A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Marie Donovan and Mehrdad Moarefian, with contributors Warren Marshall and Dianna Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.
Key Takeaway: Media push ahead of Mohammad Rasoul Allah exercises focuses on improved Artesh Air capabilities. Hamas official highlights return to improved relations with Iran. Iran and Mexico commemorate fiftieth anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations.
Artesh Air Force Spokesman Brigadier General 2nd Class Hossein Chit Foroush stated that the “greatest message and achievement” of next week’s multi-service Mohammad Rasoul Allah exercise “…is that the Air Force has reached self-sufficiency for years,” further focusing the expansive propaganda around the exercise on the Artesh Air Force. Foroush’s comments reflect a desire to use the exercise to display the Artesh’s improved air defensive capacities.
Senior Hamas official Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook said that Hamas’s relationship with Iran has “never been cut, but (today) we have returned to the (previous) routine which we hope will bring stability and progress.” Marzook’s comments follow Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar’s call yesterday to strengthen relations with Iran. Their comments reinforce Hamas’s need for improved relations with Iran, which deteriorated in 2012 after Hamas moved its headquarters from Damascus and Iran cut its funding to the organization.
Iran and Mexico commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, emphasizing their shared interest in deepening bilateral relations. The Rouhani administration has made a concerted effort to improve its outreach to Mexico, including sending a parliamentary delegation to Mexico City this month.
Military and Security
- Message of exercises: Artesh Air Force reached self-sufficiency years ago. Artesh Air Force Spokesman Brig. Gen. 2C Hossein Chit Foroush said, “The greatest message and achievement of the [Mohammad Rasoul Allah] exercise…is that the Air Force has reached self-sufficiency for years.” He added that “All Air Force bases will be involved in some way in the exercise,” which will take place December 25-31. Chit Foroush added, “…despite 36 years of sanctions, the Air Force is more up to date and ready than the past to defend the country’s air space.” He added that exercise will be a “good test” for the “third generation of Artesh Air Force commanders.” (Fars News Agency)
- Biggest achievement of Artesh Navy is expansion into a “strategic and international force.”Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari stated that the Artesh Navy “over the last few years… has been improving its position from a coastal navy, limited to the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, and northern Oman, to a ‘strategic and international force.” Sayyari also stated that the organizing of joint exercises with the Chinese and Russian Navies “has been announced,” but the exercise itself “is not our decision; the policy makers and the hierarchy must make decisions.” (Defa Press)
- Iran’s air defense spots U2 stealth aircraft. Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Spokesman Brig. Gen. Sharokh Shahram announced that the country’s radar systems have spotted “several” reconnaissance aircraft, including U2 stealth aircraft. The aircraft were reportedly warned to maintain distance from Iran’s borders. (Defa Press)
- Bavar-373 tracking radar and missile system tested. Artesh Khatam ol-Anbia Air Base Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Farzad Esmaili announced that the Bavar-373 missile system (also known as the “Iranian S-300”) is undergoing tests. Iran began developing the Bavar-373 after Russia refused to deliver its S-300 air defense missile system. (Tasnim News Agency)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Hamas: We want improved relations with Iran. Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas official, stated in an interview with Turkey’s Anatolia News Agency, “Our relationship with Iran has never been cut, but (today) we have returned to the (previous) routine which we hope will bring stability and progress.” (ISNA)
- Larijani meets with Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf. As part of his regional tour, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani is scheduled to meet with Grand Ayatollah Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Hakim, Eshagh Fayyaz, and Bashir Najafi. Larijani will travel to the pilgrimage shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, as well as the shrines of Imam Hussein and the Prophet Abbas in Karbala. (Fars News Agency)
- Prior to his visit in Iraq Larijani met with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut. The two discussed the situation in the region and the relationship between Iran and Lebanon as well as Syria. Nasrallah said, “The efforts of the enemy to interpret the recent clashes between Shiites and Sunnis as war have failed.” He added, “The recent conflict is a fight between terrorist groups and Islamic forces and people.” (Fars News Agency)
- Iran-affiliated militia in Iraq acquires first UAV. Iraqi militia Harakat al-Nujaba has acquired a reconnaissance UAV named “Yasir” to use in the region around the town of Ishaqi north of Baghdad. (ABNA)
- Fallahian: Saudi Arabia spends its petrodollars on takfiri groups. Hojjat al-Eslam Ali Fallahian claimed Saudi Arabia uses its oil revenue to form takfiri groups in the region. The Assembly of Experts member also said the 190 American military bases in the region demonstrate America’s war-mongering. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Iran and Mexico commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The event was attended by Iran’s Ambassador to Mexico Jalal Kalantari, Mexican Director General for Africa and Middle East Affairs Maria Carmen Onate Munoz, as well as a number of ministry officials and ambassadors. It took place at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two countries emphasized their desire to deepen friendly and cooperative bilateral relations. (IRNA)
- Americans do not adhere to the terms of real dialogue. Brig. Gen. Rasoul Sanaei Rad said, “Although new factors may affect the outcome of the negotiations, the Americans have shown that they are not very committed to the terms of the negotiations.” The Political Deputy to the Representative of the Supreme Leader to the IRGC continued, “The Americans play with words such as, “suspension of sanctions”, “increasing sanctions”, “reduction of sanctions”, and “lifting of sanctions”. The reason being he said, “They are seeking to attract the attention of their regional allies as well as the Zionist regime.” (Defa Press)
- Tehran is not calling for the resumption of diplomatic ties with Washington. Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Shamkhani said that Tehran would not seek to resume diplomatic ties with Washington even if tensions over the nuclear agreement subside. Shamkhani about the on-going talks between the Iran and the US reiterated that the negotiations between the two countries solely regard the nuclear issue. (Mehr News)
- Pour Mohammadi: The judiciary and the government are cooperating on economic corruption cases. Minister of Justice Hojjat al-Eslam Mostafa Pour Mohammadi announced the discovery of 70 billion tomans in misused funds at an Iranian bank. (Fars News Agency)
- Social media can reduce public security. NAJA Socio-Cultural Deputy Doctor Seyyed Montazer al Mahdi discussed social media platforms such as Viber and WhatsApp, stating “If the use of these technologies is not targeted and managed, they become the means to reduce the level of public security of the consumers, and can even turn the people around them [the consumers].” He warned that information users provide could be “used for economic, cultural, and even espionage purposes.” (Defa Press)
- 53 percent rise in Iranian oil exports to China. Iran’s crude oil exports to China in the month of November hit 2.13 million tons, or 517,560 barrels per day (bpd), up 53 percent from October. (Tasnim News Agency)
By EA WorldView
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