Iran News Round Up - November 30, 2016

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan, Paul Bucala, and Caitlin Shayda Pendleton and contributors Wali Miller and Ali Javaheri. 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.

Key takeaway: OPEC agreed to allow Iran to freeze oil production at pre-sanction levels as part of today’s deal on collective oil output.

Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh confirmed that OPEC members reached a consensus to cut collective oil production by around 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 32.5 million bpd by January 2017. Iran is not required to make any cuts, but is allowed to raise output to 3.8 million bpd. The deal marks a significant victory for Iran, which has typically resisted calls to cut oil production in order to curb falling oil prices. The deal is contingent upon non-OPEC members cutting production, including Russia, which has agreed to cut oil production by up to 300,000 bpd. Concerns remain, however, about oil producers’ compliance with the deal.

AEI Must-Reads

Economy

  • OPEC deal finalized. Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh confirmed in comments to reporters that OPEC members planned to cut collective oil production by approximately 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 32.5 million bpd after a meeting on November 30. Zanganeh previously expressed his optimism that OPEC would reach a deal since a major cut to Iran’s oil production was “not on the agenda.” (Alef)  
     
  • Iran oil exports to Asia double. Iranian news outlets circulated data published by the International Energy Agency showing that Iran’s total oil exports to India, China, South Korea, and Japan have nearly doubled since October 2015. India and China reportedly each purchase an average of nearly 800,000 barrels per day. (Fars News Agency)

Military & Security

  • Zarif’s advisor: Russian airplanes can use Shahid Nojeh Air Base again “if necessary.”Advisor to the Foreign Minister and former Ambassador to Syria Hossein Sheikholeslam raised the possibility that Russian warplanes could once again stage from the Shahid Nojeh Air Base in Hamedan province to launch airstrikes in Syria. He told the Russian news agency Sputnik, “Yes, if it is necessary, Russian warplanes could use this airfield like last time. This opportunity is always provided.” On November 26, Defense Minister IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan similarly remarked that Russian warplanes could “return” to the air base “if the need exists.” For more on the significance of Russia’s use of the Iranian air base, see “Russian Basing in Iran is about More than ISIS.” (Fars News Agency) (Asr Iran)

Regional Developments & Diplomacy

  • IRGC Political Deputy: Erdogan should pay attention to domestic issues, not interfere in Syria. IRGC Political Deputy Brig. Gen. Rasoul Sanaei Rad responded to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent comment that Turkish forces are in Syria “to end the rule of the cruel Assad.” Sanaei Rad called Erdogan’s remarks “comforting to the terrorists.” He urged Erdogan to pay attention to the Turkish people, who he claimed question “the results of Turkey’s multi-year and costly intervention in Syria.” (Tasnim News Agency)

Domestic Politics

  • Motahari to lead investigation into attempted arrest of reformist parliamentarian. The moderate-reformist Hope parliamentary faction announced that it selected outspoken Deputy Parliament Speaker Ali Motahari to lead its investigation into the Judiciary’s recent attempted arrest of reformist parliamentarian Mahmoud Sadeghi. Security officials confronted Sadeghi at his home on November 27 before protesters intervened. Sadeghi claimed on November 30 that his questioning of Judiciary Head Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani’s use of public funds in private bank accounts prompted the attempted arrest. Hope Faction Spokesman Bahram Parsaei denied that the faction wants to “politicize” the arrest. Parsaei also noted that Motahari will discuss the controversy with Judiciary Head Larijani and his brother, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani. Motahari has criticized the arrest as a dangerous precedent for judicial oversight of parliamentarians. (Entekhab)
     
  • Larijani: We must wait to evaluate Trump’s policy toward Syria. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani stated that Iran is waiting to see whether President-elect Donald Trump’s administration follows through on its rhetoric from the campaign and “changes” American policy regarding Syria. Larijani called for a political solution to the Syrian conflict and added that “cannons and tanks” cannot strengthen Syrian democracy. Iran provides extensive military support for Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime, however. Separately, Larijani stated that he does not plan to participate in the May 2017 presidential election. Larijani is a prominent conservative with a strong working relationship with President Hassan Rouhani. (Fars News Agency)

Casualties in Iraq & Syria

  • Seven Pakistani fighters buried in Qom. Seven members of the Pakistani Shia militia Zainabiyoun Brigade were buried in Qom. Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Saeedi and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were present at the funeral. (Mehr News Agency)
    • Separately, four members of the Afghan Shia militia Fatimiyoun Brigade were buried in Rey, Tehran province. (Jameh News