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

(E) = Article in English

Politics

  • Mehr News claims that the Guardian Council approved only the following eight candidates: Said Jalili, Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, Mohsen Rezaei, Hassan Rouhani, Mohammad Reza Aref, Mohammad Qarazi, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, and Ali Akbar Velayati. Mehr notes that this is not the official list of candidates.
  • Head of the National Election Headquarters Solat Mortazavi announced that the Guardian Council will send the list of approved presidential candidates to the Interior Ministry tomorrow. The Interior Ministry has two days to publish the list to the public through the media. 
  • Senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Alavi Gorgani met with some IRGC commanders today and said, “All candidates and groups must obey the Guardian Council votes that are based on the Constitution, so the system’s reputation is preserved.”
  • Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Hassan Alemi stressed obedience to Guardian Council decisions and said, “Disapproval of any candidates will not undermine the regime.”
  • 2+1 Coalition member Gholam Ali Haddad Adel announced that the Coalition’s official candidate will be announced after a public evaluation of thirty minute candidate-submitted television advertisements. 
  • Fars News Agency published past speeches of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in which he stressed acceptance of Guardian Council candidacy vetting decisions. Khamenei said, “That some attempt to introduce election vetting as a problem of the Islamic system is a non-technical and clumsy thing to say because reviewing candidate qualifications and passing them through legal filters exists in [all] the world’s democracies.”

Regional Developments

  • Fars News Agency reports that Jubhat al-Nusrah Commander Abu Omar was killed by the Syrian army in al-Qusayr within the past two days.
  • Iranian and Syrian media reported that the Syrian army has destroyed an Israeli military vehicle in the Golan Heights after it allegedly crossed the cease fire line.
  • Bahraini opposition leader Abd al-Wahab Hussain, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for anti-government activities, was released yesterday.

Diplomacy

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Abbas Eraghchi said that the Iranian president would travel to Ethiopia to participate in the session of the heads of the African Union, as Iran has spectator member status. He added, “This year’s African Union session has special qualities, because the session coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of this union. The African Union is the symbol of independence and African countries’ freedom from the imperialists. The anniversary of the establishment of this organization is considered the world day of Africa.”  He added that the friends of Syria session, due to take place in Tehran on May 29, 2013, will begin with “political solution and regional stability” slogan."

Military and Security

  • Deputy Representative of the Supreme to the IRGC Hojjat al-Eslam Abdollah Haji Sadeghi encouraged mass participation in the elections and, added, “The legacy of guarding the revolution has no expiration dates and [the IRGC] is continuously preserving the ideals of the system and [acting as] guardians of the Islamic revolution.”  
  • Defense Minister BG Ahmad Vahidi reported the transfer of a large volume of various missiles to the armed forces this week. He also discussed Syria and, said, “Today Syria, with power supported by the people and the army, is clearing this country from terrorists , but this is not something that is the acceptable to the Western alliance and some reactionaries.” 
  • Minister Vahidi attended the 29th National Armed Forces Quran competitions and said, ”If anyone imagines the Quran without the ahlul bayt [family members of the Prophet] this means that [they] have not considered the Quran to be important, because the ahul bayt and Quran are [unified] and are not separate from each other.” He added that the Armed Forces have internalized Quranic culture under “the shadow of the velayat-e faqih.”
  • Armed Forces General Staff Industrial Preparation, Support and Research Deputy BG Mohammad Hejazi commented on IRGC communications advancements and election participation:
    • “In the optic and electro-optic fields, many great achievements have taken place. Currently, our distance with the world in the arena of electronic research has a short distance and with [another strong effort] we can close this gap and access cutting-edge equipment.”
    • “It has been affirmed that the armed forces do not interfere in the matter of elections and that the [IRGC] does not interfere in this matter as well, but personnel members of the Armed Forces, like the people of the nation, are present and participate in this valor. This is everyone’s duty and research, questioning, and analysis is necessary for elections. Although in the environment of the Armed Forces we have not and will not have advertisement for or against any individuals.” 
  • Artesh Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari affirmed Artesh-IRGC cooperation and said, “Artesh and [IRGC] naval forces are completely coordinated, and in the sea we consider these two forces to be necessary and dependent on each other.” 
  • In a released statement on occasion of the 1st IRGC Information and Communications Technology Maintenance and Repair Conference, IRGC Commander MG Mohammad Ali Jafari stressed the importance of information technology as a key element in combating “soft warfare” and fulfilling the “slogan of economic valor…in the [present] situation of economic warfare and oppressive sanctions.” 
  • IRGC Information and Communication Technology Technical Research Division Director COL Ali Yazdi Nezhad said, “The Supreme Armed Forces Commander [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] has stressed using indigenous information and communication security systems, and also not using foreign systems in this arena.”

Economy

  • National Iranian Petrochemical Industries Company Managing Director Abdolhossein Bayat announced that the company is negotiating with Iranian banks to allow foreign investors access to the National Development Fund and encouraging direct foreign investments. He said, “Direct Foreign investment in the country causes the creation of more security, and at a time when countries in the international horizon seek to vote against us, investor interest causes the vote not to pass.” 
  • According to the latest Iran Customs statistics, German vehicles composed 7% of the Iranian vehicle import market, the largest after Korean and Japanese vehicles, and that 3000 were imported this past year. 
  • The head of the National Property Advisers Union Mostafa Gholi Khosravi stated that housing rent increases surpassed inflation this past year, in some cases more than 25%. 
  • Rice Scientific Research Council Institute member Gholamreza Khankeshipour announced that Iran would become self-sufficient in rice production within the next three years.
  • According to the Iranian Students’ News Agency, Iranian foreign debts stand at $15.1 billion and will decrease by $2.3 billion this upcoming year. 

Nuclear Issue

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Abbas Eraghchi noted, “Currently no [nuclear] negotiations have been scheduled before the elections.”

Photo of the Day

  • Presidential candidate Gholam Ali Haddad Adel addresses university students.