Iran News Round Up November 1, 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, with contributor John Lesnewich. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
- Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami discussed the Saravan terrorist attack, nuclear negotiations, and the “Down with America” slogan:
- “This event [Jaish al-Adl's attack on Iranian border forces last week] was not the first and will likely not be the last. In this regard, when we say that we have been victims of terrorism ourselves for the past thirty-five years, we mean this. Now the irony is that the terrorists, meaning America and the Zionist regime, come and hold the flag of anti-terrorism.”
- “According to the order of the Qur'an, the only way of confrontation is resistance and America has shown in its experience that is has not given anything to anyone in negotiations.... They only understand the language of resistance.”
- “Our word is that the spirit of resistance answers the Americans. Of course I should say that we do not view resistance with the active diplomacy that is within the framework of the Supreme Leader's directives, meaning strength, wisdom, expediency and true heroic flexibility. This is between the field of war and the scene of battle. To the diplomats who are making efforts in the path of the Supreme Leader's directives, we seriously [say thank you] and announce that your efforts in the path of executing the Supreme Leader's directives are certainly supported by the nation.”
- Head of the Foundation for the Encyclopedia of the Islamic Revolution Hojjat al-Eslam Hamid Rouhani criticized the regime’s silence on negotiations and those against the Down with America slogan:
- “Now there are murmurs that the nuclear negotiations must remain confidential. How is it that the Zionist regime must be informed but not the Iranian people.”
- “These people [who keep negotiations quiet] have found that it is easier to deceive [the people] when they are split from the government.”
- “It is the enemies’ plan to isolate and disrespect the nation. It is the enemies’ plot that some have dreamed that the Imam was against Death to America. Are we in a leaderless state where some can dream and say that the Imam was against Death to America. The Supreme Leader does not allow these memories.”
- “Down with America is rooted in the Quran. This slogan means hatred of Yazid [the caliph who killed Imam Hossein].
- A write-up of the speech notes that “[Critics of Rafsanjani’s comments] have organized attacks over the last month during the noteworthy silence of the Supreme Leader against the 11thGovernment, Hashemi [Rafsanjani], and the Reformists.”
- Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said that America has not changed its hostile policies and that the “Down with America” slogan increases the power of the people:
- “The lack of change in America’s approach to Iran is the primary factor in the people’s opposition to [America]. In reality, the people will never forget America’s hostility.”
- “Contrary to the impression that some have, the people’s event on 13 Aban [Nov. 4, the anniversary of the US hostage crisis] will increase the people’s power against [America’s] hostility.”
- NSFP Commission member Fathollah Hosseini spoke of the importance of 13 Aban and said, “No one can ignore the importance of 13 Aban to the Iranian regime, and no one can retreat from it. Retreat from 13 Aban means retreat from the most important principle in the Iranian system, which is anti-Arrogance [anti-Westernism] and fighting against the Shah.”
- Expediency Discernment Council Member and Cultural Adviser to the IRGC Mohammad Hossein Safar Harandi claimed that the “Death to America” chant has no influence on the negotiations process:
- “Heroic flexibility is not based on words or fear, but on showing the good intentions of Iran.”
- “If a violation in the negotiations takes shape, the wise, vigilant Supreme Leader will turn [from them], like when he said that some things in the [Geneva] negotiations were not appropriate."
- “Down with America has no negative effect on the negotiations process, but it is capital for the Iranian negotiators and diplomats.”
- Hojjat al-Eslam Mehdi Tabatabaei, “a famous clergyman of Tehran and supporter of the Rouhani administration,” warned Rouhani “not to answer every criticism” due to the danger that can entrap the administration in confrontation with critics. He also believes that “tying the slogan of [Down with America] to the principle of the system is a mistake,” and his belief is that these slogans “point out to the revolution's early decade” that are no longer present in the “people's slogans” three decades later.
- The Supreme Cyberspace Council will meet for the first time tomorrow after a delay of nine months. The council is led now by President Rouhani and consists of a number of important figures including the Speaker of Parliament, the IRGC commander, a number of ministers, and others. Mahmoud Vaezi was named the supervisor of the council’s secretariat by Rouhani, and Mohammad Hassan Entezari was named the secretary.
- Head of the Principlist Faction MP Gholam Ali Haddad Adel claimed that “in order to gain a post in the Iranian system, an administrator must have fourteen important characteristics.”
- “The first characteristic of an administrator in Iran is faith. He must be a believer, pious, God-loving, and God-fearing.”
- Other characteristics included wisdom, virtues, and a revolutionary spirit.
Diplomacy and Regional Developments
- Deputy Foreign Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Hassan Ghashghavi spoke about the possibility of sending a delegation to Pakistan to investigate the Saravan attack. He noted that diplomatic talks had taken place between officials in Islamabad and Iran, but added: “There is a possibility of dispatching a delegation to Pakistan. This topic is currently being discussed by the ministries of the interior and foreign affairs in order to take the most desirable and effective action.”
- Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf was again appointed Vice Chairman of the World Mayors Council for a three-year tearm by an outright majority. The mayor’s public relations director Namdar Sedaghat said, “The city of Tehran has achieved excellent constructive capacities in the field of diplomacy. It is hoped that these capacities will be used towards the country’s diplomacy.”
- Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif met with President of Turkey Abdollah Gül. The foreign minister will also meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu.
- Zarif traveled to Turkey to address the 60th Pugwash Conference. The conference is centered this year on disarmament and international security. He said “The world must be free of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons because this is necessary for the security of the world. Our goal must be to prevent WMD and nuclear weapons in the world.”
- Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and praised Chinese leaders for their foreign policy outlook. He said “Relations between Iran and China are at their highest point.” He added, “In this meeting, the Chinese president gave good statements about [our] bilateral relations and had deep perspective towards the widening relations of the two countries.”
- Lebanese Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said that Hezbollah has taken actions to prepare for any terrorist actions against the group during Ashura [an important Shia holiday for mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hossein at Karbala]. Nasrallah said that the group is cooperating with Lebanese security services to increase preventative measures."
Military and Security
- Basij Organization Deputy Commander and Basij Imam Hadi Training Base Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fazli announced that the IRGC and Basij are staging large-scale joint exercises, titled "Ala Beit al-Moghaddas" [“Toward Jerusalem”], throughout five provinces today, while tomorrow Basij Kosar battalions [consisting of female Basij soldiers] are holding their own exercise:
- Fazli listed the provinces and units participating: “In the province of Isfahan IRGC unit Saheb al-Zaman, in the province of Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari IRGC unit Ghamar Bani Hashem, in the province of Kohgilouyeh va Boyer Ahmad IRGC unit Fath, in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan IRGC unit Ashoura, and in the province of Ardebil IRGC unit Hazrat-e Abbas.”
- Fazli emphasized the scope of the exercise: “This large exercise is being undertaken by 164 battalions across five provinces… . Each battalion is composed of 234 people [about 38,000 total].”
- “In every province the exercise will be carried out with one regulated program. However, before any exercises, training and cultural classes are required.”
- Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran will continue enriching uranium at 20% to reinforce nuclear reactor research, while adding that Iran will continue negotiations with the P5+1 with “good intentions, respect, a will to achieve an agreement, and the hope to reach an agreement in primary stages.”
- Senior nuclear negotiator Deputy FM for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Eraghchi discussed nuclear negotiations:
- Iran increased its cooperation “due to the uncertainties that created concerns regarding Iran's nuclear program in the past and present.”
- Negotiations with P5+1 and IAEA are separate “but affect each other in the way that progress in one helps progress in the other.”
- “20% enrichment is not the topic of discussion between Iran and the Agency because the Agency fundamentally has a supervision duty. Therefore this matter will be introduced in the Iran and P5+1 negotiations.”
- “In the last step, the condition of the scene must be clear to the extent that sanctions are completely lifted. The peaceful program, including enrichment, must exist in the frameworks of a peaceful program and [for the future of] Natanz, Fordow and Arak be determined and clear in a time period.”
- Eraghchi then criticized recent billboards in Tehran that warned against negotiations with the United States and said, “When our warriors were present at the front of battle, all of the country mobilized to give them morale and no one placed posters in the streets to address them in another way. Criticisms must not exist across certain borders.”
- “Our red line is the rights of the Iranian people who have persevered ten years. In practice, enrichment itself is the red line. Of course, its dimensions and size will be discussed with attention to Iran's realistic needs.”
- “We hope to at least reach results in between three and six months in the broader framework and first steps, and then conclude regarding the details of the final steps and a comprehensive solution, which will take nine months to a year."
- Planning and Strategic Supervision Deputy to the President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht vowed “not to give away the people's money” to quasi-government institutions after Parliament opposed the administration's proposal to prevent the auctioning of 37,000 billion tomans [approximately $15 billion] in government assets or to reduce the sale because, as Etemaad reports, the administration has reached the conclusion that the possibility of selling these assets to “real private” companies does not exist. Nobakht also contended that the administration will not be able to execute the current 2013-2014 budgetary mandate to auction these assets before the end of the Persian year in mid-March.
- Etemaad notes, “The reality is that quasi-government [companies], in action and in a not-so long term trend, can implement an economic dictatorship and can cause the activities of normal companies and private firms to be disrupted.”
- The quasi-government firms emerged in the Ahmadinejad Administration due to a lack of competition from foreign firms and Iranian private sector firms unable to acquire government assets. “During the time that the Tenth Administration needed money to pay subsidies and the salaries of its employees, and in a situation in which the injection of the dollar to the market due to the intensification of sanctions was not possible, the administration and Parliament legalized privatization [of government assets] in the the fantastic number of 37,000 billion tomans, while the Eleventh Administration [Rouhani] must welcome the asset sale of government companies” due to an empty treasury.
- Head of the Central Bank Valiollah Seif reaffirmed the fulfillment of the administration's effort to implement a floating exchange rate system and a single currency exchange rate with the goal of creating “economic stability” that can “support production and jobs.” The Ahmadinejad Administration had previously permitted agricultural institutions to import certain products with a lower exchange rate than the market and paid the difference.
- Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines CEO Mohammad Hossein Dajmar talked about his hopes for the end of sanctions: “There are hopeful conversations presented both by Iran and by the other sides. Of course, we cannot expect to solve all of the problems at once, and we must move step by step…. It seems to me on the basis of the government’s promise, that the most important issues will be resolved in about a year, and then we will see positive developments in foreign trade.”
- Parliamentary Energy Commission Chairman MP Massoud Mir Kazemi stated, “Total and Shell companies are interested in Iranian oil contracts but are afraid of America.”
- Fiduciary Auditor of the Tehran Stock Exchange Abbas Hashi announced that company managers mostly hide their adjustments, and added, “The strength of the exchange cannot overcome major shareholders, and no one dares punish major shareholders because at least 10% of company stocks are at the hands of the people and the rest are sharedholders and managers of quasi-governments institutions.”
Photo of the Day
- Autumn gardens of Hamedan.