A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Marie Donovan, Warren Marshall, and Dianna Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key takeaway: IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani praised as a symbol of Iran’s soft power.
The Media Advisor to the Commander of the IRGC said that Major General Qassem Soleimani and the Quds Force symbolize Iranian soft power by spearheading the Islamic Republic’s regional strategy of resistance. In the last several months, senior Iranian officials and members of the Iraqi government have increasingly joined the Supreme Leader in extolling Soleimani as a hero of the Islamic Revolution and a key protector of its values.
National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Member Mansour Hagiat Pour stated that the Persian Gulf countries would feel isolated were the P5+1 and Iran to reach a final nuclear agreement, reflecting Iran’s understanding of its tenuous relationship with its neighbors.
A border crossing point in Shalamcheh, Khuzestan, along Iran’s southern border with Iraq, was closed today due to the absence of security forces on the Iraqi side of the border, highlighting the continued threat posed by ISIL along Iran’s western border. Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaghari, meanwhile, said that there is an approximate 150km security gap along the eastern border, but that a joint Law Enforcement Forces-IRGC effort is underway to reinforce the border.
- Qassem Soleimani is a symbol of Iran’s soft power. The Media Advisor to the Commander of the IRGC said, “The symbols of the influence of Iran’s soft [power] and power in the region today are the IRGC Quds Force and [Commander] Qassem Soleimani.” Hamid Reza Moghaddam Far added that Soleimani “has an advisory presence” in regional conflicts and that Iran does not have any “military units” participating in the support of “freedom-seeking movements and anti-Zionist groups” in the Middle East. He then criticized Western media outlets for publishing photos of Soleimani, claiming that their goal is to portray the Quds Force Commander as “nothing more than Rambo and Rocky.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Alavi: The Syrian crisis is an intelligence war. Intelligence Minister Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi said NATO is gradually becoming an intelligence alliance and said the intelligence services of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and especially the U.S. and Israel started an intelligence war in Syria that created the Islamic State.
- “The Islamic State wants to prove its religious ideology to the world by liberating Damascus and Baghdad, which once were the centers of the Umayyad and Abbasi caliphates.”
- “The Islamic State forces are following Saladin’s pattern of fighting the Shiites and then going to war with the infidels.” (IRNA)
- Larijani in Pakistan: We have no joint position with America in fighting terrorism. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani discussed ISIL, the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and the nuclear negotiations:
- “You know during these past four years who has given weapons and money to ISIL until the Americans hoisted a banner of fighting them in the last few months.”
- “The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is important and of more benefit to Pakistan than Iran, because Iran can sell gas to other countries like Turkey”
- “I believe we have made progress in the nuclear negotiations and any differences can be resolved” (ISNA)
- America’s own interests take precedence over the interests of the Zionist Regime. Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Chief Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi says “Correct strategy for the rest of Obama’s presidency is to restore the honor of blacks and to place his people’s interests over the wicked desires of Zionists.” (Aftab News)
- Foreign Ministry advised caution to Iranian pilgrims traveling to Iraq. Hossein Amir Abdollahian urged Iranians that are headed to Imam Husayn Ibn Ali’s shrine (third Shi’a Imam), in Karbala to follow the Iranian Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization’s security updates. The Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister said due to the thousands of visas issued there will be difficulties in registering and transferring such a large volume of pilgrims. (Tabnak)
- Sadighi: “Win-win” in the nuclear negotiations is meaningless. Tehran Interim Friday Prayer Leader Hojjat al-Eslam Kazem Sadighi said because Iran has not violated any international laws and only seeks to remove doubts; a “win-win” approach to negotiations does not apply.
- “The enemy’s treacherous plan is to preoccupy the Islamic world so that it forgets Israel, the region’s main issue.”
- “Are retreating and accepting humiliation worth the money that would be returned to us in a [nuclear] agreement?”(Mehr News Agency)
- Parliamentarian: Persian Gulf countries would feel isolated by a final P5+1 agreement.Mansour Hagiat Pour stated that “The Persian Gulf countries believe that if Iran were to reach an agreement with the P5+1, the set-up of these [Gulf] countries together and the intensity of these countries will be isolated.” The National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Commission member also denounced the basis of the sanctions against Iran as “unacceptable and non-legal”, and said that the “Iranian negotiating team must pursue the lifting of the sanctions… because the suspension of sanctions make no sense for Iran.” (Defa Press)
- Ayatollah Khamenei’s Representative to the IRGC praised the nuclear negotiations team. Ali Saidi said, “…the Iranian nation has always opposed the excessive demands of the West and the irrational desires of the world of Arrogance,” adding that, “nuclear knowledge” is considered one of Iran’s“certain rights.” (Tasnim News Agency)
Military and Security
- Iran shuts down border with Iraq in Khuzestan Province. The border crossing at Shalamcheh was closed this Friday due to the absence of security forces on the Iraqi side of the border. (IRNA)
- Deputy Interior Minister highlights border vulnerabilities. Hossein Zolfaghari said that there is an approximate 150km security gap along the eastern border. Zolfaghari added that joint efforts between Law Enforcement Forces and the IRGC are underway to reinforce the border. (IRNA)
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