Iran News Round Up May 24, 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

  • In a published letter, the country’s Friday Prayer Leaders praised the performance of the Guardian Council and affirmed the necessity of all parties and individuals to obey the law.
  • Assembly of Experts head Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani was elected by an internal vote to become the head of the Assembly of Experts Investigative Commission, the most important committee of the body. 
  • IRGC Quds Force Deputy Commander BG Esmail Ghaani: “We should say ‘bravo’ to the Guardian Council and thank God that these clerics have values like Paladin’s armor and protect society from deviation.”

Regional Developments

  • An unnamed senior Lebanese Hezbollah commander told a Kuwaiti newspaper that the organization already possesses advanced military technology transferred from Syria, and said, “If a war begins with Israel in the occupied Golan Heights, without a doubt war fronts in Shabaa farms, al-Qajar villages, and the Jabal al-Sheikh region [in Lebanon] will simultaneously become unstable.” He added, “Israel should know that from now on an attack on Syria is considered an attack on Hezbollah and an attack against Hezbollah is [considered to be] an attack against Syrian soil, and this act is evidence of Hezbollah and Syria’s unity in combating the Zionist enemy.”
  • Fars News Agency reports that fighting between the Syrian army and opposition “al-Qaeda” forces rages on in northern parts of the city of al-Qusayr, with the Syrian army surrounding opposition forces and killing several Jubhat al-Nusrah commanders. 
  • ISNA reports that clashes are continuing between Syria government and opposition supporters in northern Lebanon, leaving ten dead and 150 injured. 
  • Ahlul Bayt News Agency reports that Saudi Shia religious scholar Sheikh Hassan al-Ziyad has been arrested on charges of spying for Iran. 

Military and Security

  • Senior Military Adviser to the Supreme Leader MG Yahya Rahim Safavi on regional developments: 
    • “The U.S., England, France, the Zionist Regime, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, under U.S. orders…have deployed approximately 40,000 mercenary fighters from the borders of Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan into Syria, and provided them with political, economic, military, and propaganda support."
    • "It is clear that after toppling Bashar al Assad, then Hezbollah and Nouri al Maliki in Iraq, the U.S. intends to turn to Iran."
    • "Syria is an arena for a confrontation between the world and regional powers’ strategic policies. As world powers, the U.S. is pitted against Russia and China. Iran, as a regional power, has been pitted against the money and mercenaries of the Zionist regime, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia."
    • "[The U.S. is pursuing a secular government in Iraq, but] thanks to God and the measures of the Supreme Leader and Iraqi ulema the enemies have been unsuccessful, and neither will they endure in Afghanistan…. Presently, Hezbollah is a powerful defensive arm for Iran above [Israel] and they constitute Iran’s deep strategic defense power.”
  • A security official announced the arrest of some active members of the Mujahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MEK) who allegedly entered the country to disrupt the elections. The official added that more information will be provided to the public after additional investigation of this network. 
  • Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff MG Hassan Firouzabadi praised the Guardian Council and warned, “Based on the strategy of deterrence, the Iranian homeland is completely secure today, and in the case of a foreign attack, [the country] will transform to a kill zone for the foreigners.” He added that every vote has the same role as a soldier fighting the enemy on the front lines and said, “The people’s maximum participation in the elections will guarantee national security against foreign threats and is the best deterrence power.” 
  • Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commmander BG Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam spoke to a crowd of Ansar-e Hezbollah [hardline vigilante group] officials and said LEF dominance in all virtual and media spaces is not comparable with 2009, and affirmed that LEF would, with full force, capture anyone who attempts to disrupt the elections.

Economy

  • Four gasoline refineries will begin production in early summer 2013. These refineries will reportedly increase Iranian gasoline production capacity from 66 million liters to more than 70 million liters by year end. 
  • Caspian Oil Company Managing Director Ali Osouli announced agreements with domestic contractors to expand the deep water Sardar-e Jangal oil field in the Caspian Sea. He noted that Iran currently lacks the technology to expand deep sea water oil fields, “But at least with expanding the Sardar-e Jangale field, if this technology does not become indigenous it will result in the country possessing this technology.”
  • Central Bank Secretary Mahmoud Ahmadi announced the prohibition of issuing checks to producers with records of bounced checks. However, the measure has created difficulties for producers who are facing tough economic conditions and therefore have bounced checks on their records. 

Photo of the Day

  • Senior cleric Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani gives a turban to a graduating seminary student.