Iran news round up – January 6, 2015

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 Rouhani proposed public referendums to decide key political and economic issues. Oil Minister Zanganeh said that Iran is negotiating with Russia on oil production to stop falling oil prices.

In his January 4 speech, President Hassan Rouhani proposed a public referendum instead of a parliamentary vote to decide key economic and political issues. He also focused on decreasing government monopoly and subsidies, increasing transparency, and fighting corruption.

Oil Minister Zanganeh said that Iran is negotiating with Russia to decrease the latter’s oil production in order to stop falling oil prices, reflecting the variety of ways Iran is hedging against the growing stress on its economy.

Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan has announced that Iran’s terrorist redline is 40 kilometers inside Iraq’s border. The regime has previously warned against ISIL coming within 100 kilometers of its borders.

Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met with Head of Asia and Oceania Affairs in Mali’s Foreign Ministry Mohammad al-Amin Vatara to discuss joint anti-terrorism activity, highlighting the Rouhani regime’s continued efforts at global outreach.
Official Statements

  • Because of martyrs like Taghavi, we are facing the enemy in Iraq and Syria instead of Tehran. IRGC Brig. Gen. Gholam Reza Jalali, Head of the Passive Defense Organization, stated that in order to spread the values of the Islamic Republic it is necessary to sacrifice blood. Jalali expressed hope that through the blood and spirit of the martyrs that they will be able to overcome the enemy and he added that martyrs like Brig. Gen. Hamid Taghavi are at the forefront of the confrontation with the ‘Global Arrogance’ (the West). (Defa Press)
  • Naghdi: Smuggling is greatest of sins. IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi said that smuggling is one of the greatest sins and is causing great economic and social damage to the country. The Head of the Basij Organization added that not everyone is aware of the evil and damage of smuggling and that the people must become aware in order to combat the phenomenon. (Fars News Agency)
  • Zarif to parliament: Wise foreign policy has countered Iranophobia. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the nuclear negotiating team is not and will not pursue political objectives. (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Rouhani calls for an open economy and a public referendum. President Rouhani pointed to the Prophet Mohammad and his work in the economic sector, through trade and said, “We cannot say, because our religion is Islam and we are spiritual and we should ignore the economy because it is material. Working for the welfare of [our] families and the community, along with morality, purity and virtue are all in one direction.” Rouhani added:
    • “Our economy was in a state of self-seeking. [To have] a healthy economy and sustainable development and growth, expertise is needed; we have to use our scholars and scientists…”
    •  “Sometimes the solutions I see put forth on the table are traditional, meaning they are not much different than when I was a university student studying economics. The latest developments in the economy require new proposals and economic solutions that have been created by [our] students, researchers, and professors.”
    • “Our economy will not prosper as long as it is monopolized [by the government]. The economy must be rid of monopoly and see competition.”
    •  “It must be freed of insider speculation, be transparent, all people must be aware of the statistics. If we can bring transparency to our economy, we can fight corruption.”
    • “We all know that in our country for decades, the economy has subsidized politics. They say permanent subsidy cannot last; it must be cut one day. Well, here is a good time to let our economy decide what policy should be supported… Let us try this once.”
    • “Let us ask the people [how they feel]. As the enforcer of our constitution, I would like, even for once, to see conditions ripe to implement a tenet of the common law calling for major issues – economic, social, political and cultural – to be put to public referendum rather than parliamentary vote.”
    • “Some 36 years have passed now and this article has not been enforced even once.”
    •  “We are trying to tax everyone across the board, but as soon as we touch this or that institution… just see what issues arise…”
    • “Just be aware that in some cases, the domestic political lobby is very strong, very strong, more than you think.”
    • On nuclear weapons: “In our view, nuclear weapons are obsolete tools of the past, incapable of providing external security or internal stability. This is especially the case for Iran, which is content with its size, geography, natural resources and human capital, and has not started a single war in the past three centuries. A sober strategic assessment will show that nuclear weapons are detrimental to Iran’s security.” (President.ir)

Military and Security

  • Iran marks 40km zone inside Iraq border as terrorist redline. Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan said that Iran has warned ISIL about movements along the border. The Artesh Ground Forces Commander added: “We marked a red line 40 kilometers into the Iraqi soil and warned [ISIL] that they will face Iran’s harsh response if they cross the line. The group received our message and fled the zone quickly.” (ABNA)

Regional Developments and Diplomacy

  • P5+1 using every trick and conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ammar Hakim, Head of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq, met with Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi. Hakim claimed that the P5+1 countries are using every type of “trick and conspiracy” against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the nuclear negotiations. (Fars News Agency)
  • Badr Organization Commander praises Qassem Soleimani. Hadi al-Ameri said Iraq’s ability to combat ISIL is attributed to the guidance of IRGC Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The Iraqi Badr Organization Commander added: “We believe that countering ISIL is not possible except with the support offered by the Islamic Republic of Iran and the resistance shown by the country’s people.” (Tasnim News Agency)
  • Zangeneh: We have suggested to Moscow that it decrease its oil production. Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said Iran is negotiating with Russia to decrease the latter’s oil production in order to stop falling oil prices. Zangeneh also stressed the importance of a consensus among OPEC nations to prevent a continued fall in the price of oil. (Mehr New)
  • Abdollahian: Iran and Mali must be partners in fight against terror. Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, met with Mohammad al-Amin Vatara, Head of Asia and Oceania Affairs in Mali’s Foreign Ministry. Abdollahian emphasized the importance of joint action against terrorism, while Vatara announced that a new Malian ambassador would be appointed to Tehran. (ISNA)
  • Zarif: Iran is ready to expand cooperation with the aim of strengthening stability in Afghanistan. Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar regarding prospects of developing and signing a comprehensive agreement between the two countries. The meeting focused on the need for collaboration in the transit sector, commodity trading, services, and economic cooperation, as well as increased cooperation in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking. (IRNA)
  • Abdollahian warns Bahrain to seriously consider the immediate release of Sheikh Ali Salman. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Arab and African Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister, reacted to the continued detention of Shiite Sheikh Ali Salman, al-Wefaq opposition party leader. Abdollahian highlighted Bahrain’s human rights violations and said Salman’s continued incarceration is an indication of a serious crisis in that country. (IRNA)

Nuclear Talks

  • Next round of nuclear negotiations will be held on January 18. Abbas Araghchi announced that nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 will start on January 18 in Geneva. The Legal Affairs Deputy to the Foreign Minister added that bilateral meetings between Iran and the US and Russia will also take place. (Mehr News)

By AEI Critical Threat

 

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