Iran News Round Up October 1, 2015

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Mehrdad Moarefian, Marie Donovan, and Paul Bucala, with contributors Ryan Melvin, Caitlin Pendleton, and Jordan Olmstead. 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: Iran officially announced its support for Russian military action in Syria.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham stated that Iran “considers Russia’s military action…in Syria as a step toward the global fight against terrorism and resolving the ongoing crisis in the region.” The announcement comes amidst Western media reports that Iranian troops have traveled to Syria in the last 10 days and will join President Bashar al Assad’s forces and Lebanese Hezbollah in a ground offensive supported by Russian airstrikes, possibly in Idlib and Hama provinces.

Military and government officials echoed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s September 30 warning that if Saudi Arabia fails to transfer the bodies of the Iranian pilgrims killed in the Hajj stampede, Iran will give a “harsh and tough reaction.” Former Defense Minister IRGC Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar stressed that the Supreme Leader’s warning to Saudi Arabia should be considered “seriously,” while members of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission, such as Mohammad Esmail Kowsari, criticized the “silence of some Islamic countries” regarding the stampede.

AEI Resident Fellow J. Matthew McInnis analyzes the effectiveness of Iranian policy in Iraq and discusses reports that Tehran’s leadership has reigned in IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in his most recent blog post, “Is Iran’s strategy in Iraq adrift?

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Iran announces support for Russian military action in Syria. Marzieh Afkham reiterated Iran’s call for collective action to combat terrorism in the Middle East and stated, “The realization of this objective requires serious will and determination and joint international action based on cooperation with the governments of Iraq and Syria.” The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman added: “Within this framework, with regards to the official request by the Syrian government to the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran considers Russia’s military action against armed terrorist groups in Syria as a step toward the global fight against terrorism and the resolution of the ongoing crisis in the region.” (ILNA)
    • Foreign Ministry: Iran prioritizes cooperation with “neighbors and Muslim states.”Afkham stated that Iran prioritizes increasing regional security and stability and cooperating with its neighbors and Muslim countries. While the Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman praised Iran’s relations with its neighbors, she added that there “is still a long way to the desired point, and all countries should cooperate with each other in [a] bid to achieve the desired level of cooperation.” She added that ongoing regional crises underscore the need for cooperation. (IRNA(E)
       
  • Iranian body count in Hajj stampede reaches 464. The Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization announced on October 1 that 464 Iranian pilgrims were killed during the Hajj stampede in Mina, Saudi Arabia. (ABNA)
     
  • Velayati: The Supreme Leader’s warning was not just for Saudi Arabia. Ali Akbar Velayati claimed that Saudi Arabia’s response to the Hajj stampede has ignored its “international” and “religious” duty. The Supreme Leader’s Senior Foreign Policy Advisor added, “The Supreme Leader’s warning was not just for Saudi officials but also for all of its supporters.” (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Parliamentarians: The response to Saudi Arabia will be harsh. Members of the National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission echoed the Supreme Leader’s 30 September remarks calling for a “harsh and tough reaction” if Saudi Arabia fails to return the bodies of Iranian citizens killed during the Hajj stampede.
    • Mohammad Esmail Kowsari criticized the “silence of some Islamic countries” regarding the Hajj stampede and claimed that some countries are “indebted to Saudi Arabia.” The NSFP member also accused the UN of being “silent” on the incident. Kowsari called for Muslim countries to form a “fact-finding team” to investigate the causes of the stampede.
    • Mansour Haghighat Pour accused Riyadh of “mismanagement” and criticized Saudi officials for not accepting responsibility for the stampede. The NSFP Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman called for a “presence at the scene” in order to conduct an investigation.
    • NSFP member Abbas Ali Mansouri reiterated that a fact-finding team must be formed to inspect the scene and gather information on the management of the Hajj pilgrimage. (ICANA
       
  • Former Defense Minister: Iran can give a “strong and crushing” response to Saudi Arabia. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar stated that the Supreme Leader’s warning to Saudi Arabia should be considered “seriously.” The Senior Advisor to the Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief and former Defense Minister said that Iran’s behavior up until now has been “decent” but warned that Iran can give a “strong and crushing” response to Saudi Arabia. (Tasnim News Agency)
     
  • Interior Minister: Riyadh’s unaccountability is worse than the Mina stampede. Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli criticized Saudi authorities in a letter to his Saudi counterpart Mohammad bin Nayef on October 1. The Interior Minister called for a joint Iranian-Saudi “security and technological” committee to investigate the stampede and address the condition of the injured. He also asked Nayef to cooperate with Iranian authorities in order to hasten the identification process for victims of the stampede. (Fars News Agency)
     
  • Abdollahian: Saudi officials must prioritize return of Iranian victims. Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated that the Iranian Minister of Health will emphasize the need for “greater attention to implementing the transfer of [Hajj stampede] victims” during a meeting with the Saudi Minister of Health and other relevant Saudi officials. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs added that the presence of the Minister of Health and his staff in Mecca and Jeddah has sped up the process of assessing the situations of Iranian victims and returning them to Iran. (IRIB)

 

Domestic Politics and Reactions to the Nuclear Deal

  • Arani: The JCPOA commission will base its final report on proposals from sub-committees. Parliamentarian Mansour Arani described the procedure for assembling the Special Parliamentary Commission to Review the JCPOA’s final report. The commission member stated that the commission was divided into five committees: defense-security, economic, legal, technical, and political. Each committee was charged with the responsibility of preparing and presenting to the special commission a report, which is divided into three sections: “opportunities, threats, and suggestions.” Arani stated that the special commission’s final report will mirror this format as well. He also stated that the committees’ reports will be put to a vote on October 3, and the special commission will then assemble its final report based on the committees’ individual reports. Arani added, “If legal procedure is not followed and the committees’ reports are not put to a vote, it is possible that the final report will focus solely on threats or opportunities… We must not allow precision to be sacrificed for speed.” (ISNA)
     
  • Larijani: The Supreme Leader’s red lines are observed in the JCPOA review. Ali Larijani said that Parliament is paying “special attention” to the Supreme Leader’s red lines during the JCPOA review process. The Parliament Speaker said that these red lines include “the development of industry and the protection of nuclear knowledge.” Larijani also discussed the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan, stating that its funds will focus on “production and the development of industry.” (Mashregh News)
     
  • Khatami praises Rouhani. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami lauded President Hassan Rouhani for leaving New York on September 28 in order to attend the funerals for Iranian pilgrims killed in the Hajj stampede. The Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader stated, "The honorable president cut his trip [to New York] in half, and one should be grateful for this sense of duty." (Entekhab)
     
  • Araghchi: Nuclear countries are responsible for disarmament. Abbas Araghchi called for nuclear disarmament while at the UN on October 1. The Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs praised the UN for naming September 26 “International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” based on a suggestion from President Hassan Rouhani. He added, “On such a day, the dangers of nuclear weapons and the importance of disarmament must be prominent as an obligatory and worldwide matter… Countries possessing nuclear weapons have the primary responsibility of achieving nuclear disarmament and must act according to their legal responsibilities in this regard.” (YJC)

 

Military and Security

  • Supreme Leader urges armed forces to strengthen their capabilities. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iran’s armed forces to increase their capabilities to deter enemies in a meeting with Artesh commanders in the city of Nowshahr, Mazandaran province, on October 1. The Supreme Leader underlined the importance of boosting Iran’s deterrence capacity and stated, “The enemy is seeking the surrender of the Islamic system, and the hostilities would not end by giving in to them.” Khamenei added that the military “must gain such power that the enemies do not dare to even think of attacking this country’s borders.” (Khamenei.ir)

 

Economy

  • Indian oil companies pay first installment of outstanding oil debt to Iran. Indian media reported that major Indian oil companies, including Essar Oil and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MPRL), transferred approximately $700 million to the Royal Bank of India (RBI), which will in turn transfer the installment to Iran after making appropriate arrangements. The companies will pay the remainder of their debt over nine installments after the protocol for payment is approved. (Press TV) (E)