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: The Supreme Leader indicated his support for the nuclear talks but said Iran should not trust the West. Ahmad Vahidi reiterated the Supreme Leader’s call to “arm the West Bank like Gaza.” Ali Shamkhani stated that NATO’s departure from Afghanistan would allow for renewed cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan on security issues.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei highlighted the 1978 Qom protests following President Carter’s visit to Iran, and the 2009 pro-government rallies in response to the Green Movement, as examples of the West’s failure to obfuscate the values of the Islamic Revolution. Khamenei said that he is “not against the nuclear talks” but warned that the US could not be trusted, as it has stated that sanctions would not be completely and immediately lifted in the event Iran retreats on the nuclear issue. Noticeably absent from Khamenei’s speech was an implicit push back against Rouhani’s proposed referendum on the nuclear issue, a concept the President introduced in his January 4 speech. This may indicate Khamenei’s willingness to allow certain flexibility on policies in order to reach a final nuclear deal and relieve pressure on the economy.
IRGC Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said that Palestinian fighters would successfully arm the West Bank with the Supreme Leader’s help, reiterating Khamenei’s repeated calls to “arm the West Bank like Gaza.” Echoing analogous comparisons by other officials, the former Qods Force Commander highlighted the similarities between the creation of Ansar Allah in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Ali Shamkhani stated that NATO’s departure from Afghanistan would allow for renewed cooperation between Tehran and Kabul on security issues. The regime has capitalized on the West’s pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence of the US’s waning power and its own increasing influence in the region.
- Khamenei reiterates call for resistance against the West. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed thousands of people in the city of Qom. The Supreme Leader pointed to two significant Iranian protests: the January 9, 1978 protests in Qom, following President Carter’s visit to Iran and libelous press headlines about Ayatollah Khomeini, and the December 30, 2009 pro-government rallies in response to the Green Movement. Khamenei called for national unity to resist sanctions and said:
- Referring to the 1978 and 2009 rallies: “There are great incentives to [disregard] the past three decades so that the great decisive Islamic Revolution is forgotten, but when the nation is alive and the hearts of the faithful are motivated, such an event will not occur.”
- “The arrogant front [the West] against the regime had hopes for the second and third generation to be alienated from the Islamic Revolution, but the great events of December 30,  proved to be a slap in the face to those who tried to divert the path of the Revolution.”
- “The January 9, [1978 protests] led to a national movement that ultimately overthrew and dismantled the evil monarchy.”
- On CIA torture report: Khamenei pointed to the role of the US and Israel in creating, what he called the “evil” SAVAK intelligence organization for the Shah and said “The recent revelations about the CIA’s secret prisons and torture exposes US [hypocrisy] and its inconsistency with its claims to support human rights.”
- On sanctions and negotiations: “The West’s enmity towards the Iranian people has no end.”
- “The Americans are impudently saying that even if Iran backs down on the nuclear issue, all the sanctions will not be lifted at once. They are saying that clearly. It shows that this enemy cannot be trusted.”
- “Officials should not pin hopes on foreigners and should know that one step in retreat prompts the enemy to advance. You should take the instrument of sanctions out of the enemy’s hands. If you pin hopes on the enemy, sanctions will remain in place.”
- “What would you do if they set a condition for lifting the sanctions that would compromise your (national) pride? No official would accept it. Efforts must be made to immunize Iran against the sanctions.”
- “I am not against the nuclear talks … but we cannot trust an enemy like America that says … sanctions cannot be lifted altogether and immediately.” (Khamenei.ir)
- Rouhani: Sunnis and Shi’as should take steps towards unity in the Muslim world. President Hassan Rouhani said that the exploitation of some issues for political agendas is dangerous for the unity of the Islamic world and that it is essential for all Muslims to be united. He added that colonialism and Zionism worldwide continue to create disputes and conflicts between Shi’as and Sunnis. Rouhani added that the acquirement of approximately 1,360,000 land in Khuzestan province would contribute to employment and increase agricultural production efficiency. (Fars News Agency)
- Vahidi on Iraq and Syria and arming of the West Bank. IRGC Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi said that Mujahedeen forces and the Iraqi army would defeat ISIL in Iraq. The President of the Strategic Defense Studies Center and former Qods Force Commander stated that the situation in Syria is more complicated than Iraq and will need to be resolved through the actions of the Syrian government and people. Vahidi also highlighted the similarities between the creation of Ansar Allah in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and praised Hezbollah, Hamas and the Mujahedeen resistance movement in Iraq for their strength and genuine belief in Islam in their fight against hegemonic systems. Vahidi added that the Palestinian fighters, with the guidance of the Supreme Leader, will successfully arm the West Bank. (Defa Press)
- Jazayeri: No relations with the US. Armed Forces General Staff Headquarters Basij Affairs and Defense Culture Deputy IRGC Brig. Gen. Masoud Jazayeri stated that the Islamic Republic of Iran and the great ‘Resistance Front’ has become stronger, and pointed to the multi-faceted decline hegemonic powers led by the United States. Jazayeri warned, “America will come to its knees.” Jazayeri also referenced existing approaches towards relations with the US and stated, “Due to the arrogant characteristics of America, there will be no interaction with that country.” (Defa Press)
- Haghighat Pour: Saudi Arabia should know that America is leaving the region. Mansour Haghighat Pour said Saudi Arabia and the US are trying to marginalize OPEC and weaken Iran by lowering the price of oil. National Security and Foreign Policy (NSFP) Parliamentary Commission Vice Chairman Haghighat Pour added that the freeing of the Yemeni people from dictatorship should be a warning to Saudi Arabia, stating that the people of Bahrain would be liberated as well in the near future. (Fars News Agency)
- Future success of the country depends on the Basij. Head of the Basij Organization IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naghdi met with Representative to the Supreme Leader and Bushehr province Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Safaei Bushehri. Bushehri said the Basij Organization demonstrates the spirit of self-sacrifice, martyrdom, devotion, and faith and that the IRGC and Basij must never be weakened since the future success of the country depends on the organizations. Naghdi also praised the people of the province of Bushehr for their historic role in fighting against colonialism. (Basij.ir)
Military and Security
- Iran has good security against ISIL. LEF Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam stated that armed forces are confident that Iran is currently safe and has good security against ISIL. Moghaddam called for Sunnis and Shi’as to stand together against the threat and added that the record number of Iranian pilgrims returning safely from Karbala, Iraq is an indication of Iran’s security. (Mehr News)
Regional Developments and Diplomacy
- French and German Foreign Ministry representatives travel to Tehran. Director General of the French Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Department Jean Francois Giroux and Political Director of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs Clemens von Goetze arrived in Tehran today to discuss “matters of regional interest and regional developments” with their counterparts. (YJC)
- Regional crises are the result of mistakes by the US and its allies. Parliamentarian Alaeddin Boroujerdi met with Norwegian Ambassador to Tehran Aud Lise Norheim and stated that Iran is prepared to increase dialogue between the two countries in order to establish friendly relations. Boroujerdi warned that terrorist groups like ISIL are threatening global security and that the US and its allies are responsible for arming the terrorist groups. Boroujerdi added that Iran welcomes cooperation from any country willing to combat terrorism. Norheim stated that given Iran’s unique position and impact in the region, the government of Norway would welcome expanding its cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran. (Tasnim News Agency)
- Shamkhani: The exit of NATO forces from Afghanistan presents new opportunities. Ali Shamkhani said NATO’s departure from Afghanistan would allow for renewed cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan on security issues such as drug smuggling and terrorism. The Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary claimed that some foreign powers occupying Afghanistan had contributed to drug activities that helped fund terrorist groups. (Mehr News)
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