Iran News Round Up March 26, 2015

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Farzin Farzad and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin censured Saudi military intervention in Yemen, while Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pressed for an immediate end to Saudi aggression.

President Rouhani and President Putin underscored the need for a political resolution in Yemen, stating their opposition to military intervention. Rouhani and Putin, moreover, stated Tehran and Moscow’s support for inclusive dialogue among opposing parties in Yemen.

Foreign Minister Zarif called for “an immediate end to Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen.” Zarif reiterated Iran’s support for a unified government in Sana’a. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, meanwhile, warned against escalated military operations, asserting that the Saudis will face serious consequences. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman added: “The smoke of the war in Yemen will reach Saudi eyes.” NSFP Parliamentary Commission member Mohammad Esmail Kowsari echoed Boroujerdi’s warning and stated, “This will definitely harm Saudi Arabia, it will shake up the foundations of the Saudi government.” These statements coupled with President Putin’s support for political dialogue in Yemen could heighten Tehran-Riyadh tensions.

Iran and the U.S. resumed bilateral nuclear talks in Lausanne Switzerland. Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi stated that both sides have reached a “common understanding” on technical issues. Tehran’s demand for the complete removal of sanctions remains to be the sticking point in the P5+1 talks. Senior nuclear negotiator Majid Takht Ravanchi, nevertheless, maintained the regime’s claims that it is inured to the sanctions. Ravanchi stated: “even if Iran and the P5+1 do not reach a comprehensive deal, Americans will still not have a presence in the Iranian market...” 

 

Official Statements

  • Zarif: “We are calling for an immediate end to Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen.” The Foreign Minister said that “We know that these actions violate the sovereignty of Yemen.” Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, “This operation will result in nothing other than bloodshed, and we will provide all our efforts to defuse the crisis in Yemen.” Emphasizing that none of the countries would profit from the military operation, Zarif said, “This operation will involve the region in much more tension.” (Fars News Agency) (ISNA)
     
  • Tehran condemns airstrikes against Yemen. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham denounced the March 25 airstrikes that killed nearly 20 civilians and stated: "Resorting to military acts against Yemen, which is entangled in an internal crisis and fighting terrorism, will further complicate the situation, spread the range of crisis, and destroy opportunities to settle the internal differences in Yemen peacefully.” Afkham also urged Yemeni groups to pursue national agreements. (Foreign Ministry)
     
  • Kowsari warns Riyadh of the consequences of invading Yemen. Parliamentarian Mohammad Esmail Kowsari claimed that the U.S. and Israel are supporting the Saudi military strikes against Yemen. The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission member said that the Saudi airstrikes are illegal under international law, stressing, “The United Nations must respond…” Kowsari added: “This will definitely harm Saudi Arabia, it will shake up the foundations of the Saudi government.” (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Boroujerdi: “The smoke of the war in Yemen will reach Saudi eyes.” Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi warned against escalated airstrikes in Yemen; he asserted that the Saudi-led attacks will have serious consequences. The NSFP Chairman accused the Saudis of stoking regional unrest and said, “The smoke of this fire will get in the eyes of Saudi Arabia.” Boroujerdi attributed ongoing regional crises to U.S. intervention and added: “America started the crises in the Islamic world, and after imposing years of crisis in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and murdering [people, their] actions should be condemned.” (Mashregh News)
     
  • Jazayeri: America ordered its “mercenaries” to carry out airstrikes on Yemen. IRGC Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri stated, “The attack on the country of Yemen occurred by America’s command and by American mercenaries in the area.” The Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Cultural Deputy continued, “In every war America and its allies have launched in the area in recent years, they have encountered failure and fiasco.” He said, “America does not have a clear understanding of developments in the region and the awakening of the people, and therefore its actions lack strategic policy and decisions.” Jazayeri continued, “Military action of the front of evil against the people of Yemen marks another ring of failures of the regime of domination [U.S.] and its mercenaries.” (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Haghighat Pour: “Saudi Arabia does not dare” put troops on the ground in Yemen.Mansour Haghighat Pour stated, “The Saudi air strikes in Yemen are a wickedness which will definitely not continue, because Saudi Arabia does not dare put its feet on the ground in Yemen…Today you will see a show of strength from the people of Yemen in Sana’a, and Saudi Arabia must be ready to pay the cost of its ugly and bold action.” The NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman continued, “The people of Yemen are a determined and revolutionary people, who will transform this country into a quagmire for the aggressive aspirations of Saudi Arabia.” He added, “Certainly, the Saudis have invaded Yemen in coordination with America; but it must be known that the time for this kind of attack is past; because America and Saudi Arabia have experiences in Syria and Iraq, and certainly these are the people [American and Saudi Arabia] who will be defeated.” Haghighat Pour stated, “Saudi Arabia is entering into a huge gamble, in which it will definitely be the loser.” (Mehr News)
     
  • Pourdastan: Yemen knows how to deal with foreign invaders. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan stated, “Just as with their national will and jihadist movement the Yemeni people were able to conquer the puppet regime in [Yemen], so they have this ability, with which they discourage every foreigner from acting [in Yemen].” The Artesh Ground Forces Commander continued, “I think that the people and the military of Yemen have a very high power, ability and capability.” (Defa Press)

 

 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Rouhani and Putin share common views on Yemen. President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the ongoing nuclear negotiations and the political crisis in Yemen during a phone conversation. Rouhani highlighted Russia’s important role in the P5+1 talks and urged participating states to seize this opportunity to reach a final agreement. Rouhani voiced his concern over Saudi military aggression in Yemen and stated:
    • “The current situation in Yemen is different than a few months ago; people there are now experiencing a popular revolution, so their demands should be taken into consideration.”
    • Putin on Yemen: “[Russia is] against any military invasions because it is not a constructive solution to the problems in the country. Russia supports the unity and territorial integrity of Yemen and supports dialogue among parties involved in the crisis.”
    • “[Russia] will continue to exchange views with Iran on nuclear talks and regional developments.” (President.ir)
       
  • Iran and Russia discuss ongoing regional crises. Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and President Vladimir Putin's Special Representative in the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov in Moscow on March 25. The Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister underscored the need for a political resolution in Yemen and said that, Iran is against any foreign country interfering in Yemen’s internal affairs. The two also discussed the latest developments in Iraq and Syria and highlighted Tehran and Moscow’s common positions on these issues. (Mashregh News)
    • In a separate interview, Abdollahian censured the Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen, stating: "We condemn foreign interference with the situation in Yemen by any country.” (ISNA)
       
  • Ansar Allah fires a missile into Saudi territory in response to airstrikes. Ali al Imad, a member of the al Houthi political wing Ansar Allah, stated in an interview with Arab media outlet Al Maydan that, “[after] the initial moments of the Saudi attack on Yemen, the first [Ansar Allah] missile was fired from Sa’ada province towards Saudi territory.” Ansar Allah member Mohammad al Bakhtiti also told al Maydan that “the beginning of Saudi Arabia and Arab countries’ attack on Yemen meant the start of the beginning of the collapse of Arab regimes of the region, such as the Saudi regime.” (Tabnak)
     
  • Iranian Basij member killed in Tikrit. Hadi Jafari was killed while fighting against ISIS in Tikrit, Iraq. Jafari was reportedly killed on March 24, his funeral procession will be held tomorrow in Mazandaran Province, Iran. (ABNA)

 

 

Nuclear Talks

  • New round of nuclear negotiations underway this week in Lausanne. Iran, U.S., and EU deputy foreign ministers, Abbas Araghchi and Majid Takht Ravanchi, Wendy Sherman, and Helga Schmidt met on Wednesday in Switzerland. Talks were also held between Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernst Muniz, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Before leaving Tehran, Zarif said this round of negotiations is extremely critical, especially given that they are nearing the end of the timeframe to reach a framework. He added that in the last round of talks they were able to discuss and nearly approach solutions to issues such as enrichment, research and development, Fordow, removal of all sanctions and a timetable, as well as a time for the implementation for these agreements. (YJC)
     
  • Salehi: Iran-U.S. reach “common understanding” on technical issues. AEOI Head Ali Akbar Salehi said that “We have reached a common understanding in the technical issues and this can help in reaching an agreement.” He added, “I have always been optimistic.” (ISNA)
     
  • Ravanchi: Removal of sanctions is the main goal in final nuclear agreement. Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi said, “In the negotiations we have emphasized the complete abolition of sanctions,” adding, “Iran will not accept any of the ‘unjust’ sanctions.” IRNA reported, “Apart from the research and development issue, and the duration of a deal, which is still controversial, and so far, a solution has not been found; the main challenge for negotiators is the lifting of sanctions. The formula for economic sanctions is clear, but what makes the task more difficult is non-economic sanctions, such as proliferation and nuclear.” Ravanchi also stated:
    • “A series of sanctions belong to the EU, and the rest [belong] to the UN and the U.S. The U.S. sanctions, in turn have two parts, one set of sanctions are enforced by executive order by the President, and the other are nuclear [related] sanctions.” He stressed that both sanctions implemented by the President and the Congress should be removed.
    • Ravanchi noted that “even if Iran and the P5+1 do not reach a comprehensive deal, Americans will still not have a presence in the Iranian market, which is due to their own laws, and of course, Iran does not wish to change the law in the U.S.” (IRNA)

 

Military and Security

  • Ashtari discusses LEF goals for the year. LEF Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Ashtari stated, “With the cooperation of the armed forces, ensuring the complete security of the country’s borders and dealing decisively with petty crimes, violence, and drugs are the LEF’s priorities this year.” (Mehr News)