Iran News Round Up September 4, 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

  • President Hassan Rouhani announced that the economy and foreign policy are his administration’s highest priorities and then said, “The administration, during the Syrian people’s very difficult living conditions, will continue offering its friendly aid, and, meanwhile, we vehemently condemn any hostile measures against regional countries, especially the country of Syria.” 
  • The Fourteenth Assembly of Experts leadership meeting released a statement condemning “foreigners’ meddling in Syria” and warning the United States, Israel and European countries of  “a new catastrophe in the Middle East.” 
  • Asr-e Iran news agency published transcripts of meetings between Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Oloom. The two discussed Syria and Iranian economy on December 21, 2012, in Tehran:
    • Bahr al-Oloom: “[In a meeting with former Iranian oil executive Dr. Seyyed Hamid Hosseini, I] announced my complete readiness to cooperate with them to alleviate these problems [in Iranian petrochemical and oil industries]…. Without compliments, I tell you that in some political and economic meetings in Iraq, we continuously mention your Excellency and say that we need a person like Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani to expand and construct Iraq. Another matter that I wanted to bring to your attention is Syrian events. We in Iraq are seriously concerned about its effect on Iraq’s domestic scene and future situation.”
    • Rafsanjani: “The Syrian matter is also one of the worries that I personally have. What an effect will Syria’s future have on Iraq.... Apparently, the survival chance is very low. I do not know how you view the situation.”
    • “Today, a very bitter news was published in the world that in one of the suburbs around Hama, they attacked a bread line and killed ninety individuals who had come to buy bread, whether women or children. These [attacks] make work difficult, whether in the world or inside Syria. In any case, the Syrians are hard people and do not easily forget…. Man worries that if the Syrian matter ends, these [armed groups] come to Iraq. These are not Shi’a. They are Salafists and their non-Salafists are also extremist individuals who prioritize military matters over political [matters]. If Syrian weapons fall into the hands of such people, it will be very dangerous because they have chemical weapons and also other weapons. Israel taking advantage is another matter of concern to us.”
    • “I know that Iraq’s current situation is not such that you can do something; non-governmental [organizations] can, though. If any Iraqi personalities can enter the field and negotiate with the protestors, it is the private sector. They are the ones who will find a solution. It is very important for the future. Syria must remain open to both Iran and Iraq, we cannot lose it. We must have Syria. From Lebanon to here, if this rope is ripped, bad events will happen. This is a matter that I have concerns regarding, and I think about it a lot. Another matter is the Americans….They will not forgo this matter easily [regional oil and gas reserves].” 
  • National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Chairman MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi returned to Tehran after meeting with Syrian and Lebanese officials:
    • “We recently travelled to Syria and Lebanon on behalf of the Parliament, specifically the National Security Commission, to announce Iran’s opposition regarding war in Syria to the entire world, with attention to regional sensitivities and recent American threats.”
    • “Regarding the ominous phenomenon of terrorists using chemical weapons, this is a dangerous phenomenon in the world, we consider condemning this event as our duty.”
    • “The reality in Syria is much different than the narrative portrayed in global media. The people are continuing their normal living and the Resistance is resolute in its decisions. Also, Mr. Bashar Assad’s spirit is very high and despite all media-creation is resolute on his decision.”
    • “With attention [to the fact] that terrorists used chemical weapons for several months, and the United Nations Representative explained this matter, no reactions took place from the Westerners that his matter which demonstrates that America’s current position is only a political one.”
    • “The region’s environment is very fervent, and if any war occurs, its dimensions are neither in the control of America nor the Zionist regime. Especially since the Zionist regime’s geographic situation is such that if these missiles are launched, the Zionist regime’s atomic center and or petrochemical factories will be hit [and] a human catastrophe will occur in the region, and  we hope that such mistakes are not made.”
    • “In any case, in today’s developments a positive trend has taken shape in the world in Syria’s favor. England, Italy, Germany and Canada plainly announced their opposition to go to war. Even the Pope requested all Christians to fast for peace in Syria. All of these interpretations demonstrate a global trend which is not in America’s favor.”
    • “The Syrian government was awaiting such a measure from Iran [his travel to Syria] because Iran opposed a military solution from the beginning of the Syrian crisis and believes in a political solution for this country.”
    • “In Lebanon, we met with group known as the March 14th coalition, who are part of the Syrian government opposition, [and] they are also opposed to war in the region.”
    • “The Americans announced that they do not intend on overthrowing the Assad regime, which demonstrates their doubt towards war.  In reality, recent instigations only stem from the pressures of the Zionist regime and some Arab countries.”
  • Principlist MP Ali Motahari reacted to the reported controversial statements of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who stated that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people:
    • “I have seen that speech’s video and certainly the video cannot be manufactured. Of course Hashemi stated those words and it is his opinion.”
    • “Perhaps Mr. Hashemi views the country’s expediency in this, but overall [one] must request explanation from him to plainly announce his opinion.”
    • “Some have said that Mr. Hashemi’s statements are a cooperation of sorts with America, while it is not like this at all because Mr. Hashemi condemns America. Perhaps Mr. Hashemi’s opinion has been that if the Syrian government used chemical weapons, we condemn these measures but will not stop supporting Syria.”
    • “So long as the majority of the Syrian people support the government, we will also support them. Supporting Syria is very important for Iran because they are the Axis of Resistance, and in case of their elimination [Lebanese] Hezbollah will no longer be effective.”
    • “The Syrian government must implement the necessary reforms. If from the beginning, it did not exhibit violence in reacting to the protests of a section of the people, we would not have reached the current point, but overall we considered the Assad government acceptable by the majority, therefore we support them.” 
  • MP Ali Reza Zakani also reacted to Rafsanjani’s chemical weapons statements and said, “We are impatiently awaiting Mr. Hashemi’s denial and plainly and correctly announcing his position. We also request the Ministry of Intelligence to investigate this matter and report the truth to the people. If this tape is real ... [it means] that he seeks to weaken the Resistance Front against the Dominant system, which of course is untrue in my opinion.” 

Diplomacy

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that President Rouhani will travel to New York City to address the United Nations General Assembly and that nuclear negotiating team members have been determined and their names will be announced soon. Regarding America’s potential strike on Syria, he said, “We did not send a particular message to America [regarding Syria]. Our positions have been transparent from the beginning and we oppose any military attacks and outside of the United Nations frameworks. Some extremist forces in America and in the region are seeking to enter America to enter into a new war.” 
  • Minister Zarif discussed Syrian events with Indian Foreign Minister and Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister, and Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers.

Military and Security

  • An unnamed Assembly of Experts member paraphrased the remarks of IRGC Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani regarding Syria, who reportedly addressed the Fourteenth Leadership Experts Assembly yesterday:
    • "Maj. Gen. Suleimani discussed the matter of Iraq and the Ashraf camp where more than fifty of them were killed, most of them hypocrite [MEK] leaders, and ten were missing. This matter was more important than the [Iran-Iraq War] Mersad attack and in reality God's promise was fulfilled."
    • "Some criticize why we support Syria so much; [one] must answer them that we do not pay attention to enemy propaganda because Syria has been the front line of Resistance and this reality is undeniable. We have a duty to support Muslims because they are under pressure and oppression."
    • "Maj. Gen. Suleimani explicated that in the matter of attacking Syria, seven countries, meaning Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, England, America and Israel, are at the front line and truly believe in Bashar Assad's fall."
    • "[IRGC] Quds Force Commander explained that currently, Zionist regime leaders and some regional countries have a strange insistence for Bashar to go and even say that if al-Qaeda comes it will be better than Bashar."
    • "Currently, some Persian Gulf countries have placed Iranophobia in their agenda and their primary priority is this matter [Referring to a statement after Qadhafi's fall, a Persian Gulf country invested $4 billion in Libya so Iran does not have any influence there]"
    • "The Qus Force Commander pointed to the discussion of a Shi'a and Sunni war and affirmed that some regional countries are afraid of Iranian influence in Islamic countries. In this regard, Qatar has spent $12 billion in Syria, but [one] must say that regardless, Iran has a good position in Islamic countries. When Saddam fell, discussions took place with various individuals to manage this country, but with respect to the Shi'a majority in Iraq and Iranian influence, America was unable to reach its goal."
    • "Maj. Gen. Suleimani explained that 95% of those who are fighting in Syria have entered from abroad and their loaders are abroad. The remaining 5% are Army deserters that have formed the Free Army and some Syrian Salafists are also part of this 5%.
    • "Maj. Gen. Suleimani said that Jubhat al-Nusrah has become a party of various countries that does some very savage acts; some of them are so heinous that they cannot be said, to the extent that some Assad opposition said [that] if elections take place they will vote for Bashar and believe that he is more democratic than [JN]. Iraqi Sunni ulama and clergy are killed by al-Qaeda so they can implement a Shi'a and Sunni war."
    • "In attacking Syria, America tested various methods to overthrow Bashar. Political pressure and al-Qaeda's entrance is one of them and the latest excuse has been using chemical weapons, which did not reach any results in this matter."
    • "Maj. Gen. Suleimani reminded us that America does not seek democracy in Egypt, human rights in Syria nor  is it concerned about the nuclear discussion in Iran. Rather, their main goal is to break the line of Resistance. We will support Syria until the end and currently the Syrian matter has become a matter of prestige for America, and from this, it has struggled, and just in appearance wants to emerge successful." 
  • Artesh Navy Deputy Admiral Gholam Reza Khadem Bigham announced the Navy’s readiness to be present in the Mediterranean, subject to the decision of the Armed Forces General Staff. He added, “Presence in open waters both demonstrates countries’ military ability and can be effective in the political dimension. Of course, we are considering the training dimension.” 
  • Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi condemned Israel’s missile test in the Eastern Mediterranean yesterday and said, “The Quds occupiers do not want the Israeli people to have peace from fire and do not want them to leave the bunkers, so the Zionist lobby in the American Congress is fanning new flames [of war] in this sensitive and strategic region.” 
  • Defense Minister Brig. General Hossein Dehghan discussed weapons shipments to Syria:
    • “The Syrian Army and nation possess the necessary equipment to defend themselves.”
    • “America’s attack on Syria will have unpleasant consequences for the region that is to their detriment and can expand the crisis to the entire region.”
    • “Another reason which will prevent an American attack on Syria and cause them serious doubts is their unpleasant experiences in attacking Iraq and Afghanistan.”
    • “America’s attack against Syria can only cause the region to face more crisis.” 

Economy

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