Iran News Round Up September 16, 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

Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.

Politics

  • Addressing the Twentieth National IRGC Commanders and Officials conference, President Hassan Rouhani praised the IRGC, discussed its “spiritual and social capital” and regional developments, and urged the IRGC’s economic participation in “large national projects” to combat sanctions:
    • IRGC uniqueness: “The IRGC had an influential role in the Sacred Jihad [Iran-Iraq War] alongside the Basij. The dearest companions of the Revolution were sacrificed for this land’s honor, greatness and independence in this holy front.”
    • “The Guardsmen carry a great honor on their soldiers, that of being a Guardsman. Not only are they the Guards of this land’s border and country, they are also the preservers of God’s borders as well. The IRGC is a child of the revolution who has no temporal span with the Revolution’s victory.”
    • “From the first hours of the Islamic Revolution’s victory, a guardianship, perseverance and jihad to defend the Islamic Revolution took shape that was later named the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The Guardsmen have invested their lives to preserve the Revolution. Wherever danger was felt, the IRGC was present on the front line of defense of the Revolution.”
    • “[The IRGC] is not like an army or a military force in other countries. The [IRGC], whose formation was preserving and defending the Islamic Revolution, has two special resources that are seen less in other armed forces. The [IRGC] possesses the manpower, military hardware, and software resources that exist in these other countries’ armies and armed forces, but the [IRGC] also possessed a very important spiritual and social capital from the beginning.”
    • Spiritual capital: “Spiritual capital was when the Guardsman looked at Ashura [Shi'a commemoration of third Imam Hossein's death] pilgrimage lines before looking at the map and when they learned ya Hossein and ya Zahra and recited them before they learned operational codes. [IRGC] spiritual capital does not mean Eastern countries’ ideological army, rather it means spiritual and religious motivation whose depth goes back 1400 years earlier, from the tablecloth where the Prophet’s companions were present, until Hussein Ibn Ali’s [Third Shi’a Imam] Ninevan desert with these unsurpassed companions.”
    • “With its spiritual capital, [the IRGC], which has been preserved until today and will preserve until the end,  has superiority over other armed forces.”
    • “What caused the enemy to fear the [IRGC] was not the [IRGC]'s airplane, missile, submarine, frigate, tank or equipment, because other armies have these more or less as well. What the enemy fears is the [IRGC]'s motivation, spirituality, purity, connection with the prophetic family and Ahl-e Beit, and connection of the [IRGC] front to the Badr and Karbala fronts [Respectively, Prophet Muhammad’s early decisive victory and Hussein Ibn Ali’s last stand, extremely important event for Shi’a Muslims].”
    • IRGC’s social capital: “Meaning the [IRGC] is in the people’s heart and alongside the people. [The IRGC] is a strong fortress and refuge for all people including Muslims, non-Muslims, Shi’a, non-Shi’a, city-dwellers and villagers. Whenever they see the Army of the Guardians or a Guardsman, all Iranian people must feel security and peace, meaning all citizens view the continuation of their citizenship and certain Islamic societal rights alongside the Islamic Republic Armed Forces and especially the IRGC.”
    • “Security is provided by the IRGC, and IRGC social capital creates the 20 million and tens of million Basijis.”
    • Affirming Imam Khomeini’s statements about Armed Forces non-political interference: “This means the [IRGC] is above political currents not alongside and inside political currents. The IRGC‘s place is the entire population's place. The Imam announced during the war and from the very first day that the [IRGC] must not enter political games, because the [IRGC] must belong to the entire Iranian nation. If one day, we need the presence of all the people, [the IRGC] must bring all of the people in the name of Basij and under the flag of Islam and the country.”
    • “If God forbid, one day an event occurs, it will invite the Basij of religious minorities and anyone ready to defend the homeland to come. The Basij belongs to all, we must not make it smaller and smaller and not allow it to take us down a narrow alley. We must confront the enemy in an open field.”
    • “Today is a sensitive day for the region and Iran, and the force that has stood and must stand at the front lines and in the first line against all conspiracies is the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps. This is what is in my heart.”
    • “Our first step must be the recognition of threats. Threats emerge every day in a [different] form. On [September 22, 1980], with the enemy’s invasion of our country, the threats were mostly military threats. Therefore the [IRGC] at the time transformed from a security and enforcement force to a semi-classic military force.”
    • “Behind any military threat there is a political threat, and at the time they sought to alter the system’s fundamentals. But after Saddam wanted to attack Kuwait, the threat took another form and Saddam sought to transform into the greatest regional power with Kuwaiti oil. This was when, before Iraq’s attack against Kuwait, Saddam had written in a letter to Iran that 'you and we have 800 kilometers of joint border.'”
    • “When we analyzed this sentence in the Supreme National Security Council, different interpretations were introduced, and one of those was that Iraq sought to advance to Oman’s border. This demonstrated that the threat’s form had changed. Also, in America’s attack against Afghanistan and Iraq, the threat took another form, and today yet another when the discussion of attacking Syria is introduced.”
    • Syria: “Syria is at a sensitive point and the fight is not regarding the President or a tribe. The matter goes beyond that, and it is clear for all of us that the West has a determination for the entire region and does not prefer our region in its current form. This is why the English and French are returning to the region after years.”
    • “Analyzing the situations of Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Syria demonstrate that the West has placed them in a chain and is seeking to strengthen Israel and weaken the Resistance Front. The Syrian matter is the matter of a large region’s destiny, not just a single country, and it is possible to determine the world’s destiny in these circumstances.”
    • “Of course, the Islamic Republic’s opinion was always clear [about chemical weapons] and we have opposed weapons of mass destruction. But the West’s mistake is that it thinks that the Islamic Republic is seeking an opportunity for military dominance in the region, while we are not pursuing it. Our strength is our thought’s dominance in the entire region.”
    • “[The IRGC] is not the army of war in the region. [The IRGC] is peace and security. If the Global Arrogance’s military threats are eliminated in the region, the [IRGC] does not seek military dominance in the region. Our saying is populism, stability, unity, brotherhood and the fight against terrorism in the entire region.”
    • “It is better for unwelcome guests to leave the region and let go of their invasion and Iranophobia. Our slogan is the slogan of populism. If the Egyptian people seek populism and the West is concerned, this is the Egyptian people’s own decision.”
    • “In Syria, Iraq and all countries, the people’s opinion must rule, even in Palestine. The affirmation of the Revolution's leader that all displaced Palestinians must return to their country and vote, demonstrates that our basis is populism.
    • “Anyone who  uses chemical weapons anywhere is condemned by us. Fundamentally, we condemn civil war and massacre. Syria must return to stability and afterwards, we will accept anyone the people vote for.”
    • “We do not seek the beginning of a war, and the Islamic Republic entered the field with all of its force so that a war would not occur in the region. Of course Syria is important to us and regional countries and nations will not be indifferent in the Syrian matter, just as the Islamic Republic has never been indifferent nor will it ever be in this destiny-creating matter. We will perform our duty, and God will make all regional nations victorious against others’ conspiracies.”
    • Sanctions: “All sanction plans that have been unjust, illegal and with unreal excuse are in this path [of targeting the people’s livelihood]. Because they know that Iran does not pursue nuclear weapons, and when the revolution’s leader plainly considers it forbidden, Iran will never pursue it.”
    • “Sanctioning oil sales and banking activities means pressure on the people’s livelihood and lives. We must break this conspiracy, because behind the enemy’s economic pressure, there is political pressure saying that the people have had enough of the Revolution. However, our people understood well and gave an appropriate answer to the enemies in the elections. This is one of the best elections in which there were no protests and so it inflicted the first strike to the enemy.”
    • “The second strike that must be inflicted upon the enemy is in the economic epic that can be achieved with the people’s presence and awareness, and the [IRGC] can be very effective in this regard.”
    • “The [IRGC] has very massive capabilities in manpower and economic and cultural arenas. Anywhere pressure is created against the system, the [IRGC] supplements it and supports others.”
    • IRGC and the economy: “I do not at all accept rumors that are introduced regarding the [IRGC] in the economic arena. The [IRGC] is not the competition of the people or the private sector, and it is not like normal contractors. The [IRGC] must be responsible for very important projects that the private sector does not have the capability to perform.”
    • “I have spoken with the IRGC Commander and given the [IRGC] the responsibility and pride of a few national projects. In a sanctions situation, the [IRGC] must enter the field and take responsibility for three to four massive national projects because the [IRGC] knows the situation of the country and the administration well. The country that sold 2.5 million barrels of oil now sells less than one million barrels. From another side, it must import 7.5 million tons of wheat, demonstrating the current situation.”
    • “We request the [IRGC] to take part of the weight off of the administration and of course the system. Another matter is the smuggling of goods that is a disaster for the country’s economy. The [IRGC] can help in confronting it so that the smuggling of goods is prevented.”
    • “As the president, I request the [IRGC] to enter and help the administration in two parts in which the administration is facing issues, helping so that the people witness the purity and sacrifice of the [IRGC] in defeating the enemy in the arenas of the people’s livelihood and production.”
    • “Regardless, we hope that with God’s help and the IRGC's cooperation, we can break the enemy’s conspiracies.” 
  • Administration Spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht stated, “The administration’s economic plans have been on the agenda in the three month, one year and long-term levels…. Improving livelihoods and economic situations is one of the administration’s first plans.” 
  • National Security and Parliamentary (NSFP) Commission Chairman MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi, NSFP member and former IRGC commander MP Esmail Kowsari and NSFP member MP Ebrahim Agha Mohammadi reacted to BBC Persian’s film publication about documentary filmmaker Hadi Baqbani, killed in Syria last month and reportedly kidnapped by Syrian opposition. Each dismissed any IRGC presence in Syria and called it an “utter lie” and a “ridiculous claim.” Kowsari stated, “We do not send military forces to Syria. The only thing we do is to transfer our experience to Syria.” 

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Lebanese Hezbollah Deputy Secretary Sheikh Na’im Qassem discussed Syria and said, “Today, Syria is confronting the Great Satan Axis and its trainee, Israel. What is occurring in Syria is a field of combat between the Resistance Axis and the American and Israeli Axis. We oppose foreign intervention and military options in Syria. Syria will remain firm and glorious and we will support it in all situations so it will remain standing.”
  • Former Iraqi Parliament Security and Defense Committee member Hassan Hashem al-Rabi’i announced that Iraq is in the process of deporting Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalg [MEK]. 
  • Iranian media reacted to BBC Persian’s film publication of documentary filmmaker Hadi Baqbani, killed in Syria last month. Reportedly kidnapped by Syrian opposition, the films show Esmail Heydari commanding some Assad forces and discussing details of Iranian forces interaction with the Syrian Army. Heydari was buried two days after Baqbani as part of Baqbani’s “documentary making team.” The Iranian media article reads in part, “What is certain is that Iran has not made a decision regarding serious military presence in the Syrian front, since if this decision is issued the Islamic Republic will certainly not refrain from stating it. A matter that was operationalized and officially announced during the Gaza Eight Day war alongside the official sending of missiles and weapons from Iran to Palestinian mujahedin present in the Gaza strip.” The article added that the film is in line with previous IRGC statements about the Quds Force's personnel “advising and experience transferring role.” 

Military and Security

  • Armed Forces General Staff Chief Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi addressed the Twentieth National IRGC Commanders and Officials Meeting and emphasized the IRGC’s role in the Islamic Republic:
    • “This phrase is part of the Islamic system’s main strategies: If this army does not exist, this country will also not exist. Today, the [IRGC] possesses five strong forces, thirty-five provincial armies and six bases ready to work. This is a grand and enemy-breaking capability, but we must not become arrogant.”
    • “Arrogance means that a person imagines that he has reached a place that God will no longer do anything with him. This fundamentally is a fall.”
    • "At the end of the war, officials’ policies during the Ahmadinejad and Khatami administrations and the intellectuals’ neglect affected the IRGC. However, sympathetics awoke in this decline and shouted to prevent the growth of a neglection termite in the IRGC. In this path, the service of brother Maj. Gen. Jafari to the IRGC was that he brought the IRGC strategic center to here. This means finding pain; identifying pain is very difficult.” 
  • IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke at the meeting as well:
    •  “The Islamic Revolution has had very good conditions in external affairs, and we continuously witness the successive failures of Arrogance [the US and West] against the Resistance Front, and we are witnessing that, in the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and Lebanon, the Islamic Revolution is continuing in its path.”
    • “The latest failure of the enemy and Arrogance against the Resistance was in Syria, where their plot to intervene militarily failed and their primary plan failed like the rest of their plans. This is a time when the enemy has said that if we cannot find a foothold in Syria, we also cannot get one in Iran.”
    • “The creation of deterrence, the balance of terror, and other dangerous points are the external dimensions of the IRGC that are formed with attention to the defensive power and capability of the country.”
    • “In the last decade and after September 11th, we witnessed widespread American plans in the region to fuel a military threat to Iran and control the Islamic Revolution. Although today we witness that with all their power camped within Iran’s borders, Americans consider themselves to be blockading Iran, they have never been able to militarily threaten Iran, even with words. This is the same balance of terror and threat the IRGC proposes in its strategic foundations, and this power is found in different defensive, security, and other social dimensions.”
    • “An American CIA official during his testimony this year stated that ‘in recent years the IRGC has been able to raise itself on a strategic level to match its enemies like America and Israel in fields that are considered threats to American security.’ The capabilities and power of deterrence that are found in all defense forces, and particularly the IRGC, are nothing but the grace of God, and God puts this fear in the hearts of the enemies.”
    • “Our enemies are involved in planning threats and plotting against Iran, and at the same time these threats are implemented in every field. Like the Sedition of ’88 [the Green Movement], cultural ambush, information wars, and others, but we have witnessed the Resistance in the region stand stably against the wave of enemy threats from all sides.”
    • “There are problems in the economic, cultural, and political fields that we plan and hope to fix with the help of the honorable government.”
  • Answering President Rouhani’s call for the IRGC to aid in combating goods smuggling, corruption and resolving economic issues, Head of the Basij Organization Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi stated, “We have prepared designs in this field that we will present to the administration.” 

Nuclear Issue

  • Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with former Iraqi Deputy President Adel Abd al-Mehdi in Iran and stated, “If Iran’s opposing side in the nuclear discussion has seriousness and tact, this matter is resolvable.” 

Economy

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