Iran news round up January 7, 2014

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by the AEI Critical Threats Project’s Iran research team.

Politics

  • President Hassan Rouhani spoke about subsidies, citizens’ welfare, and parliamentary criticism during his first meeting with provincial governors. Rouhani also mentioned some of his successes to date, noting that “Our first goal was to contain inflation, which we have done well so far. Inflation has gone step-by-step from 43% to 28.8%, meaning it has decreased by more than 14%, which is a great success for government’s economic path.”
    • Rouhani dispelled notions that subsidies for the needy would be cut, arguing, “We have heard the continuous rumors that the government wants to give goods subsidies in place of cash subsidies. The government may also give a basket of goods, but the cash subsidies are not being cut. However, the amount of these cash subsidies is still under discussion.”
    • “The administration recognizes that the welfare of the people is not in ideal condition and that we have a long road ahead. Thus, the government has been forced in its early days to distribute free milk in schools due to many reports by the health ministry on the state of children’s health, especially those in villages.”
    • The president encouraged the parliament to ask him questions, saying “Differences between two branches is not in the interest of the country.”
    • Rouhani also gave advice for provincial elections, urging “win-win” solutions to maximize stability: “In the elections we must also act in such a way that a party does not have a feeling of failure because under the country’s constitution they are all equal.”
  • First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri asked the secretariat of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology why the ministry had been inactive in recent years and failed to carry out its legislated responsibilities. He encouraged it to improve, saying “The conditions today are such we need to develop information technology and have a software platform provided so that we can present different services, combat corruption, make operations transparent, and undertake works like sending targeted subsidies, goods packages, and banking issues.”
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham denied rumors that the US and Iran were cooperating in Iraq: “Published media reports on the cooperation between America and Iran in Iraq are not true. Iran’s stances in opposition to terrorists have been clear and we will continue our own support of the Iraqi government.”
    • Afkham also noted that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan would be visiting Iran next month.
  • Member of the Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Abbas Kabi criticized completely free capitalist systems, arguing that “This type of economy provides the space for the growth of economic corruption, which is why an Islamic economy must be that basis of our work.” Kabi continued, “Unfortunately in the period [after the Iran-Iraq War], space for the exploitation of the economy, speculation, and rent-seeking through the use of illegal positions was provided.”
  • Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi reportedly claimed that Abdullah Azzam Brigades Leader Majid al-Majid’s death in the custody of Lebanese security forces raised doubts and suspicions, calling for transparency and an investigation into his cause of death.

Diplomacy  

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif met with senior Iraqi presidential advisor and MP Adel Abdolmehdi to talk about dangers, recent regional developments, and confronting terrorism and extremism in Syria and Iraq. Zarif commended the Iraqi people on their unity in the face of terrorism and called for cooperation between the nations to create stability, security, and progress in Iraq.
  • Zarif also met with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad to discuss a path towards a political solution to the Syrian crisis. The Iranian minister called the crisis “a great test that will decide that fate of the whole region’s stability and security. The confrontation with the wave of terrorism and extremism requires the cooperation of all countries.”
    • Zarif asserted Iran’s power in the region and assistance it could lend to finding a solution: “yet again we emphasize that Iran will accept no preconditions for its presence at Geneva II. If officially invited, we are prepared to help solve the crisis with an official and full presence at this meeting.”
  • The Iranian-English Parliamentary Friendship Group met with British politician Jack Straw and his group of diplomats in Iran in order to continue the relations-building process between the two nations. Straw said his delegation “wants to improve relations between [the countries] and oppose extreme viewpoints in order to develop relations between Iran and the West.” Straw reportedly stated that Iran had an undeniable right to peaceful nuclear technology, and said “I am very optimistic towards the implementation of the recent nuclear agreement in Geneva between Iran the P5+1.” http://www.mehrnews.com/detail/News/2209730
  • Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi listed anumber of upcoming travel dates for the ministry. He noted that “the Minister of Foreign Affairs will be participating in the World Economic Forum in the Swiss city of Davos on January 22 and 23,” as well as the Munich Security Conference on January 31 and February 1. Takht Ravanchi also noted that he himself would be leaving for Latin America next week and “during these ten days will travel to Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and probably another country.” Finally, he noted that the British non-resident charge d’affaires would be visiting Iran again shortly after Jack Straw’s departure.

Nuclear Issue  

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham provided a brief update on the status of experts’ negotiations to implement the Geneva Agreement, saying “Several rounds of experts negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 have been undergone, with the latest round being [December 29 and 30]. Many pieces of the Joint Plan of Action have been agreed upon.”
    • Afkham then said that negotiations would continue later this week, noting “It is decided that on Thursday and Friday of this week, Mr. Eraghchi and [EU official] Ms. Schmid will meet.
    • Given reports that the US had sanctioned a new country, the spokeswoman responded, “We are gathering more information about this news about the Turkish company, and will comment if the published news is true.”

Military and Security

  • IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami gave a speech lauding the IRGC for its success against US policies and forcing its enemies to fail:
    • “Speeches of the US President saying ‘It is not possible to stop Iran’s strategy’ show the inability of the enemy and the glory and the power of the holy Iranian system.”
    • Salami said that Iran made America’s policies in Iraq fail: “The IRGC has learned how to confront the enemy in any situation. Nuclei of resistance have been formed on the basis of the Imam’s [Khomeini’s] thought. Our enemies have failed in different spaces and despite huge expenditures are deadlocked and have fallen into an abyss.”
    • “We are forced to issue an ultimatum in which we are trustworthy and the enemy has no trustworthiness. It is like the past with the words of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution [Khamenei] where we prove the untrustworthiness of the enemies.”
  • Military Advisor to the Supreme Leader Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi  claimed that the “Islamic Awakening in the region is absolutely under the influence of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, and the Supreme Leader.” Safavi listed “opposing arrogance and preserving the integrity of the country as characteristics of the Iranian Revolution” and closed by saying, “Self-respect based on developing the humanities, diplomatic competency, and Iran’s place outside of its borders can be witnessed greatly today.”

Economy  

  • National Iranian Gas Company Spokesman Majid Boujarzadeh said that recent levels of natural gas consumption were nearing crisis conditions in many regions and that “if gas consumption in these parts sees any more of an increase, we will confront a drop in pressure in regions of the country.”
  • Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh reiterated that Babak Zanjani owes more than 2 billion euros, some of which belongs to the Oil Ministry. Zanganeh also sought to assuage fears that “non-standard gasoline” had entered the Iranian market, saying “I have also heard some of these things, but I say these things have not happened and will not happen…. . We import some gasoline but we do not look too much into where they purchased it. It is possible that it is from China, but there is nothing to the [claims] that Chinese gasoline is non-standard or low-quality.”

By Iran Tracker

 

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