Iran News Round Up May 31, 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 first round of televised presidential candidate debates began today and focused on the economy. Iranian media claimed that many viewers watched the debates, basing their assessment on significantly reduced traffic in Tehran.
  • In reaction to the recent United States decision to void sanctions on the sale of communications technology to Iran, Communications and Information Technology Deputy Minister Ali Hakim Javadi stated, “This decision has not had an effect on Iran’s communication projects and we have comfortably continued our projects until now.”
  • Former chief nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate Hassan Rohani said, “If we [accept] the illusionary theory and said that the world is united against us and we have no choice other than total confrontation, our relations will not be based on good relations. In today’s world no country can build a fence around itself. No country expands in isolation and good living is not possible without relations with the world. We must not allow the enemy’s conspiracy for Iran’s isolation to become feasible.” 
  • Head of the Approximation Studies Research Center Hojjat al-Eslam Mohammad Hossein Mokhtari said, “The main goal of the adventurism of America and its allies in the region is the creation of sedition by exacerbating controversial issues between Islamic sects, creating sectarian and tribal conflicts among Muslims, and tainting the true image of Islam.” Regarding the destruction of Shia shrines in Syria and other Islamic countries, he stated, “Global Arrogance and Zionism are attempting to create division among Muslims by supporting terrorist groups that do not have the least belief in ethics and humanity.” 
  • Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Hajj Kazem Sedighi praised the people’s obedience of the law and said, “Imam [Khomeini] was populist-centered and had faith in the people’s votes because the people are insightful and the people will not vote against religion and do not move against their beliefs. Material attractions do not fool the people and their line is the line of Islam and the velayat.”
  • Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said, “One of the missions of the system is to provide the people’s security, prosperity and comfort but [we] must see what cost [we are willing to pay] for this comfort. During the revolution, we have observed that the people do not prefer [prosperous] Western lifestyle to their honor.” He added, “Some of our electoral nominees do not pay attention to this point - that criticizing the government is the right of individuals - but sometimes criticisms take place that undermine the fundamentals of the Islamic system,  its values- and principles-orientation.”

Regional Developments

  • According to Mehr News Agency, the Syrian army has cleared “terrorists” from the al-Arjoun region in the vicinity of al-Qusayr and is also engaging them in the vicinity of Damascus. 
  • Iranian media report that 11,000 “takfiri” forces have entered the city of al-Qusayr and claim that former Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’d al-Hariri previously transferred $150 million to armed protestors, including Jubhat al-Nusra, on behalf of Arab Persian Gulf countries.
  • Lebanese Hezbollah Deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem said, “From the beginning of the Syrian crisis, the American presidency and government have managed military conflicts in this country, and by supporting armed groups they requested regional and Arab countries to try to destroy Syria's [role as] one of the members of the axis of Resistance.” 
  • Lebanese Hezbollah held a funeral procession for operative Hassan Badr al-din Mazloum, killed in Syria, three days after the “martyrdom” of operative Ali Mohammad Aghil, also killed in Syria. 
  • ABNA reported that Chief of the Iraqi Joint Forces Major General Babakir Zebari resigned in response to recent spikes of violence in Iraq.  

Military and Security

  • IRGC Robat Karim [Iranian city] Commander Colonel Abdolreza Zanganeh encouraged Basij forces “passionate” participation in the June 14 presidential elections and said, “With contemplation, vote for the fittest candidate and elect your president.”
  • Head of the Basijj Organization BG Mohammad Reza Naghdi encouraged the people’s maximum participation in the elections, and added that the conflict between Iran and the West is due to Islamic civilization’s impending replacement of Western civilization as the dominant civilization, adding that “Western civilization is undergoing destruction after a few centuries of global dominance.”

Economy

  • Oil Minister Rostam Ghassemi announced, “Iranian oil exports have reduced by 20% but crude oil production is at the same level [as before the sanctions].” 
  • Central Bank statistics indicate that inflation grew by 40.6% in the past year. 
  • Credit and Cash Council member Kourosh Parvizian said, "The first line of battle against international sanctions is the Central Bank and the strengthening of this institution has become a public necessity."
  • The President’s Planning and Strategic Oversight Division Budget Deputy Rahim Momabeini warned that the government’s hands are tied in finishing development projects due to the existence of an approximately $1.5 billion “unrealistic” income projection in the Parliament-approved fiscal budget, and added that the future president will face significant difficulties.
  • Industry, Mining, and Trade Ministry Commerce Expansion Deputy Hassan Radmard reported a butter shortage in the Iranian market but noted that the reserves of ten primary goods are at a desirable level.

Photo of the Day

  • Presidential candidate Said Jalili meets with martyr families in Arak province.