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 contributors John Lesnewich and Mehrdad Moarefian.
(E) = Article in English
Excerpts of these translations may only be used with the expressed consent of the authors.
- Expediency Discernment Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei stated, “Sanctions are an opportunity that we must use to create a blossoming economy that is free of poverty and full of progress. Iran is the great regional power without whose presence the problems of Iraq, Palestine, Syria and other countries cannot be solved.”
- Head of the Judiciary Branch Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani criticized UN resolutions claiming systematic denial of human rights in the Islamic Republic and stated, “We accept human rights with our being because the religion of Islam is an explicator and defender of many human rights. We certainly accept innate human rights that are approved by Islam.”
- The Investigation and Inspection Panel published the full report of corruption and embezzlement in the Social Security Organization (SSO). Panel member Hossein Dahdashti commented, “There are approximately 200 subsidiary companies under the Social Security Investment Company (SSIC). In this investigation and inspection we focused and reviewed 178 companies. It was determined that there are 4,100 positions of executive board members that are managed by only 1,500 individuals. In reality every individual has occupied three positions.” He also reported widespread bribery extended to “giving gifts to 37 MPs.”
- Per the report, 138 SSIC subsidiaries were handed over to Ghesh Sorinet Expansion Holding Company, with Babak Zanjani as its Managing Director.
- Regarding the involvement of sanctions tycoon Babak Zanjani, Dahdashti stated, “To import the monies that he owed the Oil Ministry, Babak Zanjani pursued an organization that was outside of sanctions and could import the money, totaling about $2 billion. Based on the reviews he had conducted, he reached the conclusion that if it is an organization related to retirees he can do this. However, this agreement had no practical legal basis, and an agreement that was signed had to have the approval of the board of trustees.”
- Following the report, Vice-Chairman of the Parliament Mohammad Hassan Abu Torabi Fard announced that the Parliament will refer violators in this case to the Judiciary.
- Responding to former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s request to debate President Hassan Rouhani, government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht said, “We do not have time for these talks. All friends are active all the time and it is possible for some to have more opportunity. We will not be involved in these discussions, but the possibility of criticizing the administration is provided for all normal citizens.”
- Executive Deputy to the President Mohammad Shariatmadari inspected Iranian space research centers and announced the administration’s full support of various projects, including space exploration and sending the first Iranian astronaut into space.
- MP Mohsen Ali Mardani urged Parliament to place social media software such as WeChat and Tango on its agenda because “this software has accompanied the expansion of illegitimate relations between girls and boys that introduce a serious harm.”
- Lebanese Hezbollah [LH] Commander Hassan Houlou Laqees was assassinated around midnight last night in south Beirut. Laqees was shot five times in the head and neck with a 9mm from close range by three or four unidentified gunmen while in his car in front of his house. This is reportedly not the first attempt on Laqees’ life.
- Media reports claim that Laqees shot down an Israeli drone in 2006 during Operation Truthful Promise and that he was close to Nasrallah. They also say his son was killed by Israel during the 33-Day War.
- Laqees reportedly had a technology and communications role with LH and played an important role in repairing communications systems. Israeli newspaper Haaretz has claimed that he was also a technology and weapons expert for LH.
- LH blamed Israel for the assassination of Laqees. The statement said that “he spent his life in the Resistance, and from the first days until his last hour, his life was that of a mujahid, commander, and lover of martyrdom.” The LH release then blamed Israel: “The finger of blame is directly pointed at the Zionist regime, especially the mercenaries of this regime who have assassinated our martyred brothers many times… . This regime must accept the complete consequences of the responsibility for this heinous crime and successive attacks on Resistance commanders and personnel.”
- Initial LH reports claimed that three Israeli mercenaries were responsible for the attack, and that other Israeli networks had tried and failed multiple times to kill Laqees.
- An unnamed Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister also called Israel the “principle agent” in the assassination.
- A number of Lebanese officials from various religious sects and political parties condemned the assassination and expressed their condolences, while some insisted that “Israel was behind the scenes of the [recent terrorist operations].”
- The Ansar al-Ummah al-Islamiyya Battallion claimed responsibility for Laqees’ assassination. Their statement claimed this was part of the “Battle for Southern Dahiyyah,” the predominantly Shia suburb just south of Beirut, and that Laqees was “directly responsible for the massacre of al-Qusayr,” a Syrian city on the Lebanese border. It also contains Surah 9:14 saying “Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace, and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people.”
- The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Battalion, a Lebanese Salafi jihadi group, has also claimed responsibility for the assassination in a post on its webpage and Twitter. This group posted the same Quranic verse to Twitter.
- They also tweeted: “We officially adopt the heroic jihad operation of the assassination of a leader of the Satanic Party [LH] Hassan Houlou Laqees in his own home” and “The jihad operation was executed by free Sunni lions from Lebanon.”
- “We promise that this operation is nothing but the beginning of the battle of the great purge.”
- Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif met with senior UAE officials earlier today in Abu Dhabi, including his UAE counterpart President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Zarif emphasized regional “stable peace and moderation” and stated, “The Islamic Republic of Iran attaches special importance to relations with the Emirates.” He expressed hope that Iran “is able to institutionalize these relations with management of relations and utilizations of capacities and opportunities of the two countries.”
- First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri formally received Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maleki at the Sa’d Abad presidential palace in Tehran. Accompanied by his Senior National Security Advisor and Women Affairs Minister, Maleki was welcomed earlier by Energy Minister Hamid Chit Chiyan and Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian.
- Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International and Legal Affairs Abbas Eraghchi, in a meeting with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meghdad, praised Syria’s signature of the Chemical Weapons Convention and stated that this decision “made extremists hopeless.”
Military and Security
- 170 MPs praised IRGC Khatam ol-Anbia Construction Base in completing the civil projects of Shahid Sadr and Niyayesh tunnel. Their statement reads in part, “Without a doubt such complicated and widespread construction would not be executable without possessing a high level of cutting edge knowledge in various sciences and techniques alongside the benefit of high management.”
- Head of the Basij Organization Mohammad Reza Naghdi claimed that “our issue with America is not the discussion of confidence building rather it is [America’s] nature” and added, “Today our economic issues will not resolved with relations with America because our first economic problem is dependence on oil. Of course the Westerners must know that if the discussion of sanctions is not resolved, we will resolve it ourselves.”
- IRGC Khatam ol-Anbia Kowsar Construction Base Commander Brig. Gen. 2nd Class Ziaeddin Hazani announced, “Construction Basij has so far implemented and inaugurated 12,459 civil projects in deprived provinces, investing more than 91 billion rials [approximately $2.7 million]. Plans to remove poverty have been implemented by IRGC Ground Forces, Hamzeh Seyyed ol-Shohada, Madineh, Samen, Seyyed ol-Shohada and Khatam ol-Anbia bases.”
- Kerman Province Deputy Prosecutor Ahmad Ghorbani announced the arrest of “sixteen cyber activists affiliated with foreigners” who “were active in the framework of a complicated security-media network.” The accusations include “measures against national security by cooperating with foreign media and designing websites and producing content for anti-revolutionary websites in order to overthrow the sacred system of the Islamic Republic.”
- Planning and Strategic Oversight Deputy to the President Mohammad Bagher Nobakht announced an increase in requests by foreign governments and investors to invest in Iran and announced, “A committee in the ministry has been formed to pursue lifting sanctions and implementing the Geneva accord with the six countries that will pursue accord matters.”
- President Rouhani, accompanied by the Executive Vice President, Minister of Urban Development, and a delegation of senior executives of the oil industry, inspected the Southern Pars gas fields phases 15 and 16, which is contracted to IRGC construction conglomerate Khatam ol-Anbia. During his brief visit, Rouhani reiterated the economic advantages that will come to fruition as the energy plant continues to develop, with a production output goal of 50 million cubic meters of gas, adding, “The proceeds of the future phases of this project shall yield an income of 100 billion dollars for this nation.”
By Iran Tracker
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