Iran News Round Up June 5, 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

  • The second round of televised presidential election debates occurred. The topic of the debates was cultural issues and censorship. Candidate positions regarding censorship are as follows:
    • Former Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref criticized the limitation of political activities in universities, elimination of newspapers and the closure of movie theaters. He added: “Changing [our] outlook and view toward culture, art and the constitution is very important; Government policing in cultural, artistic and social issues must reach a minimum. The country’s cultural affairs must be given to culture and art.”
    • Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati: “There is a cultural invasion but its cure is not censorship, rather immunity is created by strengthening family foundations, and prevention is better than treatment.”
    • Former chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani: “We must open the field in cultural affairs and expand the space so activities can be done well, because the current situation is such that the 'brain drain' [concept] is becoming fulfilled.”
    • Former Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf: “We all know that government policing of cultural issues is an incorrect and mistaken act, and we also know that the government must [withdraw its tentacles] from people’s lives.”
    • Former Speaker of Parliament Gholam Ali Haddad Adel: “[Presidential candidate] Mr. Rohani… pointed out in his statements that he is concerned with cultural beliefs and has expressed concerns regarding cultural censorship. I am not a defender of censorship, but…if in a cultural work, which can include movies, books, music, etc., our religious culture is insulted, will the government allow this cultural and artistic work to enter the family [environment] or not?”
    • Supreme National Security Council Secretary (SNSC) Said Jalili: “If we consider this point to be important, [then] the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council must be more important than the SNSC because it is the foundation of other areas…A president must know the cultural arena’s hardware and software capacities well, and [he should] free them and use them as important [tools].”
    • Former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezai tied the state of the economy to cultural issues and added, “Unemployment affects culture and so long as we do not solve this problem, it will [negate future solutions]."
  • Parliamentary Councils and Domestic Affairs Commission member Dakhil Abbas Zarezadeh said, “With the beginning of [city] council [race] advertisements, we will observe that the people’s presence and excitement for the presidential elections will also be increased.”  
  • According to the latest Mehr News Agency survey, almost half of the Iranian population is undecided about the presidential candidates.

Regional Developments

  • The Syrian army has captured the city of al-Qusayr after three weeks of heavy fighting. Hours after the announcement by the Syrian government, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
  • [E] Iranian media attribute the continuing protests in Turkey to a popular backlash against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s anti-Syria policies.
  • Head of Lebanese Hezbollah's Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary faction Mohammad Ra'ad said, “Hezbollah battles against terrorist groups in Syria and Lebanon border areas will continue” and, added, ”Hezbollah does not interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, rather it has entered the field against the enemies of Resistance in Syria only to defend and support the Resistance and Lebanon.”
  • The Arab League called for an emergency meeting following the Syrian army’s victory in al-Qusayr. 
  • ABNA reported that Hamas has announced it prefers Iran and Hezbollah to Arab monies and added, “Hamas military wing Martyr Azaeddin al-Qesam brigades are faithful to their position in continuing the cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah and relying on armed resistance to liberate all of Palestine from Zionist occupation.” 
  • In Iraq, armed individuals ambushed and executed fourteen travelers in the southern desert of Anbar province. 
  • Asa’ib Ahl al Haq Secretary Qais Khazali stated that “Sunni jihadists” have joined the Shia organization in defending the Zeynabiyyeh shrine in Syria and that seven of them have been killed thus far.

Diplomacy

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Middle East and African Affairs Deputy Hossein Amir Abdollahian congratulated Syrian government’s capture of al-Qusayr. 
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Abbas Eraghchi denied any Islamic Republic involvement in recent Turkish instabilities after reports about the arrest of an Iranian national in Ankara, Turkey.

Military and Security

  • Head of the Basij Organization BG Mohammad Reza Naghdi described indicators to assess the fitness of presidential candidates and added, “…Those who [paint a bleak picture] to acquire votes and the people’s attention and ignore the hard work of previous administrations and only view the negative parts are not fit [to lead].”

Economy

  • Following reports of a new round of sanctions against eight petrochemical companies, Stocks and Stock Markets Oversight Director Mahmoud Reza Khajeh Nasir reassured investors and stated, “Experience has shown that sanctions may cause problems for industries, but even if this matter occurs a solution will replace it, and it is doubtful that sanctions on petrochemical companies will have a broad effect on their stock performance.”
  • Central Bank Economic Director Abolfazl Akrami said increased bank activities in a competitive environment, which includes market oriented policies, will set the ground work for increased economic efficiency.
  • Deputy Oil Minister Abdolhossein Bayat announced that foreign-financed petrochemical project loan repayments are between $500 million and $1 billion per year and that they will be repaid in full earlier than the 2020 deadline. He added, “Sanctions will have no effect on loan repayments.” 
  • National Animal Affairs Support Company Managing Director Mosayeb Mohammadian Shomali announced,“Red meat reserves will be sufficient for national demand for the next three months, and the trend of building reserves and importing will continue until the end of the year.”

Photo of the Day

  • Presidential Candidate Gholam Ali Haddad Adel prays at a campaign event.