. All other groups should start a political process and negotiations with the Syrian government.” 
    • On the U.S.-led coalition: “Maybe the coalition forces would like to see terrorists weakened, but certainly not destroyed, because those terrorists are their tool for destabilizing this region.”
    • On Saudi involvement in Syria: Saudi Arabia is “seeking to topple the existing regime [in Syria]. No talks should be allowed with those who are eager to do” so. (Tasnim News Agency) (RT) (E)

Domestic Politics

  • Officials commemorate anniversary of anti-Green Movement protests. Officials commemorated the anniversary of the December 30, 2009 pro-government protests. The December 30 protests were organized in response to the Green Movement, which alleged election fraud in the presidential elections that year and sought government reforms. Officials frequently refer to the Green Movement protests as a “sedition.” (Fars News Agency) (E)
    • Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi stated, “Wherever a deviation [the Green Movement] has been created, we must repair it. Thus we know that this [Islamic] Revolution and its achievements… must be passed onto future generations and to other countries.” (IRNA)
    • Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami stated that the December 30 protests “sent the seditionists to the dustbin of history.” Khatami also warned against those who attempt to “forget” the “sedition” of the 2009 Green Movement. (ISNA)
    • Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezaei stated that the December 30 protests “represent the political progress of the people and the [Islamic] Revolution.” He warned that some are “trying to forget the sedition [the 2009 Green Movement].” Rezaei also stated, “There was a time America would not admit Iran to negotiations on Syria… Recently, it was us who met with Turkey and Russia [regarding Syria]... and America and Saudi Arabia were not admitted to the negotiations.” (Tasnim News Agency)
    • IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami stressed that “the enemy’s most dangerous war against Iran” has been its attempts to “change the values” of the Islamic Republic “by means of cultural invasion,” especially during the 2009 Green Movement. Salami praised the pro-government protests and noted that the “The Iranian nation nipped the seditionists’ sinister goals in the bud.” Salami also referenced Iran’s joint efforts with Turkey and Russia regarding the Syrian crisis and stated, “Today, the resolution of regional and international problems is not possible without Iran’s presence.” (ISNA)

Economy

  • South Korean company wins contract to renovate Esfahan Oil Refinery. South Korean construction and petrochemical company Daelim Industrial stated that it has won a contract to renovate and expand the Esfahan Oil Refinery, according to the Korea Herald. The deal is reportedly worth 1.9 billion dollars. (Tasnim News Agency) (E)