A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Marie Donovan, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Diana Timmerman and Warren Marshall. To receive this daily newsletter, please subscribe online
Key takeaway: President Hassan Rouhani stated that “the basis of foreign policy debate is interests rather than principles and ideals”; IRGC Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani and Badr Organization Head Hadi al Amiri attended IRGC Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi’s memorial service in Tehran; Iran and Yemen called for enhanced bilateral ties.
President Hassan Rouhani said that neither Iran nor the West discussed “principles and ideals” at the [nuclear] negotiating table. He also said that “the basis of foreign policy debate is interests rather than principles and ideals,” reflecting the long-standing tension in the regime between the preservation of the state and ideals.
IRGC Qods Forces Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani and Badr Organization Head Hadi al-Ameri attended memorial services in Tehran for IRGC Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi, who was killed on December 29 in Samarra, Iraq. Soleimani’s presence away from the fronts in Iraq and Syria is a testament to the regime and its regional partners’ respect for Taghavi’s IRGC rank and personal importance.
Iran’s Ambassador to Yemen Hossein Niknam met with Yemeni Prime Minister Khalid Mahfuz Bahah in Sana’a to discuss approaches to strengthen bilateral relations, following Iran’s repeated overtures of interest in improving ties with Sana’a. Iran has publically praised Ansar Allah, the political wing of the al-Houthi rebel group, as exemplary of Iranian Islamic revolutionary values following the Houthi takeover of Sana’a in September.
- Rouhani: foreign policy debates are based on interests, not principles. At the first Economics of Iran Conference, President Rouhani stated, “At the nuclear negotiating table, neither they nor we discuss principles and ideals; in today’s world the discussion is about interests and each country is seeking their own interests and desires, the basis of foreign policy debate is interests rather than principles and ideals.” (Tasnim News Agency)
- Assassination attempt on Iranian nuclear scientist thwarted by IRGC. Armed Forces General Staff Intelligence and Operations Deputy Col. Mohammad Bagheri spoke about the IRGC’s duty to protect nuclear figures. He said, “In the past two years the Zionist enemy has attempted to assassinate a nuclear scientist but the timely presence of the IRGC prevented the terrorist operation.” (Basij News)
- Nouri Hamedani: The enemy is trying to create new ISILs. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani said Iran’s enemies are trying to create divisions among Sunnis and Shiites in Bahrain, Qatar, and other Islamic countries. (Fars News Agency)
- Rafsanjani: A true Shi’a does not cause offense. Head of the Expediency Discernment Council Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stressed the importance of unity among Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq to prevent the strengthening of terrorist groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, and the al-Nusra Front. (Mehr News )
- Jafari: Islamic Republic has crucial days ahead. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari spoke to veterans about preparedness for jihad and emphasized that the Islamic Republic still faced crucial days, months, and years ahead. Jafari thanked the veterans for their devotion to protecting the Islamic Republic and its divine achievements. (Defa Press)
- America portrays the harsh face of Islam. IRGC Brig. Gen. 2C Ramezan Sharif highlighted the importance of the Quran and spirituality to the success of the Islamic Republic. and the role of the media in supporting Islamic values. The Head of the IRGC Public Affairs also warned that US media portrays the harsh side of Islam, and that there is a wide gap between Western media and reality. (Sepah News)
- Protecting Islam and the Islamic Republic requires listening to the Supreme Leader. IRGC Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Haji Zadeh stated that the Islamic Republic must rely on internal strength and resources in order to be strong, citing the Iran-Iraq War as an illustration of this principle. The IRGC Air Force Commander added that the IRGC Air Force currently depends solely on domestic manufacturing and that this is accomplished without the slightest help from foreign powers. Domestic manufacturing and production of defensive weapons systems is a major part of the Supreme Leader’s program of resistance. (Sepah News)
Military and Security
- Soleimani attends memorial service for IRGC commander killed in Iraq. IRGC Qods Force (QF) Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani attended IRGC Brig. Gen. Hamid Taghavi’s memorial service in Tehran. Iran’s former Ambassador to Baghdad, Kazemi Qomi, Minister of Intelligence Hojjat al-Eslam Mahmoud Alavi, QF Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghani, President of the Strategic Defense Studies Center IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr and Brig. Gen. Morteza Ghorbani also attended the ceremony for Taghavi, who was killed last week in Samarra. (Sepah News)
- Artesh tested suicide UAVs during exercise. Artesh Ground Forces Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Kiomars Heydari stated that the Artesh tested “two or three models of suicide UAVs” during last week’s Artesh-led Mohammad Rasoul Allah exercises. The Artesh Ground Forces Deputy Commander said that “these UAVs are types of cruise missiles” and created by indigenous experts “at all stages of production. Heydari also stated that the exercises were “reflected very well in the international media… beyond our imagination.” (Defa Press)
- IRGC captures terrorist team in joint operation with Iranian border guards. IRGC Qods Force members along with border security forces arrested a terrorist team in Iran’s southeast region. (Sepah News)
- ISIL affiliated terrorists captured along Iran’s northwest border. Border Guards Commander Brig. Gen. Qassem Rezaei announced the arrest of three armed foreign fighters attempting to enter Iran through Afghanistan’s border. (ISNA)
- NATO does not have the right to fly in Iranian airspace. Artesh Khatam ol-Anbia Air Base Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Farzad Esmaili discussed the forced landing of a Flydubai plane on route to the UAE from Bagram, Afghanistan in Bandar Abbas on September 5, 2014. Esmaili stated that NATO does not have the right to fly in Iranian airspace and that there was concern the aircraft was a NATO military aircraft. Although the plane was not NATO, it was carrying 108 American and non-American military personnel who were operating in Afghanistan. The plane landed in Dubai on September 7, 2014. (Defa Press)
- Artesh Navy repels pirate attack against Iranian oil tanker. The Navy’s 32nd Fleet repulsed a pirate attack 120 miles southeast of al-Mukalla, near the southern coast of Yemen. (Defa Press)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- Hadi al-Amri attends Taghavi’s memorial service. Head of Iraqi Badr Organization Hadi al-Amri, Head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar Hakim, and the Commander of the Sarraya al-Khorassani a Shi’a militia in Iraq attended IRGC Brig. Gen. Taghavi’s services in Tehran. Representatives from Iraqi Kurdistan also attended the memorial service. (Defa Press)
- Tehran and Sana’a call for enhanced bilateral relations. Iran’s Ambassador to Yemen Hossein Niknam met with Yemeni Prime Minister Khalid Mahfuz Bahah in Sana’a to discuss approaches to strengthen bilateral relations. (IRIB)
- PM of Syria: Iran has played a major role in strengthening the stability of the Syrian resistance in its struggle against terrorism. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi met with Iranian-Syrian Economic Relations’ Development Committee President Rostam Qasemi and noted Iran’s role in confronting Zionist schemes and the West’s plans for the region. Qasemi stressed Iran’s support for Syria against unjust economic sanctions and said that it will not hesitate in providing a variety of assistance to Syria. (IRNA)
- Afghan national security adviser arrives in Tehran. Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar arrived in Tehran for meetings with Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani and other Iranian officials. The discussions covered counterterrorism efforts and border security. Shamkhani stated that NATO’s exit from Afghanistan marked the end of foreign powers using terrorism as an excuse to interfere in the region. (Mehr News )
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