Iran News Round Up - January 6, 2017

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 with contributor Wali Miller. 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: Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami warned Iranians of “enemy plots” to polarize Iranian society in the upcoming presidential election, underscoring the regime’s sensitivity to foreign interference in Iranian domestic politics.

Khatami stated that Iran “needs unity now more than ever” during his sermon on January 6. He also called upon officials to “avoid disputes which will only serve the interests of foes.” Khatami’s sermon follows a recent public feud between President Hassan Rouhani and hardline Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, who have each accused the other of corruption.

AEI Must-Reads

Domestic Politics

  • Tehran Friday prayer leader warns against enemy “plots” in presidential election. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami claimed that “enemy plots” will seek to “polarize” Iranian society in the May 2017 presidential election during his sermon. The hardline interim Tehran Friday prayer leader warned that the “enemy” is targeting Iranian legal institutions and the Judiciary in particular. He also called upon senior officials to “avoid disputes which will only serve the interests of foes” and stated that Iran “needs unity now more than ever.” He added that the outcome of such domestic debates is that the country’s enemies “say that corruption has been systematized in Iran.” Khatami was likely referring to a recent feud between President Hassan Rouhani and Judiciary Head Sadegh Amoli Larijani, who have each accused the other of corruption. (Tasnim News Agency(E) (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Reformist party reappoints Mehdi Karroubi as secretary-general. The National Trust Party’s central council voted to oppose the recent resignation of reformist leader Mehdi Karroubi and reelected him as secretary-general, according to spokesman Esmail Gerami Moghaddam. The party members also called for the end of Karroubi’s house arrest. Karroubi announced his resignation in late December due to “uncertainty” over the duration of his house arrest, which began in 2011. In his resignation announcement, Karroubi called for the National Trust Party to cooperate with other reformist groups amid rumors that party members were quarreling with the Reformist Policymaking Committee. National Trust Party Vice-President Rasoul Montajab Nia stated on January 6 that party members emphasized “consistency and cohesion” during the vote. (Aftab News) (Asr Iran)

Economy

  • CBI officials to meet to discuss currency instability. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) will meet on January 7 and will likely review recent fluctuations in the rial, according to Tasnim News Agency. First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri is scheduled to attend. Iranian media reported that the meeting will likely result in “new decisions.” (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Foreign military and diplomatic officials attend exhibition on IRGC engineering wing. The ambassadors of South Korea and Azerbaijan, deputy ambassador of Italy, Venezuela's chargé d’affaires, and the military attaches of Syria, Azerbaijan, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India, Indonesia, and Turkey attended an exhibition on projects of the IRGC Khatam ol Anbia Construction Base, the IRGC’s engineering wing. A number of senior Iranian military and civil officials also attended the exhibit, including Armed Forces General Staff Chief IRGC Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. The exhibit covered Khatam ol Anbia’s projects in energy and technology sectors. (Tasnim News Agency)

Military & Security

  • Insurgents kill border guard in clashes in Sistan and Baluchistan province. The Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Border Guards clashed with insurgents in Jakigur, a town in Sistan and Baluchistan province near the Iran-Pakistan border, on January 6. One border guard  was killed and three others were injured. The identity and affiliation of the insurgents were not specified. Majid Aghababaei, the Interior Ministry’s Director-General for Border Affairs, stated that the insurgents, along with other groups, had planned “ambushes and operations” inside Iran. (Tasnim News Agency) (Tasnim News Agency)