Iran News Round Up May 20, 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. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

(E) = Article in English

Politics

  • Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei announced that the body “may consider the candidates’ physical condition when vetting qualifications.” 
  • Parliament Executive Council member MP Mohammad Dehghan stated, “Presidential candidates must not be older than 75.”
  • 2+1 Coalition member Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said the coalition does not accept the political beliefs of former president and current presidential candidate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. 
  • The tenth session for investigating the 2009 post-election Kahrizak detention center fatalities took place in the Tehran Criminal Court Branch 76 earlier today. The judge ordered an additional session on May 22, 2013, to allow the defendants to testify. Defendants include former Tehran Prosecutor Said Mortazavi and several other former Kahrizak officials.   
  • Fars News published some of the speeches of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini that stress the necessity of accepting Guardian Council decisions. Khomeini said, “Anyone who says the Guardian Council vote is illegitimate is mofased [corrupt on earth; a capital crime under Islamic Republic law].” 
  • Parliament Vice-Chairman and presidential candidate Hojjat al-Eslam Mohammad Hassan Abu Torabi Fard rescinded his candidacy today in response to the request of 200 MPs urging him to stay in the legislative branch.
  • Steadfastness Front candidate Kamran Bagheri Lankarani announced today that he has rescinded his candidacy in favor of chief nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate Said Jalili.

Regional Developments

  • Fars News Agency reports that seven car bombs were detonated in Baghdad and two in Basrah, in addition to three other car bombs that have been neutralized by Iraqi security forces. 
  • Four Iranians are killed and 17 are injured in Basra city bombings earlier today.
  • Iranian media reported that the Syrian army has expelled “foreign supported paramilitary” fighters from the strategic city of al-Quysair near the Lebanese-Syrian border.
  • Mehr News Agency reports the holding of an international session in Tehran regarding Syria on May 29, 2013, with many participating countries. The details of this session will soon be published.
  • The highest ranking Shia cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, condemned the attack on the head of the Bahraini Ulama Islamic Council and senior Shia cleric Sheikh Issa Qasem by Bahraini security forces last week.
  • According to Ahlul Bay News Agency, Bahraini clerics have urged the people of the country to participate in a sit-in this coming Friday to declare their solidarity with Sheikh Issa Qassem.

Military and Security

  • The Ministry of Intelligence announced in a statement that it has “annihilated two terrorist teams…who were transporting large stockpiles of small arms into the country on the eve of the destiny-determining elections.”
  • After elements related to the Communications Agency illegally entered the National Cyber space Center building Sunday, a high court ordered the Supreme Cyber Space Council to cease all research center activities until further notice.
  • Head of the Women’s Basij Society Minou Aslani said, “Secure elections are one of the priorities of female intellectuals in current circumstances and candidates do not have the permission to make the country’s environment an environment of tension and tumult.” 
  • Defense Minister BG Ahmad Vahidi announced the mass production of a new line of domestically produced “9th Harz” anti-aircraft batteries. According to the minister, distinguishing characteristics are the batteries’ mobility and ability to function at night.

Economy

  • The 2013-14 fiscal debates are ongoing in Parliament and some changes in the energy and finance sectors have already occurred. The most notable changes include: determination of currency policies by the Currency and Credit Council; regulations on Central Bank loans to the government; requirement for the Oil Ministry to balance the books with its subsidiary companies every three months and invest in joint oil and gas fields; Central Bank $10 billion allocation to upstream oil and gas projects; and allowing the Ministry of Economy may issue permits, if necessary, to open accounts for Oil Ministry subsidiary companies in foreign and domestic banks.
  • The Parliament’s Budget Commission has cut the student loans budget allocation by 72% for this upcoming year, as a result of “inattentiveness of some committee members,” according to an official.
  • The Customs Agency statistics demonstrate that the country imported 95% of its black hijab fabrics last year. An Iranian factory has failed to fulfill its promise to mass produce the fabric domestically. 

Photo of the Day

  • Head of MODAFL Aerospace Industries BG Mehdi Farahi, Defense Minister BG Ahmad Vahidi, and IRGC Aerospace Force Commander BG Amir Ali Hajizadeh unveil the “9th Harz” anti-aircraft battery system.