Iran News Round Up July 3, 2013

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Will Fulton and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributor Mary Ella Simmons. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Politics

  • President-elect Hojjat al-Eslam Hassan Rouhani discussed the relationship between the clergy and society, the role of Islam in society,  the government’s relationship with society and future cabinet appointments:
    • On the clergy and society: “The trust of the majority of the Iranian people in this seminary student, in the shadow and rays of destiny which have shown me political success under the consideration of the Supreme Leader, is a source of pride and glory for me. Of course, from another angle, it will create a heavy weight of responsibility [on me]. Therefore, I appeal to all the respected great ones, Sources [of Emulation], the ulama and all the clergy to tolerate this heavy weight and see my need for prayer, advice, support and even sympathetic criticism.”
    • “Of course, this destruction [related to clergy within the past few years] was not caused by those who in appearance had distance from religion, rather the majority [of the destruction] came from individuals who were sometimes two-faced and [boasted] in their relationship with religion and ahl-e bayt. The fundamental group of clergy, the great clergymen and those who had a fundamental role in the revolution were unfortunately subjected to unfair and destructive attacks, but the people answered in these elections and wanted to say that ‘we view the clergy as the solution to political issues and view them as trustees of the prophet.' In reality, the clergy’s role as the intermediaries for better understanding religion, the Prophet’s message and [the Hidden Imam] has been maintained.”
    • “The youth must consider themselves the children of clerical society and the clergy.”
    • “One of the special benefits of the clerical institutions in the course of history has continuously been the populist [nature] of the clergy. This institution has come from the heart of faith and the people’s desires, and has continuously relied upon the people.”
    • “Mutual trust must be continuously maintained between the people and the clergy; the clergy is the people’s language and the intermediary institution between the people and the government. In reality, the clergy must be the spokesman of the people’s respect, greatness and fundamental rights.”
    • “The clergy is independent and can and must have a central role in Islam and society’s ascendance, meaning a trustworthy intermediary between the people and government.”
    • “We must remember that there may be various interpretations of Islamic law. We must not [impose] absolutism and call all leanings as takfir…In this regard, we must tolerate different leanings and correct their problems with admonition and good fighting, not confront them with accusations.”
    • On Islam and society: “They [religious minorities] must feel that Islamic law considers their legal legitimate rights and also that all are [held dearly] in Islam. The strength of the Islamic Republic is that everyone’s measures within a legal framework are respected, to the extent that it does not disrupt Islamic law.”
    • "Shi’a and Islamic thought are based on justice and moderation. Our society must become more familiar with justice and moderation, because moderation is both the method and the path and also the destination. Moderation without rationality is distancing. [Implementing slogans] is not possible without leaning on science and human experience, without changing alongside peace and stability, without idealism alongside realism and without ethics, manners, patience and freedom.”
    • “In this difficult path, with patience and tolerance, we will become capable with rationality and moderation. We will overcome all problems.”
    • On government and society: “In one respect, we must create distance from extremism and create a natural, moderate and healthy society and, from another, [we must] accept other views and various preferences.”
    • “The government must work for the people’s security, greatness, livelihood and rights. Whether or not we want to, our work as officials of the Islamic system are more or less associated with the clergy, therefore there must not be a division and weakness [of relations] between the government, clergy and the people within circumstances in which the people today have placed their hope in change.”
    • “Extremism has continuously damaged us…. The people must feel safety and security, must have intellectual, political and economic security and feel calmness and security toward the international situation.”
    • “Today there are many issues and problems ahead of us. I have walked this path with an awareness of issues, and despite unprecedented issues, which I will speak to the Iranian nation about in a later speech. No government in Iranian history has faced the issues that this administration is facing. But I am even more hopeful about the extent of those problems, and have hope in the future with God’s permission, with divine strength and divine backing.”
    • “Of course the necessary time and opportunity must be the discretion of the eleventh administration. The people know well that they must endure the problems with patience and tolerance until the necessary opportunities [arise].”
    • On the cabinet: ”It has been some time since I began the work of reviewing cabinet individuals with friends who do not have a claim nor a stake, and I hope that I can choose the most qualified at an appropriate time without considering partisan relations.”
  • Some senior clergy reportedly met with President-elect Rouhani before he delivered the aforementioned speech.
  • MP Hojjat al-Eslam Ruhollah Hoseinian discussed President-elect Rouhani’s partisan leanings, price reduction and reducing reliance on oil revenue
    • On Rouhani: ”In a comprehensive look, one can describe Mr. Rouhani from an economic and political outlook as close to the right, but from a social and intellectual aspect one can describe him as close to the Reformist party. Mr. Rouhani himself has announced that he has leanings to all parties in economic, political and social issues and is not dependent on the Reformist party, therefore, one cannot interpret him as an absolute rightist."
    • He added that Rouhani must not promise to reduce prices “because currently there are no capabilities to reduce prices, and I [say it] as an individual who has years of experience in economic issue and understand them. It is not [the case] that Mr. Rouhani’s Administration can reduce prices in the country and control price increases.”
    • “With attention to the experiences of the thirty-four years after the revolution, the most important priority for Mr. Rouhani’s administration is approving a four year plan to reduce Iran’s economic reliance on oil and if he is successful in this field he can provide massive services to the people.” 
  • Former president Mohammad Khatami said that the President-elect’s capabilities are limited and this administration must use all parties in the cabinet.
  • MP Esmail Kowsari hinted at cooperation with Reformists and said, “Principlists and Reformists can have joint meetings with each other in [certain] circumstances so they can take steps toward progress and justice,” but noted that the Reformists participating “must not have had a role in the [2009] sedition or be extreme Reformists who pursue the desires of arrogant America and Europe.”
  • Following accusations from three MPs about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s travel to the United States alongside family members of his deputies, the Head of the Presidential Executive Division Hamid Baghaei filed a legal complaint against the three MPs. Baghaei’s lawyer said that his client's wife and child “have not even traveled to America.”
  • Following reports that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intends on establishing the bonyad-e bahar [lit. "Spring Foundation"] after the end of his presidency, Advisor to the President Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei responded, “The administration does not have a plan to establish such a bonyad, even though it is possible that some groups want to do such thing and I am unaware of it.” 

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • A funeral was held Tuesday for Hezbollah resistance fighter Hassan Mohammad Nasr al-din, who was killed on “a jihadi mission in Syria.” Imam Hossein spoke to the crowd gathered in northern Beqaa in Lebanon. The funeral was attended by leaders of Lebanese Hezbollah, including Lebanese MP Ali al-Moqdad  and some other religious leaders. 
  • Syrian sources reported to Mehr that Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher assumed responsibility for the Syrian army campaign to take Homs, as other factions of Assad's army work to secure the town of Jaber in Rif Dimash outside of the capital.
  • The leaders of Uzbekistan, Germany, and Vietnam congratulated President-elect Rouhani on his election.

Military and Security

  • Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff MG Hassan Firouzabadi and Head of the Basij Organization BG Mohammad Reza Naghdi separately condemned the United States on the anniversary of the 1988 US Navy downing of Iran jetliner flight 655 and promised “The hard and great revenge of the Islamic community.” 
  • Law Enforcement Forces Commander BG Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam discussed the morality police and said, “The plan of ethical security is not related to a specific chapter and has continuously existed and matters are under control…. With cultural activities, warnings and guidance, we are seeking to reform behaviors.” He added that the salary of soldiers located by the borders will increase by 50% this year.” 
  • Political Advisor to the Representative of the Supreme Leader in the IRGC BG2C Yadollah Javani discussed Rouhani, the meaning of moderation, cabinet selections and “economic valor”:
    • On Rouhani: “[One] can certainly say that Mr. Rouhani’s vote is not a political and partisan vote with a Reformist origin; because the slogan of moderation and obedience of the law does not belong to Principlism such that we say the people voted for those who stood against the Principlists. Rather, Mr. Rouhani’s slogans were [amenable] with the Principlist current, and he said on this basis that ‘I am neither a Reformist nor a Principlist, rather I am moderate and will use both currents.’”
    • “With attention to the country’s situation, the people’s take was that Mr. Rouhani can resolve the country’s issues better than anyone on the basis of [rule of] law and a slogan of moderation. Although some political groups attempted to claim his victory as a Reformist victory, the reality was different.”
    • "With attention to those fundamentals, [one] can consider Rouhani as a Principlist because Principlism was formed in the era of the Second Khordad [Reformist movement beginning in 1997] that was a reaction to the deconstructive behaviors of extremist Reformists, and Mr. Rouhani considers himself innocent of Second Khordad extremism pursuing deconstruction.”
    • On cabinet: “It seems that Mr. Rouhani’s cabinet, with attention to the slogan of being non-partisan, must have two characteristics, [one of which is competence].”
    • “[T]oday all polls demonstrates that our people’s priority is economic and issue and livelihood, and most who voted for Rouhani assessed him as a capable individual.”
    • “The cabinet of the eleventh Administration must [include individuals] who can [create] economic valor in various arenas and transform economic threats to economic opportunities.”
    • On “economic valor”: “The eminent Supreme Leader named [2013] the year of political and economic valor; with the blessings of God and strategic guidance of the grand Supreme Leader, the nation created political valor on [June 14, 2013] and surprised the world [and afterward the nation’s movement must be toward creating economic valor].” 
  • Head of IRGC Public Relations BG 2C Ramazan Sharif condemned the United States and discussed the 1988 US Navy downing of Iran jetliner Flight 655
    • "[The downing] is a reflective event that demonstrates America’s nature.”
    • “This crime demonstrates that what the Americans claim as national interests is against the slogans that they repeat in the arenas of human rights, democracy and nations’ rights, and for them, first and foremost, their national interest is most important, and if they cause the deaths of 290 innocent passengers in a civilian aircraft in order to reach that goal they will not hesitate.”
    • “Not only the Iranian nation, but also the nations whose children were killed in this aircraft and even global public opinion will never forget this crime, and America is continuously condemned in the court of public opinion and will certainly be penalized for this crime.”

Nuclear Issue

  • Former Head of the Atomic Energy Agency Reza Agha Zadeh discussed the nuclear issue and expectations from President-elect Hassan Rouhani to resolve the matter:
    • He stated that President-elect Rouhani should not pressured to immediately resolve the nuclear standoff with the West, even though he believes that it has reached a critical moment where “anyone who has the most [endurance] will be the victor.”
    • To the question which individuals or groups believe that the Supreme Leader does not want the nuclear matter to be resolved, he said, “At times, this discussion has been introduced and in presidential debates, particularly the third debate, some discussions were introduced which [implied this].”
    •  “From [the perspective that] I am informed about the trend of events, any time there was a serious symbol from the West, the grand Supreme Leader because active and would get officials to resolve this matter.”
    • Regarding sanctions, he said, “I believe that it was not necessary for the costs of the years after [2008] to be imposed on the nation” and proceeded to blame Ahmadinejad who “had interpretations and did not think we should go toward that approach [of resolving the matter].” 

Economy

  • Deputy Oil Minister Abdolhossein Bayat provided details on new contacts with South Korean and Turkish companies to build complete petrochemical industry complexes, in order to reduce the sale of crude petrochemical products and exporting products with increased values to international markets. He said, “On the basis of one of these agreements between Iran and South Korea, two new complexes to produce polymer and petrochemical alloys will be built in Aslaviyeh and Mahshahr,” in southern Iran, whose goal is to produce 30,000 tons of such products. A Turkish company has also reportedly agreed to build a PVC compound unit with the capacity to produce 350,000 tons with one consortium.
  • The Iran Statistics Center reports that property prices have increased by 157% in the past year. 

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