Iran News Round Up June 21, 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. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Politics

  • Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader and former Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani praised President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s service to the Islamic Republic as well as the people’s participation in the elections. He added, “This matter [that the Iranian government knows what is best for its people] is one of the benefits of the Islamic Republic system. For example, in European countries it is possible for people to pursue homosexuality, but the Islamic government has a special compassion for the people and [they] do not do such acts.” 
  • Deputy Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC Hojjat al-Eslam Abdollah Haji Sadeghi discussed Ahmadinejad’s requests of the Supreme Leader to allow Mashaei to run for president, potential change in foreign policy, and election implications:
    • “The President is responsible for the executive branch, and the president is not the foreign policy-maker. In debates, some statements regarding changing [Iran's] foreign policy were introduced; such statements are not correct because foreign policy is under the discretion of the Supreme Leader.”
    • “The president went to the Supreme Leader three times and pleaded with him [to overrule the Guardian Council’s disqualification of Ahmadinejad’s advisor Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei] but the Supreme Leader did not accept the President’s request.”
    • “After [Rouhani] achieved victory in the elections, one of the leaders of the Reformist parties said that the time had arrived to take measures [and] free the leaders of sedition [2009 Presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who are currently under house arrest]. The nation’s choice [Rouhani] answered this individual by saying ‘you must thank God that you are free yourself.’”
  • Following the publication of rumored cabinet candidates for Hassan Rouhani’s administration, a source close to Rouhani denied these rumors and said that he has not yet decided upon the cabinet's composition.

Regional Developments

  • The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Deputy Mikhail Bogdanov met with Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary Hassan Narsallah. Bogdanov relayed that Nasrallah discussed Hezbollah’s reasons for intervening in Syria:
    • “In conversations that we had with Nasrallah, he announced that the Syrian crisis began two years ago but Lebanese Hezbollah has only recently entered the Syrian contentions.”
    • “Nasrallah told me that Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria began only when the Syrian opposition had reached the vicinity of...Damascus and thousands of armed individuals, in which foreign and takfiri groups were present, entered [the city]. Hezbollah analyzed the situation, and when it reached the conclusion that Damascus' fall was possible -- a serious threat, it decided to act and help its friends and allies in Damascus.”
    • “[Nasrallah]: Hezbollah has wide popular support which it cannot ignore. We understand the present effects of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon and all regional countries, so we want a political solution in Syria as soon as possible.”
    • “[Nasrallah]: Hezbollah has intelligence which shows that about 300 forces from the northern Caucuses are fighting in Syria. Therefore, I once again affirm that we are facing the spread of terrorism and must take measures to reach a political solution.”
  • Advisor to Hamas Leader Esmail Haniyeh, Bassem Naim, stated that Hamas’ relationships with Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah are still strong “regardless of the differences between our views with Iran and Hezbollah about some regional issues.”
  • Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA) claims that, according to leaked documents from the Saudi Interior Ministry, Saudi Arabia offers inmates on death row or serving life sentences the opportunity to have their convictions lifted if the inmates undertake jihad in Syria.
  • The Free Syrian Army has announced that the first shipment of advanced weapons, reportedly from Saudi Arabia, would allow them to change battlefield conditions to their advantage. 
  • Senior Shia Bahraini cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Ahmad Qassem stated that current dialogues with the Bahriani government regarding political reform are exacerbating the crisis rather than improving it. 
  • Iraqi Sadr Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr protested Qatar’s decision to hold Taliban-Afghan government peace talks because “this group has al-Qaeda’s terrorist approach in its agenda.”
  • A number of Shia clerics from Iran and Iraq are holding a conference to declare their solidarity with arrested Saudi Shia cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Namr Bagher al-Namr. The Qatif region in eastern Saudi Arabia has also announced its preparedness to hold a similar conference on the anniversary of al-Namr’s arrest. 

Military and Security

  • Tehran Province Guidance Bureau Cultural-Media Deputy Mohammad Sadegh Afrasiabi criticized “preferential” internet filtering policies and said, “Filtering in cyber space is like execution in the real space.”
  • Qazvin Province Chief Prosecutor announced the cessation of public executions “due to the Judiciary Branch’s policies and international and human rights matters.” 

Nuclear Issue

  • ISNA published President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s statements from a few months ago regarding nuclear negotiations:
    • “The West must feel that there is a better solution than sanctions to resolve issues.”
    • “We must defend our rights in peaceful nuclear activities and take measures to gradually [disrupt] America’s plans. Currently, America has taken the nuclear file to the [UN] Security Council, and we must take step-by-step measures to defend our peaceful nuclear activities and to also achieve the Iranian nation’s rights with free economic activities.”
    • “The enemy seeks to continue pressure on the nation, but the nation must demonstrate that it will continue its economic and trade activities with the existence of sanctions, so the enemy will become hopeless about [its ability to influence]. But we must say that the nation cannot remain silent in the face of illegalities. Continuation of pressure can create problems for the West. They need a stable region, although I do not mean war.”
    • “If America is truthful and is ready to negotiate, reaching an agreement is possible, but we have not seen any good faith from America yet.”

Economy

  • President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s highest policy priority will reportedly be addressing inflation and liquidity. 
  • Central Bank Currency Provisions and Policies Bureau Deputy Abdolrasoul Shabani defended the Central Bank’s allocation of currency for importing primary goods and medicine in the past year, which, according to him, has caused massive reductions in currency consumption. He added, “Allocation of major currency was limited solely for primary goods and medicine importations, so by providing primary goods and medicine for the public, and especially vulnerable populations, securing currency of other goods will take place [in the future] by using currencies [acquired] from exchanges.”
  • Chinese crude oil imports from Iran reportedly increased by 50% in May 2013 and reached 555,557 barrels per day.
  • Seventy large industrial and mining projects will reportedly be operational by the end of June and will create 4,861 new jobs. 

Photo of the Day

  • Artesh Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari and Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance Mohammad Hosseini attend Tehran Friday Prayer.