Iran news round up – December 30, 2014

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analysts Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Chris Rawlins and Diana Timmerman. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online.

Key takeaway: The Supreme Leader ordered units participating in the large-scale military exercise to showcase their capabilities, while the Artesh Navy Commander pointed to the Mohammad Rasoul Allah military drills as proof of Iran’s prevailing conventional strength. Tehran denied rumors of potentially reopening the US embassy in Tehran.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on the armed forces to demonstrate its conventional capabilities, but advised caution and restraint in revealing tactics and maneuvers. Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, meanwhile, said the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are vital to the global economy. The Artesh Navy Commander added that, Iran’s prevailing security capabilities are more than capable of protecting the strategic waterways and that “nobody could disrupt it.” Both statements underscore the regime’s concerted effort to promote its status as a guarantor of Gulf security, through force projection.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham dismissed rumors that the US and Iran are in talks over reopening the US embassy in Iran. Afkham added that, Tehran and Washington are solely engaged in nuclear talks. The Foreign Ministry’s dismissal seems to be in response to President Obama’s perceived olive branch to Iran during a recent interview. When Obama was asked if he could envision a US embassy in Tehran before he leaves office, Obama replied, “never say never.” Reinstating diplomatic protocol between Tehran and Washington seems unfathomable. President Obama’s direct correspondence with the Supreme Leader and his commitment to reaching a final nuclear deal, however, suggests that bilateral talks to explore the possibility of renewing Iran-US diplomatic relations may be underway, or presented during the upcoming P5+1 negotiations in Geneva.

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari issued a statement of condolence for the death of IRGC Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi. Jafari commended Taghavi’s remarkable service during the Iran-Iraq War and for embodying the regime’s Revolutionary values. The level of praise coming from senior Iranian officials, such as the Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani, is indicative of the regime’s respect for Taghavi, illustrating both his rank in the IRGC and personal importance.

Official Statements

  • The Supreme Leader addresses military. IRGC commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Shirazi, Head of the Commander in Chief’s office, delivered Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s message to participating units in the Mohammad Rasoul Allah military exercises. Khamenei recommended that the armed forces should demonstrate their abilities without revealing military tactics. (Mehr News)
  • Foreign Ministry says no plans are in place to reopen US embassy. Marzieh Afkham denied reports that Iran and the US will discuss the reopening of embassies in Tehran and Washington. The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman said Iran-US negotiations are predicated on Iran’s nuclear program. (ISNA)
  • IRGC Commander died defending Islamic values and the Revolution. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari issued a letter about the martyrdom of IRGC Brig. Gen. Hamid Taghavi, who was killed in Samarra, Iraq. Jafari praised Taghavi’s service in the Iran-Iraq War and in defending holy shrines in Iraq. Jafari stated that Taghavi was a true believer in the Islamic Revolution and died while fighting until his last breath in order to protect holy shrines and defend Islamic values. (Sepah News)
  • LEF Commander discusses armed robbery in Golpayegan in Isfahan province. Brig. Gen. Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said the assailants responsible for killing one officer and four civilians during a recent robbery in Khomein city have been identified and that one was killed. The Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) Commander added that the police are undergoing extensive efforts to arrest the remaining assailants. (Fars News Agency)
  • Naghdi: “Great Britain has deep hatred for Islam and Iran.” IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi, Head of the Basij Organization, accused Great Britain of plotting in three Iranian presidential elections and of supporting the 2009 Green Movement protests. Naghdi claimed that Iran played a key role in bringing down the British colonial power and stated that they are still involved in plots against Iran. (Defa Press)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • Shamkhani: “Soon we will release the entire territory of Iraq from the clutches of terrorists.” Ali Shamkhani, Supreme National Security Council Secretary, met with Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi and stated that cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad will not be limited to defense, but soon they will increase their economic cooperation. Shamkhani added that security is needed in Iraq, and Iran will soon free Iraq from the unprecedented cruelty of Takfiri terrorist groups. (Defa Press)
  • Afghan Shi’a militia member and Iranian refugee killed in Syria. A member of the Fatemiyun Battalion [an all-Afghan Shi’a militia], Seyyed Reza Hosseini was reportedly “martyred” defending the Seyyeda Zeinab [granddaughter of the Prophet] shrine in Syria. Hosseini’s funeral procession was held in Qom today. (ABNA)
  • Deputy Foreign Minister arrives in Abu Dhabi. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister is scheduled to meet with senior UAE officials to promote enhanced bilateral ties. (YJC)
  • Iraq must cooperate with Iran to eradicate terrorism. Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi met with his Iranian counterpart IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan to discuss the security situation in Iraq and the region. Al-Obeidi said, “The Iraqi government believes that it is necessary to establish a relationship with all countries in the world and especially countries in the region and neighboring countries because we believe seriously that the security of Iraq affects the security of the region and neighboring countries.” (Fars News Agency)
  • Algeria and Iran discuss cooperation against terrorism and developing economic relations.Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi, National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Chairman, met with Sofiane Mimouni, Algerian Ambassador to Tehran, and stated: “Due to the threat of terrorism in North Africa and the Middle East, the transfer of expertise between the two countries plays a key role in fighting terrorism and preventing its spread.” Boroujerdi also emphasized Parliamentary relations to strengthen the political and economic relations between the two countries. (Tasnim News Agency)

Military and Security

  • Navy Commander highlights Iran’s role as guarantor of Gulf security. Artesh Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari pointed to Iran’s large-scale military drills as proof of its prevailing security capabilities and said “nobody could disrupt it.” Sayyari added: “The Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz are among the world’s most important waterways, through which the world economy is flowing. Thus, those areas require the utmost security and stability.” (IRNA)
  • Iran tests cruise missiles on sixth day of exercises. Iran launched “Noor” and “Nasr” cruise missiles from Artesh Naval vessels against moving targets during the sixth day of the Mohammad Rasoul Allah military exercise. Yesterday these missiles were launched from the shore against moving naval targets as well. (Defa Press)
        • Navy Special Forces practiced beach landings, maneuvering hovercraft and motorcycles, and participated in airborne operations as part of the exercise in the Gulf of Oman. They also tested the shoulder launched Misaq-2 missile against aerial targets. (Defa Press)

    By AEI Critical Threat

 

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